GO EASIE(R) against Darius MOrris and Coach Beilein

Submitted by michfan4borw on January 30th, 2011 at 12:05 PM

I've recently been seeing criticism on mgoblog of Coach B's offense generally and of Darius Moriss specifically.  In consideration of this criticism, I've taken data from the most recent game to give a glimpse into the inadequacy of this criticism. 

Here's a link to umhoops.com and its "5 Key Plays" in the win against sparty at the Breslin Center (first win since 1997).  4 of the key plays show Michigan winning the battle with one of them showing the opposite.  Play 1: Novak's 4 point play early in the game; Play 2: C. Christian beats the shot clock for 2 pts.; Play 3: Draymond Green scores 3 pt. play in transition for sparty; Play 4: Novak for a long 3 pt. shot; Play 5 (2 plays actually): Stu Douglas hits 2 pt. shot late in the game and Douglass hits 3 pt. shot even later in the game.  Here it is for viewing (note Stapleton's statement): 

"Please let us know in the comments if you think we missed one. It seems weird that Darius isn’t explicitly featured in any of these."



I can think of one commenter in this mgoblog community who feels it necessary to criticize DMo w/o any real support for that criticism--something about ball-hogging or not passing or not being a team player.  I can think of many users who criticize the offense/defense Coach B uses or the talent he recruits.  My responses:

1) Of the four--really five since Stu gets two plays in his one video clip--plays resulting in Michigan's favor, DMo assists on the play or does more.  Play 1:  DMo draws a double team and makes a skip (no look which freezes the defense) pass to Novak in corner who's open b/c his man dropped down to help on the open post guy b/c of the double team on DMo; Play 2: DMo drives--and draws an extra defender sufficiently away from Christian --and assists on the made shot by Christian; Play 4: DMo gets the rebound (offensive rebound!) off someone else's shot and then assists on a 3 pt. shot to Novak; Play 5: DMo assists on Stu's 2pt shot (admittedly Stu created that shot, but DMo still had to recognize Stu's comfort at that place on the floor in that situation to make the pass) and DMo draws a second defender again to hit Stu for the open 3 pt. look to clinch the game.

Yes, DMo also made the turnover in Play 3 that led to Green's score and 1.  But that only leads me to my next point (made ad naseum by many against the trolls and ignorant critics of the bball team): YOUTH.  DMo is a sophomore starting full-time for the first time.  He will make mistakes, but he does--at least on this night in front of an Izzone and meatheads wearing numbers crying insecurity--make more positive plays than negative ones.  He will--if he hasn't already--have struggles with ego/maturity and a learning curve. 

What about the five freshman who rotate in regularly with 3 of them starting?


2) Coach Beilein has a young but talented team.  As a group, the team will play down to competition (hopefully not Iowa today, but I wouldn't be surprised).  But we've seen it play up to competition all season long too. The latter is not a given with just any team full of two juniors and the rest underclassmen.  Coach B should get praise for this part, for which he seemingly does not.   With maturity (and patience from us), Coach Beilein will show the fruits of his progress.  And please remember this tidbit from the detnews today:

In 2009, his second season at U-M, Beilein guided the Wolverines to a 21-14 record and back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 seasons, with a first-round win over Clemson. Michigan's 11-win turnaround tied a school record for the largest single-season turnaround.

Though RR didn't have the same types of positive marks during his time at Michigan, let's be careful about becoming a program that fires off coaches b/c they don't deliver satisfaction in the timeframe we arbitrarily deem sufficient to accomplish delivering said satisfaction.  Each situation is different and hence requires its own analysis.  At the very least, give some analysis--a credible one hopefully--when you shout/cry for Coach B or any other Michigan coach to be fired. 
Go Blue!  Beat Iowa!





January 30th, 2011 at 12:11 PM ^

That Belien is an average coach, and if we don't get better then Morris' talents will be waisted. He is the only B1G above average starting player on our team.


Kids a stud. 

Novak was the hero of the game against the Spartys though. 


