I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
glenn robinson iii
Inside the locker room. Grantland's Shane Ryan has a great article about Michigan in the locker room after the game:
This is clearly one of the most painful losses of your career. When it's over, you have a few minutes to talk to each other, to be alone, and then it's an onslaught of media. Your pain is still fresh. You can't get mad, you can't get annoyed, you can't refuse, and it lasts a long time. What's that like?
Tim Hardaway Jr.: [laughing] "I mean, it's not — I don't want to say it's brutal, but it is … it's a job. It's their job, it's your job to get stuff, so … I mean, I'm not worried about it, I'm not afraid to talk about it, so … that is the nice answer, but it's honest, I'm honest about it. It's part of what they do. It's part of what everybody does, so I mean, I'm not worried about it at all."
Hardaway's laughter was satisfying, in a way, because it cracked his shell for a moment. It broke through the training, and it showed, for an instant, the real difficulty it presented. The laugh was part sarcastic, part "how could I possibly explain this to you?" and part "it's miserable and depressing, but I know better than to say that on the record." It was also the prelude to shutting down again. I even interrupted him halfway through: "That's the nice answer" — but he was careful not to take the bait a second time. Still, I got that one laugh.
Reason #3,509 I have no interest in having a press pass.
Everyone's main question. McGary backed off the definitely back talk and is now in Hated Chad Ford's top 20. Let's seize on this quote and cuddle it for warmth:
"This will be a great team next year, with great guys coming in and a great group of guys leaving, you can't replace those five seniors," he said. "We'll see."
"There's some unfinished business. ... We'll see next year."
In the immediate aftermath, the News picked up this quote from Robinson:
"Right now, I'll be back. We'll talk about that whenever I need to but you know this isn't the time to talk about that right now," Robinson said. "It's about all these guys in the locker room that played their hearts out tonight."
Burke, of course, seems gone. Hardaway is 50/50 with tea leaves suggesting he leaves. Someone ask Tim Hardaway's hat.
In other news, NBA scouts are kind of jerks.
"I think it was obvious that he was the reason that Michigan got that far. He will be drafted higher than he should be," the scout said. "He wants to be (Allen) Iverson but I'm not sure any organization will just hand him the ball. I question his speed and size. Definitely (at least) an NBA backup point guard."
I question your face, buddy. And your basketball acumen if you think that Burke's an inefficient volume shooter and ball-hog.
Slate on the whatnot. Guhhhh.
After Albrecht’s sadly non-superheroic jaunt to the basket, Louisville’s Chane Behanan plucks the ball off the backboard and throws an outlet pass to Peyton Siva. The Cardinals guard is in the open court with only Burke between him and the basket. On the subject of irrational confidence: Just a minute before, the 6-foot Siva had gone backdoor, leaped high into the air, and stuffed in an alley-oop. Now, Siva jumps from the same spot on the court. Burke, who’s slowed down to time his steps, jumps with him. Their hands meet above the rim, cresting at the midpoint of the backboard square. It’s a beautiful play, proof that you can achieve athletic grace by canceling out your opponent’s best effort.
And then the stupid ref ruins it by calling a stupid foul.
Levin eventually concludes that he's not sure what you could do to make basketball less dependent on the random guesses of [redacted] men in stripes. I wish I could be as benevolent about the lessons to take from the outcome.
Why it took so long to foul. Beilein screwed up:
"I thought we were in the 1-and-1, so it's a coaching error on my part" Beilein said. "We were trying to foul the right guy (Dieng). I was happy (Dieng) was going to the foul line, and I didn't realize we weren't in the 1-and-1. That falls right on me as a coach."
Fire this clown! HOT TAKES
Lawrence Frank disagrees. He got a little hot when the idea of questioning Beilein for sitting Burke as long as he did came up:
"Let's say he (Beilein) puts him (Burke) back, when, I don't know, two-minute mark, three-minute mark, and he picks up his third foul, up 12," Frank said. "What are people going to say then? 'Well, what the hell, you had a 12-point cushion, why would you put him back in the game?'
"Look, what it took was a guy that was a transfer walk-on (Hancock) to make four threes. Everyone's entitled to their opinion but trust me, John Beilein knows that Trey Burke's the national college player of the year. It's not a surprise to him. He knows how good the kid is. He also knows how the ebb and flow of the game goes."
Frank said he was stunned that Beilein's decisions were so scrutinized after a well-played game.
