"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Got this idea from Ryan Nanni: name the rival player you don't actually hate.
1. Be very good, 2. Lose to Michigan.
David: I don't have a great answer for this question. At least in the last decade or so...most likely due to Michigan's lack of success against their chief rivals. I thought of Mike Conley—whom I do like and respect—but he was only in Columbus for a year. Or Manti Teo? But...his whole career ended super weird. Pass. Let's go back...how about: Eddie George.
George fits this really well, I think. I remember watching him during his final year in 1995, enough games, anyway. He had a fantastic Heisman Trophy-winning year but was unbelievably upstaged by Tim Biakabutuka in The Game that year. George was held under 100 yards, while Biakabutuka set records with his 313 yards, as Michigan derailed Ohio State's National Championship hopes.
In the NFL, Eddie George was very fun to support. On top of being a model NFL citizen, he was a consummate professional. Never missing a start in Tennessee ('96-'03), George rushed for 1,000 yards in every year except for 2001 (where he had 939). He also had 300+ carries every season as a Titan, including 403 (!!) in 2000. He was also a prolific pass catcher out of the backfield with 259 receptions for 2144 yards and 10 TDs over those same 8 seasons. After 2003, the Titans chose to cut him and he played in Dallas for a year, but he was pretty much done.
Unfortunately, as happens to too many athletes, George had an up-and-down time in his post-playing career; here's a really neat article about it. However, some highlights do include dabbling in multiple platforms in front of the camera, constructing a life-preparation class, and even getting his MBA from Northwestern, no easy feat.
Seth: I have two because the one isn't at all interesting or controversial. That no. 1 is Drew Stanton. I was supposed to hate him because in high school he was one of the kids who moved to Farmington Hills just to play for Coach Herrington—such athletes would come from all over the state then blow through D-III by an average score of 46-9. I knew some good men—future attorneys and financial advisers—who were in that D-III.
Stanton never beat Michigan. As Jeff "smoke green, snort white!" Smoker embodied the Saban-Williams program, Stanton was the JLS era: likeable football-loving dudes with hot piss who played spread 'n shred football with a heavy portion of Sparty No! Among these: Stanton ruined his knee on punt coverage, and initiated Braylonfest by getting knocked out of it.
Drew then had the incredible misfortune to be drafted in the 2nd round by Matt Millen for a Lions team that never had any intention of using him. I felt bad, more so because he was also the one local athlete celebrity you were most likely to see at a volunteer thing.
[After the jump: I am going to piss someone off.]
3/20/2014 – Michigan 57 – Wofford 40 – 26-8, reach round of 32
It's nice to be a two seed. Michigan played an ugly game by its standards. They turned the ball over on almost 20% of their possessions, got to the line just nine times, and allowed a SoCon team to hit half their twos. But since that SoCon team put up an epic brickfest from three, they ran away with a near 20 point victory in a short 56-possession game.
The privilege of being way high up in the seeding is you can have a crappy first game and still not sweat it much. (Usually.) Contrast that with tourney darling Louisville, which found itself down two to Manhattan with two minutes left. There's a big difference between a 15 and a 13 even for a team that is arguably underseeded. Hooray playing well enough in the regular season to draw Kenpom's #184 team.
Yes, that is going up. There was a point in the first half when Zak Irvin had the ball and a relatively open three and did not take it. I fainted at the shock and when I came to apes had taken over the planet. If Irvin gets a look, any kind of look, the ball is being shot. In this one he missed his opportunities; he's still 41% on the year.
Must get it together. That turnover rate is like Amaker's turnover rates before he got to Harvard and became our secret agent. It is against the principles of HORSE basketball and must be fixed up before tomorrow, when a much tougher opponent comes calling. It was probably just one of those things. There seems to be no particular reason that Michigan turned it over a bunch. They were just sloppy, which can be attributed to a lack of focus or randomness depending on your druthers.
The Walton alley-oop that should have had Bob Uecker on the call at right (via Dustin Johnston) was emblematic. Michigan was just kinda off. It happened at an opportune time. Here's hoping it doesn't happen at an opportune one.
Wither the back door? More alarming is that Michigan struggled to get to the rim. Their offense just got over a point per possession—awful by their standards—and it wasn't particularly surprising when I checked the box score. Michigan's offense seemed less purposeful than it usually does.
It shows up in the hoop-math box score. Michigan struggled to create shots, period. Thirteen of their attempts came in the last five seconds of the clock; they got just six shots at the rim in their half court offense, two of those putbacks by GRIII. Because they are Michigan they can waddle through by hitting 57%(!) of their two point jumpers in the halfcourt and put up an eFG% of 81%(!!!) on must-jack shots late. This is always their safety valve.
