Posing question for hoops.....

Submitted by jamiemac on December 10th, 2010 at 8:40 PM

I dont want to steal the thunder away from the Open Thread. But, the game is over, so here goes.

I think this is JB's best team so far at Michigan. At least so far, it sure does have that look. Quibble with me there if you want. But thats not the question I pose. Let me set it up a little more first, so bear with me.

The only team in contention is the 2008-09 that got into the tourney with a 9-9 mark in the B10. I think 9-9 in the Big 10 gets a tourney big this year as well. That team beat Purdue, Illinois and Minnesota at home, lost a tight one to OSU at home, beat Minny on the road and went a combined 5-2 vs IU, NW, Iowa and Penn State

My question. Is so that outlandish, out of the realm of possibility? Or is that doable?

Each time I watch this team play, I am beginning to think more and more that this team can indeed play .500 in the league and make the Big Dance. But, I had NIT expectations when the season began, so I come into this a bit more optimistic than most.

Feel free to disagree, but lets talk hoops. I'm wrong around 46 percent of the time anyway.

What a great weekend, by the way. A big winter sports weekend. What a fun time for the campus. What the Hell. Let's do it. It's the holidays. We should rock some more anyway. Go Blue! FYS! Let The Good Times Roll



December 10th, 2010 at 8:47 PM ^

I'll wait til we see how they look against Big Ten teams.  The farthest I'll go now is that they really, really look ready for Big Ten competition and shouldn't figure to be a bottom-feeder at all.  So far though the best game of the year was the win at Clemson, and a win in an ACC gym shouldn't be discounted, but Clemson does look like an underachieving bunch this year.

If they can beat Purdue on the 28th, probably all my resistance to Dance talk will be dissolved.


December 10th, 2010 at 8:48 PM ^

9-9 is definitely doable, but I believe we'll have to be better than that for a tourney bid. In 2008, we had signature wins over Duke and UCLA, and those were basically the reason we were invited.

Post defense will determine how well they do in B10 play.


December 10th, 2010 at 8:58 PM ^

I think 9-9 will do it this year (assuming wins over the remaining lightweights and a loss to KU).  The league is a lot stronger this year than it was two years ago when the Big Ten only got three teams into the tournament that were higher than a #8 seed.  That Michigan team needed those wins to squeak off the bubble but I think 9-9 in this year's Big Ten would put them safely into the tourney.


December 10th, 2010 at 8:49 PM ^

I think the lack of interior size will be a factor in the B10.  They could definitely go .500 in conference play though, but I think it is still early to tell how they will stack up or if this could be considered JB's best team.  Clemson and Utah nice wins, and the close game against Syracuse was a nice effort, but I want to see them against the MSU's and Illinois' and Purdue's of the world, which I don't think Clemson and Utah could hold a candle to.  


December 10th, 2010 at 10:10 PM ^

...this team has more interior depth than any of JB's other teams so far...which one had more?

Yes, they are young WRT playing time, but Morgan and McLimans are way more physically mature than true freshmen, and all of the bigs seem to be taking well to BA's coaching.


December 10th, 2010 at 8:48 PM ^

Not JB's most talented team (yet).

Not JB's best team (yet).

It could be both of those next year or the year after.

But this is JB's first "Beilein style" team. They'll pull off a couple of big upsets this year and be a lot of fun to watch.


December 10th, 2010 at 9:28 PM ^

Come on, am I really coronating anything by asking if this is the best hoops team since 07-08? I'm basically asking how close this is to a .500 Big 10 team. You are so not in the spirit of letting the good times roll

Has the weekend not started yet down there? Maybe a more southern music selection will help you boogie down more


December 10th, 2010 at 8:49 PM ^

This team is definitely one of Beleins sharper ones, and what has me excited is the fact that nearly the entire team are underclassmen! The future behind this team is enormous, and a tourney bid is definitely a significant possibility this season


December 10th, 2010 at 8:51 PM ^

This year's team actually looks like a basketball team.  They have a Center.  They have guys playing the 3 and 4 who don't seem hilariously out of position.  They have some depth, and an actual rotation (albeit a young one).

I think they have some growing pains ahead... but I'm more confident about this team than any I've seen at Michigan in more than a few years.


December 10th, 2010 at 9:54 PM ^

They have guys playing the 3 and 4 who don't seem hilariously out of position.

I agree with you on the 3, but Novak is still spending quite a bit of time at the 4--mainly because the Smotrycz/Christian combo has gotten off to a rocky start at that position. They played only 13 minutes combined tonight.

