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Posts Tagged ‘Aubrey Dawkins’

Aubrey Dawkins to transfer to Central Florida

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016


Aubrey Dawkins(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

The Michigan basketball program lost a third member of its team on Wednesday morning. Sophomore Aubrey Dawkins announced his intention to transfer to Central Florida to play for his father, new UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins.

“This was not an easy decision, however, the chance to play for my father is a special opportunity for me and my family,” Dawkins said in an official release. “Coach (John) Beilein and Michigan took a chance on me and that is something I will never forget. I want to thank all the coaches, staff and especially the U-M fans for making my time in Ann Arbor truly special. Go Blue.”

John Beilein compared Dawkins’ opportunity to one that he had while at West Virginia.

“While we certainly did not wish for this to happen, it is quite understandable,” said Beilein. “I was able to coach my son and see him grow as a person and player and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Aubrey is a wonderful and thoughtful young man who has a bright future in front of him. We wish him well.”

In two seasons at Michigan, Dawkins started 22 games and averaged 6.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He shot 43.9 percent from three-point range, making 83 of 189 attempts. He scored a career high 31 points against Rutgers during his freshman season, making eight three-pointers, which is the second-most in a game in program history.

The elder Dawkins spent eight seasons as head coach at Stanford where he compiled a 156-115 record, including two NIT titles and an NCAA Sweet Sixteen. He was let go after the 2015-16 season and quickly hired by UCF just eight days later. The Knights went 12-18 each of the past two seasons and 13-18 the year before. Their last winning record was in 2012-13 when they went 20-11. Dawkins will have to sit out the 2016-17 season due to NCAA transfer rules and will then have two seasons of eligibility.

Following the transfers of Spike Albrecht and Ricky Doyle, which put Michigan’s scholarship situation at even, Dawkins’ departure gives Beilein a scholarship to work with. He could go after a late flyer, seek out a graduate transfer such as Valparaiso’s Alec Peters, or bank it for next year’s recruiting class.

2015-16 Michigan basketball season review: A season of what-ifs

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016


UM BBall(MGoBlue.com)

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. A year after struggling to a .500 record while two potential stars watched from the bench nursing injuries, Michigan was supposed to bounce back this season. This would finally be the season that John Beilein had some seasoning in his team, with senior leaders that had been to the National Championship before and a pair of juniors who played key roles on an Elite Eight team the following year.

The Michigan Wolverines entered the 2015-16 basketball season primed to show what their healthy, veteran squad could do in a college basketball landscape that lacked any team that clearly stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Senior Caris LeVert was returning from injury after deciding to forego a likely guaranteed NBA paycheck for an opportunity to prove himself.

Fellow senior Spike Albrecht was also coming back after a junior season that saw him sometimes spectacularly lift a shorthanded team to victories that should have never been possible – and he was also supposed to be healthy and ready to roll with a pair of new hips.

Junior Derrick Walton, like LeVert, entered the season at 100 percent after missing the majority of his sophomore season with an injury. And classmate Zak Irvin was back to show everyone that his end-of-year evolution from Just A Shooter to All Around Threat was real.

Sprinkle in a promising group of sophomores that included an eye-popping athlete in Aubrey Dawkins, a quiet but creative playground-style baller in Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and a promising big man on the rise in Ricky Doyle, and it looked as if the 2014-15 season could be just a blip on the timeline of a dominant five-year run for Michigan basketball.

Alas, sometimes the world of basketball is a cruel place.

Perhaps Irvin’s offseason back injury and ensuing surgery should have been a bigger omen than it was perceived to be at the time.

If that wasn’t, then a couple early drubbings at the hands of Xavier and UConn would prove to be all the foreboding necessary.

Sure, Michigan bounced back with an impressive win over Texas and managed to squeak into the NCAA Tournament with a few big time conference home wins and a heart-pounding win over Big Ten champion Indiana in the conference tournament – the season’s unquestionable highlight – but the season certainly didn’t meet some lofty expectations.

A nail-biter victory over Tulsa in the First Four of the Big Dance preceded a season-ending loss to Notre Dame that could not have been a better microcosm. After jumping out to a 12-point halftime lead behind crisp offense, hot shooting, and an efficient fast break attack, the Wolverines faded just as fast in the second stanza with defensive miscues, a brutal scoring drought, and a lack of a killer instinct.

UM BBall 2(MGoBlue.com)

Unfortunately, the team we all thought was going to help us forget last season ultimately became almost a mirror image of that group.

LeVert, an All-American candidate who looked every bit the part in the non-conference, went down at the end of Michigan’s first Big Ten game and missed all but 10 minutes of the rest of the season.

Albrecht, a vocal leader, an excellent passer, and a tremendous shooter, shut it down much earlier on after realizing that his hips had not healed nearly enough to allow him to play effectively or pain-free.

Walton remained healthy for the most part, and his three-point shooting returned to freshman form, but his tantalizing finishing ability from two seasons ago continued to lag behind all year without LeVert around to distract opposing defenses.

Irvin, a deadeye shooter just two seasons ago who blossomed into a big-time athlete and passer as a sophomore, started the season in a major funk and never fully developed into the go-to guy many expected. Certainly his offseason procedure didn’t help matters there, as his athleticism took a noticeable hit and his shooting became increasingly sporadic. After shooting 42.5 percent from deep as a freshman and 35.1 percent last season, the former Indiana Mr. Basketball failed to crack 30 percent by season’s end, while his free throw shooting followed the same mysterious downward spiral (71.4%, 68.9%, 65.8% year-to-year-to-year).

In turn, what everyone saw as a memorable season in waiting became a year that may soon be forgotten.

But it’s hard to put the disappointment on any one player or coach. Beilein was once again dealt a hand that few, if any, coaches around the country would have been able to compete with.

Think about it. Take two veterans – one the undisputable star player and another an ultra-reliable vocal leader, ball-handler, passer, shooter, and all-around charmer extraordinaire – away from any team in the country in a year dominated by upperclassmen and try to find one that marches on to the same beat. Many, I would venture to guess, would run straight into a brick wall while others would struggle to power their proverbial engine up the side of a mountain.

In many ways, the job that Beilein and these players did to even play their way into the Big Dance was remarkable. A team lacking its biggest sure things managed to take down the likes of Maryland and Purdue in the regular season before grinding out a win over the class of the Big Ten in a virtual road game. Sure, there were a number of losses mixed in, and many of them not pretty, but by season’s end, Michigan would have wins on its resume over three five seeds and a six seed.

Likewise, it’s hard to criticize a group of players that had to adapt to completely unfamiliar circumstances midway through the season. One day the do-it-all senior was there to carry the torch and the next day he was done. How do you adjust to losing a guy that leads the way in scoring, assisting, and rebounding overnight — the guy that runs the show and has the ball in his hands with the shot clock winding down?

Quite simply, you don’t.

Yet again, a promising year faded into a chorus of what-ifs. There’s no denying that it was a disappointing season in many ways, but there’s also no denying that much of it was out of the team’s power.

For better or worse, the group that ended this season together should be back almost in its entirety come fall. And while the what-ifs of this season pain Michigan fans now, they will eventually fade and make way for newfound excitement and frustration, more expectations and heartbreak, and more promise and surprise on the horizon.

‘Tis the game of college basketball.

The Far-off Season
Reasons for Optimism

1. Everyone is Back!
For those fans who think college basketball revolves around the freshmen sensations at Kentucky every year, take a look at the remaining 16 teams left in the Tournament today. Nearly every team relies on a junior or senior to be the key cog, or at least to be one of the prime performers. From Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden at Kansas to Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes at Virginia to Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige at North Carolina to Elgin Cook and Chris Boucher at Oregon (oh, those are all 1 seeds? interesting…), experience is the name of the game.

