We all want this team to be good. After watching last season we all know that they have at least a little bit of ability. We can keep hoping that they turn it around. But right now this just isn’t a good team.
They are painfully inconsistent and the chances of them putting together any sort of winning streak are slim to none considering the fact that they struggle to play 40 minutes of solid basketball.
The story of this game was the Michigan backcourt’s inability to hold onto the ball. Michigan, who ranked 3rd nationally in turnovers (15.5% per game) before today’s game, turned the ball over on 29% of their possessions.
This is one of the worst marks of the Beilein era in Ann Arbor. To put it in perspective how bad the turnover number was, the short list of other games that Michigan turned the ball over that often include nightmarish performances like Savannah State, the home loss to Central Michigan, and last year’s loss at Ohio State.
After watching Michigan dominate from the jump and build a 17 point lead. Northwestern made just the right tweak to their 1-3-1 zone. All of the sudden the aggressive trapping worked and Michigan struggled to even start their offense. Stu Douglass, Darius Morris, and Laval Lucas-Perry were exposed as they consistently dribbled into Northwestern’s traps, forced passes, and just made foolish mistakes.
That’s not to say Michigan’s defense shouldn’t shoulder any of the blame. In a performance that was eerily similar to Michigan’s game at Penn State, Northwestern put on a shooting clinic in the second half. After shooting a dismal 4 of 14 (28.6%) in the first half, Northwestern went 7 of 10 from three in the second half en route to an eFG% of 71.7%.
Drew Crawford was the guy who simply killed Michigan. The freshman from Naperville, Illinois single handily kept Northwestern in the game through the first half with a personal 11-0 run. He also made all the plays down the stretch to keep the Wildcats ahead. His stat line is not only impressive but extremely efficient: 25 points on 7 of 9 shooting (4-5 3pt) with 8 rebounds. For those of you keeping track, that’s a 100% eFG%.
Down the stretch, as seems to be a theme, Michigan was one or two plays short of getting over the hump. Missed layups, getting beat on backdoor cuts, in and out shots, and poor shot selection were just an assortment of the ways that Michigan found to fall just short when they needed a big play.
This season is going nowhere fast and right now it looks like its time to hope for a couple nice upset victories and an NIT berth.
Other Notes: Eso Akunne has been ruled academically ineligible for the winter semester. John Beielin signed a contract extension through 2015-16.
- DeShawn Sims: Early on Michigan gave the ball to Peedi with a purpose, they ran the offense inside-out and he scored a number of moves including a sick spin move and dunk, he even dished out of a double team for a couple nice looks. But after the first fifteen minutes he wasn’t nearly as involved and seemed to slowly float out of the game.
- Manny Harris: 24 points on 8-15 (1-4 3pt) shooting, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers. It’s tough to criticize Manny when he puts up numbers like that. He almost single handily brought Michigan back into the game in the second half.
- Stu Douglass: Before yesterday’s game, Stu Douglass had one of the best turnover rates in the conference and I believe his assist to turnover ratio led the conference as recently as a week ago. There are many reasons why it is frustrating to have Stu Douglass running the point guard, namely his inability to create plays off dribble penetration, but turnovers were never a problem. However his four turnovers today were just brutal and they absolutely killed Michigan.
- Darius Morris: Darius has struggled with turnovers this year so that’s not so unexpected, although equally frustrating. However, his two made three point shots, seven assists, and two steals gave Michigan a huge boost off the bench.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: Laval struggled with fouls and simply couldn’t find his shot. Darius and Stu struggled but Laval just doesn’t give Michigan much offensively. He got off a couple of three point attempts but didn’t knock any down and never really appeared comfortable.
- Zack Novak: That missed layup near the end of the game is going to haunt him for sometime. 2-7 three point shooting isn’t pretty, but I thought Novak did a good job on John Shurna, holding him to 11 points on 14 field goal attempts.
- Anthony Wright:2 turnovers in 10 minutes, he really doesn’t give Michigan anything offensively or defensively but he’s going to continue to play because there is no one else.
- Zack Gibson: Scored his first basket since January 31st.