Michigan Basketball’s Collapse: From A Michigan Fan’s POV
Michigan's chances at the NCAA Tournament went up in flames on Thursday afternoon with an uninspiring (to put it mildly) 62-50 loss to Rutgers in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at the United Center in Chicago.
The Wolverines finish the regular season at 17-15 and will now likely play in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) next week.
Ok, let's get to the guts of this:
THE SECOND HALF WAS AWFUL!!!!
The effort of the Wolverines in the second half against Rutgers should be an embarrassment to all former Michigan players and coaches. They failed to block out a shooter on a free throw, which is inexcusable. And they just mailed it in mentally in the final minutes, you could see it. There was no urgency at all. They had only three made field goals in the second half. THREE!!! Credit Rutgers' defense for some of that, but a lot of this is on the coaches.
PLAYERS LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NBA
I'm talking about Jett Howard and to a lesser extent Kobe Buflkin. These two guys look to me to be playing for themselves and their draft status in the NBA Draft more than they're playing for Michigan. Freshman Jett Howard (son of head coach Juwan Howard) has talent (and is projected to get picked in the first round by nbadraft.net), but he seems to be playing for himself and not the team. It's been that way most of the season.
Kobe Bufkin was not good yesterday, but the sophomore has made improvements over last year. He's improved his stock so much that he could go in the first round in June (see nbadraft.net projection in last paragraph). But like Howard, can get selfish and it's hurt the team.
JUWAN HOWARD HASN'T SHOWN TO BE AN ELITE COACH YET
His end of game decisions during multiple junctions of his tenure have been puzzling, at best. He never seems to get the ball to the right guy and they look disorganized in the final seconds.
This year's team has better talent than 17-15. They have better talent than Rutgers does. But Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell is a better coach than Juwan Howard is. And for Michigan to not make the NCAA Tournament is largely on Howard (pictured above). There are some that think that he should be fired after this season's failure. That's a bit premature, IMO. But the seat should be warmer underneath him for next season.
THE BAD LOSSES
The Central Michigan loss at home in December was a disgrace. They nearly lost to Ohio (won in OT). They gave away the Iowa game on the road. And they should've beaten Illinois on the road. And they also lost to an overrated Indiana squad twice, and that's not acceptable.
AND FINALLY...HUNTER DICKINSON
Hunter Dickinson is a pretty good college basketball player. But that's all he is. If he was good enough to go to the NBA, he'd be in the league by now. He's still not quick enough and not in good enough shape to play in the NBA. HE'S TOO SLOW!!!! But that's not my biggest issue with him.
Dude, stay off of podcasts and social media!!! You sound and act like a jackass when you rip other Big Ten schools and fanbases. And all the grief that you get in visiting arenas and on the Internet is grief you bring on yourself. I don't feel sorry for him.
Hunter, you can think whatever you want to think privately. But when you publicize your thoughts on (Name Your Podcast), you open yourself up to criticism that you don't need.
Folks, I've been a Michigan fan since I was eight years old. I make no apologies for my affection for them. And I'm not changing now. But I'm not going to be a "Yes Man" for them and make infinite excuses for them when they either play poorly or misbehave on or off the court.
This 2022-23 Michigan basketball season is/was a failure. Not making the NCAA Tournament is a failure. There are no excuses for the crap we saw this year.