Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: Jarrett Culver is my guy here and Culver is the difference between this team last year and this year, is having a guy that can take over games. That was Keenan Evans to an extent last year, but Culver is maybe better at it (which should say a ton about Evans). Culver scored 22 on 9 of 19 with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 1 turnover.
Defender of the Game: I don’t even know how you pick a guy after that defensive performance, but that’s why I get paid the big bucks. Tariq Owens wasn’t the presence that he normally he was, but he was a vacuum on the defensive boards, grabbing 8 defensive boards, 10 overall, 2 blocks, a steal, and scored 7 points. Blocked shots aren’t always impactful, but can be emotional and I thought Tariq’s emotion was as impactful as ever.
Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: We’ll go with Davide Moretti who scored 15 points on 5 of 7 field goals, 4 assists, 1 steal, and no turnovers from your main ball-handler. Playing in front of his mom and brother in a Texas Tech uniform is a big deal. Let’s keep that going.
- A normally relatively good Michigan offense was relegated to absolute dust by the end of the game. That Texas Tech defense was the best defense I’ve ever seen. We can talk about technique and how the Texas Tech defense is a “no middle” defense, which is great, but the difference between teams that talk about technique and those that do go on to the Elite 8. The fact that these guys are able to execute to almost near perfection is what separates this team from any other team that I’ve seen. Think about how most of the time when you watch college sports, it’s usually a bunch of guys who are relatively young and end up making mistakes that cost your team in the end. But the way that this team has absolutely executed the game plan is just different level. Michigan shot 33% from the field overall and 5% from the three-point line. Michigan was so flummoxed that they only made 65% of their free throws and that lone three-point bucket was made by a walk-on who was just itching to get up a shot and with the hope that the Wolverines would make just 1 three-point bucket.
- It took a while for the Texas Tech offense to get going, it was an early struggle as Texas Tech and Michigan traded blows on defense. The Red Raiders would only make 36% of their first half buckets, but by the time the second half had rolled around, the offense was absolutely humming, making 52% of their shots, and the Michigan defense just didn’t have an answer.
- Check out that shot-chart, the only way that Michigan could score is if it was basically at the rim. They made 2 shots outside of the line for 99% of the game (I’m excluding that last three-pointer).
- This series of plays were get up out of my chair.
THROW IT DOWN, TARIQ! pic.twitter.com/NscLXvlv81
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) March 29, 2019
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 29, 2019
- In the preview and GDT I mentioned that if you could force Michigan’s point guard, Simpson, into some foul trouble or get him out of sorts that Michigan would have a tough time on offense and his official line is 0-5 with 1 assist and 4 turnovers.
- I was pretty nervous in the first half when Michigan was really exploiting Texas Tech’s switching on defense. It seemed like the Red Raiders were piling up fouls and Michigan was doing a decent job of recognizing the switch and just throwing it to the 7-foot center to shoot, but the Wolverines could never really get out of their own way, partly because the Texas Tech defense is just relentless.
- You know what reared its beautiful head last night? The assists were in full force last night, 12 assists on 24 buckets, half of the buckets were assisted. The box score will show 8 turnovers, but it was really just 5 as there were 3 that were very late in the game that didn’t matter. Texas Tech made every possession count and Mark Adams should get a ton of credit for being the defensive coordinator, but whoever is the offensive coordinator should get a ton of credit for absolutely shredding an elite Michigan defense. Offensively, Texas Tech never looked flustered, even late in the shot-clock. That’s not unusual as Texas Tech just normally doesn’t get nervous. There were times that luck was on their side, the Matt Mooney heave for a three-pointer and the Kyler Edwards three-pointer in the second half were absolute daggers. But this is a confident bunch, they could not be any more prepared than what they are right now.
- Texas Tech emptied its bench in a blowout win to go to the Elite 8. Let that sink in.
- I thought this exchange with Michigan head coach John Beilein was pretty terrific and an acknowledgement of how difficult it is to prepare for Texas Tech and goes to my first point about how Texas Tech is not just having a plan, but executing that plan to perfection:
Q. Coach, you obviously knew Texas Tech’s defense was very good, but was there anything when you see ’em out there live that, like, made you think even better?
JOHN BEILEIN: Without question and that was the scouting reports we heard from the different people that played them during this year, that you’re going to be amazed at how quick they are, right, how good they are at staying in front of people and how they rally to the ball, which usually gives us open threes and you still can’t get open threes. They really have a great plan, which we don’t see much, really pushing everything to the baseline and we just weren’t good at that. We picked up our dribble. A lot of things we worked on in the two days that we practiced for this and we couldn’t get far enough against a team that has been practicing that defense for six months, really.
Q. You mentioned that not many teams push everybody down the sidelines. Why do you think more teams don’t do that? What’s so difficult about that to teach that and to execute that?
JOHN BEILEIN: That was a common defense back in the 80s, before the three shot a little bit, everybody was pushing things down, ball screens people do it. But they do it with everything. They will not let you go middle and it sets them up to take away ball screens. But what it was giving up was the corner three. If you have a shot blocker it’s a little bit different and giving it away or the basket. They’re quick and long at doing that. I looked at Culver’s stats. He’s got five steals some days and then Matt Mooney has five steels and then Davide Moretti has five steels. They’re really good defensively. You can play any scheme you want, but if you don’t have good individual defenders, they have turnovers. We are second in the country at 8.8 in the country. They’re quick. They’re good. They’re long. They’re veteran. It showed, and they’re well-coached as well.
- Head coach Chris Beard:
I want to congratulate Michigan on a great season. Just really pleased and happy for our players to advance. We came to Anaheim to play 80 minutes, so we’re halfway there. But the top of our list of why I’m so happy for our guys is I think we just beat one of the best teams we’ve played all year. We guarded at a high level, played team basketball and played 8 guys in the rotation and everybody made rotations.
I’ve always thought that was the key is in March everybody has to play well. Sounds like captain obvious, but you have to bring something to the game and I thought the eight guys we played tonight really did and we were locked in on defense and we had just enough assists to keep our offense balance. I thought the guys played well. Pleased I get to coach these guys another day, another pregame meal, another practice tomorrow. I don’t want this to end, man. These guys are so fun to coach.
And this exchange between Beard and Culver was fantastic:
Q. Jarrett, kind of playing what Coach just said there. When you look over to the sideline and see how passionate your coach is and how much he’s enjoying the game, how much more is does that make it fun for you guys out on the court, being able to soak it in?
JARRETT CULVER: It has a huge impact on us. We see Coach he brings outs the best in each individual, so we out there trying to play hard for Coach. We don’t want it to end. We all brothers on the team and we want to keep playing. So we out there playing as hard as we can. Coach coaches us hard and he’s expecting nothing less than the best out of us.
CHRIS BEARD: Culver, you having fun?
JARRETT CULVER: Yes, sir.
CHRIS BEARD: We should do this again next year together. (Laughter.)
- Up next is Gonzaga. Saturday, March 30th at 5:09 p.m. CST.
Chris Beard is one of a kind. 😂
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 29, 2019