clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Michigan in the Final Four: Required Reading

Michigan is playing a pretty big game this Saturday. Get educated, yo.


"Everybody's talking about the 2-3 zone," Thompson said. "That's not a 2-3 zone. The 2-3 zone has been with us since the dawn of time. It's the way it slides and moves out there, like a damn amoeba.

"The only time it's a 2-3 zone is when they're waiting for you to bring the ball to it. Then, it becomes something else."

Charles P. Pierce tackles the Syracuse 2-3 zone over at Grantland in a long piece from earlier in the week. This is a pretty popular talking point this week as the Cuse's identity is as tied to the zone as it is to the man that's been running it for years, Jim Boeheim.

Last weekend that zone defense decimated the vaunted Indiana offense, and a Marquette offense that should have known better (the teams already played once this season, and they share the same conference). Michigan's offense has been playing very well as of late, but it struggled at times with Florida's match-up zone.

The Syracuse 2-3 zone is such a highly specialized, well run defense that it presents a lot of problems to teams that just aren't used to it (and to those that are). Michigan will need to adapt in a hurry.


Continuing in the Grantland hour, Brett Koremenos takes a look at Michigan's pick-and-roll offense, and how that has helped drive the Wolverine's run to the Final Four. As you can imagine, a lot of this article is focused on one Mitch McGary.

For a number of reasons - younger, less-skilled players; a more compact area inside the arc; fewer rules benefiting offensive players such as defensive three seconds - college basketball has a lot of trouble reproducing the refined play of the NBA. The teams that can pull this off are difficult to beat, especially if their style of play is carried out by players with NBA-level talent. Since inserting Mitch McGary into the starting lineup at the beginning of the NCAA tournament, the Michigan Wolverines have become one of those teams.

Trey Burke also comes in for praise, because obiously.


Another really interesting thing was posted over at MGoBlog, an interview transcript with John Beilein and Jim Boeheim. HIghlights include this gem:

Q. Since you got to Michigan, long before it, too, the high bar has been where the Fab Five got to. Everybody was talking about that yesterday as well, 20 years since the Fab Five. Can you talk now what it's been like to coach with that as the shadow bar you were yet to reach until getting to it now, and what this means to Michigan in terms of having a team in the present tense, that if you win on Saturday, you will have gone as far as any of those Fab Five teams did, establishing a new high bar by accomplishing what you did by getting to the Final Four?

I've never looked at it that way, that it was a shadow bar or whatever. I think I know what you mean by that with the Fab Five. It's been about the complete Michigan tradition. 'Cause I go way back to it. I still remember the team that went to Philadelphia in the Final Four.

It was survival now for three or four years. Let's get into the NCAA tournament. We haven't been in there forever, let alone worry about getting into the Final Four. We realized the expectations, getting in the NCAA tournament, after you start to get there, four of the last five years, it's not enough, you have to win and advance.
That just creeps up on you. It's part of the game. To me it's just about continue to grow this program so that we're in position to be in this position. Hopefully one day, He's been in the Final Four so many times, he needs to win it or win it more. It continues on.

But we're all paid really well to do these things. Those are the expectations. We understand it. The Fab Five era is a great, great era here. I think everybody needs to remember there were great coaches on that team. Those five players were tremendous players, but there were great coaches on that team. That wasn't just five guys. If you're in Michigan, it's about the team, the team. I'm guessing there were 10 other guys on that team that were very important in that run as well.

Boeheim has a long interview as well. Long, but worth a read.


Finally, retired MGo-moderator Blue in South Bend continues a run of absolutely outstanding articles. This time he talks about Trey Burke and The Trey against Kansas. You absolutely have to read this. It is non-negotiable.

But I've watched the last few minutes of regulation and the first few minutes of overtime a half-dozen times. Each time I've tried to make myself believe that this is just something that happens sometimes. And each time I have failed. At this point I'm willing to swallow the clichés. Trey Burke wanted it more. He had the will to win. He put the team on his shoulders. He made the damn Statue of Liberty disappear. Don't try to tell me how he did it, or if HE did it or whether it was just one of those things that happen. Just this once I am willing to believe my eyes. Lady Liberty is gone. All that remains is Trey Burke pointing at the empty night sky.

Seriously, if you don't read it I am going to come to your house and pound on your front door until you read the thing.