TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
tom izzo excuse factory
At halftime of an eventual 71-69 win over Illinois of late January last year, Izzo explained to ESPN sideline reporter Allison Williams: "We had guys not catching the ball, but I've got some weird guys in there right now." In the hall of Tom Izzo excuses it ranks primarily for catchiness—certainly not for originality. This past December, in a press conference explaining his team's loss to Texas Southern, he blamed himself for going easy on his tired kids, then blamed early foul trouble for Valentine and "not enough bodies left."
We love to carp on Izzo's alibis, mostly in wonder at his acrobatic rationalizations. We feel justified in doing so because we're two years removed from a national championship appearance and the best freshman class since that one, and Michigan's spending a fifth of its minutes with Andrew Dakich on the floor.
If you're looking over the list of dudes you can draft for your daily fantasy teams, or are subjecting yourself to the "okay, let's have some fun with this" brand of basketball Michigan's playing these days, you've seen the going get weird. The difference in Ann Arbor is Beilein's entire career here so far has been the going getting weird, then the weird turning pro.
State, meanwhile, hasn't had Javon Bess since regulation of Michigan's visit to Breslin. If Izzo just happens to lose to a team led by freshmen Beilein plucked last April from Rice and Dayton, I'm sure the old knob will mention that in a delicious presser.
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Hatch Gameday. Via MLive:
Positioned on the Crisler court alongside coach John Beilein and ESPN's Rece Davis and Jay Williams, Michigan freshman Austin Hatch looked up at the arena scoreboard as a his tale of loss and triumph played on the video screen.
If, by chance, a pin had hit the hardwood, you'd have heard it.
Beilein brushed a tear from his eye. As images of the 2011 plane crash that claimed Hatch's father and step-mother and left him in an eight-week coma flashed on the screen, Beilein rested his hand on Hatch's leg.
Hatch gave him an "it's OK" glance.
The nonsense of a 14 team conference defined. UNC and Wake are playing nonconference games in 2019 and 2021, because they'd rather do that than wait a zillion years to play each other again. Congratulations, conference commissioners.
This is a bump. Harbaugh was supposedly getting 7-8 million a year; he is not. The gap between his deal and his rumored deal seems to be headed to his assistants:
Michigan's coaching staff will have a fund of $4-5 million for assistant coaches, not including strength staff.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 23, 2015
That bumps at the same rate Harbaugh does. Michigan was at 3.5 last year; the top end of that scale would see them third nationally behind LSU and Alabama, pending everyone else throwing money at their assistants.
Other contract details. Harbaugh's deal is pretty standard. It specifies that he gets a private plane for recruiting, which I think we're all happy with. Saving time as you flit about and not dealing with commercial air travel are things that make sense for the head man. The rest of the terms are as favorable as you think they might be for a guy in that kind of demand: if Michigan fires him they're on the hook for the whole deal anyway; if he leaves his buyout is a pro-rated portion of his two million dollar signing bonus. IE, nothing.
Izzo is really something. Walter Pitchford got tossed three minutes in to the MSU-Nebraska game for throwing an elbow at Matt Costello. Tim Miles:
“I thought Walt deserved to get kicked out, after seeing it,” Miles said. “He made a mistake. I know he’s sorry for that mistake. He’s being held, he looks at the ref, but you don’t do that. That’s uncalled for. That’s not us. Walt will learn from that.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Nebraska indirectly may have benefited from Pitchford’s ejection.
“I thought it energized them,” he said. “Calls went differently after that, like normally they do.”
Izzo could complain about winning the lottery.
Caris evaluated. Draft Express took the opportunity to evaluate Caris LeVert after the information NBA teams will get before next year's draft was abruptly finished by his foot injury. The upshot:
LeVert will need to decide now whether or not to return to Michigan for his senior season. The feedback he gets from NBA teams in the next few months will likely play a large role in that. While this is not considered a weak draft at the moment, it does look fairly shallow at the guard positions, which could help LeVert's stock.
Most places still have him as first round pick, though now he's out of the lottery. As a young junior he still has a lot of upside he could explore in college. Unfortunately, it's often hard for guys to come back when they go into a year expecting it will be their last in college. We saw that with Glenn Robinson III last year. GRIII entered the draft knowing full well he wasn't getting a guaranteed contract because of that momentum.
This is reasonably nasty. Kyle Connor will be a freshman next year.
— USHL (@USHL) January 24, 2015
He's projected as a first round pick.
So this guy exists. Not sure what job this gentleman landed:
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) January 26, 2015
But he landed a job. Hastings played for D-II Washburn University, which I have just learned has one of the best logo/nickname combinations in college sports:
They are the Ichabods.
Anyway, after college Hastings kicked around the 49ers practice squad for a few years, then landed in the Eagles' front office. He's probably getting one of those analyst jobs Michigan was supposed to be adding.
