Game #9-040: IUPUI at Michigan WolverinesNovember 12, 2012 9:00 pm
I love coming to Ann Arbor, but I can't stand parking in it. Crisler Arena, home of the Michigan Wolverines basketball team, is located right next to Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the world. On football game day, you can stuff your car across the street from the Big House on the campus golf course for a token $40. On basketball game day, you're more or less on your own. On basketball game day when you arrive three and a half hours before tip, you better have a plan. My usual strategy involves parking in the neighborhoods surrounding the Big House, and allowing myself thirty or so minutes to mall walk to Crisler. This night, I parked my car nearly a mile away and arrived as I always do: out of breath and less than five minutes before the start of the early game between Cleveland State and Bowling Green.
Following the forty-five minutes of extremely enjoyable hoops from the Vikings and Falcons, I moved from the Wolverine Den to my ticketed seat. Moments after my butt touched vinyl I heard my first-ever stand tune version of Gangnam Style. This raised my Gangnam Count to three, a number I expect to grow exponentially in the coming weeks.
A few hours before tip, I received a helpful e-mail entitled "What to Expect Tonight at Crisler Center." In it, the evening's opponent was named as the "IUPUI Dragons," so one could imagine my surprise when instead the IUPUI Jaguars took the court. The mascot-based slight aside, I was excited to see the Jags in the post-Ron Hunter/Alex Young era. Longtime head coach Hunter left for Georgia State before the 2011-12 season, and IUPUI struggled with little help behind Young, posting a disappointing 14-18 record. This year, the Jaguars are almost entirely composed of fresh faces. Prognosticators often predict regression for squads with heavy turnover, but addition by subtraction happens more often than people would like to think. On of my favorite early season activities is watching these teams sink or swim, and watching unknown commodities become known.
One unknown that announced his presence very quickly was IUPUI starter Mitchell Patton. The big man moved his feet and positioned himself very well in the early going, setting good screens for his teammates and scoring clutch baskets to keep the Jags within striking distance throughout much of the first half. This is a guy to watch during Summit League play, as he can definitely be the catalyst for this Jaguars team.
Despite Patton's best efforts, a 9-2 run near the end of the period put Michigan up 45-31 heading to the locker room, but at this point the game was much closer than the margin would indicate.
Halftime produced another subtle Jaguars slight. Following a forgettable promotion, the video board lit up with the Michigan and Cleveland State logos, and the Wolverines PA announcer reminded all in attendance to join Michigan the following night as they battled Cleveland State in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Despite Michigan's Pomeroy-approved 96% chance of victory, I didn't appreciate the insinuation that the game was already over. That might fly in the Legends Classic, but in the Preseason NIT it could very well be Michigan facing Bowling Green in the losers bracket the following night. I started hoping that this would turn out to be the case.
Of course, Michigan came out in the second half and dominated with their superior everything. Trey Burke was Trey Burke. Glenn Robinson III continued to look like the second coming of Big Dog (which, I suppose he technically is). A 20-2 Wolverine run over the final six minutes of the game turned this one into a laugher. Of course Michigan would face Cleveland State the following night. Of course IUPUI would face Bowling Green in the losers bracket. As I bundled up to begin the chilly trek back to my car, part of me was extremely disappointed. IUPUI showed up, but they walked right into the meat grinder. There was no surprise, no suspense, and no drama. This contest had the unusual distinction of playing out exactly as scripted. Then I realized that this drama-free blowout was exactly that: unusual. I looked on the bright side - a sport where this is the exception to the rule is a pretty good one to be a part of after all.
Epilogue: Mitchell Patton hung 27 and 13 on my soon-to-be alma mater Bowling Green the following night. The Jaguars drubbed the Falcons 80-66 behind his efforts.at MICHIGAN 91, IUPUI 54
IUPUI 1-1 (0-0) -- M. McKnight 4-5 6-7 15; J. Hart 6-16 0-0 15; M. Patton 4-7 1-2 9; D. Gibbs 3-11 0-1 7; J. Shanklin 3-7 0-0 9; S. Esposito 2-5 1-1 5; M. Barksdale 0-2 0-0 0; L. Gaines 3-7 0-0 6; G. Rice 1-5 0-0 3; P. Hubert 0-2 0-0 0; C. Loepker 0-0 0-0 0; N. Kitcoff 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-63 2-4 54.
MICHIGAN 2-0 (0-0) -- G. Robinson III 8-9 2-4 21; T. Burke 8-15 2-2 22; T. Hardaway Jr. 3-5 4-6 10; J. Morgan 5-6 0-0 10; N. Stauskas 3-5 2-2 11; M. Vogrich 0-2 0-0 0; M. McGary 1-3 0-0 2; S. Albrecht 2-2 1-1 6; J. Horford 1-1 1-1 3; E. Akunne 1-3 0-0 3; M. Bielfeldt 0-2 0-0 0; J. Bartelstein 0-0 0-0 0; C. Person 1-1 0-0 3; B. McLimans 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 33-55 12-16 91.
Three-point goals: IUPUI 8-23 (J. Hart 3-7; G. Rice 1-3; S. Esposito 0-2; D. Gibbs 1-2; P. Hubert 0-1; J. Shanklin 3-6; M. Barksdale 0-2), MICH 13-21 (E. Akunne 1-1; M. Vogrich 0-2; B. McLimans 0-1; C. Person 1-1; T. Burke 4-7; M. Bielfeldt 0-1; S. Albrecht 1-1; G. Robinson III 3-3; N. Stauskas 3-4); Rebounds: IUPUI 21 (S. Esposito 4), MICH 39 (T. Hardway 7); Assists: IUPUI 12 (S. Esposito 3), MICH 18 (T. Burke 9); Total Fouls -- IUPUI 13, MICH 10; Fouled Out: IUPUI-None; MICH-None.