“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
1/17/2012 – Michigan 60, Michigan State 59 – 15-4, 5-2 Big Ten
It was stomach-churning when Draymond Green conjured a pretty good shot out of thirty-five seconds of Michigan State panic, and that moment when the ball hung in the air was heart-stopping. In the vast aeons before its fate was determined, the observer had plenty of time to remember how much he hated backboards.
Oh, backboards. Scourge of the 2011 Wisconsin game at Crisler. Failed Andrew Jackson assassins. Uncooperative gits, backboards. When Josh Gasser had thrown an eyes-closed prayer up last year, a backboard answered his call. I had vowed revenge after it worked this alchemy on Crisler:
Being in Crisler was to viscerally understand the cliche about the air going out of the building. The transition from a standing, raucous crowd to a bunch of pissed off people looking for their jackets was instant, and the ride home was mostly silence.
But Green had not stopped his side-to-side momentum before getting the shot off and when it bounced off the backboard it did so too far to the left; it glanced off the rim. Green's putback attempt was well short, and that was that. Rather than the Gasser shot we'd just witnessed a replay of Deshawn Sims's improbably good look at the end of the 2010 game against State at Crisler.
Crisler blew up, as you might expect. Then something strange happened: nothing. No student or fan set foot on the court. Izzo rushed the referees to plead something or other, the teams shook hands, and then they left the court. No mosh pit. Crisler was loud but something short of delirious.
And there you go: the infamous "gap" is pretty much closed. Novak in the aftermath:
"We're to the point now where (beating Michigan State) is something we expect to do," Novak said. "My first two years, it was like, you've got to do it first -- you've got to do it one time.
"After you get that first one, you get a taste of it, but then you've got to learn how to win."
The last three years Michigan is 3-2 against Michigan State with one failed buzzer-beater on each side, an MSU blowout at the tail end of the disappointing 2010 season, and two solid Michigan victories during the regrettably short Get Off My Court era. If they haven't reached talent parity with State just yet it won't take long for Robinson, Stauskas, McGary, Irvin, Donnal, et al., to make that distinction a hard one to make. The PDC is complete; planned Crisler renovations will bring Michigan's arena in line with the best in the country. John Beilein is pretty good at coaching basketball.
Michigan's at the start of a long Big Ten grind that will probably spit them out significantly bruised, but at this point it's hard to see them chewed up enough to miss the tourney. If things fall right they could even sneak a seed with which it's plausible to make a Sweet 16. That's three of the last four tournaments and at least a .500 record against State over the last three years, and then the cavalry arrives. The moment when Beilein's program goes from building to built is fast approaching.
Zack Novak doesn't care about that. He cares about February 5th in Breslin, when he'll have the opportunity to go out with a winning record against Michigan State. The last four-year player to accomplish that was… I have no idea.
Next year is the one everyone's pointing to as the one when big things happen; this year is Novak's last. He is thinking about titles and tournaments and somehow keeping all of the blood vessels in his head intact for another three months. Fans can sit back and wait for help; Novak only has a few urgent months left.
Here they are.
Photos from Eric Upchurch:
These are Creative Commons licensed, as always.
Via MGoVideo, Denard and Roundtree executing the Can't Turn You Loose dance next to a shirtless dude and an engineer:
The trenchant analysis! So of course after I point out Smotrycz's ability to stay on the floor as a key to the game Michigan starts Stu Douglass and plays 90% of the game with Novak on Draymond Green. Smotrycz gets ten minutes. At least I said Green was a more plausible matchup than most Novak-vs-PF outings.
