The Morning After: Michigan

  • 01/09/2008 8:20 am in

lavin6.jpgPerhaps I’m just used to last year’s struggles on the road, but I have to admit I didn’t expect anything approaching the blowout last night in Crisler Arena. But when you combine an absolutely dreadful — I mean, just totally horrendous — Michigan team with an IU squad firing on all cylinders offensively, you get what you got last night: a Big Ten road blowout. Weird.

The random assortment of observations that is this column starts … now:

— There were times I watched last night, and I felt like I was watching Memphis or North Carolina. In that, I mean that it was so clear one team was more talented than the other, that it became obvious that the more talented team didn’t need to do much strategically besides run down the floor and let their talent take over. The Michigan 1-3-1 zone was entirely ineffective against the half court, and the man-to-man was even worse. It was obvious: No matter what the Wolverines did, no matter what their players tried individually or as a group, they weren’t going to keep IU from scoring when it wanted to. As an IU fan, that was a tremendous feeling, and a totally alien one.

It also speaks, I think, to what we’ve been complaining about a little in the early stages of this season. Many of us have begged for more offensive structure. Many of us want to see Gordon running off screens all night. Whatever it is we want, Kelvin Sampson is clearly trying to strike a delicate balance between letting his talent do its walking, and letting his strategy rein it in. So far, it seems to be working.

— Poor John Beilein. Every missed three, every shanked layup, looks like it’s already taking years off the man’s life. At the very least, it’s robbing him of his few remaining hairs. It’s not his fault: This talent isn’t his, and with the exception of Manny Harris, Beilein has very little to work with in his first year. Surely he knew what he was getting into, so sympathy is probably wasted on him. Still, you can’t help but think he longs for the heady days of Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey, when the three pointers flowed like wine and the women flocked instinctively like the salmon of Capistrano.

— D.J. White was a monster last night, and is totally deserving of praise. That said, I’ll temper it a little bit, because within a few minutes it became clear as day that Michigan simply doesn’t have what any reasonable basketball fan would call a “post player” on their team. Sure, they have semi-tall guys. But those are merely that. Tall. They can’t score, defend, or rebound — or at least they didn’t last night — so D.J.’s big time performance is a little bit less impressive than it normally would have been.

All that said: D.J. was still a monster in almost every way. Bodes well for the immediate future, that does.

— I feel obligated to defend Jordan Crawford. Crawford caught a lot of hate in last night’s game thread from you Hoosier faithful, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Crawford didn’t shoot very well, didn’t take care of the ball, and even worse, chose to attack at all the wrong times. He was pressing, and he didn’t have a very good game. But it was one game. It’s important not to forget what we’ve seen from Crawford in past games, when he was a player that showed an uncanny knack for scoring the basketball in idiosyncratic ways. He remains a freshman, and will be prone to mistakes throughout the year; not only that, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired. But I think we know the alternative — Armon Bassett — is not exactly a defensive specialist himself, nor is he the most efficient court general either. So yes, Crawford had a bad game. But let’s not lose perspective about how good Crawford has been, or even more importantly, how good he can be.

— We learned a lot about Steve Lavin last night. Let’s count those things:

  • He really, really, REALLY likes Eric Gordon. If Eric Gordon were an ice cream flavor, Steve Lavin would order him every time. Hey, I feel him. I would too.
  • He is, apparently, an ass man. How do I know this? Throughout the game (but most specifically in a segment discussing DeAndre Thomas) he used the words “Fantastic Fannies.” I thought that was a clever little bit of alliteration, but little did I know he had an entire prepped segment discussing the college game’s truly “Powerful Posteriors.” Seriously! Also this: “The hips and girth are important. The gluteus maximus is underrated as a weapon.”
  • He’s a baseball fan. Lavin called Gordon’s signature one-hand tomahawk dunk a “Tom Seaver by-the-blue fastball.” I get it, but I kind of don’t get it.
  • He is a fan of Eastern cultures. He said DeAndre Thomas was “planting in the post like a sumo wrestler.” While visually accurate, I’m not sure how many sumo wrestlers plant in the post, let alone play basketball. Thomas might be the closest thing yet. (Disclaimer: Only kidding! I love Dre, and totally admire the amount of work he’s put in to get in shape this season.)
  • His wife is an actress, but not only that, she just finished wrapping a music video with Ludacris. Rap videos are in a process of transition right now, transitioning (thankfully) from bootie-shaking cash tosses to gritty street realism. Still, the thought of Steve Lavin’s wife in a rap video — where women are rarely treated as such — is a totally odd thought.

