Michigan Basketball: NCAA Championship — Michigan vs. Louisville — Wrap-Up
A Semi-sweet Sunset — Plenty to be Proud Of For The Team
It is the hope here that millions of basketball followers came to the conclusion that the 2013 championship was one to treasure. First, there was plenty of pure basketball, discount the comment by one of the elite CBS wretches that we were all watching street ball. Frankly, the entire game, including the boo-boos was an absolute joy to watch.
Second, the competition may have been the fiercest and most genuine in decades. The author cannot remember a final game that surpassed Monday’s effort. Not just Michigan but Louisville left everything on the floor. Anything less than maximum effort by Louisville would have led to the mild upset Michigan fans were hoping to occur.
Third, Michigan did not shy away from the challenge; the team did play with courage, intensity, and certainly without fear. Most importantly, the team played well. Imagine if Michigan would have played this well against Penn State and Indiana (although Michigan played hard against Indiana, just not near as well). They did let it all hang out, and that was a direct result of Coach Beilein’s style.
There are numerous contributing factors that could be pointed out about the late Michigan demise. There are also some incredible positives that need to escape the shadow of defeat. First off, again, who can say enough about the fiery and courage-laden Spike Albrecht. He played like a 6-foot Larry Bird. He appeared to love the stage and delivered in legend fashion. Forget Rudy, maybe much of America has a new guy to root for next year. Hopefully, Spike keeps going as is. Second, Trey Burke heads to the bench early with two fouls and the team does not fold. In fact with the help of Albrecht, it plays some of the best ten-minute period of basketball ever recorded, ever. Third, while still not near as physically big as other giant programs, Michigan’s players fought, wrestled, dove, whatever was forced upon them by the moment and physicality of the second half forced by Louisville and accepted by the officials.To win this game, Michigan needed its best effort of the year. That may or may not have happened. But for certain, any argument stating this was Michigan’s best effort cannot be easily dismissed. There were errors, but Louisville had plenty of items not going the way of Cardinal basketball as well. Michigan had just enough lazy passes to get deflected or intercepted to be a factor. Michigan had just enough defensive lapses on picks and cuts to be a factor. Michigan got trapped a few times, and the players who picked up the ball from the dribble then meekly turned it over. The end game coaching strategies may not have been pristine and pure, but it is easier to have end game success when ahead. It appeared that all options were not well thought out the last four minutes and decisions reverted to spontaneity.
Again, the first half was some of the best basketball in recent memory at the college level. The scale of competition was off the charts. Some may complain about endgame management, but Coach Beilein again had the troops ready and prepared. The Wolverine offense was devastating. Coach Pitino’s comments about the quality of the Michigan offense are not lip service, but genuine and accurate. Michigan’s failure to defend screens cost the Maize and Blue the work of an entire half on four shots. In the second half, Louisville easily lost a couple of defenders on simple curls and no help was available at the rim.
The second half saw Louisville turn the game into more of a war. The Cardinals crashed the board and annihilated Michigan statistically in this category. McGary, following in the footsteps of Trey Burke, fell for a body fake and picked up a critical foul that changed the course of the game. Mitch fought hard and looked like a guy who was ready to deliver some physical punishment. He is a warrior, and next year’s success will start with Mitch’s toughness and his further development over the summer.
Eventually, the fouls and little things put Michigan in enough of a hole that the Wolverines, clawing as they were could not dig out. And a near miss goes into the record book. No team fought more valiantly and this team will remember the tough loss with pride decades from now. With time the accomplishments of this effort will far supercede the defeat.
It was Coach’s decision to sit Burke the entire rest of the first half after the second foul and it was Coach’s decision when to bring back McGary. Decisions like that are calculations and any talk of either choice being a pure blunder would be nonsense. The decisions, especially sitting Burke, can be defended easily enough.Coach Beilein needs A & P at this time, as does the team. A & P stands for appreciation and pride. For those of us with long memories and numerous birthdays, years ago A & P stood for a national giant, The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, the largest retailer in America.
The team deserves A & P, perhaps more for the heart, effort, and confidence than the actual wins (although wins are nice as well). The brand of Michigan basketball got a massive Madison Avenue type advertising effort, all for free. Sorry, New Yorkers, but if the author had a very talented son, the offspring would go play in the massively exciting Michigan style versus the Cuse let it happen offense and 2-3 zone. Michigan may be the most exciting team in America.
Plenty more little stuff comments could be made, but more upsetting than the loss may have been the non-stop hot air coming out of a certain commentator. But at CBS, this guy fits right into the self-anointed, overvalued mix. The true curse is the causal follower with little technical knowledge actually believes this guy must be automatically correct. His commentary was worse than listening to two Dick Vitales on an Urban Meyer worship mission.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
Go Blue — Wear Maize!