Michigan 77, Cleveland State 47

Submitted by Ace on November 13th, 2012 at 10:30 PM

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Michigan has now played five games this year. The closest margin of victory: 28 points.

Yes, two of those were exhibition games against Division II teams, and the regular-season competition hasn't been stellar either. Tonight's opponent, Cleveland State, had to replace four starters, and at 94th in KenPom they're by far the toughest test the Wolverines have faced this year.

Michigan wiped the floor with them, though, starting the game on an 8-0 run, finishing the first half on a 23-2 tear, and cruising to a 77-47 victory. A Wolverine team hasn't made basketball look this easy in a long, long time. I remember the LaVell Blanchard-led 2002-03 squad losing the season opener to St. Bonaventure. In Tommy Amaker's last season, Michigan had to climb out of an early hole to beat something called a "Maryland-Baltimore County" by 12. Even last season, the Wolverines won against Saginaw Valley State—a team they beat by 28 last week—by just nine points. I'm pretty sure one of Brian Ellerbe's outfits found a way to lose the intrasquad scrimmage.


Through five games, Michigan is playing basketball on a different level than their opponents—and any Wolverine team in recent memory. Daniel Horton has nothing on Trey Burke, whose first-half hesitation crossover in transition broke ankles in the upper bowl—he finished with 12 points and seven assists without appearing to break a sweat. Manny Harris never rounded into the complete, efficient wing that Tim Hardaway Jr.—once again stuffing the box score with 17 points (7-12 FG, 3-6 3P), six rebounds, and four assists—has become. Nik Stauskas (15 points, 3-4 3P), well, let's just say he wouldn't be out-shot by Gavin Groninger. I can't even think of a suitable player comparison for Glenn Robinson III, who had an off-night (2-7 FG) and still managed to contribute nine points, seven rebounds, and solid defense, including spiking a layup attempt off the glass.

After covering four games in five days, three of them laughable basketball blowouts, I hope you'll forgive the fact that my mind began to wander in the second half. While half-watching Burke effortlessly run the pick-and-roll, or Hardaway skying for a defensive rebound, or perhaps it was Stauskas drilling a three like it was Pop-A-Shot, I thought about Avery Queen.

And I laughed.


snarling wolverine

November 13th, 2012 at 10:36 PM ^

Random tidbit about Cleveland State: Mike Boyd was their coach when their arena was built (in the early '90s) and he was always mad at being passed over (or so he thought) for the Michigan job.  He made sure their arena was built to a capacity of 13,610 - one seat more than Crisler held at that time.  

Tonight was arena-capacity payback.



November 14th, 2012 at 1:44 PM ^

Because the only way he could have gotten the job is if he had been made interim and it was him that lead the team to the title.  After that, there weren't really any other candidates.  I don't remember it being odd that Fisher was named the guy at the time; it was just assumed he'd be the guy to lead the team into the tournament. But my memory might be hazy.


November 13th, 2012 at 10:42 PM ^

Although I am trying to maintain my expectations because of the competition, I have never been more excited by Michigan hoops. They have no weaknesses right now - offense, transition, defense.

Mich Mash

November 13th, 2012 at 11:42 PM ^

...I think defense in general is the weak spot of the team.  Nothing too glaring, but if they had to work on something...Robinson and McGary need to tighten up in particular, but again these are freshmen in their first five games so there is no major concern at this point.


November 14th, 2012 at 11:33 AM ^

I think McGary has to learn how to defend at this level and neither he nor Morgan will ever be great shot blockers, but I think Robinson is already pretty good on the defensive end. He switched on to their super quick point guard a few time and didn't let the guy get around him. He also covered their big men on switches a few times without getting beat.

I think the only thing this team is missing is an elite shot blocker. Horford may be adequate in this area, but he is the only one out of our 5 bigs who might be (I still can't believe we have five bigs not including Robinson who can play the 4. McGary, Morgan, Horford, Bielfeldt, McLimans)



November 13th, 2012 at 11:44 PM ^

I can barely remember what it's like to be so young that this is the most excited you'd ever have been about a Michigan hoops team... yet I still so CLEARLY recall the excitement of returning nearly all the '76 NCAA runners-up & beginning '76-77 @ #1...
and the thrill of setting out to defend the '89 title - albeit minus Glen Rice & Rumeal Robinson...
and of course being CERTAIN that the experience of losing to Duke in the finals in '92 was just what the Fab 5 would need to win M a 2nd title in 4 years....
So yes, I'm an old fuck, and I'm very intrigued with this team's potential... but I've got my memories, dammit, and we used to EXPECT to be this good... at LEAST!!

