Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Peanut Gallery Tuesday

No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition...

Well, we were all riding pretty high after the Illinois game. Excited that Michigan was actually going to make the Dance this year, thinking about the Big Ten tournament, looking forward to a Football season where we could look back on the success of the Basketball team as a sign of good karma for the season ahead. Then the Detroit Free Press has to go and crap on our parade. In a rather harsh article Drew Sharp rips Michigan a new one for its handling of its basketball program.

Among the highlights of Mr. Sharp's little diatribe are the following:
  • "Let U-M put together a five-year stretch of conference championships, No. 1 NCAA tournament seeds and Final Fours, and you can put Michigan and Michigan State basketball in the same sentence";
  • "But Michigan won't close the basketball gap with Michigan State until the deep-pocketed Blue hairs upgrade facilities charitably categorized as pathetic. U-M ranks last in the conference in basketball facilities";

and my favorite:

  • "[Michigan] isn't a destination for basketball coaches. They don't pay. They don't invest. And unless they cheat, they don't reside amid the national elite."

Um, ok, we get it, you don't like us.

While I agree with Sharp's assessment that Michigan is not back on par with Michigan State in terms of basketball status, no one in their right maize and blue mind is even thinking that. Michigan has one win in its last 12 meetings with Michigan State. All of us who've spent time in Ann Arbor are savvy enough to look at that record and get the picture. I think Mr. Sharp needs to come back in off the ledge and put down the rifle.

One thing I didn't know was how bad the facilities are. If anyone has information on this I'd be grateful if you could share it. What I do know is that 10-15 years ago when Michigan was a premier program, the facilities were pretty damn good. But 8 years of sanctions will erase any interest a university has in investing in a sports program, plain and simple. No university, other than osu, which seems to take a "we'll show you, you asshole" approach to sanctions, invests heavily in a scandal ridden athletic program until the dust settles. Kudos to ohio state for their attitude on these types of things, but its not the "Michigan way" to throw their reputation and money down a sink hole like the one Fischer and Ed Martin created. Once Michigan is certain that the problems endemic in the program are cured, you'll see some money there. But until then, clean, profitable, and good programs will continue to get the bulk of Michigan's athletic budget. Maybe this year will be the year that gets Michigan back in that part of the recruiting game. We'll see.

With regard to the coaching issue, Tommy Amaker got a nice pay raise to restore respect to the Michigan program when he came over from Seaton Hall. Contrary to Mr. Sharp's assertions, he is not getting paid soley from the glowing admiration of the Michigan faithful. He's getting paid cash. Hard cash. Enough to make him leave a basketball rich recruiting area and a program that WAS on the rise when he left.

Sharp's last comment was a little out of line. Apparently he missed the 1989 season in its entirety. There have been plenty of good teams that came out of Michigan prior to the Ed Martin era, including Big Ten championships in 1985 and 1986 immediately preceding Michigan's 1989 National Championship. Prior to Martin, Michigan was clean, and Michigan was pretty damn good.

I'd also like to remind Mr. Sharp that his beloved Spartans only have two National Championships to celebrate, one in 1979 (there was a guy named Earvin on that team, he was good) and 2000. MSU only has one more title than Michigan.

So before labeling the entire history of a program as corrupt, dirty, and cheap, do your research.

For those of us that care about Michigan athletics, we've pretty wiped the success of the Martin years from our memories. To me, its as if they never existed because I like to believe that Michigan can and should win in a respectable way. I don't believe you have to sacrifice integrity or academics to be successful, and I'm ashamed that Michigan did that during those years. While many of us still enjoy the memories of the Fab Five running the court, stoned out of their minds, we know that those ill-gotten memories are just that. Memories of an ill-gotten past that are best remembered for what they taught us, and forgotten for the short term success they brought. However those memories do not diminish to contributions of people like Glen Rice, Roy Tarpley, Rudy Tomjanovich, or Cazzie Russell. Unlike Mr. Sharp, we at least realize this.