Etc.: ESPN wants to move next year's semifinal playoff games from New Year's Eve because they're afraid of Ryan Seacrest. Seriously. Charles Pierce on deflategate is mandatory. Harbaughtweets power-ranked. Jon Falk on decals.
O! that a man might know
The end of this day's business, ere it come;
On the morrow we shall be bath'd in sunlight and spring football, but today, my friends, is an opportunity nearly as great and many times as wet. For this eve shall mark the inaugural Go Blue Bowl, whence a crapload of Michigan football alumni shalt descend upon the institution of secondary education known as Pioneer High School and forthwith become as volunteer coaches.
Here's yon latest roster (by graduation year) and what these noble knights hath been doing these years hence which I know what of offhand:
|Yes, Donovan, I'm getting to those.|
- Marcus Ray, BTN and WTKA analyst
- Ron Bellamy, head football coach West Bloomfield
- Dave Pearson, (don't know; I'll ask)
- Bennie Joppru, who calls himself "NFL bust, major weirdo creep" on twitter
- Cato June, head coach of Anacostia in D.C.
- Andy Mignery, WTKA radio personality
- Chris Perry, a non-MGoBlog reader
- Brandon Williams, director of Go Blue Then and Now
- Earnest Shazor, working in health care
- Roy Manning, University of Michigan Athletic Director and CEO and Future-Creating Chief Visionary Officer Dave Brandon Who Has a Six Pack Cornerbacks Coach at the University of Michigan
- Marlin Jackson, director of the Fight for Life Foundation
- Jerome Jackson, sometime MGoBlog reader
- Steve Breaston, NFL free agent
- Tim Massaquoi, college counselor and clinical psychologist
- Jason Avant, NFL free agent
- Donovan Warren, NFL free agent who's been trying to start up a new youth football league
- Jordan Kovacs, NFL safety for Miami
- Mike Schofield, NFL draft prospect; and
- Jeremy Gallon, pint-sized NFL draft prospect.
Also on hand this evening: precipitation. Yes, we're playing anyway.
There's one spot left on the alumni teams. The event is to help launch the same three Fight for Life Foundation programs in Ann Arbor and environs that have helped so many disadvantaged kids get back on track in Indianapolis.
Diaries as Soliloquy:
To foul, or not follow, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to put
their 50-percent free throw shooters on the line
and in so doing, give ourselves a chance to respond,
Or to take Caris LeVert's arm
against a three point attempt of troubles
And by opposing end them?
O mighty Izzo! Dost thy teams lie so low'?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
accomplished with talent of so little measure?
I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,
Who else must be let blood, who else's recruits were of such rank:
If I myself, there is no honor so fit
As State's death hour.
You three, Sheehey, Fischer, and Vonleh,
Have sworn for four years' term to live with me
My fellow-scholars, and to keep those statutes
That are recorded in this schedule here:
Your oaths are pass'd; and yet to transfer/NBA exits you subscribe your names,
That his own hand may strike his honour down.
Hark. a program in miniature.
Best of the Board
BETCHA CAN'T HIT BETSA
The latest in softball is freshman phenom Megan Betsa threw a no-hitter. Your move, Wagner. Also: WTH, athletic department who scheduled the baseball and softball games at the same time as the Spring Game?
Ghost of BCook's Ethics (?) started an interesting discussion topic: Michigan basketball recruits who didn't live up to the hype. Other than a handful of obvious guys there aren't all that many on the ground. I submit Amadou Ba. Not a hyped prospect, really, but it was cool to have a big man from Africa. He played just 43 minutes in his career behind Courtney Sims, Graham Brown, and Chrus Hunter. Just think of monster slams where we could yell "BAAAAAAAH!"
ETC. Next Beckmann (seriously asking, is it not obviously Karsch?)? An HTTV for Penn State fans. Just offer in-state Drew Brees already! Show up early for the spring game to see the Schembechler museum, or stop by tonight to see a giant statue of the man who most defined the Michigan
we know today they're now systematically replacing with monuments and such.
Your Moment of Zen:
Sometimes an opponent's last-second, contested three-pointer goes in. Other times…
"MICHIGAN HAMPERED BY STARS' NBA CONTRACTS"
They did show McGary with like two minutes left, so I guess we're even?
Kind of good. Tim Hardaway's assertion about a week-long break is just true.
With yesterday's win, John Beilein now is 14-2 in games for which he has a week to prep since 2008. 10 of those vs. high-major teams.
— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) February 24, 2014
Seeding and location things. Seems like Michigan has a decent shot at Milwaukee. Lunardi's got them there and has for a while; Palm has them relegated to Orlando, but he's got them a #4 seed, not a 3. Lunardi has Creighton in San Antonio instead, which is a bit farther away for them but not immensely so. I'm hoping the committee realizes that Buffalo is just as close for Michigan. Syracuse is locked into one spot there; the other one is up for grabs.
