Bipolar thread! :-( Go! :-)
Now that I've stopped grinding my teeth (and cursing up a storm) in frustration during the entire game against Ohio University, and now that I've accepted the loss to that solid team (led by an outstanding performance by DJ Cooper); I realize that despite the upset tonight, Michigan was a great team in 2011 -- 2012. Looking on as a dedicated basketball fan, I believe Michigan overachieved when it captured a share of the Big Ten championship for the season. In retrospect, it looks like that overachievement also led to the team losing some of its hunger--some of its edge.
Now, I'm not suggesting the team didn't prepare enough for the post-season tournaments. I just think the mentality of the team changed the moment it won a share of the title. Before that moment, Michigan (like the previous season and even like the season Beilein first took Michigan to the NCAA tournament) was out to prove people (the naysayers and doubters) wrong. It often acted like its back was to the wall. That mentality is how it beat MSU and Ohio at home and also went on the road and won at Illinois and at PSU. Winning the big ten title, however, validated Michigan's great season, and Michigan never seemed like it could thereafter adjust its mental approach (from that of an underdog to that of a champion) to play well going forward.
You may remember that the team came out flat against Minnesota. Michigan still won because the gap between Michigan and the Gophers is apparent. I think the gap is less apparent against Ohio University and inapplicable relative to Ohio. Michigan was hungry when it won out after losing to Purdue; and, if it had that same edge tonight, I think we would have advanced to Sunday. Instead, Michigan now has the off-season to learn how to play as a favorite, as a front runner.
And who knows? Perhaps Beilein also isn't used to being the favorite. It's possible. Ultimately though, I have no doubt that Michigan will perform better in the tournaments next year.
Despite the disappointment of tonight's game, I gotta give it up for the seniors and the rest of the team. The team was undersized the entire season and still earned a championship in the best conference. Would advancing to the second weekend--the sweet 16--been a notable improvement over last season's finish? Yes, without question.
Was winning a big ten title this season a notable improvement over last season's 9-9 finish in the conference? Yes, without question. Would I trade the championship for a sweet 16 finish? No, without question; absolutely not. Next year, I want the championship and the sweet 16 (at least!).
So, anyway, thanks, Michigan, for a great season. For basketball, I see a bright future with a team hungrier in 2012 -- 2013 than it was when it finished 2012 -- 2013. As Denard once said: "This program's been starving for a while. It's time for us to make something happen. We've been starving. It's time for us to eat."
This is ten-day-old news, but it seems to have escaped mention here—DeShawn Sims returned from his stint in Korea and rejoined the Maine Red Claws of the D-League. The team issued this press release on his return:
2011 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR DESHAWN SIMS RETURNS TO MAINE
PORTLAND, ME (March 6, 2012) - The Maine Red Claws, presented by Quirk Chevrolet, today announced that DeShawn Sims has rejoined the team. Sims, the 2011 NBA Development League Rookie of the Year, will meet up with the team in Erie this morning and is expected to be in the lineup when the team tips off at 11 AM against the BayHawks.
In addition to capturing the Rookie of the Year honors, Sims, 24, was also selected to the 2011 NBA Development League All-Star Team and was named to the NBA Development League All-Rookie First Team and the All-NBA Development League Third Team. He finished second overall in league scoring last season and first among rookies with 20.3 points per game in 48 games. His 7.7 rpg ranked 11th overall in the league while he was 9th with 5.6 defensive rebounds per game. Sims represented the Red Claws at the 2011 NBA Development League All-Star Game where he scored 20 points in 20 minutes of play. He posted double-doubles in 13 games last season and contributed double digits in all but six. He scored a Red Claws season-high 35 points on March 3, one of seven 30+ point performance of his rookie season.
Sims rejoins the Red Claws after successful stints with teams in Puerto Rico and most recently South Korea. Following his rookie season, he signed with Quebradillas Pirates (Puerto Rico-BSN), spending seven games with the team last summer before signing with KCC Egis this season where he averaged 23.9 ppg in 48 games played for KCC Egis (Korea-KBL.
“DeShawn Sims has incredible determination, fire and competitiveness and is the kind of player who will fight right to the last buzzer of the last game and never quit,” said Red Claws President and General Manager Jon Jennings said. “He was a tremendous player for us last year as a rookie, and I am looking forward to seeing how he has matured as a player and a person after a year overseas. We are thrilled to welcome him back to the Red Claws.”
An item on his first game back with the Red Claws included this bit:
DeShawn Sims had 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting off the bench in his return to Maine from playing in Korea.
Sims, the 2011 D-League rookie of the year, played 17 minutes, 30 seconds.
"Just trying to get acclimated," Sims said. "I just met the guys today. Most of them. Just a thing I got to come back and fit in. Try to play how I play and help the team."
Also of note: a recent Red Claws giveaway:
Only one game going on, and TNT says 7:15 tip off. Beat OHIO!! And Go Blue!!
My wife and I ditched cable.
On TNT, I guess. But I don't see anything streamable except NBA games. Anyone know?
First set of games are about to begin. Other than the obvious, which game (or games) are you most looking forward to watching today?