Posts Tagged ‘Fab Five’

Jalen Rose Q&A: The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (Part 2)

Saturday, March 15th, 2014


jalen-rose-5

Yesterday we brought you part one of of a Q&A with Jalen Rose bout his Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. Here’s part two of the interview which is featured on BTN LiveBIG.

You left Michigan early for the NBA, but went back and finished your degree. How important was that to you and what does it show these kids?

Rose: It’s that ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality and it’s hard to continue to be the message. It’s almost like college coaches right now. At ESPN we have a segment called Angry Coaches on Outside the Lines. They’re leaders and talking to their teams about having poise and having discipline under pressure, the way they need to behave during the game. But also the coaches are just basically doing the opposite. So it’s that mentality. When they know you’re invested, they know that you care and they know that you’re genuine. Kids don’t care how much you know as long as they know how much you care…

Click here to read the rest of the Q&A on BigTenNetwork.com

Jalen Rose Q&A: The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (Part 1)

Friday, March 14th, 2014


JRLA

Last week we brought you an exclusive Q&A with Jalen Rose about the current Michigan basketball team, the program’s recent success, his thoughts on John Beilein, and more. Today, we are pleased to present part one of a Q&A with Jalen about his Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

With graduation rates at Detroit public schools just 62 percent, dropout rates 19 percent, and jobs fleeing the city, Rose decided something needed to be done. So he opened the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, an open enrollment public charter school, just two miles from where he grew up.

The school started with a ninth-grade class in 2011 and has added a new class each year. Currently in its third year, over 300 students attend the JRLA, which has a lofty goal of graduating 85 percent, enrolling 85 percent in college, and graduating 85 percent from college.

LiveBIG spoke with Rose about the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

At what point in your life or career did you realize you wanted to start the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy?

Rose: I was always passionate about education. In high school I was an honor roll student. At the University of Michigan I was fortunate enough to make the Dean’s list. I never wanted to be considered a dumb jock. I hated that term, wanted to be everything that was the opposite representation of that…

Click here to read the rest of the Q&A on BigTenNetwork.com.

Jalen Rose dishes on Michigan’s success

Friday, March 7th, 2014


Jalen Rose

The Michigan basketball program has had some great teams and great moments since 1986, in addition to some lean times. The Wolverines won the national championship in ’89 and made it to the title game in ’92, ’93, and last season. But none of those great teams or any other in between accomplished what Michigan did on Tuesday night when it captured the outright Big Ten title.

Perhaps the most outspoken player on the most iconic team during that span, Jalen Rose, took the time to chat with Maize and Go Blue about the success of the current team, why coach Beilein is so successful, who would win a one-on-one matchup between sophomore Jalen Rose and sophomore Nik Stauskas, and much more.

Maize and Go Blue: How happy are you with the recent success of the Michigan basketball program?

Jalen Rose: ”I’m a huge fan of John Beilein, not only the way he carries himself as a man, but his leadership over the basketball team and over the program, how he continues to bring in players from their freshman year who you can tell how they continue in their work. I use (Caris) LeVert as an example, I can use (Nik) Stauskas as an example, how he’s developed a style of play, he’s developed a system and he recruits to that system, and therefore, it allows him to get the results that he’s had — winning the outright Big Ten for the first time since ’86, making it to the national championship game last year. I mean, the program is definitely trending up and it starts with his direction. And I’m really happy about that.”

M&GB: How is Beilein able to identify unheralded players and get the most out of them?

Rose: “It kind of gets overstated but he recruits to his style of what he wants to get accomplished. If you notice when you watch Michigan’s team play, especially without (Mitch) McGary, there may be times where there are four guys on the court that are 6’6” and below that can all shoot threes. He’s recruiting to his style of play. So when he gets those guys on campus, he gets them in the weight room, gets them in the gym working on their skill work and their drills, he does a good job of having them work on things that they can actually implement into their game. Now, once the game starts – look at a player like a Zak Irvin, the way he shoots the basketball – he was recruited to play a style.

“So I really enjoy watching this team play. The development of Glenn Robinson III has been awesome also. And hopefully they can continue to have success in the conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament where they’re ultimately going to be judged.”

Jalen was proud to support his Wolverines at last year's Final Four and they'll continue to have his backing

Jalen was proud to support his Wolverines at last year’s Final Four and they’ll continue to have his backing

M&GB: Would you have enjoyed playing in John Beilein’s system?

Rose: “I would have. But obviously, you can’t knock the success and the system that I got a chance to play for in Steve Fisher, when I would venture to say since he’s been at San Diego State they’ve probably been ranked in the top 25 more weeks than Michigan.”

M&GB: What was it like for you returning with the rest of the Fab 5 to watch the team in the Final Four last year?

Rose: “It was awesome. I’m mad we didn’t win, but it was awesome. I promised Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke, who I was in contact with the entire season, I was going to make sure for only the second time since 1993 that the Fab Five would be in the same place at the same time for support.”

M&GB: Will you be there again this year if they make it that far again?

Rose: “Absolutely. With the same dumb hat I had on last year.”

M&GB: How do you assess the balance of power in the state of Michigan right now?

Rose: “It all depends on if you’re talking about a marathon, then it’s not close. Since Tom Izzo has taken over the program at Michigan State it’s not close. But Michigan at this point is trending upward. As a Michigan fan I was happy that we got a chance to play them without (Adreian) Payne, with a hobbled (Keith) Appling, without (Branden) Dawson, but they’re starting to get healthy now. They’re going to be a tough out in the conference tournament and in the NCAA Tournament. I think when healthy, overall they’ve shown that they, probably along with Florida, to be the best teams in the country – on paper. But the games aren’t played on paper. And I’m happy we still beat them twice this year.