Unfortunately, there's no slam dunk site this year that would be an obvious spot to put Michigan, so they may figure Milwaukee or Orlando is a who cares kind of situation.
Compare and contrast. I might have known this but I forgot it and now spring practice is starting immediately and I am reminded, so here is some possibly-old news. this week's Athletic Department Outrage Of The Century: undeterred by the miserable weather at the last 100 spring games, Michigan has actually moved it up, so that it's on April 5th. Which is also the date of the national semifinals in the NCAA tournament. Is Michigan actively trying to suppress turnout?
Not quite the worst scouting report ever. That is still Aaron Schatz on Mike Martin, but whoever's putting up the anonymous scouting reports for NFL.com is… well… he's definitely not Heiko. Jeremy Gallon's weaknesses:
Short with a limited catching radius.
Lacks top-end speed to separate vertically or run away from a crowd (consistently tracked down from behind).
Maybe on an NFL level?
Not a natural hands catcher and will often body the ball.
Okay now you're just making things up.
Lacks dynamic run skills for an undersized receiver.
Much of his production results from schemed bubble screens and lateral tosses.
OH COME ON
Hide yo kids. Both Michigan and Michigan State are being investigated by the Feds for not doing enough to deal with sexual assault on campus, with your favorite online and offline crank spearheading the charge:
[Doug] Smith filed a complaint last year with the Office of Civil Rights, saying that U-M refused to investigate the case and that the university’s grievance procedure does not fully comply with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender.
Funny how the suddenly-legitimized Smith is now getting profiled by the News and used as a primary source when everyone was perfectly happy to ignore him this summer. It's terrible that this guy actually has a point about the insular, opaque, CYA way the university does everything. When you are going up against Doug Smith and losing, you are so bad at PR Dave Brandon is interested in hiring you.
Meanwhile in East Lansing, other suits in charge of things are caught lying to make themselves look good:
Near the bottom of the letter was a single sentence stating that the university is “collaborating” with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, to “give members of the campus community an opportunity” to meet with representatives from the department.
But on Monday, Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw told The State News the planned visit to campus is directly related to an official investigation into sexual harassment and violence complaints pending against the university.
Doug Smith might be behind this as well, as Michigan State seniors Keith Appling and Adriean Payne would be on the Island Of Expelled Athletes if MSU was operating with the same standards Michigan is. Seems like a short leap of logic there.
Elsewhere in legal procedures. Suffice it to say that the preliminary hearing in the O'Bannon case did not go well for the NCAA.
One of the NCAA's other justifications is protecting amateurism. Wilken largely skipped past the topic with a dismissive line: "I don't think amateurism is going to be a useful word here."
Dagger. One thing to love about the legal system is cock-eyed judges who blow through decades of smoke and mirrors with one withering sentence.
Nobody knows about soccer. That rumored Manchester United/Real Madrid game slated for Michigan Stadium in one URL:
The organizers were set to announce their final two sites recently and did announce one: Gopher Stadium in Minneapolis. It would make sense if another Midwestern football venue was the other thing they were waiting on, but still no announcement. A spokesperson for the group organizing this preseason tourney thing confirms that they are in "serious discussions" but can't announce anything.
The hold up may be about the playing field. When Michigan Stadium was being considered for the USA's most recent World Cup bid it became clear that any soccer match at the stadium would have to be on a temporary elevated platform.
Oh good. Michigan and Michigan State will have two games about one-third of the time going forward as the Big Ten adopts the least creative way to jam a 14-team conference into 18 games they can come up with: play five teams twice and eight once. Boooooo.
What they should have done: first 13 games are a round robin. Top seven and bottom seven are then grouped, final 6 games are round-robin within groups. Big Ten title: amazingly important. Conference stretch run: amazing. Downsides: schedule uncertainty and tough on bubble teams. But, man, just think of those three weeks at the end of the year. Would be must see.
Etc.: Five key plays. Zach Helfand on the differences between Izzo and Beilein. Tweeting at players is A FELONY. 300 pound man runs 40 yard dash twice as fast as you would. Then he talks to people about it. He will likely go in the top ten.
2/23/2014 – Michigan 79 – Michigan State 70 – 19-7, 11-3 Big Ten
There's a point where you cannot deny the thing you dearly wish was not true. For Michigan football, that moment was a Raymon Taylor interception followed by a negative-yardage drive that sealed loss 5 of 6 at Spartan Stadium last fall. Or maybe it was before that. Maybe it was the collective dread experienced by the fanbase going in. Michigan played Michigan State, and everyone expected to lose.
