alternate headline: man does job
If it hasn't been made abundantly clear to you how quickly everything moves in the modern world: take a week off from posting and see how much things change in that time. Or better yet, book mark every 'important' news stories you read this month...then stop...and go back next April and look at them.
365 days ago the board and the site were running around with our hair on fire because it appeared (and reports surfaced) that Trey Burke was going pro. We were in a panic because so much potential was on the horizon...and it appeared to be thwarted before we even started. Around this same time we had just secured the commitment from some anonymous PG from Indiana whom ESPN had rated as a 1-star...Spike something or other.
There was a report that Trey hadn't been to class in weeks and that he had all of his belongings in garbage bags in his room. He had just had a stellar season and everything was wonderful (with the exception of the first round exit) for him and it appeared there was no real reason for him to return. Good things don't normally happen in basketball for us. We can't have nice things. So as result 368 days ago I went out on the ledge and Raback'd it that he was gone.
A few days later he announced he would return. I took my lumps, I voluntarily didn't post or comment for over a year. It was TOUGH and I don't advise you to do it.
Lots of stuff happened from the last time I posted. Sports stuff, life stuff, stuff stuff. You have to go back 187 pages of main page posts to find the thread where I said so long for a year.
Very brief summary that blew my mind while looking back over the past year: We were in an internet uproar over the band not going to Dallas (which was eventually reversed, PSU NCAA Banhammer dropped, a playoff was confirmed, we got ugly jerseys for the bama game, Nebraska and Wisconsin got uglier jerseys, Fitz and Clark got into some legal trouble and missed the Bama game, The 2012 season happened. Denard got hurt, everyone panicked, then Devin showed up and blew our minds, Vincent Smith got murdered against South Carolina, We said goodbye to Denard and the rest of the fantastic senior class, Taylor Lewan announced he would return for his senior season, basketball got REALLY, REALLY good, I tweeted back in January: "I don't know shit about basketball but this team is really fun to watch"...funny how that progressed into a spot in the NCG. Its been an amazing year.
So here we are a year later, it seems eminent that Trey is gone and maybe others...and we're not nearly as in a panic. Proof that Beilein has done some great work here and proof that we've re-established ourselves as a basketball school.
If anything a year off has taught me anything its patience. In a world the next big thing happens every fifteen seconds its easy to get caught up in the tweets of recruit X or what player Y said or what happened Saturday and why it means DOOM for our team. Things change all the time, we could all benefit from taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and letting things play out a little. ...and maybe not to make predictions.
Its good to be back. Go Blue! and here's to a happy off season...and no more guarantees from myself.
I was six, and my dad was listening to Bob Ufer's call of a Michigan game in our backyard. My memory tells me it was a beautiful sunny September day in Southeast Michigan. I didn't have the attention span to listen to a whole game, but my ears heard Ufer getting excited about something so I strolled over expecting to hear him celebrating another Meechigan victory. Instead, I witnessed the classic Ufer meltdown. I do not have an independent memory of Ufer's words, but I remember my dad explaining what happened, and I remember my dad's heartache. My most vivid memory is hearing the name Harry Oliver and knowing that this Notre Dame kicker ruined a perfectly good Saturday afternoon for me and my dad. In my heart, I thought nothing this bad could happen again to Michigan. I have never been so wrong.
I have been on this earth for nearly 40 years, and the Harry Oliver moments hurt exponentially more the longer we go without a national championship in football and basketball. Michigan has had so many great teams in football and basketball, but they always seem to break my heart. I was in Michigan Stadium for Minnesota in 86, Colorado's Hail Mary, Rocket's returns, Desmond's trip, The Horror and many more heartbreaks. Plus, I have lived through Webber's timeout, two second round exits by great basketball teams in the mid 80s, the "holding" call that ruined Bo's last game and on and on and on. Michigan has been in the championship game five times in my lifetime and have only sung The Victors once. Even the 97 football championship had to be polluted by a retirement gift for Tom Osborn.
During my lifetime schools like Florida, Alabama, Duke, UNC, Penn State, MSU, USC, Kansas, Nebraska, Florida State, Kentucky and Louisville have won two or more national championships in basketball, football or both. Too many times I just have to tell myself that Michigan could have beaten those teams if a blown call, dropped pass, half court heave or miracle kick did not keep us from having our chance to play for the championship.
I'm sick of what ifs and next years, Michigan is a special place that I love with all my heart. I want the Treys, ACs, McGarys and Desmonds to be the last men standing. Forty years, two national championships and infinite heartache.
Louisville is Harry Oliver, and my inner Ufer is screaming in agony. I am six years old. The sun is shining. I once again am telling myself that nothing this bad can happen again to this MEECHIGAN of ours. Go Blue!
I was watching pre-game coverage when a bout of inspiration hit me. I ignored all else so I could get this down before I forgot it. I hope you enjoy this. Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear there’s a pretty big game on right now.
The devil Pitino went down to Georgia, he was looking for a title to steal.