“But don’t be surprised, I’m kind of watching the tea leaves with Tom Izzo and seeing that his team has gotten older, maybe he gets that itch to try to go to Auburn Hills and coach.”

M&GB: Are there really are any legs to that?

Rose: “Stay tuned.”

M&GB: How far do you see this Michigan team going in the NCAA Tournament?

Rose: “Shooting is a tricky thing. You get hot and you can really roll a couple of weekends. If your three-point shooting goes cold or teams do a good job of defending it or going inside and getting to the free throw line, then that creates a different game – a slow-down game. At this point, it’s all about seedings. It’s all about who you get matched up with.”

M&GB: Michigan has ranked outside the top 50 in adjusted defensive efficiency all season. What’s the most important aspect that needs to improve for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament?

Rose: “Well, that’s the sacrifice that I was talking about. When you decide to play small, you give up size. And you have to with Mitch McGary out. They’ve got to play to the strength of the roster that they have. So while they’re shooting threes and they’re going in it allows us to win games. But when we’re not shooting the three well and teams are driving it to the basket, transition, and really pounding us on the offensive boards that’s when it’s an issue. You hope you don’t get matched up against those teams that like to play two and three bigs up front.”

M&GB: What player is Michigan’s x-factor in the NCAA Tournament?

Rose: “It’s clearly Nik Stauskas. He’s had his single-digit games. Indiana comes to mind and I think at Iowa where the team really struggled and really lost. He’s got hot in some games and before you know it we won the outright Big Ten title. So I think he’s the key along with Glenn Robinson III.”

M&GB: What impresses you the most about Stauskas’ progression from fourth option last year to go-to guy this year?

As much as Jalen loves John Beilein, he's rightfully protective of Steve Fisher's legacy (USA Today archive photo)

As much as Jalen loves John Beilein, he’s rightfully protective of Steve Fisher’s legacy (USA Today archive photo)

Rose: “He continued to work on his game. We knew he was a shooter, but also he improved his ball handling and his ability to drive to the basket, ability to finish at the hoop.”

M&GB: Is Stauskas an NBA lottery pick?

Rose: “That’s a tricky question because I don’t know who all is coming out, but I definitely see him as a first round prospect. I remember telling people that Tim Hardaway Jr. was going to be a good pro. I remember talking about it during the actual draft when I was naming people that were getting drafted and his name was still on the board. Now, all the sudden you see him playing with the Knicks and if you’re one of the three people that actually still cares about what the Knicks are doing this year, he’s still being a productive player. So I hope that Nik Stauskas can kind of trend up the way he did.”

M&GB: If sophomore Jalen Rose played sophomore Nik Stauskas one-on-one, who would win?

Rose: “I want to take the humble route, so I think it’s smart for me to go ahead and say he would win.”

M&GB: Can Caris LeVert lead the team next season if Stauskas and Robinson III go pro?

Rose: “I think he can. You get Derrick Walton back, another year of LeVert, Irvin shooting the ball, you get Mitch McGary back in the lineup. I think that’s very formidable.”

M&GB: Entering the season most expected Glenn Robinson III to be Michigan’s top scoring option. While he has had a good season, he hasn’t been the go-to guy most thought he would be. How do you evaluate his season so far?

Rose: “He’s one of the best players on a team that just won the Big Ten title. He’s one of those players that plays within the team concept. He doesn’t really force shots, he doesn’t thump his chest, he has a very stoic demeanor whether the team is struggling or he’s playing well. That demeanor sometimes gets taken for granted. I actually really like that about him.

“The one thing about this journey is, as a player, you have to approach it like this: what’s happened up to now still means nothing. You still want to win the conference tournament. More importantly, you get to the NCAA Tournament and there’s 30 teams that won their conference tournament. That’s not breaking news. People in the SEC don’t care who wins the Big Ten. People in the Pac-12 don’t care who wins the Big Ten.”

M&GB: In your opinion, which players on the team should go pro after this season?

Rose: “We’ve got to see how this plays out. There’s still some work to be done. You’ve still got to ball in the conference tournament. You’ve still got to ball in the NCAA Tournament. You get bounced in either one of them and that performance is your lasting memory. At this point, it’s only 33 percent of the book. Look at Marcus Smart for example. He had a terrific season – All-America-type season – last year and got bounced in the tournament and had to come back to school.”

M&GB: What did you think about what Ray Jackson said yesterday, that — no offense to Steve Fisher — if Beilein was the coach of the Fab Five you would have won a national title.

Rose: “I didn’t know he said that. He’s just excited about watching the team and the 20-year alumni. They’re both great coaches but when you look at the bottom line, I think the things that Beilein wants to get accomplished are things that Steve has already gotten accomplished. They may not have a picture or banner of him up in Ann Arbor, but he did make it to three national championship games and won one title. For a school that has only been there seven total times. It’s not like Michigan goes to the Final Four every single year.”

Inside the Numbers: The golden age of the Michigan – Michigan State rivalry

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014


Burke steal

Michigan does not like Michigan State. Michigan State does not like Michigan.

This is no secret.

