We Had Subs. It Was Regular.

Submitted by Brian on February 24th, 2014 at 11:54 AM

2/23/2014 – Michigan 79 – Michigan State 70 – 19-7, 11-3 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

There's a point where you cannot deny the thing you dearly wish was not true. For Michigan football, that moment was a Raymon Taylor interception followed by a negative-yardage drive that sealed loss 5 of 6 at Spartan Stadium last fall. Or maybe it was before that. Maybe it was the collective dread experienced by the fanbase going in. Michigan played Michigan State, and everyone expected to lose.

When they did, and it was worse that anyone could have imagined, any lingering sense of superiority went up like a torch. Michigan ended up dead last in TFLs allowed. Michigan State went from an offense that couldn't get yard one against WMU—one that looked a lot like Michigan's, in fact—to a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl win.

Take your Rich Rodriguez excuses, your theories about how it's all about whether Michigan is down or up, and stuff them in the closet. There is only one way to look at Michigan State football: up. The countdown clock is justified.

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Michigan now has an opportunity to flip that script in basketball. They've won six of eight in the series. This year they've upset the paradigm of the previous couple years where MSU hammers Michigan at the Breslin Center and Michigan squeaks by at Crisler. They reached near-parity on the boards and just forced MSU to take more threes than twos. Both games featured extended foul-fests after Michigan opened up double-digit leads.

Talk of "closing the gap" is over.

On the RCMB, people complained about how nice Crisler is. For every one guy making rapidly downvoted assertions about how Dawson would have made the difference there were three asserting that Beilein owns Izzo—an assertion a lot of Michigan fans would be skeptical of.

For now. No matter what damage the NBA does to Michigan's roster in the offseason, it's Michigan State who will have to scramble to keep up when Payne, Appling, and Harris exit. Two straight years of recruiting airballs worthy of an unchecked Aaron Craft will do that. Meanwhile, Michigan's picking off Indiana Mr. Basketballs and consensus top-50 players from Oregon. They've got the king of exceeding expectations in the tourney. If Michigan takes care of business down the stretch they will be outright Big Ten Champions, one inch away from a three-peat.

They of course have to avoid the mother of all trap games in Mackey and hold home court against Minnesota and Indiana; they have to perform in the tourney to put the full lockdown on Michigan State's lingering sense of superiority. The opportunity is there.

Meanwhile, Michigan State will keep telling anyone who looks like a reporter about the blister between their toes in just the wrong spot. Appling:

"Those shots that (Nik) Stauskas got off on me, he probably wouldn’t have been able to get off on Branden,” Appling said.

That's the state of the programs, and it comes from the top. One guy flings histrionics back and forth and watches his scrubs woof at Michigan in an attempt to show they're tough. After they lose, they complain about the universe-wide conspiracy against them.

The other guy saves it up for one withering blast and refuses to answer questions about Mitch McGary, because they've moved on. Michigan found themselves in a hole in both of these games and pulled themselves out, because toughness is something other than acting hard because of something someone else did. Michigan State is cordially invited to get off our court. No drama necessary.

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Bullets

FLOOR SLAP WATCHDOG. Once; beginning of first half; Stauskas layup. In fact may have enraged Stauskas to the point where he saw nothing but blood and contested three pointers that were going in anyway because eff you, that's why.

Insofar as the floor slap set the tone, it was for a 45-point second half.

"Is the United States wasting billions of dollars a year prosecuting marijuana cases?"

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"Prohibition is a failed policy, and disproportionately affects the lower rungs of the social ladder. Ask the Tick for our platform specifics. Or maybe he's Batman, we can never tell." [Bryan Fuller]

Three. Michigan won this game because they turned it over three times. With the teams matching each other on offensive rebounds (7; Michigan had more opportunities and thus slightly lost the board war) and MSU suffering 13 turnovers, that translated into ten extra shots via which Michigan won the game despite allowing MSU to shoot 68%/38%.

In fact, you probably remember all three:

  1. Shot clock violation in the first half.
  2. Twenty minutes of game time later, Stauskas throws a pass to the roll guy out of bounds. Camera cuts to Beilein, who smiles.
  3. Michigan is breaking four on two up 12 when Harris intercepts a Stauskas pass, thus preventing the Crisler roof from coming off.

That's it. MSU's not their vintage selves in the TO forcing department (sixth in the league) but three is ridiculously low. Michigan was just on the other end of that in a loss to Wisconsin featuring two Badger turnovers.

"They just wanted it more." I've seen a couple of MSU reporters deploy this cliché in the aftermath. While that assertion is always some guy with a parrot head substituting repetition for thought, in this case it's even dumber than usual. Adriean Payne afterwards:

[UPDATE: Video was taken down. It was Payne very near to tears]

That ripped him to his core. Talking about "wanting it more" is always vaguely insulting; here it is explicitly so.

