Marginally Contested

Submitted by Brian on February 4th, 2013 at 12:08 PM

2/2/2013 – Michigan 73, Indiana 81 – 20-2, 7-2 Big Ten

Jordan Hulls Michigan v Indiana at7WYoLFN2Xl[1]hi-res-158576668_display_image[1]

Midway through the second half, Michigan popped into a 1-3-1 zone for a possession. I did not like this. I immediately thought "you can't run this defense with Jordan Hulls on the floor," and Indiana duly tossed the ball around the perimeter until Hulls was presented with an open three-pointer. He knocked it down. The 1-3-1 did not reappear.

Hulls didn't do much other than that. Unfortunately for Michigan, two of the other things he did were bury two more open threes; he missed only once. This is what you expect from Jordan Hulls, and it's why he's out there trying to check dudes a half-foot taller than him on defense.

To beat a team with a guy who shoots like that playing next to a sticky-fingered nightmare of a defender, the man Hulls is checking has to at least keep pace with the guy. Nik Stauskas didn't. He, too, is the sort of player that sends you to your toes when he's left wide open in transition, the sort of shooter that can create a buzz in an arena before the ball has even left his hand. He, too, had four good looks from three before the game had been decided. He missed all of them. (Hulls fouled him on a fifth.) The fourth miss was incredible, deflating, infuriating. This is not what is expected.

In a game where just about everything else did go as expected, that seems like the difference between a rock-'em-sock-'em affair ending at the buzzer and the marginally exciting contest that instead unfolded: Michigan's best shooter did not hit when presented with excellent looks.

And they were excellent. I'm not sure if Michigan came out with a concerted plan to emphasize the Hulls-Stauskas matchup or if Stauskas improvising based on his belief that Hulls couldn't check him; either way Michigan came out of the gate attacking that guy, and for naught. Stauskas drove for marginally-contested layups, and missed. He was found for marginally- or un-contested threes and missed. Michigan launched itself into desperation mode with two minutes left down nine, down exactly the same number of points Hulls had tossed in from behind the arc and Stauskas hadn't.

This is not to pile on Stauskas, who played about as well as he could up until the moment he let a shot go. This was not the Ohio State game, when he could not move towards the basket and found himself hacked out of the offense, reduced to jacking up deep, contested threes out of frustration.

When Stauskas made contact with Hulls he was largely quieted—along with the zone three two of his other looks came in transition. Stauskas didn't turn the ball over and had a couple assists. I can't recall any frustration shots launched. Afterwards, Beilein revealed Stauskas had missed practice the day before with the flu. Independent random trials can be a bitch even when you're healthy.

But there it is. While Glenn Robinson sputtered to two points and contributed little else in 40 minutes, his presence in the game always feels light. He largely cleans up other people's misses or throws down their assists. His absence or presence is something felt less viscerally than thinking TAKE THAT at maximum brain volume and seeing something betray Nik Stauskas's swag.

So it goes. Sometimes the damn thing won't go in the basket. The only thing to do is keep shooting.


Protip: stop falling behind by lots in tough road games. Against OSU, Michigan's offense came out discombobulated and staked the opponent to a 21-point lead. In this one, Michigan's defense couldn't make a rotation or stop the ball in the first ten minutes and staked the opponent to a 15-point lead.

Protip: once you have fallen behind by lots in a tough road game and come storming back, DO NOT TIE THE GAME. When this happened in Columbus Michigan started jacking up bad shots and was on the wrong end of a decisive 6-0 run. In Bloomington they managed to tie the game just a few minutes into the second half, and then suffered an 11-0 run.

Clearly a mandate must go out indicating that it's threes only if you have fallen behind by lots only to claw back and find yourself down two in a tough road game. No more ties. No more.

Protip: just predict what Kenpom predicts. Twice this year arrogant predictor guys at this very website have arrogantly deviated from the Great Book Of Kenpom and predicted road victories, first myself for the OSU game and then Ace for Saturday. Kenpom was off by a total of three points in these games. Yea, and it was wroth.

Halftime adjustments check: no. Michigan clawed back to even after five minutes, but then suffered the aforementioned run.

628x471[1]The Morgan question. Was his absence a major problem? The two minutes on a gimpy ankle he got seems to indicate the answer is yes, as does Indiana shooting 59% from 2. McGary's box score says no: 5/7 from the floor, 3 OREB, 4 DREB, an assist, 0 TO, two blocks, two steals, and a Wes Unseld hockey assist not recorded. Horford added a couple buckets, blocks and turnovers in ten minutes.

In the aftermath I've seen various folk complain about McGary overhelping and thus setting up Cody Zeller's three tip dunks, but if Oladipo is screaming at the basket that seems McGary has a bad choice either way. By helping McGary forced tougher shots and misses on those, at least. If he's not there and Oladipo throws down a rim-rattling dunk, um… well, that's not good either. It seems like the problem there is on the initial drive and McGary is picking the lesser of two evils.

Because this is an attempt to quantify the defensive prowess of an individual player, we of course have wildly differing metrics here. Some low-sample-size Synergy data from UMHoops suggests that Morgan is by far the better defender. That is in direct conflict with some low-sample-size data Ace assembled that suggests Michigan is a crap-ton better with McGary on the floor.

I don't know, man. Keep "road game at Indiana" in perspective here: despite giving up 1.17 PPP, Michigan's defensive ranking on Kenpom actually moved up slightly after the game. If Indiana shot too well from two they also got up far fewer shots than Michigan thanks in large part to McGary, and without the intentional fouls at the end of the game that PPP rate drops to 1.10. It's complicated.

One spot at which Morgan may have helped: the four. Michigan hasn't taken Glenn Robinson off the floor since Morgan got hurt, and in this game he wasn't doing anything to justify 40 minutes. Morgan would have brought extra rebounding and been better able to hold up against Christian Watford on the block; Robinson would probably have been more effective if he knew he was going to get some rest here and there.

Speaking of the overhelping bit. I think we can put the Tim Hardaway Jr lockdown defender meme to rest. Oladipo roared into the paint with frequency against him, hitting 5/9 from two and IIRC having two of those misses thundered back into the basket by Zeller since he'd drawn two guys.

Hardaway's better than last year; in no way, shape, or form does he approach the level of an impact perimeter defender like, say, that Oladipo guy.

Hardaway was an effective shooter in this one, largely when Oladipo switched off onto Burke.

Oblig. Burke check. Hoo boy he put up a lot of shots: 24 in total. We should remove the rushed heaves at the end of the game to get a better picture of what he did when quality was more important than quantity. This slices out four 3PA, one of which went down, and two generous assists on similarly rushed heaves by Hardaway and Stauskas.

Those excised, Burke:

  • 5/12 from 2
  • 3/8 from 3
  • 3/4 from the line
  • 6 A, 3 TO, 2 steals, 2 OREB(!)
  • 22 points on 20 shots

Burke was tasked with a good number of Oh God Oh Jesus Oh God late-clock possessions as Indiana's defense came to play; he had difficulty with Oladipo, as you might expect. His numbers would have been less extreme and likely less inefficient if Stauskas had been healthy and accurate. As it was more and more of the offense devolved onto him.

He carried Michigan when they had to be carried. To exceed a point per shot against a top-tier defense while sucking up 40% of Michigan's possessions is remarkable.

Oblig. ref check. Fouls were even before Michigan went into game extension mode. There was a 15 to 7 FTA disparity for Indiana that seems mostly attributable to random chance. Two goofy calls stood out: the Oladipo continuation bucket and a blocking foul assigned to Hardaway that was a textbook charge—one, in fact, that Hardaway repeated moments later, getting the call.

Rebounding check. Michigan lost the battle on the boards thanks in no small part to those Zeller slams. It was close—29% to 34%—though, far less of a factor than IU doubling up Michigan when it came to turnovers.

The bright side! This may put a damper on GRIII to NBA worries?

"Cumong man" of the game. Indiana hit 88% of their free throws and didn't miss once in their last 14 tries. This is not conducive to exciting finish, Indiana. I am dissapoint.

The oddity of having a really good basketball team. You get punished by having Dick Vitale assigned to your games. I've always experienced him as an annoying presence on Duke broadcasts I'm not going to watch more than a few minutes of; this year I've finally been exposed to 40 minutes of the guy repeatedly.

