Michigan Basketball: Michigan vs. VCU — Wrap-up — Wolverines Fusion Melts Havoc
The game plan to attack the VCU havoc machine was solid, so was the execution. As a result, Michigan advances to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1994 with a 78-53 victory at the Palace.
There are plenty of positives to savor before next week’s match-up. A good place to start is with how well Michigan did against the havoc press. It was mentioned in the preview that VCU plays both a 412 and a 422 press. The four refers to full court, the second number refers to the initial number of pressers, and the last number is the second amount of pressers at the next level. It was mentioned that Michigan could attack this press by getting the ball inbounds and then reversing the ball. This strategy was well executed all day. Another strategy was to bring a bigger guy to the middle and get a nice high pass to the big guy and move the ball up the floor. This happened a couple of times. The other way to attack the press is to carefully bring the ball up the court one on one until the trapper jumps the dribble. This strategy worked as Tim Hardaway deliberately brought the ball up with Burke trailing to be the relief guy. This made it difficult for VCU to jump Hardaway early as a pass to Burke who then could get ahead of two defenders made the game a 4 on 3 event for Michigan. It is hard to believe the Wolverines prepared like this with one practice. Clearly work was put in during the season or last week for such a possibility.Another nice topic to discuss is “Wild Thing” Mitch McGary. He was a presence against a team that did not possess elite inside defenders. With the concern about Burke and the other Michigan scorers, McGary was given far too much room to park around the basket. His garbage points and points off of dishes were a big reason Michigan could break the game open. One thing for certain, McGary does not back off of any challenge. He seems to thrive on the big stage. Mitch may not always get it done, but effort can be eliminated in any discussion of his strengths and weaknesses. McGary is a true Big Ten space eater and as his offensive skills progress, opponents will have a handful. Fourteen rebounds and twenty-one points is certainly a great day at a great time for any player, let alone a freshman who has spent most of the season coming off the bench. Mitch missed one tough lay up at a tough angle going down the lane.
Again, the Michigan scoring was balanced. Four starters ended with double figure scoring and Nik Stauskas was close with eight points. This occurred due to excellent ball distribution by the entire offense, not just by an outstanding point guard.Michigan showed poise and focus for all but the first three minutes of the second half. The Wolverines acted as if they had just undergone a soothing massage routine and were half asleep giving up three straight turnovers, mostly due to Trey dribbling himself into a half-court trap on the sideline. This is, of course, the big no-no once the ball crosses half-court.
The foul shooting was much better, probably as a result of better focus, confidence, intensity, and Nik Stauskas being at the line for four shots.
Every Michigan fan needs to be very proud of Spike Albrecht. Not only did he give some valuable minutes, but also he did a great job of beating the VCU press with one on one ball handling. He distributed the ball well and held up reasonably on defense. This guy loves to play, knows how to play, and knows why he is the game. He does what he can and does not push the envelope past his ability.
Michigan gave up some defensive breakdowns but played well enough not to give VCU too many easy looks or layups. The bench did not see extensive action, but the guys have five days to rest.Burke played to win, and considering he is banged and bruised, the seven turnovers can be discounted somewhat. As stated, three came from coming out in a minor sleepwalk.
Next up will be a big boy giant, either North Carolina or Kansas. Both will be similar to the power teams Michigan has played all year. And both will present problems. But in the sweet sixteen there are not many lucky draws, that is the way it is.
Congratulations for the fusion Michigan’s coaches and players demonstrated in pulling off a big win on a game that was in the national spotlight.
VCU is an excellent program with an excellent young coach, one who will go far in his career. Michigan had a nice plan and VCU has one style of play. Today the plan beat the style, the personnel did not hurt either.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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