Aneurysm Two

Submitted by Brian on January 27th, 2014 at 12:11 PM

1/25/2014 – Michigan 80, Michigan State 75 – 14-4, 7-0 Big Ten


Keith Appling had just jumped on Caris LeVert's back from behind as LeVert was going up for a layup. Using LeVert's back as leverage, Appling raked his hands across LeVert's, sending both LeVert and the ball flying. The ref on the baseline looked on dumbly and did nothing as Michigan State took the ball upcourt.

On the sideline, John Beilein executed a sort of rage-squat as he barked at the guy who had evidently been placed on the sideline without any instructions as to what the shiny silver thing in his mouth did. MSU got a layup on the other end; Michigan dumped the ball down to Robinson and got a whistle for an extended hand-check by Russell Byrd.

This did not mollify Beilein. He'd seen enough. He'd had just about enough of being the corny high school chemistry teacher kids roll their eyes at.



artist's impression of MSU lineup

In the aftermath we got the usual press conference from Tom Izzo in which he specifically enumerated all the things he wasn't blaming the loss on. Payne's out. (You may have heard of Mitch McGary, though maybe I shouldn't bring him up since he outcoached Izzo.) Dan Dakich trolled Dawson. (Izzo's the one who recruited Punchy McAngerIssues.) Harris and Appling got tired. (Because they had to play fewer minutes than Stauskas and LeVert.) Appling got his wrist dinged a month ago and can't shoot. (Selected Appling scorelines since injury-type substance: 27, 14, 14, 20, 24. Three point shooting in Big Ten play: 31%, right in line with last year's 32%.) He had to play the crappy players behind his starters. (They are crappy because he hasn't brought in a premier player other than Harris in three years.)

And, of course, the piece de resistance: "curious calls" that happened when the game was tied at 60.

The nerve of this guy.

Midway through the second half, Spike Albrecht was informed that to receive a timeout from the officials he has to submit a 20-page research paper on the semiotics of the term "timeout" and submit seven different forms of identification, three of which do not exist. Gary Harris's brilliant perimeter defense on Nik Stauskas was greatly aided by constant jersey tugs and in a couple cases just flat out grabbing the dude as he tried to cut. Travis Trice's attempts to stay in front of anyone on the floor via arm, shoulder, trip, or pathetic mewling would have been hilarious if they had not been uncalled and therefore enraging. Jordan Morgan fouled out on a series of ghost calls, including a double technical acquired after Russell Byrd, of all people, taunted Glenn Robinson. That was Morgan's fourth; Izzo managed to complain that Appling picking up his third with under eight minutes left was a great strain because it forced him to the bench.

Yes, in the same press conference in which he bitched about Appling not getting enough rest. The nerve of this guy.

By the end of Izzo's self-pity-fest you could feel the dim bulbs in the room composing their 30 for 30 pitches:

What if I told you that a team with a lottery pick shooting guard playing out of his mind stayed within five points of a team down the Naismith winner, another first round NBA draftee, and a preseason All-American?

What if I told you they were playing at home, but there was that one time a referee was not utterly petrified of someone in the stands calling him a bad name?

What if I told you that the first team had actually won two of the previous seven games against the second team?


Tuesday, January 25th, 2014.

Post-loss Izzo press conferences are IQ tests for Lansing-oriented sports reporters, and they all fail, always. A Mike Griffith gentleman writing for MLive used these sentences back-to-back:

There was no mention of the Spartans having to use a 10th different starting lineup on account of Dawson's injury.

"In the 30 years I've been here, I've never been more proud of a team,'' Izzo said. "I played guys I haven't played in a month.''

Someone remind Griffith to breathe regularly, because it's clear that he doesn't have enough cells to spare for autonomic brain stem functions.

I know. I know that our nation is built on brazenly lying to each other. Cigarettes and organic food and the waiting list for Michigan football season tickets, it's all the same. Some person thinks they can make money on some activity and just lies and lies until the jig's up. But at some point self-respect has to kick in with the observers. I mean. At least you'd think so, right?

