Monday, February 21, 2011

Michigan Basketball - better than expected

I'm pleasantly surprised by how well the Michigan Basketball team has done this year. John Beilein seems to generate the same kind of belief/hatred that RR did. The tone may be similar but the volume is quieter since it is Michigan Basketball not Michigan Football.

Breaking down the season into sections:

Off season - team lost two best players from a team that couldn't make the NIT - they'll be lucky to beat out Indiana/Iowa for 9-10th place

Pre-season trip to Europe - M finished like 1-4 or something like that. General tone was, this is evidence the team is not very good - although some signs that Tim Hardaway Jr. might be a decent player in a few years...

Non-Conference Season - somewhat surprising success - albeit against light competition - M went 10-3 out of conference (10-2 in the real "pre" conference season). With respectable losses to Syracuse and Kansas. The best victories would be against Oakland, Clemson and Harvard. Public reception is "Maybe this is an NIT team."

Early conference season - after 7 conference games, M is 1-6; their only victory against Penn St. with "poor" losses at Indiana and Northwestern overshadowing decent efforts against OSU, Purdue and Minnesota (and Kansas). There was a lot of "Beilein must go" calls into WTKA.

The season turned back to the positive with a surprising victory in East Lansing over MSU. M hadn't won there since the early 90s and MSU's mid-season collapse wasn't obvious at game time. This win lead off an 8 game stretch where M has gone 6-2, with close loss to OSU and a one-possession loss to Illinois, with 2 shots to win/tie the end. There has certainly been very little "Beilein has to go" talk on the radio. But I wouldn't say he has great support either. I think victories quiet the detractors, but don't win them over.

M has 3 games remaining before the B1G tournament. Wednesday they host Wisconsin, then go to Minnesota on Saturday before having the week off and hosting MSU to close out the season.

Michigan is still on the outside of the NCAA tournament. A win over Wisconsin would go a long way to helping their cause. Outside of that M would need to win the other two games an probably a couple tourney games to have much chance to make the Big Dance...

The team can be annoying to watch, they still have long stretches where they don't score. Am I the only one who thinks Darius Morris dribbles too much? They have almost no offensive rebounding. Zack Novak is still playing the 4 most of the time and taller teams just eat him up... I don't have a problem with "settling" for 3-point shots, as long as we have decent shooters. Douglass and Novak have struggled the past few games and need to get it turned around. This has been offset by the amazing couple of weeks Hardaway was had. He's really on a tear, he's set and reset his career scoring high a few times in the past week.

This is still a very flawed team, but I don't think that falls solely on the lap of Beilein, as much as M's football failures were RR's responsibility.

Last season was supposed to be a step forward after M finally made the Tournament in 08-09. The team fell apart, presumably because Manny Harris wasn't interested in Beilein's system. Whether this team makes the NCAA or settles for the NIT, Beilein can't afford M to fall back again after a second positive season.


  1. "Early conference season - after 7 conference games, M is 1-7"

    Wow, they WERE playing badly.