An Interview with John Beilein

An Interview with John Beilein

Submitted by Seth on April 1st, 2013 at 5:00 PM

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Bryan Fuller|MGoBlog

The NCAA gave the media a copy of their teleconference interviews with the Final Four coaches. This bears reminding: it was not a dream; we actually have one of those! The master of ceremonies is NCAA media coordinator David Worlock. I've included the Beilein part, with Syracuse's Jim Boeheim after the jump. Bullets:

  • Syracuse's zone is like Cheney-era Temple.
  • Boeheim helped get B hired at Canisius and WVa.
  • Boeheim calls M the best offensive team in the tournament. Aw shucks guy.
  • Le Moyne:Syracuse::EMU:Michigan, except Le Moyne isn't D1 and they're even more up in each others' junk, in case you're wondering why Beilein's early career is being brought up a lot.

Begin transcription.

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DAVE WORLOCK: We're joined by Coach Beilein. Would you mind making an opening statement and then we'll take questions from the media.

It was quite a day yesterday, playing a very good Florida team, getting out to such a great start.  Hanging on was the biggest thing after we got off to the good start. I really love the way our guys sustained their effort, even though I think both teams showed fatigue in the second half. So good trip back. It was a great trip back. We had a lot of Michigan fans, particularly our students here waiting for us. It's a great day to be a Wolverine.

WORLOCK: We'll go ahead and take questions from the media.

Q. Those of us who know you from the east, I don't want to say [getting to the Final Four] was inevitable [Ed-S: 'I'm not saying but I'm saying…' this is called a "paralipsis."] but we realized how long you've been coaching in four different Division I programs. I'm assuming this doesn't feel like a validation to you because you always knew at every level what you were doing. Is it true or is it a validation?

I said yesterday in the press conference, you know, it's great to be in the Final Four. If we had never made it, it's not the reason that I'm coaching. The reason we're coaching is about the student athletes, the relationships, the overall excitement we have of seeing young men grow in every way.

However, it's terrific to see what this has done for this university, these young men, for all our fans worldwide. So that really brings a great deal of certainly not relief, but appreciation for all of us, for what we've been able to accomplish so far.

We're all just thrilled here. But just like when we went to the Sweet 16, we're ready to move on and concentrate on the next opponent.

Q. There have already been some questions about the past, and I think the word you used was 'nomadic.' Nazareth College, I was told Jeff Van Gundy was on that team. Can you talk about what it was like there and why you left after one year.

Well, you're off by one year. I did not get to coach Jeff, unfortunately. My first game at Nazareth was at Brockport State. Jeff Van Gundy was the starting point guard at Brockport State and his father was the head coach. Interesting sideline. Both teams showed up with gold uniforms. The Brockport State guys had to go back to their rooms to get their new uniforms.

When Jeff's father stepped down as the coach at Brockport the next year, Jeff and his father came to see me at Nazareth. We began the recruiting process. I took the Le Moyne job. Bill Nelson, a great coach at Nazareth and John Hopkins, continued the recruitment. That's how Jeff ended up at Nazareth.

There was an opportunity at Le Moyne where I had a long association with going to camps there. Division II was a great opportunity. We hadn't bought a house yet in Nazareth, had another child being born any day. That was the only time I didn't stay a significant amount of time at a place. I felt bad about it. When I look back at it now, it still was the right move to make.

11837476-standardQ. People are going to ask about Boeheim all week. Carmen Basilio [Ed-S: At right. famous boxer from upstate NY in the 1950s], did you know him?

The late Carmen Basilio.

Q. Did you have much interaction with him?

He would come over to Le Moyne in my earliest days quite often. He was very good friends with my uncle, who was the athletic director. When he came into the offices, we all knew he was there. He was a tremendous athlete, but quite a character as well. He had all our respect, believe me. You might get playful shot to the solar plexus, which was never good (laughter).

Q. On the Syracuse zone, you've seen it a few times, what are the big challenges going against it? I don't know how much you've been able to see from last weekend on them, but if you've seen much of it, is that as well as Syracuse has played in that zone?

Yeah, I didn't watch any of their games at all. I usually wait and do that all by video afterwards. Seeing the Syracuse zone both at Le Moyne, then at West Virginia several times, it's basically the same great defense. The personnel, the names change, the abilities stay the same. One thing I've seen, more times there's more shot blocking, and right now this is a great steal team that gets their hands on things, much like our old 1-3-1 zone used to do. It creates offense with their defense.

With them turning the ball over 15 times a game in the NCAA tournament is remarkable. Think about that. When you turn it over, everybody's in their lanes, guards are out front. It's really hard to stop and play transition defense against a turnover. That's really helped them through this tournament.

Q. Fred looks at this matchup as not a great one for the zone because of the number of shooters you have. Do you feel you match up well with it?

We had a lot of shooters at West Virginia. We had a lot of shooters at Canisius and Richmond, as well. I do like the idea we have at least a week here to try and simulate as much as we can.

But that length is never a good matchup for any team. So we have to get familiar with it and really be on. The big thing is with them, you make tough twos, but when you get an open shot, you got to knock it down. You don't get many of them. You got to be able to do that. We're going to practice all week to make sure we can do that.
Still it's tough. Their offense is no joke, for sure, as well.

Q. Could you go back to your days at Le Moyne, the bus trips to College of St. Rose and St. Michael's. Could you ever have imagined yourself on this stage when you were making those trips?

You upgraded as to bus trips. There wasn't a lot of bus trips. It was more van trips with Coach Beilein in van number one, Mike Rizzi, or Tony, my assistant, in van number two.

No, I thought about that often. I often refer to the times we'd be up playing St. Lawrence or Potsdam or something, playing St. Rose or St. Michael's, being white outs, snowstorms, listening to the Syracuse/Georgetown game. Here we're trying to make it home alive sometimes.

