Drew Montag, Basketball Editor
Drew Montag, Basketball Editor
It’s back, bigger and better than ever: the “State Of Michigan” Trophy! Get all the information on one of the most heated rivalries in all of college sports: the University of Michigan vs. Michigan State University. Not just the “marquee” sports, but all 20 men’s and women’s sports with head-to-head competition. First, some history:
Back in September 2003, Pontiac started ‘The Pontiac Challenge’, to track the head-to-head competition between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University for the whole school year. They divided the school year up into 3 sessions (Fall, Winter, and Spring), and awarded a trophy to the winner of each session, with the current winner keeping it in the case of a tie.
Not too surprisingly, UM won (or tied) every session for all 3 years that Pontiac sponsored the Challenge (2003-2004, 2004-2005, and 2005-2006). Also not too surprisingly, Pontiac lost interest when the Challenge got too one-sided. So, after the 2005-2006 season, they dropped it, but I picked it up. However, I thought their setup with the 3 sessions and a goofy scoring system could be improved, so I changed it to a single session (the whole school year), with 2 points for each win, and 1 point for each tie.
A quick look at the ‘Season: Summary/Sport: All’ page will show that UM has won the State of Michigan Trophy every year for the last 15 years except once (2009-2010). Even then, it came down to the last contest.
May the best University win!
After 45 years of getting upset by the successes of the teams I hate really don’t like, I’m making a New Year’s resolution to ignore them:
“I refuse to let the success of my undeserving rivals upset me.”
From now on, I’m just concentrating on the teams I support, all from the University of Michigan. I’ll enjoy their successes, and try not to let their occasional failures upset me too much. I don’t care what my rivals do. League championships, undefeated seasons, national championships? Good for them. I don’t care about it, I don’t want to hear about it, and I don’t want to talk about it. It doesn’t concern me. Sure, it makes recruiting more challenging, but not impossible. Sure, it brings out the worst in the fans that support certain teams, but I can live with it. Just leave me alone. Good for you! Celebrate with your friends, and leave me alone. Yeah, yeah, the team you support is the best team ever in the history of the world, but I don’t care. Go away.
The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they won it handily. On Wednesday (12/23/2015), they beat Bryant 96-60, in Crisler Arena. The win raises Michigan’s record to 10-3.
This was the last game of the non-conference schedule, and the last of four “cupcakes” in a row (Delaware State, Northern Kentucky, Youngstown State, and Bryant). Michigan won all four of these games convincingly, and led wire-to-wire in the first three. In the Bryant game, UM won the opening tip, made a 2-point basket, and dropped back to play defense. Bryant’s main scorer popped in a 3-pointer, and Michigan trailed for the first time in 2 weeks, 3-2. Michigan hit a 3-pointer of their own, and never trailed again, although the score was tied 8-8 and 10-10. Bryant played very well, especially in the 1st half, but UM played even better, especially shooting 3-pointers (12-for-20 = 60.0% in the 1st half). UM cooled off a bit in the 2nd half (5-for-15 = 33.3% in the 2nd half), but still played well enough to increase the halftime lead (57-35 = 22 points) to 36 at the end.
So, what did we learn about this season’s UM team this week? Nothing new. We already knew that they can beat the cupcakes convincingly, and that the offense can be deadly when it gets going.
The stats for the game are pretty impressive. Michigan shot the ball very well overall (37-for-63 = 58.7%), they shot 3-pointers very well (17-for-35 = 48.6%), and they shot free throws pretty well (5-for-7 = 71.4%). They won the rebounding battle (33-22) and the turnover battle (8-13). It was a dominating performance. By the way, the 17 made 3-pointers is a new school record.
Individually, 4 of the 5 starters hit double figures. Caris LeVert was the high scorer for Michigan with 19 points, Zak Irvin finally broke out of his shooting slump, with 16 points (including 2-for-4 shooting from 3-point range), Duncan Robinson hit four 3-pointers (on 8 attempts) for 12 points, and Derrick Walton Jr. had 11 points. The only starter who didn’t hit double figures was Ricky Doyle, with 6 points.
