Courtside observations from today

Submitted by Fishbulb on February 16th, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Was able to sit courtside today (got one of the assistant coach's tickets...I joked earlier, but this is not a humblebrag) and wanted to share some observations (in no particular order).

First, the game is so different when you're that close vs watching on TV.  There isn't as much open space as you think in person, and they are much faster.  Michigan's defense in person is impressive--they rotate, close out, and hedge very quickly.

Charles Matthews gets ridiculous lift when he does his turnarounds.  It's quite a sight.

Jon Teske is HUGE.  Just a massive human.  It's a sight to behold in person.  His dad came out afterwards and is a big dude too.

Bruno Fernando has a surprising amount of awkwardness for a guy that athletic.

Zavier Simpson is in COMPLETE control when he has the ball and is always looking up and ahead and is talking and directing. Looks smaller in person but is in total control of the offense and the ball.  

Brazdeikis has sporadic footwork issues on his outside shots.  

Jordan Poole actually looks bigger in person (my opinion). 

The Michigan bench looks very dialed in.  Camaraderie abounds.

Beilein will get after a player but does a lot of teaching when a guy comes out.  He pulled Teske aside and gave him a shooting tip after his first several shots were short.  He gives a lot of encouragement.

The game was a reunion of sorts.  Mo Wagner, Duncan Robinson, Rahkman, Jaaron Simmons (pretty sure that was him), and Jordan Morgan were there.  Wagner and Robinson were courtside.  The others sat under the basket (Michigan's 2nd half basket).  They spent a lot of time meeting up and bro-hugging, etc.  Current players came up after the game to do the same with them.

Wagner is clearly the nicest guy in the world.  He took a million pics with fans--EVERY fan that wanted one.  Kids, teens, moms, dads, grandparents.  I am not exaggerating.  Always had a smile.  If he turned and saw a kid smile or wave at him, he went up to that kid, even during the game.  Seriously.  Duncan was similarly approachable, but Mo was the star.  

The new football assistant coaches were introduced.  Gattis, of course, got the most cheers.

After the game, the assistant coach came over to say hi to us and chat.  I mentioned Mo's friendliness and he confirmed that is simply how he is all the time.  At the end, I said "Please make sure you take care of Sparty."  He looked at me and said "Nope.  It's Minnesota time."  




February 16th, 2019 at 7:21 PM ^

Nice humble brag.

Good post though. Wagner seems like the happiest person in the world. Today was a huge win. Need to take care of business these last 5 games.

Team 101

February 16th, 2019 at 10:14 PM ^

It was the breast cancer awareness game.  Otherwise called the pink game.  They had special announcements during the time outs.  I think they have one each year for each sport.  The football team has one in October.  The softball team has one in May.

Last year MAAR wore his pink shoes the whole season.  I think Teske is probably going to leave his in the closet.

S.G. Rice

February 16th, 2019 at 7:38 PM ^

Thanks for the post.  Always nice to have guys come back, especially those who are or were playing professionally who can pass on their experiences to the next wave.


February 16th, 2019 at 7:41 PM ^

First, the game is so different when you're that close vs watching on TV.  There isn't as much open space as you think in person, and they are much faster.  .

I've been the first few rows, and you can still say that - it is a far more intimate experience than it might seem on television, and yeah, a regulation court, when you are looking right at it, really doesn't seem quite as impressive in scale as it does on television. Very different experience at Crisler than on TV. 


February 16th, 2019 at 9:53 PM ^

Much like being on the field for a football game, being closer makes a huge difference in your frame of reference.  I had second row courtside seats today and it was unlike anything I have seen. The players size is much more apparent up close.  I actually sat about five seats down from Duncan and Moe, and the OP is correct about how friendly they were and how willing they were to spend time with fans.

In football, I get to spend one game a year on the field (Alumni Band), and the size, speed, and sound on the field level can't be duplicated on TV or in the stands.  I highly recommend that if you ever have the chance to watch a game up close - DO IT!  You miss the wide angle view and the big picture, but being close is so worth it.