But so anyway, point Beilein for running out the small lineup and not getting extensively punished for it on the boards… actually, wait. Michigan rebounded one of 23 opportunities on the offensive end and allowed MSU to rebound 39% of their misses. So they did get pummeled on the boards. They eked it out because…
Uh… They eked it out because…
Uh… Okay. They were ferociously effective from two-point range. This continues a season-long theme but was not expected after a couple of rough outings. I think MSU five-star Adreian Payne was a major factor in this. Michigan sliced open the MSU defense early with un- or not-very contested layups largely because Payne's help defense was nonexistent despite having a matchup against Jordan Morgan. Morgan is not a guy you have to worry about taking jumpers, but Payne consistently failed to show at the basket when Michigan's various six-nothin' white guys would drive to the hoop.
As a result, Payne played only 14 minutes and finished with one rebound, that defensive. He should be awesome—dude is a physical marvel—except he's Mike Cox mentally. He got yanked a few minutes in. In the aftermath Izzo would bemoan a lack of "toughness," but what MSU lacked was between their ears, not their legs.
When Payne was out Nix didn't seem much better. For whatever reason the intimidating doom-bringers on the interior took yesterday's game off.
Uh… Also fouls and turnovers. The Valentine crew decided there were no fouls, much to my frustration in the first half when it seemed like various over-the-backs and Hardaway jumpers would have been fouls anywhere else on planet Earth. I know Hardaway is struggling, but there is no way he flat airballs two three-pointers in a short period of time.
HOWEVA, when it came to things actually called, Michigan had the advantage with just 8 fouls to MSU's 12 and 13 FTA to MSU's 5. This did not appear to be a home court effect. Even Michigan State people were unsurprised State had zero FTA at the half.
MSU also had six additional turnovers. Most of those came from Appling and Green as Michigan collapsed on them and they did not find assists to compensate. Appling did somewhat with his five but a 5-4 assist to TO ratio and a couple of charging calls is not ideal.
Tim Hardaway: come on, let's go. While Trey Burke is a fantastic player it doesn't seem disputable that Darius Morris was a much better shot creator last year than Burke is at this point in his career. That's been much to the detriment of Hardaway, who is now taking a lot of bad, contested shots and seeing his numbers drop precipitously. Michigan needs more of his last basket, when he shot by a defender and finished at the rim what with his six-five frame and leaping ability, and less of the shots like the above. Beilein also thinks this. Look at his face.
Hardaway did make an excellent decision to foul Nix on the floor after one of Michigan State's late whip-the-ball-around-until-it's-in-the-post-uncontested possessions. IIRC a turnover followed; those points were the difference (as were all points scored by M or not scored by MSU).
Stu Douglass: hat tip. After 38 minutes versus Iowa Douglass puts in 36 against MSU, plays his usual very good perimeter defense, had nine points on six shots, Michigan's lone offensive rebound, two assists, a steal, and a turnover. Even if I'm probably not going to say "argh where's Stu" next year like I will inevitably do when things are going poorly and Novak isn't around to grit something out, the intangible senior leadership Douglass provides is getting pretty tangible.
Burke. Yes, you're good. That three pointer was still a horrible decision. In all other ways, hurray.
Drive home safely. The visiting Izzone section. We have to talk, visiting Izzone section.
One: you came in a bus. Two: you bought a large section of tickets clearly designated the worst in the building, allowing you to stand as students will. Michigan is clearly complicit in getting you in the building, for whatever reason. Your bus did not appear to have a cloaking device.
Despite this, you sneak into the building incognito as if there are Izzone snipers stationed at the entrances. Then you chant "Daddy's better" at Tim Hardaway Jr., which… like… Tim Hardaway is one of the great point guards in NBA history. You know that, right? That's not actually an insult.
No points, mercy on your soul, etc.
Meanwhile. Does the Maize Rage do this? Could they do this? Why is Michigan selling a huge block of tickets to the Izzone? It doesn't seem likely that is the case. Why is Michigan actively annoying its fans by allowing this to happen?
Mathy Q. This would never happen and this is a conversation destined to remain hypothetical, but… how bad of a free throw shooter would someone on the floor have to be for a foul to be the right move in the situation Michigan was faced with last night?
