like I should be worried about Tennessee, everybody seems to be telling me that I should be worried about them. I have just seen Beilien take apart their kind of attack so many times that I just don't worry about teams like this anymore. Tall, "athletic," fast, pressing, etc. I have just come to associate that kind of opponent with a big, fat Michigan W. Maybe this Tennessee team is a different animal and I just don't realize it.
Being Blake Griffin
3/22/2014 – Michigan 79, Texas 65 – 27-8, Sweet 16
The last time Michigan played an NCAA tourney game involving a two seed, it was their first bid in ten years. After not quite blowing a huge lead against Clemson in the 7-10 game they ran up against a brick wall named Blake Griffin. Insofar as you can call one of the most athletic dudes on the planet a "brick wall," anyway.
Michigan was still not exactly complete at this juncture. Manny and DeShawn headlined; the rest of the starting lineup consisted of freshman versions of Novak and Douglass plus the CJ Lee/David Merrit walk-on duo. Kelvin Grady, Jevohn Shepherd, Laval Lucas-Perry, Zack Gibson, and Anthony Wright were the bench. Every time you end up looking at that roster the immediate thought is "these guys made the second round of the tournament?"
Meanwhile, Griffin's stats are as hilarious as you would expect from "Blake Griffin takes on guys like Zack Novak." He used almost a third of Oklahoma's possessions, rebounded a third of defensive opportunities, drew more fouls than anyone else in the country, and shot 66% from the floor—mostly by dunking from halfcourt. Watching him live was mostly an experience in terror. Dual undercurrents cut it: one of outrage that he could do the things he did and still call himself human, a second of excitement at the same thing.
Michigan managed to stick close despite foul trouble for Harris. Anthony Wright played the game of his career, and Michigan kept in contact. As the second half progressed, though, a feeling of inevitability fell over the proceedings. Michigan was just not good enough to make up the deficit presented them. They made a push or two; each was quickly met with a riposte.
That is entirely the wrong word, since it indicates finesse. Every time Michigan approached Oklahoma it was called a nerd and thrown bodily into a dumpster.
"Hey, Novak! Your kid is going to have a picture of that on his wall!"
Michigan lost by ten; it may as well have been a billion. Novak would later be featured in a Sports Illustrated article dedicated to all the guys Griffin has posterized. He took it with good humor, because sometimes life puts you in china shop with Blake Griffin and asks you to get it tea.
Nik Stauskas has taken to opening games with a demonstration of force. The first shot of most Michigan games is Stauskas raising up over his defender to hit an eyebrow-cocking three. Welcome to the gun show, it says. I can do this whenever I want. Later he'll fly over a screen and rise up when the big starts sagging back into the lane. It goes in, because it just does. One moment is all it takes. In your face, Charlie Murphy. Stauskas is the Big Ten player of the year for a reason.
That reason is not that he has to take all of Michigan's shots. He takes barely more than an average share of them, so when you start freaking out about Stauskas the ball is in someone else's hands. That person is generally flying towards the basket (if he is Jordan Morgan) or aligning himself for a catch and shoot three pointer he knocks down at 40% (if he is anyone else). They'll bail you out with a turnover maybe twice a half.
This is a different kind of hopeless thing to be in opposition to, but it is just as dispiriting as knowing that Blake Griffin has the ball on a fast break and you are supposed to do something about it. Novak in SI:
"When I get to the three point line, I start thinking, Why am I doing this?" … "Next thing I know his feet are at my face."
You can get in deep, quick. If Michigan is going well, things will get somewhat out of hand before the opposing coach throws his hands up at the man to man defense that has been the heart of his philosophy for his entire career and goes to a zone. Yeah, against a team that shoots 40% from three. Yeah, we're not even much of a zone team. It can't be worse is the thought. Often it is followed by why am I doing this?
Texas was so discombobulated by the basketball portion of the first half that they came out in the second determined to play volleyball on one end and a random matchup zone on the other. It worked, a bit. Texas pulled to within six. Things threatened to get serious, but then a rather important flaw in the idea of playing zone against Michigan presented itself. First Robinson got lost, then LeVert, then Albrecht.
They rained in death from above, as they are wont to do.
