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Posts Tagged ‘Cazzie Russell’

Michigan 77 – Armstrong State 49: Wolverines win exhibition in Cazzie’s return

Saturday, November 5th, 2016


wagner-vs-armstrong-state(Isaiah Hole, 247 Sports)

Michigan easily dispatched of their first opponent of the 2016-17 college basketball season, the Armstrong State Pirates, on Friday night with former Wolverine great Cazzie Russell – a Pirates assistant coach – in the house. Despite a slow start to the second half, which featured a 13-4 Armstrong State run over a four-minute period, the Wolverines never panicked and coasted as one might expect against a Division II opponent. Given the nature of the game, the strength of the opponent, and the tendency to mix lineups quite a bit in exhibition matchups, a recap will probably not add much value, so let’s hit on some player observations and some general thoughts after seeing the Maize and Blue take the floor for the first time.

The newbies

Ibi Watson – Most probably expected to see Xavier Simpson as the first freshman off the bench, but with an injury to Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, it was actually Ibi Watson that was the first new face to see action. He wasted very little time – 22 seconds, to be exact – to score his first bucket in a Michigan uniform on a fast break and generally acquitted himself well throughout the evening.

After the game, Watson said that the pace of basketball at the college level has just started to really slow down for him in the past week or so, and his calmness seemed to bear that out on the floor. Watson looks to be all of the 6-foot-5 he’s listed at and has a very smooth stroke despite going only 1-of-4 from deep. His third and final bucket came on an easy dunk that showcased some of the athleticism the Ohio native will look to bring to the table, and Watson’s four assists and three steals in 18 minutes are certainly a welcome sign. He even ran a successful pick-and-roll once with Mark Donnal that saw the senior convert a somewhat iffy pass from the freshman for a bucket.

Watson was very aggressive on both ends of the court – maybe even a bit too aggressive at times offensively – and should carve out a niche for spot minutes if his game continues to evolve. For now, John Beilein said that he envisions Waton’s role this season similar to what Tim Hardaway, Jr. looked to do as a freshman – knock down shots, play defense, don’t try to do too much. Beilein agreed that the game has certainly slowed down for Watson, but with the amount of information being thrown at him, there’s still plenty of work to do.

block-m-maize Final Team Stats  armstrong-state-logo
77 Points  49
32-63 (50.8%) FGM-FGA (Pct.) 17-63 (27.0%)
6-19 (31.6%) 3PM-3PA (Pct.) 5-27 (18.5%)
7-11 (63.6%) FTM-FTA (Pct.) 10-12 (83.3%)
13 Turnovers 19
42 Total Rebounds 38
9 Offensive Rebounds 13
33 Defensive Rebounds 25
25 Bench Points 10
5 Blocks 1
8 Steals 5
20 Assists 8

Xavier Simpson – Considered the jewel of the class, Simpson played a perhaps surprisingly low 14 minutes in the exhibition matchup and missed his only two attempts from the floor while recording a Walton-esque five rebounds along with a pair of assists and turnovers. The 2016 Ohio Mr. Basketball winner is almost certainly smaller than his listed 6-foot-0, 180 pounds, but he is built solidly and plays with a low center of gravity that allows him to weave decisively on offense and play pesky on-ball defense. We didn’t see as much Simpson/Walton two-guard time as Beilein led us to believe, but Simpson appears to be an able ball handler with fine court vision. For now, Simpson will likely remain a pass-first point guard looking to set his teammates up with open looks.

Jon Teske – As has been rumored in recent weeks, Teske appears to be ahead of fellow freshman Austin Davis in the rotation at the moment, and his play tonight probably only helped his case. Teske is a big, big body at 7-foot-0, 245 pounds, but his most impressive clip of the night was a 15-foot baseline jumper that was as pure as Gus Johnson’s game calls are exciting. Beilein mentioned after the game that he loves the rotation Teske gets on the ball (if you’ve ever seen the trademark Beilein Ball, you’d know this), and the jumper certainly looked natural for the big fella.

Teske also had a nice, ridiculously easy put-back dunk on a missed layup off the glass to give him four points in four minutes. He’ll never be the quickest guy on the floor, but if Teske can provide spot minutes in the case of foul trouble, be a threat from outside the paint, and box out, he should fill his role just fine.

Austin Davis – The only non-Ohio native in the freshman class, Davis didn’t get into the game until the waning minutes, but managed to catch a quick pass from Xavier Simpson and finish the easy lay-in for the last Michigan points of the game. Beilein praised Davis’s hands after the game in what felt like an unintentional shot at former Michigan center Ricky Doyle’s ability to catch any sort of pass, and the finish Davis had showed that. The pass appeared to be of the no-look variety in close quarters that came in quick and a bit high. Davis was able to secure it after a tiny bobble and go up for the finish.

The returners
dj-wilson-shorts

(Dustin Johnson)

D.J. Wilson – Wilson provided the most welcome play of the evening, showcasing a smooth offensive game that we had yet to see from him while being his normal disruptive self on defense. Wilson, now a redshirt sophomore, has always had the size and natural athleticism to be a gifted basketball player, but in his Michigan career to date he’s often resembled a headless chicken. Tonight, it was a whole different story.