Experience has been a foreign concept to the past few Michigan squads until this last one, when much of the experience disappeared somewhere between a quarter and halfway through the year. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Wolverines figure to start all upperclassmen, including seniors in Walton and Irvin. And while the improvement hasn’t been as rapid as hoped in those two, I expect another leap.

For a couple quick examples, feel free to look at Denzel Valentine and Buddy Hield’s numbers over their first three seasons before emerging as the top Player of the Year candidates as seniors (hint: Hield has nearly doubled his free throw rate and 3pt% since his freshman season while Valentine went from shooting liability and turnover machine to…well, we all know how good he was this year). Rising junior Duncan Robinson should also figure to improve now that he has a full season of live ball under his belt at the highest level.

2. The Newbies
Michigan welcomes a four-man class in 2016 that includes an undersized point guard recently named Ohio Mr. Basketball (NO I AM NOT TRYING TO DRAW PARALLELS TO TREY BURKE), a lanky wing from Pickerington Central in Columbus who looks to do a bit of everything (NO I AM NOT TRYING TO DRAW PARALLELS TO CARIS LEVERT), and a pair of big men to add to the mix at arguably the weakest spot in the lineup (see? No parallels).

Xavier Simpson figures to back up Walton at the point and should add some creative scoring punch after averaging 27.2 points per game in high school (buoyed by a couple of ridiculous scoring nights) while Ibi Watson should be in the minutes mix on the wing. Bigs Austin Davis and Jon Teske are both probably a season away from getting big time minutes but will add competition down low. Teske in particular could develop into a nice rim protector not seen around Ann Arbor since Ekpe Udoh swatted anything within five feet of him.

3. A More Manageable Big Ten
The Big Ten should be strong as usual next season, but take a quick glance at some of the top teams and there’s reason to believe Michigan should be able to make up some ground. League champion Indiana loses Yogi Ferrell, Max Bielfeldt, and Nick Zeisloft (and possibly Thomas Bryant and Troy Williams as well); Michigan State waves goodbye to Valentine, Matt Costello, and Bryn Forbes; Maryland will see Rasheed Sulaimon and Jake Layman depart (almost certainly along with Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone); Purdue graduates A.J. Hammons and Raphael Davis, etc. Yes, other players will also come and go, but there is rebuilding to be done in almost every Big Ten city but Ann Arbor.

Reasons for Pessimism

1. Everyone is Back
Sure everyone is back…but everyone is back from that. Will a team with ultimately the same core be able to make a big enough jump? Only time will tell, but there is certainly improvement needed in the offseason.

2. Defensive Woes
I’m not sure how Michigan’s defense will take a substantial step forward with all the same personnel and the same coaching staff short of a miracle. LeVert probably had the most potential on that end, and while I generally like Walton and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s defensive skill set, there are still some giant holes that have no apparent quick fix.

3. Where is the Improvement?
Unfortunately, one could make an argument that Rahk and Mark Donnal were the only two Wolverines to take major steps forward. Arguments could be made that a handful of other players actually regressed (Irvin, Dawkins, Doyle) while some merely treaded water. If the team is going to improve greatly a season from now, the individuals on the team are going to need to improve along with it; unfortunately we don’t have too much to go off in that regard. The big man problem could be solved if Donnal continues to make strides and Moritz Wagner emerges as a consistent option as well, while there should be plenty of options on the wings to find serviceable parts.

A Couple Offseason Happenings to Make Note Of

1. On the way out?
With four freshmen coming in and only three scholarship spots opening up, someone is going to need to leave town to make room. I won’t speculate too much on individual players, but one might presume that a jumbled big man or wing rotation, declining minutes, and/or a sense of homesickness could influence a Wolverine or two to seek greener pastures.

Alternatively, Austin Davis could hypothetically take a prep year to even out the numbers, but I expect to see some attrition instead. To make things a bit more complicated, Spike is eligible for a medical redshirt and could also figure into scholarship discussions. If he and the coaching staff agree on his return, one fewer scholarship would be opening up.

2. A New Look Coaching Staff?
Some are calling for a shakeup in Beilein’s assistant coaching staff of Jeff Meyer, Lavall Jordan, and Bacari Alexander, and I think we will see some movement in that department – but not necessarily by way of firing. Meyer is approaching the end of his career and could foreseeably step down if he thought it was best for the team while Jordan and Alexander will certainly get looks from mid-majors looking to fill head coaching vacancies. My best bet would be that Bacari leaves for a head job while Jordan and Meyer remain – but that’s merely a guess. Regardless, if at least one assistant does not return, expect Beilein to scour the coaching ranks hard for a defensive-minded assistant.

3. Donnal Reclassifying?
Early on this past season, John Beilein abruptly changed Mark Donnal’s class standing from redshirt sophomore to true junior, meaning he was at the very least considering the Max Bielfeldt treatment for the third-year big that was struggling to meet expectations despite considerable opportunity. Just as abruptly, Donnal then emerged as Michigan’s no doubt top option at the five spot with a 26-point, nine-rebound, three-block performance at Illinois in the conference opener. And while Donnal’s head-scratching mistakes and mysterious aversion to dunking the ball did not fully disappear, he was a generally reliable finisher and rebounder throughout the season. As Brendan Quinn from MLive quipped a few weeks ago, I believe Donnal is due to be reclassified back to his redshirt status.

The 10 best moments of Michigan’s season (so far)

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016


(Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports)

It has been a long ride for the 2015-16 Michigan basketball team, one with many highs but an unexpected number of lows. John Beilein’s team fought through injuries, shooting slumps and far too many defensive lapses to ultimately land right where it wanted to be: The NCAA Tournament.

The Wolverines certainly didn’t take the traditional route to the Dance. Up until the moment the official bracket leaked on Twitter, it looked like Michigan’s odds of playing in the tournament were only slightly better than 50-50.

Most importantly, Michigan is one of 66 teams that still have a non-zero chance to win it all. But before we turn our attention fully to the NCAA Tournament, let’s take a look back at the top moments that landed the Wolverines in this position.

10. Caris LeVert, Spike Albrecht honored on Senior Night

Okay, so Senior Night wasn’t exactly what Michigan envisioned at the beginning of the season. For one, neither LeVert nor Albrecht scored a single point for the Wolverines in 2016 due to injury. The seniors didn’t play on Senior Night, instead watching their teammates get trounced by an Iowa team that arrived on a four-game losing streak.

But it wouldn’t seem right leaving Senior Night completely out of the top 10. Michigan hasn’t had a truly meaningful Senior Night since Zack Novak and Stu Douglass said their goodbyes, and LeVert and Spike at least gave Beilein two great seasons.

Spike also held up his framed jersey the wrong way when saluting the crowd, a cherry on top of an endlessly entertaining college career.

LeVert and Albrecht were added to the Fresh Five as afterthoughts, joining Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas in a loaded recruiting class. But Albrecht turned into a solid backup point guard in his freshman year and exploded for 17 points in the school’s biggest game in over a decade. LeVert, on the other hand, became the team’s best all-around player for an Elite 8 run and will continue his career in the NBA.

The last two years have been frustrating, but Michigan still got more than it could have hoped for out of the two lightly-recruited guards. Good luck, fellas.

9. John Beilein wears a ChadTough T-shirt during game

Since Beilein took over as the top dog in Ann Arbor nearly 10 years ago, he’s stuck to his two-trick wardrobe combinations: Shirt and tie — or polo — and dressy pants. But he made an exception on Feb. 13, sauntering out of the Blavin Tunnel with his maize ChadTough Foundation T-shirt.

It was the final push for Beilein to win the Coaches Charity Challenge and raise $100,000 for the ChadTough Foundation, an announcement that came the very morning Michigan was named to the NCAA Tournament field.

Beilein has since reverted to his business casual ways, but the T-shirt game did happen, coach. We have pictures.

