“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.”
I showed up on Michigan's campus in 1997 and did not go to basketball or hockey games for whatever reason. That year, hockey won a national title and basketball got bounced in the second round as a three-seed. I went with hockey, and that quickly proved to be a wise choice. Brian Ellerbe was resident at Crisler. Mike Comrie was at Yost.
A few years later I got a phone call the morning of the Michigan State game from my uncle, offering me a ticket. I muttered some excuse and went and did something else, what I don't remember. Michigan got annihilated like they always do. I felt like a bad fan, but short of being strapped to an immaculately-trained fetchin' donkey I was not going anywhere near Crisler that day. Michigan did not have the facilities to immaculately train fetchin' donkeys. Or basketball players.
At some point during the Amaker era I swung by a few games; I parked in the blue lot next to the stadium. Empty spaces abounded around me, and no one charged me. We wandered down from our upper-deck seats to the lower bowl without issue.
The first time I went to a lot of games at Crisler was six years ago, in Beilein's first year. I got a partial season ticket to watch Michigan lose to Boston College after they had already lost to Western Kentucky; the next game they lost to Harvard. By 11. Harvard had just hired Tommy Amaker. The Canadian on that team shot 19% from 3 and 48% from the line.
During this period of time, the basketball team had to practice at the IM building when schedules overlapped with the women.
Several lost Chilean miners were found on the Crisler concourse after weeks of searching.
A small boy who had wandered up to the top row to see what it was like in 1999 was found ten years later the next section over, having developed a taste for foam padding and a hatred of whatever it was that Amaker called offense. When asked by the pith-helmeted explorers if he would like to return to civilization, he asked if it involved 20 turnovers a game, was told it did not, and left.
Yesterday seemed like the same old Michigan basketball before the game. When they raised Michigan's first championship banner since 1986, the stands were barely half-full and the three completely empty sections in the endzone grated.
But when I looked up after Michigan had forced a timeout out of a top-20 team, everyone had come in from the cold. It was loud, and Mitch McGary was waving his arms like a maniac to make it louder, and I thought to myself that guy has no idea.
He does not remember about the feral child and how Amaker offered him a scholarship that one year. He doesn't know you could park on the concourse if you wanted or that the answer to the question "would you rather have Michigan State tickets or an STD?" was "is the STD treatable with antibiotics?"
If he knows anything it's that people from Chesterton end up at Michigan because they are needed to have Aneurysms of Leadership at critical moments, and that Crisler ArenaCenter is under construction. Was under construction. It's all shiny now, just in time for Michigan to return to alpha-dog status.
None of these guys know anything. Nik Stauskas has spent most of the last 16 years shooting in his backyard and probably needs to be informed about recent developments like the fall of communism. Glenn Robinson just showed up, too, and even the veteran-ish stars came in for tourney appearances and an already-underway player development center. They have no idea that Michigan basketball is a self-flagellating moribund dungeon of a program still kicking itself for transgressions over a decade past that people just will not shut up about, ever.
Let's not tell them.
I AM ON TO YOU NIK* STAUSKAS
Congratulations on 3.5 million youtube views.
*[I'd been calling him Nick because at some point I thought I read something that said he prefers it, but Michigan and Kenpom both go with Nik so I will as well.
Seriously though. 20 points on ten shots. 4/7 from three, which lowers his season average to 58%. And this:
NC State seems like a pretty awful defensive team but Pitt and Kansas State are not and he put up lethally efficient games against them as well. Probably the most remarkable stat in Stauskas's young career: he's leading the team in both free-throw rate and turnover rate (at a bogglingly low 7.7). Oh, and he's 20 of 21 from the line.
aint even phased that's less weird than someone shooting 58% from three
Shocking stat, of the somewhat not great variety. Hardaway was one of nine from three in the last outing, which shocked me when I looked it up because I didn't remember him taking anywhere near that many attempts from deep. None of them were bad shots, I guess—I have an elephant memory for those.
