Nothing But ‘Net – Week #07 – 12/09/2019 – First Loss, First B1G Win

The (#4) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they lost one and won one.  On Tuesday (12/03/2019), they lost at (#1) Louisville 58-43, then on Friday (12/06/2019), they beat Iowa 103-91 in Crisler Arena.  The Louisville game was part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  Michigan’s record is now 8-1 (1-0 in the Big Ten).

What Happened?

We’ve got a lot to talk about!  First of all, there’s that “(#4)” in the first line of this article.  It wasn’t there the first six articles, because Michigan wasn’t ranked before this week.  That’s right: Michigan went from unranked to #4 in the polls in one week, which tied a record for the biggest jump ever.  They certainly deserved to be in the Top 25 after the way they played in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, although #4 seemed a little higher than necessary.  I was thinking #9 or #10.  We’ll see how the loss to #1 affects their ranking.

A word about the ranking numbers I use in these articles: I always use the AP Poll, not the Coaches Poll, and it comes out on Monday afternoons, which means that I need to use the “stale” rankings from the previous week in my articles.  Sorry.

On to the games.  After looking so good in the Bahamas, Michigan looked terrible in the game at Louisville.  Just terrible.  They were slow and they were sloppy.  Louisville didn’t look that good, especially in the first 10 minutes of the game, and Michigan could have won this game with an effort like they gave in the Bahamas, but they didn’t have it in them.  Coach Howard wouldn’t use it as an excuse after the game, but they sure looked like they were worn down after playing three games in three days, then traveling all day to get back to Ann Arbor, then going to classes on Monday.  Even if they weren’t that physically tired, they appeared mentally and emotionally spent.  It was not a good time to go into a hostile arena for their first true road game, against a team that had just moved up to the #1 ranking.

The “game flow” for the Louisville game is ugly.  Both teams were shooting bricks, and it was still 0-0 after 2:00.  It was tied (2-2) with 17:10 left in the half, and that was the last time it was tied.  Louisville (very) slowly pulled away, up 7-2 with 13:39 left to go.  Michigan finally scored again at the 13:22 mark to make it 7-4, and got a free throw at the 10:01 mark.  That’s 5 points in 10 minutes of “action”.  At that point it was 12-5, and it got worse: 18-5 with 7:46 to go.  Michigan finally scored again at the 6:49 mark, to make it 18-7, but Louisville promptly pushed their lead even higher, to 22-7 with 5:16 to go.  Michigan managed to finally score a few more points before halftime, and closed the gap to 10 points (28-18).

Let’s pause here to consider that score.  18 points in 20 minutes is unacceptable.  My bare minimum for acceptability is at least 20 points each half, 40 points total.  It’s hard to believe that the same UM team that scored 83, 73, and 82 points in three games last week could fumble their way to 18 points at halftime in this game.  They shot 20% overall in that half (6-for-30) and 16.7% from 3-point range (1-for-6).  Out of those 30 shots, at least half of them were slightly-to-completely open, including a few point-blank puppies.  It was very frustrating.

The 2nd half started with some encouraging play.  Michigan continued their slight run from the end of the 1st half, and actually got within 4 points (30-26) at the 16:59 mark, but that was the high-water mark for the game.  Louisville quickly pushed the lead back to 14 points (40-26), and Michigan never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.  Sad.

The “game flow” for the Iowa game is the exact opposite of the Louisville game.  As they have done so often this season, and even against Top-10 teams, Michigan took the lead for good early in the 1st half, and kept it the rest of the way.  In this case, the lead seesawed back and forth in the early going, and the score was tied 12-12 with 14:54 to go in the 1st half.  Michigan went ahead 14-12, and never trailed again.  They built the lead up to 8 points (21-13) with 12:39 to go, 9 points (38-29) with 5:30 to go, and 10 points (43-33) with 3:51 left in the half.  It was down to 5 points (43-38) with 2:53 to go, when UM went on a great 7-0 run to end the half up 12 points (50-38).  Note that Michigan scored more points (50) in the 1st half vs. Iowa than they did the whole game against Louisville (43).

In the 2nd half, Michigan kept the lead in the 10-13 point range, although Iowa did creep as close as 7 points once (78-71, with 7:38 to go).  The last couple minutes were painful to watch, as Iowa kept fouling, hoping that Michigan would miss enough free throws to cut into the lead, but it didn’t work.  It just made for slow, ugly basketball.  In the last 4:03 of the game, Iowa committed 9 fouls, all intentional, and Michigan shot 18 free throws, making 15 of them.  The Michigan lead went up, not down, from 10 points to as high as 16 points, before ending up at 12 points.  That’s crummy basketball and crummy coaching by Fran McCaffery, Iowa’s coach.

