January 18, 2013

McCormick: Signature win for U-M

Former Wolverine and present ESPN college basketball analyst Tim McCormick didn't think Michigan would win at Minnesota. The fact that the Wolverines pulled it off, in strong fashion, represents a really good sign, he insisted.

Here's McCormick…

On the win at Minnesota: "I fully expected Minnesota to win last night, for a lot of reasons. It's the biggest game in their building in 20 years. Andre Hollins is just now starting to get some national recognition, and I thought he would have a big game. They've got old frontcourt players that wouldn't be intimidated. The crowd was just going to be crazy

"Before the game, I thought to myself, if Michigan wins this game, they have every ingredient to be a Final Four team. They faced huge adversity from the standpoint of an Ohio State loss, a crowd that is going to be as loud as any of them have ever heard, against a team that is physical and mature and tough.

"I thought one of the keys was, Michigan relies on freshmen a great deal, and Trey Burke is still young. I just thought they would get physically intimidated.

"I thought it was their best performance of the year. It was mature beyond their years. I was like, 'Wow.' I was that impressed."

On the elements leading to the strong performance: "Tim Hardaway's shooting was big early. When you've got multiple weapons on your team, you're never really sure who to focus on. Jordan Morgan gets off to a little bit of a slow start, so 'That's okay. We'll put in [Mitch] McGary.' He really made some big plays.

"Defensively, Glenn Robinson really made life tough for [Rodney] Williams early. His defense was very good. Nik Stauskas was very patient. Nobody leaves him anymore. I thought he made some really important plays that provided a nice lift in the second half.

"There was a lot of good stuff. I really was impressed."

On the difference between all that went wrong at Ohio State and what went right at Minnesota: "Against Ohio State, Michigan was very dependent upon Trey Burke creating offense for everyone. That's a tough recipe, when you've got Aaron Craft, who does such a good job of keeping his man right in front of him.

"It just seemed like Michigan found more ways to score at Minnesota. They shot better, and the ball movement was better. I think Ohio State and Minnesota are very much equal teams. To me, they both look like Sweet 16 and beyond teams. I really think they're that good.

"Michigan got better. Good teams have an arrogance, like 'We're really good. It doesn't matter what you throw at us. We're going to have a chance to win.'

"Michigan went in there, and there were no questions in their mind, like 'Gosh, these guys are really good. We've watched film and they're physical. Last year it took buzzer-beaters to beat them.'

"Michigan was a little bit cocky, in a good way. They know they're good."

On having a week off between games: "It is a good time for that. This is a really tough time in the season. It's like the dog days of summer in baseball.

"The newness of the season is over. There's not a Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The holidays aren't coming up. There's not the excitement of the new year and starting the Big Ten season. This is when it starts becoming a little bit of a grind.

"One of the keys to Michigan's success is, they've been immensely healthy. The other teams at the top have not, around the country. Michigan, other than [Jon] Horford, has been really healthy.

"One of the other things I think is important is that this is a good time for the freshmen to take a breath. They should have a chance to have a Wednesday night and hang out with all their new friends in the dorm, go see a movie, catch up on their homework a little. Be a college student for a couple days, rather than a high-pressure athlete that has to act like a 22-year-old, rather than a 17- or 18-year-old. That's really important."

On what can still get better with Michigan: "This is a good time to get up thousands and thousands of shots. Ultimately, that will be the defining factor for this team.

"They're really good defensively, and everybody has learned their rotations. They help out well. They talk well. They're much better on the boards. Those things are going to create opportunities.

"In the half-court offense, they don't get much done in the post. So if they are going to have an off shooting game, that could potentially create problems. I would like to see them take this time to rest their legs a little bit and get thousands of shots up."

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