Mudville Fine Comment Count

Brian March 4th, 2013 at 12:19 PM

3/3/2013 – Michigan 58, Michigan State 57 – 24-5, 11-5 Big Ten


left via @detnewsRodBeard / right Eric Upchurch

Sports are hard, and even great players usually succumb to their hardness. When the hockey team had TJ Hensick, when they were tied or trailing late I spent all moments with Hensick on the bench pining for his next shift, and mostly was disappointed when nothing happened. I mean… Denard Robinson. That guy was so great that he ran through two Ohio State defenders and teleported to the endzone, and yet that first sentence is a large chunk of his Michigan career epitaph.

There's a reason Wikipedia describes Casey at the Bat like so:

For a relatively short poem apparently dashed off quickly (and denied by its author for years), "Casey at the Bat" had a profound effect on American popular culture. It has been recited, re-enacted, adapted, dissected, parodied and subjected to just about every other treatment one could imagine.[2]

Probability is an implacable thing. When we turn our lonely eyes to hero du jour in our time of need, the odds are stacked against us. If you're great you move that needle only slightly. Your brain is all like

They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
They'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

Your brain is kind of dumb, and Casey at the Bat is great at telling you that. Your brain listens but does not hear.


My dumb brain was contemplating a blown ten-point lead against Michigan State on the heels of a blown 15-point lead to Penn State and had decided basketball was a pudding and the universe a fake. Michigan State had the ball, the game was tied, and the shot clock was no longer relevant. Earlier in the year Michigan had lost when a no-hoper went in, and my dumb brain was assuming that would always happen forever.

Burke did this.

The thing about this is that Burke developed that move midway through the season and now deploys it a few times a game. He really ramped it up after his first game against Aaron Craft, seemingly because Craft just pissed him off. A few times a game Burke will muster his energy, hike up his shorts, and go looking for trouble on defense. That's part of his ever-expanding game.

That breakway layup off the from-behind steal is a thing I can see him gearing up for now, and I saw it then, and because my brain is dumb it'll burn that into my memory and not the other times when Casey struck out. 

It'll go there next to Braylonfest and Mario Manningham and Ernest Shazor killing that guy and Phil Brabbs and that one time I turned on a basketball game with Michigan down 15 to Wisconsin with six minutes left and saw Daniel Horton eat that deficit into nothingness. It'll probably be the first thing anyone involved with this rivalry thinks about when Trey Burke is brought up. It was the kind of thing that's the first thing on the highlight reel when they put your number in the rafters.

That he followed it up by robbing Michigan State of a chance to respond is icing on the cake. After Ben Brust, any shot in the air with a chance to beat Michigan is going to be two seconds of awful anticipation no matter how likely it is to go in. Trey Burke is both awesome at basketball and extremely protective of my emotions. He curls his lip and tilts his head and probably says "damn" and takes basketballs away from people who should not have them after 38 minutes of carrying twelve teammates and 12-thousand-some people in Crisler on his back.


Dawgs. This program has had a couple of nasty dudes at point guard the past few years. I hope Derrick Walton can inherit that.

Your excuses are lame. Both Izzo and Appling claimed that there was some sort of confusion about timeouts before Burke picked Appling's pocket, which is a pretty weak explanation since Appling has clearly decided no TO is coming when he spins and moves to the center of the court. Y'all got robbed straight up.

Life is strange. Michigan loses to Penn State, then beats Michigan State despite going 0/12 from three. I quiver at the thought of playing Purdue. Everyone will turn into crows and play crowhockey, or something.

Obligatory video review complaint. Nik Stauskas got busted open by a wild Branden Dawson elbow, required 12 stitches and was not able to return—probably because he was concussed—and no foul was assessed after an interminable break. It looked like this:


If that's the way you're going to call it, fine. It was inadvertent. But then stop with the interminable reviews. Apparently nothing is a flagrant foul, so stop looking for them.