If you look back over my articles for the last 20 years, you’ll see that I seldom mention opposing players by name, but I have to give a shout-out to Luka Garza of Iowa.  He played one of the best games I’ve ever seen in person, scoring 44 points on 17-for-32 shooting, along with 10-for-13 from the free-throw line.  His only weakness was 3-point shooting (0-for-3).  He scored inside and mid-range, with great moves and a dead-eye shot.  He was unstoppable.  Three different Michigan players tried to contain him, and they all failed, although they did slow him down a little in the 2nd half.  Maybe his shooting arm got tired?  Anyway, he deserves credit for keeping Iowa in this game.  If he had had a “normal” game, Michigan would have won by 25 points or more.

Stats

The stats for the Louisville game are dreadful.  Michigan shot absolutely terribly overall (15-for-58 = 25.9%), they shot absolutely terribly from 3-point range (3-for-19 = 15.8%), but they did shoot free throws decently (10-for-15 = 66.7%).  It seemed like much more, but they only had 10 turnovers; they still lost the turnover battle (10-8), and the rebounding battle (41-48).  You aren’t going to win many games shooting 15.8% from 3-point range.

The stats for the Iowa game are much better.  Michigan shot very well overall (32-for-58 = 55.2%), they shot 3-pointers very well (10-for-24 = 41.7%), and they shot free throws very well (29-for-34 = 85.3%).  They still managed to lose the turnover battle (9-7), but they won the rebounding battle (38-30).

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers, Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, and Franz Wagner.  This appears to be the permanent starting lineup, now that Wagner is healthy.

Who Looked Good?

Well, since Teske was the only Michigan player who played well against Louisville, this is going to be a short list this week.  He was the only UM player to hit double figures against Louisville (18 points), along with 10 rebounds, for a nice double-double.  He scored 16 points against Iowa, and was the only Michigan player to hit double figures in both games.  On the negative side, he had a tough time containing Garza of Iowa.

Austin Davis didn’t have a bad game vs. Louisville because he didn’t play in that game.  He did have a good game vs. Iowa (8 points on 4-for-6 shooting), and he probably did the best at slowing down Garza of Iowa.  He’s been playing much better lately.

There’s your list of who looked good.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Simpson almost made the “who looked good” list, with 9 points vs. Louisville and 16 points vs. Iowa.  The biggest problems were that he shot a lousy percentage vs. Louisville (4-for-11), and he had more turnovers (4) than assists (3) in that game.  He played much better vs. Iowa.

Wagner was another player who almost made the “who looked good” list.  He had a very poor game vs. Louisville (5 points and 3 turnovers), but he was the star of the Iowa game, with a game-high 18 points, including 9-for-10 shooting free throws.

Livers probably had the worst game of all the Michigan players vs. Louisville.  He only scored 3 points, on 1-for-9 shooting (1-for-4 from 3-point range).  He had a solid game vs. Iowa, with 14 points, but his showing vs. Louisville moved him to the “who looked not-so-good” list.

Brooks also had a very poor game vs. Louisville, with 2 points (on free throws), shooting 0-for-6.  He also bounced back in the Iowa game, with 13 points, but his disappearance in the Louisville game hurt.

David DeJulius had a great tournament in the Bahamas, but he couldn’t get going this week.  He had 2 points in each game, on mediocre shooting.

Colin Castleton also played well in the Bahamas, but couldn’t keep it going this week.  He had 2 points vs. Louisville and 4 points vs. Iowa.  He took an elbow to his lip in the Iowa game, but went back in after getting stitches.  He also was ineffective at containing Garza of Iowa.

Brandon Johns, Jr. had a lousy game vs. Louisville (2 points), but a very good game vs. Iowa (12 points, on 4-for-6 shooting, 2-for-3 from 3-point range).  He also had 8 rebounds vs. Iowa, 5 of them offensive rebounds.  Hopefully, he’ll use the Iowa game as a springboard for the rest of the season.

Who Else Played?

Cole Bajema, Adrien Nuñez, and Luke Wilson all got in during the last minute of the Louisville game, but none of them scored.

Who Didn’t Play?

C.J. Baird, Jaron Faulds, and Rico Ozuna-Harrison didn’t get in either game.

What Does It Mean?

Well, it wasn’t very likely that Michigan was going to go undefeated this season, and if they had to lose a game, losing on the road to the #1 team in the nation wasn’t too embarrassing.  What was embarrassing was how poorly they played.  Fortunately, they bounced back nicely vs. Iowa.  Hopefully, they won’t get as worn down as they looked vs. Louisville for the rest of the season.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, one on the road and one at home.  On Wednesday (12/11/2019, 9:00 p.m. EST, BTN), they play at Illinois, then on Saturday (12/14/2019, 12:00 p.m., CBS), they play (#13) Oregon in Crisler Arena.