I am not enjoying this experience. Take it away, Wikipedia:

He is known for catchphrases such as "baby"

The worst part is that when Vitale finally retires—he's 73—the ESPN executives who have not ordered him to do middle school games at 3 AM on ESPN3 will slide a howler monkey into his place and hope no one notices.

I wonder how Duke fans must feel about the guy. Sure, he's basically an extension of your university but even when he's yelling inanities in favor of your team, they are still inanities detracting from the important thing you are trying to pay attention to. And he is omnipresent. I don't think I could deal, man. We should have asked Jamiemac—who admitted no rooting interest in Saturday's game!—about that when we were quizzing him about the Yankees' chances this year in the podcast.

Anyway, in most other sports ascending to the big time level is a reward. Gary Thorne does the NCAA hockey tournament, and Sean McDonough will do your college football games. People bag on Musberger but I like him, and there's no comparison between Vitale and Herbstreit. Big NBA games get you Marv Albert.

I guess Tim McCarver and Jim Nantz do loom, but what this is all about is WHERE'S GUS JOHNSON, STRING?



It's strange to me that I love Raftery and Gus Johnson so much and find Vitale so detestable. All three bring buckets of enthusiasm and get criticized for it by haters. I am only in that group for the last guy. Maybe it's because "baby" is not a catch phrase, it is a useless appendage, where as "onions" is delightful and Gus Johnson makes lip-curling noises.

Does anyone like Vitale? Stand and be heard. I want to know if he appeals to anyone. We should do announcer approval ratings.



February 4th, 2013 at 1:36 PM ^

Great point about McGary being in a predicament much of the game when rotating to help, leaving Zeller open for a couple of flush dunks. The biggest worry I had throughout the game was how effortlessly Indiana was attacking the baseline. With no effort to cut off drives by guys like Oladipo, the only choice on alot of the rotations was to give up the open corner three (in the first half), or leave the paint open for Zeller (in the second half). I was really suprised with how consistantly guys like THJ were getting beat. Leaves good room for improvement and things to focus on with the second half of B1G play coming up.

Naked Bootlegger

February 4th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

I loved Dick Vitale in the 1980's.  He was original, unlike any other staid and stale color commentator (like the always smug Billy Packer).  He had obvious passion.   I'm nostalgic for those great Big 10 & Big East monster match-ups that Vitale regularly commented on.  Those were good times in college basketball.

But that was the 1980's.  I liked Dicky V.  I also liked Ratt, Poison, and Motley Crue.  I had a full head of hair and groomed a mini mullet.  25 years later, I've changed, and I sadly don't enjoy listening to him broadcast any longer.

Brown Bear

February 4th, 2013 at 2:04 PM ^

When I was 12-13 and the Fab Five were in their heyday I loved Dick Vitale. Now, not so much. Same goes for Gus Johnson. But I loves me some Bill Rafferty. I can't explain my logic for current dislike and like. It just is and I blame my 30's on it.


February 4th, 2013 at 2:15 PM ^

are the other leagues where you'd rather have the local announcers, and so being featured on national broadcasts is bad. However, that is a different situation because in those sports the team have dedicated tv announcers who only follow the team, and so know more about that team than any national announcer could. Plus, I see you Rod Allen.


February 4th, 2013 at 3:33 PM ^

I like Dickie V. Ok, but will concede positive prejudices going back to his U of D days having gone down to Callahan Hall to see Dickie coach his Terry Tyler, John Long and Terry Duerod teams many, many, many times.

So senility is a possibility.

On the negative side, Dick took Greg Kelser #1 during his short lived stint with the almost unimaginably inept Pistons and then engineered the second worst trade in Piston history.  In which trade, having already lost M.L. Carr to Boston in a signing and entitled to compensation, Dickie sent two #1 picks to Boston in addition to Carr in exchange for the injured and aging pariah, Bob Mcadoo.  Boston turned those two picks into Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. So one does have to wonder just a little bit how much Dickie V. really even knows about Basketball.

As an aside, the worst trade in Piston history was Ray Scott for nobody.  It was supposed to be Rudy LaRusso who, rather than play for the Pistons, retired on the spot.  They finally ended up selling his contract for a #1 pick that became Otto Moore.