It's strange how different sports legislate themselves. If hockey was reffed under basketball rules, every post-whistle scrum would come with two ejections, but in basketball you can crush a guy's face and as long as you weren't looking at him it's cool. That's some sort of penalty in the other two sports where elbows get involved, hockey and soccer, and probably a red card/major. In basketball, nope… but only one sport stops the game incessantly to look at these sorts of incidents. I don't get it man.

Morgan defense watch. After Dan Dakich pointed out that Nix always-always goes over his right shoulder when making post moves it's been something that's stood out to me as I watch MSU play, and in this one it was obvious. In that tendency you could see where Morgan is a superior on-ball defender to McGary.

Against Morgan, Nix put up a bunch of contested shots on which Morgan positioned himself such that Nix would take a bump as he tried to go up. In scattered matchups against McGary it was clear McGary had not absorbed the scouting report; Nix got him for a bucket by threatening to go to the middle of the lane and then spinning over his right shoulder like he always does. Morgan, on the floor at the same time, was visibly irritated at McGary—he probably said something along the lines of "he ALWAYS turns over his right shoulder" or "RTFSR*."

Despite that make the difference in Nix's efficacy was dramatic. Morgan played nine minutes in the first game; Nix went 6 of 9 from the floor and had 3 assists to no turnovers. Morgan had 24 in this one; Nix went 2 of 9 with 2 assists and six turnovers, with one of those makes the aforementioned bucket against McGary. Morgan's absence in the first game was definitely a contributing factor to the ugliness therein.

*["Read the frondling scouting report."]



Mocking floor slap for the win. State did the team floor slap thing in the previous game, and did it in this one, and Big Tough Mr. Men got an alley-oop on their face this time, whereupon Michigan responded with sports sarcasm:

via mgovideo

Sports sarcasm is the best. You can tell it is mocking because 1) everyone knows MSU's about to call a TO, and Trey does it twice. I enjoyed that.

McGary FTs. Having Mitch McGary receive the inbounds pass at the end was clearly not the best idea, but Michigan put themselves in a situation where that was possible by using up all their timeouts early. When MSU tripled Burke it was a scramble off the make and the other options were Horford and a covered LeVert.

1) Dump basketball timeouts. End game situations are more chaotic and fun without them.

2) Don't call all of them, especially when you're just setting up a play instead of preserving a possession.

McGary other game. A mixed bag. Like the rest of the bigs he shares in the issues rebounding. One DREB in 21 minutes is Nnanna Egwu level output. He was efficient offensively, going 4/6 from the floor and hitting 3/5 FTs, and he generated a few of those shots himself with two-bounce drives and a nice short corner turnaround. He's showing things that should lead to an increased offensive role as he develops.

8526486586_9dde7e1964_z[1] Paging Caris Levert. (Upchurch @ right) With Stauskas knocked out four minutes in, Caris LeVert got starters minutes. He did okay with them, scoring eight points on 4/8 shooting from two, missing three attempts from deep, and getting a couple steals. He was mostly guarding Gary Harris; Harris had an eh day with 16 points on 16 shot equivalents.

As long as Stauskas isn't suffering ill effects from the concussion I don't think he'll see his playing time cut much if at all… as long as he's not doing the things that caused Beilein to explode at him in the Penn State game. Competition for that spot will improve it, and if Caris is reliable enough to get him 16 minutes instead of eight Michigan can rest Tim Hardaway a bit more.

Statistical extremes. Take your pick as to which was more of an anomaly: Michigan going 0-fer from three or MSU coughing up 18 turnovers to Michigan's 7. I'll take the former since Michigan is a notoriously low-turnover team and MSU has had their share of issues. Also in the anomaly bucket: MSU rebounded half their misses. While not entirely unexpected, that is extreme.