Wilson looked comfortable operating in the offense while knocking down a short turnaround jumper and a three to go along with a high-flying dunk and seemed to contest just about anything in his vicinity defensively (two blocks) with his ridiculous length while also using that length and his newly added strength to grab a game-high nine rebounds (including four offensive).

The Sacramento native will probably never be a natural ball-handler, but he showed enough to provide some relief to Michigan fans worried about this team’s depth on the wing. Beilein has been praising Wilson’s offseason effort consistently, and it came to fruition tonight in what was easily Wilson’s best game in a Wolverine uniform. I felt that Wilson showed a strong urgency tonight on the court that I haven’t seen before – he was consistently running from one end to the other looking for the ball and trying to get stops on defense. And his short shorts are absolutely on point.

Moritz Wagner – The sophomore from Germany picked up on Friday night where he left off at the end of his freshman campaign, showcasing an arsenal of offensive moves that could make him a unique offensive weapon in the Big Ten. Wagner finished naturally on both sides of the rim with either hand, used his quickness and plus handling skills to get a number of very easy looks right at the basket, and even swished a trey from the left side of the top of the key.

At this point, Wagner looks to have a pretty strong grip on the starting 5 spot and thinks he’s playing the best ball of his life after spending the summer working on his game in Ann Arbor. Wagner figures to have gained about 30 pounds of muscle since arriving at Michigan and is just now beginning to realize how to use that added weight to his benefit. He said after the game that he now knows what it feels like to initiate contact and wants to continue to develop all facets of his game. Perhaps most encouraging for Wagner was only getting two foul calls against him in 25 minutes of play after he often found himself taking careless fouls as a freshman.

Derrick Walton – Walton showed well tonight and quickly put to rest any talks of his job being overtaken by a freshman. The senior Detroit native knocked down a pair of triples and dished out a game-high seven assists to just two turnovers (one clearly not his fault) in 31 minutes of action. He also made all four of his free throws and tied for the team-high with five defensive rebounds – something we’ve become very accustomed to. Walton very much looks to be on track for a solid bookend to his career should he stay healthy, and some more off-ball minutes afforded him by Simpson can only help his dead-eye shooting.

Zak Irvin – Like Walton, there wasn’t too much of note on Irvin that we aren’t already very familiar with. Irvin made half of his 12 shot attempts but only one of his four three-point tries, grabbed four rebounds, and dished out four dimes while grabbing a pair of steals. Irvin’s bounce appeared to be back on the rise when he threw down a fast-break dunk early on after a back injury took some inches off his vertical leap, but Irvin later missed another wide-open dunk that was either blocked by the rim or slipping out of his hands. The senior Indiana native will need to make his free throws (only 2-of-5 tonight) and threes to reach full potential, but he should be in for a solid season.

Duncan Robinson – Beilein mentioned after the game that Robinson has been in a bit of a shooting funk in practice lately, and that showed tonight, as the sharpshooter missed all three of his wide open attempts from deep and seemed a bit hesitant to let it fly – never a good sign for a pure shooter. Hopefully Robinson will get over his confidence issues right now and start to knock them down like we’re used to before getting into the meat of the schedule, because he is easily Michigan’s best shooter and the best threat to stretch the defense.

Mark Donnal – Donnal has lost his starting spot to Moritz Wagner, but he’s still going to be a crucial piece for this team to succeed. Wagner has shown a tendency to foul a lot and big men will rarely get more than 25-30 minutes per game in Beilein’s offense. Tonight, Donnal was less than impressive early on, getting backed down easily for a layup on his first defensive possession then mishandled a loose ball right after, but he made up for it quickly with a couple rebounds and blocks. He finished with just two points but grabbed four rebounds (two offensive) in a short 7-minute outing.

Sean Lonergan – Lonergan got the start with Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman sidelined with what Beilein described as a minor ankle twist that occurred in the last minute of Michigan’s practice yesterday and made both of his shots in 20 minutes of play. The senior walk-on doesn’t figure to get much time once Rahk is back, but he showed a couple nice finishes Friday night while also recording two blocks with his underrated athleticism.

Quick takes

Defense – Much has been made of Beilein’s decision to fill one of his two vacant assistant coach slots with former Wright State head man Billy Donlon, a man known for his gap-style defensive philosophy, but we’ll give it some time before reading too much into the defense. Armstrong State shot just 27.6 percent from the floor, but it’s hard to tell how much of that was due to being overmatched in general. What is clear, however, is that Michigan appears to be going away from the hard hedge on ball screen defense, as noted by MGoBlog’s Ace Anbender.

Michigan’s defense will be designed to limit easy penetration while also focusing on strong close-outs for three-point attempts – generally speaking, the gap defense Donlon employs is similar to a pack-line style defense, which is predicated on stopping penetration and forcing opponents into long mid-range jumpers. The only potential issue I saw tonight was a lack of defensive rebounding on a couple of possessions, but I expect that to be addressed moving forward.