8. Mark Donnal drops 26 points (yes, twenty-six) at Illinois

6, 6, 0, 0, 7, 4, 0, 2, 0, 0, 11, 0, 7

If I asked you to pick the outlier in the group of numbers above, you respond with something like, “Well, 11 sure is quite a bit higher than the rest of those numbers.”

You would be correct. Mark Donnal had quite an explosion against Northern Kentucky, scoring 11 points and grabbing two rebounds. It was by far his best performance in Michigan’s first 13 games of the season.

Then on Dec. 30 Donnal embarrassed Illinois’ weak defensive front court and made 11 of 15 field goal attempts for 26 points. He also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots.

Oh yeah, and he didn’t even start. Ricky Doyle did.

There was not a full moon on Dec. 30, 2015. I checked. And it wasn’t Donnal’s birthday, either. He was born in May. The only explanation for his stat line is that college basketball is amazing and pretty much anything can happen any time two teams hit the court.

For Michigan, Donnal’s outburst halted the revolving door at center and cemented the sophomore as the team’s starter. Doyle and Donnal went back and forth a bit during the first half of the year, but at the turn of the calendar, it was Donnal all the way for Beilein.

7. MAAR gets new life, and runs with it

At the beginning of the season, one had to wonder if Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman would be in the Maize and Blue for much longer. He was planted firmly behind Derrick Walton, Albrecht and LeVert in the guard rotation and even lost some minutes to the Duncan Robinson-Aubrey Dawkins duo early.

With such a loaded group of guards and Xavier Simpson set to join the team for 2016-17, it looked like MAAR’s minutes would take a massive hit, despite his excellent contributions down the stretch in 2015.

But then a hobbled Albrecht called it a career and LeVert went down with the secretest injury in Michigan history and the door of opportunity swung open for Abdur-Rahkman.

It didn’t take long for MAAR to lock up the fifth starting spot. In his second game filling in for LeVert in the back court, Abdur-Rahkman scored 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting in West Lafayette and almost single-handedly kept Michigan alive for 30 minutes against a heavily-favored Purdue team. He scored from beyond the arc, he scored from the free throw line, and most importantly, he scored off the dribble, giving Michigan a legitimate attacking threat in the paint.

Here we are, two months later, and he’s still the team’s best offensive player off the dribble. Instead of watching from the (albeit extremely comfortable-looking) folding chairs on the sideline, Abdul-Rahkman could be an integral part of the NCAA Tournament.

6. Caris LeVert makes his return! Well, sort of

It seems cruelly ironic to look back on LeVert’s return to the court and think, “That was actually the beginning of the end.”

After game after game after game (11, to be exact) of LeVert being ruled out following ‘game-time decisions,’ he actually participated in warmups on Feb. 13 and caused quite a buzz in Ann Arbor.

The team as a whole wasn’t giving fans much to be excited about. After losing back-to-back home games by half a hundred and nearly blowing a huge lead to winless Minnesota, the Wolverines returned to a less-than-optimistic crowd at the Crisler Center to battle an enormous Purdue team that won the previous meeting by 17 points.

I remember looking around before tipoff and wondering how the stands could be so empty with a top 20 team in the building. Sure, the ChadTough T-shirts generated a bit of excitement in the Maize Rage, but the overall feeling of the fanbase was one of defeat.

Then Caris jogged out of the tunnel and joined the layup lines. You’d think he shot himself out of a cannon and landed at midcourt after a perfect flip by the cheer that ran through the crowd.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but for the first time since halftime of the Indiana debacle, fans around Crisler perked up.

When the game started, LeVert was on the bench, when Beilein pointed at him and he ripped off his warmup, the crowd really did erupt. He took only shot — a shot-clock hurried jumper near the elbow — and didn’t score in the game, but his return energized the fans and the team.

Nobody knew that would be the last time they’d see Caris LeVert play in a Michigan uniform. At that time, it was just great to see the team’s leader in nearly every major category back with the ball in his hands.

5. Zak Irvin’s elbow jumper saves Michigan in overtime

The No. 1 moment on this list will get most of the credit for sending the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament, but that might not have even happened if not for Zak Irvin’s dagger with three seconds left in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.

After clawing and scratching their way to overtime, Michigan managed to earn itself a chance to take the last shot in a tie game. Beilein called on the team’s streakiest player, Irvin, to take a contested jumper off the dribble.

It worked. Irvin pulled up just beyond the right elbow and nailed the go-ahead jumper. Northwestern got another crack at a last-second prayer (two cracks, actually), but in the end, it was Irvin’s shot that sealed the deal and kept Michigan’s bleak NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

4. Wolverines return to the NCAA Tournament

When Michigan failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in 2015, it was a disappointing, but understandable pill to swallow.

LeVert, Walton and Albrecht were all injured. Dawkins and Abdur-Rahkman were leading the team as unknown freshmen and Beilein had just lost a small army of players to the NBA draft.

But in a year when the Wolverines began ranked in the Top 25, with players like Walton and Robinson added to the rotation, missing the 2016 tournament would have been a much bigger blow for the program to swallow. Sure, LeVert and Albrecht missed the most meaningful half of the season, but for a program that was trending toward elite in 2014, two straight absences in March Madness seemed unacceptable.

Luckily, those concerns were squashed for good Sunday. Contrary to what many of the ‘bracketology experts’ predicted, Michigan got into the Big Dance. The big wins were there, the bad losses were not, and the Wolverines got what they deserved: An outside chance to make some noise.

Some might argue that Michigan’s season won’t be a success unless it gets past the First Four. To you I say, “Rubbish!” The First Four isn’t a 16 versus 16 play-in game like it used to be. Plenty of teams have made runs after winning in Dayton, including a Tennessee team that nearly knocked Michigan out of the Sweet 16 in 2014.

When Michigan was flirting with another tournament-less season, the program seemed to be trending sharply downwards. But now that Beilein has his players back on the national stage, it’s a step in the right direction.

3. Michigan uses 11-0 run in final 3 minutes to beat Purdue

As we make our way through the top three moments of the season, keep in mind that Michigan needed EVERY single one of its four top 30 wins to get into the NCAA Tournament. Even with those wins, and no bad losses, Michigan just barely slipped into the Field of 68.

Perhaps the most unlikely of those three victories came against a team that presents the worst matchup problems for Michigan in the Big Ten. Purdue came into Ann Arbor with its top three players flourishing near the rim.

A.J. Hammons (7 feet tall) led the charge and fellow center Isaac Haas (7-foot-2) and dynamic freshman Caleb Swanigan (6-foot-9) weren’t far behind. The trio posed the greatest inside threat in the conference and figured to dominate a Michigan team that tries to make due inside with a pair of 6-foot-9 forwards.

For most of the game, Purdue was like a high school senior holding the charging freshman back with a hand on his forehead. Michigan would close to within five points, and Purdue would push back, keeping the game from getting within a possession.

It wasn’t until the final 2:45 of the game, when Irvin nailed a triple on the left wing, that Michigan really sent the building into a frenzy. Then Walton made a fast-break layup. Then Irvin hit another shot, and Michigan was in front.

Four Walton free throws later, Michigan polished off an improbable win with an 11-0 run to close out the game. With such a tough week in the rearview mirror, and an even more brutal stretch ahead, it was a win the program sorely needed.

2. Michigan upsets No. 3 Maryland

Remember when Maryland was one of the best teams in the country?

At one point, the Terps were 15-1 and ranked in the top five in both major polls. Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone were looking like one of the best duos in the country and Michigan hadn’t stayed within 14 points of a ranked team all season.

Needless to say, it looked like it would be a rout.

Instead, Michigan completely shut down Trimble and Irvin was the star of the show. He scored 22 points on 8-14 shooting and Walton added a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) as Michigan led for almost the entire first 30 minutes.

Maryland erased a couple of 10-point deficits in the second half and tied the game at 54 with 7:37 left. Michigan called timeout, but two possessions later, the Terps took a one-point lead on the heels of Stone’s and-one layup.