I thought about it often, what it would be like, having confidence maybe I could get here, but knowing it was going to be a long struggle to get to this point. Really been very fortunate. I wouldn't suggest this route I took to anyone. You have to be very lucky to get to this point if the right breaks fall your way. Certainly changed from what Kathleen and I were doing raising four kids just over 20 years ago.

Q. Going back to your Le Moyne days, how helpful was Coach Boeheim in helping Le Moyne emerge or put your program on the map?

I think this happened more than just a few times. Maybe every other season. We'd be playing a game, maybe it would be a big game, Philadelphia Textile, different teams that were our rivals at Le Moyne. I would look up in the stands, never called me for a ticket, maybe called others, but Jim would be in the stands watching a game on occasion. I had a couple clinics at Le Moyne, he helped me, brought his team over. They would practice, we would practice. It would be a clinic that was helpful to our budget.

We interacted. I wouldn't say we were back and forth all the time. Where he was really helpful, as I already mentioned, whenever he would see Kathleen or the kids, whatever, very outgoing and just a good role model for seeing what a coach's wife goes through, what you do with children.

He really helped me get the Canisius job, no question. I was a borderline candidate. He really got me on the board. Ended up getting the job. That was 20 years ago. So I owe him a lot, and admire him a lot, as well.

Q. I think Le Moyne beat Syracuse in 2009. Did you have any close encounters against them in an exhibition game?

No, at that time there wasn't the rule where you would play Division II teams. So it wasn't like that. I think there was just mutual respect. I hope it was. I know it was on my part. I would watch them play, but it wasn't like we went back and forth to practices.

In that era, you couldn't play Division II teams. I guess you could. It would be a real game. We never did that. That's probably good news for us. It would have been difficult. In an exhibition game three or four years ago, Le Moyne did beat them. I'm sure Dolphin fans everywhere loved that one.

Q. Since you got to Michigan, long before it, too, the high bar has been where the Fab Five got to. Everybody was talking about that yesterday as well, 20 years since the Fab Five. Can you talk now what it's been like to coach with that as the shadow bar you were yet to reach until getting to it now, and what this means to Michigan in terms of having a team in the present tense, that if you win on Saturday, you will have gone as far as any of those Fab Five teams did, establishing a new high bar by accomplishing what you did by getting to the Final Four?

I've never looked at it that way, that it was a shadow bar or whatever. I think I know what you mean by that with the Fab Five. It's been about the complete Michigan tradition. 'Cause I go way back to it. I still remember the team that went to Philadelphia in the Final Four.

It was survival now for three or four years. Let's get into the NCAA tournament. We haven't been in there forever, let alone worry about getting into the Final Four. We realized the expectations, getting in the NCAA tournament, after you start to get there, four of the last five years, it's not enough, you have to win and advance.
That just creeps up on you. It's part of the game. To me it's just about continue to grow this program so that we're in position to be in this position. Hopefully one day, He's been in the Final Four so many times, he needs to win it or win it more. It continues on.

But we're all paid really well to do these things. Those are the expectations. We understand it. The Fab Five era is a great, great era here. I think everybody needs to remember there were great coaches on that team. Those five players were tremendous players, but there were great coaches on that team. That wasn't just five guys. If you're in Michigan, it's about the team, the team. I'm guessing there were 10 other guys on that team that were very important in that run as well.

Q. The second team especially, there were five sophomores who had started most of their careers, three of them every single game. Can you compare what your group with three freshmen, a sophomore, a junior as starters, isn't that equally as impressive considering one of your freshman starter hasn't been a starter but for six games?

I wasn't aware of that. That is a remarkable similarity. We had a young man Matt Vogrich who was a starter, was a sixth or seventh man for three of his four years here. Now he's all of a sudden a scout team guy, has stepped back. We had Eso Akunne, a senior could be playing at Division I at a lot of mid majors, here he is running our scout team. There's a lot of sacrifices that era with the Fab Five, I've got to step back for the team. That takes a lot of sacrifice. I'm sure the guys that did that, I'm sure the Fab Five is very appreciative of that during that time, because I know the coaches would be.

Q. You referenced this a little bit earlier, the reception you got back when you got back to campus last night. I'm curious when you found out about how many people had gathered around the arena, what the reaction was like on the bus before you got off and talked to the fans.

We made a call back to security just thinking there may be someone there, not knowing the numbers, make sure that security was there. There could be autograph seekers, things like that. We want to make sure we have some type of control with our enforcement here.

They said, It's much more than that. We're estimating 1,000 people. Looked to me like 90% students who had walked over from the dorms on a Sunday night and wanted to see these guys and congratulate them. It meant a lot to our team. It really meant a lot to our team and our coaching staff. So it was special. I don't think those guys will ever forget that one.

Q. You talked about the zone, but have you ever seen a zone as problematic as Syracuse's zone is, and as successful as this one has been in the tournament?

It certainly withstood the test of time. Jim continues to work at it and tweak it in different ways. The length and some of the slides, I believe, I don't know for a fact, he changes the extension of it at different times of the game, makes adjustments within the game.

No, it reminds me of when people used to play Temple and John Cheney, you were going to go play them, and it was going to be a very unique prep to get ready for them because you can't simulate it in practice, you just can't do it. It's a thing we just got to work at. We'll be as ready as we can be.

Q. Boeheim said after the Elite 8 game he can't stop a team from shooting, but he can dictate which guys are going to shoot on the team. Would you agree with that from what you've seen?

He's had an ability, particularly with our teams, is really make sure some of our best shooters don't get open shots, don't get their traditional shots. So that's our job to try to figure that out, to make sure we can get clean looks, we call them. That's different. But he's a master at keeping the guys who really making those clean looks from getting them.