This is why I don't go to press conferences. I would just laugh, and laugh, and throw in some derisive snorts and eventually I would just start asking questions like unedited versions of the things I write and eventually I wouldn't get to go to press conferences. I am not a sports journalist because I can't smile when someone deposits a plate of poop in front of my face and calls it pâté.



He exploded! With just over four minutes left there was some sort of mutual in-our-grills screaming session, followed by Beilein explaining to one of the other refs that the other end of the Breaking Beilein drama had in fact bumped him—there was a lot of pointing at Beilein's nose in this section, to indicate that someone had impacted this section of Beilein's all-encompassing rage—followed by the ref who had apparently taken aggressive physical action against a coach coming forth to apologize.

It was completely insane. Every neutral I follow on twitter who was watching the game immediately tweeted "I have never seen John Beilein anything like this," echoing the play by play announcer and your brain. Beilein took 30 years of goodwill built up by not being Bo Ryan or Tom Izzo to referees and cashed every last scrap in, somehow avoiding a technical throughout this sequence.

And, of course, it was completely for naught. The very next Michigan possession saw Nik Stauskas thunder in for a transition dunk; Keith Appling again attempted to make a defensive play from behind. This was the result.


SEEMS LEGIT [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]

This was adjudged to be all ball; Michigan did not score on the ensuing possession. Beilein could do nothing but laugh bitterly on the sideline.


If we're being honest with ourselves, yeah, Horford was moving on the first "curious call" and Appling got hit by a non-stationary defender as he took a shot. In a basketball game, that is a foul. Whatever happens in the Breslin Center is not a basketball game, though, and maybe John Beilein screaming BE A MAN or IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT BASKETBALL TO BE or I USUALLY GET A FOOTLONG TURKEY WITH THE CHIPOTLE SAUCE AND EXTRA OLIVES WHAT IS YOUR PREFERENCE reminded the men with whistles that road teams are people too. Or maybe it was just continued incompetence. I'm betting on incompetence.

Either way, nearly three years to the day after Zack Novak's Aneurysm of Leadership propelled Michigan to its first win at Michigan State since the Harding administration, another spittle-flecked unhinged rant propelled Michigan. Two minutes of game time later, Michigan had gone on an 8-0 run featuring two wild Keith Appling drives on one side of the floor and perfectly executed transitions on the other.

Beilein sucked all the anger out of his team and unleashed it on those who deserved it, and all that was left was cool execution. In the ensuing parade to the free throw line Michigan took deep breaths and drove the nails deeper, until Izzo was wiping away tears in the press conference and imagining an alternate reality where he was the put-upon underdog.


Bad news, everybody! Technical issues blew up the first half of our podcast. We are trying to reschedule and retape; upshot is no podcast today.


Double point us the way to victory [Bryan Fuller]

Wow. Going into Gauntlet #1, Michigan fans were demanding one win, hoping for two, and not even thinking about three. Three wins later, Michigan is clearly in the driver's seat for the Big Ten title. Not only have they disposed of three top ten opponents, they've taken out two of them on the road. They've also put away road games against a third tourney-bound B10 team in Minnesota and Increasingly Dangerous Nebraska™.

Meanwhile, as Indiana and Illinois continue to struggle* future trips to the Big Ten's sundry Assembly Halls seem significantly less ominous than they did a couple weeks ago. Because basketball is basketball, Michigan's going to have a night where they shoot ARGH from three they're still going to drop a game or two against teams that are clearly beneath them in the Big Ten pecking order. Even so, all they have to do is split Gauntlet #2…

  • @ Iowa
  • @ OSU
  • Wisconsin
  • MSU

…and it's hard to see anyone passing them. Catching, maybe. Passing… nyet.

If Iowa can beat MSU at home tomorrow, Michigan will be two games clear, and their primary chasers have a schedule that's just as difficult. MSU has games at Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State plus a home game against Iowa; Iowa has home games against OSU, Michigan, and Wisconsin plus trips to Minnesota and MSU.

*[Indiana is now just ten spots ahead of Nebraska in Kenpom and Illinois is 15 spots back. BTW, I am officially claiming Nebraska as my Most Interesting Big Ten Team of 2014-15.]

Chunkums. Yes. Yesssssss. Yesssssssss.