All that aside, I’ll admit it: I love Steve Lavin. He’s thoughtful, articulate, intelligent, self-aware, and funny and, in my limited experience, a genuinely nice dude. The world needs more Steve Lavin, if you ask me, which you didn’t.

— Finally, Brandon McGee’s final shot was pretty silly, but the best thing about it wasn’t Sampson’s reaction (“Don’t do that!”) or the Michigan crowd’s (“Assholes! Assholes!”). No, it was Jamarcus Ellis trying to hide his smile in his jersey like a grade schooler trying not to laugh in class. We caught you, Jamarcus, but don’t worry: We were laughing too.

It was impossible not to laugh last night; that win was as good as they get. Here’s to plenty more of those in the Big Ten calender … and plenty more of Steve Lavin, too.

Filed to:

  • Mark

    While I wouldn’t normally like the McGee dunk attempt, I don’t necessarily blame him. They were pressing us and we broke the pressure. It was as if they were still fighting in the game and McGee was doing what was natural. Press us, we break it, we make you pay. They could have easily backed off and let us dribble it out, but they didn’t. Now if he does it when we should be dribbling the clock out I will be more inclined to be ticked.

  • Mark

    While I wouldn’t normally like the McGee dunk attempt, I don’t necessarily blame him. They were pressing us and we broke the pressure. It was as if they were still fighting in the game and McGee was doing what was natural. Press us, we break it, we make you pay. They could have easily backed off and let us dribble it out, but they didn’t. Now if he does it when we should be dribbling the clock out I will be more inclined to be ticked.

  • Mark

    While I wouldn’t normally like the McGee dunk attempt, I don’t necessarily blame him. They were pressing us and we broke the pressure. It was as if they were still fighting in the game and McGee was doing what was natural. Press us, we break it, we make you pay. They could have easily backed off and let us dribble it out, but they didn’t. Now if he does it when we should be dribbling the clock out I will be more inclined to be ticked.

  • Mark

    While I wouldn’t normally like the McGee dunk attempt, I don’t necessarily blame him. They were pressing us and we broke the pressure. It was as if they were still fighting in the game and McGee was doing what was natural. Press us, we break it, we make you pay. They could have easily backed off and let us dribble it out, but they didn’t. Now if he does it when we should be dribbling the clock out I will be more inclined to be ticked.

  • b-side

    PostmanE, great stuff all around. Only one comment on this quote:

    “No matter what the Wolverines did, no matter what their players tried individually or as a group, they weren’t going to keep IU from scoring when it wanted to. As an IU fan, that was a tremendous feeling, and a totally alien one.”

    You’re not that young are you? John M mentioned Alan Henderson and the 1993 team above. I was still in middle school at the time, but even talk about IU domination! That team also included Calbert Cheaney, Greg Graham and Damon Bailey. Watch that assemble on ESPN classic and you’ll have a similar feeling like last night.

    The guys mentioned above were all NBA first rounders except Bailey, who Donnie Walsh of the Pacers drafted in the 2nd mostly because the draft was held in Indianapolis that year.

  • b-side

    PostmanE, great stuff all around. Only one comment on this quote:

    “No matter what the Wolverines did, no matter what their players tried individually or as a group, they weren’t going to keep IU from scoring when it wanted to. As an IU fan, that was a tremendous feeling, and a totally alien one.”

    You’re not that young are you? John M mentioned Alan Henderson and the 1993 team above. I was still in middle school at the time, but even talk about IU domination! That team also included Calbert Cheaney, Greg Graham and Damon Bailey. Watch that assemble on ESPN classic and you’ll have a similar feeling like last night.

    The guys mentioned above were all NBA first rounders except Bailey, who Donnie Walsh of the Pacers drafted in the 2nd mostly because the draft was held in Indianapolis that year.

  • B-Side:

    Great stuff. I was, actually, a little too young for that team, though thanks to the magic of Big Ten Network I’ve been able to see at least one of their games from that season. You’re right: That was an offensively dominant team.

