Rushed Reactions: #4 Michigan 61, #4 Syracuse 56Posted by rtmsf on April 6th, 2013
RTC is reporting from the Final Four in Atlanta, Georgia, this weekend.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Michigan Attacked the Zone, Sorta. As well as anyone has to this point, at least. And, really, only in the first half at that. In what became something of a night of unsung stars, the Wolverines got four threes from Spike Albrecht and Caris Levert in the first stanza, helping to make up for cold halves from their typical gunners, Nik Stauskus, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway (2-of-11 in the first half). That trio didn’t get any better in the second half, finishing with a combined 4-of-18 night from beyond the arc, but the real key to beating the zone was the play of Mitch McGary in the high post. Michigan mostly looked offensively lost and tentative when McGary was out of the game, but even when he was on the court, the second half was mostly spent hanging on to a lead rather than aggressively trying to expand it. In other words, Michigan did just enough just enough times to beat the zone, and that’s still significantly more than the other teams not named Louisville have been able to do against it in the last three weeks.
- So… About Those Free Throws. Michigan should have won this game comfortably after taking a five-point lead and the ball into the final 1:10 of the game. Regrettably, the Wolverines missed five of its gimmes down the stretch (six, if you include one of McGary’s attempts that didn’t count) and that, combined with Michigan’s lack of timeouts (using the last one at 1:51 remaining), left a cavernous-sized opening available for the Orange. Ultimately, Syracuse had two chances in the final 30 seconds to either tie or take the lead and a questionable Brandon Triche offensive foul and an even more questionable decision by Trevor Cooney put an end to that mess in short order. Michigan certainly put an exclamation point on the notion of survive and advance.
- No Shows. Syracuse was unlikely to win this game without another sterling performance from its oft-schizophrenic point guard, Michael Carter-Williams, and the prophecy came true. MCW delivered a real stinker of a two-point, five-turnover, five-foul game, which was too much for CJ Fair (22 points, six rebounds) and Brandon Triche (11 points, eight assists) to compensate for themselves. On a similar note, the Michigan starting backcourt was mostly awful as well, hitting only 5-of-29 from the field and contributing a total output of 20 points tonight. But special and equitable mention needs to go to everybody’s NPOY Trey Burke, who played a solid floor game (four assists, five rebounds), but couldn’t hit the broad side of a Georgia barn (1-of-8 from the field) in the dome tonight. It’s unlikely that he’ll have two awful shooting games in a row, so that’s something to keep an eye on heading into Monday night’s game with Louisville.
Star of the Game. Mitch McGary, Michigan. No other choice here. He only had 10 points, but his 12 rebounds and six assists were absolutely vital to Michigan’s fortune tonight. Five of those rebounds were on the offensive end, no doubt contributing to the 14 second-chance points that the Wolverines were able to put down against the Syracuse zone. McGary’s six assists led to another 15 points, so if you do the math, you quickly understand that McGary had a hand in more than half of Michigan’s points tonight. And they really needed just about every one of them to hang on.
- “You’ve been prepping for this all year long. [...] Not all the hay’s in the barn. Still work to do.” — Michigan head coach John Beilein, on what kinds of preparations go into getting ready for Monday night’s championship game.
- “The best is yet to come… [he] has such a high ceiling to his overall game.” – Beilein, on Mitch McGary’s meteoric ascent from role player to key cog on a national finalist.
- “I’ve never indicated at any time that I’m not coming back next year.” — Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, in response to a question about his future.
- “The Big East is not there at all. In fact, there’s more Big East teams in the ACC than there are Big East teams in whatever the conference is, American whatever.” — Boeheim again, expressing his frustration about what the Big East has become.
Sights and Sounds. We caught this sign on the jumbotron above the court early in the game, but it took a while for someone to actually track down the owner of the sign, clearly making fun of Chris Webber‘s timeout troubles some 20 years ago. Pure and utter brilliance, but did a 10-year old really come up with this? If so, he should immediately quit grade school and start working for an advertising or PR agency.
What’s Next. A Monday night date with Louisville. This game will pit the nation’s best defense against the nation’s best offense, a truly unique contrast in styles and focus that ideally will keep everyone riveted to their seats throughout. Can’t wait.