Friday, December 27, 2013
LISTEN LIVE to Great Lakes Invitational action as your #3 University of Michigan Wolverines take on the Western Michigan Broncos. Mike Lewandowski and Andy Goddeeris on the call. Delay in the other semi final has caused puck drop to change, follow us on twitter @wcbnsports to stay up to date.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Friday, November 29, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
By Leo Blavin
Michigan won’t win pretty. Time and time again, the Wolverines find ways to both win and lose ugly. On Saturday in Evanston, the Wolverines won and it was ugly. Michigan, behind their first positive rushing performance in three weeks, defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 27-19 in triple overtime. The Wolverines struggled to establish success in the red zone in regulation, however in overtime Michigan appeared to be a different offensive team. The Wolverines scored two touchdowns in extra time and following a failed fourth down by Northwestern it was over.
The play of the game came in special teams as Michigan scrambled to get their field goal team out as time expired in the 4th quarter. Holder Drew Dileo slid into his holder position as kicker Brendan Gibbons rushed into place to kick a 44-yard field as regulation expired. Michigan made plays when it counted, as two, 4th down conversions set up the game tying field goal.
Quarterback Devin Gardner played his best game since Indiana, however it was Michigan’s running game that stood out. Behind freshmen Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith, the Wolverines rushed for 137 yards on 45 attempts. It was a welcomed sight for Michigan fans, which had yearned for more carries from the highly touted Green. As for the passing attack, Gardner finished 24 of 43 for 226 yards and 1 touchdown. More importantly Gardner didn’t throw an interception for the second straight game.
In the end, a sloppy game resulting in a win is the best this team could have hoped for following two consecutive ugly losses. Moving forward the Wolverines will travel to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes before returning home to take on archrival Ohio State to close out the regular season. For Northwestern, the season can’t end soon enough as the Wildcats, who were ranked as high as 16th this season, have lost 6 straight and are on the verge of missing a bowl game for the first time since 2007. As Northwestern continues to find ways to lose, it was Michigan that found a way to end their losing skid and get back on track. They’ll take it, no matter how ugly it was.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Friday, November 1, 2013
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Making their first Final Four appearance since 1993, Michigan meets fourth seeded Syracuse, one of two Big East teams remaining in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Fresh off yesterday's reception of the 2013 John R. Wooden and Oscar Robinson National Player of the year awards, Trey Burke figures to be the X-factor for the Wolverines. Though Burke's points are down during the NCAA Tournament from his regular season totals, the sophomore's game changing heroics saved Michigan's season against Kansas. Burke is one of the few players in the NCAA with the capability to take over games, and has done so on several occasions throughout the season.
Michigan head coach John Beilein and Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim are no strangers to one another. During nine years coaching at division II LeMoyne college, Beilein would often listen to Syracuse games on the radio, and occasionally see Boeheim in the stands. As a coach at West Virginia, Beilein compiled a 0-8 record against Boeheim, and is looking for his first win ever against the Hall-of-Fame head coach.
Matchup to watch: Michigan offense vs. Syracuse defense
Out of the four remaining teams, The Wolverines have arguably the deepest and most complete rotation. Guards Trey Burke (15.5 ppg, 7.8 apg) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (13.5 ppg, 3 apg) offer the complete package of shooting, driving, and dishing, while Mitch McGary (17.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg), and Glenn Robinson III (13.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg) have dominated on the boards. Nik Stauskas (12.3 ppg) is the NCAA Tournament's most accurate three point shooter, and went 6-6 from behind the arc in Michigan's 79-59 Elite 8 win over Florida.
Syracuse has thrived defensively in their four Tournament victories, thanks to a stingy 2-3 zone defense focused on attacking opposing offenses. The Orange are surrendering a mere 45.8 points per game, and held Montana (34), Marquette (39), and Indiana (50) to their lowest point totals of the season. Syracuse's opponents have shot 28.9% from the floor and 15.4% from three-point range.