Those who have participated in the heated rivalry on the hardwood in recent years have made that very clear. Former U-M point guard Darius Morris told former MSU guard Kalin Lucas to “get the f*** off my court” after a Michigan win in Ann Arbor three years ago. U-M guard Nik Stauskas blew kisses to the Breslin Center crowd moments after the Wolverines toppled MSU just last month. And MSU head coach Tom Izzo summed it up best in January 2012 when he told the press, “Do I like [Michigan]? Not one bit. I don’t like anything about Michigan and they don’t like anything about us, and that’s the way it should be.”

However, do not let the conduct that transpires before the tip and after the buzzer fool you into thinking that this intrastate rivalry has always been one of the best. For a rivalry to be at its best, both rivals must frequently sport top-notch teams, competing against one another with championships at stake year after year. This is not an apt description of the Michigan-Michigan State basketball rivalry prior to 2012.

This is never clearer than when one realizes how infrequently both Michigan and Michigan State have been ranked in the Associated Press poll in their matchups. Generally, when a team is ranked in the AP poll, it is one of the best teams in the nation. Therefore, rivalry games are more significant and anticipated when both rivals are ranked in the AP poll. Yet, of the 113 meetings between U-M and MSU from January 20, 1949 — the date the first AP poll was released — to the end of the 2011 season, both the Wolverines and Spartans were ranked in only six.

Michigan-Michigan State Games With Both Teams Ranked in AP Poll – Prior to 2012

Date

Home Team

Road Team

Winner

Feb. 20, 1986

#7 Michigan

#19 Michigan State

MSU, 74-59

Mar. 1, 1990

#14 Michigan State

#8 Michigan

MSU, 78-70

Jan. 29, 1992

#13 Michigan State

#15 Michigan

U-M, 89-79 (OT)

Feb. 15, 1992

#17 Michigan

#12 Michigan State

MSU, 70-59

Feb. 2, 1993

#25 Michigan State

#7 Michigan

U-M, 73-69

Feb. 17, 1998

#14 Michigan State

#22 Michigan

MSU, 80-75

It was not until 37 years after the very first AP poll was released when Michigan and Michigan State squared off against each other as ranked teams. U-M and MSU went toe-to-toe 64 times during that prolonged span. Although the AP poll did not expand to 25 teams until the 1990 season, this is an extraordinary amount of basketball played between two teams without one marquee matchup.

It does not mean, however, that both U-M and MSU were bottom-dwellers throughout those four decades. Both programs had fantastic seasons during those years. The Wolverines were in the AP Top 10 for eight of their 64 contests with MSU. The Spartans were in the AP Top 10 for five of those 64 meetings. It just so happened that neither school managed to be one of the best in college hoops the same season as the other.

Nik Stauskas blew kisses to the Breslin Center crowd after Michigan's 80-75 win on Jan. 25

Nik Stauskas blew kisses to the Breslin Center crowd after Michigan’s 80-75 win on Jan. 25

This changed slightly after U-M and MSU’s first matchup in which both teams were ranked in 1986. Over the course of the next dozen years, Michigan and Michigan State went head to head five more times as members of the AP Top 25. The rivalry hit its high note when U-M’s touted “Fab Five” recruiting class stepped on campus. Both teams were ranked for the Fab Five’s first three showdowns with the Spartans in 1992 and 1993. It seemed like the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry was on the verge of something special.

But it did not materialize. By the end of the century, because of the sanctions imposed due to the Ed Martin scandal, Michigan basketball was a shell of its former self and fell off the proverbial map. From 1999 to 2011, U-M and MSU faced off 22 times. Michigan was not ranked once in any of those contests. As a result, perception of the rivalry suffered, having little appeal outside the footprint of the Big Ten. The rivalry seemed destined to be forever overshadowed by the likes of Duke-North Carolina, Kentucky-Louisville, and Syracuse-Georgetown.

Rankings are not the only metric that tells this same tale. The Big Ten standings tell it, too. Rivalries are at their best when both rivals are in the hunt for conference and national titles. More is on the line. Win, and you celebrate a championship at the expense of the team you most like to see miserable. Lose, and you suffer, wondering how your team came so far only to allow the team you like the least snatch success from your team’s grasp.

The Michigan-Ohio State football rivalry is perfect example. Fans of U-M, OSU, and college football in general consider this prestigious rivalry’s best era to be the Ten Year War. Why? Because the outcome of “The Game” crowned the Big Ten champion nine of those 10 seasons. Until 2012, the Michigan-Michigan State hoops rivalry had nothing resembling that sort of an era.

Seasons In Which Both Michigan and Michigan State Finished in Big Ten Top 3 – Prior to 2012

Season

Michigan’s Finish (Record)

MSU’s Finish (Record)

1959

t-2nd (8-6)

1st (12-2)

1966

1st (11-3)

2nd (10-4)

1986

1st (14-4)

3rd (12-6)

1990

3rd (12-6)

1st (15-3)

1992

t-3rd (11-7)

t-3rd (11-7)

1995

3rd (11-7)

2nd (14-4)

2003

t-3rd (10-6)

t-3rd (10-6)

Michigan State basketball joined the Big Ten in 1951. In the 61 seasons played from 1951 to 2011, Michigan and Michigan State both finished in the top three in the Big Ten standings only seven times. That is it. To contrast, in 58 seasons of ACC basketball from 1954 to 2011, Duke and North Carolina both finished no worse than third place in their conference 34 times. Additionally, prior to 2012, U-M and MSU secured the two best spots in the conference standings in the same season just twice. The more recent of these two occurrences happened almost a half-century ago. No matter how one tries to break these numbers down, the same conclusion will be reached: the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry was irrelevant nationally and not very prestigious.

