Five Things We Learned in a Loss to Michigan
By John Porentas
1) If you can't shoot or rebound, you lose. OK, you already knew that. This game really underscored that though. You can't win with just defense, because OSU's defense was actually pretty good, but they still ended up on the short end of the score. Aaron Craft felt like the rebounding disparity was the biggest difference in the game, but I think Thad thought it wa the 3-20 from three that killed OSU. The numbers indicate that Thad was right. Despite their 14 offensive rebounds, the Wolverines had 11 second-chance points while the Buckeyes had 9 second-chance points on 8 offensive rebounds. That's a difference of just 2 points in a 10-point game. The Wolverines hit eight threes on just 17 attempts, the Buckeyes three on 20 attempts. OSU actually scored more baskets that Michigan (23 to 22) but the threes along with seven more made free throws were the difference.
2) The rebounding disparity is not as simple as it at first looks. It's easy to say just block out and go get the ball, but there is more to it. The Buckeyes really have only one credible defensive rebounder, and that's Amir Williams. When the opposing offense is able to get in the lane however, Amir has to go from being a rebounder facing the basket and blocking out to being a shot blocker with his back to the basket trying to block a shot. Matta said after the game that was a definite factor in the rebounding disparity, but that he likes Amir's aggressiveness in trying block the shot. It's a risk/reward thing really. If you block the shot, there is no rebound. Amir also affected some of the shots that he didn't block, but that costs him in his effectiveness as a rebounder. What the Buckeyes needed if Amir was going to be a shot blocker was a second rebounder. They didn't get that. LaQuinton Ross did get seven boards, but three of those were on the offensive end, so he wasn't helping out all that much with defensive rebounds.
3) This game was eerily similar to the win at Iowa. In that game it was the Hawkeyes who could not buy a basket from the three point line, and the Buckeyes won the game. In this one, it was OSU's turn. It just happens in basketball I guess. It's not like the Buckeyes didn't get good looks at the basket, they just didn't knock down the shots. The same was true at Iowa for the Hawkeyes.
4) U of M Head Coach John Beilein was very classy in his post-game comments. The very first thing he commented on was the great atmosphere in the building. He called it an NCAA Final Four-type environment, and he meant that very much as a compliment. He also had nothing but good things to say about the OSU basketball program and the players and coaches in it. Beilein said that LaQuinton Ross was so effective against them early in the game that they seriously considered double-teaming him, and that was meant as a compliment to Ross, not a knock on his team's defense.
5) Michigan is becoming Point Guard U. Last year it was Trey Burke. Now it's Derrick Walton. Walton had a great game against OSU. He didn't shoot particularly well from the field, going 3 for 10, but he was very, very good at everything else. He hit one of two from three and was six for six from the free throw line. He also registered a game-high six assists while turning the ball over just once against Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott. Just to top things off, he also garnered a game-high 10 rebounds. It was also his ability to get into the lane and get Amir Williams' attention that helped lead to Michigan's overall rebounding edge. If you combine Craft and Scott's stats, they outscored Walton 12-10, but Walton had two more assists, five more rebounds, and turned the ball over two-fewer times.
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