Not planning on dwelling on this, and I hope the fellas don't either.
With the student body out of town, and likely knee deep in tequilla, the crowd was dull and lifeless. Michigan's start, which had Purdue leading 12-2 before Godfather even got his popcorn, didn't help things much. Michigan didn't have it Saturday night, Purdue did. My un-basketball-educated perspective? In Michigan's delicate balancing act of choosing between trying to establish position through screen and rolls to the inside, and chucking it from three, they seemed to make the wrong move each time down court. When we went to the inside, three Purdue players were waiting to converge on the ball. When we rotated around the perimeter, there seemed to be a double team at every stop. Trey Burke had a lot of difficulty penetrating, to a level I haven't seen since the game at Ohio State. It felt like they shut him down, but that just goes to show you the expectations we have for our fab freshman...he still had 12 points and 4 assists. Tim Hardaway was 5-7 from the floor when inside the arc, but 0-6 from three. He and Trey both had 4 turnovers, but a couple of Tim's stood out to me as particularly frustrating during that dreadfully paced first half.
But it wasn't Michigan's offense that lost the game on Saturday night, it was the defense. Purdue scored 43 points in the second half, which I believe is above the Big Ten average for most full games. Purdue consistently beat Michigan's defenders to the hoop. Everything looked like a mismatch. Too many mistakes, too many open 3's, and the pair of late game daggers from Hummel...game over.
Michigan ends the home slate at 15-1. Not perfect, but still impressive. Unfortunately, this not-so-great-on-the-road Michigan team will be playing out the season and post-season in arenas not named Crisler. Michigan needs to concentrate on finishing off these remaining two road games in a proper fashion, grabbing some momentum heading into the Big Ten tournament. They've got a couple of extra days of rest this week before heading to Champaign on Thursday, where they will face a wounded Illini team...heavily wounded. Going into tonight's game against Iowa, Illinois has lost 9 of their last 10, including a 23 point loss to Nebraska. Then it's just two-days off before heading to Sandusky-ville for the regular season finale.
Michigan needs significant help to grab a share of the regular season Big Ten title. Ohio State needs to lose either vs. Wisconsin tonight, or at Northwestern on the 29th. They then need to beat Michigan Agricultural College in the season finale. MAC needs to lose at Indiana on the 28th, then obviously lose to OSU on March 4th. Longshot? Yep. Impossible? Nope.