HUG PROTOCOL Comment Count

Brian March 19th, 2018 at 12:30 PM

3/15/2018 – Michigan 61, Montana 47 – 29-7, Round of 32
3/17/2018 – Michigan 64, Houston 63 – 30-7, Sweet 16

It's a list I don't even have to keep, because it is so narrow. A list gets written down. When you can count the number of persons given TOP SECRET access to the HUG PROTOCOL on your hands—and you could probably have had a finger lopped off in a bag accident and still gotten by—it's not really a list. It's an iron-clad fact of life. The hug protocol is buried deep behind passcodes and false leads and a butler who keeps the secret in a tattoo behind his ear.

So here are the persons that I have engaged in uncompuncted, mutually enthusiastic, joyous hug activities with before this weekend:

  • my parents
  • my brother
  • my wife
  • my son
  • a guy who I can confidently state was from the Indian subcontinent and think was probably Pakistani in the King's Head, a bar in Galway, Ireland, when Robbie Keane scores against Germany during the 2002 World Cup; our hug occurs largely because everyone else in the bar was Irish and we were the dudes left over
  • Everyone within 10 feet of me when Landon Donovan scored against Algeria 

I spent the 1998 Rose Bowl amongst very wrong people. When Trey Burke hit The Shot 1.0 there was still a lot of work to do; fist-pumping and guttural Viking cries were the order of the day. Jumping up and down in a pile, not so much. That shot just swung Michigan from certain defeat to potential defeat. Burke, of course, made damn sure his moment wasn't wasted. That still took some time.

It's a different thing, being rescued half-way.

Jordan Poole (and Isaiah Livers and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman) rescued Michigan all the way, draining the very last tenth of a second off the clock in doing so. And, man, 100% is an entirely different feeling than 95%. Ask a Houston fan today, or yourself a few months ago during the Maryland game when Isaiah Livers dropped a dime on MAAR in an eerily similar situation. MAAR got to the line, swinging Michigan's win probability from LOL NOPE to PRETTY DANG LIKELY. And the main thing to feel was a restricted, conditional hope; after the android version of MAAR nailed both free throws the new feeling was relief.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Things that would make a win probability chart fold in on itself. My first reaction when I saw the thing the NIT's quarters did…


…to the Louisville-Northern Kentucky game on Kenpom was "this is the most accurate chart." If your sports life doesn't feel like that I don't know you. 95, 96, 97… these are not 100. 100 is 100, and only 100 is 100.

4 to 100 in 3.6 seconds is when the hug protocol is broken out and the room becomes a single hopping organism for a solid 20 seconds. At the same time, Poole is displaying his lateral agility by temporarily escaping the on-court pile. The walk-ons track him down, because walk-ons are crafty by necessity, and then you get the sports picture.

Afterwards, twitter is checked and re-checked. Poole talks to the media, and then John Beilein says Poole has an "overdose of swag."

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[JD Scott]

Folks congratulate a man who just won an Oscar for finally doing something with his life. John Beilein ups his water-fight ante with poncho and goggles.

(It is only a matter of time before he invades the locker room in a firefighting mech.) Over the next 36 hours, Michigan's entire half of the bracket commits seppuku. It's all in front of them, and they didn't even play particularly well.

Take a breath. Enjoy it for what it is, right now. Down big to UCLA this looked like an NIT outfit, and now they're here. Sun yourself. Bask, until you have reached your swag limit, and then bask just a little more. Weekends like this stand on their own.


[JD Scott]


The other side. Devin Davis feels horrible today despite exceeding his season average on free throws, because the makes and misses came in the worst possible order. Wagner gave him a thought…

…and it didn't help much.

Maybe we can get together later and talk about the funniest Tom Crean transfers who made the tournament while Indiana did not. If that doesn't cheer you up, nothing will.

THE DOOR OPENS. You may be aware of this already, but: Michigan is the highest seed remaining on their half of the bracket after the ignominious demises of Xavier, North Carolina, Virginia, Cincinnati, and Tennessee.

This doesn't mean you should be disappointed if Michigan isn't in the national title game. Everyone is good at this point, and there are no home games unless you're Kansas. A&M over UNC was most welcome but Kenpom gives M a 62% chance against the Aggies—it is anything but a slam dunk to get to the Final Four.

