Dre's Blog: Final Four Thoughts (with Video)

GoBlueWolverine's Andre Barthwell on beating the Syracuse zone, the mood of the Michigan players, Jeff Meyer's class, the impact of the "going pro" and trash talk, and much much more. **Video interview with Tim Hardaway Jr. included.**

Syracuse Zone is Good, Not Unbeatable

Michigan was asked extensively about Syracuse’s length and how to attack their vaunted 2-3 zone. Michigan has played against length before in Ohio State although they played man to man against the Wolverines Michigan was successful.

Michigan has dissected zone defenses all year… Florida being the most recent example. While none of those opponents possess the Orange’s size or commitment to playing zone the entire game, it’s not ridiculous to think the Wolverines could enjoy similar success. Syracuse does a great job with its zone, but there are some effective ways Michigan can break the zone.

First off Michigan has to be patient and not be in a hurry to get a shot off. Against Florida they had any shot they wanted just by taking their time on offense.

Flashing Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitch McGary, or Glenn Robinson to the middle to put pressure on the zone. The Wolverines must do a good job exploiting that area of the floor, as it is an inherent weakness in Syracuse’s defense. Once there they must be aggressive and smart in how they attack. Indiana was rendered inept because Cody Zeller was not a triple threat in the middle. His shots were consistently blocked, he couldn’t put the ball on the floor, and he was an ineffective passer. Michigan’s players must be better.

Last, capitalize on transition opportunities, but if it is not there bring it out and run the offense. And remember, the only way to get that running game going is to get stops.

The Players

This team just does not seem in awe of the moment, and I believe there are a few reasons for that. The first is they are young and there was no pressure on them to be here at all. Second, I really believe playing in the best conference in America prepared them for this moment. Literally every conference game was important, they were ranked #1 in the country at one point, and the coverage resulting from those things provided enough the spotlight to prepare them for what they’re seeing at the Final Four.

Watching them out on the floor at practice yesterday they didn’t seem to have a care in the world. The guys were just happy to be doing something they love. They were laughing, teasing and trying to outdo each other in shooting drills just like they have been doing all year. Trey Burke is not even fazed by all the attention and awards he has received. What is clear with this young man is he genuinely enjoys being with his teammates.

The other part that sticks out is there’s not one player who is bigger than the team. They all treat each other as equals. This team is having fun on the biggest stage and it is not getting to them one bit.

Going Pro?

For the last week there has been consistent talk about Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway going pro. Tim was asked about the twitter rumor that spawned all the talk and it was clear he was not too pleased to take about it.

“I just think it is distraction and that’s what it is,” said Hardaway. “We don’t know where that came from because we never said it and for that to come out now is just a distraction.”

With successful teams these things pop out all the time, but I think they are handling things very well. Those questions well be answered after the season but first things first and that is the Orangemen of Syracuse.

Jeff Meyer

Michigan walked off the floor from practicing yesterday and Coach Jeff Meyer had stayed behind to do some more work. There were a few friends that wanted to say hi and take a couple of photos with him. Coach stood there and smiled for at least a dozen pictures. He wanted to share the moment with them. He had the type of smile of pure happiness and appreciation it was fun to watch.

It’s just another example of what a genuinely good guy he is. He has been asked questions again and again about the whole Tom Crean deal. He could talk about how wrong Crean was, but Meyer always takes the conversation in another direction. To call out the childish outburst for what it was is not his style, but class certainly is.

Trash talking

Generally players are spoken to over and over again about what to say and how to say it whent talking to the media. The plan as always is NOT to give the other team bulletin board material. It has been well publicized by now that Brandon Triche either did NOT get the memo.

“We played against Kemba Walker and held him to 8 points and I don’t see Burke being that much better then Walker”.

“I think we have mismatches at every position”.

Those are just a few of the quotes he had about Michigan. Tim Hardaway was asked about those quotes in his press conference by Rod Beard of the Detroit News and the junior guard clearly took exception to the disrespect shown towards his teammates.

“It doesn’t matter what he thinks or anybody (else),” Hardaway responded. “We still have to go out there and play the game.”

The facial expression Tim gave was one of whatever we will see about that when we get out on the floor. Now I don’t have a problem with trash talking because at the end of the day if you need bulletin board material to get you going, then you shouldn’t be on this stage. BUT, those are words can come back too haunt you.

Triche has given the Wolverines a little extra motivation and at the same time put a little pressure on himself and his teammates. When the ball is thrown up I am sure some may think about his comments but when the game gets going basketball skills and coaching will win this game not Brandon Triche words.

For the video interview with Tim Hardaway Jr., press play below.

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