"It's incredible," acknowledged Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "I would have never thought those numbers would be possible."
When Michigan is on defense...
The Wolverines have had mixed results. Michigan is surrendering 63.3 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, and opponents are shooting 45% from the field. Thanks to the most athletic roster he's ever coached, John Beilein hasn't needed the 1-3-1 zone in this year's tournament, and Michigan's pressure man-to-man scheme has limited opponents to 25% shooting behind the arc.
The size of Syracuse's forwards may present a problem for the Wolverines. Standing at 6-8, 210 pounds each are junior C.J. Fair (14.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg), senior James Southerland (13.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), and freshman Jerami Grant (4 ppg, 2.8 rpg). Fair and Southerland each shoot over 40% from three point range.
"We feel like it creates matchup problems for opposing defenses," said Fair of the forwards' ability to shoot the three.
The meeting is the first between the Michigan and Syracuse since November 26, 2010, in which the Orange defeated the Wolverines 53-50. A total of 17 of the 30 roster players from that game will also be on Saturday's rosters.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Quick Recap: The Wolverines, who led by 12 points early, had to overcome a 12-point deficit of their own last night to defeat the Purdue Boilermakers and keep their Big Ten title hopes alive. Tyrone Johnson scored 32 points for Purdue, who fell to the 7-10 in the Big Ten. Michigan, at 12-5, moved to within one game of the Hoosiers for first place in the Big Ten.
Burke to the Rescue Again: After submitting one of his worst 20-minute stretches of play throughout the entire season in the first half, Trey Burke scored 22 points in the 2nd half and propelled Michigan to victory in a tough road environment. Burke was the offensive catalyst for the Wolverines in their 21-8 run during a 7-minute stretch in the second half in which Michigan retook the lead at 61-60 with 4:16 to play. Burke was money from the free throw line down the stretch, going 7-8 in the last minute of the game to ice away the victory. His performance only strengthened an already compelling Big Ten and National player of the year resume.
Mental Lapses on Defense Continue: Ten minutes into the first half, the Wolverines, leading 21-9, looked like they were going to cruise to a blowout victory, while Purdue looked erratic on offense. Suddenly, Michigan seemed to relax their focus on defense, a constant theme on the road as of late, and Purdue responded with 4 three-pointers and a 34-30 lead to close the half. Michigan lost their toughness near the basket, got lazy closing out on jump shooters and struggled to secure defensive rebounds. Even though Michigan eventually made up for it on the offensive end, their weak defensive trends continued into the second half and will continue to plague the Wolverines and limit their ceiling in March if they do not get tougher and more committed to their defensive game-plan.
Stauskas Back Strong: Nik Stauskas showed no ill effects of the elbow he took to the face against Michigan State that sidelined him for most of the game on Sunday. He came out aggressive on offense, notching 17 points, including two 2 three-pointers, along with 8 trips to the free throw, 7 of which he converted. His confidence is essential to opening up Michigan’s offense and will be pivotal for the Wolverines to make a deep run in March.
Big Picture: Despite the erratic rollercoaster of a game, it was nice to see Michigan hold their composure facing adversity on the road. This would have been a crushing and mentally debilitating defeat at this point in the season. The Wolverines played with a little extra chip on their shoulder, looking like a team in desperate search for a championship. They have the opportunity to go out there and seal one on their home court on Sunday against Indiana. There’s really not much more that any Michigan fan could ask for.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Quick Recap: Michigan survived a wacky end to their contest against Michigan State, defeating the Spartans 58-57. The victory vaults Michigan into a 4-way tie for 2nd place in the Big Ten at 11-5 with Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State. This means that Indiana has clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title. For the Wolverines though, this victory was a huge mental boost to a team that struggled against elite Big Ten competition in the past month.
