If you wanted to see a bounce back from Michigan Basketball after Friday's clunker outing against Eastern Michigan, tonight's matchup with Pittsburgh in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, NY, gave you what you wanted. The Wolverines got fluid ball movement and spacing, knocked down open shots, and dismantled the Panthers by scoring 91 points in the 40 minutes of regulation play. Michigan didn't even need Hunter Dickinson to be his usual self, or anything from Jett Howard in the second half to overwhelm Pitt. A step in the right direction and a glimpse at this squad's very high offensive ceiling. Pitt opened the game as the team on fire offensively, scoring 15 points in the first six minutes of game action on 6/11 shooting (3/4 from deep), while Michigan lagged a bit behind. Dickinson was the story for the Wolverines on the offensive end in the early going, making three of Michigan's first eight field goals and getting assists on three of the five he didn't score. Juwan Howard seemed content to feed Dickinson and let him orchestrate the offense from the inside out and it had reasonable success. The defensive end needed much more work, with Michigan struggling in nearly every facet of team defense, including issues staying in front of dribble drives and rotating correctly, creating far too many open looks. Pitt took advantage of that and poured in points during the game's opening quarter. Around the halfway point of the first half, things began to turn as Michigan asserted control. They opened up a mid-single digits advantage and led 28-23 at the under 12 timeout as Jett Howard surged into command of the offense. Jett knocked down a jumper, made a layup, and knocked down another two pointer in the span of 1:55 to help Michigan find their footing on offense and he was aided on offense by another wing, Joey Baker. Baker drew an and-one and then drilled a three off a Dickinson pass and with both Baker and Howard clicking, Michigan's offense found a groove. This coincided with improvements on defense, with a shift to drop coverage helping fix some of the problems, in addition to Pitt's shooting cooling off. [Marc-Gregor Campredon] Michigan going scoreless over the final 3:22 of the first half, the first offensive dry spell in some time, robbed the Wolverines of a chance to separate before the break, but they still led 38-32 at halftime. Michigan shot 17/35 from the field in the first half (48.67%) but an ugly 2/11 clip from three stood out as a fixable problem given how open many of the looks were. That would be proven true very quickly into the second half. Indeed, Michigan came out in the second half ready to roll offensively. Jett Howard completed a four point play for Michigan's first points of the half and Michigan would make its first four three point attempts to begin the second half. Howard was the source of the first two makes and was continuing to drive Michigan's offense when things rapidly went off the rails. Jett took a foul 33 seconds into the half, his second of the game, then took another less than 90 seconds later. After this, Juwan pulled his son over and told him to stay in the game, which he did for all of three seconds. He fell asleep on the in-bounds pass and then tried to recover too late, fouling the shooter Greg Elliott, who would get his own four point play. The foul call was iffy but the defensive lapse was galling, and it gave Howard four fouls with a full 17:57 to go in the game (three in 90 seconds), mandating his exit to the bench. Michigan led 45-38 at that juncture and would be without one of their top offensive players for some time. At that point it felt reasonable to worry some, but Jett's exit instead proved to be the beginning of a period where the Michigan offense kicked it into overdrive. Over the next 11 minutes after Jett's fourth foul, Michigan would outscore Pitt 31-12, with the offense climaxing to heavenly levels of ball movement. The rock was flung around the offensive end of the court, inside and out, as Michigan got A+ look after A+ look, scoring at a sizzling rate. They scored 38 points in the first ~13 minutes of the second half, seldom ever turning it over or missing a shot. The threes which had eluded them in the first half were going down in buckets, and everyone was getting in on the action. [Marc-Gregor Campredon] Perhaps most impressively, this stretch came despite getting just three points from Hunter Dickinson and (obviously) zero points from Jett Howard. It was the rest of the cast getting in on the action, Jaelin Llewellyn logging some of his best minutes thus far this season, Joey Baker continuing to go off as a knock-down shooter, but most of all, Kobe Bufkin, who elevated his game and showed enticing potential. Bufkin took command of the offense, handling the biscuit on ballscreens and distributing like a PG, including a sweet dish for Dickinson's one bucket during this period. He looked comfortable attacking off the dribble and meshed well with Dug McDaniel, who also got some extensive run during this period. McDaniel was his usual range of up and down, but a steal and bounce pass to Bufkin on the fastbreak for a layup was a highlight, though shot selection (wild off-balance floaters) will merit some discussion at a later date. Reserve C Tarris Reed showed good chemistry with McDaniel and for the first time this season, the bench was not caved in with Dickinson off the floor. By the time there were 6.5 minutes to go in