I'm no NBA scout, but it seems like Crawford could legitimately vie for (at the least) a cup of coffee in the NBA. Why didn't he pull the 5th year transfer move and play ball somewhere meaningful in hopes of getting a bit more hype? 1 year MBA program at Kellogg too enticing?
Your Heap Is Smoldering And Is Not Our Heap
1/5/2014 – Michigan 74, Northwestern 51 – 10-4, 2-0 Big Ten
METAPHOR ALERT: Drew Crawford jumping futilely as Stauskas is about to put a dunk on the Wildcats' faces. [Bryan Fuller]
Game. Blouses. [Fuller]
Drew Crawford's been around forever. He's always been too good to be one of those eighth year senior types; players like that generally need to be obscure bench types for a hunk of their career. Crawford was instantly a starter, playing almost 30 minutes as a freshman, so you knew exactly how long Crawford had left and that he would get an extra year with the Wildcats after injury ended what should have been his final season in 2012-13. His presence is not a surprise.
But Drew Crawford's been around forever all the same. This is how long Drew Crawford's been around: he helped pilot a season sweep of Michigan that was depressing but not all that surprising. This was 2010, when Michigan was coming into a year with expectations for the first time ever and sputtered to a 15-17 record. Northwestern beat Michigan twice, and it wasn't particularly close. The combined margin of the two games: Northwestern +21.
As I delved back into game logs from Crawford's career against Michigan I was surprised to find that against Michigan he'd had as many clunkers (2/21/2012: 6 points in 27 minutes) as the maddening why-is-Drew-Crawford-knifing-me-I'm-just-a-merchant outings. I expect Drew Crawford to be maddeningly good and look like perfect fit for Michigan. I expect to write something about how Michigan should follow Bill Carmody around, you know, just in case*.
History says that's confirmation bias. Sometimes Crawford's good, because he's a good player. About half the time he's not much of a factor. I remember the good bits because when he was a freshman and Michigan was getting solidly beaten by the Wildcats, he was dumping in threes.
With Michigan and Northwestern slated to play only once this year, Crawford had to compress his awesome game with his meh one. He duly obliged, scoring 13 in the first half and just four in the second. Not coincidentally, Michigan pulled away in the second half, first pushing the lead out to 12, then enduring a period of sloppy basketball in which Northwestern crept to within 6 before blowing the doors off. Twitter got jumpy about the Wildcats hanging around for a bit there, and not without reason: they were.
But let's reflect on the fact that 2010 is not that long ago, Drew Crawford has not in fact been around forever, and that Michigan is down one Naismith winner, one other NBA first round pick, and their preseason All-American. Northwestern's not a good version of Northwestern, but neither was that Wildcat outfit that swept Michigan back in the day. They went 5-11 in their other Big Ten games.
Meanwhile, Michigan fans were slightly cranky about a game with a Kenpom win percentage chart that looks like this:
I was too, for a bit, but then I thought about Drew Crawford and how Northwestern is still pretty much Northwestern and that Michigan is no longer around, even with Mitch McGary in a suit. After some wobbles early you had to wonder, but after ripping off four straight wins with a couple of quality outings in there, Michigan now seems back on track to be whatever you thought they might be minus their best player.
This is not a smoldering heap. Playing a Northwestern outfit that is provides a reminder that things could be a lot worse.
*[Another excellent reason Michigan should follow Carmody around just to see what he's doing: Imagine Bacari Alexander in a huge black trenchcoat going SHHHHH at anyone who calls him by name as he tries to figure out who Carmody is looking at in this Lakeview gym divided between basketball and a Magic The Gathering tournament. SURPRISE: it's one of the Magic players, and he'll shoot 45% from three for whoever Carmody is scouting for.]
Horford coming into his own. [Fuller]
Let's hear it for center depth. McGary out, Morgan and Horford combine for 38 minutes, 15 points on 11 shot equivalents, and 16 rebounds as Northwestern acquires four OREBs. It was in fact Morgan who kept Michigan solidly in the lead about midway through the first half, and since no one has ever been more enthused about pointing out a good hedge than Shon Morris we got to hear plenty about the various small defensive things both were doing. (Don't take this as a criticism: compare Morris to virtually anyone the BTN has for football. Go Shon Morris.)
