A Serious Man

Submitted by Brian on January 18th, 2013 at 12:28 PM

1/17/2013 – Michigan 83, Minnesota 75 – 17-1, 4-1 Big Ten


Trey Burke came to Michigan fully-formed, a stone-hearted superman with a wicked handle and cool demeanor. His only vulnerability is Craftonite. In year two he's improved, of course; he remains essentially Trey Burke, just smoother.

If he does indeed take off for the NBA after this year his impact on Michigan fans will be almost that of spectacular a one-and-done player. An Anthony Davis, a Carmelo Anthony. I beheld this, and it was the unchanging visage of glory! Yea, and it spoke unto me thusly: I ARRIVED AND I WAS. I LEFT AND I AM.

Tim Hardaway came to Michigan as a tall Stu Douglass. He was a streaky gunner who accumulated box score things largely because balls bounce unpredictably and eventually some of them come to you. The tempo-free lines of Douglass and Hardaway from that year are different only in that Hardaway took a bunch more shots and never turned the ball over*. Last year those numbers didn't move much except that the threes didn't go in, and people despaired.

Tim Hardaway is no longer that guy. Even on a night where he hit seven of eight shots he made the rest of the box score relevant: five rebounds, three assists, six(!) turnovers, two blocks, three steals. This is a sanity check for what you are seeing.

You are seeing this: Minnesota is on its horse trying to catch up with Michigan, and they are in the midst of one of those putback-rebound-putback-rebound sequences that inevitably end with a ball going in the basket or free throws. Andre Hollins has the ball surrounded by three Michigan players, and goes up with it and suddenly he does not have it. A jam-packed Williams Arena howls. Dick Vitale exclaims something along the lines of "NO FOUL HOW CAN THAT BE"—and you're kind of like yeah I mean seriously—as Tim Hardaway Jr. flies upcourt with the ball, a seven point lead, and 35 of the 100 seconds left in the game on the shot clock.

When they put the replay on, it's Hardaway airborne. He has jumped in a way that makes it seem like he has already made the decision to foul this guy and not permit a layup, that way-too-early jump that gets you on top of the guy so you can sit on his head and prevent him from getting a three point play. Hollins shows the ball, and Hardaway just, like, takes it. The meme generator in the head goes "yoink." Vitale's says "that looks like ball" and you're kind of like yeah. I mean, seriously.

Hardaway gets ranked on Kenpom's defensive rebounding leaderboard now, as a wing. That is has a very real impact on Michigan's bottom line—they've gone from #99 to the #3 in that stat. He is no longer the frequent target of CUMONG TIM brain rages on defensive possessions. His fouls are down; his steals and blocks are up. The little man in your head with the gavel who sits in judgment of all shots is screaming "TAKE THAT" on 80-90% of Hardaway's attempts, and fist-pumping as Hardaway knocks down nearly 40% of his threes.

When Burke was still shaking off the effects of Sunday's encounter with Craft and Minnesota was blazing the nets from three, hitting their first five attempts, Hardaway had the answer. He kept Michigan level until his bros showed up. When Burke was rattled, Hardaway stepped up. Last year this is a guy who specialized in the long two with a ton of time on the clock. If Tim Hardaway is still that guy, Michigan ends up in the deep end again, wondering if the first 16 games were all a mirage.

Tim Hardaway is not that guy. Tim Hardaway is serious these days.

*[Okay, Douglass had a miraculously weird thing going on with free throws: he took 13 on the season and hit 3; both of those numbers are spectacularly low. Jon Horford attempted 18 free throws that year. He played 14% of Michigan's minutes.]


Welcome back, Yawn At Another Trey Burke Boxscore Bullet. Missed you xoxo. He was inefficient from two but 9 assists to 1 turnover is where it's at. He took some bad shots early in what looked like a carry-over from the Ohio State game, where he was pressing for points. Once Michigan got past that section of the game even thanks to Hardaway going off, Burke ran the break perfectly.

Also, was it just me or was Burke more of a defensive pest for chunks of the game? I wonder if one of the coaches took him aside and was like "if you want to be great-great you have to add some of that Craft stuff to your game." He hounded Minnesota's PG into a steal in the first half, and he had a couple against Craft late in the last game.

Mbakwe. Good gravy. Jordan Morgan had his first two shots blocked by Mbakwe, who had a double-double featuring five offensive rebounds and five blocked shots. It's a tribute to John Beilein that Michigan came out of the locker room with a play that got Morgan a bucket, and that Michigan managed to get him up to nine points in the second half. Speaking of…

BEWARE THE BEILEIN HALFTIME ADJUSTMENT. Michigan won this game in the first six minutes of the second half when they went on a 20-7 run. This is a season-long trend. They did it against Iowa (opened second half with 12-4 run), West Virginia (11-4 run), Bradley(11-4), NC State(13-8), KState(14-2), Ohio State(7-2) and Pitt(8-4). The only game that was close at halftime in which Michigan did not significantly help itself coming out of the locker room for the second half was Arkansas (3-6).

