at least it's not just us?
100% total redemption
11/23/2013 – Michigan 21, Iowa 24 – 7-4, 3-4 Big Ten
Ypsi-Arbor Bowl was demolished in early October.
MUSIC POST! HIT PLAY OR I KILL YOU!
I am one of those irritating people who believes the Big Lebowski is deep, man. I think this because of everything about it but mostly because of one particular scene. If you have not seen the Big Lebowski, you are about to be spoiled. Also, screw you you're a bad person and you deserve to be spoiled. What is wrong with you? You are bad and should feel bad.
Sorry. I am taking things out on people. I hip-checked an old lady into the frozen pizzas on Saturday because her earrings annoyed me*. That was wrong. I know that now. I will stop doing this posthaste.
The scene is the funeral. Because of miserable copyright bastards you have your choice of an official thing that cuts off before the crucial line or one with the volume turned way down. Here's the latter, turn up for hearings:
It is just so Dave Brandon that the Official Movieclips.com version manages to cut itself off before "Come on, dude… fuck it, man. Let's go bowling." Anyway.
At this point I simultaneously feel that I have to explain and that I have to explain that there's no point in trying. But fuck it, I'm talking to the guys who had the world's saddest tailgate before the season opener and came up to me at our event before the Notre Dame—another world—and were just so excited to be the world's saddest tailgate. They told me about their jury-rigged pancake plans for Notre Dame. They were engineers. That part is probably obvious. I loved them, and I feel badly for them. They're all 18 and probably don't know a damn thing about a movie that came out when they were three and Michigan was national champions.
I don't know anything about Buddhism but the Big Lebowski feels pretty Buddhist. The Dude comes into his apartment to a guy peeing on his rug and from that point on he's propelled through this rollercoaster over which he has zero agency. Literally everything he does in the movie is at the behest of someone else, and what little gestures towards doing something himself are quickly co-opted by the people he's doing them with. He picks up Walter to make the drop; Walter presses his underwear upon the dude and shoots up his car with an uzi. He has sex with Maude; Maude reveals that he acting as a living sperm bank. Etc.
The movie is a series of unfortunate events culminating in the death of Donny thanks to the bullheaded stupidity of Walter, who doesn't want to give up his fifteen dollars to some nihilists. That Donny dies as an indirect effect of that decision is the capper: your desires and actions are futile; you are subject to the random capricious whim of a universe that doesn't care about anything and if it was going to care about something it absolutely wouldn't be you. I don't have to spell the rest out for you. Sports! Fuck sports.
The thing about the funeral scene that kills me every time is the shoving rant from the Dude and Walter's scalded-dog reaction hug in the midst.
what THE FUCK does anything have to do with Vietnam?!?!
This is the guy with the Uzi who pulls a gun on the pacifist, and that is pious. It's a prayer for forgiveness. That kills me every time. And then the song. I mean.
I've probably mentioned this before, but in the aftermath of The Horror the one thing I wanted and needed to do more than anything else in the world was watch The Big Lebowski. I don't think I knew why at the time; it was my favorite movie but if you asked me why I wouldn't have been able to come up with much in particular. As I was watching it the whole Lebowski-Sports thing dawned, the lack of agency over your emotional state, the attempt to come to terms with arbitrary bullshit wreaking havoc on your emotional state, the lumbering oaf you've chosen to have far too much influence on your emotional state. I revert to it still, because at the end the Dude reaches out and clasps Walter to him, and fuck it, let's go bowling.
I have to tell you that I am at a low ebb right now.
3-9 was awful but had an element of fun in it in the same way Naked and Afraid does: holding my frozen hands to the pretzel machine and feeling guilty when I returned to the stands to find that I'd tried to heat myself so long I'd missed Michigan's first three-and-out of the second half. This is worse, six years on. It's lost its novelty, and now staring at the Armageddon that is the last week of the season is just Promethean fate. I can't imagine accidentally missing any part of this football season and thinking anything other than "stroke of luck, that." I don't see a way in which Michigan gets on Ohio State's level in the near future, and even plotting out Michigan State's level is pretty murky.
