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Posted on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 10:15 a.m.

Michigan basketball team fails to counter on the road, big minutes for Burke, interior woes and more notes

By Nick Baumgardner

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The Michigan basketball team said all the right things prior to leaving for Virginia.

They explained how they understood the environment in Charlottesville's John Paul Jones Arena would be hostile, unfriendly and even dangerous at times.

The 14th-ranked Wolverines had played away from home already this season on a neutral floor in Maui, but Tuesday would be different.

For the opening 28 minutes, Michigan appeared to be true to its word. But when the lights finally came on, and the Cavaliers threw a punch, the visiting Wolverines seemed helpless.

"This is the type of lesson we have to learn," Michigan senior guard Stu Douglass said following the 70-58 loss to Virginia.

Virginia's decisive 15-0 second-half run wasn't a blitzkrieg. It was a slow, methodical collapse.

Michigan found itself up five and feeling good after Tim Hardaway Jr. finally broke through with 13:42 to play, but from there, nothing went right.

Virginia took nearly two full minutes to tie the game, a stretch that featured two Wolverine misses and a turnover. From there, it took the Cavaliers another two minutes to pull ahead, another stretch that featured two misses and a turnover from Michigan.

The Cavaliers would eventually go up four, prompting a John Beilein timeout, but the bleeding didn't stop.

Michigan continued to get empty possessions on offense, allowing Virginia to slowly pull ahead -- finally, nearly six minutes after the run's first basket, Mike Scott hit a baseline jumper to make it a nine-point game, prompting another timeout.

That stoppage didn't work, either. Hardaway immediately missed a jumper before Joe Harris knocked down a triple to push the lead to 12 with 6:44 to go.

From there, the game was over.

It was a slow-rolling snowball taking nearly seven minutes of game-action. The momentum kept building, the home crowd kept yelling and Michigan just kept missing.

"We needed to come out and make sure that, offensively, we got a good shot (during Virginia's run)," Beilein said. "We needed to calm down and get a good shot. ... It's 'OK, calm down, we've got to guard at one end and make plays at the other.'

"It's not rocket science."

Beilein made a point of saying he wasn't overly worried with his team's play, as long as players learn from their mistakes.

Unfortunately for Michigan, though, the Wolverines won't be able to truly show they've learned from Tuesday's errors until Jan. 5 -- Michigan's next true road game, at Indiana.

"We're still pretty young and they had some good seniors," Douglass said. "But we've got to take a lot of things from this."


Eso Akunne, above, saw some minutes in place of Trey Burke on Tuesday.

AP Photo

Big minutes for Burke

To this point in the young season, freshman point guard Trey Burke hasn't seemed to have an issue with playing heavy minutes.

He played 33 minutes Tuesday at Virginia and is averaging 31.6 minutes this season. His numbers are fine (11 points, four assists per game), but that doesn't mean Beilein's not conscious of continuing to find breaks for his young floor leader.

With Hardaway in foul trouble Tuesday, Beilein turned to Ann Arbor native Eso Akunne to spell Burke in the first half. In other situations, Michigan seems to spell Burke with a combination of Douglass and Hardaway.

"We're trying to teach on the run with him a little bit, but I'm really happy with how he's playing," Beilein said of Burke. "(But) I'd like to get him more rest."

Low-block letdown

Michigan sophomore Evan Smotrycz had a productive game in the paint for Michigan on Tuesday, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds on 4-of-4 shooting.

There were two problems there, though: He eventually fouled out and he got very little help.

Sophomore forward Jordan Morgan finished with five points and five rebounds, but also turned the ball over three times. Sophomore Jon Horford missed both of the shots he took, coughed up one turnover and did not pull down a rebound in six minutes of action.

Blake McLimans saw action early, but did little on the stat sheet. The same goes for Colton Christian, who missed a shot, missed two free throws and had two fouls in five minutes.

Virginia, meanwhile, had its way inside. Senior big man Mike Scott finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and 10 of Virginia's 36 rebounds were on the offensive glass.

Conversely, Michigan finished the day with only three offensive boards -- meaning that Virginia rebounded 93 percent of the Wolverines' missed shots.

Odds and ends

Announced attendance Tuesday was 10,564. ... Virginia honored former standout center Ralph Sampson at halftime for his recent induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. ... Matt Vogrich finished 0-for-2 from 3-point range and is now just 1-for-10 on the season.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

Formula for beating Michigan (provided by Virginia): guard our perimeter shooters who can't create their own shots; pound the ball inside against our post players who are really small forwards, and garner all the offensive rebounds. Formula for winning in the Big 10 at Michigan: yet to be determined.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

#1 needs to make shots.. he will be open all year.. if he is a double digit point threat The wolverines will be a hard team to handle.. does #1 have the work ethic and heart to help lead this team as a senior?? be a reliable consistent scorer and play decent defense (a definite liability).. he scorched u conn on the road as a freshman ..where is THAT #1?? Go Blue! v

Rick Matsumoto

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

It's not really fair to call out Douglass. Burke and Hardaway both shot poorly as well. Ironically, as a team, Michigan had a better shooting percentage than Virginia, both inside and outside the three point line. To me, the bigger problem was offensive rebounding. We just don't have a strong inside-the-paint presence, so we're overly dependent on perimeter play, which wasn't very good last night.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

Ironic to hear the senior Douglass state that "we have to learn" when he needs to learn to make a shot . . . . any shot. How horrible was he. Stu, stay in the gym and shoot until you make one. Until then, don't use "we" until you start pulling your weight.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Appreciate all the other M fans who also made the trip, a pretty good block to my left in sec 306 or 307, and scattered all over. Lots of empty sets, the 300 level student section to my right was closed off presumably to jam into the section behind the basket and make it look crowded. Painful offense, exclusively perimeter play 30 feet from the basket, no way to work closer against this Wisconsin defense, errr Virginia. The only way to get inside was by individual efforts to drive which usually failed. Throughout the first half one could anticipate the impending doom as the Cavs were only shooting 23% compared to Michigan's 40%, yet the game was tied. Hurry, Mitch McGary, to get us some inside options on offense hopefully.