Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Sometime in the middle of the second half yesterday, when the game looked nearly out of reach, John Beilein sat down on the bench. He just sat there and watched. He watched as Michigan fumbled around with the ball, throwing up errant shots and stumbling through double teams. He didn't look angry or confused. He had the look of a man who understood his fate and new exactly where it was all headed. And as he sat there, content not to coach or attempt a comeback, I couldn't help but get the distinct feeling that sometime in the last month, Beilein lost this team.

Maybe it was the heartbreaking loss to Michigan State. I watched The Journey on the Big Ten Network just before the Northwestern game last night and saw DeShawn Sims say after the MSU loss, "It's like I don't want to play basketball anymore", or something similar. Maybe it was suspending the on-the-court leader Manny Harris for a game for something that I've got on good standing with two people--at least one of who I know is more or less explicitly in the know--was a pretty glaring overreaction on Beilein's behalf. Or maybe it's the disappointment of stumbling from #15 preseason to a paltry 11-11. I don't know where it happened, but I don't think Beilein has control of this team anymore.

More materially, last night was far and away Michigan's worst performance of the season. They managed 22 second-half points, 15 of which came in the last four minutes of the game when both teams had cleared their benches and we basically living at the free throw line. Manny Harris was bad. DeShawn Sims was much worse. The team shot 8-28 from three point land and 32.7% from the floor. They were even outrebounded by the only team in the Big Ten that's as bad at rebounding as they are. A bad basketball team, no doubt about it. And next year only looks to get worse.

As far as personal performances go, Sims turned in one of the more shameful games I've seen lately. He walked around the court for most of the game, allowing NW to get to the bucket with ease. And for most of the game was completely diminutive. Early in the second half, he got the ball on the block, made a really great, quick spin move to get to the bucket, and attempted to throw down arguably the hardest dunk he had all season. The ball fruitlessly splashed out of the basket. That was the last sign of life we saw from Sims. In more positive news, Darius Morris, who I think is going to have to become the most integral part of the team next year, had a pretty good game, going 3-5 from the floor, 4-5 from the free throw line, and adding two assists to only one turnover. I like this kid's game.

What to expect going forward? More of the same, really. This looks like a team that stopped caring. I don't expect any improvement on this or similar performances for the rest of the season. At least Manny is sticking around for another year. I guess that's awesome.


Lankownia said...

I agree with you on Morris, especially if Manny goes pro. He's really going to have to step up his game and create on his own. We know Novak, Douglass, etc aren't going to do it.

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