With a minute and a half left to play in last night’s game against Boston College, the Eagles’ Rakim Sanders missed his second free throw, and the Michigan’s men’s basketball team had a golden opportunity to cut into the seven-point deficit it faced.

But not a single Wolverine touched the ball, and Boston College’s Shamari Spears came up with an offensive rebound.

Michigan didn’t score the rest of the game.

“We were just playing soft down there, basically,” sophomore DeShawn Sims said. “And they just outworked us.”

The Eagles had eight more offensive rebounds than Michigan (17-9) and 22 more rebounds overall (50-32). Spears led all players with 12 rebounds.

Boston College coach Al Skinner attributed the big rebounding discrepancy to the Wolverines’ zone defense. With Michigan so spread out, rebounds were easier to come by, he said.

But Sims brushed aside that explanation, noting the Wolverines played in man defense for much of the second half. The zone defense also can’t explain why Michigan allowed three offensive rebounds on free throw misses.

“We still have these little lapses,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “It’s a focus thing. The guy’s shooting a foul shot, and we watch it instead of getting our leg over them.”

Thanks, but no thanks: In the Wolverines’ lone win during the Great Alaska Shootout, free-throw shooting, especially late in the game, played a role in their victory.

As a team, Michigan shot 87 percent, and freshman Manny Harris led the way, shooting 5-for-6 from the charity stripe.

But against Boston College, the Wolverines failed to capitalize on those same opportunities, going 9-for-17 – a sub-par 53 percent.

Harris’s biggest misses came with a little more than 12 minutes remaining. Trailing 48-46, Harris had a chance to tie the game, but missed both his shots. Michigan came within two points just once more.

“Manny’s played a lot of minutes in one week and traveled across the country,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “He’s going to be a solid 80-percent guy, so I think it might be just a fluke.”

Wow: With Beilein’s system focused so much on jump shooting, there will be plenty of opportunities for players to throw up a brick shot or an air ball.

But in the paint, missed shots are harder to justify. Michigan went just 5-for-12 inside the free throw line in the second half.

“(We didn’t) take our time. (We) played too fast,” Sims said. “We had a bunch of mental lapses in the game, so that’s what really hurt us.”

One moment in particular stood out. With less than four minutes to play, Harris made a big steal at midcourt and had a clear pathway to the basket.

But he missed his lay-up.

Then sophomore Zack Gibson missed his put-back opportunity.

And senior Ron Coleman missed the following lay up.

One possession. Three painful misses. The moment highlighted some of the frustrations of the night.

“We just have to give them confidence and I have to continue to give them confidence,” Beilein said. “It’s frustrating when I know we could’ve controlled some of those things tonight.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.