Important Basketball Update:

The Diag is reporting that Lester Arbam is back practicing with the team. While no one's sure if he can pull it off, Abram is shooting to return for the Indiana game.

Ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleasemakethishappen......

Monday, February 27, 2006

So Sad, Yet So Hungry....

Michigan 54 Ohio State 64

Prior to Saturday I had this great inclination to write my Michigan/osu recap directly after the game. This way I'd free up some time over the weekend to think about new stuff and to have something fresh for Tuesday and Wednesday. Didn't happen. Michigan played so bad I didn't want to think about the game until I was driving back from the boonies today. In comparison to the Illinois game last week, Saturday was a definite letdown. Not because they lost. But because of the way they lost.

They lost ugly.

In dropping Saturday's game against osu, Michigan turned the ball over 13 times in the first half alone. They took horrible shots. They forced themselves into corners. They took bad fouls. The refs also seemed to take a dislike to Graham Brown, calling him for what can only be described as iffy fouls, certainly not the kind you call in an important conference game.

What was more disappointing was Michigan's guard play. Horton, coming off his best game of the year, had his worst. He scored only 12 points on 4-16 shooting and committed 6 turnovers. No matter what he tried, nothing seemed to work. CBS's commentators were in a frenzy to declare Jamar Butler (who guarded Horton most of the night) the second coming, but in reality Horton just had an off night. While it was true Butler kept Horton from penetrating, Horton had plenty of open looks. He simply missed them. After scoring 39 a game ago, I'm not going to ride Horton at all. He tried to do too much on Saturday. And when you played as well as he did last week, you'd push too hard too.

Jarret Smith, who was so clutch in the Illinois game seemed to be suffering an Illini hangover as well. Though he didn't play badly, he wasn't nearly as up tempo as he was against Illinois and had an air ball that I'm still searching for words to explain. He was there, he just didn't stand out in any way.

More concerning was the play of Daniel Harris. Five turnovers, 3 points, and fouling out of the game. In watching him play, its obvious he's still hobbled. His defense, which is normally pretty good, was average. He had trouble getting separation for shots, and wasn't able to get the lift he wanted on his jumpers. Hopefully the break between the Indiana game and the Big Ten tournament will give him the time he needs to heal. He definitely needs it. For Michigan to go anywhere in either Tournament it needs Dion Harris to compliment Horton. So Michigan needs Harris to rest as badly as he needs it.

In the front court, Courtney Sims played another good game, contributing a double double in the loss. However, I have never seen a man who is 6-10/6-11 get blocked as often as he did during that game. Someone please teach him how to jump. When your 6-10/6-11, simply getting off the ground equals a dunk. Please teach him this. I'm begging you. Petway, despite having a solid game, missed several crucial tip-ins and makeable layups in the second half. He pumped in in 5 points and grabbed a team high 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. But unfortunately, I'll remember the shots he missed more than anything else he did during the game. They were that easy.

Graham Brown was a non-factor, spending most of the game on the bench, allowing Ohio State's starting offensive tackle Terrence Dials to absolutely destroy Michigan under the basket. Watching Sims try to guard Dials was comical. It was like Mr. Garrison vs. Fat Albert, and there was a cupcake behind Mr. Garrison. Dials threw down 22 points, grabbed 11 boards, and generally beat the crap out of anyone unfortunate enough to be near him. I think he ate one of the children sitting courtside, but the video evidence is inconclusive. (at right: Terrance Dials flexes after defecating on the Michigan frontcourt.)

No one could hit a shot. Open shots would not fall. Tip-ins turned into tip-outs. Rebound putbacks became offensive goaltending. Michigan shot a dismal 34% in the first half, and followed that up by shooting 40% in the second half. The outside three wouldn't fall for Michigan either. They shot 16.7% and 27% in the first and second halves, respectively. The best outside shooter on the team Saturday afternoon turned out to be Ron Coleman who went 5 of 12. However, he only shot 1 of 5 from three. Michigan couldn't put in the easy baskets when they needed them. Petway, Sims, Horton, and Harris all had easy baskets they should have made during the second half, yet failed to convert. When you're given opportunities to win a game, you have to seize them. Michigan did that against Illinois, but didn't have it in them Saturday.