Turnovers – Everyone knows it, but John Beilein said it himself after today’s game: “I hate turnovers”. He made it especially clear that he cannot stand turnovers that result from “lazy” passes on failed alley-oop attempts, of which Michigan had two tonight. At one point, Beilein noted that highlights are highlights because they are rare, and he doesn’t want his team trying to fill the highlight reel every time down the floor. Ultimately, I don’t think the 13 giveaways Michigan had Friday night will become a trend, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Beilein sees turnovers as a primary driver of losses, and his teams normally value possessions more than most, but with a couple freshmen that figure to see rotation minutes, turnovers must be limited.

Final Individual Stats
Michigan
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
13 Moritz Wagner* (f) 7-9 1-1 0-0 0 2 2 2 15 0 1 0 0 25
20 Sean Lonergan* (f) 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 2 4 1 1 2 0 20
21 Zak Irvin* (f) 6-12 1-4 2-5 0 4 4 2 15 4 1 0 2 31
10 Derrick Walton * (g) 3-6 2-4 4-4 1 5 6 2 12 7 2 0 1 31
22 Duncan Robinson* (g) 3-7 0-3 0-0 0 3 3 3 6 1 1 0 0 17
00 Brent Hibbitts 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
03 Xavier Simpson 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 5 5 1 0 2 2 0 1 14
05 D.J. Wilson 4-10 1-2 1-2 4 5 9 1 10 1 2 2 0 24
14 Fred Wright-Jones 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
15 Jon Teske 2-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 1 4 0 0 0 0 4
23 Ibi Watson 3-8 1-4 0-0 0 2 2 1 7 4 3 0 3 18
34 Mark Donnal 1-2 0-0 0-0 2 2 4 1 2 0 0 1 1 7
51 Austin Davis 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 3
Totals 32-63 6-19 7-11 9 33 42 16 77 20 13 5 8 200
Armstrong State
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
04 Francisco Williams* (f) 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 3 4 2 0 0 1 0 0 15
23 KJ James* (f) 5-10 0-1 6-6 2 5 7 2 16 2 3 0 0 29
02 Montrel Goldston* (g) 4-8 1-3 0-0 4 2 6 2 9 0 4 0 1 23
03 Corey Tillery* (g) 3-14 2-8 0-0 0 1 1 1 8 0 2 0 0 27
10 Jamison Jeffers* (g) 2-11 2-9 0-0 0 6 6 2 6 3 3 0 2 34
00 George Brown 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3
01 Denzel Council 1-6 0-2 2-4 2 2 4 1 4 2 0 1 0 26
05 Kalen Clifton 1-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 1 2 1 1 0 1 8
15 Logan Ballard 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 4 2 0 0 0 0 8
32 Larry Spicer 1-11 0-4 0-0 1 3 4 2 2 0 3 0 1 25
33 Matthew Beatty 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
41 Demarcus Cunningham 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 17-63 5-27 10-12 13 25 38 17 49 8 19 1 5 200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: #24 Ohio State

Saturday, February 21st, 2015


UM-OSU
Michigan (13-13, 6-8) vs #25 Ohio State (19-7, 8-5)
Sunday, Feb. 22 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 1 p.m. EST | CBS
Offense
63.9 Points/gm 78.0
(579-1,393) 41.6 Field Goal % 49.9 (756-1,515)
(200-571) 35.0 3-pt FG % 38.4 (186-485)
(303-404) 75.0 Free Throw % 67.5 (330-489)
11.7 FT Made/gm 12.7
30.7 Reb/gm 36.2
11.6 Assists/gm 16.4
9.8 Turnovers/gm 11.2
Defense
63.3 Points/gm 61.1
(612-,1369) 44.7 Field Goal % 39.0 (562-1,440)
(168-492) 34.1 3-pt FG % 31.5 (176-559)
34.0 Opp. Reb/gm 33.2
5.6 Steals/gm 8.1
1.8 Blocks/gm 5.3
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.8)*, Zak Irvin (13.5) Points/gm D’Angelo Russell (19.1), Marc Loving (11.2)
Caris LeVert (4.9)*, Derrick Walton Jr (4.7) Reb/gm D’Angelo Russell (5.8), Amir Williams (4.8)
*Out for season

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan’s season is lost, riding a five-game losing streak with just four games to play. At this point, it has been reduced to a fight to finish above .500 in order to sneak into the NIT. Ohio State is firmly in the NCAA Tournament field, and although they’re four games back of Wisconsin in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes have tournament seeding to fight for.

