Epic Fail: Tourney Hopes all but Dashed

Following Michigan’s official-aided choke job in Iowa City last night, the chances of this edition of the Michigan Wolverines are all but eliminated. Of course, if the Wolverines were to go on a run to end the season, taking at least 2 of the last 3 and one in the Big Ten Tournament, they would have a very legitimate argument. However, Last night’s game was considered a must-win because it was the only likely win left on the year. How did it happen?

Michigan actually got pretty good shooting throughout the first half, and in spurts during the second. When David Merritt hit two 3-pointers in one game, I thought the fates were smiling upon Michigan. Then, Manny Harris gets an egregious no-call with under a minute left, followed up with an egregiously bad call against DeShawn Sims on the rebound. Iowa is able to tie the game with free throws, and take it to overtime. Once they got there, hot shooting from them, and poor shooting from Michigan, aided in large part due to Manny Harris’s being benched (more on that later) and poor shot selection, led to a Hawkeye victory.

I honestly don’t know what Manny Harris did to just about every referee in the Big Ten (and nation), but nobody is officiated more unfairly (at least in a negative way) than Harris. He can’t draw a blocking foul to save his life, as evidenced by perhaps the worst-called charging foul of Michigan’s season, when Iowa’s defender wasn’t even remotely close to being in position, and what should have been an and-1 for Harris turned into a 3-pointer for Iowa on the other end, keeping the Hawkeyes in the first half early. A similarly awful no-call happened near the end of regulation, where Harris was completely mugged going to the rack, and even Iowa fans were completely dumbfounded that there was no call. Compounding the incompetency of the officials, they called a horrid foul on DeShawn Sims (instead of what should have been a jump ball), effectively handing the game on a plate to Iowa.

Of course, officials aren’t perfect, and the Wolverines het their share of bad calls as well, but it’s the impact of the calls that go against Michigan that has killed us this year. The charge on Harris changed the game, because if it was called as it (quite obviously) should have been, Michigan starts turning that game into a blowout. The no-call and bad call at the end of regulation decided who would win the game, something that shouldn’t have happened. When bad calls go both ways, but the bad calls against Michigan effectively render the best player on the floor useless, it’s going to hurt one team far more than the other.

As for the “don’t whine about the officials, because the game shouldn’t have been that close in the first place” argument, that’s bullshit. Things happen that cause games to be close, even when they shouldn’t be (and let’s not forget that one call fairly early in the game likely dictated that it would be a close one). Regardless of whether the game “should” be close or not, it was. The officials, through their incompetence, then decided who would win the game. That’s unfair, either way.

Harris Benched in OT
Manny sat on the bench through the entire overtime period, leading to rampant speculation among Michigan fans and even the announce team for BTN. Nobody really knows the true answer, except it probably had something to do with a) Manny being ineffective late in regulation b) Manny saying something unwise towards John Beilein c) Manny feeling like he couldn’t contribute to the team, and/or d) Beilein feeling like Manny couldn’t contribute to the team.

Before all the armchair coaches slam Beilein for “the worst coaching decision of his career,” think about that. His career spans every single level of basketball, and multiple decades as a head coach. He knows more about basketball than any of you. He probably knows more about basketball than most of you put together. Dude knows what he’s doing, and you don’t. End of Story.

The Upshot

As mentioned above, Michigan’s bubble status has moved from “likely to be in” to “in big trouble.” The game against Purdue is one of the last chances to prove they belong, and the final two road games are important as well. This team is growing, and there is no reason to give up on them now. They weren’t expected to make the tournament when the season began (perhaps not even the postseason), so even if they fall to the NIT, I know I’ll be in Crisler Arena, cheering my ass off for them. Will You?

Minnesota and Iowa UFRs (perhaps abbreviated) coming later this week.

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15 Comments so far

  1. tbliggins says...

