Michael Rosenberg: Michigan vs Tennessee: The smarter team kicked butt

Michigan forward Zack Novak celebrates after sinking a three pointer in the game against Tennessee during the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. Friday, March 18, 2011.  Novak scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds for the Wolverines during their 75-45 defeat of the Vols.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Michigan forward Zack Novak celebrates after sinking a three pointer in the game against Tennessee during the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. Friday, March 18, 2011. Novak scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds for the Wolverines during their 75-45 defeat of the Vols.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you knew nothing about basketball, you might have watched the first 10 minutes of Michigan's game with Tennessee on Friday and wondered how the Wolverines could stay in the game. If you knew nothing about basketball, you might have been amazed by the Volunteers' athleticism and concerned about U-M's apparent lack of it.

And if you knew nothing about basketball, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl might put you in his starting lineup.

The smarter team won. Actually, the smarter team kicked butt. Michigan was more focused, more disciplined and much brighter than Tennessee, and the result was a 75-45 victory for Michigan, the biggest blowout of this NCAA tournament to that point.

The Volunteers probably thought the Wolverines played the game of their lives. But they really didn't. They played half the game of their lives.

In the first half, U-M star Tim Hardaway Jr. played only 11 minutes because of foul trouble, and the team's only true interior scorer, Jordan Morgan, played only 4 minutes because of foul trouble. Power forward Evan Smotrycz went in for Morgan and set an NCAA tournament record for Least Amount Of Time Needed To Infuriate The Head Coach. John Beilein yanked him after 27 seconds.

"We were supposed to be running a play, and I strayed from the play," Smotrycz said, "so Coach had to let me know about it."

With Hardaway out, Matt Vogrich made all five of his shots, scored 11 points, grabbed three rebounds and had a key steal, which was a heck of a way to celebrate his 15th birthday.

Oh, I kid. That's the thing about Vogrich — he looks so young that people just assume he can't play. But he can. According to advanced statistician Ken Pomeroy of KenPom.com, Vogrich has a higher offensive rebound rate than Hardaway or Zack Novak. He is shooting 39 percent from three-point range. He isn't very quick, but he can handle the ball and has good length for his position.

With Vogrich keeping Michigan in the game, Beilein went to the 1-3-1 zone, which helped for two reasons. One, the zone helped negate Tennessee's athletic advantage. And two, it made the Volunteers think.

Yesterday seems like a bad dream. However as you know I keep it real, it wasn't. Still feeling the future is bright.Sat Mar 19 17:13:43 via Mobile Web

"They had trouble with the 1-3-1," Smotrycz said, which is sort of like saying an infant had trouble with calculus. The Volunteers looked like they were facing a 2-3-6. They had no idea what to do.

U-M entered halftime with a 33-29 lead and a ton of confidence.

"We were missing a lot of open ones," Smotrycz said. "I thought it was just a matter of time before we started to pull away."

Pull away? Eighth-seeded Michigan outscored ninth-seeded Tennessee, 42-16, in the second half. U-M won every statistical category — it was the basketball equivalent of Reagan vs. Mondale. Michigan had 24 more points in the paint, eight more on the break and 18 more from three-point range. That basically covers the whole court, except the foul line. Michigan won by 30 without making a free throw.

Tennessee freshman Tobias Harris said his team "quit" and played with "no heart," but that's not how the game began. It's just how it ended. And Michigan had a lot to do with it.

Now U-M will play top-seeded Duke for a spot in the Sweet 16. I give Michigan an outside chance at the upset, unless Vogrich turns pro before Sunday. The Wolverines played half the game of their lives Friday. If they play the whole game of their lives Sunday, the whole country will take notice.

___

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Comments » 14

volnvette03 writes:

As least this article doesn't mention the firing of CBP!

flatrock writes:

Note to the UM homer:
Great 2nd half by the Wolverines. Better team won.
However, do not get too full of yourselves. Check
the tapes- this was a repeat performance by the
leaderless Vols (see UNC-Ashville, College of Charleston, Oakland, etc., etc., etc.). Poor
coaching job plus poorer intestinal fortitude
equals miserable team. Thank goodness it is
over!
Now, let's get on with the important stuff-
such as hiring an A.D. with leadership skills,
proven decision-making, unquestioned integrity.
Let's hire a guy with Tennessee Orange in his blood.
Let's hire Billy Justus! Today!

