It’s not only the Michigan football program that’s having trouble. Their men’s basketball team has just lost two consecutive home games to the likes of Eastern Michigan and NJIT. This puts them at 6-3 since the beginning of the season, and makes one wonder if there isn’t a serious problem with Michigan athletic programs in general.
If the 72-70 loss to the Highlanders from Newark is something that happens once in a very long time (the only other loss for the Wolverines came against Villanova), losing to the Eagles by three points (45-42) while grabbing just two offensive rebounds and shooting 32.6% from the field marks a new low for a program that has seemed to be doing so well over the last four years under John Beilein.
We didn’t get many open shots. They were really good. We pride ourselves on being a pretty good offensive team, and our coaches do pretty good. We didn’t have a lot of answers today. Their quickness was overwhelming. I wore out the chalk board with different things we could do. . When we did get the few we could get, we didn’t knock enough of those down. Our players are really down now. It’s a local team. But we can’t stay down. We have a long trip to Arizona. We’re playing a tremendous team. We’ll just bounce back, just keep trying to do it.
The Wolverines had a 59-game streak of not losing back to back games, the longest in the Big Ten. Ranked 133rd in the nation when it comes to point average (70.7) and 145th in field goal percentage (44.4%), Beilein has a real serious problem on his hands. The turnover of talent they’ve had over the last two seasons is quite astounding, losing plenty of college stars to the NBA, but a program like Michigan has been able to recover from this before. They’ve reached lows in the last four days that make for some very worrying signs heading into Big Ten play three weeks from now.
And there’s the game against #3 Arizona on the road to think about as well. Maybe it was just complacency, something we saw in North Carolina last season – beating very good teams, losing to terrible ones. But important numbers don’t lie, and the Wolverines doing so badly offensively points to a deeper, more serious problem. One that won’t be just shaken off because there’s a bigger challenge to address.
John Beilein isn’t Brady Hoke, and has earned a lot more credit than the recently fired football head coach. But losses are never easy for a proud and distinguished program, especially when it comes to teams most fans haven’t even heard of, or to forgettable in-stage rivals.