My thinking about this season had gotten very uptight. But I’ve had a revelation.
I was convinced that the 1985 season was the comparable one for this year, but I was watching the 1989 Michigan game, you know the one where Jay Edwards hit the game winner as the buzzer sounded and Bob Knight jumped up and down a little bit (more on that later), and I realized that this season may very well be Bizarro-89.
Now, for something to qualify as Bizarro it has to appear very similar in many aspects, but have a totally opposite conclusion. Bizarro is the mirror image of Superman. He looks like him (kind of), he dresses like him (kind of), he married Bizarro-Lois and once saved Jimmy Olsen, but he talks kind of backwards and does whatever the opposite of saving the day is all the time.
Here’s the case for Bizarro-89.
89 – Jay Edwards
14 – Yogi Ferrell
Talented freshman big man
89 – Eric Anderson
14 – Noah Vonleh
Senior leader from somewhere much sunnier
89 – Joe Hillman (California)
14 – Will Sheehy (Florida)
Tough Big Ten season
In 1989, the Big Ten was the best conference in basketball. The National Champion came from the Big Ten (Michigan) as did a second Final Four Team (Illinois).
In 2014, the Big Ten is the best conference in basketball. No idea how the tournament will shake out, but the conference has beaten each other up all season.
Here’s where it’s Bizarro.
In 1989, played a brutal non-conference schedule with games against Syracuse, North Carolina, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Kentucky and we lost all of those except to UK, who actually wasn’t any good that year.
In 2014, we played a terribly weak schedule. We did play Syracuse and Notre Dame and lost both of those games, but we replaced UNC, Louisville and Kentucky with Stonybrook, North Florida, and Nicholls State.
In 1989, we won close games in conference, often coming from behind in the final minute. We won the following games by fewer than 7 points.
@ Purdue 74-73
@ Wisconsin 61-58
@ Michigan 71-70
v. Minnesota 66-62
v. Purdue 64-62
v. Michigan 76-75
@ Ohio State 73-66
In 2014, we have lost close games in conference, often crapping the bed in the final few minutes. We’ve lost the following games by fewer than 7 points.
@ Illinois 83-80
v. Northwestern 54-47
@ Michigan State 71-66
@ Nebraska 60-55
@ Minnesota 66-60
v. Penn State 66-65
Both teams based a lot of their offense on dribble penetration. But prior to a drive to the basket in 1989, there would be near-constant ball and people movement and a lot of screening. Prior to a drive to the basket this year, Yogi and Will have to yell at people for 20 seconds to get them in the right place on the court, then Yogi or Troy drives. In 1989 they finished or made soft accurate interior passes. In 2014, we travel or throw passes to people who aren’t ready for them nearly as often as we scored.
In 1989, our #11 was a 6’9″ Center in Todd Jadlow.
In 2014, our #11 is a 6’0″ point guard in Yogi.
In 1989, our #3 was an All-American talent and clutch scorer, Jay Edwards
In 2014, our #3 is a walk-on, Jonny Marlin
In 1989, our #44 was a fifth-year senior, scorer and team leader in Joe Hillman
In 2014, our #44 transferred out at Christmas.
In 1989, our Columbian was Magnus Pelkowski.
In 2014, our Columbian is Hanner Mosquera-Perea.
In 1989 we won the Big Ten title.
In 2014 we didn’t.
Me like 1989 version better.
Addendum: I promised to get back to Knight jumping up and down after Edwards hit that shot. I only recall seeing Knight do that one other time, when Alford hit the game winner @Michigan in 1987. We Smart hit the game winner, Knight swallowed his water. When we beat Michigan at the buzzer he jumped around, arms over his head, like a maniac. Bob Knight clearly hated him some Bill Frieder.