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February 11, 2009

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Michigan loses to State 54-42

February 10, 2009

Michigan St Michigan BasketballMichigan lost to Michigan State 54-42. The first half of this game was a 15 point, 6 field goal, 3 assist debacle for Michigan. The fact that they were only down 8 points was shocking.

In the second half DeShawn Sims and Zack Novak sparked a Michigan run that would eventually pull the Wolverines within 4 points. About six minutes into the half Novak drilled a triple. On the next possession Novak missed a three got his own rebound and feed Sims for lay up. Then Novak executed a nice bounce pass to Sims for another lay up. Novak found Sims again for another bucket. After a CJ Lee triple Sims scored and then drew a charge on the other end of the court. Moments later Manny Harris hit a triple to pull Michigan within 5 with a little over 6 minutes left in the game.

Michigan was unable to convert on a couple of opportunities that would have pulled them within 2 or 3 points and Michigan State made the plays they had to down the stretch to pick up their 6th road win in conference play.

Manny Harris was rendered ineffective by Travis Walton. DeShawn Sims scored 18 points on 9-14 shooting. Zack Novak had 4 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

This game was a chance for Michigan to take a big step forward and they came up short and will have a long 5 day wait before they play again at Northwestern. 

Inside the numbers: Michigan was 4-24 on three pointers. Michigan was held without a field goal for the final 5:30 of the first half and the final 4:47 of the second half. 

The road to 21 wins: There are 6 games left with 4 of those on the road, then the Big Ten Tournament. I realize 21 wins is not looking good, but my main concern now is getting enough wins to make the NCAA Tournament. The Northwestern game is pretty much a must win, they can’t afford to drop to 15-11 and 5-8 in the conference. 

Michigan State Preview

February 9, 2009

leeMichigan (15-9, 5-6) will host #9 Michigan State (19-4, 9-2) on Tuesday night. The game will tip off at 7pm and be televised on ESPN. This will be the only match up between these in state rivals this season, barring a match up in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan State is led by point guard Kalin Lucas who averages 14.8 ppg and 4.9 apg. Raymar Morgan is not expected to play as he continues to battle an illness, click here for more on Morgan’s status. The Spartans have 3 players that average 9 points per game; Durrell Summers 9.7, Chris Allen 9.6, and Goran Suton 9.5.

Michigan is coming back home after losing a close game at Connecticut. The Wolverines played a strong game against the nations #1 team and look to build on the positives that came out of that game.

I would expect that Crisler will be a full house for this game and the Maize Rage should be out in full force.

We talked about the boiling point for a basketball team in the Purdue Preview. The good news is Michigan has been playing at or near the boiling point recently. They boiled in the second half of the Penn State game and during the entire Connecticut game. Let’s hope they can keep bubbling enough to launch them on a run to close the season and to get them off the dreaded Bubble Watch.

Obviously a win over a ranked Spartan team would help. What doesn’t help is that Michigan is 2-6 in their last 8 games. The good news is there are 7 games left before the Big Ten Tournament. So there is time to put that skid in the rearview mirror. With a win over the Spartans Michigan will have won 2 out of their last 3 and have 5 days to prepare for their next game at Northwestern on Sunday.

For us Michigan fans this is going to be a nerve racking stretch. The last time they played in the NCAA Tournament was 1998 and that seems like a lifetime ago. I have completely forgotten what it is like to have the excitement and anticipation that comes with a NCAA Tournament bid.

All we can do right now as take it one game at a time.

Upset Bid Falls Short at Connecticut

February 7, 2009

Michigan Connecticut BasketballMichigan was up to the challenge at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Unfortunately the upset bid fell a bit short as the #1 ranked Connecticut Huskies hung on for a 69-61 win.

The Huskies opened the game with a 8-1 run and perhaps many thought they rout was just beginning. However, Michigan battled hard and capped a 9-0 run when Anthony Wright drained a triple with about 4 minutes left in the half. Stu Douglass scored 11 first half points and Michigan took a 1 point lead into the locker room 34-33.

Michigan continued to control the game for the first 6 minutes of the second half. Zack Novak scored 5 points in that stretch and Michigan led 43-39 when Jim Calhoun called a timeout with 14:08 left in the game. During the next 6 minutes after the time out Connecticut seized control of the game with an 18-4 run. That run put the Huskies up 57-47 with 7:26 to play. Manny Harris and Stu Douglass each knocked down a big three to pull Michigan within striking distance with the score 57-53 with about 5 minutes left in the game. During the next two minute span DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris each missed a three with Michigan trailing 57-53. Those were two chances to really tighten the game up and Michigan came up empty. Stu Douglass kept things interesting by drilling two triple in the last 90 seconds of the game. Connecticut made their free throws and held on for a 69-61 win.