[Boeheim after the jump]

Low Earth Orbit

Low Earth Orbit

Submitted by Brian on April 1st, 2013 at 1:10 PM

3/31/2013 – Michigan 79, Florida 59 – 30-7, Final Four

nik-stauskas-michigan-wolverines-behind-the-back-pass-570x401

There was a point—probably the 360 GRIII dunk against Minnesota that capped a fist-pumping, game-sealing run on the home floor of what then seemed like a top-ten opponent—when this Michigan team's ceiling seemed limitless. If Michigan needed points, Trey Burke snapped his fingers and it was so. Nik Stauskas was flirting with all-time three-point shooting records; Tim Hardaway Jr seemed to have played himself into the first round, no questions. Defense was a minor issue, surely.

I spent chunks of words around this point talking about how everyone should grab this team and hold on tight, because joys like this don't come around very often. I think I wrote like three columns exhorting anyone who happened across this here blog to set aside cynicism or reserve and prise open their chest, the better to let your heart pound loose and free in the exhilaration of the moment.

Coming down from that was terribly sad. The shellshock of the first OSU game was okay, because they were young and still fought back like champions. That happened before the GR360 anyway. Losing at Indiana was expected, and relatively competitive and the Kohl Center debacle was a fluke. It was really the next two events that punched me right in the heart. When Michigan flat-out did not show up at Michigan State, I watched the second half on mute with a glass of whiskey in my hand. I don't even know what I did during the Penn State game, but I knew how it felt. It felt like Michigan basketball. Shit.

I was in orbit, man, and had not considered the possibility of forced reentry or what I'd turned the ol' heart into: a blast shield.

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There are few things better in basketball than a three point shooter going nuts. For all the things Kevin Durant his done, he may be best loved for blowing up Rucker Park with four consecutive threes. I mean:

image

Dr. J got his nickname on that court, and he can't make Google autosuggest. Localized abatements in the law of probability have pull. Stauskas's early-season emergence was Rucker Park every night.

The fade was inevitable, but every time an announcer mentions Nik Stauskas's still-blazing three-point shooting people who have been watching Michigan play basketball all year only hear that shooting percentage is a couple points lower than it was a couple games ago. Part of the magic that made Michigan seem like an unstoppable train was Stauskas's three point shooting lines. Here are twelve consecutive games: 3/4, 3/4, 1/4, 2/3, 4/7, 4/5, 3/4, 2/5, 4/8, 2/7, 5/8, 5/8.

If he let it go, you expected it to go down. Not in the sense that you were momentarily allowing hope to overwhelm your reason. In the sense that the ball in the air was literally better than 50/50 to go in the hoop despite being launched from a great distance. Stauskas's shooting was a microcosm of the team; it was impossible to do anything other than stare at it, slack-jawed. Stupid grins optional, but recommended.

The wake-up call came at Ohio State. Stauskas didn't score in 23 minutes; he only got off three terrible looks from three. Guy probably hadn't gone a game without scoring since he was six. Towards the end his brain foundered. As the Big Ten season progressed, his fate followed the team's: 1/5 from three in the Indiana loss as Jordan Hull showed him what efficiency was; the same line at the Trohl center; 5 turnovers in the Penn State debacle; 1/8 from the field in the second Wisconsin loss. His decline was a microcosm of the team's.

The slump reached epic proportions in the most important games of the season. Entering the Florida game he was 2/16 from deep in his last four games. Michigan papered over that with liberal helpings of Trey Burke and Mitch McGary, but against Kansas they'd escaped, more plucky underdog surviving one more day than team gunning for a title. I'd burst from my seat to shout something about sending it in when Stauskas rose up in overtime against Kansas, and then sheepishly sat down when it clanged off the rim.

Sunday, Florida left him. I don't know if this was a decision to pick the 2/16 poison instead of Burke and McGary or simply a screwup. Whatever the reason, they left him. Stauskas knocked it down. High fives all around. Stauskas knocked another one down. Eyebrows cocked. What if…

The NBA Jam "on fire" three was next, and then another, and suddenly Stauskas was delivering on everything he'd promised in videos of his dad feeding him over and over again in his backyard, those stories about him breaking Beilein three-point drill records, that highlight package of Stauskas torching Baylor as a high school senior, every splashed three pointer against Eastern and Central. They poured it in from all over, but mostly from Stauskas, who we'd all literally seen dream about this in his backyard. A basketball metronome. Automatic. Open corner three, forget about it.

That was one thing. That was all Michigan needed to separate itself, to finish the course reversal that started in the second half against South Dakota State. The other thing: the last one, the one pictured above, was not wide open. Stauskas evaded a hard closeout, dribbled a step to his left, and launched from behind the backboard. Didn't matter. Stauskas was no longer bound by gravity.

*["Nik Stauskas's dad" is a candidate for the most boring job of the last 18 years]

Highlights

Seth Greenberg breaks it down:

And official NCAA highlights:

Official site video includes Bacari cheese speech, locker room stuff:

Return to Ann Arbor:

Bullets ahhhhhh!

It started with a whisper defense? Um… yeah. Michigan started this game lighting it up from the field, finishing the first half at a scorching 1.3 points per possession. But the difference between this game and, say, VCU, was the opponent's ability to score. VCU got a lot of points out of the gate; Florida got none.

As Doug Gottlieb mentioned at halftime, this was a gameplan thing. Michigan did indeed put GRIII on Erik Murphy. With visions of various Kansas 4s going 11/14 from the floor, Florida set to attacking him on the block. To say this did not work is an understatement on par with "Sunday was fun." Murphy couldn't get deep in the post and ended up throwing up tough shots while taking contact. His line for the game: 0/11, with nine of those inside the line.

By the time he did launch one of the threes he hits at a 46% clip, there were ten minutes left in the second half. He shot on consecutive possessions; the first was heavily contested and off balance. The second wasn't quite as terrible of a look but GRIII did get a hand in his face. Obviously both missed.

For the game, Florida took all of ten(!) threes. That's 18% of their shots from a team that usually puts up 40%. As someone who tracked the scary-low number of three pointers Wisconsin gave up all year let me tell you: that is downright Wisconsonian. As Bo Ryan watched this game through a film of tears, cutting box at the ready, he had a nagging feeling of familiarity as a team that bombs away went 2/10 from three. "That could have been us," he sniffled, forgetting entirely about Ryan Evans trying to shoot a free throw.

Is this post going to descend into Bo Ryan masochism fiction?

Well, is it?

Hmm. It appears the answer is no. Shame.

More on defense. Michigan's D held Florida to 0.9 points a possession in the first half… and improved(!) in the second half. All but eliminating threes did not come with an excessive cost on the interior, where Florida shot 46%. A lot of those were Boynton or Rosario runners a lot like the shots VCU was clanging; those are clearly things Michigan has just decided to give up. McGary went from challenging them fruitlessly and opening up opportunities for second chance shots to sticking to his man.

Extra possession watch. Rebounding numbers were essentially identical—both teams had 9 OREBs, Florida had one extra DREB. Michigan won turnovers by 4. So I'm a bit baffled as to where Michigan's seven extra shots came from. Both teams had 46 2PA; Michigan had 9 extra 3PA to Florida's 4 extra FTA. More of Florida's free throws could have come in and-one situations, but that doesn't make up for what looks like a seven-shot difference, does it?

trey-burke-stealThe Burke. Burke's trademark steal came off at the end of the first half, giving Michigan two points that seemed worth a lot more as Florida made their push towards a single-digit deficit. I'm not sure about you, but I almost expected that. Burke has a pirate's instinct for the moment, and with Michigan nowhere near the bonus it was a free shot at two. With Florida holding for the last shot, a missed steal that Florida presses gives Michigan an extra possession.

I don't really get to talk much game theory about basketball, but that's a situation in which Burke's skill combines with his intelligence to make that a majorly +EV move.

Mitch: cooled off, sort of. McGary's been on the kind of streak where you can announce some statline of his to a room and get gales of laughter back. I read a tweet that ended up in my timeline stating that McGary had eight points and six rebounds at the under 12 timeout in the first half, and the room went LOL.

McGary didn't continue that torrid pace and fell short of his third consecutive double-double. Still: 11 points on 9 shot equivalents, 9 rebounds, just one turnover, two blocks, and five(!) steals. I don't think I've ever seen a big who's better at coming from behind a post feed for a steal. He doesn't just knock it away and home, he knocks it away, goes and gets it, and then sometimes chucks an audacious over-the-head outlet pass that demands a Wes Unseld reference.

Everyone's searching for their McGary comparable, so here's mine: Brian Cardinal. Cardinal was a quality three point shooter (god, imagine that skill added to McGary's repertoire), but in terms of being a super-active big who generates possessions and has a floor-burn collection, I like it.

Morgan and Horford. Those guys got 14 minutes as McGary got in a bit of foul trouble, and produced. Horford was 3/3 from the floor; combined they acquired nine rebounds, three on offense, and had a 1:1 A:TO ratio. Once Murphy proved he couldn't exploit Robinson on the interior, Michigan didn't need to go two-post (though they did run it out for a minute or two in the first half); those guys got production in when they were called on.

Good to see Morgan getting enough time to contribute. It would be beyond brutal for him if he'd been limited to the minute he got in the first two games of the tournament.

Spike. Albrecht is on a minutes streak: 15 against VCU, 11 against Kansas, 14 here. This was his best outing, obviously. It struck me as Florida tried to pressure him just how impossible it is to get the ball off of the guy. Even Burke will occasionally get his pocket picked by Craft and the like; Albrecht is so low to the ground and capable of that instant spin, so pressing him is futile. With Florida desperate and pressing Spike came in to take the ball up, easily beat the press, and then handed off to Burke. That conserved Burke's energy for the final stretch.

Three steals, two of which led to layups, and a three he knocked down are bonuses. He's doesn't seem enough of a threat inside the line to hold off Walton next year but who cares about that? Right now he's Michigan's main guy off the bench. He's now 44% from three on the year, BTW (albeit on just 25 attempts).

I still don't get deploying him against Kansas, which wasn't pressing and was destroying Michigan at the four.

Hardaway. An awful shooting night, but the difference between Hardaway this year and last: he put up five assists.

Beilein talent eye x2. So Albrecht, obviously. His other offer, singular, was Appalachian State. Then there's Casey Prather, who is often cited as an exception to the rule that if Beilein tries to get you, you are good at basketball. After seeing him play are you telling me you wouldn't want to have the guy off the bench in the LeVert role? 6'6" sticky defenders aren't too common. He's got great rebounding numbers for a wing. He can't shoot, but there'd be a role for him on a Final Four team.

The number one thing to fix about college refereeing. The Wisconsin Chest is a foul, but is never called. The Chest occurs when a guy goes up for a shot and his defender scoots his chest up into the lower body of the defender. Guy takes a bump, shot difficulty goes up a lot, principle of verticality is violated. Never gets a call. I've noticed that Michigan is getting better at the Chest in the the last couple games, because I'm now thinking "that's a foul ARGH" when Michigan's on defense. Which, yay for right now and all that, but also I feel dirty.

Gottliebtake. I'm of two minds about Gottlieb. He's obviously annoying. Earlier this year I tweeted something to the effect of "that guy should wear a lucha libre mask and call himself Strongtake." He has one strength of opinion: extra.