Illinois is currently 6-3 (0-1 in the Big Ten), with no impressive wins, and losses to (#21) Arizona, Miami (FL), and (#3) Maryland.  They got crushed by Arizona, but they almost beat Miami and Maryland.  They’ve got a hot freshman 7-footer (Kofi Cockburn) who’s averaging a double-double (15.4 points/game, 10.7 rebounds/game), so that’s going to be a challenge.  It’s always tough to win on the road, and it’s even tougher in the Big Ten.

Oregon is currently 7-2, with wins over (#13) Memphis and (#13) Seton Hall.  Their two losses were in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament to (#8) Gonzaga (by 1 point in overtime) and to (#6) North Carolina (by 4 points).  Even though they didn’t play Michigan in the Bahamas, I did see them play down there, and they’re tough.  They’ve got decent height, and they never give up.  This is the best non-conference opponent Michigan will play at home this season.  Michigan will have to play like they did in the Bahamas to win this game.

Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!

UMGOBLUE.COM

Nothing But ‘Net – 12/04/2019 – Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Today marks 20 years since I posted my first article on UMGoBlue.com.  Back then, the Internet was a much different, much smaller place.  The UM Club of Greater Phoenix had just transferred the MGoBlue.com domain over to the University for use as their official site, Phil had just grabbed UMGoBlue.com, and there were no other UM fan sites around.  I held the ownership of the MGoBlog.com domain, which I eventually transferred to Brian Cook and his group, and UMHoops.com didn’t exist.

In the last 20 years, I have posted 456 articles, about 22 per season.  So much has happened in the last 20 years, and I decided to look back.

1999-2000

When I first started writing these articles, Phil hadn’t done his marketing magic yet, so they weren’t branded as “Nothing But ‘Net”.  Also, instead of a weekly article, I wrote an article after each game.  The first game I covered was Michigan’s stirring 72-61 victory over Chattanooga on 12/04/1999.  Brian Ellerbe was the head coach, and the team was pretty young, with 5 promising freshmen: Jamal Crawford, Kevin Gaines, Gavin Groninger, Lavell Blanchard, and Leland Anderson.  Unfortunately, Crawford was forced into the NBA too early, Anderson left after one season, and Gaines left after two seasons.  Blanchard was a star, and Groninger contributed, but losing Crawford and Gaines really hurt.

The Tommy Amaker Era

Tommy Amaker took over as head coach for the 2001-2002 season, and coached for 6 seasons.  His teams were good-but-not-great, with an NIT Championship in 2004.  He was a nice man, and a good coach, but he’s better suited for Harvard than Michigan.

The John Beilein Era

John Beilein was named head coach for the 2007-2008 season, and he coached for 12 very successful seasons.  He led Michigan to 2 Big Ten regular season championships (2012, 2014), 2 Big Ten Tournament championships (2017, 2018), and 2 Final Four appearances (2013, 2018).  He was a very nice guy, and a very good coach.  I was sorry to see him leave for the NBA.

The Juwan Howard Era

Juwan Howard took over as head coach for the (current) 2019-2020 season.  We shall see how he does, but things look very good so far.

All NBN Teams

I’ve enjoyed watching Michigan basketball since my undergrad days (at Michigan, of course) starting in 1974.  Along the way, I’ve certainly had some favorite players (Gary Grant and Butch Wade, among others), but I decided to list my picks for the best players over the last 20 years, the Nothing But ‘Net (NBN) Era.

1st Team

C Moe Wagner

F Glenn Robinson III

F Duncan Robinson

G Trey Burke

G Caris Levert

2nd Team

C Jon Teske

F Tim Hardaway, Jr.

F LaVell Blanchard

G Nik Stauskas

G Derrick Walton, Jr.

3rd Team

C Mitch McGary

F D.J. Wilson

F Isaiah Livers

G Daniel Horton

G Manny Harris

Honorable Mention

C Jordan Morgan, Chris Hunter, Graham Brown, Courtney Sims

F Lester Abram, Chris Young, Bernard Robinson, Jr., Deshawn Sims, Iggy Brazdeikis

G Dion Harris, Zack Novak, Darius Morris, Zak Irvin, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Jordan Poole, Zavier Simpson

Memories From The NBN Era

Favorite Players

The players listed above in “All NBN Teams” are the best players in that era, but some of my favorite players didn’t necessarily make the lists.  Here they are, in alphabetical order:

  • Spike Albrecht – He wasn’t the most talented player on the court, but he made the most out of the talent he had.  I loved the way he’d hang back after a made UM basket and steal the opponent’s inbounds pass for another quick basket.  He pulled that off several times.
  • Graham Brown – OK, I’ll admit it: I have a soft spot in my heart for undersized centers.  Jordan Morgan, Chris Young, and Graham Brown all should have been forwards, but “played up” because the team needed them.  They all had memorable games, despite going up against guys 3-4” taller than they were.
  • Trey Burke – Probably the best Michigan player in the last 20 years, he was fun to watch.  He played with joy and confidence.
  • Jordan Morgan – Another “forward playing center to help his team”.  He was a nice guy, and a team leader.
  • Zack Novak – Talk about “playing up”: Zack was way undersized to play forward, but he did it anyway, and he did a great job.  He was one of the great team leaders in the last 20 years.
  • Brent Petway – Brent wasn’t a very polished basketball player, but he was perhaps the most athletic Michigan player in the NBN era.  He sure could dunk.  I saw him do his cartwheel dunk twice in warm-ups; too bad it wasn’t something he could do in a game.
  • Glenn Robinson III – GR3 was another player with athletic ability to burn.  His 360 dunk at Minnesota was an all-time highlight.
  • Moe Wagner – Moe was one of the most exciting players in Michigan basketball history, because he could do things no other player had ever done: ball-handle and shoot 3-pointers like a guard, but do it in a 6’11” center’s body.  He was virtually unguardable.  Ask Nick Ward.
  • Chris Young – I listed Chris as a forward in my All NBN Teams list above, but he was forced into playing center for much of his Michigan career, and he gave it his all.

Favorite Moments

These are my favorite moments from the last 20 years, in chronological order.

  • The win over (#4) Duke in Crisler in 2008.
  • The win over (#15) UConn in Crisler in 2010.
  • Trey Burke’s incredible shot off the (very) high glass over Jared Sullinger at the end of the 2012 Ohio State game in Crisler to seal the win.
  • Trey Burke’s steal-and-stuff of Keith Appling in the last minute of the 2013 Michigan State game in Crisler to win the game.
  • Trey Burke’s buzzer-beater to send the 2013 NCAA Tournament game against Kansas into overtime, which UM eventually won.
  • The 2013 Final Four in Atlanta.  I went with my son, and we had a great time, despite the results of the championship game.  Burke’s block was clean.
  • Austin Hatch’s free throw in the closing moments of the 2014 Coppin State game, his only point at Michigan.  After what he went through to get to that point…
  • The 2017 Michigan State game in Crisler, when Michigan was up 30 points at the first timeout of the second half, and the basketball band went up into the MSU cheering section (which wasn’t doing much cheering) and serenaded them.
  • The Illinois game in the 2017 Big Ten Tournament, when Michigan had to play in their practice uniforms, since their game uniforms were trapped in the plane that slid off the runway the day before.  Heck, that whole tournament was a favorite memory.
  • Jordan Poole’s buzzer-beater to beat Houston in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
  • The 2018 Final Four in San Antonio.  I went with my wife, and we had a great time, despite the results of the championship game.
  • The 2019 Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.  I went with my wife and my son, and we had a great time, including 3 impressive wins for the championship.

The Future

I intend to keep writing these articles as long as Michigan plays basketball.  They may not win them all, and they may have some down seasons, but I’ll keep pulling for them and reporting what I see along the way.

Go Blue!

UMGOBLUE.COM

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #06 – 12/02/2019 – Battle 4 Atlantis Champions!

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played three games this week in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, and they won all three of them, and the championship!  On Wednesday (11/27/2019), they beat Iowa State 83-76, on Thursday (11/28/2019), they beat (#6) North Carolina 73-64, and on Friday (11/29/2019), they beat (#8) Gonzaga 82-64.  Michigan’s record is now 7-0.

The Tournament And The Resort

Wow!  What a tournament!  I took my wife (Cindy), my son (Eric), and Eric’s best friend (Nathen) to Atlantis for the tournament, and we had a great time.  Paradise Island is beautiful, the Atlantis resort is awesome, and the basketball games were fabulous.  I don’t think many “experts” expected Michigan to beat any of the four ranked teams ([#6] North Carolina, [#8] Gonzaga, [#11] Oregon, and [#13] Seton Hall), much less beat two of them and win the tournament, but that’s exactly what they did.  Not only did they win all three games, they won them all decisively.  In fact, Michigan led at halftime in all three games, and never trailed in the 2nd half of any of them.  They led by as many as 15 points in the 2nd half against Iowa State, as many as 24 points in the 2nd half against North Carolina, and as many as 21 points in the 2nd half against Gonzaga.  There was no doubt that Michigan was the best team in the tournament, and it wasn’t even close.

Before we talk about the games, we need to talk about the fans.  There were fans at the games for all 8 teams, but there were way more fans there rooting for North Carolina than the other 7 teams combined.  They brought an incredible number of fans, and they were loud and rowdy and very confident, that is, until the 2nd half of their game against Michigan.  That quieted them down.  Michigan had a respectable number of fans at the tournament, but we were outnumbered in all 3 games.  Iowa State probably had the 2nd most fans there, after UNC, and they were also loud and rowdy and confident, until the 2nd half of their game against Michigan.  Gonzaga brought more fans than Michigan, and they were pretty loud, but the Michigan fan group kept up with them.  Michigan didn’t play Seton Hall, Oregon, Alabama, or Southern Mississippi, so I didn’t get to see their fans during a game.  There were quite a few Seton Hall fans around the pool, although Oregon, Alabama, and Southern Mississippi didn’t have as many fans.  I was proud of the great job the small-but-mighty Michigan fan group did of cheering on the team.  We were the best of all the fan groups on a per-person basis.

