With another big loss, this time on the road at Penn State, Michigan’s hopes of making the NCAA tournament are rapidly dwindling. I’ll save the actual bracket/schedule analysis for another day, but let’s talk about the embarrassment at the home of the Nittany Lions.

Coming into this game, Penn State appeared to be one of the few teams that Michigan actually matched up well with. No big inside presence, most of their scoring done by little guys. Of course, like the Indiana game, that meant the Nittany Lions shot the lights out, regardless of how open they were. Michigan, on the other hand, couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn (requisite Stu Douglass/Zack Novak “Hoosiers” joke here).

Originally, I thought that the great shooting for Michigan opponents in every game must have been a weird statistical anomaly. As the evidence mounts however, it’s become clear: this Wolverines squad just lets opponents make a lot of shots. I don’t really get it either, as if you watch the games, most of the shots that are going in aren’t great looks, and many of them are downright horrible. I think part of it is a confidence thing. Opponents know Michigan won’t score (the great shooting games by opponents are always matched by horrid shooting nights for Michigan), and they can throw up any shot without fear that missing it will result in points the other way. Combine that with slightly demoralized defense carrying over from the offensive side, and opponents can see defeat in Michigan’s eyes, and know they can score at will.

Speaking of Michigan’s shooting, it was god-awful this game. When DeShawn Sims doesn’t get things going inside, and neither Harris nor any one of the assortment of other guys can get to the basket, the offense basically consists of jacking up a bunch of threes. Of course, not all of these are bad looks, but this team has proven that they really can’t hit the threes unless other areas of the offense are moving as well. This team badly needs another scorer who doesnt rely solely on the three-point shot.

Manny Harris is getting very frustrated by not getting any calls, and I really can’t blame him. Did the refs have an offseason seminar where they determined that they had called too many fouls on guys guarding Manny last year? He couldn’t get a call if somebody punched him in the face. Compunding that issue is the fact that really soft fouls get called pretty much everywhere else (on both ends of the court), which Manny sees and gets more frustrated/demoralized.

And so, unless Michigan can right the ship very quickly, it’s NIT-bound very soon. Of course, based on last year, how bad is that, really? It seems like a good start to the year really caused expectations to be adjusted into the realm of “unrealistic.”

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4 Comments so far

  1. Steve says...

    I was at the game last night and sat close enough to the Michigan bench that I could clearly observe what was going on during the timeouts and on the bench. What I saw/heard was not good at all.

    I think JB is at risk of losing this team. Why?

    I’ll start with LLP. If you noticed Douglas played quite a bit of minutes last night. It was the first or second time down the court and LLP was either not playing D or playing very poor D. JB brought him to the bench and had a “discussion”, after which LLP watched a lot of the next minutes.

    When he re-entered his D wasn’t much better and out he came again. Douglas was in for his D, or at least that’s how it looked from the seats since they needed a scorer and Douglas certainly isn’t a scorer but JB’s offense scores off the defense.

    Next thing that bothered me was that during another timeout JB was again preaching D. It was right around the time that the PSU guy was bombing 3’s in the 2nd half. Before the timeout was over and the coach was done addressing the team, Manny got up and walked right through the huddle in front of the coach. A big no-no if you’ve played ball. JB “told” him to sit.

    With those 2 guards having their heads not in the game that put more weight on the younger players Novak and Douglas, neither of which is ready for that responsibility yet.

    The one positive was that PSU had nothing for Simms and it was quite obvious. Unfortunately there was no other scorer ready to help and Simms was the only player in double figures at the end of the night.

    I can’t blame this loss on the officials. There was enough missed calls in both directions that I think evened the officiating. Until the players buy into JB’s system Michigan will continue to flounder. The real test of a team comes during adversity and right now Michigan is failing the test.

  2. Benjamin says...

    I disagree wholeheartedly with you Steve. The players are committed to Coach, and he to them. What you witnessed was a young team being very frustrated with themselves. Shots simply were not dropping…and haven’t been the last three games. Its tough to put a smile on your face when you are down almost 30 points in the second half.

    LLP has shot awful in the last few and has had some turnovers. So, Stu gets his some of his time- this is what happens.

    As a sidenote, “Douglas certainly isn’t a scorer”. Has he been cold as of late? Yes. Is he a scorer? Yes, absolutely. 9 points last night.

  3. Steve says...

    Ben I respect your disagreement. The last sentence summed up what I witnessed “The real test of a team comes during adversity and right now Michigan is failing the test.”

    I think that if they had bought into JB’s system 100% they wouldn’t be so quick to abandon it in tough times. However JB is doing the right thing and yanking those that aren’t doing their job. I like him more as a coach after last night because he never stopped coaching/teaching.

    I don’t bang on Douglas like many on this board and my comment about him and scoring was only in relation to him subbing for LLP who is more of a scoring threat.

    I also thought Sheppard looked good too.

  4. Benjamin says...

    Understood, Steve. Great comments.

    “JB’s system 100% they wouldn’t be so quick to abandon it in tough times”- Beilein’s system is not just the 1-3-1, which they thankfully do abandon when it is not working.

    In fact, they should have ditched the 1-3-1 earlier in the night, PSU was getting way too many open looks from beyond the arc.

    And, I agree- Shep looked good, I wish he received a few more minutes per game.

    Hopefully we turn this around this weekend.

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