This was a dull game, which is very good. In short, we survived an early push, dominated the middle minutes to build a big league, then coasted. Most people will see that it was a double digit win at home over a team that had been playing pretty well. They won't see the negatives of the final twelve minutes. We dared DeShawn Sims to score 75 and beat us personally. He is not Kobe Bryant, so he couldn't do it. It was refreshing to see us dominate at home again. In truth, we even dominated at home against Ohio State until an eerily similar apathetic finish.
This is what you want as you go through the conference season. You need to take care of business at home. Any game in which you can cruise with half-hearted efficiency in the final few minutes is a good one. It also showed that, as always, there are things to work on. It certainly feels better this weekend having a pair of wins in a row rather than three straight losses. How do you think Texas fans feel right now? Last week at this time they were undefeated, unbeatable, and one of the surefire elite teams in the Final Four. Now they are facing as many questions as we were. It just proves you can never draw any conclusions until the games are played.
Positives from the Michigan game:
The Big Three - JJ, Robbie, and E'Twaun were outstanding. It is now abundantly clear that to be successful we need JJ to be a force in the middle. No more drifting outside and shooting. As someone in the open thread said: Just wait inside for your dunk. We can count on getting 15-20 from E'Twaun like clockwork. Robbie is clearly a role player now, as he should be at this point in his career. His role is simply to be the jack of all trades and a key part of our offense. E'Twaun deserves a special mention for his six assists.
Chris Kramer - Doublegoldandblack gets the quote of the OpenThread:
I'm not sure which is scarier for a college kid. Herpes or Kramer guarding you for 40 minutes.
Six points and five assists is a lot of offensive production for the defensive stalwart. His steals have been down of late, but the five assists adds 10 points to our offensive flow. I still want to see him shoot more though. He is shooting almost 54% for the season from outside. He has an excellent mid-range jumper. Use it!
Keaton Grant - Welcome to your first game totally out of my doghouse, Keaton. He didn't like up the scoreboard, but he was aggressive and embraced his new role as the 2010 Marcus Green. He added a three, but it was his tenacity in rebounding that I liked. He can slowly work his way back into the offense and give us yet another weapon.
Bob Knight - Once again, I enjoyed his broadcast at the game. He showed a lot of class by meeting with the Paint Crew before the game, and the Paint Crew showed a lot of class by welcoming him. I think we have officially had a sign of the apocalypse. Bob Knight would rather set foot in Mackey Arena then at IU. I wonder if he would broadcast a game in Bloomington with Brent Musberger? Of course, to do so IU would have to be worthy of a big-tme conference game on ESPN. The question may not come up for awhile. One thing is for sure: There is no way Gene Keady would receive an equal welcome in Bloomington.
Negatives from the Michigan game:
The last 12 minutes - Thank goodness we had a 27 point lead at one point. There was actually a stretch where one or two more threes by Michigan would have made things awfully interesting in the end. We continue our trend of allowing a previous role player to get hot and have one of his best games of the season against us. Today it was Zack Novak. Honestly, we were lucky Michigan did not have Manny Harris today. He is more than capable of taking over a game like Evan Turner and would have made a huge difference in the end. At least we clamped down on Sims after the first five minutes.
I really don't have much else to say, so you guys can say it in the comments. This was a dull game, it wasn't in doubt for long, and we won. I feel like I am sitting at my computer trying to write about a particularly dull basketball game. That happened to me last Saturday when I was working a game during the Northwestern game. That game was 23-2 after 8 minutes and finished much like this one. The rest of the game was pretty much playing out the string.
Now we get our first rematch of the season with Wisconsin coming to Mackey Arena. That will be a big test because, in my mind, a victory equalizes the loss we suffered in Madison. We won't get that chance with Northwestern, but we do with Ohio State later on. Being 5-3 would look a lot better in the conference too. Michigan State is in the the middle of a brutal stretch right now. If we can beat Wisconsin we won't lose until we face them in East Lansing because we won't lose at home to Penn State or at Indiana.
Let's just do what we have to do. This week showed that everything else around the country will take care of itself. We can already count on moving up in the polls because Kansas State, Tennessee, Duke, Pittsburgh, and Texas have all lost in front of us. We now have some momentum going again. Let's keep it that way.