2021-22 Season

Michigan’s perimeter defense wastes another crucial opportunity

Two games.

Heading into Thursday’s matchup with No. 24 Iowa, the Michigan men’s basketball team had two opportunities to bolster its NCAA tournament resume. The Wolverines only needed to win one to feel confident about their chances.

Now, after losing to the Hawkeyes 82-71, they’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out their fate. Michigan’s poor defense that caused that outcome makes the odds of winning that one none too favorable.

“We didn’t guard the ball,” acting head coach Phil Martelli said. “We wanted to use zone, and when you get blitzed early sometimes you’re like ‘Ah, I can’t afford to give up a three and now something will happen,’ but we stayed with it. It wasn’t a desperation move.”

Like countless games this season, Michigan’s perimeter defense kept coming up empty against Iowa’s 3-point threats. The Wolverines couldn’t guard forward Keegan Murray or slow down Jordan Bohannon, who shot 9-for-11 from outside as a duo.

And the defense didn’t just struggle, it didn’t show up at all. Murray and Bohannon were constantly left wide open with plenty of space to shoot. Late block attempts from sophomore center Hunter Dickinson and freshman big Moussa Diabate didn’t faze either shooter, and the Hawkeyes rolled to an early and dominant lead. Michigan failed to track Bohannon in transition and didn’t work as a unit to shut down either shooter, and Martelli made that clear after the game.

“Sometimes you can have a miscommunication, where I say blue, you say red,” Martelli said. “And then you can have missed communications. We missed communications a number of times in the first half.”

Subscribe to Continue Reading

Join the UM Hoops community today and access our exclusive content.

  • Advanced analysis and previews
  • Member-only forum & monthly ‘Ask Me Anything’
  • In-depth video breakdowns and features
  • Ad-free viewing

Subscribe Today

Already a UM Hoops member? Sign in below

To Top