I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Back Row: asst. coach Bill Frieder, coach John Orr, Mark Lozier, David Baxter, Rickey Green, David Stavale, Thomas Staton, William Lelich, asst. coach Jim Boyce, asst. coach Dan Fife
Front Row: mngr. Mitchell Kaufman, Len Lillard, Alan Hardy, co-captain Steve Grote, co-captain John Robinson, Joel Thompson, Robert Jones. mngr. John Anderson
A lot has been made recently about this being the first Michigan basketball team to reach #1 in the standings since the 92/93 Fab Five squad Interestingly enough the National Championship winning 1989 team never reached #1 until the last game of the season so it hasn't been done that often. There was another Michigan team however, a few years further back, that started the season as #1, stayed at #1 through the first six weeks of the season, and ultimately ended the regular season ranked #1. Having lost in the National Final in 1976, this team entered the tournament as the overall #1 seed as Big Ten Champs with an overall record of 26-3. Sadly they were knocked out of the tournament in the third round (back then that game was the Regional Final) by the Cornbread Maxwell led Charlotte 49ers, this is the Michigan team I think our present squad most resembles.
In 1977 Michigan was led by All-American point guard Rickey Green. Nicknamed "Quicksilver", Green was easily the fastest player with the ball I have ever seen. A fantastic on the ball defender, Green was able to get to the rim against most teams and had a decent (but not great) outside shot. Remember, this was 1977 so the three point line as well as the shot clock were still several years away. Rumors abound that Green suffered an undisclosed injury before the Charlotte game that limited his effectiveness but that has never been made public officially. If you ever saw Green play you could easily compare his game to Burke's although I think Burke is a better shooter, Rickey was a better defender IMO.
Anchoring the inside of that team was the immortal Phil Hubbard. Hubbard was also an All-American in 1977 and was a Kevin Love "double-double" machine before the term was made popular. While the current team doesn't have a player on the inside close to Phil's ability his style of play would remind many of our Morgan. Phil was athletic (this was the year before his catastrophic knee injury) and moved without the ball a lot. He was likewise a terrific defender and tenacious rebounder averaging over 13 boards and 20 points per game.
Filling out the starters were Tom Staton, Steve Grote and Team Captain John Robinson. Grote was Zack Novak before Zack Novak and could be considered the Godfather of Grit. Yes I know Novak has moved on but his presence still looms large on this year's team. Staton was your defensive specialist (think of him like the defensive version of Stauskus) and Robinson did whatever was needed on both ends of the floor. Coming off the bench was my personal all-time favorite Wolverine Alan Hardy (when I was Freshmen in 1978 rumor had it he was able to jump and touch the top of the backboard) and Dave "instant offensive" Baxter. Most people remember Baxter not for his shot but for his hair which was long and definitely interesting to watch. Note: I think the team picture I got was taken at the beginning of the year and Baxter probably didn't cut it the rest of the season cause I can tell you by March his hair was a LOT longer than Green's was.
Coached by Johnny Orr who kinda looks like coach Beilein that team had their own Bacari Alexander in Assistant Coach Bill Frieder. Many at the time thought Frieder was the "real" Head Coach on the time and Orr was simply a figurehead. Frieder would go on to take over duties officially from Orr upon his retirement just a few years later. And at the very far right of the first row picture is a Fraternity Brother of mine who was the team manager!
The ranking, the depth, the style of play of the 2013 Michigan Basketball team all remind me a lot of this group from 36 years ago. So the next time the announcers reference the 1992-93 team as the "last Michigan team to reach #1" remember that they weren't the ONLY group to reach #1 during the regular season - just the most recent.
EDIT: I do not mean to imply that Coach Beilein is a figurehead and that Alexander is doing the "real" coaching. The point I was trying to make was both teams had colorful and well-known assistants. Each in their own way. I probably should've said both assistants used props. Alexander's vary game to game while Frieder favored a towel.
This comes from UMHOOPS:
On making the decision to start Horford: “Here’s how part of the decision was made: we were still here, because of this prep, we were still here last night at 8 o’clock. Kids had study hall before practice. We studied, we ate, then we had some more film to watch. And I said to Mitch McGary, ‘What do you feel about tomorrow? I don’t know what to do. You both practiced well.’ He said, ‘Coach, I’ve been coming off the bench for two years. I’m cool with coming off the bench.’ And that really helped to make that decision, and that’s what we have on this team.”
That is coming from a freshman who was once the #2 recruit in the country. I love this team more and more every week. I think Belien has really put a special blend of talent and unselfishness on the court. They way they play for the team and not themselves is rare these days.
P.s. I know my title sucks. Mods feel free to change it if you feel that that is necissary.
In the power ranking at Grantland, written by Mark Titus, Titus brings up an interesting potential mismatch for IU. Victor Oladipo, arguably the best defensive player in the country, would traditionally be matched up against Hardaway in IU’s man defense. This leaves Yogi Ferrell, a six foot freshman who will never be mistaken for a top tier defender, to guard Burke. I believe that this will lead to several scenarios similar to “QB OH NOES,” except on hardwood. As pointed out and picture paged in Blue-MQT’s Diary post, Burke’s ability to leave a defender inside of a screen often leads to an open shooter on the perimeter.
Tom Crean may decide to put Oladipo on Burke, in turn making a much more intriguing matchup. This, however, would mean most likely Ferrell would be guarding 6’6 Hardaway, which I would love to see. Jordy Hulls will not be guarding Burke, he proved himself to be a major liability on defense when IU lost to Butler.
While Michigan will certainly have to figure out a way to prevent Cody Zeller from being fouled over and over inside. Jordan Morgan would be extremely beneficial for this, but I can’t imagine him being at 100% after his injury.
Anyway, it should be an exciting game; I am just going to try to keep my hopes grounded. At the start of the season I felt like Michigan was going to split their series with the Hoosiers, and I don’t see it much differently now.
Go Blue! This is the biggest game since the Fisher era.
final tuneup before the mega matchup this weekend.
Happy birthday, Jalen. I can't believe you are that old because of how old that makes me. 40? Really? Youth is wasted on the young.