Nice insight. I am impressed with Coach B for finding these kids, it takes alot of work to do this. This team is gonna be good real soon. Hopefully, this gets blue chippers looking at UM again.
Men's Basketball Team, by Leaps and Bounds
Am here to pass on some information many of you will find comforting, regarding our basketball team. As a student I had season tickets from Frieder/Fisher's Title through the Fab Five, and have had many thoughts and a view you may appreciate.
I have learned in those years, that the Michigan Basketball program is either one of two things. A Giant, or a Sleeping Giant. There is no middle ground. When its on, the spotlight nationwide, is blinding, so much that you'll be surprised by the strength of it. Perhaps the magnitude of it is from filling a void in the media channels for when the Men's football team isn't playing. The majority of you here are a lot younger than I and have not experienced the frenzy that is Michigan Basketball when it awakens, and boy, I hope you are ready when it comes.
It was so big, that there was even a brief fleeting moment in 1989 that it was bigger than the football program, when after the title, Bo spoke to us at a celebratory ceremony with Glen Rice and the other players, and Bo made reference "and hopefully we can follow it up with winning a football title the next year!". Most reactions to that in the crowd were quiet and subtle boos, a displeasure of sorts because at that time, the basketball team was king, at that time. Maybe because it was April, and they just took everyone on a wild ride in the tournament, but nonetheless, it was true.
The program has been a sleeping giant since Tom Goss fired Steve Fisher, which was very unfortunate, because Ellerbe was out of his league. And since the program has been sleeping since.
Now, in the present, Coach Beilein has been operating at a large disadvantage regarding facilities, which are very substandard, and this, believe it or not, means a lot to recruits, and a lot more than it should. MSU has been able to clean up in this regard concerning the top recruits. But what it has seemed Beilein has done is that he has been quite resourceful, landing players that are late bloomers with potential to be stars. For until the facilities and recruiting ability is even-board, then this was the best Beilein could do, and DB has alluded to this issue.
Beilein found Darius Morris, who literally looked like a little kid, when recruited, a kid among older boys. And now Morris, by leaps and bounds, looks like almost a man among boys, though not quite yet...that will be next year.
Beilein found Jordan Morgan, who impresses the heck out of me, who is so fundamentally sound, it is shocking he had no good offers. Morgan is cleaning up down low, and is operating alone. We are one big man recruit, away from being a Giant, again. Well, maybe two. Am glad to see Morgan have a big game on the stat sheet, which now should draw more attention to his play. He also has seemed to have a major development growth spurt, by leaps and bounds, after playing Sullinger last week. You could see at the start of the game, his tentativeness, as if he didn't have the full confidence. Then, last night, he crushed NW's big men. If we had two Morgans down low, we'd be top 7 in country right now. That is not lip service. Morgan is that effective, and is doing it alone. Beilein hit a home run finding this kid.
Beilein found Tim Hardaway Jr, who has grown by leaps and bounds. Word was that Hardaway wasn't good enough to be recruited by us, and his list wasn't impressive. But now, you can imagine how many teams would recruit Hardaway. I fully expect him to be in discussion for All-Big Ten next season, at this pace.
Beilein found Jon Horford, who needs to play, and play alot. Horford is a guy who will metamorphisize in the offseason, and is a budding star. Am surprised MSU did not recruit this kid. Here is another who is a late bloomer, and reminds me a little of Eric Riley.
Beilein found Glenn Robinson Jr for next year. When I was a student, Robinson SR committed to Purdue early, and was heartbroken because he said had he known that Webber, Howard, and Rose were all gonna commit here, that he would have without question. He loved the Wolverines. As much as I liked Ray Jackson, he was not of the caliber of the other Four, but Big Dog was. And Beilein just landed Big Dog Jr.. If this kid develops late like Hardaway, then you'll be very very pleased because his dad was a beast.
Note, that we are that one big man recruit away, from stepping into that blinding spotlight again, and becoming a Giant.
thats exactly right. its gonna draw that one big man recruit. and then you'll see the media frenzy take off. you'll know it when dick vitale won't shut up, about michigan. he loves michigan and always has.
first, G-Rob3 comes in 2012, Burke & Brundridge come next year.
second, if that big man you want is coming, he's not coming until at least 2012.
third, thanks for the old timers perspective. I was about 8 years old when the fab5 was around, so I have a bit of recollection but not much on that whole subject.
"thanks for the old timers perspective"
ouch... a better word could have been used, than "old timer"... lol...
Anyway, FWIW, when I see the kids in the front row, I feel just like I was there, during the Fab Five years, when we camped out all day, to get front few rows. What great times it was.
camping out waiting for seats. My last year was '93. It pains me to go to the games now; I do because I want to support the kids and at least be one of the fans who does make some occasional noise. But the atmosphere sucks. Hopefully we see a big improvement next year with some optimism. I couldn't renew my season tix this year due to coaching both son's basketball teams, but I had a lot of trouble GIVING the tickets away last year when I couldn't make a game.
Side note on Horford - I was able to talk with with someone very close to the situation recently and his comments were that Horford did not have the desire/motivation/work ethic. He told me his brother put his mind to going to the NBA from day 1, worked his ass off and was a bright kid. He said Jon has never had that desire. Obviously he doesn't appear to have the same talent either.
That certainly can change and he can grow up, but you asked why MSU didn't recruit him and I think this certainly may have been a reason a lot of schools didn't show interest. Let's face it - not a lot of big programs were knocking on the door.
