at least it's not just us?
So, consider this a Big Ten Primer. A lot of my impressions are from the B1G- ACC challenge, so small sample size AND watching 3 games at once caveats apply. Feel free to add/dispute/discuss below. As obvious from the rankings and hype, I wouldn’t be surprised if any combination of IU, OSU or UM are Final Four teams at the end of the year. I think everyone from Wisconsin up makes the tournament (7 teams) with Purdue and/or Northwestern having a chance to make it 8. Teams are listed in order from best to worst (in my view).
Indiana – This team is ridiculously good. Zeller is a beast inside and will be hard for anybody to handle. We’re going to need the Morgan that showed up against OSU and Sullinger to have a chance. They have no big weaknesses that I can tell, especially considering they were down 2 big men against UNC. We can definitely beat them, but it’s going to require one of our best games. Hulls is dangerous as a shooter as well as a passer. Oladipo is also dangerous as a slasher from the wing. Look for Trey to maybe take advantage of an (admittedly very good) freshman PG. I’m also not sure that they have enough perimeter defenders to stay with Hardaway, Stauskas and Burke.
Michigan – ACE has told you all about us. We have good bloodlines that are 1/15 canadian, 3/15 Hoosier and %131 Awesome.
Ohio State – If I was making a spread for an OSU-UM game it would be 0, possibly 2 or 3 pts to the home team. On defense, they have a bunch of long athletic defenders that will take chances. This will create some turnovers but also leaves them susceptible to easy shots off of off the ball cuts and screens. I am very scared of Spike trying to handle OSU’s pressure. On offense, Deshaun Thomas is Option A and has developed an outside shot I didn’t know he had. This team is dangerous because they also have players like Quintin Ross, Lenzelle Smith and Sam Thompson who are good enough to explode for a 15-20 pt game if given an opening. Aaron Craft will be good for 5-6 plays a game that will keep OSU in it or put the nail in the coffin. You will also want to punch him approximately %200 of the time. Craft can harass Burke like noone else really can, and both games against OSU will be toss-ups.
Michigan State – As always, a tough, hard nosed team, that rebounds and plays good defense. Adreian Payne spells his name just like a Spartan would, and leads the banging inside. However, the scoring will come from the Appling/Dawson/Harris backcourt. Appling is lightning quick and will give Burke problems with his speed. This could end up a PG shootout, and I’ll take our Preseason All-American in that situation. They are struggling now, but I think they get it together by the time we play them. This is not a team we will pull away from, but if UM stays tough down low and don’t let themselves get pushed around, MSU will stay at arm’s length. Not an easy game by any stretch, but should be a win at both Crisler and Breslin.
Minnesota – They might be the surprise team (at least to me) of the Big Ten. They play a reasonably up and down style. No one player really stands out. It’s a team full of people who can all move and score pretty well. I almost see them as playing similar to us this year, only not as talented. Mbakwe is relevant as a defensive presence and of taking the Robbie Hummer Senior Citizen award. They are definitely at the top of the 2nd tier of the Big Ten, and will probably pull an upset or 2 of the teams above them.
Illinois – Brandon Paul will shoot. A. Lot. Occasionally he will make a couple. Occasionally occasionally he will actually make enough of them that his coach will be happy he’s shooting that much. So far this year, the percentage looks sparkly, my prediction is that the percentage starts falling, but he keeps shooting just as much. They have that Buster Douglas puncher’s chance of upsetting anyone because of this.
Wisconsin – Your traditional Wisconsin team. They play hard nosed defense and will make you work for points. They play a Princeton type offense with a lot of cuts and ball screens, but with no Jordan Taylor like player to take over, they should be pretty harmless outside of Madison. I would expect GR3 to go off on this team since I see no one remotely capable of handling him. Dekker will be good, but he’s not a dominant player yet.
Purdue – They have 3 Johnsons to handle one ball, and I don’t think any of them do it particularly well. I think good defense can pressure this team into turnovers. They have no big time scorers (no one averages over 12). D.J. Byrd had a Stauskas like game against Clemson (21 pts, 6-11 from 3), but that will not continue. This is not a game we should lose in any circumstance.
Northwestern – Looked like a team filled with shooters, and no real big man to worry about. Another team with a Princeton like offense, but I think if UM was to play aggressively, Northwestern would turn the ball over. This is a game where McGary/Morgan may be able to break out and have big games. Also a possibility they get hot from 3 and pull off an upset.
Iowa - I did not really watch them, but they are not good. We should win by double digits.
Nebraska – They are still building something that may one day be called a basketball team. They had one player, Gallegos, who reminded me of Rip Hamilton with a lot of curls and shooting from the elbow, and making some of them. I choose to believe this was an aberration against a bad Wake Forest Team. Nebraska has no one and nothing we should at all be worried about. Should be a double digit win.
Penn Sate – Really Sucks. They were already bad with Tim Frazier, with him out for the year, there is no hope here.
[Edit: Corrected some minor spelling errors that were bothering me, "Robbie Hummer" was a mistake, but now I like it and it stays. Appreciate the feedback and added analysis from the commenters]
One player on Michigan’s team may have had this Saturday’s matchup with the Bradley Braves circled on their calendar for a little while. That player is Trey Burke. Last year against Bradley, Burke had one of the worst games of his career.
