There’s not a whole lot to analyze about this team right now: heading in to Saturday, few thought Michigan could hang with Ohio State, a team contending for the Big Ten title. They were right. The Buckeyes could roll out five former top-100 recruits and know that they’d get solid contributions from at least a couple of them (in this case, 18-11-7 from Evan Turner, 24-9-4 from William Buford, and 14 from Dallas Lauderdale). Michigan would try to counter with their duo of top-100 players, but with neither Manny Harris nor DeShawn Sims bringing their A-game, the Buckeye run in the second half to put the game away felt like an inevitability.
The frustrating part about this team is that, as far as I can tell, the offense, schematically, is working: Michigan has done a great job of limiting turnovers (just six this game) and getting some decent looks, but their shots just don’t fall (in this case, 17-47 from the field and 5-17 from three). I was arguing with a Michigan fan the other day about whether giving John Beilein an extension was a mistake (he said yes, I said no, for the record), and both of us agreed that this team would be really dangerous if we could just his 35% of our threes. This is not exactly asking the world of Michigan — shooting 35% from three would put a team at 144th nationally — but it’s a far cry from what Michigan is putting up: 29.8%, good for 320th in the country.
That’s what’s so frustrating about this team: in a slightly alternate world, where Michigan becomes just an average three-point shooting team (not crazy, since they shot 33.4% last year and brought practically everyone back), this is a dangerous team vying for another NCAA tournament bid. Instead, we’ve been treated to a lot of games like Saturday: 40 minutes of hoping the shots will fall, but knowing we’ll probably come up short. Can this season be over already?
- For once, Michigan got some decent, balanced scoring, with all five starters breaking double-digits. Unfortunately, when Sims and Harris combine for 21 points (on 5-20 shooting), Michigan has almost no chance of winning. This team got about as good a contribution as they could hope for offensively from their role players, but the stars didn’t step up this game.
- Yes, Darius Morris’ three-pointer was banked in, but he’s still making great strides as a point guard: 11 points on 4-8 shooting, three rebounds, three assists, and just one turnover. If he can continue this kind of improvement in the offseason, Michigan will have a very solid point guard for the next few seasons.
- Novak and Douglass had similar games: decent offensive output mitigated by defensive struggles against bigger, stronger, faster players. See the above picture for an example of why Zack Novak is not a Big Ten power forward, and Douglass was absolutely abused by Evan Turner (who, in fairness, is one of the two best players in the country) when he was forced to guard him.
- The bench, once again, had no impact: Zack Gibson had the only bench points, with two, to go along with four rebounds and three fouls in 11 minutes. Laval Lucas-Perry has mastered the on-court disappearing act, going 0-3 and not recording a single other statistic in 14 minutes. Ant Wright and Matt Vogrich barely saw the floor, combining for six minutes.