Michigan didn’t get embarrassed, but I’m not sure the performances give them enough to build on going forward. It’s fitting that the final deficit was 11 considering Michigan routinely would cut the game to 11 and no further.
Michigan got outplayed badly for about 10 minutes in the first half and that was enough to seal their fate. The positive is that they played the best team in the country even for about the other 30 minutes.
Beilein didn’t go with the 1-3-1 zone early on, which was a reasonable decision considering how badly it has been picked apart this year. However, when he finally did pull it out, Kansas struggled to hold onto the ball and kept Michigan in the game with their turnovers.
The four factors make it pretty obvious what happened here. On offense, Michigan simply couldn’t shoot the ball. 39.6% eFG%, .941 points per possession, and only a 19.4% free throw rate. With that poor of offensive performance it’s surprising that they even were in the game. 5 of 28 three point shooting just isn’t going to cut it for this offense.
On defense, I’m hesitant to call this a great performance. Kansas shot the ball very well (58.3% eFG) and lived at the free throw line (free throw rate of 54.2%!). Michigan did a solid job on the defensive glass but their defense still has room for improvement. Michigan inched back into the game after forcing Kansas turnovers but Kansas’ 11-14 shooting run in the first half was really the difference.
At this point some weaknesses are becoming painfully clear, even beyond not being able to hit open shots. First, they are not a deep team. There are very few options on the bench who can give Michigan much of a boost. This is emphasized in the backcourt, where Beilein is only comfortable playing three guards at two positions. As well as the front court where Michigan is playing an undersized four and five man.
Last year’s team had similar weaknesses but they were able to overcome them. Mostly because they were able to hit three point shots. Something this year’s team just hasn’t been able to do. 10 games in, it has to be a trend rather than a slump.
- Manny Harris: 16 points (6-15), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers in 37 minutes. Manny did his best to keep Michigan in the game but it just wasn’t enough. Regardless, he is a joy to watch especially if he keeps producing at this level.
- DeShawn Sims: DeShawn was relatively assertive today, he got plenty of touches and took 16 shots. His numbers (19 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals) could have been a little higher if he had managed to stay out of foul trouble.
- Darius Morris: Darius airballed his first shot but afterwards he played one of his best games to date. 9 points (4-7 shooting), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and no turnovers. He hit a few shots and made some really nice passes including a dime to Zack Gibson on a pick and roll. Hopefully Darius can build from this performance.
- Zack Novak: Most of his 8 points came off of hustle plays, he also had 7 rebounds (5 offensive), 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers. But, like most of the rest of this roster, his three point shot is missing as well (0-4 today). Michigan needs Novak to hit wide open three point shots in order to stretch opposing defenses. Judging by the way the alternative options played today, we will continue to see Zack but he just needs to find his shot.
- Zack Gibson: Brutal. 1 of 6 shooting with 4 rebounds. Ever since I wrote that Gibson should play more, he has done his best to prove me wrong.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: Laval found his way into foul trouble and didn’t really do much else. He was 0-2 from three point range but did add in an assist. His turnover near half court was brutal.
- Stu Douglass: One of the only guys to actually hit a three, Stu was 2 of 8 on the night, he did add 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals with no turnovers. At this point, he’s the best guard on the roster and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stay in the starting lineup.
- Anthony Wright: Anthony Wright is really hurting Michigan out there. Part of it is that he plays some of his minutes backing up Manny Harris, but he isn’t quick enough on defense and his offensive game is pretty much just chucking up a couple threes.