Michigan Basketball: Ohio State at Michigan — Wrap Up — Threads-One That May Have Saved A Season
Everyone with any age has heard the time honored saying hanging on by a thread. Last night at Crisler Center, Michigan spent the entire second half hanging on by a thread, and a bare one at that. After the buzzer sounded, Michigan sheepishly walked off the court with a 76-74 overtime victory.
The game was not a beauty contest, and the longer the game went on the uglier some things became. The game was physical and grinding, mentally and physically. By the end it was easy to see that both teams were running out of gas. By design, by accident, or by personal vendetta, the overtime session was basically Trey Burke versus Aaron Craft.
Ohio State clearly had a good game plan based on the success at Value City a short time ago. The game plan was to force Michigan into easy mismatches and hit the boards.
After a really good start, where Michigan ran a decent half-court offense, Michigan started over-dribbling the ball, a feature that almost doomed the team’s chances at a Big Ten title. Frankly, it is becoming hard to fathom how Michigan can have any offensive continuity unless this changes in the near future. Teams have figured out Michigan’s two or three main options. Last night, running curls behind a screen for Hardaway helped to bail out Michigan as Hardaway turned into a high wattage microwave oven and heated up Ohio State when the defenders went under the screen. Burke did get some nice kicks to open shooters on the three point line a few times (very few) the Ohio State defense broke down. But most of the second half, Burke, Hardaway, and Stauskas dribbled themselves straight into trouble. It is almost as if U of M has forgotten the pass is allowed.
Ohio State got many mismatches in low for ridiculously easy points. Ohio State can put some big guys on the floor. Amir Williams, to me, is a true prospect for the next level. He is almost seven feet and has a nice sense of timing on defense. Ross, Thompson, Ravenel, and Thomas can all clog the middle. Michigan had little success with the middle curl going down the lane, in part because of Craft’s always-great defense, and also sound inside help defense. So, after the initial spurt, Michigan again settled for too many long and difficult shots. Once in a while the lazy pass crept in play, but not near as much as in the first game with Ohio State.
So, with problems on offense and problems on defense, Michigan started the second half and allowed several inside baskets and easy looks. One particular boo-boo was allowing Craft to take a long but uncontested shot after an inbound with one second on the clock. There was no defender in sight and Craft made Michigan pay by hitting a three-pointer. Michigan followed suite with the unofficial policy of not fouling and Ohio State took advantage.Horford went in when McGary went out, and the lead took off to eight points for Ohio State. McGary reenters and Hardaway started to light it up. Michigan needed a few stops on defense and again could not accomplish the feat; otherwise the game would have been over in regulation.
Again, Burke went one on one with Craft when Michigan had a good chance to win at game’s end and the very difficult shot went sour.
As the game went into overtime, one had the feeling Ohio State was in control. But Burke starts out with a three, a feat that was ho-hum at the time, but ended up being a game winner. Ohio State’s offense was deflating by the minute. The ball did not get to Thomas or Ross enough, and Ohio State and Michigan both relied on a point guard contest. Ohio State made one shot, a nice drive, in overtime, but that was not enough.
It is amazing to look at the stats and see that Michigan outrebounded Ohio State. However, before getting giddy, take note that Ohio State did get several offensive rebounds due to Michigan’s lack of court size and general rebounding ability and turned the rebounds into easy scores. Feet on the floor (Michigan defenders), time after time, Ohio State either ran past a Michigan rebounder or went right over the top. There was a pretty big size mismatch last night. The figures show Stauskas, Robinson, and Hardaway at 6’ 6.” But Ohio State players are much more physical in build and style.Ohio State cut off Michigan’s running game, that was a clear goal and the result was outstanding. Ohio State, like Indiana, banked on half-court play and offensive rebounding to try and take out Michigan. Ohio State was much more physical and aggressive. During the first 33 minutes, Ohio State looked like a team that wanted the game much more than Michigan. Then the tone changed a little as Ohio State started to hit empty.
Coach Beilein was gracious to all and spoke well of the team. But the hope is that the headman does not really believe the sugar coating. Again last night Michigan’s deficiencies on offense and defense were glaring. For most of the second half it looked like Michigan was all but out on its feet.
But the alarm clock went off, McGary kept doing what he does best, and Michigan clawed back into the game. Ohio State is playing better lately and had to think it had put the knockout of Michigan’s conference hopes. By hanging on by one thread, and not falling off the cliff, Michigan survived, and Ohio State is now behind the eight ball with three league loses and Indiana in Cowtown for a big game Saturday. But make no mistake, this Ohio State team is a very athletic and talented team that could catch fire and go a long way, or fizzle out and hit the exit early. Frankly Michigan is in the same boat against any big team with a sound defense.There is a roar, of course, in Columbus that Ohio State got jobbed. After an entire game where Burke and Craft were elbowing, hipping, and pushing off with the forearm (just enough not to get the call) apparently some think that a foul is going to be called on Burke for a small hip bump and then when Hardaway gets 90% ball with a second or so to go in the game. The Ohio State mulligan was used up when the officials gulped and gave Ohio State the benefit on the Buckeye tomahawk to Robinson’s head. That call was pure judgment, although the only real explanation is that Robinson’s head looked like a basketball.
The game had suspense, a great climax, and a final non-hurrah. Michigan did accomplish one decent defensive feat, holding Thomas to 17 points on 6-15 shooting. Coach Beilein will take that result 366 days a year.
Next up for Michigan is Wisconsin on the road. Coach Ryan does not have as much bulk and shooting talent as normal, but still plenty enough to be extremely dangerous and knock off a good team on a good night. The best advice for Saturday is to play tight defense on Wisconsin. Teams that play the Badgers tough on defense make it very rough on the Badgers offense.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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