mitch and jon friends forever
It's a bye week and Atomic Dog happened, so this week's question is naturally inspired by Dennis Norfleet:
I think we can all admit our collective love for Dennis Norfleet extends well beyond what he's accomplished thus far as a Michigan football player. (What he could hypothetically accomplish is a topic for another week.) Looking back onto Michigan teams of the past—hoops and hockey included—which player or players stick out in your mind as somebody you enjoyed cheering on largely for reasons outside of their ability to perform between the lines?
Additionally, please include the song you'd choose for Special K to play when a hypothetical kick returnin' you prepares to receive a kickoff.
Seth: Oh man. Well, Dakich, but I have a feeling Ace had Andrew in mind when he asked, so I leave that to the basketball beat. There must also be an entire category for one-off videos: Coner's rap, Louie Caporusso: Love Expert, 2011 hockey's savage mock rock skit, etc.
There's a bittersweet one worth discussing: Big Will. As a player, in a time when Michigan needed a hero out of their 5-star DT, we instead got Thor. Soup did little to justify his hype until Brady swapped him back to defense and set the army of DL coaches on him. That fact unfortunately overshadowed a blue chip off-the-field career.
Even before he arrived, Will gave us two commitment celebrations: one a year before the rest of his class, the second a literal hat dance...
...after trolling recruitniks by declaring Michigan out and LSU his leader two days prior.
Will was a regular at various with-the-kids charity functions the players did, and these inevitably led to endearing photos of flat-topped Soup among the Lilliputians. I never found video of it, but in the same vein, I remember after we beat Michigan State in 2012 that the scoreboard zoomed in on the students as various smurf-sized players jumped up to sit among them, and then Will started to follow and you could clearly make out some girl in the drop zone mouthing "Oh shit!"
Finally, there was the misdemeanor so hilarious we begged EDSBS to bring back the Fulmer Cup: denting the hood of a car while trying to Dukes of Hazzard. This destroyed my previous all-time favorite crime by a Wolverine: Jerald Robinson's heroic destruction of a parking gate. Campbell may not have been as productive as Martin, nor as eloquent as RVB, but in times that called for levity as much as interior line depth, Big Will was at the very least hilarious.
Seth again: Crap, I forgot music. Kool & the Gang, Jungle Boogie: "Get down, get [your pad level] down!"
[Hit THE JUMP for Denard, Air Georgia, the owner of the world's most interesting pet, the unicyclist and the philosopher, and more.]
Originally, this just contained the McGary "SOON" text until I sent it to Brian:
Brian: first one needs to have like three paragraphs of text from horford about existentialism
Me: I can do that
Me: Taoism work? [link]
MGoBlog, catering to a very specific audience since 2005.
[Hit THE JUMP for Jordan Morgan GIFstravaganza, all the Andrew Dakich reactions fit to GIF, John Beilein technical spectacularr, the pick, and more.]
1/30/2014 – Michigan 75, Purdue 67 – 16-4, 8-0 Big Ten
Albrecht is one of six Wolverines hitting 38% or better from three [Bryan Fuller]
When your friend asks what Purdue is like this year and you tell him that they are the same bunch of inexplicable bricklayers they were a year ago, there's always that trepidation in the back of your mind. Did I just doom Michigan to witness the Johnson and Johnson and Johnson three point spectacular first-hand?
For one, one of the Johnsons is gone. For two, if you spent this game looking exclusively at the rim Purdue was shooting at you'd come away with the impression that their form was borrowed from Rory Delap.
Michigan struggled with the ensuing rebounds because the normal rules about how to position yourself no longer applied. Missed shots generally pop off the top of the rim and go to the back side. These were going anywhere; on one memorable occasion Michigan gave up an offensive rebound because the shooter left a ten-foot floater so short that it bounced right back to his chest. On several other occasions Michigan players had to snap their head back lest a basketball travelling at speed ricochet into their faces. I'm pretty sure at one point Jordan Morgan asked a Boilermaker "you know we're not playing squash, right?" He responded by flinging a ball really hard in the general vicinity of the backboard.
That's just how it goes for Purdue these days. They're 10th in the conference at making twos; tenth at making threes; dead last at making free throws. They were much the same last year save for the presence of DJ Byrd, who vaguely propped up their three-point percentage. That solitary bit of green in Purdue's shooting stats in the post-Hummel era comes with a massive caveat, though: Purdue took fewer threes than all but six of the 345 D-I basketball teams.
Threes are good shots. Very successful bug people masquerading as humans have built entire programs around not allowing them to be launched while launching many themselves. Purdue regards them as poison, because for them they are.
Meanwhile, when Nik Stauskas comes off a screen and takes a pull up long two I'm not even mad anymore.
I feel this deserves a group hug of some variety. I hate long twos. They are odious rejection of math, unless Michigan is shooting them. Nowadays I just think "well, that's probably going in." Michigan shot over 60% from two for the fifth time(!) in eight conference games and stroked over half of their three pointers for the second consecutive outing. The following players launched jumpers that I felt were probably going in as soon as they left their shooters' hand: Stauskas, Robinson, LeVert, Horford, Morgan, Albrecht, Irvin, Walton. That is everybody.
