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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

8:43 PM: Halftime of the Purdue-Florida State game holocaust and the studio crew starts talking Michigan. Bilas does your standard coach defense, then claims Michigan has a "good recruiting haul" this year and an "even better one" next year... no mention of the gaping hole at center. The dismissal of any Amaker criticism is no less annoying than the converse OMG FIRE AMAKER stuff, Mr. Bilas.

Then Digger... oh, Digger.

Digger on Horton: "The guy who has to take this team over is Daniel Horton. ... When he takes over a basketball game he is the key to this team's success. When he scores inside and scores on the perimeter he makes things happen. ... he's got to be the take-over guy."

Digger on Sims: "If he takes over inside, he can be a solid performer."

So much talking, so little meaning.


  • Take over inside and outside, making things happen.
  • The key to success is things happening.
  • The guy who makes things happen has to take over.
Penetrating analysis!

8:47 PM: Wake Forest officially makes my kill list for A) having a student section decked out in tie-dye (are they Hypercolor?) and B) playing that goddamned Zombie Nation song that Penn State annoyingly adopted this year. Memo to the Demon Deacons: all music that does not come from the band is verboten. This is not an NHL playoff game.

Blogger also makes my kill list for hiding the time/date stamp. Hey, instead of adding a useless feature how about making sure that ampersands enclosed in html tags don't get replaced with "amp"?

9:10 PM: Okay. Wisconsin traps Wake late in the game. Wake takes a timeout stuck in the backcourt with 27 seconds left on the shot clock. When they resume, they cross the timeline with 22 seconds. This, apparently, is not a turnover, which is 1) yet another reason that basketball timeouts are evil and 2) a nonsensical rule.

By the way, the chances that Big Ten Wonk accuses Alando Tucker of shooting his team out of the game in a particularly Bracey Wright-like fashion: 90 percent... er, make it 80 as Tucker drains a desperation three.

9:16 PM: the last impossibly long Wisconsin three bounces off the heel and the Badgers fall to Wake by three. Meanwhile, FSU leads Purdue 87-45. Eww.

9:34 PM: The Purdue game mercifully ends. The super duper Illini uniforms are strange... does Illinois even use blue?

9:38 PM: Who are these people who buy loved ones Lexuses (Lexi?) and Jaguars for Christmas? Isn't there a more effective way to reach this vanishingly small portion of the population?

Announcers are Raftery and McDonough, sweet. Sims wins the tip. We clang two ill-thought threes on the first possession. Super-bald Harris is freaking me out. Graham Brown's first show is blocked, natch. Michigan is also wearing new uniforms with ugly, disconcerting silver on them. Grahm Brown's second shot is blocked, natch. Brown's third shot is blocked. Jesus. Horton throws up a brick with the shot clock running down, and Abram gets fouled. Ugly, ugly offense. The useless perimeter passing continues unperturbed. Lester hits both FTs, then Harris gets a steal and draws the second foul on one of Miami's starting posts.

6-2 Michigan at the first timeout... Michigan needs to drive against Miami, but the defense has been very good so far. Could we try to get Sims the shots that Brown is getting? I wish someone tracked "percentage of shots blocked," because Brown would be far and away the nation's leader.

9:51 PM: Miami is begining to exploit our lack of fortation. Great pass from Harris sets up Sims for a bunny. Michigan now 2-11. How is that not a foul on Abram? Hunter comes in and immediately rifles a skip pass through Harris' hands. Our big men == turnover machines. Jevohn Shepherd's first contribution is a turnover.

Hey, Brown took a charge... but they counted the basket? Brown's fourth shot: blocked. He has had his first four shots blocked. Hunter bricks a shot and the gets walled off for an easy layup after Smith gets blown by. Another Shepherd turnover. More of the same. We must have six or seven turnovers in the first eight minutes.

Horton and Smith are both on the floor now--Amaker must be sick of the turnovers. Eight minutes in and it's 10-8 Miami with Lester going to the line.

So... a ton of turnovers, shooting something like 20%, and down two? Er... this has to get better, right?

10:02 PM: Our attempt to press yield a quick dunk but Michigan responds immediately with a Sims three-point opportunity. Three Miami posts have two fouls now. Ron coleman is attempting to guard someone who looks about 100 pounds heavier than him.

Smith did make a nice pass to Coleman, though he dind't finish. Michigan 3-16... 17. Jerrett Smith has serious issues with guys blowing right by him. And a sims turnover and a Horton turnover and we must be in double digits. Petway in a shiny shirt... and another--no, Harris called timeout. Jesus. How are we only down two? Excellent rebounding and defense. Miami has had a few good looks including a couple of dunks, but other than that has had nothing and hasn't gotten to the line yet.

We're back, and Horton drives and scores easily. First points. It's time for him to take over and make things happen... and he does! fast break assist to Sims. Teams trade bricked threes and then Horton falls asleep on Diaz. No one rotates to help. Horton follows it up with a dumb three and Miami plays mirror image... and Harris cans one. 7:16 left, Michigan up two, and Horton picks up a craptastic foul from Hightower. Thanks.

10:14 PM: Is Kyle Munzenreider in this Miami commercial? Er... I mean this Detroit Mercy commercial? No? Well, yeah, of course not. ACC leads 3-1 with Clemson's less than shocking win over PSU.

Miami is content to jack bad threes... and so are we, but Harris knocks it down. Brilliant when it works. Arm-wavy zone. Mimai is confused and ends up jacking up a bad three from way out that he makes. Miami's bigs are under the impression they can shoot. They are wrong. Jerrett Smith with a dumb charge and his second foul. Brown takes a second charge. Abram jacks up a three and then lets his man run out for an easy fast break bucket off the miss.

A couple of free throws give Hunter his 499th and 500th points of his career. Yaaay:

Hunter then plays good D and knocks down a three. Duude. More Miami three jackery; Coleman finds Hunter in good position. He gets fouled on the second attempt. Under four TO with Michigan up five and going to the line, despite shooting 7 for 27. We are playing some really excellent defense.

10:24 PM: Digger: "You look at Haight(sp?) and what Diaz can do, they combined for about 37 points per game last year so they can control this Michigan defense."

What? Are you even watching the game? Hunter is taking over outside and inside, making things happen!

Hunter cans both FTs. More Miami three jackery. They've given up on penetrating the D... but a bad break on a TO leads to a fast break bucket and an iffy foul... ball don't lie, Anonymous Miami Peon! Terrible turnover from Harris, and that's after a TO. We must be on pace for 30. Hunter rejects the Miami big dude's feeble shot attempt. They're getting zero inside. Abram hits a shot from the high post; he's tasked with D-ing Diaz and does it very, very well... Smith then carries the ball. Last shot for Miami, and they hit a tough jumper. Halftime with Michigan up 31-26.

10:33 PM: Halftime... a tale of two sides. Michigan is playing lights out defense, forcing the 'Canes into a wide array of shots that anger you should they have the temerity to go in. Offensively, an epic disaster of turnovers, a large number of them totally unforced. Abram, Horton, and Harris are a combined 4-13 and Graham Brown has had all four of his shots blocked, and yet we still lead, largely because of Michigan's 10-1 edge in free throws.

Freshmen: Jerrett Smith can make nice passes from time to time but is Jon Barry on defense and his rep for turning the ball over with frequency is well deserved. Shepherd didn't do much except turn it over twice. No TOs in the box score yet, but I think it's around 12. Is there a magic solution to the turnover issues? I don't think so. They're coming from everyone and they're coming in all sorts of situations.

By the way, these guys have gone the entire halftime without once mentioning the game they're supposedly broadcasting. I need to know who's going to take over and make plays. Wait!

Rece Davis, during replay of Sims dunk: "try to create this character on the Sims." Ouch.

10:46 PM: Illinois up 14... er, 11 with 6:16 left and the second half of the Michigan game about to start.

Brown with a man-sized board... Miami's starting center just got his third foul on a Sims runout. His name is Jimmy Graham. Just sayin'. Miami's coach gives them a slap folowed by a "come on." Good advice.

Look, just don't give Brown the ball on offense. Near turnover on a lazy pass. Harris misses another three, good look though, and King gets luuuuucky. That's an and one on Harris! Jesus. More excellent defense from Michigan, standing up and preventing penetration for 30 seconds before a travel, followed by a Harris-to-Abram backcut. Brown takes a third charge! One more to make up for the early game blocks, Moose. Abram sticks the fadeaway, now up 8. Diaz jacks up prayer that falls, followed by some slick passing for a Hunter dunk. We are actually playing very well right now... another offensive foul on Miami. Four minutes gone and the lead is eight, should be twelve except for two utter prayers that were answered by Miami. Best four minutes of the game by far for Michigan.

10:58 PM: Whoah, UI hasn'ts scored since I left and it's down to a two point lead with 2 minutes left. Harris jacks up another three... no me gusta his frequent forays into Miami offense. This is followed by a Hunter shooting foul, the first committed by Michigan in the halfcourt. Horton gets a wide open three to fall, followed by Hunter diving all over the place, ending up with a loose ball to Michigan... Abram to the line, Michigan up 10. Offense is night and day from the first half; probably a reversion to the mean after a horrific first half. Nice steal from Brown on the other followed by an offensive board and a second with a tip in!

Okay, the four consecutive blocked shots are forgiven. Michigan is up 13 and Miami is forced to call a timeout.

Dude... like, we look like a good team and stuff. How odd.

11:06 PM: Another Brown rebound, this one fortunate, and a layup for a 15 point lead. Miami again reduced to chucking threes. That !!! sequence from Brown feels like a turning point... but only if Coleman doesn't airball threes. 11:58 remaining, UM 48-33.

11:09 PM: Illinois pulls it out versus UNC, 68-64. Big Ten Wonk seen quietly enjoying a mint julep.

Key second-half stat: Miami 7 TO in 8 minutes, Michigan 0. Hunter to the line, and a great array of suffocating defense is spoiled by a bailout reach-in foul. Diaz manages to get to the line after the bail out. Miami has 34 points with 10 minutes left in the game... a Horton brick is followed by a Sims putback and now the refs are getting their whistling lips limber; a jacked three finally falls for Miami.

(Note: the Michigan student section was very probably not chanting "overrated" at Miami. It was probably someone in the student section.)

That championship in 1989 was a very long time ago, Sean. Diaz continues to throw up slop that ends up falling. He gets Abram for an and one to draw Miami within 14, and Diaz gets bailed out AGAIN. Ball don't lie, Guillermo.

Things have gotten sloppier of late for the Michigan offense, though Horton calmly hits a three in the flow of the offense. We're under eight with Michigan up 16.

11:25 PM: Unintentionally hilarious sentence from McDonough: "Hamilton is a man of great ambition... he wants to be a sportswriter someday."

Meanwhile, Harris gets a runout from Horton and Brown equalizes his block to charge ratio at four... Horton follows it with a three; Hunter with a swat. Six minutes left, Michigan 62-42: Ballgame. Brown's spurt of charge-oreb-oreb-tip-oreb-tip was indeed the point at which this one went from a tight game to something very comfortable indeed.

An ugly Abram miss that hit the underside of the rim is followed by Horton. Okay... this is garbage time, Tommy. Let's see Shepherd and Smith. I don't want to see anyone writhing pointlessly.

11:32 PM: Okay, this Diaz guy is getting his ARod points with Michigan up 21 and four minutes left. It's time to start wrapping this one up.

Mr. Makin' Things Happen And Takin' Over The Game

Graham Brown! 11 rebounds so far, plus a number of instances of boxing his man out and allowing others to easily gather the rebound home, plus a couple putbacks and four (count 'em, four) charges taken. A major part of the defense and rebounding that kept Michigan afloat in the first half and allowed Michigan to pull away in the second.

Plus, he's given mgoblog a new shtick, The Graham Brown Stuffed Shot:Drawn Charges ratio. An all-around fantastic night. ESPN agrees, too. Raftery heaps on the praise... and, hey, guess what, BTW? McDonough says that Brown approached Mr. Mantaman(!) and said "Mr. Raftery, you're my favorite commentator in college basketball." While you may rightfully mock Sims for his erroneous pronouncements, there's one Michigan post player who speaks only the truth.

Official Wonk Astuteness Prediction

  • Mention of Dion Harris's poor shooting percentage, especially given his extremely high three count.
  • Perhaps some retraction about Horton, who had another efficient night.
  • Turnover-related chiding and perhaps a note on the shocking turnaround from half to half.
  • Commentary on Michigan's nigh-Gopherlike suffocating, largely foul-free defense, though the garbage time numbers distorted that somewhat.
  • Similar commentary on Michigan's nigh-Spartan defensive rebounding.

My thinkybits say...

Wow. Clearly major issues with the turnovers and the shooting in the first half, but Michigan looked very well coached. The defense was downright inspiring at times; the rebounding was lights-out; Michigan took advantage of the opportunities provided and throttled an actual team from an actual conference. If they play like this minus the turnovers down the road, they will be a contender in the league.

Yeah, I'll believe that when I see it, too, but this was a hell of a first step.