just what the Pistons need: a third string center. Joe Dumars was replaced by a mean ol' alien a few years back you guys.
Michigan State 57 Michigan 56, Michigan 10-10 (3-5 Big Ten)
So, Michigan has been a pretty good team since the start of conference play. They look like a borderline NCAA squad. Except, uh, the season started in November, not January. Trying to dig out of a 6-5 hole before kicking off a single conference game, then throwing up all over themselves at Indiana, was something this team was never going to be able to do. The MSM articles have been harping on this point for weeks, but we've come to a point where the lack of leadership and the resulting inability to play urgently enough to show that an NCAA bid is something this team really wants, is bringing this team down.
Under different circumstances, a 1-point loss to Michigan State might be something of a moral victory. If Michigan had taken care of the non-conference schedule with only one or two losses like they should have, or not blown games against Indiana and Northwestern, or been able to steal the road win that they probably should have had against Wisconsin, I may be in a better mood. But those things didn't happen, and now this season is lost. An NIT bid is the best-case scenario.
I've gotten this far into the post without even talking about what happened in the game, because it really was that important for this season alone, much less the long-term implications of a Michigan basketball team that might be able to - gasp! - play with the Spartans. The Wolverines needed this game. They probably had this game, and it slipped away. Where last year's team was probably a bit lucky and a lot more grit gritterstein walkon-y, this team seems hollow, and we're beyond the point that the 2009-10 can be fixed.
The Wolverines played their asses off, forced turnovers, even got a few rebounds, and answered MSU runs. The Spartans shots the lights out (when they actually got shots), didn't let Michigan get good shots, and played a physical game. It transpired a lot like you'd expect, and Michigan simply couldn't hold onto a late lead. All credit goes to Kalin Lucas, who has ice flowing through his veins.
- The last actual play Michigan ran was drawn up to get Manny all the way to the hoop. He couldn't get it there (and wasn't going to get a call), so he dished to Stu, who set up DeShawn with a good shot. Can't fault the X-and-O design.
- Similarly, the out of bounds play was drawn up very well, and Michigan had a chance to win the game. I actually didn't think the no-call was egregious, but when I see things like this:
@umhoops Legit complaint -- it's a foul, though one that's hardly ever called in that situation. Truthfully, if I was a M fan, I'd be upset. [from LVS of The Only Colors]
...this morning, it's really frustrating.
- Great work by Michigan's guards holding onto the ball, which they've had a bit of trouble with in the past few games. Only Stu Douglass (3) and Zack Novak (1) had any turnovers.
- The shooting regressed again. Darn. I think a lot of it was good defense by MSU, but there were some open looks that missed, and did so badly. This team needs another confidence booster, and fast.
- Beilein said in the postgame presser that Manny coming off the bench was tactical, not punitive. I sort of liked the way it played out, too. I wouldn't be surprised if you see that type of starting lineup in a couple big games in the future.
- Apparently it didn't come through on the telecast, but the Spartan fans were really damn loud in there. It's the duty of Michigan fans to be louder and not let that happen, and frankly, the M fans embarrassed themselves last night. It was almost as pathetic as the 2007 Ohio State football game. Shame on you.
"Let's just have him come off the bench, and go in and be Manny out there." John Beilein, on Manny Harris not starting the game.
"If I was the other team, I wouldn't have wanted it called." DeShawn Sims, with the night's "duh" moment, on the last play of the game.
"Take a day off tomorrow, clear our mind, and Thursday we'll get ready for Iowa." Zack Novak, on how to shake off this game and move on.
"We've still gotta believe and continue to work hard to get better. At any time, we can make a run." Manny Harris, on the team's mental state.
In these last 10 games, I feel like we should start winning." Darius Morris, on how the tean's improvement will show on the court.
Michigan has a nice 3-day layoff (for the first time in 2 weeks) before inviting the Iowa Hawkeyes into Crisler Arena. Iowa is, like, terrible, so it would be very fitting for Michigan to choke this game away and cause mass suicides in the general Washtenaw County region.