Slow doesn’t even begin to describe Michigan’s Big Ten start – both in the standings and within games.
The Wolverines moved to 0-3 in conference play after last night’s 78-64 home loss to No. 10 Indiana. It’s Michigan’s slowest Big Ten start since it lost its first four conference games in the 1990-91 season.
Like in its other two league games, the Wolverines had a lengthy field-goal drought in the first half.
Last night it was 9:07.
At Purdue: 9:37.
And at Wisconsin: 6:57.
“I’m not sure,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “Probably may have been the lineup that we have in there, the chemistry that we have in there, that something’s happening. I’ve got to continue to experiment. But I can’t put my finger on it right now.”
It’s understandable Beilein has trouble solving the Wolverines’ miscues. In those spans, they’ve missed easy shots, forced tough shots, turned the ball over and generally taken themselves out of rhythm.
After nine minutes without a field goal last night, the Wolverines scored 18 points in the first half’s final six minutes, including a half-court bank shot by DeShawn Sims at the buzzer. Still, Michigan trailed by six.
“It can get discouraging at times,” said freshman guard Manny Harris, who led the Wolverines with 19 points. “Sometimes when things aren’t going your way, people get frustrated. It’s something you’ve got to learn – keep your confidence no matter what happens.”
Like in their other two conference games, the Wolverines never led after their cold streak. Indiana (2-0 Big Ten, 13-1 overall) went on a 22-5 run heading into the second media timeout of the second half. With the score 61-39, the game was clearly out of reach.
Michigan couldn’t contain the Hoosiers’ dangerous duo of D.J. White and Eric Gordon. White had 21 points and 22 rebounds while Gordon, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, had 23 points despite playing just 28 minutes because of foul trouble.
Michigan (0-3, 4-11) has its worst record through 15 games since 1981-82, when they were 2-13.
“It starts with practice,” freshman guard Kelvin Grady said. “If our guys aren’t going hard all practice, our guys aren’t busting their butts all practice, giving it their all to the point we’re going to fall out walking out of the gym, we’re not going to be able to win.
“We’re learning that winning is tough.”