Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh

Submitted by Brian on December 3rd, 2009 at 11:32 AM

12/2/2009 – Michigan 58, Boston College 62 – 3-3

Oh_Noes_by_wormhappy1plz oh_noes_its_fella_by_luminaeus

via luminaeus

Apparently there was a meeting this offseason and Michigan's three major sports bet each other they could be the most disappointing outfit on campus. Hockey is winning, but narrowly. Assorted thoughts on basketball season so far:

SON OF A BITCH. SON OF A BITCH.

Can We Please Assemble Yost To Point At The 1-3-1 And Call It A Sieve? Holy hopscotching hell. Michigan finally moved away from the disastrous fringe zone defense against Boston College, but before that it had given up enough points to seal Michigan's doom. This comes after the Marquette game, in which the Eagles averaged 1.27(!!!) points per possession, the worst output of the Beilein era, and the Alabama game, which wasn't as bad but lord it wasn't good either.

This isn't even a preparation issue. Marquette and Alabama did not put in special practice time to deal with Michigan when there was a 25% or less chance those teams would play the Wolverines; Michigan just sucks at the 1-3-1. Hard.

If this was football I'd have some amateur but fairly accurate point about scheme; since it's basketball I'm about as mystified as anyone else. The defense wasn't good last year but it wasn't anywhere near this bad and the only difference is replacing a couple walk-ons with Darius Morris. Morris hasn't seemed like the problem so far. Problems: Stu Douglass is a really terrible defender, Manny Harris is lackadaisical himself, and no one got any taller.

…but on the other hand. Morris has given Michigan zero offensively other than some fast break buckets against poor competition. I guess he makes sense in a high-paced transition offense that results from a ton of steals forced by the 1-3-1. Since Michigan is not getting a ton of steals, he's a non-shooter whose main contribution on offense is to pass the ball around the perimeter. Freshman and all that, but right now Stu Douglass is a much better passer and shooter and seems considerably more useful on offense. Is that worth the 3-4 wide open threes he'll give up? This is not a lovely choice.

And now we devolve into talk radio platitudes. Forgive me: I am about to sound like whichever post-Spielman droid is currently Pam Ward's color guy. In multiple ways. Brace yourself.

Doesn't this team look horribly coached? I keep going back to the haunting Manny Harris three against Alabama. With 20 seconds on the shot clock in a tie game with under a minute left, Harris comes over a half-hearted screen from DeShawn Sims and jacks up a three with a hand in his face. It, like 90% of Harris's threes to date, misses, and Alabama comes down for the winning basket after the rebound. Beilein benched Harris and Sims for large portions of the Boston College game, and they deserved it, and the team didn't play much worse. That's about all he can do but good God, by now the upperclass stars on the team shouldn't have to get benched.

Elsewhere in this theory: the 1-3-1 failure and the number of possessions that end with few ideas and few good shot options. Sometimes the dread specter of Amaker offense shows up. This should probably not be happening in year three.

I don't want to overstate the case: obviously I still support Beilein and think he's a good coach who will—has—been the most successful one at Michigan since Tom Goss and Ed Martin crushed the program's will to live. But in the aftermath of the Evan Smotrycz rise, Brundidge commitment and potential acquisition of Casey Prather or Trey Ziegler, I was teetering along the edge of taking back the "Beilein won't ever make Michigan elite" theory offered here earlier… now not so much.

Second: could "leadership" actually be an issue here? Resorting to leadership is the last option around here, but the team seems way, way worse than last year—even when you take things like losing to Iowa and almost doing the same against Indiana—and the only difference is that CJ Lee is running for congress or something and David Merritt is starting the next Nike. Similarly, the hockey team lost Aaron Palushaj but nothing else aside from a couple of gritty grit Gritsteins in Tim Miller and Travis Turnbull and has collapsed to the point where its decades-long tourney streak is in serious doubt.