The bench contributed a lot of points this week. The only bench player to hit double figures was Aubrey Dawkins, with 10 points. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got close, with 8 points, including two 3-pointers. Mark Donnal followed up his strong performances last week with 7 points in this game. Kameron Chatman had 4 points, including the record-setting 17th 3-pointer at the buzzer, and DJ Wilson hit his only shot, a 3-pointer. Moritz Wagner and Andrew Dakich both played, but failed to score.
Now that the non-conference schedule is complete, it’s time for mid-term grades.
Brent Hibbitts: Inc.
Brent hasn’t played in any games, and is probably being redshirted.
Moritz Wagner: B-
Moe has played in all 13 games so far, and scored 48 points, but most of his effective production was in the last 2 games in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas over the Thanksgiving break. Since then, he hasn’t done much. There’s still plenty of time for him to become a productive member of the team.
DJ Wilson: B-
DJ missed a couple games (Delaware State and Northern Kentucky) but he’s played in the other 11 games. He’s scored 47 points, and hit 7 of 13 attempts from 3-point range. For a tall, lanky player he gets surprisingly few rebounds: 9 total in 11 games.
MAAR has played in all 13 games so far, and even started 3 games when Walton was out with an injury. He’s scored 59 points, and hit 8 for 22 from 3-point range. He’s had a couple good games (SMU and Delaware State), but even more forgettable ones (Elon, Xavier, Texas, Northern Kentucky, and Youngstown State), where he scored a total of 2 points.
Kameron Chatman: C+
Poor Kam. He just can’t seem to get his game going. He shows flashes of brilliance, then he disappears for long stretches. On a team with a long bench, he needs to make the most of his minutes to get more, and he hasn’t so far.
Coach Beilein is trying to shape Aubrey into “the best 6th man in the Big Ten”. So far, it’s looking promising. Aubrey started the first 9 games of the season, then got replaced in the starting lineup by Robinson. Since then, he’s had a couple forgettable games (Delaware State and Northern Kentucky) and a couple encouraging ones (Youngstown State and Bryant).
Mark Donnal: B-
Mark voluntarily redshirted his first season, so he still has sophomore eligibility, even though he’s listed as a junior on the official roster. He’s played in 11 of the 13 games so far, with a couple games where he just couldn’t get in. He started the first 3 games, then lost his place in the starting lineup to Doyle. He’s had a few good games (Charlotte, Northern Kentucky, and Bryant), and a bunch of forgettable ones. He needs to be more aggressive when he’s in there. He’s still too much of a finesse player.
Ricky Doyle: B
Ricky has played in all 13 games, and scored 70 points. He came off the bench in the first 3 games, and has been a started since then. He’s had a few good games (Elon, Delaware State, Northern Kentucky, and Youngstown State), and a few forgettable ones (Northern Michigan, Texas, and Houston Baptist). He plays hard, but he’s just a little bit slower, less agile, and less powerful than the big men he’s been matched up against in Michigan’s 3 losses.
Duncan Robinson: A-
Finally! An “A”! Duncan is a transfer from (Division III) Williams College. He sat out last season, and he has sophomore eligibility this season. He was a great scorer at Williams. The big question was: Could he get his shot off against Division I competition? The answer so far: Yes! He’s played in all 13 games, and been a starter for the last 4 games, and he’s averaging 12.5 points/game. Even more impressively, he’s averaging just under 60% (47-for-79 = 59.5%) shooting from 3-point range. He’s managed to grab 37 rebounds and hand out 22 assists, but he’s still mostly “Just A Shooter”.
Andrew Dakich: Inc.