He's still at 37% on the year despite that and is shooting nearly 70% from two after going 6 of 9 inside the arc against NC State.
Robinson rebounding update. We mentioned this on the podcast: GRIII had an impressive two games in MSG, picking up 12 rebounds against Kansas State and battling Pitt's 6'9" Talib Zanna—a monster, monster rebounder who is 17% offensive/20% defensive—rebound for rebound. He's currently got an 11%/16% line, which puts him not too far off Branden Dawson's 13%/12% last year. He's converting twos at about the same clip Dawson did last year, and he's 5/13 from 3—Dawson was 0/3 for the entirety of last year.
Schedule strength caveats apply.
Depth? Hmmm: is there any? Michigan is again languishing in the 300s in bench minutes. Burke's minutes have dropped from 89% all the way to 85%, Hardaway's from 84% to 82%, and GRIII is clocking 80% as well. Michigan can throw out three posts, and does technically bring Stauskas off the bench, but yeah at everywhere other than the 5 Michigan's isn't getting much.
That depth at the five is very nice, though: against Kansas State both Morgan and McGary got in foul trouble and Michigan was just like "meh." Against NC State, Morgan played poorly and Michigan just went with McGary mostly.
McGary. Mitch McGary is a 6'10" puppy, one of those with the crazy googly eyes that runs around barking at everything because everything has always been so exciting it will kill him. This is obvious in the numbers: huge rebound rates! 19% offensive! 27% defensive! The worst turnover rate on the team! Averaging 7 fouls per 40! I wish they kept a stat for most times waving your hands up and down exhorting the crowd to be louder! Sometimes he nearly kicks the governor in the face!
That's great. His rebound rates are so high they're unsustainable; they are still extremely encouraging. With the three perimeter scorers Michigan doesn't really need a post who demands the ball, they need a guy who can generate possession advantage and play good defense. If McGary isn't the top-3 national player he was hyped up to be, he's still a huge asset for the team.
The skill is just a bonus. He had a pretty finger roll against Kansas State and took two dribbles to a layup in this one; he has also recovered from a poor start at the free throw line to hit five of his last six (which are the only ones Kenpom records since the rest were exhibitions or the Slippery Rock game).
Not a very close comparison since Burke shoots threes effectively. I'll take Darius Morris plus shooting.
Rotations. A small complaint: I don't like it when the two-post offense is out there with Burke or Hardaway on the bench. Not enough shot creation out there.
Defense. It looks like NC State can score in bunches. Despite that, there is reason for concern whenever your opponent hits 57% from the floor. NC State got a third of the rare misses, and it seemed like there were way too many easy opportunities at the rim. I'm not sure what the issue is here. Michigan goes without shotblockers for the most part and is not forcing turnovers, so there's that, but that was pretty much the case last year as well.
They are exceptionally young. Two of the three starters are freshman and the guy off the bench who plays the most is also a freshman. Hopefully they can work out some kinks before Big Ten play starts; they're through the tough stretch of the nonconference schedule.
This wasn't the best performance of a young season from his precocious, young team. But it was another impressive one from the Wolverines, now 6-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country — the program's highest perch since late in the 1993-94 season.
And that it came on the night they raised a Big Ten championship banner to the rafters, for the first time in more than a quarter-century, well, that meant something, too.
But leave it to the ones with the short attention spans to put things into proper perspective.
"Those guys put a lot of hard work into that banner," said freshman guard Nik Stauskas, who, lest you forget he's a kid, actually admitted to being a Justin Bieber fan after the game. "But it's on to the next one. We want another one."
