i refuse to even consider this a possibility
CHRISTMAS NOTE: Everyone is off until Friday, except possibly Seth, a general in the War On Christmas. Enjoy the time spent with your family and do everything you can to speed up 2013's untimely demise.
12/21/2013 – Michigan 68 – Stanford 65 – 7-4
No column, just bullets:
I'll take it. With Mitch McGary out and Horford fouling out in six minutes, Michigan was down to Jordan Morgan and Max Bielfeldt for big swathes of this game. Meanwhile, LeVert scores one point on seven shots. I will take a neutral court-ish win over a team that just beat UConn in that situation, even if it's by three points.
We Wisconsin'd 'em. Beilien did the thing again where you get to see him be first season Walter White in the locker room, and the brief snippet they played featured Beilein saying the word "solid" three times in one sentence in re: Michigan's defense. He got that.
He mentioned chests prominently. Michigan used them to annoy a huge Stanford team on a variety of post-up shots that ended up being bad looks because Michigan was committing that foul where you shuffle out, bumping your chest into the shooter as he goes up. Unlike everything Horford did, that never gets called and was not called. Stauskas in particular had a couple of "did I just see that" possessions where a dude got the ball on the low block against him and ended up with a heavily contested fallaway. IIRC he was on a 6'10" guy on those shots.
Stanford ended up shooting pretty well from inside the arc (47%), with their center Nastic going 5 of 6, but again a total of six minutes from Horford and no McGary. Given the circumstances, it was a good effort.
Hey, now I remember why I liked you. Been a huge struggle for Morgan for about half a season now but he really pulled Michigan's ass out of the fire, fronting posts for turnovers, boxing out (though he only had five rebounds himself that very large Stanford team was limited to 18% OREB), and following up his obligatory ARRRGH Y U NO FINISH moment by rebounding his missed bunny and putting it back in. He also put on his Mitch McGary hat on a couple of outlet passes that led to hockey assists. Without Morgan making a consistently positive impact, this is another loss and man things look grim.
Other sectors not often heard from. Michigan was miserable from outside the arc with the exception of Zak Irvin, who went 4 of 8 to prevent the rest of the team's 4 of 23 mark from tanking the season. This pops his season average up to 41%, which will shock you if you missed the Coppin State and Houston Baptist games.
Irvin is Just A Shooter. He's got a miniscule TO rate of 8, an even more miniscule FT rate of 7, and has taken about 70% of his shots from behind the line. But when he starts doing more things than shooting threes, people will not say he's Not Just A Shooter, because he's a black guy.
JUST SAY IT. Raftery teased all game and finally got out a "not just a shooter" near the end of the first half; announcers seem to have glommed onto the fact that the internet gently mocks them for saying Nik Stauskas is not just a shooter every time he adds to his enormous pile of free throws. They are trying not to say it.
Just say it, man. We like it when you say it, because it signifies Stauskas has just thrown down a dunk or somesuch other thing.
Speaking of Stauskas's growing pile of free throws. He had 87 all last year. He's going to blow through that in a couple games now as he's already got 71. The leap in his game is reflected in the statistics, in which he's made a Burke-like freshman to sophomore transition. His usage is up from 16 to 23; his assists have more than doubled while his TO rate slips, he's drawing almost six fouls a game, his FT rate has doubled, and his shooting is right on par with last season save a dip in FT% despite the increased usage.
Things will cool off as Michigan exits the bit of their season where Houston Baptist lets you sit in the corner by yourself and repeat your YouTube videos for a live studio audience, sure. Stauskas's emergence into the guy is undeniable. It was a palpable relief that Stanford wasn't going nuts overplaying him on the perimeter a la Duke.
Unfair expectations theater. Every missed Stauskas free throw engenders a tiny conniption fit from me, because I expect him to be Chauncey Billups at the line and he is not. Meanwhile if Mitch McGary hits a free throw I throw a tiny parade for him. (Tiny Mitch McGary parade: buy it for your small child today.) Good news: I have not had a tiny conniption fit for three games, in which Stauskas is 19/19 at the line, including the clutch pair at the end of this game to make the last-ditch Stanford three merely an alarming thing instead of an OH NO BACKBOARDS situation.
Neutral court-ish. Virtual home court again for Michigan. I mind these neutral court things less in basketball where you have a lot more games to play with and a lot fewer people you're trying to pack in. Also, there are a lot of Michigan fans in New York. This makes it unlike, oh, say, Dallas. It does suck that the nonconference home schedule was Arizona and hot garbage but Michigan probably thought they were getting a home game in the B10/ACC challenge and then got screwed.