    Officiating – on the whole I despise talking about bad officiating in basketball bc there is such a dearth of quality officials that every game is called somewhere on the scale from poorly to horribly. I didn’t think this game was called horribly. That said, it is an absolute disadvantage for us bc when Manny does not get calls in the lane (which seems to be virtually every B10 game) he becomes a perimeter player exclusively. That charging call in the 1st half was not only a joke, but I immediately just prayed that they could keep it close at halftime expecting to get nothing out of Manny the rest of the half.

    Sitting Manny the entire OT is inexcusable unless he talked back to the coaches after the regulation. Sitting him to start is fine (not ideal, though), but when you are quickly down 7 don’t you think you should try to put in your best player? And if he did say something worthy of sitting, then don’t blow smoke up everyone’s *ss in the press conference. Very disappointed in how that was handled by JB.

  2. Adam says...

    Watching the games this season, I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that the offense looks lost when Manny isn’t in there. For all of his turnovers when he is in there, he seems to be the only one who can open up the offense with his dribble penetration, with LLP a distant second. So when he didn’t put Manny in for the overtime, he had to understand that this was a possibility. Manny must’ve done something pretty bad…

  3. Ann Arbor 1879 says...

    I HATE when people bitch about officiating. It would be one thing if it changed anything (ie. in NFL football with challenges) but in a game where literally NOTHING is accomplished by bitching about it then why do it? It is an entirely wasted motion. Everyone knows the officiating is a joke, why waste the time bitching about it when NOTHING will change if you do?

  4. Tim says...

    Does posting a CIL change anything? Does covering recruiting change anything? Does analyzing UFR data change anything?

  5. Ann Arbor 1879 says...

    I guess you are missing the point. It only makes you look like a sad sack whiner when you bitch about refs. If you really want to change how bad it is then go to the clinics and become a ref and if you don’t ever make it to the big show and ref any big ten games then you are worse then they are and can finally be at peace. Until then, there is no reason to whine about it because it is a wats e of time and energy. A UFR is not a waste, it provides value and benefit to those interested. Covering recruiting provides info to those interested. I don’t even know what a CIL is… My point is that your opinion that “the reffeing was AWFUL OMG OMG” is not at all enlightening or valuable. First off it is well known to everyone. Second it won’t change anything AT ALL. Third, it only serves to make you look like a little kid who has to go sit in time out and has a red face and messed up hair. Nothing will change it. You just have to take it, just as everyone else does when it happens to them.

  6. UofMSnowboarder says...

    Tim’s opinion on the terrible officiating is just as valuable as his coverage of recruiting, etc. It falls in the “if you’re interested, you should read it, if not, don’t”.

    You’re bitching just as much as him, except Tim actually has something valuable to say regarding the game.

    You, on the other hand, are being retarded.

  7. Anthony says...

    The irony is overwhelming. Arguing in the comments section of a sports blog that a particular activity is ineffectual and therefore should not be undertaken…

    P.S. the reffing fucking sucked, and a commenter would be remiss NOT to point it out

  8. Ann Arbor 1879 says...

    I hope that you believe taking part in an act that changes nothing for better or worse is more “retarded” (pretty poor choice of words by you) than not taking part in that action at all. Other wise I would advise you to go into your backyard and slap two fresh trout together for the rest of your life. You would accomplish just as much as you would if you wrote about how poor the officiating was last night.

    Poor officiating happens to everyone. The best thing to do is to take it, bite your lip and move on knowing at some point you will be the beneficiary of the terrible calls. Bitching and moaning over it will never accomplish anything.

  9. Brian says...

    Ann Arbor 1879

    I agree with you regarding the reffs. Everyone hates the officiating. Even Sparty has this thing going with Hightower.

    Make lay-ups, play defense, and for the love of god get some consitency in your game.

    Caoch B will have us in the tourny eventually. But his recruiting, style of play, and history suggests we will NEVER be among the elite in college basketball.

  10. B Ready says...

    If JB benched Manny simply b/c of his play, then that was without a doubt the worst decision of his coaching career and pure idiocy.

