Last night, Michigan basketball (10-8, 4-3 Big Ten) fell at the hands of another Big Ten opponent, this time suffering a defeat to the Terrapins of Maryland (12-6, 3-4 Big Ten). An all-around abysmal performance to watch — saved for a couple of minutes at the end of the first half — led to a 64-58 conference loss.
Juwan Howard’s Honeymoon Is Over
I think this is the number one thing on every Wolverine fan’s mind right now. The thought has been creeping and creeping further into our subconsciouses with every passing game this season. After a performance like we saw last night, it comes to the forefront of our collective consideration: Is Juwan Howard really that good of a coach?
This team looks absolutely awful in all the areas that coaching is supposed to aid. Defense, rebounding, communication, organization — none of it is there right now. These offensive “sets” look more like the mannequin challenge a la social media in 2016.
Everyone stands there for thirty seconds while one person dribbles, or while Hunter gets the ball poked away by a triple team in the paint. There’s just nothing here.
It seriously at times feels like watching basketball at the Intramural Sports Building in Ann Arbor, MI. No flow, no nothing; all just one-on-one ball. No crashing of the boards.
I’m not saying that Juwan is a lost cause, but man, he better figure it out and fast. There’s talent on this team; enough talent that, with proper coaching, the results shouldn’t look like this.
Michigan’s Defensive Woes
If Michigan was trying to look like the worst defensive D-1 team in the country for the majority of the first half, they sure succeeded. The weird thing is, though, they turned it up a notch at the end of the half to narrow a 13-point Terrapin lead to just a pair going into the break. Where does that effort come from? And more importantly, where does it go?
Michigan basketball played better defense in the second 20 than at the beginning of the first, but not near well enough to pull the victory, especially considering their ineptitude on the offensive side of half court.
Defense, especially in college basketball, is about one word: EFFORT. It’s cliché, but there’s a reason why it is so. Good defense comes from coaches who know how to get the effort required from their players.
We had it here for a brief period while Luke Yaklich was on the staff under Coach Beilein. Defensive ferocity is a mentality that says: “We could score one point tonight and we’re still going to beat you because you aren’t going to score any.” This team just doesn’t have that consistent fire on the defensive end, and aptly, it’s burning them.
March Madness From The Couch?
With every loss, the prospect of a tournament bid for the 2022-23 Wolverines gets further and further away. At this point, they are very much on the outside looking in.
It will be an uphill battle to earn a bid from this point, especially with the schedule ahead. As a betting man myself, my bet is that Michigan basketball will be watching the tournament from the outside for the first time in over half a decade.
Juwan and his boys have their work cut out for them if they want to claw their way back into contention; at this point, I wouldn’t be able to blame you for folding the cards on the season from a fan’s perspective. I’m sure this team plays their hardest, but “hard” is a great way to describe how it is to watch them play basketball.
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