I usually dismiss heart and leadership and whatnot. I still think this holds in football because football is a bunch of short, complicated bursts of activity. Whatever effect trying really hard has is dwarfed by knowing what the hell to do and doing it right. Aside from the occasional tired defensive linemen, coasting isn't an option. Football is kill or be killed; it has your full attention at all times.

In hockey and basketball, on the other hand, you can sort of do things. You can defend the post with token effort, or lackadaisically close out, or not rotate. You can coast on your forecheck or not backcheck or not finish a check. It's far more possible to give poor effort. So it's conceptually possible to me that gritty heart dirt dog blah blah is actually important, and then you've got two separate teams that are a thousand times worse than they were last year despite personnel situations that should be considerably better but for the absence of Gritzilla. The conclusion, horrifyingly, is that maybe people who like Colin Cowherd aren't always wrong about everything forever.

It's just about over, isn't it? Michigan's put themselves in a position where they've blown virtually all of their winnable quality nonconference games—Creighton doesn't look like it will count—and now must either pull vast upsets against Kansas and/or UConn and maybe also beat Utah to scrape into the tourney with a similar conference record. If they win one of those games they probably have to go 11-7 in the conference to make it, and raise your hand if you think that's likely. Right.

Kitten? Kitten.

bengal-kitten3 You know, if I ever thought I'd get so much use out of the "i know it's over and oh it never really began but in my heart it was so real" tag, I might have considered another line of work. Like ninja.

Comments

El Jeffe

December 3rd, 2009 at 11:43 AM ^

Yes, how did this happen? I picture you three sitting next to each other in a dingy kitchen with Formica countertops, a leaky faucet, and in place of a fridge, a giant server with lots of blinking lights. Like a higher tech version of Flight of the Conchords, but with sports as the hook instead of novelty indie-folk.

Is that not right?

BleedingBlue

December 3rd, 2009 at 11:47 AM ^

The Sky is falling the sky is falling ahhhhh!!!!

Get it together people! sheesh. We can beat anyone in the country if we get more intesity on D and four people playing well offensively on a given night and will be competitive with anyone if we get three. We won the second half 34-28 without Deshawn playing at all pretty much and Vogrich tackling Novak for a turnover and Darius freshmaning up another steal back to them. That's just two expamples of freshman mistakes that could have ended up in 4-6 points which would have tied or won the game. Perspective people, perspective please.

El Jeffe

December 3rd, 2009 at 11:56 AM ^

I will plus one this for the PMA. I'm not questioning the talent or coaching acumen at all. It's just that when you say

...if we get more intesity on D and four people playing well offensively on a given night...

I start to get nervous, because it isn't obvious to me how or when that will happen. But yes, the team has a lot of talent and I have faith that Beilein will figure out how to light a fire under them for at least 30 of the 40 minutes instead of the last 5, like last night.

BleedingBlue

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:13 PM ^

we actually played ok on Defense after the first 10 minutes. Yes there were some awful lapses, but on the whole it wasn't horrible.

And I forgot to put in my first post that Brian should not be calling out Stu for poor defense when there are several others on the team playing much, much worse fundamentally - most notably Sims and LLP and Wright might just be too slow. Also - Raji was who really killed us in the 1st half, and Stu was not guarding him. We gave up 62 points! that is actually decent!

El Jeffe

December 3rd, 2009 at 11:48 AM ^

Totally agree, by the way, with the references to Amaker-era UM. There's this tragically familiar zombie look on all of their faces, even though you know (assume?) they are trying as hard as they can.

I was the first in line to crack on Bobby Hurley and Steve Wojochzozaowekskibinowitz when they would do that stupid Sumo squat floor slap thingy, but by God they seemed to give a shit about playing solid defense.

Yinka Double Dare

December 3rd, 2009 at 11:58 AM ^

I still can't believe Stu didn't take those open 3s. Stu never needed an invitation to chuck up a 25 footer last year, and the whole student section seemed like it was yelling SHOOT! at him as he then passed the ball to Manny who dribbled around for 10 seconds and then got stuffed on a drive since they knew no one else was going to shoot and they put 3 guys on him.