Sadly, Michigan played solidly on defense for the second consecutive game. It wasn't until they missed four or five easy layups while within four points that Michigan finally packed it in. After those blown layups, the score stood at 40-36. Then osu got sick of the game and iced it with a 10-0 run to seal the game. Until that point, osu was only hitting enough shots to stay ahead. The defense was good. And if Graham Brown hadn't been ridden by the refs, it would've been close to great.

The loss to Ohio State, is annoying, but not all that bad in the grad scheme of things. OSU's beaten just about everyone this year. They are (and I hate to say this) a good team, with solid players all around. Michigan is a good team when it plays well. Saturday was not such an occasion. Even so, Michigan's RPI remains strong at 31 overall. That should be enough to go dancing, but, as I've said before, one more win would ice it.

Indiana is next.

Rising From the Dead...

I've had this recurrent dream where the dead rise from the grave and feast on the living. Maybe its because there's a scene in 40-Year-Old Virgin where Jay's watching Dawn of the Dead and screaming "bitch get out da room! Bitch Get Out Da Room!" But for whatever reason its there. I think I figured out why.

Indiana is pulling its best evil dead impersonation. During its last two games Indiana feasted on Penn State and chowed down on Michigan State's tournament seeding. (at left: Indiana eating your bracket before your very eyes). Now they get one more lifeless corpse to feed on at Purdue before visiting Michigan on March 3. Indiana had dropped 5 in a row before winning its last two. With nothing on the line other than pride, and, of course, braaaaiiiiiinnnnnns, they've played the last two games with the hunger they should've shown the last twenty. They'll come into Cristler famished, so wear a helmet.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Award Winning Edition of Maize n Brew

Abram Still Out, Taking Up Comedy to Pass Time

According to the Ann Arbor News, Lester Abram's ankle is still made out of cardboard. Apparently the ankle sprain he suffered in the Minnesota game back in January was some sort of side ankle sprain that is taking forever to heal. Having snapped an ankle myself (broke clean thru), I know just how bad rehabbing an angry ankle is, so I wish him luck. No timetable is set for his return, but it looks more and more like we'll see him in the Big Ten tournament rather than by the Ohio State or Indiana game.

Despite the fact that he's still haing trouble walking, he isn't having trouble keeping his sense of humor. When asked if he was upset or angry about his condition he responded:

"Yeah, it's frustrating,'' Abram said, then smiled. "I'm not going to cry about it. Do you want me to cry about it?''
Awesome. Not quite Jason Avant's "Nick Mangold Sucks. But he's up next" from his ESPN interview, but still awesome.

Speaking of the Hobbled

The Michigan Daily has a nice piece on Dion Harris's return to play against Ohio State. During the game against Illinois you could tell Harris still didn't have the push he wanted off his ankle. Hopefully an extra couple of days will have helped that. In case you forgot just how good he was playing against osu, Johnny's run-down of the game should remind you. If Harris is full strength, our backcourt of Horton, Harris, and Smith should be enough to counter osu's.

I May Be Just an Unfrozen Caveman...

Despite the near glacial speed of Lloyd's decision making in clearing out his coordinator's this year, Carr is touting the coordinator changes he made as proof he's capable of change. (at right: Lloyd calling plays during the Minnesota game.)

He said this while wearing the same pants he's had on for the past four weeks. When asked if he would change his pants anytime soon, Carr said he was considering many options in his own closet, JC Penny, Sears, and perhaps, maybe Nordstroms. Off the record he told reporters he was afraid his pants would disintegrate if they weren't immediately near him. He stated he would wear them until he knew for sure they wouldn't unravel once they came off. He also told reporters he would possibly wear them again despite how wornout they may be if he didn't like his new pants.

