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:

  • SocksShortsSwish

    First off, long time reader, first time poster.

    Wanted to get in on the conversation before everyone else did about the McGee dunk in the waning moments.

    This dunk will be lambasted as a peek into the keyhole of a program without control. It’s not.

    It’s simply a previously highly-successful 18 year old who doesn’t get any meaningful playing time trying to be noticed. Think about it using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. How can we expect McGee AT THIS STAGE IN HIS CAREER to think about sportsmanship when he’s not getting the shelter of playing time?

    Now, if he’s doing that crap in 2 years, we’ve got a problem.

  • SocksShortsSwish

    First off, long time reader, first time poster.

    Wanted to get in on the conversation before everyone else did about the McGee dunk in the waning moments.

    This dunk will be lambasted as a peek into the keyhole of a program without control. It’s not.

    It’s simply a previously highly-successful 18 year old who doesn’t get any meaningful playing time trying to be noticed. Think about it using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. How can we expect McGee AT THIS STAGE IN HIS CAREER to think about sportsmanship when he’s not getting the shelter of playing time?

    Now, if he’s doing that crap in 2 years, we’ve got a problem.

  • SocksShortsSwish

    First off, long time reader, first time poster.

    Wanted to get in on the conversation before everyone else did about the McGee dunk in the waning moments.

    This dunk will be lambasted as a peek into the keyhole of a program without control. It’s not.

    It’s simply a previously highly-successful 18 year old who doesn’t get any meaningful playing time trying to be noticed. Think about it using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. How can we expect McGee AT THIS STAGE IN HIS CAREER to think about sportsmanship when he’s not getting the shelter of playing time?

    Now, if he’s doing that crap in 2 years, we’ve got a problem.

  • piston honda

    i’m pretty sure lavin said gordon’s dunk was a “tom seaver- vida blue fastball” not by the blue fastball. vida blue was another pitcher in the 70s and 80s. i think that makes a bit more sense.

  • piston honda

    i’m pretty sure lavin said gordon’s dunk was a “tom seaver- vida blue fastball” not by the blue fastball. vida blue was another pitcher in the 70s and 80s. i think that makes a bit more sense.

  • Piston:

    Good call. That definitely makes more sense. Apologies for the misinterp.

    Socks:

    Also a good call. I think there is in general a portion of old school fans — not just in the IU fan base — who take any sort of borderline unsportsmanlike play and turn it into a sign that our society’s crumbling under our feet. Thankfully, I haven’t heard much of that yet, but it always feel just around the corner.

    Oh, and Maslow’s: I haven’t heard that since the one Psych class I was forced to take freshman year. Well done.

  • Piston:

    Good call. That definitely makes more sense. Apologies for the misinterp.

    Socks:

    Also a good call. I think there is in general a portion of old school fans — not just in the IU fan base — who take any sort of borderline unsportsmanlike play and turn it into a sign that our society’s crumbling under our feet. Thankfully, I haven’t heard much of that yet, but it always feel just around the corner.

    Oh, and Maslow’s: I haven’t heard that since the one Psych class I was forced to take freshman year. Well done.

  • Piston:

    Good call. That definitely makes more sense. Apologies for the misinterp.

    Socks:

    Also a good call. I think there is in general a portion of old school fans — not just in the IU fan base — who take any sort of borderline unsportsmanlike play and turn it into a sign that our society’s crumbling under our feet. Thankfully, I haven’t heard much of that yet, but it always feel just around the corner.

    Oh, and Maslow’s: I haven’t heard that since the one Psych class I was forced to take freshman year. Well done.

  • Piston:

    Good call. That definitely makes more sense. Apologies for the misinterp.

    Socks:

    Also a good call. I think there is in general a portion of old school fans — not just in the IU fan base — who take any sort of borderline unsportsmanlike play and turn it into a sign that our society’s crumbling under our feet. Thankfully, I haven’t heard much of that yet, but it always feel just around the corner.

    Oh, and Maslow’s: I haven’t heard that since the one Psych class I was forced to take freshman year. Well done.