Douglass led Michigan with a career high 20 points including 6-8 on three pointers. Manny Harris chipped in 15 points. 

Inside the numbers: Michigan played very well in a hostile environment and only turned the ball over 9 times. Meanwhile they forced Connecticut into 17 turnovers. As expected the Huskies mauled Michigan on the boards 46-21. Connecticut shot 25 free throws and Michigan only made 12 trips to the line.

The road to 21 wins: It would have been a tremendous win had they been able to pull this out. However, I think a lot of good will come from this game. It should give the coaches plenty of positives to build on for the stretch run in the Big Ten. Next up Michigan plays host to Michigan State on Tuesday. Then they will have 4 days off before playing at Northwestern next Sunday. 

Connecticut Preview

February 6, 2009

beilein500Less then 48 hours after tipping off at home against Penn State Michigan (15-8, 5-6) will be tipping off on the road against #1 Connecticut (21-1). This game will be televised on ESPN with a 6pm tip.

This is a difficult assignment anyway you look at it. The Huskies have 4 players averaging double digits; Jeff Adrien 14.3, Jerome Dyson 13.5, Hasheem Thabeet 13.0, and A.J. Price 12.2. All 4 of those players are also upperclassmen. So this is an experienced and balanced team that is very well coached.

Hasheem Thabeet who checks in at 7-3 creates a serious match up problem for Michigan on defense. Gibson and Sims are going to have their hands full.

For Michigan it will be essential that Manny Harris play patient and composed like he did in the second half against Penn State. They are a much better team when he does that.

I keep saying this but every time they play well they are active defensively and creating easy buckets off of turnovers. When they don’t play well that is not happening.

The team definitely reached the boiling point in the second half against Penn State and they will need a similar effort to contend with Connecticut.


Michigan cruises past Penn State

February 5, 2009

Penn St Michigan BasketballThe Wolverines gave their coach a very happy birthday present with a convincing 71-51 win over Penn State. I for one finally exhaled as the season was teetering on the brink of disaster heading into the game. Michigan did exactly what they had to do and they did it with strong, hustling defense and patient execution on the offensive end.

Manny Harris said that Coach Beilein challenged him at the half to be more patient. Harris was more then up to the challenge as he led his team in a dominant second half performance in which they outscored Penn State 40-20.

Credit CJ Lee as he started the game and played tough defense on the Big Ten’s leading scorer, Talor Battle, and helped frustrate him into a 3-16 shooting performance for 9 points. Lee also ran the offense like a true floor general scoring 5 points to go along with 4 assists and 3 rebounds.

Manny Harris played one of his best all around games and as Gus Johnson said was a real “stat stuffa”. Manny stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 28 points, 7 dimes, 6 boards, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. The most important stats might have been his 7-13 shooting and only two turnovers.

Stu Douglass chipped in 13 points with some timely three point daggers. DeShawn Sims came off the bench and added 9 points and 7 rebounds.

The story of the game was definitely Michigan’s defense. Jamelle Cornley scored 25 points but the rest of the Nittany Lions combined for 26 points. Michigan forced 13 turnovers and logged 7 steals and 6 blocks in the game.

The much needed win boosted Michigan’s record to 15-8 and 5-6 in the conference. Next up is a trip to Storrs, Connecticut to take on the #1 ranked Huskies on Saturday. That will be followed by a quick turnaround to a Tuesday home game against Michigan State

The road to 21 wins: This was a game I had them projected to win and a game they had to win. Let’s just take this one game at time from here on out. You don’t have to be a bracketologist to figure out that a win at Connecticut would be gigantic. 

Penn State Preview

February 4, 2009

83742129NL034_2K_SPORTS_CLAMichigan has been off since Saturday’s debacle in West Lafayette. The extra day of practice should be a good thing. The Wolverines (14-8, 4-6) host Penn State (17-5, 6-3) in a critical match up on Thursday. The game is set to tip at 7pm and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

The Nittany Lions are riding a 4 game winning streak, including a win at East Lansing on Saturday. We know all about Talor Battle and Jamelle Cornley.

The question for us Michigan fans is how will the Wolverines respond to being backed into a corner?

Zack Novak will be back in the line up after sitting out the Purdue game, due to suspension. Manny Harris will be playing after getting ejected from the Purdue game.

Michigan is coming in having lost 5 out of their last 6 games. They really don’t want to make that 6 of 7 heading to #1 Connecticut on Saturday.

As a fan I am really getting antsy about this game. A win would be huge. Their NCAA hopes are still alive but they have to get this season turned back around quickly before it all slips away.

Coach Beilein has said all along that this season would be a roller coaster. We are currently experiencing a downhill trend. Let’s hope this roller coaster starts climbing again. I still believe in this team but I would sure like to see them come through with a win against Penn State.