Demonstrating a disturbing pattern of behavior, the Michigan men”s basketball was bombarded from the 3-point line by Minnesota, another undersized squad. The Wolverines were dominated in the second half, succumbing 93-75 to the unranked Golden Gophers.
“We had a good practice yesterday, and then we have had some guys that have just really had a hard time getting the idea that you”re on the basketball team and you have to adhere to things,” Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe said. “At 7:00 we had guys screwing off. It”s disappointing, but we have a lot of immature kids, and they have to grow up.
“We”re going to make some guys grow up pretty quickly and finish this season up with some pride and some character.”
The ill-prepared Wolverines allowed Minnesota (5-8 Big Ten, 17-9 overall) which had just seven scholarship players available and no starters taller than 6-foot-7 to connect on 14-of-24 3-pointers.
“We were aggressive and able to swing the ball,” Minnesota coach Dan Monson said. “We can”t win games if shots don”t go in from the perimeter. We don”t have an inside game really.”
Michigan has had trouble limiting threes all year it gave up 8 threes to Wisconsin, 11 to Northwestern and 15 to Oakland.
Many of Minnesota”s open looks were created by penetrating off the dribble and then kicking the ball out to open shooters a different path to defeat than when Wisconsin used screens and motion two weeks ago.
“They just created a lot of tough defensive situations for us,” Ellerbe said. “They broke us down off the dribble. That”s the formula for getting wide open looks.”
The visitors rode the hot hand of streaky guard Terrance Simmons, the game”s leading scorer with 30 points. Simmons started out torridly from behind the arc, and he finished the game shooting 5-for-8 on threes.
Bolstered by the success, he began making fadeaway jumpshots, and when he attracted special attention from Michigan”s defense, Simmons distributed the ball open shooters. He led the game with five assists.
“It was important in this game that we got on track early offensively,” Monson, said. “I really thought our players had a mindset coming off the (82-62) Penn State loss.
“I couldn”t be more proud to be their coach tonight.”
Michigan (4-9, 10-14), on the other hand, was reminded how much trouble it has hanging with proficient outside-shooting opponents. The Wolverines shot just 6-of-25 from behind the arc as they scrambled to keep pace with Minnesota.
Freshman Avery Queen and sophomore Gavin Groninger were a combined 2-for-13 on threes.
“We dared them to shoot from outside,” Simmons said. “The only players we covered were Groninger and (LaVell) Blanchard.”
Blanchard”s play continues to be steady but not enough to carry the team. Seventeen points on 50-percent shooting and nine rebounds would usually be a solid day”s work. But the Wolverines have required a dominant Blanchard to win.
The rest of the team shot just 35 percent from the floor, and no other individual had five rebounds.
Four games under .500 with three regular season contests remaining, Michigan”s postseason hopes have almost completely been narrowed to winning the Big Ten Tournament in three weeks. To make the NIT, a team has to finish above .500.