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Ace April 9th, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Look at it.

No, just look. In the image above, there is no whistle. There is just Trey Burke, consensus national player of the year, making another magnificent, awe-inspiring play—and in a season when he's done that time and again, I don't recall #3 blocking a shot quite like that. Stripped of the context of the game, it's simply 60 more frames of Burke's greatness.

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We all witnessed a basketball classic last night, no "college" qualifier necessary. Michigan and Louisville put on a showcase of everything that is great about the sport—no two other teams in the country could've combined, on that stage, to showcase such a sublime combination of talent, skill, coaching, and the free-flowing style that makes for the most entertaining of games.

The exception was the officiating, and it's not like the Wolverines bore the brunt of that incompetence alone. Louisville's run to close out the first half could've swung the game even more had the refs not whistled phantom fouls on, if memory serves, both Peyton Siva and Russ Smith as they were in the midst of picking Wolverines clean and heading the other way for a layup. Look closely enough and you'll never fail to find points left on the table.

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I watched the game last night at my apartment, with my brother and roommate, just as I had the first five games of the tourney—same people, same seats. After the final buzzer, we sat in silence for a few moments, collecting our scattered feelings. My roommate, normally the one who lets his emotions get the best of him, was the first to break the silence. Let's have a drink, go outside, get some air.

We stood on the back patio, and over a backdrop of hovering helicopters and wailing sirens we talked about the game, this team, the tourney run. The specifics of the conversation are lost to a long night and a few beverages, but I remember the smiles that crept over all of our faces as we recounted our favorite moments from an unforgettable season. Back inside, we flipped on a rerun of Arrested Development on the DVR, laughing with the Bluths like it was any other April night.

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Today, I woke up a little late, and yes, with a little bit of a headache. This was what I saw when I turned on my laptop:

Michigan may have lost, but Spike Albrecht is still doing his thing, and I'm not one to count him out these days. After all, he was the Most Eligible Bachelor even before he had one of the most unlikely performances in championship history.

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It's always disappointing when your team comes up just short, not because you're disappointed in them, but for them; there's no coach more deserving of a title than John Beilein, no player who's earned a crowning achievement more than Burke, and for a moment after the game I ached for them. But someone always has to ache, and who's to say who's more deserving? You know Kevin Ware; now read about Luke Hancock having the game of his life while his ailing father watched from the stands, or the incredible story of a 13-year-old Peyton Siva talking his father out of suicide, and there's no anger to be felt as Louisville celebrates. They have lives and stories just like our guys, we're just not as familiar with them.

And today, Spike Albrecht—Spike Albrecht!—is the talk of the nation, as is Burke's incredible block and that game, man, that game. Regardless of departures, and there will be departures, this program is in better shape than it was 24 hours ago. The whole country knows what we've known this whole year about Michigan basketball: they've arrived, they aren't going anywhere, and they're damn fun to watch. For 14 minutes, Spike Albrecht made everyone forget about Trey Burke, and we're not even sure he's going to start next year.

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Look at it, one more time. It's still beautiful, and forever will be.

Comments

might and main

April 9th, 2013 at 2:12 PM ^

thank you guys so much.  You guys are great, and the content on this site just nails it time after time.  This shared experience we all have as Michigan fans is a really amazing thing, and you guys just do an incredible job putting it down on "paper" for the history books, in a way that just makes the whole experience that much deeper for us.  I can't tell you how many times I'll read one of these pieces and be like "yeah, that's EXACTLY how I feel." 

I'm really grateful for your talents, passion, and effort. 

michmaiku

April 9th, 2013 at 2:14 PM ^

I've been a regular reader of this site for years, but never a commenter, till now. 

Whenever I see posts like this, the Wolverine homer in me thinks: "there is no other fan base that expresses so thoughtfully, and entertainingly, how much its team matters, and why". 

But, of course, the same point you make about Siva and Hancock (who I've been cursing since the Wichita State game) applies here:

"They have lives and stories just like our guys, we're just not as familiar with them."

Some people lose this perspective even about their own team, including me on occasion.  I'm in my mid-40s, but those kids had more composure at the post-game interview table than I did in my own living room. 

Inspirational and educational, like a Michigan experience should be.

Thanks, again ...

 

GoWings2008

April 9th, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

Thanks so much for that perspective.  I'm damn proud of this team and JB...they did everything they could do this year and more, even if it was just a tad shy of all our dreams.  They're good men, good team mates and something to bring honor and respect to the University of Michigan.  

The only thing I can say about Louisville is...damn, someone get their coach some time out in the sun.   

Muppet1856

April 9th, 2013 at 2:48 PM ^

Ove the last several hours I've swung from mad at the refs for bad calls, to a position where I say the refs put us on the line and we didn't capitalize once they did.  Between that and ending the game with timeouts and fouls to burn, I think there was more we could do.  Especially in preparing our kids for the inbounds.  I never like the idea of leaving anything on the table - give all the fouls, take all the time-outs.