Michigan’s defense wasn’t nearly as effective as it has been in early season play. As I wrote in the preview, NC State has more than its fair share of individual one-on-one talent and Michigan had no answer on the defensive side of the ball. The Wolfpack matched Michigan’s heroic shooting effort, connecting on 60% of their two point attempts and racking up a 59% effective field goal percentage. Michigan’s front court defense couldn’t slow CJ Leslie, TJ Warren and Richard Howell as they combined to make 22 of 34 shots inside the arc and would have done even more damage if not limited by foul trouble. Michigan’s defensive rebounding also hit a snag, allowing NC State to rebound a third of its missed shots including seven second half offensive boards. 54 of NC State’s 72 points came in the paint and 14 of those were off of offensive rebounds.
The second play on the highlights, Stauskas' drive and finger roll lay in, impressed me beyond belief. I'll admit, I was a skeptic of him coming into the season, but he has been arguably the best freshman so far this year. We have the potential for a hell of a run this year, and god do I love watching this team. Michigan basketball has never been this exciting, at least in my lifetime!
IMO, Michigan basketball will never be as exciting as it was during the Fab Five era (ground-breaking as it was) but I have to admit the comment that the ESPN guy made after the game got me pretty excited: The talking heads spent a bunch of time on NC State and how young they are and how they will get better and the last thing that was said before going to the next game was "Michigan is a very good team." Short and sweet!
To me it looked like they just struggled to stop the ball. On more than a couple occassions they were in front of their man and either went for the strip or did something else, allowing the NCState to either blow by and score or blow by and kick to a pretty good group of bigs. Got to stop the ball (especially on the break, where they also kind of struggled in transition defense).
Also, in regards to Hardaway, he had to jack up either two or three end of the shot clock threes which had little to no chance of dropping. So that 3-point attempt number is high due to that.
perimeter defense being somewhat of a problem going forward. Douglas was somewhat of a specialist in that department and was a very impressive ball hawk. They do no seem to have anything remotely like that right now, and I could see them going zone a little more this season if they can rebound effectively out of it. In spurts I thought Michigan was actually quite lazy defensively last night and that was a little discouraging, but not altogether unexpected. When offense is coming without much effort it is easy to get a little comfy and really not play with the defensive intensity that is needed.
Maybe the depth isn't utilized like we expected necessarily, but it is there. Stauskas has played so many minutes because he's earned them. If he has an off night or gets some fouls you can put Vogrich out there for a few hustle plays. Spike is getting consistent, though limited, minutes giving Burke or Hardaway a rest from time.
I think the difference you're seeing is the timing of those minutes. Last year if Burke and Morgan got into foul trouble early like they did against K-State you'd be treated to prolonged minutes with a Douglas-Novak-Hardaway-Vogrich-Smotrycz lineup and have to wear sunglasses. This year you'll see Spike and one of the two extra post players come off the bench while they let Hardaway/Sauskas/GR3 create the offense. In a tight game like last night those minutes will be more limited, but they don't have to be.
Sorry, but when Bielfeldt is getting the occassional minutes and not looking out of place as the 10th man you have to compliment the depth, not criticize it. (Unless you're talking about Akunne feeling the need to shoot as soon as he gets the ball during his 2mpg appearances.)
Heck, our SCOUT TEAM has three scholarship players on it!
He came out and jacked back to back jumpers, one of the pull up variety with a guy in his face and the other from JJ Redick range after one pass in the middle of an NC State run. He was promptly taken out of the game and may reside on the pine now for quite some time. That was not the showing that Akunne had in mind, I can promise you that.
I'm not sure if you are joking....but in case you arent...You are using statistics so poorly it hurts my eyes. One, you have no context to those numbers, as mostly all (thankfully) of his shots come in garbage time so it's not really fair to extrapulate those numbers to suggest that he could keep that up against quality high major competition in crucial minutes. Two, you are drawing from a ridicluously small sample size and trying to conclude that he should be given the green light to shoot whenever based on what is surely less than 10 shots taken, which is ridiculous. Also, you must not have watched the game yesterday...because if you did you would have seen his attempt at isolation offense leading to an airball was pretty sad and then a rushed and contested 3 that was totally out of the flow of the offense were not displays of a player who is ready to step in for serious playing time.