February 4th, 2013 at 2:19 PM ^

To say I "like" Vitale, or wish he was the one calling the game, goes too far. But I don't mind his commentary and insight. I too have met him, while I was staying at the same hotel in the Champaign - Urbana while attending a wedding. I remember when he was a coach at UD, and also remember him during the Fab 5.

This whole discussion reminds me of similar comments regarding Keith Jackson, or Bob Ufer, years ago. I liked both, others didn't care for one or the other. Honestly, I don't care who announces, as long as Michigan wins.

I was disappointed in GRIII, wish we had attacked the basket more, and felt like there was a lid on the basket when we were behind the 3 point line. I also wish that both Burke and Hardaway had been one step back, as both had very long twos, where a matter of inches would have made them threes.

His Dudeness

February 4th, 2013 at 2:20 PM ^

I dislike Vitale because he is a distraction. I also dislike Raftery because he is also a distraction. I am not sure how you can like one and dislike the other. They are so similar. They just say random things very loudly that make little sense as to what is happening in the game. I don't really like announcers in general because they don't bring any value to the viewing experience. I do like Dackich though because he seems to bring nuggets of wisdom about the game and players in the game he is calling. Other than that they can all go on mute for all I care.


February 4th, 2013 at 2:28 PM ^

Vitale is Vitale. I think he's going through the motions a little, much like when Madden got towards the end and was throwing in "BOOM, WHAP's" just because it was his thing. I don't doubt he's probably a very nice guy. But considering he loves slurping all the teams I hated (Not only Duke, but if I have to hear him call Robert Montgomery Knight the General one more time....), he wasn't a cheerleader for my teams. He was another one of those guys who hyped up the Fab Five as freshmen, then tore them down as sophomores.  So the only times I can remember him being on "Michigan's side" was when he though Michigan would be a great fit for Pitino, and when Coach K's golden boy Amaker was coaching us...till it became hard to pull off. (I almost think Amaker became our coach partly on Vitale's hype).

Having said that, now that CBS controls all the games, it always seems odd to me that we have no NCAA Tournament games with Vitale doing them.


February 4th, 2013 at 2:36 PM ^

Count me in the camp that loves Raftery and Gus Johnson. I don't hate Vitale but I really could do without him. He just seems so forced and disingenuous.

Raftery reminds me of the times when I used to take off school to watch the conference tournaments as a kid. Finally starting to get warm after a long Michigan winter, sun is out and there is unbelievable basketball on for the next month. Best time of year next to late August/September when college football is just getting started.

Wallace was soft D. He had to get got.


February 4th, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

The question on Vitale is whether or not he says ANYTHING during the game that adds to the experience of watching it.  The answer is NO.  Compare him to Jay Bilas; the best in the business.  Bilas breaks the game down and uses replays to show the strategy involved.  Vitale just screams pre-determined rants after great plays and gives out canned lists.  If Burke makes a three-point shot, he is "the best PG in the country!"  If he misses his next one, he is taking too many shots and needs to get others involved.   

There was a time in the mid and late 80s when Vitale was solid.  Now, he needs to just stick to the motivational speaker circuit. 

Doris Burke is significantly better than Vitale. 

On a separate note, there has to be a way to get GR3 involved early in the offense.  He is too talented to force him to rely on offensive put-backs and transition dunks. 



February 4th, 2013 at 3:32 PM ^

1. Surprised and dissapointed that Stauskas didn't dominate Hulls.

2. Got tired of shouting for McGary to get a body on Zeller.

3. Wondered why no Bielfeldt to relieve GRIII for a few minutes.  Would have been nice to see a big body in there banging around.  It wasn't like GR was having a big night.

4. IU came better prepared to defend us than we came prepared to defend them.

5.  I can only take so much Vitale.  I watched at least half of the game on Mute.  Besides, I come for the action not the commentary.

6.  This game was another reminder of how young we are.  We are good, but very young.  Most of the game we had 3 Freshmen and a Sophmore on the floor.