I think a couple guys on the court were within range. Nix was 53% last year and is at 58% this year. If we give him 60% to make calculations easier, a non-shooting foul on him results in the following outcome after the one-and-one:
40%: Michigan with ball up one
24%: Michigan with ball tied
36%: Michigan with ball down one
That's if Michigan gets the rebound on the free throw, generally a good assumption but maybe less so in a balls-to-the-wall board crashing situation late.
I think there's a case for sending an under 60% free throw shooter to the line with 15 seconds or so left if they're going to get a one and one. Again, no one in the universe will ever try this in a game. But it's interesting to consider.
Random. I think of this as Rasheed Wallace version of "THE GAAAAAME." Do you know what I'm talking about? After the Pistons won their championship Wallace called basketball that in his indefinable 'Sheed way. It is impossible to explain and impossible to google, but I swear some people will know what I'm talking about.
In lieu of providing this, here's Wallace signing along to GNR:
This is your erratic reminder that Rasheed Wallace should succeed the Most Interesting Man In The World.
That is not relevant, but you start looking up Rasheed Wallace videos on Youtube and things get crazy.
"They won three. Before that, how many how had they won?" Green said. "They got their little three, but they come to East Lansing in a few weeks. "They better celebrate this one, because I can guarantee you they won’t get one in East Lansing. You can quote me on that one."
Three straight is of course half of Green's career against Michigan to date (MSU was one-play a couple years ago), but don't ask a State attendee to do math.
Last year was somewhat understandable. We were bad then. We are pretty good this year. Even a mediocre MSU team should blow Michigan out of the water. Michigan can't be good. It doesn't F---ING HAPPEN. FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
This is why I dislike Izzo. Yeah, yeah, he has many wins. He's not classy like Beilein. Beilein has poise and respect whether he wins or loses. Last night, when Michigan lost the lead, Beilein didn't change his demeanor. Izzo was jumping up and down all game long. I turned to my buddy and told him that if the teams reflected their coaches, Michigan would pull out the win. Boooyahhhh, Sparty!!!!
Every man at some point is gonna lose a battle. He's gonna fight and he's gonna lose. But what makes him a man, is that in the midst of that battle he does not lose himself. This game is not over, this battle is not over. So let's hear it .
There are two main reasons this is different from MSU not really closing the gap in football. The first is the fact that MSU basketball has been consistantly good, while MSU football got their wins on some of the worst UM football teams in history. The second is recruiting: UM basketball is on the rise to the point that we are almost on MSU's level (if not there). MSU football is back in their natural place behind UM. Their success won't last. Our's will.
1. Last year's MSU team was pretty bad by their standards. IIRC they were a bubble team considered below UM for inclusion into the NCAA by the end of the year. This year's team looks better, but it's still early in the season and they've lost to the best teams they've played, plus Northwestern. I agree we've pretty much achieved par with MSU but some of that has been a slippage from their outstanding years early in the 2000s. 70% our improvement, 30% their falling back.
2. Let's beat MSU in something other than recruiting rankings before we consign Sparty to their natural place in football. They'll return to their holes when we return to beating them consistently on the field. Until then, they have the perfect rejoinder.
Lil bro has been to the final 4 more than us in the past 10 years. Is Izzo a decent coach? Yes. However that doesn't make him a class act or a good man. He is still a cry baby.
It is obvious by Tournament (NIT) Tom that he doesn't respect anyone. He NEVER acknowledges us and just glosses over Trey. All he cares about is wins. The first rule in coaching is congratulate your opponent regardless of the outcome. Dare I say it, its a game Tom, only a game, show some class and quit crying.
He said playing on the road in the B1G is tough but NEVER gives any credit to us or NW. sparyy doesn't care about class or values, they worry about wins.
And that, my friends, IS the Michigan Difference.
From the Red Cedar Message Board: "God hates us." Yes He does Lil Bro, yes he does. Everyone hates you.