But this does allow him to say interesting things and ask interesting questions. There should be someone badgering the committee rep about why Oregon was 12 seed and that guy should be rolling his eyes when the committee rep tells him "well, they were really an 11" as if anyone gets incensed about teams that are one line off of expectations. There should be someone doing college basketball games who won't shut up about how terrible the monitor review process is—there should be dozens, actually. There should be someone willing to bomb Billy Donovan's first half gameplan when it results in Florida going 1/5 from three. He seems to have a mild form of Tourette's—the white guy analyst comment. I'm in favor of weird guys, I guess.

Elsewhere

[12:39 PM] Ace: http://www.wdfn.com/pages/shep.html?article=11133369
[12:39 PM] Ace: BEILEIN DANCING ALERT

Every net-cutting video you could want. UMHoops recap. Slideshow from Melanie Maxwell. WE HAD SUBS

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will it surprise you that Beilein says he's "trying to have more fun"?

IT WAS CRAZY

UMHoops photos.

OU's Greg Kampe on the Syracuse matchup and some other things. What do Michigan fans think? They are generally in favor! Wojo. Daily's Daniel Wasserman. Everett Cook. Meinke on Stauskas. Beard on Albrecht.

Congratulations! Go back to class. Michigan is a two point favorite. MVictors. They facetimed Novak from courtside after.

DEATH FROM ABOVE! FLORIDA!

DEATH FROM ABOVE! FLORIDA!

Submitted by Brian on March 31st, 2013 at 12:08 AM

derbyspencer_large[1]THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan vs Florida
WHERE Jerryworld
Dallas-ish, Texas
WHEN 2:20 PM Eastern, Sunday
LINE Florida -5 (Kenpom)
TV CBS

The Gators' mascot in its natural habitat, a horse track, drinking the blood of its only prey: bourbon.

THE TEMPO-FREE

Four factors. Ranks are in parentheses and out of 347.

eFG% Turnover % Off. Reb. % FTA/FGA
Offense 55.6 (6) 17.7 (47) 34.4 (83) 31.1 (294)
Defense 42.9 (6) 22.6 (41) 28.5 (53) 30.2 (54)

Florida is at least good at everything except getting to the line, which they don't do much largely because they bomb away from three (40% of their shots). This is not a disadvantage since they hit 38% from deep. They are great at both eFG offense and eFG defense.

Add the above up and that's the #5 offense, #2 defense, and runaway Kenpom #1 team.

THE THEM

Florida is powerful because they get contributions from every spot on the roster. No Gator has a usage rate higher than 23, and they go seven deep in guys with 18+ (20 is average). At one point in the year three or four Gators—I forget exactly how many—were in the Kenpom Player of the Year top ten. They were all at the bottom of the top ten and there is a team adjustment in there, but holy hot damn all the same.

img20986118[1]

ha ha wisconsin

If there is a go-to guy it's senior post Erik Murphy, who shoots 78/61/46. That 46 is no fluke—his shots are evenly split between twos and threes. Part of what makes Florida brutal to defend is Murphy pulling opponent posts to the perimeter and letting the 250-pound Patric Young make roaring noises on the interior. But anyway: Murphy. A 6'10" guy shooting threes has a top ten TS%. He doesn't turn it over much and his rebound rates are pretty good for a guy who's often on the perimeter on offense. His weakness, such as it is, is a slight predilection for foul trouble.

The aforementioned Patric Young—Murphy stole his K—is a slab of angry muscle who boards on both ends and has a post game to go with his assorted posterizings of opponents. That game consists of an assortment of baby hooks around the basket—he's not a shooter. But if you're sick of blocks coming from nowhere, don't watch this game.

Young shoots 59% from the floor; his prime weakness is 49% FT shooting. Possibly as a result he gets to the line a ton. In most cases if you have the option to foul Young as he's shooting, you should take the opportunity.

You can see the problem, I imagine. No matter who Michigan puts GRIII on it's a mismatch. He's 20 or 30 pounds lighter than either guy, a few inches shorter, and a few years younger. If I'm picking my poison I would go with Murphy, who seems like less of an OREB monster and will have to abandon his 46% three point shooting to exploit the matchup. I'm not happy about it either way.

The men who are not large are all kind of the same. They're upperclassmen around 6'2" who are about evenly split between twos and split the usage fairly evenly. They shoot a bit over 50% from two and around 35% from three; they don't get to the line much. Point guard #5 Scottie Wilbekin has a higher assist rate and a higher TO rate than the other two guys; he's only an okay FT shooter (71%) instead of very good like the other two. Senior #1 Kenny Boyton is the most three-heavy (218) attempts but has fallen off considerably from the 40% rate he hit last year. He's now idling at 32%. Senior #3 Mike Rosario has the best 3PT% at 38%.

November 29, 2012; Gainesville, FL, USA;Florida Gators guard/forward Casey Prather (24) reacts after he made a shot against the Marquette Golden Eagles  during the first half at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports141734665.0_standard_352.0[1]

what's with the tongue casey

Florida is another bench-shy team. They go eight deep. You may remember #24 Casey Prather from Michigan's unsuccessful attempt to recruit him; he's Florida's designated shutdown wing defender. As the only guy on the roster with the size and quicks to take on Stauskas and Hardaway, he might get more than his 15 or so minutes in this one. On offense he's a high-flier who throws down a ton and has an outlandish 80% eFG on shots at the rim. He's not bad from range, either. He's hitting 65% of his shots, has a double-digit OREB rate, and fills up the stat sheet with steals and blocks. He fouls a bit too much and can't shoot free throws but he's a quality option. This time Beilein's eye for talent isn't helping.

