I did not make this headline up
Scaling Speedbump Nittany
2-1-2006 - Michigan 71-65 Penn State - 16-3. 6-2 Big Ten
No column-type thing today--a victory over PSU does not stir the muse sufficiently to wax on about anything. Instead, a Covered In Oil-inspired excessive use of the "strong" tag explosion.
- I didn't see the UCLA game, but I imagine that the offensive side of things was much like what we saw against the Nittany Lions: a profusion of open three pointers. In college there's not much you can do when the opponent decides to pack the lane except hit your open threes. Do so against PSU: win. Shoot 5 for 23 while your opponent hits 10 of 21: lose.
- What is with Big Ten basketball announcers being deliberately obtuse? The color guy yesterday must have claimed that "it's not the number of turnovers, it's the timing of them" about eight times. This is obviously dumb and false. Why did he have to say it over and over again, then revisit it at inappropriate times (like Geary Claxton's late basket to cut it to three... no turnover in sight)? Big Ten Wonk's inveighed against the crabby Billy Packer and I can't stand Bill Curry, his nasty football doppelganger, but the mindless boosterism of C-list announcers is equally annoying and far more frequent.
- Why do I mention it? It bothers me when people assume that their viewers are too stupid to realize what they're watching. It's insulting. Three types of people watched the Michigan-Penn State game: Michigan fans, Penn State fans, and people in traction without remote controls. Playing up the game as something other than a dreary mid-week Big Ten contest played in front of dozens of spectators fools no one... you can give it to us straight.
- Credit to Courtney Sims for his temporary resurgence against Wisconsin, foul abbreviated though it was, but, um, Chris Hunter should start from now on. The final straw? Sims got blocked not once but twice by the ill-disguised lollipop guild masquerading as Penn State's front line. On the same possession! At this point, Sims is completely indistinguishable from a giant, wussy 17-year cicada. Every once in a while there will be an impressive display of ostentatious excess, but in between there are vast gulfs of total invisiblity.
- There was some debate in the preseason about exactly why Sims disappeared so frequently in games. I claimed that skinny-ass Sims couldn't handle big, tough posts who muscled him out of the lane. Ryan shot that down. Now I think I get it: to defend Courtney Sims, you have to try. It's that easy. Fight him for position and double down when he gets the ball, and he's done. His big game against Wisconsin? Well, as Wonk has noted (though what's with the Lloyd cheapshot, Wonk? Et tu!), Wisconsin's defense is predicated on good positioning, not fouling, and not doubling. (Check the opponent's turnover numbers: Wisconsin is dead last in the league.) That's a veritable petri dish of nummy agar for Sims, allowing him to get position and ever so slowly work his way into a good shot.
Given time and space, Courtney Sims has the skill to kill you. Front him, make his catches and touches difficult, and double when he gets the ball, and poof, just like that he's gone.
- Hey, Ron Coleman, you can play. Yay.
- If you managed to combine Dion Harris, Daniel Horton, and someone who never turned the ball over into Voltron point guard, you would have Chauncey Billups. Horton: deadly from the line (40 for 40). Harris: 7-11 from three yesterday. Turnovers: self explanatory.
- Iowa on Saturday: a tough, winnable game. Win and thoughts of Big Ten titles are officially allowed to share space with sugarplum dreams in your head. Lose, and we're worrying about seeding going into the stretch run. I'll take it.