  • Craig

    I’m not mad that Crawford played bad in one game during his freshman season. I think most would agree that he has exceeded expectations already this year.

    I am concerned with how sluggish and tired he looked. Is fatigue going to be an issue? Hopefully, Bassett will be back soon and some of the pressure will be off Crawford, but what was going on last night?

  • Craig

    I’m not mad that Crawford played bad in one game during his freshman season. I think most would agree that he has exceeded expectations already this year.

    I am concerned with how sluggish and tired he looked. Is fatigue going to be an issue? Hopefully, Bassett will be back soon and some of the pressure will be off Crawford, but what was going on last night?

  • Craig

    I’m not mad that Crawford played bad in one game during his freshman season. I think most would agree that he has exceeded expectations already this year.

    I am concerned with how sluggish and tired he looked. Is fatigue going to be an issue? Hopefully, Bassett will be back soon and some of the pressure will be off Crawford, but what was going on last night?

  • Craig

    I’m not mad that Crawford played bad in one game during his freshman season. I think most would agree that he has exceeded expectations already this year.

    I am concerned with how sluggish and tired he looked. Is fatigue going to be an issue? Hopefully, Bassett will be back soon and some of the pressure will be off Crawford, but what was going on last night?

  • TerryIU

    E,

    Just one minor thing and correct me if I’m wrong for I live in Indiana and not California but isn’t it the swallows who come back to Capistrano and not the salmon? : )

  • TerryIU

    E,

    Just one minor thing and correct me if I’m wrong for I live in Indiana and not California but isn’t it the swallows who come back to Capistrano and not the salmon? : )

  • TerryIU

    E,

    Just one minor thing and correct me if I’m wrong for I live in Indiana and not California but isn’t it the swallows who come back to Capistrano and not the salmon? : )

  • TerryIU

    E,

    Just one minor thing and correct me if I’m wrong for I live in Indiana and not California but isn’t it the swallows who come back to Capistrano and not the salmon? : )

  • Corey

    I couldn’t agree more with last night’s game I was almost estatic watching us move and screen off the ball it was beautiful…it was the first time all season I have been able to relax, sit back, and watch these boys go to work. How far they have come, even though IU is up this year while Michigan is down, lets not forget they lost 58-55 in Crisler Arena last year. I hope the team can build of this win and can muster a similar game at home vs Illinois on Sunday. GO HOOSIERS!

  • Corey

    I couldn’t agree more with last night’s game I was almost estatic watching us move and screen off the ball it was beautiful…it was the first time all season I have been able to relax, sit back, and watch these boys go to work. How far they have come, even though IU is up this year while Michigan is down, lets not forget they lost 58-55 in Crisler Arena last year. I hope the team can build of this win and can muster a similar game at home vs Illinois on Sunday. GO HOOSIERS!

  • Corey

    I couldn’t agree more with last night’s game I was almost estatic watching us move and screen off the ball it was beautiful…it was the first time all season I have been able to relax, sit back, and watch these boys go to work. How far they have come, even though IU is up this year while Michigan is down, lets not forget they lost 58-55 in Crisler Arena last year. I hope the team can build of this win and can muster a similar game at home vs Illinois on Sunday. GO HOOSIERS!

  • Corey

    I couldn’t agree more with last night’s game I was almost estatic watching us move and screen off the ball it was beautiful…it was the first time all season I have been able to relax, sit back, and watch these boys go to work. How far they have come, even though IU is up this year while Michigan is down, lets not forget they lost 58-55 in Crisler Arena last year. I hope the team can build of this win and can muster a similar game at home vs Illinois on Sunday. GO HOOSIERS!

  • L. Rubes

    Great Dumb and Dumber reference

  • L. Rubes

    Great Dumb and Dumber reference

  • L. Rubes

    Great Dumb and Dumber reference

  • L. Rubes

    Great Dumb and Dumber reference

  • plane1972

    I couldn’t agree more about Lavin. He commentates from a level of expertise as a former coach, but you can tell he is a real sports fan, as well. He and Brent Musberger obviously enjoy working together and it comes through on screen. As much as I like him in the booth, I would love to see him back in coaching again. However, I’m glad he didn’t decide to fill Gene Keady’s vacancy at Purdue. It would have been truly unfortunate to despise him.