After telling reporters he was frightened by their lighting flashes and auto-mobiles, he said there would be signficant changes on both sides of the ball, especially the offense. These changes "hopefully will be obvious. The most important thing is it translates into performance." And if an unfrozen caveman coach, who is afraid of our talking boxes and honking horns, thinks we'll see changes, then dammit we'll see them.

Probably mixed too many jokes in here, but what the hell. My point was made.

Well Played, Sir. Well Played.

The boys over at The M Zone decided to have a little fun at 'ole Woody Hayes expense. I know. Shocker. They dug up an old picture of Hayes and Richard M. Nixon, and provided a little history lesson. Regardless of whether it was provoked or otherwise, it was still a good, cheap, mean-spirited shot that'll warm the heart of any Michigan fan. When looking at the photo remeber, only Nixon could go to China, but I'm still not going anywhere near Columbus....

What the F is Going on in the Big Ten This Year?

Big Ten Wonk pointed out to us that Northwestern, after beating Wisconsin last night, has beaten a top ranked team in the Big Ten twice this year. Huh? Yup. Their next shot at taking down a top team is Wednesday when osu shows up at Ryan Field House. While its still a tough task, the Wildcats seem to have found their "roar/meow" when facing good teams that take them lightly. With a record of (13-12, 5-8) the Cat's aren't dancin' but they can seriously screw up osu's tournament seeding going into March. (at left: There's Homer. There's Homer. There's Homer. NU takes down Wisconsin on Thursday Night.)

Funniest Thing in Blogging. Ever.

The boys at EDSBS found a blog full of the stuff to your right. I almost pissed myself laughing. The person who did this should get a pulitzer. You can thank them/me later.

Destroying the Counter Culture From the Inside.

Heisman Pundit put out its yearly awards yesterday and sadly Maize n Brew, perhaps because of its relative infancy, was left off the list. However, I belive you need to have given out awards for more than one year for it to qualify as a yearly award. Whatever. Rest assured Maize n Brew will continue to post and drink heavily in anticipation of the next blogger awards from Chewy's Blog. After all, the covetted Rrrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnhhhh Award is the only one that matters.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

All's quiet...

Strange. A day without any real Michigan related news. Honestly, there's not a whole lot of news out there in general. Even the boys at EDSBS are hurtin. Hell, even Brian's on vacation. Unfortunately, rather than being on an island south of Tahiti, I've been stuck in court all day so posting time is limited.

There is of course some news out there, so allow me to share it with you:

Drew Henson is set to take a "3 Month Vacation".
Apparently Jerry Jones hasn't given up on former Michigan quarterback (and guy who kept Tom Brady out of the spotlight) Drew Henson the same way the Yankees did. To prove it, Jones is wasting good money to send Henson to play for the Rhine Fire of NFL Europe for the summer. However, I'm not sure this is the reaction Jones had in mind from Henson after Drew spent last year on the pine:
"I heard that it was probably the prettiest city out of all the other teams in our league. I heard about downtown, the restaurants and the shops. ... So it'll be a great three-month vacation. I'm going to like hanging out with my girlfriend to just live life."

Never mind that multi-million dollar contract the Cowboys signed you to, you just go live life. While Henson never learned how to hit a curveball, he seems to have learned how to throw one. Gotta love the fact that Drew is "just livin' life" off of two of the most notorious owners in professional sports. Maybe he did learn something at Michigan after all. We'll see how Jones reacts. BTW, take a look at the photo in the Free Press article linked above. Scary....

More soon....

Ohio State preview up tomorrow

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Horton = Sun

Michigan 72 Illinois 64

Wow.

