Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2010: The year that wasn't

What we saw last night was not necessarily what could've been for the Michigan basketball team this year; it's not even really reasonable to argue as much as the team shot a nearly 70% eFG%, 42% from three point range, and saw contributions from every player that saw significant minutes (and even some from players who only made a brief cameo). So no, this isn't really a What Could've Been game, but last night was sort of what we all expected, right? An uptick in three-point shooting as our then-freshman became sophomores, consistent and efficient play from the two stars, solid defense that forced turnovers, and an effective offense that looked like it could steamroll the Big Ten. But that's not what happened in 2010, and to add insult to injury, when I woke up this morning and checked, the above screen shot was on the front page. I was too disappointed to read the article inside.

This season has been a comedy of errors from poor coaching to poor shooting to, well, some of the worst defense in the country. We aren't even asking that the team play every night like they did last night against Minnesota. That's unreasonable, offensive almost. But not only has this team been unable to put together but a few minutes of well-rounded play this season, the likes of which we saw for a whole game last night, but they haven't even been able to string together stretches of competent play. This team has looked out coached, out matched, and out hustled almost this entire season. It was nice that DeShawn Sims, Zack Gibson, and Anthony Wright were sent out proper on Senior Night.

There's not much I can add to last night in terms of critical analysis. The team shot really well and the offense looked smooth and dangerous. I first noted it after the loss to Penn State, but in that game and since, Michigan has been moving Manny Harris around the floor a lot more on offense and I think it's made the team significantly more potent. Manny may be a good scorer, but sooner or later, teams will figure out how to defend the half of the floor he plays from.

A lot of the movement of Harris, however, comes with the development of Darius Morris, who had another great game last night. When Morris is off the floor, this team looks unguided and lost. Morris is able to get into the lane without picking up his dribble and generally makes the right play. When he's off the floor, the ball goes to Harris on the wing on every single possession and the team waits around for him to try and do something.

So now, we get to play probably Iowa in the Big Ten tournament, beat them, and then lose to Ohio State. Which should be fun; another season ended with a loss to conference winning OSU. This is wearing thin. And in terms of next year? Well, a weak recruiting class and the loss of all experienced big men is going to mean another dip in the Big Ten standings. John Beilein sure is lucky RichRod is around. Without him, people might be paying a bit more attention to a basketball team that's quickly headed toward the cellar. But for now, congratulations to the seniors and here's to hoping Michigan can turn this around.


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