I'm still boggled at the economics of playing a tournament like the Puerto Rico one, though, where you're playing all your games in a virtually empty arena. I guess Puerto Rico really wants to convince you that they have a gym in which the floor is always wet no matter what you do. Mission accomplished, land of enchantment.
Glenn. Hello. Second straight game in which Robinson has been very efficient, not only at throwing down monster alley-oops but at creating his own shot. Robinson had 17 and probably should have had a couple more as he went 4/8 from the line. If maintained this development bodes well, as it takes pressure off of the point guards even further.
Go team. (Other team.) FSU just picked up a good win against previously undefeated UMass. Their losses are in OT to Michigan, by one point to Florida, and by ten to Minnesota; Kenpom has them going 20-10 and 11-7 in the ACC, which would make them a win you'd see noted as a nice one when it comes time to parse resumes. Stanford has the look of a bubble team, but hopefully they get some thing straightened out and outperform expectations. There is almost no chance of that since Stanford is comparatively ancient as a team.
Freshmen sometimes play like freshmen, but fergodsakes…
From Hardaway to Stauskas, Michigan fans in recent seasons have been spoiled by freshmen who show up and can immediately ball with the starters. So what's up with Walton/Irvin? Were we too high on them or is this normal for kids before Christmas? Will they improve enough by March to make Michigan the contender we thought they were at the beginning of the season?
Brian: I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE
Okay, sorry, sorry. It is kind of weird that all of a sudden Michigan has to deal with freshmen playing like freshmen. Last year Stauskas was pretty great from the drop, GRIII was the perfect addition to a Trey Burke driven team, and even Albrecht came off the bench to play his role effectively and occasionally drop sick dimes on VCU or rain threes on Louisville. The year before that, Trey Burke! The year before that Tim Hardaway was just a (high volume, pretty effective) shooter but I'll take just a shooter from a freshman.
|The last freshman who wasn't really efficient as a true freshman.|
You have to go back to 2010(!) to find a Michigan team that didn't get really efficient play from at least one of its freshmen. That year, Darius Morris did get starter's minutes at the point but barely shot and had a post-like 27 TO rate. And even in that situation you can understand what happened: Morris was a no-shoot pick and roll savant playing with Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims. The former was a ball magnet with no conscience, the latter a PF masquerading as a C. He was never going to be a great player until he got to dominate the ball a la Manny.
Michigan's freshmen are not in that situation. Irvin can stand in the corner and jack threes a la freshman Hardaway just fine, hypothetically. Walton, too, is in a situation where he can contribute with his decent three point shooting and hypothetically good on-ball defense without having to dominate the ball, which doesn't seem like a good idea. So they can slot in to provide effective help for the GRIII/LeVert/Stauskas troika that spearheads Michigan shot generation. We just have to see them do it.
I think both have disappointed, and that it's reasonable to expect better production--some production--any production--from guys ranked in the top 50 most places. That's not to write either off. I mean, Caris LeVert. Players get better, often radically. But Michigan fans are well within their rights to be a little disappointed about how it's gone for the freshmen so far.
As for whether they'll get better, I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE. Someone tell me yes.
[After the Jump: people who work for Brian telling him 'yes']
Oh man. I will not mention anything about brothers.
Mary Sue Coleman? That's gotta sting. Compounding matters: Steelcase CEO James Hackett, another of their speakers, is also a Michigan graduate. Fergodsake, MSU, just put Narduzzi up there.
SCORE. Wolverine Historian has had his video library restored. Run around in circles, but in a good way. 408 painstakingly crafted retrospectives on Michigan past, back. Here is a randomly selected one:
The infuriating part of all of this was that no one who puts these things on the tubes is looking to get rich; they are just sharing their fandom, taking items of little financial but excellent emotional value. I'm not going to pay one red cent to watch a game from 2001 broadcast on free television. I will take in a highlight package and deepen my fandom. It's a soft benefit from the perspective on high, but man if I was looking at 0.01% of my revenue versus not being T3Media, well…
US Soccer gets this; they slap great highlight packages from every game they have rights to on YouTube (ie, no World Cup), and sometimes I get lost in them like it's Wikipedia. It's 100% feelingsball, but that kind of thing makes me like the USMNT more from the top down. Getting annoyed by whatever Michigan's latest un-embeddable video player that's crappier than YouTube by a factor of ten is a detraction, and the payoff is minimal.
Hopefully this is a sign that the hardliners have been relegated to the back. T3's channel exists, even. Now… can YouTube maybe unlock my previous UFR account?