During the game, Michigan will honor the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Michigan basketball team that won the Big Ten championship and finished runner-up to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament, as well as the 30th anniversary of the 1985 team that also won the Big Ten title.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
D’Angelo Russell (G) 33.3 19.1 46.6 43.1 77.4 5.8 5.5 2.7 0.1 1.7
Marc Loving (F) 25.0 11.2 48.8 52.5 79.7 3.7 0.8 1.3 0.3 0.6
Sam Thompson (F) 31.4 10.2 48.6 25.0 62.7 3.7 2.0 1.2 0.9 1.3
Shannon Scott (G) 30.0 7.8 42.2 25.9 63.6 3.5 6.2 2.3 0.1 1.9
Amir Williams (C) 19.0 6.8 68.9 00.0 61.5 4.8 0.3 1.0 1.8 0.7
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Jae’Sean Tate (F) 20.8 8.4 58.1 12.5 54.4 4.8 0.3 1.2 0.6 0.9
Kam Williams (G) 15.7 6.5 47.1 37.5 88.2 1.0 0.6 0.2 0.1 0.5
Keita Bates-Diop (F) 10.8 4.2 44.2 40.6 67.9 2.6 0.5 0.4 0.8 0.4
Anthony Lee (F) 11.0 3.4 62.0 00.0 52.6 2.3 0.1 0.6 0.4 0.1
Trey McDonald (C) 10.8 3.1 58.6 00.0 59.1 2.7 0.2 0.5 0.6 0.1
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 UMass Lowell W 92-55
Nov. 18 Marquette W 74-63
Nov. 23 Sacred Heart W 106-48
Nov. 26 Campbell W 91-64
Nov. 28 James Madison W 73-56
Dec. 2 at #5 Louisville^ L 55-64
Dec. 6 Colgate W 70-50
Dec. 10 High Point W 84-64
Dec. 13 Morehead State W 87-71
Dec. 17 North Carolina A&T W 97-55
Dec. 20 #24 North Carolina* L 74-82
Dec. 22 Miami (Ohio) W 93-55
Dec. 27 Wright State W 100-55
Dec. 30 Iowa L 65-71
Jan. 3 Illinois W 77-61
Jan. 6 at Minnesota W 74-72 OT
Jan. 10 at Indiana L 66-69
Jan. 13 Michigan W 71-52
Jan. 17 at Iowa L 67-76
Jan. 22 at Northwestern W 69-67
Jan. 25 #23 Indiana W 82-70
Jan. 29 #16 Maryland W 80-56
Feb. 4 at Purdue L 58-60
Feb. 8 at Rutgers W 79-60
Feb. 11 Penn State W 75-55
Feb. 14 at Michigan State L 56-59
Feb. 22 at Michigan
Feb. 26 Nebraska
Mar. 1 Purdue
Mar. 4 at Penn State
Mar. 8 #7 Wisconsin
*CBS Sports Classic, ^ACC-Big Ten Challenge

Ohio State won the season’s previous meeting, 71-52 in Columbus on Jan. 13. Michigan still had some hope entering that game with a 10-6 record and 3-1 in Big Ten play, but it would turn out to be the second-to-last game with Caris LeVert on the floor, and Derrick Walton Jr would bow out three games later. Since then, Michigan is just 3-7 and enters this afternoon’s game riding a five-game losing streak. Ohio State, meanwhile, has gone 6-3 since that game. The Buckeyes have had a full week off since losing to Michigan State on Valentine’s Day.

The Series

Michigan trails the all-time series 76-100, but has won three of the last four meetings. Michigan leads 46-37 all-time in games played in Ann Arbor. Although Michigan and Ohio State faced off twice last season, neither was in Ann Arbor as Michigan won 70-60 in Columbus during the regular season and 72-69 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal. The last time Ohio State visited the Crisler Center, Michigan sent the Buckeyes home with a 76-74 overtime loss during the 2012-13 season. The last time Ohio State won in Ann Arbor was a 68-64 victory on Jan. 12, 2011.

Notes

• Ohio State ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring offense (78.0 points per game), scoring defense (61.1),  and scoring margin (plus-16.9)

• Ohio State leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (49.9), while Michigan ranks second-to-last in field goal percentage defense (44.7)

• Ohio State ranks second the Big Ten in blocked shots (5.3 per game) and turnover margin (plus-4.46)

• D’Angelo Russell ranks second in the Big Ten with 19.1 points per game and leads the conference with 2.8 three-pointers made per game

• Shannon Scott leads the Big Ten with 6.2 assists per game and ranks third with 1.9 steals per game

• Marc Loving leads the Big Ten in three-point shooting (42-of-80 for 52.5 percent)

• Amir Williams ranks tied for second in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game (1.8)

Inside the Numbers: The fifth golden era of Michigan basketball

Friday, April 11th, 2014


Michigan(MGoBlue.com)

The college basketball season officially has ended. Accordingly, this will be the final entry of my “Inside the Numbers” series for the 2013-14 athletic season. This hiatus will last a few months until I begin previewing the 2014 Michigan football team this summer. But I still will write for Maize and Go Blue in the meantime. I am starting a bimonthly mailbag. If you have any questions about Michigan football and basketball that you want answered, please tweet them to me (@DrewCHallett) or email them to me (drew.maizeandgoblue@gmail.com), and I will answer them here. On that note, I hope you enjoy my last “Inside the Numbers” piece on the 2013-14 Michigan basketball team. 

Michigan is a “football school.” Always has been. Always will be. This is expected when Michigan is the winningest football program of all-time, leads the Big Ten with 42 conference championships, owns 11 national championships, has three Heisman Trophy winners, plays its home games in the nation’s largest football stadium, and has made more television appearances than any other college football program. But this “football school” label should not overshadow the achievements of the Michigan’s basketball program. Especially right now.