Let's hope 2011-2012 is the start of new era of Michigan Basketball.....
I was absolutely thrilled by the NW game last night. Hardaway came into his own and played with an intensity I haven't seen yet this year. Morgan had an impressive career night as well.
That being said, I think the more important thing to take away from Morgan and Hardaway's performances last night was the overall performance of the team as a unit. D-Mo's ability to threaten down the lane and his ability to distribute the ball is what is going to elevate this team to a level that we haven't seen in years.
The beautiful thing is that when this team is on like it was last night, it doesn't matter if you shut down Novak on the perimeter (see: ohio state) because Michigan has more than just a 3-point shooting game now.
Now if Hardaway could just stop chucking up every contested 3 pointer he gets...
I agree with much of what you've said here. I, too, get the feeling that if the Wolverines can just establish a little more consistent inside game offensively (Morgan continuing to improve/becoming more consistent, some new big men recruits, etc.), this could be a nationally contender-level team. With a very young roster, they already play very good team defense, can run the floor, can rebound reasonably effectively as a team, and their perimeter offense seems to be a strength (moreso recently, & especially off dribble penetration). If they could just develop more of a consistent, inside presence on offense, I feel like they could be great (& very difficult to defend!). I'm also impressed overall with Beilein, his demeanor, player development, etc., as you state. Great win last night. Go Blue!
Morgan is doing it alone down low. We don't have enough big men playing. Again, if we had two Morgans, then look out. Right now, to me he is by far the most important player on the team because he is carrying double duty. But this is why I say if there was two Morgans, then we'd be really really good, because all we are missing is a big man (and another for depth).
Not sure how youu can say anyone other than Morris has been the most important player on this team; without him we could barely get the ball over half court.
Right now Morgan, offensively, is kind of like somebody like Tyson Chandler. He moves well, runs the court well, gets himself in position to make catches, and finishes easy opportunities. For what we are doing right now that is a big improvement and makes our offense a lot more difficult to defend.
He's only a redshirt freshman, he's going to have a lot of time to improve his back to the basket game, using the offhand, shooting mid range jumpers. Last night one of his 1st half scores that people didn't say much about was when he stopped himself in traffic and pulled up for a 10 footer inside the free throw line. The guy has instincts to really develop his game further and while he may be a tiny bit undersized as a center, he's still just put up 27 points in a conference game as a freshman without creating basically any offense for himself. I find that really impressive and really encouraging.
On the big man front like an above poster said, we are kind of stuck until 2012 at least with the roster we've got. Between Morgan, Smotrycz, and Horford, and also McLimans (although not too enthused about him at this point), I think the big question is are these guys and their respective upsides enough to be an elite team overall? I am a little skeptical still but last night's performance by Morgan definitely makes me believe a little bit more that this current roster with the perimeter guys we are bringing in are enough to be the best Michigan basketball team we've seen in a long long time.
Good post. I respectfully disagree that Beilein finds mostly "late bloomers" and that we need another post recruit to be a giant again. Rather, I think people (including Brian) underrate the coach's player development and coaching skills. I think a lot of the success that Morris and the freshmen are having must be attributed to the quality of the coaching. On that note, we aren't relying on an additional big man for future success, rather, the hope that Beilein can develop the inside skills of Smotrycz, McLimans or Horford, and that they also get much bigger next year. If Evan lives up to his hype, his development along with the development of our guards and wings should lead us to being a top 20 program.
I like the overall tone of the OP's post. Couple 'o comments:
* "Beilein found Darius Morris, who literally looked like a little kid, when recruited, a kid among older boys." Why do you say that? AFAIK Morris was flagged pretty early as a tall (and talented) PG.
* Horford reminds me of Eric Riley, too ... only if you add 3+ inches in height. (Horford is listed at 6'9" but is probably 6'8"-something. I think Riley measured a full seven feet "without shoes.")
Why did I say that? Because Morris did look like a little kid playing with older kids, tall or not. Reminded me of that film Little Big League... just kidding.
Yes, Riley was a full 7 feet... and for three years they actually asked him to eat as much food as he could, even junk food, because he could not put on the weight. It was a running joke at the time, too.
I think you misinterpret the "on your feet" chant completely. I could be wrong, but normally the students only do it during the last minute of a game we're about to win and its more of an encouragement for them to stand up and salute the team's effort. I've never sensed a chiding tone from the chant and when I've done it that was never my personal intent.
For all of those pining for a second "big man"; are you thinking we need one as a back up to Morgan or that we should have Morgan and another player like him on the floor at the same time?
Morgan was so efficient last night because the defender of our 4 man couldn't cheat off their man and leave them open at the three point line. The pick and rolls and isolations work better when opponents only have one defender in the middle. If we had a traditional power forward on the floor who wasn't a three point threat, his man could cheat to the middle and make Morgan make an extra pass on the pick and roll to a power forward for a 10 footer. The offense is much more effective without that extra pass and Morgan just dunking.
Instead of another traditional big, we just need Smotrycz to mature because he really is the prototypical 4 for this offense. Two Morgans on the floor at the same time would not make this team better. We may use two bigs as a change up now and then but not as the standard offense.
I agree that we need another big to step up. As soon as Morgan gets into foul trouble the team is in trouble. I hope Horford is that answer. He can put on size and strength in the off season at least enough to be a viable back up. If he can do that I think we could be very tough next season.