Sigh. Things just don’t work out well for Andrew. Last season he was trying to redshirt, and voluntarily “burned his redshirt” late in the season when the team needed him. He was trying to redshirt again this season, when Walton injured his ankle, and once again Andrew voluntarily burned another redshirt. Since then, he’s played in 4 games, and scored 4 points, all in his first game of the season against Delaware State. Hopefully, he’ll get to play and contribute enough to make this season worth his redshirt.
Zak Irvin: B-
Zak missed the opener (Northern Michigan), and came off the bench in the 2nd game (Elon), but has been a starter since then. He is averaging 8.6 points/game. He is still trying to get his 3-point stroke back (9-for-45 = 20.0%). The rest of his game has been pretty good.
Sean Lonergan: Inc.
Sean is trying to redshirt this season. He hasn’t played in any games this season.
Yay! Another “A”. Derrick missed 3 games (Houston Baptist, SMU, Delaware State) with an ankle injury he suffered in the NC State game. He wasn’t needed in the HBU and DSU games, but he was definitely missed in the SMU game. When he’s been healthy, he’s played well, with only 2 sub-par games (Northern Michigan and Xavier). He wasn’t needed in the NMU game, but his off night vs. Xavier definitely contributed to the loss.
Sure, Spike played in parts of 8 games, but usually only 8-10 minutes. He had double hip surgery in the off-season, and he never looked comfortable out there. He finally “retired” on 12/11/2015, ending this season, and possibly his career. A medical redshirt season is still possible, so he might be back next season, but there’s a problem – UM is out of scholarships for next season. So, maybe Spike will play a “grad transfer” year somewhere else. I hope he’s back at UM, healthy and ready to play.
Caris LeVert: A
I saved the best for last. Caris is leading the team in just about every statistical category: minutes, field goals made/attempted, free throws made/attempted, rebounds, and points. He has scored in double figures in every game but one (SMU), which is probably why UM got trounced in that game. He’s showing great leadership, and is fun to watch.
This week, Michigan begins Big Ten play with two games. On Wednesday (12/30/2015, 3:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2), they play at Illinois, then on Saturday (01/02/2016, noon, BTN), they play Penn State in Crisler Arena.
Illinois will be a good test, especially on the road. They are 8-5, with one good win (Missouri) and a couple bad losses (North Florida and Chattanooga). They have 3 players who are 6’10” or taller, and they will certainly try to exploit UM’s weak interior defense. This is a toss-up game.
PSU has a pretty good record (9-4), but they haven’t really played anybody good. Their best win was on the road at Boston College, but they’ve lost to George Washington and Radford. UM should win this one.
Tune by on Wednesday, and come by Crisler on Saturday for the game, then check back next week to see what happened, and why.
The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won both of them. On Tuesday (12/15/2015), they beat Northern Kentucky 77-62, then on Saturday (12/19/2015), they crushed Youngstown State 105-46. Both games were in Crisler Arena. The two wins raise Michigan’s record to 9-3.
The big news was that two different players had triple-doubles, one in each game. In the NKU game, Caris LeVert had 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, for only the 4th triple-double in UM history, and the first since 2011. Not to be outdone, in the YSU game, Derrick Walton Jr. had 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists, for the second triple-double as many games. This is incredibly rare: back-to-back triple-doubles in the same week. Wow.
Now, you’ve got to understand: both of these opponents were overmatched (cupcakes), so it’s not a surprise that Michigan won both games. It was surprising that NKU managed to hang around with UM for most of the game, and it was just as surprising that UM clobbered YSU as badly as they did.
NKU played much better than anyone expected, and UM played a solid-but-uninspired game against them. Michigan was in control for the whole game, but they could never put the game completely out of reach. UM led for the whole game, and had a 12 point lead (32-20) midway through the 1st half. They led by 9 (43-34) at halftime, and pushed the lead up to double figures right away after halftime, and never led by less than 10 points the rest of the way. The lead got as high as 19 a few times, and the final margin of 15 points is about right.