The look on the faces of Texas' staff right now ... if you could only see.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 22, 2014
I know that look. I have had that look, when Blake Griffin was doing Blake Griffin things and the only response was stare ahead and think what is anyone supposed to do about THAT?
I thought about Griffin in the second half as Texas drew nearer. I was nervous, of course, but it was only a part of my consciousness instead of its entirety. In a commercial break someone said something about the last four minutes of stagnation, and I said they were still getting great looks and they would be fine. It then dawned on me that I meant it.
I was not waiting for the roof to fall in. I was waiting for water to find its level. And then it did. They're still bigger and stronger than Michigan, but these days it's the bullies getting put in the dumpster.
The column in one emoji. I could have just embedded that LHN tweet instead.
— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) March 22, 2014
I'm not just going to do Novak like that. I did write a thing about Novak getting posterized that I should link if I'm going to include that picture.
Epic victory. Jordan Morgan flat wore Cameron Ridley out, with an assist from the opening nine-minute stretch of gametime without a whistle. Ridley was coming off a 17-point, 12 rebound, 4 block, 2 A, 0 TO performance against Arizona State's 7'2" shotblocker Jordan Bachynski.
Morgan limited him to 5 FGAs and six points and out-rebounded him. And he had 15 points himself in a fashion so quiet I exclaimed "how did that happen?" when someone mentioned it to me in the immediate aftermath.
That is a terrific sign for Morgan's matchup with Vol Jeronne Maymon, who is another 6'8" widebody post type.
The zone did put a brief halt to Michigan's offense after it adapted from a straight 2-3 that Michigan melted into a pile of scrap. To my eyes that drought was largely bad luck. Stauskas had a Blake Griffin-level dunk rattle out; Robinson had a putback facilitated by the zone go halfway down before popping out; a couple of open looks didn't fall. It happens. And then water finds its level.
The best scouting report ever. The way that game played out was downright eerie. Isaiah Taylor takes nothing but floaters; Isaiah Taylor took nothing but floaters aside from a couple of takes where he actually got to the basket, and then he finished with the most Isaiah Taylor line ever: 8/22, all shots from two.
Junk defense after junk defense. The hypothesis that Illinois actually did Michigan a favor by scaring the hell out of them with a 2-3 zone is now upgraded to a theory. It took about four possessions for Texas to decide a straight up 2-3 was even more doomy than their man to man, with the last straw a Morgan dunk from the baseline.
They then switched to a 1-3-1 for one possession, which frustratingly saw Michigan do nothing for about 30 seconds until Stauskas rose for a long contested three that led to a transition opportunity. Barnes immediately shelved that in favor of an odd-looking matchup zone that I couldn't quite figure out. Michigan seemed hesitant about it, too, but eventually Texas started matching up with the wrong dudes. There was that one LeVert three on which he didn't have anyone within ten feet of him.
Mildly mitigated. Normally you'd look at a game in which Michigan picked up 11 offensive rebounds and say that was good enough for shot parity. Nope, as Texas spent the second half rebounding damn near every one on their infinite misses and finished the game with more OREBs than Michigan had DREBs.
That is an alarm bell heading into a matchup with a burly Tennessee outfit, though again some of those just seem like crappy luck. Texas guards grabbed eight of their offensive rebounds and two were credit to "team"; Morgan and Robinson nearly matched the posts' contributions with seven offensive rebounds to Holmes and Ridley's nine. If that minor advantage holds up for the Tennessee posts I'm feeling pretty good about Friday.
Must work on free throw defense. Texas goes 15/16. Cumong man. Michigan did give most of those FTAs to the Texas guards and not their bricklaying bigs, so they couldn't have expected 10/16… but still. Maybe I shouldn't be complaining in a game where Morgan goes 7/8.
A quick look at Tennessee. Much more on this later, of course, but at first glance Tennessee is Texas after leveling up a few more times. They don't shoot well but make up for it by pounding the offensive boards; their defense is tough to shoot against and doesn't force many turnovers. Unlike Texas, Tennessee does a good job of preventing threes from being launched. They also have a semblance of outside shooting.
As you've probably heard, the Vols are huge Kenpom darlings, currently 6th in the rankings despite being an 11 seed. They're favored by a point in a game Kenpom sees as a virtual tossup, and trash Kenpom at your peril—they certainly made short work of UMass and Mercer after an OT win against Iowa.
