UW men's basketball had their first win of the Big Ten season, 70-54 over the struggling Michigan Wolverines last night, in Ann Arbor, though the stadium was half empty, probably due to three factors-- (A) Michigan got over a foot of snow yesterday, (B) it was still winter break for UM students, and (C) Michigan was 4-8 (now 4-9).
For those of you who didn't see the game, UW won because of their solid defense, particularly in the first half, Wolvie's own bumbles and defensive lapses, and John Leuer playing lights out offense from everywhere except the free throw line. (The most accurate game synopsis is written up here, I think, since it accurately focuses on Michigan's own shortcomings.) "Loo-er" finished with 25 points and nailed 5 threes, including four in the first half. He was unconscious, though nearly all of this threes weren't contested, which was odd, even after he made his first couple. And they all came off of passes, finding him standing alone and open just behind the arc. Not great defense there, Michigan.
So really, the Badgers didn't play that well, it's just that Michigan struggled even more, and Leuer was on fire. Sadly, the funky Beilein zone that Wolvie threw at UW, mixed in with some other defenses, caused some problems, to the tune of an ugly 17 turnovers (though they did manage a decent 1.06 points per possession). In addition, Butch, Landry and Flowers played limited minutes due to foul trouble. So not a pretty win, but again, one that came on the back of generally great team defense.
What was encouraging was how even with three starters in foul trouble, the team played excellent defense, letting Meechigan manage only .83 PPP. Bohannon seems to be growing up on the defensive end, and is far removed from the individual liability he seemed to be at times last season. The Hoft was his warrior-like self on D and on the boards (though his offensive game, except for a nice nearly behind the backboard floater to end the first half, was U-G-L-Y). The Stiemer had a nice double shot block possession. And Leuer played pretty solid team D and rebounded decently. That's excellent news, since he certainly has the offensive skills to merit a lot of playing time.
Anyhow, this generally excellent team D will probably be enough against questionable teams like Michigan (at least this season's Michigan). But if UW wants to compete with the big guys, and make a run at the Big Ten, they need to play better offense and be more careful with the ball. Random guys aren't going to go 5 for 5 from beyond the arc for you every night.