MGoObes

December 3rd, 2009 at 11:59 AM ^

y'all need to relax. sometimes the ball just won't go in. sometimes your stars take stupid shots no matter how badly you try to coach it out of them. sometimes your guards won't feed your bigs the ball no matter how much you try to coach it into them. this post by brian (bringing out the kittens?!) is supremely pre-mature. this isn't football where early losses completely knock you out from post-season play. take a deep breath and relax

His Dudeness

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:09 PM ^

I agree with you, but the way the schedule plays out for us the rest of the way this makes our road to 64 MUCH more difficult. The Big Ten was over rated for certain, but it is still real tough top to bottom and we really are playing like dogshit even outside of the shots not falling. I do think you are correct though about the pre-mature kitten, if that makes sense.

InterM

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:02 PM ^

for the hockey team, at least. They won both their games last weekend, and looked pretty good doing so. Granted, Minnesota showed nothing (while still managing to beat State the next night, mind you!), but Wisconsin played pretty well. Sure, we need to get some conference wins, but they'll come, trust me.

tdumich

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:07 PM ^

anybody comparing our offense to the days of amaker is completely off. we're running plays and getting ball movement...it's as simple as just hitting a freakin shot. we'd be 5-1 right now if kids weren't clanking free throws, bricking layups and sucking at threes. i agree our defense is a completely different problem. we're getting owned on the backside of our 1-3-1 and something needs to change. the lack of intensity (as brian notes) is inexcusable and we're giving up far to many uncontested looks. do our chances at the tourney look good right now? no. fwiw, i thought we were completely overrated to begin the season and should have started somewhere in the late twenties. take a step back and realize that we drastically overachieved last year. we had two walkons and two freshmen that were basically unranked recruits in our starting lineup! the team has four upperclassmen on a roster of 16 players. the future is still bright. there are going to be growing pains. if we can get a W against utah and uconn and put together a 10 win campaign during conference play we still have a shot at the tourney. please though, start making some freaking shots!!!

El Jeffe

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:24 PM ^

My personal comment about Amaker had nothing to do with the offensive sets or even the defensive philosophy. I think Beilein is leaps and bounds better in that regard.

The nauseating Amaker flashbacks have more to do with the catatonic looks on many of their faces. I don't want preening faux intensity (I'm looking at you, Vince Carter), just some indication that they are trying as hard as they probably are. They don't owe me that, obviously, but it would be nice to see is all.

tdumich

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:32 PM ^

the intensity and effort is the major issue. i think, in a way, they'll now have a sense of urgency that they're in serious jeopardy of having no shot at the tourney (at least this is what i hope). that and the fact they're going to one of the most hostile venues in college bball to the play the #1 team in the country should have their full attention.

mel11

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:17 PM ^

I hope this is just a symptom of 4 games in a short period of time with very little time to practice. I coach high school girls' lacrosse and we've had stretches of 4 games in a row without practices, and sometimes the same mistakes keep happening until there are a few solid practices to correct them.

As for grit, I think Novak and Gibson need to play more. Dave Merritt is now on the radio broadcasts w/ Matt Shepherd, and he sounded like he really wanted to get on the court and kick some asses. (Shep, meanwhile, sounded like he wanted to rip his hair out after witnessing the last 4 games from courtside).

I agree about the bet between the 3 teams though! Maybe Bill Martin's retirement announcement caused some sort of atmospheric disturbance?

Ace Deuce

December 3rd, 2009 at 1:26 PM ^

I've been waiting for anyone to bring this up. 4 games in 7 days. I know they didn't practice Monday(travel/rest day), so they have had probably 1 or 2 days of practice since Beilein has noticed all these issues. What did you really think would get fixed?

