February 10, 2009
Michigan 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.
February 7, 2009
Michigan 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.
February 5, 2009
The 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.
January 31, 2009
This was a slow starting game. It took Michigan almost 7 minutes to score their first points. The good news was that Purdue had only scored 4 points in that same span. DeShawn Sims scored Michigan’s first 6 points, on two triples. Then Jevohn Shepherd came in and gave Michigan a lift. Zack Gibson and Anthony Wright also provided a spark off the bench. When Gibson tipped in a bucket at the first half buzzer Michigan took a 27-26 lead into the break.
Coming out of the break Michigan appeared to be playing with some confidence and was leading 29-27 at the 18:28 mark when Manny Harris inadvertently elbowed Chris Kramer in the nose. A flagrant foul was called and that was fine even though there was no intent on Harris’ part to elbow Kramer. The Purdue crowd went nuts as Kramer lay on the floor bleeding. So the officials decided to eject Harris. I think that was a bad call. He was called for the flagrant foul, that was all that needed to happen. Heck when Novak got bloodied by Legion there wasn’t even a foul called on that play not to mention an ejection.
Harris getting ejected deflated Michigan and Purdue dominated the rest of the game. The Boilermakers coasted to an easy 67-49 win.
The road to 21 wins: It is getting a bit bumpy. This was not a projected win. The breakdown is as follows: there are 4 games left that I had them projected to win (Penn State, at Northwestern, Minnesota, and at Minnesota). There are 5 other games left on the schedule, plus the Big Ten tournament. I think the best case scenario is that Michigan wins 3 of the 4 I had them projected to win which would put them at 17 wins. That leaves 5 games left plus the Big Ten Tournament to get 4 more wins.
January 28, 2009
Michigan lost an ugly one at Ohio State 72-54. Ohio State used an early 19-2 run to seize control of the game taking a 19-4 lead at the 12:09 mark of the first half. Michigan only had 2 made field goals in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Michigan shot 20% from the field in the first half, including 0-11 on three pointers. Evan Turner scored 14 first half points and Ohio State took a comfortable 36-18 lead into halftime. John Beilein even was called for a technical foul at the end of the half as he was trying to inject some life into the Wolverines.
Michigan came out and knocked down 4 triples in the first 7 minutes of the second half and cut the Ohio State lead in half. However every time Michigan had a chance to really cut into the lead Ohio State answered with a basket or Michigan turned the ball over. Michigan cut the lead down to 8 points once and several times had it down to 9 points. However, Ohio State always had the answer and never allowed Michigan to get any closer.
Things got a little ugly late when Zack Novak was called for an intentional foul. Novak elbowed TJ Hill in the mouth on a made free throw by Evan Turner. Things got a little tense but cooler heads prevailed. Ohio State ended up coasting to an easy win and knocked Michigan back under .500 in the conference.
Manny Harris had 22 points and 12 rebounds but he also had 10 turnovers in the game.
The road to 21 wins: This was not a game I projected them to win. However, the still need to win 3 more games that I did not project to stay on pace. If you recall I had broken the schedule down into two categories. Projected wins: 17 and remaining 14 games, which I said if they win 4 of those games would get them to 21 wins. So far they have lost one game that I projected as a win (at PSU) and won two games that fell into the remaining games category (UCLA & Duke).
Up next: It doesn’t get any easier with a trip to West Lafayette on Saturday.
January 24, 2009
Michigan picked up a much needed win on Saturday night defeating Northwestern 68-59 at Crisler Arena. Besides snapping a 3 game losing streak the win was John Beilein’s 500th NCAA win, congratulations to Coach Beilein.
DeShawn Sims got Michigan going early by scoring the first 9 points for the Wolverines. With 14:12 left to play in the first half Kelvin Grady knocked down a triple and gave Michigan a 14-11 lead and they would not surrender that lead the rest of the game. Moments later Grady followed that up with another triple. Michigan cruised into halftime with a 33-24 lead.
Laval Lucas-Perry started things off for Michigan in the second half by draining a three pointer and on Michigan’s next possession LL Cool P dropped a dime on Kelvin Grady, who tripled to put Michigan up by 10 points.
The Wildcats had sliced the Michigan lead to 4 points at 41-37 with 15:00 left in the game. Stu Douglass responded by knocking down back to back triples. Douglass continued his fine play of late by scoring a lay up on a fast break and on Michigan’s next possession he feed Zack Novak who drilled a three pointer that put Michigan up by 13 points. Zack Gibson scored Michigan’s final field goal of the game with 8:43 left in the half. Northwestern was unable to take advantage of that and was not able to cut into the lead. Meanwhile the Wolverines shot 12-15 on free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
Michigan featured a balanced scoring attack with 6 players scoring at least 7 points. Sims led Michigan with 15 points, 7 boards, and 2 blocks. Manny Harris struggled to score for the second game in a row but he did finish with a nice stat line, 8 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. Zack Novak scored 7 points to go along with 7 boards and 2 assists.
Inside the numbers: Michigan hammered Northwestern on the boards 40-20. Michigan had an outstanding 18 assists on 22 field goals and only turned the ball over 8 times. Michigan’s bench out scored Northwestern’s bench 22-6.
The road to 21 wins: With the win Michigan improves to 14-6 (4-4). This was a must win according to my projections. Next up for Michigan is back to back road games, at Ohio State and at Purdue. To keep pace Michigan will need to steal a win at one of those tough road venues.
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January 20, 2009
Penn State handled Michigan with relative ease and coasted to a 73-58 win. Michigan after starting the season 13-3 and 3-1 in the Big Ten is now 13-6 and 3-4. Despite shooting 9-30 in the first half Michigan was still in the game thanks to Penn State turning the ball over 8 times. The Nittany Lions took a 29-22 lead into halftime.
Jamelle Cornley opened the second half by scoring 6 straight points which put Penn State up 37-24 and pretty much sealed the game.
Michigan simply could not hit a 3 point shot to save their lives as they shot 5-30 on three pointers. Take away Stu Douglass’ 3-8 and the rest of the team was 2-22. Meanwhile, Penn State shot a ridiculous 58% from the field and executed their offense to near perfection in the second half.
The good news for Michigan is that DeShawn Sims rebounded from a couple of off games to go 9-13 from the field for 19 points and he hauled in 10 boards.
Manny Harris was out of synch as he was 2-10 from the field for 6 points. Laval Lucas-Perry was 0-6 on three pointers.
Michigan is off until Saturday when they host Northwestern.
The road to 21 wins: I had projected this is a win. There are 5 games remaining that I had projected as wins. If they win all 5 of those that is 18 wins. Besides those 5 games Michigan has 7 games, plus the Big Ten Tournament. 21 wins is still within reach, but they have to get this thing going again. One game at time, starting with what is pretty much a must win on Saturday. They have to beat Northwestern at home. It would be far from ideal to take a 4 game losing streak to Columbus with a trip to West Lafayette to follow.