of the team celebrating for their teamates is tremendous.
Forget the five-star freshman for a moment. You know, the one that scored 21 points on nine shots. Forget the star point guard; yeah, the one with 22 points and nine assists. Forget, even, about the shooting guard, the NBA progeny that turned in another efficient all-around effort.
Jordan Morgan—yes, that Jordan Morgan—stole a pass, dribbled the length of the court, and soared for a one-handed slam. That same Jordan Morgan also split two defenders with a quick hop-step and deftly finished with a layup. He also threw an alley-oop and even crossed a guy over. The coaches had raved in the offseason about Morgan losing weight and gaining some athleticism, but they said nothing about him turning into young Charles Barkley.
That's hyperbole, of course. But man, after that game, it's tough not to be hyperbolic. A sluggish start quickly gave way to a Michigan highlight-fest, with Morgan and Glenn Robinson III and Trey Burke competing for top gif-able honors until Jon Horford came in and blew them away with a savage throwdown in traffic. It's safe to say Michigan hasn't had a team this athletic since the Fab Five days.
What's really scary, though, is that they're skilled to boot. Robinson connected on his first eight shots, including three from distance. Burke overcame some sloppy play and hit four-of-seven threes of his own while getting into the lane at will, finishing when there was space and finding the open man when the defense collapsed. Tim Hardaway Jr. continued to show off his all-around improvement, pulling down seven defensive boards in addition to scoring ten on just five shots. Nik Stauskas missed his first three-pointer, then hit his next three, finishing with ten points.
This team isn't perfect, of course. The defense left too many shooters open, especially in the early going, missing a few switches and getting beat off the dribble—Stauskas and Mitch McGary both had moments of confusion that led to buckets. The Wolverines turned the ball over on 19% of their possessions, with Burke and Robinson each coughing up the pill three times and Stauskas looking shaky putting the ball on the floor. McGary biffed an open layup off a beautiful feed from Burke and generally appears to need some refining on both ends of the floor. And yes, they played IUPUI, which isn't exactly Duke.
When watching a Michigan team that now practices alley-oops, though, and Jordan Morgan going coast-to-coast, it's tough not to get very excited for this season. The Wolverines played a Division-I team with a pulse, had an ugly first ten minutes, and absolutely crushed them in the way that precociously-talented, well-coached teams are wont to do. That's not what Michigan basketball has been, but it sure feels like that's what it's going to be.
of the team celebrating for their teamates is tremendous.
If we get that defense together, this team is as good as anybody. They need to have that dimension of being able to stop some teams though.
I think we're as good as anybody right now. Who would beat us?
Good point. Indiana is #1. Anyone think we wouldn't beat them at Crisler or on a neutral court?
Edit: I'm trying really hard to not get carried away. Just difficult, man.
But i really think we need to bear down on defense. This team could be REALLY special if they can play better defense. I know it's full of freshmen and the D should get better but it's hard to say we can beat anyone without getting better on Defense.
I know you've been doing a ton of gifs recently Ace, any basketball ones coming?
Yes. Gotta wait for the torrent to do this one, but in the very near future I'll have it set up to record games directly to my hard drive from my DVR, which will expedite the process dramatically.
720p torrent is up:
The GIFs really add to the site. Is a moving picture worth 10,000 words?
I totally read "gifs" as "girls". It changed the story a bit. I'm withdrawing my high fives after rereading.
About bloggers and doing lots of GIFs. Those mothers' basements are all bachelor pads
We're going to be so damn good by the end of the year.
When Horford and McGary get back into playing-shape, lookout. Front-court depth for Michigan?
It's not even just depth. All of our guys seem to have different playing styles. There was a point in the Slippery Rock game where they just left the center at the top of the key unguarded. Then, Blake McLimans came into the game and hit a 3. Later on, they would put in Morgan and McLimans so that when they guarded Morgan in the key, McLimans would be wide open. It's just very cool knowing that you have 4 bigs who can all excel in different situations.
Stauskas has his Will Hagerup face down pat.
Doubtful that we see much of the 1-3-1. As much of a Beilein staple as that defense was, we have really gone away from it in recent years, using it only as a change of pace D in specific situations. That said, the long arms & athleticism to run the baseline on this team would be interesting to see in that formation.
IUPUI only has a pulse if you're counting the defibrillator. They went 14-18 last year, facing such sterling Summit League opposition as IPFW, North and South Dakota States, and Omaha. It might have been fun to watch, but this game was even more meaningless in assessing where the team is right now than playing UMass in football is.
Damnit Don, why would you do that?
Agreed. Anything beyond 3 letters in the abbreviation and the team becomes useless as a measuring stick.
UNLV is on the phone, line two
The offense and spacing does look really good. I agree that the competition might not have been the greatest, but it was still a solid performance. I did think our transition defense left a lot to be desired. There were a few times we didn't run back hard and when we did, we didn't rotate correctly. That has to be corrected or better teams will take advantage of it.
I thought we might see a little more of the point guard, two wings and two forwards look that we saw with McGary and Morgan. I didn't notice it tonight, but may have missed it. I really like that for a high low look.
We experimented with it last week, but we will see how that pans out.
We have many potential NBA guys on this team. I used to think Morgan had no shot, but I am not so sure anymore. McGary is a legit prospect due to his height and ability. GR3, Trey, and Hardaway all have a great chance as well. I could see Stauskus on a team and Horford as well if he keeps developing....Horford could be a long shot, but he looks to be continually improving.
I am really looking forward to seeing good competition with this team.
GR3 has more than a great chance. He could easily be a lottery pick sooner than later. I'm just hoping he stays on campus for awhile.
They really looked good last night. It's clear that this team is a lot more talented than last year. Not just with the new players but the development of the intact roster is evident as well.
Is it just me, or does Horford look like a young Ron Artest in that picture?
i think we're crediting the opponent too much and I'm a little worried that we seem to be hitting about 48% of our 3s thru 2-3 games.
That %age can't hold up and when the shooting drops to 28% from the arc, where will the offense come from?
Only Michigan fans can come up with stuff Like this... So u just shave 20% off our 3 point percentage but assume that players would not adjust their play and drive, etc more.
Burke has shown he can guard. Hardaway has shown he can guard. Morgan has shown he can guard.
And that was LAST year. Against, tough teams they REALLY turned it up. Especially in B1G season.
McGary has too must hustle not to defend. And Robinson should be solid as well.
The question comes whether we can defense with a "shooter" on the floor. Personally, the versatility in this team is what makes it special. I don't think you see as much of Vogrich, Stauskas, etc. against the top notch athletic teams except when we need a spark offensively.
This team - and just like the Barkley reference, relax, and just look at it on the surface - is very similar to the OKC Thunder of last year. We're young, deep, we're both talented and skilled. We've got roles. We've got a scoring PG who can dish if need be (Burke/Westbrook), an all-around...but offense first SG (Hardaway/Harden), a skinny wing who can play at least 3 positions (GRIII/Durant), a talented PF who does the little things and doesn't need the ball, and a rebounder (McGary/Ibaka or Collison), screener, put-back big man down low (Morgan/Perkins or Ibaka).
OKC needed Westbrook and Durant to get better defensively...if anyone watched the Olympics, at time Westbrook looked like the best on the ball defender since MJ...he changed games. Durant also got better over the summer. Here's to hoping Burke and Hardaway have the same emphasis.
Burke can now go full bore on defense when needed with Spike behind him. Hardaway has already shown he's a different player.
In the end, I'm not overly worried about defense --- this team is GOOD. No, GREAT.
We won't know much about the defense until we play a team with guys who can challenge us off the dribble. That's probably Pitt or K State, and definitely NC State. Against teams like IUPUI that try to score with ball movement and motion with a markedly lower skill level than UM, defense is just about responsibility and waiting for the laws of big numbers to take effect on all the 3s they shoot. When we face a team with players that can beat the first defender, then we find out how well players defend one on one, and, more importantly, how well they understand the help concepts of our defense. That's where an inexperienced player like McGary, who's game is defined largely by hustle at this point, can either make or break a defense. If he knows when to help and from where, the defense will become very tough to break down; if he (or Robinson, Vogrich, Horford, or any of the inexperienced players) helps too aggressively or doesn't know when to help, however, the defense will not function cohesively. And we really won't know until we play teams that challenge us offensively, of which there will be a lot in the Big 10, despite the league's reputation for slow down, slug it out games.
This is where I actually think Vogrich is going to be really key defensively once we start playing good teams. He's shown himself to be a good help side defender and has the ability to shoot passing lanes for steals. He's probably the worst athlete of anyone who will see playing time, but he's also shown he adds to the entire team defensively. He'll have to knock down open shots to stay on the floor, but I think he's going to play more minutes, and be better defensively, that people expect.