Big Time Players Make Big Time Plays: Michigan’s only points in the last 2:53 of the game came courtesy of their leader, Trey Burke. With Michigan State in the midst of a 7-0 run to tie the game at 56, Keith Appling brought the ball up the court with 32 seconds left and Michigan State looking to holding for the final shot. As Appling gazed to the bench to attempt to call a timeout, Trey Burke smartly went for a steal, got it, and streaked uncontested up the court to the Michigan basket for a flush. Later, on the game’s final possession, Trey Burke picked off Gary Harris’s attempted pass to Appling with under 2 seconds remaining to play, allowing Michigan to escape with the victory. Burke finished with another player-of-the-year resume building afternoon, posting 21 points, 8 assists, 5 steals, and 4 rebounds.
Two Bigs on the Court? Throughout the season, coach Beilein has received some criticism for under-utilizing Michigan’s post players. With 3 legitimate post-men in Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary and Jon Horford, Beilein rarely showed any lineups featuring two of them on the court at the same time. However, this afternoon, against a Spartan team that historically uses two post-oriented players on the court 100% of the time, Beilein finally decided to match them. This lineup decision may have been coming with or without the matchup against the Spartans, as Michigan’s defense, particularly their rebounding, has struggled of late. This alignment was used for close to 65% of the game, and it worked perfectly, as Jordan Morgan matched up well at the power-forward position guarding the lengthy Adrian Payne, who was a matchup nightmare for Glenn Robinson III.
Caris Pushing for a Starting Spot: Nik Stauskas suffered an elbow to the face, right above his left eye, early in the game and did not return. Therefore, Caris Levert spent much of the game at shooting guard, making up for Staukas’s lost offense with brilliant man-to-man defense. He may find himself starting soon if Michigan continues to emphasize defense moving forward.
Big Picture: Michigan badly needed this victory to re-legitimize themselves as national title contenders. Furthermore, we saw a Michigan team that looked like they were playing with an extra edge that will be necessary to advance far in March. The Wolverines showed that correcting their defensive woes are a top priority and that their mental toughness can no longer be questioned. The Spartans threw every punch at Michigan and they responded, defending their home court in an almost personal way. The Wolverines put to bed any questions of whether they can compete on an elite level and they turned a corner as a team, right as the calendar flipped to March. Next matchup is Wednesday at Purdue.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Quick Recap: The Wolverines suffered an inexplicable mental collapse in State College, falling 84-78 to Penn State, previously 0-14 in Big Ten play. Michigan led by 66-51 with over 10 minutes to play, but did not convert a field goal in the last 6 minutes and 37 seconds of the game. With the loss, Michigan has fallen out of contention for the Big Ten title, now trailing Indiana by two full games with three to play.
The Defense…Disappeared: Penn State scored 48 points in the 2nd half of tonight’s game. There is not much that can be said to justify that sort offensive output from the worst team in the Big Ten. This erased much of the progress on defense that was made in the previous matchup against Illinois. The presence of Jordan Morgan back in the starting lineup did not have much of an impact on Michigan’s ability to rebound the basketball or defend the pick-and-roll, as Penn State carved up the Wolverine defense, just like many other teams have in the past seven games.
Moving Forward? This game only illuminated many of the flaws in the Wolverines that seemed to reveal themselves throughout the tough February schedule. Most observers tended to pass off those flaws due to Michigan’s youth and the level of competition Michigan faced going up against the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana all in a two-week stretch. However tonight, it was clear that those flaws still exist. Michigan’s defense is below average. Their crunch time offense is very one-dimensional. The Wolverines rarely open basketball games with energy and urgency. And John Beilein can’t seem to find an on court combination of players that balance good offense and good defense equally.
Big Picture: Michigan can easily erase this mentally debilitating loss by beating Sparty on Sunday. For now though, Michigan has probably slid out of contention for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament and will now need to fight just to get a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. There are still many opportunities for the Wolverines to correct their flaws and end the season on a high note. But they will have to do it against superior competition and can ill-afford any more mental lapses like tonight. We will find out a lot about the character of the players on this team and their coach on Sunday against Michigan State.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Quick Recap: The Michigan Wolverines played their most complete basketball game in what seemed like quite a long time, topping the Fighting Illini by a score of 71-58. Michigan kept pace in a crowding race for second place in the Big Ten, improving to 23-4 on the season and 10-4 in conference play. The Wolverines turned a 31-28 halftime deficit into a blowout in the second half, putting up 43 points while looking like the Wolverines that rose to #1 in the country earlier this season.
