The Life of a Freelance Basketball Scout – Game 16 – Michigan vs Maryland

The Life of a Freelance Basketball Scout – Game 16 – Michigan vs Maryland

 

March 3 – Michigan vs Maryland

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 Lucky me. Once again I was blessed with the opportunity to sleep in. Remember, I went to sleep at like 2 a.m. My wife got up with the kids probably around 9 a.m. I slept until 11:20 or so. Now, once you have kids you never sleep straight through the night. It’s impossible. There is an internal clock that is always going off at random times. This could be for a number of reasons. I blame it on the times of waking up at 4 to 4:30 to give the kids a bottle; or, when I worked at a liquor distributor and had to wake up around the same time. Nevertheless, I slept in! I woke up and had a shower. I ate some potato soup with the family, and proceeded to watch “The Kitchen”, on Food Network. Look….. I either watch sports or food shows. That’s what I live by. You can judge however you want.

 

I left for the game at 2:15, for the 3:45 tip in College Park. Well it started sleeting basically. So I-295 was a lot of fun. People really can’t drive in any type of weather. It could be too windy, too cold, too hot, too sunny or too dark. It doesn’t matter people suck at driving, especially in this area. I picked up my credential at a location on campus and then parked in the parking garage. The walk was about five minutes or so to the arena. I have arrived. I grabbed a water, two cheeseburger sliders, some tortilla chips, and then made my way to my seat. I was just happy that I was in the building. Keith Sneddon, a communications director for men’s basketball for the University of Maryland, squeezed me in. It was much appreciated. It was Maryland’s 100 years of basketball celebration. There was a ton of legends in the building. Gary Williams, Tom McMillen, Steve Blake, Drew Nicholas, Lonny Baxter, Tony Massenburg, and Melo Trimble just to name a few. It was a huge game and nationally televised. Michigan had their own celebration planned.

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The game was pretty back and forth throughout. Michigan eventually took the lead for good midway into the second half. They started making some three’s late and that is what put the terps away. The crazy part about this game was that both teams starting five’s scored in double figures. Ignas Brazdeikis was the player that Maryland struggled with the most. At 6’7 215, he showed an ability to attack the rim and draw contact, or pull up for jumpers. Darryl Morsell just couldn’t do enough to stop him. Iggy beat him off the dribble regularly. Iggy fed into the crowd big time. They were chanting “you are ugly”, during foul shots. Mark Turgeon had the PA announcer tell the students not to do that cheer. They listened, but were still booing and verbally going at him all game. Iggy was blowing kisses and acted like they weren’t loud enough. He finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. The big Jon Teske had the task of slowing down Bruno Fernando. He made Bruno work and was a real obstacle for Bruno down low. Teske is developing his jump shot and starting to add some range to it. He made one three pointer out of six attempts, but the potential is there. He needs to add some lift and arc to his shot to do so. Zavier Simpson is a player that was transported from like 1940. He is a throwback point guard. Zavier is a past first guard and a lockdown defender. He rarely looks to score. When he does score it’s likely from a running hook shot to the right side of the basket. Now this hook shot is not Kareem’s. Kareem would catch the ball in the post, maybe make a move or dribble and go up. Simpson is literally driving from the perimeter to a specific spot and then kissing the ball high off the glass. It’s some crazy muscle memory voodoo going on there. Like seriously, how much has he shot that shot? (Patrick Ewing reference). Simpson made like three or four in the game and they were all clutch shots near the end of a shot clock.

 

To me the game was attainable for Maryland. The one player that they really ride or die by struggled mightily. Anthony Cowan could not buy a bucket. He was 4-15 from the field and 1-7 from three. That is not going to get it done. He also had 4 turnovers and four fouls. It just wasn’t his day. Bruno was effective like his usual self. He had twelve points, ten rebounds and six blocks. No shot is safe around him in the paint. He can cheat and be exposed in the post at times though. Overall Maryland just didn’t play disciplined enough on defense. They were bad in the pick and roll with Simspon, and Iggy just cut them up on drives.

 

After the game I debated going to the press conference, but it was about 6 p.m. on a Sunday and I had pizza waiting for me at home! I met up with my Dad to give him a ride back to his vehicle back at our church in Glen Burnie. He rode to the game with a group that goes to Maryland games from our church, Faith Baptist Church. We walked to the garage on campus, waited a solid 15 minutes to get out of it and then waited another 15 minutes to get off campus. After all of this and talking about the game with my dad on the ride home, I arrived at my house around 7:35. This big basketball weekend for me was capped off with some truffle fries, pizza and whiskey and coke. SOLID WEEKEND.