Speaking of the rebounding. Hammered. Michigan went with the dual-big lineup for nine minutes; it didn't help much. As mentioned, McGary just had 1 DREB. Morgan had four, Horford none in four minutes. If the ball wasn't bouncing to a guard chances are Michigan did not get it.

Michigan's rebounding is reverting after another nonconference season in which they found themselves top-ten. After entering Big Ten play #2 in DREB they're down to 45th. They're fifth in Big Ten play, still a major step up from last year's ninth but not an earth-shaking paradigm change.

Burke fall down make fast break. Michigan State exploited a couple of things to get some early fast break opportunities off of makes: 1) Burke falls down a lot after he tries layups and 2) he never gets a call on this even if someone has bashed him to the ground. You'd like to see him keep his feet, but it's hard to see how in a lot of these situations.

Drinkin' your milkshake part 2. Drake Harris visited last weekend. This weekend…


Devin Gardner changes his twitter handle like every two weeks.

I hear tell he's supposed to be back next weekend, too? Dios mio, man.



March 4th, 2013 at 12:41 PM ^

not a great game though. how many little layups and put-backs did UM miss? you could tell how close the clock was to the 4 minute tv timeouts by how tired burke looked, everyone else too.

also, i know tv has their "story line," but michigan's points in the paint were not stereotypical post-up points in the paint. lots of little transition stuff instead. but technically, yes, points in the paint.


March 4th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

4 in the first half for sure and 2 early on in the second. I lost track in the second once the game got tense, but it's something I've been watching for since the Indiana game. Other than "Chris Webber would've dunked that", I don't know how you fix it but it's defintiely a problem this team has.

Dutch Ferbert

March 4th, 2013 at 12:58 PM ^

Is that still a rule?

Seriously though, do B1G refs ever call over the back anymore? You are more likely to get called for a foul for watching someone travel then you are for committing a blatant over the back.

Oh well, 4 out of the last 6 in this rivalry makes up for the horrible officiating.


March 4th, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

I didn't realize that Stauskas was hurt that badly because CBS NEVER SHOWED WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED! They kept talking about a block from behind on the other side of the court. Next time you see Stauskas, he is on the sitting on the bench with a bandaid on.

Dutch Ferbert

March 4th, 2013 at 1:02 PM ^

Did they ever give a good replay of the out of bounds call on McGary towards the end of the game?

The only replay I saw showed his feet clearly in bounds. The announcers then said the ball was out but never showed a replay from an angle that showed the ball. If the ball was out fine, but I would have liked to see something showing it had hit the line.

True Blue Grit

March 4th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

reviewing something at the table while the announcers were talking about some other play it sounded like.  I finally figured it out when I saw Stauskas way in the background holding his hand up to his face.  But no mention of that from the old guy announcers.  I know for a fact Lundquist was doing games at Crisler in the mid-80's when I had season tickets. 


March 4th, 2013 at 4:07 PM ^

It was no better at the game.  We received absolutely no explanation as to why play was stopped for five minutes.  You'd think at some point the referees might want to tell us what was going on.  If they're going to review like that, they should get on the mic, football-style, and explain the ruling to the crowd.



Yinka Double Dare

March 4th, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

Maybe a concussion/concussion-like symptoms, but also possible that given the location of the cut, the swelling was causing his eye to close up some and affecting his vision.


March 4th, 2013 at 1:09 PM ^


Did TV catch the moment where Teddy V. was boisterously illustrating to Izzo why he called an offensive foul on Adreian Payne in the first half? It was giffable in the extreme and I may have been the only person in the arena to see it.

BOX House

March 4th, 2013 at 1:09 PM ^

"Trey Burke is both awesome at basketball and extremely protective of my emotions".  Couldn't have said it better myself; Trey Burke single-handedly saved my emotions from a trainwreck on a Sunday evening.


March 4th, 2013 at 1:19 PM ^

Devin Gardner needs to have a talk with his preferred department store clerk about the fact that he is in fact 6 foot 4 inches tall.  That is a child's tie.


March 4th, 2013 at 1:28 PM ^

...I'm not sure I buy the premise that sports are hard. Begging on the streets of Calcutta is hard. Selling sex in Bangkok is hard. Single parenting while working minimum wage jobs is hard. Sports is something we do for entertainment and relaxation. Is there a great deal of pressure and stress in sports at the major collegiate level? Absolutely. Is it hard, relative to other things one might do? Not really, no.


March 4th, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

He's not saying that sports are the most difficult thing to do with one's life. He's saying that success in sports is fleeting, and that eventually all athletes and teams will succumb, to some extent, one way or another, to the statistical reality that failure is more likely than success.


March 4th, 2013 at 3:53 PM ^

No, there's too much. On rethinking, it's probably unfair to describe Brian's article as proposing that playing sports is "hard" in some absolute sense. In the relevant sense of trying to perform at a very high level every game, it's hard in the sense that probability is hard--sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you. That said, sports are, for almost all relevant intents, 50/50 propositions. In particular situations during a game, the chances of doing what one wants can be significantly less than that, but at the start of the game there are two teams and one will be filled with heroes, the other goats. I get caught up in the moment as much as the next guy, and I appreciate just how special a player needs to be to do what Trey did yesterday. And I appreciate as well that there are times when Trey will not hit the game-winning basket as zeroes go up on the timer. Does that make it "hard"? I would say the better word would be "unlikely". And I support what I would now see as Brian's deeper point--what Trey did was unlikely. Even for Trey. So I damn well hope everyone appreciated it.

Especially those single moms.

His Dudeness

March 4th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

RE: Drake Harris 

Being from West Michigan I can tell you it's weird. It is pretty heavy MSU lean, but for no reason other than "my dad/mom or friends mom/dad went there." I believe that if we get enough of these kids on campus they can be turned like Drake seems to be. I never understood why kids from WM always just like MSU more when they seemingly had no ties to the school. It's weird, man.


March 4th, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

So, Morgan makes a "dramatic" difference defensively by turning Nix's 6-9 into 2-9 and 6 TOs, but LeVert gets a "he did OK" for containing Harris (a much better and more talented player.)

Apply the same comp and you get Harris' line moving from 17 points on 13 shots with 3 assists, no turnovers and 3 steals to 16 points on 16 shots (2 TOs, 1 assist, no steals).

Let's not pretend PSU was a total outlier in Stauskas' defensive inadequacies and let's not pretend his abscense didn't have something to do with the improved D against MSU - it wasn't all Morgan.

It's putting it kindly to say this blog's bias toward it's favored player(s) is caricature-worthy.   




March 4th, 2013 at 2:15 PM ^

I'm looking at the two stat lines you posted for Harris, and I barely detect a difference.

17 points on 13 shots vs. 16 points on 16 shots is probably not statistically significant. 2-9 with 6 TOs vs. 6-9 with 0 TOs? That's a sea change.


March 4th, 2013 at 3:36 PM ^

Harris went from 3 assists, 1 TO, and 3 steals to 1/2/0 at Crisler.

Stauskas had 0 assists, 2 TO, and 0 steals.  LeVert flipped that to 0/0/2.

In aggregate, thats a flip of 10 in the good-things-happening-for-Michgan margin; -7 @ Breslin to +3 at Crisler.  That doesn't count Caris taking a charge either.

Not a perfect metric, but you get my point.  Points don't tell the whole story of defense. Nix losing 7 and Harris losing just one but Harris had to take 3 more shots to get close. Defending Harris is the taller task - he's a better, more talented, more important player (MSU's best) who also has to distribute, not just shoot from 5 feet out.

I'm not disputing that Morgan had a big impact, but defense is a TEAM issue and both Caris and Jordan deserve great credit for stepping up Michigan's defense from what it was. 

