Michigan Basketball: Indiana at Michigan — Wrap-Up — Wolverines Free Throws it Away — Paradise Lost
Baseball coaches say bunts are like free throws, you got to have them. Basketball coaches say free throws are like bunts, you got to have them. After playing an inspired game Sunday, Michigan gave the game away to Indiana at the end, badly clanking three free throw opportunities (7-13 at the line). The result was one point out of a potential six, not enough to win the marbles.
This game is a bitter pill to swallow, but effort was not in the equation. Michigan played hard. But playing hard does not guarantee victory, doing things that contribute to winning creates victory. Sunday, Michigan did only some of the latter.
The Wolverines came out wild, but intense, not really running an offense, but again relying on firing away with little thought of running a disciplined offense. Then things settled down and Michigan, like Ohio State earlier, penetrated the Hoosier offense for good opportunities and points.
On defense Michigan early on let Jordan Hulls loose for two easy looks that yielded six quick points. This was an identified key to victory, not giving Hulls the opportunity to get hot early. Early on Zeller was neutralized, but that was to change drastically. Michigan made an attempt to play more physical, and for a while this paid dividends.
Both teams took off in a track meet that was a joy to watch. Back and forth with guys like Burke and Oladipo leading the way.
Nik Stauskas contributed very well in the first half. He hit some threes and got to the rim. His play has improved the last couple of games since getting Spartooned last week. Stauskas is either getting more confidence, gaining mental toughness, or his shot just flat came back. Whatever, Nik is showing he will compete. Nik is still very limited, like many of the wing Wolverines, defensively.
Caris LeVert entered with Michigan holding a nice lead and promptly fired a 23-footer without running the offense. Someday, maybe someday….Coach Beilein knew this game would wear on all participants and several players saw the floor during the first half in an effort to conserve energy for the peak run.
Throughout the game, old Michigan weaknesses popped up. The number of offensive rebounds Michigan gave up was near mind-boggling. But when a team plays only one player at a time in the line-up that can rebound, such things happen. Four guards and a forward that plays hard but is limited will not solve rebounding. Many times Morgan and McGary were pinned deep giving the Hoosiers free reign at the rebound. If Michigan could rebound this game would have been a ten-point win. Michigan continues to step to the foul line and miss the first shot, and this is not describing the fiasco at the end, this has happened with frequency. With the shooters this team possesses, free throw shooting should be a great strength. At about the 12:30 mark of the second half, Michigan again started giving up uncontested perimeter shots, twice giving up easy wide-open threes. The result was a six-point swing caused totally by not finding the shooter. The defenders looked confused. Michigan’s centers need a new statistical category, lay-ups attempted and lay-ups missed. Michigan’s players cut down on wild low-percentage shots after the opening misfires, but still put up enough low percentage shots to help the Hoosier cause. Any offense can settle for wild 23 footers, but few can win relying on such shots to fall.
The mission was to rough up and be physical with Cody Zeller. But McGary’s dumb move can best be termed selfish. It may have made him feel better, but it hurt the team. His inability to play without poise and discipline is starting to become old. He now will face even heavier scrutiny from Big Ten officials.
The game settled into a back and forth mode until Michigan secured a four-point lead. Then on a steal, Robinson was pushed in the back and the officials again ignored the potential to call an intentional foul. One foul shot went through. Indiana scored easily and Hardaway next clanks a one-and-one. Again, Indiana scores easily. Michigan clanks a one-and-one and Indiana takes the lead. With no timeouts (none really needed) Burke misses a tough lay-up and a tip somehow came out of the basket. And Michigan loses the championship.
The point guys from Vegas again hit the number right on target. If Michigan hit the free throws many people in Ann Arbor and Columbus would have been very happy. So, instead people in East of West Lansing and Bloomington are happy.
How will this team react? The upcoming tournament provides an opportunity for fine-tuning. Michigan gets a shot at Penn State and then Wisconsin. Wisconsin is very beatable now but will (assuming a UM win against Penn State) have the advantage of Bo Ryan planning time and an extra day of rest.
What could have been? Free throws are like bunts, this is for sure. The question of whether or not Indiana deserved to win is irrelevant, the Hoosiers did indeed win. Too bad, what might have been, if the guys had knocked down the freebies?
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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