LET US DISPATCH ENTHUSIASM. Man, I wanted to write a post on the Concordia game but it seemed like too much what with Ace saying all the things I wanted to. Still, UMHoops jumps in as they are wont to and I want to say things about things. So let's do that.
- Concordia but. In 2010, Michigan played Concordia. They won 86-65 and Concordia's center went off for 29 points on Jordan Morgan. Michigan led 42-32 at the half. This was a different game, and a different level of team. That team was a Darius Morris bucket away from taking Duke to OT in the second round of the NCAA tournament. This game was an annihilation, and that was without the guy who's probably the best player on the team.
- Oh, man, Caris. I will not get too excited about Caris LeVert. I will not get too excited about Caris LeVert. I will not WOOOOOOO CARIS LEVERT. LeVert flashed the ability to get where he wanted on the court last year, which is an impressive ability at 6'6". He never really delivered; he was always the kind of guy who might blow up hardcore with some more development. Blowing up hardcore is… I will not get too excited about Caris LeVert. Oh man.
- GRIII, also. Robinson drove to about 15 feet and pulled up for a Jumper I Hate and it went down, back of the iron, smooth, and I wasn't even mad because Robinson going and getting it is something to look at.
- Stauskas, also. Do not play the "not just a shooter" drinking game this year. You will die.
- Walton… you get it. This is a team with many good players on it.
Racine back soon? The Daily's Greg Garno tweets that Red is "leaning" towards Zach Nagelvoort this weekend; he has returned to practice. That one word promises Racine back on the ice next week or the week after. Even if that seems far less urgent than it did when he went out against New Hampshire, Racine's still the starter and should be until he falters.
This will be cool or infuriating or probably both. Prepare thine vintage torches and antique pitchforks, ye mobbe of Ten Yeare War-ists.
BTN Originals will premiere Tiebreaker, the network’s first feature-length documentary, at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 16. Tiebreaker paints an indelible portrait of college football’s most storied rivalry and reveals a forgotten moment in college football history that helped shape today’s game.
The 60-minute documentary examines the aftermath of the 1973 Ohio State v. Michigan football game that ended in a 10-10 tie. With both teams sporting identical 7-0-1 conference records, Big Ten Athletic Directors were left to vote on which school would represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. At that time, only one Big Ten team could play in a bowl game. In a controversial vote, the Big Ten Athletic Directors voted to send Ohio State to Pasadena. Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler called the decision “the lowest day of my athletic career.”
Hopefully this is a little more hard-hitting than The Journey, which is about 20% cool inside stuff and 80% watching Aaron Craft make pancakes. That's not a joke. I caught an episode last year in which a good five minutes was dedicated to Aaron Craft making pancakes*. Moar NFL films, less soft-focus twee, please.
*[Naturally, he crowded the pan.]
Not looking great. The Power Rank's take on the Big Ten division race:
A win Saturday and Michigan State is gone; so much for the preseason It All Comes Down To November meme. It comes down to this game. Win it and Michigan has a half-game lead. Lose it and State is 2.5 up on M and home free unless… uh… yeah, home free. Ed's numbers have Michigan with a 37% shot in East Lansing, FWIW.
Etc.: Dan on Fire is the best. Boy can the NCAA write a grabbing headline. Narduzzi's probably out the door soon, so at least there's that. Florida: the new Purdue? Come on, certify the players' class, man. More with that girl from the Indiana game. Someone find a different picture of her.
ball so hard (Dustin Johnston/UMHoops)
With a conveniently-located bye week we took the opportunity to preview the basketball team.
POINT GUARD. Derrick Walton doesn't have to be Trey Burke to replicate his freshman year stats. Spike throwing it in; Caris being huge?
NOT JUST A SHOOTING GUARD. Drink. Stauskas is jacked. Stauskas is good at the pick and roll. Stauskas needs to shoot well from more places than the corner. Caris also here.
SMALL FORWARD. I believe by midseason Zak Irvin will demand 30 minutes a game, which will come here. Glenn Robinson III will get the rest of the minutes and hopefully be an aggressive monster.
SOMEWHAT LARGER FORWARD. GRIII, McGary, Morgan (who'll play the 4 defensively if he's out there with another big.)
CENTER. Oh man please don't let the back issue be a thing.
Michigan State is CLEARLY the favorite, says Ace. This leads to a conversation about the nature of clarity and almost gets Ace to throw his shoe at me. I say two-seed in the tourney.
TALKING BIG TEN WITH JOHN GASAWAY
Always a privilege to talk with Big Ten Wonk. This is Iowa's year to break through! No, seriously. This time. Indiana fall off, Michigan State CLEARLY the favorite.
The usual links: