OSU v. UM: third time's a third time
So, Reader Wise is inexplicably interested in finding out how the game's going from me instead of from, like, Yahoo! or something. That sounds fantastic. I've decided that I'm just going to update this post every time there's a timeout or lengthy stoppage of play, because ... why not. If you're scoring at home, or even if you're alone [/Olbermann], this is like my fourth different format for a "running notes during a game" post. Super awesomeness.
So what are my expectations for this game? Being the borderline-pessimist that I am, all week I have been resorting to the adage that it's extremely difficult to beat a good team three times in the same season. The thing is, the glaring question is obviously "Is Michigan a good team?" I suppose we're going to find out today. Things we know: the Wolverines played OSU very tough in the two meetings so far this season, as OSU closed out both games with late runs that 1.) put the first contest out of reach, and 2.) completed a come-from-behind victory in the second, largely enabled by some Tommy Amaker Era late-game gaffes (patent pending). Courtney Sims has been surprisingly effective against Greg Oden in the two meetings, as the two have almost canceled each other out (blocked shots notwithstanding). The difference in each game was an amalgam of turnovers and late-game execution (and probably Mike Conley Jr. - you can't overstate how important it is to have a really good PG when the clock's winding down).
In a very real way, this contest is a "put up or shut up" game for the Wolverines. Personally, I think a win puts them in the Dance. It's "gut-check time" and all those other tedious motivational slogans, but, you know, for realsies.
11:30 a.m.: I feel the need to update right now in order to let everyone know that Cinco de Cuervo will be teeing off approximately 13 weeks from right ... ... now. Do with that information what you will.
Pregame: Where the fuck is Brent? Oh, doing NASCAR. Balls. As such, we have Dave O'Brien and Steve Lavin. Oh, and Erin Andrews. She tells us that Thad says UCLA should be a reminder that the top team can lose in this round of the conference tourney. Starters for both teams are the same as always. UM comes out in yellow, OSU comes out in wifebeaters and capri pants.
Game starts: In nine years of the B10 tourney, the 1-seed is only 5-4 in the quarterfinals. Wow. UM's first possession uses up the entire shot clock, and ends with a turnover. Huh-HA, stereotypes!
Fast break off the miss, 2-0, UM. Oden and his "great" footwork forget the meaning of "pivot foot." Travelling. Both teams going 2-3, and Michigan looked to the high post and scored. Get OUT. Jump hook for Oden. Shot clock violation for UM. Playing ... slooooowwwwwwww. Cook is on a stationary bike with a "knot" in his leg. Oden drills two free throws - nice to see. Teams trade baskets (the zones look passive), and Conley with a backcourt steal leading to a foul. OSU timeout at the 16:03 mark, meaning we'll get another TV timeout in like 30 seconds. I hate it when coaches do that. 8-6, OSU.
16:03: HOLY SHIT. We're swinging the ball around the perimeter, and - get this - whoever is on the weakside wing is flashing to the high post!! I KNOW!! This leads to a wide-open triple for Lewis. 11-6. Another steal, but Lewis hoists a 1-on-4 three. "Bad shot," says Lavin. Yep. Charging on UM, aaannnnddd TV timeout.
15:04: Cook is off the bike and in the game. Lavin points out that the two teams are attacking the zones differently: UM is drive-and-kicking while OSU is always looking to feed the post, playing an inside-out game. I love Steve Lavin. UM is in a MANTAMAN. Dion Harris violently bricks a three (the rebound came out past the 3-point line), and OSU comes down and misses a lob to Hunter, but Sideshow Matt gets fouled on the attempted tip. Does he hit the FTs? Especially the first ... BUT ESPECIALLY THE SECOND. OSU stays 2-3. Wait, is that a 1-3-1? No, it's a matchup 2-3. Turnover, but Conley misses the contested layup. Michigan gets the ball to no-man's-land and hits a cutter, leading to a slam (Only BoD gets that). Charge on Conley. 13-8.
