Five takeaways from Michigan's Big Ten Tournament run


One thing that really stood out while watching the game was how, when MSU was on offense, McQuaid was constantly running around, weaving between players to try to get open, rather than just standing in the corner for 20 seconds.


Good Summary on the 3 MSU games and the opportunity still ahead. On to the NCAA’s!!

As good as Michigan has played for most of the season, I have a hard time seeing past the three MSU losses. The mental lapses seem to define this team as much as defensive toughness. Perhaps yesterday’s loss will turn on the light and we won’t see the ISO ball and mental lapses at critical times in the NCAA tournament. I like every player and coach on our team and have immensely enjoyed this season. As a fan, I will support this team to the end. This year, however, I just don’t see us getting beyond the Sweet 16. (I would love for this post to look overly pessimistic in a few weeks).


Dylan, great article as always. One aspect of this season, and specifically games vs MSU, you didn’t highlight enough in your article(s) was the lack of a reliable bench for virtually the entire season. I believe we tend to think that 18 to 20 year olds have endless physical energy like the Energizer bunny. What we seldom look at is the emotional/mental toll 30+ games has on these young men. Their physical growth exceeds their emotional growth as they turn in to men. The MSU games in particular exposed our lack of physical and emotional SOC (state of charge). Our thin bench throughout the season caused our charge to be depleted. When it was time to keep performing at a high level we made uncharacteristic (for Belein teams) hero ball decisions. The offense stopped moving and we took bad shots, because it was easier to take those shots than running the offense. We were simply exhausted physically, and more importantly mentally.

My only criticism of the coaching staff this year was the minutes each starter had to endure. Even if it caused us to lose a couple of games we should have forced Johns, Castleton, [Brooks,] and DDJ to get more quality time on the floor.

See Eli Brooks.

Were there bad shots taken early in the shot clock? Absolutely. But many of the bad shots taken in the second half came with shot clock running down after Michigan was unable to generate a good look running their offense. I don’t like the narrative coming out of this game that the players need to learn, etc. The bottom line is that Coach B did not put the players in a position to succeed yesterday. Pretty disappointing from the coaching staff.

I hope we can bounce back with positive energy in the tournament.

Dylan, you worried about team morale at all following that loss?


I don’t really buy into the whole notion that Michigan took bad shots because it was tired. Beilein has had a bunch of teams with no bench that didn’t take bad shots.


It’s hard to compare this years team with Belein’s previous teams in regards to mental toughness. The lack of composure and poise is a direct result of two main things: a persons mental toughness and exhaustion. I know for a fact that when you are exhausted you take the easy way out, you lack concentration, and settle when you otherwise wouldn’t.
It would be interesting to see how many minutes the starters played this year vs 2013 and last year, just for kicks (if you were going to compare).

Here are the %age of minutes played stats:

Trey Burke 87.5, Simpson 84.1.
Hardaway 84, Poole 83.2.
Stauskas 75.6, Matthews 71.
GRIII 83.3, Brazdeikis 74.5.


Last year’s team:

Simpson 66.5% (benching plays a part there, he hadn’t won the job)
MAAR 86.8
Matthews 74.6
Robinson 63.8 (this was more of a platoon)
Moe 65.5


I think there is plenty of scientific data, as well as my own personal experience, that proves that you have trouble concentrating, comprehending, and making good decisions when you are fatigued. Even Beilein has referenced this recently. I don’t know if that was the reason for our poor game ending performance, but it is certainly a possibility.

Sure, I’m not saying that fatigue can’t affect people. I’m saying that is a bit much to say that is absolutely what is going on.

I tend to agree with Beilein that Michigan’s decision making issues are things that occur throughout the game. You might remember 1 or 2 plays at the end of the game, but throwing away possessions at other points in the game is just as important.

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When Michigan has one day of rest and the other team two or three. . . sometimes I think that can tell. But with MSU down a bunch of players and having played three days in a row like Michigan, I just don’t feel there is much of an argument here, especially since the bench had grown in Matthews’s absence. Hopefully that helps us in the days to come. . .

Beilein seems to attribute the lack of poise to his team’s youth, fwiw (see postgame interview, always illuminating).

IMO, the failure / “poor decision-making” comes down to one of two things.

  1. Beilien has failed to scheme a way to take advantage of switching.
  2. ISO ball is our only reasonable way to attack these switches and the guards (X and Jordan), simply aren’t good enough to execute.

It very much seems like attacking the switch with an ISO is the only Beilein-coached approach to attacking MSU’s switches. For three games, we’ve had the same approach where Tillman will switch, and then we’ll immediately go into an ISO. The guards aren’t good enough to beat him off the dribble, and then we get a poor three.

If there was a secret gameplan that the players weren’t executing, we would have seen it. As Dylan and Eric have mentioned, you can take advantage of switching just by running more action, but Beilein has chosen not to attempt that. So, personally. I think it falls on Beilein. It seems like he should be able to come up with residual action off the switch to get Tillman away from the play and attack the rest of the D. How about moving X off ball after the switch to get Tillman far away from the paint and trying to run action away from him?


This is a good post, though I don’t think it’s comprehensive. In addition to iso, I would add the following:

  • Get the ball to Teske while guarded by a guard. While they didn’t do this well (likely due to lack of practice), they did try.
  • As a response to the above, passing to a 3/4 on the wing to change the angle of the post entry.
  • Starting the offense with Poole to get some increased side action going by Simpson.

None of these solved it, but it’s inaccurate IMO to say we didn’t have schematic options.


Excellent article.

As you pointed out Michigan has played very well vs teams not named Michigan State as of late. MSU is very good; Michigan a notch below. The NCAA should be a lot of fun.
It’s like MSU is Secretariat and M is Sham
MSU is Affirmed and M is Alydar

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I don’t think that’s necessarily an accurate analogy because horse racing is a lot less complicated than basketball. There’s still a way for Michigan to “beat” MSU and be remembered like a Secretariat/Affirmed rather than an also-ran, even going 0-3 in the individual match-ups. Whether they’re able to do that is the question.

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