"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
1/17/2012 – Michigan 60, Michigan State 59 – 15-4, 5-2 Big Ten
It was stomach-churning when Draymond Green conjured a pretty good shot out of thirty-five seconds of Michigan State panic, and that moment when the ball hung in the air was heart-stopping. In the vast aeons before its fate was determined, the observer had plenty of time to remember how much he hated backboards.
Oh, backboards. Scourge of the 2011 Wisconsin game at Crisler. Failed Andrew Jackson assassins. Uncooperative gits, backboards. When Josh Gasser had thrown an eyes-closed prayer up last year, a backboard answered his call. I had vowed revenge after it worked this alchemy on Crisler:
Being in Crisler was to viscerally understand the cliche about the air going out of the building. The transition from a standing, raucous crowd to a bunch of pissed off people looking for their jackets was instant, and the ride home was mostly silence.
But Green had not stopped his side-to-side momentum before getting the shot off and when it bounced off the backboard it did so too far to the left; it glanced off the rim. Green's putback attempt was well short, and that was that. Rather than the Gasser shot we'd just witnessed a replay of Deshawn Sims's improbably good look at the end of the 2010 game against State at Crisler.
Crisler blew up, as you might expect. Then something strange happened: nothing. No student or fan set foot on the court. Izzo rushed the referees to plead something or other, the teams shook hands, and then they left the court. No mosh pit. Crisler was loud but something short of delirious.
And there you go: the infamous "gap" is pretty much closed. Novak in the aftermath:
"We're to the point now where (beating Michigan State) is something we expect to do," Novak said. "My first two years, it was like, you've got to do it first -- you've got to do it one time.
"After you get that first one, you get a taste of it, but then you've got to learn how to win."
The last three years Michigan is 3-2 against Michigan State with one failed buzzer-beater on each side, an MSU blowout at the tail end of the disappointing 2010 season, and two solid Michigan victories during the regrettably short Get Off My Court era. If they haven't reached talent parity with State just yet it won't take long for Robinson, Stauskas, McGary, Irvin, Donnal, et al., to make that distinction a hard one to make. The PDC is complete; planned Crisler renovations will bring Michigan's arena in line with the best in the country. John Beilein is pretty good at coaching basketball.
Michigan's at the start of a long Big Ten grind that will probably spit them out significantly bruised, but at this point it's hard to see them chewed up enough to miss the tourney. If things fall right they could even sneak a seed with which it's plausible to make a Sweet 16. That's three of the last four tournaments and at least a .500 record against State over the last three years, and then the cavalry arrives. The moment when Beilein's program goes from building to built is fast approaching.
Zack Novak doesn't care about that. He cares about February 5th in Breslin, when he'll have the opportunity to go out with a winning record against Michigan State. The last four-year player to accomplish that was… I have no idea.
Next year is the one everyone's pointing to as the one when big things happen; this year is Novak's last. He is thinking about titles and tournaments and somehow keeping all of the blood vessels in his head intact for another three months. Fans can sit back and wait for help; Novak only has a few urgent months left.
Here they are.
Photos from Eric Upchurch:
These are Creative Commons licensed, as always.
Via MGoVideo, Denard and Roundtree executing the Can't Turn You Loose dance next to a shirtless dude and an engineer:
What a knob.
Last 31 seconds:
Also there are BTN highlights.
The trenchant analysis! So of course after I point out Smotrycz's ability to stay on the floor as a key to the game Michigan starts Stu Douglass and plays 90% of the game with Novak on Draymond Green. Smotrycz gets ten minutes. At least I said Green was a more plausible matchup than most Novak-vs-PF outings.
But so anyway, point Beilein for running out the small lineup and not getting extensively punished for it on the boards… actually, wait. Michigan rebounded one of 23 opportunities on the offensive end and allowed MSU to rebound 39% of their misses. So they did get pummeled on the boards. They eked it out because…
Uh… They eked it out because…
Uh… Okay. They were ferociously effective from two-point range. This continues a season-long theme but was not expected after a couple of rough outings. I think MSU five-star Adreian Payne was a major factor in this. Michigan sliced open the MSU defense early with un- or not-very contested layups largely because Payne's help defense was nonexistent despite having a matchup against Jordan Morgan. Morgan is not a guy you have to worry about taking jumpers, but Payne consistently failed to show at the basket when Michigan's various six-nothin' white guys would drive to the hoop.
