Sorry. I have a hard time thinking about last night’s game without bursting out into a stream of expletives. Up three, with a minute and a half on the clock, with the ball — even the most cynical of Michigan fans would’ve had a hard time betting on MSU at that point. If these past couple years have taught Michigan fans anything, however, it is that cynicism is the only protection against crushing disappointment.
A couple points on the last play before I get into player breakdowns:
- I was not just okay with the play drawn up at the end, but thought that was by far our best chance of getting a basket in 1.5 seconds from near midcourt. I’ve seen or heard several people say they would have rather seen Michigan get a look at a jump shot. Have you seen Michigan’s ability to hit jump shots? We shot 19-58 from the field against MSU, and 7-29 from three. We managed to get our best inside player a shot from within three feet of the basket. It didn’t fall. Barely. Of all the things to c0mplain about, the final play call is not one of them.
- Yes, DeShawn Sims was probably fouled on that last play, as this screenshot from UMHoops shows. If you expect a ref to do anything but swallow his whistle on the final play of a game, however, you haven’t watched a lot of basketball — it would’ve taken a full-fledged assault to draw a foul on that play. That’s basketball. In this instance, we lost. Those are the breaks of the game. If you really want to complain about something, complain about the two airballed three-pointers in the final two minutes, when we could’ve made a last-gasp effort unnecessary.
Let’s get to the good part about the game: Michigan, with a converted shooting guard and a true freshman manning the point, only turned the ball over four times. I’ve watched a lot of basketball, and don’t remember many games where a team held on to the ball that effectively.
Of course, there’s the bad part about this game (or this team, really): They can’t shoot. At all. I’d love to have an easy explanation for this, be able to say that John Beilein’s offense isn’t getting open looks, isn’t creating chances, and we could all point fingers and play the blame game. When your team goes 7-29 from three, you should be able to say that they were forcing bad shots, and this is a poorly coached team. Except it isn’t. The vast majority of those 29 attempts were good, open looks. But, just like the rest of the season (Michigan is now a stellar 29.7% from three on the year), the shots weren’t falling.
Quickly, before I give up on life, or at least sports, let’s get to the player bullets:
- Even with the two late misses from DeShawn Sims, you can’t put this loss on either of Michigan’s two stars. Yes, Sims wasn’t efficient on offense, scoring 19 points on 7-18 shooting, but the Wolverines didn’t exactly have a lot of other options to go to. He hit a couple of huge threes down the stretch, and actually went 3-5 from downtown in the game. Manny Harris, after a bit of a slow start, finished with 16 points, four rebounds, five assists, five steals (!), and two blocks. After struggling on the defensive end in his last couple games, Manny came out focused and put in his best defensive effort of the season, cutting off passes like a free safety. The two stars came to play, which leaves, well, the rest of the team…
- Stu Douglass just can’t get on track, and you can tell from his play that his confidence on offense is completely gone. He had a few plays where he beat his man off the dribble, but instead of going up strong for the layup, Douglass would stop and either force a pass or, in one case, travel. He accounted for three of Michigan’s four turnovers and went just 2-7 from the field (1-5 from three). Michigan’s lack of depth appears to be the only thing between Douglass and the bench — there just isn’t a reliable alternative. He’s going to have to break out of his slump at some point, or his starting spot will be in serious jeopardy when Evan Smotrycz, Tim Hardaway, and potentially Trey Zeigler hit campus next season.
- I love the way Zack Novak plays — I’m not sure how many more ways I can say I like how much he hustles. This game was no different, as Novak pulled down five offensive rebounds and seemed to get a hand of half of Michigan’s (numerous) misses. However, he shot 2-9 from the field (1-7 from three), and that’s just not going to get it done.
- Like Novak, Laval Lucas-Perry played a solid game if you took shooting entirely out of the equation. But, since the object of basketball is to put the ball through the basket, it’s tough to praise a starter when he puts up a goose egg on the scoreboard — LLP was 0-4 shooting, and his misses were not pretty.
- The reason Douglass remains on the floor, as evidenced last night, is that Darius Morris is simply not a threat on the offensive end. Morris played just about how he’s played all season — 20 or so minutes, two points, two assists, one turnover, decent defense, no offensive impact. He had an open look at a three from the corner, and clanged it off the side of the backboard. That about sums up Morris’ offensive acumen at this point in his career. I expect him to get much better, but he just isn’t someone the defense has to account for right now.
Nobody else really got significant minutes, which is merciful, since I’m getting really sick of writing about this game. For more pain recaps, check out UMHoops, MGoBlog, and The Only Colors (an MSU blog, so you’ve been warned).