Well, we had them right where we wanted them for a while. Iowa started with a 7-0 run and with six minutes to go in the first half, they led the Wolverines 27-26. Then Michigan went nuts. And not just Fran on a bad day nuts. I’m talking batshit-crazy-not-gonna-miss-a-shot-fuckin-nuts. From the six minute mark in the first half to the six minute mark in the second half, they outscored the Hawks 56 to 23. Wow.
The lack of transition defense is what really killed the Hawks in this one, or really the lack of much defense at all. Late in the first half, White got blocked and it lead to Michigan transition basket. Fran called a TO and the team got the Wrath. But the Wrath of Fran was small potatoes compared to the Wrath that Michigan had in store. They got defensive stops and turned them into dunks and layups again and again. And when they weren’t scoring in transition, they were nailing 3’s. They had 25 assists to only 6 turnovers. They shot 58% from the floor. It goes on and on.
Iowa desperately needed to come out fired up in the second half and to pick up the defensive intensity. Nope. Michigan came out firing instead and couldn’t miss. Fran got pissed and pulled the starters and this one was over. I wanted them back in immediately to prevent an embarrassment, but we got embarrassed anyway. Beilein certainly didn’t pull his starters and the Wolverines were relentless. The fast break points were 16 for Michigan and 0 for the Hawkeyes, but it seemed more like 30-0.
Of course, the refs didn’t do us any favors. Iowa was attacking the basket like crazy in the first half, yet they were only rewarded with two free-throw attempts. Michigan on the other had got plenty of calls and made it to the line twelve times. Home cookin’, indeed. But that’s certainly not why we lost this one.
I can’t really explain what happened. It wasn’t solely talent, as I don’t believe this Michigan team is 30 points better than Iowa. Iowa fought really hard for the first 16 minutes. They seemed to be out-hustling Michigan and were scoring in the paint regularly. But the Hawks seemed to just put it in panic mode once a few things went wrong. Nobody could get back on D and nobody could make key shots to stop the bleeding. It was just a total team loss.
But the talent gap cannot be understated here. Michigan is good at basketball again. Really good. Iowa still seems to be in need of that one guy that can take over and make a play all by himself when you absolutely need a bucket. The closest thing we have is Marble, and his jumper just isn’t consistent enough. Michigan has two of these guys, as Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are just phenomenal players. We’ve seen Indiana and Michigan already, and Michigan looks to be the better team by far.
We knew the start of this Big Ten season was going to be rough. The schedule-makers did us no favors with these first three games, and the next few after that are no cake walk either. But this team should continue to improve, just as Fran’s other teams have. The dregs of the Big Ten show up later in the year, and that should help as well. Forget it, and move on to Michigan State, in what is now a huge home game. But the really good news from today is that we don’t have to play Michigan again this year. That’s about the only positive I can find from this one.