"Here's a guy, he's got the youngest team in the tournament, they're in the final game, and yet a story line is coaching. Are you kidding me?" Frank said. "Not that he's infallible or didn't make mistakes. He got the youngest team in the tournament to the finals."
Odes. Michigan blog tribute outbursts come in waves:
- Maize and Go Blue actually uses "ode" in the title.
- MVictors talks about how he shuts down during games. I alternate between that and outbursts when the pressure gets too high.
- Hold The Rope recaps.
- Hoover Street Rag says thanks.
- Genuinely Sarcastic focuses on how damn hard it is to actually win one of these things.
Horford zen. Jon Horford on the post-game locker room:
"It was beautiful," sophomore forward Jon Horford said. "Everyone was so calm. No one was crying, no one was complaining, no one was throwing things. Everyone was just so calm. Coach (John) Beilein just got up and he started to speak and he just set the tone. He stressed the importance of valuing everything we’ve accomplished.
"He just started thanking everyone, from the players and coaches to the support staff, and he just had this air of gratitude. Having great respect for the moment, and understanding the bonds we’ve made as a team are much more important than winning a basketball game, even if it is the national championship."
Spencer Brinton, come on down. Michigan says they'll look for potential JUCO or fifth-year QBs to address the whole "two scholarship QBs on the roster" thing. Projected impact: none. Even if they find a guy to come in, he'd be a JUCO who didn't get picked up already or a fifth-year guy knowingly walking into a situation where he won't start. That guy won't be better than Shane Morris, and if Michigan is going to try to get that redshirt on him they'll probably be riding with Brian Cleary late in games.
It's all about not quite paying the kids enough money to meet federal standards for financial aid. Everyone hates Mark Emmert. Some of us have good reasons. Others are Indiana State, and this creates a problem for that whole "stipend" thing which is really just bringing the athletic scholarship closer to how much it actually costs to attend various colleges:
In some ways, the issue has become a referendum on Mr. Emmert, whose attempts to get things done quickly have alienated certain factions.
“There are some people who will oppose anything he supports, and that’s unfair,” says Sidney A. McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State University. As head of the NCAA Student-Athlete Well-Being Working Group, Mr. McPhee has become chief arbiter of the stipend debate. …
The climate has frustrated Mr. McPhee, who believes that even the less-wealthy programs have an obligation to make a priority of players and their unmet financial needs. “If you want to compete [in Division I],” he says, “you’ve got to step up."
They've had an almost unanimous straw poll with various stakeholders in favor; they believe anything they do would just get overridden.
Okay, no counsel. How about standing around them with passive menace? Taylor Lewan isn't going to give various Michigan basketball players noogies until they agree to come back next year:
"That's not my place at all," the senior said Tuesday after practice at Glick Field House. "What Trey Burke, Tim does -- I know Tim, have had class with him and he's a great guy -- whatever decision they make, you have to make the best decision for yourself.
"I think if they choose to leave, they'll have my support. I don't even know Trey Burke, but he has my support. Those guys have done a great job and earned everything they get."
NOT EVEN ONE INDIAN BURN TAYLOR GAWD I DON'T EVEN
Tremendous sighting. In the welcome-home pep rally yesterday:
With his team in folding chairs around him on the floor, Wolverines coach John Beilein took to the microphone and thanked the fans for coming out. He said he had heard about the Monday night gathering at Crisler when the arena was nearly filled to capacity, and called it “tremendous.”
Etc.: Wojo on if these guys are going to hang around yo. SBN on Trey Burke. Of course it's the Detroit Free Press with the commemorative national title book. Twit factory, that place. Northwestern fans have discovered the work of the Michigan wikipedia club. They are not best pleased.
We're past the point of coherent thought. Let's watch some pictures move instead.
[Hit THE JUMP for the best gifs from the Syracuse game, including a complete Oliver Stone-style breakdown of Otto The Orange's tragic demise.]
Image via UMHoops
"Bright youth passes swiftly as a thought." — Theognis
Mitch McGary scored in double figures twice in his first 21 games for Michigan. Before last night, he had 18 assists... all season.
Nik Stauskas had made just two of his previous 16 three-point attempts when he took the floor against Florida.
Prior to the NCAA Tournament, Glenn Robinson III's season high in offensive rebounds was four.
Caris LeVert, expected to take a redshirt year, didn't play in Michigan's first six games. He'd scored a grand total of zero NCAA Tournament points heading into Saturday night.
Going into the last two games, Spike Albrecht had scored 54 points this season, 627 fewer than the man he backed up, Trey Burke.