Finally….Some Defense: After a lackadaisical defensive performance allowing 71 points to Penn State, following a rough stretch of 4 games where Michigan’s defense was, well, not very good, John Beilein finally found a combination that worked for him on that end of the floor. After starting center Mitch McGary picked up his 3rd foul early in the 2nd half, Beilein went back to the veteran Jordan Morgan and Michigan went on a 12-3 run and never looked back. Caris LeVert played the majority of the final 10 minutes of the game in place of Nik Stauskas, whose poor defensive performances of the past month have made him somewhat of a liability when his shots aren’t falling. Sporting the lineup of Burke, LeVert, Hardaway, Robinson and Morgan, the Wolverines put on an absolute clinic on defense, holding Illinois to 18 points over the first 17 minutes of the 2nd half. Illinois’s 3 starting guards combined for 10 turnovers and Michigan held the hot shooting Illini to 32% from 3-point territory.
Glenn Robinson III is Back: Sure, a modest 10-point and 3 rebound performance is not anything to get overly exited about. But Glenn Robinson appeared as if his energy level has heightened back to the point where it was earlier in the season when his athleticism was such a crucial part of Michigan’s success. Robinson was on the receiving end of 2 dunks, one on a nifty pass from Jordan Morgan, and he took his jump shots with a confidence that was unseen in the past month against the Big Ten’s best. This performance, along with last week’s dunk-fest against Penn State, will hopefully restore Robinson’s confidence back to the point where he’ll be able to make an impact on a bigger stage against better competition.
Trey Burke’s Stats Continue to Impress: Trey Burke, amid all of Michigan’s recent struggles, is quietly amassing performance after performance of unparalleled efficiency. Burke scored 26 points on 8-11 shooting, including 8-10 from the free throw line, to go along with 8 assists and only 1 turnover. This followed a 29-point performance on 16 shots against Penn State. The more Trey Burke impresses, the more Michigan fans realize that they might not see another player like him come along in the next 20 years. I’m not sure if he’ll win national player of the year, but if he continues to operate at this high level of play, he might singlehandedly lead Michigan deep in March and potentially April.
Big Picture: This was a game Michigan absolutely could not afford to lose if they wanted to keep their slim Big Ten title hopes alive. Michigan’s home winning streak is up to 15 and they remain the only in the Big Ten without a loss at home. Positive momentum heading into matchups against Michigan State and Indiana will be crucial. Next matchup is Wednesday at Penn State.
Friday, February 1, 2013
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Quick Recap: The Wolverines lost a heartbreaker in Columbus in a game featuring many ups and downs from both teams. The 56-53 defeat at the hands of the Buckeyes is Michigan’s first loss of the season. This loss strikes especially hard at the hearts of the Michigan fans with the #1 ranking in the country in sight, as #1 Duke was taken down in Raleigh by NC State yesterday.
A Game of Runs: This game was truly a game of mega-runs, as Ohio State jumped out to a 29-8 lead in the first 14 minutes. Michigan methodically clawed their way back engineering a 38-17 run to tie the game at 46 with 5:58 left in the game. Ohio State outworked the Wolverines over the final stretch, as Michigan only managed two field goals, settling for 8 three-pointers, only one of which was converted.
What Went Wrong: The execution to begin the game was horrific. Michigan, averaging just over 9 turnovers per game, committed 8 in the first 10 minutes. Trey Burke struggled early on defense against Aaron Craft. He also struggled moving the ball and running the offense for much of the game, as he appeared to be forcing his own offense a little too hard against a top-tier perimeter defender in Craft. Nik Stauskas was an absolute no-show in his first true road test, scoring zero points on 0-3 shooting. Tim Hardaway also struggled on both ends of the court, shooting 5-15 for 12 points.
