A few thoughts on the stretch run before turning to the tourney

First, just really happy for the team and program, from the vets who felt the pressure like Irvin and Walton to guys like Chatman and Wagner who really contributed late. Just making the tournament, regardless of what happens, will make everything this summer feel that much better and keep momentum going. They worked pretty hard and overall played pretty tough down the stretch and it paid off.

Second, consider these 3pt percentages for UM’s last 9 games in reverse chronological order: PU-24%; IU-29%; NU-41%; Iowa -24%; Wiscy-39%; NU-27%; MD -48%; OSU-21%; PU-25%. The team won 4 out of the last 9 against a tough stretch despite shooting under 30% from 3 in 6 of the last 9 games – and they even lost 2 of the 3 games they shot ok from 3. Especially those wins against PU and IU while shooting under 30% from 3 made the difference. I think guys were a little tired and played a little tight, and now that the pressure is off a bit, maybe their strokes will return and with the improved play in other areas could make them dangerous. On that note, while still nothing great, the defense did improve, shaving over 30 spots on kenpom in the last couple of weeks. I know, I know, nothing great, but they’ve been holding teams to below 1.1 ppp, which is an improvement considering there have been 3 top 25 offenses in there.

Finally, Duncan Robinson has been struggling late in the year, but he had a pretty strong B1G tournament, at least the first 2 games. 21 against NU (4-6 from 3) and the three in OT to tie and set up Irvin’s game winner; 12 against IU and in the last two minutes had a three point play and then a three pointer to set up (along with Walton’s 2 FTs) Kam’s last second shot. Didn’t make the hero shot in either game but they wouldn’t have been made without him.

The team did just enough to get in, and now we can see what happens from here. John Beilein teams can be pretty dangerous in the tourney.


I just argued much the same on the front page–get hot from three and we can do some damage. Congratulations to the team and to coach Beilein.

Definitely if we can get some shots to drop we’re a very scary 11 seed team.

Tulsa game might be good for us on the confidence side (maybe bad for the extra game on the legs though).
I would love to see more stretches with Wagner/Donnal/Wilson (2 of the 3) in there to give Irvin some rest from the 4 spot. It has to be exhausting guarding Uthoff, Swanigan, Max, etc on defense then go down and try to use your speed to beat them on offense.

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Chatman is the one giving Irvin a little more rest on the bench. I don’t think you’ll see 2 of Wagner/Donnal/Wilson on the court at the same time much this year. Maybe next year though.

I’ll take more Chatman then and move Irvin to the 3 in place of Robinson/Dawkins for stretches.
Not a fan of Chatman with Robinson/Dawkins in at the same time though. Rather pair him with Irvin.

…and even then, Chatman is outsized. He does a heck of a job defending though for his size (inside). Even though he has fresh legs, it’s still the idea of pounding on the inside defensively then turning around and playing “finesse” on offense. If Chatman doesn’t take the 3, he’s often seen pushing around the interior - which is fine, because we need guys crashing the boards but he’s not playing like a “guard” on offense anyway.

Aren’t we all hoping for a repeat of JB not really allowing Mitch much run in the regular but then deciding to live/die with him in the tourney? Wonder if Kam/Mo have something like that in them to get us a few rounds.

Well, it’s not resting Irvin if he’s still in, although I guess it gives him a break from guarding the opposing 4. I think Chatman has combined with Dawkins for a couple nice backdoor buckets the last few games. And while Chatman is outsized against some, he’s probably a legit 6’8" with shoes with a long wingspan. He defended Swanigan pretty well. That’s part of what still makes him, potentially, such a great fit for a JB team. He really is big enough to guard just about all opposing 4s, and while he’s not a post-presence, he is a very good passer, can hit the mid-range jumper, and can grab a few boards/finish around the rim – not great, but pretty good. And he’s 7-14 from 3 over the last nine games. If he can really shoot even 35% from 3, he could be a huge contributor going forward, and that’s a “pounding for finesse” trade that will be in Michigan’s favor most nights. By the way, he’s still 19 years old for another three months.

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It would rest him from having to guard the opposing 4. That’s the whole point.

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Forcing Irvin to guard the other team’s 4, especially Big Ten 4’s, did him absolutely no favors coming off back surgery.

There isn’t enough ice in the world to fully recover after a night of guarding the likes of Swannigan for 30 minutes at Irvin’s size.


I agree with this. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Chatman get more run at the four next year. He’s longer than Irvin, and has quicker hands - he played some nice defense against Swanigan the other day.

I’ve been wondering what it says about Duncan that, standing 2 inches taller than Zak (I dont know their weights), we never saw Duncan guarding the other team’s 4, for even just a few minutes. Did it happen earlier in the season and I am just forgetting?

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I’ve been thinking that all year. The only time that did happen was vs Wisconsin when Irvin took Hayes and Duncan got Vitto Brown.

Not physical enough. At least he’s got some length to contest a smaller guy a bit.

I hope that changes, during the offseason. Id rather have Irvin’s speed (not a ton, but more than Duncan) chasing shooters