Michigan endures ‘tough time’ with its shooters

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Duncan Robinson

Michigan strives to make at least 10 3-pointers a game.

If it does that, coach John Beilein is confident his team will win.

But it's been a struggle lately, the long-range shooting, and has the Wolverines likely off the NCAA Tournament bubble and desperately needing a good showing at the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis this week.

"We have some guys that, certainly, have shot better during the year," Beilein said on a teleconference Monday. "This is a tough time, to have the percentages they're having right now.

"Every player is so different in what makes him go. Sometimes it's just, make one or two in a row and you'll be better."

The last six games, Michigan is 40-for-133 on 3-pointers, good for just 30 percent.

The season percentage is 39 percent.

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In Saturday's 71-61 loss to Iowa, Michigan was 8-for-34 on 3-pointers.

Beilein reviewed the film from that game and was disappointed with shot selection.

"I think we can do better than that," Beilein said.

Duncan Robinson is the big one struggling, having made just seven of his last 24 3-pointers, and having made no more than two in a game since Feb. 10 against Minnesota.

But Robinson isn't alone.

Zak Irvin is 5-for-22 on 3-pointers in his last five games, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman is 2-for-16 in his last five games, and Derrick Walton Jr. is 9-for-35 over his last six games.

Fatigue could be an issue, as all of those guys have logged way more minutes than might have been forecasted, because of Michigan's serious lack of depth in the backcourt.

Beilein also pointed to Caris LeVert's extended absence. LeVert played one game after Dec. 30 and is out for the season because of a left leg injury.

"When we shot really well both in the conference, but particularly in non-conference, it was when Caris LeVert is out there and making everybody else better around him," Beilein said. "People would get more open.

"That's a big difference."

Michigan (20-11), many believe, has to beat Northwestern (20-11), winners of three straight, at noon Thursday, and then beat regular-season champion Indiana in the next game to get back on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Wildcats ‘confident’

Northwestern's last loss was to Michigan, 72-63, on Feb. 24. Since, it has beaten Rutgers, Penn State and Nebraska on Sunday to earn the No. 9 seed in the Big Ten tournament.

Coach Chris Collins said his team actually started turning the page against Michigan.

"We weren't able to play the last five minutes well," Colllins said of the loss to Michigan. "They deserved to win because they made the plays (down the stretch).

"In our last three games, especially our last two, we had to do those things at the end of the game. Sometimes, you learn from losses like we had at Michigan.

"I think our guys are confident."

A big key for Michigan will be stopping Alex Olah, who scored 19 points in the meeting this year, and 25 and 22 in the two times the teams met last season.