The further this basketball season goes, the more that I realize that this team is not just "struggling" or going through a tough patch, but that somewhere along the way, an outlier came into play and has since affected the eqaution to the degree that I, along with many others I believe, bought into an illusion as to what this team was and is. Not that I expected a national championship, but I thought that it was going to be more than the "little engine that could" stay within shouting distance of the elite teams and pat itself on the back for a moral victory. I thought this team would at least really compete with the elite. Maybe Clemson and Oklahoma were both overrated, drastically? Was Lee Michigan's best player? Have Harris and Sims already peaked in terms of leadership ability? Is Beilien's coaching ability a figment of my imagination? Where did I, or they, go wrong? Where was my miscalculation? Any help would be appreciated.
BB - What was/is the miscalculation
You have to wonder if any of the woes can be contributed to the strength and conditioning and performance training.
That's the part of the calculation that was under-represented. There's been lots of posts about it on here too. Lee and Merritt weren't the most skilled players, but they provided leadership. Nobody is stepping up to do that this year.
I think its pretty obvious that the team is lacking leadership. There might be some motivational issues there as well. A lot of things have to be going right for this to be a good team. Fortunately, last year a lot of things WERE going right at key times(read Duke, Clemson, Illinois, UCLA, etc.). I think maybe once you've climbed the mountain it's hard to think you've got to work just as hard(if not harder) to stay on top. And the climb takes a little out of you. At any rate, Deshawn is coming around, and games will be competitive when he and Manny are firing on all cylinders. If Michigan is going to make a run at the big ten though, all those 3 point specialists are going to have to start earning their scholarships.
Ok, that might not exactly be fair either. Last year Stu was basically asked to come in and hit open 3's. Now we're asking him to break presses, create for other people and hit open 3's. Last year we were all surprised to see Novak diving into the stands after loose balls, taking 16 stitches from an elbow, coming in and nailing 3 pointers. This year we're expecting it. Maybe what we're looking at is expectation=pressure=sophomore slump. All the compliance officials running around cant exactly help with the preparation aspect either. This is the only program in the country that is worried about working too hard to improve. However, we have seen it--we know they have it inside them to turn this thing around. But they're running out of time.
Leadership is such a generic term and it's easy to blame this vague concept. Why aren't Harris and Sims (who is a senior) leaders? Are they just not very good? Does the coaching not enable leaders?
the leadership thing is overblown. Lee and Merritt played very sparingly against Duke and UCLA in those monumental wins. The biggest problem was lack of intensity and focus on defense and awful 3 pt. shooting. We seem to have fixed the defense, now if we knock down some shots we will be right back in the thick of things. I will be the first to say it... having 9 days off between tomorrow's game and the big ten opener will be a blessing in disguise. Time away from the gym will bring these guys back refreshed, refocused, and hopefully with a chip on their shoulder.
It comes down to Leadership and Glue.
no need to over analyze. it all comes down to knocking down the 3 pt shots. if UM just makes a mediocre 33% of 3s, they beat BC and Bama; and make the kansas game interesting. although we were even lucky to escape against creighton.
those Ws would have made us 7-3 and put us at or near expectations. we were clearly outplayed by possible underrated teams like Utah and Marq.
the D intensity does need to pick up and be maintained.
not only are they missing so many shots, but they have no offensive rebounding. I have been watching all year as they shoot and there might, might be one guy looking to rebound while the rest are heading back downcourt. that's not bad if you're shooting 50%, but they're not close. Bilas noted this during the Kansas game. We won't many games this year if they don't at least shoot better or start trying to rebound. seems obvious.
I've been amazed at how often i see a complete lack of basic blocking out when a shot goes up. I only played HS ball (PSL-Mumford), but if we ever let our man inside for an offensive rebound, we got pulled out of the game. Fundamentals. Why run down the court for your next offensive play before you get the defensive rebound? We were coached to know that, regardless of size, you can block out anybody. I don't see that happening. Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought that fundamentals equally apply at all levels. That's why they are called fundamental. Beilein is the man, and will get the job done, but this team's performance leaves me flabbergasted just now. Lose if you must, to better, faster, bigger teams, but block out your man. fuck.
(BTW, if you can't get it in the hole from far away, try shooting from closer in, it's easier.)
I completely am with you on the rebounding thing. I realize that rebounding margin is probably an overrated stat, but I think they can do better positioning wise. Novak I think is a significant exception. He's in position most of the time, he's just too small, and that's too bad.
I only played HS bball too (and at nowhere near the level of the PSL) and play local rec ball now, but I think the game has evolved to the point where in a lot of situations, it's not easier to make a two than a three. The offenses of today are predicated around post ups and threes, and not much in between. So while I will agree that in general it's easier to hit a layup than a three, I don't necessarily think it's easier to hit a twelve footer than a three when you get a lot more practice shooting threes and you are much more likley to be open than you would shooting a mid range jumper.
Wouldn't a lot of teams be really good if they shot a ton of 3's made 33% of them? Isn't a long term poor 3 pt % a sign of bad coaching or bad players? This isn't 1 or 2 games where people slump, it's a whole season.
All of the above points are valid. Look at what our old boy Ekpe Udoh is doing at Baylor. 15 pts, 10 rebs, 4 blocks, 3 assists, 60% fg per game. Great numbers. Obviously, they haven't played the competition that Michigan has, but those numbers are hard to look past. Some inside help would be a big boost to the current UM team. Udoh would help on the glass and on the defensive end at the very least. Here's his espn page:
Manny Harris needs to show leadership by attacking the basket, trying to score easy baskets,getting to the line,getting teams in foul trouble, driving the lane and kicking the ball out to an open wing. He needs to stoping standing around on the perimeter with his thumb up his ass jacking up off-balanced desperate perimeter shots. You've got a solid skilled forward like Deshaun Sims and a scoring guard like Manny Harris basketball 101 RUN THE PICK N ROLL!!!!!! Stop standing around holding the ball, play aggressive basketball.
Until they get some big men who can play like big men, they will continue to be exploited for their lack of height. They still have enough to win a lot of games, but they will always have to play a lot harder than any higher-level opponents to win. Or, they will have to shoot extremely well from outside.
JB's singular system gives the team the advantage that a southpaw fighter has due to lack of familiarity, but that isn't always enough. I think they will do fine in the Big Ten, though, and still have a good chance of making it to the Tournament. When they get there, anything can happen.
that probably is a distraction.
The most frustrating thing is that I really don't see the kind of desperation that the circumstances require at this point. When Sims and Gibson and Novak are going up for shots on the drive, it is almost like they are waiting for them to be blocked, like they don't expect to get them off. With Harris and Sims, put it on the official to call the foul, reckless abandon, you are hovering at .500 for god's sake, attack the basket, play like you mean it. I think the poor shooting is taking a toll on their mindset, and it is also extending to free throw shooting. WTF is up with free throw shooting. This team was money last year. Lee was the worst free throw shooter in the rotation. Damnit!!!! This team was going to be how I coped with winter. Now what, the Pistons, the whole f#$king team is hurt. OK, breath, breath...
Two big problems:
1) Horrendous 3-point shooting. You've got to figure they'll snap out of it eventually
2) Baseline of the 1-3-1. Last year, Lee and Shepherd generally manned this position. This year it's frequently been LLP, and he's struggled mightily. The baseline rotations have been much too slow and it's resulted in easy layups for other teams. We've got to figure out whom we can play at that spot because it appears that LLP isn't the guy. He was not playing for much of the second half against Kansas when our 1-3-1 was reasonably effective. Maybe that group is the answer.
The answer is that not only did we lose leadership we also lost one of our best defenders and we can NOT shoot.........yet