good luck with that
3/3/2013 – Michigan 58, Michigan State 57 – 24-5, 11-5 Big Ten
left via @detnewsRodBeard / right Eric Upchurch
Sports are hard, and even great players usually succumb to their hardness. When the hockey team had TJ Hensick, when they were tied or trailing late I spent all moments with Hensick on the bench pining for his next shift, and mostly was disappointed when nothing happened. I mean… Denard Robinson. That guy was so great that he ran through two Ohio State defenders and teleported to the endzone, and yet that first sentence is a large chunk of his Michigan career epitaph.
There's a reason Wikipedia describes Casey at the Bat like so:
For a relatively short poem apparently dashed off quickly (and denied by its author for years), "Casey at the Bat" had a profound effect on American popular culture. It has been recited, re-enacted, adapted, dissected, parodied and subjected to just about every other treatment one could imagine.
Probability is an implacable thing. When we turn our lonely eyes to hero du jour in our time of need, the odds are stacked against us. If you're great you move that needle only slightly. Your brain is all like
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
They'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.
Your brain is kind of dumb, and Casey at the Bat is great at telling you that. Your brain listens but does not hear.
My dumb brain was contemplating a blown ten-point lead against Michigan State on the heels of a blown 15-point lead to Penn State and had decided basketball was a pudding and the universe a fake. Michigan State had the ball, the game was tied, and the shot clock was no longer relevant. Earlier in the year Michigan had lost when a no-hoper went in, and my dumb brain was assuming that would always happen forever.
Burke did this.
The thing about this is that Burke developed that move midway through the season and now deploys it a few times a game. He really ramped it up after his first game against Aaron Craft, seemingly because Craft just pissed him off. A few times a game Burke will muster his energy, hike up his shorts, and go looking for trouble on defense. That's part of his ever-expanding game.
That breakway layup off the from-behind steal is a thing I can see him gearing up for now, and I saw it then, and because my brain is dumb it'll burn that into my memory and not the other times when Casey struck out.
It'll go there next to Braylonfest and Mario Manningham and Ernest Shazor killing that guy and Phil Brabbs and that one time I turned on a basketball game with Michigan down 15 to Wisconsin with six minutes left and saw Daniel Horton eat that deficit into nothingness. It'll probably be the first thing anyone involved with this rivalry thinks about when Trey Burke is brought up. It was the kind of thing that's the first thing on the highlight reel when they put your number in the rafters.
That he followed it up by robbing Michigan State of a chance to respond is icing on the cake. After Ben Brust, any shot in the air with a chance to beat Michigan is going to be two seconds of awful anticipation no matter how likely it is to go in. Trey Burke is both awesome at basketball and extremely protective of my emotions. He curls his lip and tilts his head and probably says "damn" and takes basketballs away from people who should not have them after 38 minutes of carrying twelve teammates and 12-thousand-some people in Crisler on his back.
Dawgs. This program has had a couple of nasty dudes at point guard the past few years. I hope Derrick Walton can inherit that.
Your excuses are lame. Both Izzo and Appling claimed that there was some sort of confusion about timeouts before Burke picked Appling's pocket, which is a pretty weak explanation since Appling has clearly decided no TO is coming when he spins and moves to the center of the court. Y'all got robbed straight up.
Life is strange. Michigan loses to Penn State, then beats Michigan State despite going 0/12 from three. I quiver at the thought of playing Purdue. Everyone will turn into crows and play crowhockey, or something.
Obligatory video review complaint. Nik Stauskas got busted open by a wild Branden Dawson elbow, required 12 stitches and was not able to return—probably because he was concussed—and no foul was assessed after an interminable break. It looked like this:
If that's the way you're going to call it, fine. It was inadvertent. But then stop with the interminable reviews. Apparently nothing is a flagrant foul, so stop looking for them.
It's strange how different sports legislate themselves. If hockey was reffed under basketball rules, every post-whistle scrum would come with two ejections, but in basketball you can crush a guy's face and as long as you weren't looking at him it's cool. That's some sort of penalty in the other two sports where elbows get involved, hockey and soccer, and probably a red card/major. In basketball, nope… but only one sport stops the game incessantly to look at these sorts of incidents. I don't get it man.
Morgan defense watch. After Dan Dakich pointed out that Nix always-always goes over his right shoulder when making post moves it's been something that's stood out to me as I watch MSU play, and in this one it was obvious. In that tendency you could see where Morgan is a superior on-ball defender to McGary.
Against Morgan, Nix put up a bunch of contested shots on which Morgan positioned himself such that Nix would take a bump as he tried to go up. In scattered matchups against McGary it was clear McGary had not absorbed the scouting report; Nix got him for a bucket by threatening to go to the middle of the lane and then spinning over his right shoulder like he always does. Morgan, on the floor at the same time, was visibly irritated at McGary—he probably said something along the lines of "he ALWAYS turns over his right shoulder" or "RTFSR*."