  • plane1972

    I couldn’t agree more about Lavin. He commentates from a level of expertise as a former coach, but you can tell he is a real sports fan, as well. He and Brent Musberger obviously enjoy working together and it comes through on screen. As much as I like him in the booth, I would love to see him back in coaching again. However, I’m glad he didn’t decide to fill Gene Keady’s vacancy at Purdue. It would have been truly unfortunate to despise him.

  • plane1972

    I couldn’t agree more about Lavin. He commentates from a level of expertise as a former coach, but you can tell he is a real sports fan, as well. He and Brent Musberger obviously enjoy working together and it comes through on screen. As much as I like him in the booth, I would love to see him back in coaching again. However, I’m glad he didn’t decide to fill Gene Keady’s vacancy at Purdue. It would have been truly unfortunate to despise him.

  • plane1972

    I couldn’t agree more about Lavin. He commentates from a level of expertise as a former coach, but you can tell he is a real sports fan, as well. He and Brent Musberger obviously enjoy working together and it comes through on screen. As much as I like him in the booth, I would love to see him back in coaching again. However, I’m glad he didn’t decide to fill Gene Keady’s vacancy at Purdue. It would have been truly unfortunate to despise him.

  • ronb

    Postman E Thanks for such a positive spin on the game. This
    team really is blessed with talent and if coach can continue to push
    them to be better every game we are in for some great games. I
    hate when folks get down on freshman. EJ is special and we can’t
    use his skills to judge the other freshman and new guys. As a
    group I think they are doing very well and the record shows it. Now
    lets Kick some Illinois butts this weekend!!!!

  • ronb

    Postman E Thanks for such a positive spin on the game. This
    team really is blessed with talent and if coach can continue to push
    them to be better every game we are in for some great games. I
    hate when folks get down on freshman. EJ is special and we can’t
    use his skills to judge the other freshman and new guys. As a
    group I think they are doing very well and the record shows it. Now
    lets Kick some Illinois butts this weekend!!!!

  • ronb

    Postman E Thanks for such a positive spin on the game. This
    team really is blessed with talent and if coach can continue to push
    them to be better every game we are in for some great games. I
    hate when folks get down on freshman. EJ is special and we can’t
    use his skills to judge the other freshman and new guys. As a
    group I think they are doing very well and the record shows it. Now
    lets Kick some Illinois butts this weekend!!!!

  • ronb

    Postman E Thanks for such a positive spin on the game. This
    team really is blessed with talent and if coach can continue to push
    them to be better every game we are in for some great games. I
    hate when folks get down on freshman. EJ is special and we can’t
    use his skills to judge the other freshman and new guys. As a
    group I think they are doing very well and the record shows it. Now
    lets Kick some Illinois butts this weekend!!!!

  • Chris

    Lets just go ahead and start the Illinois threads!! this is going to be more fun that the UK game!!

  • Chris

    Lets just go ahead and start the Illinois threads!! this is going to be more fun that the UK game!!

  • I thought that the best part of the fannies conversation when Musberger said something about getting Erin Andrews involved in the conversation. I didn’t know if he meant they should ask her opinion or if he wanted to talk about her fantastic fanny.

    I’m conflicted about the McGee “dunk.” I’m glad Sampson told him not to do it, but why in the world was Michigan pressing with Adam Ahlfeld on the court? We might remind the old-timers of my all-time favorite IU-Michigan game at Crisler, the 1993 win that ended with Alan Henderson’s rejection of Chris Webber’s putback. While I’m sure their actions would be considered mild now, the Fab Five really were known for showboating, inciting the crowd, etc. After time expired, Henderson ran in front of the Michigan student section, raising his arms to mockingly pump up the crowd. It happens.

  • I thought that the best part of the fannies conversation when Musberger said something about getting Erin Andrews involved in the conversation. I didn’t know if he meant they should ask her opinion or if he wanted to talk about her fantastic fanny.