I also don't see a FIRE THIS TURDFACE solution. This is the culmination of a dozen different things, all richly deserved by everyone except the fanbase, and my belief is that the best course of action is to persist with this low-attrition, good-dude, quality-talent recruiting and hope that the blithering recedes as things go along. I hate this, because I know that any realignment towards an offense that I actually like will be met with a reaction equivalent to George Wallace hearing that they're integrating the schools, and that the burden of Michigan's past hangs over them in a way that Ohio State was perfectly happy to throw over before Urban Meyer even showed up. I also feel that Michigan will insist that it's anyone's fault but their own, and that the best we can hope for is 1997: an outlier.
This is massively enervating. We're staring down a 20-year period in which Michigan beats Ohio State like 4 or 5 times. Memories of when Michigan could claim equality are as fresh as Jim Delany's letter about how the SEC was a bunch of stupid poopy pants, and as relevant. This feels like a new order, right now. Inescapable.
Fuck it, dude. I'm going bowling. At 5 PM after Michigan gets its anatomy explored on Saturday, I'm going to Colonial Lanes on Industrial, which still exists, and I'm going to throw some balls in the general direction of some pins.
I can't stand bowling. I suck at it and there is nothing more frustrating than sucking at throwing a ball straight at things that aren't defended or even moving. Any time you fail to bowl you have failed to be a vaguely functional person. I hate bowling. So it is obviously perfect for Saturday.
If you promise not to talk about this year's football team, I would love for you to join me. I will tell you it is not your fault. You will tell me it is only about 5% my fault. It will not be a great time but I'm sick of staring at a computer screen trying not to check twitter. By God if I am going to be enervated it is going to be by not being able to throw a ball straight for a moderate distance. I'm done being enervated by sports, if only for just this moment.
In the moment where I take the ball down from its perch between my hand and my clavicle there will be a moment of beautiful, stupid hope that will persist past the results. And that moment will be enough to mitigate what follows.
Therefore I will bowl.
*[For the people who run the Children of Yost account: that's a joke, and your hat is unflattering.]
There is no other stuff, except the elsewhere section because by God ST3 and bronxblue persist. Goddamn if bronxblue doesn't nail it:
And yet, I still can’t find it in myself to turn off these games. I know why, of course: there are only 13-14 games a year, and when times are good or at least exciting there is nothing better to watch. And when the team isn’t that good (which, let’s be honest, started well before RR’s tenure made it official), the calcified memories of former greatness and the diminishing hope of a return keep me coming back. And despite the losses and the continuing sense that UM is still on the wrong side of history, I’ll keep watching and coming back to watch, even games like this when you could feel the loss coming after Iowa’s first drive of the 2nd half. And in all likelihood, my kids will love watching UM football as much as me, even when they realize that patch of missing hair isn’t because Dad was pranked. But this simply cannot end soon enough for me, and next week’s OSU game will likely get the background treatment as I shop online, listen to music, and otherwise tool around the apartment.
And ST3 goes with the Smiths, because yeah:
Stop me, oh, stop me...
Akron, yes Akron, records 8 TFLs
Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before
UConn, still winless as I write this, records 10 TFLs.
You are both champions, gentlemen. Thank you for your posts.
Also, if you want a graphical representation of the way Michigan's offense is going, dnak438 has your evidence. It is grim.
Not that I needed to tell you that.
4/6/2013 – Michigan 61, Syracuse 56 – 31-7, championship game
he doesn't actually have to do anything the game is ova the queensbury thing to do is to slow up and I don't know take a foul or something or probably just wait around until the buzzer goes off
srsly are you insane
--Brian Cook's brain, 4/6/2013
That happened pretty quickly there as the brain assembled Syracuse's pregame dismissiveness of Michigan with who had the ball: Jordan Morgan. Morgan, who had just rescued Michigan's bacon by taking a charge on trash-talking Brandon Triche. Morgan, who went from a three-year starter to afterthought as Mitch McGary blew up. One technical for hanging on the rim is requested. Oh god no actually nevermind.
