December 15, 2012; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Nik Stauskas (11) misses a dunk over West Virginia Mountaineers guard Terry Henderson (15) during the first half of an NCAA men

Michigan Basketball: West Virginia vs. Michigan -- Brooklyn Winter Hoops Festival -- Wrap-Up

Posted at 5:45am — 12/17/2012

Michigan Basketball: West Virginia vs. Michigan — Brooklyn Winter Hoops Festival — Wrap-Up

Someone Needs a Timeout

Well last week the game was predictably laid out to the readers. It was stated that Michigan would do well to do a little shock and awe early to get a lead by getting the ball inside and running. That happened as Michigan did a nice job of getting the ball inside early and the running game provided more inside points and a couple of early made three point efforts.

West Virginia was on the ropes and one more good run could have put the Mountaineers in a situation similar to the earlier Gonzaga debacle. Gonzaga kept running a smart offense and scoring inside, but Michigan did not undertake or achieve such an effort

December 15, 2012; Brooklyn, NY, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins reacts to a referee

With a nice lead in hand and West Virginia reeling, Michigan decided to again revert back to old habits of firing quick and less than ideal three pointers. Compounding the changing landscape was the decision of a talented freshman, Nik Stauskas, to all of a sudden change identities, a decision that had a negative impact on the team.

The why he did what he did question is open to conjecture (ego, immaturity, stubbornness, a false sense of invincibility, a loss of mental processes, or whatever), but what is really important is what he did.

Six turnovers, through bad passes and trying to beat the aggressive West Virginia defense with one guy driving down the middle did not work. Whoever called the technical on Stauskas for pimping and running his mouth may have done Coach Beilein a favor. There is a time when enough is enough, and young Nik needs some “guidance.”

When a talented youngster pulls the stunts Nik did on Saturday, he forces a coach to react. It will be up to Coach Beilein, the fatherly and paternal type, to decide what to do. He could have him sit in a corner in time out for a while, or watch film in private with Coach and have some private confession, or Coach could start Vogrich in the next game, or… It will be up to Coach. Coach Beilein may release the veterans “guidance” upon the tender young ego.

This is more of a problem than one may imagine as Nik took his teammates out of a chance to achieve an early knockout and took himself mentally out of the game. Some could perceive a lack of discipline, regarding the coach and the player. But most importantly control must be established, and nothing Nik did suggested self-control.

There is a fine line to handling this type of situation. Talented players function best when carrying an air of invincibility and like a stallion should not be toned down to the point where confidence and aggression are lacking. On the other hand, every player must function within a team structure.

The argument that Michigan blows leads and lets up off the gas is due to youth is rejected here. That has happened with more veteran squads. This team is very talented but lacks mental toughness and the associated focus. Part of poor mental toughness is getting out of a zone when everything is going well and shifting into reverse. Michigan played eight minutes of tough, near perfect basketball, with all of the supposed youth on the florr and then reinvented purpose and mentally took the path of least resistance instead of putting a fatal chokehold on the opponent. Tough teams abound in the Big Ten Conference this year and tough teams will win the tough games.

December 15, 2012; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Jon Horford (15) is helped off the court after injuring his leg during the first half of an NCAA men

West Virginia did not have the talent Michigan did, but several nice penetration kick outs yielded some wide-open shots, as the Michigan help defense could not get back. Huggins took advantage of Michigan’s relaxed pace at getting back on defense and scored several times by pushing the ball, catching Michigan players on the floor or under the Wolverine backboard.

Offensive firepower saved Michigan’s bacon and superior athletic talent. West Virginia played blue collar tough all game, enough to hang around.

The injury to Horford is a big setback to Michigan’s rotation, inside defense and rebounding. He had earned his minutes and now McGary must be thought of as the backup for Morgan, instead of a bookend.

The wins continue to mount, but the toughness and discipline needs to improve to contend for the league title.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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