That they always have a safety valve is lovely, but the offense didn't seem particularly flowing. Wofford pressured the perimeter and Michigan did not have much of a way to punish them for doing so. The general lack of backdoor action (PHRASING) has been a frustration. It was nice that one time against Michigan State when it got them a series of easy buckets early, and then it went away. With Duke and their perimeter overplay potentially looming in the Sweet 16, the ability to get some offense off the backdoor is critical. It really seems like you shouldn't be able to chase a team as skilled as Michigan well past the three point line without suffering something in return.
Wither the dumpoff? I know that Morgan and Horford combined for their usual 6/9 from the floor, but it does seem like these days Michigan's pick and roll game is struggling to get those gentlemen the parade of flushes they've been accustomed to. Opponents are rolling wing defenders underneath, making things more difficult and threatening block/charge decisions that can go in any direction against Michigan's already foul-prone bigs. Hopefully we'll see Michigan look for that kind of defensive action and kick to the corner for threes.
Part of that lack of rim attack. Stauskas picked up two highly debatable charge calls that looked like they could easily have gone the other way or not drawn a whistle. In general it felt like the refereeing swung back to last year's block/charge standards, which is probably good for Michigan if that is at all consistent. It obviously will not be because obviously.
Hey, how about that. Karl Cochran picked up his second personal foul with 11:41 left in the first half. Terriers coach Mike Young sat him for a few minutes, as required to by the coaching Illuminati manual, and then brought him back in. Cochran immediately made some aggressive defensive plays that could have brought a third whistle but didn't and ended up playing 34 minutes. He got just one foul the rest of the way, landing almost precisely on his season average of 2.9 fouls per 40.
A salute to Mike Young. Yeah, he may have been forced into his decision because Cochran is his offense. Hopefully the object lesson there keeps one of Michigan's stars in the game at a point in the future.
Peak bench McGary. Via Dustin Johnston, McGary pew pew pew:
At a later juncture, McGary and Dakich had an albatross-off.
For those of you who don't have twitter. Or for those of you who do and still giggle a little even when it comes up for the 30th time in your timeline. (I have the same relationship to this newspaper cover as I do the tiny kangaroo saying "I love work" in that commercial.)
Oh now you've gone and done it, OSU. Just try any Ohio Bobcat cracks and you will get snapped back at with THE University of Dayton. Trolling has to be limited to… oh, right. That. WELL OTHER THAN THAT YOU'VE GOT NOTHING. NOOOOOOOOOTHING.
Exit Aaron Craft. I'm actually going to miss the bastard. There was nothing quite like the "oh shit Aaron Craft" thing he could do to the unprepared, and nothing quite like Michigan's stars getting pwned by Craft in their first matchup and then coming back to pwn in return. I thought he was a fun player for all the reasons announcers fell all over themselves about him, but turned down about 90%. He was also a terrific nemesis. That he was vanquished at the last is the narrative of the John Beilein era in a one on one matchup.
I won't miss people talking about Aaron Craft, of course. I love Raftery and Lundquist but their eulogy for Craft was the perfect ending to a four-year love affair: kind of gross and way over the top. Will Leitch has a great article about Craft and the backlash and oh by the way Lenzelle Smith might be a nice guy too but who really cares if Lenzelle Smith stopped existing.
jonvalk's Wallpaperpalooza (1/4)
Things in the Past. There were some great diaries that would have been required reading if this was yesterday. Paps previewed Wofford (this you saw on the front page), Erik_in_Dayton tackled the history of 15 seeds upsetting two seeds; it's happened seven times since 1991. That may be more fun to visit now that the danger is passed, if only to relive 2012 Duke.
The game was played only 55 miles from Duke’s campus, but it was also the site of the first round game for UNC. Tar Heel fans gladly joined in rooting for the Mountain Hawks.
Oh man, Duke. That was two years ago. Is it still acceptable to laugh about it?
It is considered acceptable to still laugh about this game.
Speaking of way-back, remember the Big Ten Tournament? LSA has stats on that.
Meanwhile MGoBlueline put a ton of effort into reintroducing the hockey team for the Big Ten Tourney and then who-knows in the plinko playoff system. But those guys lost to Penn State in double-OT (finishing 2-3 on the year against the hockey equivalent of our lacrosse team) and will need to be lucky to earn a tourney bid. There were plenty of things to go wrong, including really bad turnovers and the now-requisite game-winner that almost went in but didn't.
