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 12:17 PM ^

We should win when Indiana comes to AA- this race will go down to the very end.  WE need to hold serve at all home games- I expect Indiana (and MSU, OSU, Wisconsin)  to do the same- meaning it will come down to who wins the most at tough road games.

Losing by 8 at Indiana is nothing to be embarassed about.  We did a lot of things poorly too- so to have had a shot especially after the bad start does not mean a whole lot to me.  Not sure much seperates us from Indiana this year- probably the two top teams in the nation


February 4th, 2013 at 12:35 PM ^

Vitale.  I think his enjoyment of the game is genuine and I really think he celebrates the game with the way he calls it.  I also think he is very gracious toward players and is careful not to avoid outright criticism while still offering good insight into their play.  I think a lof of the recent criticism of him is unjust and really like when he has Michigan games.


February 4th, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

I don't ask that to be a jerk, I kept listening to him and thought he basically gave zero insight. Maybe I'm too critical I guess. I don't like him at all. I think the game has passed him by or maybe I'm more analytical now.


February 4th, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

a lot of announcers attempt to over analyze the game, and try to provide "insight" that amounts to very little more than educated guesses, sometimes outright speculation.  Vitale really limits how much he  psyco-analyzes players and really just calls what he sees.  He gave a lot of good insight into Burke's play, was spot on in terms of where Burke is the most effective and discussions of the defense by committee that Indiana was using on him.  He also has an encyclopedic knowledge of the college game and his commentary on moments past can really take me back.  I think disliking Vitale is like disliking ice cream, or extra-cheese on a pizza, or correcting somebody for ending a sentence with a preposition.  Relax, have a little fun.  Its Dick Vitale, he has been the voice of college basketball for like 25 years.


February 4th, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

if you think too much about him, you might get pretty angry, but he is a part of the history of the game, is pretty smart about what he says (mostly) and is relatively harmless.

vitale has been more tolerable since his throat issues prevent him from screaming the entire time. he was not as bad as usual on saturday night.

funny though - congrats michigan fans on having your team #1 for the first time in forever. your reward is a 9 pm game at the toughest place to play and getting to listen to Dick Vitale. thanks a lot.


February 4th, 2013 at 3:19 PM ^

I agree - I like Vitale a lot and I think you hit on it - he is genuine.  He is not trying to be someone who he isn't.  He doesn't try to say catch phrases b/c they are cool or popular.  He is himself and enthusiastic.   I think he makes watching the game more fun.


I like Raftery for the same reasons.


February 4th, 2013 at 6:48 PM ^

I absolutely love Dick Vitale, I only got back into college basketball a couple years ago after not paying much attention since college (class of '01) and even more-so high school ('97), but to me Dick has always been and always will be the voice of college basketball.  I love his enthusiasm and all his terms that are uniquely him. When I heard him for the first time this year I was sad because he just doesnt sound the same, I thought it was age, but someone mentioned he had a throat issue.

Mr. Yost

February 5th, 2013 at 8:26 AM ^

...IF the game is big enough. That Michigan/IU game was big enough.

What I can't stand is Dicky V doing a typical ACC mid-level Maryland vs. Florida St. game. That is annoying.

But if you looked at that crowd, the energy was seeping through your TV. Dicky V was perfect for the broadcast.

I feel the same about Gus Johnson. Big games or nothing at all. March Madness level or bust.


Mr. Yost

February 5th, 2013 at 8:31 AM ^

I can't stand Raftery though, largely because he's just watching the game these days. If I'm watching, I don't want to hear "oh he's open on the left!" as if you're a coach.

And I HATE that jibberish he does after the tip. That is the dumbest shit ever.

I don't have  problem with most announcers, but Raftery, Pam Ward and Jimmy Dykes aka Mr. Knowitall can go away forever.


February 4th, 2013 at 12:33 PM ^

I have been in the presence of howler monkeys, and they would be a marked improvement over Vitale.  The roar of the male howler monkey is frightening, even though you know that it's just a monkey, but it has a uniformity of tone and volume that makes it easier to adjust to than the jagged, hysterical ravings of Vitale.  The males also don't resort to catchphrases or obsequious observations, instead typically (if not always) simply saying, "GET THE F--K AWAY FROM MY WOMAN."  You have to respect their bluntness. 



February 4th, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

I actually like him a lot.  But maybe because he was big back during the Fab Five days when I was in school there.  He did a ton of home games and he would always chat with the students before the games.  He is definitely a bit annoying at times but he's no where near as annoying as Musburger.  That guy is the worst in all sports (can't believe Brian can stand him!).


February 4th, 2013 at 1:28 PM ^

I also like Vitale, or at least don't mind him. View him in somewhat nostaligic light.  Perhaps people who didn't watch bball in the 90s (like Brian) might not feel the same way.