When they did, and it was worse that anyone could have imagined, any lingering sense of superiority went up like a torch. Michigan ended up dead last in TFLs allowed. Michigan State went from an offense that couldn't get yard one against WMU—one that looked a lot like Michigan's, in fact—to a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl win.
Take your Rich Rodriguez excuses, your theories about how it's all about whether Michigan is down or up, and stuff them in the closet. There is only one way to look at Michigan State football: up. The countdown clock is justified.
Michigan now has an opportunity to flip that script in basketball. They've won six of eight in the series. This year they've upset the paradigm of the previous couple years where MSU hammers Michigan at the Breslin Center and Michigan squeaks by at Crisler. They reached near-parity on the boards and just forced MSU to take more threes than twos. Both games featured extended foul-fests after Michigan opened up double-digit leads.
Talk of "closing the gap" is over.
On the RCMB, people complained about how nice Crisler is. For every one guy making rapidly downvoted assertions about how Dawson would have made the difference there were three asserting that Beilein owns Izzo—an assertion a lot of Michigan fans would be skeptical of.
For now. No matter what damage the NBA does to Michigan's roster in the offseason, it's Michigan State who will have to scramble to keep up when Payne, Appling, and Harris exit. Two straight years of recruiting airballs worthy of an unchecked Aaron Craft will do that. Meanwhile, Michigan's picking off Indiana Mr. Basketballs and consensus top-50 players from Oregon. They've got the king of exceeding expectations in the tourney. If Michigan takes care of business down the stretch they will be outright Big Ten Champions, one inch away from a three-peat.
They of course have to avoid the mother of all trap games in Mackey and hold home court against Minnesota and Indiana; they have to perform in the tourney to put the full lockdown on Michigan State's lingering sense of superiority. The opportunity is there.
Meanwhile, Michigan State will keep telling anyone who looks like a reporter about the blister between their toes in just the wrong spot. Appling:
"Those shots that (Nik) Stauskas got off on me, he probably wouldn’t have been able to get off on Branden,” Appling said.
That's the state of the programs, and it comes from the top. One guy flings histrionics back and forth and watches his scrubs woof at Michigan in an attempt to show they're tough. After they lose, they complain about the universe-wide conspiracy against them.
The other guy saves it up for one withering blast and refuses to answer questions about Mitch McGary, because they've moved on. Michigan found themselves in a hole in both of these games and pulled themselves out, because toughness is something other than acting hard because of something someone else did. Michigan State is cordially invited to get off our court. No drama necessary.
FLOOR SLAP WATCHDOG. Once; beginning of first half; Stauskas layup. In fact may have enraged Stauskas to the point where he saw nothing but blood and contested three pointers that were going in anyway because eff you, that's why.
Insofar as the floor slap set the tone, it was for a 45-point second half.
"Is the United States wasting billions of dollars a year prosecuting marijuana cases?"
"Prohibition is a failed policy, and disproportionately affects the lower rungs of the social ladder. Ask the Tick for our platform specifics. Or maybe he's Batman, we can never tell." [Bryan Fuller]
Three. Michigan won this game because they turned it over three times. With the teams matching each other on offensive rebounds (7; Michigan had more opportunities and thus slightly lost the board war) and MSU suffering 13 turnovers, that translated into ten extra shots via which Michigan won the game despite allowing MSU to shoot 68%/38%.
In fact, you probably remember all three:
- Shot clock violation in the first half.
- Twenty minutes of game time later, Stauskas throws a pass to the roll guy out of bounds. Camera cuts to Beilein, who smiles.
- Michigan is breaking four on two up 12 when Harris intercepts a Stauskas pass, thus preventing the Crisler roof from coming off.
That's it. MSU's not their vintage selves in the TO forcing department (sixth in the league) but three is ridiculously low. Michigan was just on the other end of that in a loss to Wisconsin featuring two Badger turnovers.
"They just wanted it more." I've seen a couple of MSU reporters deploy this cliché in the aftermath. While that assertion is always some guy with a parrot head substituting repetition for thought, in this case it's even dumber than usual. Adriean Payne afterwards:
[UPDATE: Video was taken down. It was Payne very near to tears]
That ripped him to his core. Talking about "wanting it more" is always vaguely insulting; here it is explicitly so.
Seriously though. I don't want any Payne-oriented roughhousing in the comments about that. That is exactly how you want the guy to react both as a Michigan State fan and as a Michigan fan. Think about Junior Hemingway after the Sugar Bowl. That kind of reaction is 80% of why college sports is more compelling than Ask Me About My Dreams pro sports.
I mean, we taunt the floor-slapping but there's no pro team that would do something so dorky and tauntable because they're too cool for school. As always, the rule here is that spiciness wins and should be encouraged. Payne above is a level above spiciness, into deep haunt-your-ass hurt, and I respect that.
