How good is this hoops team?

Submitted by UMfan21 on February 22nd, 2012 at 12:04 PM

During last night's telecast they put up a graphic that said this is UofM's best record since the 93-94 season.  I didn't see an asterisk so I assume that includes the forfeited years.

This team is good, but when I watch them play it's SO frustrating at times.  They just don't FEEL better than some of those mid/late 90s teams (the ones with Travis Conlan, Maurice Taylor, Tractor Taylor, etc).  I think maybe we eek our more defensive games this year, compared to those old teams that would run up some good offensive numbers (the Youtube video where we beat IU by about 40 points is one of my favorites).

Where would you rank this year's team based on what we've seen so far?  Are they really the best thing since the end of the Fab Five era?




February 22nd, 2012 at 1:09 PM ^

Will color how one looks back on a team.

A team that finishes second in the Big Ten but is a first round upset isn't thought of as highly as a team that stumbles some along the way and makes a surprise run to the Final Four.  May not be fair, but that's how college basketball is set up. It's the price of the excitment and hype of the Tournament.  What you do there matters far more than December, January, and February.

Blue boy johnson

February 22nd, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

Anyone who thinks this isn't a good team, or isn't appreciative of what this team is doing this season, gives far too much credence to the Negative Nancy's of the world. If you browse through any open thread of the hoops team this year, and didn't know the outcomes, you would be absolutely convinced this team is 4-11 in conference play. You could read through a thread and be informed at one point or another, from the Bball experts who frequent this blog that every players sucks, and I ain't a just a blowin' smoke, these fuckers are determined to be miserable hoop followin' wretches and nuthin' ain't gonna change thar mind.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:11 PM ^

This team has a chance to win a Big Ten title for the first time since 1986 in a year where the Big Ten is by far the best conference in the country. I'd say this year's team is REALLY good. Admittedly (as Brian has posted on the front page) it's a team that wins despite looking at matchups all over the floor that look terrible for us (in the OSU game, for instance, we had bad matchups all over the floor). Truly a case of intangibles prevailing.

Scary to think that next year's team can be even better if they don't implode after losing the leadership of Novak/Stu.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:12 PM ^

Both offense and defense in the top 30-40 according to Kenpom, top 25 in almost all the rankings, whether advanced or not, top 4 in the conference in terms of efficiency margin (they were 4th last time I saw numbers, but may have passed Wisconsin: MSU and OSU are crushing everyone else).  

I'm not sure they're one of the ten best teams in the country or anything, but the only thing even remotely fluky about the team is that they've run a bit hotter than you'd expect in close games.  

They're good.  Full stop.  


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:12 PM ^

This is the best post Fab Five team and in my opinion, it's not even close. When's the last time we were in conference championship contention this late in the season? And this is a strong year for the Big Ten also, so it's not as if UM is not earning it.  This team doesn't pass the "eye test" that we simply play a different style than people are used to. However, this team is really good defesnively, well coached and has a couple players in Burke and Hardaway that are not afraid of the big moment. You have those factors and you'll win a lot of close games. 


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:14 PM ^

Yes, they absolutely are.  As far as comparing them to the Taylor/Traylor teams, I think we've seen Michigan become somewhat of the inverse of what they were.  This team is obviously less athletic but, I think, more skilled and better at executing what they've been coached.  This team is more like a Bob Knight Indiana team than a Steve Fisher Michigan team. 


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:16 PM ^

Yes, I would agree with you that we struggle at times when we play and it is frustrating. However, we do a good job of getting our shit together and get a W when it counts. We are not as dominant as other old squads, but man we are good and it is up to Michigan to see how deep the rabbit hole really is. We are definitely going on the right direction. I do think we will become one of those unstoppable squads that dominate convincingly on a day to day basis like Kentucky, North Carolina, and Duke. We shall see.....


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:16 PM ^

They don't feel as good as those teams for the following reasons.

1: Early season. This team was still feeling itself out with Trey Burke starting at PG early in the season, so the OOC wins weren't generally very dominating.

