What more could Michigan really have asked
for? Twenty-five minutes into yesterday’s game against
Indiana, the Wolverines looked as if they were going to be run out
of their own gym. After an excruciating barrage of missed shots and
poor offensive possessions, Michigan found itself trailing
41-25.

Kate Green

Yet, somehow, with 30 seconds left, the Wolverines had the ball,
down 59-57, with a chance to tie or win.

Daniel Horton for three … miss.

Lester Abram down low … blocked.

Bernard Robinson from the free-throw line … miss.

Ballgame.

And to be honest, Michigan didn’t deserve the positive
result that could’ve occurred had one of those shots
fallen.

In the books, yesterday’s game will go down as a great
Michigan rally that fell just short.

In reality, the Wolverines inexplicably failed to show up for
the first half against a reeling Indiana team, giving the Hoosiers
just enough life to build up that insurmountable 16-point
cushion.

“Because of how big this game was, we tried to get it all
in one play,” Michigan guard Dion Harris said.
“Everyone was trying to make spectacular moves, and
that’s how we got off to a slow start.”

The phrase “slow start” doesn’t even really
begin to describe the Wolverines’ initial performance.
Michigan put together a collection of bricks that would’ve
made Bob Vila drool, sinking just 9-of-32 shots in the first 20
minutes. The Wolverines put up a season-low 19 first-half points,
six of which came in the game’s opening four minutes.

“Guys were playing on their own,” forward Graham
Brown said. “That’s not a team game.”

No matter the explanation, the fact of the matter is that a team
that looked better than Indiana on paper was unable to get the job
done.

What makes Michigan’s offensive mediocrity even more
baffling was that the Wolverines turned it over just five times in
the entire game. Prior to yesterday, the Wolverines lowest turnover
total for the season was 13.

But the Wolverines’ “selfishness” led to
one-and-done possessions — Michigan grabbed a measly four
offensive rebounds off its 23 first half misses.

It kept Michigan from getting the easy baskets that it had in a
rout of Northwestern on Wednesday. The Wolverines put up eight
shots from inside the lane during the 19-point first half, compared
to 18 interior shots during the 38-point second stanza.

Finally, Michigan’s misfires on offense gave Indiana
confidence — something a .500 team that has been outscored by
82 total points in its last three losses should never have.

“If you asked me before the game, I would say that I was
scared,” Indiana coach

Mike Davis said. “We will not play another team that has
the type of athletes they have here at Michigan.”

For the last 15 minutes, Davis’ fears were becoming
reality. Michigan’s quickness was leading to steals and easy
baskets. The crowd was alive and the Wolverines’ offense
began to click — it was beginning to look reminiscent of last
year’s spectacular Michigan comeback from a 15-point deficit
to Wisconsin.

Despite that remarkable win, though, the truth of the matter is
that if you don’t play 40 minutes of solid basketball, you
put yourself in a position where you either make miraculous shots
at the end of the game, or you lose.

And the Wolverines were about as solid as pudding in the first
half.

“It was selfish,” Michigan guard Daniel Horton said.
“We get caught up in the adrenaline of the game and we take
bad shots.

“I think we let one get away.”

So, I suppose, what Michigan could’ve asked for was a
victory.

But, as the Wolverines found out yesterday, wanting something
and deserving to get it are two completely different things.

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

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