to play football, not to play trumpet
Izzo inherited a ridiculously loaded MSU team in 1995. Quinton Brooks is largely hailed as one of the best small forwards to lace 'em up for MSU. Power forward Jamie Feick went on to play for the 76'ers. Ray Weathers went on to play for the Suns. Jon Garavaglia was a McDonalds All American and Mr. Basketball. In his first year, he also brought in Morris Peterson of the Toronto Raptors and Antonio Smith. Izzo took that team all the way to the second round of the NIT.
Then on Feb.17, 1996 There was a rollover accident on M-14 involving U-M player Maurice Taylor’s Ford Explorer. Teammates Robert Traylor, Louis Bullock, Willie Mitchell, Ron Oliver and recruit Mateen Cleaves were all in the vehicle.
Izzo capitalized, adding Mateen Cleaves(Pistons) and David Thomas(founder of Wendy's) who helped MSU all the way back to the second round of the NIT. The parade of blue chips continued with Charlie Bell(Suns) and Andre Hutson(Beat up Chuck Norris when Matt Trannon was but a twinkle in his father's eye). This ushered in the Golden Age of MSU basketball('98,'99, 00) when MSU would bookend a National Championship with two additional Final 4's. Loaded as those teams were, this Golden Age led to the great Tom Izzo “More with Less” fallacy. Because MSU does not recruit on the level of Kentucky, Kansas and Duke(them and 342 other schools) Izzo somehow gained the “Beilein” reputation, the coach who advances in the tournament despite his (Perceived) lack of talent.
Izzo has led the Spartans for 19 long years. Impressively, he has had them in the NCAA Tournament for the last 17 of them(One or two of those came with a wink and a nod from the selection committee, but we'll come back to that). That's not quite the 34 year bowl streak Michigan enjoyed under Bo-Mo-Carr, but that kind of consistency is rare in college basketball. Under Izzo's reign, MSU has been to 6 Final Fours and won a National Championship. They've also been bounced in the first round 4 times and lost in the Sweet 16 4 times. Until recently, MSU just dominated Michigan in terms of head to head as well as the post-season. Beilein has obviously turned that around in the last 4 years, winning 6 of the last 9. But that is a local issue. You don't come up with an OP title like that simply because there's a new sheriff in town. No, what leads me to believe that the end is near for Izzo is something much more sinister. Recruiting.
Despite what the media would have you believe, Izzo has simply never HAD to do more with less. He has always been a good recruiter, and he has always had more. I went back and looked at some recruiting numbers and outcomes. There are a number of caveats here. Trey Burke and Caris Lavert were 3* recruits. But to some extent you can look at it as a numbers game(like fantasy football). There's something like a 60% chance that Fantasypros(or Rivals) is going to have each player ranked correctly, a 20% chance they'll be significantly better, and a 20% chance they're going to be worse(Unless you're John Beilein). But if you look at MSU's elite recruit Rivals numbers as far as they go back adding a star for each year of experience(assuming that a sophomore 4* is equal to a freshman 5* and that a 3* player encompasses too great a range to even consider) you find:
2002: 5* Elite 8
2003: 4* 5* First Round
2004: 4* 5* Final 4
2005: bupkis(Roster score of 32) First Round
2006: 4* 4*(RS 28) Second Round
2007: 4* 4* 4*(RS 37) Sweet 16
2008: 4* 5* (RS 36) Runner Up
2009: 4* 4*(RS 51!) Final 4
2010: 4* 5 *(RS 53) First Round
2011: 5*(RS 43) Sweet 16
2012: 5*(Harris) 4* 4*(RS 46) Sweet 16
2013: bupkis(RS 38) Elite 8
2014: 4*(RS 24)
That's a score of 24 for next year. The next lowest would be the 28 from 2006, the year where MSU scraped into the tournament(wink, nod) .500 in conference and got bounced the first weekend. That team was a 4* player better than next year's roster. The next lowest was the 2005 team(two 4* players better) that also went .500 in conference and lost in the first round. For reference, 2009's Final 4 team was rated 51. For those keeping score at home, in the measurable past that's a Roster Average of 40 points(the equivalent of 8 5* freshmen). More with more.