2: The Big Ten. Some of those years in which Michigan seemed so dominant, much of the Big Ten was not all that good. If we played the OOC schedule now, I feel confident in saying we would demolish most of our OOC competition.

3. Athleticism. Those teams were built on it. While we certianly have some underrated athleticism, we're still more "short white guy" than "Juwan Howard". The wins now are much more skill based than talent based, so it's not always as flashy.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:21 PM ^

I think college basketball as a whole is down this year and that affects where we stand. One of the reasons we didn't win in the late nineties is the competition. Remember when MSU had Jason Richardson and ZBo? There is no way, IMO, this is a historically good Michigan team. However, bringing this team back to national relevance is a historic accomplishment and I give all the credit in the world to Novak, Douglass, and Beilein. We should continue to improve and I look forward to the future of Michigan basketball.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

The Traylor/Taylor group didn't face great competition.  Actually, the Big Ten was down during that period.  They played when Purdue pulled off a three-peat despite having only one NBA player (Glen Robinson).  This was in the post-Garnett years, when high school players were starting to go pro and freshmen were beginning to leave as well. 

The Fab Five, OTOH, played at the very end of the glory years of CBB, when it was still routine for stars to stay 3-4 years.  For them to reach the title game as freshmen was stunning.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

Rereading the OP I agree that this Michigan team is better than almost every other Michigan team since the 93-94 season. I still think the 96 and 97 teams were probably better. I guess in my mind that doesn't really answer the title of this thread, though, as most of those teams were mediocre to lousy.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

This team is good, but when I watch them play it's SO frustrating at times. They just don't FEEL better than some of those mid/late 90s teams (the ones with Travis Conlan, Maurice Taylor, Tractor Taylor, etc).

For me it's the reverse. I don't get frustrated watching this team at all. I feel like it is playing to its potential. Those Taylor/Traylor teams, which had great talent on paper yet never did anything in March or in the Big Ten race, were a lot more frustrating for me.

To recap: in 1994 we signed the consensus #1 recruiting class in the country. The next year we again signed the #1 recruiting class - and that was despite losing Kevin Garnett to the NBA. With all that talent, we posted the following records:

1994-95: 17-14 (NCAA first round)
1995-96: 20-12 (NCAA first round)
1996-97: 24-11 (NIT champs)
1997-98: 25-9 (NCAA second round)
1998-99: 12-19

Even if the Ed Martin scandal had never happened, that group would not have been remembered very fondly, with a grand total one tourney win for those two classes.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:20 PM ^

Proof that when you recruit character it shows up more so than talent.  Novak and Douglass are my two favorite MBB players of all time.  I'll be rocking my number 0 jersey until it falls apart.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

Are they really the best thing since the end of the Fab Five era?

No, they're the greatest thing since sliced bread. Seriously, the team has many flaws, but I've never seen a Michigan team do as much with its talent as this team has. Beilein's reputation as one of the best teaching coaches is absolutely borne out by this season's results.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

let's not get our hopes up too high.  I think we are playing with house money.  IMO, this team is playing at or above it's expectations, with the exception of Hardaway.  I'd be happy with getting to the Sweet 16.  anything beyond that is unrealistic.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:31 PM ^

M basketball team in forever. No disrespect to his predecessors or present players, but coach B does more with less and we are all the better for it. How does one lose a guard to the Lakers and still the team improves year-over-year?

Michigan Arrogance

February 22nd, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

This team is almost great.


They are an amazing defensive team, considering their size and individual athleticism. They operate within the offense more than any other team i've ever seen- the exact opposite of the Amaker offense, AKA, walk around and let Blanchard/Dion Sims/Manny Harris go one-on one/take a 3.

Think about this on D- they foul rarely, they don't get into the bonus too often, the bigs don't get into foul trouble too much (2 fouls in the 1st half isn't 'trouble', IME). they double the bigs flawlessly (never get split/give up the baseline), they are very responsible defensively and understand how to operate the D.


On O: VERY few shots with more than 15 on the shot clock, they operate the offense continuously, they don't stand around and watch. 4/5 guys on the floor at any time can shoot from 3. look at what happened last night witht he 1-3-1 NW went to. They needed to adjust, sure, but the 2nd half they answered it- without needing a carmello or super athletic big in the middle to counter it.

they don't rebound well, but they make up for it by getting back on D and forcing the opponent to create in the 1/2 court. they also are the best ball handling team in the B10.

no doubt, it's the most well coached M team in decades, probably since Orr.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

I see us as top possibly ten, but not top five.  Not enough of a consistent inside game to beat the better teams if our outside shooting goes into the crapper for the evening, and inadequate rebounding.  Very solid D could give us a very good showing in March.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:43 PM ^

To answer the OP question, no, this isn't a Good Michigan team. Rather, this is an extremely GREAT Michigan TEAM. This is a TREMENDOUS Michigan TEAM.

I can't recall where it was said, early in the season, but there was an extremely accurate and prescient statement, I believe attributed to Beilein. The gist of it was that Michigan wasn't going to blow anyone out, because they lack the raw athleticism, but their style of play keeps them in virtually every game, and almost no one can knock them out and put them away. This is reflected by the points per possession for them, and for their opponents. Ohio has blown out a number of teams, unlike Michigan. However, they lack the discipline needed, and have also lost to MSU, to Illinois, and to Michigan.

It is all about the TEAM, the TEAM, the TEAM. This is reflected in several ways.

  • Conditioning. Beilein is legendary for what he expects. This pays dividends, especially at the end of the season, and in the Tournament. Michigan's conditioning allowed it to come back against Arkansas, a game I believe they would win today. Their conditioning was shown against Ohio, when Morgan beat them down the court for two dunks. It was shown against Northwestern, when Crawford couldn't make it through the game.
  • Coaching. I give Beilein a lot of credit, along with the assistant coaching staff, for running a great offense, and coming up with different schemes for different situations. Being able to change defenses, and change offensive sets, allows them to confuse and beat other teams. One part of coaching is the ability to evaluate and recruit talent that not everyone sees. Burke is a clear case of this.
  • Point guard play. Everything would collapse without Burke. His ability to drive the lane, to protect the ball, to work the pick and roll, is critiical. Burke has improved throughout the season, and is doing a much better job of distributing the ball. Burke also clearly reflects the TEAM mentality, giving credit to others, and not playing selfishly.
  • Senior leadership and moxie. The unselfish play of Novak and Douglass is huge. They have made great shots, they can hit the three, they are willing to take a charge, and they will do whatever it takes to win.
  • Three point capability. Between Hardaway, Smotrcyz, Novak, Douglass, Burke, and Vogrich, we have SIX guys who can legitimately hit the three. While I'd like to see this improve even more, all we need is for 3 - 4 of these guys to be on their game.
  • Morgan's improved defense. Morgan has gotten so much better, and doesn't get nearly the number of cheap fouls he used to.

I think that everyone is very excited about next year, because of the raw size and athletic ability of McGary and Robinson, and the shooting ability of Stauskas. While I'm looking forward to their arrival, I will miss Novak and Douglass tremendously. The current team knows their limitations, and so they are forced to play together as a team, as a unit. When a team gets the concept of playing as a TEAM, rather than a collection of individuals, they can do so much more together. I think that Illinois, for example, and also Tennessee last year, were examples of a talented collection of individuals who didn't (or don't) play well together as a TEAM.


February 22nd, 2012 at 12:48 PM ^

     When Morgan, Smotrycz and Novak are available they can play with anyone in the country.  But we're not deep.  When one or more of those guys gets in foul trouble we are cooked.  Dylan put a crazy stat together--Michigan outscored Northwestern 53-27  when Morgan and/or Smots were in the game.  It was the same story in Columbus, as Ohio made its runs with Mclimans in the middle.

     When Michigan is whole, they are scary good.  You take away Morgan and Smotrycz and they are sub-average.