A look around the Internet after Michigan’s victory over IU.
“This is what John Beilein dreamed about during those long summer days in 2011, when he and his staff were sitting in parking lot construction trailers while the next foundation of Michigan basketball was being constructed.
Before the rash of NBA lottery picks and early draft declarations, when Beilein watched as Michigan rebuilt the Crisler Center and constructed its now state of the art William Davidson Player Development Center, he envisioned a program built and managed by experience, talent and responsibility.
Not that he didn’t enjoy the results of that influx of unexpected NBA-ready talent, which pushed the Wolverines to the national title game in 2013, and to the Elite Eight the following year. But it was off-script.
This team? The present-day version of Beilein’s Michigan basketball? This is as close to the original blueprint as he’ll ever get.
“We’re like a no-maintenance type of team,” Beilein said Sunday after the second-ranked Wolverines romped their way to a 15-0 start with a 74-63 win over No. 21 Indiana in Ann Arbor. “It’s just, we get to coach basketball with them. That’s the way it was last year.
“Guys just doing the next right thing.”
The days of rolling three or four players through a program for four years and then having a magnificent senior day every spring have been gone for some time.
Beilein came to Michigan with that plan in mind but was forced to adapt early. He recruited Trey Burke to be Darius Morris’ backup and an eventual four-year point guard. Burke never backed up Morris, who left school for the NBA after two years, and lasted two himself — leaving as the consensus national player of the year after a sparkling sophomore campaign.
Michigan recruited Glenn Robinson III for longer than he actually played here, getting a commitment from him as a sophomore in high school before losing him to the NBA after two years. Nik Stauskas had almost no offers as a prep school player, yet he was gone after two years.
Michigan is going through its share of early departures these days. D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner both left early.
Beilein has adjusted.”
“No matter who lines up across from redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews, the opposing player is going to get the same treatment.
That even goes for Indiana star freshman Romeo Langford, who is considered a lock to be a first-round pick and is even projected by some mock NBA drafts to be a lottery selection.
“Charles sees everybody the same way,” sophomore guard Jordan Poole said. “He’s a dominant scorer and he’s a dominant defender. Charles doesn’t put himself in situations where he thinks about anybody else or matchups or guys who are going (in the) lottery. Whatever the situation is, Charles is looking at who is front of him and he’s going to try to kill him.”
In a top-25 matchup with no shortage of NBA scouts on hand, Matthews stole some of the spotlight by outperforming Langford and helping lead No. 2 Michigan to a 74-63 win over No. 21 Indiana Sunday at Crisler Center.
Matthews set the tone on Indiana’s first possession, where he jumped the passing lane, deflected a pass and drew a foul on Langford just 36 seconds into the game.
From there, Matthews continued to breathe fired and posted one of his most impressive halves this season, making his first five shots from the field as the Wolverines roared out to a 19-point lead midway through the first half.
“I know he wanted that challenge,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “He’s got a lot of respect for Romeo and as a fourth-year guy right now, we wanted to play through him as much as we could and see what he was going to do in that situation.”
“Michigan is now 15-0 to start the 2018-19 season. The Wolverines are one of three undefeated teams remaining in college basketball. (Good day to you as well, Virginia and Houston.) The program is one win away from matching the two best starts in program history — a 16-0 mark, coming in 1985-86 and 2012-13. In trying to figure out how this has happened, it’s worth remembering the origins of it all — how this unit was molded and where it’s previously been.
Michigan did play in the national championship game nine months ago, mind you — a fact that often seems acknowledged, but not valued. When considering Michigan, perhaps it’s worth remembering that most of its roster navigated six NCAA Tournament games last season. You think a team that played in front of nearly 70,000 people at the Alamodome is going to be intimidated by a road venue or high-strung about a top-25 conference game?
But let’s get back to Poole, because he has plenty to say.
“If you look at it a couple of years ago, everyone considered Michigan soft,” he continued, rehashing some familiar old stereotypes. “Then, a couple of years after, there were a couple of guys who were tough. Then, last year, we had half-and-half. You had some guys who you could consider tough and then you had some guys who you really wouldn’t consider tough.”