Still… coulda, coulda been worse. #7 Gonzaga and #16 Kentucky are the top teams Michigan can face on the way to the title game. All those teams above are gonzo, and there's a decent chance Michigan beats A&M and gets a team (Florida State) that's currently one slot behind Penn State in Kenpom.

Going to have to do better, though. Michigan is going to run into a team that can score adequately on them despite their excellent defense, and at that point they're going to have to get back to Big Ten Tournament-level offense or they're going to crash out. Michigan's weekend was ugly, ugly stuff. More analysis later. I tried to start writing analysis and, nope, let's hold off on that for a second here.

An excellently timed and cromulent article. The New York Times on Michigan's short shorts:

“The long shorts are out of date,” the sophomore Ibi Watson said. “If they can touch your knees, they’re way too long.”

It is said that fashion is cyclical. The irony is that the same program that bucked the trend by concealing its legs in the 1990s is helping bring skin back in now.

In fact, players on Michigan, seeded third in the West region and set to play Montana in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament on Thursday night, lamented that they can’t get find shorts that are quite revealing enough.

So they roll their shorts at the waistband. Once. Twice.

“Three rolls is the max,” Watson said. “If you go four, it’s too much.”

He added, “I think they should just start making shorter shorts.”

Jalen Rose's furious letter to the editor has not yet been published.

I watched them all, and this is the best one. All songs have been put over the buzzer-beater, and I like this one best.


Another angle. Via Alejandro Zuniga and reddit:



March 19th, 2018 at 12:45 PM ^

This year's Michigan team has flaws, flaws that were partly exposed in Wichita. They still won.

This team does not have the offensive punch that other editions have had. Some people have suggested that 2018 MAAR is roughly equivalent to 2017 Walton; I didn't think so at the time, and the games disproved the assertion beyond a reasonable doubt. MAAR is still a really good senior player, but he's not an automatic scoring machine. 

Ironic, then, that this team seems so well equipped to win games. On a weekend where we were victimized by numerous bad foul calls and couldn't put together consistent offense at all for 80 minutes, the team still advances.

Who knows if there's another win left. But the weekend will last forever.


March 19th, 2018 at 1:41 PM ^

else doesn't have (save for maybe Duke). 

Our main problem against Houston was coming up on the wrong side of an unusually high number of trials known as "three-point luck". 

We were 7-29, mostly on open 3s going into that final shot (that painful possession in which we missed three 3s, two of which were wide open Duncan threes, and the wiiiide open MAAR three that he airballed exemplified this game).

There's not much you can do but shrug about missing open threes.  And that's not a flaw so much as, eh, bad luck.  That's what happened to MSU and UNC to get booted from this tournament (although UNC didn't play great defense and were hit with poor luck the other way as A&M drilled a bunch of threes) which is my point that there are very few teams in modern basketball that can survive that kind of bad luck.  Since we have great defense we actually can survive it sometimes (although it took defense and a really lucky play to overcome it Saturday).

Duke is really the only team left that is dominant enough to possibly score 1.1+ ppp even if they shoot poorly from three, because they don't rely much on threes (incidentally, A&M is somewhat similar but turns it over too much and can't shoot threes well enough to get by solely on orebs and interior play).  And Duke has defensive flaws that required them to go to a zone that exposes them to getting bombed from 3.

Look at Villanova.  They have the best offense in the country per kenpom.  But they lost a game to Providence in which they shot 3-20 from three (woof) and a game to St. Johns (at home) in which they shot 8-33.  So they're not immune from bad shooting nights either.  Same for Kansas. There are few if any offenses immune to the kind of night we had Saturday. And we have a better defense than both Nova and Kansas.

We'll exit this tourney when we have another sub 30% 3-pt shooting night (and/or when an opponent has a 45%+ night).  I figured that going into the tournament and figured Saturday was our exit after all those missed shots...until we were given a mulligan by Poole.

Our fate will be decided more by luck than our flaws (because those are surprisingly minimal).  We just won't talk about FTs because we're now a 70% team, right? RIGHT?

EDIT: I also don't want to imply that Houston didn't play good defense.  They did play good defense, but I actually thought we played great offense to give ourselves a lot of open looks.  And we only turned it over 7 times.  I thought we played a pretty good game.  Just couldn't hit shots.