The Wolverines wouldn’t be denied that night, and buckets from Donnal, Robinson and Walton stretched the lead back out to five. An Irvin three-pointer with 3:08 left all but sealed the deal.

With Dickie V screaming “That’s a big time three, baby!” Michigan rode to its first ranked win of the season.

1. “It’s good! At the buzzer! Meeeeechigan wins!”

You don’t have to go back very far to find Michigan’s top moment of the season. With everything — An NCAA Tournament bid, a chance to advance in the conference tournament and a win over the Big Ten champions — on the line, Kam Chatman found the ball in his hands with the clock racing toward zeroes.

Some members on the team reportedly thought it was Aubrey Dawkins standing in the corner with the ball. I bet they were surprised when the shot went up with his left hand.

Chatman buried the contested corner triple, sending the bench into a frenzy and vaulting the Wolverines into the NCAA Tournament. It came after Michigan trailed by five with two minutes left. It came after MAAR fouled out of the game, allowing Chatman to check in.

It came after almost everyone had buried the Wolverines, who were forgotten on the wrong side of the bubble.

Michigan went 19 minutes without a three-pointer in the second half, but Robinson and Chatman hit two of the biggest triples of the season in that final minute. That’s why Michigan is playing tonight. That’s why they made the Dance.

Going forward

Almost every big play Michigan makes going forward will be worthy of this list, as everything is magnified in the NCAA Tournament. But with 34 games in the books, and more ups and downs than most tournament teams experience in a season, Michigan has already given fans a year to remember.

Michigan 72 – Northwestern 63: Rahk and Dawk fuel comeback win

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016


MAAR vs Northwestern(Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports)

Three weeks ago on the same home court, Michigan raced out to a 17-6 lead over Indiana, but lost the game by 13 points. On Wednesday night the Wolverines took the opposite route. Thanks to an 0-for-8 start, Michigan dug itself a 17-6 hole, but fought back for a nine-point win over Northwestern.

It took nearly six minutes for Michigan to score its first basket, a Zak Irvin layup, in front of a sleepy Crisler Center crowd. But then Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman took matters into his own hands, scoring nine of Michigan’s next 11 points to pull the Wolverines within two at 19-17. By the time the first half came to a close, Michigan trailed by just one point.

Four Factors
Michigan Northwestern
53 eFG% 54
31 OReb% 19
15 TO% 15
51 FTR 17

The second half began eerily similar to the first with Michigan missing every shot it took and digging itself another hole. Abdur-Rahkman got Michigan on the board 4:12 into the half, but Michigan trailed 37-30. As Michigan clawed back in, it got a boost from a sophomore off the bench.

Aubrey Dawkins, who has seen his minutes decrease throughout the season, hit back to back three-pointers to tie the game at 44. A pair of free throws by Kameron Chatman gave Michigan its first lead. The game went back and forth over the next four minutes until Dawkins put Michigan ahead for good with his third three of the half. From there on, Michigan hit 10-of-11 free throws to seal the game.

Abdur-Rahkman led the way with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while Derrick Walton had a quiet 16, sinking all eight of his free throw attempts. Dawkins added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Northwestern had a trio of players in double figures, led by center Alex Olah’s 19. Tre Demps and Aaron Falzon each added 14.

As a team, Michigan shot 49 percent from the field but just 26.7 percent from three-point range. Northwestern shot 46.3 percent overall and 30.8 percent from downtown. Michigan dominated the glass with a 33-24 advantage, but won the game at the free throw line where they made 20-of-20 compared to Northwestern’s 5-of-9.

At 20-9 overall and 10-6 in the Big Ten, Michigan still has work to do if it wants to breathe comfortably on Selection Sunday. The Wolverines visit Wisconsin on Sunday and then host Iowa the following Sunday before Big Ten Tournament play begins. A win in one of those games should be enough to put Michigan comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field, but lose both and they’ll have to win one or two in Indianapolis to avoid sweating it out.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman***
19 points (8-of-14 2pt, 0-of-2 3pt, 3-of-3 FT), three rebounds (two offensive), two assists, two turnovers in 36 minutes

**Aubrey Dawkins**
11 points (4-of-7 2pt, 3-of-3 3pt, 0-of-2 FT), seven rebounds in 19 minutes

*Derrick Walton Jr*
16 points (4-of-9 2pt, 0-of-2 3pt, 8-of-8 FT), six rebounds, three assists, one turnover in 39 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 30
Duncan Robinson – 17
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 15
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 12
Mark Donnal – 8
Aubrey Dawkins – 7
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 2-3 0-1 3-4 2 2 4 4 7 0 1 0 1 30
10 Derrick Walton* 4-9 0-2 8-8 0 6 6 0 16 3 1 0 0 39
21 Zak Irvin* 2-6 0-3 2-4 0 3 3 2 6 2 3 0 0 35
22 Duncan Robinson* 2-7 1-4 0-0 0 1 1 1 5 1 1 0 0 21
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 8-14 0-2 3-3 2 1 3 2 19 2 2 0 0 36
03 Kam Chatman 0-1 0-0 2-2 2 1 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 6
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4
24 Aubrey Dawkins 4-7 3-3 0-2 0 7 7 0 11 0 0 0 0 19
32 Ricky Doyle 2-2 0-0 2-2 1 1 2 1 6 0 0 0 0 10
Totals 24-49 4-15 20-25 8 25 33 11 72 8 9 0 2 200
Northwestern 25-54 8-26 5-9 6 18 24 20 63 17 9 0 2
200
Full Stats

Michigan 82 – Minnesota 74: Wolverines survive Gopher scare

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016


MAAR vs Minnesota(Brad Rempel, USA Today Sports)

After the roughest week of the season with back-to-back lopsided home losses, Michigan desperately needed a win at Minnesota to boost their confidence with the conference season coming to the final stretch.

Luckily for the Wolverines, the Golden Gophers looked like the perfect bounceback opportunity, having a still-winless Big Ten record. And for the majority of Wednesday night, it looked like Michigan would coast to the all-important victory to maintain their spot on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble behind Derrick Walton’s remarkable 19-point first half.

With 7:30 left to play, Duncan Robinson hit his second straight inexplicably wide open three-pointer to give Michigan a massive 70-53 cushion, and Minnesota seemed ready to call it a night.

Two minutes and 40 seconds later, however, and the Golden Gophers had scored 11 straight points – mostly at the free throw line – to cut the gap to just six points.

A little more than three minutes after that, Michigan found itself up a mere two points despite yet another timely triple from Robinson along the way. This time, Minnesota was simply slicing through the ever-porous Wolverine defense for uncontested layups – no fouls needed.

For those of you who struggle with math (and I’m one of them), that’s a 19-4 run that Minnesota managed to orchestrate in a less-than six minute stretch.

A loss tonight, and Michigan’s hopes of dancing would probably be toast.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman knew it, and decided to finally do something about the inexplicable comeback launched by a miserable team.

Four Factors
Michigan Minnesota
67 eFG% 50
10 OReb% 22
15 TO% 10
38 FTR 33

The sophomore received the ball in the right corner and, instead of settling for a jumper, drove straight along the baseline, lowered his shoulder, and drew an and-1 foul on senior Carlos Morris. Rahk finished the three-point play to give Michigan a bit of breathing room once again, and finished with 16 points on a perfect shooting night (2-of-2 2pt, 3-of-3 3pt, 3-of-3 FT).

Following a missed three on the other end, Michigan got the ball back with time to kill. But Walton and Robinson ran into each other, causing the ball to spill into the hands of Morris, who looked to be leading a two-on-zero break for the Gophers, giving them a chance to make it a one possession game yet again.

Yet again, though, Rahk wouldn’t have it, racing from behind to poke the ball away from a streaking Morris, then gathering it on Minnesota’s baseline and forcing up a pass before falling out of bounds. The pass was tipped by Nate Mason out of bounds, and Michigan would survive by making five of their six free throws to secure an 82-74 win, bringing their conference record to 8-4 with an 18-7 overall mark.

