April 10, 2013

McCormick opines on U-M season

ESPN college basketball analyst Tim McCormick has plenty of thoughts on Michigan's run to the national championship game and its aftermath. He weighs in on a number of pertinent topics.

Here's McCormick…

On Michigan's season, culminating in the loss to Louisville in the national championship game: "I enjoyed their run immensely, but it wasn't just in the NCAA Tournament. I had fun watching this team the entire season. They were so fun to watch. They were well coached.

"But the thing that really, really caught me off guard is how much the players like each other. There is no doubt this is a high-chemistry team. They had a couple of flaws, based on their youth. Physically, they were not a real strong, macho, powerful team that could match up against some of the bigger, stronger Big Ten teams on a consistent basis.

"But it was okay. They battled really hard. There weren't very many games, maybe one or two, where I though that effort could be questioned.

"The skill level is fabulous. I would put their skill level right up against the championship team. When I say skill level, I include the ability to shoot and pass, and their ball skills were as good as any team in Michigan history."

On whether he thought the Wolverines were going to win the championship game when they were up by 12 on Louisville: "I did. I absolutely did. But I leaned over and told my wife, 'You know, this thing's not over.'

"I saw Louisville down 18 in the second half to Syracuse in the Big East championship game, and they stormed back and won by 17. This is a team that plays in spurts. I thought the game would come right down to the wire."

On freshman Spike Albrecht's effort in the championship game: "The first thing that popped into my mind is, I spend a lot of time working with young kids on their basketball skills, the basketball camps and just in the gym, one-on-one. I smiled and thought, I can now go to any little ballplayer that might not be super athletic or jump high, or is not going to be 6-8, and given them the message that: 'Why can't you be Spike?'

"He looks like any kid you see walking through the halls of any normal high school. He just clearly has out-worked people. He has so much confidence that has been developed through hours in a gym by yourself, out in the back yard shooting by yourself, working at ball-handling drills, dribbling up and down the basement stairs, doing all the rudimentary fundamentals that you learn when you're in kindergarten. I thought it was a fabulous message.

"The second thought I had was, I was concerned about the point guard position next year at Michigan -- how quickly Derrick Walton could come along. Would he be ready to step in? Those fears went away immediately.

"Albrecht is a kid that has no fear. He handles the ball against pressure extraordinarily well. I don't know if he can duplicate what he did in the championship game, but he certainly is going to be a very good college point guard."

On the national buzz regarding the officiating in the title contest: "I don't blame the officials, at all, for the loss. There were 10 bad calls against Michigan, but there were 10 bad calls against Louisville as well. I've seldom been one that blames officials.

"However, John Beilein's system takes advantage of putting four shooters, four face-up players, on the court at once. Chane Behanan was the difference in the second half. Michigan had no ability to box him out and contain him.

"That happened from time to time. Glenn Robinson is probably a lot more of a three than a four. He certainly battled, but he was mismatched in the second half physically. That's something that, I'm sure, six weeks from now, when John Beilein sits down to watch the tape, in sure he's going to say that was a big factor."

(Tomorrow: McCormick talks more Wolverines, including NBA Draft).

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