    I’m conflicted about the McGee “dunk.” I’m glad Sampson told him not to do it, but why in the world was Michigan pressing with Adam Ahlfeld on the court? We might remind the old-timers of my all-time favorite IU-Michigan game at Crisler, the 1993 win that ended with Alan Henderson’s rejection of Chris Webber’s putback. While I’m sure their actions would be considered mild now, the Fab Five really were known for showboating, inciting the crowd, etc. After time expired, Henderson ran in front of the Michigan student section, raising his arms to mockingly pump up the crowd. It happens.

  • I thought that the best part of the fannies conversation when Musberger said something about getting Erin Andrews involved in the conversation. I didn’t know if he meant they should ask her opinion or if he wanted to talk about her fantastic fanny.

    I’m conflicted about the McGee “dunk.” I’m glad Sampson told him not to do it, but why in the world was Michigan pressing with Adam Ahlfeld on the court? We might remind the old-timers of my all-time favorite IU-Michigan game at Crisler, the 1993 win that ended with Alan Henderson’s rejection of Chris Webber’s putback. While I’m sure their actions would be considered mild now, the Fab Five really were known for showboating, inciting the crowd, etc. After time expired, Henderson ran in front of the Michigan student section, raising his arms to mockingly pump up the crowd. It happens.

  • Timmy

    Call me crazy but I liked McGee’s dunk attempt. We need that swagger and cockiness that says we’re coming in your house taking your food and kicking your dog on the way out. I liken it to my Patriots running up the score on your favorite nfl teams because we can. Players around the league (recruits) see that and want to be part of that team.

  • Timmy

    Call me crazy but I liked McGee’s dunk attempt. We need that swagger and cockiness that says we’re coming in your house taking your food and kicking your dog on the way out. I liken it to my Patriots running up the score on your favorite nfl teams because we can. Players around the league (recruits) see that and want to be part of that team.

  • slojoe

    TerryIU, when he’s on a roll, don’t correct him!
    I think Crawford’s fatigue was becasue he played 38 minutes. He played more than usual becasue Bassett was out and Ellis & EJ got into foul trouble.

  • slojoe

    TerryIU, when he’s on a roll, don’t correct him!
    I think Crawford’s fatigue was becasue he played 38 minutes. He played more than usual becasue Bassett was out and Ellis & EJ got into foul trouble.

  • slojoe

    TerryIU, when he’s on a roll, don’t correct him!
    I think Crawford’s fatigue was becasue he played 38 minutes. He played more than usual becasue Bassett was out and Ellis & EJ got into foul trouble.

  • slojoe

    TerryIU, when he’s on a roll, don’t correct him!
    I think Crawford’s fatigue was becasue he played 38 minutes. He played more than usual becasue Bassett was out and Ellis & EJ got into foul trouble.

  • Mike

    I thought Crawford looked tired last night too. Maybe Sampson was trying to teach him a lesson becuase in the 2nd half it really did seem like everyone got rotated in and out and Crawford was still on the floor.
    Probably good for him in the long run.

  • Mike

    I thought Crawford looked tired last night too. Maybe Sampson was trying to teach him a lesson becuase in the 2nd half it really did seem like everyone got rotated in and out and Crawford was still on the floor.
    Probably good for him in the long run.

  • Chicago Ryan

    EJ’s ~14 foot fade-away last night was probably my favorite shot that he took. It was nice to see him attempt a shot inside the arc (one where he wasnt posterizing some poor soul), and I for one, would like to see more of that.

  • Chicago Ryan

    EJ’s ~14 foot fade-away last night was probably my favorite shot that he took. It was nice to see him attempt a shot inside the arc (one where he wasnt posterizing some poor soul), and I for one, would like to see more of that.

  • Chicago Ryan

    EJ’s ~14 foot fade-away last night was probably my favorite shot that he took. It was nice to see him attempt a shot inside the arc (one where he wasnt posterizing some poor soul), and I for one, would like to see more of that.

  • Chicago Ryan

    EJ’s ~14 foot fade-away last night was probably my favorite shot that he took. It was nice to see him attempt a shot inside the arc (one where he wasnt posterizing some poor soul), and I for one, would like to see more of that.