    Nobody in their right mind, prior to OT, would have wanted Manny to sit, and yet a lot of people are backing JB on this. We lost by 10 without him in OT, so clearly it was not the right decision from a basketball standpoint. If Manny said something “bad,” then that may be another story, but if this was simply a basketball move, then it ranks right up there with Marty taking the wind, and not the ball, in OT for the Lions a few years back.

    You do not bench your best player in a pivotal game in OT. The team looked dejected psychologically, and could do nothing offensively. And with the guy who could have helped guard Kelly on the bench, he reeled off 9 points in OT.

    Against Purdue, we all said it would have been a different game with Manny in there. And now, when he was taken out, some are suggesting that it wouldn’t have mattered? JB is not a God here. He can make mistakes. And, if this was just a basketball move, then he made one that may cost us an NCAA bid and so much more down the line (positive press, recruiting help, Manny possibly bolting to the NBA, etc.)

  11. EchoWhiskey says...

    While I generally think the officiating in the Big Ten is some of the most inconsistent in college basketball, I think it’s becoming pretty obvious why Manny isn’t getting calls.

    With the disclaimer that I think the charging call against him in the first half was bogus, I think the play at the end was a decent no-call. If we’re talking about the same play, Manny drives by his man, has an open layup and proceeds to throw himself into the defender. He was playing for the foul rather than trying to score.

    This plays into my theory of why he gets no calls. Every time Manny goes to the basket, it’s a triple pump with a yell whether he gets touched or not. Right or not, refs see a pattern and aren’t going to reward someone who is more concerned with getting hit than trying to score. I think he gets mugged with no calls sometimes, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a player as concerned with getting fouled as Manny is. His first step is amazing, but he’s got lots to learn about finishing. Next year this will be corrected and he’s going to literally dominate most competition… I hope.

  12. jamie mac says...

    Manny. Two things stand out that makes me wish I had some insight.

    Coming back from commercial break, the cameras were right on Manny who was shaking his head in a stunned disbelief of sorts. Like he was still absorbing the fact his coach just told me he was coming out of the game.

    Secondly, down 4, Sims chucks up a 3 that was way off. Manny stands off the bench, snaps his towel towards the floor and starts wandering towards the scoring table. For a couple of steps he was step by step with Beilein. Man, what I would give to know what was said between the two of them right there!!

    It almost looked like Manny was about to try and check himself in. Beilein didn’t seem to respond either way.

    I know Paul did not want to talk about in the CIL, but that’s what I saw on TV and I was so intrigued by it. I really wish the BTN coverage was a bit on the ball. It was the biggest storyline in the OT and they had no way to even begin telling us what was going on.

    Very frustrating for a fan to see it transpire like it did. I think the kids battled their butts–like the have all season–and I hate seeing them come up short.

    Its going to be a big test this week for Beilein to build them back up the next couple of days….and, of course, can he get Manny to respond the right way?

  13. jamie mac says...

    How can anyone call this JB’s worst coaching move of his career?

    I’m dead certain we can find at least one or two things from the 2005 Regional Finals that can trump this one.

    And thats just one game.

  14. Grob says...

    Look everyone-

    Beilein is doing a great job:
    1. He has brought integrity and respect to UM that was lost.

    2. I would rather lose with class that go back to the money in the cakes, fur coats, and jewerly scam of years gone by.

    3. While some bad calls can be legit, it can look like excuse making–never a good idea.

    4. There are no quick fixes when there are no short-cuts. Beilein is on schedule, give him time to do his thing.

  15. Steve says...

    “4. There are no quick fixes when there are no short-cuts. Beilein is on schedule, give him time to do his thing.”

    Agreed 100%

    I had a bad feeling when up by 4 with ~2min left they started playing prevent. It made the team play tight and young teams don’t play well tight.

    I’d rather them run the offense and take time looking for a good shot than stall at midcourt until there is 10-12 seconds to go then start running the offense.

    But like was said earlier, JB knows way more about basketball than any of us.

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