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

lhglrkwg

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:09 PM ^

Yeah there were definitely a few - esp late in the game - where you could tell it was off-line immediately. I recall one from Matthews I think later in the 2nd half that was off right away. Seemed like we were really panicking toward the end (rightly so)

J.

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:07 PM ^

I didn't think it was worthy of its own thread, but Michigan finished #2 in the final coaches' poll.  Retroactively, Michigan defeated 6 top 25 opponents in 7 games prior to Villanova -- MSU (#11), Purdue (#9), Houston (#22), Texas A&M (#24), Florida State (#18), and Loyola (#7!).

bluepow

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:10 PM ^

Just looked at the roster for next year and it appears we have one more player than scholarships if Wagner stays.  Is this true?  Does this encourage a departure?  What would be another way to handle the situation?  

ST3

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:14 PM ^

In the post-game press conference, Beilein was asked about Nova's formula - getting great players who aren't one and dones. He replied that he wished guys wouldn't want to hurry the best 4 years of their lives. He is right.
He said some guys are ready to leave early. I thought of Trey Burke. Some guys aren't ready yet. It felt like he was directing this at Mo. I get the feeling he wants Mo to come back, not for selfish reasons, but because that really is the best decision for Mo. Mo is going to make a lot of money playing basketball. He only has one more opportunity to be the Big 10 player of the year, win a regular season big 10 championship, and hang out with Jordan Poole.

Mongo

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:13 PM ^

isn't going to beat a team like Nova who shoots it so well across 6-7 guys.  Although I thought we would have been more in the game the way Z shut down the All-American Brunson.  Had Donte just scored his season average (13pts), we would have still been right in the game despite the poor U-M 3pt shooting.  That tells you how well the defense played the 5 Nova starters.  We just couldn't stretch that out to thwart the 31pts coming off the bench from their sixth-man.

Jonesy

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:14 PM ^

Yup we ran into james harden snuck off the bench going unconscious (in a good way) while our 3 pt shooting remained unconscious (in a bad way). Get rid of those outliers and we could have won.

Blue in PA

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:16 PM ^

One of the real victim's of our poor offense was my Direct TV remote. 

Near the end of the 1st half, Poole drove the lane and rather than finish at the rim, he dumps it off to Z..... the 6' guard who promptly gets blocked from behind by DiVen-ateourfuckinglunch-enzo. I lost it and so did my remote.

 

it was a good run, the better team won

 

 

ChuckieWoodson

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:45 PM ^

"Follow your shot, young man" was something I was instructed to do way back in the day at Steve Fisher's basketball camp (1991 FTW!).  What I found and still find, incredibly perplexing about Michigan is that especially when a guy is shooting a 3, he and the entire team typically start running back to play defense.

While I appreciate their positivity in this instance... WTF?  Why not follow your own shot and why are the other 4 guys running back down the court after the 3 point attempt goes up in most instances?

Farnn

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:57 PM ^

There are a lot of factors at play.  How is Michigan shooting?  How many guys do you keep in to get the rebound?  How good of a defensive rebounding team is the opponent?  What is the disparity between regular offense and transition offense for the opponent?  

It's a lot to look at, and I doubt the stats are conclusive in either direction.

L'Carpetron Do…

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:06 PM ^

Michigan didn't let up a fast break bucket for weeks, that's largely because they don't turn the ball all over a lot and they don't crash the glass. 

Retreating on an open look isn't such a bad strategy if you have the best half court defense in the country; there's no sense in risking a break or an unsettled situation in that case. It would be even better if they could hit any open shots.  

jmblue

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:10 PM ^

We do crash the boards sometimes. We grabbed six offensive boards last night. It’s just that our highest priority is to deny transition opportunities for our opponent, so if a guy is not in good positIon when the shot goes up, he’ll drop back instead. And yeah, denying transition is a major component of effective defense.

The other thing about crashing the offensive glass is that it leads to a lot of cheap fouls.

J.

April 3rd, 2018 at 3:59 PM ^

Much has been learned about basketball in the intervening 27 years.

Crashing the offensive glass is a high risk / high reward strategy.  When you're successful, you get easy baskets.  When you're unsuccessful, you give up transition baskets.

That was bad in 1991, when nobody was going to shoot a transition 3 except in dire circumstances.

In 2018, when the transition 3 is a standard part of the game plan for many offenses, you're trading possible easy 2s for possible easy 3s.  You'd better get an awful lot of those rebounds.

ST3

April 3rd, 2018 at 7:41 PM ^

Frieder basketball camp alumni here, '85 I think. Yeah, I want the shooter to follow his shot. The rest can get back on defense, but the shooter has the best idea where the rebound is going to go. They have the best vantage point and can tell if the ball is off to the left or right, or if it is too long or short.

Bill22

April 4th, 2018 at 12:09 AM ^

I also had a difficult time understanding this philosophy early in the Beilein tenure. I think the first day I ever played organized basketball I was told to follow my shot. This issue is likely being brought up again because Villanova had so many timely Offensive Rebounds last night. It would be nice to see the next evolution of John Beilein to move off the auto bench and consider the possibility of offensive rebounding. Just an idea, just saying!

M and M Boys

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:01 PM ^

It was the most fun I have had following a Michigan Team in many, many years.

I guess many of us "adopted" this team somewhere along the way wheb we realized just how much fun they were having and..... were starting to win some key games..  

The winning streak bonded all of us and man was it a fun, fun ride!

They played as many games as a college team could play this year.and only one other team can say that.

Well Done Michigan!

 Well Done!

L'Carpetron Do…

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:01 PM ^

 So close it stings. But please carry this into next year. Hope Wagner comes back and is fired up to get  there again.  And Matthews plays like a man on a mission.  

As a huge fan of Beilein and his team I've come to accept slow, sluggish starts. And I've accepted the tradeoff of meh play in November and December in exchange for great play in late February and March. It would be nice to put together an entire season. But if they can start with a high floor next year and build on it, the Beilein End of Season Surge could send them to the stratosphere.

Big Boutros

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:05 PM ^

If Wagner comes back we will dominate the tournament the way Villanova dominated this one. Every game a double-digit victory.

Frankly if Wagner comes back I think we are a 35-win, #1 overall seed, ass-kicking juggernaut.

Maizen

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:21 PM ^

On offense we shot way too many 3's. Our outside shooting had been extremely poor all tournament and despite shooting 66% from two we continued to jack up 3 after 3 and most weren't even close to going in. We're just not a great shooting team. Poole and Duncan can get hot but neither did. Livers wasn't the same ever since he rolled his ankle. Matthews and Simpson are just poor shooters.

On defense we let one guy beat us, again, and that stinks. After his 3rd three we never changed up how we were playing him. Make someone else beat you and we didn't.

Refs didn't do us any favors.

Hard to swallow we are now 1-6 in national title games. But all that said, hell of a year.

J.

April 3rd, 2018 at 5:09 PM ^

Good to see you're alive.  We've all been worried.

"Way too many 3's."  Sure, 23 of them, or 42% of all field goal attempts in the game.  Slightly fewer than Michigan's season average.

"shooting 66% from two" -- yep, nearly all of those after the game had been decided and Villanova no longer really cared about stopping two-point shots.  Also, the 66% from 2 is misleading, since an awful lot of Michigan drives turned into turnovers or kick-outs when Villanova swallowed up the driving player.

"After his 3rd three we never changed up how we were playing him. Make someone else beat you and we didn't." -- Beilein talked about this (not that I'd expect you to care), and they did actually make some slight adjustments within the gameplan; Beilein said that in hindsight, he wished he'd made more, but some of his shots were basically unguardable.

The kid was making 25-foot pull up shots.  How do you guard that?  You can bring the defense out to 25 feet, but now you're spaced out so far that it's an easy drive to the basket.  So, you essentially have to double-team the guy, putting one guy in his shorts and having another guy ready to cut off the driving line.  And that just leaves somebody else open.

Michigan's overall defensive game plan was fine.  The biggest problem was the offensive rebounds they surrendered, which isn't a Villanova strength at all.  Some of them seemed to be missed block-outs; others seemed to bounce right into a Villanova player's hand.  Villanova got 4 additional defensive rebounds compared to what Michigan had been allowing on average.  Take away 8 points from their score and the game is much more competitive.

umchicago

April 4th, 2018 at 1:11 AM ^

i will add a few more takes:

1. we were up 21-14 at about the 12 min mark in the fist half because moe was killing them in isolation.  i think he got the ball down low or in isolation maybe 4-5 times the rest of the game.  i was screaming for the team to keep feeding moe.  we also knocked down a couple 3s (2 for 4 at that point).

2. at about the 9 min mark in the first half we were up about 5 pts.  JB had simpson, matthews, maar, livers and teske in.  horrible offensive lineup.  in the span of about 2 minutes, our lead was gone and villanova was up about 3 and never looked back.

3. devicenzio was obviously killiing us. and when brunson went out at the 10 min mark, we had an opportunity to make a run.  devicenzio took over.  i kept screaming to deny him the ball.  we let him easily get the ball and make plays; 3s and drives.  deny him the ball and make someone else make a play.  they actually increased their lead with brunson out.

those were my biggest gripes of the game.  that said, devicenzio was a helluva lot quicker than i gave him credit for.  overplay  him on the 3 and he drives past you for a layup.  he had a great game.  give him and villanova credit.  the better team won.  we needed an off game from them.  it didn't happen.  great run tho from our boyz.  very proud.

 

Don

April 3rd, 2018 at 4:42 PM ^

but the phenomenon of Michigan crapping the bed offensively in end-of-season games is not new to us old fuckers. 

In 18 of Michigan's 24 bowl losses, a Michigan offense that has been potent all season has scored less than 20 points. Last night's offensive ineptitude was simply par for the course.

Simon

April 3rd, 2018 at 5:01 PM ^

“Not having Duncan Robinson and Muhammad-Ali in there for much of that half was a killer for us,” Beilein said. “Isaiah Livers is going to be a really good player. But having him (on the court for) 17 (minutes) and Duncan for three was not good for us. Muhammad-Ali sitting out was not good for us.”

John, this was literally your decision. They subsequently combined for a single foul the remainder of the game. The team was floundering on offense without the spacing Duncan provides, even if he isn't knocking down shots, and the final 11 minutes of the 1st half were huge with swinging the game.  

In the end Nova was an excellent team, and Michigan had to bring their A+ game to beat them, they did not and likely nothing would have changed the end result. Just John, please read your own statements next time you go to auto bench someone and subsequently watch the team flounder without said auto benched player.

J.

April 3rd, 2018 at 5:21 PM ^

I hear what you're saying.  However, the way the game was called changed at halftime (which seems to be a frequent thing, for some reason).  If Robinson had come back into the game in the first half, he would have been targeted immediately and would either have picked up another foul or chaperoned Villanova players to the basket.

I'm not a huge fan of autobench, but Robinson has been much more foul-prone this year than he was in the past.  It wasn't as bad a decision as auto-benching Stauskas (or even Burke, 2013 title game aside) used to be.

Simon

April 4th, 2018 at 11:48 AM ^

Maybe he picks up a 3rd, maybe he doesn't. His fouls didn't really come in situations where they targeted him, they came on weird loose ball box out rebounds.  But they were lost on offense and sputtering and that stretch was the biggest moment of the game.

 

And on the officiating, it honestly felt to me, like the calls were going to whoever was currently losing.  Brunson flopped a series of times when Michigan was up and the 2nd half felt like the officials were a bit generous with all the AND 1s for Michigan that turned into just 2 FTs when the ball continually slowly rolled off the wrong side of the rim.

 

Great Season, and Beilein will never change AutoBench, I just wish he would. Now that he's coached a lights out defense there's literally only two things to nitpick about, Autobench and not landing the 5 stars, which is also tough to complain about since he turns 3 stars into the POY and 2 stars into 23 point title game scorers.

JamieH

April 4th, 2018 at 12:16 AM ^

At some point, Beilein needed to trust his senior players, playing in their last game, to not foul out.  By auto-benching them, he let Nova get on a run that took us out of the game.

The terrible foul calls were not his fault.  But putting those players on the bench was 100% his decision.  There is no rule that you can't play a guy with 2 fouls in the first half.  I think this was a terrible decision by Beilein.  The way he talks about it almost makes you think he has forgotten that auto-bench isn't an actual rule.  

umchicago

April 4th, 2018 at 12:55 AM ^

playing robinson more minutes would have helped.  really?  he had his shots and missed.  it sucks that that performance was his last.  maar played well in the second half but many of his points came when the game was already decided.

Simon

April 4th, 2018 at 11:36 AM ^

Even when Dunc wasn't making his shots (he only took 3), Donte was glued on him on the perimeter and didn't leave to help at all.  He was glued in the corner and helped open up lanes and spacing all around. Livers, as Beilein said himself, wasn't ready to play those minutes and Nova helped off him far too often, easily and with confidence that it wouldn't hurt them.

Again, they would have lost anyway, it's just a minute played is a minute played, a point scored is a point scored, regardless of whether it comes in the 1st half or 2nd.  

 

jsquigg

April 3rd, 2018 at 7:57 PM ^

This season was incredible because they way exceeded expectations.  Look out next year if they suffer disappointment with more young talent, because the know everything haters will be back like vermin in the spring.

Bill22

April 3rd, 2018 at 11:47 PM ^

Glad to see Brian’s post was mostly humorous on top of depressing, rather than just sad and depressing (like after we lost the Bowl game). Leaves me encouraged for the off-season.

umchicago

April 4th, 2018 at 12:51 AM ^

going into the final game.  this team shot well from 3 in the texas A&M game but shot mediocre to poor in every previous game since Neb in the BIG tourny.  this was a bad trend.  unfortunately, it continuted in the final game.

despite devicenzio going off in the final game, their team as a whole shot at a normal rate (10-27 from 3).  we could have been competitive with an average or better shooting performance.  it didn't happen.  3-23.  ouch!!

look at the first 10 min.  we knocked down a couple 3s and had moe doing work on the inside.  we were leading 21-14 and clicking on both ends.  when our shots dried up, we were doomed,

we had a great unexpected run tho, and i love this team for it.  had a great time in san antonio and austin this weekend.  thanks team.

Go Blue!!!