Wave Your Tiny Flag And Sing

Submitted by Brian on December 23rd, 2013 at 11:24 AM

CHRISTMAS NOTE: Everyone is off until Friday, except possibly Seth, a general in the War On Christmas. Enjoy the time spent with your family and do everything  you can to speed up 2013's untimely demise.

12/21/2013 – Michigan 68 – Stanford 65 – 7-4

No column, just bullets:

I'll take it. With Mitch McGary out and Horford fouling out in six minutes, Michigan was down to Jordan Morgan and Max Bielfeldt for big swathes of this game. Meanwhile, LeVert scores one point on seven shots. I will take a neutral court-ish win over a team that just beat UConn in that situation, even if it's by three points.

We Wisconsin'd 'em. Beilien did the thing again where you get to see him be first season Walter White in the locker room, and the brief snippet they played featured Beilein saying the word "solid" three times in one sentence in re: Michigan's defense. He got that.

He mentioned chests prominently. Michigan used them to annoy a huge Stanford team on a variety of post-up shots that ended up being bad looks because Michigan was committing that foul where you shuffle out, bumping your chest into the shooter as he goes up. Unlike everything Horford did, that never gets called and was not called. Stauskas in particular had a couple of "did I just see that" possessions where a dude got the ball on the low block against him and ended up with a heavily contested fallaway. IIRC he was on a 6'10" guy on those shots.

Stanford ended up shooting pretty well from inside the arc (47%), with their center Nastic going 5 of 6, but again a total of six minutes from Horford and no McGary. Given the circumstances, it was a good effort.

Hey, now I remember why I liked you. Been a huge struggle for Morgan for about half a season now but he really pulled Michigan's ass out of the fire, fronting posts for turnovers, boxing out (though he only had five rebounds himself that very large Stanford team was limited to 18% OREB), and following up his obligatory ARRRGH Y U NO FINISH moment by rebounding his missed bunny and putting it back in. He also put on his Mitch McGary hat on a couple of outlet passes that led to hockey assists. Without Morgan making a consistently positive impact, this is another loss and man things look grim.

Other sectors not often heard from. Michigan was miserable from outside the arc with the exception of Zak Irvin, who went 4 of 8 to prevent the rest of the team's 4 of 23 mark from tanking the season. This pops his season average up to 41%, which will shock you if you missed the Coppin State and Houston Baptist games.

Irvin is Just A Shooter. He's got a miniscule TO rate of 8, an even more miniscule FT rate of 7, and has taken about 70% of his shots from behind the line. But when he starts doing more things than shooting threes, people will not say he's Not Just A Shooter, because he's a black guy.

JUST SAY IT. Raftery teased all game and finally got out a "not just a shooter" near the end of the first half; announcers seem to have glommed onto the fact that the internet gently mocks them for saying Nik Stauskas is not just a shooter every time he adds to his enormous pile of free throws. They are trying not to say it.

Just say it, man. We like it when you say it, because it signifies Stauskas has just thrown down a dunk or somesuch other thing.

Speaking of Stauskas's growing pile of free throws. He had 87 all last year. He's going to blow through that in a couple games now as he's already got 71. The leap in his game is reflected in the statistics, in which he's made a Burke-like freshman to sophomore transition. His usage is up from 16 to 23; his assists have more than doubled while his TO rate slips, he's drawing almost six fouls a game, his FT rate has doubled, and his shooting is right on par with last season save a dip in FT% despite the increased usage.

Things will cool off as Michigan exits the bit of their season where Houston Baptist lets you sit in the corner by yourself and repeat your YouTube videos for a live studio audience, sure. Stauskas's emergence into the guy is undeniable. It was a palpable relief that Stanford wasn't going nuts overplaying him on the perimeter a la Duke.

Unfair expectations theater. Every missed Stauskas free throw engenders a tiny conniption fit from me, because I expect him to be Chauncey Billups at the line and he is not. Meanwhile if Mitch McGary hits a free throw I throw a tiny parade for him. (Tiny Mitch McGary parade: buy it for your small child today.) Good news: I have not had a tiny conniption fit for three games, in which Stauskas is 19/19 at the line, including the clutch pair at the end of this game to make the last-ditch Stanford three merely an alarming thing instead of an OH NO BACKBOARDS situation.

Neutral court-ish. Virtual home court again for Michigan. I mind these neutral court things less in basketball where you have a lot more games to play with and a lot fewer people you're trying to pack in. Also, there are a lot of Michigan fans in New York. This makes it unlike, oh, say, Dallas. It does suck that the nonconference home schedule was Arizona and hot garbage but Michigan probably thought they were getting a home game in the B10/ACC challenge and then got screwed.

I'm still boggled at the economics of playing a tournament like the Puerto Rico one, though, where you're playing all your games in a virtually empty arena. I guess Puerto Rico really wants to convince you that they have a gym in which the floor is always wet no matter what you do. Mission accomplished, land of enchantment.

Glenn. Hello. Second straight game in which Robinson has been very efficient, not only at throwing down monster alley-oops but at creating his own shot. Robinson had 17 and probably should have had a couple more as he went 4/8 from the line. If maintained this development bodes well, as it takes pressure off of the point guards even further.

Go team. (Other team.) FSU just picked up a good win against previously undefeated UMass. Their losses are in OT to Michigan, by one point to Florida, and by ten to Minnesota; Kenpom has them going 20-10 and 11-7 in the ACC, which would make them a win you'd see noted as a nice one when it comes time to parse resumes. Stanford has the look of a bubble team, but hopefully they get some thing straightened out and outperform expectations. There is almost no chance of that since Stanford is comparatively ancient as a team.


snarling wolverine

December 23rd, 2013 at 11:34 AM ^

On the economics of these little tournaments, I've got to imagine the site pays enough to cover expenses, because every team plays in one (if not even two) each year.  For Puerto Rico the advantage is apparently the constant stream of free advertising they got during the tournament about how warm and sunny their island is.



December 23rd, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

Are you suggesting that Mike Griffin didn't have talent? If I recall correctly, he was a 30 point per game scorer in high school. Yet, when he got to Michigan, he passed up more wide open 15 foot jumpers than anyone in history. I kept waiting for him to show the talent that allowed him to get 30ppg in high school, but he totally changed his game and became the ultimate unselfish team player. 


December 23rd, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

Zack was a)a great athlete and b) a very good shooter.  Yes, he's 4 inches shorter, but he had/has way more talent and skill than Morgan.  Our current PF is only 2 inches taller than Zack and no one thinks GR3's lacking in talent or ability.

Playing 'out of position' created opportunities for Zack to get guarded by slower players.  He never seemed as effective when playing his 'natural' position. 



December 23rd, 2013 at 11:43 AM ^

Irvin plays defense - or at least he's one of our best defensive options on the wing.  He can also create his own shot.  It's not all about skin color, it's his game.


December 24th, 2013 at 1:05 AM ^

which he showed to be true in high school. but he has not done that thus far at michigan. i would not be surprised if he has been statistically (in terms of offensive usage) the most "just a shooter" player at michigan in a long time. also, the terms "just a shooter"/"not just a shooter" have nothing to do with defense, so that isn't really relevant.

the stauskas "NJAS" meme has 100% to do with him being white, and if irvin was white and started freaking layups and going ham on dunks after shooting the way he's been shooting, people would also give him the NJAS meme as well.


December 24th, 2013 at 10:22 AM ^

That is the term for people who play defense and shoot.  You can be just a shooter or a shooter who plays defense.  They are different.  Kyle Korver and Dorrell Wright are just shooters.  Shane Battier and Thabo Seefolosha are not - they play D and shoot. JAS's don't get subbed in just to play a defensive possession.

Stauskas is a bad defensive player, so (if, hypothetically) he didn't do things like drive, pass, dunk and get free thow attempts, he's be JAS.

NJAS definitely has a racial element but it's far from 100%. Nick earned and cultivated his reputation as a shooter first.  The youtube videos, the impressive 3%, and the fact that his first 3 games 10/13 FGAs were 3s. Like Sam Dekkar and other white guys that can shoot but do other things, Zak Irvin's reputation is more well-rounded and deservedly so.  He may be a JAS on offense right now, but it is obvious he is helping the team in more ways than that - namely, on defense, which exists in the game of basketball.

Furthermore, there are black JAS's too. Steph Curry may be the ultimate NJAS because of his dad's repuation/fame.



December 23rd, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

I'm not sure if anyone knows this or not, but John Beilein has never been an assistant coach. He's been a head coach everywhere he's been.  

[I leave this for those looking for a next-level "not just a shooter"]


December 23rd, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

the arena was about 85% michigan fans.  there were empty seats because they make you buy a ticket for the entire all-day six team tournament and no one who went to watch temple sticks around to watch stanford and michigan.  they also spaced out the seating in a way that made it hard for the fans to act like a student section (not that there were many students).

questions for those who watched on tv:

  • were they all tickey-tack fouls?
  • it looked like on one of horford's fouls, the offensive player tripped over his own two feet and landed on horford's ankle.  is that actually what happened?


December 23rd, 2013 at 12:18 PM ^


Irvin is Just A Shooter. He's got a miniscule TO rate of 8, an even more miniscule FT rate of 7, and has taken about 70% of his shots from behind the line. But when he starts doing more things than shooting threes, people will not say he's Not Just A Shooter, because he's a black guy.



December 23rd, 2013 at 12:22 PM ^

The economics of a tournament like Puerto Rico work out because of their exempt status with the NCAA. Teams get to play three games, potentially against pretty decent competition, without costing themselves any money-making home games.

If those games counted against the total number a team was allowed to play, I doubt you'd see teams go.


December 23rd, 2013 at 12:22 PM ^

It was a nice win for a team that needed one; I'm not going to read much more into it beyond that, except perhaps that Robinson is figuring out how to play in this offense.  I do wonder if he'll consider going pro after this year or stick around for another, just to prove to people that he can create his own shot and do all the other stuff guys need to do in order to play in the NBA.  


December 23rd, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

Let me second the good holiday wishes to the whole MGoBlog staff.

Not sure how to think about this season now. I think we all understood another Final Four run was not likely after Trey and Tim's departures, but with McGary and GRIII returning, this team seemed capable (on paper) of making another deep tourney run.

They've still got the talent to beat anyone on any given day, but unless Walton grows up real fast, McGary gets healthy, and Arizona-game-GRIII becomes the new norm, it seems the Sweet Sixteen is probably the ceiling for this group. But I'm curious to hear others' thoughts since I haven't followed hoops too closely yet this season. 


December 23rd, 2013 at 2:23 PM ^

...will tell us a lot.  With only a game against Holy Cross and a relatively soft conference schedule to open, the team should have time to get plenty of practice, heal, and hopefully start to gel and improve.  They've done the hard work of going on the road and learning to be mentally tough at places like Iowa St/Duke, both hard places to play, but not they need to do the physical stuff and learn how to win.  For now, I think your prediction is probably about right, but come back in mid-January and we could see a vastly different squad.

Yinka Double Dare

December 23rd, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

Other thing with these neutral-court OOC games is they're often right around the holidays when the students aren't around anyway.  It's nice to have some good OOC games as home-and-homes, but for games around Thanksgiving and these Christmas/New Years weeks it's not such a bad thing, plus good prep for the tournament to play some neutral games.


December 23rd, 2013 at 1:55 PM ^

I tip my hat to Jordan Morgan. This kid has been nothing but solid since his freshman year and has yielded minutes not gained ever since.  I understand the injury hurt a little and I understand Coach Belein's got a ton more talent to work with than he did 4 years ago so I'm not complaining. I guess that's the point, neither is Morgan. When he checks in you are guaranteed solid defense, decent rebounding and despite his more recent memory of missing the peep shot he's a career 60%+ FG guy. Tip of the hat to you sir.


Prince Lover

December 23rd, 2013 at 4:26 PM ^

I agree, it is quite a luxury for JB to have a guy coming off the bench that has such experience and professionalism. How many B1G teams have an all defensive second team player coming off the bench. I'll always be a fan of this guy. A true student athlete.
And maybe he could talk to the football coaches and show them how a student athlete can play a sport and get a engineering degree. I know, I know, let it rest. But I'm more singing the praises of Morgan than bringing up sour grapes, I swear!


December 23rd, 2013 at 4:36 PM ^

Nice write up Brian.  Not only has GR3 gotten more aggressive, he got a key basket in an NBA style end of game possession where he got the ball between the circles and everyone cleared out.  He's had two confidence building games in a row.  I might be the only one, but I think Morgan is actually better than Horford.  He brings more energy and makes impact plays indirectly by setting screens, taking charges and finishing at the hoop.  I don't know why he hasn't been the first big man off the bench.  I'm nitpicking though.  JB is the best bball coach M has had since the Fisher scandal.


December 23rd, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

"Neutral-ish court" describes an off-campus basketball court whose location favors attendance by one teams' fanbase more than the other. 

"Neutral court-ish" suggests a truly neutrally-located basketball court that's maybe missing a backboard and a 3-point line. 


December 23rd, 2013 at 5:37 PM ^

Though it is true that Irvin is "Just a Shooter" right now, one of the other (and I think more important) reasons why he won't be called "Not Just a Shooter" when his stat line is a little fuller is because he came in with a reputation for being a complete scorer who was going to have Hardaway skills on both ends of the floor, whereas Stauskas' main expectation was that he'd make his living on his long-distance shooting. When Irvin becomes Not Just a Shooter, he will be living up to expectations, whereas when Stauskas is "Not Just a Shooter" he's surpassing expectations.


December 23rd, 2013 at 5:48 PM ^

For your hand-wringing pleasure, needing a 10-8 conference record to secure a tournament berth, Michigan needs to do the following the rest of the way:
Must Win (any losses here and NIT-bound):
Holy Cross
Penn State
Expected Loss (any wins here major):
Toss-ups (need to go .500):


December 23rd, 2013 at 11:04 PM ^

while playing at IU is always problematic from an officiating standpoint--though the old Bobby Knight home-cooking now goes to Bo Ryan--IU doesn't look very good to date.  I'd rather play them than Iowa at home or on the road this year.  Also, the MSU team currently playing is most definitely beatable--particularly at Crisler.  I am mindful, of course, that history says that MSU will improve--but I'm also (reasonably) optimistic enough to believe we will do some improving too.