the game, the result was a foregone conclusion. Michigan had lit up the scoreboard like a pinball machine with an expert player on the flippers and their defense had increasingly frustrated the Panthers, holding them for 12 points over a span taking up over 10 minutes of game time. Within a couple minutes it was garbage time, and Michigan got some of their lesser known players a chance. Isaiah Barnes made his second appearance of the season, while Youssef Khayat played his first NCAA game. Will Tschetter also checked in later, with those three joining Jace Howard (who made a three) and Dug McDaniel on the floor late. Barnes got to the free throw line two separate times (3/4 on attempts) and Tschetter made a basket, but otherwise there weren't too many notes. These guys did their job of getting a blowout to the finish line. [Marc-Gregor Campredon] In the end, Michigan defeated Pitt 91-60, a massive margin of victory far wider than the predicted KenPom or Torvik spread. After barely pulling out a victory over an EMU team that lost to Bradley last night, Michigan looked the part of a team slotting in the top 30 of the efficiency rankings. The offensive flow was pitch perfect and it says a lot that the Maize & Blue scored 91 points despite getting only 18 combined from their two heroes of the EMU game, Dickinson and Terrance Williams II. Tonight it was Jett Howard (in the first half; 17 total points), Bufkin (14 points), and Joey Baker (14 points) who were the heroes, with nods towards McDaniel (8 points), Llewellyn (8 points), and the tandem of TWill/HD, even if they were not as sharp as Friday. The team shot 58.3% from the field, and finished 9/20 from three, doing so after being dreadful from deep in the first half. Perhaps the stat that Juwan Howard will be the happiest about is just six turnovers, and most of those came from the second unit late (McDaniel/Reed each had 2). When the starters were in the game, the offensive performance was crisp and clean. Defensively, this is still a work in progress, but the recovery after getting the doors blown off in the first 10 minutes is encouraging. Pitt is definitely a bad basketball team, missing open shots and turning it over on travels and feet on the out of bounds line far too often, but Michigan will still be satisfied with holding the Panthers to 28 points in the second half and 60 total. Pitt's 42% from the field and 30% from three with 13 turnovers forced by the Michigan D is a start. Matching Pitt in OREBs (7 for each team) is also a welcome sign for an area of the team that has struggled this season so far.
A few hours after Moussa Diabate announced his departure from the Michigan Basketball program, fellow freshman Caleb Houstan followed him out the door: #BREAKING: @umichbball freshman forward Caleb Houstan is staying in the NBA Draft.https://t.co/9jGzzMzoYe — Michigan Daily Sports (@theblockm) June 1, 2022 It had been trending this way for some time, so the decision should not come as a surprise to those following the dialogue. Houstan declined an invite to the Draft Combine in May, which indicated either certain return, or that he already had assurance from an NBA team that he was going to be drafted. All the reporting indicated the latter. Mock drafts have continued to show Houstan as a borderline first round prospect, with ESPN's Jonathon Givony pegging him at #25 in his most recent mock. Houstan averaged 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game, while shooting 38.4% from the field and 35.5% from three as a freshman this past season. His rookie year with the Wolverines was enigmatic, especially for a 5* prospect who had lottery pick projections when the year began. Houstan had his moments, games where the threes went down and he seemed like an indispensable piece of the offense, including 19 points against Indiana in Assembly Hall and 21 against Illinois and Rutgers at home. But there were also ugly performances where Houstan's athletic shortcomings and defensive struggles were magnified, while contributing next to nothing offensively. That includes a grand total of five points and five rebounds in a combined 60 minutes (!!!) against Tennessee and Villanova in the NCAA Tournament. There were nights where you saw the raw shooting promise, but too often those were immediately bookended by games that were the Tony Snell meme personified. Houstan takes good size with him to the NBA, 6'8" and 205 lbs., and if given space and time to shoot, he is an accurate three-point shooter. More importantly, he was once a 5* recruit who scouts saw many times during his time at Montverde Academy next to the likes of Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes. Once a 5*, always a 5*, in the minds of many scouts, and that, above all else, is carrying Houstan to the NBA Draft this month. Juwan Howard and Michigan now have some work to do on their 2022-23 roster. They have just 11 players on scholarship, two below the maximum 13. There is still a clear hole in the backcourt, and a need at wing or PF too. The transfer portal will likely be the source to solve plug these holes, and following that over the next couple weeks will be a likely hobby for many Michigan hoops fans. There is no content after the jump.
Sophomore center Hunter Dickinson (pictured above) announced on Sunday night that he will return to Ann Arbor for his junior year. This comes one year after he entered his name in the NBA Draft process, but returned to school.