Assuming that Dawson stays and Harris leaves, on paper this coming year's State team will be the worst (from a rivals ratings and experience standpoint) since the modern era of recruiting sites(turn of the century). With Izzo reaching for 3* recruits these days, and the NCAA taking steps to weed out thug ball, I don't see much help on the horizon for them either. You're looking at Dawson as a 5* senior, Valentine and Costello as 4* juniors, and that 4* freshman point guard who can't shoot coming in. That's it.
So what happened to Izzo's recruiting? Several things.
Somewhere in the early 2000's, the NBA stopped playing defense. You see that 5* all the way up there next to 2003? That's Shannon Brown. That's the last one of the guys represented here that went on to the NBA. You're looking at a decade of player development failure. Obviously, the NBA is the dream for a lot of recruits, and Izzo just plain isn't getting it done. Draymond Green(3* recruit not included) should also be mentioned. Not only is he getting 20 minutes per game in the NBA despite playing for MSU, but he is doing it as an undersized defensive specialist. In a league where the regular season has become the all star game.
The Breslin Center was state of the art in 1989, but it has barely been touched since then. I'm no interior decorator, but moldy concrete is generally not the way to go.
Style: Michigan State's defensive mandate is clear: If your man gains an advantage on you, push him, grab him, do what you've got to do. It works great if you can get away with it, but this year MSU is collecting personal fouls like Pokemon cards
I can understand Izzo's feelings of entitlement, as he has benefitted from lazy Big Ten officiating for his entire career, but if you make contact with your hand, arm or elbow away from your body, it is a foul. It has always been a foul. He made jokes after the UConn game about his players not being allowed to "touch anybody" and I can totally see where he's coming from. Who would have ever thought they'd make him play by the rules?
(Related)Results: Call it Karma. Call it correlation without causation. But MSU has badly underperformed their talent level against Michigan(JMo foul trouble aside) or more importantly in the post-season since the Wonders Hall incident. It sounds great, they made it to the Sweet 16 three times. But before the Virginia upset their post season scalps were pretty weak. St. Louis, Long Island, Valpo, Memphis, Delaware, Harvard. Sixth Seed Memphis is the only one that even moves the needle. 2010 stands out as Izzo's most glaring failure, as their most talented team(RS 53) lost out in the first round. With a 4-6 year window to grab the attention of high school kids, Izzo's time is running out.
(Related) Disillusionment. Izzo seems generally unhappy, and his interaction with the press has lost an air of...sanity.
If you're keeping score at home, he comes into the press conference near tears. He rips his own recruiting, whining that he has to play guys he hasn't played in a month. Then he cries about the officiating. Then he cries at the officiating again. Then he complains about poor Keith Appling's wrist.
I don't know if many recruits want to play for a sniveling whining excuse machine.
Then you've got the UConn press conference. His team was just upset by a team that by most accounts has no business in the Final 4, and Izzo seems...Relieved
I dont know of many coaches who would seem that happy that their season was over, that they wouldn't have to coach that particular group of players again. With this group though, he probably wasn't alone.
This is the most concerning if I am a Michigan State fan. The man calls attention to the Federal Rape Investigation that has been kept out of the media...For no other reason than that he is addicted to making excuses. Then he calls it “ridiculous” and says that he's “sick of it”. Now, whatever you think of the Wonder's Hall incident...Put yourself in the shoes of the victim. Then look at what the mouthpiece of your school is saying about the event that changed your life. Even if that's what you're thinking...What kind of human being is so self-absorbed and stupid that they can spout off PUBLICLY about such a terrible allegation as a personal annoyance? And then when they asked him to elaborate, he told members of the press, “Don't mess with me right now”. You brought it up sir. The MSU student newspaper just broke the story that Federal Authorities are investigating the victim's claim that the University "engaged in activities to malign her character" in retaliation for her reporting the assault. I am sure the victim is quite sorry for inconveniencing a man of Izzo's stature. http://statenews.com/article/2014/04/student-claimed-msu-retaliated-against-her-for-reported-assault
Most players dont like being trashed in the media and getting the full Bobby Knight treatment in front of their friends and family. Even the biased MSU media admits that he goes too far http://www.freep.com/article/20140113/BLOG05/301130041/hey-joe-michigan-state-spartans-tom-izzo But Izzo seems unable to coach any other way, and his talent level is shifting accordingly.
