Been There Before

Submitted by Brian on January 18th, 2012 at 1:33 PM

1/17/2012 – Michigan 60, Michigan State 59 – 15-4, 5-2 Big Ten

6718568839_17d0a54697_z[1]zack-novak-msu-2

It was stomach-churning when Draymond Green conjured a pretty good shot out of thirty-five seconds of Michigan State panic, and that moment when the ball hung in the air was heart-stopping. In the vast aeons before its fate was determined, the observer had plenty of time to remember how much he hated backboards.

Oh, backboards. Scourge of the 2011 Wisconsin game at Crisler. Failed Andrew Jackson assassins. Uncooperative gits, backboards. When Josh Gasser had thrown an eyes-closed prayer up last year, a backboard answered his call. I had vowed revenge after it worked this alchemy on Crisler:

Being in Crisler was to viscerally understand the cliche about the air going out of the building. The transition from a standing, raucous crowd to a bunch of pissed off people looking for their jackets was instant, and the ride home was mostly silence.

But Green had not stopped his side-to-side momentum before getting the shot off and when it bounced off the backboard it did so too far to the left; it glanced off the rim. Green's putback attempt was well short, and that was that. Rather than the Gasser shot we'd just witnessed a replay of Deshawn Sims's improbably good look at the end of the 2010 game against State at Crisler.

Crisler blew up, as you might expect. Then something strange happened: nothing. No student or fan set foot on the court. Izzo rushed the referees to plead something or other, the teams shook hands, and then they left the court. No mosh pit. Crisler was loud but something short of delirious.

And there you go: the infamous "gap" is pretty much closed. Novak in the aftermath:

"We're to the point now where (beating Michigan State) is something we expect to do," Novak said. "My first two years, it was like, you've got to do it first -- you've got to do it one time.

"After you get that first one, you get a taste of it, but then you've got to learn how to win."

The last three years Michigan is 3-2 against Michigan State with one failed buzzer-beater on each side, an MSU blowout at the tail end of the disappointing 2010 season, and two solid Michigan victories during the regrettably short Get Off My Court era. If they haven't reached talent parity with State just yet it won't take long for Robinson, Stauskas, McGary, Irvin, Donnal, et al., to make that distinction a hard one to make. The PDC is complete; planned Crisler renovations will bring Michigan's arena in line with the best in the country. John Beilein is pretty good at coaching basketball.

Michigan's at the start of a long Big Ten grind that will probably spit them out significantly bruised, but at this point it's hard to see them chewed up enough to miss the tourney. If things fall right they could even sneak a seed with which it's plausible to make a Sweet 16. That's three of the last four tournaments and at least a .500 record against State over the last three years, and then the cavalry arrives. The moment when Beilein's program goes from building to built is fast approaching.

--------------------------

Zack Novak doesn't care about that. He cares about February 5th in Breslin, when he'll have the opportunity to go out with a winning record against Michigan State. The last four-year player to accomplish that was… I have no idea.

Next year is the one everyone's pointing to as the one when big things happen; this year is Novak's last. He is thinking about titles and tournaments and somehow keeping all of the blood vessels in his head intact for another three months. Fans can sit back and wait for help; Novak only has a few urgent months left.

Here they are.

Media

Photos from Eric Upchurch:

These are Creative Commons licensed, as always.

Via MGoVideo, Denard and Roundtree executing the Can't Turn You Loose dance next to a shirtless dude and an engineer:

tree-denard-maize-rage[1]

Photo gallery from UMHoops. Also from AnnArbor.com. Izzo's press conference is precious:

What a knob.

Last 31 seconds:

Beilein postgame:

Also there are BTN highlights.

Bullets

The trenchant analysis! So of course after I point out Smotrycz's ability to stay on the floor as a key to the game Michigan starts Stu Douglass and plays 90% of the game with Novak on Draymond Green. Smotrycz gets ten minutes. At least I said Green was a more plausible matchup than most Novak-vs-PF outings.

But so anyway, point Beilein for running out the small lineup and not getting extensively punished for it on the boards… actually, wait. Michigan rebounded one of 23 opportunities on the offensive end and allowed MSU to rebound 39% of their misses. So they did get pummeled on the boards. They eked it out because…

Uh… They eked it out because…

Uh… Okay. They were ferociously effective from two-point range. This continues a season-long theme but was not expected after a couple of rough outings. I think MSU five-star Adreian Payne was a major factor in this. Michigan sliced open the MSU defense early with un- or not-very contested layups largely because Payne's help defense was nonexistent despite having a matchup against Jordan Morgan. Morgan is not a guy you have to worry about taking jumpers, but Payne consistently failed to show at the basket when Michigan's various six-nothin' white guys would drive to the hoop.

As a result, Payne played only 14 minutes and finished with one rebound, that defensive. He should be awesome—dude is a physical marvel—except he's Mike Cox mentally. He got yanked a few minutes in. In the aftermath Izzo would bemoan a lack of "toughness," but what MSU lacked was between their ears, not their legs.

When Payne was out Nix didn't seem much better. For whatever reason the intimidating doom-bringers on the interior took yesterday's game off.

Uh… Also fouls and turnovers. The Valentine crew decided there were no fouls, much to my frustration in the first half when it seemed like various over-the-backs and Hardaway jumpers would have been fouls anywhere else on planet Earth. I know Hardaway is struggling, but there is no way he flat airballs two three-pointers in a short period of time.

HOWEVA, when it came to things actually called, Michigan had the advantage with just 8 fouls to MSU's 12 and 13 FTA to MSU's 5. This did not appear to be a home court effect. Even Michigan State people were unsurprised State had zero FTA at the half.

MSU also had six additional turnovers. Most of those came from Appling and Green as Michigan collapsed on them and they did not find assists to compensate. Appling did somewhat with his five but a 5-4 assist to TO ratio and a couple of charging calls is not ideal.

6718559291_b0cb0a65ae_z[1]

Upchurch

Tim Hardaway: come on, let's go. While Trey Burke is a fantastic player it doesn't seem disputable that Darius Morris was a much better shot creator last year than Burke is at this point in his career. That's been much to the detriment of Hardaway, who is now taking a lot of bad, contested shots and seeing his numbers drop precipitously. Michigan needs more of his last basket, when he shot by a defender and finished at the rim what with his six-five frame and leaping ability, and less of the shots like the above. Beilein also thinks this. Look at his face.

Hardaway did make an excellent decision to foul Nix on the floor after one of Michigan State's late whip-the-ball-around-until-it's-in-the-post-uncontested possessions. IIRC a turnover followed; those points were the difference (as were all points scored by M or not scored by MSU).

Stu Douglass: hat tip. After 38 minutes versus Iowa Douglass puts in 36 against MSU, plays his usual very good perimeter defense, had nine points on six shots, Michigan's lone offensive rebound, two assists, a steal, and a turnover. Even if I'm probably not going to say "argh where's Stu" next year like I will inevitably do when things are going poorly and Novak isn't around to grit something out, the intangible senior leadership Douglass provides is getting pretty tangible.

Burke. Yes, you're good. That three pointer was still a horrible decision. In all other ways, hurray.

Drive home safely. The visiting Izzone section. We have to talk, visiting Izzone section.

One: you came in a bus. Two: you bought a large section of tickets clearly designated the worst in the building, allowing you to stand as students will. Michigan is clearly complicit in getting you in the building, for whatever reason. Your bus did not appear to have a cloaking device.

Despite this, you sneak into the building incognito as if there are Izzone snipers stationed at the entrances. Then you chant "Daddy's better" at Tim Hardaway Jr., which… like… Tim Hardaway is one of the great point guards in NBA history. You know that, right? That's not actually an insult.

No points, mercy on your soul, etc.

Meanwhile. Does the Maize Rage do this? Could they do this? Why is Michigan selling a huge block of tickets to the Izzone? It doesn't seem likely that is the case. Why is Michigan actively annoying its fans by allowing this to happen?

Mathy Q. This would never happen and this is a conversation destined to remain hypothetical, but… how bad of a free throw shooter would someone on the floor have to be for a foul to be the right move in the situation Michigan was faced with last night?

I think a couple guys on the court were within range. Nix was 53% last year and is at 58% this year. If we give him 60% to make calculations easier, a non-shooting foul on him results in the following outcome after the one-and-one:

  • 40%: Michigan with ball up one
  • 24%: Michigan with ball tied
  • 36%: Michigan with ball down one

That's if Michigan gets the rebound on the free throw, generally a good assumption but maybe less so in a balls-to-the-wall board crashing situation late.

I think there's a case for sending an under 60% free throw shooter to the line with 15 seconds or so left if they're going to get a one and one. Again, no one in the universe will ever try this in a game. But it's interesting to consider.

Random. I think of this as Rasheed Wallace version of "THE GAAAAAME." Do you know what I'm talking about? After the Pistons won their championship Wallace called basketball that in his indefinable 'Sheed way. It is impossible to explain and impossible to google, but I swear some people will know what I'm talking about.

In lieu of providing this, here's Wallace signing along to GNR:

This is your erratic reminder that Rasheed Wallace should succeed the Most Interesting Man In The World.

That is not relevant, but you start looking up Rasheed Wallace videos on Youtube and things get crazy.

Elsewhere

Green has guaranteed the return game($):

"They won three. Before that, how many how had they won?" Green said. "They got their little three, but they come to East Lansing in a few weeks.
"They better celebrate this one, because I can guarantee you they won’t get one in East Lansing. You can quote me on that one."