Definitely agree that there will be growing pains. But I can foresee a night or two during Big Ten play when the whole team is clicking (including Smotrycz) and they pull off a big upset.


December 10th, 2010 at 8:52 PM ^

This team is young, and sometimes that's better.  Lower expectations reduce the pressure, and you can play naturally.  This can also lead to errors.  We're really 2 teams: the team that showed up against Syracuse, and the one against UTEP.

If we play like we did against 'Cuse (almost beating a top 10 on hostile ground), then around or slightly above .500 in the Big 10 is a fair expectation.  Another example of them competing at a high level is Clemson.

If they play like they did against UTEP, a bit tired etc, then you can't expect .500 or a Tourney bid.

Fact is, D-Mo took a HUGE step between last year and this year.  If he can stay comfortable against good competition then I'm confident we can control the pace of the game and get our shots.  

A number of things would need to align for us to hit .500 in the B10, including: The 3's keep falling, our team doesn't realize how young they are and how good the conference is, and a bit of good ol' fashioned luck.  Is it less than a 50% chance this happens? Probably.  But as long as the probability is a positive integer, you've gotta believe.


December 10th, 2010 at 8:52 PM ^

I'm not sure, but I do think this is the most well-rounded team JB has had.  There is a lot more size and more scoring options.  But it is very young, and I'm afraid some of these guys are going to hit the freshman wall.  Also, the Big Ten is brutal this year.  But it's awesome that we can even consider the possibility.


December 10th, 2010 at 8:52 PM ^

I was surprised when I read how down people were on the hoops team this year. Freshman can, and often do, contribute right away in basketball. If this team keeps doing the things that have made them successful thus far (playing good defense, within their abilities, and with strong fundamentals), I see no reason why they couldn't challenge for a bid to the Big Dance. Sure there will be growing pains along the way, but it looks like this Michigan team is going to be a tough win for any opponent they play.


December 10th, 2010 at 8:53 PM ^

No this is not the best team that JB has in his tenure at Michigan.  '08-'09 team was the better team because they have the ability to beat top teams while this year team are not quite there yet.

Big Ten is pretty deep so I have a hard time seeing Michigan winning no more than 6-7 games in conference play.


December 10th, 2010 at 9:33 PM ^

I like your optimism but I say no we are not experienced enough right now to hang in the Big Ten and we will start to fall apart later in the year.  The future is very bright as we bring in our best recruiting class next year to a team that loses no one.  Beilien is on the upswing and we should be in good hands for years to come.

On the other hand why don't you pose this same thread after Wisconsin punches us in the face by 20 and see how many positive responses you get?

Everyone will forget about the youth and the promise of next year and then you'll hear the Valentis of the world raise back up.....

A)  No excuses it's his 4th year

B) His system won't work in the Big Ten

C)  We need more talent

D) Beilien can't recruit

E) Unacceptable!!!


December 10th, 2010 at 9:42 PM ^

lol. dont forget the 'we took Wisco to the wire last year in Madison, now we're losing by double digits' whine

The Open Thread during the second half alone will force to stay away from the forum for 24 hours at least, so dont expect that thread to get started by me.


December 10th, 2010 at 9:44 PM ^

Enough with the "Beilein isn't treated like RR and it's unfair" crap (and don't try to tell me you weren't implying that).  When the basketball program has the same resources as the football program, and is coming off a similar sustained period of success, those kinds of complaints will be justified.  Not now.


December 10th, 2010 at 9:59 PM ^

Hey Now

I didnt see it that way. He brought up things people would typically say in an angst filled open thread here or at any other blogs. He listed specific things people would say about the BEEZER. It was also a basic critique/observation of how fans ditch their optimism and perspective after a bad result.

You were the one who brought the football situation into a basketball thread. You dont need to voice your opinion on that at every chance.


December 10th, 2010 at 10:09 PM ^

This has nothing to do with RR.  Last year when everyone was jumping out a window at how they were playing and then we looked at a future without Manny and Deshawn people thought this team was going to win 5-10 games this year and Beielien should be fired.  I didn't really disagree with the record prognosis, but I also didn't want Beilein fired because...

A) I saw what he was getting done in recruiting

B) He's a proven coach who is respected by his peers

C) He was dealt a shitty break with the roster, Cronin, The German kid, bad facilities etc.

This has nothing to do with RR,  all those points I had listed were beat to death last year on WTKA and 97.1.  This was part of the reason I gave up on talk radio, because I couldn't handle the idiocy of callers and hosts that refused to look at the future of the team or Beilien's history.