Eastside Maize

February 16th, 2019 at 7:50 PM ^

The athleticism of the players is more pronounced when you’re at a game, probably even more so on the sideline. I had some nice seats at LCA and the NBA looks like a video game.


February 16th, 2019 at 8:13 PM ^

People always like to complain about no defense in NBA but when you see them up close, they're so much faster, quicker and more skilled than you realize. You can see the effort level but the skill level is so much better than in the 80s and 90s with everyone being able to handle, shoot and pass the ball well.


February 17th, 2019 at 10:14 AM ^

A lot of the "no defense" stuff comes down that unlike college, NBA players can actually shoot. What people generally describe as playing "hard-nose defense" is college kids missing a bunch of good to great looks. You can go rewatch the national championship game from last season as an example. 


February 17th, 2019 at 10:34 AM ^

NBA teams run far more offensive sets than people realize,  and people tend to confuse passing the ball around the perimeter for 20 seconds with good offense. This is also a silly argument given that all offenses are designed to get players in favorable situations/matchups and spots on the floor to score. Much like the NBA, a large proportion of college plays culminate in a dribble drive to score or kick out for a shot. Colleges just have to work harder to get to the matchups to allow it because the players aren't as good.


February 18th, 2019 at 9:16 AM ^

This is all true. I have said it before and I will say it again-basketball is the best sport to play-by a long way...for many reasons. I  LOVE the athletic endeavor-particularly good play...even when it is my opponent. The NBA play bores me...and this is counter-intuitive to everything about my appreciation of excellence-but, here, the NBA players are simply too good. 

Poole has the makings of an outstanding NBA player-and the college opposition knows this-that is why they are pretty much taking him out of play for Michigan on the offensive end...they are willing to take their chances against the other four.

A Lot of Milk

February 16th, 2019 at 8:19 PM ^

Kinda a thread jack based on this, but does Moe qualify as a Michigan basketball legend? I know everyone has their difference of opinions based on their era and I know there's a difference between "favorite" players and actual "legendary" players. 

Moe never won any player of the year awards or was even first team all Big Ten, I believe. But his performance against MSU last year (in both games) and his play in the Final Four against Loyola (first player with 20 points and 15 rebounds in the FF since Kareem I believe?) seems to put him on a pretty high pedestal. This of course is combined with all of the on and off court antics, which to be fair is a huge benefit of the social media age and wasn't available in prior generations and thus can't be used as criteria for guys like Glen Rice.

I don't know if Moe will ever be considered an all-time Michigan basketball great for his overall play on the court (guys like Cazzie, Trey, and Rice), but I think his personality and memorable performances puts him on almost every UM fan's favorites list with guys like Zack, Stu, and Walton, who were never the best players on the court but are definitely a huge part of Michigan basketball history. 

(P.S. Zavier might already be on this list with over a whole year left!)


February 16th, 2019 at 8:25 PM ^

Here's an observation: Iowa has sacrificed the correct amount of chickens and other random animals this season. The complete bullshit shot that just went in for them to beat Rutgers can only be the result of the ritualistic murder of entire species of living creatures.

SD Larry

February 16th, 2019 at 9:08 PM ^

Thank you for sharing this great color to the TV broadcast.  Appreciate your observations and comments, to give us a feel of being courtside.  Great to hear about the guys that came back too and Mo was so gracious with fans.  


February 16th, 2019 at 9:40 PM ^

Late in the game there was a play that went Michigan’s way under the Maryland basket.  As Simpson was watching the ball go out of bounds he winked at the camera.


February 16th, 2019 at 11:30 PM ^

I like stuff like this. Humblebrag or not, sharing some of your experience from a privilege of sitting that close seems like a way to share the excitement with others. 

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to afford sitting that close to a major basketball game; the seats are expensive for a reason. You get super-close without the penalty you get in other sports of not being able to track the action on the other  side. 

