Dec 14, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Nick Johnson (13) shoots on Michigan Wolverines forward Jon Horford (15) in the first half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Basketball: Arizona at Michigan -- Wrap-up

GBMWolverine Basketball TidbitsPosted at 3:30pm — 12/15/2013

Michigan Basketball: Arizona at Michigan — Wrap-up

Great Game — Tough Loss
Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Nuclear Warfare

The game Saturday at Crisler Arena certainly was exciting, one of the best in recent memory. Make no mistake that Arizona is a talented team, more so than Duke, and on par with Kentucky, except more experience.

Dec 14, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Nick Johnson (13) is defended by Michigan Wolverines forward Mitch McGary (4) in the second half at Crisler Center. Arizona won 72-70. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The officials made it clear from the very start that this was big boy basketball and brutality would be allowed, excepting the near invisible touches that Michigan was called for on wing drives and out on top. That will be the end of the conversation of how the officials worked this game.

Michigan played a great first half, working the ball very well and getting to the hoop in some manner via Caris LeVert. Glen Robinson III had a super first half and everyone else contributed. A few bad decisions with passing and the ever present failure to rotate and defend were bad spots.

The team played very hard, showed good focus, and maybe most importantly did not show any fear or hesitation; the team went after the big prize and came up just short. There was no choke or monstrous player mistakes under pressure. There were turnovers and a couple of questionable decisions, there always are.

Dec 14, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Caris LeVert (23) goes to the basket on Arizona Wildcats guard T.J. McConnell (4) and guard Gabe York (1) in the first half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The second half became problematical as Michigan appeared to wear down a bit and the inside defense simply failed. Caris LeVert loves to shoot and some of his inside forces hurt Michigan’s chances. However, it is becoming obvious that Caris, if he gets better around the rim will be a nasty dose for opposing defenses. The assumption is Beilein is going to encourage this option and spur Caris forward.

The real and obvious differences were that Michigan (1) could not stop Arizona from getting inside whether it be by offensive rebounds galore, dribble drive from the wing with poor help side coverage, easy entry passes, or big guys backing Wolverines inside.

Coach Beilein has obviously made a decision that the small four will work better than the big two inside: and he watches practices every day. But if the truth becomes known everyone of Michigan’s 6’6” family cannot play low defense, and even against smaller, less talented teams that has shown up. Is there a cure?

McGary and Horford play hard and at least provide some chance of keeping big guys out and gathering rebounds. Still, even McGary was at times overpowered. Arizona is huge and the wings are very athletic. This Wildcat team does have a chance to go a long way this year and there are not many weaknesses, if any.

Defense cost Michigan the game more so than Stauskas’ shot at ten seconds or Beilein not doubling Arizona’s best foul shooter; just take the defender off the inbounds guy. Those were small things, but small things win or lose games with competition of this nature.

So, Michigan has a great offense, a staple of Beilein coaching, and then on the defensive end guys are chasing and losing all over the place, not providing help defense from the weak side, and standing flat footed on the floor as opponents score easy baskets.

Dec 14, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Nik Stauskas (11) takes a three point shot in the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The opinion here is that Michigan used its fouls wisely and that if Michigan had chopped more Wildcats and sent them to the line, UM would have lost by ten.
This game shows clearly that UM can play with top ten teams, especially at home. It also shows the same redundant weaknesses of a Coach Beilein team. This team needs to improve and win at least 50 percent of the games in the Big Ten or the four losses will mount up to a number that spells NIT. Do I think UM will make the tourney, yes indeed, but 6-4 is a little scary and the Charlotte loss may come back to bite this team. With all the talk about strength of schedule, the committee still is locked into wins, and 19 wins is probably the minimum.

Still, what fun this team is to watch. If Nik Stauskas had drilled that 70 footer, he would have become a legend. But close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear warfare. And Nik still might become a legend.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

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