Michigan Basketball: Illinois at Michigan — Wrap-up — Taking Care of Business
Michigan won its 23rd game of the season, 71-58 at Crisler Center. There was nothing of spectacular note, excepting Trey Burke’s all-around game, but a lot of little things fell into place for the needed win.
Illinois, under the guidance of John Groce, has righted the ship after a rough Big Ten start. Groce preaches defense and defensive pressure on the perimeter. Trey Burke made Groce’s hard work coaching defense go somewhat for naught.
After a somewhat normal slow and soft start, Michigan got into rhythm mainly as a direct result of Burke’s ability to use the high screen for good shots and easy dishes. The options off the high screen were never consistently defended by Illinois. After some early bad shots, and a high number of first half turnovers, Michigan played solid.Michigan did a very nice job of taking advantage of the quickness difference between the big, born to shoot, Illinois guards, and the Michigan point guard and wings. Michigan could get away with putting pressure on the ball and getting into the perimeter shooters face. If a team gets Richardson and Paul pushed to the sideline, and forces a dribble to be picked up, turnovers are a real possibility. Michigan had enough inside coverage to slid and protect against the Illinois guards not built for beating defenders to the rim. Illinois is not near as monster-like inside as many Big Ten teams, and, again, Michigan could afford to apply pressure out front.
Michigan did a very nice job of defending all three Illinois guards, holding each to ten points. The difference in shooting was nearly 10 percent between Michigan and Illinois. Illinois had some open side looks but could only mount a 7-22 outcome from three-point land.
Michigan still had some warts, but more positives than lumps. Rebounding was sometimes shaky and the game saw several examples of a Michigan defender simply having an offensive player go around to take the front position and secure easy points. Michigan is starting to have an old bug-a-boo pop up: soft hands. Part of this problem is cement feet syndrome that still occurs on close encounter balls up for grabs. No matter how hard McGary works the blocks, the perimeter guys rarely attempt entry passes. McGary continues to get his offensive points on dishes and getting down the floor. Caris LeVert played better, giving the ball up more and not taking a horrible shot just because he had the ball. In time he could be a very good defensive player for Michigan. His offensive skills are strong.Jordan Morgan received much praise from Dan Dakich; praise that was accurate and deserved. If his healing continues forward, Jordan can probably play 20 good minutes against good competition. Stauskas got shut out, but UM really did not need his option against Illinois. That will change against teams that can guard the high screen pick.
The bookend wings played pretty well, again triggered by Burke’s play. As Dakich mentioned, when Burke was not in control of the ball, not much happened. This is the downside of a point guard dribble controlling an entire offensive set.
Off to Penn State next, and remember there is no easy home on the road in this conference. Like Iowa, Penn State fights for everything and will concede nothing. Michigan would do well to take note of last week’s close game at home.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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