January 30th, 2011 at 12:15 PM ^

but the fact remains Morris tries to do too much when he has the bowl and has lapses in in-game maturity. i was beside myself during the MSU game where 3 straight plays ran through him and he made a turnover, was lazy on getting back on defense, made another turnover, and then, upon receiving the ball again, forced a shot that wasn't there. i spent 2-3 years watching the offense forced through sims and harris - this team has looked its best when it didn't put the ball through anyone. all it seemed morris was looking to do was drive to the hole, regardless of if it was there. he's not a bad player but his head is definitely not there a la harris 2008.

the overall tone of your post is disappointing and condescending. nobody has said morris was a bad person or berated him. i know that i have specifically pointed at plays and issues where he seems to be not making wise, team decisions. to act like such criticism is mere trolling is strawman at best. perhaps YOUTH is the best reason why beilein should shorten the rope on morris and hold him accountable when he's not leading by example.

fwiw, i avoided bringing this up before, but morris, arguably, was a major component in the MSU comeback because of systemic mistakes like those aforementioned. but for key plays by douglass and novak, which came after morris ran out the clock trying to force something, Michigan doesn't win that game. yet, when UM wins and the crowd goes silent, one person was wooping and running his mouth. morris. every other member of the team walked happily over to the scorers table with their mouths shut. only one person took to twitter to do a "call out" of everybody who thought they couldn't win. it's just too much "about morris" and not enough about the team. i see a lot of KG in the behavior and it's disappointing. hopefully it can be worked on.


January 30th, 2011 at 12:24 PM ^

for sure if you are the "one user."  I don't keep up on the names here enough and I don't care to look for the exact post to find out.  Anyway, I think my use of the word "trolling" in the original post may have affected the tone.  I've changed it. 

As for your response, I agree that DMo has shown at times the attitude you suggest.  I however don't believe that represents who he is.  He's a 19-20 year old probably getting a lot of attention in AA.  He, with Coach B's guidance, will learn from those experiences and hopefully continue to improve.

I also don't think the win against sparty represents the team as a whole.  I only use it b/c it's recent and I guess I'm too lazy to look for videos from other games.  Similarly, I don't think Michigan's 3 pt. shooting % for the season is reflected accurately by this one game or even by all the games that preceded it. 


Anyway, thanks for commenting.  Enjoy today's game.


January 30th, 2011 at 12:41 PM ^

is incredibly promising as the sophomore leader of this team, I think you're demanding way too much of players. . . an irrational lot. Mistakes are simply part of the game; scrutinize ANY player and you'll see lots through the course of a game.

Morris had 17 points and 8 assists in that game and has more or less averaged that--along with 4 rebounds--on the season. He has had games where he grew deeply frustrated, but against MSU he kept it together the entire game. The only time he demonstrably lost his head was in two trips deep into the paint toward the end where he could not find an outlet. (This had worked for M the game long, and actually provided what other irrational fans have been screaming Beilein teams didn't do for two-plus years, penetrate and dish.) On one of those he was fouled but the ref swallowed his whistle. He is money at the line, was the B10 player of the week the last week in December, and has had five double doubles this year. He is also one of the top 25 guards in the country in turnouver-to-assist ratio, again as a sophomore. Finally, he is the best athlete on the team and his passes sometimes look casual; so did many of Magic Johson's. The team is catching up to him--the same fans who crucify him when his teammates fail to catch his no-look passes just loved his amazing pass to the corner that set up Novak's four-point play that got Michigan going at the outset. Not saying he's Magic, of course. but as a very tall player with a loping stride, he is not a classic guard in style. That's why he's dangerous and will undoubtedly get a look in the NBA.

The same noodles who wanted to kill Manny Harris last year are crowing that he's starting for Cleveland now. They are indeed noodles. 


January 30th, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

Let me preface this by saying this is actually the first time on this site I've commented on the Basketball team in any fashion. I'm a current student and really enjoyed the 2008-2009 season and believe that JB is our man and that this team will be a real force especially in 2 years. I haven't been this excited about 3 classes in a row of Michigan Sophs/Freshmen/HS-Seniors in a long long time.