 

Side Note – Red Panda was the halftime entertainment. ELECTRIC CITY.

 

 

Walton Jr. And Michigan Start Cinderella Run Early

Walton Jr. And Michigan Start Cinderella Run Early

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The Michigan Wolverines defeat the Wisconsin Badgers by a final score of 71-56. Derrick Walton Jr. and Michigan completed an unlikely run to a Big Ten title in the nations capital. The Michigan Wolverine’s overcame an unfortunate plane accident during takeoff on Wednesday and seized the opportunity that lay ahead in running the table at the Big Ten tournament. This Wolverine squad is clicking on all cylinders and poses as a real threat to make a run in the NCAA tournament. Walton was named Big Ten tournament MVP and has been the catalyst for Michigan’s late season surge. The Wisconsin Badgers were playing well coming into the title game, but they really struggled from the floor only shooting 39% on the day.

 

Derrick Walton Jr. has shown a capability to lead his team to a level that many didn’t think was possible just a couple of weeks ago. Walton, a stat sheet stuffer as a point guard, finished with 22 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Walton is an elite level penetrator and when he may struggle with his shot at times he seems to always create other opportunities for his teammates. Walton will be the most important player for the Big Ten champs heading into next weeks NCAA tournament.

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Also leading the charge for Michigan was fellow senior guard Zak Irvin. Irvin tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The lengthy guard has been shooting at a high level recently and is extremely effective from the mid range or when driving the lane. Irvin will be a huge part of Michigan’s offense and defense if they plan on continuing their magical run late into March. The other bright spot for the Wolverines was junior power forward D.J. Wilson. Wilson played a solid tournament and was an anchor in the post. The solidly built forward (6’10 240) is a physical player with an ability to stretch the floor as well. He provided a toughness that was definitely needed against a scrappy Wisconsin squad. Wilson finished with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

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Wisconsin struggled to get any offense going during the contest. They had 15 turnovers and only shot 39% on the day. They had zero points from their bench. Wisconsin is normally a team that spreads the ball around and gets contributions from everyone to some extent. That was not the case Sunday. Wisconsin was completely out of rhythm and ran into a buzz-saw in Michigan. Nigel Hayes had 14 points, eleven rebounds and two blocks. Ethan Happ had 14 points, eleven rebounds and three assists. Senior point guard Bronson Koenig scored 15 points.

 

The all tournament team was as follows

 

Ethan Happ

Nigel Hayes

Bronson Koenig

Zak Irvin

Derrick Walton Jr. – Most Outstanding Player

NCAA Tournament Schedule

 

Michigan will be a 7 seed in the Mid West Bracket and face 10 seed Oklahoma State Friday at 12:15 p.m.

Wisconsin will be an 8 seed in the East bracket and face 9 seed Virginia Tech Thursday at 9:40 p.m.

Walton Jr. Leads Michigan To Big Ten Title Game

Walton Jr. Leads Michigan To Big Ten Title Game

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Derrick Walton Jr. won the battle of the point guards against Nate Mason. Walton led Michigan with 29 points as the Wolverines defeated the Golden Gophers 84-77. Mason chipped in 23 points in the loss.

 

Michigan will continue its surprising run tomorrow against the winner of Wisconsin and Northwestern. Michigan got off to a huge start in the first half, but Minnesota eventually tied it 55 all midway in the second. That is when Derrick Walton Jr. took over. Walton used his elite quickness and burst to get into the lane and finish at will. He also made several pull up clutch three’s. This was all Michigan needed to pull away late in the game. Walton showed why he is considered one of the best point guards in the Big Ten. He set up his teammates on several occasions. He also has the ability to elevate and chip in on the glass with the big boys. Walton finished with 29 points, nine assists, five rebounds and two steals. Walton will be a huge factor if Michigan looks to make a run next week in the NCAA tournament.

 

Mo Wagner also provided stability in the post as well as on the perimeter. The 6’11 sophomore power forward made six of seven shots, including two from three. Wagner had 17 points and four rebounds, all of this in just 18 minutes of action due to foul trouble. The other factor for the Wolverines was 6’6 senior shooting guard Zak Irvin. Irvin is at his best when attacking the lane hard, using his athleticism and length to his advantage. He has an ability to hit the three but has been inconsistent this season. Irvin finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

 

Michigan is a very dangerous team on offense. The question for them going into the tournament will be can they stop the other team from scoring. Today they did a decent job until the game opened up at the end and Mason got several free lay ups. They will be in line for an eight or a nine seed depending upon how they do in the title game. That will provide them with yet another tough matchup in the first round, and especially if they advance from there. But hey, at least they will avoid Dayton this time….