They say that you want to leave a program “Better than you found it”, and the guy won a Championship and went to a bunch of Final 4's, but if he bailed for the NBA or even retired with the roster in its current state...What would that do to his legacy? Everyone has an instinct for self-preservation,but the words “cowardly” and “selfish” might come up. Not in the media of course, they write what he tells them to write. I mean in living rooms and around water coolers.
With all of this said, Izzo could pull through this in two or three years. For MSU, that simple metric does seem to predict season outcome pretty well, but if you look at it, Beilein won a Big Ten Championship with a roster score of 5. Beilein made it to the NCAA Championship game with a roster score of 13. But Tom Izzo is no John Beilein. Can you imagine what Beilein would do with the 40's Izzo has averaged over his career? I very much look forward to finding out.
Keep talking youngster
I've banged with a dozen players better than you
You can have your NBA hype
You can have your superstar calls.
That's nothing but fuel.
'Cuz I've got a secret
I would sell my soul to win this game
You may be taller
You may jump higher
But you will pry this rebound from my cold dead hands
You think you're tough?
Try getting an engineering degree from Michigan
Studying in hotel rooms and restaurants.
This aint my first rodeo
Go ahead and help your man getting beat to the rack
I've got friends in the league
And I've got friends on this team
They've got one thing in common
If they get me the ball in this paint
I am going to make this rim suffer
I am going to make you look weak
I am going to make your fans cry
It's nothing personal
This is what I do
And tomorrow I'm going to wake up
Feed the dog
And do it all again.
Born in 1927, Johnny Orr grew up during the Great Depression(1929-WWII). His father was a coal miner. As a senior in high school, Orr would lead the Taylorville Tornadoes to the first undefeated season in the history of Illinois high school basketball.
Taylorville's #43 Johnny Orr
He played basketball, football, and baseball for the University of Illinois before joining the Navy for the tail end of WWII. Orr played a short stint for the pre-NBA(BAA) St. Louis Bombers and Waterloo Hawks before he started working his way up through the high school coaching and assistant coaching ranks. In 1963 Orr was selected as head coach at UMass(ytUMass) whom Orr led to a 39-33 record over 3 years. Shortly thereafter he was hired as an assistant by very sussessful University of Michigan head coach Dave Strack. In 1968 Strack’s attention turned towards the business end of basketball(he resigned as head coach), and Orr was named head coach.
That's Orr to the right of President Ford
In his twelve years as head coach at the University of Michigan, Orr amassed two Big Ten Championships,
Two Big Ten Coach of the Year Awards,
one Championship appearance (they lost to an undefeated Indiana team in ’76,
but the appearance earned Orr National Coach of the Year honors) and Michigan finished first in AP and UPI rankings the following year. Orr remains Michigan’s “winningest” coach with 209 wins and 113 losses(65%).
Then after the ’79 season, Orr got a call from Iowa State’s athletic director. The Cyclones had hit a tough patch(a very long one), and Iowa State’s beautiful 15,000 seat Hilton Coliseum
sat largely empty. They wanted to hire Orr’s assistant, Bill Frieder to lead them out of their 35 year tournament drought, and they were willing to break the bank to get him.
Orr and Frieder
Remember, son of a coal miner, grew up during the Great Depression. When Orr saw that they were going to pay Frieder $45,000 a year base salary(Orr was making $33k at Michigan) he decided to take the job himself. With radio and television shows and a basketball camp, Orr became the “highest paid college basketball coach in America”.
Orr turned a miserable Iowa State program into a respectable one, earning 6 NCAA Tournament births and 218 wins in his 14 years as Iowa State head coach. He coached several NBA players, namely Jeff Hornacek(of the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz)
as well as Iowa State’s current coach, Fred Hoiberg.
Mostly, Orr brought excitement(and crowds) back to Ames, Iowa and the Hilton Colliseum. They have earned a reputation as giant killers on their own court(namely #3 Missouri in ’89,
a 39 game home winning streak ending in 02, and a 22 gamer ending last year) inspiring the term “Hilton Magic”. It’s widely considered to be one of the country’s toughest venues to win in.