He was in a bind, his team was way behind because Burke was making steals.
He had run into some young men raining down threes and making some blocks.
the devil Pitino jumped up onto the hardcourt and said “Boys, let me tell you what:
“I bet you didn’t know it, but my team’s pretty damn good too
“And if you care to take a dare I’ll make a bet with you.
“Now you’ve playing good basketball, but give my Cardinals their due:
“I bet the national title against your game ‘cause I think we’re better than you.”
The boys said: “Well we’re the Fresh Five and this may not be wise,
“But we’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret, cause we’re the best since the Fab Five.”
Wolverines take your practice shots and get ready to play hard.
‘Cause Louisville’s in Georgia and
the devil Pitino deals the cards.
And if you win you gain respect from M fans young and old.
But if you lose, it just might crush my soul.
The devil Pitino chalked up many plays and said: “We’ll start this show.”
And threes rained from beyond the arc and put backs went down low.
And the Cardinals were the darlings, making Wolverine fans hiss.
Then the Cardinal sang a song to their glory and it sounded something like this:
When the Cardinals finished, the Fresh Five said: “Well you’re pretty good ‘ol chaps.
“But sit down on that bench, right there.” And Burke gave the court a slap.
Stauskas nailing three balls, one by one.
Burke showing all why we’re number one.
Robinson and Hardaway alley-oops, WHOA!
“Beilein does Big Puppy bite?”
Go, Mitch, go.”
The devil Pitino and the Cardinals sank low once they were beat.
And they laid the national title on the court at the Fresh Five’s feet.
Burke said: “
Devil Pitino just come on back but I warn you that’s not wise.
“’Cause we told you once, you sorry old man, we’re the best since the Fab Five.”
And they sang “Stauskas nailed three balls, one by one.
“Burke showed all why we’re number one.
“Robinson and Hardaway alley-ooped, WHOA!
“And Mitch got a double-double.
“Go, Blue, Go!”
Remaining Games Chart:
Since the last time I've modified the chart a bit so instead of a non-sensical number average, "Difficulty" is now on a log scale of 1 to 10 of the KenPom/RPI average weighted by site of game.
|23||#South Dakota St.||5||103||75||71-56|
Well, Here We Are
Not surprisingly, the most difficult game by the numbers comes last. Michigan displaced the previous #1 KenPom team convincingly and is rewarded by playing the new #1 for the championship.
The good news is that these rankings and statistics are a formality at this point. The game is a one-off, winner-take-all, who is hot on the right night, who gets the 50/50 call, who can make the shots. Michigan has been in every single game this season except for one and the circumstances leading up to that game are not what we have here tonight.
NCAA Tourney Run vs B1G Gauntlet
If you laid out Michigan’s tournament games from the Sweet 16 to the Championship you would see before you, at least according to KenPom, an unrivaled task of difficulty – four consecutive top 10 opponents, with lots of travel and not much time to prepare.
Michigan, incredibly, has already run an equally challenging gauntlet earlier this year. There are no advanced statistics that can measure what kind of benefit of experience a team takes away from playing the top four teams consecutively (three on the road) in a nine day span; but it is safe to say that these are the kinds of things that either make you or break you. Regardless of outcome Monday night the answer is already clear.
February 2nd – 12th
March 29th – April 8th
As painful as it was to watch, can you draw up a tougher cluster of regular season games with which to teach and prepare this extremely young Michigan team?
- Without Burke, could Michigan have rallied vs Kansas?
- Without Hardaway pouring in 21 points on 5 of 7 three point shooting in a fifteen point victory, does Michigan have what it takes to beat South Dakota St?
- Without Stauskas firebombing Florida, do the Gators keep it close and have a shot to win?
- Without Robinson III's offensive efficiency and offensive rebounding does Michigan sputter in any of its tournament matchups, particularly Syracuse or SDSt?
- Without McGary becoming a world beater, doesn't Michigan suffer an inevitable "Wisconsin"-style loss to Syracuse or get blown out by Kansas or get upset by VCU?
- Without Albrecht becoming the most eligible bachelor and putting together a tournament highlight reel all his own, does Burke get worn down to the point Michigan exits early?
- Without LeVert making two critical three pointers and playing a terrific defensive game, does Michigan have what it takes to outlast Syracuse?
- Without Jordan Morgan "getting stops", does Michigan make it to the Championship game?
The best part of this run has been every rotation player has made plays crucial to the success of the whole team. As much as I thought the team's success would be utterly reliant on Trey Burke's performance, as went he so would the team's fate. Now vs Kansas this was true. But against South Dakota St and Syracuse in particular this was very much not the case. As a whole, the team has exceeded wildest expectations.
The Path To 32:
At Christmas I had seen this team play three games out in New York, I knew they were special. Now to climb to the top of the mountain we can throw out all the numbers, forget all the statistics, take our own time-out and appreciate how awesome this team is. The most difficult game of the season is the last. There is no tomorrow, but there is no fear.