Mgoblog has ignored or downplayed Stauskas' issues all year.  Dead-eye shooters are fun, I get that, and the value of floor-spacing can't easily be captured in a box score, but Nik's issues have been obvious to anyone paying attention and they reflect the team's overall issues.  This blog (and others) pointed at Hulls and laughed but we have our own version.


March 5th, 2013 at 5:23 AM ^

"..we have our own version..."

We don't, though.  I watch all basketball teams, especially top-10-20 teams so I see Indiana quite a bit (Big Ten affiliate helping the matter).  I rarely see Hulls miss a shot and it's gotten to a point that it's become laughable.  He jacks up his quick, unorthodox shot and they rain in through the hoop.  Really though, it's hovering right neat 50% if I'm not mistaken. Oh, his defense ain't that bad either, like many would make it out to be.  What we have is a 33% three-point shooter in conference play.  Many players can do that, and do.  This player's defense is also slow and disfunctional -by that I mean it disrupts the teams defense as a whole. 

I don't mean to break Blog rules and I don't mean the good kid disrespect but something's got to give.  He's a good player, will get better, and I am honestly looking forward to having him around to watch play for the future.  But right now, we (well, the team, I have no say in these decisions) need to figure out if we can sacrifice mediocre 2 of 5 3-point shooting nights (with a basket or two extra), a sure 2 turnovers, and porous defense for a more reliable defender (again making the team defense as a whole seemingly better) but maybe not as many points.

So yes..I'm agreeing with you, and your comments below as well.  Overreactions are occuring, yes, but personally this notion wasn't conceived yesterday evening.  It has been blossoming for 10-20 days with yesterday evening surely helping me buy into this perception.


March 4th, 2013 at 2:47 PM ^

1.  He was 4 for 11 from the floor--not 4 for 8 as both Brian and UMHoops state--and 2 were freebies--which is in keeping with his 34% FG percentage on the season.  Plus only 1 rebound and zero assists in 30 minutes.

2.  The fact that he may play better defense than Nik doesn't mean he plays good defense--watch him try to work through screens--or cover Brust (and I don't even mean the "throw").

3.  It continues the tendency to over-react like when Nik was God, McGary must start over Morgan, and Horford must be really really good cuz I don't like Morgan.  Now we kinda like Morgan again.

4.  Frankly, as we seem a tad experience-lite, I'd like to see Matt (11 points versus Tennessee in tourney) Vogrich get more than a hello--though his extended exile may make that moot.


March 4th, 2013 at 3:34 PM ^

But LeVert clearly made a difference in this game and Beilein's identified him as an impact defender -- exactly what the team needs.  It's not important if he's great or just OK at defense it's important that his marginal improvement defensively (compared to Nik) is a game-changer. least against teams like MSU.  Nik can't check Appling/Harris/Dawson - so it's the Hulls argument that became a non-issue against Indiana when Stauskas couldn't score on him.  The point is you can't always hide Nik.

Furthermore,keep in mind Caris was supposed to red-shirt.  He seems to be improving at a rapid rate while Stauskas' game hasn't fully adapted to higher competition in the Big 10.

I don't think it's an overreaction to suggest Caris should play 5-10 more minutes a game.  Who starts is largely irrelevant, but it can potentially help Michigan avoid some of its early-game struggles to cchange things up - no?


March 4th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

Let me make clear that I believe Caris will be a genuine asset down the road.  But Nik gives us offensive numbers beyond 3 point shooting---more than decent rebounding and assisting.  Because Caris' offensive numbers are so soft across-the-board, and yet he seems to have significant (albeit misplaced) confidence in his offensive game, Caris hurts us more there than Nik does on defense.  It would be great if GRII had half Caris' confidence. 

Again, whispering from the wilderness, I believe it was a mistake to start Staukas and bench Vogrich--Nik would still have gotten his minutes, we'd have a spark off the bench, and we'd have some senior experience available.  And, Caris could still find a role. 