Long season, plenty of games to earn those "quality wins" so sack up and lets watch some basketball.

dakotapalm

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:17 PM ^

"The conclusion, horrifyingly, is that maybe people who like Colin Cowherd aren't always wrong about everything forever."

Wonderfully, Tragically True. Nice Line. Pos-bang.

chitownblue2

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:39 PM ^

I've written this numerous times, but CJ Lee was not just a "Gitty McGritterson" gritty Ecksteinian player. He was also our single best perimeter defender. Now, suddenly, nobody can guard on the perimeter. The main recipient of his minutes (Douglass) is maybe 1/5th as good a defender, Perry lacks enough quickness and generally just backs up in order stay in front of a driving player, because he can't stay in front, and asking Novak to guard on the wing in the 1-3-1 is asking for every wing player in NCAA basketball to go through him like a turnstile.

caup

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:40 PM ^

1. There are eleventy billion opportunities to dog it during a football play, so I can't really support your premise on that one.

2. It seems to me that JB's whole offense is predicated on making outside jumpers FIRST. Then everything flows from there. If guys aren't draining their open 3's then M is effed. Personally, I don't like that type of offense. That is an offense for schools that never get the Chris Webbers and Juwan Howards of the world. Michigan should be able to land players like that. And then what? You're going to put those studs into a pop-gun offense designed to work at a place like Siena?
Blech. And JFC.

caup

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:48 PM ^

get guys like Webber, etc. given their prominence and tradition and proximity to Detroit, Flint, etc. And no, not all the time in a big conga line of NBA freaks. That;s not what I'm saying.

But does the design of JB's offense (and defense) dissuade certain guys from wanting to play at Michigan?
I guess that was my point/question.

chitownblue2

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:57 PM ^

Um - they've been going to the in-state program with 4 final fours since the last time we made the tournament. I'm not sure that's because of Beilein's offense as much as it's because "Michigan State has a superior basketball program".

And why "should" Michigan be able to get elite interior players? We've SUCKED for a decade. Again - since the time these kids were 6 - 8, we've been terrible. Maybe we SHOULD play a style of offense for an out-gunned school because, we're starting 2 kids we fucking stole from VALPARAISO. And you want to kick it inside? To who? 6'6" DeShawn Sims? 6'2" Zack Novak?

BleedingBlue

December 3rd, 2009 at 1:37 PM ^

Plz see:
Evan Smotryz - ranked 51 in the country might move up
Tim Hardaway Jr. - scored 48 points in a game last week
Darius Morris - top 75 recruit. Point guard for California Div 5 State Championship HS team.
Matt Vogrich - top 150 recruit. rated as the best shooter at the 2 position in his class nationally. Broke Rob Pelinka's HS scoring record. Voted as Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year.

Hoping to get Zeigler - top 30 wing. similar ratings to Manny.

Carlton Brundidge - top 100 PG in class of 2011

Rumors of Marshall Plumlee's strong interest - top 50 Center in class of 2011

Claymore

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:41 PM ^

I don't think this as anything to do with coaching, and everything to do with effort. Now, you can say that's Beilein's job, and it is to a point, but he did get em going in the second half. It's also true that self motivation is a big part of the game. The way I see it, Manny and Peedie seem to think that by just showing up that's enough to win, and this is trickling down to the rest of the team. Manny has showed up on the offensive side of the ball but still gets lost or lets a missed shot effect his defensive game. I'd also consider benching Sims and starting Gibson to see if it'd help get Sims going, he's not playing the best defense in the world either. Hope is not lost though, if they play defense for a whole game like they did in the second half I think they can still get into the tournament.

el segundo

December 3rd, 2009 at 1:24 PM ^

with a true freshman point guard and a sophmore (Douglass) getting significant minutes for the first time.* I think it's a little early to decide that Michigan's tournament hopes turn on winning two of the three games against Kansas, Utah, and UConn. This team is going to get better. How much better, I don't know. But it has the pieces and the coaching to be very good. Six games is not a sufficient basis to conclude that it won't be at 20-win team.

