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Posted on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 10:11 p.m.

Michigan basketball team struggles on offense again in a 51-44 loss to Illinois

By Michael Rothstein


Michigan's Darius Morris, left, and Zack Novak, right, crowd Illinois guard Demetri McCamey during second-half action of a 51-44 loss to the Illini on Tuesday. (Photo: Lon Horwedel |

Not even John Beilein knows what to do about the Michigan basketball team.

After the latest loss, 51-44 to Illinois on Tuesday at Crisler Arena, the third-year Wolverines coach looked around and essentially shrugged his shoulders. He’s been a head coach for 32 years and even he’s befuddled.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever seen anything like this because I haven’t,” Beilein said. “I haven’t seen anything like this before where we put the whole package together today.”

And Michigan still lost.

Beilein’s plays on offense worked well - and Michigan’s players missed layup after layup, including three by junior guard Manny Harris. The Wolverines found open shots on the perimeter and continued to miss, shooting 6-of-31 overall from 3-point range.

The Michigan defense played well, holding Illinois 21 points under its scoring average, forcing more Illini turnovers than assists. Illinois shot 9 percent under its season average and 12 percent under its 3-point season average.

Yet Illinois (18-10 overall, 10-5 Big Ten) by seven points.

How did Michigan (13-14, 6-9) end up there?

The Wolverines had their worst shooting performance of the season, 24.6 percent (16-of-65), almost 8 percent worse than their second-worst game, a 32.3 percent night against Boston College on Dec. 4.

“They are thinking too much,” Beilein said. “It’s a shame right now, because I really thought we played one of our better defensive games of the year. They’re 6-9, they’re 7-1, 6-9 (on the Illinois front line), right from the beginning we missed, we got DeShawn (Sims) kicking them to the rim.

“I liked the shot distribution, I liked everything, but the ball just won’t go in.”

The woes came from the likely sources. Sophomore guard Laval Lucas-Perry continued his funk with another scoreless night - his eighth of the season and second in a row.

Sophomore guard Stu Douglass was also scoreless despite playing 36 minutes in a 0-of-8 performance.

It also came from unlikely areas. Harris - who led Michigan with 15 points - missed three layups in the second half. Sims was mostly unproductive offensively, making just three of 12 shots against a taller Illinois front line.

“Our confidence has got to get better for some guys,” Harris said. “I think they are playing off confidence. Some guys, they’ll be them type of games when you’re just in a slump or you can’t finish at that time but we going to get better.

“There’s three games left, but finishing strong is still important.”

Michigan, though, kept it close. Again. But Illinois made the play it needed to at the end.

Freshman guard D.J. Richardson threw up a prayer of a shot with the shot clock at one and the ball glanced off the rim.

It also set up a chance for Illinois to pull away when Mike Tisdale grabbed the rebound.

Tisdale found Illinois junior guard Demetri McCamey, who threw an alley-oop to junior forward Mike Davis and gave the Illini a six-point margin they could feel comfortable with as 1:50 remained on the clock.

The way Michigan’s season has gone, those sort of plays are almost expected to happen for opponents at this point.

The Wolverines had Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas make a jumper with 3.5 seconds left to give the Spartans a win in Ann Arbor. They’d watched as JaMychal Green blocked a Darius Morris shot to preserve a Crimson Tide win in November.

And on Saturday, Penn State’s Jeff Brooks hit a jumper with 14 seconds left to give the Nittany Lions a win.

So another crucial play by an opponent isn’t out of the ordinary. At Illinois, with McCamey - who led the Illni with 14 points - it isn’t a surprise.

It’s expected.

“It was a broken play,” McCamey said. “Tis’ found me on the back door, and I see Mike Davis cutting, so it was an easy play for an easy two.

“That sent the momentum.”

And it sent Michigan to another loss.

Box score | Big Ten standings

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 10:59 a.m.

Agree totally that it is late in the season to be still searching for answers. I am very concerned about the contract extension given. The coach has lost this team and appears clueless. How this coach was deemed worthy of an extension is beyond me. It does not appear that middle of the Big 10 or above is likely for years to come. Too many mac players, a system that is doomed to fail in the Big 10 and a clueless coach incapable of recruiting top of the line talent means more gut wrenching awful years to come.


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 9:56 a.m.

Well said pjohn, we need some size in the trenches and until that is addressed we will continue to have these problems


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.

I am convinced that Beilein is not the right coach for Michigan. We have 6-5 guards trying play defense against 6-8 forwards. He doesn't get it that you need a front line to be successful in the Big 10. Michigan has no other choice but to shoot 3's because they can't penetrate against any team with size and rarely have anyone in position to grab rebounds. This is just brutal basketball.

robert brinker

Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 9:32 a.m.

Michigan basketball will be back you guys just need to calm down and let j.b. do his job. The fab 5 and steve fisher, the late bill m. was a death sentence to the b.ball program. Just dont run j.b. off like you did tommy a.


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 1:13 a.m.

Boy...Tater was right!! One game closer to being in the Top 25 before the season ends!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! And to think, UofM was ranked #15 to start the year...silly Wolvies, basketball is for Spartans. It's ok though...postseason basketball is still a reality. Get those brackets ready!!


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 12:13 a.m.

6 of 31 from 3 point range. I'm ok with the 6. What gives with the 31? Is this all we have to give?


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 10:03 p.m.

Defense wasn't the problem here. Giving up only 51 isn't bad at all. It's the HORRIBLE shooting that has plagued us all year. Beilein needs to bring in a "shooting consultant" if someone like that exists. This team just can't hit shots - kind of a problem in basketball. Douglass, Novak, and Lucas-Perry ought to get jobs as masons after college, as they have lots of experience putting up bricks. It's much easier for the other team to defend Harris and Sims when they know the rest of our team can't hit anything.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:50 p.m.

What a poor shooting performance once again displayed by the University of Michigan. The sad thing is, they had a chance to win this game. Illinois didn't look any better, turnovers kept Michigan in the game. We have no depth on the bench, if Beilein will not go to his bench for a spark. Douglass, Lucas-Perry have officially put up at least two houses for all the bricks they have laid down. Sims and Harris should not get any Easter gifts, especially chocolate bunnies, for how many bunnies they missed inside. The NIT isn't looking good either. What a disappointing season for the Michigan basketball program, and I haven't heard of any big recruits, but somebody new on the court next year may be refreshing. Keep supporting Michigan, even though times have been tough across the board in the football, basketball, and hockey programs.

Ed White

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:29 p.m.

Go Mountaineers.Big East


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:24 p.m.

Perhaps when we join the MAC we can win at BB and FB. We brought in a couple MAC level coaches from WV and now we are ready to go.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:22 p.m.

The team has finally quit. They are a complete disaster. Let's not start blaming refs and everybody else. The fact is we are horrible with no sign of getting better in years ahead.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:15 p.m.

I hate to say it, but I don't think they're going to win another game, not even first round of the Big 10 tourney. Big Ten is too tough. Even Iowa, Penn St and Northwestern are playing better than Michigan right now. Season record 13-18.