Seriously though. I don't want any Payne-oriented roughhousing in the comments about that. That is exactly how you want the guy to react both as a Michigan State fan and as a Michigan fan. Think about Junior Hemingway after the Sugar Bowl. That kind of reaction is 80% of why college sports is more compelling than Ask Me About My Dreams pro sports.

I mean, we taunt the floor-slapping but there's no pro team that would do something so dorky and tauntable because they're too cool for school. As always, the rule here is that spiciness wins and should be encouraged. Payne above is a level above spiciness, into deep haunt-your-ass hurt, and I respect that.

Y'all be outside. Payne posted up successfully one time in this game. And I'm not talking about making a shot; I'm talking about taking one. Payne had one post shot, a miss that drew a legit foul on Horford. Morgan and Horford spent every bit of energy they had denying, denying, denying, and with the occasional double forcing Payne to pick up his dribble they shut off the post defense implosion suffered against the Badgers.

Michigan started playing no-threes defense with two minutes to go; before that MSU's shot breakdown stood at 20 twos to 21 threes. Michigan took 35 twos, 19 threes. That plus the rebounding draws in both games are a massive departure from the Payne/Nix-era Spartans, who were guaranteed to annihilate Michigan on the boards and launch a ton of shots from the post.

That's not likely to change in the near future, as Payne exits without a suitably intimidating replacement and Michigan acquires the services of a bonafide post-sized stretch four in Mark Donnal. Dawson makes some difference but as noted before the first matchup, MSU was only a middling OREB team this year when the stats were mostly a Dawson+Payne MSU outfit.

If McGary comes back, Michigan could have an advantage in interior burliness, as impossible as that sounds.

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Fuller

Make 'em say unh. I thought about Tim Hardaway Jr's assertion in January early in this game:

'Don’t give him a week to prepare for you because you will lose'

Michigan finally had some time to rest, recuperate, and plan for the heavy perimeter ball-denial that had largely neutralized Nik Stauskas for the past month. They came out with a bunch of back-cuts and down-screens for their posts; Stauskas got a dunk off one and had Harris beat a few other times in the first five minutes; Harris started playing Stauskas far more cautiously and Michigan got into their regular Stauskas-led offense. Ball denial: denied.

On rewatch I was surprised by how the game felt even as MSU extended to an eleven point lead early. Michigan's offense was getting great shots that just weren't going down. MSU was relying on Denzel Valentine hitting jumpers, which worked by sheer bloody chance.

Make 'em say unh, part 2. Stauskas had 25 points on 16 shot equivalents and five assists. His makes from three were all ACK NO YES shots off the bounce with Appling in the vicinity, but he was also 6/8 from inside the arc and drew some free throws. Even some of the questionable long shots had more upset than it might have seemed at the time: on one launch off a pick and roll early in the second half Michigan grabbed an offensive rebound because it was two on one down low after Payne attempted to contest.

Michigan showed a way forward for their ridiculously efficient offense in this one after a tough period. Sustaining that through the end of the season will be encouraging when it comes to tourney time; they added the constraint plays to their base offense.

Dribbles are bad. Glenn Robinson started the game with an ugly long two that bricked, missed all three of his three-pointers just as badly, and was 3/7 from the line. This would be another ARGH GRIII game except for the fact that he was 6/8 on his other shots, largely because those shots came without dribbles.

There was one catch and insta-drive on Russell Byrd, who's probably still hitting himself while repeating "stupid, stupid, STUPID," as we speak. There may have been a power dribble under the bucket after one of Michigan's down screens got him position just outside of the charge circle. Those conclude Dribbles Leading To GRIII Offense.

And lo, it was as it should be. Walton and Stauskas and LeVert found him for dunks or quick layups, and if he'd just hit an open three or convert from the line as he usually does he's at a quiet 20, if such a thing exists.

The week off got Michigan back on that old time Beilein religion, what with the back cuts and guys popping up at the bucket uncontested. Robinson got back in his flush monster mode that he was so prolific in with Trey last year.

Hail Plastic Man. Michigan got through Gauntlet #2 2-2 thanks in no small part to Caris LeVert, who cracked 20 points in three of the four games. In the other he had 9 points, 5 boards, and two assists against zero TOs in the OSU win. He's not quite as efficient as Stauskas because he's not getting to the line or rim as much, but, like, wait a week and he'll be better. At his current rate of improvement he will escape containment and level Tokyo by 2016.

"Would you like to hear my one-man-show version of Les Miz?"