Michigan will play in front of 15,000 at that very location taking on the Iowa State Cyclones on November 17. This will be Michigan’s first road game, and one monster test for Derrick Walton and the Michigan Wolverines as they move past the Trey Burke era.
When last we met: Two years ago Jordan Morgan exploded for 16 points on 7-10 shooting to defeat the cyclones 76-66 in Crisler Arena.
Hardaway had 19 points, Burke had 13, and Zack Novak pulled down 11 rebounds. Royce White(formally Houston Rockets and now Philadelphia 76’ers) went for 22 and 13, and Chris Allen(former Spartan) scored 11 points and dropped 5 dimes. Just for nostalgia’s sake, Evan Smotrycz had 8 points and 7 boards in 22 Minutes.
You are missed Evan.
Last year Iowa State defeated Notre Dame to advance to the 3’rd round of the NCAA tournament, losing by a last second Aaron Craft 3 pointer to Ohio State.
The Cyclones went 23-12(11-7 Big 12) beating #13 Oklahoma State and #11 Kansas State(both at home).
Exactly two of the players Michigan faced in 2011 are still on the team. 6-6 Forward Melvin Ejim played 19 Minutes against the maize and blue and went 0-5 with two turnovers.
Last year as a junior he nearly averaged a double double with 11 points and 9 rebounds.
6-1 Guard Bubu Palo played 14 minutes against Michigan and scored 4 points with 2 turnovers.
This was likely the high point of his career. He missed most of his redshirt sophomore year with a broken wrist, and most of his redshirt junior year while he was fighting sexual abuse charges(which were dropped).
All four of Iowa State’s guards(4 of their 6 core players) ran out of eligibility in the offseason. MSU castoff point guard Korie Lucious
They made Payne and Appling CAPTAINS…what could he possibly have done to get kicked off the team?
took his 10 points(6 of them from deep at 37%) and 6 assists to…Yeah, I don’t care either. How do all these guys end up at Iowa State anyway? At any rate, he gone. 6-7 guard Will Clyburn
(15pts 7rebounds). He gone. 6-2 sharp shooter Tyus McGee
(13 points, 9 of them from downtown at a ridiculous 46%). Gone. 6-5 lock down defender Chris Babb
(9pts, 6 of them from deep at 35%) You guessed it. Gone.
Aside from Mel Ejim, their only real returning contributor is 6-7 super sophomore forward
Georges Niang who kicked in 12 points and 5 boards as a rookie.
So how do they replace all that production? They start by robbing the mid-majors blind. Former Marshall star DeAndre Kane brings his 15 points and seven assists over from the Thundering Herd. Cyclone fans are hoping his shot selection has improved for his year of graduate school eligibility.
They also recruited a great four star 6-3 shooting guard named Matt Thomas.
He’s regarded as one of the best pure shooters in his class, and much like our own Nik he’s “not just a shooter”. Reportedly he has a good handle and passing skills too. They also brought in a couple of familiar faces. Four star 6-2 pure passing point guard Monte Morris
Why do I hear Sam Webb's voice every time I see his name?
out of Flint brings his great handle and iffy jumper to Ames. Three Star Detroit Pershing Doughboy(miss you Deshawn) 6-4 athlete Sherron Dorsey-Walker
comes off his redshirt season. Cyclone fans hope he is ready to drive and defend.
Michigan will obviously be breaking in some new players themselves. And Iowa State returns a lot of their rebounding from a squad that outperformed their opponents by 4 boards a game last year. But for Iowa State to defeat the Wolverines this year Matt Thomas is going to have to have the game of his life. Maybe they’ve had some shooters hiding on the bench these last few years, but from what I can tell they may have a hard time spreading the floor. With McGary, GRIII, Morgan, Horford and even Bielfeldt
this is the deepest, most talented and dynamic Michigan frontcourt we’ve seen since Chris and Juwan. I don’t know that the Cyclones will have an advantage at any position on the court. However, Iowa State remains a division 1 team with some young talent playing at home in one of the toughest venues in America so…
Prediction based on some notes I scribbled on a napkin:
Michigan 74, Iowa State 70
The 2013 National Runner-Up Wolverines open up the 13-14 season with the mighty River Hawks of UMass Lowell November 8 inside the friendly confines of our beautiful Crisler Center..