Terwilliger with the block! Lighty misses a turnaround in-and-out. That poor kid couldn't buy a bucket if he had won that MegaMillions thing. OSU is in a man-to-man now. Miss, offensive board, near-steal by Lighty, and a foul on OSU. Bucks bring a line change over the boards.
11:27: OSU back in a 2-3. I think we're going to this more because of how teams have tried to attack Greg early in games, trying to get a couple of quick cheap fouls on him. Rebs: 9-3 Michigan. Long 3 leads to another offensive board. Jerrett Smith airball hits Cook in the face and goes out off OSU. More patience ... then White Reed Baker hits a 3. Through the magic of TiVo, I go back and see that that UM possession lasted 1 minute and 48 seconds.
Harris drills a pull-up J to end a string of 5 straight misses. 15-11. OSU now in a passive 2-2-1 3/4-court semi-press, dropping back into a 2-3. Another offensive board, foul on Oden. Lavin points out that the zone has been effective in contesting shots, but we're getting killed on the boards. Misses the second. Cook takes it to the basket and gets fouled. O'Brien calls Cook "one of the best 6th men in America." Hmmmm. Erin Andrews says Wrigley sent Thad a shitload of gum because of that "5 second rule" incident against Wisconsin. 1 out of 2. 16-12. UM's inbounds pass goes out of bounds for theit 7th TO already. Oden with a follow-up tip-in. Petway tries a nifty post move leading to a reverse attempt, but Oden swats it. Cook drives the length of the floor unmolested for a layup. That was stupidly easy. The Other Sims gets another board, puts it in, and gets fouled by Oden. 20-14, with a FT upcoming.
7:40: FT is good. Conley does some shimmying crossover shit, finds himself open, and rattles in a long J. Michigan has missed 10 shots and gotten 8 offensive rebounds. That's somewhat offset by OSU's 9-0 lead in points of turnovers, as both teams play down to their Wonk profiles. Surprise! Conley's dad is eating popcorn. 2 free throws for UM. Long 2-pointer by Lewis after a skip pass from Sideshow. Wide open 3 from Abram. 24-20. Good ball movement from both teams. UM back in a 2-3. Butler shoots a 3 from Joliet and bricks it. Nice: that alley-oop to Petway's gonna be on SportsCenter. 5:22 mark. Book it.
OSU misses but Michigan picks up a nickel-dimer of an offensive foul. Refs called him for hooking, but that looked cheap. Hunter flashes to the foul line and hits a wide open 12-footer against the zone. I nod appreciatively. Everyone in OSU's 8-man rotation has scored except ... Lighty. Hunter intercepted a pass, but came down on the endline. Woops: the clockkeeper reset the shot clock. Let's set it for, let's say, 6 seconds. Why not. No, make that 8. Huh. Miss, ad OSU pushes, then pulls it back out (not an effective method. Ew, gross.). Oden misses a hook. One and done for OSU on every possession. Dion Harris gets wide open as Lewis got stuck on the screen: 3-pointer. Thad is PISSED. Lewis decides to make up for it by shooting a Ron Lewis Patented 25-footer ... but he makes it. 29-25. Lewis has 10. Courtney Sims looks intimidated and shoots a weird leaning/fading away jumphook (seriously). OSU pushes a 4-on-2 for a pretty layup to Butler. Nice pass from Conley. 31-25.
2:11: Other Sims hits a long 2 at the buzzer of the shotclock. OSU was in a man on the out-of-bounds from under the basket, for some reason. Oden splits a 1-and-1. Lavin and O'Brien talk about how Conley is good. No kidding? Dion Harris's 3 at the buzzer of the shot clock (I should make a macro out of that) rims out, but UM gets the board (that too). Harris puts his head down and drives to the basket, drawing a foul. Is that 3 on Oden? Split-screen of the two coaches earlier, to illustrate their differences: Matta crouches, shouts, and gesticulates wildly while Amaker stands there with his arms folded. I'm sorry, Joel. Lavin says Matta is like Mike Ditka and Amaker is like Bill Walsh(!) or John Wooden(!!!!!??!?!?>A@*&(@*#). Butler misses, but Hunter gets one of those fouls where you're boxing a guy out and he tries to jump over you and you end up sort of undercutting him. But Other Sims misses the front end. Conley runs the clock down, gets into the paint and hits a short turnaround at the buzzer of the half. This game has been just about exactly what I expected so far.
34-29 OSU at the half.
Second half: Gorgeous post move by Oden = layup. UM is +9 in second chance points, while OSU is +11 in points off turnovers. Block by Oden, but UM gets it back in a scrum on the floor, and Smith hits Sims wide open for a dunk. Unlucky, but Oden can't take off like that 'til he knows we have the ball. Man-to-man. Oden misses. Oden blocks Sims twice in a row, but the second one looked like a foul. Aiyeee, I'll take it. Conley hits one of his little semi-runners, where he all of a sudden he just flicks to the ball toward the basket. 38-31. Oden tries for another block, but there's a foul. Who's it on? Butler? Yep. Courtney misses the first, makes the second. Ivan Harris misses a 3, then draws a frustration foul in the post on defense. Abram dribbles he ball off his foot and out of bounds. Lavin says turnovers have been the "only chink in UM's armor" today. Yeah, but they're on pace for 23 turnovers. That's less a "chink" than a big-ass hole in your armor. Ugly-but-effective jumphook by Oden. OSU in man-to-man. Probably Thad's response the rebounding problems. O'Brien does a passable raftery impression: THE KISS! OSU misses o the fast break, UM brings it down and Dion Harris airballs a 3. Michigan backtips the ball from Butler but it goes straigh to I.Harris for a 5-foot bunny. 42-32, Lavin thinks UM needs a TO. Petway misses a follow-up jam, and we go to a TV timeout.
15:54: It's the Hunter & Terwilliger show. Lighty almost picks off the inbounds pass. Hunter block's J. Smith's shot out of bounds. Keep it inbounds, kid! Whoa, for the first half of the possessio it looks like everyone's playing zone except Hunter. Are we busting out the box-and-1? I doubt it. C. Sims abuses Sideshow, but Hunter comes over to foul and prevent a bucket. Sims makes one out of two. OSU hasn't committed a turnover in the last 18 minutes ... nice drive-and-kick by Lighty, and Cook drills the 3. 45-33. Man D by OSU. The game's getting out of hand; UM can't keep stalling. Just as I say that, Abram hits a 3. That was a yooge bucket. Long miss by Cook; UM comes down and Sideshow fouls Sims away from the ball. Another near-steal by Lighty. Jerrett Smith hits a 3 and all of a sudden it's a game again. Othello Hunter shoots a 3 while I swear at my TV, but Cook sneaks in for the board and gets fouled. 1 out of 2. 46-39. Nice post feed to Sims, but Oden's mere presence forces him to try and double-clutch the shot, which he misses. Alley-oop in transition to Oden is actually too high for him. Udoh hits a Dreamshake turnaround baseline J, and I'm stunned. UM goes small and goes back to the 2-3. Cook misses a 3, but OSU gets the loose ball and calls timeout. UM is +20 in rebounds.
11:27: Oden gets Udoh 1-on-1 in the post, and Udoh just shoves him in the back so that OSU has to inbound again. Cook drives, misses, but tips his miss back in. Off a miss, Conley makes a great long pass to Lewis for the layup. Amaker calls a smart timeout. Gotta head this off right away. 50-41.
11:01: In the middle of UM's possession, I notice that Amaker is sending 3 guys to the scorer's table. Why didn't he put them in coming out of the timeout? OSU's gone man the whole second half, except when Oden's on the bench. Greg turns around and the ball's right in his face; he sticks an arm out and forces a jumpball. Smith misses a wild layup; Conley comes down and misses a layup in traffic. Nice steal by Lewis, but Smith sort of makes up for it by getting back and drawing a charge on Conley. Then he comes down and hits a 3. Hhhhanging 'round. Kid's got alligator blood. Oden gets fouled, but the ball comes right to Hunter, so it looks like a pass and nothing gets called, then Hunter gets blocked/fouled (can't tell) and Thad has a conniption. He gets T'd up. Bad timing for a T. And right after I type that, Lavin says it. Ooh, replay: aaaand both plays looked clean. Thad, you just gave up two made free throws for no reason. 50-46. And the announcers are talking about the 5-4 record of 1-seeds. Then a handcheck foul on Butler. Thad, Thad, Thad. Abram misses the front end, though. And we get a similarly-weak foul on CourtneyMan. That's his 4th, and it's Udoh time. Michigan is in a man-to-man on the under-the-basket inbounds, so the ball goes right to Oden, and he backs in, hits a leaning jumphook and gets fouled. Misses the FT. Udoh misses a J. Hunter gets fed slashing to the basket, but his shot actually hit the bottom of the rim. How does that happen for a 6'9" guy? On the secondary break, Abram hits an open 3. Immediate TO by Thad.
7:47: Near-steal by Petway, but OSU gets it back. Down low to Oden, and he makes a nice move to the middle and lays the ball in with his left hand while getting fouled. TV timeout.
7:24: FT rolls around and in. Jerrett Smith drives into the lane with nothing to do, freaks out, and loses the ball. They're feeding Oden non-stop now, and Udoh has no chance. Nice dropstep from the right block goes under the basket and leads to a reverse layup. That was one of the best moves I've seen him make. Missed shot by UM. OSU runs some clock, and Lewis gets fouled on a ugly drive to the basket. Lavin has the Big Ten getting six in. I'll believe that when it happens. Lewis hits both, and it's 59-49. D. Harris hits 2 FTs. Then Conley hits a 3 off a drive-and-kick from Cook. Another foul on Hunter, and Petway hits both. Gorgeous alley-oop slam from Hunter off a drive by Conley. O'Brien says OSU looks like "one of those teams that just has an extra gear they can go to." Eh, maybe. 64-53. Another turnover by UM. Ron Lewis hits 2 free throws. This game has gotten choppy. Lavin talks about how OSU has huge advantages over most teams because of the size advantage of Oden combined with how Conley never turns the ball over and makes great decisions. Okay, yeah, pretty much. OSU back in a 2-3. Terwilliger fouls Sims on a nice pass from no-man's-land. He hits the FT: 66-56. Backdoor wasn't there; Conley got greedy. Michigan flies back down, but Harris just loses the ball going up. D'oh.
3:52: I just noticed that Iva Harris has hardly played at all this half. We've been much more effective on both offense and defense with Hunter and Oden out there. Jumphook by Oden is good. A win will set OSU's school record at 28. Two FTs by J. Smith. Michigan goes to a trapping man-to-man. Hunter missed another long jumper. I'm not happy with him taking so many of those. Another offensive board for Michigan leads to a ferocious dunk for Petway. Lavin drops a Vida Blue reference for no apparent reason, and I love it. Oh, okay, he was talking about the "velocity" with which Petway dunked the ball. I would have liked it more if there was even less of a reason for it. Replay shows that Oden unintentionally punched Petway in the face on the dunk. 68-60 and with 2:15 left it looks like we might be in "tedious repeated fouling by the losing team" territory. Conley hits both. Smith loses the ball out of bounds. Obligatory talk about how people are dissatisfied with Amaker, while we get a token shot of Amaker sitting on the bench not doing anything. OSU uses shot clock and misses. Courtney misses a turnaround (he's clearly terrified of Oden now), but UM gets the rebound and Dion Harris misses a 3. Oden gets the board and gets fouled. Graphic comparing Oden's freshman season to those of other notable freshman big men: Ewing, Olajuwon, and O'Neal. Greg averages more points than all of them, more rebounds than all but Shaq, and has a better FG% than all but Ewing. OSU has 5 turnovers for the game. And there's fouling and missing and fouling and missing. Michigan raises the white flag and we're in clock-wasting time. Lavin is impressed that OSU seemed to take UM's best shot today. Aside from the turnovers, the Wolverines did play pretty well, but I get the sense that you could say that about most of their games this season.
Final: 72-62, OSU
2:05 p.m.: Oh dear. I just found out that my endeavor is mirroring one by Brian over at MGoBlog. See how wildly homeristic we both are!