Michigan Basketball: Wolverines at Boilermakers — Wrap-up — Siegfried’s Funeral March Cancelled — Michigan to Conclude Opera Sunday
Trey Burke put his team, the Michigan Wolverines, personally on his back, Nik Stauskas showed some toughness by hitting a few clutch shots, and Michigan survived another deer in the headlight night at Purdue.
This win, number 25 of the year, was a direct result of Burke’s crucial and clutch play in the last 10 minutes of the game. A loss would have put the Wolverines in a firm grasp of fifth place in the league standings and the nasty boy 1st day game and 2nd day match-up against the four seed. An unfavorable seeding could still happen. Now the Wolverines have a chance to finish first or fifth in the league. Michigan State and Wisconsin will have an elimination game Thursday night, and Indiana can eliminate Michigan. A four-way knot is possible, or Indiana can hog the entire cabbage.
Wednesday’s game against Purdue started out well enough, with Michigan getting inside early for four points and the team looking focused. The Wolverines built a 12 point lead, and like at Penn State needed five minutes of strong basketball to give the Boilermakers a reason to lay down and expire. Purdue could not handle the ball and the passing was poor, much like Indiana against Ohio State last Tuesday.
Just like at Penn State, Michigan went into cruise control and exhibited its obvious weaknesses again. Doubling way out on the perimeter allowed rotation to the middle or the opposite wing or middle for easy points. Michigan again fell in love with the difficult jump shot, as if style points were being awarded. Purdue, through Michigan’s inability and their (Purdue) own hard effort, became another team to pound Michigan on the offensive boards, at least in the first half.
Michigan’s defense made Terone Johnson look like Magic Johnson. This young guy has good talent, but it would be an easy choice for Terone to select, if he had his choice, playing offense against any one team in the Big Ten. Seldom used Sandi Marcius showed that playing with passion against a weak inside defense can turn some heads. Granted Morgan is still limited, but Michigan played four inside players that still play behind the opposing center way too close to the basket.After Michigan blew its dozen-point lead, Purdue built a dozen point lead. The catalyst was Michigan’s lack of energy and urgency that fueled the Boiler team and crowd. Energy was flowing from Michigan to Purdue. Then with about eight minutes to go, Stauskas and Burke cancelled out Purdue’s lead in a matter of minutes.
Coach Beilein struggled to find a combination of players that played hard and effective. He did not give up. Burke made the cut previously and Stauskas made the cut barely before checkout time. Everyone else, including Matt Vogrich, was a calculated, but necessary option. Vogrich hit the big three, and then promptly missed a foul shot. Spike Albrecht, with his limited athleticism, competed hard when he was in and made at least an effort to play defense. Mitch McGary just never got into the flow of the game, but this was self-inflicted. Mitch had to come out after again being a Michigan center that fouls a guard 25 feet from the rim.
So how did Purdue make a 24-point exchange? The answer lies more with the Michigan variables than the Boilermakers. Michigan, as stated before, launched bad shots going on a cold streak. In the middle of this cold streak, Michigan missed lay-ups. Every team in the league knows Michigan’s defensive weaknesses. How easy the Boilers got the ball in the middle was, to say it kindly, disconcerting to the nth degree.Some of the switching was again poor and the rotation to the shooter was several times poor. What helped this flaw in the second half was the fact that all Purdue had to do was let Johnson take the ball into the lane. There were times Hardaway and Stauskas walked to the shooter, and there were a couple of times no defender was on a three-point shooter.
Michigan again played horrible and lazy transition defense. All of this Kumbayah stuff is ok, as is recognizing a teammate’s contribution, but get your butt down the floor on a sprint, not a lazy and soft backpedal. This flaw is discipline, and it is up to the staff to not accept giving up the easy points. UM again went from missing a lay-up to giving up transition scores.
At Penn State, the entire team had that poor us look going down the stretch. At least this time the alarm clock went off early enough to put up a run and ‘burke took total control. Stauskas was the enzyme but Burke was the finisher.
Purdue’s young players are pretty good and look for a decent year from Purdue next year. Like Iowa, the young talent on the team will get better.
So the stage is set for the final act of the opera on Sunday. Wotan (Coach Knight) has been kicked out of Valhalla, but Indiana has plenty of nasty male version Valkyries to sing a bold song. And to avoid the tragic immolation scene ending of Wagner’s great ring, the Wolverines likely will need to play their best game of the year. The Hoosiers will not be timid and Michigan better bring it.
But for now Siegfried is among the survivors.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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