Down four at the half, Daniel Horton went supernova. Seriously. If you'd placed a generator on him last night he could've powered Las Vegas for the foreseeable future. (at right: Daniel Horton goes off on Illinois)

Here's his summary: Horton scored 39 points. That was the most any Big Ten Player has scored all year. What's more impressive is that Horton scored 39 against the fourth best scoring defense in the COUNTRY. Even better, he scored 25 of those points in the SECOND HALF. He went five of seven from three, and was a perfect eight for eight from the free throw line. Finally, he scored Michigan's last eight points, six of them on free throws.

Screw diamonds, planets are formed at those temperatures.

While it would be easy to say it was all Horton, and most of it was, he did have help. The inside presence Michigan has never consistenly had showed up last night. Graham Brown pounded on Augustine all game, failing to score a point, but grabbing 10 rebounds and being a thorn in the side of the Illinois big man. The biggest surprise was Courtney Sims. Sims scored 11 points, including going 5 for 5 from the line. He was the only Michigan player other than Horton to score in the last nine minutes of the game. He dished out four assists and grabbed eight boards in 30 minutes of playing time. His dunk with 3:30 left brought the crowd to its feet, and when he made the free throw after the foul, you could see the whole building start to shake.

Another standout player was now-mono-free Jarret Smith. Smith played just 15 minutes, but delivered 9 points and dished out two crucial assists down the stretch. The first was a bullet pass from just inside half court Smith threaded between two Illini that found Petway alone for a monsterous slam. His second found Courtney Sims for another slam plus the foul with 3:30 left in the game. The kid has a flair for the dramatic. While he was on the court he allowed Horton to catch his breath by taking the reigns of the offense.

Michigan did everything we've expected of them since they topped MSU and Wisconsin in back to back games. They played defense. They caused turnovers. They ran the court. They made great passes. They dove for loose balls. They wanted it more. (at right: Daniel Horton ices the game)

Michigan's bench outscored Illinois 13-0. They won the rebound battle. More importantly they played solid defense. Horton, on top of turning into a Pheonix, was glued to Dee Brown all night holding him to 8-19 shooting. Graham Brown pounded on the more athletic Augustine the entire game until fouling out with about a minute and a half left. Sims played hard too, forcing Augustine away from the basket and fronting him every chance he got. Michigan held Illinois to 46.6% shooting for the game. Even better, they held Illinois to 28.6% shooting from behind the arc, a testament to Michigan's guards and forwards contesting every shot and fighting through the screens and picks to get to their man.

What made the game even sweeter was the bullsh#t Bruce Weber pulled before the game, and the obnoxious Illinois fans that ESPN couldn't seem to get enough of. A chef's hat? Gimmie a break fat boy.

Michigan now stands at 8-6 in the Big Ten and 18-7 overall. Mark Synder at the Detroit Free Press seems to think Michigan punched its dance card last night. I'm close to agreeing with him, but one more win would erase any doubts.

Ohio State is next and then Michigan closes against Indiana at home.

Notes:

Amadu Ba was suspended for 1 1/2 games for his altercation with a MSU student. He should be able to play against Ohio State.

What was up with the Illinois students "sneaking" in to the game? Buy a ticket. Go to the game. Act like you've been there. "Hiding" your god-awful orange t-shirts under a yellow Michigan shirt didn't fool anyone. Be a man, show up with your colors on. Take the abuse and dish it out, but don't act like getting into the game required any effort or trickery. Jackasses.....

How sweet was it that ESPN showed the 1989 Michigan/Illinois Final Four highlights towards the end of the game? I bet that dragged out some painful memories for Illinois fans. Nothing like watching your team lose twice on the same telecast.

This is Going to Hurt You A Lot More Than it Hurts Me

The string of WTF(?!) injuries that has crippled the Michigan basketball team over the last month has provided a new, and unexpected source of comedy in the form of a phone call. Illinois head coach Bruce Webber called up Tommy Amaker to express his sympathy to the MASH unit that is currently masquerading as Michigan's basketball team.

