A Guest Column by Brady Bonus – East Coast correspondent

CAMBRIDGE, MA - Well it looks like a new low established by the men in (black and) Blue ensures me that we will not be seeing an end to this fruitless, uninspired and seemingly aimless brand of hoops anytime soon. I guess it’s fitting that Tommy’s first milestone-setting, program-lifting hoops victory of his career comes at the expense of his own (old) team. Heading into Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge, a few things struck me and fellow UM alum Dave Henry pretty quick. Here’s my summary from the game:

Quick pre-game facts that ensured Michigan of victory:
• The slide-out style bleacher gymnasium closely resembled our high school hoops gyms.
• There was an Asian kid starting for Harvard [ed. Feb 2012: Yes, the "Asian kid" was Jeremy "Linsanity" Lin of recent NBA/Knicks fame]
• A starting five of all white dudes without scholarships for Harvard
• There seemed to be more Michigan fans present than Harvard fans, and we were much louder
• Harvard doesn’t offer athletic scholarships (stated twice for emphasis), and they led the season off with a 55 point loss to Stanford
• Tommy Amaker was coaching the opponent

Dave and I started the evening talking about what sort of victory would be considered unacceptable. I thought that anything less than a 20 point victory might be considered a setback for this young squad. Henry agreed. We soon realized that these arrogant assumptions about a team that hadn’t done anything special yet in this young season was inflated at best.

By now you know what happened, but here are some observations from the game action:

• Our guys are not good (or even average) three point shooters, yet they seem to be coached to take the three way too often, and way too early in the half-court set. I know Beilein is a 3 point advocate, but does he think these guys are going to suddenly find their range? Is Beilein that much of a one-trick-pony that he can’t coach to his players strengths?

• Michigan play-by-play guy (AKA the guy who sits next to color man Jimmy King) unfolds a picture frame of his wife and kids and puts it in from of him and Jimmy. This is either really creepy or one hell of a dedicated family man. Henry and I concluded that the 12-15 games that this guy has to travel out of town per year for UM hoops games don’t constitute this sort of bizarre over the top activity. Conclusion: This is very odd cubicle-like behavior, and this guy is either very needy or very overbearing. He should at least offer the left half to Jimmy so they can both bask in the warmth in their respective family bosoms:

• I know it’s a young team, but there are two dominant offensive modus operandi of these Michigan kids:
o Force outside shots with men in your face with a lot of time on the clock
o Drive to the hoop with your head down and force a shot (Manny Harris is the biggest offender)
There was a lot of bad shots and forced outside jumpers, a couple 3 on 1 fast breaks where the ball never left one man’s hands when it clearly should have been distributed for an easy two, and not enough driving to the rim. It seems to me this is a coaching issue, but it’s too early to tell. Beilein wasn’t benching any offenders, he just barked a few times and went and sat down to mope.

• There was one of those Sign Guys at the game. You know the type: Over 25 years old, starved for attention and with a creative streak that can’t be quenched just by home projects. He had a few duds, but his ‘2005 NIT Champs’ tickled me a bit, and I laughed in spite of myself (like Santa). Later, during Amaker’s post game courtside interview with ESPNU, the only time Amaker acknowledged the Michigan fans was when he looked up and this dude was waving the sign 5 feet in front of him, and Amaker graciously smirked and put up his hand with a ‘Thanks for the support gesture’. I don’t know the intent of Sign Guy, but I don’t think that he was thanking the ex ball coach. Classic Tommy though, classy but clueless.

• Any one of our guys could take any one of the Harvard kids off the dribble, yet they refused to do so and consistently settled for long range low percentage jumpers. I suppose this could be a fatigue/travel issue, but if so the kids should check out how Michigan used to travel and then consider whether a 2 hour flight should really be that draining.

• A few bright spots
o Freshman point guard Kelvin Grady (who came off the bench and never gave the spot back to starter Jerret Smith, staying on the court through the end of the game). He was one of the only guys on the court who was making things happen and creating separation from the defense. He’s gonna be good once he matures into a Point Court Commander.
o Sophomore Forward Udoh, who came off the bench and should be getting more time on the court soon replacing some Amaker stiffs that like to stand around.
o That’s about it

• The last few minutes of the game was the worst part of the Michigan performance. Michigan folded like a Donovan McNabb Super Bowl appearance getting outscored 11-0 to end the game without a fight. This game was characterized by long scoring droughts by Michigan who played like they should win based on their pedigree. I wonder if OSU fans will start buying Harvard T-shirts for when Michigan visits? That would be really funny watching Ohio State blockheads don crimson apparel.

