Feb. 4, 2014
By Jenny Herstein, U-M Public & Media Relations
Michigan suffered its first loss of the Big Ten season and saw its 10-game winning streak come to an end with a 63-52 loss at Indiana.
The Hoosiers' defensive game plan proved difficult for the Wolverines, who made just one of their first nine field goal attempts of the game. Over the course of the afternoon, Michigan went 18-of-45 (40 percent) on field goal attempts and 3-of-13 (23 percent) on three-pointers.
"We see all different defenses," said head coach John Beilein. "That's the conundrum we go through every game, is 'how are they going to play Nik (Stauskas), how are they going to play Glenn (Robinson III), how are they going to play the ball screen?' We have to be able to adapt.
"It's almost like you're football coaches. Here's the difference: you don't have a week, and it's a flow sport. You don't have huddle time. 'Oh, I see what they're doing.' 'Let's run this from our other playlist. Every game there's a different plan, and we've got to figure it out. It's just a turn of the feet sometimes, how they're going to play you."
Nik Stauskas, who has led the Wolverines this season, scored just six points against Indiana on 1-for-6 shooting.
"Three things," said Beilein on getting Stauskas more looks at the basket against difficult defenses. "We've got to do a better job of getting him open, he's got to do a better job of getting open, and his teammates have to do a better job of getting him open. It's all on everyone."
Yet Coach Beilein notes that, overall, Stauskas has done an admirable job this season playing against teams which seek to minimize his impact on the game.
"When I look back at his career here, there was Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Trey (Burke). Now, Nik Stauskas' name is out there, and he's a marked man. That's a different mentality that he's learning about," said Beilein. "He's really doing a good job handling it."
Preparing to face various strategies that might be seen in future Big Ten matchups is even more difficult for Michigan in the midst of a stretch of five Big Ten games over a 13-day period, which leads them with limited practice time. Next up is a home game against Nebraska on Wednesday night (Feb. 5), when the Wolverines hope to bounce back and begin a new winning streak.
Over the last three seasons, Michigan has lost back-to-back games only twice -- with one of those in the final games of 2011-12 at the Big Ten Tournament (Ohio State) and NCAA Tournament (Ohio). The other was in 2012-13, when U-M lost back-to-back road games -- at Wisconsin (overtime) and at Michigan State.
Michigan's success in avoiding losing streaks can be attributed to their concerted effort to take each game one at a time.
"You look around the country, and it happens to everybody. They try to win, and a break somewhere could go the other way. I've watched some really good teams go through it," said Beilein. "You just try to avoid it. You just try and get ready for the next game and do the best you can and forget about the past, forget about the next day, concentrate on that game. Whether it's a losing streak, whether it's a winning streak, doesn't make a difference. When that ball goes up, or that practice for the game, get that one done."
NEBRASKA COMES TO TOWN
Wednesday night will mark the second time that Michigan and Nebraska have met in 2014. Earlier this season, U-M won a thrilling 71-70 decision at Nebraska's Pinnacle Bank Arena -- the Cornhuskers' only home loss of the season. The one-point victory is Michigan's smallest winning margin this season.
During the last contest, Michigan shot 62 percent from the field (31-for-50) and prevailed despite making a season-low three free throws on nine attempts and posting its lowest rebound total (20) of the season. Five players scored in double digits on the night Glenn Robinson III (19), Jordan Morgan (15), Nik Stauskas (12), Caris LeVert (10) and Derrick Walton Jr. (10).
The highlights of the night belonged to Walton. The freshman hit a half-court buzzer-beater, but it only proved to be his second-biggest shot of the night, as his layup with 21.8 seconds left gave Michigan a 71-70 victory. The Cornhuskers had two attempts as the clock expired to win the game but missed the initial shot and tip back.
"We're very fortunate to get that win there (in Lincoln), and we played really well," said Beilein. "We're going to have to do the same thing again."
Nebraska is on the rise, having won three of its last four games -- all at home. The Cornhuskers have defeated Ohio State (68-62, Jan. 20); Minnesota (82-78, Jan. 26) and Indiana (60-55, Jan. 30). The only loss during this stretch was a 58-54 decision at Penn State (Jan. 23).
Beilein attributes Nebraska's rise to the fact that their talented group of players are now learning to play as a team under the coaching staff's game plan.
"Talent is never enough. You have to have chemistry, you have to have timing, you have to have a lot of great things," said Beilein. "Each game that they play, all this great talent that (Nebraska head coach) Tim (Miles) has brought in is getting more and more comfortable with what he and his staff are trying to do. And that's been a big difference for them."
Wednesday's contest tips off at 6:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.