Michigan Basketball: Kansas State vs. Michigan — NIT Pre-Season Championship Tournament — Wrap-Up — NIT CHAMPS!
Big, strong Kansas State took the floor against Michigan in the final game of the Preseason NIT Tournament in historic Madison Square Garden.
The game started off rough at both ends with missed shots and tough rebounds, bad one-handed passes did not help Michigan. Jordan Morgan again committed one of his all too typical, how can one describe it, unnecessary type of foul and was sent to the bench. Michigan held tough early though and got off to an early lead.
Michigan gave up only two baskets the first eight minutes, and in both instances players did not hustle from the offensive end to the defensive end leaving shooters open for two transition baskets. Michigan moved the ball well early, then like the Pitt game slowed down ball movement and took some bad shots. Michigan then took the ball to the rim on the dribble for inside baskets.
Michigan started to give up offensive rebounds to Kansas State, who is a strong offensive rebounding team. This allowed K-State to close the gap. Again and again, Michigan could not block out and gave up points.
Points became tough as the half drew to a close. But Kansas State kept creeping closer. Michigan clearly is playing a Big Ten tough type of team two games in a row. Several lineup combinations were on the floor through experimentation and some foul difficulty.
Shot selection could have been better and once again Michigan, although improved, clearly needs to work on rebounding as a technique: blocking out, locking a hip, assessing the flight of the ball, and getting to the right spot through hustle and good position. Michigan grew stronger in the second half against Pitt, and the starters have all had sufficient rest. The pace of the game in the second half may decide the final outcome. Kansas State wants to slow down Michigan by shutting down Burke and make the game a physical half-court event. Michigan wants to get to the rim. Not much three point success in the first half, and if the defense on both sides holds up that could continue.
Michigan starts off very well in the second half moving the ball and having shooting success. Kansas State goes inside at Horford and gets some success.Things move faster and faster, and Kansas State goes cold. The rebounding of Michigan now allows for transition basketball: Michigan’s bread and butter. Horford continues to be involved and active. The pace now clearly favors Michigan and the point differential mounts in Michigan’s favor.
As the game speeds up, Kansas State decides to go to a zone and Michigan hits several threes from different players. The Wolverines get sloppy with defense and rebounding giving Kansas State unneeded points and opportunities. Michigan gets caught several times out of defensive rotation going after the shot and giving up easy points at the other end. This is a real concern, the easy points that Michigan gives up. Only the hot shooting provided an antidote.
Michigan takes a little air out of the ball and wins 71-57, taking home the NIT trophy.
This game indicated the good and the ugly. First the good, already known: (1) Michigan can score, and score inside or outside, and with different options. This is critical when playing high-level competition that can shut down a one or two option team. (2) Michigan can drive to the hoop, pass to the hoop, or hit from outside. Options like this make a team very tough to defend as Kansas State encountered. (3) Michigan is doing a better job of getting after loose balls. This can be because of effort, better athletes, or increased strength. It is probably all three factors listed above.
Michigan could have won the Kansas State game by 25 or more. Several weaknesses prevented this from happening: (1) allowing plenty of offensive rebounds; (2) not paying attention to getting back on defense; (3) sloppy passes and unforced turnovers, and some poor shots that were not needed.Athletic talent and shooting skill overcame the ugly in this game. However, for a team that really has only a few games under the belt, the results have been excellent. If Coach Beilein can get this group to improve its deficiencies, then Michigan has a chance to go past a round or two in the tournament. McGary and Horford need playing time and it looks like Coach Beilein is willing to provide the on-the-job training opportunity. McGary must improve and probably will if Michigan is to go deep into the bracket. Horford is busting his tail, but improvement is needed to justify extra playing time. Michigan still does not play to standard game situations. Going after missed shots and not getting back on defense with a lead is not sound fundamentals.
Potential this team has, yes, and impressive potential, enough to go a long way at tournament time. Teams that advance into the elite eight area usually are strong, play defense, and can rebound. Playing against the best teams provides less margin for error. Michigan has months to get better in these areas and must do so to get to the big stage.
The winning of the NIT is a good sign. Michigan played two very physical teams; one could shoot well (Pitt) and one not so well (K-State). Still, Michigan won two games in three days against high competition and the offense is clearly the strength of the team.When Michigan plays North Carolina State in Ann Arbor, and even higher barometer will be present. This is a premium team, with one loss. Discount that loss; it will not matter when the Wolfpack hits the floor. Like many teams, North Carolina State has the potential to go a long way in March. The Wolfpack is even bigger and more physical than Pitt or Kansas State.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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