Y'all be outside. Payne posted up successfully one time in this game. And I'm not talking about making a shot; I'm talking about taking one. Payne had one post shot, a miss that drew a legit foul on Horford. Morgan and Horford spent every bit of energy they had denying, denying, denying, and with the occasional double forcing Payne to pick up his dribble they shut off the post defense implosion suffered against the Badgers.
Michigan started playing no-threes defense with two minutes to go; before that MSU's shot breakdown stood at 20 twos to 21 threes. Michigan took 35 twos, 19 threes. That plus the rebounding draws in both games are a massive departure from the Payne/Nix-era Spartans, who were guaranteed to annihilate Michigan on the boards and launch a ton of shots from the post.
That's not likely to change in the near future, as Payne exits without a suitably intimidating replacement and Michigan acquires the services of a bonafide post-sized stretch four in Mark Donnal. Dawson makes some difference but as noted before the first matchup, MSU was only a middling OREB team this year when the stats were mostly a Dawson+Payne MSU outfit.
If McGary comes back, Michigan could have an advantage in interior burliness, as impossible as that sounds.
Make 'em say unh. I thought about Tim Hardaway Jr's assertion in January early in this game:
'Don’t give him a week to prepare for you because you will lose'
Michigan finally had some time to rest, recuperate, and plan for the heavy perimeter ball-denial that had largely neutralized Nik Stauskas for the past month. They came out with a bunch of back-cuts and down-screens for their posts; Stauskas got a dunk off one and had Harris beat a few other times in the first five minutes; Harris started playing Stauskas far more cautiously and Michigan got into their regular Stauskas-led offense. Ball denial: denied.
On rewatch I was surprised by how the game felt even as MSU extended to an eleven point lead early. Michigan's offense was getting great shots that just weren't going down. MSU was relying on Denzel Valentine hitting jumpers, which worked by sheer bloody chance.
Make 'em say unh, part 2. Stauskas had 25 points on 16 shot equivalents and five assists. His makes from three were all ACK NO YES shots off the bounce with Appling in the vicinity, but he was also 6/8 from inside the arc and drew some free throws. Even some of the questionable long shots had more upset than it might have seemed at the time: on one launch off a pick and roll early in the second half Michigan grabbed an offensive rebound because it was two on one down low after Payne attempted to contest.
Michigan showed a way forward for their ridiculously efficient offense in this one after a tough period. Sustaining that through the end of the season will be encouraging when it comes to tourney time; they added the constraint plays to their base offense.
Dribbles are bad. Glenn Robinson started the game with an ugly long two that bricked, missed all three of his three-pointers just as badly, and was 3/7 from the line. This would be another ARGH GRIII game except for the fact that he was 6/8 on his other shots, largely because those shots came without dribbles.
There was one catch and insta-drive on Russell Byrd, who's probably still hitting himself while repeating "stupid, stupid, STUPID," as we speak. There may have been a power dribble under the bucket after one of Michigan's down screens got him position just outside of the charge circle. Those conclude Dribbles Leading To GRIII Offense.
And lo, it was as it should be. Walton and Stauskas and LeVert found him for dunks or quick layups, and if he'd just hit an open three or convert from the line as he usually does he's at a quiet 20, if such a thing exists.
The week off got Michigan back on that old time Beilein religion, what with the back cuts and guys popping up at the bucket uncontested. Robinson got back in his flush monster mode that he was so prolific in with Trey last year.
Hail Plastic Man. Michigan got through Gauntlet #2 2-2 thanks in no small part to Caris LeVert, who cracked 20 points in three of the four games. In the other he had 9 points, 5 boards, and two assists against zero TOs in the OSU win. He's not quite as efficient as Stauskas because he's not getting to the line or rim as much, but, like, wait a week and he'll be better. At his current rate of improvement he will escape containment and level Tokyo by 2016.
"Would you like to hear my one-man-show version of Les Miz?"
"Maybe later, Jon. Maybe later." [Fuller]
Meanwhile, on the other end of the floor. GRIII's defense was… not good. Schilling got two run-out baskets on which it seemed like maybe Stauskas was doing bad things; on both Schilling simply out-ran Robinson down the floor. On a couple of pick and roll possession he did things like stick to Russell Byrd instead of taking away the easy interior bucket. Walton had a couple of similar errors that irritated, but he is a freshman and Robinson is not.
He was a huge problem in transition and was fortunate that he wasn't trying to check a Dekker in this game. I'm still pretty frustrated with him overall.
"Makeup" call. The sequence where Jordan Morgan took a backcourt charge only to get a ludicrous blocking foul followed by a moving screen on Gavin Schilling looked like a clear makeup call, but on review the previous MSU possession had featured another blatant Schilling moving screen that got Harris an open look from three that he canned. That call was coming either way. The Morgan thing was just the usual vast incompetence. Izzo's reaction was everyone's, but really they just blew it.
