Michigan-UCLA Recap

Michigan won the game on the defensive end. They got behind early mixing man-to-man and zone so in the second half they went exclusively with a 1-3-1 zone. Interestingly when the ball got below the level of the top of the key their zone looked much more like a 2-3 with the baseline player as the permanent ball-side wing, the center dropping down to the block and the weakside wing dropping down and the weakside guard sliding in. Then when the ball was rotated back to the top Michigan rotated back into a 1-3-1, rendering UCLA's zone rotation ineffective. Michigan also did an excellent job of keeping hands in the passing lane - one easy way to beat the 1-3-1 is through quick passing but they weren't able to do that yesterday night. UCLA had 17 turnovers and often settled for contested 15-footers, including a contested floater by Shipp when they were down 2 with a minute to go and needed a better shot. UCLA's weakside players were not very active - when they were they often got fed for layups or penetration opportunities because of a rushed closeout.

Michigan's "1-3-1 into a 2-3" is a really good zone to play if you have one excellent, long defender and an active center, because the long defender can be the strong side wing every time. Like every zone but particularly this one, the weakness is rebounding on the weakside. Of 32 missed shots at the UCLA basket, UCLA grabbed 15 to Michigan's 17. John Beilein's teams are usually poor at rebounding - West Virginia was a horrible rebounding team under Beilein but an outstanding one a season later under Bob Huggins.

I thought Michigan was very sloppy in the halfcourt. Their screeners often missed UCLA defenders or took a bad angle into the screen. and defensive pressure forced them far away from the basket, making it extremely difficult for them to run their offense. Fortunately UCLA's defense broke down after a few passes, because despite the haphazard formations, and their inability to run more than the same play over and over again, Michigan was able to get open looks at the basket. DeShawn Sims was the difference maker for Michigan. He made some very nice plays and hit a few fifteen foot jumpers. He finished the game 9-15 from the field, and the rest of the team shot 12-38 (31%). John Beilein, the Michigan coach, believes strongly in the power of the three-point shot, but his team shot only 5-20 from 3 today. If Michigan can add offensive power and rebounding skill to their already strong 1-3-1 defense, they will be a dangerous team later on in the season.

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