I do, however, occasionally take in a D-2 game here and there at UMD. The sparser crowds allow you to sit at close as you want. The athleticism is a SIGNIFICANT step down from D-1 but it’s still awesome to see (and hear) up close. 


February 17th, 2019 at 12:31 AM ^

I regularly play pick up ball with some of the people who used to play college ball. The difference between former D1 player and D2/D3 players are significant that you don't appreciate it until you see them up close. Same with former pro players and former D1 players. I always chuckled whenever I see a fan saying they can do better than them and they can't because they're playing in that level for a reason and they aren't.


February 17th, 2019 at 12:42 AM ^

Yeah. I mean, the D-2 guys I watch (UMD is a mid-rung team in its conference) are really athletic, and they're pretty tall. But it's athletic and 6'5-6'7 (the center, one of the best post guys in the conference this year, is 6'6) rather than super athletic and 6'8 or athletic and 7'0. 

Top-level athletes are just insanely good at what they do. Even the "bad" ones are good. I had a gym class at Pioneer with a guy from the first year of the NTDP, Joe Goodenow. He wound up playing as a fourth-line type at MSU for four years. After one week everyone in the class picked him first for every sport. He was crazy athletic. And this was a guy not known for his athleticism in his own sport. But give him a ball on a field and nobody could catch him. 



February 17th, 2019 at 1:23 AM ^

Played with a guy who tested out at top 5 percentile in combine testing but was never seriously looked at by the NFL because he's too small and not productive despite the fact he played for a P5 school.

NFL players are freak athletes. I know a guy who is an OT is 6'5" and 315 lbs but looks like he's 270 lbs and can run. OL can seriously outrun you at 300+ lbs which is crazy. The freak of the freak athletes like Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss, etc. are an unique breed because they can dominate against elite athletes on a daily basis.


February 17th, 2019 at 8:36 AM ^

The disgusting thing about freak athletes in professional sports is that its not the athleticism that sets them apart from their peers - its the mental part of the game.  At the pro level, and to some degree the top of P5, the mental ability of these guys to think the game is off the charts.  You know why Z can dominate a game at 5'9", with no discernable athleticism relative to others on the court? Because he can think it better than everyone else on the court.  He sees it happening three steps before anyone else.  That's why he destroys Cassius Winston, who has significantly better athleticism that Z can ever hope for.

Every single NFL QB, even the backups, can 'make all the throws'.  It's the ones that can put aside the distractions to see a play and put the ball where it needs to be, that sets them apart.  Nobody will confuse Brady's arm for Jeff George's arm.  But who would you rather have QB'ing your team?


February 17th, 2019 at 4:39 PM ^

Nathan Peterman, literally a punchline for how bad he is, got some time this year. I was watching Red Zone when he was playing. He lofted this amazing, pinpoint pass down the sideline for a 20-yard TD. Hit the receiver in stride on the hands. 

That was the worst QB in the sport last year. Making a throw that 99.5% of the population couldn’t make once if they had 50 tries. 

We take this stuff for granted. 

Steve in PA

February 17th, 2019 at 11:07 AM ^

Sitting courtside or almost courtside is great and very informative.  I'm blessed that PSU generally sucks at basketball and has very few fans.  More people buy tickets for resale than actually care about PSU basketball.

The 1st time I sat close enough to hear JB coach is when I realized he is a Jedi master.  He never quits teaching and encouraging his players.  I never once heard him use profanity in all the games I have seen yet.

I also concur with your observation of how close-knit the team is.  Someone having a really sucky day gets nothing but encouragement from the bench.

I have seen other coaches up close and none of them is someone I would want my kids to play for or I would love to be an assistant with as much as JB.  I hope in many years when he retires he writes a coaching book.



February 17th, 2019 at 12:43 PM ^

Sounds like a cool experience and an informative humblebrag :)  Were you at all nervous about being right next to the court and ending up a part of the action?

I'm not even sure I would want to sit courtside for an NBA game. With how big and fast pretty much everyone is in the NBA, I'd be far happier in the third row.  The first couple of rows can act as a buffer for anyone diving for a loose ball.