    The feeling was great last night, wasn’t it? I felt like a Memphis fan; strategy was so secondary to the talent gap, you didn’t even have to stress over high screens or ball movement on offense. It was a breath of fresh air.

  • B-Side:

    Great stuff. I was, actually, a little too young for that team, though thanks to the magic of Big Ten Network I’ve been able to see at least one of their games from that season. You’re right: That was an offensively dominant team.

    The feeling was great last night, wasn’t it? I felt like a Memphis fan; strategy was so secondary to the talent gap, you didn’t even have to stress over high screens or ball movement on offense. It was a breath of fresh air.

  • B-Side:

    Great stuff. I was, actually, a little too young for that team, though thanks to the magic of Big Ten Network I’ve been able to see at least one of their games from that season. You’re right: That was an offensively dominant team.

    The feeling was great last night, wasn’t it? I felt like a Memphis fan; strategy was so secondary to the talent gap, you didn’t even have to stress over high screens or ball movement on offense. It was a breath of fresh air.

  • B-Side:

    Great stuff. I was, actually, a little too young for that team, though thanks to the magic of Big Ten Network I’ve been able to see at least one of their games from that season. You’re right: That was an offensively dominant team.

    The feeling was great last night, wasn’t it? I felt like a Memphis fan; strategy was so secondary to the talent gap, you didn’t even have to stress over high screens or ball movement on offense. It was a breath of fresh air.

  • Moose

    The other thing that blew me away about Lavin is that he came up with Walt Bellamy as the IU recordholder for rebounds. I must say that I knew it was Bellamy, but I can’t believe that someone who didn’t grow up steeped in Hoosier lore would know it!

  • Moose

    The other thing that blew me away about Lavin is that he came up with Walt Bellamy as the IU recordholder for rebounds. I must say that I knew it was Bellamy, but I can’t believe that someone who didn’t grow up steeped in Hoosier lore would know it!

  • James

    Yeah that was a pleasant, low stress road BT game. Those are very few and far between.

    B-Side, no love for Matt Nover? He averaged 11 PPG that yr. 😉

  • James

    Yeah that was a pleasant, low stress road BT game. Those are very few and far between.

    B-Side, no love for Matt Nover? He averaged 11 PPG that yr. 😉

  • MLove

    You all keep complimenting the commentary yet one of the biggest things they lacked was giving DJ credit the guy was doing something no member of an IU team has done since 95 in terms of Grabbing rebounds and not since 92 has a guy has gotten 20-20. I love gordon but there was a lot more going on there last night then Gordon especially bc gorodn not only was in foul trouble but he got a little sloppy at times trying to force things… LOve this team though DOOOO WORRRKKK

  • MLove

    You all keep complimenting the commentary yet one of the biggest things they lacked was giving DJ credit the guy was doing something no member of an IU team has done since 95 in terms of Grabbing rebounds and not since 92 has a guy has gotten 20-20. I love gordon but there was a lot more going on there last night then Gordon especially bc gorodn not only was in foul trouble but he got a little sloppy at times trying to force things… LOve this team though DOOOO WORRRKKK

  • Stephen

    B-Side…major props for actually spelling Calbert Cheaney correctly.

  • Stephen

    B-Side…major props for actually spelling Calbert Cheaney correctly.

  • Stephen

    B-Side…major props for actually spelling Calbert Cheaney correctly.

  • b-side

    E, it’s funny you mention Memphis. I think Calipari and Sampson are running similar offenses. A lot of drive-and-dish action, with a few set plays sprinkled in. Of course some people do miss the good ol’ days of the motion offense, but you won’t hear a complaint from me considering the frequency of our FT attempts.

    James, you’re right, should have given Nover his props, but was merely focusing on the NBA caliber guys. Let’s be honest, Matt Nover will always be Ricky Roe for the rest of our lives.

    Stephen, unfortunately can’t take much credit for the spelling. Used google just to make sure.

  • b-side

    E, it’s funny you mention Memphis. I think Calipari and Sampson are running similar offenses. A lot of drive-and-dish action, with a few set plays sprinkled in. Of course some people do miss the good ol’ days of the motion offense, but you won’t hear a complaint from me considering the frequency of our FT attempts.

