Sunday, December 18, 2005

Not Ready For Primetime Players?

Michigan missed a golden opportunity to go Michael Jordan and say "We're back." yesterday, falling to UCLA in a game that wasn't well-played by either team. There wasn't a whole lot of trading baskets going on. It was mostly Michigan run, UCLA run, Michigan run, UCLA run, Michigan run. UCLA had the big one to put them up by double digits and Michigan's valient effort to come back wasn't quite enough.

UCLA's guards were too much for Michigan, and the Wolverines weren't able to find an answer to UCLA double-teaming their bigs. Actually I shouldn't say that. They found the answer--wide open three-pointers--but weren't able to execute.

That being said, I'm not ready to hit the panic button like a lot of people on The Wolverine are. Michigan had a bad game. It happens. Yes it sucks that it happened the first time we played a "real" team, but you can't watch that game and say that Michigan lost because they were facing a more-talented opponent. If Michigan has even a decent day from downtown (and it's not like UCLA had a hand in their face and was making Michigan miss shots) they win that game going away. At one point in the second half, UCLA was 10 of 20 from behind the arc and Michigan was 2 of 18. That's not going to get it done, especially when probably 14 of those 18 were high-quality looks.

Horton was awful yesterday, he and Brown were battling foul-trouble the whole day, Lester still doesn't look like the Lester of old, and our bench (save for Chris Hunter) didn't remotely help. And even with abysmal shooting and a rash of horrid turnovers, if Rockbiter doesn't throw away that outlet pass, Michigan has a chance to cut the lead to 2 with what? a minute remaining?

What was shocking to me was the lack of defense out on the arc. UCLA's guards were getting way too many quality looks from downtown. For a team that prides itself on perimeter defense, we didn't do a very good job for big portions of the game.

But it was a good time at Crisler--nice to see the place pretty well packed even if most of the fans were silent for big portions of the game. I expect it to be pretty well full for most of the Big 10 games, and if/when Michigan makes the Tourney, the fans will come back in droves.

I still think this is a pretty good basketball team, and one that will probably end up in the Top 25 before too much more time goes by. I walked out of that game feeling like that was a game Michigan should have won. And it sucks that they didn't pull it off, but it's nice to watch us take on a top 15 team and have that feeling coming away. It's been a long time since we've been able to say that. If they make open shots, they win. And it forces UCLA to stop doubling the bigs, which opens things up for Sims inside. Instead, the guards were off and the bigs were ineffective. And they still had a pretty darn good chance to win.

It feels good to be able to be excited about college basketball again. Time to regroup and make sure we hit the Big 10 at 10-1. That's what I expected, and it's still very doable.


Anonymous said...

I think Michigan basketball would be far better off moving games back to Yost Arena like they did when Cazzie Russell played. You saw the fans...the only ones who make noise and show support are the students. Crisler is an awful place...even Dickie V said the facilities stink. So, either we get a big alum to donate money for a brand new arena or we should go back to Yost to recreate a great atmosphere. If we do get a new arena in coming years, it should be 10,000 max.

Packer487 said...

Agree about the size of the arena. If they couldn't fill it all the time when the Fab Five was there, they're probably not gonna fill it.
I'd love to see a game in Yost, but I think it'd be kind of a pain in the butt since both hockey and basketball play huge parts of their schedule on the weekend...