However, the key word in that last sentence is “was.” No longer can anyone make the claim that this rivalry is not prestigious. It has changed dramatically in the past three seasons. Izzo has continued to lead MSU to successful season after successful season, but Michigan finally burst back onto the national scene under the direction of head coach John Beilein. In just a few short years, the Wolverines have transformed from a program trying to eke its way into the NCAA Tournament into a program that won a share of a conference title in 2012 and appeared in the national championship game the following season.

As a result, for the first time in the history of the rivalry, Michigan and Michigan State both have been two of the best college basketball programs. Want proof? Let’s once again look at U-M and MSU’s ranks in the AP poll when they compete against one another, but only at their ranked matchups since 2011 this time.

Michigan-Michigan State Games With Both Teams Ranked in AP Poll – Since 2011

Date

Home Team

Road Team

Winner

Jan. 17, 2012

#20 Michigan

#9 Michigan State

U-M, 60-59

Feb. 5, 2012

#9 Michigan State

#23 Michigan

MSU, 64-54

Feb. 12, 2013

#8 Michigan State

#4 Michigan

MSU, 75-52

Mar. 3, 2013

#4 Michigan

#9 Michigan State

U-M, 58-57

Jan. 25, 2014

#3 Michigan State

#21 Michigan

U-M, 80-75

In the past three seasons, all five games between the Wolverines and the Spartans have featured two teams ranked in the AP Top 25. In fact, U-M and MSU both were ranked in the AP Top 10 for two of those for the first time in the rivalry’s history. Do not forget that the Wolverines and Spartans both were ranked in only six games played against each other from 1949 to 2011. With MSU at No. 13 and U-M at No. 20 in this week’s AP poll, they will do it for the sixth straight meeting this Sunday at the Crisler Center. Simply, the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has never been better.

This is why this Sunday’s showdown in Ann Arbor between Michigan and Michigan State will be the biggest game in the history of the rivalry. Sounds crazy, but it is not. The fans agree with this notion, too. The average price on the secondary market for this week’s game is $269, which is the highest for any Michigan basketball home game. Ever. And here is why:

Beilein and Izzo (Tony Ding, AP)

When Beilein and Izzo square off on Sunday it will be the biggest game in the history of the rivalry (Tony Ding, AP)

Currently, Michigan and Michigan State are tied atop the Big Ten standings with 10-3 records, sitting 1.5 games ahead of third-place Iowa. Given Iowa’s difficult remaining schedule, there is only an outside shot that the Hawkeyes make a push for the Big Ten championship, so this is very likely a two-horse race between the two hated rivals.

But this is the biggest game in the rivalry because never before have Michigan and Michigan State been the two clear leaders in the Big Ten race, within one game of each other, this late in conference play with a meeting on the horizon. Only three times before have both Michigan and Michigan State finished in the top two of the Big Ten. In 1959, the Spartans were the runaway champion, besting second-place Michigan by four games. In 1966, the Wolverines clinched the title before their only meeting with MSU in the finale. And, in 2012, U-M shared the crown with Michigan State and Ohio State only because MSU blew a two-game lead in the final week.

This is different. This game will have more of a combined impact on these two programs’ championship hopes than any prior meeting between the two rivals. Because MSU faces Purdue tomorrow, while U-M has a midweek bye, the Spartans will either be a half-game ahead or behind U-M come Sunday. Therefore, not only will the winner on Sunday be in sole possession of first place, the winner also may have a 1.5-game cushion with no more than four games remaining. The winner between Michigan and Michigan State — two rivals in the midst of the best stretch of their rivalry’s history — will be propelled into the driver seat in this Big Ten race and may never look back.

So this Sunday, if Stauskas starts chirping towards the Michigan State bench or the Spartans start slapping the floor on every defensive possession, know that they are no longer doing it just because they are rivals 64 miles apart that do not like each other. They are doing it because they know that their regular-season goal — to win the Big Ten championship — is on the line and likely will be decided by the game’s outcome. And that is wonderful, albeit heart-wrenching, feeling because it means that Michigan-Michigan State basketball rivalry is finally where it belongs: at the top.

Louisville 82 – Michigan 76: Magical run falls just short in title game

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013


Final 1st 2nd Total
#10 Michigan (31-8) 38 38 76
#2 Louisville (35-5) 37 45 82

Too young. Too inexperienced. The youngest team in this year’s tournament field was supposed to bow out of the tournament by the end of the first weekend. They had limped to a 6-6 regular season finish that included an embarrassing loss to Penn State, a team that finished the season just 2-16 in Big Ten play.

But something magical happened.

Five games into the Big Dance, not once had the unanimous Big Ten and National Player of the Year, Trey Burke, led the team in scoring. Yet they had won every one of them. Sure, he saved the season with an iconic 30-foot three against Kansas, but he hadn’t played like a player of the year for most of that game. Instead, other stars blossomed.

In the opener against South Dakota State, who many picked to knock off the Wolverines, it was Glenn Robinson III who stole the show, matching his season-high with 21 points. Next, it was Mitch McGary’s turn to shine with a 21-point, 14-rebound performance against VCU, another team that most expected to send Michigan packing.

In that Sweet 16 matchup with Kansas, McGary out-performed All-American Kansas center Jeff Withey with 25 points and 14 boards while Burke was held scoreless in the first half. Against Florida in the Elite Eight, Nik Stauskas stepped up, hitting all six of his three-point attempts en route to a 22-point game and a 20-point Michigan win. Not to be outdone, the less heralded of the freshmen, Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht rose to the occasion in the Final Four with eight and seven points, respectively, to help Michigan top Syracuse. McGary led the way once again with his third double-double in four games while Burke was held to just seven points.

The greatest clean block that was called a foul I've ever seen

All five freshmen made major contributions to the team’s improbable tournament run. Fab Five they were not, but they didn’t need to be. Twenty years after that illustrious and polarizing squad took Michigan to the brink of a national championship as sophomores, the Fresh Five did the same. And with the legends in attendance, they took the court looking to do one better.

But it wasn’t meant to be, as Michigan raced out to a 12-point first half lead only to watch it whittle down to one by halftime. In the second half, the lead was gone they were forced to play catch up for the remainder of the game. The youthful Wolverines and the experienced Cardinals went blow-by-blow in one of the greatest national championship games ever played – certainly the first half could make a case for the greatest half ever played.

It was the stuff of legends, a legend so deep that the star of the first half was Albrecht, who averaged just 1.8 points per game all season. The kid who looks more like Frodo than a basketball star, and was only recruited at the last minute last April as a safety net in case Burke went pro after his freshman season, scored 17 points and helped Michigan jump out to that big lead.

It was a legend so deep that at one point, on the nation’s biggest stage, in front of the Fab Five who were all in the same building together for the first time since 1994, John Beilein put all five freshmen on the court at the same time. Burke sat on the bench with two fouls. Hardaway sat to get a breather. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford sat too. It was a glimpse of what’s to come for Michigan basketball when Burke and Hardaway depart for the NBA, likely as soon as the next week or two. It lasted only but for a minute, but in that moment, Michigan basketball was on top of the world.

Luke Hancock, Louisville’s own unlikely star, a lightly-recruited transfer from George Mason, brought Michigan back to earth. His four straight threes helped cut Michigan’s lead to just one at halftime and he earned the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player award.

In the end, Michigan’s magical run came up just short, but it was fun. The way the game played out was symbolic of the entire season. Michigan struggled all season long with coming out of the gate in big games. In Columbus, the Wolverines trailed 24-6 in the first 10 minutes before a rally came up just short. In Bloomington, Michigan fell behind 26-11 in the first 10 minutes before nearly pulling off a comeback. In this one, Michigan charged out of the gates, confidently seizing a big lead. But this night’s opponent did what it, and Michigan, has done all season – come back from a large deficit – and it was just good enough to hand Michigan defeat.

The 96th team in program history will return to Ann Arbor this afternoon and clean out their lockers. Burke and Hardaway, and perhaps McGary and Robinson III, will contemplate whether their futures are at the next level or whether they can put that off for one more year to make another title run. Whatever choice they make will be just fine. Selfishly, it would be nice if they came back. But if they don’t, what they gave us was a legacy that will be remembered alongside that of the Fab Five, perhaps with even greater reverence because they did it with class and humility right to the very end.

As fans, we will turn our attention to football season, but for the first time in a long time, we will do so with our heads held high. We will do so with an eagerness for the next basketball season to begin because it’s fun again. It’s not just something to fill the time between bowl games and September. Michigan basketball is back and the world knows it. Thank you, Team 96.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 3-4 0-1 6-8 1 1 2 1 12 2 0 0 0 38
10 Tim Hardaway Jr.* 5-13 0-4 2-4 0 5 5 0 12 4 2 0 0 35
04 Mitch McGary* 3-6 0-0 0-0 2 4 6 4 6 1 1 1 1 29
03 Trey Burke* 7-11 3-5 7-9 1 3 4 4 24 3 4 0 1 26
11 Nik Stauskas* 1-2 1-2 0-0 0 2 2 3 3 2 1 1 0 19
02 Spike Albrecht 6-9 4-5 1-2 0 1 1 1 17 0 3 0 0 28
23 Caris LeVert 0-1 0-1 0-0 1 2 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 12
52 Jordan Morgan 0-2 0-0 2-2 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 8
15 Jon Horford 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 5
Totals 25-48 8-18 18-25 8 18 26 15 76 12 12 3 2 200
Louisville 28-61 8-16 18-23 15 16 31 22 82 18 9 9 3 200

Twenty years later, Michigan back on top; it matters to us

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013


Almost exactly two years ago, on January 22, 2011, Michigan dropped its sixth straight Big Ten contest, this time a home loss to Minnesota to fall to 11-9 overall and 1-6 in the conference. The season had begun with high expectations, fueled by freshman [edit: sophomore] point guard Darius Morris, but as January neared its end, many Michigan faithful began to wonder whether John Beilein was ever going to get Michigan back to elite status.

Rewind to the beginning of the 1992 season which Michigan entered with the number one national ranking looking to avenge the national championship game loss of the season before. Year two of the Fab Five saw Michigan hold the top spot all of three weeks, and ultimately lost the title game once again. Beilein, meanwhile was just beginning his Division 1 coaching career at Canisius College.

The Fab Five were the last Michigan team to be ranked No.1

Fast forward ten years to 2002 when Michigan was handed sanctions as a result of four players – Chris Webber, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor, and Louis Bullock – being found to have received money from booster Ed Martin. The Fab Five era was erased, as were the late 1990s, which included a Big Ten Tournament championship in 1998 and the 1997 NIT title. By this time, Beilein was taking over a West Virginia program that he would take to the Elite Eight a couple years later.

Jump ahead five years to 2007. Michigan hired Beilein to replace Tommy Amaker who had been the safe hire in 2001 to lead the program through the sanctions. Beilein’s first team finished an underwhelming 10-22 and it was hard to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel.

The very next season, however, the Wolverines upset fourth-ranked UCLA and fourth-ranked Duke, won 22 games, earned the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since the sanctions were lifted, and won the first round game over Clemson. It was the first feel-good moment for Michigan basketball in a long time, and while the team limped to a losing record in the 2009-10 season, it laid the foundation for future success.

That takes us back to late January of 2011. Carrying a six-game losing streak into East Lansing where the Wolverines hadn’t won since 1997 wasn’t a fun proposition, but a Stu Douglass three with 25 seconds left sealed the Michigan win. The Maize and Blue won eight of their last 11, including a regular-season ending 70-63 win over the Spartans to earn a 9-seed in the NCAA Tournament. There, Michigan routed Tennessee and nearly knocked off top-seeded Duke.

Two years to the day after that unlikely victory in East Lansing, Michigan beat Illinois to sieze the No. 1 ranking in today’s Associated Press poll. Monday’s AP poll marks the first time since Dec. 6, 1992 that the Wolverines have been ranked first overall, which means four current Wolverines – Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert, and Max Bielfeldt – weren’t even alive the last time Michigan was ranked number one. In fact, if you add up the age of every player on the team at the time Michigan was last ranked first (16 years, 360 days), it wouldn’t even equal the amount of time that has passed since that time (20 years, 53 days). The oldest player at the time was Corey Person at three years and 145 days old.

John Beilein has rebuilt the Michigan program to a level few thought was possible a couple years ago

Following Sunday’s win over Illinois, Beilein downplayed the significance of the No. 1 ranking, saying that no one will remember who was ranked number one at the end of January. And while that’s true on a national level, one can be rest assured that Michigan fans across the world will.

For many current Michigan fans, the fandom started, or at least grew, during that time period from the 1989 national championship through the Fab Five years. It was truly an exciting time. But the abyss that it sent the program into, which it has been clawing out of inch by inch over the past decade and a half, is one most Michigan fans would like to forget. That’s what makes today’s No. 1 ranking so special.

The 1992 squad, loaded with the talent of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson, changed the culture of college basketball and helped put Michigan basketball on the map. But their stardom and the actions that came with it took Michigan basketball off the map for the subsequent decade-plus. This year’s squad, led by a super sophomore from Columbus that the Buckeyes passed over, a pair of NBA sons, and a lightly recruited sharp-shooter from Canada has achieved No. 1 the right way, ironically, in the same year the Fab Five ban is set to end.

The obvious goal, as Beilein and the rest of the team has harped on all season, is to be number one at the end of the season. But Michigan’a ascension to the top spot has put the Wolverines back on the map and will likely breed a whole new generation of Michigan basketball fans, and it will no doubt help with recruiting. Whether Michigan wins it all this season or not, Beilein’s squad has achieved something only 26 other teams have done in the last 20 years: climb to number one. And for Michigan fans who have bled maize and blue through the lean times that have consumed the past 15 years, it matters.

Can Michigan overtake Duke for top spot?

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012


Michigan’s continued dominance coupled with Indiana’s overtime loss to Butler on Saturday afternoon allowed the Wolverines to move up yet another spot in the national rankings. Michigan began the season fifth, but has steadily climbed to second while those above them have faltered. All except Duke, which remains the only team ranked ahead of them.

The last time Michigan reached second in the rankings was the second year of the Fab Five, the 1992-93 season that remains marred by scandal and erased from the record books. Most current college students have never seen Michigan ranked as high as it is now.

So how far can the Wolverines keep going? Can they supplant the Blue Devils for the top spot? How long will Michigan remain unbeaten? Let’s take a look at Michigan’s upcoming schedule as well as those of Duke and the other remaining unbeatens.

Next 10 games
#1 Duke (9-0) #2 Michigan (11-0) #3 Syracuse (9-0) #4 Arizona (8-0)
Dec. 19 vs Cornell Dec. 20 vs EMU Dec. 22 vs Temple Dec. 18 vs Oral Roberts
Dec. 20 vs Elon Dec. 29 vs CMU Dec. 29 vs Alcorn State Dec. 22 vs ETSU
Dec. 29 vs Santa Clara Jan. 3 @ NW Dec. 31 vs C. Con. State Jan. 3 vs Colorado
Jan. 2 vs Davidson Jan. 6 vs Iowa Jan. 2 vs Rutgers Jan. 5 vs Utah
Jan. 5 vs Wake Forest Jan. 9 vs Nebraska Jan. 6 @ USF Jan. 10 @ Oregon
Jan. 8 vs Clemson Jan. 13 @ #7 Ohio State Jan. 9 @ Providence Jan. 12 @ Oregon State
Jan. 12 @ #25 NC State Jan. 17 @ #13 Minnesota Jan. 12 vs Villanova Jan. 19 vs Arizona State
Jan. 17 vs Georgia Tech Jan. 24 vs Purdue Jan. 19 @ #5 Louisville Jan. 24 vs UCLA
Jan. 23 @ Miami Jan. 27 @ #10 Illinois Jan. 21 vs #11 Cincinnati Jan. 26 vs USC
Jan. 26 vs Maryland Jan. 30 vs NW Jan. 26 @ Villanova Jan. 31 @ Washington

Right off the bat, the main thing that’s apparent is that Michigan faces the toughest schedule in the next month. Eastern and Central Michigan will close out the non-conference slate and the calendar year, while Northwestern, Iowa, and Nebraska should also be victories, leaving Michigan 16-0 heading into the Jan. 13 matchup at Ohio State. That would match the longest streak since the 1985-86 team started 16-0. If the Wolverines come out of Columbus unbeaten, they then head to Minneapolis four days later for another tough matchup. Survive that and Michigan hosts Purdue and then visits currently unbeaten and 10th-ranked Illinois.

