2/12/2019 – Michigan 69, Penn State 75 – 22-3, 11-3 Big Ten
I muted the TV and went to go get something to eat at halftime, so I didn't realize what had happened until my eye slid to the chryon at the bottom of the screen some ten minutes later: John Beilein, ejected from the game. The replay followed:
That is how Tom Izzo greets his grandmother. That is how Fran McCaffrey orders coffee. It appears for all the world that the thing that got John Beilein ejected for the first time since he had rad sideburns was putting his fingers up to indicate the number of missed calls that he was incensed about. Maybe he said "dangit" in there somewhere.
And… I guess everyone's got a breaking point, but I thought that was a weird one. If Beilein had blown up after watching Ethan Happ's 63rd foul on Saturday that would have made all the sense in the world. Here an admittedly pretty awful missed moving screen call seemed to punctuate a first half with little in the way of officiating controversy.
I was more concerned with the fact that Michigan was playing like they'd all hit themselves in the head with frying pans before the game. Maybe Beilein was too, and was on his last nerve when Simpson got blasted into next week. Or maybe the cumulative effect of road losses to Iowa and Wisconsin in which Michigan got boned, to use a technical term, had worn down Beilein's tolerance for dumb stuff.
Whatever the reason Beilein got an unprecedented ejection, here's a crossroads: the nicest guy in college basketball just got fed up. We know referees are susceptible to everything they seem to be. They favor home teams, and trailing teams, and especially teams that have committed more fouls than the opponent. There's no way to quantify how much yellin' impacts them, but it probably does.
At the very least we'll get to see how the people complaining about people complaining about refs handle the fact that Beilein's lost his marbles about the whistle he's getting.
[After THE JUMP: ELON DUNKS]
"Emotionally drunk," the stat. Penn State won this game largely because Myles Dread went 5/8 on high quality threes. That's a baffling thing to have happen. Michigan is extraordinarily good at sticking to shooters and Dread is Just A Shooter at this juncture of his career—some 80% of his shots come from outside the arc and he has 19 FTAs on the season.
Dread's open looks didn't come after clever screens or Villanova ball movement. They just happened. This wasn't Michigan doubling and not managing to scramble back. It was as if Tommy Amaker had momentarily possessed the mind of whoever was supposed to be in Dread's face.
The rest of PSU went 1/7 from three, and even though the announcers kept talking about how Stevens was "giving it to" Jon Teske he had 20 points on 24 shot equivalents before 10 FTAs in the dying minutes. Michigan inexplicably losing Dread is the only reason PSU crept above a PPP.
1-2-2 is death. I have no idea why everyone doesn't do the half-ass three-quarter-court press against Michigan. It cost Penn State exactly one basket when Simpson was able to break it and get an and-one to Teske. When not doing that it hampered Michigan's offensive flow. Michigan frequently didn't even run an action until there were ten seconds left on the shot clock.
Michigan ended up scoring 1.05 PPP thanks to a 62% shooting night on twos and acceptable numbers from three but it feels like the TOs (12) and lack of OREBs (4) were in part because Michigan was scrambling for shots and either got in trouble or just jacked something up with no penetration to draw OREB-generating help defense.
In which late fouling makes things seem very different. Penn State FTs in the last 2:34: 18. There were four from the techs, and a total of twelve in the other 37 minutes and change.
The silver lining: Chucky Charlie Charles. Matthews put up a 145 ORTG, hit some more midrange stuff I hated until it went down, hit 3/4 threes, and generally looked like good Matthews from last year's postseason instead of the Struggle Bus Matthews we've gotten most of the year.
Poole shot selection. It's bad much of the time, but in this game it didn't really jump out aside from one very bad idea NBA three in the second half. Much of the time it's a goofy Poole shot… or the same thing later.
ELON DUNKS!!! Thanks to Nick Malish for reminding me of the most important ongoing story in college basketball: the Elon Fightin' Musks Quest For Just One Dunk. The quest has come to a satisfactory conclusion:
I hope the basket melted like the One Ring in Mount Doom when Steven Santa Ana thundered home Elon's first dunk of the year in a 72-60 OT loss to Northeastern.