Does anyone else hear Rhapsody in Blue when they use this entrance? Must just be me. Luv u Dave.
The Hawks are making their Division 1 debut representing the America East Conference. Their new coach Pat Duquette has spent most of his career as an assistant under Al Skinner at Boston College, with a recent stint as assistant coach at Northeastern. Duquette recently made waves when he told incoming freshman recruits Jack Sullivan and Tyler Gibson(recruited by former coach Greg Herenda) that "there was no chance of us playing, and that it'd be in our best interest to leave and find somewhere else to go."
Michigan enters the season facing one major question: How do you replace 33 points, 9 assists and two 38% 3 point shooters(Trey and Tim)?
The easy answer comes from the 51 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists and 7 steals Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin bring to the table. Those are high school statistics though. For a guesstimate on how their statistics might drop, lets look at what happened to Trey and Tim’s statistics in their freshman year.
In Trey’s senior year of high school, he averaged 23 points. That dropped to 15 his freshman year at Michigan, or 35%. Trey’s assists dropped by two(29%) and his rebounding actually improved a bit.
For Tim, his points dropped from 32!?! As a high school senior to 14(57%), his assists dropped by two(50%), and his rebounds dropped by 3(43%). Obviously I am ignoring things like strength of schedule, available minutes and recruiting rankings(which yeah, we’re talking about 3stars vs 5 stars) but the moral of the story is that College Basketball is hard. If we’re going to be fair(keeping Walton’s drop proportionalish to Trey’s and Irvin’s to Hardaway) we should probably expect:
6-1 PG Derrick Walton might drop from 26 to 17points(that still feels like a lot for a freshman) 5 rebounds(no way he doesn’t drop down from 8 rebounds at 6ft1) His assists will drop from 10 to maybe 7.
6-6 SG Zak Irvin
might drop from 25 to 11points(yes, that feels low for his recruiting rank) his assists might drop from 3 and change to oneish, and his rebounds might drop from 9 to 5ish(maybe not? Lets err on the side of caution).
That’s probably optimistic on Walton and pessimistic on Irvin(Upton-melting National Championship game aside, I think there will be more minutes for Walton at point guard), but it averages out to 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. That feels right-ish(albeit quick and dirty guesstimation), and really isn’t all that far off from the 33 points and 9 assists we’re trying to replace.
Projecting McGary’s minutes up a tad, we’re looking at 13ish points and 11ish rebounds(up from 8 and 6). Doing the same for Stauskas projects to 13 and 4, GRIII to 13 and 6…Spike(who shot 55% from downtown last year!) and/or Caris(If rumors of his development are true) could easily average double digits…I don’t think it’ll be that difficult to make up those 5ish points. I suspect that Morgan’s minutes will drop some, but if Mitch or GRIII get dinged, I don’t imagine there would be a lot of drop off there. What we’re going to have is a bunch of guys averaging 13ish who are all capable of going off on any given night. But who is going to step up and give us the Trey Burke consistency? Whole lotta candidates, no guarantees.
I’m calling defense a wash. I don’t know that Walton and Irvin are going to be the defenders that Burke and Hardaway were(honestly reports of their defense are a mixed bag) but second year guys like Nik and Spike are only going to improve in this area.
I scoured the internets for interesting facts about the River Hawks, and came up with exactly one: They test baseball bats for MLB. There you are. I do not suggest looking up stats on your own, as their goriverhawks.com sports server seems by all indications to be an Apple II on a 34k modem. You will be treated to several minutes of what appears to be lovely blue boat wake while each screen loads(if it ever does). Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Umass Lowell returns 11 or 12 of 14 players, and 4 of 5 starters from a team that went 15-13 representing the Northeast 10 last year. They didn’t play anyone. Their only loss of note was 6-6 senior forward Matt Welch’s 13pts(9 of them 3pointers at 43%) and 7rebounds. Welch was the only player to throw more up from deep than star player Akeem Williams.
