The Michigan Wolverines played one of their worst defensive games of the season on Thursday night in the 81-74 loss to Wisconsin at home, and after the game head coach Juwan Howard was let down by the defensive performance.
“We did a very bad job of defending on the perimeter,” Howard told the media. “But, overall, our defense did not get it done for us. Huge letdown on the entire team of how we were defending. Poor job from me on preparing our guys. I’ll take it. I own it. I didn’t prepare them well enough.”
The game was notable due to the absence of guard Eli Brooks, who has been the team’s best defender this season and missed the game due to a broken nose that he suffered last weekend. Even with a nationally-praised defensive guard still left in Zavier Simpson, Howard had a high opinion of what Brooks means.
“Huge. He’s our anchor,” Howard said. “Yes, Zavier... John Wooden finalist as one of the best defensive players this year. (Has done) a really good job this season. But I’m surprised that Eli was not mentioned as one of the best defensive players this season, because he’s been our anchor of our defense. And, with his presence, we saw how we missed his activity, we missed his energy, being able to guard guys. Attention to detail when it comes to the scouting report. That guy is an Army Swiss Knife. And today, we not only missed him on the defensive end, but we missed him offensively, being able to just keep our offense running at a nice, smooth pace.”
The biggest issue for the Wolverines on defense on Thursday night was guarding the perimeter, as the Badgers torched them with 11 three-pointers in the game. Five of those came from D’Mitrik Trice, who had a career night in Ann Arbor with 28 points.
“I would say we didn’t do a good job of doing the three-point line,” Howard said. “I would also say it got away from us when the ball did not go down in the basket. The next thing, which was on the defensive side, it was more like a compound mistake where we put our heads down and we forgot we had to get a stop on the other end. I didn’t like our defensive disposition all game.”
Michigan has a chance to get back in the win column on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Columbus for a rematch with the Ohio State Buckeyes. OSU beat Michigan at Crisler earlier this season by a score of 61-58.