Yes, the defense is problematic, especially in giving up dribble penetration and in failing to defend the weak side very effectively. This is largely a problem of defenders not knowing when and where to rotate when the zone traps the ball or, in man-to-man, when one weakside defender goes to help after someone is beaten off the dribble. It's not surprising that this problem should arise with the addition of new and newish players to the lineup. It can be cured with practice, film study, and more game experience, as long as the no0bs have some basketball IQ and are willing to make the effort. I don't see any reason to doubt that the team will find a way to cure the problem, although there's certainly a chance that it won't.

I disagree that the problem with the defense is significantly attributable to a failure of the 1-3-1 zone, as a scheme generally, or as a scheme that works for this particular collection of players. I'm getting a little frustrated in hearing an equation between Michigan's general defensive problems and problems with the 1-3-1. For one thing, Michigan does not run the 1-3-1 all the time, and maybe not a majority of the time. I have only seen the 1-3-1 or the 2-3 used after a made basket or a dead ball. When Michigan misses a shot or turns the ball over, they play man, not zone. Given how badly the offense is playing, they're playing man a lot more than they're playing zone. Second, even when Michigan does zone, they frequently use a 2-3, in which one of the defenders on top engages the ball right after it crosses half court. Sometimes, another defender will come to trap the ball high, which makes this version of the 2-3 look (from the top side) a little like a 1-3-1. I would love to see a statistic on the number of possessions that Michigan has used the 1-3-1 this year. I'd bet it's about 30%, tops.

I also agree about the offensive problems, but I'm not drawing season-long conclusions from them either. Beilein's motion offense can break down when players stop making the right cuts and setting and using screens the right way. When players aren't comfortable in it, there are a lot of bad shots because player and ball movement stop abruptly. For example, last year, Merritt and Lee took away Grady's playing time because Grady did not seem to understand what to do in the motion offense. He would often just stop when he was on the weak side, and then everyone else would soon stop moving too. When even one player does not know where he's supposed to go, this offense is awkward. From what I've seen, Morris is still feeling his way. If he catches on to the concept, the offense is also going to improve, better shots will result, and everyone will stop talking about a lid on the basket.

*I don't recall Douglass playing big minutes last year. And he was rarely on the floor in crucial situations. But I haven't studied the statistics so I'm prepared to be corrected on this point.

Tater

December 3rd, 2009 at 1:18 PM ^

Apparently, it is the leadership factor. Lee and Merritt were apparently a lot more valuable than their stats would indicate. Also, Manny's hammy is probably more of an issue than anyone is letting on.

Anyway, it's early yet. The team has a month to gel. I think they will ultimately be up to the task.

steve sharik

December 3rd, 2009 at 1:18 PM ^

Come on, my friend. I think you're being a bit rash.

Everyone out there going "aargh" or whatever, please calm down...please. It's early December. Will there be this much panic next September if we beat UConn and then lose a squeaker to ND on the road? Based on some posts here, I guess so, but I really hope we can mature as a mgocommunity (wishful thinking, perhaps).

Ladies and gentlemen, I love Michigan as much as the rest of you, but remember that sports are supposed to be a source of enjoyment. It should be this way regardless of outcome. If we win, celebrate. If we lose, accept it or turn your attention to something else if you are down emotionally. It's just sports, people.

Ren

December 3rd, 2009 at 2:08 PM ^

Well, that's your opinion and we're allowed to have ours. Don't come be holier than thou about it, either. If some people see doom and gloom spelled all over the Michigan basketball team after 6 games, 4 of which really didn't look that great, I can't blame them...especially thinking about what the rest of the Big Ten looks like. There's a reason analysts considered the Big Ten to be the best this season, even though it hasn't totally lived up to it thus far. It's also just sports' fans nature to look ahead and speculate, and we're going to do that. Realistic speculating right now for Michigan--it doesn't look good, i.e. we don't look like a NCAA Tourney team. Hopefully, that will change, and for the majority of us it's not like what we've seen is going to make us stop watching/supporting and hoping for the best.

