2011-2012 Season

Five Key Plays: Towson at Michigan

1. Michigan’s 21-0 run to start the game

It was only a game against Towson, who returned just one player from its win-less CAA squad last season, but a 21-0 run is impressive no matter who you’re playing. When combined with the final eight minutes of Michigan’s season opener, the run amounted to 41-1 – easily the best basketball that Michigan has played during this young season. It started with a jumper from Hardaway off an assist from Burke. Burke followed the assist, which he said helped calm his nerves, with two 3-pointers of his own — the first of his career, to make it 8-0 Michigan. The Wolverines did their part on the defensive end, forcing Towson into seven turnovers during the stretch. Novak, Morgan, Horford and Smotrycz all took part in the scoring effort, with Burke leading the way with six early points. Novak’s easy lay-in off a pretty dish from Hardaway capped the run with 11:50 to go in the half.

2. Towson’s first bucket of the game

At this point we are over nine minutes into the game, through the first two TV-timeouts, and the Tigers still hadn’t scored a bucket. Let’s be honest, you felt a little bad for them. I know I did. Finally, at the 10:34 mark of the first half, the drought ended, as forward Erique Gumbs finally got one to fall from the top of the key. Although the game was essentially decided by the 21-0 run, Towson actually outscored Michigan 45-43 to close out the game. This was something that John Beilein was concerned about after the game although even he admitted that it’s tough to stay focused in a blow-out game like that.

3. Trey Burke’s 3-pointer to end the half

Burke came to Michigan with a reputation of being a clutch player. With time winding down in the first half, he gave us our first glimpse as to why. Out of a time out, Burke drove down the right side of the lane and dished it to the corner to Stu Douglass, who drove to his left, attracting two Towson defenders and leaving Burke with some room to shoot in the corner. Douglass tossed it back to Burke, who drained the 3-ball as time expired to give Michigan a 37-16 edge heading into the break. Sure, it wasn’t a bucket in a big game against a big time opponent, but it was a buzzer-beater nonetheless, and hopefully a sign of things to come.

4. Novak’s steal and no-look dish to Vogrich for two

Off a Towson miss, it appeared the Tigers would get another crack at it, as a Towson player came down with the offensive board. Then Zack Novak got involved in the play. Novak, in typical Novak fashion, bullied the Towson player in the corner, stealing the ball from him. Then in not so typical Novak fashion, Zack took off leading the 3-on-2 fast break on his own. With both Towson defenders uncommitted to either Michigan players on the wing, Novak faked the pass to Burke on the right and tossed a beautiful no-look pass to Vogrich, who finished strong on the left side for the easy lay-in. Novak has been more assertive in transition this season, with a couple of coast-to-coast drives, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to push the ball in a similar fashion against better competition.

5. Douglass’s gritty play leads to Novak’s charge

Stu Douglass may have had a tough game from the field (0-7 overall and 0-5 from deep), but he still let his presence be known. After scrapping for the long rebound off a Towson miss, Douglass lost the handle, sending the ball toward the hands of a Towson defender. With seven minutes to play and a 25-point lead, many players would’ve given up on the play; but instead, Douglass dove for the loose ball. He came up empty, but his aggressive play seemed to force the Towson players to rush to get to the hoop, right into the chest of Novak. Novak was in perfect position as the Towson player plowed over him and was called for the charge. It’s not a play that will show up on the stat sheet, but it’s one that every coach loves to see.

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