Sunday, February 15, 2009

Notes on UM/Northwestern


HUGE victory for the Wolverines, as they pull out a 70-67 overtime win at Northwestern to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Manny Harris carried the team to victory, scoring 25 of his 26 points in the second half and overtime, going 8-15 from the field and 9-10 from the line. Some thoughts from the game:
  • Manny was on his best taking the ball to the hoop. He went 7-9 on his two point shots, most from in close, and his ability to get to the line (and convert his free throws) was a huge reason why Michigan pulled out this game. After battling foul trouble in the first half, he played the best 25 minutes of basketball I've seen him play all season.
  • Michigan played a ton of man-to-man this game, and Stu Douglass did a great job of shutting down Wildcat sharpshooter Craig Moore. Moore finished with only six points, going 2-10 from the field, after averaging 15 a game this season.
  • I spent much of the second half screaming for a Kelvin Grady appearance. Watching C.J. Lee and Douglass attempt to beat a full-court press is not for the faint of heart. Lee is also developing the nasty habit of dribbling into the middle of a zone without knowing what he is going to do with the ball, which led to a couple bad turnovers. Douglass turned the ball over four times and went scoreless on 0-4 shooting.
  • However, Grady finally entered the game late in the overtime period, and possibly showed us why John Beilein has cut back his minutes. With the Wolverines clinging to a three-point lead with six seconds left, Grady got caught up on a screen and allowed Moore, a 42% shooter from downtown, to get an open look for the tie. Luckily, his shot caught iron and Zack Gibson pulled down the rebound, but Grady has got to play better defense in such a critical situation.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry had an up-and-down eight minutes of play. He broke double digits for the first time since January 7th, scoring 10 on 2-3 shooting and going 5-5 from the line. However, he also turned the ball over three times, and it was clear Beilein didn't trust having him in the game down the stretch.
  • The officiating was awful, but didn't seem to favor either team. The teams combined to shoot 50 free throws (Michigan with 27, NW with 23), with the officials calling a ton of ticky-tack fouls. They also blew a couple potentially game-changing calls, allowing Northwestern to get away with murder on Gibson on an offensive rebound (leading to a fast break on the other end) and calling a phantom shooting foul on DeShawn Sims on a three-point attempt for Sims' fifth foul in overtime.
Michigan improves to 16-10 overall, and 6-7 in the Big Ten. They host Minnesota on Thursday at 7 pm, and presumably needs three more victories over their next five games (MINN, @IOWA, PSU, @WISC, @MINN) to secure a spot in the Big Dance.

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