This was a fun, laid-back, mellow, intimate tournament.  The arena is a converted ballroom, with seating for 3500 fans.  Our seats were right behind the basket, near the end of the UM bench.  We could hear the players on the court, and they could hear us, especially the opponents when they were shooting free throws (nice job, Eric).  The stands were never full; here are the attendance numbers for UM’s games:

  • ISU – 1531
  • UNC – 1828
  • Gonzaga – 1503

One of the best aspects of this tournament was being able to mingle with the players.  They stayed at the same hotels we did, they ate at the same restaurants, and they used the same pools.  We saw them often, and the UM players were very friendly, polite, and cooperative.  We talked with them, and took photos with them.  It was great.

What Happened?

The way the tournament bracket was set up, the most important game was the first game.  If a team won that game, they were in the winner’s bracket, and the worst they could do was 4th place.  However, if they lost the first game, they were in the loser’s bracket, and the best they could do was 5th place.  Both Michigan and Iowa State realized this, and their first-round game was fierce.  ISU jumped out to a 9-point lead (16-7) with 13:46 to go in the 1st half, but Michigan went ahead 2 minutes later, 17-16, with 11:37 left.  ISU pulled back ahead (33-32) with 5:06 left, but that was their last lead of the game.  Michigan finished the half on a 9-4 run, to lead by 4 at halftime (41-37), then came out in the 2nd half and pushed the lead up to 13 (52-39) with 16:30 to go.  ISU got as close as 9 points a few times, but Michigan still led by 12 points (77-65) with 3:01 left.  ISU gave it one last push, and got as close as 5 points (81-76) with 7 seconds left, but Michigan made 2 free throws to ice the game.  It was a hard-fought game, but Michigan was clearly the better team.

No one was surprised that North Carolina won their opening-round game against overmatched Alabama, but it was a little surprising that they only won by 9 points (76-67), and they only led by 3 at one point in the 2nd half.  Still, no one really expected Michigan to be able to stay with UNC for 40 minutes.  The game started out poorly for Michigan, with UNC jumping out to a 9 point lead (13-4) with 14:39 to go in the 1st half.  UM finally went ahead 21-20 at the 9:00 mark, and the lead went back and forth for the next 5 minutes.  UM was still ahead by 1 point (30-29) with 4:03 to go, when they went on a 9-5 run to close out the half, leading 39-34.  The lead was still 5 points (41-36) with 17:16 to go when Michigan went on a glorious 19-0 run to put the game almost out of reach, 60-36, with 11:21 to go.  It was a good thing Michigan had a 24-point lead to work with, because UNC came storming back, and got as close as 8 points (69-61) with 2:46 left, but UM pushed the lead back up to 11 points and won by 9.  Once again, there was no doubt that Michigan was the better team.

In the championship game against Gonzaga, Michigan fell behind early again, this time 12-7 with 13:43 to go in the 1st half.  Michigan went ahead 14-12 at the 12:16 mark, and never trailed again.  Michigan led by 8 (28-20) with 7:12 left in the half, and pushed the lead up to 11 points (36-25) at halftime.  The Zags came back early in the 2nd half, and got within 2 points (38-36) with 16:00 left in the game.  Michigan pushed the lead back into double digits (50-38) with 13:35 to go, then to 19 points (62-43) with 10:08 left, and never let Gonzaga get closer than 11 points the rest of the way, winning by 18.  It was a dominant win.

Stats

The stats for the Iowa State game are pretty impressive.  Michigan shot very well overall (30-for-52 = 57.7%), they shot 3-pointers very well (10-for-21 = 47.6%), and they shot free throws well enough (13-for-18 = 72.2%).  They won the rebounding battle handily (39-28), but lost the turnover battle badly (22-9).  The 3-point shooting and the rebounding were the difference in this one.

The stats for the North Carolina game aren’t quite as impressive as the ISU stats, but they’re still pretty good.  Michigan shot well overall (28-for-56 = 50.0%), they shot 3-pointers well (11-for-26 = 42.3%), and they shot free throws decently (6-for-10 = 60.0%).  They lost the rebounding battle, barely (36-34), and they lost the turnover battle (16-11).  They won this game with defense, holding UNC to 15.4% shooting from 3-point range (2-for-13).

The stats for the Gonzaga game are also impressive.  Michigan shot very well overall (34-for-63 = 54.0%), they shot 3-pointers very well (12-for-23 = 52.2%), and they barely shot free throws (2-for-5 = 40.0%).  They won the rebounding battle (38-37) and the turnover battle (11-13).  Once again, the 3-point shooting was the difference.  Michigan made 12 3-pointers, Gonzaga made 6.  That’s the exact 18-point margin of victory right there.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers, Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, and Franz Wagner.