I'm not a student, so I don't know how for sure this happened, but in last year's game at Breslin the TV cameras kept showing a large block of happy student-looking fans in yellow shirts near the rafters during the closing seconds.
We have been to Michigan State the past two seasons and will be going again this season. Last year, if you recall, RCMB blew up after the loss at home to us because the Maize Rage completely overpowered the Izzone with about 50-60 of us students there. Much of the game, members of the Izzone simply sat there dumbfounded watching us chant and wondering how in the world they would lose the game. We plan to make the same thing happen this year.
And the Izzone members that made the trip the past two season to Crisler have been extremely unimpressive to me. They make a decent amount of noise when State starts to make a run, but go silent when the game isn't going their way. They also have 0 chants, no creativity, and are generally stupid.
That has to be the most obnoxious readership in all college blogs. In the link to the game thread you provided, every single post drops an f-bomb. Now I'm no stranger to the use of colorful language, but that's ridiculous. You stay classy, Sparty!
Another reason why MGoBlog is better than 97% of websites? It's professional looking. And I don't mean properly formatted or anything like that, but that there's not a bunch of scantily clad women popping up everywhere, which means it can be read just about everywhere without feeling shame
If you're doing nothing, how do you know when you're finished?
I know Novak and Douglass aren't future first round draft picks, but I'm worried about this team from a leadership standpoint for next year. These two guys have given so much to this program that the cheers they should receive on Senior night should make Crisler deafening. The recruits we have coming in next year will make us a better team talent-wise, but I want to know if somebody will step up into the GRITTY leadership role I love. Would Tim and Burke be able to step up?
That's been the theme this year. Michigan has always been about the team. We may not have the best talent, but we have players that are going to take charge and fight tooth and nail to the very end. That is why we won the Sugar Bowl. That is why we beat State for the third time in a row. The team. The team. The team.
Izzo complaining about poor Keith Appling dragging on his tired knees at the end? He played 31 minutes, Burke played 37. All 5 michigan starters played more than Appling.
Disagree about Morris setting up THJ more for open shots. Burke provides more open looks for the wing players than Morris did. The big difference is with Morgan. Morris was great at getting him lay ups and dunks when he'd dump the ball off.
Did anyone else notice Green camped out in the paint from about the 15 second mark all the way til 9 seconds left?? I'm always amazed at how fouls and violations just go out the window in these types of situations. I guess the refs get a little overly excited too, but if we had lost after that I probably would've had an aneurysm.
"Michigan Defense" is dominating everything, in every aspect of life. That's a rough definition.
Sorry Brian...I REFUSE to read anything until you post a Michigan/Va Tech UFR!!!!
“True loyalty is that quality of service that grows under adversity and expands in defeat. Any street urchin can shout applause in victory, but it takes character to stand fast in defeat. One is noise — the other, loyalty.”
Thanks for calling out BWS. That slap at Novak is ridiculous. Not only did he bail us out several times making shots one-on-one as the shot clock ran down, he also shot 40% from 3. That's good, even on open shots.
He should really stick to picture paging, because he's pretty bad at the big picture stuff, especially for basketball. Didn't he call for Beilein's head last year, almost immediately before they started their turnaround?
Also, what would happen if an opposing player made contact with Izzo while he's six feet onto the court? I noticed one official kind of boxing Izzo out to protect players from running into him last night when in the offensive zone in front of the State bench. But I was wondering what would happen if Burke, for example, while bringing the ball up after an MSU bucket, would have drawn contact. I assume that, at a minimum, this would have been a foul on MSU.
That was my assumption. I would love to see a team do it. Often, Izzzo was way out on the floor looking down the court at his players with his back turned to the ball. On the instance when I started to wonder about this, an official actually ran over to stand between Burke and Izzo because Izzo wasn't paying any attention.
So Trey Burke's Jerry Rice like commitment to training ran poor Keith Appling into the ground. I love it. Nix isn't in very good shape his badself.
Two or three years ago this would have been a 20 point L. The times they are a changed.
OT. Got a look at the legendary "biggest legs ever" of Max Bielfeldt, on Burke's 3 from the corner. I could only see Bielfeldt's calves, but I'll be damned if they weren't as big as a normal mans thighs. That boy won't be getting pushed out of the paint anytime this millennium.
OT OT. shout out to Brian for forecasting the Sugar Bowl far better than anyone else I read.
Gotta say, despite Burke's 3 from Jupiter, he wasn't the only one hoisting up ill-advised ones. Hardaway, of course. Even Stu. I remember one sequence in which we took a bad shot at the end of the shot clock, but got the ball back either on an offensive board or Sparty turnover (either way they ball didn't cross center court) and instead of setting up the O again, Stu got the ball with his back to the hoop, turned around, and whipped a three at the basket, which of course bricked. Definitely a theme of the second half. Sparty defense deserves some credit for taking away the interior in stretches, but still.
It seemed like for a really long stretch in the second half their only offense was high pick and roll with Burke and the other 3 players just stand at the 3 pt line. The offense got real stagnant when they hit the cold stretch.
I'll take the Izzone gobbling up part of MSU's allotment legitimately compared to the Orange Krush scamming Athletics in 2004-5 by posing as a childrens' charity for a group-rate block of tickets (complete with locker room tour and meeting with Tommy Amaker). They then gathered around the perimeter of the lower bowl and took off their fake black charity t-shirts en masse during pregame introductions to reveal their Krush gear. Then they were generally assholes for the rest of the game.
The Izzone are asshats for sure, but at least they're legitimate.
I have no idea if such a thing exists or would even be feasible, but I would love to be on a team that looks into these types of things when it appears it may be some kind of a scam to get a large amount of tickets to a sporting event at Michigan.
"The difference between a man and a boy is, a boy wants to grow up to be a fireman, but a man wants to grow up to be a giant monster fireman."
...was actually 'Sheed's emphatic response to a postgame interview question about the Flyers playoff win that same night. Stoney and Wojo spent about a week trying to figure out what the hell he was saying.
Crossover sportsfan: yet another reason to love him.
I got my freude in right after the buzzer. Watching in a room full of MSU fans, I jumped up from the couch and joined Denard and Roundtree -- on a 60-inch screen they are nearly life size -- in the hug-and-jumping session. The surround sound was enveloping, and because there wasn't a pin drop from the room I was actually in, completely immersive.
When they cut from the shot I turned around to find every Spartan fan exactly as I'd left them. Perhaps one or two managed to get a little drool out of their gaping mouths. The dog was starting to eye my warm seat. So I turned back to the TV and rejoined the mass of almost lifesize maize in a round of "The Victors."
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Does Izzo usually run the Sparty bus back and forth over his players in post game pressers? I thought I had seen enough of Izzo to know what he was going to say. He can be a whiner for sure but calling his team every name in the book was delicious. I don't even remember last year with that mess of a team him calling guys out like that. Simply tremendous.
I am thirty two years old, happily married, good job, awesome son, and I swear to you that I would be a much happier person if Sheed had not left Robert Horry. That was a two championsip team damnit!!! History was unjust to the Pistons. I think that is actually a big part of why Joe hung on longer than he should have, that team was meant for two titles. Cover Horry damnit!! Why are you leaving Horry.
Is there a possibility Hardaway is taking (in our opinion) forced/ill-advised shots on the instruction of his dad in an effort to showcase his talents for the next level?
We know there are scouts at the game. We also know THS is at almost every game. The guy knows what it takes to play in the NBA and perhaps he's advising THJ to shoot the long range jumpers.
"the Spirit of Michigan...is based on a deathless loyalty to Michigan and all her ways....and a conviction that nowhere is there a better university, in any way, than this Michigan of ours" - Fielding Yost