Michigan basketball is not some poor or substandard program. Michigan has won 14 Big Ten regular-season championships, which is one more than the number Michigan State has won. The Wolverines have appeared in the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight 13 times each. Michigan has participated in the Final Four seven times. Only nine schools in the nation have advanced to the Final Four more often. And the Wolverines have celebrated one national championship. Indiana and Michigan State are the only Big Ten programs with more than one national title.

Unlike the football program, though, Michigan’s basketball program has experienced only sporadic success. Historically, Michigan has not always been one of the best basketball programs in the nation. Michigan has not competed for Big Ten or national championships on a consistent basis. When the Wolverines have competed at such a level, they have not been able to sustain it for an extended period of time. This is why, from the inaugural NCAA Tournament in 1939 to 2011, there had been only four brief stretches during which Michigan was near the top of the college basketball landscape.

A-Maize-ing Stretches of Michigan Basketball (1939-2011)

Years

Overall
Win Pct.

Conference Win Pct.

B1G Titles

Sweet Sixteens

Elite Eights

Final Fours

1964-66

79.27%

83.33%

3

3

3

2

1974-77

79.31%

79.41%

2

3

3

1

1985-89

78.31%

72.22%

2

2

1

1

1992-94

78.43%

72.22%

0

3

3

2

Other 58 Years

52.65%

43.46%

1

0

1*

0

*Michigan appeared in the 1948 NCAA Tournament when the field had only eight teams

When John Beilein arrived in Ann Arbor in April 2007, it had been 13 years since Michigan had last been considered elite and nine years since Michigan had participated in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines were in a rut and in need of a new leader to rebuild their program. The first few seasons under Beilein were slightly rocky. Yes, Michigan overachieved in 2009 with a 21-win season and its first NCAA Tournament since 1998. But a disappointing sub-.500 record in 2010 and underwhelming start in 2011 gave the impression that Michigan was still a long ways away from the top of the mountain.

Then, suddenly, everything began to click a few weeks into the Big Ten season in 2011. With a worrisome 1-6 conference record, Michigan traveled to East Lansing, a place where it had not won since 1997, to play rival Michigan State. With the program trending downwards, Michigan seemed destined to suffer yet another loss at the Breslin Center. But Zack Novak and Stu Douglass had different plans. Novak buried a career-high six triples, and Douglass drilled a three-point dagger with 20.2 seconds left to secure a surprising victory for the Wolverines. The win turned around the season. Michigan closed with a 10-5 record and pushed No. 1 seed Duke to the brink in a promising NCAA Tournament appearance.

Thanks to Beilein's ability to identify under-the-radar recruits and develop them for his system, Michigan is amid another golden era (MGoBlue.com)

Thanks to Beilein’s ability to identify under-the-radar recruits and develop them for his system, Michigan is amid another golden era (MGoBlue.com)

While this was happening on the court, Beilein was striking gold on the recruiting trail. In August 2010, Beilein landed an undersized point guard, whom Rivals ranked No. 136 in the 2011 class when he committed. His name was Trey Burke. One month later, Michigan received a pledge from an athletic wing whose father played in the NBA. The commitment earned little fanfare, though, because Rivals ranked the prospect only No. 118 in the 2012 class. His name was Glenn Robinson III. In March 2011, a Canadian sharpshooter, whom Rivals ranked No. 106 in the 2012 class at the time, decided he wanted to be a Wolverine. His name was Nik Stauskas. Then, after Beilein landed the highest-ranked recruit of his career in the form of five-star Mitch McGary, Beilein added a last-second commit, whom Rivals did not rank nationally, to the 2012 class. His name was Caris LeVert.

The combination of Michigan’s end-of-the-season turnaround in 2011 and Beilein’s superb recruiting of under-the-radar prospects ushered in what can now be considered the fifth golden era of Michigan basketball. Since 2011, Michigan has posted an 83-27 overall record (75.45 win percentage). The Wolverines’ 83 wins are the most they ever have had in a three-year span. U-M’s 59 total wins in 2013 and 2014 are the most ever by the school in consecutive seasons. With this type of on-court success, Michigan recently has accomplished goals and records that it has not done been able to do since the Fab Five era.

For starters, Michigan has been the best Big Ten basketball program during this timeframe. Since 2011, Michigan has a 40-14 conference record (74.07 win percentage). No Big Ten school has more conference wins or a higher conference win percentage in that span. The closest is Michigan State with 38 conference wins. Accordingly, the Wolverines won a Big Ten regular-season championship in 2012 and 2014. These were Michigan’s first conference championships since 1986. Further, Michigan ran away with the title in 2014, winning the Big Ten by three games. This was a feat no team had achieved since Michigan State in 2009. For the first time in almost three decades, Michigan sits atop the Big Ten without an equal.