Purdue fans must have looked on at this like cavemen discovering fire, or amoebas recently out-evolved. As a Michigan fan I remember what it was like, and think there but for the grace of six to eight players on Michigan's roster go I.
You keep telling yourself that the thing is unsustainable and then they keep proving you wrong. At some point is the expectation that Michigan can beat just about anyone by launching whenever they get a window of space? You keep waiting for that game where their shooting fails them and they collapse in a heap, but Michigan just banged in 11 of 19 threes at the Breslin Center. When is it going to get, you know, hard?
At some point, surely. This is the belief required both by reason and superstition. But every time Stauskas goes from velocity to perfect airborne stillness it gets a little harder to remember that.
But Mitch, I am contemplating the duality of existence. Ask for Mitch/Horford shots and ye shall receive.
HI JON DID YOU KNOW I USED TO BE A MUPPET [Fuller]
Aside from the shooting, how did you like the play? Not very much at all, old-timey newspaper reporter of legend. This was a very frustrating game to watch when Michigan was not banging in everything they threw up. Which wasn't that often. But still.
Michigan's sixteen turnovers would have done them in against many opponents, and they kept Purdue vaguely in it after Michigan had pushed out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half. A number were extremely sloppy. I can live with Stauskas trying to thread the needle for an assist and getting picked off; not so much LeVert having his pocket picked at the time line. A return of Morgan's hands issues was also unwelcome.
Turnovers both robbed Michigan of opportunities to continue making it rain and propped up Purdue's miserable offense by giving them transition opportunities; without that spate in the first half this game is a laugher by halftime.
The weird, lost rebounding war. The board war was significantly distorted by the fact that there were so many more opportunities for rebounds underneath Purdue's basket (41) than Michigan's (21), so 16 OREBs to 5 isn't quite the enormous blowout it seemed like at the time.
And while the 16 OREBs given up was frustrating, there was no one thing you could point to as the cause. No Boiler acquired more than two of those sixteen offensive rebounds and about half were weird bounces off bricks or scrums in which four or five players touched the ball until it popped out to someone or another.
Result of previous two bullets. Michigan easily won a game in which they had a whopping 19 fewer FGAs than their opponents. (This was not an MSU/Iowa thing where fouls distort that. Michigan shot 17 to Purdue's 15.) That's cool and all, but let's not try that again.
dunk courtesy Derrick Walton [Bryan Fuller]
Okay, Walton, okay. I was trying to pump the breaks a little bit after Walton's 19-point performance against MSU because I wasn't seeing a whole lot of activity in the half-court offense and the free throws distorted his stats.
I am full speed ahead after this one: 14 points on 7 shots, a couple of steals, and a number of nice assists, none prettier than the wrap-around to Jordan Morgan for an uncontested dunk. Moreover, the transition takes were finishes that featured impressive body control against good defenders—not Travis Trice—and he generated offense in the half-court. He may officially be Coming On, and if so that is bad, bad news for the Big Ten.
Come on guys, think of the computer rankings. Major Kenpom-time failure in this one, as the under 4 timeout saw Michigan up 15 with an excellent chance to hit the 17 point KP spread. Two missed front ends and a couple turnovers later Purdue walked out with their heads held high, because there's something about Purdue that makes them super interested in making final scores look good. (Remember Michigan versus Purdue during the Danny Hope era? Onside kicks down 4 scores with two minutes left, etc.)
As a result, Michigan slips to tenth in the all-important Kenpom rankings. If you guys are just going to do that I don't even know why you bother winning the game in the first place.
What is the opposite of the Reggie Cleveland All-Stars? Because Basil Smotherman is on it. I have been envisioning Basil Smotherman in my head for years, because his name is Basil Smotherman, and at no point did it cross my mind that he was a black guy.
I don't miss Glenn Robinson… yet. I may at some point in the future. Robinson was near invisible for the second straight game. He took a few threes and had one nice post move into a short jumper, and that was it. For almost the entire game he was stuck on one rebound; he had no assists. He was a ghost on the offensive side of the ball.
This is basically fine right now since Michigan can get any shot they want, but it's a bit worrisome that Lottery GRIII that showed up in flashes for the Big Ten season has gone into hibernation again. Just a bit. Maybe the next step on the pick and roll is incorporating the GRIII dive to the basket?
Caris carrying things. For the first time in a while it was someone other than Stauskas who seemed to have the primary offensive burden, and that was LeVert. It wasn't by much with Walton and Stauskas helping out significantly; it did seem like LeVert had stepped forward in this one.
The results weren't incredible: 14 points on 13 shot attempts, two assists against four turnovers. His issues were a main sticking point in the first half as Michigan strove and failed to truly blow the doors off. The eyeball test was kinder. Beilein afterwards:
“He can get to places that you can’t figure out, how’d he just get there?'
if he can cut down on the mistakes he can take the heat off Stauskas significantly.
On to the next team of Indiana bricklayers. Indiana, up next, is just like Purdue when it comes to shooting except their point guard can actually do it and they've got a guy (Will Sheehey) who believes he can but cannot, at least not this year. Think sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr.
I don't get it, man. You're in Indiana! You are within the most fertile ground of corner gunners in the country. Hell, Michigan has plundered Indiana for who-dat snipers for years now. Are you telling me there's not one Novak/Douglass/Albrecht around for these teams to pick up? More for Michigan, I guess.