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

And if you know nothing about basketball, Mr. Rosenberg, then you don't know why Tennessee played with no focus. You seemed to miss it, too. (Having lived in MI, I am so sick of UM folks thinking everyone else is dumb. THAT is dumb.)

richvol writes:

This is exactly my point...UT has played like this whenever they have run up against a highly disciplined team since Pearl has been here. He cannot coach a team to be disciplined and have precision. If we have not been able to out-athletic a team we lose and we sure haven't been able to out-think one. That's why we have lost the close games at the end ...we can't execute a game winning play. We need smarter players like Tobias Harris. He is the only high IQ player we have.

These excuses about not being focused is BS...it's the NCAA for heavens sake. Somebody has to tell you to be focused and to play hard and not to quit? Please.

JohnnyU writes:

Thanks a lot, I really needed that sharp insight into the game. Now if you'll excuse us, we have some serious soul searching to do and big picture issues to address.

JohnnyU writes:

Just to clarify: My post is in response to Mr. Rosenberg, not previous posts. If he cannot see the larger picture surrounding this game, then his observations on the game are limited. Having said that, the players should be held accountable for a pathetic effort.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to richvol:

This is exactly my point...UT has played like this whenever they have run up against a highly disciplined team since Pearl has been here. He cannot coach a team to be disciplined and have precision. If we have not been able to out-athletic a team we lose and we sure haven't been able to out-think one. That's why we have lost the close games at the end ...we can't execute a game winning play. We need smarter players like Tobias Harris. He is the only high IQ player we have.

These excuses about not being focused is BS...it's the NCAA for heavens sake. Somebody has to tell you to be focused and to play hard and not to quit? Please.

Yep. BP teams have had trouble with zones of any variety (like anybody was surprised Michigan went to the 1-3-1) since his first day. Wasn't a smarter team it was a smarter coach. I said before the game, if BW doesn't get points and rebounds in the paint, we're done. Too much dribble drive nonsense.

fearthehound writes:

Mr. Rosenberg, I hope you're one of these guys who just can't resist reading people's comments about your writing. Over the past few years, the Vols have had several HUGE wins. After none of them can I remember a local writer writing such a low class piece regarding the other team. Michigan basketball has been irrelevant for the past several years and will continue to be so. Big deal, you caught us on a bad day and whipped us. That doesn't change the fact that your team won't be in the tournament very long and you are a talentless hack.

alvol writes:

Takes a lot of intelligence to gloat!

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

Ditto, fearthehound.

And since you are so concerned about people who know nothing about basketball, Mr. Rosenberg, then you'll be happy to learn that the Vols BEAT more teams in the NCAA Top 25 and Top 50 than ANY other team this season. (See #2 SOS...which is Strength of Schedule, if you know nothing about basketball.) So I don't think you need to be concerned that they are the ones who know nothing about basketball. Your desire to elevate yourself and your beloved U of M has merely shown your ignorance, as well as your severe lack of class.

vut56#231073 writes:

Well, although I resent the regional put down, guess I cannot debate the technical points.

What I can say, with the Duke-Michigan game just concluded would be, "The smarter team kicked butt."

Too bad I cannot post this direct to Mr. Detroit journalist.

VolunteerLifer writes:

No doubt Mich was the smarter team, but that was true of nearly every team we faced. So, big deal.

I wonder if Rosenberg can explain how his geniuses weren't quite smart enough to pull the upset on Duke.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

Yes, this UT team was just as basketball-dumb as the old michigan 'fab five'. gee, what are the similarities...

think hard....how about of UT's starters, only Tobias seems to have ANY basketball sense??

63vet (Inactive) writes:

OK, Michigan's season's over.....they can all turn pro now.

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