6'7" Will Yeguette is the main post backup; don't be fooled by the height. He checks in at a burly 240 pounds and has an extremely good 12/22 rebound rate, plus plenty of steals. He is another defensive ace off the bench:

When he was healthy, he was making immense contributions to the Gators' defense -- as a long-armed trapper/interceptor in the press (with a team-high 3.3 steal percentage); a great backline defender in the 2-3 zone; and the team's best defensive rebounder (with a 22.9 percent DReb rate). As coach Billy Donovan told the Orlando Sentinel, "Any time you lose a guy like Will Yeguete your defense is going to be different. Will adds a different dimension down there in terms of covering up a lot of things."

He's one of those long-armed, bouncy not-quite-a-fours who can plausibly guard four positions.

Shooting guard #20 Michael Frazier is a corner gunner. 80% of his attempts are from three; he hits at 47%. He turns the ball over a lot for a corner gunner and has a weirdly huge DREB rate, but mostly he's just that guy who nails open threes.

You know something weird? This is a John Beilein team.

THE RESUME

The good: Florida is not clutch, having lost all six games they've played in which the winning margin was in single digits. The bad: clutch probably doesn't exist and the Gators are 29-7, meaning they've won 29 blowouts this season and lost one. Scoring lots of points and not allowing your opponents to score any is a good way to find yourself at the top of tempo-free leaderboards.

However, it's hard to get a grip on just how good Florida is for the same reasons it was hard to figure out Pitt, which was rampant against any bad team and middling at best against the rest. That added up to a top-ten Kenpom ranking, an eight seed, and a not particularly competitive first round exit against Wichita State. Wichita State is in the Final Four now, but still.

In the nonconference section of Florida's schedule they laid waste to the state of Wisconsin, winning by 18 against the Badgers and 33(!) against the Golden Eagles. They blew out tourney at-large Middle Tennessee State, too. On the down side of the ledger: a one-point loss at Arizona and six-point loss to Kansas State at the Phone Company Center in Kansas City (so pretty much an away game).

Once SEC play hit, Florida busted out its flamethrower and looked to be on their way to an unprecedented domination of a mid-major league* until Arkansas caught fire in the first half and ended up winning by 11. This was in Arkansas, obviously. Arkansas outside of Arkansas is Grambling.

Florida recovered from this to bomb a few more SEC foes before losing at Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky to to finish 14-4. They went down to Ole Miss in the SEC championship game.

In the tourney, they blew out 14-seed Northwestern State, pretty much blew out 11-seed Minnesota, and controlled Florida Gulf Subs University after a shaky start. That Minnesota win brings their record against common opponents with Michigan to 3-2, with wins over Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Minnesota and losses to Arkansas and K-State. Michigan was 3-2 against the same teams, with both losses to Wisconsin.

*[HA!]

THE PROTIPS

To be perfectly blunt, watch Florida have an off shooting night from three. You know they're going to go up, and they're going to go up in spades. Michigan doesn't really have much control over whether the go down or not, both because threes are a lottery and Michigan doesn't close out too well. In general the variance that a three-heavy offense brings is detrimental to deep tourney runs, as one off game condemns you. Michigan found that out last year. Winnchart:

130206.05[1]

This was a bit earlier in the season when Winn was guessing the Gators would grab a one. They ended up with a three and have already exceeded expected performance, albeit by beating a 14, an 11, and a 15.

Michigan does have a shot of matching them three for three, so there's that. Let's go dome?

Run effectively off long rebounds. With a bunch of long shots come a bunch of long rebounds and the resulting runouts that fuel Michigan's high-powered transition offense. That's the theory, anyway. Michigan and Florida see an identical 12% of opponent shots in the first ten seconds after an opponent rebound.

Win the boards. Is this likely? Oh hell no. But I would have told you the same thing before the Kansas game and thanks to Mitch McGary and Trey Burke drawing huge amounts of defensive attention, Michigan outrebounded Kansas by a whopping 50%. (IE: their OREB rate was 33% and Kansas's was 22%.) Mitch McGary playing 35 minutes is a wildcard unaccounted for in the Kenpom numbers.

mitch-mcgary-michigan-big-pick-570x379[1]

Mitch McGary: continue being a low-foul rebound vacuum shooting 80% from the field. No problem. I heard that Patric Young said McGary was literally a fetus.

Seriously though, Michigan doesn't win their last game without McGary making up for some defensive issues with a crushingly effective offensive and possession-generation game. He doesn't have to do quite the same thing against

Tim Hardaway and/or Nik Stauskas: go off. At all times one or the other will be able to shoot over their man, who will be four inches shorter. For a good chunk of the game, both of them will. Possibly all of the game if Billy Donovan elects to put Casey Prather on Burke. If one of those guys can come up with a game in which you think the shot is down before it even leaves the guy's hand, the path to victory becomes much clearer. I don't think Michigan gets this one without one of the two wings lighting it up.

Hope Florida is a Pitt-like product in which weak competition is blown out of the gym but reasonable folks are competitive. The Wisconsin and Marquette games are not great arguments here. But Florida has lost to K-State and Arkansas. They're more human than the number suggest.

Trey!!!! Do I hear double-digit exclamation points? Triple?

THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES

Florida by five.

Lore

Lore

Submitted by Brian on March 30th, 2013 at 12:51 PM

3/29/2013 – Michigan 87, Kansas 85 (OT) – 29-7, Elite Eight

Trey-Ballin[1]

Every year.

Every year from now until the country collapses into warring fiefdoms because of peak oil or some other nonsense, Trey Burke rising up from 30 feet over a 6'8" guy will make an appearance on someone's reel of insane NCAA tournament moments. Even after the collapse, if things go badly for you and you are captured anywhere from Topeka to Kansas City you can escape by just uttering the words "Trey Burke" and watching your captors seize helplessly. Collect their weapons and go. Once recovered they will be in a foul mood.