What We Learned: Spike Albrecht was the key player that stopped the Ohio State run to start the game. His 7 points mid-way through the first half were key in switching momentum. His defense on Aaron Craft halted OSU’s easy-flowing offense that catalyzed the early run. In addition Mitch McGary is becoming the superior option at center compared to Jordan Morgan. It’s been obvious throughout the year that McGary is a better defender. However, his presence on offense in the pick-and-roll is having more of a positive impact because McGary’s ability to finish at the rim has improved as he’s become more comfortable with the offense. Finally, Michigan played its best 25-minute stretch of defense of the year, holding Ohio State to 27 minutes in that stretch, allowing for the comeback.
Big Picture: On the whole, Michigan probably outplayed Ohio State for most of the game. To come back from a 21-point road deficit against a top-15 team nationally takes resiliency, mental toughness, a steady coach, and high-quality execution under pressure in difficult conditions. Michigan displayed all of these in coming back from that deficit, even while shooting under 40% overall. While the execution down the stretch of this winnable game was poor, Michigan lost this game in the first 10 minutes, not the last 10. This was the first true tough road test the Wolverines faced and Michigan was simply not ready for it. I would expect a better effort out of the gate at The Barn on Thursday. This was definitely a tough one to swallow for Michigan fans. But before the fan base panics, road losses are going to be common in the Big Ten this year, and at 16-1, Michigan is sitting very pretty and their ceiling is still sky-high.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Quick Recap: On a night when Michigan did not play its best basketball, the Wolverines put forth a gritty performance to outmuscle the Nebraska Cornhuskers 62-47. Neither team shot over 40% from the field, but the size, length, physicality, and toughness of the Wolverines allowed them to outwork their opponent as Michigan attempted 19 more free throws than the Cornhuskers. Michigan is now 3-0 in the Big Ten and 16-0 overall, matching the best start in school history, set in the 1985-1986 season.
Player of the Game: Tim Hardaway Jr. put the team on his back on both ends of the floor tonight, scoring 15 points while adding 11 rebounds. He also spent most of the game guarding Nebraska’s best player, Dylan Talley, holding him to 4 of 12 shooting good for only 12 points. Hardaway showed the progress he’s made from last year, as most of his shot attempts were taken on drives to the basket as opposed to jump shots.
Game Changing Moment: With Michigan leading 45-39 with just under 8 minutes left in the game, Glenn Robinson III came up with two thunderous dumps on consecutive possessions. The first dunk occurred on an uncontested breakaway following a steal. On the following possession, Robinson was untouched in his put-back dunk off of a Caris LeVert missed 3-pointer. These dunks effectively ended the game, as the crowd erupted and Michigan carried that energy to the finish line.
Negatives: There was a lot of ugly in this game. Michigan shot 17-26 from the free throw line. Trey Burke was not as effective moving the ball and controlling the offense in his usual manner, as he was held to only 3 assists. Jordan Morgan had zero points and took only 1 shot. Michigan’s 38.9% shooting against a lower-tier Big Ten team is a concern, especially since they have lead the country in offensive efficiency thus far this year.
Big Picture: Despite that, this was one of Michigan’s best defensive performances of the year, as Nebraska shot only 34% from the field. The offense also remained turnover free, committing only 4 turnovers. It was encouraging to see the Wolverines grind out a win on a night when they did not play their best basketball. They will need a better effort on Sunday in Columbus. Beat Ohio.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Quick Recap: The Wolverines withstood a competitive Hawkeye team early, behind a dominant second half performance and another shooting masterpiece. With the score tied 29-29 with just over three minutes to play in the 1st half, the Wolverines engineered a 17-6 run to close the half and ultimately pulled away in the 2nd second half, cruising to a 95-67 victory over Iowa (11-4, 0-2) and improving to 15-0 on the season.