I'd forgotten about Morgan's thing where he gets a bucket in most games by running the floor hard after a rebound, and enjoyed its revival in this one. Unfortunately, that also kicked in some other memories of what Morgan tended to do against Northwestern-type teams without large athletic posts (do very well) and what he did against big leapy guys (look overmatched). At least this year when Morgan is not a good matchup they can try Horford, who just went off for 14 points on 6/8 shooting against Minnesota.
I'm still looking at Amir Williams and Adriean Payne with trepidation I would not if McGary was out there; as with the team in general it could be a lot worse.
You did what to who? Northwestern was pretty good about not giving Michigan open threes (6 of 18 on the day), though that came at a stiff price as M shot 63% from inside the arc and acquired 22 FTAs. This was their plan, and it got eviscerated.
But like… at some point in the second half, Spike Albrecht was left utterly alone at the top of the key, and even though it took him a couple seconds to realize that no one was bothering to check him this did not cause a Northwestern dude to, like, check him. He drained a wide open three, his only shot of the day.
something something about how the basketball is The Rock and Walton knows his role [Fuller]
Freshman arriving. Zak Irvin didn't do much with Northwestern aggressively overplaying the three point line. This is fine since his presence helps open up swooping Stauskas drives to the basket, and when Minnesota took a different approach he torched them with 5/8 from behind the line. He's Just A Shooter, and that's fine when he's at 42% on the season—48% in this four game winning streak.
Meanwhile, Walton has started to settle into a third or fourth banana role. His game against Minnesota was more impressive than it appears statistically, as he helped harass the Hollinses into a 4/19 shooting night; against Northwestern he pushed the ball efficiently on the break and penetrated to score or draw fouls; when it wasn't there he kicked it around and let someone else do the heavy lifting. He seems to be finding his niche, and you can slowly expand from there.
Oh look they're passing it to each other how cute. Michigan had a 2 on 0 break with Irvin and Robinson on which Robinson made one very early pass so Irvin could set him up for an alley-oop. This caused Morris to wax about the unselfish play of the team. I saw that a bit differently, as when Robinson passes that ball you know what he is thinking. Everyone does.
Zak Irvin knows what to do not because he has a special bond with GRIII but because he is in Crisler Arena, and everyone knows that if Zak Irvin takes this basketball and lays it in, Glenn Robinson will have a blood vessel burst in his head. He will probably say something along the lines of DO YOU KNOW WHAT I DO FRESHMAN AAAAAAH, so Irvin giving it back is less about charity than it is about self-defense. Which is all well and good because yes we have a two on zero break and Glenn Robinson III, it's time to see something cool. I approve of this entire sequence.
But that first pass came with an implied threat. Let's be real.
Caris. Your mojo. Where did it go? Leaving aside an overmatched Holy Cross squad, LeVert's last three games: one point, four points, seven points. He does have nine assists against four turnovers and five steals in that span, so he is still providing some playmaking and defense; the guy who was taking it to Duke for most of the second half has faded out. He's probably a lot better scouted now and will have to have an adjustment period where he figures out how people are playing him and adapt. Would be nice to get a solid game from him in the near future.
You can see why Carmody got axed, but counterfactuals are fascinating. Q: if Crawford and JerShon Cobb are healthy last year does Northwestern make the tournament? And if so, Carmody keeps his job and then has this team minus Crawford, which goes like 2-16 in the league. Does Carmody then get fired a year after making the tournament for the first time in the history of the program?
Unfortunately, the answer to the first Q is likely "no" since I don't think Crawford and Cobb bring you from 4-14 in the league to a bid, so this is a pointless bullet indeed.
But anyway, yeah, it seems like Carmody had finally run out of magic (the gathering) when it came to scooping up underrated recruits. There's not much on this team, even for Northwestern.
A tip of the hat. Would like to thank the BTN crew for getting "not just a shooter" out of the way quickly. Standing policy should be one "not just at shooter" when he has a pretty assist or thunders to the hoop for a dunk or swooping layup, and then we can all have a little laugh or a shot or whatever as we think about the fact that Nik Stauskas is a white Canadian so we have to say this every time he does something he does all the time—Stauskas's FT rate is nearing the top 100. Then we can move on with the game and acknowledge the fact that Stauskas is approaching elite on offense, in all facets.