As per usual, bizarrely high computer rankings are built on margin of victory. Tennessee spent the year blowing out SEC opponents or losing to them narrowly. They finished the year with 76-38, 82-54, and 72-45 win over Vandy, Auburn, and Mizzou; they beat Virginia by 25 in December. They also lost to UTEP, NC State, Texas A&M, and Vandy. They're also 0-3 against the Gators.
That was the least concerning scoring lull of all time, made anxious only by the stakes and finality of it all. Like Brian says, the lull was the result of a missed Stauskas dunk, a missed GRIII tip, a missed half-hook from Morgan that went in and out, a wide open GRIII shot from the bottom of the circle (after which the announcer actually said "He can't believe he missed that"), a couple missed free throws from Lavert, and turnover after a nice slip pass from Horford to a cutting GRIII.
Apart from the long contested Stauskas 3 against the 1-3-1, they never fell into the passivity around the perimeter that they did against Illinois. Great looks that just didn't fall. Oh well, that's basketball. If the looks like that are there for this team, it's going to be extremely rare when they don't go down at that rate.
Also, nice announcing team for these games. Particularly like Ian Eagle's "Morgan with a rack attack!" call.
I believe Illinois hit us with a 3-2 zone. We did not look good against the 3-2. We can beat a 2-3, especially when that 2-3 plays so that the wings are above the free throw line and the big is in the semi-circle (thank you Texas).
I remember that Oklahoma game quite well unfortunately as it fell on the same day as my father's funeral and I had to give the eulogy. When the wake was over a large number of us found a place to watch the game with a few beers and remember my dad.
He was a Michigan dentist (Dental school class of 1950) who LOVED Michigan basketball and had season tickets from 1973 - 1998. His seats were about a halfway up in the upper bowl in the corner of the arena. Pretty crappy seats actually but he refused to move cause he said he was "used to looking at a game that way." To the best of my knowledge he never missed a game and only gave up the seats when he was too old to navigate the steps anymore. Oddly enough he never went to a football game and never seemed terribly interested in even watching them on TV either.
Sorry if I digressed from the post intent but that Oklahoma game brought back a flood of memories about my father due to the timing of that game.
I miss my dad.
We don't realize how much we need them until they are gone. I miss mine too.
Tennessee won by 35 not 25. I watched part of that game and it was horrifying.
And another correction (sort of) is that Tennessee lost to Texas A&M twice.
Waching that Stauskas dunk attempt was the most amazing miss I've seen in Michigan basketball in 20 years. Even with that miss he probably moved up 2 slots in NBA draft projections by showing that he can take guys off the dribble with pure athleticism and has the ups to finish at the rim with a strong take. That was not a 6'6" stringy frosh tweener exploiting a wide open blown assignment... that was a MAN move with some power. If any draftnik mentions Stauskas's lack of athleticism, dude should be flat out called racist.
Stauskas is an average NBA-level athlete at best for his position. He lacks lateral speed on the defensive end which a measure of athleticism. He is not a quick leaper. His first step is not explosive, he is not a quick leaper and he struggles to finish and/or jump through contact. His applied athleticism is also below average has his block rate, steal rate, and free throw rate is all quite low for an NBA shooting guard prospect.
That's not racist, that's the book on Stauskas. Now he can improve is strength, coordination, ans leaping ability to some degree. Lateral quickness, is not something that is typically learned though. If he gets stronger and learns a euro-step he can be more than just-a-shooter and occasional pick-and-roll threat. His upside right now is someone like Wes Mathews or Danny Green, great shooters who can also do a lot of other things to help the team.
you are saying that Stauskus is a quick leaper, correct?
I think you missed the word 'not'
I agree that Nik is probably only an average athlete NBA-wise. But put that with his pure basketball skills and you should have a good to very good NBA player.
Your expectations of what he needs to be athletically seem a little high and IMHO incorrect. Not sure what your definition of explosive is? If you mean LeBron or DWade, yea not explosive. But Nik's first step is very good. This should result in a most decent free throw rate. Block rate is irrelevant (particularly as a 2) as 75 % of the starters in the NBA average under 1/2 blocks per game. I also don't worry much about Nik's ability to finish--through traffic or otherwise, particularly as he matures as is common in the NBA. I agree that his steal rate needs to improve--though I suspect he may well be opportunistic--and Michigan's style likely masks his opportunities for steals (no one has many steals). Rebounding even as a 2 is probably another weakness--though Timmy manages to get significant minutes while averaging only 2 rebounds per game.