March 19th, 2018 at 12:47 PM ^

had about as tough a weekends as possible and we still win

if they can up their game and simpson too, we should be good this week. simpson attacking more would help as well


March 19th, 2018 at 12:48 PM ^

My wife decided to have a small house party Saturday night to celebrate St. Patty's day so we had 4 other couples over.  Because two of the guys were fairly big OSU fans we had their game on in the background but no sound.  Wife wanted music  and we watched them lose to Gonzaga.

Game time for Michigan and she asks "do you want to put the sound on" and I said "no...I can watch it for now without any volume" and the party rolled on.  At this point I should add my wife had a bunch of green on (I only had on a green t-shirt under a black sweater cause I own almost no green and no red shirts) but no Michigan gear.

Second half starts and I notice the sound is now on and loud.  Loud enough for me to hear it clearly (dirty secret - I'm practically deaf) and loud enough that the music was turned off.  OSU fans start to pay attention now (had no choice) and i long ago stopped being a party host and was mentally locked-in on the game.   Then I noticed something.  My beautiful wife had changed her clothes at half from all green to all Michigan gear and had brought down my M hat to wear.

When Poole hit the shot I lost my mind and my voice from screaming so loud.  My wife joined me in celebrating and one of the neighbor's wife's poured everybody a shot to toast Michigan's win.  Or was it two.  Maybe three?  Anyways we all celebrated together and even the OSU fans were good sports about it and happy for me.

It was a great night. 


March 19th, 2018 at 1:00 PM ^

was almost identical to my night, except for that my wife went to bed at 9:00 PM because I was being "irritating," and mine involved a lot of solitary drinking, yelling and swearing, a bag of Funions, and very possibly puking.  I don't remember that last part vividly but I am going to error on the side "yeah, probably."

Aside from that, it was like the same night!


March 19th, 2018 at 2:01 PM ^

This exemplifies how pointless the NIT has become.  (Minor league baseball is racing after them, with the new "man on second to start all extra innings" rule, which, sadly, isn't a joke).

I can confirm that this is a joke, however.  There is no such rule.  Yet.

Michigan Arrogance

March 19th, 2018 at 6:53 PM ^

that rule is really not meant to add excitement but rather to get an extra innings game over in 1-2 innings instead of 3-8. Lots of rec leagues are doing it. saves piting, prevents injuries, but you're still playing the game as double day intended, as it were.

Naked Bootlegger

March 19th, 2018 at 12:51 PM ^

Spot on regarding the hug protocol.   We discussed this same topic as a family in the game's aftermath.   My hypothetical:  "What is the line that you would not cross on the game-winning-shot-I-will-hug-anyone-right-now protocol?".    My answer:  Rick Pitino.  I would not have hugged Rick Pitino under such circumstances.   

Also not ashamed to admit that I had to look up "cromulent".


scanner blue

March 19th, 2018 at 1:27 PM ^

My post was guarding the line with Jordan, Naji Ozeir and Nicole Munger over by the SW entrance of the concourse. Every other Selfie station had lines but I had to cajole fans and try  to convince them that he might be the next star. Of course us Event Teamers can't get photos or autographs with the players just get to talk with them for a few minutes.


March 19th, 2018 at 1:00 PM ^

They had so many aberrantly bad shots that I refuse to believe will continue. How often do MAAR or Robinson ever airball a 3? Yet that happened repeatedly, on good looks.

They'll get it figured out, and they're going to have a game soon reminiscent of Texas 2014 or Florida 2013.

901 P

March 19th, 2018 at 1:33 PM ^

Yeah, I saw that too. For a second I was thinking, "oh no--this is about to turn bad." Luckily Beilein kind of brushed it off and they went back to the celebrating.


March 19th, 2018 at 1:54 PM ^

enters the room and gets doused, everyone throws their water bottles at his face after (hopefully) emptying them.  They should probably institute a "don't throw water bottles at your teammates faces" least while we still have games to play.  Don't want any eye injuries.

might and main

March 19th, 2018 at 1:13 PM ^

needs to develop a memory+emotion storage and retrieval tech that will allow me to pull back out that experience in future years so I can tap in to the surge of emotion/energy/adrenaline/awesome that burst into being a split second after the buzzer buzzed and the ball dropped.