Before the season began, I wrote about the lofty expectations for this team, and how much they had to rely on a talented but enigmatic group of incoming freshmen:
While the hype may be slightly overblown, anything less than the program's first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1994 would be considered a disappointment.
How the team reaches that point is still very much in question. Hardaway, plagued by a balky jumper, ceded the role of lead dog to Burke as the season wore on in 2011-12; if he regains his stroke, he could emerge as the top scoring option. The presence of Jordan Morgan, McGary, and a healthy Jon Horford up front gives Beilein new-found depth and versatility with his lineup—Beilein spoke at media day of an offseason spent studying NBA film to see how the pros utilize two post players, a luxury he hasn't been afforded during his time in Ann Arbor. For their part, McGary and Robinson must live up to sky-high recruiting hype if this team hopes to deliver on their potential.
The extent to which the Wolverines miss Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, and Evan Smotrycz depends largely on another freshman, Nik Stauskas, and his ability to connect from the outside. Yet another freshman, Spike Albrecht, will be called upon to replace "timeout" as Burke's backup. One more first-year guard, Caris LeVert, has earned rave reviews in practice and could provide scoring punch off the bench.
When the season began, Stauskas and Robinson managed to make an immediate impact. McGary, however, was simultaneously playing his way into shape and learning how to play his game without bashing into everyone and everything (including, very nearly, the Governor). Albrecht was largely a non-factor all the way through Big Ten season, called upon to keep the ship afloat—and no more than that—when the National Player of the Year needed a quick breather. LeVert appeared at least a year away from being a major contributor, showing flashes of sky-high potential but shooting under 30% on the season.
Heading into the tournament, Michigan was regarded, well, maybe not as a one-man show, but to keep it in-state let's say they were the White Stripes and Trey Burke was Jack White—take him away and you're left with a bunch of unmelodious noise that often strays off-beat. When Burke scored six points on 2/12 shooting in the opening game against South Dakota State, it was a clear case of fortunate timing, the only remaining game in which he could perform below his standard and see the Wolverines advance. That opinion did not change when Burke posted 18 and 7 against the vaunted VCU press, and was cemented during the final minutes of the Kansas game—despite his scoreless first half, and McGary's inspired play keeping the Wolverines within striking distance.
Then came the Florida game. McGary continued his transformation into Evolutionary Tim Duncan, posting 11 points, nine rebounds, and five(!) steals in just 21 minutes. Robinson, who'd struggled all season defensively, held Patric Young to eight points and a lone offensive board. Albrecht scored seven off the bench, broke a press with an absurd baseball pass to Jon Horford, and his three steals included this playground special. And Stauskas, of course, bombed the Gators out of the building with a perfect six-for-six performance from beyond the arc. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined to shoot 8-for-29. The Wolverines won by 20.
Last night, it was McGary—not Burke—facilitating Michigan's most effective offensive possessions, dishing out six assists (including a no-looker to GRIII) and devastating Syracuse's 2-3 zone from the high post. For the second time in the tournament, Robinson recorded five offensive rebounds. Albrecht only played four minutes, but hit two huge threes—including a Burke-esque 30-footer—and helped handle the rock late when Syracuse turned up the pressure. With a migraine-limited Stauskas unable to score, LeVert stepped onto the big stage and immediately connected on a pair of game-changing triples—he played his usual solid defense and recorded four rebounds for good measure. Burke scored seven points, just one more than Albrecht*. Hardaway was 4/16 from the field. Despite a late Syracuse push, Michigan won with relative comfort.
Above all else, this has been the revelation of the NCAA Tournament. It's impossible to understate the importance of Trey Burke, and how his masterpiece of a season got Michigan here. The contributions of Hardaway, Jon Horford, and the Jordan Morgan Redemption Tour have been invaluable all year, including the postseason. The emergence of the Fresh Five—all of them—however, is the biggest reason the Wolverines are playing for a national title on Monday.
John Beilein deserves much of the credit here, of course—not just for an exquisite eye for recruiting talent (usually before anyone else), but for masterfully managing their roles, minutes, and psyche. Before the tournament, there was no doubt that Michigan could pull themselves together and contend for a title if they played up to their potential. At this point, though, they're not just in position for this year—they're set up to reach the same heights on a regular basis. This is from the same article I wrote before the season:
Despite the inexperience and uncertainty, this team represents Beilein's surest bet to take this program to the next level, and could very well be his best shot for a long time. That may sound rash, but the Wolverines have been close to the leap before, only to fall back: the Amaker tenure crumbled despite early promise, the 2009-10 squad faltered despite making the tournament with the same nucleus the year before, and even last year's team tripped up against 13-seed Ohio in the Big Dance. Trey Burke probably isn't walking through that door next year. There's no guarantee Tim Hardaway Jr. will, either. For that matter, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III have one-and-done potential if all goes well (too well, perhaps).
