(Ed note: This is the first of what will be a busy week. The site is in a transition period. Come back Wednesday for much more content.
Seeing as I was in town for the weekend, I thought I'd share what I saw from the game on Sunday.
- I'm really going to miss Zach Novak. He is every bit the hustle player and gritty defender he's made out to be, and he made some clutch layups and drilled a 3.
- Stu Douglass seemed a bit off - wasn't quite in the rhythm offensively, but did spark some nice fast breaks. At least he seemed to constantly be communicating with Coach Beilein both in the huddles and during slower paces of the game.
- Speaking of off, Tim Hardaway Jr. had his "Manny" moment of the season. In foul trouble for part of the game, he spent much of the game in John Beilein's doghouse (or it seemed like it, seeing as I was right behind him). His body language was terrible the whole game - seemed to sulk a bit. Anyone else think so, or did I misread the whole thing?
- John Beilein looks a lot like a young Emperor Palpatine when he's sitting in the huddle - I keep waiting for him to crackle lightning at someone (I'm looking at you, B1G refs)
- There was a 7-0 foul discrepancy to start the second half. I don't want to criticize the refs too much - but that seemed a bit one-sided. If it wasn't just poor officiating (and anyone in the stadium would tend to agree that it was) that's poor discipline from Michigan. They managed to hold a lead against a well-coached team despite giving up FTs on every foul for the last 13 minutes or so.
- I love Jordan Morgan's energy, but he was out of place defending whatever that 7'1 guy on Illinois was.
- Holy wah, that guy can move - Michigan has had some problems defending mobile bigs of late, and Evan Smotrycz might be their best option there.
- Speaking of Smot, he had his best game in a while, despite being held scoreless in the second half - 12 points, some key rebounds, and no bad fouls. The guys I was with apparently hate the guy's play - I saw nothing to criticize, especially since he was guarding Illinois' best player and like I mentioned earlier, the guy can move.
- Worst chant of the night: 50 seconds left, Illinois starts chanting "zero talent' to Zack as he's taking FTs. He was at that point one rebound shy of a double double and the game was well out of reach. Classless.
- Player of the game: Trey Burke. He's so smoov. So, so smoov. I just don't get how he hits that top gear and keeps control. His layins on fast breaks were almost always contested, yet he was nearly perfect with them. When he penetrates, he's really, really good. When he pulls up and shoots, he's not bad either, but he reminds me of a young Darius Morris - he's a slasher at heart. Kudos to Beilein for letting him do his thing.
- The 1-3-1 is very, very difficult to break - and this becomes much more apparent when you have a competent big on the floor. At times, that was Smot, but at other times, Morgan got shredded (including in an opening dunk). Watch the whole floor when M goes to a 1-3-1 next time - they execute it like a Beilein team should.
That's it for now. Your thoughts?