The thing about rewatching these games in detail is that for every call you thought was bad live that replay suggests was legit or at least close there are 1.2 things you missed live that are just terrible.
But! Michigan State got away with an extended hand-check in the first few minutes by Valentine on Caris LeVert that I hollered about and then fretted about, fearing a reprise of the clutchy-grabby that prevailed at the Breslin Center. A couple minutes later, Costello got his second for bumping GRIII off a cut; Appling got a perimeter foul for grabbing Stauskas on a cut; Valentine got called for another extensive hand check sequence. Raftery marked each one by saying "nickel dimer"; hail nickel dimers.
I hope that was something other than calling the game the way the home team wants it.
1-3-1. Michigan deployed to excellent effect, not only in the second half but for a critical possession in the first. Appling ran over Jordan Morgan, picking up his second foul and heading to the bench for the next ten minutes. Izzo would moan about it afterwards in his press conference. Of course, if MSU didn't have to learn that they couldn't do various illegal basketball things that would have been one on Appling.
Damn you, Tim Miles! If you did not exist, John Beilein would be Big Ten coach of the year in a walk. Instead it is you in a walk.
For the love of pants. Would someone please run Tom Izzo over?
That's two points just begging to be taken.
"It must be really awkward when your dad says things about Aaron Craft."
"Naw, it's cool." [Fuller]
WHAT DOES JORDAN MORGAN HAVE TO DO. I just don't know, man. A detailed rewatch made it very clear that Payne got a couple of superstar calls on drives by LeVert that would have been fouls on any other post-type substance; meanwhile, Morgan gets his customary dual phantom blocking fouls. One led to a Kaminski three-point play, the other was made up on the other end, except not really.
Morgan is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Big Ten.
1/25/2014 – Michigan 80, Michigan State 75 – 14-4, 7-0 Big Ten
Keith Appling had just jumped on Caris LeVert's back from behind as LeVert was going up for a layup. Using LeVert's back as leverage, Appling raked his hands across LeVert's, sending both LeVert and the ball flying. The ref on the baseline looked on dumbly and did nothing as Michigan State took the ball upcourt.
On the sideline, John Beilein executed a sort of rage-squat as he barked at the guy who had evidently been placed on the sideline without any instructions as to what the shiny silver thing in his mouth did. MSU got a layup on the other end; Michigan dumped the ball down to Robinson and got a whistle for an extended hand-check by Russell Byrd.
This did not mollify Beilein. He'd seen enough. He'd had just about enough of being the corny high school chemistry teacher kids roll their eyes at.
artist's impression of MSU lineup
In the aftermath we got the usual press conference from Tom Izzo in which he specifically enumerated all the things he wasn't blaming the loss on. Payne's out. (You may have heard of Mitch McGary, though maybe I shouldn't bring him up since he outcoached Izzo.) Dan Dakich trolled Dawson. (Izzo's the one who recruited Punchy McAngerIssues.) Harris and Appling got tired. (Because they had to play fewer minutes than Stauskas and LeVert.) Appling got his wrist dinged a month ago and can't shoot. (Selected Appling scorelines since injury-type substance: 27, 14, 14, 20, 24. Three point shooting in Big Ten play: 31%, right in line with last year's 32%.) He had to play the crappy players behind his starters. (They are crappy because he hasn't brought in a premier player other than Harris in three years.)
And, of course, the piece de resistance: "curious calls" that happened when the game was tied at 60.
The nerve of this guy.
Midway through the second half, Spike Albrecht was informed that to receive a timeout from the officials he has to submit a 20-page research paper on the semiotics of the term "timeout" and submit seven different forms of identification, three of which do not exist. Gary Harris's brilliant perimeter defense on Nik Stauskas was greatly aided by constant jersey tugs and in a couple cases just flat out grabbing the dude as he tried to cut. Travis Trice's attempts to stay in front of anyone on the floor via arm, shoulder, trip, or pathetic mewling would have been hilarious if they had not been uncalled and therefore enraging. Jordan Morgan fouled out on a series of ghost calls, including a double technical acquired after Russell Byrd, of all people, taunted Glenn Robinson. That was Morgan's fourth; Izzo managed to complain that Appling picking up his third with under eight minutes left was a great strain because it forced him to the bench.
Yes, in the same press conference in which he bitched about Appling not getting enough rest. The nerve of this guy.
By the end of Izzo's self-pity-fest you could feel the dim bulbs in the room composing their 30 for 30 pitches:
What if I told you that a team with a lottery pick shooting guard playing out of his mind stayed within five points of a team down the Naismith winner, another first round NBA draftee, and a preseason All-American?
What if I told you they were playing at home, but there was that one time a referee was not utterly petrified of someone in the stands calling him a bad name?
