This Week’s Obsession: The Banner Gallery

Submitted by Seth on March 8th, 2018 at 2:00 PM

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[This and the other photos by MG Campredon]

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The Question: Choose a photo from the Big Ten Tourney and tell us why it’s representative of the trip.

Alex: I would pick the pic of me drunk at the bar with friends post-state win buuuuut no.

David: This is mine:

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Shout-out to the side dribble.

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Brian:

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This is Jaren Jackson plowing into Moe Wagner after driving on Simpson. Jackson will cartwheel to the ground and fumble the ball out of bounds for a turnover. A few things about this jump out.

One: this was not a foul. It also was not called a foul despite the heavy contact. This is because Wagner was stationary and within the cylinder he's allowed to be in. Everyone got furious about the Iowa game and rightly so; since we do so much ref complaining around here it's only right to stop and note that the refereeing for the rest of the tournament was pretty good. (Except for MSU screening.)

Two: with some limited exceptions this is representative of Michigan's defense in the tournament. If you approached the basket, usually bad stuff happened. Michigan turned Miles Bridges into a guy who mostly takes contested 18-footers. It's not as impressive to do that to Josh Langford, but they also did it to Josh Langford. They did it to Carsen Edwards; by the second half Glynn Watson was convinced that off the dribble shots by a 39/28 shooter were Nebraska's best option. He might not have been wrong.

Three: X had gotten switched onto a 6'11" guy and it didn't matter. Michigan actually put X on Bridges on purpose for the first ten minutes, which appeared to bait him into "I can shoot over this guy" mode and helped initiate that pretend Rip Hamilton stuff.

[Hit THE JUMP to get to a very Rocky 3 take on MSU basketball]

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Ace: Damn I was gonna do that one. I’ve got another tho.

Brian: Also..

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I imagine this one is self-explanatory, what with Z's best Liam Neeson expression.

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Ace: While we’re on the subject of Z, here’s my pick:

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(Pictured: Tum Tum Nairn (Left), Tum Tum Nairn but good (Right) –alex)

Ace: We got to see Simpson really turn the corner in this tournament, both figuratively and literally. While he was a great scorer in high school, he hadn’t shown much at the college level to expect anything similar this year, especially since defenses can safely give him some space.

Well, could. In addition to playing lockdown defense, Z was the engine that kept Michigan’s offense humming against a variety of defensive looks. He got the offense into the right sets. He made the right reads. Most importantly, opponents couldn’t stay in front of him, and it wasn’t just the Cassius Winston-level defenders. Tom Izzo put in Tum Tum because Winston was getting toasted by Simpson; Simpson proceeded to toast Tum Tum, who’s only out there because he can stay in front of point guards.

As he’s grown more comfortable, Z is also breaking out more elaborate finishes. That reachback layup wasn’t nearly as difficult as, say, the floater over Tyler Cook against Iowa, but it isn’t as easy as he made it look. Also, it looks quite pretty.

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Seth: Mine is a Z shot too, sorta.

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Let’s go right to left because this is a Rubens scene out of the Old Testament. There's your all-Big Ten center, a force of nature. Isaac Haas was magnificent in this game, magnificent all year, all career, and here he is trotting back to his post, where he’s a one-man 1.33 PPP, wondering what the hell he can do about all of this. Ace put together a great post on how Beilein and Painter strategized the post, and we were referencing it on twitter during the game. The short version of that is after a first half when Purdue tried to double the ballhandler and Michigan broke out of it to pop an open three attempt consistently, Purdue went to a switching defense. One of the downsides of that strategy was it pulled Haas away from the basket, giving Michigan a major size advantage down low for OREBs, and creating space for the bigs to go to the basket.

Next we have Teske, the big who just went to the basket, who broke out in the tournament. He’s getting the offense’s timing now, especially the screen game, and that could be a huge deal for the tournament, let alone next year.

Congratulating Teske there's Z, the dog of this team, and also the reason we thought last November that 2017-’18 was a transition outfit that miiight sneak into a bid. He's already back, waiting for tonight's victim to bring the ball up the court so he can run him off the line and out of the scoresheet.

Finally off in the distance, small and unwanted: the ball. The ref has to point where it's supposed to go while an Edwards waits for someone else to deliver it. Raftery is telling us how Michigan's the one that played four games in four days and Purdue's the one who looks exhausted. An ent-elf and his army of 40% three-shooters want no part of this team. Remember November?