Wait, what?  Franz Wagner?  I thought he was out until at least the first week of December.  Well, he must have healed quickly, because he started and played and contributed in all three games.  It was a very pleasant surprise.

Who Looked Good?

Teske!  Jon Teske was a beast in this tournament.  He hit double figures in all 3 games (11, 10, and 19), and he had 6, 8, and (career-high) 15 rebounds to go with those points.  He also had 9 blocked shots over the 3 games, and altered a couple dozen other shots.  He played hard, he played strong, and he was easily the best player in the tournament.  Easily.  He won the tournament MVP, and he deserved it.  He even hit some 3-pointers: 1-for-2 vs. ISU, 2-for-4 vs. UNC, and 1-for-3 vs. Gonzaga.  The other teams couldn’t guard him, and they couldn’t score on him.  It was awesome to watch.

Livers actually scored more points than Teske (17, 12, and 21), and he played good defense, but he wasn’t the game-altering factor that Teske was.  Still, he joined Teske on the All Tournament team.  He hit a career-high 5 3-pointers (on 8 shots) in the Gonzaga game.

Simpson only hit double figures in 2 of the 3 games (10, 7, and 13), but he hit double figures for assists in 2 of the 3 games (13, 6, and 13).  He was limited to 17 minutes in the UNC game, due to foul trouble.

Brooks almost hit double figures in all 3 games (8, 24, and 8), and his 24 points against UNC were crucial.  He played well in all 3 games, especially filling in for Simpson when he had foul trouble vs. UNC.

Wagner only hit double figures in 1 of the 3 games (6, 3, and 10), but he played pretty well for someone who had only been practicing with both hands for 2 days.  He looked a little rusty out there, with some careless turnovers vs. UNC, but once he started playing instead of thinking, he looked much better.  He’s going to hit a bunch of 3-pointers this season, and he hit his first attempt of the season, but he didn’t have a particularly good tournament shooting 3-pointers: 2-for-3, 1-for-5, 0-for-1.

David DeJulius came off the bench as “instant offense”, and he delivered, with double figures in 2 of the 3 games (14, 11, and 9).  He shot 3-pointers pretty well: 2-for-3, 1-for-3, and 3-for-5.  He and Brooks shared point guard duty when Simpson was on the bench, and they both did well.  DeJulius wasn’t at all intimidated going up against a lottery pick guard (Cole Anthony from UNC).

Colin Castleton went in for Teske in each game to give Big Jon a breather, and he held his own while he was in there.  He did score in double figures in 1 of the 3 games (10, 4, and 0), and he played good defense.  He’s not as big/strong/tough as Teske, he’s more of a finesse player, but he played tough down low on defense.

Austin Davis played 7 strong, important minutes in the ISU game, when Teske had some foul trouble, and he did very well.  He only had 2 points and 2 rebounds, but he didn’t get pushed around in the paint, and he played solid defense.  He also played in the last minute of the Gonzaga game.

Brandon Johns, Jr. played in all 3 games, and scored a few points (2, 2, and 0), and grabbed a few rebounds (5, 3, and 0).  He also played good interior defense.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Adrien Nuñez went from a starter to an afterthought in one game.  Once Wagner was cleared to play, he slid way down the bench.  He did hit a 3-pointer in the ISU game, for his only points of the tournament.  He didn’t play in the UNC game.

Who Else Played?

Cole Bajema played in the last minute of the Gonzaga game, and he hit his only 2-point basket.

Who Didn’t Play?

Even though Michigan opened up impressive leads in all 3 games, they were all close in the final minutes, so Coach Howard couldn’t put in the practice squad (C.J. Baird, Jaron Faulds, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson).

What Does It Mean?

After only playing against one team with a pulse (Creighton) in the first 4 games, Michigan finally got a chance to play against some solid competition, and they responded the way we had hoped they would.  They looked VERY solid against 2 teams in the Top 10.  There were a few chinks in the armor: too many turnovers, and a tendency to start slowly and let the opponent chip away at a big lead in the last 10 minutes of the game, but they looked VERY good building up those big leads against quality competition.  VERY good.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, one on the road and one at home.  On Tuesday (12/03/2019, 7:30 p.m., ESPN), they play at (#2) Louisville, then on Friday (12/06/2019, 6:30 p.m., FS1), they play Iowa in Crisler Arena.  The Louisville game is part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Louisville is currently 7-0, with no significant wins or losses.  They’ve got some height (one 6’11” player and two 6’10” players), and tons of senior leadership.  They are very tough on their home court, and this would be a major upset if Michigan could sneak by them.  This is Michigan’s first true road game, and Louisville will probably be ranked #1 when the polls come out this afternoon.