March 4th, 2013 at 5:15 PM ^

But the biggest might be that Nik provides a benefit in terms of distribution ('assisting').  He averages  1 assist per game and his A/TO ratio is below 1.

Stauskas:  38 assists and 39 turnover in 881 minutes.

Levert:  18 and 5 in 280.

Double LeVert's minutes and you get 36 assists and 10 turnovers - better than Stauskas in a third less minutes.  The occassional drible drive aside - Stauskas IS kinda just a shooter. 2/3s of his shots are 3s and he rarely gets to the line and 1 assist/game indicates he's not creating for others (other than spacing the floor.)


March 5th, 2013 at 11:38 AM ^

I was going to post specific numbers per 36 minutes--cuz, essentially, offensively, they all objectively (and shockingly) go to Stauskas. Additionally,  I subjectively believe that Nik has better vision and better understands the offense. Similarly, you subjectively believe that Caris is better defensively than Nik--as individual defensive statistics are hard to ascertain and even then quite imprecise.  I, on the other hand, believe Nik is better than the recent spate of criticism suggests--save for his unwillingness to give up his body (ironic coming after the gash).  More to the point, I don't see the defensive prowess of Caris.  He is long, but doesn't seem to use it--it certainly hasn't translated into steals or blocks.  He chases his man around screens rather than anticipating them or fighting through them.  He is often out of position.  I fully concede he is a better straight up defender than Nik--but given Michigan's defensive style of play--hedging and switching--this isn't as much a benefit as it might be otherwise.  Further, comparison of defensive numbers vis-a-vis Harris are so muted as to be meaningless.




March 5th, 2013 at 1:51 PM ^

I'd love to see numbers that illustrate why that is so - but the Assist and TO numbers (per 36 or not) tell a pretty clear story.  Not sure how you're going to spin that enormous differential other than some sort of +/- statistics that are small samples or heavily Burke-influenced.

No one think LeVert is the better offensive player, but defense -- yeah, it's subjective, the stats don't tell you much of anything - but it's supported by Beilein's statements.

Stauskas' effectiveness has decreased as the season has gone on and competition has ramped up.  LeVert seems to be stepping up.  It might be making too much of one game but the MSU game reflects a DRAMATIC turn in performance and it ain't all Morgan and Crisler.

I think Nik will be an excellent college player over the next few years but, right now, the team needs things he doesn't provide.  I'm not sure how someone can watch Michigan play and not see Stauskas' limitations.  His inability to keep his man in front of him forces others to cheat and it's a real team defense issue - an issue that height doesn't fix.  It won't show up in the boxscore but you see Beilein yelling at him and you see this team struggle defensively and...who is at fault for this stuff?  It's not Burke and Hardaway and Morgan - they were on this team last year when it did much better.  Is it really GR3?  I don't think so, but maybe...  Who is the other primary rotation player - who is the one getting beat with regularity and chewed out by the coach?

It's great to be a fan of Stauskas.  He's a fun player.  But, again, there are things he's just not bringing to the table right now.


March 7th, 2013 at 10:58 AM ^

How'd ya like Levert's game agin Purdue?  It doesn't mean Caris is bad, but it does put things back in perspective.  And it proves my earlier point---too much over-reaction.  Because you think he played one good game--which again, I say was only OK--you love him and dump on Stauskas.  It is just like the loud crowd who bemoaned Morgan in favor of the largely unknown (at the time) Horford.  How'd that work out?  As I love me some Morgan, I must like defense a bit.  My problem with the Levert argument is that I don't believe his defense is good-----yet.

Further regarding your assumption that I am a "fan" of Stauskas, if you read my first post you'd see I mocked the premature "Nik is God" crowd. 

I've been an advocate of getting Vogrich more time--senior leadership, experience yada yada--and, needless to say, was elated when he hit the 3 last night.  But as my eyes were open, I also saw  his man get to the hole twice in a row on the other end.  Reality.  Perspective.