Morgan may not have had a bone sticking out of him a week ago but his emotional state has to be even more roiled than Kevin Ware. Ware just has to watch everything pensively and not pick his nose during the 15 minutes of gametime he is on screen. Morgan has to go out there and do things. When these things start with Morgan fumbling a sure layup out of bounds, he knows the exact tenor of the moans in the crowd, how even if only 5% of them are actually saying something nasty the rest are thinking it.
Kevin Ware's just a fan for the moment. For long stretches of this last month I've wondered if sometimes Morgan wished he could be. And the living envied the dead.
This was a zombie apocalypse of a game. Most of it was spent with Michigan players peering between the trees, trying to figure out anything approximating a path to the basket. They were not forthcoming. Almost half of Michigan's attempts were from three, many of those the sort of desperation heaves that Syracuse thrives on inducing. Michigan's main accomplishment on many possessions was to not turn the ball over.
Basically every number in the box score that isn't McGary and Robinson throwing down putbacks is ugly. Stauskas: 0-5. Hardaway: 1/6 from two, 3/10 from three. Burke: 1/8. Michigan put together a strong first half on the back of some shots from outside the dome and then collapsed, scoring a miserable 0.74 PPP in the second half. And won.
Syracuse meanwhile shot 21% from 3 and only approached 50% from two because CJ Fair was knocking down sixteen-footer after sixteen-footer. Michigan's approach on offense was Lloydball not just for the harrowing final few minutes but the whole game, shutting down Syracuse's transition offense (just two fast break points) at the expense of even bothering to use Trey Burke, for the most part. There were a couple of possessions in which Burke dribbled himself to a profitable spot, and it seemed strange and frustrating on all those other possessions where he just passed it around the perimeter.
It was Big Ten grind. Thoughts turned to similar games this year when fortune and malice conspired to screw Michigan. Kansas? Don't talk to me about Kansas when Spike Albrecht misses the front end of a one-and-one. I can only think about Indiana, about that time when refs decide they Will Not Decide The Game—clean block at right via Dustin Johnston—and missed front ends and the moment Morgan fell off a cliff like the basketball he left on the rim for weeks until it decided to go the wrong way.
Morgan went away then. The next game was a 2/6 struggle against Penn State in which Morgan was quickly shuffled to the bench after a bobbling start; Mitch McGary came on, racked up a double-double, and that was pretty much that. The nail in the coffin was the next night. Morgan started against Wisconsin, racking up 3 TOs and no shots in 8 minutes. He evaporated straight off the court, opacity dropping to zero percent in front of thousands.
McGary then turned into Wes Unseld—if you haven't heard, ask Jeff Withey. It was Wally Pipping so fierce they might rename the thing, or at least provide a corollary. To get Jordan Morganed is to have your brain damaged by an on-court experience and then watch your backup eat your job in two seconds.
Unless McGary adds 40% three-point shooting to his ever-expanding repertoire—actually, I give that 50/50 at this point—Jordan Morgan's probably never going to start at Michigan again. That's rough for a player who's had confidence issues forever. Probably the first thing Michigan fans heard about the guy was MSU fans making fun of Michigan recruiting someone who infamously broke down in tears at some camp or something. Derrick Nix may have been involved. I don't remember the exact details. I do remember the implication.
Soft. Jordan Morgan was supposed to be soft. May actually be "soft," whatever that means. It's impossible to watch the ups and downs of his career and not think that he lacks the icy veins of a Trey Burke, that he probably experiences sports as oceans of terror punctuated by islands of relief. I know that feel, bro. It's an entirely different kind of courage there. To barely outrun fear is different than simply not having it.
He has done it. After the madness of the last week's Kansas ending and yesterday, Morgan's shattered quote in the aftermath of the South Dakota State game has an entirely different meaning:
"I think I was in for like two possessions, and got two stops… I mean, that's what I do."
Jordan Morgan may fumble balls out of bounds, but in the most harrowing moments of… well, probably his life, his brain worked. He knew Elijah Johnson was going too fast, too far away from the basket to get a shot. He knew he could get to the spot against Brandon Triche. He got stops. Michigan continues on.