They held opponents to 75.6 points(44%), outscoring them by a blistering .7 points a game. The River Hawks shot a surprisingly respectable 37% from downtown(about 7 makes/game) and held opponents to 35% from deep. Opponents outrebounded them by 3/game last year, which frankly doesn’t bode well for them going up against Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan.
The vaunted River Hawks offense depends heavily on do it all senior combo guard #11 5-10 Akeem Williams(I think he's third from the left holding a basketball as if it were wet paper mache). He scores 20 points/game averaging 35 minutes. Williams shoots 46% from the floor and 40% from deep. He also leads the team in assists and turnovers at around 3 each per game.
NE-10 Baby. All day every day.
He’s pretty good, and will be hellachallenge for whoever has the misfortune of drawing him on defense.
Fortunately there is some drop-off after that. #22 6-5 senior swingman Antonio Bivins adds 16 points and 7 rebounds shooting 55% from the field...which would be pretty good…if it wasn’t against the mighty mighty Northeast 10.
#32 5-10 Junior Guard Chad Holley kicks in 11 points 3 assists and 3 turnovers. He can play the point when they want Williams to focus on scoring…which…who else is gonna do it?
#14 5-9 Graduate Student Greg DeSantis may or may not have elegibility left(it’s a bit of a challenge to get current information). He played 18 minutes and scored 6ish.
Honestly it looks like they kinda brought everybody else into the games in kind of a peewee baseball everybody participates manner
Which sans Walter Matthau rarely seems to work out.
Prediction based on presumed sanity, logic and order in the Universe:
They’ve really just got the one or two Division 1 players. . They lost half of their 3pt production to graduation. They got outrebounded by the Northeast 10, a conference that…Let’s be honest, you’re pretty much giving me the benefit of the doubt that it’s not fictional. If it doesn’t get ugly early I’ll be pretty disappointed.
Michigan 105, UMass Lowell 64
Side note...Can you believe Beiein was rooming with Frank Martin while coaching at the World University Games? Yes, this Frank Martin http://mgoblog.com/diaries/hoops-preview-kansas-state Th
Actual link: http://www.umhoops.com/2013/07/25/john-beilein-learns-new-tricks-at-world-university-games/ They must have done it on a dare(like rooming poor Tim with Appling at the US Under 19's) To be a fly on the wall...
Friday 7:37 Cowboy Stadium TBS
I dont remember a lot about Bill Self's Illinois teams. I remember that his last team(he coached there from 01-03) put an end to Michigan's 13 game winning streak. Illinois was playing with a chip on their shoulder, having taken a tough loss to Kansas in the Sweet 16 the previous year(small world). That would have been Daniel Horton's freshman year, as well as the first time I was really excited about Michigan basketball(since the fab 5 anyway).
Michigan ended up finishing 3'rd in the big ten, but yeah...like everyone else in the Amaker era, those players would suffer for something they had nothing to do with; they were post-season inelegible.
I vaguely remember going to the rematch in Crisler. Mostly I remember Illinois power forward Brian Cook hitting everything from everywhere. Shots contested by Graham Brown and Chris Hunter. I swore that Cook had made a deal with the devil.
At the time I thought he was the best player that I'd ever seen. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year and First-Team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.
Michigan made a game of it, but in the end it was just too much Cook. Illinois won 82-79, on the back of Cook's 26 points and 7 boards. Illinois would go on to finish second in the league, and win the big ten tournament.
At the end of that year, Roy Williams left Kansas for North Carolina, and Bill Self swore up and down that he was happy at Illinois. He boarded a plane bound for Lawrence a few days later.
At Kansas, Bill Self has won nine Big 12 titles and one national championship(2008). Last year they fell to Kentucky in the NCAA Championship, 67-59. Kansas stands second to only Kentucky with 2,101 wins, the last one coming against Roy Williams's North Carolina team. Small world indeed.
Michigan has something like 1,458 wins by my math, although some would argue for 1,571. We wont catch them in our children's lifetimes. Maybe never.
When last we met: Video http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/09/33848/
Kansas rolled into Ann Arbor in January of 2011 expecting to crush Michigan under their Goliath boot. Stu and Zack had other plans, pulling down 21 rebounds between them and taking Kansas to overtime.