True Blue Grit

November 14th, 2012 at 8:26 AM ^

because I remember all that too.  The Michigan Basketball program right now, is in better shape for the future than it's ever been.  They're better coached than any of the Frieder, Fisher, Ellerbe, or Amaker teams.  They have far better facilities.  And they've rebuilt the recruiting network to match the players that we want for our system and where the talent is today.  I can't wait to see what they can accomplish in this, and coming years.


November 13th, 2012 at 10:52 PM ^

Love this team, but can't we be excited without dumping on former players? Especially Horton and maybe even Harris, who...(shhh)...probably would have had more successful careers had they gone elsewhere. Just rubs me the wrong way...


November 14th, 2012 at 12:49 AM ^

I don't really see where there was any "dumping" on former players. He's just stating, some of our current players are being coached up, to be more well rounded players who come much closer to their overall potential than some of the aforementioned highly touted/talented players. I think some of those players could have been much better, had they been surrounded by some of the more highly regarded players/coaches that we have on the roster currently. Not really on knock on the players themselves, moreso the coaching staff.

STW P. Brabbs

November 14th, 2012 at 7:19 AM ^

Lavell Blanchard is probably the closest we've had to Robinson since Jimmy King, but he played almost his entire career at Michigan as a severely undersized four. I remember him clearly outplaying Jason Richardson head-to-head as a high schooler ... who knows how good he could have been playing his own position under a reasonably competent coach.

And he still didn't have as much athleticism as GR3. (I don't think King did either, for that matter.)


November 13th, 2012 at 11:29 PM ^

I always wonder how good he could have been  on a talented team like this.  He never had any useful teammates except for the half-season when Horton was on the team and not suspended.  And Amaker's "offense" was no help.


November 13th, 2012 at 11:32 PM ^

With a group this talented, it's easy to see why Evan Smotrycz transferred. I'm not sure he'd see any minutes with this team, and I actually thought he was a good player. Coach B has a full chamber this year.

Mich Mash

November 13th, 2012 at 11:47 PM ^

...congrats on hitting 15,000!  I still think this team would be better off with Smot than without.  To have another role player to come off the bench who can immediately fire from outside the arc would be valuable in spots this season.  At some point, Stauskas, Hardaway and Burke will experience a cool streak in a tough spot and Smot could've been the guy to bridge the gap.  This, of course, is a nit pick.  I dont' see it costing us any games per se, but when you get to the Sweet 16 and beyond, having a deep aresenal will come in handy at some point.  All that said, I remember thinking during the first half that this was the most talented and complete team I've witnessed since...cliche alert...the Fab Five.


November 14th, 2012 at 12:12 AM ^

I think that's unfair. Smot left gracefully and was a great contributor to the team. I think he'd be a perfect fit this year. He'd probably be starting at the 4, with GRIII sliding down to the 3, THJ at shooting guard and Vogrich off the bench. Smot would have been back at a position that suits his game more than he was last year. And Belein would have had limitless flexibility with his lineup, with an option of sliding Smot to the 3 with Morgan and McGary in, going super big. We have an embarrassment of riches now, but there's no doubt we'd be a deeper, better, more experienced team had Smot stuck around.


November 13th, 2012 at 11:40 PM ^

I could not be more excited about this team.  We play and move so well.  Our spacing is great and the talent is so fun to watch.  I love how Stauskus and Spike throw passes with both hands with ease.  Robinson is an absolute freak athlete and is very fun to watch.  Hardaway seems relaxed and able to work within the confines of the team.  Burke is just so smooth and looks NBA ready right now. 

I can't get over how much I like watching every guy on this team.  I used to not like watching Horford, but I think he has improved a ton and enjoy seeing him in the rotation.  Stauskus is going to be starting soon (if he didn't tonight...missed the beginning) and it is clear he has to play big minutes.  I think Spike would be fine to take over for Trey if he has an NBA type of year.  If not, he is a great backup pg. 

It is great to be a Michigan Wolverine!!!


November 13th, 2012 at 11:57 PM ^

freshman.  Unfortunately, losses and bad coaching took its toll and Lester was not nearly the same guy later in his career.  I think Glen will just keep improving. He is wonderful to watch.


November 14th, 2012 at 9:52 AM ^

He's dissing former players when he's laughing at Avery Queen.  Queen, and the rest of the players who represented the University, took enough shit from opposing fans while they were here. 

I understand Ace's excitement about the current team.  The sky is the limit with these guys.  But pointing out just how bad the former players were seems unnecessary. 


November 14th, 2012 at 11:29 AM ^

Watching this team, and then remembering that we played a 5'7" true freshman poing guard for almost 30 minutes a game (who averaged less than 5 ppg for his career)? If that isn't cause for amused reflection, I don't know what is.

Nick Sheridan was a fine human being, and will make a solid football coach. But if you claim you can watch Denard doing Denard stuff, and recall the SheriThreetDamnit Era with anything but a chuckle that says "these two things are noticably different," I shall call thee a dirty, dirty liar.


November 14th, 2012 at 12:16 AM ^

there is a noticeable change from recent Michigan basketball.  They have transformed from the gritty, Novakian, try- hard out hustle you teams to a gritty, Novakian, try-hard out hustle you team with future NBA talent on it.  The most impressive thing to me, and what I think will serve them very well this season, is the distribution of scoring.  It really seems like most of the players would have to go into prolonged slumps for the offense to dissapear.   There are 4-5 guys on this team who can realistically go for 20 any given night. 


November 14th, 2012 at 12:38 AM ^

Hope we are seeing a pattern develop here that will continue for basketball and will be developing in football.

Get the right coach, he shows he can coach up current talent and have them perform well.  Then, seeing we now have a coach and coaching staff that knows what to do and how to do it, we get a great recruiting class and start re-establishing ourselves as one of the elite teams on an annual basis......

I like it!


November 14th, 2012 at 12:28 AM ^

I can't believe you left him off your post. The kid was 3/3 with 9 rebounds. He'll be starting when we get in to the Big Ten season and he has his conditioning down.


November 14th, 2012 at 12:31 AM ^

Bruce Pearl mentioned we'd played eleven cagers in the first half; that's some serious depth. There's no excuse for not giving 100% effort when there's a cavalry waiting to spell those weary lungs. It's going to be a fun year.

Mr. Yost

November 14th, 2012 at 7:31 AM ^

This is why when McGary tugged on his jersey at about the 5 minute mark - clearly GASSED. I both smiled and a laughed.

I wasn't laughing at McGary - it was more of an evil laugh.

But I smiled first...because it was refreshing to know Mitch had run himself into the ground for 6 minutes or so. Maximum effort.

But then I laughed.

I laughed because we were dominating Cleveland State and I chuckled knowing this would only mean Morgan, Horford or even McLimas would have to come in for McGary.

Depth. Depth is fucking awesome.

Oh, by the way - Coach B put in Max Max Bielfeldt and he proceeded to get a couple quick baskets and snag like 3-4 rebounds all in the last 3 minutes of the half.

Depth is fucking awesome.

STW P. Brabbs

November 14th, 2012 at 7:45 AM ^

I wasn't watching too carefully, but I was pleasantly surprised at how fluid Biefeldt was moving laterally. Not elite athleticism or anything, but I thought he compared favorably to Graham Brown in that regard. And he's what - the fifth big man off the bench?


November 14th, 2012 at 7:45 AM ^

I was reduced to watching Denard signing autographs, down in the north end. Hand seemed to be working fine But who was that FB player sitting next to his girlfriend?


November 14th, 2012 at 8:07 AM ^

Ace - Saying Daniel Horton "has nothing on" Trey Burke seems gratuitously disrespectful of Horton's abilities and tenure at Michigan, not to mention completely wrong -- Burke might be better but Horton "has nothing" in comparison?  Did you watch any games Daniel Horton played?  And "laughing" about how bad former players are in comparison to this team after 3 stinkin' games seems premature and a little mean.  Most of those guys did the best they could.  If anything, "laugh" (if you must) about the comparison between Beilein to Ellerbe or even Amaker.  If you think Gavin Groninger wouldn't have been a far more effective player under Beilein, you don't know squat about basketball. 

But to channel Ace's youthful giddiness in a more constructive way, great showing for this team through 3 games.  Very very excited to see them in action against a rugged Pitt team next week.