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Alex: This is mine.

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Unless I'm mistaken (I don't think I am), this is a picture from the aftermath of the Teske-on-Haas dunk, which was probably the highlight of the tournament for a given play. Shortly after the dunk, timeout was called, and I assume that the game went to commercial - so I'm not sure anybody outside of the arena saw what came next.

Teske was pretty hype, of course, but he's more of a naturally reserved and taciturn guy - the "Big Sleep" nickname came about for a reason. After the dunk, his teammates wanted to celebrate him, and the celebrations ended with Simpson and Poole (who I don't think was even in the game at this point) shoving him in the chest around midcourt. As they walked back to the bench - and you can see this a little bit from the picture - Poole took his towel and started hitting him in the face and shoulder repeatedly.

Jordan Poole is *too* hype, almost always. Teske is sometimes too quiet. The juxtaposition - between the stoic big man and unabashedly swaggy freshman microwave - was beautiful. I'm not sure if those towel smacks got Teske going or not, but they were funny to watch from Section 112 behind the basket and MSG. Also: Poole's celebrations on the jumbotron post-victory were wonderful. Some made it to TV, but surely not all. Y'all missed out.
Message Input

Message #-two

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Ace: I’m going for two, because why not. Another wildly unexpected development in a season full of them: Z becoming Walton on the defensive glass even though Wagner actually rebounds like a center now. He had 18(!) defensive boards in the four BTT games and turned a lot of those into quick points at the other end.

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BiSB:

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still not old

We always hear about Michigan State being "tough." And by that I mean that Michigan State never shuts up about being tough. The floor slapping. The rebounding drills in football pads. The physical post play. Did I mention the floor slapping?

Michigan sent two messages on Saturday. The first was that Michigan wasn't going to be intimidated by Michigan State's increasingly comical attempts at intimidation. Charles Matthews reacted to Nick Ward's broke-ass basketball Haka with mild amusement, to the point where it cost ~Ward~ a technical foul.

The second message was one that Michigan State still hasn't taken to heart: that physicality is not a proxy for toughness. This isn't gladiatorial combat or two wild animals fighting over a carcass. This is basketball, and basketball games aren't decided by who does the best Trogdor the Burninator impression. Toughness in basketball is the ability to take a metaphorical punch, not a physical one.  Michigan took a punch and trailed at halftime, and responded by continuing to stick within their system. They didn't lash out. They ran their offense and made defensive adjustments. They were cool, and they took a lead. Michigan State took that punch and panicked. They started yelling at each other. They started playing heroball. And in crunch time, when Michigan State was down eight points with 2:30 left in the game, did the Spartans' floor-slapping, shot-blocking, top-10 efficiency defense dig in and get a stop? No. They didn't even try. Instead they started fouling.

You got out-toughed again, Miles Bridges. Just not the way you're thinking.

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David: You could almost like...just post Bryan's thing. I might print it out...

Ace:

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But some weird guys hit shots, Bryan. That’s definitely the face of a man who’s seen some weird guys hit shots, and certainly nothing else, can’t recall seeing anything else at all.

BiSB: "The McPoyles, man. They came out of nowhere. Held me hostage for three days. Put my big man on the bench. Put my other big man on the bench."

Comments

EconClassof14

March 8th, 2018 at 2:07 PM ^

Could you imagine how much we would all hate Z if he went to Wisconsin (his presumed destination before we swept in). How can this guy defense so well and get off circus layups consistently.

Goblueman

March 8th, 2018 at 2:24 PM ^

I'm retired,I go to a gym that has  a handful of Sparty fans.Since Saturday upon entering the gym I assume a perfct defensive stance and slap the floor.I'm enjoying my retirement.

stephenrjking

March 8th, 2018 at 2:25 PM ^

This is easy.

Michigan, and Teske. Hang around during the year. Serviceable, not spectacular. You mention them and people think, "oh, yeah, them too."

Then it's March.

And you turn on the lights.