This phone call can be seen a couple of ways: 1) Webber and Amaker could be friends, and this is just a buddy calling up to say "T.A. I got you baby"; or 2) Total-dueschbag-Lou-Holtz-move where he blatantly pretends to give a sh*t about the other team while chuckling through the interview, "Yeah they're banged up, but there's no way we can compete with that Courtney Sims kid, he brings his A-game every night."

After reading what Webber said, out-of-context of course, I'm going with option 2. In describing his phone call Webber made certain to intimate the fact that the Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork Company's shares have doubled in value over the last month, and that Michigan got their "butts beat pretty badly on Saturday at Michigan State." In looking at the records, the players, and skill level of both teams the only reason you make that phone call, and then let the news out about it, is to goose the opposition. Especially when that opposition is Michigan. He doesn't make that phone call to Izzo. He sends an envelope laced with anthrax before he calls Izzo to wish him well. It was a nice little sucker punch before tonight's game and going into the Big Ten tourney.

Webber's a politician playing to his audience. The folks in Champale-Suburbia love this crap. Of all the Big Ten schools, Illinois seems to harbor the most resentment towards Michigan for no apparent reason. Maybe its because we DON'T have a rivalry with them. Maybe its because Illinois' been a doormat athletically for the past fifty years while Michigan's been winning stuff (along with every other Big Ten school [including Northwestern]). Maybe its because we've shown a total indifference towards their rise to the basketball elite while we sank to the bottom licking our wounds. I honestly cannot figure it out. I asked a buddy of mine who's an Illinois graduate why he hated Michigan so much. He responded, (I swear this is true) "Its because you win everything." I'm fairly certain the first "Ann Arbor is a Whore" t-shirt came from Illinois. I still remember the frat house that stole the "M Go Blue" banner and wrote over it "M Go Blow" in 1997. Illinois does not like Michigan, no matter how indifferent we are to their loathing, and they love kicking us when we're down.

Which brings us to tonight. Michigan plays Illinois at Crisler at 7pm EST. Illinois has won the last eleven meetings between the programs, and currently sits 8th in the national rankings. To make matters worse, Illinois is also first in scoring defense in the Conference. Michigan has lost four of five, lost its starting power forward/spark plug, battling injuries or still recovering from them, and is dead last in the Big Ten for field goal, three point, and scoring defense. Tonight is also NASCAR night. This is perhaps the worst marketing ploy I have ever seen. It's like a Summer's Eve commerical in the middle of WWE Smackdown.

The key tonight is Dee Brown. As RBUAS points out, Illinois only losses have come when Brown is contained. If he torches us again, then Michigan is in trouble. Hopefully Dion Harris will be at full strength. If so, he'll bring some much needed stability to the backcourt and take some of the pressure off of an exhausted Daniel Horton. Courtney Sims remains Courtney Sims. If he plays like he did against Michigan State, actually showing some determination to get to the basket (albeit after the game was out of reach), Michigan may actually be able to match the Illini down low. However, it'll be up to Graham Brown to shut down James Augustine, who scored 23 the last time the teams played. But without an inside presence, Horton and Harris will have to score thirty a piece to pull this one out.

Karma

While I don't necessarily believe in leprechauns, the loch ness monster, bigfoot, or deities that spend their time smiting the Maize n' Blue, there is something to this idea of Karma and things balancing each other out. The problem is, Karma, when associated with Michigan Athletics is a grade-A bitch.

Michigan knocks out MSU's best player, then beats MSU. On Saturday, MSU returns the favor and knocks out our catalyst, then whips our asses. Ager had a light concussion and played the next game. Hunter is out for the rest of the year, and possibly will never play again. Karma, Michigan style.

For the fourth time in five games Michigan's opponent shot the lights out. Every time Michigan looked as though it would go on a run, MSU answered with a steal or a trey. Despite jumping out early, Michigan was out of the game by halftime, down by 11. Losing Hunter, combined with MSU's hot shooting was too much. Again, our defense at the three point line assured a defeat. MSU shot 70% (7-10) from three in the second half. Michigan did not connect for a single three pointer in the second half. Game over.