Hitting things with your hand is bad. Appling's wrist is barely attached to the rest of his body and therefore he can't shoot. This is known. It is gospel.

Idea: maybe you should stop hitting things with your hands. Desks, floors, engineers in Rather Hall: these are all objects that should not have force applied to them with hands. Appling and Dawson should have taken NO HIT HARD THINGS WITH SELF 101, but they heard it was a lot harder than BANG THING BANG BANG LOUD 100.

This was slow and weird and distorted. This game featured a full two minutes of intentional fouling and no-threes defense, seriously distorting the stats. Michigan had a whopping 16 free throws on intentional fouls, and then their intentionally crappy interior defense made the game look more offensively oriented and faster than it was.

This was going to be a snail-tastic 56 or 57 possession game if either team had gotten clear by the two minute mark; it eventually got to a still-slow 63. At the point the fouling started, Michigan had 66 points on 54 possessions (1.22 PPP) and MSU had 60 (1.11). By game's end those numbers had been pushed to 1.27 and 1.19.

So… still offensively oriented, and no wonder with Michigan blazing the nets from deep and MSU following suit with a 50%/41% shooting. A great deal of this was acquired with difficulty since the refs were in a whistle-swallowing mode.

Also distorted: individual stats. If you were shocked that Derrick Walton ended up with 19 points you are not alone. He had nine before the and-one that put Michigan firmly in the drivers seat and then acquired 8 FTAs in desperation time. He hit seven, which was greatly appreciated by Michigan fans and their cardiologists.

This still didn't warrant the BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE WOW reaction the media provided. Walton was good; he did not drive much offense. He picked his spots and fulfilled the niche this site talked about a couple weeks back. This is good and important, of course. It's just not quite as impressive as the box score makes it seem.

FWIW, the other eight intentional FTAs were distributed equally between Robinson and LeVert.


okay this is a two but you get the point [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]

Except the threes. On my re-watch the thing that leapt out at me was the fact that Michigan's blazing three point shooting was a direct result of MSU giving Michigan a ton of great looks. Caris's game-tying bomb late was a great example. MSU was so concerned about giving up penetration and so aggressive about disrupting Michigan's offensive flow that they plain forgot to defend a corner three from a 38% shooter.

Meanwhile, screens were gone under on Nik Stauskas, or bigs did not aggressively hedge, allowing him to get quality looks that were at best semi-contested. Peripheral shooters took almost entirely wide open looks—IIRC one or two of Irvin's were contested.

Board war: in which a stalemate is declared victory. Michigan actually out-rebounded Michigan State. Yes. Michigan grabbed 11 of 31 opportunities on the offensive boards and held Michigan State to 10 of 33. Michigan's output is thanks to Jordan Morgan and a whopping four OREBs credited to "team."

The main disappointment. Robinson had a pretty miserable night all around. He was hit on the arm without calls on three or four of his shots, but he's got Kenny Kaminski and Denzel Valentine on him. He should be able to get things that are not jumpers. He did only once with an awkward but effective up and under to kick off the second half. When Michigan was looking to generate secondary offense, they turned to LeVert. Robinson did well against Iowa after some early issues on the defensive boards; Michigan wanted more from him in this game.

Nope. Some M fans are trying to make a big deal out of the incident with about two minutes left where Harris and LeVert both ended up on the ground.  LeVert ended up there because Valentine came in and whacked him either in the stomach or the viagras; that contact was certainly not intentional.

It was about as bad as the event earlier in the game where Horford was going for a rebound and accidentally brushed/whacked Trice, who went down in a heap because it is really hard to not be in a heap when you're Travis Trice. He's just heap-oriented.


I'd like to thank The Free Press for being a wretched hive of scum and villainy that naturally induces Michigan fans to seek out content not designed to enrage them.

Oh man this guy:

This is why you shouldn't get up in arms about Richard Sherman, because then you start complaining about a lack of class while wishing someone would get maimed for blowing you a kiss. This spurred a long twitter discussion about the practicality or lack thereof of maiming someone in an alley. Twitter thinks it is not very practical since Nik Stauskas probably goes to, like, basketball gyms instead of hanging out in alleys.