What if I told you that the first team had actually won two of the previous seven games against the second team?
ESPN 30 for 30 presents "THE GREATEST COACH IN THE UNIVERSE OF FOREVER."
Tuesday, January 25th, 2014.
Post-loss Izzo press conferences are IQ tests for Lansing-oriented sports reporters, and they all fail, always. A Mike Griffith gentleman writing for MLive used these sentences back-to-back:
There was no mention of the Spartans having to use a 10th different starting lineup on account of Dawson's injury.
"In the 30 years I've been here, I've never been more proud of a team,'' Izzo said. "I played guys I haven't played in a month.''
Someone remind Griffith to breathe regularly, because it's clear that he doesn't have enough cells to spare for autonomic brain stem functions.
I know. I know that our nation is built on brazenly lying to each other. Cigarettes and organic food and the waiting list for Michigan football season tickets, it's all the same. Some person thinks they can make money on some activity and just lies and lies until the jig's up. But at some point self-respect has to kick in with the observers. I mean. At least you'd think so, right?
This is why I don't go to press conferences. I would just laugh, and laugh, and throw in some derisive snorts and eventually I would just start asking questions like unedited versions of the things I write and eventually I wouldn't get to go to press conferences. I am not a sports journalist because I can't smile when someone deposits a plate of poop in front of my face and calls it pâté.
AND GODDAMMIT JOHN BEILEIN ISN'T CALLING THAT PATE ANY MORE EITHER.
He exploded! With just over four minutes left there was some sort of mutual in-our-grills screaming session, followed by Beilein explaining to one of the other refs that the other end of the Breaking Beilein drama had in fact bumped him—there was a lot of pointing at Beilein's nose in this section, to indicate that someone had impacted this section of Beilein's all-encompassing rage—followed by the ref who had apparently taken aggressive physical action against a coach coming forth to apologize.
It was completely insane. Every neutral I follow on twitter who was watching the game immediately tweeted "I have never seen John Beilein anything like this," echoing the play by play announcer and your brain. Beilein took 30 years of goodwill built up by not being Bo Ryan or Tom Izzo to referees and cashed every last scrap in, somehow avoiding a technical throughout this sequence.
And, of course, it was completely for naught. The very next Michigan possession saw Nik Stauskas thunder in for a transition dunk; Keith Appling again attempted to make a defensive play from behind. This was the result.
SEEMS LEGIT [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]
This was adjudged to be all ball; Michigan did not score on the ensuing possession. Beilein could do nothing but laugh bitterly on the sideline.
If we're being honest with ourselves, yeah, Horford was moving on the first "curious call" and Appling got hit by a non-stationary defender as he took a shot. In a basketball game, that is a foul. Whatever happens in the Breslin Center is not a basketball game, though, and maybe John Beilein screaming BE A MAN or IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT BASKETBALL TO BE or I USUALLY GET A FOOTLONG TURKEY WITH THE CHIPOTLE SAUCE AND EXTRA OLIVES WHAT IS YOUR PREFERENCE reminded the men with whistles that road teams are people too. Or maybe it was just continued incompetence. I'm betting on incompetence.
Either way, nearly three years to the day after Zack Novak's Aneurysm of Leadership propelled Michigan to its first win at Michigan State since the Harding administration, another spittle-flecked unhinged rant propelled Michigan. Two minutes of game time later, Michigan had gone on an 8-0 run featuring two wild Keith Appling drives on one side of the floor and perfectly executed transitions on the other.
Beilein sucked all the anger out of his team and unleashed it on those who deserved it, and all that was left was cool execution. In the ensuing parade to the free throw line Michigan took deep breaths and drove the nails deeper, until Izzo was wiping away tears in the press conference and imagining an alternate reality where he was the put-upon underdog.
Bad news, everybody! Technical issues blew up the first half of our podcast. We are trying to reschedule and retape; upshot is no podcast today.
Double point us the way to victory [Bryan Fuller]
Wow. Going into Gauntlet #1, Michigan fans were demanding one win, hoping for two, and not even thinking about three. Three wins later, Michigan is clearly in the driver's seat for the Big Ten title. Not only have they disposed of three top ten opponents, they've taken out two of them on the road. They've also put away road games against a third tourney-bound B10 team in Minnesota and Increasingly Dangerous Nebraska™.
Meanwhile, as Indiana and Illinois continue to struggle* future trips to the Big Ten's sundry Assembly Halls seem significantly less ominous than they did a couple weeks ago. Because basketball is basketball, Michigan's going to have a night where they shoot ARGH from three they're still going to drop a game or two against teams that are clearly beneath them in the Big Ten pecking order. Even so, all they have to do is split Gauntlet #2…
- @ Iowa
- @ OSU
…and it's hard to see anyone passing them. Catching, maybe. Passing… nyet.