Despite that make the difference in Nix's efficacy was dramatic. Morgan played nine minutes in the first game; Nix went 6 of 9 from the floor and had 3 assists to no turnovers. Morgan had 24 in this one; Nix went 2 of 9 with 2 assists and six turnovers, with one of those makes the aforementioned bucket against McGary. Morgan's absence in the first game was definitely a contributing factor to the ugliness therein.
*["Read the frondling scouting report."]
Mocking floor slap for the win. State did the team floor slap thing in the previous game, and did it in this one, and Big Tough Mr. Men got an alley-oop on their face this time, whereupon Michigan responded with sports sarcasm:
Sports sarcasm is the best. You can tell it is mocking because 1) everyone knows MSU's about to call a TO, and Trey does it twice. I enjoyed that.
McGary FTs. Having Mitch McGary receive the inbounds pass at the end was clearly not the best idea, but Michigan put themselves in a situation where that was possible by using up all their timeouts early. When MSU tripled Burke it was a scramble off the make and the other options were Horford and a covered LeVert.
1) Dump basketball timeouts. End game situations are more chaotic and fun without them.
2) Don't call all of them, especially when you're just setting up a play instead of preserving a possession.
McGary other game. A mixed bag. Like the rest of the bigs he shares in the issues rebounding. One DREB in 21 minutes is Nnanna Egwu level output. He was efficient offensively, going 4/6 from the floor and hitting 3/5 FTs, and he generated a few of those shots himself with two-bounce drives and a nice short corner turnaround. He's showing things that should lead to an increased offensive role as he develops.
Paging Caris Levert. (Upchurch @ right) With Stauskas knocked out four minutes in, Caris LeVert got starters minutes. He did okay with them, scoring eight points on 4/8 shooting from two, missing three attempts from deep, and getting a couple steals. He was mostly guarding Gary Harris; Harris had an eh day with 16 points on 16 shot equivalents.
As long as Stauskas isn't suffering ill effects from the concussion I don't think he'll see his playing time cut much if at all… as long as he's not doing the things that caused Beilein to explode at him in the Penn State game. Competition for that spot will improve it, and if Caris is reliable enough to get him 16 minutes instead of eight Michigan can rest Tim Hardaway a bit more.
Statistical extremes. Take your pick as to which was more of an anomaly: Michigan going 0-fer from three or MSU coughing up 18 turnovers to Michigan's 7. I'll take the former since Michigan is a notoriously low-turnover team and MSU has had their share of issues. Also in the anomaly bucket: MSU rebounded half their misses. While not entirely unexpected, that is extreme.
Speaking of the rebounding. Hammered. Michigan went with the dual-big lineup for nine minutes; it didn't help much. As mentioned, McGary just had 1 DREB. Morgan had four, Horford none in four minutes. If the ball wasn't bouncing to a guard chances are Michigan did not get it.
Michigan's rebounding is reverting after another nonconference season in which they found themselves top-ten. After entering Big Ten play #2 in DREB they're down to 45th. They're fifth in Big Ten play, still a major step up from last year's ninth but not an earth-shaking paradigm change.
Burke fall down make fast break. Michigan State exploited a couple of things to get some early fast break opportunities off of makes: 1) Burke falls down a lot after he tries layups and 2) he never gets a call on this even if someone has bashed him to the ground. You'd like to see him keep his feet, but it's hard to see how in a lot of these situations.
Drinkin' your milkshake part 2. Drake Harris visited last weekend. This weekend…
Devin Gardner changes his twitter handle like every two weeks.
I hear tell he's supposed to be back next weekend, too? Dios mio, man.
And just the end:
Forget something guy? /Thorin.
Watch it again. Then re-read the texts from your Sparty brother/friend where he blames Appling for everything. Then watch it again.
Trey Burke's legs were failing him. He'd just missed a jumper, and on the ensuing Michigan State fast break he couldn't get back to close out on Gary Harris—while Harris missed the open three, Michigan's discombobulated defense couldn't keep Derrick Nix from hitting the putback.
The basket cut the Wolverine lead to four with just over six minutes to play, and the only Wolverine to consistently produce offensively appeared to be running on fumes.
On the very next possession, Burke found a way past MSU's Keith Appling for another layup. He'd score six more points to close out the game, and of course came up with two steals to seal a classic nailbiter against Michigan's chief basketball rival. The only Wolverine with more than four made field goals, Burke ground his way to 21 points on 8/17 shooting with eight assists, two turnovers, and five(!) steals. As if that wasn't enough, he held Appling to nine points on nine shots.