On defense… Well, he did help shut down Crawford after halftime, and I'm of the opinion that when he's actually on the ball he does really well these days. Remember Stanford trying to dump it down to a 6'9" guy they'd switched onto Stauskas and getting two heavily contested fade-away misses? Or in this one Crawford making about four different moves before getting off a tough fadeaway that he hit? Stauskas's length is a big asset when he can stay in front of a guy, which is something that he doesn't seem that much worse at than other guys.
The issues come off the ball, mostly, when he gets lost on screens or closes a guy out either late or with his hands down. I think his bad rap in that department is at least partially undeserved, as Michigan does have a pretty good Kenpom defense (38th) without much size (they're about average) or an imposing shotblocker.
I don't know why Crawford wouldn't merit a look/D-League/Foreign contract from a team. Early on when he was on GR3 he looked every bit the NBA athlete. My guess is that at age 22 or 23 though he'd be fighting an uphill battle, as he's more likely closer to his ceiling.
I have to say it was good to see Stauskas want to take it to Crawford though. Crawford was getting buckets on Nik early, and Nik went at him. Don't want to see a player be too selfish, but it was good to see that Nik had that competitive fire.
with Brian's bball posts in the early going, but this is just great. Am I going soft.
What do you consider "early?"
I've always loved Brian's hoops recaps and have always been impressed with his knowledge of the opposing team, in particular.
Is it fair to say at this point that Spike is the White Chocolatest player since Jason Williams? I look at things like that behind-the-back pass for the Game Blouses Dunk and I think three things:
-- holy crap that was two white guys
-- Spike is what it would look like if "high basketball IQ three-shooting white dude" met "ballhandling wizard."
Needs more tats plus a shaven head. He does have ridiculous moments though. I'm all for Spike embracing the J-will.
Who plays neither baskteball nor magic, I almost lost it at the asterisk. Great read.
I wonder if NWU is going to get a good ROI out of their new coach. That is to say, I wonder if they will get their Chris Collins' worth.
/ will be here all week
/ tip your waitresses
/ try the veal
Hahaaa. That joke was Maddeningly funny, amirite?
I think Stauskas is solidly in Big10 second team area - probably not elite... yet...
The one and only one thing I'm waiting to see is him create off the dribble in iso. He's long and cagey - a lot of his drives a results of over-closeouts and his great ability to finish. So, my question becomes, when the game is on the line and it's "get out da way" time, what does Stauskas do with the ball in his hands?
Perhaps we never find out - the Trey Burke last second shot strategy might have been an anomoly because Trey Burke. Can Stauskas be the shot creator in the last possession? I wanna see that.
breaking down his man, but he is most definitely creating off the dribble. He may be the best passer on the team (or Spike), has excellent vision, and has started utilizing his height to find Horford and Morgan off the high pick-and-rolls. And I agree with Brian that Nik's man-on defense has improved markedly.
I can remember at least two times he created straight off the dribble against NW.
One, admittedly, was not an iso, but he was out on the right side beyond the three point line, and somebody set him a pick to his right. He started over the screen, then did a spin dribble to lose both his man and the screeners man, at which point he went straight to the rack, splitting two more guys (maybe should have passed) and got tripped.
The other was a straight iso a bit to the left of the top of the key, where he again faked right, hesitation dribble then a really strong crossover down the lane for a drop off.
I guess there was a third time, in the first half, but he got stripped on that one. :)
Didn't he have that last-possession play to tie against Florida State earlier this year?
Good memory. Though, this is probably the worst defense you'll see on a last second possession. Still, credit Nik for taking advantage of the lack of help and overplay of the ball screen.
great point on the implied threat in GRIII's early passes on the break
First, best of luck to Mitch tomorrow, which I understand is his date with the surgeon --- we're all hoping his surgery is successful.
Second, has Mitch already played his last minute in a Michigan uniform? Surgery rehab will probably last through the remainder of the 2013-2014 season. If the surgery restores him to health, will he want another season at Michigan or will he declare for the NBA?
Mitch is already older than the average college sophomore --- by about 2 years or so. He's shown he can play at the next level. I kinda doubt he will want to spend another year at M before joining the NBA. My guess is that he will conclude that much as he would like to, he will not be able to afford it.
Any other 6'10" dudes on the horizon M can recruit? I suspect the coaching staff is combing the HS circuit now in search of one.
My Morris highlight was the reference to Jack Sikma smiling at the inside pivot to create space for a short jumper. Classic.
This Northwestern blog is great. Check out all the headlines and subheadlines. Someone's mailed it in for the year: