Coaches' timeouts are worse. Basketball teams should get one, full stop.
The ways in which the Michigan basketball team developed over the course of the year are very impressive, and are obviously a huge reason that Michigan is currently in position to at worst get a three seed, likely get a two seed, and still has a puncher's chance at a one seed. Oh, and not to mention that Michigan won the B1G by three games.
My question, up for discussion, is which mid-season improvement/development was the most important, not just in terms of immediate results, but also heading into the tournaments?
I think the revitalization of Nik will be a big emphasis, but I'm going to go a bit different direction. While Michigan still struggles a bit on defense (the start of the Indiana game was nauseating), I think the improvement and development of the 1-3-1 zone has directly lead to 2-3 wins in the second half of B1G play. Early in the B1G, it seemed like every time they went zone it was free buckets for the other team. But MSU and Indiana I remember off hand really struggling against it and that allowing Michigan to get big stops at big times.
For a team that sometimes struggles to get stops, but doesn't necessarily need a ton of stops to be successful, I think the development of that different look and little extra thing for opposing teams to have to prepare for on short notice is a huge benefit going into the tournament, and I think may be the biggest and overlooked development this year.
So what say you guys? Nik's reemergence? Morgan's improved low-post play and patience when he gets the ball in his hands? GRIII turning the corner? The two-headed PG monster and their continued development?
Coach Beilein is currently well behind the leaders in the annual Infiniti Coach's Charity Challenge. Vote here.
Hoops season starts soon and we're all very excited about that. John Beilein is a genius! We're ranked #7! We're coming off a Final Four! OMG Shirtless Sophomores! We have good reason to be upset about yesterday, and the overall play of our 6-2 team but I personally believe in the big picture. "Fire Hoke" and drawing negative conclusions about his regime's trajectory is unwise at this juncture. Allow me to describe -- using parallels to our current hoops coach who is figuratively walking on water in AA these days.
Beilein was hired in 2007 to replace a "sexy" name who didn't get the job done. Nobody was really excited about the hire because we struck out on Pitino [EDIT: Pitino was 2001. In any case, Beilein wasn't a super exciting hire with his "White Guy" reputation and preverbial "ceiling"]. Hoke, 2011, and Harbaugh and it's the same. Beilein had to re-recruit Harris and Sims and we struggled to a 10-22 record. His second year was charmed and we overacheived to an NCAA Tournament win. Hoke had to re-recruit Denard and others and we overachieved to a Sugar Bowl win. At this juncture, Hoke is ahead of schedule. Both coaches/teams fell back down to earth in the following season and fans are rightfully disappointed.
In Beilein's following season (2010-11), we started 1-6 in Big Ten play before the light went on and we upset MSU in East Lansing. It's been a consistent increase in production ever since. This isn't Hollywood so the parallels aren't perfect (we got smoked yesterday and Lewan didn't have an anueysm of leadership), but we're 6-2 and have some opportunities to wake up. In any case, we're still a year ahead of schedule according to the "Blueprint to BUILDING a Program" by John Beilein.
Now, Beilein made some coaching changes (Hello: Jordan, Meyer, and Alexander) that helped him out. I'm not saying Hoke does or doesn't need to make a few changes, but we're still figuratively playing with a couple Novak's and Douglass' at some skill positions, but while others (like the guards) have Darius Morris talent before the transformation.
The worst thing Hoke could have done was apparently expidite expectations with the Sugar Bowl. Have some perspective; remember Beilein's long road. We're recruiting better than ever. He's united the alumni and we love how he does things the "Michigan way". We've enjoyed some success on the field and I promise we'll get to play MSU (1-2 isn't ideal, but better than 0-3), OSU (1-1), and ND (2-1) again.
My opinion is that we should continue to support Michigan. We're obviously not where we want to be, but these things take some time. Tough to coach ourselves to a win when the interior O-Line literally gets crushed within 1 second on every play.
Should this be a diary? Is this too long? Are my paragraphs not up to the "MGoBlog Pulitzer standard?" Who cares. Step away from the cliff, anxious Michigan fans. The last time we gathered our pitchforks coaches negative recruited the hell out of our coaching stability and we got a Josh Groban appearance we'd all like to forget.
Per Larry Lage from AP, via Twitter:
#Michigan has signed Beilein to a 3-year extension to keep him under contract thru 2018-19 for $2.45 million in total compensation per year
So, I'm heading to the "Sports-O-Rama" tomorrow in Chicago with Hoke & Beilein. I doubt there will be any opportunity (or need) to ask any questions. Still, if you have any questions to suggest, and should there be opportunity, I'll ask them. So feel free to give me your questions. Oh, and if those of you who have gone to these things have any pertinent advice, please let me know.
There is a nice Freep story on Andrew Dakich and his place at Michigan. Link: Dakich: Michigan Perfect Fit.
Here are several things I found interesting:
- He turned down scholarships and guaranteed PT at mid-majors to play at Michigan. Having a chance at a Big 10 school was key.
- This is the fifth time a prominent, basketball savvy father has wanted to entrust his son to Beilein. (Hardaway, Horford, Robinson, and even Bartelstein.)
- He knows his role (3rd point guard after Spike & Walton,) but also believes he can earn PT.
- Dan Dakich and Beilein go back a long way, and Dakich also has a good relationship going back a ways with others on the Michigan coaching staff.
Andrew Dakich on the visit, Michigan, teammates, and the fit:
“The visit was awesome, the campus was amazing, the facilities are unbelievable, the academics,” he said. “I’m really close with Mark, and I’ve gotten a lot closer with Zak because he lives near me. I thought it was a perfect fit, and my dad did, too. He said, ‘Your dream is to play in the Big Ten and see what you can do.’
On his father's relationship with Michigan:
My dad trusts him more than anyone. … It’s one of the best coaching staffs, if not the best coaching staff, there is. He’s very excited and thinks I’m in good hands for the next four years.
On the appeal of having a chance to play:
On a team that started walk-on guards just five years ago and played a virtual unknown in Albrecht major minutes in the national championship game, Dakich has hope.
Apart from what anyone thinks of Dan Dakich as a commentator, he knows basketball. The implicit trust and recommendation from him and other prominent Dads in the business (Hardaway, Robinson, etc.) speaks extremely highly of Michigan and the coaching staff.
The other thing I never thought about in the National Title Game was the huge recruiting tool Spike Albrecht has become in reaching out to a player like Andrew Dakich. The fact that Spike spelled Trey Burke, played alongside him, and had an insane performance in the National Title Game, gives hope to all kinds of kids who want to make it in the Big Time. They now have clear proof that they have a chance at Michigan. It is easy for a coach to say that "all playing time is earned, and everyone has an equal chance.." Beilein, on the other hand, proves this when someone like Albrecht (and also LeVert) get substantial time on the floor.