Also, as a Michigan alum...not sure how other Michigan alums feel, but for me this is not just about sports. These teams are an extension of the University, and they represent the university. When I was a student at Michigan, I could not send out resumes or go on job interviews without those employers talking to me about the football team. Our university is associated with excellence, and our football, basketball and hockey teams look far from excellent. It's not just embarrassing, but it's also painful to see Michigan fail at so many things...not to say the basketball team and hockey teams have failed, because the season is young for both...even though over the past decade, yeah, the basketball team kinda has failed, and the football team has failed the past two years, whatever excuse people want to make for them/RR. But neither the bball nor hockey teams are meeting standards and goals set for them right now both as sports teams and as entities associated with a proud university such as Michigan.

M-Wolverine

December 4th, 2009 at 2:26 AM ^

You didn't just say Stanford doesn't care about their sports, did you? Big deal over win over USC, Basketball team that used to go regularly deep in Tourney, wins the Cup that our outgoing Athletic Director puts so much weight on, EVERY YEAR, fills up the Olympics, had that guy known for adultery who was pretty good at golf...

And I think they're pretty big in the Ivy about their sport bragging rights...with other Ivy's.

I don't think anyone is losing a job offer because of the football team...but if you don't think athletics at a place like Michigan doesn't define the University to a great extent, just check acceptance rolls to see what the top reasons people chose the school, and where "football" ranks.

jamiemac

December 3rd, 2009 at 1:20 PM ^

You mean to tell me the volleyball ladies have a bet going with the softballers on who can disappoint us the most!?!?!?!

Fer Fawk's Sake, people, say it aint so!!!

BornInAA

December 3rd, 2009 at 1:21 PM ^

The senior needs to lead his team.
2-7 or 3-10 are not going to cut it.
The man had 15 pts per game average last season!
8pts vs Marquette and 4pts last game are no-shows.

Starko

December 3rd, 2009 at 1:34 PM ^

This guy needs to start. He looks funny and he puts on a grumpy baby face when he's called for a foul, but the guy actually makes shots, tries hard on defense, and can block out and rebound if for no other reason than that he's 6'10" and 220 lbs.

Our lack of size in the front court doesn't look so bad if we can play gibson and sims at 4 and 5.

I also disagree strongly about morris v. douglass. Stu is a liability handling the ball and he has not shot well. I would much rather see morris and vogrich (a guy who can make shots) getting minutes, with llp and stu giving them rest.

rotate novak in for manny/sims for a breather and the big fella cronin in for gibson. our avante garde 4 midget set is not working.

jonny_GoBlue

December 3rd, 2009 at 2:09 PM ^

Vogrich's offensive aggressiveness impressed me yesterday. He had the ability to drive into the lane on a few occasions while the other guys continued playing hot potato on the perimeter.

EDIT: I also agree on Gibson. I was just stating that in a different thread last night that it might be good to give him the starting job at least temporarily if for no other reason than to try to bring some more aggressiveness and intensity to the floor.

bml

December 3rd, 2009 at 3:38 PM ^

And falls under the "yeah, the highly-paid coach probably thought of that incredibly simple solution at one point or another" heading, but it does seem like interior defensive disaster + problems rebounding + low intensity = Gibson should be starting.

lager86

December 3rd, 2009 at 1:50 PM ^

Sorry to say, but right now we're looking at starting the Big 10 season at 6-5, which means even going 10-8 in conference leaves the Wolves at 16-14 (assuming a loss to UConn as well). Hello NIT. When is the spring football game?

echoWhiskey

December 3rd, 2009 at 2:09 PM ^

Yes, we look horrifyingly out of sync at times. Yes, we look lackadaisical at times. Yes, we are shooting a horrible percentage from everywhere.