Not sure I see any comparisons to Green or Matthews--though I expect him to be better than the former, and if he is as good as the latter, he will have a nice career.
Have we played any teams this year with a profile like Tenn's? Obviously Michigan State has some post-size and outside shooting. But are their guards that tall? Anyone else? I think if we can win the B1G, we shouldn't be scared of a team like Tenn. Respect them? Sure. Scared? Hell no.
Yesterday I looked up the vegas lines for our last 10 games and their last 10 games. They had MANY games where they were cosidered -500 on the money line, while we had most of our games in the -100 to -250 range. So yes, they destroyed teams, but they were kinda supposed to. Just an interesting tidbit I happened upon.
think Florida State, Minnesota and Texas are in the Tennessee mold.
Are there site archives here? I'd like to read what was written about past seasons but I don't see links anywhere.
the name of thread like Eleven Swans or Unconditional Surrender you can just search it. They used to have archives in the lower left hand portion of the screen but I don't know where those went.
Problem is, I usually don't remember the titles of the articles.
Straight-up Google searches work pretty well. "mgoblog basketball tournament Oklahoma" or whatever you want.
I suppose, but it'd be nice to have archive links to bypass that step. I seem to recall them being here at one time but don't see them anymore.
Stauskas' missed dunk would have been "Blake Griffin level" had he made it? Lol C'mon.
When ppl don't watch the NBA. They lose appreciation for what the best of the best can do.
SEC is 7-0 in the NCAA tourney and all of them still playing..... Sounds like he got it right this year.
If only the top 3 from the BIG Ten made the tourney they would be undefeated as well. SEC is still a bad conference after those top 3.
shitty teams. B1G is no different with Purdue, Northwestern, etc.
I know I'm somewhat a heritic here for even SUGGESTING that Kenpom could be wrong but common man. If it was that freaking accurate betters would make a fortune by simply spotting the gaps between the betting line and Kenpom and loading up.
It's wrong a lot and it will be again Friday.
Upvoted for use of "common man"
1) Site policy is that predicting individual sporting events is stupid, and predicting margins is even stupider, and predicting exact scores is about the dumbest things humans regularly attempt. This is why all of Brian's football predictions feature things like 25-11.
2) When Brian/Ace deviate from Kenpom, terrible things happen. And while we are for the most part statistically literate smart people around here, we are also fucking supersitious as all hell, so we demanded that they stop.
well I say Michigan 93 - Tennesee 12 (2 OT).
Don't tempt fate. Stay with KenPom.
Not only is poor Novak getting posterized, he's also getting teabagged and taking a Nike to the nuts, from the same guy, at the same time. Yeesh.
The thing about David vs. Goliath is that sometimes (most of the time) Goliath wins.
is not a power ranking, but a prediction of a game if it were being played 100 times which gives out percentage of chance of winning a game in a single game which is the NCAA tourney. If a team have 54% chance of winning the game, it is basically a coinflip. They include MOV which is the average if it were played 100 times.
Is it perfect? No, it's better than most. If you simply pick a NC simply from picking KenPom top 5 teams, you're more likely to get it right.
Iowa is a worse team than Michigan but they killed Michigan at Iowa 85-67. Does that mean Michigan should be ranked worse than Iowa? No.
NCAA tourney doesn't necessarily determine the true national champion because it's a single elimination format where a bad night means you're done even if you're the better team of the two.
People find NBA boring because it's usually the same team every year, but it's a 7 game series which better determines who is the best team in the league. It is usually the case every year. If NCAA tourney does the NBA final style, you would see fewer upset and Duke would eventually beat Mercer in a 7 game series for example.
Where is this "biblical" reliance on KenPom? The only place I see it is in the "place where I predict what KenPom does", which is just a running joke / acknowledged superstition.
