Yes indeed folks, Our longtime captain is making a return to the great state of MICHIGAN to watch our beloved Wolverines beat down lil brother. Maybe Novak being there can help MICH to once again win at the Breslin center?
Now that I've stopped grinding my teeth (and cursing up a storm) in frustration during the entire game against Ohio University, and now that I've accepted the loss to that solid team (led by an outstanding performance by DJ Cooper); I realize that despite the upset tonight, Michigan was a great team in 2011 -- 2012. Looking on as a dedicated basketball fan, I believe Michigan overachieved when it captured a share of the Big Ten championship for the season. In retrospect, it looks like that overachievement also led to the team losing some of its hunger--some of its edge.
Now, I'm not suggesting the team didn't prepare enough for the post-season tournaments. I just think the mentality of the team changed the moment it won a share of the title. Before that moment, Michigan (like the previous season and even like the season Beilein first took Michigan to the NCAA tournament) was out to prove people (the naysayers and doubters) wrong. It often acted like its back was to the wall. That mentality is how it beat MSU and Ohio at home and also went on the road and won at Illinois and at PSU. Winning the big ten title, however, validated Michigan's great season, and Michigan never seemed like it could thereafter adjust its mental approach (from that of an underdog to that of a champion) to play well going forward.
You may remember that the team came out flat against Minnesota. Michigan still won because the gap between Michigan and the Gophers is apparent. I think the gap is less apparent against Ohio University and inapplicable relative to Ohio. Michigan was hungry when it won out after losing to Purdue; and, if it had that same edge tonight, I think we would have advanced to Sunday. Instead, Michigan now has the off-season to learn how to play as a favorite, as a front runner.
And who knows? Perhaps Beilein also isn't used to being the favorite. It's possible. Ultimately though, I have no doubt that Michigan will perform better in the tournaments next year.
Despite the disappointment of tonight's game, I gotta give it up for the seniors and the rest of the team. The team was undersized the entire season and still earned a championship in the best conference. Would advancing to the second weekend--the sweet 16--been a notable improvement over last season's finish? Yes, without question.
Was winning a big ten title this season a notable improvement over last season's 9-9 finish in the conference? Yes, without question. Would I trade the championship for a sweet 16 finish? No, without question; absolutely not. Next year, I want the championship and the sweet 16 (at least!).
So, anyway, thanks, Michigan, for a great season. For basketball, I see a bright future with a team hungrier in 2012 -- 2013 than it was when it finished 2012 -- 2013. As Denard once said: "This program's been starving for a while. It's time for us to make something happen. We've been starving. It's time for us to eat."
I just wanted to take this opportunity on Senior night to thank the seniors for what they have done for Michigan Basketball. It wasn't always pretty, or flashy, but these young men gave their everything for 4 years to help restore Michigan Basketball to its once proud state. It's a shame that their last home game was a loss, but they should know they will ALWAYS be appreciated and loved by Michigan fans. They are true Michigan Men.
Now let's win this thing with house money.
Michigan is on the road again tonight at Purdue, tipping off at 7PM. Michigan is likely 4 regular season wins from a tournament birth, and 8 or 9 wins from the "Big Ten Champs" goal the wolverines have been breaking the huddle with this year.
This game could tell the tale of which goal is the more realistic one.
Vegas has the bad guys by five, Pomeroy likes the bad guys by 4, and I like the good guys by 7ish.
We probably dont need much of a preview. Its purdue. Robbie Hummel will be starting for the 8'th consecutive year. They're not going to turn the ball over, and dont be surprised if Stu has two fouls when he gets off the bus. Horford didn't travel, so yet again Morgan is going to have to do work.
Here is Dylan's preview
and Generic AP preview lives here
Eventually Evan and Tim are going to snap out of it...aren't they? Michigan has been winning at home despite failing to achieve "average" status from downtown. I say Michigan gets some of those to fall tonight, and goes to Columbus for THE SHOWDOWN. Book it.
I didn't want to jinx it till it was over, but Penn St. just beat Illinois, moving Michigan to the top of the B1G standings(at least until the other 2 loss teams play Saturday). Obviously Michigan's schedule was front-loaded with home games, but its still pretty cool, eh?
Well, Saturday at 2 Michigan takes on the Arkansas Razorbacks in the great land of Clinton(Bill that is).
Big Nasty's team comes fresh off their road blowout loss to KY http://www.kentucky.com/2012/01/17/2032252/kentucky-vs-arkansas-9-pm-espn.html
a team with considerably more NBA talent than your Detroit Pistons.
Beilein may continue with the "3 players back" philosophy that yielded multiple rebounds to MSU, as Arkansas makes a living by pushing the ball up and down the court, trapping, and running motion. They call it "40 Minutes of Hell" harkening back to the '94 glory days http://bloghawgs.com/2012/01/09/remembering-hawg-ball-sec-storied-40-minutes-of-hell-edition/ First year coach Mike Anderson was the apple that fell directly beneath the Nolan Richardson tree. They're going to press. A lot.
6'3" Freshman SG BJ Young is your major scoring option out of the backcourt at 15pts/g. He is shooting .418 from downtown. He also excells at attacking the basket. Think Trey Burke only taller with more recruiting hype and considerably less heart. This is likely Stu's assignment.
6'1" Junior PG Julysses Nobles leads the Razorbacks in minutes played, assists, and consecutive consonants in his first name. Most of his scoring comes from outside. This is Trey's assignment.
Cautionary tale about checking your sources: Marshawn Powell is indeed out for the season. Thank you to those of you who knew this and did not point out that I ate a lot of paint chips as a kid. That is more than I deserve.
This actually leaves Jordan Morgan at a considerable advantage in the post. They've got a 6'8" freshman named Devonta Abron and a 6'8" senior named Michael Sanchez. Niether one has much of an offensive game. Abron is a pretty good rebounder.
6'2" Mardracus Ware wins the "Oh Lord please dont leave him open from downtown" award. He is shooting something like 51% for 3.
Regardless of outcome, this is going to be a great opportunity to learn to win on the road. With limited information, I'm going to compare Arkansas to the Clemson team Michigan beat in the tournament a few years ago. If Trey gets in foul trouble we're cooked.