YSU didn’t play very well, and Michigan played their best game so far this season, which was a bad combination for YSU. UM jumped out to a quick 11 point lead (14-3), and steadily stretched it to 33 points at halftime (55-22). YSU cut the lead to “only” 27 points (56-29) early in the 2nd half, then the roof fell in on them. Once Michigan got going in the 2nd half, the rout was on. YSU quit playing defense, and just let UM slice through the lane for dunk after dunk. It was brutal, and fun to watch.
So, what did we learn about this season’s UM team this week? We learned that they can beat the cupcakes convincingly, and that the offense can be deadly when it gets going. We’ll have to see how that works against the tougher competition in the Big Ten, coming up soon.
The stats for the NKU game are pretty good. UM played a pretty good game, both offensively and defensively, but NKU played their best game of the season. UM shot well overall (28-for-53 = 52.8%), they shot 3-pointers well (8-for-18 = 44.4%), and they shot free throws pretty well (13-for-18 = 72.2%). They (barely) won the rebounding battle (29-28), and they won the turnover battle (10-14). It was a solid performance, but nothing to get excited about.
The stats for the YSU game are only slightly better. UM shot very well overall (40-for-65 = 61.5%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (12-for-30 = 40.0%), and they shot free throws pretty well (13-for-18 = 72.2%). They crushed YSU on the boards (46-23), and won the turnover battle decisively (6-12). It was a good, old fashioned butt kicking.
Individually, the big story was the two triple-doubles, but there were other stories as well. First of all, Walton returned to the lineup after missing 3 games with his ankle injury, and he played very well in both games. Besides the 10 points he had in the YSU game, he also had 16 points in his first game back, vs. NKU. LeVert also hit double figures in both games, with 13 points in the NKU game and 19 points vs. YSU. Duncan Robinson is now a starter, and he had double figures in both games (18 and 14). The other 2 starters almost hit double figures in both games. Ricky Doyle had 9 and 8 points, and Zak Irvin had 10 and 8.
The bench really contributed this week, especially in the YSU game. Three bench players hit double figures in one of the games: Mark Donnal had 11 important points vs. NKU, but failed to score in the YSU game. Aubrey Dawkins had 19 points in the YSU game, but failed to score in the NKU game. DJ Wilson sat out the NKU game with an ankle injury, but played in the last 6 minutes of the YSU game and scored 12 meaningless points.
The rest of the bench only contributed in the YSU game. Kameron Chatman had 8 points vs. YSU and 0 vs. NKU. Moritz Wagner had 7 points in the YSU game and 0 vs. NKU. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Andrew Dakich both played in both games, and failed to score.
There were a lot of significant moments this week:
This week, Michigan only plays one game, since Christmas is coming. On Wednesday (12/23/2015, 7:00 p.m., BTN), they play Bryant in Crisler Arena. This is the last “cupcake” game before the Big Ten season starts, and it should be another easy win.
Come by Crisler for the game, and check back next week to see what happened, and why.
This was a week of good, bad, and ugly (in reverse order):
All in all, it was an eventful week, although most of the news was bad.
The loss at SMU was very disheartening. UM had won 4 games in a row going into the SMU game, including a couple against decent competition (Texas and NC State), but they were completely outplayed, outmuscled, outshot, and outhustled by SMU. Michigan actually had a small lead (11-7) with 13:18 left in the 1st half, before SMU got warmed up. Still, UM was only down 3 points (21-18) with 4:00 left in the half, when SMU went on a crushing 15-4 run to end the half, up 14 (36-22). Michigan managed to cut into the lead a little at the start of the 2nd half, and got as close as 8 points (43-35) with 16:37 left in the game, before SMU pushed the lead back up to double figures, and never let UM get closer than 10 points the rest of the way. It was a dominating performance by SMU, and Michigan was never really in the game for the last 24 minutes.
The win over Delaware State was actually pretty lackluster. DSU is a terrible team, and there was no doubt that UM would beat them handily, it was more a matter of how sharp the Wolverines would look. The answer: sharp as a marble. It was a dreary, sloppy game, with boatloads of mistakes by both teams. DSU gave Michigan dozens of chances to look good, and UM threw most of them away. Way too many dumb turnovers, missed open shots, and mental mistakes. Michigan led the whole way, and once they pushed the lead into double figures (15-5, with 13:14 to go in the 1st half), they never let DSU any closer. The halftime score was 38-18, and with 7:00 left in the game the score was 66-21. Yes, DSU only scored 3 points in the first 13:08 of the 2nd half. It was a laugher.
Spike. What can I say? He will be missed, not just as a player, but as a leader. He’s a great guy, a really nice guy, and it’s a shame that his career ended with a whimper instead of a bang. He played all last season with injured hips, and he had double hip surgery over the summer. He hoped that he would be recovered and rehabbed enough to play this season, but it was obvious that he was struggling out there. He will be missed.
So, what did we learn about this season’s UM team this week? We learned that they are a long way from being a good team. They have the components they need to succeed, but they certainly don’t have the confidence or the mental toughness, yet.
The stats for the SMU game are sad, oh so sad. UM shot very poorly overall (21-for-60 = 35.0%), they shot 3-pointers very poorly (10-for-36 = 27.8%), and they even shot free throws poorly (6-for-12 = 50.0%). They were thoroughly embarrassed on the boards (20-45), but they did win the turnover battle (10-17). Yay?
The stats for the DSU game are better, but still not very impressive. UM shot pretty well overall (32-for-61 = 52.5%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (11-for-27 = 40.7%), but they still shot free throws poorly (5-for-10 = 50.0%). They won the rebounding battle (41-29) and the turnover battle (7-17). Against a weak opponent like DSU, they should have had even better stats than this.
Derrick Walton Jr. missed both games this week with his ankle injury, so Coach Beilein had to change the starting lineup again. In the SMU game, he used the same lineup as the previous game (Houston Baptist): Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (MAAR), Aubrey Dawkins, Ricky Doyle, Zak Irvin, and Caris LeVert. For the DSU game, he started Duncan Robinson instead of Dawkins.
MAAR was the only starter to hit double figures in both games this week, with 15 points vs. SMU and 11 vs. DSU. Robinson hit double figures in both games as well, but he was a bench player vs. SMU, and a starter vs. DSU. He had 15 and 11. Dawkins had 5 points as a starter vs. SMU, and 5 points as a bench player vs. DSU. All 5 of the starters in the DSU game hit double figures. Doyle had 10 points (along with 4 vs. SMU), Irvin had 12 (9 vs. SMU), and LeVert had 15 (5 vs. SMU). Before we go any further, let’s look at that last stat: LeVert had 5 points vs. SMU on 1-for-13 shooting (0-for-6 from 3-point range, 3-for-6 at the free throw line). That’s terrible. The team needs a lot more from him.
The bench chipped in a bit of scoring this week, mostly in the DSU game. As I mentioned above, Robinson scored 15 points vs. SMU as a bench player, and Dawkins had 5 points as a bench player vs. DSU. Kameron Chatman was the only other bench player to hit double figures this week, with 10 points vs. DSU (and 2 vs. SMU). Albrecht hit a 3-pointer in his last game as a Wolverine vs. SMU, and that was it for bench scoring vs. SMU. Moritz Wagner had 2 points vs. DSU, and 0 vs. SMU. Andrew Dakich had to “burn his redshirt” when Spike retired, and he scored 4 points vs. DSU in his first action this season. Mark Donnal played in both games, and failed to score. DJ Wilson played (and failed to score) in the SMU game, but sat out the DSU game with a sprained ankle.
This week, Michigan plays two games. On Tuesday (12/15/2015, 7:00 p.m., BTN), they play Northern Kentucky, then on Saturday (12/19/2015, 6:00 p.m., ESPN3), they play Youngstown State. Both games are in Crisler Arena. Both teams are “cupcakes”, and should be easy wins.
Come by Crisler for the games, and check back next week to see what happened, and why.