Five key plays. The dagger:

UMHoops recap and Walton feature. Chantel Jennings, who is not Chantel Jefferies. Daily.



January 27th, 2014 at 12:30 PM ^

Michigan Basketball has become, far and away, the highlight of this school's sporting calendar.

Defending home court. Taking it aggressively to to our rivals on the road in the toughest conference schedule in the NCAA.

Indiana Blue

January 27th, 2014 at 12:29 PM ^

But please don't miss out on the fact that Caris was our leading rebounder with 6 and Walton had 5 to lead the individual rebounding.  PLUS I think most of Walton's rebounds came in "WIN THE GAME" * time.

* WIN THE GAME - sponsored by M McGary

Go Blue!



The Geek

January 27th, 2014 at 12:36 PM ^

as you eloquently point out, Brian. Epic summary of the game and post-game shenanigans.


Beilein took 30 years of goodwill built up by not being Bo Ryan or Tom Izzo to referees and cashed every last scrap in, somehow avoiding a technical throughout this sequence.

One of the reasons I love Coach Beilein is because is the anti-Izzo. Tommy showed us all what a tool-shed he really is with the presser after the game. IIRC he mentioned the 60-60 fouls TWICE. And, Coach, if those kids hadn't played in a month, I think that's YOUR fault. The man is a walking Douche Canoe.

And I absolutely LOVED the Stauskiss. GO BLUE!


January 27th, 2014 at 12:36 PM ^

Nicely scribed Brian.

Appling's wrist bothers him so much he occasionally slaps the floor with it within the confines of a defensive stance in order to heal it.

Defense in East Lansing is committing so many penalties such that the officials are forced to swallow the whistle lest the whistle be blown every play. [see Narduzzi/Izzo -- must be the double Z's]


January 27th, 2014 at 4:14 PM ^

If Appling was so tired from playing so many minutes and his injured shooting hand was about to fall off, why did he become the go-to-guy in the closing minutes?  Why not get the ball to someone who was actually scoring the ball for your team?

His Dudeness

January 27th, 2014 at 12:39 PM ^

I met Nik on a street once late at night with Mitch, Tim and someone else I didn't get a good look at. Nik apologized for being out to so late... Tim hugged me and allowed the guy I didn't get a good look at the "dunk on me." and then Nik took a picture with an older couple.

Nice kid. Two working legs.


January 27th, 2014 at 12:39 PM ^

Is there a gif of the Beilein Aneurysm of Leadership? I only caught the last 2-2:30 mins of the game and missed it...



January 27th, 2014 at 12:41 PM ^

Didn't we confirm that Stauskas' girlfriend was in attendence? Boy PDA sure is getting some extreme reactions these days.

Love the stuff on Izzo. Guy wins plenty of basketball games but the way he conducts himself on and off the court is embarassing. Always has been.

kevin holt

January 27th, 2014 at 12:45 PM ^

I've been looking forward to this column all weekend. Partly to validate my ANGAR at that game, since Ace is an amazing writer that tends to be unbiased and doesn't comment on refs or Izzo that much (in game columns, that is).

Honestly, after that game, I didn't feel happy. After most big wins, I am relieved and elated. After this win, I felt excited but in a different way. I mean I was emotionally excited, but I wasn't happy right away. Instead, I screamed at the TV and gave the middle finger to Izzo and the refs and Breslin and told them to fuck off because we pulled it out in spite of all the bullshit. From the other room, you might think we lost.

It was a strange reaction and scared me a little, and later I was definitely happy, but at the time the game felt like such horseshit that I just couldn't brush it off because it ended in a W. I didn't want to have the officiating and MSU's dirty tactics get ignored just because they didn't result in a loss. I would definitely be way more pissed if we lost, but it took me a while to be happy here.

Anyway, reading this column made me giggle with glee, so it was exactly what I needed. I <3 Fearless Leader

turd ferguson

January 27th, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

This is outstanding.

I said it before the game, too, but I have no idea how anyone who is neither an MSU fan nor a blood relative of Tom Izzo could like Tom Izzo.  I think he's one of the most weaselly coaches in sports right now.

John Beilein, on the other hand...