He watched Walt Lemon go off for 16 points. Lemon shot 5-11 that night, and a scorching 3-5 from downtown. Burke himself shot an uncharacteristic 5/13 and 1-7 from downtown, salvaging his stat line with 8 assists. Bradley held Michigan to 35% shooting in the first half, and actually tied the score at 45 in the second. (Returning players) Jordan Prosser, Dyricus Simms-Edwards, and Shayock Shayock each pitched in 10 points and 7-8 rebounds. Michigan, led by Evan Smotrycz’s 20 points and 10 rebounds would eventually pull away and coast to a 77-66 victory.
A lot has changed since then. I have to assume that this trip to Peoria Illinois(about 3 hours from Chicago) wouldn’t have been scheduled if Patrick Beilein (Coach’s son) was not at that time Bradley’s Director of Basketball Operations.
Well, back in May Patrick Beilein was hired to coach the West Virginia Weslyan Bobcats(not hard to see an early season matchup there…we played Concordia, right?) and this trip became a little…well…it’s a road game against the Missouri Valley Conference. Evan Smotrycz is gone. 6-8 Sophomore Shayok Shayok is now a little used bench player. Michigan has welcomed the best recruiting class since Chris and Juwan. Both teams are a lot better.
Carver Arena is actually pretty nice, all things considered.
This game will probably welcome around 11,000 people…as you might have guessed this is the biggest game there. Pretty much ever. As for the team…Stealing coach Geno Ford from Kent State is finally starting to pay off for the Braves. And the team that went 7 and 25 last year comes into Saturday’s game with only one loss, that to a relatively decent South Florida team.
Tyshon Pickett and Will Egolf have made all the difference.
6-9 Sixth year senior PF Will Egolf missed last year with a torn ACL. This year he is putting up 11 points and 5 rebounds, and of the 5 Bradley players who each take 2-3 three pointers per game, Egolf is hitting the most by far(50%). 6-6 Junior Forward Tyshawn Pickett transferred from the junior college ranks and has bolstered the Brave’s attack with 12 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Our old buddy 6-3 Junior PG Walt Lemon
is back averaging 13 points and 4 assists…He’s still taking 2-3 from downtown, but he’s hitting on only 23%. 6-3 Senior Shooting Guard Dyricus Simms Edwards has the all-around game with 9 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists. He is taking 2-3 from downtown, and hitting a blistering 14%. 6-5 Senior Guard Jake “Beastman” Eastman
was known for diving for balls and taking charges, but these days he is contributing with 11 points and 4 boards, shooting 33% from downtown. 6-2 Guard Jalen Crawford(of Detroit) is the other “perimeter threat”, but he is also only shooting 20% from the deep.
Unless Egolf catches fire from downtown, I dare say a zone defense might be pretty effective here. Bradley’s lone semi-heralded recruit (3* Center with Iowa and ND offers) 6-9 Junior Jordan Prosser
chips in with 7 points and 6 rebounds. Everyone else was unranked or 2*, for what its worth. This is the type of team that might have given last year’s team a hard time. Hell, they’d probably beat State.
But even on the road…I don’t see them hanging with Michigan’s talent and athleticism. The motivation to play nice just went out the window...And I can think of one person who just might have a bone to pick with these Braves...
Michigan wins 85-67.
Can't both lose. Not pulling for anyone here. I mean Duke, like Ohio, is four letter word.
Prediction: Ohio 72 Duke 75
Trey Burke makes the game look easy. Unfortunately, it's likely that this is the last year we have pleasure of watching him in the maize and blue. Luckily, there's another PG in the pipeline that makes things look easy. Derrick Walton, 2013 PG out of Chandler Park HS in Detroit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uz91CTS4YBw
(embed doesn't work on the original post, right?)
As the Michigan basketball team returns to its traditional place among the nation's elite programs, Alan Glenn, in a Michigan Today piece, looks back a half-century at another time when the program resurrected itself, led by Cazzie Russell, Cager for the Ages
Bob Cantrell played in the Wolverine backcourt before and after Russell's arrival. "The first two years were really torture," he told an interviewer in the '70s. "The roof [at Yost Field House] leaked, there were no fans, we lost all the time. It was just unbelievable. We only had about 200 people at one game, I remember. Everything was football. Basketball was the big joke. If you were a basketball player, everybody looked at you like you were a freak. Then, overnight, they knew who you were. All of a sudden, we were the number one team in the country."
Of course Michigan's reversal of fortune wasn't quite that abrupt, and it wasn't all due to Russell. Coach Dave Strack had been building up the team since 1960, and by 1963 the Wolverine lineup overflowed with talent: Cantrell, Bill Buntin, Larry Tregoning, George Pomey, Oliver Darden. But it was Cazzie Russell who emerged as the star. Almost as soon as the lanky, six-foot-five-and-a-half, 210-pound guard stepped out onto the court, records began to fall. In his first game, a 90-76 victory over Ball State at the end of November, Russell led the team with 30 points. By the following March he had acquired 640 more, earning him the school's season scoring record.
Also included with the article is this vintage video:
A couple years ago we saw an amazing 30 for 30 about the Fab 5, but one persepctive was missing — Chris Webber's. Soon we'll finally (we hope, at least) get his side of the story when he releases his autobiograhy.
Although I'm sure he'll also write about other things, I think it's fair to say MGoBlog Nation will skip straight to the Michigan years.
I profiled Chris Webber in last week's Sports Illustrated -- he's become one of the more interesting NBA voices as a studio and game analyst for NBA TV and TNT -- and during our conversation he told me that he's been working on a documentary about his life for the past six years. Webber said he plans to release both the documentary and an autobiography at some point next year and the working (but unlikely final) title is The Black Forrest Gump.