Michigan’s success has translated to the postseason, too. Michigan has been no lower than a No. 4 seed in each of the past three NCAA Tournaments. Its No. 2 seed in 2014 was its highest since it was a No. 1 seed in 1993. Yes, the Wolverines fell unexpectedly to Ohio in the Round of 64 in 2012. But they have more than made up for it since then. Michigan has advanced to the Elite Eight each of the past two seasons, doing so in consecutive years for the first time since 1992-94. This included a magical run to the national championship game in 2013, where Michigan finished as the national runner-up. In these two NCAA Tournaments, the Wolverines accumulated eight wins. No other school in the nation can claim more in this span.

Michigan is amid this golden era of regular-season and postseason success because it has become the nation’s gold standard for offense. The Wolverines have finished in the top 20 in adjusted offensive efficiency in each of the past three seasons. Michigan actually led the nation in this category in both 2013 and 2014. In fact, Michigan’s adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 124.1 in 2014 was the highest by any team in the nation for the 12 seasons this stat has been tracked. Therefore, Michigan’s offense this past season was the most efficient in the nation since at least 2002. Beilein’s offensive system is predicated on having four guards or wings on the court, spacing, constant motion, and outside shooting. With the proper weapons at Beilein’s disposal, few teams, if any, can score at a rate like Michigan.

Regardless of who goes pro, Michigan should remain elite next season (MGoBlue.com)

Regardless of who goes pro, Michigan should remain elite next season (MGoBlue.com)

And Beilein has found the proper weapons. Beilein has hauled in some of the best talent Ann Arbor has seen in decades, even if those players were not considered blue-chip recruits by other elite programs. In 2013, Burke was named the consensus National Player of the Year. It was the second time ever a Wolverine had received such an honor and the first time since Cazzie Russell in 1966. Additionally, Burke also was honored as a consensus first-team All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year. Burke was Michigan’s first member of an All-America first team since Chris Webber in 1993 and first Big Ten Player of the Year since Glen Rice in 1989.

There were some outsiders who claimed that Michigan was a one-man program and would return to mediocrity with Burke’s departure. This was far from case. The following season, Stauskas became Michigan’s go-to player and blossomed into a star. Stauskas, like Burke in 2013, was named to an All-America first team and the consensus Big Ten Player of the Year. It was the first time a Wolverine had been a first-team All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year in consecutive seasons since 1964-66 and 1988-89, respectively. McGary was a preseason first-team All-American in 2014, but his season was derailed by a lower back injury. LeVert was selected as a member of the All-Big Ten second team in 2014 after having a minimal role as a freshman the previous season. And Robinson III has been a two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention and projected to possibly be a first-round draft pick.

This is an exciting time to be involved with Michigan basketball. In each of the past three seasons, the team has competed for conference and national championships. The players have run Beilein’s offensive system to perfection, showing the rest of the nation how offense is supposed to be played. As a result, the players have received multiple national and conference honors to recognize their performances. Additionally, there have been so many other awards, honors, records, and accolades that Michigan and its players have attained since 2011, but there are too many to recognize all of them in this piece. It would be a stat overload. But the message is clear: this is the fifth golden era of Michigan basketball.

The logical follow-up question is, “How long will this fifth golden era of Michigan basketball endure?” Will Michigan drop from its lofty perch in the college basketball world quickly as it has historically? Or has Beilein built this program into a consistent contender that will be among the nation’s best for another decade-plus? This is anyone’s guess. If I had to give mine, I would lean toward the latter, even if one or two Wolverines declare early for the NBA Draft in the next week or so. Nonetheless, Michigan fans should not take this success for granted. Michigan may be a “football school,” but, at the moment, its basketball program is superior and may be for quite some time.

Michigan 79 – Penn State 71: Wolverines outlast Penn State in Crisler rededication

Sunday, February 17th, 2013


Final 1st 2nd Total
#4 Michigan (22-4, 9-4) 32 47 79
Penn State (21-4, 10-2) 32 39 71

Glenn Robinson III had a much needed monster game (Carlos Osorio, AP)

On a day Michigan fans celebrated the history of the basketball program with former stars like Cazzie Russell, Glenn Rice, and Phil Hubbard in the house for the re-dedication of the refurbished Crisler Center, this year’s team slogged its way to an eight-point victory over the still winless-in-the-Big-Ten Penn State Nittany Lions.

Sunday seemed to be the perfect day to welcome back past players as athletic director Dave Brandon cut the ribbon on his crown masterpiece of a basketball facility, but for 30 minutes or so, the Wolverines seemed tired, off, and perhaps lacking effort before finally pulling out a win to end their first losing streak since the end of last season. Penn State has been downright awful in coach Pat Chambers’ second year leading the program, and despite great effort over the past couple games, the Lions simply lack the talent, size, and athleticism to compete in the Big Ten, much less against the cream of the conference. And despite Chambers’ constant bickering with the officials over the 25 fouls called on his players, they once again came up short in the talent department on the court.

With Penn State’s last win coming nearly two months ago at the end of December, the Nittany Lions are running out of time to tally a victory in the new year; a win today would have been huge, but Trey Burke simply would not let it happen.