The hockey guys (Brian, Center Ice and Blueline) will cover the most unsurprising upset ever in more detail, but there was one thing that infuriated me all game, and that was Penn State's defensemen were pinching despite being rather bad backwards skaters, and only a few times did Michigan challenge this by speeding through the neutral zone. When they did move up-ice with any kind of urgency in the 3rd period, DeBlois and Nieves split defenders and got off great scoring opportunities.
Since we're now left watching tourneys and hoping the unworthy don't steal autobids, here's a handy graphic of the tournaments.
Things in the Future or Never. Interesting, quickly consumed diary by saveferris looks at the history of 1-4 seeds in the NCAA tournament. Survey says:
I just stole his lede here, so I'll tell you that there's a Burke gif at the top if you take the link. My guess is the closer seeds are to each other the more this will look like 50-50, i.e. the reason two-seeds won just 4 of 12 Finals games since 1985 is only 12 two-seeds have made the Finals.
|The other Sierra (soph. OF Sierra Lawrence) has a .462 OBP going into Big Ten play.|
And Softball. I could probably say this about the softball team most years, but I really really mean it this year: pay attention because they're on a new level of awesome fun awesome. They've carried a 19-6 record so far through an epic brutal schedule. South Bend Wolverine provided the update as the team is (finally) going into Big Ten play.
Thing to Know 1: Pitching is huge in softball; one great one will put a team in the Top 25. Michigan has three(!) such towers. I'll stop comparing junior Haylie Wagner to Verlander because her 0.93 ERA/13-0 record is more like Walter Johnson. Freshman sensation Megan Betsa has 63 strikeouts in 49 innings. Something's been off with junior Sara Driesenga, who was All-Big Ten both previous seasons, and picked up the slack last year when Wagner was out. If Sara returns to form the pitching is just going to be unfair.
Thing to Know 2: Star shortstop Sierra Romero's looks like Miguel Cabrera at the bat and in the field; in the comments Hail to the Blue points out her glove is fine but her arm's been erratic.
[Jump for Best of the Board]
Thank you, Dustin Johnston, for lobbing this softball over the heart of the plate. It's remarkable, not to mention hilarious and captivating, that Jon Horford coexists peacefully on a team with these two hooligans:
Note John Beilein's futile effort to wave Andrew Dakich and Mitch McGary back to the bench. You cannot stop their enthusiasm. You can only hope to contain-- no, that seems impossible, too.
[Hit THE JUMP for Aaron Craft's greatest contribution to the Aaron Craft debate, Nik Stauskas making absurd layups, various moments of Illinois failure, the bench mob takeover, and more.]
Somewhere there should be
for all the world to see
a statue of a fool made of stone.
An image of a man
who let love slip through his hands
and left him to stand here all alone.
I found your statue, Mr. Ruffin.
It depicts Dan Dakich watching Aaron Craft attempt this shot.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the GIFs, including lots of Derrick Walton, "Plastic Man," John Beilein giving dap in the run of play, sad Ohio fans, and more.]
I pose the questions for these things on Monday nights or Tuesday mornings, so I was taking a guess that Ohio State would sic Craft on Michigan's alpha dog. He was surprisingly efficient but the question remains relevant:
We are now alarmed. What are teams doing to shut down Stauskas, and what can Michigan do to counter it?
BiSB: Like Seth, I was assuming Craft would be able to lock up Stauskas. Boy, are my cheeks red.
The Stauskas shackles are complicated but revolve around the same principle: put a little guy in his face who can shadow him. Stauskas isn't extraordinarily quick, so if you get a Ferrell/Craft type who can get over every screen and stick with him through curls and such, you can deny him good looks. Moreover, if they do that, bigs can sag off a bit, and as a result the pick-and-roll game has sputtered.
There are a number of theoretical options to Liberate the Stauskas, but I'm not the Xs and Os expert. Ideally you'd see more back-cuts to take advantage of the overplays, but for one reason or another those haven't been there. They can also try to find ways to take advantage of the size mismatch, but Stauskas hasn't really demonstrated much of a post game.
|This nearly got the cat called for a moving pick.|
So that leaves stuff like off-the-ball down-screens that see Stauskas take a Family Circus-like route to a catch-and-shoot. Stauskas can also generate his own pull-up 3s on occasion, which are both fun and profitable. Basically, we might need to add a "Nik Stauskas is probably Rip Hamilton" tag to the site. That might breathe new life into the Not Just A Shooter debate, but even if he is Just A Shooter sometimes, that's okay because he's still a really really good shooter. Also, Ferrell notwithstanding, chasing Nik in circles all game will take a toll on a guy on the offensive end; Craft had to rotate off of Stauskas a couple of times, and by the end of the game he wasn't even strong enough to shoot a basketball all the way to the hoop from 22 feet.
via user harryddunn
[After the jump, the spheroid of truth]