Since so many teams don't play each other, you've either got to go with an algorithm, like KenPom, or "the eyeball test". Of the numerical methods, KenPom's seems to be pretty good, very accessible, and popular/familiar. All of things make it a good starting point for analysis on a blog. But I haven't seen either Ace or Brian say "this is what Kenpom says so it must be true", they generally provide their own analysis if it's a team they've watched at all, and neither picked all Kenpom chalk in their brackets.
he tweaked the MOV formula, but it still is an emphasis because you have to be able to beat shitty team big like a top team should.
I think the Kenpom system is about as good as one can hope. It takes into account as much as one can possibly cram into a computerized system. I however do feel like it incorrectly rates certain teams, and does an awful job handling the Wisconsin's of the world. This year, Wisky is looking good in the tourney but every other year they have royally screwed my bracket over while constantly maintaining Kenpom darling status.
Also...this court projection system fucking rocks
When did the Cavs start doing THIS? I've been to several games this year and havent witnessed that beforfe.
No idea, but it has to be the best part of going to a Cavs game, or even the best part of living in Cleveland altogether.
There were various times - select ocasions - during my undergraduate experience where these lights would have been difficult to....process.
But I especially liked the part about how Beilein is a great talent scout because of a Klay Thompson miss, a Kyle Kuric miss, a Joe Trapani miss, a Robin Benzing miss, and Hardaway, Smotcrcyz, Novak and Morgan. It just shows how much this program has grown, and how great Coach B really is. Today, his ability to identify and develop talent could begin and end with Trey (Penn State offer) and you'd buy into the hype, but add in what Tim has become now on the Knicks, what Caris has become this year, and the list goes on and on, it's just amazing.
It's also fun to read the comments and note that at the time, Amir Williams was considered a big recruiting loss.
One prophetic comment:
Personally, I look forward to Jordan Morgan taking Amir Williams to school for the next three seasons.
I remember that Oklahoma game just a bit different. I kept thinking that, while Blake was a great player, we could handle him if the refs didn't call a foul every time a defender got within 2 feet of him. He got big time NBA star treatment in that game and it showed up on the scoreboard.
I recall the same feeling, that Michigan was getting jobbed constantly by endless foul calls for breathing too hard on little ol' Blakey.
The Vols are actually a bad shooting team overall and a terrible 3-point shooting one. Their eFG% is 49.6% (196th) and they shoot only 31.9% from deep, good (bad?) for 283rd in the country. UMHoops also mentioned that of the 16 teams remaining, only one has an eFG% worse than Tennessee on jump shots (45.3%).
So far in three Tournament games they're shooting 22.8% from long range.
Somehow ended up reading UMHoops' post on the 2011 Minnesota game and Novak was 'key' in 3 of 5 plays. Worth a read if you have time for Novak-appreciation trip.
Edit: Fuggit, watch the videos
That last one is my favorite Novak play. Ralph Sampson III is 6'11", and Novak outfought him for the ball!
Minnesota guys are all "I smell blood in the water" until Novak's elbows come screaming around and they all back the fuck off.
screw the refs of that game who wouldn't let anyone breathe on griffin w/o getting a foul. it was jordan morgan to the extreme. manny ended up fouling out because of 2 BS calls on him. one call was manny boxing out griffin under our defensive basket. it was a perfect box out and the rebound went in the other direction anyway.
i was livid. we may have won that game but for the coddling of griffin. oh look, they just showed his freaking parents again on TV.
I'm already sick of hearing how good Tennessee is, and it's Monday! I understand they match up well again Michigan, but they also lost 7 games in the lowly SEC (I know, three to Florida). They're all over the place, all over ESPN, Kenpom #6 (yeah, right)...
Hearing all this makes me concerned at first, but any 11 seed will get some coverage going into the Sweet 16.
The teams Tennessee has beaten this tournament: Iowa, UMass, Mercer. Need I say more?
That third Florida loss was in the SEC Tournament, so the Vols' conference record actually includes five non-Florida losses (UK, Vandy, Ark, and A&M twice).
Tennessee is a bad shooting team according to the statistics compiled on ESPN. They are very similar to Texas in 3 point FG and overall FG shooting percentage. They are taller at the guard position. The starters go 6'-2", 6'-6", 6'-6", 6'-8" and 6'-8". That may mean that it will be more difficult for Michigan to shoot over the top of them if Michigan can't break down their defense for open looks.
happened right after Griffin was helped off the court in anguish after he hurt his knee. Havn't cared for the guy since.