As fans and players alike welcomed back past heroes with open arms, Michigan’s current All-American point guard set the stage to state his case for his own jersey number to be retired years down the line. Trey Burke has been the unquestioned best floor general in the country, and he continues to prove his worth, this time with a 29-point (9-of-16 FG, 3-of-4 3p., 8-of-9 FT), five-assist, zero-turnover gem as his point guard counterpart, Tim Frazier, could do nothing but watch from Penn State’s bench. Interestingly enough, Burke himself would be at Penn State today if not for a change of heart his last couple years in high school. It’s hard to imagine them still being winless in the Big Ten if that were the case today.

It was pretty clear throughout Sunday afternoon’s contest that no one from Happy Valley would be able to check Burke on the offensive end of the court, but Penn State also had its hands full with freshman running mate Glenn Robinson III.

Robinson, who emerged early this year as one of the premier freshmen in the country with eye-popping athleticism and a knack for always finding the ball around the rim despite his very quiet nature on the floor, has been in a well-publicized struggle throughout Michigan’s last four games, three of which ended as road losses. Today, he finally came around again, providing countless sparks for the laid back afternoon crowd to erupt as he threw down five “He just did that?!” throwdowns on his way to 21 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting mark from the field and 9-of-11 mark from the free throw line. He also managed to grab 10 rebounds to record his second career double-double.

Trey Burke had a season-high 29 points (Carlos Osorio, AP)

In Michigan’s most difficult stretch of the year, a four-game gauntlet that included three road games at top-25 teams and one top-15 home matchup, Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. were the only two Michigan players that seemed to belong on the same court as the competition. Robinson III, who was rolling beforehand, hit the wall hardest, tallying just 18 points in those four games on a horrendous 7-of-24 mark from the field. Today, Robinson III found his game again and got back in his groove by getting behind and jumping above the defense; his teammates found him time and time again.

Joining Robinson III’s comeback effort was fellow freshman Nik Stauskas, who struggled himself to a lesser extent over the same difficult series of games. His three-point stroke continues to regress to the mean, but Stauskas manages to find offense through other routes as commentators continue to pen him as “not just a shooter”. Today the Canadian scored 18 points on nine shots as he made all three of his two-point attempts and got to the line at a solid rate with his penetrating ability.

Michigan fans at this point can only hope that today’s performances ended the cold shooting spells of Michigan’s two offensive-minded freshmen, but the worries do not end there. Burke, Robinson III, and Stauskas combined for a far-too-many 68 of Michigan’s 79 points. The rest of the team was notably absent from the scoring column, including star junior wing Hardaway, Jr., whose eight points don’t look so good knowing that it took him 11 shots to get there. After that, only two more Wolverines combined to score three points.

Perhaps most concerning of all for John Beilein is the play he got from big men Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, and Max Bielfeldt. That foursome combined to score zero (yes, zero) points on five shots and only grabbed seven rebounds total in 47 minutes of playing time. The biggest worry for Michigan was not the relatively small winning margin, as the outcome was hardly in doubt for such a lop-sided matchup, but rather the fact that Penn State was able to grab 36 percent of their own misses and 77.4 percent of Michigan’s clankers. One of the Wolverines’ biggest strengths all year has been in their ability to compete on the boards and turn rebounds into points; being out-rebounded by a smaller, less athletic team at home is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

If Michigan is to compete for a second consecutive Big Ten championship, or at least another share of the title, today’s effort will need to be improved upon. There were plenty of good signs throughout, especially from the aforementioned freshmen scoring wings, but the big men and Tim Hardaway especially need to find their game over the remaining five games.

Still sitting two full games out of first place in the Big Ten, Michigan will probably have to win out to achieve their preseason goal of a Big Ten title. With everybody on their games, the Wolverines have the firepower to do that. If anyone is not playing up to par, however, games against Michigan State and Indiana are going to be difficult to pull out, even in the friendly confines of the christened Crisler Center.

Today’s back-and-forth game with Penn State didn’t do much to convince critics that Michigan has what it takes. But that doesn’t matter now. All that counts are two letters: Ws and Ls. Five more of the former and Michigan is right back in the thick of things. Today was a start.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 6-6 0-0 9-11 3 7 10 3 21 0 1 0 0 33
52 Jordan Morgan* 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 3 0 1 1 0 0 7
03 Trey Burke* 9-16 3-4 8-9 0 3 3 1 29 5 0 0 2 39
10 Tim Hardaway Jr.* 3-11 1-6 1-4 0 2 2 3 8 1 0 1 0 30
11 Nik Stauskas* 5-9 2-6 6-6 0 1 1 0 18 4 2 0 0 34
02 Spike Albrecht 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
04 Mitch McGary 0-4 0-0 0-1 2 1 3 2 0 1 2 0 0 20
13 Matt Vogrich 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 5
15 Jon Horford 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 0 0 1 2 16
20 Caris LeVert 0-2 0-2 1-2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 9
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 4
Totals 23-49 6-18 27-35 7 22 39 15 79 12 6 2 4 200
Penn State 25-57 6-18 15-17 10 25 35 25 71 15 13 1 2 200