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"Maybe later, Jon. Maybe later." [Fuller]

Meanwhile, on the other end of the floor. GRIII's defense was… not good. Schilling got two run-out baskets on which it seemed like maybe Stauskas was doing bad things; on both Schilling simply out-ran Robinson down the floor. On a couple of pick and roll possession he did things like stick to Russell Byrd instead of taking away the easy interior bucket. Walton had a couple of similar errors that irritated, but he is a freshman and Robinson is not.

He was a huge problem in transition and was fortunate that he wasn't trying to check a Dekker in this game. I'm still pretty frustrated with him overall.

"Makeup" call. The sequence where Jordan Morgan took a backcourt charge only to get a ludicrous blocking foul followed by a moving screen on Gavin Schilling looked like a clear makeup call, but on review the previous MSU possession had featured another blatant Schilling moving screen that got Harris an open look from three that he canned. That call was coming either way. The Morgan thing was just the usual vast incompetence. Izzo's reaction was everyone's, but really they just blew it.

The thing about rewatching these games in detail is that for every call you thought was bad live that replay suggests was legit or at least close there are 1.2 things you missed live that are just terrible.

But! Michigan State got away with an extended hand-check in the first few minutes by Valentine on Caris LeVert that I hollered about and then fretted about, fearing a reprise of the clutchy-grabby that prevailed at the Breslin Center. A couple minutes later, Costello got his second for bumping GRIII off a cut; Appling got a perimeter foul for grabbing Stauskas on a cut; Valentine got called for another extensive hand check sequence. Raftery marked each one by saying "nickel dimer"; hail nickel dimers.

I hope that was something other than calling the game the way the home team wants it.

1-3-1. Michigan deployed to excellent effect, not only in the second half but for a critical possession in the first. Appling ran over Jordan Morgan, picking up his second foul and heading to the bench for the next ten minutes. Izzo would moan about it afterwards in his press conference. Of course, if MSU didn't have to learn that they couldn't do various illegal basketball things that would have been one on Appling.

Damn you, Tim Miles! If you did not exist, John Beilein would be Big Ten coach of the year in a walk. Instead it is you in a walk.

For the love of pants. Would someone please run Tom Izzo over?

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That's two points just begging to be taken.

"It must be really awkward when your dad says things about Aaron Craft."

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"Naw, it's cool." [Fuller]

WHAT DOES JORDAN MORGAN HAVE TO DO. I just don't know, man. A detailed rewatch made it very clear that Payne got a couple of superstar calls on drives by LeVert that would have been fouls on any other post-type substance; meanwhile, Morgan gets his customary dual phantom blocking fouls. One led to a Kaminski three-point play, the other was made up on the other end, except not really.

Morgan is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Big Ten.

Comments

Number 7

February 24th, 2014 at 1:19 PM ^

I stand corrected.  8-4.  Still -- go back and read the preview to the first Nebraska game, when they were 0-2 in the conference, and barely beaten the creampuffs in their non-conference slate.  They lost at Purdue in the game after us, and have been 8-2 since then.  Beside the second Michigan loss, their other loss in the last 10 is to . . . Penn State?

saveferris

February 24th, 2014 at 4:26 PM ^

The technical for the player would have to include intent, wouldn't it?  And I don't know how any referee could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt a player intentionally running the opposing teams head coach over when he's five fucking feet into the playing area, where he's not supposed to be.

Bottom line, if coaches start getting run over in these scenarios, it's on the refs for not enforcing the rules.

Brhino

February 24th, 2014 at 5:34 PM ^

Well sure.  I didn't mean to suggest that we SHOULD.  Just wondering what the call would be. 

It would be slightly unscrupulous but very easy for a coach to tell a player to swing by that way and cause a collision, but make it look like an accident.  Don't think Beilein would, but I could see one of the slimier coaches doing it.

To be clear I'm not calling for intent to injure in any case, just to draw a foul.

kevin holt

February 24th, 2014 at 12:51 PM ^

It looks like Nik intentionally walks in front of him and kind of makes it obvious to the ref that he's there. Izzo steps back a little, but not off the court all the way.

I don't think Nik could have run him over without being obvious, but he did try to be subtle and made his path go in front of Izzo. The ref obviously still didn't notice. It didn't "affect the play" because Izzo knows how to be sneaky with it.

If Nik happened to be cutting down to the corner and already had momentum going, it might have been a different situation

robpollard

February 24th, 2014 at 12:39 PM ^

Not in his histironics (though Lloyd could certainly go off on refs) but in how he's living off a past rep and is dangerously close to slipping to being clearly 2nd or 3rd in his own conference (forget the nation).

If MSU doesn't get it together when Dawson gets back and make a serious tourney run, that will be four straight years with Sweet 16 or worse -- that will put them clearly behind OSU and UM in terms of recent B1G and NCAA success. Plus, as Brian noted, it's not like they have the cavalry coming in to take them back to the top -- they lose Payne and (very likely) Harris, their two best players and replace them with....?