In the end Kansas's Marcus Morris went all Brian Cook on us, scoring 22 and grabbing 10 rebounds. Michigan would lose in overtime 67-60, but Kansas limped away knowing they'd been in a fistfight.
Kansas is a tough, tough defensive team. They dont press as much as Self has in the past, but they man you up in the half court like few teams in America. They will turn you over in a heartbeat, and 7 foot senior center Jeff Withey is averaging 4 blocks/game. Michigan is going to have to execute at a very high level to score on these guys.
Kansas's offense has been hot and cold. Self runs a hi-lo motion offense designed to get post players one on one deep in the paint. This results in a lot of defenses "packing it in" in the paint, making it very difficult for Kansas's guards to get to the rim. This is somewhat exacerbated by the Jayhawk's lack of a truly elite slasher. Their point guard tandem of Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe, as well as swingman Travis Releford can put the ball on the floor and even beat their man, but in the games I've watched they seem more comfortabe using the advantage to kick the ball out to the perimeter rather than finding a cutting big or finishing near the basket. Some have pointed to McGary's tendence to "over-help" as the achille's heel of his defense, and Kansas's ability to take advantage of post players off the drive(which frankly they haven't shown much) may tell the tale of the ballgame.
Kansas gets a lot of post touches and a lot of shots from the perimeter. That means few Kobe assists and lots of long rebounds. Those are fast break opportunities that Michigan will have to capitalize on if they want to reach the Elite Eight. Kansas likes to score in transition too, so a lot is going to be dependent on A. Can Burke get into the lane? and B. Which team is going to hit their jumpers?
I suppose before I get too far ahead of myself we should do a little "meet the Jayhawks".
6-5 freshman guard Ben Mclemore is the leading scorer at 16per.
He shoots 50% from the floor and 42% from downtown. You dont want to leave that guy open. Fortunately he hasn't been shooting too well as of late. he chipped in just 2 points against North Carolina. Hopefully that trend continues.
7ft senior center Jeff Withey has been carrying the Jayhawks through the tourney at 17 pts/g(14/g for the year) shooting 58%.
He also grabs 9 boards and blocks 4 shots, altering countless others. He can be outworked and outpositioned, but this is going to be a tough matchup for McGary, Morgan or Horford. His man has got to keep a body on him whether a teammate is getting beat or not. Help is going to have to come from somewhere else.
6-6 senior guard Travis Releford chips in 12 points and 3 assists shooting 57% from the floor and 42% from downtown.
You dont need Kobe assists when you're shooting like that.
Those are Kansas's elite players. Their supporting cast is competent as well, starting with 6-4 senoir point guard Elijah Johnson. He averages 10 points and 5 dimes, shooting 38% from the floor and 33% from downtown. He takes a lot of jumpers(second only to Mclemore). Kansas fans would like to see him drive and distribute more. He shares the point with 5-11 sophomore Naadir Thorpe. Thorpe averages 6 points and 3 assists shooting 35% from the field and 34% from downtown. The other bigs are 6-8 senior forward Kevin Young and 6-8 freshman forward Perry Ellis. They combine for 14 points and 11 boards between them.
So alright, its going to be tough to score on these guys. But make no mistake, this is no David vs Goliath matchup like the one a couple years ago. The first time Beilein went down to Chesterton, he came back with a bulldog in a pug's body. This time he went down there and brought back the bulldog.
This is going to be a Goliath vs Goliath matchup, maybe the best one we see in the tourney. Transition buckets and post defense are going to be key factors. Looking back on this year, on all the battle scars this team has weathered...I have to believe that that act of God Wisconsin shot happened for a reason. That maybe that last shot against Indiana was meant to hang on the rim for an eternity before falling off. Maybe I've just seen "Signs" one too many times, but I think maybe we'll see the results on Friday.
Gale Catlett coached the West Virginia Mountaineers from 1978-2002.
That’s 24 years. In that time, the Mountaineers moved from the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference to the Atlantic 10 to the Big East. Catlett was able to reach the NCAA tournament 8 times. When West Virginia moved to the Big East, things got toucg for Catlett. He managed to reach the NCAA tournament just once in his seven Big East years, finishing his 2001-2002 campaign at 1-15 in conference. The game had passed him by, the program had gotten out of control, and it was time to move on.