With that said, using data only from the Sparty win isn't necessarily a good indicator of the direction of this program. Nobody is trolling the team for the Sparty win, but that was arguably our best game of the season. In my opinion, this would be similar to looking at the 2010 Football season with only data from the 30-10 win over BCS team UConn. People are upset about the 6 losses in conference, specifically the duds against lower-tier opponents. Truth be told, the top-4 most complete efforts Michigan has given this season have been:


1. Sparty win

2. OT Kansas loss

3. Close OSU loss

4. Clemson win

I think in the next two years we will see a transition from playing tough with the big boys to beating the big boys. Once the program gets to the point that the top-4 efforts of the year are all wins and not half wins and half close losses, I think you will see a lot less trolling. I went in with low expectations this year so I'm not particularly angry, but next year we need to see either an NCAA tourney appearance or really solid NIT Tournament run (semi-finals at least) to get people back on board. In 2 years I am 100% confident that we not only make the NCAA Tourney but also go to at least the round of 32 if not the Sweet 16.

Gardner FTW

January 30th, 2011 at 12:25 PM ^

at the ridiculous comments made towards the basketball team. Did you guys tune in for Kansas? Ohio State? Did you see the State game ? This team is really young and is already on the verge of turning the corner. And to say Morris is the only "Big-Ten caliber" starter or whatever is ridiculous as well. Hardaway? Smotrycz?  Morgan? Ask State if they would take Novak or Stu over Keibler. When Beilein gets these guys over the youth hump I expect them to be competing for Big Ten titles. We bring in even more talent next year in Burke and Brundidge to a team that has already arguably better young talent than our in-state measuring stick MSU. So what's the problem? People just love to complain.


January 30th, 2011 at 4:32 PM ^

Thank you....this post plus a million. Those people saying this team doesn't have the talent to compete with the big boys in the B10 don't know much about basketball. To think this team starts 3 freshmen and a sophomore and doesn't have a senior on the team but is also 5th in the nation in turnovers tells me we have something special here. In all of their inconsistent play they are not getting stupid turnovers.  This team is extremely young. Hardaway is the second highest scoring freshmen in the B10 (and he is only behind a guy who is most likely heading to the NBA after the year).  I'm tired of the "this team has no talent" meme. It just isn't correct.


January 30th, 2011 at 12:28 PM ^

I agree with the OP about Morris, and the main reason why is he's the only offensive threat off the dribble we have.  The most common critique I read is Morris tries to do too much.  I think it appears that way because he's the only guy on the team that can create a shot, either for himself or for others.  Hardaway will get there, but he's still too out of control from what I see.  Beilein's offense is predicated on good ball rotation and inside-out play opening up outside shots.  Morgan, while solid defensively, has little-to-no offensive post presence, and none of the other players save Morris have the ability to post up or penetrate off the dribble.  I think this falls more on Beilein failing to recruit rather than Morris trying to do too much.  Who else is getting Novak or Douglass open looks?  There's a reason why Morris leads the team in APG (7.0) and second place is Douglass (1.5).  That's an enormous drop-off and it illustrates the kind of pressure Morris is under each possession to get a quality scoring opportunity.


January 30th, 2011 at 12:46 PM ^

Coach B had to use scholarships on bigs, such as a 7 ft. player whose injuries ended that particular investment.  He had to revive a program from the depths of which the football program hadn't seen before the 3-9 campaign.  He has more create-your-own-shot-type players coming in next year.  Horford and Smotryckz can still develop moves.  I don't think the jury is out yet on Coach B's recruiting.  If I'm the judge in a bench trial, I give Coach B a pass on recruiting considering his situation and circumstances (one of which is no practice facility that all other league contenders have). 

Nevertheless I gave you + pts for a great articulation of DMo's situation and play.  Thanks.


January 30th, 2011 at 2:01 PM ^

I'm not totally down on Beilein and your point about guys like Cronin is well taken.  I'm actually fairly optimistic  about next year, especially seeing how the freshmen improve and forming a better opinion on Beilein's recruiting.  Right now the offense can be hard to watch, but it succeeded in the Big East which, unlike football, has tougher competition.

Mi Sooner

January 30th, 2011 at 12:59 PM ^

isn't the most appropriate.  The football team while in a bit of a valley as compared to the past; the BBal team was pretty much a lost cause when JB took over.  A better comparison is to compare JB's team performance to the first few years of Red's Hockey teams.  The hockey program was almost scrapped when Red was convinced to take over as coach; it was so bad.  The BBall program was closer to this level of frustration not the football program.When Red solidified recruiting, the team got better -- eventually.  I see similar parallels to the BBall program; the base has been layed, and the recruiting is coming around.


On the other hand, if the BBall team looks like crap next year, then I will see you at the A^2 Torch and Pitchfork store; get in line behind me.


January 30th, 2011 at 1:49 PM ^

Amaker had one losing season in his last five on the job (after struggling in year one) and finished .500 or better in the Big Ten in each of the four winning seasons.  He finished with back-to-back 20 win seasons where Michigan went 8-8 in the Big Ten and got fired as a result.  At the rate things are going he'll be taking Harvard to the NCAA tournament this year.  At the rate things are going now at Michigan, this would be the third losing season in four for Beilein, despite inheriting Harris (who has had multiple double digit scoring games as an NBA rookie), Sims, and Udoh (who bolted for Baylor and became a lottery pick on a winning team). 

Beilein is a great coach and he has this program on the rise, but the only reason he is so safe in his job is because basketball (luckily for us, in this case) at Michigan has less than a tenth of the following that football does.


January 30th, 2011 at 8:46 PM ^

Amaker went 10-6 in the Big Ten (tied for third) in his second year on the job and missed the tournament because the team was banned due to NCAA sanctions (another thing he had to deal with in addition to the same crappy facilities that get used as an excuse for Beilein, back when there was still no plan for their renovation).  That was after inheriting the clusterfuck of a program left behind by Ellerbe and having to rebuild from scratch with guys like Abram, Horton, Brown, etc. (rather than inheriting Harris, Udoh, and Sims).  He got fired because .500 in the conference wasn't good enough, but his successor has yet to exceed that mark and looks unlikely to match it again this year. 

Unless you're projecting future success (success that I happen to think is extremely likely for Beilein's team going forward) or judging coaches based on the one-time capriciousness of the NCAA's selection and enforcement committees, there is quite a strong argument to be made that Beilein has been no better than his predecessor nearly 4 years into his tenure.  No one is making that argument because very few people care strongly about Michigan basketball.  This is a good thing when it comes to conducting a sane evaluation of the program.


January 30th, 2011 at 8:54 PM ^

Don't get me wrong, I love Coach Beilein as our coach and want him here for a very long time.  My point is that he gets a near universal pass for things that certain other coaches on our campus got raked over the coals for.  My guess is most people in the Big House every Saturday have no idea who Ekpe Udoh is (except maybe a few folks who are overzealous about their March Madness bracket construction).  Bring up Mallett's name, on the other hand, and their heads will explode.

At the end of the day this is a good thing for the basketball program, IMHO.


January 30th, 2011 at 3:05 PM ^

Everyone gives them a hard time because of the lack of consistency. If they both were just a little bit more consistent then no one would be complaining and giving them a hard time.

Braylon 5 Hour…

January 30th, 2011 at 3:10 PM ^

I agree that there are definitely some things to criticize about Morris and his in game decision making.  However, like a lot of other people have said, he literally can't sit down for a second in any of our games.  Most of the decent quality shots we get are his doing.  He's our only legitimate end of the shot clock option to create a shot on his own.  Does he dribble the air out of the ball a little too much?  Definitely; but this is his first year as the full time starter.  With improvements in jump shooting and gaining some more experience, along with the guys around him getting better, I think there's definitely more to be happy about with Morris than not. 

I can't wait to bring these freshmen in next year to take a little bit of the pressure off of Morris.


January 30th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

Beilein is a great coach in my opinion.  Granted he has not done what coaches like Tom Izzo, etc. have done, but don't forget 3 things:

1.  This is ONLY his fourth season, strong programs take time to build

2.  There are essentially NO seniors on this team

3.  The recruiting penalties are finally disappearing

Granted, all 3 of these are just excuses, but I think they should be taken into account when judging Beilein's record.  I mean, I think we're trying to compare our basketball program to MSU.  While I hate MSU and want us to destroy them, you have to admit Izzo is a solid coach with a strong program.  There are probably only a handful of programs even comparable with MSU's basketball program in my opinion, so I'm not sure it's a fair comparison at this point.