Iowa is currently 5-2, with a win over (#12) Texas Tech and losses to DePaul and San Diego State.  They’ve got some height (two 6’11” players and one 6’10” player), and a nice collection of upperclassmen.  They’re picked to come in 8th in the Big Ten, so this is a “toss up” game.

Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!

UMGOBLUE.COM

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #05 – 11/25/2019 – A Pre-Holiday Cupcake

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they won it.  On Friday (11/22/2019), they beat Houston Baptist 111-68 in Crisler Arena.  Michigan’s record is now 4-0.

What Happened?

This one was over early.  Michigan jumped out to 12-2, 26-4, and 38-10 leads in the 1st half, and HBU never challenged them.  The lead was 37 points (63-26) at halftime, and never dipped below 30 points in the 2nd half.  The only questions were: would Michigan break 100 points? (yes, easily), and what would the final margin of victory be? (43 points).

HBU is not a very good team, and Michigan played well.  Coach Howard substituted liberally, and played his “deep bench” players with a decent amount of time left.  It was a fun game.

Stats

Things got a little ragged out there a couple of times, with sloppy turnovers and quick 3-point attempts, but the stats are still very impressive.  Michigan shot very well overall (43-for-77 = 55.8%), they shot 3-pointers very well (14-for-29 = 48.3%), and they shot free throws well enough (11-for-16 = 68.8%).  They won the rebounding battle (46-36) and the turnover battle (12-19).  Those are dominating statistics.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers, Adrien Nuñez, Zavier Simpson, and Jon Teske.

Who Looked Good?

Simpson had a career game, with new career highs in points (22) and assists (14).  He hit 22 points very efficiently (8-for-10 shooting overall, 3-for-4 from 3-point range).  He even had 5 rebounds.

Livers also hit a new career high for points, with 24.  He shot even better than Simpson: 9-for-10 overall, 4-for-5 from 3-point range.

Teske didn’t hit double figures in points (3), but he did have 12 rebounds.

Colin Castleton had his best game so far, with 14 points, a career high.  He also shot very efficiently (6-for-7 overall, 0-for-0 from 3-point range).  More than just the points, he looked solid and confident out there, and played good defense.

David DeJulius was the other Michigan player in double figures, with 10 points.  He shot fairly well (4-for-9 overall, 2-for-4 from 3-point range), and looked good out there.

Brooks played a pretty good game, even though he didn’t quite hit double figures (9 points).  He did have 7 assists, which is good, but he shot pretty poorly (4-for-12 overall, 1-for-2 from 3-point range).

Brandon Johns, Jr. only had 5 points, but he had 8 rebounds and a blocked shot.

Cole Bajema had a career high in points (5) and minutes (13).  He also made the first 3-pointer of his career.

Austin Davis played for 7 minutes, and looked good, with 4 points (on 2-for-3 shooting), 3 rebounds, and NO fouls!

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Nuñez had 8 points, but he shot terribly: 3-for-11 overall, 2-for-10 from 3-point range.

Who Else Played?

Coach Howard played everyone, including 3 minutes for the practice squad.  Just about everyone scored.

C.J. Baird hit another 3-pointer!

Jaron Faulds missed his only field goal attempt, but did hit 2 free throws for his first points at Michigan.

Rico Ozuna-Harrison made a 2-point basket.

Luke Wilson missed both of his field goal attempts, but did get an assist on Rico’s basket.

Who Didn’t Play?

Franz Wagner still has a broken wrist, and didn’t suit up.  He’s out until at least early December.

What Does It Mean?

HBU was an overmatched opponent, so it’s hard to learn much from this game.  It was very encouraging to see Michigan play hard and play well for 40 minutes.  There were a few sloppy moments, but it was usually a result of getting carried away and trying to get too fancy.  When they settled down and played the way they’ve been coached, they looked very good.

The games are about to get harder (see below).  Michigan could face 3 ranked opponents in their next 4 games.  That will tell us a lot more about this team.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays three games, in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.  On Wednesday (11/27/2019, 12:00 p.m., ESPN), they play Iowa State.  On Thursday (11/28/2019, 1:30 p.m. or 6:30 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2), they play either the winner or the loser of the Alabama/(#5) North Carolina game.  On Friday (11/29/2019, TBA, ESPN or ESPN2 or ESPNU or ESPNNews), they play one of the teams from the bottom half of the bracket ([#8] Gonzaga, [#11] Oregon, [#13] Seton Hall, and Southern Mississippi).  The complete bracket is here.

Iowa State is currently 3-1, with no significant wins or losses.  They were 23-12 last season, won the Big 12 Tournament, and lost in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament to Ohio State.  They don’t have much height (one 6’10” player, one 6’9” player), and they got about the same mix of upper- and underclassmen as Michigan.  It should be a fairly even matchup.

The other teams represent quite a challenge, with 4 teams in the top 15.  It should be quite the tournament.

Check back next week to see how Michigan did down there.

