Michigan Basketball (1-0) will host South Carolina State (1-1) on Tuesday at Crisler Center. Tip off is scheduled for 7:00pm and the game will be televised on BTN.com.
What Happened Last Time
Fresh off a strong second-half outburst that solidified a win in the first game of the 2013-2014 campaign, the Michigan Men’s basketball team will look to continue in their dominant ways against the South Carolina State Bulldogs Tuesday evening.
The Wolverines are anxious to rebound after a dismal first-half shooting performance Friday night that resulted in a halftime tie with recently Division I certified UMass-Lowell. Nik Stauskas and Co. struggled mightily through the first twenty minutes of last week’s contest, shooting 26% from the field, 11% from beyond the arc and 67% from the charity stripe.
Luckily the Wolverines’ defense showed up to play. Michigan did not surrender a point for almost six minutes, and scrapped for every play en route to a 23-23 halftime tie, despite the poor offensive showing. The Riverhawks edged out an early 2nd half lead with a quick bucket, but would be answered by a monstrous 26-2 run in favor of Michigan that left Michigan coasting with ten minutes left to play. The Wolverines finished with 10 steals and shot 37% from the field, closing out UMass-Lowell 69-42.
What We Learned
This is the dangerous part of relying on outside shooting! If Michigan connects on half of the threes they missed in the first half, then we’ve got ourselves a completely different ballgame, much like the one we saw in the second half. The defensive intensity was maximized throughout both halves for the Wolverines; it was the offensive frontier that was ultimately responsible for the vast difference between the two periods.
Michigan cannot afford to have too many rough starts like this one. A dreadful shooting performance can lead to a halftime tie with UMass-Lowell, but a similar showing against the majority of Big Ten counterparts would lead to a seemingly insurmountable deficit. In short, we need to see more of the second half Michigan offense, and less of the first half one. As of right now it appears to come down to the shots simply not falling, which is only remedied in one way- more shooting.
Now don’t start thinking that it’s all bad. If this season-opener taught us anything, it is that Michigan is looking to play scrappy and tenacious defense, which is unbelievably exhilarating. As an outside-shooting team, Michigan knows that there will occasionally come games where the shots will just not fall. But John Beilein and co. have realized that Michigan’s best offense might very well be their unwavering defense. The Wolverines, coincidentally comparable to actual wolverines, exhibited ferocity, tenacity and unmatchable quickness that truly served as the determinant in Friday’s win.
An equally impressive defensive fortitude will be integral in Tuesday’s matchup with South Carolina State, who come into Ann Arbor with a 1-and-1 record, after a dramatic overtime victory at home. The matchup with the Bulldogs will be the Wolverine’s final game at home before a decent stint away from Ann Arbor, including the prestigious Puerto Rico Classic.
Michigan knows that even if the offense takes some time to get moving, an impenetrable defense is what gives them the best chance to win. And frankly, the most exciting fact through one game is that ‘impenetrable’ does not appear to be an exaggeration.
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