It's going to go in every time. You won't have that sickening lurch in your stomach as the bottom drops out of your hopes and then slowly tick-tick-ticks up the rollercoaster as the improbable trajectory seems true. Josh Bartlestein is way ahead of you on this, and you'll see Bartlestein start celebrating two beats before anyone else in the arena can figure out if they're going to live or die. This time, it'll go down. This time, every time.

Michigan wouldn't have been in this position if the rim had been kind at Ohio State, or at Wisconsin, or at home against Indiana. They'd have popped up a seed or two and avoided a team like the Jayhawks, maybe even gotten the gilded path the Buckeyes got and are determined to make look like the Bataan Death March. Thanks to a delirious two and a half minutes no one has been able to figure out yet, and probably never will, Michigan erased a ten-point deficit, and then that happened, and then Trey Burke did that twice more in overtime and Michigan's where they thought they might be when they walked into Assembly Hall the #1 team in the nation: playing a three seed for the right to go to the Final Four.

At this point I'm not sure that even matters that much. I mean, yeah, obviously it matters. But that shot is going in, over and over, for everyone, forever. It is written on cuneiform tablets found in ancient Sumeria, and a tatoo on Charles Barkley's forehead.

BGkzJq2CAAI3RgX[1]

via @ggoodness56

I'll Probably Embed This On The Next Four Posts

Also a little more of the end of the game:

And Burke talking to Sager:

Because Twitter Will Kill Me If We Don't

There is a "WE HAD SUBS IT WAS CRAZY" shirt.

5665_94[1]

Mystify your friends.

Bullets

imageIma let you block five shots Jeff Withey, but Mitch McGary is the greatest post of all time in this game. Wait, first Withey: the guy blocked a Trey Burke floater on a pick and roll, despite being a good five feet from the shooter. Boggle. Trey agrees:

He kind of surprised me the first half, once I got to the free throw line and shot.  He had a piece of it.  I think he was deep in the paint and he still got a piece of it.

Michigan shot 56% from two against him, boggle.

Okay, Mitch. First, inhale.

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA.

12/17 from the floor against Jeff Withey with 5 offensive rebounds and 9 defensive rebounds. Three steals. An assist. One turnover. One blocked shot and a second that was so clean in this world of "you can do anything as long as your arms aren't fouling a dude" that the sound of the whistle made me leap from my seat and cry "noooooo," Vader-style.

McGary spearheaded another blowout on the boards against Kansas, with Michigan doubling up the Jayhawks in offensive rebounds and winning the tempo-free battle 33% to 23%. He put up 25 points on 19 shot equivalents and generated at least eight extra possessions for M. He didn't pick up a foul until deep into the second half. I think we've just seen the best game of his career.

McGary has definitively arrived now. It's one thing to beat up on Juvonte Reddic and the four dwarves, entirely another to leave scattered bits of Jayhawk in your wake. The finer points of defense still elude him; that's the difference between McGary being pretty dang good next year or All American. That and free throws.

Now that we're used to the hugeness and the energy, the striking thing about McGary is how skilled he is. He hit an elbow jumper in this one and followed that up with a late turnaround from the short corner that was some Duncan business. His bunnies go down at a huge rate because he can slam them down when appropriate but also has excellent body control and the ability to shoot with both hands. Most of McGary's makes don't even touch the rim.

['shop via Ace.]

Relatedly. At halftime I made a comment about how I missed the version of Kansas that shot itself in the foot until it ran out of feet and just kept shooting, and more than one person said something about how they missed Burke. I was a little confused by this, and then the TV put up some chyron stating that he had zero points. Oh.

I didn't really feel that. Michigan had over a point per possession at halftime largely thanks to Burke getting the offense set up, and if he missed shots they often drew so much attention that GRIII or Mitch McGary was able to get a putback. Faced with the prospect of taking on Withey, he mostly got his teammates involved. Five assists is a lot of assists in a half.

I was frustrated by a thirty-foot bomb that came early in the shot clock and set up a break the other way. It felt selfish. Even that turned out to be necessary range-finding as Trey unleashed his inner Jimmer in the second half.

Win graph. Per reader request, the win graph from Kenpom:

image

Michigan's win probability dipped to 0.6 with 2:33 left, down ten. That was one in a hundred—one in two hundred. Trey's shot took Michigan from 10% to just over 30%.

Jordan Morgan, scrapping. Morgan only got five minutes, about which more later. This bullet is a feel-good bullet about Morgan dusting himself off and turning in two huge plays:

  • scrapping to the ground after Hardaway's missed three pointer and eventually getting the ball to GRIII for his acrobatic layup.
  • forcing Nutpunch Johnson to orbit so far around the corner that by the time he realized Hardaway wasn't leaving McLemore, anything he threw up was going off he side of the backboard.

His boxscore contributions were thin (though I guess three rebounds in five minutes is pretty good), but Michigan did need him and he did come through. Beilein lifted McGary for him on that final possession; it's hard to see McGary pushing Johnson as far outside as Morgan ended up doing. Also, Morgan eventually decided to do nothing:

"I was going to go up with (Johnson) and I saw he was looking to pass. I backed off a little bit but the angle he had wasn't necessarily the best," Morgan said. "He didn't have a good angle to put it off the backboard, so he got caught too far under and if it had been a floater, that would have been tougher than putting it off the glass."

That zen decision is not something McGary specializes in.

Karma is going to punch you in the nuts. Speaking of ol' Nutpunch Johnson, he picked up an obvious charge shortly after being assessed the flagrant one, sat, came back, picked up a cheap one on an out of bounds play, and sat yet more time. He ended up getting 20 or so minutes in the last 25; he hit some shots… and had 0 assists to 5 turnovers, not even counting the mess he made of the last play. Oh and that McGary statline. Oh and missing the front end right before Burke blew everyone's brains up.

