UCLA Game: Why They Lost:
Well, as with any loss there were a number of things that contributed to it, first and foremost was the guard play for UCLA. Arron Afflalo was able to run the baseline and curl against Michigan all day long. He also worked off screens to get some open looks and he made good of those looks by hitting six of nine from three land and finishing with 20 points. Jordan Farmar hit three of five from downtown and finished with 21 on the game. Combined the two accounted for 60 percent of UCLA's scoring. These two for the most part got good looks all game and UCLA was able to really get Afflalo open by effectively screening Dion Harris all game long.
On offense it was clear Michigan had little production inside from it's starting big men Graham Brown and Courtney Sims. The two were on the court for a combined 47 minutes and only managed 1 field goal; Brown didn't even attempt a shot. Chris Hunter was the only one inside to handle the double team fairly well by dribbling or passing out of it while Sims got shut down by it. I wouldn't place the blame solely on Brown and Sims however, whenever either one got the ball there was little effort by others on offense to get open so there wasn't an easy outlet for them to go to. When they did get the ball to another man the pass was usually off the mark and by time the receiving man reset he was already covered. Lack of execution against the double down and overall little inside production from the starting two big men left Michigan in an uphill battle.
The whole game offensively was very, very streaky for the Wolverines. The first half was basically a game of 8-10 point runs back and forth between each team and the second half saw Michigan slowly lag along until getting hot near the end when they really needed it. Also besides Chris Hunter, Michigan only got two points of production from their bench, a bucket from Ronald Coleman who was one for five on the night. Michigan also did not shoot the three well, hitting just 5 of 23 while UCLA converted a better 10 of 21.
The final two minutes just had too many mistakes for the Wolverines to come away with a win. Key turnovers by Graham Brown and Lester Abram spelled doom for the Wolverines who could have cut into the lead hard after a Jordan Farmar offensive foul late.
What Went Well:
Chris Hunter. Talk about a solid game from this guy. Five of eight from the field, eight boards and 15 points led all Wolverines in scoring and rebounding. Big game from him, and hopefully he can keep it going for the rest of the season. The crowd at Crisler was much needed for the program and I think the energy from the crowd certainly helps this team who hasn't felt it that much in their careers here. I thought the comeback at the end led by Lester Abram and Dion (who was obviously bothered by his foot injury late in the game) was big and put Michigan in position to win that ballgame. I thought for the most part in the first half Michigan was able to create some open looks for itself on a consistent basis but the UCLA defense clamped down in the 2nd half. Michigan was also able to adjust and cut down on the easy transition baskets UCLA was getting in the 1st half.
Yes this was a big game and yes it could have made a big statement but we won't know the significance of this loss for some time. Starting with tonight's game against Miami of Ohio. If the Wolverines finish their non conference schedule strong and grab a few key wins early in Big Ten play, then maybe this loss won't look as bad.. If they come out flat, don't play well tonight and don't win some big games early in conference play, maybe this game was the start of something negative. Either way, there was excitement for the game, a packed Crisler and great basketball was expected, which is what was delivered. I find it kind of interesting that Michigan, despite it's best player being off all game and not getting anything to fall in the second half, despite Sims and Brown being shutdown inside that this team could still take a top 15 squad to the absolute wall and force them to win it in the final minutes. Credit UCLA, they played well but Michigan showed a lot of heart and ability as well. Today's game against Miami could be a tougher test than some think but it's still a very winnable game for Michigan. Miami had an impressive win over Dayton and played Xavier and Alabama very tough despite losing both so this one shouldn't be taken lightly.
Hoops: Miami Today (Thu); Look Back at UCLA
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