Fresh off the most needed one week break in history, Michigan brings in Illinois on Sunday (before Staee travels to Columbus at 4:00 PM, that day has promise, beers will be consumed). Illinois, coming in with a strangely unipressive winning streak considering one of the wins was Indiana, has brought themselves back to all square in conference play, and Brandon Paul can play some hoops. Should be a good one. Michigan, going from the team that makes Dick Vitale tell other teams to "get a TO" to that team that everybody seems to think somehow just became not good just cause, needs to get down to business and get back to form starting now. College basketball is a game of peaks and valleys with teams, Michigan has peaked at the right time and the wrong time in the last couple of years, 2011 going head to head with Duke was not foreseeable in February, and last year a loss to Ohio (NTO) in the first round seemed inconceivable while delivering a solid beat down to Ohio (YTO) in February as well. So, that epic drubbing to Lil in EL can actually mean very little if the swag returns for this home stretch. I think there are three keys going forward to Michigan getting this show on the road.
1. Jordan Morgan - I was appauled earlier this year at the suggestion that his absence was not significantly impactful. When healthy, J Mo eats glass, runs the floor, and can deliver some highlight real finishes that gets the team fired up. Morgan is an energy player that the rest of the team feeds off. I hope that ankle got some TLC this week, because if I see a pattern in the last three years it is that this team goes when he goes, so, let's go.
2. Run baby Run - The most impressive 10 minute stretch of Michigan's season in my opinion was when they went showtime against WV at Barclays in the first half. Burke in the middle of the floor with options is as pretty as well struck seven iron on a UP course in early September. Board, push, and dish, Stauskas will do the rest.
3. Timmy - to the basket. In another noticeable patters, once a year Hardaway will deliver a Jordan vs. the Blazers 3 point performance that convinces him and Wolverine nation that he is Larry Bird in the 3 point contest. He is not. TH3 is soooooo much more effective when his instinct pushes him to the basket. Hardaway has the athleticism to shoot 10 free throws a game, his desire to settle for the long gun becomes tiresome. Take it the hoop, good things will happen.
Any others that I am missing?
March madness coming soon. Great time of year, (not including the white out conditions outside right now). Go blue.