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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

1/3/2006 - Michigan 63-70 Indiana - 10-2, 0-1 Big Ten

Yeah... so that's why I sort of hate college basketball. When you are me and shamelessly parochial in your sporting interests, most of your viewing time is occupied by watching the teams you support. The opponent changes but one team remains a constant, though the uniforms flip from home to away on a regular basis. When I take all the drawings that form my impression of this particular sport and animate them into a flipbook of This Is... NCAA Basketball(!!!) the signal that emerges from the noise is heavily influenced by the one team my viewing revolves around.

What do I see? Turnovers. Awful passes. Stupid decisions. A bonus ten seconds wherein college teams get to sit around doing nothing in particular. Big guys camping out in the lane, rendering driving useless. A three point line better suited for sixth graders. Scores reminiscent of offensively proficient lacrosse. Sun Belt-esque refereeing. In contrast, my opinion of the NBA must be hilariously divergent with that of the general populace since my chosen team therein plays a brilliantly effective, efficient, and intelligent brand of basketball. But what can you do? My brain has all this data. It has to do something with it.

I spent a large portion of the Indiana game cursing the stupidity of everyone on the floor, though I hope you'll agree it was not totally outside the realm of reason. Michigan hung around Indiana largely on the strength of Graham Brown rebounding everything and... um... good defense I guess (except when it wasn't), but there was no point during the game where it felt like Michigan could assemble any semblance of offense aside from the occasional three pointer when Indiana forgot that Michigan was capable of little else. Eventually I started hoping that Michigan would start jacking up contested three pointers, since the alternative was a contested two pointer or a turnover. Grim. And totally expected, just like Courtney Sims finding himself opposed by a mean man who fights for position and ending up neutralized.

Perhaps this is an overreaction to an abberrantly bad game, but let's be serious: if you were to pick any game from the Amaker era against reasonable competition and peg the under/over on turnovers, 20 would not be a totally implausible estimate. 16 would probably get you even money. Why is this? I don't know. Amaker seems set on running a motion offense he doesn't have anywhere near the personnel for. As I understand it, the motion offense relies on big men who can pass competently and shoot from outside the post. Michigan has no post who can do the former and only Chris Hunter is capable of the latter. It requires every player on the floor to be able to read each other's intentions and make intelligent cuts for easy baskets. Michigan tends to throw the basketball out of bounds several times a game because intentions may as well be ancient Sumerian cuniform to them. The similarities between the basketball team and football team are depressing: the expectation is for the position.

Special ITYSO Bonus!

Big Ten Wonk:

By the way, that thud you just heard was Courtney Sims officially falling off the All-Wonk Team. (The guy's a one-man assault on the very concept of stats: he looks good on paper because he stockpiles inordinately beautiful numbers against inferior opponents.)
This here blog in the preview:
There's no questioning Sims' shot blocking and post ability, but he has shown little fire or competitiveness in his first two years at Michigan, often getting dominated by players with half his physical gifts but twice his determination. Sims got shoved out of position far too much for a player with his size and skill, failed to rebound effectively, and often disappeared for long stretches at a time, especially when matched up against high-quality opposition.
Grim satisfaction? Sure. Would I rather be wrong in this case? Sure.