If I was Izzo, I'd be real depressed over losses like this as well. While none of this is guaranteed (heck, they can still win the B1G this year if a couple things break their way), I think he can see it slipping away.

jmblue

February 24th, 2014 at 1:14 PM ^

Even Spartan fans are starting to grumble that Izzo's record against Michigan (20-14) is mostly built on the back of his domination of Ellerbe and Amaker.  He went 0-4 against Steve Fisher and the record against Beilein is down to 6-6, with most of the wins coming early on when he had a huge talent advantage.

It's interesting that Izzo's only two wins against us the past four years came in lopsided games.  All the close games - the games where a coaching move here or there could mean the difference - have gone our way.

 

robpollard

February 24th, 2014 at 3:04 PM ^

I had forgotten they overlapped, so that's an interesting part of the resume.

Still, if I was an MSU fan, I wouldn't read too much in to the "Ellerbe/Amaker" part -- not b/c Ellerbe and Amaker were much to write home about, but b/c Izzo's teams during that time were capable of beating anyone in the nation (and often did), so he wasn't just racking up wins against the mediocrity that was UM from 1998-2009.

That said, I'd still be worried if I was an MSU fan -- he's losing more recruiting battles than he is winning (against Duke, IU, etc) and as you noted, the losses in close games show Izzo is not the best in-game coach.

BigHouseBoyz

February 24th, 2014 at 4:28 PM ^

Izzo is getting some of the recruits he wants, the tough and scrappy types (Valentine, Byrd, Kaminski, etc) but he is getting shut out when it comes to the top-flight players he needs to compliment that type of team.  Nairn & Bess don't appear to be the scappy type guys so they better be able to score the ball.  You are correct, I would be worried if I was a Sparty!  

Erik_in_Dayton

February 24th, 2014 at 12:18 PM ^

Morgan is a magnet for bad foul calls.  I take it as a sign of good coaching and him being a smart guy that he pretty much always takes it in stride.  You have to love a guy who plays his ass of while knowing: A.) he won't score a lot, and B.) he will be whistled multiple times a game simply for occupying space.

gwkrlghl

February 24th, 2014 at 12:26 PM ^

which makes when he actually get a charge call so much sweeter. I thought I was going to explode when they actually gave him the charge against Cuse in the Final Four.

Various other times he'll actually get a charge and the whole team seems to get abnormally psyched. I wonder if Beilein really does cover it in film sessions ("Jordan you're doing the right thing even though you're not getting the calls") so the whole team is pumped when they finally reward him for it. Gotta be tough for Jordan but he's always so composed

PAproudtoGoBlue

February 24th, 2014 at 12:16 PM ^

Great read!  This teams ability to protect the ball gives us the best chance in BTT/March.  Our FG% is once again as good as you can ask for and not turning the rock over increases our oppurtunities offensively(duh). If we can turn the other team over 8-10 more times than us that math equals a W.  Agreed w/ the Dangerfield comparison Morgan gets ZERO respect.  His defense should most times be applauded yet the refs are blowing whistles.

WolverineHistorian

February 24th, 2014 at 12:17 PM ^

Isn't that supposed to be some sort of foul when a coach goes that far out on the court during game play?  Or does Izzo get away with constantly doing this game after game, year after year because he's Izzo? 

Erik_in_Dayton

February 24th, 2014 at 12:25 PM ^

A coach on the floor should lead to a technical foul.  It was even a point of emphasis a couple of years ago (see the link below).  But the Izzos of the world receive the courtesy, so to speak, of not having to follow the rules. 

 

http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/59089/ncaa-wants-crackdown-on-coaches-antics 

BiSB

February 24th, 2014 at 12:26 PM ^

They pulled it down. I saw it yesterday, and sufficed to say that Payne was visibly crushed. He mumbled almost inaudibly about needing to be better and lead the team, and then turned around mid-sentence and just kinda slumped.

He apparently didn't stick around for much media stuff.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

February 24th, 2014 at 12:25 PM ^

On the subject of called and not called, how about the (I think it was Valentine) arm-hook that wasn't called, either.  The announcers even said what a good job Valentine did "controlling the defender" with his off-arm and I was all YOU CAN'T JUST "CONTROL THE DEFENDER."

dahblue

February 24th, 2014 at 1:06 PM ^

Ugh....I think they said something also about "cupping the defender beautifully".  The game could have been much uglier if a number of blantant calls were actually made (T on Izzo for not paying rent despite living on the court, T on Valentine for talking trash too early in the game, numerous grabs, numerous charges, etc.).