In one of the more bizarre transactions in the history of college basketball, this led to the hiring of Bowling Green’s coach Dan Dakich, and his resignation 8 days later under the pre-existing threat of West Virginia NCAA sanctions(click http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/sports/basketball/basketball-star-jonathan-hargetts-story-is-a-cautionary-tale.html?_r=1&ref=sports if you must, but college basketball was the "Wild Wild West" back then.) And if you look at Michigan's program in the 90's we've got no room to talk.
Long story short, a laundry list of coaches turned the job down after that(including Bob Huggins) until John Beilein took on the challenge. He was tasked with rebuilding the program as well as the culture from the ground up. That is exactly what he did, taking West Virginia to the Elite Eight, the Sweet 16, and winning an NIT Championship in his 5 years as West Virginia’s coach.
When Beilein was hired at Michigan, the West Virginia job was finally good enough for Bob Huggins. The rest is history.
On Saturday Michigan joins the West Virginia mountaineers, heading off to Brooklyn New York to help break in the Nets new digs
The mountaineers enter Saturday’s game at a disappointing 4-4 on the heels of a painful loss to Duquesne in which not a soul could hit the broad side of a barn for West Virginia(33% from the field for the game). That has been the general theme of all their losses, as they shot 36% against Oklahoma, 40% against Davidson(whom they beat up pretty good on the boards too…Davidson just had a really good shooting night), and 27% against Gonzaga who absolutely throttled them in their first game 84-50. West Virginia averages something like 43% from the floor in their wins.
The West Virginia Mountaineers typically enjoy very balanced scoring and distribution from their starters(2 upperclassman big men and a bunch of smallish underclassman guards) as well as their bench.
Speedy 6-1 sophomore point guard Juwan Staten
is their nominal leading scorer/distributor at 11 points and 2 assists per game. He spent his freshman year at Dayton where he led the Atlantic 10 in assists. I obviously don’t expect he will keep up with Trey on the offensive end, but he is a pesky enough defender to slow Trey down a bit at the other end. He shoots 40% while contributing 3 boards, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers. Like I said, balanced.
Straight out of the streets of Istanbul, 6-9 big body senior forward Deniz Kilicli
adds 10 points, 6 boards and 3 turnovers shooting 41% from the field.
6-10 junior center Aaric Murray
is their most efficient scorer, shooting 53% from the field, 50% from downtown(1 attempt/game) for 9 points, 7 boards and 2 blocks/game. He’s pretty agile for his height, which he uses to his advantage finishing on the move and swatting balls in the lane. He transferred from La Salle, whom he led in pretty much every statistical category.
5-11 sophomore slasher/creator guard Jabarie Hinds
shoots 35% from the field and 27% from downtown(3 attempts/game) for 7 points, 2 boards, and 2 assists.
6-3 three star freshman shooting guard Terry Henderson
shoots 33% from the field and 26% from downtown bringing in 6 points and 4 boards for the mountaineers. Henderson splits starts with Gary Browne.
Baby faced 6-1 sophomore point guard Gary Browne
shoots 32% from the field and 26% from downtown for 9 points, 4 boards, and 2 assists.
6-2 freshman guard/energy man Eron Harris
plays only 10 minutes, but dumps in 5 points and 2 boards shooting 52% from the field and 33% from downtown(1 attempt/g).
Then you’ve got a bunch of guys(6-6 wing Matt Humphrey, 6-7 forward Keaton Miles, 6-10 forward Kevin Noreen) who play 15 minutes/game without contributing much in the way of statistics. Well, Noreen did combine with center Aaric Murray to carry West Virginia past Virginia Tech shooting a combined 12-20 for 29 points and 19 rebounds, but that was a bit of an anomaly.
So what does this all mean for Michigan? Well, as a general rule West Virginia doesn’t shoot the ball very well. They don’t turn over the ball a ton. Surprisingly they rebound at a decent rate despite their “two bigs and 3 hobbits”
rotations. I think West Virginia is going to keep the score within 13-14 points throughout, with Michigan slipping a bit while trying to kill the clock. Eventually they’ll put it together and get Beilein the win against his old school.
I've got 75-69 Michigan. Go Blue!