The sad thing is, Michigan really didn't play that badly on offense. You can debate me all you want on this point, but when four guys (including Courntey Sims) score in double figures its usually a good sign. Hell, Daniel Horton only turned the ball over three (3!) times. Dion Harris obviously wasn't up to full strength, playing only 18 minutes, and Michigan still scored over 70. Looking at the game with a larger, blood shot cynical eye, Graham Brown, despite contributing 15 points, also coughed up the ball a game high six (6) times. How the hell does that happen? Michigan, to its credit, tried to go inside as much as possible. But when Graham Brown's all you got down low, going inside, while a necessary part of the game, is pretty much a death sentence. He needed help, and when Hunter left, there wasn't any.

However, 71 points is usually enough to eek out a win. So the focus should really be on the fact that Michigan is consistently giving up 90 plus points to the bad guys.

Michigan was pounded by MSU on the boards, with MSU grabbing 5 more offensive rebounds and 5 more defensive rebounds. If you don't get the ball back, you can't score. Next, Michigan has shown a complete inability to deal with picks and screens. The team's been torched by pick and rolls (OSU) and high screens (MSU). Whether its the players or the coaching is a nice topic for another day (talk amongst yourselves). I'll stick with precedent. Defensive lapses at Michigan have always been the coach's fault (*cough* jim herrmann *cough*). In all seriousness though, when faced with the high screens they saw from MSU our guards and forwards looked lost. They'd either struggle to get by the pick, or wait for their opponent to do something (which usually meant score three points). Defense is coached, whether its football, hockey, or basketball. So this one falls on Tommy's head.

Looking forward, Michigan still needs 2 wins to lock up a tourney invite. Finishing strong in the Big Ten will actaully speak louder than their near deaffening collapse the last five games. Taking two of tree against teams like Illinois, Ohio State, and Indiana should be enough for the selection committee to finally allow the Karma to balance out and let Michigan dance in March.

We'll see.

Illinois Preview up soon.

Friday, February 17, 2006

After Weeks Of Simmering MSU Fans Ready to Put Their Tongues to Work

Tomorrow night MSU fans will finally get the chance to yell things at Brent Petway after two weeks of simmering. Since the Michigan game Grad level theses have been handed in on the different ways to insult the UM junior, no one has gone to class (though I'm sure that's unrelated), and someone at the law school is working on getting Petway indicted for the Kennedy assassination. On the lesser end of the spectrum, some of them even found Petway's IM account and have been IM'ing him nasty messages. "They've been sending a lot of swearing (messages)," Petway told Dave Dye and Jim Spadafore at the Detroit News. No word if Michigan has contacted the Dee Web Protection Service for security at the game.

All this because Maurice Ager tried to run through Petway after a dunk, apparently forgetting that his forehead is made out of balsa wood. (At right: A stunned Mo Ager ponders if Brent Petway's cheekbone is made out of concrete.)

Ager goes out, Michigan wins, The Izzone calls for a boycott of reading, writing, and all things Michigan, images of Petway are burned in effigy, the streets of Lansing run red with the blood of the infidel, etc... Well, only the first four of those are true... creative license being what it is....

Meanwhile, Michigan State has been in somewhat of a recent funk. Despite winning three in a row after their loss to Michigan, they've dropped their last two to Minnesota and Iowa scoring only only 54 points in both games. Mo "The Crystal Forehead" Ager has been in a bit of a shooting slump the last few games, and Michigan State's offense has suffered as a result. Michigan was running cold as well until Wednesday night when it topped Minnesota.

For Michigan its simple, you have to keep winning to make the Dance. For Michigan State, its pride. Barring a total collapse, MSU punched its ticket to the tourney before the season began. Over the last 14 games MSU has owned Michigan, going 12 and 2 against the Maize and Blue (this includes Michigan's most recent victory). However, Michigan State's bench, unlike in the past is somewhat suspect, and State has not been playing particularly well over the last week. They also have to deal with a Michigan team that is confident (again), getting healthy (Harris and Smith will play tonight), fighting for its tournament life, and dying to convince the world its January 25 victory was no fluke.

