Coming off of a dreadful performance in New York City, Michigan couldn’t afford to lose a buy game before Thanksgiving. For long stretches of Sunday night’s tilt with Ohio, it looked like that was exactly what might happen.
The Wolverines got off to a slow start (for the fifth time in five games), and then Hunter Dickinson roared back to carry U-M to an improbable lead at the break. Michigan started to build on that momentum, only to throw it away and fall behind by seven points down the stretch. A late run gave Michigan a 63-61 lead after a pair of Kobe Bufkin free throws, only for a miracle full-court pass off the rim to send the game to overtime.
It was the type of performance that cemented early observations about this Wolverine team as legitimate faults. It was also an important win that easily could have been a costly defeat. The sort of win that buys some time to address the issues plaguing this new-look Wolverine team, but not much.
The reality is that Michigan’s problems are two-fold. There are normal basketball issues that will be weaknesses for this team throughout the year. Michigan isn’t going to suddenly become quicker and more athletic overnight to better defend guards, for example. But then there are lapses in execution and judgment that amount to throwing away possessions.
Those more costly issues can be eliminated, and they need to be for Juwan Howard’s team to have a chance to go anywhere.