The sleeping giant appears to have awoken.
After 16 games of poor shooting percentages and subpar
assist-to-turnover ratios, the Michigan basketball team went
lights-out style on Iowa last night, igniting for 90 points.

Julie Pannuto

Ninety!

All the speculation about how good this offense could be when
it’s firing on all cylinders has been put to rest now.

The Wolverines finally answered the offensive questions, and the
response is that this team has the potential to be almost
unstoppable.

“They were just inside and outside,” said Iowa guard
Jeff Horner about the Michigan offense, looking as stunned as
everyone else. “They hit a lot of threes, they shot the ball
very well.”

Yes, I know that there was a six-and-a-half-minute stretch when
Iowa stymied the Wolverines en route to a 15-0 run. Those droughts
have been all to frequent.

But there were also the 11 points Michigan scored in the first
two minutes of the game. There were the 13 points the Wolverines
dropped in the last 2:28 of the first half. They put up 46 points
in the second half, shooting 53.4 percent for the game.

Heck, the six-minute shutout the Hawkeyes pitched in the middle
of the first half almost makes the rest of the game that much more
impressive. That means the 90 points Michigan scored came in 34
minutes.

“We just wanted to have fun today,” Michigan guard
Dion Harris said.

You bet it was fun.

It was a good time for Michigan because, for one of the first
times all season, every Wolverine who is expected to pitch in on
offense did so.

Forward Bernard Robinson was clearly too quick on the offensive
end for anyone on Iowa. He finished with 10 points and six assists,
despite only playing eight second-half minutes.

Guard Lester Abram was his usual quiet and spectacular self,
picking his spots to score 24 points. On numerous occasions, the
Wolverines were able to execute a give-and-fade play to set Abram
up for many open threes opportunities (of which he converted
four).

“Lester Abram was a great part of (our second
half),” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “(He hit) key
shots when we needed them most.”

Who didn’t last night? Center Courtney Sims looked like an
All-Big Ten player on the offensive end, pounding Iowa for 16
points. And fellow big man Graham Brown pitched in eight.

Add in Daniel Horton’s 15-point, seven-assist effort, and
you can imagine why Iowa coach Steve Alford was not exactly
sporting a grin afterwards.

“This was a tough game for us,” Alford said.
“You have to give credit to Michigan — they stepped up
when they needed to late in the game.”

Part of that clutch performance came thanks to the stellar
outside shooting of the Wolverines. They finished 10-for-22 beyond
the arc.

“I didn’t expect (that),” Horner said.
“That’s kind of what we wanted to do — shoot from
the outside.”

Said Horton: “Lately, we’ve been shooting the ball a
lot better. We’ve gotten away from trying to do everything
off the dribble — it’s tough to do things off the
dribble in this conference. We’ve just tried to screen and
get guys open for good shots.”

Lets not forget, however, that Iowa also was able to find some
cracks in the Michigan defense.

Iowa shot a ridiculous 58 percent, and the 84 points the
Hawkeyes put up was by far the most the Wolverines have allowed
this year.

Fine, there’s work to do on the defensive end.

But, man, that offense finally looked like it has on paper all
season.

All year long, it’s been one big case of “Maybe this
will be the game …” Finally, this was the game.

The sleeping giant has woken up — Michigan’s offense
looked absolutely explosive last night.

Now, if the giant can stay awake, the rest of the Big Ten could
be in the way of the path of destruction.

 

Chris Burke can be reached at
“mailto:chrisbur@umich.edu”>Chrisbur@umich.edu

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *