Monday, November 21, 2011

Michigan 73, Memphis 61

[recap] [box score]

My first impression of Trey Burke, Michigan's freshman point guard, was not a particularly good one. He gave up an early bucket to Joe Jackson, and I thought he could be in for a long afternoon against the talented Memphis sophomore.

Burke caught my attention, though, by working around Jackson for a short jumper on the other end. From that point forward, it was hard to find something about Burke's play to criticize.

There are not many freshmen playing in their fourth college game who would handle the frenetic pressure of a team as long and athletic as Memphis better than Burke did. He safely transported the ball across mid-court and took the early offense when it was there, pulling the ball out and setting up the halfcourt sets more often than not. He looked for his own shot often enough to qualify as a real scoring threat, but never forced it.

I'm going to give some credit for Burke's play to John Beilein, too, because it's obvious that Burke is well-coached. Memphis loves to run-and-gun, the kind of game that freshmen tend to get caught up in. And on one or two occasions in the second half, you could see that creeping into Burke. But he suppressed it, helped by a Beilein timeout, and Michigan controlled the pace from start to finish in a very impressive win.

Memphis notes: Memphis theoretically had a size advantage in this game, but Tarik Black picked up two fouls in less than two minutes and sat the rest of the half. Black returned in the second half and with Jordan Morgan on the bench with his own foul trouble, Memphis turned to Black to try and take advantage. Black, though, doesn't have the low post game to make his size any sort of real edge ... Michigan opened in a man-to-man, ran a little 1-3-1 in the middle of the first half, a little 2-3 towards the end of the half, and then a lot of zone in the second. On occasion, the Tigers penetrated the zone, but the bulk of their offense against it was simply passing the ball around the perimeter looking for three-pointers, which is not their strong suit ... I mentioned this on Twitter during the game, but Will Barton reminds me of Corey Brewer, only even more out of control.

Michigan notes: I made the point about the pace of this game to drive home how impressed I was with Burke, but Michigan really didn't slow down the pace as much as you'd expect. They also won this game convincingly despite making only six of 20 three-point attempts. Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. did a lot of damage off the dribble, but the Wolverines also did a nice job of getting a few buckets inside from Morgan and Jon Horford (brother of Al). Hardaway even got a basket or two in the low block. Michigan controlled the tempo without playing a noticeably plodding pace ... Michigan's best three-point shooters are Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, and they use each differently: Novak works off the ball and uses a lot of screens, while Douglass does a lot more spotting up. Novak was 2-4 against Memphis while Douglass was 2-6; I thought Douglass was spotting up a step too far from the basket (28 feet, easy). He front-rimmed several of his misses. I recognize that it's harder to get open looks spotting up and that's why he was so far out, but I'm not sure how consistent he can be from that distance ... Michigan's zone defense was most effective in stopping the Tigers, but they held their own over the first 12 minutes playing man-to-man, and switched defenses up enough to keep Memphis on its toes.

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