I was torn, so deputized! By all rights Mitch McGary deserves one of these things and I haven't actually written one. The secret weapon is Ace, who I badgered into typing something up about Enormous Doom Puppy. I felt this was a bench game, though, so I wanted to focus on a bench player. Also that charge made me carefully extract one of the carefully hoarded swear words from the vault and deploy it. So… yeah.
Speaking of the bench…
This is why you burn Caris LeVert's redshirt. This is why you bring in Spike Albrecht. When they did the former I muttered a number of things about how if you think Caris can give you a few possessions of anything in a tournament game, you have to play him because this is a year in which all of the eggs go in the basket. Meanwhile, everyone in the world cocked an eyebrow at bringing in this little post-grad point guard.
All bow to John Beilein. Albrecht and Levert were collectively the only things saving Michigan from a disastrous three-point shooting night and tourney exit, going 4/5 as the rest of the team was 4/19. Levert added a couple of assists and fine defense in 21 minutes, which is a career high in games when Michigan has full complement of players*. I believe he was mostly checking James Southerland. Since Southerland is not named CJ Fair he had a crappy night.
Meanwhile I must have had a lot of company when my brain started going SPIKE WHERE IS SPIKE when Syracuse deployed their press at the end. That's quite a move, when people are moaning in all caps to themselves about your absence.
*[He had more in the CMU game, which Hardaway missed, and the MSU game at Crisler when Nik Stauskas got his face exploded by Branden Dawson's elbow.]
Also, Mitch. It says something that McGary is still making my jaw drop five games into this run. Six assists increased his career total by a third and tripled his game high, plus he shot okay (4/8) in a game where shooting "okay" is fantastic and ripped down 12 boards. What can you say? There is no comparable. If someone does this in the future, or even looks like doing this over a couple games, they will namecheck him. Because there is no one else.
The free throws, yeah. Louisville might try to exploit that with backup big Stephen Van Treese, who was instantly attacked whenever he hit the floor by Wichita. Might cost Michigan some points.
McGary part 2: boards. Michigan won the board war 36%-29%, and while that Michigan OREB number isn't too surprising against a zone, Syracuse was a crushing OREB machine all year and Michigan held them below the D-I average. Remember earlier in the year when Michigan's outstanding rebounding was the shaky tent pole propping up their entire defense? And how when that went away late in Big Ten play, it collapsed? Opponent OREB numbers in the tourney:
32% is average. The top major-conference team, Arizona, held opponents to 27%. One of Louisville's main assets is their OREB.
Wha happen? How did Syracuse almost halve Michigan's PPP in the second half? This is a thing that I'd need to watch the film closely to figure out but I have some outlines in my head: two possessions into the second half I thought Michigan should call timeout because 'Cuse had changed what they were doing in the zone and Michigan seemed confused.
One, they extended it. Two, they brought up the wing player on the left up, presenting something that looked closer to a 3-2 zone—which as far as I know does not exist—when the ball was at the top of the key. It felt like pushing out this far should have left gaps for GRIII running the baseline for lobs and whatnot but Michigan never found that play. The zone adaptation made Michigan's three-pointers seem even less like good ideas, and hampered the McGary high post game that was so effective in the first half. Michigan never really adjusted.
Trey at least took MCW with him. Burke had a pretty terrible night. It was nowhere near as terrible a the one he induced Michael Carter-Williams into. Syracuse came out trying to post MCW on Burke, which lasted one possession without an entry pass. They probably should have gone back to it, since for the rest of the game Carter-Williams got nothing. He was 1/6 from the floor, didn't get to the line, had just two assists to his five turnovers, and fouled out. ORTG: 28. Burke was a 90 despite the crappy shooting because of his 4:1 A:TO ratio.
Okay guy. Syracuse was in a lot of trouble at the end what with both of the starting guards having fouled out, but that Cooney guy tried to go to the basket down three with under ten seconds left. And then took a tough, contested shot. From two. Okay guy.