Go Blue!

UMGOBLUE.COM

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #04 – 11/18/2019 – Two Solid Wins

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won both of them.  On Tuesday (11/12/2019), they beat Creighton 79-69, then on Friday (11/15/2019), they beat Elon 70-50.  Both games were in Crisler Arena.  Michigan’s record is now 3-0.

The Creighton game was part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, which are essentially the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.  For the second year in a row, the Big Ten won the challenge, 5-3.

The Elon game was associated with the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament that Michigan is playing in over the Thanksgiving break.  Elon is in what they call the “Mainland Bracket”, which means that they play one game “on the mainland” (as opposed to the Bahamas, where the “Championship Bracket” is played) against one of the “Championship Bracket” teams, in this case Michigan, and then they play 2 other teams in the “Mainland Bracket” at home.

What Happened?

Unlike the season opener against Appalachian State, Michigan played well for 40 minutes against two opponents this week.  They didn’t have a miserable scoring drought like they suffered in the App State game.

The Creighton game was close for the whole 1st half, with Michigan holding an 8-point lead (31-23) with 6:50 left in the half, and Creighton holding a 3-point lead (41-38) at halftime.  The game was still close with 12:27 left and UM only leading by 4 points (56-52).  Over the next 3 minutes, Michigan went on an 8-3 run to push the lead up to 9 points (64-55), and they managed to keep the lead between 5-12 points the rest of the way, winning by 10.

The Elon game was also close for most of the 1st half, with Michigan up by only 4 points (26-22) with 2:42 left in the half.  UM closed the half on a 5-0 run to push the lead up to 9 points (31-22) at halftime.  The lead was still only 8 points (34-26) with 18:45 left, when Michigan went on an 11-2 run to push the lead up to 17 points (45-28) with 15:19 left.  Elon never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way, with Michigan winning by 20.

Stats

In the Creighton game, Michigan shot very well overall (30-for-53 = 56.6%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (9-for-23 = 39.1%), and they shot free throws very well (10-for-12 = 83.3%).  They lost the rebounding battle badly (27-38) and the turnover battle as well (11-8).  Not only did UM lose the rebounding battle, they gave up 18 offensive rebounds.  Wow.  That’s an amazing stat for a winning team.

In the Elon game, Michigan shot fairly well overall (28-for58 = 48.3%), they shot 3-pointers fairly well (7-for-23 = 30.4%), and they shot free throws decently (7-for-10 = 70.0%).  They won the rebounding battle (38-31), but lost the turnover battle (10-7).

Who Started?

In both games, the starters were Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers, Adrien Nuñez, Zavier Simpson, and Jon Teske.

Who Looked Good?

Teske had two nice, solid games, with 17 points vs. Creighton and 16 points vs. Elon.  He also had 7 rebounds in each game.

Simpson also hit double figures in both games, with 17 and 11 points.  He had 9 assists vs. Creighton and 7 vs. Elon.

Livers only hit double figures in one game, with a team-high 22 points vs. Creighton.  He came close in the Elon game, with 9 points.

Brooks also hit double figures in one game (10 points vs. Elon) and came close in the other game (7 points vs. Creighton).

The only other player with a double figures game this week was David DeJulius, with 10 points (and 8 rebounds) vs. Elon.  He came close to double figures in the other game, with 9 points vs. Creighton.  He’s starting to be a force coming off the bench.

Nuñez had 3 and 5 points, including a 3-pointer in each game.

Brandon Johns, Jr. had 2 and 5 points, and looked OK out there.

Colin Castleton had 2 points in each game.  He looked pretty comfortable out there.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

No one had a bad game.

Who Else Played?

The Creighton game was too close to play any of the non-mainstream players, but the Elon game was well enough in hand that C.J. Baird and Cole Bajema got in for the last minute.  Baird hit a 2-point basket.

Who Didn’t Play?

Franz Wagner still has a broken wrist, and didn’t suit up.  He’s out until at least early December.

Austin Davis was the only “regular” player who didn’t get in.

Baird played, but the rest of the practice squad (Jaron Faulds, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson) didn’t get in.

What Does It Mean?

We can’t learn much from the Elon game, but Creighton is a decent opponent, and Michigan handled them pretty well.  The really encouraging part was the mental aspect: the Michigan players didn’t panic when Creighton went ahead for a while, they just kept playing the game the way they’re supposed to.  They’re learning, and getting better.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan only plays one game, in Crisler Arena.  On Friday (11/22/2019, 7:00 p.m., BTN-Plus), they play Houston Baptist.  Houston Baptist was 12-18 last season, and they don’t look to be much better this season.  They don’t have much height (one guy at 6’9” and another at 6’10”), and they’ve got a pretty young team.  Michigan should handle them pretty easily.

Come on down to Crisler to check out this season’s team, and stop by Sections 209-210 to say hi.

Go Blue!