Beilein figures out what you're doing on defense and assassinates you. That makes you feel real real good about Michigan's coaching acumen, and the apex of that is Beilein knowing a way to get Jordan Morgan a couple of easy buckets against Trevor Mbakwe.

Schedule now looking manageable. Illinois is looking more like the team that eked it out against Gardner-Webb than the one that took it to Gonzaga because opponents are hitting 43% of their threes in conference play and the Illini are hitting 23%. They're last in the league in both stats.

While that's probably more luck than anything, the Illini are also eleventh on the defensive boards and at giving up three throws; they're mediocre on both sides of the ball on shots coming from within the line.

They've gotten hammered their last three games, the latest an embarrassing 14-point loss at home to Northwestern, and have slid an impressive 30 spots in Kenpom's rankings. All of this makes next Sunday's game at Assembly Hall (not that Assembly Hall) quite a bit less intimidating than it did at the beginning of conference play. With that game sandwiched by home games against Purdue and Northwestern, Michigan is now entering one of two relative breather sections on the schedule. In February it gets real again with the Indiana-OSU-Wisconsin-MSU gauntlet.

It finally cracked. It took a game against the #1 offensive rebounding team in the country to do it, but Michigan finally got beat up on the boards. Minnesota entered the game rebounding 48% of their misses and got 46% in this one, with five coming from Trevor Mbakwe alone.

It was going to happen sometime. Given the gap between Minnesota and the next most prolific set of offensive rebounders in the league (Indiana) is almost ten percentage points, we can hopefully chalk that up to Mbakwe and move on against mortals. M remains the best at defending their own boards in conference play, albeit by a slimmer margin now.

Vogrich == Toussaint. In that I constantly think "Poor Damn Vogrich" whenever he appears in my life. Poor Damn Matt Vogrich had a 0-minute trillion in this one* as he hopped on the floor for about four seconds, seemed to cause a Hardaway turnover as his man left him to attack THJ from behind. Hardaway chewed him out—serious—and Beilein yanked him so he could chew him out. PDV, man.

In this instance you can't blame the blocking; I still feel bad for the guy.

*[The box score has his minutes as "0+"]

Stauskas: let it come man. Opponents are fully aware of the guy now and stick to him desperately because if they let that guy get open their coach will open the bowels of hell upon them. So his shots are down, and his three-point percentage is falling as he offers up a couple of unwise ones out of frustration a game. He's so out of sorts he's missing multiple free throws a game. Freshmen, eh?

At least we saw the first Stauskas backdoor play run successfully. If Vogrich can't even stay on the court for a full minute he can at least tutor Stauskas in the tao of backdoor.

Couple of iffy threes aside, Stauskas did pretty much let it come: he threw down a GAME… BLOUSES dunk, picked up a couple of assists, and collected 11 points on six shots. Hardaway got some great looks in this one, probably because the opponent was so focused on Stauskas.

This Week In Post Touches Suck. McGary got one and nearly flung a turnover. Morgan had one and Mbakwe blocked it without thinking twice. For the game the two centers were 8/11 and I don't think they had a miss that Mbakwe didn't block spectacularly—I think we're okay without using post touches to generate shots.



January 18th, 2013 at 12:37 PM ^

With Michignan being in shambles financially....the 2013 Wolverines are playing like vikings and thinking like a team. I myself love how Burke has enhanced the basketball program. His passion and work ethic will rollover into the next blue and yellow soldiers to come :-)



January 18th, 2013 at 12:45 PM ^

6 turnovers is not too great- but the two killer lob dunks make it ok in my book!

I had noticed the halftime adjustments too.  At the end of the first half I was automatically assuming we would expand that lead in the second since it seems like we always do!  Seperating a small halftime lead into a decent sized lead to start the second halff can very quickly demoralize the opponent- we have put together some pretty impressive second halfs!  Against teams like Minnesota and Indiana you know their coutner-run wil lcome- particularly on the road- but it means so much to our success that we can go on those killer runs- and that after OSU know we can survive such runs by others- even on the road!


January 18th, 2013 at 12:46 PM ^

Neat factoid from ESPN...

"Player of the Night – Trey Burke, Michigan 

Burke scored 18 points with nine assists and only one turnover in a road win against a top-10 opponent (Minnesota). Tough to beat that. In fact, only three other players have done it over the past 15 years. They are names you might recognize: T.J. Ford, Ben Gordon, Mike Bibby."

Not bad...


Blue boy johnson

January 18th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

I think Trey Burke makes the game too difficult at times on the offensive end. I don't particularly like watching him force a play that isn't there when there is still plenty of time on the shot clock, seeing it result in 5-15 shooting like he had against Minnesota. If  the play isn't there on the pick and roll; trust your teammates, move the ball and yourself, be patient, and get yourself in position to have the advantage the next time you touch the ball. Trey is tons more effective catching the ball on the move with his defender in sub optimal defensive position, as opposed to breaking down BIG guards in good defensive position from a virtual stand still.


January 18th, 2013 at 12:55 PM ^

The one area Hardaway Jr still needs improvement is the handle.  I don't know if it is an easy fix, but there seems to be a common attack on the ball when he starts to dribble.  Either he is showing the ball to the defender too much or is just not a very good handler or his awareness of defenders around him are below average?  


January 18th, 2013 at 12:57 PM ^

Definitely walking the line between wanting Belein to get his due, yet hoping that future opponents don't know it's coming.  

This just won...everything: "Beilein figures out what you're doing on defense and assassinates you."


January 18th, 2013 at 1:29 PM ^

True, but I wasn't specific enough (or specific at all.  Sorry.).  I was actually referring to the amount of runs the team has had this year to open up the second half.  

There are some really smart coaches out there that don't ever sniff that kind of success with second half adjustments.  

PB-J Time

January 18th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

Speaking of depth and minutes, why no Horford? I know about the patellar subluxation/dislocations, but he had been playing and I thought he'd be good to go. Did I miss something about aggrevating the knee? He is a good player (and could become very good if he ever stayed healthy long enough). Seems that he could have helped the team given the strength of Minny's frontcourt.


January 18th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

1. Maybe he was bad in the OSU game. I haven't rewatched, and I was too hyped at first  viewing to notice anything with much nuance between yelling at the refs to call handchecking and trying to will the ball to go in, but maybe he didn't play well and Belein decided he actively harmed the team while on the court. (I think this is unlikely, as someone would have noticed something).

2. The knee may still be bothering him enough that Belein felt he couldn't hold up in the post against the team that's likely the conferences' best post team or that he couldn't effectively rebound against that athletic front line.

3. Belein likes the way his substitution rotation is working and doesn't want to lengthen his bench or mess with lineups that are becoming accustomed to playing together. 

2 or 3 make the most sense to me.

PB-J Time

January 18th, 2013 at 3:02 PM ^

Nice response. I think 3 makes a lot of sense. I was thinking about it and U-M is starting to really get into an 8 man rotation (starters, Spike, Levert, McGary). Bielfelt (sp) didn't see much of the floor either I noticed and he seems to have given good (not great) minutes in the past.

The reason I bring this up is that I really do think he could be a valuable contributor, but can't seem to stay healthy along enough to do it. But I suppose as Brian noted, U-M doesn't seem to be moving to a 2 post man set-up anytime soon. 


January 18th, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

It's crazy how Vogrich was the starter in the beginning of the season and now he's buried on the depth chart.  

Here is what I found for when he committed to Michigan.

For his efforts, he was named the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year for Illinois and The Sporting News tabbed Vogrich as the Class of 2009's Best Shooter.

UofM Die Hard …

January 18th, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

when Vogrichs guy peeled off to steal the ball, I was first frustrated with Tim because of course it got stolen from him but Tim had a good reason to be upset with Vogrich.  I dont know why he was up there trying to help with the ball...Burke and Tim had it under control and he just came up top to give them another defender.  Frustrating.  


Love Vogrich, he plays hard but he it seems like he is playing a bit scared right?  Sucks to see but Belien had to take him out of the game.




January 18th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

The refs last night....

What's the consensus of the blog about the refs last night?  To me, it seemed like our guys were getting mugged (similar to the OSU game) without calls, but the Minn crowd saw the complete opposite.  Homerism being homerism and whatnot, but what was going on?  


January 18th, 2013 at 1:56 PM ^

I thought they were fine, much better than the OSU refs, who allowed OSU to hand check and grab and bump cutters even when they weren't  missing blatant calls (Ravenel on THJ the most egregious). These guys seemed generally fair and I can't think of a single truly bad call.


January 18th, 2013 at 2:13 PM ^

I thought they were OK for about 32-33 minutes, when they allowed some physical play to go but not too much, but then over the last 7-8 they became crazy whistle-happy and called everything a foul.  This seems to happen a lot in Big Ten games.  It's like the refs remember that they haven't reached their foul quota for the night and go nuts.

PB-J Time

January 18th, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

I think that we got a slight advantage as far as calls (not nearly as much as the fans at "the Barn" would argue)

However, they did something the refs at OSU didn't...they actually called the mauling hits fouls <gasp>...too much physicality is allowed and just chalked up to "o this is the B1G" in my opinion. A foul should be a foul, and last I checked tackling was only allowed in football and checking was only allowed in hockey.

Yinka Double Dare

January 18th, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

I thought they did a fairly good job.  By and large they did not call you for a foul if you were straight up and down defensively and didn't initiate the contact.  I think those were a large source of the Minnesota crowd's bad reactions, but the crowd was wrong, that's just good defense.

There were a ton of fouls called in the last quarter of the game, but frankly, it seemed like the physicality also stepped up a lot, and I'd rather the refs keep calling fouls than let it degenerate into beefsketball where it's just a contest of who can be more physical and get lucky with when the refs decide to call something.


January 18th, 2013 at 4:36 PM ^

I repeated over and over in the game thread last night that our defense was playing out of their minds. Burke looked CRAFTy on D and everyone was playing aggressive and hounding Minisoda. It's that type of defense that will take us deep into the Tourney. Last nights win was huge, just what this team needed. The are so fun to watch, GO BLUE!!!!!