If Iowa can beat MSU at home tomorrow, Michigan will be two games clear, and their primary chasers have a schedule that's just as difficult. MSU has games at Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State plus a home game against Iowa; Iowa has home games against OSU, Michigan, and Wisconsin plus trips to Minnesota and MSU.
*[Indiana is now just ten spots ahead of Nebraska in Kenpom and Illinois is 15 spots back. BTW, I am officially claiming Nebraska as my Most Interesting Big Ten Team of 2014-15.]
Chunkums. Yes. Yesssssss. Yesssssssss.
Hitting things with your hand is bad. Appling's wrist is barely attached to the rest of his body and therefore he can't shoot. This is known. It is gospel.
Idea: maybe you should stop hitting things with your hands. Desks, floors, engineers in Rather Hall: these are all objects that should not have force applied to them with hands. Appling and Dawson should have taken NO HIT HARD THINGS WITH SELF 101, but they heard it was a lot harder than BANG THING BANG BANG LOUD 100.
This was slow and weird and distorted. This game featured a full two minutes of intentional fouling and no-threes defense, seriously distorting the stats. Michigan had a whopping 16 free throws on intentional fouls, and then their intentionally crappy interior defense made the game look more offensively oriented and faster than it was.
This was going to be a snail-tastic 56 or 57 possession game if either team had gotten clear by the two minute mark; it eventually got to a still-slow 63. At the point the fouling started, Michigan had 66 points on 54 possessions (1.22 PPP) and MSU had 60 (1.11). By game's end those numbers had been pushed to 1.27 and 1.19.
So… still offensively oriented, and no wonder with Michigan blazing the nets from deep and MSU following suit with a 50%/41% shooting. A great deal of this was acquired with difficulty since the refs were in a whistle-swallowing mode.
Also distorted: individual stats. If you were shocked that Derrick Walton ended up with 19 points you are not alone. He had nine before the and-one that put Michigan firmly in the drivers seat and then acquired 8 FTAs in desperation time. He hit seven, which was greatly appreciated by Michigan fans and their cardiologists.
This still didn't warrant the BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE WOW reaction the media provided. Walton was good; he did not drive much offense. He picked his spots and fulfilled the niche this site talked about a couple weeks back. This is good and important, of course. It's just not quite as impressive as the box score makes it seem.
FWIW, the other eight intentional FTAs were distributed equally between Robinson and LeVert.
okay this is a two but you get the point [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]
Except the threes. On my re-watch the thing that leapt out at me was the fact that Michigan's blazing three point shooting was a direct result of MSU giving Michigan a ton of great looks. Caris's game-tying bomb late was a great example. MSU was so concerned about giving up penetration and so aggressive about disrupting Michigan's offensive flow that they plain forgot to defend a corner three from a 38% shooter.
Meanwhile, screens were gone under on Nik Stauskas, or bigs did not aggressively hedge, allowing him to get quality looks that were at best semi-contested. Peripheral shooters took almost entirely wide open looks—IIRC one or two of Irvin's were contested.
Board war: in which a stalemate is declared victory. Michigan actually out-rebounded Michigan State. Yes. Michigan grabbed 11 of 31 opportunities on the offensive boards and held Michigan State to 10 of 33. Michigan's output is thanks to Jordan Morgan and a whopping four OREBs credited to "team."
The main disappointment. Robinson had a pretty miserable night all around. He was hit on the arm without calls on three or four of his shots, but he's got Kenny Kaminski and Denzel Valentine on him. He should be able to get things that are not jumpers. He did only once with an awkward but effective up and under to kick off the second half. When Michigan was looking to generate secondary offense, they turned to LeVert. Robinson did well against Iowa after some early issues on the defensive boards; Michigan wanted more from him in this game.
Nope. Some M fans are trying to make a big deal out of the incident with about two minutes left where Harris and LeVert both ended up on the ground. LeVert ended up there because Valentine came in and whacked him either in the stomach or the viagras; that contact was certainly not intentional.
It was about as bad as the event earlier in the game where Horford was going for a rebound and accidentally brushed/whacked Trice, who went down in a heap because it is really hard to not be in a heap when you're Travis Trice. He's just heap-oriented.
I'd like to thank The Free Press for being a wretched hive of scum and villainy that naturally induces Michigan fans to seek out content not designed to enrage them.
Oh man this guy:
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) January 27, 2014
This is why you shouldn't get up in arms about Richard Sherman, because then you start complaining about a lack of class while wishing someone would get maimed for blowing you a kiss. This spurred a long twitter discussion about the practicality or lack thereof of maiming someone in an alley. Twitter thinks it is not very practical since Nik Stauskas probably goes to, like, basketball gyms instead of hanging out in alleys.
Five key plays. The dagger: