Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Michigan Basketball: UConn recap and Wisconsin Preview

Posted at 8:00am -- 1/19/2010

University of Michigan and UCONN Game Summary and Wisconsin Preview

In the preview of the UCONN game a few days ago, it was stated that Michigan fans giddy from last year’s long-awaited success, likely considered this rematch at Crisler Arena a marque match-up, that is, until recent events took a little air out of the sail. The faithful were rewarded by a nice win, one that will put some air back into the sails.

What most followers had to be asking themselves was this obvious and salient question: “Where have you guys been all year?” Yes, this game was more akin to the thrillers of last year and not like the recent disappointments.

Let me restate and discuss some commentary from the preview article:

• Michigan could win this game if many things went the right way. Yes, this is stating the obvious, but the things that Michigan needed did, for the most part, fall into line.

• Calhoun may consider this game as a nuisance. He clearly did, and for most of the game he looked like a guy who lost his dog, spilled his drink, and had a transmission drop all on the same day. The most energy he showed was when he lit up one of his forwards and benched him for letting mighty Zac Novak get inside position and out-rebound him. Anyone watching Michigan has to love Novak and his throwback, take no garbage mentality.

• UCONN is a tough rebounding team and Michigan could not play soft, and must scrap for every loose ball and simply play tougher. For the most part, the team did exactly that. Still, I cannot remember a team that has hands as bad as this squad. Some of this is strength, some of the problem is not anticipating ball position, some of the problem is not moving the feet, but some of the problem is just hands. Even though this was Michigan’s scrappiest game, the announcer still felt compelled to comment on Michigan’s inability to grab the basketball (excepting Novak). Harris gets rebounds by quick jumping and he frequently does not have to fight for loose balls. Sims does as well as one guy his size can be expected to do.

• UM could not afford an opening drought from 3-point land. The guys hit a nice streak and took the shots at the right time and made enough to create a good part of the final difference. Still, after the nice streak, the team lost some patience, fell in love with the three, and stopped the fine passing that was displayed earlier. This was the best passing effort seen so far this season from UM. The spacing was super, the angles were proper, the passes were crisp, quick, and snapped off with two hands. The result was opportunities opened up down low for good passes as well as wide open perimeter shots, the type that UM should take for three’s, instead of rushed, tightly contested shots.

• Passing the ball well will melt the clock and give UM an opportunity at the end. This did indeed happen as the ball was swung from side to side an extra two or three passes.

• UM needed to play tough because the Big East type of war would be on. The war was on and the guys did respond. Clearly, Coach B. emphasized this mentality.

There was another Anthony Wright sighting Sunday and the results were big, with the threes and the minutes he contributed. If Anthony can work himself back in the rotation to provide some key points and another floor-runner, the results can only be positive.

The dribble was not required as much against UCONN. Northwestern and Indiana did a better job of providing constant pressure against Michigan and exposing the Wolverine’s weakness of ball handling. Even though there was not constant pressure on the ball, Michigan somewhat struggled. Some players do very well dribbling to the hoop when an opponent is beaten, but as a team dribbling to escape pressure, or move the ball, is a clear problem. Morris is a good young athlete and he will improve. But Morris is not a point guard that can single-handedly escape pressure and get ahead of the defense. He can move the ball short distances and get it up the floor to the next guy.

For the most part, Michigan hit the foul shots they needed, albeit some of the shots rattled home. But that is what happens with good straight spin when a shot hits the top- front of the rim at a straight angle. UCONN put any chance of winning away by not hitting foul shots going down the stretch. Everyone in the building, including the refs, knew that UCONN was going to send the guys crashing the middle and get them to the foul line.

It must have been a great time for the football recruits in attendance at the game.

As usual, there is no time to rest. Michigan is at Wisconsin Wednesday. Despite losing key contributor Jon Leuer, a 6-9 toughguy, the Badgers still remain very strong, especially so at home where this team does not often lose. Trevon Hughes, a big-time player, will carry the banner for the Badgers.

The Badgers have won several games against very good teams, including Duke, Purdue, and Ohio State. On the road the Badgers do not quite get their way as much, including recent losses to Michigan State and Ohio State.

There will be no mysteries in this game. Wisconsin will play tough, man-to-man physical basketball with an emphasis on smart passing and strong positioning. Wisconsin will not choose to run up and down, unless there is a clear advantage. Michigan needs to keep the boxing gloves on for a few more games and it will get physical.

This is the Big Ten and everyone bemoans the schedule. It is just a matter of time as to when your favorite team hits a rough spot in the schedule, and it is now Michigan’s turn.

Thank you for reading and continue to visit GBMW.

Written by Doc4blu

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!

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