As a result, Payne played only 14 minutes and finished with one rebound, that defensive. He should be awesome—dude is a physical marvel—except he's Mike Cox mentally. He got yanked a few minutes in. In the aftermath Izzo would bemoan a lack of "toughness," but what MSU lacked was between their ears, not their legs.
When Payne was out Nix didn't seem much better. For whatever reason the intimidating doom-bringers on the interior took yesterday's game off.
Uh… Also fouls and turnovers. The Valentine crew decided there were no fouls, much to my frustration in the first half when it seemed like various over-the-backs and Hardaway jumpers would have been fouls anywhere else on planet Earth. I know Hardaway is struggling, but there is no way he flat airballs two three-pointers in a short period of time.
HOWEVA, when it came to things actually called, Michigan had the advantage with just 8 fouls to MSU's 12 and 13 FTA to MSU's 5. This did not appear to be a home court effect. Even Michigan State people were unsurprised State had zero FTA at the half.
MSU also had six additional turnovers. Most of those came from Appling and Green as Michigan collapsed on them and they did not find assists to compensate. Appling did somewhat with his five but a 5-4 assist to TO ratio and a couple of charging calls is not ideal.
Tim Hardaway: come on, let's go. While Trey Burke is a fantastic player it doesn't seem disputable that Darius Morris was a much better shot creator last year than Burke is at this point in his career. That's been much to the detriment of Hardaway, who is now taking a lot of bad, contested shots and seeing his numbers drop precipitously. Michigan needs more of his last basket, when he shot by a defender and finished at the rim what with his six-five frame and leaping ability, and less of the shots like the above. Beilein also thinks this. Look at his face.
Hardaway did make an excellent decision to foul Nix on the floor after one of Michigan State's late whip-the-ball-around-until-it's-in-the-post-uncontested possessions. IIRC a turnover followed; those points were the difference (as were all points scored by M or not scored by MSU).
Stu Douglass: hat tip. After 38 minutes versus Iowa Douglass puts in 36 against MSU, plays his usual very good perimeter defense, had nine points on six shots, Michigan's lone offensive rebound, two assists, a steal, and a turnover. Even if I'm probably not going to say "argh where's Stu" next year like I will inevitably do when things are going poorly and Novak isn't around to grit something out, the intangible senior leadership Douglass provides is getting pretty tangible.
Burke. Yes, you're good. That three pointer was still a horrible decision. In all other ways, hurray.
Drive home safely. The visiting Izzone section. We have to talk, visiting Izzone section.
One: you came in a bus. Two: you bought a large section of tickets clearly designated the worst in the building, allowing you to stand as students will. Michigan is clearly complicit in getting you in the building, for whatever reason. Your bus did not appear to have a cloaking device.
Despite this, you sneak into the building incognito as if there are Izzone snipers stationed at the entrances. Then you chant "Daddy's better" at Tim Hardaway Jr., which… like… Tim Hardaway is one of the great point guards in NBA history. You know that, right? That's not actually an insult.
No points, mercy on your soul, etc.
Meanwhile. Does the Maize Rage do this? Could they do this? Why is Michigan selling a huge block of tickets to the Izzone? It doesn't seem likely that is the case. Why is Michigan actively annoying its fans by allowing this to happen?
Mathy Q. This would never happen and this is a conversation destined to remain hypothetical, but… how bad of a free throw shooter would someone on the floor have to be for a foul to be the right move in the situation Michigan was faced with last night?
I think a couple guys on the court were within range. Nix was 53% last year and is at 58% this year. If we give him 60% to make calculations easier, a non-shooting foul on him results in the following outcome after the one-and-one:
- 40%: Michigan with ball up one
- 24%: Michigan with ball tied
- 36%: Michigan with ball down one
That's if Michigan gets the rebound on the free throw, generally a good assumption but maybe less so in a balls-to-the-wall board crashing situation late.
I think there's a case for sending an under 60% free throw shooter to the line with 15 seconds or so left if they're going to get a one and one. Again, no one in the universe will ever try this in a game. But it's interesting to consider.
Random. I think of this as Rasheed Wallace version of "THE GAAAAAME." Do you know what I'm talking about? After the Pistons won their championship Wallace called basketball that in his indefinable 'Sheed way. It is impossible to explain and impossible to google, but I swear some people will know what I'm talking about.