I know that feel Rapture guy. Yup, same guy from the GIF:
I'm just glad I wasn't wearing an awesome hat that caused people to take pictures of me at whatever this juncture was.
Watching basketball in a dome. We were in the 200 level in a corner, and this was surprisingly fine. It was a bit far away but I saw the Morgan charge and immediately thought "charge"; ie, I felt I had a good idea of what was going on almost all of the time.
I thought the novelty of a Final Four would be a one-time thing and I would not return if Michigan were to make one in the future. After last night I've flipped on that. If you can stay out of the upper deck it's worth it.
So… this happened. I'm not sure whether to spank or kiss these children.
Is the addition of he Webber pictures gratuitous or necessary shock therapy? Were these moppets close enough to the sideline that Michigan's players could see them? Did everyone in the arena immediately think about this when Michigan burned its last TO with over two minutes left? Don't know, better have been, yes.
Is there an entire article about timeouts? You betcha.
The best thing about Denard Robinson. He was there, in much better seats than I had, and there was chatter about this in my section. With three minutes left they put him on the video board and he looked exactly how I felt. In my experience this never happens* because athletes are understandably cool about the whole cheering for athletes thing. Denard Robinson looked sick with three minutes left and I was I KNOW THAT FEEL BRO and and some point during our eons-long departure from the Georgia Dome we realized he was walking 50 feet behind us and wondered if we could just, like, give him money now that his eligibility had expired. We chickened out; I think to do that at that moment would have been somehow insulting.
But anyway, I get annoyed at everything and they put Denard on the board at the Final Four and he looked like he'd eaten a sea urchin and I felt better. Denard!
*[Though I wish that Jordan Kovacs was famous enough for the world's Nantzes to put him on the video board. He was also there, wearing his hard hat and Cronin's Cronies T and getting crap about the hard hat. Kovacs, always Kovacs.]
'Cusefreude. I really like the SU blog presence—Troy Nunes is in fact an absolute magician—but they do have a terrible, RCMB-glory-days board at Syracusefans.com if you want to wallow. MGoUser "Captain" headed over to TNIAAM and recovered choice bits:
If McGary and Aaron Craft had a baby I would punch it right in the face
srsly cuse baseball cap thrown hard enough will crack an LCD... i learned the hard way
Jordan Morgan made someone throw their hat so hard it broke their TV. Yeah, that gets you a game column.
Five Key Plays. I know you just want this one first.
Presser transcript. UMHoops recap. Terry Mills! Ann Arbor is happy. Bill Tennant, did you really say "frickin'?" I doubt it. Bacari Alexander pregame involves anything other than orange juice lol jk orange juice:
While the Wolverines are keeping themselves humbled and hungry, Alexander has to think of a motivational tool for when Michigan faces Syracuse in one of Saturday’s national semifinal games.
The choice seems obvious to him — orange juice.
“You know that did happen two years ago when we played Syracuse, (a 53-50 loss), out in Atlantic City, and Evan Smotrycz, who was on our roster at the time, was quite upset that I soiled his jersey,” Alexander said. “I hope Evan forgives me. Evan, if you’re out there watching, I’m sorry.”
ATLANTA -- Zack Novak sat in the stands, after being granted a few days off from his professional team in the Netherlands, watching his former coach and teammates advance to the national championship game.
"We wish you were still playing," one Michigan fan said to Novak, who graduated a year ago.
"No, you don't," he replied. "Because now you're seeing what happens when that man has talent."
"We just told him, if we win this whole thing, you're going to have a moment," Michigan senior captain Josh Bartelstein said of Morgan. "And that's going to be the reason we win.
"And sure enough, his moment came tonight. I'm just so happy for him."
Niyo on reserves:
"I think it says we're a team — a true team" assistant coach LaVall Jordan said. "Everybody always says Trey Burke and the Wolverines. But we're a true team."
True to their word, they proved it again Saturday, as a couple freshman role players off the bench provided the early spark and a marginalized upperclassmen sealed the deal.
Hey, Spartans: Just this once, it's OK to cheer for Wolverines