MAAR's comments re: motivation, "nice kids"

Submitted by mgeoffriau on February 5th, 2017 at 1:22 PM

I haven't seen MAAR's postgame comments mentioned directly in any of the bball posts or threads. If I missed a discussion on this, moms feel free to delete. It's rare to get brutally honest admissions like this from players, so I thought it was worth discussion.

“I could just see that Derrick wanted it a little more than the rest of us,” said Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who was second on the team with seven rebounds. “I think we all have to get that and want it just as much as he does.” When it’s suggested that it’s time to stop simply talking about that, Abdur-Rahkman said, “I think so too. It’s just frustrating when you go out there and let a game slip like that.”
This space has talked about Michigan seemingly needing external motivation to play its best. Abdur-Rahkman was asked about that after the game.
“I think we’re all nice kids and we need something, that extra push to set us off and have that extra motivation going into games. … That’s what we’ve been trying to work on, trying to get that motivation from something else other than bulletin board material. … Get that from our inner selves.”
As much as I hate it, I think this goes back to Beilein. The best coaches are good at both finding kids who have the self-motivation, the drive to compete, as well as finding how to unlock the motivation for the kids who don't have that same drive. As time goes on, it looks more and more like Beilein lucked into players like Burke and Stauskas, who had incredible drive to compete, to improve their game, to go toe-to-toe with the best in the country.
At the time, I gave Beilein plenty of credit for recruiting those guys and for developing their game into lottery picks. But with a greater sample size, it's hard to defend that point of view (and gets harder every year).
Culture starts with the head coach and flows down from there. What example could be more clear than the transition from Hoke to Harbaugh? In his prime, Beilein was a fantastic head coach, but I think we caught him just as he was losing his coaching fastball, and keeping him on for another 2 or 3 years risks sinking the UM program for years to come.
The other facet of this is the brutal honesty of MAAR's comments. How often do you see a player publicly admitting that he and his teammates weren't that motivated? That they are, in fact, white collar and need bulletin board material just to play with full motivation? These aren't (all) freshman -- these are upperclassmen who are telling reporters that winning a game against a hated arch-rival in front of a home crowd isn't enough motivation to play with 100% intensity.



February 5th, 2017 at 1:26 PM ^

that I'd bet it's not a problem for MAAR, but he just took EVERYONE's heat for them. first piece of substantial non-Walton leadership I've seen in a while.


February 5th, 2017 at 2:53 PM ^

and MAAR just repeated it, that this group of players does not have the inner-motivation to play hard all the time.  We don't have a Zack or Stu or Jmo or Trey.  In football these are the guys with contant "motors".  And the OP has it correct that you have to recruitt that fire or you, as a coach, have to bring it out and Beilien can't do it.  Donlon seemed to fill that void a few games ago but it seems to have waned.

Not sure why they wore the blues for one game, played great, and put them back on the shelf, but it is symbolic of the effort this team gives: only in short bursts that are too infrequent.


February 5th, 2017 at 3:45 PM ^

It's not all effort.  They are simply not talented (and big) enough to keep from getting backed down in the post without fouling.  Any help they get then leaves the perimeter open.

This has been a problem for years, and it's a system and recruiting problem.  

It's not an appealing system for those big guys you need.  So you try to soldier on without them.  And when you are hitting 40% from the three line, you are OK.

But when you are not . . . 


Wolverine Devotee

February 5th, 2017 at 1:31 PM ^

This is now a culture problem. What a mess. I apologize for belittling those on here the last two years saying they don't know what they're talking about with Beilein. This is soft.


February 6th, 2017 at 9:28 AM ^

The kid gave his heart and soul to this pile of garbage team.  Without him they no only have no heart, they are missing a great ball handler who can give Walton a rest and not have productions drop off the planet.  Possibly the worst single move Beilein has made.  Spike's scholarship sat open until he have it to Dakich to watch in street clothes.



February 5th, 2017 at 4:12 PM ^

I mean Foote is right, just not about football. 

Why the fuck does Michigan not utilize Detroit like ever? 

Detroit is the city of grinding out tough ugly wins with bad dudes. How the fuck do we as Michigan NOT recruit that when the apex of this program is defined by kids from Detroit? 


Mind boggling. 


This is almost as bad as Illinois not recruiting Chicago. It's just pure stupidity at this point. 


February 5th, 2017 at 9:02 PM ^

It's not so much the fact the city lost so many people as it is HS basketball has flat out changed. The best players don't stay home anymore, especially in Michigan where the rules restrict them from playing national games, they go to the specialized academy's and prep schools.

Thats still not an excuese for JB, he's missed out on the top talent that originated in Michigan year in and year out. He's not just losing to MSU either, Louisvile, and Kentucky (We might have lead for Devin Booker at one point) have all plucked guys that Michigan at least had contact with and some offers. He needs to close on top kids if the program is going to be a consistent winner.


February 5th, 2017 at 1:34 PM ^

I think he should be let go this year but I can't come up with one name for his replacement.

So a question for the mgocommunity who would you all like to see as his replacement?

Gulo Gulo Luscus

February 5th, 2017 at 3:16 PM ^

I'm with you. We pulled together some roster height but need width. There is a brand of 6'8 brickhouse with the footwork and positioning skills to keep opposing bigs off easy buckets in the paint. We have needed that on defense badly at times, even if it doesn't fit the Beilein system. Jordan Morgan (senior year anyway) is the only one I can think of over the Beilein tenure that fits the bill.

Blue from Ohio

February 5th, 2017 at 4:24 PM ^

As much as I think Beilein has been good for the program, I think too it's time for a change.  Would love to see them pull someone like Archie Miller.  For those on the board not familiar with him, he's the head coach of the Dayton Flyers.  Dayton has a very storied basketball history and he's continued that and them some if you remember them from the recent tournaments.  His brother Sean is the head coach at Arizona.  Coaching at Dayton, he's probably developed good relationships in Ohio and Michigan, which tend to have good basketball recruits.  I can imagine a solid Big Ten program would be attractive for him.


February 5th, 2017 at 5:19 PM ^

I was baffled yesterday when Beilein did the offense/defense switching with Wagner and Donnal. If you are bringing in a replacement for defense, go with Teske. He at least can bother some shots and play big. And maybe he hasn't given up, yet.


February 5th, 2017 at 1:37 PM ^

for some amazing accomplishments which were more than "just luck." That's ridiculous. He's an incredible coach. That being said, I think you're right. He's probably lost his fastball. And he has some coaching flaws which are becoming more of a problem. Most of all, he's a very subpar recruiter. I don't think we've had a top 25 class since the Elite Eight run. That's also ridiculous. He's on the hot seat if we don't make the tourney.


February 5th, 2017 at 1:43 PM ^

MAAR just reiterated what we've all been saying all season.

Not a huge fan of the way he went about this though. College players have no media obligation. Keep that shit in the locker room, or hold a players only meeting or something.  Maybe publically calling out the team will spark something though. We'll see; not very optimistic.


February 5th, 2017 at 1:54 PM ^

You have to evaluate the good with the bad unless the bad is so overwhelmingly monstrous that it sucks the oxygen out of the room - e.g., Art Briles and Joe Paterno.  

With Beilein there's been both good and bad, and needless to say his bad isn't even in the same ballpark as those two wastes of oxygen.  So if the time is right for him to step aside let's remember that while his shortcomings have come to the fore this season, he left Michigan basketball in better shape than he found it and for that he deserves to be remembered in an overall positive light.  I know I will.

Just remember, while I'm as frustrated at Donnal and other members of this squad for being Freddy P. Soft, they've done nothing to disgrace us off the court.  I sure as hell wish they'd played better this and last seasons but at the end of the day I'll still root for them to do well after their hoops careers are over and done because they wore the block M with honor.


Stringer Bell

February 5th, 2017 at 2:54 PM ^

Is he leaving the program in a better place?  He took over an Amaker team that was on the verge of making the tournament.  This year's team is probably farther away from making the tournament than that team was.  If he leaves this year as I'm so desperately hoping he does, he's leaving the next guy with a team that's missed the tournament 2 of the past 3 years (with the one year they did make the tournament being a last 4 in bid) and that's pretty much devoid of any talent.  He's leaving the next guy with a hell of a rebuilding job.


February 5th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

Interesting comment by MAAR. Ideally, you'd think D1 players, receiving a scholarship, would have that inner drive, that something extra, BEFORE they arrived in campus, BEFORE they received a scholarship. That being said, it seemed like Assistant Bacari Alexander played a huge role in communicating with and finding innovative clever ways of motivating the players for years. Perhaps his departure, is missed or his role is missing, or that the team somehow became dependent on him to inspire them? Thoughts?


February 5th, 2017 at 3:33 PM ^

With all due respect to Bacari, we had the same issues the prior few years here.  A bunch of guys content to stand around, jack 3s, get outrebounded, matador defense.  Who has been a plus defender in his time here since Morgan left?  What guys 2 years ago and last year were you wowed with in terms of effort outside of Caris.

If Bacari has U of D winning Horizon league year after year in 3 years I'll come back and say I was wrong but that sort of cheesyt pre game stuff works great for the first 5 minutes of a game and then your adrenaline pops back to normal and then it's about what is within you - your inner drive to compete for every ball, etc.   See Cassius Winston dive for a ball like his life depended on it vs Wagner reaching down and casually trying to grab it.


February 5th, 2017 at 2:03 PM ^

Also, I've said it before and I'll say it again - 'Players-only meetings' are the sports equivalent of 'I think we should see other people for a while' in that you're not officially broken up but you actually are.


February 5th, 2017 at 2:10 PM ^

That's not necessarily true.  Sometimes teams need these kinds of things to get everyone on the same page.  The Fab Five turned their season around the freshman year after having a players-only meeting.  More recently, USC football apparently had one this past season (when they appeared to be a huge tire fire) and they got it together.