IOWA CITY Time and again, Michigan has proven that it has little or no chance of recovery once it digs itself a deficit.
But in their win over Iowa, the Wolverines demonstrated a level of skill and initiative that could make them a dangerous team in the future. Michigan sprinted to a 15-point lead in the first half. Then, whenever the Hawkeyes threatened, Michigan had a lethal answer.
“When everything”s going, everything is going,” Michigan freshman Avery Queen said. “Everyone was getting good touches and getting wide-open looks. When you get wide-open looks, you are going to make shots.”
Michigan sophomore LaVell Blanchard was the focus of the offense in the first half, nailing almost every outside jumper he took. Blanchard posted 18 points in the first 20 minutes.
“He”s an incredible player,” Iowa coach Steve Alford said. “He went at guys tonight that don”t understand how to guard, and he took advantage of that tonight.”
Blanchard was characteristically humble about his outing, which impressed everyone in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I had some great picks by the big fellas, the guards passed it to me when I was open and the ball went down for me tonight,” Blanchard said.
But Blanchard wasn”t the only one to score key points. Michigan received clutch contributions from nearly every member of its nine-man rotation.
“Everybody stepped up and made clutch shots,” Michigan junior Chris Young said. “It definitely puts us on the right track.”
While outside shooting appeared to be a major weakness for Michigan in prior losses, the team was highly effective from the perimeter against the Hawkeyes. The Wolverines hit seven 3-pointers and shot 41 percent from behind the arc.
“We worked on our spacing this week, and that”s what opened up our 3-point shots,” said Michigan sophomore Gavin Groninger, who hit two key treys in the game. “They were set shots off of penetration or an extra pass.”
Meanwhile, until the game”s final five minutes, Iowa missed its open looks, especially from behind the arc. The Hawkeyes made just 3-of-16 3-pointers.
“Your shooting doesn”t improve by playing Playstation or watching College Hoops 2Night,” Alford said. “I assume they”re in there trying to see which of their names are going to get on (that show).”
In beating Iowa, Michigan created a blueprint to follow for the rest of the season. While it”s just one victory, Michigan”s clutch play against the Hawkeyes has the potential to be quite therapeutic as the Wolverines attempt to distance themselves from a dismal start.