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2/12/2013 – Michigan 52, Michigan State 75 – 21-4, 8-4 Big Ten
HERE IS A PICTURE OF PAD THAI. NO YOUR PICTURE SELECTION DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY PEOPLE WHO COMPLAINED ABOUT BO RYAN PICTURES. NOW THAT I AM STARING AT THIS PAD THAI AND THINKING ABOUT WHAT ELSE THIS PICTURE COULD BE, I FIND MYSELF ON THE SIDE OF THE BO RYAN COMPLAINERS. GOOD JOB BO RYAN COMPLAINERS. LET US ALL ENJOY THIS PICTURE OF PAD THAI, A JOB WELL DONE.
A few weeks ago, this space batted around the shocking revelation that Michigan was something like 338th in average experience, and asserted that this certainly didn't seem like the case. It does now. Michigan has built first-half deficits of 21, 15, 9, and like a billion in their losses, all of which came on the road. They managed to avoid that fate against Northwestern, Minnesota, and Illinois, which does count for something. Not enough of a something to file this team as elite, or a national championship favorite, or even particularly likely to beat MSU and Indiana at home.
And I guess that's fine. Most Michigan fans entered the season leery of the top-five ranking bestowed on the Wolverines because Trey Burke, and if you'd handed them this…
…before the season they'd have snatched it from your hands gleefully, especially if you'd mentioned that the Big Ten was obviously the toughest league in the country and that three-games stretch in November was against a couple of teams on track for Sweet 16 seeds and a third not too far off.
This perspective is brought to you by gritted teeth and turning off a game like Brian freakin' Ellerbe was on the sidelines. It is hard-won. Stupid everything.
So… yeah. This is not a miracle team like last year's all-the-freshman Kentucky outfit, and now we know that. Michigan played ten guys before walk-on time kicked in (with eight minutes left): six were freshman of some variety, and zero were seniors. This is no longer a cleverly obscured fact. It's a thing that becomes obvious when the pressure turns up on hostile courts, and separates Michigan from being a truly elite team. They probably aren't getting a one seed; they probably aren't winning the league. Here is a picture of pad thai.
It could be a lot worse. Getting teased like this is still teeth-clenching.
Well, at least one guy came to play. I can't say I liked a lot of Burke's shots early, but once it became clear that he was the only guy on the floor who could do, like, things. He put in 18 points on 11 shots and had four of Michigan's six assists.
Things went from bad to worse in two periods when he was on the bench. The first was a generic get-this-guy-rest period in the first half that featured two bigs, Albrecht, Levert, and Hardaway. That did not go well. The second was a brief period after Burke picked up his third foul early in the first half on an over-aggressive three closeout that looks exactly like every other overaggressive three closeout that knocks the shooter over. By the time Burke returned a pretty-much-over game was over.
And poof like that he's gone. Glenn Robinson III's cliff-dive is now undeniable. He'd put up at least eight points in every game this season other than a couple of low-major blowouts; in the three recent losses he's acquired 2, 4, and 2 points. Michigan stashed him on the bench for half of this one, choosing to go with a clumsy two-big lineup for large chunks of the game. Robinson has to score if he's going to be out there against Adriean Payne, and as soon as he put up that ugly brick on one of those pass-up-a-set-open-three-for-a-pullup-two shots that are just the worst, you could see that Michigan wasn't getting anything from him.
Part of that is the permissivity of Michigan's defense in these games. It's hard to get into transition, where Robinson has made a lot of hay, when you're picking the ball out of the basket every time down the court.
Stauskas defense: actually impactful. In the wrong way, obviously. He was checking Gary Harris; Gary Harris hit 5 of 9 threes because each was a comfortable look. That was the first time his guy had really gone off.
A question. So, let's say Tom Izzo is three feet onto the court as his team is trying to play defense and Mitch McGary barrels into him at top speed, sending him flying into the bench. Is that a technical on Izzo? On McGary? On both? What would happen if someone went out of their way to make the presence of a basketball coach on the damn court a problem? I assume that in the rules leaving the approved coaching box is a technical foul, but basketball doesn't really have rules, it has easily-ignored suggestions.
All hell would break loose, at least.
How you lose by 23. Michigan got doubled up on the boards (18% to 37%), in turnovers (16 to 8), tripled in FTAs and assists, and gave up 55% shooting from two. I have lost all motivation to discuss this game right now. Just now, it happened. I was going to keep putting words in there about how this performance was ass, just comprehensive and disillusioning ass, and now I feel that this is so beyond pointless that I don't even think I'm going to finish this sent