All that said, I'm encouraged by our prospects next year and was thrilled to make the final four - and losing may have felt awful, but there were 14 teams who really wanted to be there and didn't get it done, butu we did.

SPIKE - during the game, he went from 5k followers on twitter to over 28k today.  Most eligible indeed.

hfhmilkman

April 9th, 2013 at 2:55 PM ^

The one thing I hate about officiating is the lack of accountability.  When players or coaches blow it they bear the brunt of a fan bases wrath.  When an official blows it we have to accept it as just bad weather and inevitable.  Maybe there is internal accountability.  But the public lack of it is in my opinion is the reason for the hate for any blown call.  When does an official ever admit he blew a call that decided a game?   About as often as the weather apologies.

That all said I thought Louisillve was the better team.   We had no answer for their offensive rebounding.  The game was lost because McGary reverted a bit to making mistakes and we gave up 11 2nd half offensive rebounds.  Those bad 2nd half calls would have only given UM a chance, and the chance was still pretty small.  I saw two other second half calls that really changed the game.

The 1st was the mysterious call on Harrell instead of Hancock who undercut the Michigan player.  The context of the game would have changed completely as Hancock was the only serious tripple threat and that would have been four.  This was huge as Louiville pretty much went only 7 deep.   They might not have had the energy to sustain that little run.  I did not even see Harrell in the play.  Interested if someone saw something else. 

The other was the out of bounds call on Levert.  Burke gets knocked to the  ground and  into Levert.  The official has the eyes to see someone a half inch out of bounds but misses an obvious foul that would have stopped the clock and given Burke 2 FT's to cut to 2.

Now we benefited against Syracuse as the Hardway pushoff that was not called had the same impact on Syracuse.   The game is completely different if Syracuse has the ball plus one less foul on a star player who eventually fouls out.  It is just so frustrating that when you are on the unlucky side there is nothing you can do but  scream at the darkness in impotence.  The same officials will be back next year, be called the best and destroy some other future teams dreams.   And just like in the movie "A Man for all Seasons", the tyrants get away with evil and live a happy, full, peaceful life, never suffering the consequences of their mayhem.  And three officials are clucking in self satisfaction because in their mind they called a good game.

In closing it is amazing how games get disected down and every inch and second will be scrutinized.  Yet there is never an analysis of how well or how poorly an official does.  It is frustrating that we just have to treat it the same way as bad weather.  

 

 

B-Nut-GoBlue

April 9th, 2013 at 5:48 PM ^

Good points.  Yes, they may get demoted to lower level games if they're officiating is blatantly horrible on a consistent basis.  But they still get paid and they're still referees to go botch more games.  But even still, they blown calls in any game cannot be made up and there is nothing that can be done.  It just sucks, really, really bad for the shortened team.

DealerCamel

April 9th, 2013 at 2:58 PM ^

Sometimes after a loss one might go crazy, blame everybody, call for someone's head, be generally mad at the world.  Last night wasn't like that for me and it hasn't been like that for a lot of people from what I can tell.  Afterwards people talked of what a great season it had been and what a game it was.  That's not always the case.  Last night was something very special, and as a Wolverine, win or lose, it was incredible to be a part of.

 

Vaughn St.

April 9th, 2013 at 3:27 PM ^

Officials are not paid enough, are not trained enough and are under intense amounts of pressure.  I am not a conspiracy theorist and believe bad calls went both ways, but Michigan, by far, got the worst of it.  Once they missed the goal tend on Tim's first drive, I knew we were in for a long night.  That is one of the easiest calls in the game.  These officials simply could not keep up with the speed of the game.

That all said, I re-watched the game and noticed Burke's two phantom fouls -- the Hancock three and the block -- were both called by SEC official Tony Greene.  The foul called on the Hancock three was arguably more egregious as Greene was not even in the play.  The official that had that area of the floor swallowed his whistle.     There is even a blog dedicated to Greene: http://istonygreeneonthetake.blogspot.com/.  Now here is a probably still a "fire beilien blog" out there, so internet whining has to be taken with more than a grain of salt -- but this guy is just brutalized.    

This begs the question:  how does Greene get chosen referee the biggest game of this year?


I do not blame Greene as much as I blame the NCAA.  He was obviously in over his head.  This was a question of competence. 

Again, I am not suggesting that Tony Green was on the take, only that he had a terrible night.  And it appears he has had many other terrible nights.  However, as a treat for those conspiracy theorists out there, it also appears Kentucky fans especially despise this man.   And knowing Kentucky fans, I'm sure Mr. Greene, even subconsciously, wouldn't mind Louisville, their rival, winning the championship. http://www.allkyhoops.com/2010/02/whats-story-with-referee-tony-greene.html<

hfhmilkman

April 9th, 2013 at 4:41 PM ^

So think of it this way.  In every game a call was made that shattered or greatly reduced a teams chances to win.  Unlike a 1st half call, little you can do to recover.   Chances are the same team wins.  But  what drama did not happen because of bad calls?

