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Monday, January 23, 2006

1/21/2006 - Michigan 71-55 Minnesota - 13-3, 3-2 Big Ten

We Aren't... Penn State!
At this point the Big Ten has broken down into Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, Minnesota, and Everybody Else. Michigan established itself a member of "everybody else" by thumping Minnesota and Northwestern so badly that Amadou "Like Darko, Only Less Useful" Ba saw time in both games. Excited? Not so much. Relieved that beating the hopeless four has become more of a routine occurrence than was likely after that Purdue game? Sure. Perspective demands that we look at the last week as the day-to-day drudgery of earning an NCAA tournament bid: Michigan held serve.

Michigan now has a major opportunity to get a break point. Upcoming are two home games against ranked teams--despite the Badgers' stunning loss to North Dakota State (who knew they had a state?). Both are winnable for a team that took Indiana and Illinois to the brink of defeat on the road... but, um, I'll take one of two if you don't mind. Instead of a column, today we have...

A Terrifying Glimpse Into My Mind

I did a thing before where I took notes during the game and then attempted to explain myself afterward; this is where the whole "Manu Ginobli is an annoying Mexican" thing came from. Yes, that's technically incorrect.

I did the notes thing again; I won't reproduce it in the detail I did for that Finals game but here are a few choice snippets:
Um... Horton threw an alley-oop to Graham Brown.
This is never a good idea.

Uh... okay... Petway took a three. Not so space.
Fairly self explanatory: Petway is from space; should not take threes. Also should not rap. One last Petway note...
Petway's comically huge upper lip (due to mouthguard) makes him look like Rocky the Flying Squirrel.
No, it doesn't. I have no idea why I wrote this.
Tollackson does his Ray Lewis impression again... dude you're down 12 with 5 minutes left... and you're a goofy lumberjack looking guy.

Horton steal layup game.

What was with that guy? Every time he'd make a basket he'd undergo this weird sort of pumped-up-honky seizure that was terrifyingly reminiscent of Mark Madsen.
Horton hits a 3 pointer... all of a sudden Michigan has 3,740 points. Ballgame.
They fixed the score, unfortunately.

Here's the sum total of Hunter's first four possessions in the game:
Hunter comes in, immediately loses track of his guy and alley oop results.
Hunter TO.
Hunter overplays the entry pass, and his man gets an easy bucket and one.
Hunter travels underneath.
Hunter.... eh... not so good.
Minnesota evidently noticed this, too, and went after Hunter on the next two offensive possessions. The results were better: an ugly brick and a traveling violation.
There is a woman with a ludicrous torso behind the Minnesota bench.. swathed in lavender... pendulous.

graphic sez Horton "4/5 from three point land"? Please remove all cutesy references to something that should never have been birthed in the first place
It's bad enough when announcers say something like "three point land," but in the first half summary they actually wrote it down and put it on the screen instead of using that space for useful information. Jakob Neilsen is pissed.

After an ugly first half, I proposed a new set of rules for the basketball team:

if you have an open jumper and you are not Brent Petway, Graham Brown, Courtney Sims, or Amadou Ba: take it. Do not attempt to get a better shot. Do not attempt to improve your position. You will turn it over.

If you are Courtney Sims, when you get doubled throw the ball off your opponent and out of bounds. This is the only way to prevent a turnover.

If you are a guard loosely described as "point" and are generally charged with the operation of the offense in a smooth and efficient manner, please use screens and be cautious driving into the lane, because you are only sporadically good at it.

I forgot to add "Do not throw alley-oops to Graham Brown."

To be fair: Michigan does not do a good job of presenting themselves in the lane and giving sims an option other than Door Number Turnover
Self explanatory, really.

Okay... the first three minutes of this half: 12 points. Points in last ten minutes of first half: 7. What a strange trend: Michigan has come out and gone on massive obliterating runs at the beginning of the second half several times this year.
Does anyone have an explanation for this? It's like they run out of batteries or something.
MOTHERFUCKER. Get up lester.
High ankle sprain. Out for MSU, possibly/probably longer. People Lester Abram may have been in a past life to deserve such a fate:
  • Woody Hayes
  • Emeril Lagasse
  • Bill Walton.
the only guy who looks like he isn't petrified to shoot is Stamper, and whenever he hits one the announcers scream like it's the most unlikely thing they've ever seen.
I would be insulted if I was Mr. Stamper.
The Making Things Happen Guy Who Takes Over And Makes Things Happen Player Of The Game: Daniel Horton. 6/10 from three, 32 points, and good defense.
Horton was goooood. Minnesota's one distinguishing characteristic is stingy defense, and he had Vincent Grier on him for large chunks of the game and still turned in those 32 points on just 16 shots (and 10 free throws). The six turnovers were ugly, but he gets a pass for this game.

Long range bullets
  • Michigan is chasing down anyone who will listen to them in the class of 2006 and has made the final four of one Eric Beverly, an Illinois guard who has experienced a meteoric rise (er... meteors don't rise... nevermind) his senior season:
    Marshall's Patrick Beverley is clearly the top uncommitted senior in the state, and as such the late interest from schools has blown in like a gale. That is why Beverley, his coach and his family narrowed down his college choices Saturday night to Indiana, Michigan, Virginia and St. John's--all schools that have offered scholarships.

    Beverley said he still has interest in Illinois even though the Illini have not made an offer. Coach Bruce Weber has seen Beverley play twice. The 6-2 guard is averaging 36 points for the No. 2 Commandos.
    It seems like an Illinois offer will yield an Illinois commitment, but the Illini are tight on scholarship room and recruiting a few other late signees. Still... winning that particular battle looks extremely difficult, with or without Illinois.
  • A theory was being batted around in recent days that the real issue with the Michigan post offense has been poor or nonexistent entry passes from the guards... yeah, scratch that. Time and again posts were fed with little to show for it against Minnesota, usually as a result of a double-team yielding a turnover or a blocked shot, though Courtney Sims did make two nice passes to cutters in the second half. Sims is going to be neutralized more often than not these days. He's an okay Big Ten player but not the star we all thought he would be; this is not Amaker's fault.
  • When Jerrett Smith is not attempting to split traps by himself and turning the ball over copiously as a result, he's not bad. He can be effective when paired with a star shooting guard or wing... we got any of those coming up in the near future? No? Oh. (2007 doesn't count.)