And they dunk in your face.

trueblueintexas

March 8th, 2018 at 3:30 PM ^

I believe you meant this:

Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn’t even seem to be livin’… ’til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin’ and your hollerin’ those sharks come in and… they rip you to pieces.

lbpeley

March 8th, 2018 at 3:50 PM ^

Matthews/Ward thing was my throat was still hurting and my eyes still bulging from SCREAMING at the refs a few seconds before when msu prison bitched MAAR on his in bounds steal and lay-up attempt with no call. Then Matthews says "fuck this shit" and murder cocks Ward and then laughs in his crap lousy face. I went from berserker pissed to laughing like a hyena in seconds. 

bronxblue

March 8th, 2018 at 3:54 PM ^

I'm so happy to see Simpson come into his own.  Not that it will change for everyone, but maybe when Michigan is hanging yet another banner people will stop questioning Beilein and his recruiting, even if on the surface the player doesn't seem like a great fit.

Also, this is the image that will stand out to me from this tournament

Robinson had just drove to the hoop while MSU was trying to foul, had taken contact and still finished, and was talking to the crowd while Wagner was losing his goddamn mind with happiness.  Again, for a team (MSU) that preaches toughness and being a bully, here's Just a Shooter Duncan Robinson, someone who has been picked on and dissected throughout his years at Michigan, getting an And-1 in the semifinals of the BTT.  

While a lot of players on this team took major steps forward with their games, Wagner and Robinson stood out to me simply because I think the vast majority of us had sorta assumed they couldn't really evolve anymore (MAAR fell into this category as well, but I think more people assumed he'd be able to still dribble-drive effectively).  Wagner was a slick-shooting Euro player who rebounded about as well as a guard, and Robinson was an all-offense, no-defense guy who simply couldn't put up much resistance against competent scorers.  Yet, fast-forward a season and Wagner is 32nd in the whole damn country in defensive rebounding percentage and Robinson is consistently styming players in the post and blocking shots like he's Ben Wallace.  It's insane to me that they are the players they are today compared to who they were in the fall.

Yessir

March 8th, 2018 at 5:44 PM ^

Love every bit of this.  

My only add would be Mo breaking Wards ankles.  I realize it wasn't the tournament, but I could forget that minor point. 

Indy Pete - Go Blue

March 8th, 2018 at 6:21 PM ^

For the first time in my adult life as a Michigan fan, I have supreme confidence that this team will not get upset in the tournament.  Maybe I am cruising for a bruising, so to speak.  It's just, with this defense that does not take games off - who is going to beat us without an extremely talented roster?  Simpson, Yaklich, and Beilein (that order is on purpose) have created a culture where effort and focus on defense is the #1 priority, and that makes it hard for even elite offenses (see PU, MSU) to get good shots consistently.  Add in senior leadership and ball-handling with MAAR and the all-around effort that characterizes every Duncan Robinson performance since the beginning of February, and there is no reason to expect this team to call it in.  Mo is an offensive juggernaut with his shooting and penetration.  His defensive rebounding (as noted here) has risen to a level of excellence.  His backup has proven to be arguably the best back-up center in the B1G (maybe the country? I don't watch enough other league play to speak authoritatively there).  Teske's defense will travel to any region the committee tries to punish us with.  Matthews - oh, yeah - that guy is still a glove.  Also, he has found his role in the offense.  He is no longer option one or two (or usually three for that matter), but he is picking his spots.  His athleticism seems to be shining again for this team periodically.  His role has reached an appropriate homeostasis.  Poole off the bench - missed everything in the B1G tourney - but still seemed to be a plus player with his ability to find open players and bring ridicilous enthusiasm and joy to the team.  Even though Simmons missed a couple of open threes, he also has proven to be a solid defender and plays within himself as a solid backup point guard.  

I am confident in this team.  They may lose to a good team, but they will not lose to a bad team.  Let's hope things shake out just right for us and this Michigan team can go all the way to the Final Four.  And then, why not, all the way to a shining moment on Monday night!

bklein09

March 8th, 2018 at 10:48 PM ^

My only real concern is awful officiating combined with an off shooting night. Basically, the Iowa game from the BTT. Or the game @NW.

Anything can happen come March, so losing to a 5/6 seed in the round of 32 is not impossible if the stars align poorly.

That being said, I think our defense helps drastically reduce the chance of a team shooting the lights out on us. When teams have beaten Michigan in 2018, it’s been because our offense really bogged down.

And if we make it to the second weekend, I love our chances, even against a 1 seed. Beilein with a week to prepare gives me a lot of confidence.

UM Griff

March 9th, 2018 at 1:28 AM ^

His command of the floor, his zeal to take on all opponents (no matter their size), and his improved free throw percentage all show his leadership and dedication to the team.

Among a stellar group, he is my favorite player.