Michigan vs Penn State preview

Saturday, February 16th, 2013


#4 Michigan vs Penn State
Sunday, Feb. 17 | 12pm ET | Big Ten Network
21-4 (8-4) Record 8-16 (0-12)
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Bradley 74-66
W. Michigan 73-41
Arkansas 80-67
Binghamton 67-39
West Virginia 81-66
E. Michigan 93-54
C. Michigan 88-73
Northwestern 94-66
Iowa 95-67
Nebraska 62-47
#9 Minnesota 83-75
Purdue 68-53
Illinois 74-60
Northwestern 68-46
#10 Ohio State 76-74 OT
Wins St. Francis PA 65-58
Providence 55-52 OT
Bucknell 60-57
Penn 58-47
Army 78-70
Delaware State 80-76 OT
New Hampshire 72-45
Duquesne  84-74
#15 Ohio State 56-53
#3 Indiana 73-81
Wisconsin 62-65 OT
#8 Michigan State 52-75
Losses #6 NC State 55-72
Akron 60-85
Boston College 61-73
LaSalle 57-82
Wisconsin 51-60
#5 Indiana 51-74
Northwestern 54-70
Purdue 42-60
#18 Michigan State 72-81
Nebraska 64-68
#7 Indiana 49-72
#14 Ohio State 51-65
Iowa 67-76
Purdue 49-58
Nebraska 53-67
Iowa 72-74
76.0 Points Per Game 60.8
61.0 Scoring Defense 67.3
716-for-1,449 (49.4%) Field Goal % 501-for-1,304 (38.4%)
584-for-1,402 (41.7%) Def. Field Goal % 504-for-1,196 (42.1%)
284-for-506 (40.3%) 3-point % 116-for-422 (27.5%)
164-for-511 (32.1%) Def. 3-point % 162-for-458 (35.4%)
265-for-378 (70.1%) Free Throw % 342-for-491 (69.7%)
10.6 FT Made/Game 14.3
36.0 Rebounds Per Game 35.5
30.4 Opp. Reb. Per Game 34.0
15.0 Assists Per Game 9.3
9.6 Turnovers Per Game 12.6
5.7 Steals Per Game 5.4
2.8 Blocks Per Game 3.3
G – Trey Burke (18.2)
G – Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.5)
Leading Scorer G – D.J. Newbill (16.2)
G – Jermaine Marshall (14.7)
F – Mitch McGary (6.0)
F – Glenn Robinson III (5.4)
Leading Rebounder F – Ross Travis (7.0)
G – D.J. Newbill (5.8)

After a grueling four-game stretch over the last two weeks, the Wolverines return home for a much needed break. Three losses have left Michigan two games back in the Big Ten race with no wiggle room remaining.

Thankfully, Penn State is next on the docket – for two of the next three – and should allow Michigan the opportunity to work out some of the kinks that have developed over the past couple of weeks.

Penn State comes in winless in the conference and just 8-16 overall. None of the eight wins have come against a quality opponent and two of them were in overtime. Needless to say, this is not a very good basketball team.

The Nittany Lions were dealt a huge blow in the fourth game of the season when point guard Tim Frazier ruptured his Achilles’ tendon. He was a first-team All-Big Ten member a year go as the lone bright spot of the team, averaging 18.8 points per game overall and 19.6 in conference play.

Without Frazier, Penn State needed another playmaker to step up and they got it from D.J. Newbill. The sophomore leads the team with a scoring average of 16.2, but is averaging 20 over the past four games including a 26-point output against Iowa on Thursday. That was nearly enough to earn Penn State’s first conference victory, but Iowa pulled it out 74-72. He also scored 27 on Jan. 16 against Michigan State and has just three games all season of single-digits. Perhaps the most impressive part of Newbill’s scoring is that he does it mostly from inside the arc. He’s just 11-of-54 from three-point range on the season.

Fellow guard Jermaine Marshall averages 14.7 points per game including a 29-point and 10-rebound output against Michigan State, which was by far his best game of the season. He’s a better three-point shooter than Newbill, hitting 31 percent, though he doesn’t shoot as well overall.

No other Nittany Lion averages in double figures. Forward Ross Travis is the third leading scorer at 6.4 points per game, but leads the team with a seven rebound average. He has five games of double-digit rebounds as well as five double-digit scoring games.

Forward Sasa Borovnjak, a 6’9″ junior, averages 6.1 points, but is coming off a 14 points performance against Iowa. Freshman Brandon Taylor averages sis points and is capable of stepping out and hitting the occasional three despite his 6’9″, 235-pound frame.

As a team, Penn State shoots just 38.4 percent overall and 27.5 percent from three-point range. The Nittany Lions turn the ball over 12.6 times per game and give up 34 rebounds per contest.

Even though the Lions nearly pulled off a win over Iowa on Thursday and played Michigan State tough, don’t expect Michigan to have much trouble. The Wolverines will be wearing white retro jerseys to commemorate the 1968 team that opened Crisler Arena. Michigan should win comfortably. Prediction: Michigan 77 – Penn State 59.