My only regret is that Johnson is a senior—otherwise we would have a delightful couple years of competing nicknames for the guy in the blogosphere.

Spike. I don't get it. Michigan gave Albrecht 11 minutes, and I was confused by about 10 of those—Burke sat for one. In this game it seemed like Michigan badly needed post defense, especially at the four. Kevin Young, Jamari Traylor and Perry Ellis combined to go 11/14, give or take an Ellis attempt against McGary when Withey was on the bench.

At 5'11", Albrecht is not noted for his post defense. While he was perfect for the up-and-down VCU outing, having him out there for a big chunk of time right after halftime was odd. He barely touched the ball on offense, and Michigan's defense with him out there was pretty porous.

Morgan at the four seemed like the move. Robinson had a decent night on offense and added three steals of his own, but, man, 11/14. Am I crazy here?

Stauskas took it easy, man. I predicted a tough night for Stauskas. He did okay. His attempts were relatively limited, which was fine. He took only good shots, hitting all three inside the arc and 1/4 from three—the OT miss was a killer. 11 points on 9 shot equivalents is decent output; he also had three assists.

But like man, if I can scream "make a free throw" in anguish at anyone, it's Stauskas. That missed front end would have paired with the foul on McGary's block in a Jacob Marley tapdance duet if Michigan hadn't pulled their asses out of the fire.

They really need an advantage call or something. If your foul does not prevent a fast break from fast breaking, the refs should just stick their arms out wildly to indicate a foul is coming but they have chosen to let the play go because the offense is in a fast break state.

If only my predictions weren't literally taking whatever Kenpom says and repeating it because I think predicting sporting events is an incredibly foolish pastime, as last night's game amply demonstrates. By which I mean, suck it local media!

Local writers
Nick Baumgardner, MLive: Kansas (66-61)
Kyle Meinke, MLive: Kansas (67-61)
Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press: Kansas (67-63)
Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press: Kansas (70-61)
Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press: Kansas (72-68)
Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press: Kansas (71-65)
Rod Beard, Detroit News: Kansas (72-65)
Matt Charboneau, Detroit News: Kansas (74-68)
John Niyo, Detroit News: Kansas (67-63)
Bob Wojnowski, Detroit News: Kansas (72-68)
Brian Cook, MGoBlog: Michigan (by one)

(I also expected Kansas to win in my heart of hearts.)

Elsewhere

Burke postgame from GBW:

It finally went down:

Trey Burke has taken the last shot for Michigan before but come up short several times.

Burke has seen his share of misses at the buzzer: Last season at Arkansas and this season at Ohio State, at Wisconsin and at home against Indiana.

One out of five is… fantastic right this instant.

MAY?

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Trey Burke may now officially be a folk hero, and Michigan's season is still alive.

Sample size. Woo.

Before the game, Michigan coach John Beilein wasn't ready to call that a slump or get a good feeling about McLemore's struggles.

"He's played how many games in postseason? Two?" Beilein said. "I wouldn't say that's a good sample size."

Presser transcript. Michigan has freshmen. Wojo. You did what to who?

Kansas center Jeff Withey was asked before his team faced Michigan whether he could dominate Mitch McGary.

"Yeah, definitely," Withey said. "He's not very tall. ... We'll definitely have to try taking advantage of my height."

That got telephoned into this:

"(McGary) looked at me last night, right before we went to bed, and he said, 'Did you hear what he said about me?" said Glenn Robinson III, McGary's roommate. "'He said, 'I’m not excited about his height. I don’t think anything about his height. And I expect to dominate him.'

"I looked at him and was like, ‘Oh. We’ll show him.’"

If Withey had said his bit a couple days earlier by the time it got to McGary it would have described him as a midget toad, so Kansas actually got off easy there. Seniors hugging and such. Rapping and ancient Chinese texts. Horford is a trip yo:

there was forward Jon Horford, off in a far corner ... reading a book.

One more time: Jon Horford, 15 minutes after advancing to the Elite Eight in one his school's most exciting tournament games ever, was reading a book.

Reporter: Jon. Jon. Jon.

HEY, JON.

Still no answer.

Finally, after a shout from point guard Spike Albrecht, Horford looks up from his ruffled pages.

"Hey man, what's up?" he said, apparently ignorant to or indifferent of the fact reading a book at this time is not customary. And he wasn't exactly thumbing the pages of Sports Illustrated, either.

Horford was reading the "Tao Te Ching," an ancient Chinese text believed to have been penned between the sixth century and fourth century BC.

A first look at Florida.

John Beilein Recalls Wild Friday Evening

John Beilein Recalls Wild Friday Evening

Submitted by Seth on March 29th, 2013 at 11:24 PM

By ubiquitous request, we present tonight's commemorative unit of fashionable upper body apparel. (UPDATE: Those waiting on the store link to order your shirt, be patient. It's off the hook in there. UPDATE UPDATE: now working.)

It was someone's birthday. Someone who'd been really good this year. We had the grandkids over and had pizza and chicken wings. But the pizza was cold. And they forgot the wings (They usually have such great wings).

We thought about calling it a night—there will be another birthday next year—but then Trey...Trey said "Let's get subs!"

But it was far away, the place with the subs. Really far away. Like past the county line and closer to the state border than the edge of the arc. But that kid, he just went and delivered the subs. One after another: bologna and ham; three-salami and roast beef with provolone; turkey, swiss, mortadella and capacolla on cracked whole wheat, no tomato. Every order went down. And suddenly there we were…

Let me tell you, it was quite a night. We even made t-shirts!

(Here's the reference.)