Certainly there are better announcers out there, but Vitale seems harmless and his enjoyment seems mostly genuine.  His act doesn't bother me other than seeming forced at times - but what do you expect from an old man whose thing is energy.  Gus Johnson's going to inevitably sound a little less excited 20 years from now too - you gonna hold it against him?


February 4th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

IMO, Dick Vitale is what the kids call a "Tryhard".

His enthusiasm seems like an insincere addon.  Maybe it's true of Johnson and Rafferty too, but Vitale just seems to be a big screaming trademark every game.


February 4th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

I think that's it exactly. I don't doubt that Vitale's enthusiasm for college basketball is authentic. And my memory is that that enthusiasm was pretty new and exciting when he first started. It was like the staid announcers who broadcast national games were replaced by the homer announcer who conveyed the excitement of the moment. That seems like a big change in broadcasting embraced by many contemporaries (for good and ill). But Vitale figured out, long ago, that he could translate that enthusiasm into notoriety and cash money.

With Vitale, this trademarking is apparent in two particularly annoying ways.

1. The endless repeating of his initial impression. He's probably most noted for "Get a TO, baby. Get a TO, get a TO." In this game it was the "Uh oh" he said the moment Hulls shot that 3. By itself, that would have been pretty brilliant commentary. The "uh-oh" as he shot it echoing what everyone watching it was thinking. But then to repeat it multiple times turns it from a perfect encapsulation of that moment to Vitale stamping his mark on it.

2. The incessent listing of his "teams." I don't know if these are made up on the spot or actually existant somewhere, but Vitale fills every broadcast with mention of how players are member of his "All-something" team. It's his way of stamping his mark on the player and it drives me crazy.

Compare this with someone like Rafferty, who definitely has his trademark phrases, but they seem far more put at the service of explaining the game. He's my favorite. Enthusiastic but rarely seemign to put himself in front of the game.



February 4th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

way the last couple of years, but watching on Saturday, I figured out that it was mostly because the caliber of play on the floor did not warrant the adjective and hyperbole that he uses.  I think that game on Saturday lived up to "Vitale billing" and that he was able to convey the excitement of the game effectively.

Wisconsin Wolverine

February 4th, 2013 at 1:40 PM ^

I think his enthusiasm is genuine, but I also feel like there's a tradeoff - the more ebullient & effusive a commentator is, the less insightful they are able to be.  You can think of Dick Vitale & Jon Gruden on the former end of the spectrum, & Chris Collinsworth on the latter, douchier-yet-informative end.  Actually, Gruden knows a thing or two, it just gets lost amid the ceaseless praise.


February 4th, 2013 at 1:51 PM ^

Raftery will explain stuff in addition to all his "ONIONS!"  Because Raftery is the best.  Raftery is so good he makes Uncle Verne tolerable.  Though the McDonough/Raftery/Bilas team ESPN has call Big East games and the Big East tournament is the best.  It's a combination of a fantastic play by play guy who rises to the moment when necessary with two guys who know what they're talking about analysis wise with Raftery for excitability with a genuine chemistry where they make fun of each other constantly.  That's the single biggest loss from the death of the Big East, I think.


February 4th, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

 Bilas is too negative when he is calling games.  If a guy takes a charge he was not "aggressively trying to defend a shot."  If a guy makes a shot with his foot on the 3 point line he "was not focussed when taking the shot."  It is always "what could have been done better" and never "that was great."  He is too much the other end of the spectrum from Vitale.


February 4th, 2013 at 3:26 PM ^

I agree with this about Bilas when he's broadcasting alone, but the divergence between Raft's enthusiasm and Bilas's skepticism (and McDonough's understated PbP) is what makes that crew great.

And I think we can all be thankful that CBS finally canned Billy Packer, who was like Bilas's attitude taken to the greatest extreme possible. Now if they can only get rid of the odious Jim Nantz.


February 4th, 2013 at 6:25 PM ^

Gruden knows all.  That dude's knowledge is vast and I love it; that's a reason some people I know dislike him, they feel he gets too detailed.  Yes, he "praises" a bit much and I suppose I can see that being too much for some that they dislike him.  But he knows a sh*t ton and for the in-depth fan he's fun to listen to.  The way he can predict a play and discuss a play/formation, "We used to call that Banana Peel-Rocket Fifty-Deuce" etc. is fun to me, personally!


February 4th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

...Brian provides no comments about the Oladipo bush league end of game uncontested trip to highlight city, baby.

Hardaway noticed and wasn't having any of Oladipo's attempt to make nice in the handshake line. Yes, this is a story line for the rematch.


February 4th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

I was finally asked how I knew his middle name was F**king since I was calling him by his full name most of the game. Even though I had a few beverages, it admittedly does roll off the tongue quite easily. 


