Why Michigan WILL & WONT turn it around

I know a lot of people have said the season is over. But in the days after, a couple things to consider as to why the season might not be dead yet:

  1. Michigan and Beilein have been down this road before. In 2011, M started 1-6 in conference play and lost to a bunch of middling teams along with some really good teams. As Dylan, pointed out that was a younger team that got into a funk defensively that culminated with a home loss to the Gophers in which Michigan was outrebounded 40-15. After that game, a lot of people were calling for Beilein to be fired. Michigan went to MSU and you know the rest. The thing I think carries over the most, is that Beilein has been in this situation before, with new assistants (just like in 2011) and a team struggling with concepts and then the light goes on, and it is like a new team.

  2. This team played good defense earlier this year against Marquette, SMU and Texas. They can find it again.

  3. While I don’t buy that 3pt FG% on defense is complete luck, there has been some bad luck. Illinois banked in a 3 and had two different players with 0 career made 3’s both make their only attempt. Coleman-Lands also hit an array of step back 3’s. The 57% is a misnomer and like everything else will probably regress to the mean. Maryland had a 25% shooter make 4 NBA 3’s.

Three reasons the season is over.

  1. In 2011, M mostly struggled on the glass. The defensive FG% were not as bad as they are this year. A lot of the struggles were fixed by increased effort and attention to rebounding. I do think that some of the issues this year would be fixed with better awareness, but Walton, Irvin and MAAR have never really shown a sustainability for staying in front of their man.

  2. Zack Novak ain’t walking through the door. The team lacks leadership, and while I think Irvin needs to be that guy, I don’t know if he has it in him.

  3. The schedule, looking at the schedule Michigan only has 6-7 games in which they will be favored. This means they need to pull off 2-3 upsets and not lose any more games in which they are favored. Probably a tall task, but this was also the case in 2011.

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It was pretty bad. Here are the numbers from that year. Look at the losing streak and look at the def eFG%, def 2P, def 3P numbers.

IU made 23 of 29 twos in a game!

I’ll add the the reason we WILL turn it around is because the Big 10 is a mess of odd teams this year.
AND that we really can’t get worse IMO. Defensively and offensively.

The reason we WON’T is because we just struggled starting with FURMAN and moving on to the weakest part of our Big 10 schedule. I have a strong feeling that although the Big 10 doesn’t have a consistent team, we’re not consistent either (or if anything, consistently bad). Also, the Texas win by 3 points in Ann Arbor isn’t looking so great right now while they’re at 7-9 and are about to play 3 Top 10 teams in a row…hello 7-12.

I think Irvin wants to be that guy, but folks seldom realize it’s not a matter of who wants to lead, but who the players want to follow.

In my youth coaching experience (not something I bring up a lot, so please bear with me), I’ve had some great kids be leaders of my teams some years, but other years it has been some real Richards who the team has followed (often to our detriment).

The toughest years, though, were the occasional season when the team didn’t follow anyone. No one stepped up and took the mantle, and when anyone tried to do so the team wasn’t having it. I’ve been worried that this Michigan team is like that.

Leadership is unpredictable like that. It’s great when it comes from your most talented players, the ones that other players naturally want to be like. It can come from among your least talented players, if they are the run through walls type who can turn to the rest of the team and ask “I’m giving my all. What’s your excuse?”

It’s tough, however, when a player who should be a leader isn’t leading so much as they are trying to lead, dipping their toes in those obviously uncomfortable waters. Those kids seem to be the ones who get really quiet when their performance is slumping, like they feel like they don’t deserve to be the leader, and you can’t have that. Your team still needs players who lead.


Obviously we don’t truly know what it is like amongst “the guys”. I do think that this is plausible.

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Kind of on that note. Iowa is definitely better than I anticipated, same for Maryland. Illinois plays 1 game like that every year. Last year they beat Purdue by 14, scoring 1.2 PPP. A few years ago I know they beat Ohio State at home by 20 and started 2-7. Illinois has talent, and they have more seniors than Michigan, games like that happen. I will be interested to see what happens tomorrow.


I’m a strong Beilein fan, and have voiced my support often enough. But while I would welcome a revival, my hunch is that this team doesn’t make the dance. Too freaking porous on D, and Wilson and Wagner–delightful as their offensive renaissance has been–are just not strong enough to contribute much on the boards. Won’t keep me from watching or supporting, though.

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Hate Zak Irvin or not, gotta love his passion. "Zak Irvin on being called “white collar” by Illinois player: “We’ll see them again” He definitely seems like more a leader then Dwalt.


@umhoops Dylan, no worries if you don’t want to respond.

Just strictly out of curiosity and for fun, what’s your gut call on how the team finishes from here? What odds at this point in time would you put on the team making the tourney?

Obviously it’s a “who knows” and not trying to get a firm take. Personally, I think they get to 8 B1G wins going into @Northwestern and @Nebraska. As of 1/13, my guess is 40/60 they make it vs don’t. I’m just going to enjoy watching now with lowered expectations.

Ok, I see. thanks for the sharing.