Trey Burke's 18ppg and 7-2 assist-to-turnover average have Michigan flying high (Tony Ding, AP)

Duke still hasn’t played a true road game this season, having played Kentucky, Minnesota, Louisville, and Temple on neutral sites. The Blue Devils won’t play their first road game until Jan. 12 at N.C. State and may not face a realistic threat until Feb. 13 against North Carolina. In fact, Duke, N.C. State, and North Carolina are the only ranked teams in the ACC, so the Blue Devils certainly have an easier remaining road to retaining the No.1 spot than Michigan does.

Syracuse is right on Michigan’s heels in the rankings, but hasn’t beaten a ranked team yet this season. Last night, the Orange nearly lost to Detroit. An 8-1 Temple squad could present an interesting matchup on Saturday, but after that Syracuse should cruise into a Jan. 19 matchup at fifth-ranked Louisville undefeated. If they can survive that one, they host currently unbeaten Cincinnati two days later.

Arizona got by No.5 Florida on Saturday and now doesn’t have a currently ranked team left on its schedule. The 9-1 Oregon Ducks could be the team to trip up the Wildcats on Jan. 10 in Eugene. If not, it’s hard to see Arizona losing before Michigan, given the comparative schedules.

Of course, going undefeated is nearly impossible in today’s college basketball, and losing some games and facing adversity may even be preferable before the NCAA Tournament beings. No one expects Michigan to go unbeaten, but it would be fun to see the Wolverines grab the top spot. But even if it doesn’t happen, Michigan has proven over the first few weeks of the season that they’re a force to be reckoned with and can match up with anyone.

Michigan should make it at least three more weeks at No.2, but likely won’t pass Duke unless the Blue Devils stumble big time. Once Jan. 13 hits, Michigan will face big-time opponents pretty much every other game the rest of the season. It will be tough to earn a No.1 seed in the Big Dance, but even with a few Big Ten losses, Michigan should be good enough to earn a 2-seed. But there’s still a lot of basketball left to play.

2012-13 Michigan basketball player preview: Mitch McGary

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012


As we continue to look at the newcomers on the 2012-13 Michigan basketball team, the freshmen become more and more hyped. Today, let’s take a look at the once top-rated big man in the country, Mitch McGary.

#4 – Mitch McGary

Measurements:

6’10″, 250 pounds

Hometown: Chesterton, Ind.
High School: Chesterton High School
High School Stats (2009-10): 22 points, 13.3 reb, 3 assists, 5 blocks, 3 steals per game
Prep School: Brewster Academy (N.H.)
Prep School Stats (2011-12): 12 points, 10 reb, 2.5 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal per game
AAU: SYF Players
Projected Position(s): Power Forward, Center
Committed: November 3, 2011
Major Suitors: Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland
Chances of Redshirt: 0 percent (barring injury)
Recruiting Rankings:
Rivals: 4-star – Overall: 30, position: 8
Scout: 4-star – Overall: 26, position: 10
ESPN: 4-star – Overall: 27, Grade: 96, position: 5, state: 4

Background: Early on in his high school career, Mitch McGary was a tall, lanky, and undeveloped kid playing in the tiny town of Chesterton, Indiana. He didn’t even play varsity ball his freshman year, and he  had some academic problems as well, struggling to focus in the classroom and on the court. Michigan had shown some interest in him, having had a certain player by the name of Zack Novak, also from Chesterton, on the roster at the time, but it never seemed like much would come of their relationship.

Fast forward about two years and Mitch McGary was off to New Hampshire for prep school to shore up his grades, get better coaching, and play against the best players in the country. His team, Brewster Academy, boasted as many as eight potential Division 1 basketball players, but McGary stood out with his size, hustle, and rebounding prowess. McGary never scored at a high clip in the NEPSAC, but he didn’t need to with such a star-studded team around him, a team that went 66-3 in his two seasons there.

McGary provides an instant upgrade to Michigan's interior

On the AAU circuit, McGary made an even bigger name for himself. He thrived in the run-and-gun style of the summer and showcased his uncanny ability to bring the ball all the way up the court himself after gathering a rebound, usually dunking at will on the other end. Before he knew it himself, Mitch McGary was a household name as he rose to the top of recruiting rankings and dropped the jaws of college coaches that packed the house every time he played. Coaches like Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, and Bill Self put on the full-court press, and not a team in the country would have turned down a commitment from the now cut, athletic, and big kid. Michigan, who had shown that early interest, seemed to now be wasting it’s time going after such a coveted player, but word eventually got out that the Wolverines were actually right in the thick of things. In fact, reports emerged saying that John Beilein was about to gain McGary’s commitment as the early signing day approached.

But that was far from the end of it. Within days of Dave Telep’s report that Ann Arbor would be McGary’s college destination, Telep came out with another story saying that Michigan was all but out of the running. The big man was leaning toward Duke, Florida, or Maryland, depending on the time of day. That’s how it went for a number of weeks, as no one truly knew where McGary would end up. Then, as signing day continued to draw near, McGary’s verbal pledge to John Beilein was broadcast live on ESPNU, and he instantly became Michigan’s biggest recruit in more than a decade.