All the hosts were yucking it up acting like Beilien was some sort of idiot they found off the street when 2 years ago he was voted by other college coaches as the best strategist in the game.   



December 10th, 2010 at 9:47 PM ^

Its year 4 we better make the NCAA tourney! Why is our team so young in year 4? If Manny wouldnt have left we would have had one of the best players in the big ten, stupid JB ran him off thats why. All we have is skinny white guys that can't make a 3 if their lives depended on it. 1-3-1 What a joke, it doesnt stop anybody. FIRE JB!

Actually, I'd be really happy with an NIT bid. This team is really young, and they WILL have ups and downs. The B10 is wicked tough this year, asking for anything more than an NIT bid is asking for trouble(see above)

With that said, they have some strong peices that are only going to get better. JB has this team going in the right direction, and they will get there. This year they will be fun to watch, since you really have no idea what will happen. Last year it was two guys who score and you prayed some one else would have a good game. This year you really dont know whos going to break out.


December 10th, 2010 at 9:51 PM ^

Just to be clear, in my OP, I am not stating an expectation. Or a predcition.

For that, I stand by what I have said all along in many different hoops threads since the Summer Tour (Dead term): This team will play in the NIT. They'll actually live on or near the bubble most of the winter, but eventually their youth will just wear out, they wont be able to make enough plays in enough big games and they'll fall off the pace. They will go 7-11 in the league, win the 8/9 game in the Big 10 tournament, get in the NIT 2-3 games above .500 and get to 20 wins if they can make a run to MSG.

But, the more I watch this team play, the more I think they have a chance to exceed that.

Go Blue. FYS


December 10th, 2010 at 10:27 PM ^

I started out seeing this team as getting fourteen wins at best.  Now, they look like they could make it to "the dance" if a few things go right and they keep improving.  These kids seem to be maturing as players faster than expected.  I really love their balance, too. 

This team and program are starting to remind me a lot of Butler.  In a year or two, even without any marquee players, they may start getting similar results, even though they play in a lot tougher conference.  They will have a few more losses, but they will soon be a team that nobody wants to play in the NCAA tournament.


December 10th, 2010 at 10:43 PM ^

The big difference with this team is the development (highly unexpected) of Jordan Morgan.  His play has been like finding a $100 in the pocket of a pair of old jeans.  If he continues to develop a mid-range jumper, he will be a difference maker in the future.  Also important is the fact that Beilein has not stuck rigidly by "his system".  We're playing great D without confusing young players with the 1-3-1.  Beilein's ability to adapt is the hallmark of a good coach.

Tourney?  Maybe not...but this team is a great surprise in a less-than-fantastic sporting year.  Good things are on the horizon.


December 10th, 2010 at 11:50 PM ^

I always had high hopes for Morgan. He held his own against the Nix kid in a high school matchup. But my high hopes were limited really to lunchpail type of play, a basic, but effective guy in the post. This is crazy good. His instincts are amazing. He's always in the right spot it seems. I'm pumped too by what we're seeing here

You have to keep in mind the importance behind the fact that JB finally has a roster of his team, players who came here to play for him. And its not just 1 or 2 guys, its the whole rotation. Thats key to how this operates. It gives him so many different options, combos and strategies to use. That makes an X's and O's coach like JB lethal.

My favorite lineup tonight was the D-Mo, Stu, VoGRIT, McLimas and Novak combo. They played for about 3-4 minutes together midway throught the first half. They shut out Utah while out there using, IIRC, some form of 1-2-2.

I think that lineup deserves a nickname, but I'm not creative enough to come up with one.


December 11th, 2010 at 12:15 AM ^

A lil tidbit for you.  I know from folks on the staff that hopes for Morgan were not high after the injuries.   That makes his current play even more enjoyable.  I'm really happy for the guy.  It's interesting that you like the McLimas lineup.  I think I'm the opposite.  McL looks a bit lost out there (and the Big Ten bodies are going to crush him).  I prefer DMo, Tim Jr, Morgan, and anyone else.  Do look out for Smotrycz as he gets older.  He's going to be a serious player.


December 11th, 2010 at 8:38 AM ^

Yeah, go figure you feel the opposite. Ha!  I wouldnt say I like that lineup from a pure analysis, critical standpoint. I LOLed when it appeared, wondered who would score and all that. But, its just such an implausible lineup and like everything else last night it kinda worked, so thats my favorite lineup of the night. We'll see if it gets put back out there. But, its a good example that  JB can find a way to get a run of winning basketball out of a lot of different groups  I am still laughing at the lineup this morning

Good insight on Morgan. Its tough for a freshmen to adjust to not playing, but add in rehab with an injury. Thats a tough spot for the kid. Glad everyone stuck together

I hear you on Smotrycz. It will be interesting to see if he can find his game as the season goes on. I think he's got a chance and this year's team hasnt hit their peak. But, I agree, even if it doesnt happen this year, he's got All Big 10 written all over him as an upperclassmen.

Desmonlon Edwoodson

December 11th, 2010 at 9:29 AM ^

Making it the 2MO-Grit line(2MOGRIT2QUIT), or D.J. MO-GRIT if you prefer, the name reflecting Stu and especially Zack's play more than their names. Your lineup is clearly the StuMoGrit line. Don't sleep on the D-Mo Hard Lovin line either. Yeah...maybe nicknames are a bad idea...

Desmonlon Edwoodson

December 10th, 2010 at 10:54 PM ^

Not the least of which is outright hubris.  Is Darius better than Manny?  I mean obviously Darius is better at getting his teammates layups, and Manny was a better outside shooter, but at the same time...Did you see anyone take a stupid shot in this game?  Zack had an ugly look, as did Horford, but none of them had the look of the Manny Harris brain fart that we all instantly forgave knowing the next play would be NBA caliber.  Did Michigan even have a turnover?  I ripped Beilein's recruiting as hard as anyone, and they haven't beaten any monster teams, but with that said...these guys can hoop.  They're protecting their house.  And I think they've got a puncher's chance against anyone.

Zone Read Left

December 11th, 2010 at 1:54 AM ^

Jamie, any plans for a Michigan "bubble news" post at the JCB anytime soon? I really enjoyed following those the last couple of years. One thing I remember from reading your posts and watching Michigan play the last 2 years is that you never bet against a Beilein team come March. This team is going to be playing its best ball come March.

One other thing: One of Kansas/OSU/MSU is going to witness a court rushing when they come to Crisler. BOOK IT


December 11th, 2010 at 7:34 AM ^

I'm with Jamiemac in expecting an NIT bid, and falling just short of the dance. But hey, anything can happen.

I'm especially glad to see them playing as a TEAM. They work together, rather than just as a collection of 5 guys on the floor. Truly playing together, with each other, allows a less talented crew to overcome talented individuals who aren't molded into a team. 

Also find the bloodlines of the team interesting: the fact that Hardaway, Horford, Dumars, Robinson, and Bartelstein are on the team is telling. These guys all had excellent advice. Having parents or sibs either playing in the NBA or working with the NBA shows what they thing of JB and Michigan. The fact they chose Michigan bodes well for the future.

One comment, coming after years of watching teams play. In general, it is good not to get too high when we win, and too low when we lose. I have seen too many years where the sky is the limit and the team is in the top 10 or 20 after  non-conference games. (nb: this was also true for football just a scant two months ago, starting 5 - 0.) I would rather temper expectations, than to have unrealistic expectations of success crushed. As said above, our game vs. Purdue (let alone MSU, OSU, Illinois, & Wisconsin) will tell us a lot.

Regardless, JB has this team headed in the right direction, and the next few years will be fun.


December 11th, 2010 at 12:07 PM ^

I really think we have a team that's alot like Beilein's last team at West Virginia.  They were predicted to be last in the Big East I think and they did better than expected and won the NIT.  And alot of the players on that team formed the core of the last few NCAA runs that West Virginia had.  Would be a nice little parallel for U of M.


December 11th, 2010 at 7:58 AM ^

however, I think the conference is deeper than it was in 08-09' season.  That being said, I don't think that its out of the question to get an NCAA bid, but we're going to have to be a better team than the 08-09' team if we do.  GO BLUE!!


December 11th, 2010 at 12:10 PM ^

Given to Morris and his drastic improvement at the PG position.  IMO, he is the sole factor for whether or not we go to the NIT vs. The Dance.  His ability to find open guys and drive the lane is something that M hasn't had for a long time (since D. Horton??).  Manny was not a PG and was playing out of position.  He took many bad looks and sometimes got lazy taking bad shots from 20 feet away.  Darius is not that kind of player.  I didn't even see it coming, but the coaches did a great job in the offseason making him into a real PG.

I also love his size and ability to exploit that against smaller guards.  This can possibly have a HUGE effect on teams with smaller, very good guards (ex: MSU).  

Last night they compared his sophomore stats vs. Evan Turner's sophomore stats and they were almost identical (Turner getting ~3 more ppg, Morris with ~3 more apg).  That is a huge plus going forward.