[Ed: MVictors occasional hoops correspondent Bonus reappears in the aftermath of the victory of the Blue Devils, almost a year to the day since I published his coverage of the disastrous Harvard game. Welcome back and welcome aboard, BB.]
What a great W for U-M. Unlike their play last year that lacked organization and confidence, this team yesterday was poised and played a great all-around game. Here are the highlights from my view:
1. Great 1-3-1 defense. Guys moving quickly to contest most shots, forcing a great duke team into low percentage opportunities most of the game.
2. Big time game playing in key moments from our two emerging leaders: Harris and Sims.
3. Mr. Grady constantly pushing the ball up the court and keeping Duke on their heels. You got the feeling Duke was surprised by the aggression, almost like they were entitled to their style and pace of play.
4. Key long range shooting by Mr. Novak & Co.
5. Stepping on Duke’s throat when they were down late in the game. The last decade saw almost every Michigan victory completed in spite of themselves – hanging on despite late rushes from a more aggressive opponent and many defeats due to wilting under the pressure late. This team kept attacking Duke after most teams might have tried to play the clock. Thirteen for their last 14 from the free throw line is something that wouldn’t have happened with this team in recent memory.
6. The crowd. I haven’t seen a home game this amped in a long time. Success will breed better crowds in games vs lower profile opponents.
What a difference a year makes. Two top 5 victories already this season and the Big Ten is looking strong early. Everything I saw yesterday is reason for optimism with this program – win or lose, it’s how they played for 40 minutes which was different from anything we’ve seen from our squad in a while. Looks like Beilein is turning the ship around after all…
– I’m sick of Watching Crappy U-M Hoops [December 2007]