In lieu of providing this, here's Wallace signing along to GNR:
This is your erratic reminder that Rasheed Wallace should succeed the Most Interesting Man In The World.
That is not relevant, but you start looking up Rasheed Wallace videos on Youtube and things get crazy.
Green has guaranteed the return game($):
"They won three. Before that, how many how had they won?" Green said. "They got their little three, but they come to East Lansing in a few weeks.
"They better celebrate this one, because I can guarantee you they won’t get one in East Lansing. You can quote me on that one."
Three straight is of course half of Green's career against Michigan to date (MSU was one-play a couple years ago), but don't ask a State attendee to do math.
RCMB provides the 'freude:
Last year was somewhat understandable. We were bad then. We are pretty good this year. Even a mediocre MSU team should blow Michigan out of the water. Michigan can't be good. It doesn't F---ING HAPPEN. FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
What a knob.
MSU needs better S&C.
Canton (MI) guard Cameron Dillard is drawing national attention—along with interest from home-state schools Michigan and MSU—and has already garnered offers from Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan. The 6'3", 280-pound junior is a member of the ESPNU 150 and recently showed his skills with the nation's best underclassmen at the Army All-American Combine. I spoke to Cameron yesterday after he worked out with the one and only Mike Barwis, and we discussed his recruitment, his junior year, and working out with a man who owns pet wolves. Here's the full transcript:
ACE: How is your recruitment going, and which schools are going after you the hardest right now?
CAMERON: My recruitment is going real well, everything's turning out to be real optimistic with a bunch of schools. I think I should have a big spring coming up. Some schools that have come on real strong and are very close to offering, I believe, are Michigan State, Michigan, Clemson, and West Virginia, as well as some other schools.
ACE: Out of the schools that have been recruiting you so far, are there any early favorites right now, or is it too soon to make that distinction?
CAMERON: No, not really. I'm kinda keeping everything level. No favorites right now, at this point.
ACE: Looking back at your junior year, how did that go for you, and how do you think you performed and improved throughout the season?
CAMERON: I thought I did real well. Considering that I worked with Mike [Barwis], I thought he made me more athletic, more explosive, able to move better on the field, and get up the field better. I also worked with Lomas Brown on pass protections, which was a blessing. I've come a long way, I believe, from last year to this year in my pass blocking. I just continue to improve on that. Actually a couple coaches asked me how many IHOPs I'd opened in Canton this season, a little joke. But yeah, I think I had a real good season. I've got to continue to work with Mike and his staff and continue to get better.
ACE: In working with Mike Barwis, how long have you been doing that, and how does it help you in terms of—I don't know how many other athletes have that kind of resource, so how does it help you to work out with a guy who was the Michigan strength coach just a couple years ago?
CAMERON: You know, it's great. I definitely can't thank my parents enough for giving me the support to let me go there and train. I think it's continued to help me—I'm becoming faster, quicker, stronger. I just think it's improved my strength and my conditioning as well. Actually, a bunch of Michigan guys are there now: Molk, Van Bergen, Watson, Koger, Mike Martin, a bunch of those guys are training with him now, getting themselves prepared for the NFL Combine. It's definitely helped me push myself and take my training to another level.
ACE: I know you're working hard over there, but do you interact at all with the Michigan guys? Do they talk to you at all, or is it mostly business?
CAMERON: I talk to them a lot, actually. I talk to Molk and Watson the most. I haven't really got to meet Koger and Mike Martin that much, but Watson and Molk are always giving me a hard time.
ACE: You also mentioned working with Lomas Brown. He's obviously a pretty legendary NFL offensive lineman. How has he helped your game?
CAMERON: He's helped me improve my pass blocking and becoming that all-around player that schools are looking for, because I'm in a run-dominant offense [at Canton].
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say are your biggest strengths as a player, and what are you continuing to work on for your senior year and the next level?
CAMERON: I'd say that my aggression on the field, my physicality, you just can't teach toughness. Also, run blocking is a big thing of mine that I believe I'm doing real well at. I'd say my weakness—which isn't really a weakness, it's becoming more my strength now—is my pass protection. I've got to keep working on that and getting better at it.
ACE: You went to the Army Combine recently. How did that go for you?
CAMERON: Good. I performed pretty well. I had a 28.5-inch vertical and a 5.25 40-yard dash. They didn't tell us our shuttle so I'll have to check online for that, and then the pass protection, like I said, working with Lomas helped me improve, so I definitely improved while I was down there. I've taken big strides from last year to this year on my pass protection.