Did you even read my post? Your reply is entirely non-responsive...
As an aside, I'm not sure if you can conclude things such as slumps, etc. when your sample size is at the single digit level...for you to call something a slump you have to establish some level of normal (with some confidence coming from sample size) and then be able to conclude that a recent streak of shooting is an aberration. Not sure how you are managing to do that.
It's one thing to come in and make shots in garbage time...but I'm not sure how many of eso's made threes have come against quality opponents such as NC State in competitive points in the game. I may be wrong but I feel like most of his made shots come at a point in the game and against opponents that are simply not the same thing to him coming in when he did against nc state and shooting as out of rhythm as he did. If he was really coach b's go-to shooter as you say...he likely would not have been pulled from the game after those 2 shots, especially if we accept your premise that only the airball was a bad one. I highly doubt the conversation between him and the coach before he enters the game...is alright eso you go in there and chuck up as many shots as you can and don't worry about doing anything else thats what the other 4 guys are for... I have nothing against the guy, I just think that's a tough spot to put him in and one he is not ready for in terms of his skill level.
"I am not particularly pleased when Eso comes into the games, but coach likes him and plays him, so whatever."
EDIT: went and looked Eso played 2 minutes against Pitt, 4 against K State, and 3 against NC State. Beilein sees a couple minute role in the first half for Eso in the non conference schedule. Really not a big deal to me, but we need to be outraged over something concerning the #3 team in the country so let it be Esogate.
Not really sure why you guys are arguing. Pretty obvious Beileinsm just giving him some token run as an appreciation for loyalty to the program. Relax, he won't be in during conference play (barring injury).
I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It's all in the game though, right?
Yeah, really deep teams only go 8-9 regular rotation.
And I think Beilein likes an even tighter rotation. But 5 starters, Nik, McGary and Horford/big man off the bench...that's 8. And various step in utility guys who aren't really going to kill you (unlike in the past where "he's going to have to sit?!?! We're doomed!"). It does seem like the bigs get more play, but that's because from 2-4 we're basically interchangable. Yeah, some guys I don't want to see them play extended minutes at once position or another, but we've got a lot of wing guys (who are up to PFs in JB's system). Maybe not the ball handlers to cut Burke's minutes that much, but along with the minute cut he's also getting an effort cut. Not that he's not trying, but he's not spending every minute out on the court trying to carry his team. He knows he can dribble a little and throw a nice pass for a bucket rather than having to drive to the hole and get hammered every play. So it's going to save a lot of wear and tear as the season goes on.
I started following men's basketball about when Michigan recruited one Antoine "The Judge" Joubert, then thought a lock to be the next Magic Johnson. (Much respect to Joubert, BTW. That was a ridiculous load to put on a teenager's shoulders, and viewed without that hype he was a good player for the school IIRC.)
So I've been following this for awhile. We may not deserve to be ranked 3 overall just yet, but the program at last seems like it's back on a firm footing after the long post-Fisher nightmare. It's a really good feeling.
I disagree with one point in a terrific entry, though. Brian implies (to me, at least) that CWebb should just shut up about the FabFive / Ed Martin dealings:
They have no idea that Michigan basketball is a self-flagellating moribund dungeon of a program still kicking itself for transgressions over a decade past that people just will not shut up about, ever. [Links to article re: rumored upcoming CWebb autobiography]
Seems to me that CWebb's obstinate silence about that era has only prolonged the pain. While it will be interesting - perhaps painful or maddening - to hear what he has to say about his time at Michigan, I think overall it's best to get it out in the open. So while jackasses like Drew Sharp have used up their right to blather about the Ed Martin days every time they feel like being faux-controversial, I welcome CWebb's finally speaking out about those days. Good for his soul, I hope, and good for the university's too (I hope even more).
"Of course I care about that stuff. To the point of irrationality. It will always be Michigan first, cancer second." Jim Mandich (RIP)
Webber breaking his silence would be a good thing only if he provides a truthful account of what he did, as opposed to self-serving B.S. about how he was victimized, taken advantage of, etc. I'm not optimistic.