January 27th, 2014 at 1:09 PM ^

I think it's the U.P. thing.  No one dislikes the U.P.  It's a natural underdog region you have to pull for.  We think of people from there as decent, hardworking types who don't complain about all the snow, moose and so forth.

Even though Izzo hasn't lived there in forever and has almost lost his accent completely - and his whiny excuse-making totally belies the stereotype -  he gets the goodwill from the general public for being from there. 



January 27th, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

...being lied to.

I know. I know that our nation is built on brazenly lying to each other. Cigarettes and organic food and the waiting list for Michigan football season tickets, it's all the same. Some person thinks they can make money on some activity and just lies and lies until the jig's up. But at some point self-respect has to kick in with the observers. I mean. At least you'd think so, right?

Simply Orange orange juice is adulterated. Going back to frozen concentrate, damn it.

John Beilein is a man without guile. His explosion may have been calculated, but it was genuine in the extreme. And super effective. 


January 27th, 2014 at 1:09 PM ^

Simply Orange isn't from concentrate. The article just says that they use math to blend batches of oranges to make it taste/look/etc consistent. It's not fresh squeezed, but it's not doctored.

I'm a tropicana grovestand fan myself.


January 27th, 2014 at 1:30 PM ^

...natural flavors and fragrances.

The weekly recipe is tweaked constantly. Natural flavors and fragrances captured during squeezing are added back into the juice to restore flavor lost in processing.

None of that shows up on the bottle labeling. The point is the marketing tries to give the impression that it's fresh squeezed and they mark up the price significantly to take advantage of that impression and to help form that impression. You pay a crap ton for the illusion and for the ease of pouring it right out of a plastic bottle. 

My memories of from concentrate OJ are much more fond after this realization.

matty blue

January 27th, 2014 at 12:48 PM ^

anyone notice that he was doing his 3-feet-onto-the-court BS in the first half, when sparty was on defense on that end, but not the second, when they weren't?  seemed worse than usual.

LOLZ B1G refs as always, but i will never, ever understand why they let that whiney douchebag be an extra defender on the floor.  such a tool.


January 27th, 2014 at 12:50 PM ^

It's obvious he's done great things at MSU and knows what he's doing

...but his absolutely incessant whining and complaining is really bringing him down several notches for me. You're not the only coach who's team doesn't make it through all 30-some games with your starting 5 in perfect health. Everyone who touches your player didn't foul him. Shut up, deal with it and just coach


January 27th, 2014 at 12:53 PM ^

Outstanding column Brian.  Wins over Izzo/MSU seem to bring out some of your most inspired work.  It's a shame they only happen FIVE TIMES IN SEVEN GAMES!  

The tears are definitely delicious.






January 27th, 2014 at 12:57 PM ^

My wife is used to hearing me complain about officiating when we play at Wisconsin, Indiana, OSU or MSU.  Saturday night I was obviously even more fired up than usual and just about lost it when Spike wasnt granted the TO even as the official stared at him - seemingly waiting for the MSU players to tackle him for the held ball.

When Beilein finally lost it all I could say was "Holy Shit......" and she said basically "Ok, you guys mustve actually been getting screwed.  I've never seen your coach get mad over anything before."

Nice write up Brian.  My sentiments exactly!


January 27th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

I would like to draw attention, as it deserves to be mentioned again.... of the CLUTCH performances of the team,  especially Stauskas and Walton. Holy wow.   Horford and LeVert too.... Morgan too...  Walton stepping up like this, to me just solidified the team to at least have the chance to go all the way.  I didn't think the point guard spot would be covered THIS fast...sheesh...

And kudos to Beilein for giving Spike a scholarship, as he stayed true to his talent evaulation... Spike is a scrapper and am glad as heck he is on our team.


True Blue Grit

January 27th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

AND a much classier person IMO.  5-2 in the last 7 game matchups with generally less talent most of those times is not a coincidence at all.  And neither was getting to the NCAA Finals with such a young team.  I just hope at some point soon, Beilein starts getting the recognition he deserves from the national media.  I will say I heard John Feinstein this morning talk about Beilein with his call-in guest, who both agreed how good of a coach he is.  So that's something I guess.