Michigan Wolverines Basketball: Chris Collins Praises U-M’s ‘Terrific Team’
Northwestern is and has been a well-coached team under head coach Chris Collins, but the Wildcats were overmatched and shorthanded in Sunday night’s 80-60 loss in Ann Arbor.
They’re always a team with a plan, an aspect Michigan head coach John Beilein noted is imperative to winning, but planning for U-M is hard — especially when one of your best players (Vic Law) is out and you’re playing a team with so many weapons.
Law scored 19 points in the first meeting with Michigan, a two-point loss last month, and Northwestern didn’t have many answers outside of big man Dererk Pardon Sunday.
"I thought Michigan played very well tonight, and they're a terrific team," Collins said. "We've played them twice, and they're certainly a very tough team to prepare against and play. They're a really good team all around, but give Zavier [Simpson] and [Jon] Teske a lot of credit. I thought their shooting in the game really kind of broke things open.”
The junior point guard and center combined to go 8-for-15 from long range and fed off a capacity (and loud) crowd. The first and last four minutes of the first half doomed the Wildcats, Collins noted … U-M started and finished with10-0 runs, and two Teske triples late in the stanza sparked a 50-28 advantage.
“I think our live ball turnovers were a factor, especially in the first half,” Collins said. “I think we had 10 turnovers. They're going to feast on that when you throw the ball away. They get into the open floor; they get to the basket.
“[But] when you play these guys — and we've played them twice now — you've got to figure out what are some things that you're going to live with because they space you so well and they're really good at every position. We were going to live with some Simpson threes and some Teske threes. Give those guys credit. They went 8-15 from the three-point line."
“When they're shooting like that, you add Charles Matthews, Jordan Poole and Iggy [Brazdeikis] to that group, coupled with [Isaiah] Livers and those guys off the bench, certainly, they're going to be difficult to beat whoever is playing them."
Collins hinted that the Wolverines have as good a shot at a deep tournament run as anyone, and he’s probably right. It’s a lot about breaks, of course, once the postseason arrives, but the pieces and the desire are there, and it’s come together quicker than anyone could have imagined.
There’s a long way to go, Beilein cautioned, but this team still has room for improvement, too. That’s a scary proposition for opponents.
“When you play 17 games and 15 of them are double figure [wins], you’ve got a really good thing going,” Collins said. “They don’t have many very any flaws, and they’re very well coached on both ends. They make it hard.”
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