February 4th, 2013 at 6:56 PM ^

I don't know why everyone is so mad about that dunk.  Due to 'The Journey,' I can't hate anyone in the B1G, even Aaron Craft (ugh, thanks Journey), so I like Oladipo.  That alley-oop he almost made was awesome, though I was quite happy he missed, and when I saw him throw down that dunk at the end my only thought was 'holy shit, can we see that again closer up?' tempered with a small amount of 'hope that doesnt count because of stupid MoV calculations.'  I even went to youtube to find it.  The game was over, we lost, he threw down a meaningless, sweet dunk.  Get over it, it doesnt make him the devil, and its not going to make them forfeit out of shame.

M Fanfare

February 4th, 2013 at 12:30 PM ^

I've never heard anything bad about him as a person (unlike, say, Chris Berman), but when Vitale was out for a while a few years ago with lesions on his vocal cords, I took that as a data point in favor of the existence of some sort of benevolent deity.


February 4th, 2013 at 12:30 PM ^

I'm not a fan of Vitale because Dan Shulman has been one of the best play-by-play men in the business going back to his time calling Blue Jays games with Buck Martinez. But it's been ages since I've been able to enjoy him do his thing, because he's paired with someone who has absolutely no ability to take it down a notch.


February 4th, 2013 at 12:51 PM ^

As long as Vin Scully is still working, Shulman's not the best play-by-play guy in sports, but he may be the best at working together with analysts. I brought up Buck Martinez because he was way better with Shulman than he's ever been working with anyone else.

Shulman's probably the best option for working with Vitale, but I think he deserves a new partner so the debate can be "Shulman: best play-by-play guy?" instead of "Vitale: tolerable or insufferable?"

Away Goal

February 4th, 2013 at 12:30 PM ^

When an announcer is giving your team mad love, and you still find him incredibly annoying, you know he is bad.  It goes beyond his crush on all things Duke.

Does he have to say everything twice?  Followed up by, are you serious? are you serious? are you serious?

ESPN seems to have an obsesssion forcing annoying people on us.. .Vitale, Holtz

Wolverine 73

February 4th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

I find Vitale so annoying that I cannot listen to a game that he broadcasts.  I started watching some game earlier this year--can't even remember who was in it--and after about a minute of his screaming banalities (and repeating them twice), i decided I would read about the outcome afterwards.


February 4th, 2013 at 12:31 PM ^

Nobody else on the team was stepping up Saturday, so he had to put the offense on this shoulders and try to make something happen.  One thing is for sure, Michigan is going to need at least one more person to step up besides Hardaway and Burke. They also are going to have to get more physical with people to go far in March - untouched drives to the basket do not bode well.

SirJack II

February 4th, 2013 at 12:35 PM ^

I like Vitale as well. I like the goofy things he says and just how happy he is to be watching college basketball. But, full disclosure, I also really like Musberger and Herbie, and a lot of you seem not to like Musberger (how can you not like someone who refers to the Michigan-Michigan State game as "this ole donnybrook"?).


February 4th, 2013 at 12:36 PM ^

Vitale feels very much like he is trying way to hard to be hip. Like a "cool" dad trying to relate to the college kids. I like college sports because of the pageantry that is void in the pro sports. Vitale would feel at home announcing a pistons game. I think they could get a better color guy that could add more insight. If I wasn't worried about bias, bobby knight might be good entertainment. On the other hand, the play by play guy is top notch.


February 4th, 2013 at 12:36 PM ^

Gus has been terrible over the past year. Perhaps it was his meteoric rise, but he constantly messes up names, doesn't understand game theory, and talks too much. He now yells at total nonsense. He's brutal.

I'll take Nantz's wine and cheese club announcing over Gus. At least he gets the names right and understands time and score.

The color person I like is Dan Dakich. Funny, smart and he gets the sport.


February 4th, 2013 at 6:29 PM ^

I agree on the Dakich notion.  I've liked him the past couple seasons but this season I was pushed over the top for him when I was watching a game a few weeks back and he mentioned that Ted Valentine was officiating that night.  He gave some mention to the effect of "Teddy showtime.." is officiating tonight and that he'd make his presence known at some point early on.  I paraphrase, but it was hilarious (and oh-so true).


February 4th, 2013 at 12:41 PM ^

Not much made of it in the write up but the guy I had a problem with Saturday was GRIII.  To me at least it did not seem like all out effort was there and I cant count the number of times I'd stop the broadcast and rewind just to watch him.   And I yelled more than once that he should've been sat down for a bit by coach B.  

Perhaps a function as Brian said of knowing you arent coming out of the game but man, on several possessions he basically just stood and watched on both ends of the floor.  He didnt play at all like he has previously which made me wonder if he too was sick like Stauskas.  At least Stauskas was trying (failing yes) but trying.