I set out this morning to write something on Chad Lindsay's decision to transfer to OSU over Michigan. Of course, once I sat down to write that I realized that it was the blogging equivalent of putting cigarettes out on my arm, and that I should try to do something enjoyable for everyone involved.
So, I watched basketball highlights. A lot of them. Going all the way back to the start of the Big Ten season. And as I was watching these highlights from every single game (granted that it was available; thankfully MGoVideo omitted a couple painful losses from the archives) I figured that reliving basketball season one more time wouldn't be all that bad. Besides, it is the end of April and we haven't been getting a ton of good news lately. I think we all need a nice pick-me-up.
Welcome to part one of what will likely be a five part series where I watch highlights of Michigan's games to remind myself of just how awesome that whole thing was.
(A quick shout out here to MGoVideo, who does God's work compiling all of these highlight packages so that we can have access to them.)
@ Minnesota - Remember when Zak Irvin went off? He had put up a couple of clinics (6/10 vs. Coppin St., 4/8 vs. Stanford), but this was still in the early stages when we were all getting used to Irvin's rhythm on the court. And by rhythm I mean that every time the ball comes to him outside the free throw line and he senses even an inch of space, his jump shot is soon to follow. Michigan needed every bit of it as LeVert had a typically early season "bad Caris" game (4 points on seven shots, 4 turnovers) and GRIII missed most of the second half with an injury. This game was just a taste of the impact Irvin would have this season.
Also, Horford had 14 and 9 in this one. I guess this isn't going to be so happy of an exercise after all.
vs. Northwestern - For me, this one is all about Spike. There are four perfect Spike plays in this one, the kind of smart, quick passes that few players are capable of making. In the first play Spike gets a hand on a ball and tips it into the backcourt. He gains control, takes it at the defender and knows that he has a dump-behind pass to the trailing Stauskas. The second is a swing pass to the opposite sideline for an open Caris three. The third, a pass from the top of the key between two defenders as Horford flashes to the low block from behind the defense. Finally, left alone up top Spike knocks down a triple. Michigan has gone a long way developing NBA talent the last few years, but man oh man, the program players that Beilein is turning out are simply incredible. Exhibit A: Jordan Morgan's career. Just think, we get two more years of Spike Albrecht. How exciting is that?
Spike is also a big reason why the commitment of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and the recruitment of Aubrey Dawkins are exciting to me. Beilein knows how to find guys that other coaches overlook, and if he keeps developing two NBA draft picks a year as well as picking up a solid four-year backup or two in every class, Michigan is going to be incredibly hard to beat in the near future.
@ Nebraska - Woah ho ho, Nebrasketball came out of nowhere, didn't it? Michigan almost got flat out beat, and while there are a few other really nice highlights, the biggest one is Nebraska missing multiple opportunities before time expired. At the time this game seemed like a bad omen. Nebraska was still considered to be pretty bad and Michigan was still in the post-McGary malaise. Fast forward to now and two things jump out at you. First,, these teams were both much better than anyone gave them credit for at the time. Second, it is somewhat astonishing to realize that for as important as this win felt during the thick of the Big Ten race, Michigan eventually proved to have plenty of cushion to win the Big Ten title..
Outside of the close win, Glenn Robinson III had himself a game. Watching the way he performed in that one it is easy to see why he is entering the draft. Just the highlight package includes a beautiful 18 foot pull up jumper, a monster alley-oop baseline slam, and a steal-into-transition-dunk late in the game when Michigan needed it. He was 8/9 from inside the arc on the day and he looked every bit the first round pick doing it.
This was also one of the first sign of life games from Derrick Walton Jr. He scored in double digits and made one of the biggest baskets of the game, drawing a foul on a drive to give Michigan the lead. Over the next couple months he would show a knack for initiating contact and still converting the basket on drives, and that ability should serve him well next year as he takes on more of an offensive role.
vs. Penn State - It would be interesting to go back through every game Glenn Robinson III played at Michigan and count up the number of alley-oop slams. It has to average at least one alley-opp slams every other game, and I wouldn't be surprised if it is closer to one per game. This one is an almost effortless transition jam thanks to a 25 foot pass from Caris LeVert. It is almost like GRIII was playing a different game sometimes. One that takes place in outer space and none of us are invited to ever.
@ Wisconsin - Could it be anything else?
This was Nik Stauskas at his most lethal. Down the stretch with Michigan clinging to the last bits of its lead, Stauskas took over the game. He scored Michigan's last 11 points over the final three and a half minutes of the game. His shot above pushed the lead back out to two baskets, and he went 6/6 from the line after that to ice the game.
And that was the moment that it became clear, Nik Stauskas was not long for the college basketball world. Good luck in the NBA, Nik, and thanks for the memories.