It’s a sigh of relief for a team that many thought was spiraling downward – and fast – after looking lifeless against Indiana and Michigan State last week. And though the defense is still far from fixed and a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over Minnesota is nothing to brag about, Michigan needed to answer the bell in an undeniably must-win situation.

This was the last matchup with one of the doormat teams in the Big Ten for John Beilein’s squad, and outside of a home tilt with Northwestern, the remaining games will not be easy.

Perhaps there is still reason for some optimism, with Michigan getting back on track from deep tonight to the tune of a 14-of-25 (56 percent) final three-point mark, led by Walton (5-of-8), Robinson (4-of-7), Rahk (3-of-3), and Aubrey Dawkins (2-of-4). That will be key moving forward, considering the Wolverines still lack a killer one-on-one threat with Caris LeVert having missed his 11th straight game tonight. And with Purdue coming to town Saturday in another monumental matchup, nothing will come easy inside.

For now, Michigan will take the win and continue to look for Walton and Robinson to carry the offense as they did tonight, with a career-high 26 points and 14 points, respectively.

From here on out, it’s one game at a time. After all, that’s the only way.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
26 points (4/7 2pt, 5/8 3pt, 3/5 FT), eight rebounds (one offensive), seven assists, two steals, three turnovers in 37 minutes

**Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman**
16 points (2/2 2pt, 3/3 3pt, 3/3 FT), one rebound, two assists, two steals, one turnover in 35 minutes

*Duncan Robinson*
14 points (1/2 2pt, 4/7 3pt), nine rebounds, one assist, one block, one turnover in 30 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 26
Duncan Robinson – 17
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 10
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 6
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Mark Donnal – 1
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 4-8 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 4 8 1 0 1 0 19
10 Derrick Walton* 9-15 5-8 3-5 1 7 8 1 26 7 3 0 2 37
21 Zak Irvin* 1-8 0-1 2-4 0 2 2 2 4 3 4 0 2 36
22 Duncan Robinson* 5-9 4-7 0-0 0 9 9 3 14 1 1 1 0 30
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 5-5 3-3 3-3 0 1 1 1 16 2 1 0 2 35
11 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 3
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
24 Aubrey Dawkins 3-5 2-4 0-0 0 3 3 2 8 1 0 0 0 19
32 Ricky Doyle 1-1 0-0 4-8 0 1 1 4 6 0 0 0 0 20
Totals 28-52 14-25 12-20 3 25 28 17 82 17 10 2 6 200
Minnesota 27-58 4-19 16-19 7 26 33 14 74 14 7 3 6
200
Full Stats

#10 Michigan State 89 – Michigan 73: Michigan has no answer for streaking Spartans

Sunday, February 7th, 2016


UM vs MSU(MGoBlue.com)

For the second time in a week Michigan’s best performance came from its bench in garbage time against the opponent’s bench. For the second straight game said bench made the final score look much closer than the game actually played for the first 37 minutes.

The only difference between Michigan’s 89-73 loss to No. 10 Michigan State on Saturday and their 80-67 loss to No. 22 Indiana on Tuesday was that there was no early lead for the Wolverines. In this one, Michigan was overmatched from the start, holding only a 5-3 lead, and when Eron Harris hit a three at the 18:42 mark, Michigan never lead again.

Four Factors
Michigan Michigan State
52 eFG% 78
18 OReb% 33
13 TO% 27
28 FTR 32

The Spartans shot 64 percent from the field and 63.6 percent (14-of-22) from three-point range for the game while holding Michigan to just 44.8 percent overall and 28.6 percent from downtown. MSU made 10-of-14 three-point attempts in the first half including their first five and eight of their first 10. Bryn Forbes was routinely left wide open and made Michigan pay by scoring 23 first half points on 7-of-9 three-point shooting himself.

Zak Irvin led the way for Michigan with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting and 2-of-6 three-point shooting. Aubrey Dawkins (14 points) and Derrick Walton (11) were the only other Wolverines in double figures. No Michigan player had more than three rebounds and the Wolverines managed just 20 boards for the game. Some of that has to do with the fact that Michigan State wasn’t missing shots. Forbes led the Spartans with 29 points, while Denzel Valentine added 21 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

Michigan has now lost two straight and must turn its attention to simply qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that Caris LeVert will see the court again and without him it’s becoming increasingly clear that Michigan is a team that can beat the teams it should beat, but can hardly compete with great teams. At 17-7 overall and 7-4 in the Big Ten, Michigan may need to go at least 5-2 the rest of the regular season and win at least one game in the Big Ten Tournament to feel comfortable heading into Selection Sunday. However, in looking at the remaining schedule, only Minnesota and Northwestern look to be sure-bet wins for the Wolverines. Purdue, Iowa, and at Maryland are likely losses, while at Ohio State and Wisconsin are toss-ups.

Michigan looks to bounce back from a rough week on Wednesday against a Minnesota team still looking for its first conference win. The Gophers are 6-17 overall and 0-11 in the Big Ten. A Michigan loss in Minneapolis will likely mean an NIT berth next month.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 2-5 0-2 0-0 1 2 3 3 4 0 1 0 1 17
10 Derrick Walton* 3-10 3-7 2-2 0 2 2 4 11 2 1 0 3 35
21 Zak Irvin* 8-16 2-6 1-1 0 3 3 1 19 1 2 0 0 32
22 Duncan Robinson* 1-5 0-3 0-0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 0 0 25
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 2-5 0-3 2-2 1 1 2 2 6 4 0 0 1 32
03 Kameron Chatman 2-3 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 5 0 0 0 1 25
05 D.J. Wilson 2-3 0-1 1-1 0 2 2 3 5 0 1 0 1 14
11 Andrew Dakich 1-1 0-0 1-1 0 0 0 2 3 0 0 0 2 5
13 Moritz Wagner 0-2 0-1 0-1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 4
24 Aubrey Dawkins 3-5 2-4 6-8 0 1 1 0 14 3 1 0 1 17
32 Ricky Doyle 2-3 0-0 0-0 3 0 3 1 4 0 0 0 0 14
Totals 26-58 8-28 13-16 6 14 20 18 73 10 9 0 11 200
Michigan State 32-50 14-22 11-16 7 28 35 20 89 18 19 1 4
200
Full Stats

Michigan 68 – Rutgers 57

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016


Irvin-Robinson vs Rutgers(MGoBlue.com)

Remember last week’s message from Richard Pitino to his own team that Michigan enacted by winning ugly? Well…Michigan did it again, this time against the cellar-dwelling Scarlet Knights of Rutgers in a 68-57 win.

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t all that encouraging. But it was a win. That’s the message the Wolverines seemed to be preaching in the aftermath of a sloppy victory that saw the home squad stumble, brick, and crawl its way to an 11-point win with only 20 made field goals (and only nine two-pointers) in a game they were favored to win by 25.

After the win, John Beilein did not hide his displeasure with the way things went, saying that he saw a big family hanging out by the main staircase and hoped that they had a good time, because Beilein “did not”.

“So somebody had to have a good time today,” he went on. “You have those games where we’re fortunate to get a win based on your performance, but we’ll just grow from it and learn from it and see where we go moving forward.”

Fortunate is a pretty apt word to use in this case, given that Michigan very well may have lost to any other team in the Big Ten with the way they played this evening. To say that Rutgers is bad this season would be putting it kindly. Eddie Jordan’s Scarlet Knights are undermanned, undersized, and in over their heads. They are now 6-15 on the season and 0-8 in conference play, with not much hope of pulling a win out of their hats before the end of the year. Rutgers sits at a woeful #274 on kenpom.com, flanked by the almighty New Hampshire Wildcats and Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, and a whopping 74 spots behind the next-worst team in the Big Ten in Minnesota (also winless in conference play). They shoot a lowly 45.6 percent from inside the three-point line and an even lowlier 30.9 percent outside the arc. You get the point – Rutgers is a poor excuse for a Big Ten basketball team this year.

