Fresh off their upset victory over No. 2 Ohio State, the Hoosiers face another tough test Thursday night in No. 16 Michigan (12-2). Matt Dollinger and Greg Rosenstein break down the matchup with Rothstein and talk about what challenges Indiana might face including Trey Burke, the Wolverines’ myriad defenses and the team’s collection of 3-point shooters.
On Friday, Podcast On The Brink will return with the latest verbal commitment to the Indiana basketball program – Class of 2013 big man Luke Fischer. We’ll discuss Luke’s decision to pledge to the Hoosiers and talk about his future in Bloomington.
With the college basketball season inching closer, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next few weeks. Today, we continue our team previews with a look at the Michigan Wolverines.
As noted yesterday, the Michigan State Spartans failed to live up to expectations in 2010-11. But their in-state rivals — the Michigan Wolverines? John Beilein’s boys smashed through theirs.
Without much of a veteran presence on the squad and expected to finish near the bottom of the league, Michigan surprised last season by not only making it to the NCAA Tournament, but by nearly advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. As a No. 8 seed, the Wolverines destroyed Tennessee in the first round of the tournament (75-45) before narrowly losing to top-seeded Duke (73-71), as a Darius Morris shot to tie the game in the closing seconds missed.
The sophomore point guard was a big part of Michigan’s unexpected charge. Morris was as skilled a dime-dropper as almost anyone in the nation last season with an assist rate of 44.2 percent (third-best in the country). But based on his breakout season, Morris entered the NBA draft and was selected by Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 41 pick in the second round.
Even with Morris’ departure, Michigan still boasts a strong cast of characters, ones that figure to establish themselves among the upper echelon of the conference. And if things fall into place, the team could challenge Ohio State and Wisconsin for a Big Ten championship this season.
Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. — who we previously profiled as a member of our preseason All-Big Ten team — is a nice fallback option for the departed Morris and should emerge as the team’s leading scorer. Seniors Stu Douglass and Zack Novak will provide experience so often needed during the Big Ten slate and were among the better 3-point shooters on the team last season. Three sophomores — forwards Jordan Morgan, Evan Smotrycz and Jon Horford — will anchor the team’s frontline. As a freshman, Morgan was the team’s top offensive rebounder (10.7 offensive rebounding percentage) and was second to Novak (17.4) in defensive rebounding percentage (16.8).
Junior guard Matt Vogrich (14 minutes a game last season) will provide depth.
After a first half where it scored half its points in the paint and only made one 3-point attempt, Michigan flipped the script and mounted it’s 22-point second half lead on the strength of a bevy of 3-point makes.
A look at Michigan’s sharpshooting barrage in the latest edition of Film Session.
NO. 1) IN TRANSITION
The Hoosiers turn the ball over on their first offensive possession of the second half, as Jordan Hulls’ pass to Tom Pritchard on a pick-and-roll runs afoul:
Zach Novak scoops up the loose ball and pushes it up the court:
After Indiana found itself down by as many as 22 in the second half and just about dead on the afternoon, it mounted an aggressive 25-7 run over the last 5:26 of the ballgame and nearly pulled this sucker out.
Michigan’s inept free-throw shooting in the closing minutes helped a good deal. (It only finished 19-of-37 (51.4 percent) from the line for the game.)
But the Wolverines mounted that big second-half lead on the strength of some healthy three-point shooting (8-of-15 for 53.3 percent), as Indiana struggled to defend from beyond the arc. Tim Hardaway Jr. was also unstoppable for a stretch in the second half, exploiting a mismatch with Daniel Moore. The freshman scored a career-high 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting (4-of-6 from three), though he was part of the free-throw problems (4-of-9).
Indiana turned the ball over on several occasions to start the game, which limited shot opportunities and got the Hoosiers off on the wrong foot. But they held Michigan to just three points in the last 6:38 of the first half — all coming on free throws — and went into the locker room down eight despite 10 turnovers and just 37 percent shooting from the field.
Looking at this weird, unbalanced one during the low stretches, Indiana just wasn’t sharp enough this afternoon. But the Hoosiers showed much resilience in only losing by four.
Here’s a transcript of Tom Crean’s comments to Don Fischer following the Hoosiers’ 73-69 loss to Michigan at Crisler Arena on Saturday afternoon:
On whether he was disappointed with Indiana’s start in the first half
“No question. First and foremost and like I said to them, aren’t we getting tired of being the team that plays real hard and makes comebacks and gets real close? I mean at some point we’ve got to get tired of that. And it’s never, ever about playing hard. And yesterday’s practice was a great example. And I walked out on this team at the very end of it because I was so disgusted with nobody grasping what I was talking about in this sense. We practice hard and play hard every day. There’s not a doubt about it. This is one of the hardest playing teams I’ve ever coached. But this is not a team that has any opportunity to ever back away from having a combative mindset when they practice. A combative temperament. It’s not just a basketball temperament. That sometimes is overrated. It’s a combative and it’s even more than competitive. When we’ve done that and we’ve built on that and when we’ve taken that to games, we’ve played very well. And what you saw in the comeback was a combative team. Very, very combative. We got calls, we were aggressive and it’s a disappointment because right now, we don’t understand that, we don’t put game plans together in like seven minutes. When we say we need to go inside, when we say we need to drive the ball, when we say we need to get to the rim, it’s not because it sounds good, it’s because that’s the way to win. And we start out this game as we want to attack and pressure and get transition defense and we took two three’s to start the game. That’s not how you can win in this league. And we’re going to keep pushing it and keep driving it. And those that figure it out and can deal with it, will be a part of the resurgence of this program and those that don’t they’re not to be able to play in this because we can’t be a team that plays half way. We’ve got to be all out, all the time.”