Game Changing Moment: The engineer of the 17-6 run to close the first half was Mitch McGary, particularly on the defensive end. With Michigan leading 31-29, McGary emphatically rejected an Aaron White shot attempt in the post, leading to a Trey Burke layup. McGary added a dunk and 2 rebounds in that stretch, one of which led to a fast-break layup by Glenn Robinson III right as the 1st half buzzer sounded.
Freshman Sensations: Four of Michigan’s fabulous freshman put up big numbers today. Glenn Robinson III registered a double-double, with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Nik Stauskas had 13 points and three point shot looked sharp again, shooting 3 of 6 from behind the arc. Caris LeVert added 9 points off the bench. However, the most impressive performance this afternoon came from Mitch McGary. He contributed 5 points, including a smooth fourteen-foot jumper, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks, with many other shots altered. The future is indeed very bright in Ann Arbor.
Best Point Guard in the Country?: The orchestrator behind Michigan’s 58.1% shooting seemed to fly under the radar today. However, Trey Burke consistently put his freshman teammates in wonderful positions to the score the basketball, as Burke notched 12 assists to go along with 19 points. It is really nice to see Burke operate with a myriad of offensive weapons. His talent has been on display night in and night out, and he is becoming the consensus top point guard in the country as performances like these continue.
Developing Before Our Eyes: The criticism of Tim Hardaway Jr. in his first two seasons at Michigan has revolved around the tendency for his numbers to dip once Big Ten play starts. It appears this trend might disappear this year. Today, Hardaway scored 19 points in addition to 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He has been more aggressive with the basketball these past two games compared to earlier this season, but his decision-making with the basketball was better than ever today, as he only committed 1 turnover.
Big Picture: Michigan is now 2-0 in conference play. They must continue to hold serve at home. The next matchup is Wednesday against Nebraska at Crisler Center. The Wolverines need to take care business.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Quick Recap: The Wolverines opened conference play with a 94-66 rout of the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston. Michigan controlled the game from start to finish, jumping out to a 20-4 lead early and coasting to their 14th straight win to begin the season. Northwestern could not sustain any momentum without Drew Crawford and Reggie Hearn, their top two scorers, falling to 9-5 on the season.
Player of the Game: Trey Burke once again led the Wolverines with 23 points, along with 5 assists. He was the catalyst on Michigan’s 20-4 run to open up the game, shooting 5 of 6 for 13 points during that stretch.
X-Factor: Tim Hardaway Jr. showed no ill effects after sitting out the previous game with an ankle injury. Hardaway scored 21 points on 8 shots including 4 of 5 from beyond the three-point arc. His aggressiveness in transition and quick and confident trigger on his three-point attempts proved that his injury would not be of any concern moving forward, a major relief for many Michigan fans.
Positives: Jordan Morgan looked great finishing in the post in his workmanlike 12-point, 13-rebound performance. His finesse moves appeared sharp and his ball awareness was better than usual. In addition, he did not fumble the ball down low as much as he has in the past, something that will need to continue against tougher big men in the Big Ten. Glenn Robinson III also looked very poised and aggressive at the same time, finishing high in transition on a couple of alley-oops, while continuing his spectacular work off the ball and on defense. He finished with 10 points on 4 of 4 shooting.
Negatives: Nik Stauskas’s shot looked a little flat today, as he only shot 2 of 7 from deep. Despite his lackluster shooting, Stauskas still figured out a way to grind out 10 points on an off night. Expect him to shake this performance off and come back strong on Sunday.
Big Picture: Road wins are hard to come by in the Big Ten. Credit Coach Beilein with having his boys focused and ready to play against an inferior opponent. This was the 1st of a critical 3-game stretch of winnable Big Ten games that Michigan must sweep if they wish to contend for the title. The next matchup is Sunday against a pesky Iowa squad who came very close to upsetting Indiana in their conference opener.