Interesting. It’s unclear which camp Poole, now a sophomore, would include himself in. It is sufficient to say, though, that while he came to U-M with what Beilein would later call “an overdose of swagger,” few would’ve referred to Poole as “tough” when he arrived. That edge sharpened over time. And that, overall, is Poole’s point.
“Now it’s literally every guy — every guy on this team is tough,” Poole said. “Since that’s become the culture here, they look for tough guys, recruit tough guys. This is the situation everybody here has been put in.”
Entering this season, the heaviest question hanging on Michigan was replacing Moritz Wagner, a first-round NBA draft choice; and steadfast seniors Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson. What was undervalued, though, was that while those three left a 37-point hole in Michigan’s statistics, they did not walk off with the culture that was handcrafted by Zavier Simpson, Charles Matthews and Beilein’s recently overhauled staff. Despite being reshaped personnel-wise, this is the same team as a year ago. This is the same team that won its final five regular-season games last March, stormed to four wins in the Big Ten Tournament and ultimately forced its way into the national championship game three weeks later. Since Feb. 11, 2018, Michigan basketball is 29-1.
This season, returnees from a year ago have accounted for 78.4 percent of the minutes played and 75.3 percent of Michigan’s scoring. It’s essentially the remnants of the 2018 Final Four team, plus Ignas Brazdeikis (granted, a massive addition).
Poole’s point was that the program — Simpson, namely — found a way to cultivate more fight and fire out of the likes of Wagner and Robinson. “He turned Moe into being an aggressive guy,” he said. “Then that turned into Duncan.” And whereas those traits had to be taught or drawn out a year ago, hence that never-ending storyline last March, they’re now the expectation.
The 2018-19 team walked into the gym with that intact.”
“For the first 10 minutes Sunday, Michigan played about as well as a basketball team can. The Wolverines built a 19-point first-half lead by harassing Indiana at one end, sharing the ball at the other, and looking like a team eager to show what it could do against a fellow Big Ten contender.
Whenever the visitors made a serious push, Michigan responded, leaving Crisler Center with a 74-63 victory.
Michigan, at 15-0, is now one win shy of tying best start in program history. The Wolverines were 16-0 in both the 2012-13 and 1985-86 seasons. By handing No. 21 Indiana its first Big Ten loss, Michigan joined Michigan State as the only teams unbeaten in league play.
The second-ranked Wolverines got 18 points apiece from Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole in a game in which they didn’t have Isaiah Livers and dealt with foul trouble.
Livers did not play for the second straight game as he deals with back spasms. The sixth man went through warmups with his teammates, albeit not at full speed. Just before tip, a team spokesperson announced he was “doubtful” to play.”
“As Zavier Simpson converted a hook shot, extending the Wolverines’ lead to 16 with 14:35 to go in the game, Indiana coach Archie Miller shouted and punched the air in anger, frustration spilling into body language.
Miller spent most of Sunday’s game standing on the visiting sideline with his hands on his hips, shaking his head after missed shots, exasperation open — putting on display just how far ahead Michigan is of his team.
If there was a game for the Wolverines to lose, this was it. Sophomore forward Isaiah Livers missed his second straight game with back spasms, meaning Michigan coach John Beilein had no choice but rely on freshman Brandon Johns and redshirt sophomore Austin Davis at backup center. The Wolverines have sputtered in every game for a month. Indiana is a top-25 team with two All-Big Ten-caliber players in Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan.
It took only minutes for Michigan (15-0 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) to prove otherwise, and minutes more for the Wolverines to take an insurmountable lead on No. 21 Indiana (12-3, 3-1) on their way to a 74-63 win.
This, in contrast to a month of games against subpar competition, was the Wolverines of November, back in full force. This was the team that went into Villanova and stunned the national champs, then ran North Carolina out of the building two weeks later. They stayed undefeated and they looked good doing it.
From the jump, this was Michigan’s game. Sparked by Charles Matthews on both ends, the Wolverines started the contest on a 9-4 run, extending their lead to 23-9, then 30-13, all before the 10-minute mark of the first half.”