The lasting images of this game will be Burke's pickpocketing of Appling at midcourt, subsequent breakaway dunk, his jubilant—and yes, just a bit mocking—slapping of the floor (left, Upchurch), and his final swipe of Gary Harris to end the game. For me, though, it will be him trying, and failing, to get back on Harris, only to dig into the deepest recesses of his soul and find the energy to pull out the win.
Michigan's chances to win took a huge blow just four minutes into the game, when an errant elbow from Branden Dawson caught Nik Stauskas flush above the eye, opening up a nasty cut that required 12 stitches and left the Wolverines without their best outside shooter. Not coincidentally, Michigan missed all 12 of their three-point attempts in the game. Miraculously, this didn't spell their demise.
That had much to do with Michigan's much-maligned big men. Jordan Morgan, who barely played in the first contest between these two, hounded Spartan forward Derrick Nix into six turnovers with stellar on-ball defense and several drawn charges. Mitch McGary scored 11 points off the bench (4/6 from the field) with three offensive rebounds, bringing the team much-needed energy and even hitting a couple clutch free throws down the stretch (yes, he also missed the front end of a one-and-one and had a critical late turnover, though it appeared the latter was a botched call, by no means the only one in this game).
With Stauskas absent, Caris LeVert was forced to take on a big role and came through as well as one could ask of a rail-thin freshman in a tight, physical contest. While he missed all three of his shots from downtown, he hit 4/8 two-pointers—including a pretty up-and-under at the first half buzzer to cut Michigan's halftime deficit to three—and played solid perimeter defense. Fellow freshman Glenn Robinson III chipped in eight points (4/6 field goals), and unlike the first game the Spartans couldn't take advantage of his interior defense, in large part because John Beilein did his best to play two bigs when Nix and Adreian Payne were both on the floor.
There were struggles, of course. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored just six points on 3/12 shooting and had three turnovers, looking like the scuffling Hardaway of last year. In the first half, the Spartans rebounded ten of their 20 missed shots, and the Wolverines' inability to keep them off the glass opened up the perimeter—State took advantage by hitting 5/11 first-half threes. A late five-point possession for MSU featured an and-one and two offensive rebounds, cutting a ten-point lead in half when it appeared the Wolverines could cruise to victory.
In the end, though, it was Burke's day. Even with the gas tank perilously close to empty, Burke staked his claim as the best player in the country. In doing so, he not only kept the Wolverines from going into a tailspin, but propelled them to second place in the Big Ten, with an outside—but very real—chance that next Sunday's game against Indiana will be for a share of the conference crown.
The final stat line may not be as gaudy as some of his others, but this was Trey Burke's entry into Michigan basketball lore. Slap the floor—the Wolverines aren't done defending their Big Ten title.
Kind of good, that guy. Michigan just lost to Penn State and then beat Michigan State despite not hitting a three. All things are strange.
Muppets? Damn right muppets.
and you can't have one without the other...
Trey Burke kind of good you all.
On the banks of the Red Cedar, there's a bunch of entitled 3-stars. I'm sorry guys. I know we're not allowed to look past games, especially road games against teams that made it kinda close at Crisler. But then it broke this morning that Sparty is hiring Jim Bollman for their new OC and, like, this IS the game of the year.
Yes I just said Jim Bollman. Let's check in with our favorite OSU blogger for a little perspective…
In his only OC season Jim Bollman took Braxton Miller, a veteran line he hand-picked, NFL talent at RB/WR & finished 107th in total offense.
— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) February 27, 2013
This opportunity doesn't come along very often so let's everybody just take a moment, collect yourself, then find your nearest Spartan and point and laugh.
How it works:
- I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of the designated game, and put it in the comments, preferably in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score]. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you were the closest, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
- Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.
About Last Time:
A nice ho-hum victory over a small Illinoyance. If someone doesn't get the exact score I start with Michigan plus a point, then the opponent down a point, then Michigan down a point, then the opponent up a point. And we've got a hit: lilpenny1316 with the crazy face gave the Illini a point. I'm giving him a Game…Stauskas t-shirt.
Seriously what's your explanation for this avatar? Is this you? It looks like something out of a kooky 1989 cereal commercial.
This Week's Game:
Nothing but a sibling affair, 4 o'clock Sunday. If we lose to Penn State tonight you have my permission to shoot me.
And the Prize:
Step right up, ladies and gentlemen. I present to you the finest in Michigan basketball squads since Rice and Rumeal and Vaught and Mills and Higgins and Hughes. Coming of the bench for that team: an Oosterbaan.