1. UM<>Syracuse.   Hardaway pushes off.  Instead of an offensive foul, UM keeps the ball and the Syracuse guard(I believe Triche) picks up a foul.  Syracuse still had a chance but their odds of winning went way down with the failure to flip that possesion.  The least impacting of blatant calls be Syracuse still had time.

2. WSU<>Louisville, Quick whistle gives the jump ball to Lousivlle.  With WSU down 3 no chance to win.  Odds are still slim as they gotta hit a 3 and not a great 3 team.  But chance to win goes to zero.

3. Non foul on Burke as him being pushed causes LeVert to be out of bounds.  With 40 seconds left and UM having posession being 4 down there is still a chance.  Not having the ball means they are forced to foul.  Chance to win goes to zero.

3 games, 3 blown calls.  All had a huge impact on the odds.  I know that officiating a game is hard.  But that success rate is not good enough.   Or is the new order of things that the outcome is determined by oficials making calls or failing to make calls over players making great plays?  What great plays and drama did not happen? 

enlightenedbum

April 9th, 2013 at 5:30 PM ^

It was MCW, but considering he had spent the last 3 minutes holding Burke away from the ball while they were pressing, I considered that awful call justice.

The NCAA needs to make some serious rules changes/emphasis changes in the offseason.

1) Hand check rules like the NBA

2) 30 second (or 24) shot clock.  The women are 30, men should be too.

3) Remove a timeout

4) Coach's timeouts after the 16/12/8/4 minute marks before a whistle count as the media timeout.

5) Bo Ryan is given history's first show-cause for purely aesthetic reasons.

Mirasola

April 9th, 2013 at 4:43 PM ^

"It's always disappointing when your team comes up just short, not because you're disappointed in them, but for them"

Admittedly, most of the time we lose, anger comes with disappointment because I think of what could've been.  What if we made this shot, completed that one pass, stopped that one play.  The feeling after this game was different - just pure disappointment for the team.  After the incredible run this team made in the tourney, I wanted so badly for them to come out on top because they deserved it.

Perkis-Size Me

April 9th, 2013 at 5:29 PM ^

Well put. I was dissapointed after the game, but not of any the players or the coaches. I was dissapointed for them. Beilein capturing a national title would have been like the modern day version of the American Dream. But who is to say Louisville wasn't just as deserving as our guys? Both teams played one hell of a game, and you could tell everyone, especially Burke, left everything on the court. Unfortunately, someone has to lose, and it was us this time. It may be a while before we get to the Final Four again, or it may be again next year. But we have the right man to get us there.

Spaniard_Wolverine

April 9th, 2013 at 5:57 PM ^

We haven't lost with Louisville, We have lose with Pitino. Louisville is a mediocre team with a extraordinaire Coach, this the diference. Michigan have the talent but not have a Coach.

Beilein sucks!

umumum

April 9th, 2013 at 6:06 PM ^

the only CBB team I can think of that lost the championship game with as much class as this group was Butler in 2010---and that's a damned compliment.

SHub'68

April 9th, 2013 at 9:49 PM ^

Next year is going to be fun with Mitch and Spike leading the way.  Even if they don't quite pull off what we just were blessed to witness, there is character, talent and lots of likability coming back to this squad.

Danwillhor

April 9th, 2013 at 10:53 PM ^

exactly. I immediately admitted the reffing sucked but we didn't lose because of it. It went both ways and to each side harder at different times. Officials change the outcome of games. It's their job. Those officials just made an amazing game a little less awesome. UL won. UM made me love CBB again. Great season.

georgetm2000

April 10th, 2013 at 7:16 AM ^

After halftime I told my wife that this is the kind of game that can just break your heart, and don't get me wrong I was so disappointed to not get the win. However, I wasn't so heartbroken over that loss as others. We put in a great effort and it wasn't mistakes or a lot of unforced errors that lost the game. It was just a battle to the end and we didn't pull it out. I remembered the game in the tourney some years back with Gonzaga and I don't know who the winner was. But GZ lost after like 3 OTs and when they lost Mark Few at the end just applauded b/c it was a great game and both teams gave it their all. I sort of felt like that after this game. Hats off to Louisville - but also hats off to the Maize and Blue. They gave it their all and truly it was a fantastic year and a team that will be in my all-time favorites. Thanks guys.

claire

April 10th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

my unbiased assessment that Siva actually fouls Burke-gets Burke's right arm on the way up with his left arm. So in actuality this was a 4 point swing against M