Three straight is of course half of Green's career against Michigan to date (MSU was  one-play a couple years ago), but don't ask a State attendee to do math.

RCMB provides the 'freude:

type_angrysoapboxlynchmobLast year was somewhat understandable. We were bad then. We are pretty good this year. Even a mediocre MSU team should blow Michigan out of the water. Michigan can't be good. It doesn't F---ING HAPPEN. FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

The same guy reacts… poorly to a suggestion that this loss doesn't mean anything. Also here. This is the bit in the game thread you want. Also this one.

Wojo column. Baumgardner on Douglass's winner.

Holdin' the Rope column. BWS column contains ludicrous assertion that the lasting memory of Novak will be him missing threes. UMHoops recap and five key plays. Recap features this outstanding shot:

Michigan-State-at-Michigan-15_thumb[1]

What a knob.

MSU needs better S&C.

Comments

oriental andrew

January 18th, 2012 at 3:45 PM ^

Yes, his perimeter D is the best on the team.  Yes, he can shoot the 3 (ok, there is shot selection and all that).  Yes, he can be GRITTY.  But you can't deny his leadership.

Watch him during free throws, after turnovers, going into or coming out of TO's.  He's always in someone's ear.  Love watching him coaching up Burke or Hardaway.  Could be a future in coaching for him.

MGoBlogStore

January 18th, 2012 at 4:40 PM ^

I was thinking the exact same thing as Brian when they started that chant. Its like chanting "Daddy's Better" at a one of the Jordan kids at a UCF game (whichever one is still playing). THJs Daddy is better than everyone that was on the floor. 

Stupid chant, i was annoyed. Until the end of the game!

UMGooch

January 18th, 2012 at 4:52 PM ^

Must admit, I do not follow NCAA hoops like football, but Izzo's presser seems far more personal that football pressers. He keeps calling out his freshmen and blaming the freshmen and citing the freshmen inexperience for why he lost the game. Seems harsh, especially for 18-20 year old freshmen athletes. Kinda makes me sick how much he says who's "fault" things were.

I know football is a more team sport whereas basketball only has 5 guys on the court at once, but for those out there with more experience, is this calling out of players common in basketball?

Michichick

January 18th, 2012 at 5:56 PM ^

"Look, nobody picked us to do anything, so there's no pressure."

What?  There are no goals or aspirations of personal excellence unless they're picked to do something? Just... what?  Tell that to the RCMB posters whose heads are in a thousand bloody pieces.

I've heard John U. Bacon's speech in his "Bo's Lasting Lessons" tour, in which he says that Izzo is cut from the same mold as Bo. I really would like to believe that, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. I keep looking and listening for it, but I just don't see it. I've lost a lot of respect for Izzo because I think he doesn't handle losing well.

snarling wolverine

January 18th, 2012 at 5:07 PM ^

Zack Novak doesn't care about that. He cares about February 5th in Breslin, when he'll have the opportunity to go out with a winning record against Michigan State. The last four-year player to accomplish that was… I have no idea.

It was Louis Bullock (1995-99), unless we're not counting the vacated games. If we're not counting any of them (we vacated the 1992-93 season and everything from 1995-99), I believe we have to go back to the seniors on the 1989-90 team (Terry Mills, Rumeal Robinson, Mike Griffin and I think someone else).

B-Nut-GoBlue

January 18th, 2012 at 9:27 PM ^

I was thinking the same thing last night in the last 30 seconds of the game.  I feel like something like this has crossed my mind before, in fact I know it has, but last night it really had me thinking.  Brian's right, it will never happen.  But damn being down one with the ball with 10-20 seconds is not the worst scenario, whereas letting your defense defend for 30 straight seconds and awaiting a final surge to the basket with a possible open kickout with 8 seconds AND trying NOT to foul (at that point) is what happens in reality, everytime in these circumstances.

I don't know why, but I didn't mind Burke's three toward the end of the game.  I am definitely one that hates the quick jack-up three ball and is one reason I can't stand the NBA.  But I dunno.  The offense was stagnant for a few moments there, and the poise Trey has shown as a true freshman thus far, I was okay with it.  Weird, because If it was Hardaway , I would have cried bloody murder.

Also, and I have no proof of this, but it just seems like I can see it on the floor, in the rapport amongst these two: but I feel part of Trey Burke's natural poise/leadership/maturity can be attributed to Stuart* Douglas (and others I'm sure, i.e. Novak).  I see Stuart many times between during play stoppages and whistles chatting it up with Trey and helping him out.

*I enjoy Dan Dakich calling Stu Douglas, Stuart Douglas.  Reasoning I can't explain.