ACE: Do you have any plans in terms of any more camps, junior days, or summer visits, do you know what schools you'd like to see before next year?
CAMERON: Not really. I'm going to junior days right now, I'll actually be at Indiana this weekend, and then I was already at Michigan State in December. Michigan hopefully I'll be able to get up there in the spring for spring ball.
ACE: You visited Michigan for the Notre Dame game. What was your impression of Michigan from your visit?
CAMERON: I thought it was great, the atmosphere there—you know, that's part of my 'three A's' for a school, the athletics, atmosphere, and academics. I think Coach Hoke and the rest of the staff have done a fantastic job this season. I've got to talk to Coach Hoke a few times while I was in San Antonio and when I was at the All-State Dream Team banquet, and he's a real down-to-earth, humble guy. I like him, and I love being able to talk to Coach Jackson, Coach Mattison, and they've been real positive to me.
ACE: You mentioned those three A's. Specifically, what are you looking for in a school, what are the factors that are going to make you commit to a school?
CAMERON: Fan base, I would say, is one. Having the support of my family. Distance isn't a big factor for me. Academics, because I'd like to study criminal justice or sports management or history, something like that, so if they're real strong in that. Then athletics, if I have a real chance at playing early, if I feel like I'm at home, and if I can see myself best in that offense.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a timeline, when you'd like to wrap up your recruitment?
CAMERON: Not at this moment, not right now. I guess whenever I get that gut feeling and I know whatever school is for me, I'll know.
Three straight! Trey Burke! Denard and 'Tree in the student section! JOHN BEILEIN DANCING TO T-PAIN!
Yes, Muppets are very much in order.
And you can't have one without the other...
Get off our court, in so many words.
Git it awn. Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post is your friend; coverage probably starting around 6:45.
Let's talk about something else, yeah?
San Diego State
- FCS Cal Poly, 49-21 (W)
- @ Army, 23-20 (W)
- Washington State, 42-24 (W)
- @ No. 22 Michigan, 7-28 (L)
- TCU, 14-27 (L)
- @ Air Force, 41-27 (W)
- Wyoming, 27-30 (L)
- New Mexico, 35-7 (W)
- @ Colorado State, 18-15 (W)
- No. 10 Boise State, 35-52 (L)
- @ UNLV, 31-14 (W)
- Fresno State, 35-28 (W)
- Louisiana-Lafayette, 30-32 (L) -- New Orleans Bowl
Record: 8-5 overall, 4-3 MWC, 4th in conference
|Rush:||184.5 ypg, 30th||169.5 ypg, 78th|
|Pass:||242.9 ypg, 49th||221.7 ypg, 56th|
|Total:||427.4, 27th||391.2, 68th|
|Scoring:||29.8, 46th||25.0, 57th|
|T/O Margin:||+12, 9th|
Season recap: In 2011, San Diego State lost nine starters, their head coach Brady Hoke -- you may have heard of him -- and their bubble screen-hating offensive coordinator among others in their coaching staff.
Despite that, defensive coordinator Rocky Long, known as one of the key developers of the 3-3-5 defense, took over the program and led the team to eight regular season wins and a bowl game. While they didn't really beat anyone good, given the circumstances and school (San Diego State, fergodsakes), I’m going to go ahead call that a successful season.
The Aztecs lost decisively to three teams: Michigan, TCU, and Boise State, but those three teams had a combined 34-5 record in 2011. Their other two losses were decided by their kicker missing a pair of field goals (39 and 27 yards) against Wyoming, and Louisiana-Lafayette’s kicker making his -- a 50-yarder -- as timed expired in the New Orleans Bowl.
Kickers win championships.
Other items of note: RB Ronnie Hillman, who was last year’s fourth most prolific rusher in the nation, edged out Virginia Tech’s David Wilson by two yards to finish third with 1,711 yards, and that was despite Hillman missing most of the Boise State game due to injury.
QB Ryan Lindley had an okay season. He cut down significantly on his interceptions, throwing 23 TD with just 8 INTs compared with last year’s 28 to 14, but his QB rating actually dropped from 149.4 to 125.7. I’m guessing that’s what happens when you don't have WRs Vincent Brown and Demarco Sampson to throw to.
Best win: @ Air Force. They were the only team San Diego State beat with a winning record.