Is it Dec. 3rd and the season is about 1/5th of the way through? Yes. Are most of the problems correctable (ie coaching and effort rather than a lack of talent)? Yes. Is this team starting a freshman and two sophomores? Yes. Were preseason expectations inflated due to a strong finish last season? Yes.

This isn't a plea that the team is good, but rather that we withhold statements about making or missing the NCAA tournament until we get to the meat of the college basketball season. The basketball season is more forgiving than football. A horrible team at the beginning of the year that finishes strong is given way more cred in the eyes of the NCAA selection committee - it seems that it is almost looked at as a plus that they sucked in the beginning. Anyone who argues that this team can't improve has totally forgotten how bad we were in January 2009.

bronxblue

December 3rd, 2009 at 2:17 PM ^

This team lives and dies by the outside shot. It did last year, and most of JB's teams have thrived by hitting from 3 at a decent clip and then attacking a loosened defense. Sometimes the three are falling and UM will kill teams by 30; other times they will be ice-cold (like the past few games) and get beaten by teams in a demoralizing fashion. In a lot of ways, teams under Beilein look like mid-majors, and these ups-and-downs are kind of what everyone signed up for with JB. As he gets better players into the system, my guess is that the pits and valleys will even out a bit more, but there will still be days where the team shoots 10-of-40 or something and fails to get to the rim.

The bigger issue is that guys like Sims and Harris are not playing like the top players they are supposed to be. Harris has never been a particularly good 3-point shooter, but the shot looks easy and it sure beats going to the rim and getting squashed by 6-10 man-mountains. Sims needs to stay down low and use his post skills, but instead he roams around a bit and is out of position for the putbacks that can really help this team.

I agree that the doom-and-gloom is a little premature. For as bad as UM looked, they have only lost to one team by more than 6 points, and even that game was closer than the final score. I thought the top-15 ranking was crazy when it assigned to this team, but I do think UM is a tourney team. There is still quite a bit of basketball to play, and I wouldn't be surprised to see UM take a scalp from UConn or Kansas, two teams that certainly look beatable.

Gus_possessive…

December 3rd, 2009 at 2:42 PM ^

Re: Flashes of Amaker

I love Beilein as much as the next guy. But I have seen flashbacks to the Amaker era at times throughout his tenure. Not so much of the headless-chickening, but in terms of passes that are made for the sake of fulfilling a quota instead of being made to free up a lane to the hoop or get a man open on the perimeter. You can almost see the players counting those passes in their heads. "1-2-3-4. Ok, we got as many touches as Coach asked for. Now we can shoot."

Re: Sims

Somebody get that boy some Adderall. Stat.

Re: Gritty Grit Gritsteins

Steve Lavin (i believe) made an interesting point during the Perdue game regarding the importance of having a fast, small, relentless on-the-ball defender come tournament time, citing the impact of players like Tyus Edney and Ty Lawson. It made me think of the spark that Lindsey Hunter gave the Pistons during their title run. When you can create turnovers-- or at least hurried panic-- at the point, mistakes will follow. Last year, we had a combo of that player in Merritt/Grady/Lee. This year we don't have one. I expect to begin seeing some more full court presses and/or half court traps run in order to make up for our lack of a hardcore on-the-ball defender, which is crucial for success in a half-court defense. Morris' length would be a strong asset in a press. But his quickness is a liability at the top of a 1-3-1.

Dave B

December 3rd, 2009 at 3:15 PM ^

I know it's way early in the season, but after spending the last couple months thinking the football team would get better, I was hoping for a little relief from the basketball team. Last night, when they got down by 10 so quick, and couldn't guard anyone or hit anything, I got that feeling of "here we go again." That sucks.

But it *is* early and I completely believe they'll get their act together and get a spot in The Dance. Just do it sooner rather than later, please?