    James, you’re right, should have given Nover his props, but was merely focusing on the NBA caliber guys. Let’s be honest, Matt Nover will always be Ricky Roe for the rest of our lives.

    Stephen, unfortunately can’t take much credit for the spelling. Used google just to make sure.

  • b-side

    E, it’s funny you mention Memphis. I think Calipari and Sampson are running similar offenses. A lot of drive-and-dish action, with a few set plays sprinkled in. Of course some people do miss the good ol’ days of the motion offense, but you won’t hear a complaint from me considering the frequency of our FT attempts.

    James, you’re right, should have given Nover his props, but was merely focusing on the NBA caliber guys. Let’s be honest, Matt Nover will always be Ricky Roe for the rest of our lives.

    Stephen, unfortunately can’t take much credit for the spelling. Used google just to make sure.

  • TXHOOSIER

    Agreed on hoping for a lot more Lavin broadcasts. Now that he can’t call Errek Suhr a Pepper Pot this year, he had to key in on someone, and I guess Thomas won the drawl.

    As to IU dominance being an alien feeling, I couldn’t agree more there, either. I’m not so young that I don’t remember the Cheaney (and, of course, Nover) years, but too many first-round losses to Cal and Colorado at the tail end of Knight’s tenure and the entire Mike Davis era almost made me forget what it was like to never doubt a game’s outcome. Here’s to a few more games like last night’s.

  • TXHOOSIER

    Agreed on hoping for a lot more Lavin broadcasts. Now that he can’t call Errek Suhr a Pepper Pot this year, he had to key in on someone, and I guess Thomas won the drawl.

    As to IU dominance being an alien feeling, I couldn’t agree more there, either. I’m not so young that I don’t remember the Cheaney (and, of course, Nover) years, but too many first-round losses to Cal and Colorado at the tail end of Knight’s tenure and the entire Mike Davis era almost made me forget what it was like to never doubt a game’s outcome. Here’s to a few more games like last night’s.

  • TXHOOSIER

    Agreed on hoping for a lot more Lavin broadcasts. Now that he can’t call Errek Suhr a Pepper Pot this year, he had to key in on someone, and I guess Thomas won the drawl.

    As to IU dominance being an alien feeling, I couldn’t agree more there, either. I’m not so young that I don’t remember the Cheaney (and, of course, Nover) years, but too many first-round losses to Cal and Colorado at the tail end of Knight’s tenure and the entire Mike Davis era almost made me forget what it was like to never doubt a game’s outcome. Here’s to a few more games like last night’s.

  • TXHOOSIER

    Agreed on hoping for a lot more Lavin broadcasts. Now that he can’t call Errek Suhr a Pepper Pot this year, he had to key in on someone, and I guess Thomas won the drawl.

    As to IU dominance being an alien feeling, I couldn’t agree more there, either. I’m not so young that I don’t remember the Cheaney (and, of course, Nover) years, but too many first-round losses to Cal and Colorado at the tail end of Knight’s tenure and the entire Mike Davis era almost made me forget what it was like to never doubt a game’s outcome. Here’s to a few more games like last night’s.

  • ray

    one thing to note…and i haven’t read all the posts yet…michigan played purdue very well in west lafayette, and purdue nearly knocked off michigan state in east lansing. yes, michigan is in a down year for sure, but beating up on them on the road was very nice to see.

    also, i agree with the first poster…if i were mcghee i would have done the same thing. instead of shame on mcghee, shame on anyone for telling him not to do it!

  • ray

    one thing to note…and i haven’t read all the posts yet…michigan played purdue very well in west lafayette, and purdue nearly knocked off michigan state in east lansing. yes, michigan is in a down year for sure, but beating up on them on the road was very nice to see.

    also, i agree with the first poster…if i were mcghee i would have done the same thing. instead of shame on mcghee, shame on anyone for telling him not to do it!

  • ray

    one thing to note…and i haven’t read all the posts yet…michigan played purdue very well in west lafayette, and purdue nearly knocked off michigan state in east lansing. yes, michigan is in a down year for sure, but beating up on them on the road was very nice to see.

    also, i agree with the first poster…if i were mcghee i would have done the same thing. instead of shame on mcghee, shame on anyone for telling him not to do it!