The Other Shoe: Michigan Pasted By Penn State 58-73

I hate garbage time during a blow out. It seems to drag on forever and you really never get anything out of it. Sure the bench players get some time, a couple of guys who've seen all of ten minutes all year will drain a trey or two, and the opposition will take a nap letting the score get closer and closer, but the outcome is sealed. And no manner of bench points will make a rats ass bit of difference in what just happened. You, and your starters, got blown out. Now you're counting on your subs to make it respectable.

It'd be fun and hopeful to say that Michigan let one get away last night, but that wouldn't be the truth. Michigan trailed by 30 with 8 minutes left in the game and only made it close because of Penn State taking a nap at the end of regulation. Michigan got pounded by a team their size, their skill level and in the same conference position they were in. The only reason Michigan managed to trail by just seven points at the end of the First Half was defense. Michigan harassed Penn State into a litany of turnovers and offensive miscues that kept the Wolverines in the game. It has to be that, because it sure as hell wasn't the Wolverines shooting.

Michigan First Half Stats
FGM-A
3PM-A FTM-A OFF REB AST BLK PF PTS
9-30 2-16 2-6 5 14 4 0 6 22
30% 12.5% 33.3%

 

 

That's not going to win you a lot of games. Michigan couldn't hit anything. When players would find themselves in prime shooting positions off a well executed play, they've airmail the ball from three. Regretfully, the guiltiest of this was Kelvin Grady, whose shot seems to have completely disappeared over the last two weeks. Similarly, Laval Lucas-Perry's shot has dried up, making him 2 for his last 17 three point attempts according to UMHoops.com. Making matters worse, when the shots didn't fall, Michigan retreated further from the basket to lob up more ill advised three point attempts. This marks the second straight game three point attempts have outnumbered two point attempts, and even in the Illinois game Michigan chucked up 26 threes compared to 33 two point attempts.

The only player who warrants a pat on the back for his effort last night is DeShawn Sims who posted 21 points and 11 boards. The rest of the starting lineup was 5-26 (Harris, LLP, Novak and Grady), including 1-19 from three. Do the math and you'll see the problem, they took only 7 shots inside the arc. The worst thing is, they hit 4 of them but never seemed to return to the basket.

I'd like to say this is a game where you throw out the tape, but it's not. The team is clearly stagnant and failing to execute even the most basic pick and rolls. During yesterday's open thread we noted dozens of times where the Wolverines would stand around waiting for something to happen or the ball to drop into their hands. Two players making the same cut to the top of the key. Over the last three games, offensive execution has gone out the window in favor of the three point shot, and that's a recipe for a losing streak when it's obvious to everyone your shots aren't falling.

Defensively, Michigan is in trouble. Penn State doesn't have a whole lot of size on their squad, save little used Andrew Ott, who at 6-10 is Penn State's biggest player. But he and Jamelle Cornley had a field day inside against Michigan, combining to go 12-14. And all but two of those attempts were within 6 feet of the basket. Right now Michigan has no one that seems to be able to deal with a presence inside, and our alternatives are somewhat limited. UM Hoops addresses the obvious question, "What about playing Gibson and Sims at the same time?"

Michigan is also dealing with more quality big men at the same time that they are trying to move an undersized guy to the power forward position. The issue here is that Beilein just doesn’t have the pieces to fix this problem. There are two guys that can play center on this roster: DeShawn Sims and Zack Gibson. There are three others who can play power forward: Jevohn Shepherd, Zack Novak, and Anthony Wright. Playing Gibson and Sims together sounds nice but if you do that too much there is no one to back up Sims at the center position.

It isn’t like Beilein is leaving Greg Monroe on the bench:

  • Jevohn Shepherd is a 6-foot-5 wing who isn’t much of an offensive threat and isn’t going to stop a guy like Jamelle Cornley or Marcus Landry.
  • Zack Gibson is a shooting guard trapped in a 6-foot-10 body; he is a finesse player and he’s not going to turn into a banger over night.
  • Anthony Wright is a 6-foot-6 forward who made a great backdoor pass against UCLA but has very little athleticism or hustle and is a career 27.4% three point shooter.
  • Zack Novak is 6-foot-4 but he gets to more loose balls than anyone on the team and despite struggling a bit of late is shooting 39.5% from long range.

Pick your poison.

My response is fairly simple, we're dying anyway right now, what's the worst that can happen. Maybe we can be exposed even worse down low in the future with Gibby and Sims out of the lineup, but the end result is the same if we don't change things up. We need size out there, even if it means playing 6-10 stick figure Eric Puls on a regular basis. I'm not kidding. He can go 1-5 just like Grady, but at least we've got the threat of a shot block in the middle and less of a turnover risk.

Another player worth another look and little more playing time is Air Canada, Jevohn Shepherd. Shepherd was the only guy on Michigan's team that showed any aggression toward the basket, and went 2-2 inside, while bricking a three. He's got the quickness to take the ball off the dribble and the length to make things happen down low. To be fair, he's a lousy defender, but at least he's got the quickness and the balls to go to the basket, and that's what this team needs right now.

Finally, I've gotta give some props to Gibson. Gisbon had a decent game, and if Michigan's going to be able to compete in the Big Ten they're going to need a lot more out of their big man. Keep it coming Gibby.

As for the rest of the group, pray that 4 games in 10 days with limited practice time is truly the cause of Michigan's swoon. Otherwise that clunk you just heard was the other shoe dropping on what was once a promising season.

Stats after the jump...


Final - 1.20.2009 1 2 Total
Michigan Wolverines 22 36 58
Penn St. Nittany Lions 29 44 73

Complete Coverage >



MICHIGAN WOLVERINES
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
DeShawn Sims, F 29 10-14 0-0 1-2 4 11 0 0 0 2 0 21
Zack Novak, G 28 1-4 0-3 4-4 2 2 1 0 0 1 3 6
Manny Harris, G 26 1-9 0-5 2-2 1 3 1 0 0 1 2 4
Laval Lucas-Perry, G 25 2-8 0-6 2-2 0 1 0 0 0 2 3 6
Kelvin Grady, G 23 1-5 1-5 0-0 0 0 1 0 0 2 1 3
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Stu Douglass, G 26 3-8 3-8 0-0 0 2 3 2 0 1 0 9
C.J. Lee, G 12 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 0
Anthony Wright, F 3 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
David Merritt, G 7 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 0
Jevohn Shepherd, F 9 2-3 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4
Eric Puls, C 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Zack Gibson, F 11 2-3 1-1 0-2 0 3 0 0 1 0 4 5
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
22-56 5-30 9-13 7 24 9 3 1 9 17 58
39.3% 16.7% 69.2%
 
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Jamelle Cornley, F 30 8-10 0-1 1-5 1 11 1 0 0 0 0 17
Jeff Brooks, F 19 1-3 0-2 0-0 1 4 1 0 0 1 2 2
Andrew Jones III, F 22 2-3 0-0 2-2 4 5 2 0 0 1 2 6
Stanley Pringle, G 31 5-12 2-2 0-0 1 6 1 4 0 2 3 12
Talor Battle, G 34 4-10 4-7 3-4 0 2 6 0 0 4 2 15
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Chris Babb, G 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Will Leiner, G 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
David Jackson, F 19 1-3 0-1 0-0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 2
Cammeron Woodyard, G 4 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Danny Morrissey, G 28 4-5 3-4 0-2 2 6 4 0 0 2 1 11
Andrew Ott, F 10 4-4 0-0 0-3 1 1 2 0 0 0 1 8
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
29-50 9-17 6-16 10 35 18 4 0 13 12 73
58.0% 52.9% 37.5%
 
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