Career Totals for J.P. Oosterbaan:
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (make it easy on me and write your score in digits with a hyphen between them. Deadline for entries is sometime within 24 hours before the start of the game—whenever I can get online in that time and lock the thread. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning because you can change scores. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm spent 10 years as the Indiana of basketball, if that makes sense. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm's name has to be spelled wrong. The algorithm is not just a shooter. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
2/12/2013 – Michigan 52, Michigan State 75 – 21-4, 8-4 Big Ten
HERE IS A PICTURE OF PAD THAI. NO YOUR PICTURE SELECTION DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY PEOPLE WHO COMPLAINED ABOUT BO RYAN PICTURES. NOW THAT I AM STARING AT THIS PAD THAI AND THINKING ABOUT WHAT ELSE THIS PICTURE COULD BE, I FIND MYSELF ON THE SIDE OF THE BO RYAN COMPLAINERS. GOOD JOB BO RYAN COMPLAINERS. LET US ALL ENJOY THIS PICTURE OF PAD THAI, A JOB WELL DONE.
A few weeks ago, this space batted around the shocking revelation that Michigan was something like 338th in average experience, and asserted that this certainly didn't seem like the case. It does now. Michigan has built first-half deficits of 21, 15, 9, and like a billion in their losses, all of which came on the road. They managed to avoid that fate against Northwestern, Minnesota, and Illinois, which does count for something. Not enough of a something to file this team as elite, or a national championship favorite, or even particularly likely to beat MSU and Indiana at home.
And I guess that's fine. Most Michigan fans entered the season leery of the top-five ranking bestowed on the Wolverines because Trey Burke, and if you'd handed them this…
…before the season they'd have snatched it from your hands gleefully, especially if you'd mentioned that the Big Ten was obviously the toughest league in the country and that three-games stretch in November was against a couple of teams on track for Sweet 16 seeds and a third not too far off.
This perspective is brought to you by gritted teeth and turning off a game like Brian freakin' Ellerbe was on the sidelines. It is hard-won. Stupid everything.
So… yeah. This is not a miracle team like last year's all-the-freshman Kentucky outfit, and now we know that. Michigan played ten guys before walk-on time kicked in (with eight minutes left): six were freshman of some variety, and zero were seniors. This is no longer a cleverly obscured fact. It's a thing that becomes obvious when the pressure turns up on hostile courts, and separates Michigan from being a truly elite team. They probably aren't getting a one seed; they probably aren't winning the league. Here is a picture of pad thai.
It could be a lot worse. Getting teased like this is still teeth-clenching.
Well, at least one guy came to play. I can't say I liked a lot of Burke's shots early, but once it became clear that he was the only guy on the floor who could do, like, things. He put in 18 points on 11 shots and had four of Michigan's six assists.
Things went from bad to worse in two periods when he was on the bench. The first was a generic get-this-guy-rest period in the first half that featured two bigs, Albrecht, Levert, and Hardaway. That did not go well. The second was a brief period after Burke picked up his third foul early in the first half on an over-aggressive three closeout that looks exactly like every other overaggressive three closeout that knocks the shooter over. By the time Burke returned a pretty-much-over game was over.
And poof like that he's gone. Glenn Robinson III's cliff-dive is now undeniable. He'd put up at least eight points in every game this season other than a couple of low-major blowouts; in the three recent losses he's acquired 2, 4, and 2 points. Michigan stashed him on the bench for half of this one, choosing to go with a clumsy two-big lineup for large chunks of the game. Robinson has to score if he's going to be out there against Adriean Payne, and as soon as he put up that ugly brick on one of those pass-up-a-set-open-three-for-a-pullup-two shots that are just the worst, you could see that Michigan wasn't getting anything from him.
Part of that is the permissivity of Michigan's defense in these games. It's hard to get into transition, where Robinson has made a lot of hay, when you're picking the ball out of the basket every time down the court.
Stauskas defense: actually impactful. In the wrong way, obviously. He was checking Gary Harris; Gary Harris hit 5 of 9 threes because each was a comfortable look. That was the first time his guy had really gone off.
A question. So, let's say Tom Izzo is three feet onto the court as his team is trying to play defense and Mitch McGary barrels into him at top speed, sending him flying into the bench. Is that a technical on Izzo? On McGary? On both? What would happen if someone went out of their way to make the presence of a basketball coach on the damn court a problem? I assume that in the rules leaving the approved coaching box is a technical foul, but basketball doesn't really have rules, it has easily-ignored suggestions.
All hell would break loose, at least.
How you lose by 23. Michigan got doubled up on the boards (18% to 37%), in turnovers (16 to 8), tripled in FTAs and assists, and gave up 55% shooting from two. I have lost all motivation to discuss this game right now. Just now, it happened. I was going to keep putting words in there about how this performance was ass, just comprehensive and disillusioning ass, and now I feel that this is so beyond pointless that I don't even think I'm going to finish this sent