Four Factors
Michigan Rutgers
52 eFG% 47
17 OReb% 17
15 TO% 22
41 FTR 28

And the Wolverines could not slam the door on them all night.

Duncan Robinson led the way in the scoring column with 18 points on 14 shots, but was just 1-of-5 from two-point range with a pair of ugly turnovers.

Derrick Walton added 14 on 10 shots while missing all four of his attempts inside the arc and also coughing it up twice.

Zak Irvin did well to tally eight assists and 12 rebounds, but he too struggled to knock down shots, going 1-of-6 from distance on his way to just eight total points and two turnovers.

Mark Donnal was the beneficiary of many of those assists, finishing with 10 points on six shots, but also gave it away twice.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman rounded out the starting lineup and did not turn the ball over, but he remained quiet offensively, missing all three of his shot attempts (all triples) and collecting a single assist in 29 minutes.

Perhaps Aubrey Dawkins was the best overall performer for the Maize and Blue with an efficient 11 points (1-of-2 2pt, 3-of-4 3pt) in just 19 minutes. But even he missed a wide open, violent tomahawk jam attempt down the heart of the lane when he tried to finish with a one-handed flourish and instead sent the ball clanging off the heel all the way back to half court.

There’s good reason to believe that Michigan took this one lightly, and it’s hard to blame them for it given the competition level. A loss here, however, would have been absolutely devastating. And though tonight’s matchup had all the makings of a trap game, Rutgers is not quite good enough yet to win on the road versus a talented Michigan squad even when they are off.

Still, this one never felt in great doubt despite Michigan trailing for 14+ minutes of the first half and never leading by more than 14 throughout.

So the Wolverines will march on with another ‘W’ notched on their resume – no asterisk needed – for the third straight game to bring their conference mark to 6-2 and their overall record to 16-5, already reaching last year’s win total with 10 regular season games to play.

At the end of the night, a win, as they say, is a win. No matter how it comes.

Quick hitters

• Following the win, John Beilein said he got an ominous feeling when, before the game, he could not find his scouting report on Rutgers for one final pre-game read through, as he does so every game day. As of press time, he had yet to locate it, but he claims this was the first time it had ever happened to him (perhaps unsurprisingly, given the level of competition) in his many years of coaching.

• Speaking of bizarre and unique happenings tonight, Rutgers made a mental mistake that John Beilein also never remembers having seen in his career that started when, late in the game, Zak Irvin stepped to the free throw line for a one-and-one opportunity and bricked the first attempt off the rim. A Rutgers player nonchalantly caught the carom, glanced around briefly as everyone looked confused and sat still (including Irvin, it should be noted), and proceeded to toss the ball to a referee sitting out of bounds on the baseline, giving Michigan the ball back. Four seconds later, Derrick Walton drew a foul and made both his freebies.

Beilein felt it was a critical possession, given that Michigan was up just eight points with 45 seconds remaining when the gaffe occurred. It seems highly unlikely that Rutgers would have pulled off the miraculous last-minute comeback á la Virginia, but we’ll never know.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
14 points (0-of-4 2pt, 3-of-6 3pt, 5-of-5 FT), three rebounds (two offensive), four assists, one steal, two turnovers in 38 minutes

**Aubrey Dawkins**
11 points (1-of-2 2pt, 3-of-4 3pt), one rebound, one assist, zero turnovers in 19 minutes

*Zak Irvin*
8 points (1-of-2 2pt, 1-of-6 3pt, 3-of-5 FT), 12 rebounds, eight assists, two turnovers in 38 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 21
Duncan Robinson – 16
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 7
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 3
Mark Donnal – 1
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 4-6 0-0 2-2 0 4 4 2 10 1 2 1 1 31
10 Derrick Walton* 3-10 3-6 5-5 2 1 3 1 14 4 2 0 1 38
21 Zak Irvin* 2-8 1-6 3-5 0 12 12 2 8 8 2 0 0 38
22 Duncan Robinson* 5-14 4-9 4-4 1 3 4 3 18 2 2 0 0 34
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 0-3 0-3 3-4 0 2 2 1 3 1 0 1 1 29
03 Kameron Chatman 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0+
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
24 Aubrey Dawkins 4-6 3-4 0-0 1 0 1 2 11 1 0 0 0 19
32 Ricky Doyle 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 1 4 0 0 0 0 7
Totals 20-49 11-28 17-20 5 24 29 13 68 17 10 2 3 200
Rutgers 22-50 3-18 10-14 5 25 30 18 57 11 14 0 6 200
Full Stats
Beilein tie watch
(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

Michigan 74 – Minnesota 69

Thursday, January 21st, 2016


Irvin vs Minnesota(MGoBlue.com)

After Wednesday night’s game that saw Minnesota visit Michigan, Golden Gopher coach Richard Pitino revealed that he’s been pleading with his hapless team to “win ugly”.

Unfortunately, his players only got the former half of that right.

The Wolverines, however, fully personified the phrase with a thank-goodness-that’s-over 74-69 victory to move to 4-2 in conference play and 14-5 overall. Minnesota left Ann Arbor still in search of their first Big Ten win after their seventh failed effort.

Once again without the services of senior leader Caris LeVert, whose fifth straight absence with a mysterious lower left leg injury continues to make fans increasingly nervous, Michigan’s juniors stepped up to the plate to lead the effort.

Zak Irvin, whose three-point shooting mark sat at a brutal 20 percent after non-conference play, continued to show off a more confident stroke – hitting three of his five triples – while mixing in a handful of comfortable drives, dishes, and finishes at the rim on his way to a 19-point, 11-rebound, three-assist performance. Since turning the calendar to Big Ten play, Irvin has flipped a switch, with a 46.4 percent mark from deep (13-of-28) and 23 assists in six games (3.8 per on a 21.2 assist rate – tops on the team since the New Year). And while his finishing inside the arc has actually been worse than from distance (40% in conference play), the Indiana native appears to be more aggressive driving to the rack without LeVert available.

He insists that it’s all simply part of the team’s “Next Man Up” mentality.

Derrick Walton, Irvin’s classmate, helped out with 22 points and six rebounds while playing nearly from tip to buzzer. Walton struggled from deep, converting on only one of his six triple tries, but he looked better finishing at the rim last night and made good from the charity stripe (11-of-12) despite coming into the game with an uncharacteristically low 73.8 percent conversion rate at the line (he made 79.3% and 83.3% in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, respectively).

Four Factors
Michigan Minnesota
44 eFG% 47
23 OReb% 19
8 TO% 17
37 FTR 29

No other Wolverine managed to reach double figures despite what seemed like a bevy of open looks, as the team finished with a rancid 29 percent rate from three and 43.8 percent rate from two for an effective FG% of just 43.7 percent.

Despite the shooting struggles, it never felt like Michigan was in serious danger of dropping the game – even if they did appear to be in hibernation for much of the contest. For what it’s worth, KenPom’s statistical win probability meter agreed, with the Maize and Blue never falling below a 90.8 percent likelihood of pulling it out – they were up by at least three points the entire second half.

Minnesota was paced by sophomore Nate Mason’s career high 25 points on 16 shots while Carlos Morris and Jordan Murphy combined for 27 points on 23 shots. As a team, the Gophers simply couldn’t hit anything from deep when it mattered – they didn’t make a three in the second half until there were 25 seconds left in the game – and finished with a poor 27.3 percent mark from distance. The visitors did, however, have some success driving and made 51.4 percent of their two-point looks, which Beilein attributed to a defensive focus on sticking with Minnesota’s perimeter shooters. And though Beilein said that strategy worked, citing the Golden Gophers’ shooting woes, Minnesota’s strength has always been getting to the hole and drawing fouls. Still, it was never going to be enough for Pitino’s squad, who also could not overcome then-leading scorer Joey King’s quiet three-point outing.

Fortunately, style points do not come into play in college basketball, and a lousy home win over Minnesota still goes into the proper column for Michigan, who has their sights set on competing for a conference title and jockeying for position in the Big Dance. It might sound a little far-fetched right now, and I’m certainly not arguing that the Wolverines are favorites in the Big Ten, but a 4-2 record with a slew of winnable games over the next few weeks is working just fine for now.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Zak Irvin***
19 points (5-of-12 2pt, 3-of-5 3pt), 11 rebounds (one offensive), three assists, one steal, one turnover in 37 minutes

**Derrick Walton Jr.**
22 points (4-of-7 2pt, 1-of-6 3pt, 11-of-12 FT), six rebounds, one assist, one steal, one turnover in 39 minutes

*Duncan Robinson*
9 points (0-of-2 2pt, 3-of-10 3pt), five rebounds, one steal in 36 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Caris LeVert – 15
Derrick Walton Jr – 15
Duncan Robinson – 14
Zak Irvin – 6
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 3
Aubrey Dawkins – 3
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 2-4 1-2 0-1 2 1 3 4 5 2 3 1 0 23
10 Derrick Walton* 5-13 1-6 11-12 0 6 6 2 22 1 1 0 1 39
21 Zak Irvin* 8-17 3-5 0-0 1 10 11 2 19 3 1 0 1 37
22 Duncan Robinson* 3-12 3-10 0-0 0 5 5 1 9 0 0 0 1 36
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 0-3 0-2 6-8 0 4 4 4 6 2 0 1 0 29
05 D.J. Wilson 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
11 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 5
13 Moritz Wagner 2-3 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 2 4 0 0 0 0 8
24 Aubrey Dawkins 3-7 1-4 0-0 1 2 3 2 7 0 0 0 0 15
32 Ricky Doyle 0-1 0-0 2-2 1 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 5
Totals 23-63 9-31 19-23 9 29 38 18 74 9 6 2 4 200
Minnesota 25-59 6-22 13-17 7 31 38 22 69 10 12 4 1 200
Full Stats
Beilein Tie Watch
(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

#16 Iowa 82 – Michigan 71

Monday, January 18th, 2016


Darren Miller, hawkeyesports.com

Darren Miller, hawkeyesports.com

Today, Michigan played about as well as could be expected on the road without their leading scorer and their best player. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Wolverines in Iowa City, who will make the trip back to Ann Arbor with a 13-5 (3-2 Big Ten) record after an 82-71 loss.

Despite a ferocious comeback after falling into a quick 11-0 deficit and a couple more encouraging spurts along the way, Michigan simply couldn’t finish it off against an Iowa team that is firing on all offensive cylinders and is off to a 5-0 start – including two blowout victories over Michigan State and an epic comeback over #14 Purdue – in conference play.

Iowa came storming out of the gates this afternoon behind other-worldly shooting to take a double-digit lead within the first 2:11 of game time, making it look effortless and putting Michigan in danger of falling into the same pit as their in-state foes, who trailed by double digits for the entire second half last Thursday.

Instead, the Wolverines showed heart and fought back to eventually take a 21-20 lead less than 10 minutes after being down 11 with an array of wide open dunks and layups exploited by John Beilein’s coaching prowess.

Not to be outdone, the Hawkeyes followed that up with a 15-5 stretch of their own in just over six minutes of action, highlighted by a steal at midcourt that led to a one-man Adam Woodbury fast-break dunk.

The Wolverines cut the deficit to five by halftime and looked poised to steal a second statement game in as many tries when they regained the lead less than five minutes into the second stanza, but Iowa’s offensive barrage simply never slowed enough despite a respectful 46.3 percent mark from the floor for the visitors.

Four Factors
Michigan Iowa
56 eFG% 59
33 OReb% 23
20 TO% 6
26 FTR 18

Despite the pesky effort from the Wolverines, the Hawkeyes never lost flight, making more than half of their own attempts from the field and a ridiculous 45.5 percent of their threes.

Michigan was led by 16 points from point guard Derrick Walton Jr. and a nice 12-point outing from sophomore Aubrey Dawkins. Zak Irvin and Duncan Robinson poured in 11 apiece, but both were frequently disturbed by Iowa’s length on the perimeter. Irvin in particular struggled to penetrate a variety of defensive looks, turning it over three times, as he tried to reprise Caris LeVert’s role as best as he could.

Jared Uthoff paced the home squad with a (somehow) quiet 23 points on 20 shots while Peter Jok chipped in 16, including 14 in the second half that always seemed to come at the perfect moment for Iowa fans. Senior center Adam Woodbury also added 12 points on seven shots and the German, Dom Uhl, added a timely 10 points while senior floor general Mike Gesell only managed four points on as many shots.

We’ve heard time and again that there’s no such thing as a “moral victory” in college basketball, and that’s fine and good. But there’s also no denying that Michigan is starting to come into form despite missing a likely first round draft pick. Yes, they’ve “only” gone 1-2 over their last three, but a stretch of at Purdue, vs. Maryland, and at Iowa is going to be about as difficult as any team in the country faces this season. And the Wolverines escaped with one win, one closely contested loss, and one defeat that could have been a lot worse given the individual matchups.

If nothing else, John Beilein is finally getting productivity from every spot on the floor. Derrick Walton, still caught in a mini shooting rut, hit a couple big triples today despite a 5-of-14 mark from the floor and dished out six assists to just one turnover.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, LeVert’s de facto replacement in the starting lineup, had an efficient seven points on five attempts, made his only three-point try, and recorded four assists for just the third time in his career – and the second time in a row.

Zak Irvin’s 11 points came on eight attempts and, though he sometimes tried to do too much on offense in LeVert’s stead, again battled defensively despite being three inches shorter than his counterpart and gathered eight total rebounds along with five assists.

Duncan Robinson had arguably his worst offensive game of the season, but he still scored 11 points on nine attempts (despite a 2-of-8 mark from downtown) and again showcased improved versatility with a nice take to the rack and a pair of assists.

Lastly, Mark Donnal rounded out the starting lineup and hustled his way to eight points on seven shots along with seven rebounds, including three on the offensive end. He’s still not an All-Conference type, but the strides he has made since the start of this season are remarkable. No longer is he timidly going after rebounds or asking for the ball; no, he is now hoping to see the rock come his way on offense, contesting shots on defense, and flying all over the floor for loose balls.

And that’s not even mentioning the sixth-man of the day. Aubrey Dawkins, who shone last year while Derrick Walton and LeVert sat through much of conference play, has gotten off to a slow start this season, but his game continues to develop. Today, he knocked down three of his five attempts from beyond the arc, made a very difficult entry pass look like an easy lay-in finish, and even assisted Moritz Wagner on a dunk on a beautiful roll midway through the first half, which earn him a big hug from Beilein.

In the end, it was 13 uncharacteristic turnovers that did Michigan in, and a remarkably low four turnovers from Iowa – including zero in the second half – that led to seven more shot attempts for the home team, that made the difference.

All in all, no Big Ten team ever wants to lose home or away. But it’s tough to look at the fight from Michigan today and say that hope is lost.

In fact, I’d say the season looks more hopeful than ever with the next four games coming versus Minnesota, at Nebraska, versus Rutgers, and at Penn State.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
16 points (2-of-3 2pt, 3-of-11 3pt, 3-of-4 FT), six assists, five rebounds (one offensive), one turnover in 36 minutes

**Zak Irvin**
11 points (2-of-6 2pt, 1-of-2 3pt, 4-of-5 FT), eight rebounds (one offensive), five assists, one steal, three turnovers in 30 minutes

*Aubrey Dawkins*
12 points (1-of-1 2pt, 3-of-5 3pt, 1-of-2 FT), two rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, one turnover in 18 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Caris LeVert – 15
Duncan Robinson – 13
Derrick Walton – 13
Zak Irvin – 3
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 3
Aubrey Dawkins – 3
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 4-7 0-0 0-0 4 4 8 2 8 0 3 0 0 28
10 Derrick Walton* 5-14 3-11 3-4 1 3 4 2 16 6 1 0 0 36
21 Zak Irvin* 3-8 1-2 4-5 1 7 8 1 11 5 3 0 0 30
22 Duncan Robinson* 3-9 2-8 3-3 0 2 2 4 11 2 2 0 0 34
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 3-5 1-1 0-0 1 2 3 0 7 4 3 2 0 33
05 D.J. Wilson 1-3 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 6
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
13 Moritz Wagner 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 4 0 0 0 0 10
24 Aubrey Dawkins 4-6 3-5 1-2 0 2 2 1 12 1 1 1 1 18
32 Ricky Doyle 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Totals 25-54 10-28 11-14 10 23 33 14 71 18 13 3 1 200
Iowa 31-61 10-22 10-11 7 20 27 13 82 19 4 3 8 200
Full Stats

Michigan 105 – Youngstown State 46

Sunday, December 20th, 2015


Derrick Walton vs YSU(MGoBlue.com)

Last night’s Michigan matching with the Youngstown State Penguins was the third of four straight “guarantee” games before Big Ten season arrives.

And much like the previous two, this game quickly turned into a highlight show for the Wolverines, capped with yet another triple-double, this time from junior point guard Derrick Walton Jr.

Michigan stormed out of the gates yet again to a 9-0 lead behind a commonplace triple by Duncan Robinson and a pair of two-pointers from Zak Irvin, who has gone from shooter extraordinaire his freshman year to a guy who can do a bit of everything inside the arc but is broken from deep.

Moritz Wagner’s free throw at the 14:32 mark of the first half gave Michigan a double-digit lead, which they would never relinquish. By the time halftime graciously arrived, the Wolverines held a 55-22 advantage. Still, the Penguins chose to continue playing and ended up buried at the buzzer by a 105-46 final score to bring Michigan to 9-3 on the year.

Four Factors
Michigan YSU
71 eFG% 36
33 OReb% 12
9 TO% 17
28 FTR 23

Irvin, who pitched in eight points on a perfect 4-of-4 mark from two-point range, missed all three of his triple attempts to bring his three-point shooting average to a miserable 17.1 percent (7-of-41) on the season. Coach John Beilein just thinks Irvin needs to see a couple deep shots drop to give his junior some confidence, but Irvin seems hesitant to even attempt them at this point.

The story of the night, however, was Derrick Walton’s 10-point, 13-assist, 11-rebound triple-double, which came just one game after Caris LeVert accomplished the same feat four days before. Walton’s triple-double is the fifth on record for the Michigan basketball team and the fourth to happen under the tutelage of Beilein after Manny Harris, Darius Morris, and LeVert previously reached the milestone.

It is also the first time on record that two different players on the same college team recorded triple-doubles in back-to-back games.

Walton, in his normally soft-spoken tone, praised his teammates for making shots and boxing out for him as he inched closer and closer to his personal highlight.

Second to the triple-double was the re-emergence of sophomore Aubrey Dawkins, who had fallen into partial obscurity after starring in conference play a season ago. His shooting numbers had remained pretty consistent with last year’s, but Dawkins had not quite made as much noise as was expected out of him after being the most efficient scorer in Big Ten play last year and being pegged as Michigan’s most improved player over the offseason by Beilein.

That changed against Youngstown State when Dawkins, who was the last bench player to check into the game (despite being a starter to begin the year) in the first half, showed off his potential with fireworks all over the place. In the span of just more than seven minutes, Dawkins hit a two-pointer from inside the paint, knocked down a pair of triples, converted an awe-inspiring, one-handed, and-one alley-oop, and threw down a crazy 360 dunk on the fast break. All five buckets were assisted by Walton.

Dawkins would go on to finish with 19 points on 11 shots, tying for the team lead along with LeVert, whose somehow quiet 19-point, six-rebound, five-assist, zero-turnover night was largely overshadowed by Walton.

Lastly, Wolverines fans breathed one more sigh of relief in an exciting non-contest of a game when redshirt freshman D.J. Wilson checked into the game with six minutes left in the night after missing two straight games with an ankle injury. Wilson proceeded to score a career-high 12 points on just six shots while grabbing two rebounds and dishing an assist to Kameron Chatman, who finished with eight himself. Wilson knocked down two straight threes from the right wing to close the night out – a very encouraging sign for a player that I believe has loads of potential at the 4 or 5 position.

The Sacramento native’s first trey put the home team over the century mark, much to the pleasure of a sparse holiday crowd, and his second three gave his team its highest scoring mark of the season and the second highest margin of victory in Michigan history for good measure.

Now, Michigan will have to get up for one more should-be cakewalk against Bryant this Wednesday (7:00pm on BTN) before Big Ten play kicks off on the road in Champaign, Illinois a week later.

If these Wolverines continue to put up these eye-popping numbers behind its high-powered offense and make strides on defense, it could be quite an interesting conference season.

Let’s hope Santa brings just that.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Derrick Walton***
10 points (3-of-6 2pt, 1-of-4 3pt, 1-of-2 FT), 11 rebounds, 13 assists, four steals, one block, two turnovers in 29 minutes

**Caris LeVert**
19 points (4-of-4 2pt, 3-of-4 3pt, 2-of-2 FT), six rebounds (one offensive), five assists, one steal, zero turnovers in 26 minutes

*Aubrey Dawkins*
19 points (6-of-6 2pt, 2-of-5 3pt, 1-of-1 FT), two rebounds, one block, zero turnovers in 16 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Caris LeVert – 15
Duncan Robinson – 10
Derrick Walton – 7
Aubrey Dawkins – 2
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Beilein CoachSpeakometer

John Beilein is always quick to praise Michigan’s opponent – whether playing against the worst team in the country or one of the best. Here’s a look at a Beilein quote from this game’s press conference followed by a rating from Completely Objective and Fair (1) to Pure and Utter Coachspeak (10) on the John Beilein CoachSpeakometer

Beilein did not comment directly on Youngstown State’s strength other than that he thought they ran similar stuff to Northern Kentucky, which is not exactly high praise considering the beating the Norse also took at Crisler, but Beilein praised Northern Kentucky extensively. The Coachspeakometer takes another game off.

Beilein Tie Watch
(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
32 Ricky Doyle* 3-3 0-0 2-3 1 0 1 2 8 0 1 0 0 13
10 Derrick Walton* 4-10 1-4 1-2 0 11 11 0 10 13 2 1 4 29
21 Zak Irvin* 4-7 0-3 0-0 0 5 5 0 8 1 1 0 1 26
22 Duncan Robinson* 5-10 4-7 0-0 2 4 6 0 14 3 1 1 1 28
23 Caris LeVert* 7-8 3-4 2-2 1 5 6 2 19 5 0 0 1 26
03 Kameron Chatman 2-6 0-3 4-4 1 0 1 2 8 2 0 0 0 10
05 D.J. Wilson 5-6 2-3 0-0 0 2 2 0 12 1 0 0 0 6
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 1 0 2 1 0 0 8
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 3 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 13
13 Moritz Wagner 2-3 0-1 3-6 3 2 5 3 7 1 0 0 0 16
24 Aubrey Dawkins 8-11 2-5 1-1 0 2 2 1 19 0 0 1 0 16
34 Mark Donnal 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9
Totals 40-65 12-30 13-18 9 37 46 11 105 29 6 3 7 200
Youngstown State 17-57 7-23 5-13 5 18 23 15 46 9 12 1 3 200
Full Stats