Even In Loss To No. 1 Arizona, Wolverines See Encouraging Signs
By Ashley Dunkak
ANN ARBOR (CBS DETROIT) – No. 1 Arizona validated its ranking Saturday with a huge road win over Michigan, coming from behind in the final minutes and shooting 93.3 percent from the foul line to seal the deal, 72-70.
As much as the victory said about the Wildcats, it might have revealed even more about the Wolverines. First of all, while Associated Press poll voters might not have Michigan in the Top 25, the Wolverines sure impressed Arizona coach Sean Miller.
“I can’t say enough about Michigan, how well coached they are, the style that they play,” Miller said. “We leave here obviously very excited and knowing that this was as quality of a win as you can have, in my opinion, in the country.
“Today we were going to better if we won, we were going to be better if we lost, because we played the game,” Miller added.
Less enthusiastically, the Wolverines feel the same way. The Wildcats trailed the vast majority of the game, not leading in the second half until 25 seconds remained. Still, even though Michigan let another game get away, the team recognizes its improvement.
“A couple weeks ago, the game wouldn’t have been this close, in my opinion,” forward Glenn Robinson III said. “We wouldn’t have been up, and I think we’ve done a great job of looking at film, seeing what we can correct and applying it to the games and the practices.”
Robinson scored 16 points in the first half but just four in the second as the Wolverines shifted their play calling to target other individuals who were getting opportunities. Though Robinson did not seem thrilled with the plan, he conceded that it worked.
It did indeed. After all, it was not a lack of scoring that allowed Arizona to erase a double-digit deficit in the second half and win.
“We were scoring in our offense,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. ”One of the reasons that Glenn was really successful –and this is really key for us – is we were able to get stops in the first half and run the floor, and that’s a big part of what he does so well. But we couldn’t get a lot of stops [in the second half].
“We scored the ball,” Beilein continued, “but we couldn’t stop them.”
The game continues a trend of the Wolverines being competitive in games but failing at the end – losing by seven points to Iowa State, two points to Charlotte, 10 points to Duke and now two points to Arizona – but the players are staying confident.
“I don’t think anyone on this team is worried,” guard Nik Stauskas said. “It’s just a matter of closing out games right now and something that we haven’t done. But as far as being worried about it, I don’t think anyone is.
“It’s not like they blew us out of the water today,” Stauskas added. “We can’t hang out heads down low … A month or two from now, I think we’re going to win those games.”