Saturday, February 6, 2010

UW-Michigan thoughts

As you know, I play basketball at the local fitness center every day, a hodge podge collection of players who like to get together and run around. Afterward while cooling down we break down the day's proceedings, trying to decipher why one group was successful and the other wasn't. More often than not it boils down to something along the lines of "They made their shots, we didn't" or vice versa. Really deep analysis.

This is what happened in Ann Arbor today, in a nutshell. In the first half we made our shots and they. In a way it was the exact opposite of what happened during our game in Madison, only in that game Michigan couldn't establish any separation in the first half like we did today.

Ever since Jon Leuer went out, it seems that the Badgers' fortunes ride on how well they shoot jump shots. And really, there's no reason they can't shoot well on a consistent basis. Obviously it would be best if Leuer returns before the regular season ends, but even if he doesn't we can still make a run in the postseason if the shots keep falling.

-Jason Bohannon is playing the best basketball of his college career, right? There's no reason he can't ride this wave all the way to the end -- when you've got a stroke like his, success really comes down to confidence, and he's got it. Two J-Bo moments stood out to me today. One, after a shot clock violation, he barked at Keaton Nankivil to shoot the ball; Keaton had passed up a jumper that would have been contested, putting Jason in a tough spot as the shot clock expired. Two, after he made that first half buzzer beater, he was demonstrative in pumping his fist. Love the emotion.

-A key moment came early in the second half, when Bo Ryan took a timeout with the Badgers up 12, playing poorly, and Zach Novak about to shoot two free throws. After the timeout Novak missed both free throws and we went back to building the lead. Bo usually doesn't take timeouts unless things are really getting out of hand, which I typically appreciate, but sometimes it's the prudent thing for a coach to do, like it was today.

-Did Jordan Taylor really have 13 points, five rebounds, four assists? They were quiet, which tells you something about his game. Given his assist-to-turnover ratio, he might be having the best pure point guard season any Badger has had under Bo. That's not to say he's better or more valuable than Trevon Hughes, Kam Taylor or Devin Harris, but he's playing like a traditional point guard.

-Pop had 14 points on only six field goal attempts? That has to be one of his most efficient games.

-Nankivil and Rob Wilson were solid again, and since Manny Harris was 4-for-12 from the field you can draw that Wilson, Ryan Evans and Tim Jarmusz did a good job on him. Everyone contributed today.

-Boy, outside Harris and DeShawn Sims, Michigan is garbage. When Sims is hot, like he was in Madison and in the first half today, they are competitive. Same with Harris, although he was bad against us both times this year. But the fact that the Wolverines were a preseason top 20 team is laughable.

-Speaking of garbage, Ed Hightower and Ted Valentine were at their worst in the second half. One blocking call on Taylor guarding Harris was particularly ridiculous. Thankfully the game was close and Michigan missed most of their ill-gotten free throws. How they've stayed employed by a major conference all these years is beyond me.

Earlier today Will and I debated heading to Madison for the outdoor hockey game. It's not that cold, after all. But I've been traveling a lot lately and we'll be on the road the next two weekends ... and it's not that warm, either. Should be fun to watch.


Anonymous said...

Bucky a three seed in this week's Bracketology. If bucky can climb up to a two seed, they could very well play rounds one and two in Milwaukee. Let the Madness begin!!!!

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