I didn't mean to imply that I'm optimistic about what CWebb will say. It could be along the lines of what you suggest, it could be sensationalized to sell books, or it could be a sincere apologia.
But until he makes some sort of statement, it's always felt like we're waiting for another shoe to drop. It seems there's some value in getting his story out, and then putting it behind Michigan and its alumni and fans.
"Of course I care about that stuff. To the point of irrationality. It will always be Michigan first, cancer second." Jim Mandich (RIP)
Webber book makes me nervous. Why now? An autobiography, of Chris Webber? For what purpose? I hope C-Webb does not have scores to settle that may not have surfaced yet. Yeah, at this point, I would just soon the thing die naturally as I was convinced it was about to.
Well, the blog started around 2004 (I think). Would you want to do UFRs for any of those painful OSU losses?
Also, the utility of a UFR goes down the fewer games the players have left in their careers. Analyzing the Ohio game to evaluate the performance of Denard, Kovacs and the other seniors is only helpful for one more game, the bowl. The team will look significantly different next year, so why waste time on a bowl UFR? I think that's why Brian normally doesn't do them.
"The trouble with quotes on the internet, is that it is often difficult to discern whether or not they are genuine" --Abraham Lincoln
I took my kids to their first bball game 4, 5 years ago and we received a ticket at the door for $1 plus some canned food donations. Good Luck to the team this year, I know we will all enjoy this journey!!
He just couldn't guard Leslie, who looked like a really good player. A lot of NC State's runs were all about Robinson getting dominated one-on-one. I don't think he's a B1G-quality defensive player....yet.
Would have liked to see more McGary-Morgan-Stauskas-Hardaway-Burke when NC State went big. Especially because we could score at will as long as Stauskas was on the floor
While he certainly is not a great one-on-one defender yet...CJ Leslie is a bonafide nba talent, who will get drafted in the first round. It may be unfair to get down on GRIII because of this one performance.
Stauskas has the finest jumper I have seen at Crisler in some time. I don't know if he becomes the starter soon, I would prefer to see him off the bench! I also haven't seen him put in on the floor very much (does he have that skill set?), which he is going to need when teams start to key on his jump shooting ability.
McGary has the potential to be a great college player, I'm thinking a more versatile Tyler Hansbrough? Is that a bad potential comparison to make? From what I read about him last year was not a good year for him. I dont know if it was ego, lazyness, or just a bad year. But the kid really cares about playing for Michigan and has the skills to be an absolute beast in the paint. Hope he can develop like he should!
I don't always speak to OSU fans, but when I do, I use one syllable words.
You haven't seen Stauskas put in on the floor? He had a really sweet take early in the game yesterday as well as a shot fake, dribble and shoot for a long 2. Sometimes he gets in trouble for getting a little too agressive, but it's easier to teach guys restraint on that vs. teaching them to be more agressive (took Stu 4 years to get to that comfort level)
" I want to win Big 10 titles. Multiply. Consecutively. I just made that word up (multiply). I'm like that. I'm good at Scrabble."
As BraveWolverine730 notes -- take a look at 0:25 in the game highlights video above for a fine example. Kid can handle and get to the rim and finish -- that's what made him such an exciting recruit, despite not generating the same hype as McGary or GRIII. People assume he's just a jump-shooter but he can score and attack the defense in other ways.
For the help gents, I was kind of watching the game, but I was at the gym last night and couldn't see that well. I'm glad to read that Stauskas has the tools to be a solid contributor to the squad. Bigger question is (assuming he keeps this up), how long until he cracks the starting five?
I don't always speak to OSU fans, but when I do, I use one syllable words.
thin it matters who starts, as long as they still get something from Vogrich. He was not outstanding last year but he was not useless either. He is important in terms of depth and I would like to see him play more in the next few games before the conference slate begins.