The TSX Files: Inside Michigan Hoops

The Sports Exchange's in-depth Michigan report going into Saturday's Crisler tilt at Ohio State.

GETTING INSIDE

At this point, Michigan coach John Beilein would just as soon play every game on the road. Fortunately, two of his team's next three games are away from Crisler Arena, albeit against ranked opponents.
Michigan has lost three straight home games to fall below .500 for the first time all year. The Wolverines play at Ohio State on Sunday and are home against Minnesota next week before closing the season at Michigan State.
"I think that we need to go play on the road," Beilein said. "We need to do it. ... I don't know if we're stressing out or whatever. I don't know what it is.
"It's really become a bit of a mental block that I'm trying to talk to them through. I've loved them, I've challenged them, I've done everything I can do and just got to keep doing what we're doing."
What Michigan has done lately is shoot extremely poorly.
The Wolverines shot a measly 24.6 percent in their home loss to Illinois on Tuesday and shot 36 percent in a loss to Penn State last week.
Beilein said he's open to altering his rotation or showing motivational film if it helps his team's offense.
"We got to do something because you can't win this way," he said.

ILLINOIS 51, MICHIGAN 44: Manny Harris had 16 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn't enough for Michigan to overcome its worst offensive night of the season.
The Wolverines tied a season low for points and squandered a solid defensive effort with 24.6 percent shooting. They managed just 18 points in the first half.
DeShawn Sims grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds but finished with seven points on 3-of-12 shooting before fouling out. Harris added 11 boards and Zack Novak scored 12 points.
Novak made 4-of-10 3-pointers for Michigan. The rest of the team was 2-of-21 from behind the arc.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Illinois dominated Michigan on the glass, 50-35. The Wolverines have been outrebounded in six straight games and rank last in the Big Ten in rebound margin. They've outrebounded their opponent just seven times all season.
--Darius Morris has played well since regaining the starting point guard job earlier this month, but he's an offensive liability. Penn State sagged off Morris, sliding under ball screens, to double-team DeShawn Sims. The Nittany Lions held Sims, Michigan's leading scorer in Big Ten play, to 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, his second fewest shot attempts since Dec. 2.
--With Morris (five points) not providing much in the way of offense, coach John Beilein gave sixth man Laval Lucas-Perry extended minutes against Penn State. Lucas-Perry, a defensive liability, went 0-for-5 from the floor. Lucas-Perry, "The Light Switch," has been on or off this year. He's gone scoreless in six of Michigan's 14 Big Ten games, but was coming off a 13-point night against Iowa and dropped 16 on Penn State earlier this year.

ON THE SPOT: Laval Lucas-Perry has always been a defensive liability. Lately, he's been an offensive liability, too. Lucas-Perry has gone scoreless in Michigan's last two games and has been shut out seven times in 15 Big Ten games this year. He lost his starting job earlier this month to Darius Morris and is in danger of losing more minutes to Matt Vogrich as Michigan keeps one eye on next season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've had two or three like this. Both Northwestern games, this one right here, Wisconsin. They bother me, there's no question about it. And sometimes you're helpless, you're absolutely helpless in it. But I know we're capable of more." -- Michigan coach John Beilein, after Saturday's 55-51 loss to Penn State, on the frustration he's felt at times this season.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SEASON RECAP: Poor shooting, little depth and leadership problems have derailed a season that began with Michigan ranked in the top 15. The Wolverines scheduled aggressively, but lost nearly every big non-conference game they played. In Big Ten action, Michigan squandered double-digit leads at Wisconsin and home against Northwestern, and couldn't take advantage of a favorable schedule with one game each against the Badgers and first-place Purdue.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- G Manny Harris, G Darius Morris, G Zach Novak, G Stu Douglas, F DeShawn Sims. Key Subs -- G Laval Lucas-Perry, F Anthony Wright, C Zack Gibson.

GAME REVIEW:
Michigan 71, Minnesota 63
Michigan 80, Iowa 78 (OT)
Penn State 55, Michigan 51
Illinois 51, Michigan 44

GAME PREVIEW:
at Ohio State, Saturday, Feb. 27
vs. Minnesota, Tuesday, March 2
at Michigan State, Sunday, March 7
Big Ten tournament, March 11-14

IN FOCUS: The Wolverines have fallen below .500 for the first time this season and will have trouble getting back to that level considering the difficulty of their next three games.

ROSTER REPORT:
--Anthony Wright has fallen out of Michigan's playing rotation. Wright hasn't played in three straight games and hasn't scored a point since a Jan. 26 win over Michigan State. Freshman Matt Vogrich has replaced Wright as the second guard off Michigan's thin bench, though he's played just four total minutes the last three games.
--Zack Gibson had a career-high four steals off the bench against Illinois. The 6-foot-10 Gibson also matched a season high with 20 minutes as Michigan coach John Beilein tried to combat the Illini's big front line.

The Michigan Insider Top Stories