Five Takeaways: Looking Closely At Michigan's First Loss Of The Season

Brandon Brown

Michigan was 7-0 and ranked No. 4 in the country after its impressive run in the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament but had to play top-ranked Louisville in their building, which proved to be too much. Juwan Howard's squad fell 58-43 at the hands of the Cardinals and there were some noteworthy things to take away from the game.

1. Michigan shot it terribly 

Michigan had been shooting the ball at a scorching rate so cooling off a bit was inevitable. Cooling off down to 26 percent was not necessarily expected. The Wolverines went 3-of-19 from three-point range and 15-of-58 overall from the floor. That kind of shooting effort isn't going to work very often and definitely won't against the No. 1 team in the country in their gym. 

2. When shots aren't falling, Jon Teske is there

Granted, Teske didn't shoot it very well at Louisville, going 6-of-18, but it's nice that Michigan clearly has several sets designed for him. Just about every game, U-M's guards have looked for Teske right out of the gate and they also tried to find the big fella as outside shots weren't falling. Unfortunately, Teske missed some close ones against the Cardinals but those are the kinds of looks you want to get when outside shots are hard to come by.

3. The pack line defense appears to be a problem

Juwan Howard's system seems to run smoothest when the guards are penetrating and when the pick and roll and the pick and pop are working effectively. The pack line defense employed by Louisville took away guard penetration making for a tough night for Zavier Simpson, Eli Brooks and David DeJulius, not only as scorers but as facilitators. Simpson, Brooks and DeJulius only committed four turnovers (all four by Simpson) but they struggled to find open shots and open teammates. The trio only accounted for 13 points and five assists. That sounds more like a stat line for each player over the last few games.

4. Turnovers were down but play was still sloppy

Michigan only turned the ball over 10 times but the offense definitely seemed out of sync. The guards routinely dribbled the air out of the ball and a lot of passes were off the mark, which led to tough shots and a few turnovers. Several guys also forced shots throughout the game. That's exactly what the pack line defense is designed to do and it worked very well against Michigan. Rushed and well-defended shots led to a lot of misses, which ultimately led to more forced shots. That's how a very good shooting team goes 15-of-58 from the floor.

5. There's still a lot of room for growth

Even though Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers and David DeJulius have played well this season, they're still very quick to look for Zavier Simpson when they get a bit jammed up. That indicates that they still have to get better as decision makers, ball handlers and smart-shot takers. They need to improve in those areas in order to be fully trusted, especially Brooks and DeJulius, who are still settling into their new, significant roles. Throw freshman Franz Wagner into the mix, who has played in just four games now, and you have several very important pieces, who are going to play a lot of minutes this year, still evolving and getting used to their new roles, a new coaching staff and a new system.

What did you see during Michigan's first true road test? What can they do better? Comment below!!!

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