Left: Leon Jones doing a thing that kind of resembles defense while a teammate goes in search of somebody to foul. Right: Dani Wohl when fully assembled.
So let's get a thing straight: I'm not the basketball guy around here.
When I was a wee little freshman on the Daily the seniors were busy exposing the Ed Martin scandal and Michigan was busy carousing and hacking their way through an unwatchable season. For those reasons I didn't go to my first game as a student until Christmas Break of sophomore year ('99-'00), when LaVell Blanchard, Jamal Crawford, Kevin Gaines and Leon Jones dropped 98 on Towson in a student-less Crisler. They didn't play defense then either—unless fouling counts as such—but they were young, and fast (when Ellerbe didn't make them play Bo Ryan ball), and most importantly they were winning.
Winning makes everything likeable. Recruiting red flags were full-page Chris Duprey personality features on overcoming adversity. Rumors of goonish behavior (e.g. Jamal Crawford fighting one of the assistant coaches in November) were evidence of personality and competitiveness (or that coach's fault). Michigan could face anybody except Duke and expect to win, and Duke we made close.
When the students got back Michigan went on a brutal losing streak, ending the regular season with a 114-63 curb-stomp courtesy of Cleaves et al. in EL. Gaines got into a fistfight on the side of
US-23 [EDIT: M-39], Crawford had to leave for the NBA, and we were off to mediocrity.
The first sign of post-Fisher life proved to be just the first of several high-water marks in a long and terrible ice age. In this one I learned to make references to Leon Jones and complain intelligently about Crawford's de facto forced departure. In another I got some stories about Horton as a freshman and Amaker-era student traditions. In another it was Dion Harris and Courtney Sims. Then suddenly it's a different Harris and Sims and I have to ask someone "whatever happened to that big guy we were excited about—Ekpe Udoh or something. Oh he did transfer after all? I missed that." Then I learned this Harris's name was actually Corperryale L'Adorable. Then he argued with Beilein and here we go again. A chart of that:
SRS is sports-reference.com's "Simple Rating System" and is meant to represent that team's expected points differential versus an average team.
There's a small segment of the fanbase who stuck it out even when Michigan's backcourt was down to the heart of Dani Wohl plus a few other functioning body parts of Dani Wohl. Dani today would tell you that was a good investment that's now paying off with a high return, but that's because he doesn't understand why anyone should be afraid of a little pain.
There were entire stretches of Ellerbe and Amaker when this team basically dropped off my plane of interest. Like many others squishing into a crowded bandwagon since Beilein's ceiling started to look an awful lot like the sky, I've had to play a little catch-up. I got about 75% through putting together an all-drought team, but then I stumbled onto the same thing by AC1997 in 2009. So…yeah…an article on this. Well I made a database and some charts to visualize the stats to help me put "Back" in perspective, so have those I guess.
The Family Measuring Shtick
We've yet to face MSU in the Big Ten Tournament so the head-to-heads since '89 are all regular season matchups. Here's what that looks like:
Click for bigger. The blowout in East Lansing this year was the worst of the series except for the three-year span that began with the afore mentioned 2000 thing.
I tried but couldn't find historic league averages (the above was calculated from Bentley's stats) and compiling them myself would have taken too much time, but you should know that non-Wisconsin teams in the Big Ten averaged 71 to 85 points a game in 1989, and this year that spread is 59 to 82.
EDIT: I forgot to post the 3's chart. Treys chart. Trips chart.
They're not going in any more often, but there's more of 'em. That's a good thing. The 3-point line was moved back a foot for the 2008-'09 season, so that may have depressed the numbers after Beilein's first year and made that 46.8% in 1989 seem even further from possible.
On the Road:
This makes me feel a little better: it's really hard to win NCAA basketball games on the road. Wait until after Indiana to declare anything about how well we fare at Crisler. By the way I forgot to label: the Y-axis is # of games.
Details for home (left), neutral (right) and road (below) sites:
It's just hard to win on the road.
Have at it:
The database is here if you'd like to piddle around and find more things.