PB-J Time

February 4th, 2013 at 3:41 PM ^

I like Vitale. I like the color anouncer to be enthusiastic and know what he is talking about-even if it comes off as goofy (same reason I like Gruden for MNF). I enjoy Vitale's excitability in the games, and let's face it-anybody is better than Kellogg


February 4th, 2013 at 4:39 PM ^

Dick Vitale is a lot like an album you bought when you were 14. You remember loving it, telling all your friends how awesome it was, and trying to convince your parents it was better than anything they used to listen to. And then, decades later you put it on the stereo only to think, "what the hell is this crap?" Vitale is old... repetitive.. and a caricature of himself. In a word - Annoying.

BTW, Musberger is terrible. And of course, he's the voice on far too many amazing Michigan victories. Can't everybody be Keith Jackson?


February 4th, 2013 at 4:44 PM ^

I definitely said on here before this game that the key matchup would be whoever was matched up with hulls. That clearly didnt work out for us as Stauskas once again didnt come through offensively. He played ok on defense but gave up those 3's that turned out to be daggers. Can't totally blame him though as GRIII didn't even show up to play. Anyway, I really don't mind Vitale calling games. He has an extensive background in bball that you have to respect and makes it tolerable to hear him call games bc he does know what he is talking about. It's not like Pam ward or Beth Mullins calling a football game.


February 4th, 2013 at 5:56 PM ^


A pet peeve of mine (both as an ex-athlete and a fan) is ref inconsistency, especially at the end of games.  Officials can’t be perfect, that’s understandable, so the next best thing is for them to be consistent over the entire course of the game.

(Forgive me if the details are little off, couldn’t pinpoint the sequence on ESPN’s play-by-play). 

One huge play in the Indiana game was the obvious foul on Cody Zeller’s offensive rebound in the final minutes when he chased a long rebound near the sideline.  It was a great effort but he tackled two Michigan players (Stauskas and one more I can’t remember) who were several steps ahead of him and clearly had position on the loose ball, blocking Zeller’s angle.  The no-call resulted in Indiana getting a fresh 35, which I believe was followed by a score.  I think Michigan was down 6 during the play in question and if they get the ball back they can make it a one-possession game.  Instead the lead is now 8 with only a few minutes left.  This gets called 90% of the time during the first 35-38 minutes of the game, so why is it all of a sudden “okay” for the last couple?  “Let the players play” and “they’re not going to call that at the end of the game” yeah yeah, but all that means is, we’re just going to have a massive shift in rule interpretation only at the end of the game and after an unknown amount of time has passed.

Don’t get me wrong, Indiana outplayed Michigan and deserved that win.  But these kinds of situations happen all the time and potentially have huge implications (see: Crabtree endzone no-call in the Super Bowl – in that case it’s probably the correct call which gets wrongly called in regulation all the time).

End whining.  Sorry.  Beat OSU.


February 4th, 2013 at 6:45 PM ^

Totally agree.

I coached high school ball for 20 + years so I've been directly involved in far to many games where the refs swallow their whistles in the last minute.Few refs will acknowledge this phenomenon but those who do give the same answer: " We want the game decided by the players, not us."    I find this answer to be a copout,the real answer is most refs lack the "onions."                                                                                                                                    

RE: Mich                                                                                                                                    I've coached and/or seen HS teams with better defensive fundemental skills.I tape,rewatch and grade many Mich games (am retired and once a coach always a coach) I focus on defense and don't think the casual fan realizes just how bad we are on basic defensive fundementals.        

This Mich team is capable of winning it all but won't until the def fundementals improve.The effort is good,the talent is there and the players seem to have great attitudes so I have hope.   GO BLUE



February 5th, 2013 at 8:49 AM ^

The on-ball defense has drastically improved over the past few years.  Whether that's due to athelticism or coaching maybe is hard to tease out.  But you're definitely correct.  Against most teams they play, even statistically mediocre ones, it's painfully obvious how slow Michigan is on their rotations, especially off pick and roll.  Teams in the NBA do this flawlessly and it's easy to take it for granted.  Michigan was almost a full pass behind for most of the first half.  And it's not just Indiana because this has been happening against a lot of B1G teams.


February 4th, 2013 at 6:21 PM ^

Not only for his obnoxious voice, but his constant flip-flopping. The man will be jocking Indiana and there crowd and suddenly Burke hits a three and he segways directly into how awesome he is, with a capital A, of course. But mostly it's just an Assembly Hall love-fest.the whole game, baby.