You Will Find Me In The Bush Growing Clothes Out Of My Face

Submitted by Brian on April 3rd, 2018 at 1:38 PM

3/31/2018 – Michigan 69, Loyola-Chicago 57 – 33-7, national championship game
4/2/2018 – Michigan 62, Villanova 79 – 33-8, season over

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[Bryan Fuller]

The thing is in a football stadium so they raise the floor and permit the head coach a little stool he can sit on. From this perch he can yell stuff to his players more efficiently, I guess? It seems unnecessary. Maybe it's for television.

It's probably for television. For all the agency a coach has in selecting and preparing his team, by the time you reach the Final Four and they hand you a stool a great deal rides on a bunch of 30-40% coin flips. When seemingly all of those coin flips come up on the middle finger side, a coach's agony veritably radiates. He is a man alone on Stool Island, barely less helpless than someone who bought a ticket.

Michigan clanged back-to-back-to-back threes against Loyola with about ten minutes left, still in a five point hole. The first induced a Picard-worthy double facepalm from John Beilein.

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The second actually caused Beilein to leap from the stool and stomp the floor before shuffling away in a huff.

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The third was resignation and despair.

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The man on the stool is moving deeper into the Kubler-Ross model every time down the court. If Jordan Poole hadn't swept through the lane for a layup on Michigan's next possession Beilein might have eaten his tie.

Eating your tie is acceptance. I accept that Michigan is never going to hit another three pointer, and I will live out my life in the Alaskan bush, wrangling caribou. No ties in Alaska. I am the man on the stool plotting his escape to Alaska, where I can suffer out of the public eye. At long last my innovation has betrayed me, and… huh. It appears we've ended the game on a 27-10 run. Plans canceled.

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John Beilein probably isn't in a prop plane headed for Nome as we speak but you could hardly blame him if he was. It was there for Michigan to give an incredible Villanova team all it could handle, but for the fifth time in six games they clanged far too many open looks from outside. Their brutal shooting in the final surpassed all prior outings this season and for all but one game in the past five:

I have not rewatched the Villanova game and probably won't. If I do I expect to see Beilein age 75 years in two hours as a series of wide open looks fail to go down on one end while a blindfolded Donte DiVincenzo is canning off-the-dribble 30-footers. By the end he has grown a beard that he has fashioned into a hat and moccasins. By the end he is the West Virginia mascot, having whittled a musket from the stool.

This was a 17-point game that never felt close after Michigan's disastrous close to the first half. It was simultaneously the game Michigan needed to play to beat the best team in the country. Michigan shot 66% from two, had four different and-one opportunities rim out, and lost a couple points on a missed goaltend. Michigan's defense closed out magnificently; Villanova didn't care. Half of their ten makes from behind the line were deep pull-ups off the dribble that are—should be, anyway—bad shots. Michigan didn't start launching bad ones until they were already 3/18 and deep in a hole.

Shoot your season average on the reasonable looks and hit one of the dumb ones and you've carved that blowout margin down to 2-5 points. And you're probably not taking the dumb ones because the game is within reach and you have reason to believe an open corner three is a better shot than a wild ninja kick from halfcourt.

The grim section of our Alonzo Mourning gif is Michigan's collapse from behind the line in the tournament. In six away-or-neutral games leading up to the NCAA tournament Michigan hit 48%, 48%, 16%, 48%, 36%, and 35% from three. In the tourney itself: 31%, 27%, 58%, 18%, 25%, 13%.

It defies explanation. Michigan wasn't any more tired during the tournament than they were when they hit their season average against Purdue and MSU despite both of those teams getting the double bye Michigan did not. They seemed to get the same quality of look. They just missed twelve straight in the national title game. And struggled against everyone else not named Texas A&M.

It probably wouldn't have been enough anyway. And nothing from this fun-as-hell basketball season can really disappoint. But that'll linger a bit, that U-turn.

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[Fuller]

Basketball is a helpless thing sometimes.

Comments

FatGuyTouchdown

April 3rd, 2018 at 6:53 PM ^

I thought Michigan could put together a run and narrow the lead only for Nova to make huge shots that were well defended. Sometimes it's not your night. I remember CM Dunk getting a steal and a bucket to cut the lead to 12 with 8 or 9 minutes left. I thought with brunson on the bench they could narrow it, but Divincenzo hit two contested 3's in a row to basically end it. The shooting could've been average, but I still don't think Nova was losing that game.

ak47

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:47 PM ^

I disagree that they were primarily good looks from three, we missed a few wide open ones but most were contested. Nova had a damn good D that just gets overlooked because of their insane offense.

robpollard

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:22 PM ^

There were tons of open looks. Livers first one was wide open; Matthews had open looks. Robinson's first two as well (and maybe his third). Simpson's 3 that Raftery said was in (but was, of course, short) was wide-open. And so on.

A big thing was not just how many open and/or in-rhythm looks we missed, but how *badly* we missed them. This weren't roll-around-the-rim misses; they were clunkers. For example, not one of Robinson three 3 pointers looked like they were going in on the way down -- they were way off. Very unusual for him. That's when I knew we were dead meat.

Very frustrating.

roosterbaan

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:27 PM ^

i can't prove it, but wagner seemed to U turn in his performance right after he went for a loose ball in the paint that ended in a jump ball. at the time, i felt like the little chippiness experienced right after that between him and the villanova dude was going to light a fire under him and he was going to perform even better than before. unfortunately, if my recollection serves me well, i think he airballed a 3 right after that and had another airball on a 2 point attempt shortly after...

TrueBlue2003

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:48 PM ^

The first 18 or so were overall very high quality.  We were excellent driving to the hole early and that opened a healthy number of good looks.

I wasn't that impressed with Nova's defense.  I thought Houston, FSU and even Loyola were better on defense. 

k.o.k.Law

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:48 PM ^

No shame losing to a better team.

Started 2 for 4 from 3 . . . .

Moe made his first.

If redhead had 2 first half fouls, instead of DR.

Their 6th man outscored ours by, whatever.

If we had some ham, we could make a sandwich, if we had some bread.

Wasn't meant to be.

):

 

Blue in PA

April 3rd, 2018 at 2:18 PM ^

31-0, their 6th man outscored ours 31-0.

 

Duncan had three attempts, that doesn't cut it.   'Nova played solid D, but I didn't notice us trying to get Duncan the ball off a screen.  

They are clearly a better team, if our 3pt shooting was 26%, not 13%, its a different game.

 

It was a great season.  Only one team in men's NCAA bball had a better season than we did.

 

GO BLUE 

lbpeley

April 3rd, 2018 at 2:50 PM ^

Wasn't DR in foul trouble early on some pretty ticky tack shit? 

I've given up trying to understand bball fouls. Simpson drives and gets body slammed into the photographers - turnover on Simpson. Charles (and others a few times) tries to grab a rebound and also gets thrown into the photographers - nova takes it up the floor. Then nova drives the lane and a jersey gets brushed - 2 shots for nova. I'm not saying UM was getting phantom fouls called on them but how in the fuck are we getting chucked 3 rows into the stands with no calls? Multiple times!

UofM Die Hard …

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:34 PM ^

Hell of a season for Duncan and what a turn around at the mid way point.

 

BUT, I think the bright lights got to him in the final four. He was short on every shot..I cant remember him being long to be honest....but to me that means he has got some nervs rattling around and he is struggling to block them out and just play ball. 

No disrespect, just something I was chewin on.

 

Anyway, great season, looking forward to more good times to come. 

charblue.

April 3rd, 2018 at 7:26 PM ^

and it was the result of Nova and its defense and Michigan being out of sorts. But part of it too, was the officiating, which was so nebbish. I mean the calls that sidelined Robinson were not even real contact fouls, nor even from the standpoint of advantage-disadvantage. Robinson was merely trying to establish position and was in front of the guy he got called for his second foul. Those nebbish calls, in part, put the team out of rhythm because they were so out of context with the way the game was being called the rest of the way and the kind of contact that was permitted when Michigan guys drove to the basket and were bumped or held.

I mean it is so ridiculous to see a guy go hard to the basket like Matthews does and get bumped as he's making his shot attempt and get no call, and then see Robinson get called for position-establishing contact where the opponent falls on his own.

The fact is that in most games of the tournament, you have three whistles and rarely, if ever, are they calling the same thing. I mean Weimer was all over anything that resembled a moving pick or offensive foul last night. But they gave Brunson license to kill in the first half last night before he was finally put in his place based on the contact he initiated.

UMAmaizinBlue

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:49 PM ^

Left me wanting more than this team/season did. While this write-up is a bit blase, the season was anything but because of how this team played defense and gelled over the season. Yea, we lost b/c of the 3-pt going cold, but we were in the game almost entirely because of defense. Sure, we got pantsed by a great team...but so did Kansas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Alabama, and Radford (and the entire Big East). Nothing to face palm, yell, stomp, or sulk about.

 

poppinfresh

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:51 PM ^

they hit 9 we hit 3 and that happens to be the "difference in the game" but they also took their foot off the gas

what was more puzzling to me in the final two games was we at times spazzed out. flailing turnovers, rushing at times... chalk it up to nerves/better competition, but we just looked like we had a bit more doubt in our heads in both these games. maybe that manifested itself in threes as well

just hard to wrap your brain around terrible shooting/offense with a beilein team, but then again, that wasnt what got us here in the first place

RHammer - SNRE 98

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:52 PM ^

this lead balloon was a particularly unenjoyable stat:

In six away-or-neutral games leading up to the NCAA tournament Michigan hit 48%, 48%, 16%, 48%, 36%, and 35% from three. In the tourney itself: 31%, 27%, 58%, 18%, 25%, 13%

Bummed to have such a good run by a fun group of kids have to end that way, but as Seth said yesterday, Dayenu boys

Blue In NC

April 3rd, 2018 at 5:11 PM ^

Yes.  Brunson is a good player but that performance last night was pathetic.  Dropping his shoulder to try and create space, throwing the head back like he was shot and then having the nerve to question a few calls.  He may have had the best year for them and is a good shooter and a tough competitor but I don't think he is the best player on that Nova team.

MGoBlue-querque

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:56 PM ^

All game I was jumping out my chair yelling "AND 1" but the stupid ball didn't go through the hoop like it should have...like it always does!!! Had my own personal Beilein facepalm, stomping, and despair as those layups kept missing.

Sports are the best and worst thing ever...

Fun season, bummer of an end.

Go Blue.

 

ak47

April 3rd, 2018 at 2:16 PM ^

Only in a world where Nova doesn't take their foot of the gas at the end of the game. Wright doesn't sit Brunson for as long as he does if we are actually cutting into the lead. You can't play this game. If Michigan is hitting its shots and the game is closer Nova plays differently too. We got beat by a better team, part of it was 3 pt shooting but the bigger part was just Nova had players who could get buckets on their own better over tough defense and a larger margin of error because of offensive rebounding ability.

lhglrkwg

April 3rd, 2018 at 2:27 PM ^

I've thought about that too. I can envision a scenario where we could've scored about as much as Nova scored. The eternal unknown will be would Nova have just continued to rain fire from above if we were actually pushing them? They were scorching hot in the 2nd half. Impossible to say whether we would've caught them or if they would've continued to keep us at arm's length

snarling wolverine

April 3rd, 2018 at 2:52 PM ^

On the year, Nova averaged 11.6 made threes per game, shooting 40.1%.

Nova shot 6-14 (42.9%) from 3 in the second half, close to their season average. Actually, what was striking was that they were well below their average in the first half (4-13, 30.8%), but we failed to capitalize.   

Nova was unusually dependent on Divincenzo but otherwise this was pretty much a routine shooting game for them.

 

 

Blue In NC

April 3rd, 2018 at 5:17 PM ^

They were below their average because almost all of those 3s were contested.  Nova should not be expecting to shoot their average under those circustances (neither should we).  I think part of our problem is that our open looks were not to our best shooters (Livers, Charles, etc.) whereas Duncan and MAAR had more contested looks.

bluepow

April 3rd, 2018 at 2:58 PM ^

I agree with you and thus used "theoretical" but still think the stat is illustrative.  It shows how important shooting is (duh) and that an averageish performance would have had us in it rather than just enduring the second half the way we did.  

Blue Mike

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:08 PM ^

The point you can take from that is that it wasn't that Michigan was dominated, like the media says. Between the 3 point shooting, the and-1s that rolled out and even-worse-than-normal free throw shooting, there were enough points left or there to be right with Nova the whole way. Michigan didn't lose because DiVincenzo went off, they lost because they couldn't shoot well enough to keep up.

I also think the defense started to lay in the second half because the offense was so bogged down. Would have been a different game if we just shoot to our season norms.

jmblue

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:54 PM ^

We were down nine at halftime, quickly fell behind by 14 or so in the opening minutes of the second half, and never really made it a game after that.  We were down 20+ for awhile before outscoring them in garbage time.  No matter why it happened, the media's always going to call that a domination.

Sure, you can point to some missed opportunities for us here and there, but that's true in every basketball game.  My take is that they were just the best team in the country this year, and by tournament time, no one could play with them for 40 minutes.  

 

 

TrueBlue2003

April 3rd, 2018 at 5:49 PM ^

We missed 20 3s...out of 23!  That's a lot of missed opporunities, most of which were great shots.  We fell behind because we weren't making shots that we normally make at much better rate.

No doubt Villanova was the better team, but had we shot our season average from three and had we rebounded the way we usually do, neither of which are too much to ask.  It's not like we needed to play a "perfect" game.

I went into this game thinking we had about a 30% chance to win and not much changed that opinion.  That game did not indicate to me that we were significantly overmatched, despite the comfortable lead they held for most of the second half.

jmblue

April 3rd, 2018 at 8:31 PM ^

Given that we shot below our season average in four of the five preceding tournament games, it probably didn't hold much predictive value by this point.  Our tourney average before the game was like 31%, and that wasn't going to cut it yesterday, either (although the final score would have been somewhat closer).   Toss out the A&M explosion and we were like 26% in the other four games.  For whatever reason we were just a bad outside shooting team in the tournament, one very fun game excepted.

Villanova overall didn't exactly shoot the lights out - they were 10-27 from 3, and if you'd told me that beforehand (after how they dive-bombed Kansas) I'd have probably accepted it.  Still, after we made it uncomfortable for them early on, they settled in and had us seriously off-balance defensively over the last 30 minutes or so of the game.  They just seem like one of those teams where once the floodgates open, can't be stopped.  They had 14 points midway through the first half and finished with 79.  

I'm OK with this.  I took the 2013 loss much harder as I felt we were as good as any team in the country and could have won the title game with better officiating.  This time I felt we went as far as we could (much farther than I expected) and lost to the best team.

TrueBlue2003

April 5th, 2018 at 2:55 PM ^

we turned into a sub-30% three point shooting team suddenly, than ok, we'll agree to disagree.  I think it was a small sample fluke because it's not just our season average you're comparing it to.  After entire careers shooting well from three, there's just no way that MAAR and Duncan suddenly turned into bad three point shooters.

But this is what they shot in the five non-Texas A&M games that you think are somehow representative of what we were capable of in the tourney:

MAAR: 5-28!!!

Duncan: 7-23, woof.

Plus, Livers, Poole, Simpson and Matthews went a combined 0-8 against Nova. Those aren't exactly sharpshooters (even though Poole probably is) but for them to combine for 0-8 is a massive outlier event.  Even if they hit 2-8, that would have been below each of their season averages.

Brian put it perfectly.  Sometimes basketball is a series of 30-40% coin flips and sometimes a large number of those go against you.  I really don't think it was fatigue.  More likely if it was anything other than bad luck, it was nerves.

TrueBlue2003

April 3rd, 2018 at 5:40 PM ^

they aren't typically a good OREB team (140th in kenpom, middle of the pack) and we're typically a very good defensive rebounding team.  I think part of it was some fatigue on our end (Wagner and Robinson in particular), part was unlucky bounces, and maybe part was them being more aggressive to get them.

But we lost this game for two reasons only:

1) Poor 3 pt shooting which accounted for 12-15 points of margin, as Brian mentioned and

2) Poor defensive rebounding which accounted for the remaining 2-5 points.  They got 3-4 more OREBs than we should have given up.

Had we performed at season averages in 3 pt shooting and D rebounding, that is a game that's decided by a single possession.

For as good as DiVincenzo was, it's not like they shot the lights out (10-27 was below season avg), we turned them over 12 times which was impressive, and if we rebound better and keep them to 74-77 points, that's about what I would have expected/asked for going into the game considering they're by far the best offensive team in the country.  DiVincenzo's briliance was offset for the most part by us shutting down Brunson and everyone else not names Bridges.

And on our end we took pretty good care of the ball, we were excellent taking the ball to the hoop (which opened up threes as they adjusted).  We just couldn't hit them.