Worst loss: @ Michigan. All postgame reports indicate that they were so devastated by the loss to their former coach, they didn’t even make it to the presser.
At the time, we thought they were frightening as: Some convoluted analogy about ex-fiancées, which put them at around a 4.
But now we know they are as frightening as: About the same -- still can't figure out how they feel about you -- but when you meet them you find out they're two inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter than you are. 3.5.
What the win meant for Michigan: First the bad. Denard’s arm made us feel queasy again when he completed fewer than half of his passes (8 of 17) for the third game in a row, throwing for just 93 yards, zero touchdowns, and two picks. His QB rating of 69.5 that game was the lowest of his career as a starter.
But Borges ran him 21 times for 200 yards and busted out the speed option, which was kind of cool. Additionally Denard was in the middle of fighting a nasty staph infection, so extenuating circumstances and all that. Credit to Michigan's offensive line for bludgeoning through San Diego State’s wispy defensive line -- even the tailbacks, who were just so-so at the time, combined for 100+ yards to give the Wolverines their second 300-yard rushing game of the season.
What made this game memorable was the defense finally returning from its two-year hiatus. Michigan played bend-but-don't-break to perfection; San Diego State racked up 376 total yards of offense and entered the Wolverines side of the field nine times ... only to come away with just seven points. The Aztecs’ drive summary reads like this:
- Turnover on downs
- Three and out
- Three and out
- Three and out
- Turnover on downs
- Turnover on downs
It's a pretty sight when it happens to other people.
Hillman got his yards but fumbled away two possessions. Lindley was hurried all game and couldn’t get in sync with his receivers, completing less than half of his passes.
Many of you will probably remember that many of Lindley's incompletions were due to the emergence of Blake Countess, who made his debut in place of a struggling/injured Troy Woolfolk.
PBU. And Jelly.
Finally, we also got our first real glimpse of Brady Hoke the aggressive, calculated risk-taker when he went for a fourth down that robbed the Aztecs of a possession at the end of the first half. This decision and subsequent decisions of a similar nature helped redefine MANBALL and appease Lloydball-Hating Bloggers at Cook family tailgates everywhere.
And it totally felt as awesome as: Making it through the non-conference schedule undefeated for the third year in a row.
high, and low
Getting stopped was the straw that broke the camel's back. Press release:
University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke announced on Tuesday (Jan. 17) that wide receiver Darryl Stonum has been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.
"I love Darryl and wish him nothing but the absolute best," Hoke said. "However, there is a responsibility and a higher standard you must be accountable to as a University of Michigan football student-athlete. That does not and will not change. It's unfortunate because I believe he has grown a great deal as a person since the beginning of the season. My hope is that maturing process continues."
Stonum started 25 of 36 career games at U-M, catching 76 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned 62 kickoffs for 1,538 yards and holds the single-season kickoff return mark with 39 returns for 1,001 yards in 2009. Stonum redshirted in 2011.
"I appreciate everything the University of Michigan, Dave Brandon and Coach Hoke have done for me," said Stonum. "I look forward to continuing my football career down the road, but more importantly, right now I'm focused on graduating from Michigan this Spring. I understand only I am responsible for my actions. I'm sad about how all of this turned out, but I completely understand. I love this school and my team and will miss them all greatly. But I'll always be a Wolverine. I know I have grown and matured as a person over the last nine months, and I will continue to learn and grow every day. I want to thank everyone for all of their support, and I hope they will support me in the future."
Michigan now has a major hole at outside receiver with the departures of Stonum and Hemingway. Roy Roundtree will start at one spot; the other spot will either be Jeremy Gallon, Jerald Robinson, Jeremy Jackson, or some freshmen. Gallon will be needed for slot duties, so inevitably this puts Robinson and or Jackson on the field for a bunch more snaps. Probably Jackson; since Jackson is very much a possession type that will expose Michigan to the same sorts of athleticism issues that plagued them in the Virginia Tech game.
If Michigan knew this was coming it makes the Arnett situation strange; it was always strange they didn't take Devin Lucien last year; this may open up a spot for OH WR Monty Madaris, who is scheduled to visit next weekend and suddenly has a wide open depth chart to luxuriate in should he want to don a winged helmet. CA WR Jordan Payton committed to Cal at the Army game only to see his recruiter hired at Washington; Hoke has an in-home with him scheduled.