If there is a single moment that Michigan fans will look back on years down the road in declaring that their team was back from the dark ages for good, that day would be a top choice. A consensus top-five recruit in the country, a Wolverine.

Interestingly enough, the story was still not complete. McGary’s final year at Brewster saw him disappoint to an extent, not meeting expectations as the dominant post player he was thought to be. He came off the bench at times and barely averaged double digits in points. Then again, it’s tough to judge players individually on such an impressive team overall. In the end, McGary’s commitment was still a turning point for John Beilein and this Michigan team, a signal to the rest of college basketball that Michigan truly is ready to tussle with the big boys. And even though he is now regarded closer to the 30th-best player in his class as opposed to the 2nd-best, Mitch McGary is expected to contribute immediately, and in a big way.

Video:

What He Will Provide:

  1. 1. Rebounding Prowess: If McGary is relied upon to do one thing in his first season, it will be to clean up the glass. Michigan has yet to be a great rebounding team under Beilein, but McGary could change that single-handedly. Beilein’s system stresses defensive rebounding and stopping the transition game, so offensive rebounding has never been a priority for his teams, but he has hinted this offseason that he may send more guys to crash the offensive glass to pick up a few easy buckets a game that way. Offensive put-backs and transition baskets are the easiest points in the game, so watch for Beilein to continue to stress stopping their opponents from doing both but pushing his own team to go after these types of buckets. It’s not inconceivable to imagine McGary averaging double-digits in rebounds; granted, that is quite a high number for college, but it is also doable for a player of his caliber.
  2. 2. Novak-like Toughness: Beilein mentioned this offseason that there must be something in the water in Chesterton, because both of his players from the small northern Indiana town play like the Energizer Bunny. Novak made a name for himself by diving after loose balls and bodying up to players that sometimes seemed to be twice his size. Luckily for Michigan and Beilein this time, however, size won’t be an issue for McGary, but he still seems to put forth 100% effort every time down the court. Combine McGary’s size, talent, and natural athleticism and mix it with a large dose of hustle and you come up with a monster on the court. That’s exactly what McGary can be.

    McGary already looks good in the Maize and Blue (photo by Carlos Osorio, AP)

  3. 3. Versatility: While McGary’s game is not all that multi-dimensional, he provides Beilein with options he has never had before. Last season fans waited for the time Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan would see significant time on the court together, but that time never came due to a number of factors, including Horford’s injury and Morgan’s propensity to commit fouls. This year, Beilein has openly admitted that he and his assistants are at the very least considering implementing a true two-big offense, and McGary is a big reason for it. His huge frame paired with Jordan Morgan, Max Bielfeldt, or Jon Horford on the court would create nightmares for opposing coaches, especially if the other team lacks size.
  4. 4. Swagger: If Michigan has lacked one intangible since the early 1990s and the Fab Five, it’s this. Swagger is far from necessary for a team to succeed, and too much can tear a team apart and create individuals that butt heads. But in small, effective, and controlled doses, the swagger that McGary will help provide can do wonders in intimidating every opponent. Some of the best teams in the country can essentially put a win on the board before a home game begins because they have swagger that renders the other team helpless. Look no further than the broken backboard video above to see McGary’s swagger in full force.

What He Will Have to Work On:

  1. 1. Shooting: While Mitch McGary’s mid-range and deep shot are far from broken, they certainly aren’t going to be enough right now to be relied upon. Now Michigan shouldn’t have to rely too heavily on McGary’s scoring this season, especially from the outside, but if he is going to play significant time at the four, I still think he will have to keep the defense honest at times. Two big men won’t be able to live in the post constantly, so look for McGary to work on developing a nice and consistent 12-15 foot jumper.
  2. 2. Basketball IQ: This is not by any means calling out McGary’s smarts on the court; he will simply have some adjusting to do in his game before he will be a college star. While he may have been able to bring the ball up court all the way by himself in high school and certainly was able to overpower defenders with his strength, McGary will need to be smart about how he plays on the court in college. If he’s not wide open on the fast break, he will need to learn to pass it up for a better and safer look. If he’s double-teamed in the post, he will need to learn to not force it but rather pass the ball up for an open shot for a teammate. And if he picks up an early foul, McGary will need to pay special attention to defense. His energy will certainly be an asset, but he needs to control it and turn it into positive energy.
  3. 3. Filling a Role: By all means the whole incoming freshmen class has been wonderful in adjusting to playing as a team and not worrying about their own stats, but practice has just gotten underway and no one has played a real game yet. I don’t anticipate that any freshmen will have a problem in caring too much about their own numbers, but it is always worrisome when blue-chip recruits have to adjust to being second- or third-fiddle on the team. McGary will certainly have a role to play on this team, and that is grabbing rebounds and playing tough defense. If he isn’t getting 10 shots per night, he cannot start complaining about “getting his”; he will simply have to accept his role, fill it as well as he can, and help the team in any way he can.

Burning Question: How much will John Beilein actually use two of Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, Jon Horford, Max Bielfeldt, and Blake McLimans on the floor at once?

If John Beilein really does switch his patented, traditional four-out, one-in to a base two-big offense, Mitch McGary could see 25-plus minutes a night, but if Beilein decides to stick with the smaller offense a majority of the time, McGary’s minutes could linger around 15 minutes a game if he doesn’t beat out Jordan Morgan on the depth chart. My best guess is that we will see a good mix of both types of offenses, but different opponents will dictate different styles of play. McGary’s minutes will be dependent on how Beilein chooses to exploit these matchups.

Stat Predictions: 10.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 blocks in 22 minutes per game.