On Monday, we'll watch this team play together for the last time. We know this. They know this. Despite a rotation lacking a single senior, a large part of the team's core won't be back next year, and for damn good reason.
That no longer concerns me. John Beilein will find a way, replacing his bright youth with brighter youth, just as he has during his entire Michigan tenure.
*Though, for anyone who thinks Burke had an awful game, please refer to Michael Carter-Williams' final stat line.
The story of this game in three gifs:
Much, much more after the jump. Best of luck voting for just one favorite.
Mailbag: Big Man Rotation, Dealing With Withey, NBA Departure Odds, Big Puppy's Breed, Unhappy Visitors
I received a recruiting mailbag question via email and, in the process of requesting more questions on Twitter, this mostly turned into a basketball mailbag. So, here's a hoops mailbag with a couple of bonus football recruiting questions, I guess.
Starter of the future, also starter of the present (Photo: Bryan Fuller)
Do you think that Morgan getting rest against VCU could help him have a serviceable/good game against Kansas? — @carlseikoll
This is the first of two questions about the big men, so let's focus on Jordan Morgan's situation for now. He got a lot of rest against VCU—the whole game, in fact—on the heels of playing just one minute against South Dakota State and 18 combined minutes in the Big Ten Tournament.
It'd be nice to pin the blame for Morgan's reduced role on his midseason ankle injury, but I think we're beyond that point—he played over 22 minutes in each of the four games leading up to the BTT. It's entirely possible that coming back from the injury too soon sapped his confidence, especially in his ability to get lift off the floor and go up strong when finishing with the basketball. Or a bad stretch of games and subsequent benching may just be getting in his head.
Whatever the reason, it seems unlikely that John Beilein would keep Morgan nailed to the bench in the VCU blowout—not giving him the chance to regain some confidence in a low-risk situation—only to have a big role in store for him against one of the nation's best teams (and best big men). Which leads to the next question...
What is the hierarchy of McGary, Horford, Morgan, and what they can do to stop Withey? — @stephenjnesbitt
Mitch McGary is the starter at this point, a point I doubt anyone will dispute. He's emerged as both the team's most consistent and productive center, and as long as he stays out of foul trouble he should play the majority of the team's minutes from here on out.
Given the above, Jon Horford is the next man on the floor, and Morgan should be used either sparingly or only in case of emergency. While this rotation worked out great in the first two tournament games, however, there's reason to worry heading into the Kansas game.
The reason, of course, is Jeff Withey—a real, functional, productive big man, something Michigan didn't really see in the first two NCAA games. I don't think there's a huge gap between Michigan's three big men offensively, aside from McGary's stellar offensive rebounding; all three aren't players Beilein is going to post up often, especially against one of the country's best shot blockers. Against Kansas, whoever's playing center won't do much more than set picks and fight for putback opportunities.
The difference will come at the defensive end. Morgan has certainly struggled in the last couple weeks, to the point that I don't think Michigan can confidently throw him into the fray on Friday; that's a problem, because he's still by far their best on-ball post defender, and Withey is a skilled post player with a high usage. McGary, meanwhile, has done everything well recently except defend on the ball—overlooked in his performance against VCU was the Rams' lone big man, Juvonte Reddic, scoring 16 points on 7/11 shooting in 24 minutes, with only one of those baskets coming off an offensive rebound. McGary is also foul-prone, though not as much as Horford, who commits a sky-high 6.4 fouls per 40 minutes.
I still don't think Morgan will play much, if at all. If he does, it will be because Withey is terrorizing the defense in the post. The best thing Michigan can do against Withey on Friday is to try to lure him away from the basket as a shot-blocker—expect a lot of pick-and-roll action—and look to deny him post touches defensively. This is one of the worst games for the Wolverines to be without a full-strength (mentally and physically) Jordan Morgan, but that's the way the ball bounces.
[Hit THE JUMP for the odds of Michigan's underclassmen jumping to the NBA, searching for Big Puppy's breed, and a couple of recruiting questions.]