Wolverines head to Roman Main Event tournament looking to move on from first loss

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Michigan assistant coach Phil Martelli will be the first to admit he’s not an analytics guy.

But after looking back at the numbers from Tuesday’s loss to Seton Hall, there were three stats that stood out to him.

► The Pirates had one offensive rebound in the first half. They had nine in the second half.

Michigan guard DeVante' Jones (12) looks to move the ball on Seton Hall guard Kadary Richmond (0) in the first half.

► Seton Hall attempted four free throws in the first half. It finished the game with 18 trips to the line.

► The Wolverines had three turnovers in the first half. They turned it over eight times after halftime.

“Flurries occurred because of the offensive rebounding and our offense got choppy because of the turnovers,” Martelli said on WTKA’s “The Michigan Insider” on Thursday. “They had some long possessions where it was shot, miss, flurry at the basket. Offensive rebounding and turnovers were a concern.

“And there were some missed defensive communications. Not just assignments but communications whether or not it was a switch, whether or not it was over a ball screen or under a ball screen or over a flare screen. They ran some great stuff and made big buckets.”

More: What went wrong in the closing moments of UM's loss to Seton Hall?

All of that played a factor as Michigan blew an 11-point second-half lead and suffered its first November loss under coach Juwan Howard, giving the No. 4 Wolverines plenty to work on before Friday night’s contest against UNLV in Las Vegas.

Martelli said the team spent a good portion of Wednesday’s practice reviewing the Seton Hall film and examining the defensive breakdowns. Thursday’s practice will focus on cleaning up areas of the offense and playing with pace, something Martelli thought the Wolverines got away from in the second half against the Pirates.

And over both of those days there will be plenty of time spent on long-range shooting after Michigan missed its first 11 3-point attempts and finished a woeful 3-for-15 from beyond the arc on Tuesday.

“It's not a concern, but it's a little tiny thorn in there that we have to become a consistent outside shooting team,” Martelli said. “We knew that going into the year when you're replacing guys like Isaiah (Livers), Chaundee (Brown) and Franz (Wagner). We have to grow into a team that shoots high 30s from the 3-point line.”

Martelli was “very comfortable” with every single 3-point attempt Michigan took in the first half but noted the team didn’t get the same quality looks after halftime when Seton Hall’s defense toughened up and made things more challenging.

He was also pleased with freshman forward Caleb Houstan’s shot selection and willingness to keep shooting despite having an ice-cold night, finishing 1-for-9 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point range.

More: How much will UM's Juwan Howard make under new five-year deal?

“Somewhere along the line some opponent is going to pay and not in a vindictive way, but we all know Caleb Houstan is going to go 8-for-9,” Martelli said. “Fortunately, it's not the Wild West. In the Wild West when the gunslinger walked into town, if he wasn't good enough that day there was no next battle for him. For a shooter like Caleb, next shot. It's preached every day.”

Fifth-year senior guard Eli Brooks delivered a similar message to Houstan — keep taking those same shots in those same moments.

"My dad always told me that the percentages are going to win,” Brooks said after the Seton Hall game. “If you're a 40% guy, they're going to start falling at some point. I mean, they were all good shots. You tell him to shoot every single time. It's going to fall eventually.”

Martelli added in the locker room after the loss, the team wasted little time picking up sophomore forward Terrance Williams II from his low moment and putting him in a “cocoon” after he missed the first of two potential game-tying free throws and failed to intentionally miss the second attempt in the final second.

“To Terrance's credit, he didn't want to hear it. He has accountability, which is a big part of this program, and said my ball can't come up short on that play,” Martelli said. “For the team, there's absolutely no finger pointing and saying, ‘Why did you do this?’

“It's a beautiful locker room. They are there for each other and they are there with each other. All of that bodes well when we get into the teeth of the schedule, and we're going to play a lot of games like that.”


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins

Michigan vs. UNLV

► Tip-off: 12:30 a.m. Saturday, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

► TV/radio: ESPN2/950

► Records: No. 4 Michigan 2-1; UNLV 3-0

► Outlook: This is the first game of the Roman Main Event tournament. The winner will advance to face the winner of Arizona-Wichita State in the championship game at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, followed by a consolation final at 12 a.m. … UNLV ranks No. 313 in the nation in scoring (61 points), No. 332 in field-goal percentage (36.2%) and No. 338 in 3-point shooting (21.9%).