• Tommy actually looked like one hell of a coach today. Who knew? Harvard played team hoops, didn’t turn the ball over, passed the rock, played hard and did exactly what they needed to do to win the game. It’s tough to tell if it was an inspired performance or a poor defensive showing by Michigan, not making it tough enough on the white boys from Cambridge. But it was a great team game regardless: back door cuts, crisp passes, few turnovers and long range shots when they were open and needed.

• The Harvard cheerleaders are more beat than the Michigan cheerleaders. Didn’t think that was possible.

• The kids stormed the court after the W like they won a national championship. You can’t blame em though, it was a big win for the program and they don’t have much else (besides great futures, summer homes and financial security) to root for.

• Beilein or any player shouldn’t blame this loss on the tough (actually insane: Alaska, DC, home, Cambridge) schedule for the past 2 weeks. Suck it up and rub some dirt on it, it’s an Ivy League opponent and you should have been able to sleep your way to a 20 point victory. The fact is you played sloppy, unintelligent, uninspired lazy hoops. You forced outside shots when you should have driven to the hoop, you didn’t pass to the open guy when situations demanded court vision instead of tunnel vision, and you let up on the boards and on defense when you needed stops. The schedule was tough, but well, tough shit happens sometimes: suck it up.

• I was impressed with Jimmy King. He was a generous and nice guy, had time for a word with everyone who wanted it. I told him he needed to put a jersey on and help the team out, to which he replied “Naw man. They’ll be aight. They’re young. They got spirit.” Well I’ll have to take your word for it Jimmy on the spirit thing, cause I didn’t see it at the end of this game. I just wish I would have had the wits to tell him he was young too in 91, and they seemed to do aight.

22 Comments

  1. Bonus, you are a beauty. Love the take on the Harvard cheerleaders and that fact that Shep totes along a family photo for inspiration during his broadcasts. He is paying homage to the only 4 people that are probably listening.


  2. Bone, so many choice takes in there. I’ve had my share of run-ins with Sign Guy. These guys have to come pretty strong to hang with the finest on GameDay.

    Biggie saw one of the best signs of all time at the Millen Man March in Detroit last year. During the march some dude had a homemade sign that read “I Still Hate Ainge” with a photo of Danny A. wearing his Celtic nut-huggers.

  3. Bonus, your takes on M hoops remind me of the Will Ferrell debate scene from Old School. Great stuff. But, I digress. Hopefully these kids will become better shooters as the season progresses. It can’t get much worse than this. Speaking of t-shirts, did you don your weathered, cigarette scorched “Harvard, the Michigan of the East” beauty for the big tilt?

  4. Henry wore a ‘Harvard: Michigan of the East’ shirt actually. I don’t own one. There were quite a few in the crowd actually. There was one Harvard Sign Guy that took a shot back at Michigan with something like: ‘ Michigan is Dum’ and pranced around the gym (can’t call it an arena) searching for accolades, as Sign Guys are wont to do.

  5. This lose only proves that Tommy can beat his own recruits. My hatred for Tommy has found new level.

  6. Excellent work. But no photo with Tommy Turtleneck? Would’ve made for a great X-mas card. I now return to doing ‘very odd cubicle-like behavior’…

  7. brady, one last thing–this report was picked up by mgoblog. nicely done. you’re good. which of course means bill martin won’t be contacting you.

  8. “Wolferines is dum. Go Havard!”

  9. to mgoblog: That’s how you debate!!

  10. That’s Beilein-ball. They’ll jack up 3 after 3 regardless of what’s going on. Everyone acts like he’s such a genius and innovator, but his offense generally turns into guys taking terrible 3’s with time left on the shot clock. The players never attack the basket and Beilein does nothing to take advantage of his player’s strengths, they either fit his system or they don’t play. The only chance Michigan will have of beating any good or decent teams is to get lucky and hit some 3’s like it was at WVU. I like how Michigan steal WVU’s coach, then they hire Huggins who’s a better coach then Beilein. Michigan did WVU a favor.

  11. Are you an idiot? You first say “There was an Asian kid starting for Harvard.” THEN RIGHT BELOW THAT YOU SAY, “A starting five of ALL WHITE DUDES without scholarships for Harvard.”

    You are an idiot.

    [Webmaster: He's saying they started 6 guys man. Makes this loss even worse.]

  12. I agree with the above comment; I would have made it had it not already been said. But I shall reiterate the last point: You really are an idiot.

    Don’t hate on Ivy League Basketball; if you recall, Princeton beat UCLA in the NCAA Tournament in the late 90’s during the Jim Harrick era, and UConn only beat Yale by 10 (and were actually down at the half) when they played during Okafor and Gordon’s championship year (2003-2004). Michigan just sucks…at EVERYTHING. At least losing to Harvard in basketball is still a DIVISION I loss.

  13. Sam – sucks doesn’t it? Unfortunately the threes at WVU were not luck. Need to look at Mr. B’s record initially. Until he recruits “his” kind of players – get used to losing to Ivy league schools – at least Appy Stae is not on the BB schedule – and yes – Michigan did WVU a huge favor…

  14. hey agro bloggers: i count the asian dude as white, ergo part of the starting 5. call me crazy. consider the definition of caucasian:

    Anthropology. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one of the traditional racial divisions of humankind, marked by fair to dark skin, straight to tightly curled hair, and light to very dark eyes, and originally inhabiting Europe, parts of North Africa, western Asia, and India: no longer in technical use.

    plus without ‘asian’, it would be ‘Cauc’ which really would be STUPID. i dont know what else to tell you besides buy a dictionary.

  15. Brewdaddy- An offense that relies on 3’s as heavily as Beilein does requires a lot of luck to be successful. The 3’s are not going to be falling every night and on nights like those Beilein teams don’t stand a chance because they don’t do anything else. They don’t play that great of defense and they certainly don’t rebound. That’s why he won’t be able to achieve consistent success against the great (Ohio State) teams.

  16. I am the SIGN GUY. Or rather one of the two sign guys.

    There was no Harvard fan with a sign that said Michigan is Dum. That was me, dressed up like a Harvard guy. I guess the joke worked on the above poster known only as ‘Bonus’. The UM fans around us were lovin’ it.

    http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h181/wil17son/IMG_0033.jpg

  17. SIGN GUYS starved for attention are posting photos of themselves a month-and-a-half after the game?? No, Willie, looks like the joke is on you.

    Well done, Bonus, you really struck a nerve with this post!

  18. I wouldn’t say “struck a nerve” really describes it. More like my friend e-mailed this link to me yesterday, I thought it was hilarious, and thought I would point out the excellent picture of my Harvard mockery. (That picture was posted online the day after the game, I believe, not a month and a half after the game)

    Sorry that picture isn’t funny to crotchety old men, but everyone I showed thought it was funny, so I guess this one little blog forum is the exception. I can handle that.

    And tell me again how a SIGN GUY is starved for attention any more than a blogger?

  19. Hey Sign Guy, I’m the only blogger here but what do I have to do with any of this? Now I’m feeling crochety!

  20. Willie, I thought your picture and sign were funny. It just struck me as funnier to see that picture now, in light of the post’s original commentary on sign guys. I meant no offense, only humor. Keep doin’ what you do, man.

  21. Alright guys, no hard feelings. And I wasn’t saying blogging was a bad thing, just like I don’t think holding up signs is a bad thing. I was just making a comparison between the two. I think the signs made the game more fun for just about everyone there, my drunk self included. And I think your write-up was pretty funny as well. For what it’s worth, I created a sort of Frankenstein sign as the game ended out of my other signs and it said “Tom’s recruits”.

  22. Pingback: In the Bonus: Looking at the Duke victory | MVictors.com: Michigan Football Blog

  23. Bonus, do you think Harvard’s Asian player was from “Europe, parts of North Africa, western Asia, [or] India”? Western Asia = Middle East, not the part of the continent where the people we call “Asians” come from.