As the season wears on, it’s getting tougher and tougher to write these game recaps. I think, for the sake of my sanity, my mind has stopped allowing me to get emotionally invested in Michigan basketball games. On Saturday afternoon, as Michigan’s deficit hung somewhere between 16 and 20 points for what felt like an eternity, my friends and I took entertainment in seeing which referee would make the most animated call (Ed Hightower, of course, emerged as the champion). We left when the clock ticked below eight minutes. Call me a fair-weather fan if you want, but at some point, you have to cut your losses and move on with the rest of your day.
Despite the score, the team didn’t play particularly bad, at least in the first half — Wisconsin simply didn’t miss, shooting 15-22 from the field (and a ridiculous 9-13 from three) in the first 20 minutes to open up a 49-26 halftime lead that would not be relinquished. For the latter stanza, Michigan seemed resigned to its fate, as DeShawn Sims (15 first-half points, 2 second-half points) and the rest of the team (12-20 on field goals and 2-2 from three-point range in first half, 5-19 — including 0-9 from three — in second half) cooled off considerably.
- Manny Harris continues to slump — and kill his 2010 draft stock — with some ugly shot selection and a broke jumper. He scored just 11 points on 4-11 shooting, and just doesn’t look like himself. It’s tough to tell how much of Manny’s woes are mental and how much are physical, but it’s clear that he’s not playing on the same level he was early in the season, and this team can’t afford to have one of its two stars not playing like one. I guess the positive here is that Manny may have no choice but to come back next season.
- DeShawn Sims did all he could in the first half to carry the team, dropping in 15 points on an array of fallaway jumpers and inside post moves, but was likely discouraged by the lack of support from his teammates — with only two second-half points on five shot attempts, it didn’t look like Peedi was working as hard to get in position like he was earlier in the game. It’s tough to blame him on this — after that kind of first-half effort, only to see those results, I’d be discouraged too.
- The (only) bright side of these past few games, Darius Morris has made some encouraging progress at point guard, where he has now earned the starting spot. Morris was efficient in all facets on offense, scoring eight points on 3-4 shooting and dishing out three assists against only one turnover. Since he doubles as Michigan’s most athletically gifted perimeter defender, expect to see Morris get even more playing time as the season wears on.
- The rest of the team was nowhere to be found. Zack Novak and Stu Douglass combined for three points on 0-5 shooting. Those two players comprise 40% of this team’s starting lineup. That wouldn’t be so bad if this team had any bench production, but only Laval Lucas-Perry scored among the reserves, with four points on 2-3 shooting. You can’t expect your team to be competitive if only five players score in a game. You just can’t.
I haven’t even bothered to check if this team has a chance at postseason play (and when I say postseason, I mean the NIT or that other random postseason tournament that nobody watches), but at this point, I’d like for this season to mercifully end as soon as possible, so we can regroup, assess what went wrong, and gear up for next season. This team is clearly ready for this nightmare to end, as DeShawn Sims is the only player you could say has remotely lived up to expectations, and he’s an outgoing senior. Hopefully John Beilein can get this team to put together a few decent games down the stretch, Manny will reaffirm that he’s coming back, and we’ll move on.