The nay sayers have spoken. It is a tough task, but if Michigan plays with the intensity that it showed against Minnesota they can walk out of East Lansing with a win. Further, if Michigan State and their fans are more focused on getting even with Petway than playing the game, advantage Michigan.

Petway will bring earplugs. Michigan State fans will misspell Petway's name on their signs. And win or lose, a car will be set on fire in East Lansing.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mike Davis Out at IU. Planet Continues Spinning.

With thundering herds of angry Indianans(?) calling for Mike Davis' head after his "one of its own" comments, both the Indianapolis Star and ESPN have confirmed Mike Davis has resigned as head basketball coach of Indiana. Thanks to Big Ten Wonk for breaking the story. No word yet on who will likely replace Davis.

Contrary to earlier reports, Indiana has not degenerated into rioting and a Chucktatorship has not been declared. People are beating each other over the heads with corn and basketballs, but that's just a normal Thursday night before heading down to the DQ.

How this affects the Indiana team is anyone's guess, but Michigan's still gotta play them on March 4. Because it'll be Davis' last regular season game before the Big Ten tournament I suspect they'll play hard. Further, that last game could be the difference between going to the NIT or not. While it's a consilation prize, its still the post season, and Indiana will want to do something in March other than watch TV.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Whew...

Michigan 72, Minnesota 50

The losing streak is over. For the first time in two weeks Michigan took care of the ball, played smothering defense, and came away with a sorely needed victory.

Everyone was concerned going into last night that Minnesota would take advantage of Michigan's, till then, horrendous defense. While the Gophers hadn't been shooting the lights out, they'd been hitting an average of 46% of their shots their last four contests. Over the last three games Michigan had proven to be the spark teams, like Purdue, needed to get hot. Michigan, which seemed to be a tournament lock two weeks ago looked like it was beginning a serious slide towards the NIT with the hardest part of its schedule ahead of it. There was nashing of teeth and the seas were beginning to boil... (cats, dogs, living together. Mass Hysteria!)

Then this happens. Minnesota got smacked down. Hard. Rick James style hard.

Tommy apparently got the memo:

"The key will be improvement on defense... The story's out on Michigan's defense. Literally. The Detroit Free Press ran an article on it today. So if the rest of the world knows it, so does Amaker. Hopefully that's a good thing and they worked on it in practice this week."

Amaker apparently also got the memo on Sims, putting him on the pine as the game started and giving his minutes to Senior Chris Hunter. Hunter responded with 11 of 13 points in the first half and grabbing 6 boards for the game. As you will observe (at right) he also played some D. (photo: Steve Perez, Detroit News)

Defense was not a problem tonight. Michigan played with urgency and put pressure on the opposing ballcarriers. Getting out of the blocks quickly, Michigan forced Minnesota into bad shots and turnovers. As a result, they started the game on a 28-4 run and never looked back. As a testament to their effort the final number showed Michigan held Minnesota to a paltry 35% shooting on the night.

After all that was written, blogwise or in the papers, about Michigan's problems guarding the three point line, tonight proved that Tommy isn't blind, deaf or dumb. Minnesota got off only four three point attempts in the first half, open shots or otherwise. When you consider the fact that Michigan allowed Purdue to shoot 6-10, Ohio State to shoot 12-16, and Iowa to shoot 7 of 9 in first halves of their three previous games, tonight showed adjustments have been made. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, but I'll reserve judgment until they do it in two straight games.

Michigan's defense wan't limited to the perimeter either. A little in your face D, turned into six steals on the night and a handful of blocks. As easy as it would be to credit a bad Minnesota shooting night, Michigan played SUBSTANTIALLY better defense.

Offensively, Michigan looked good. The team shot 51% for the game. Horton and Hunter were the keys. Horton had a great game, scoring a game high 21 points, snatching 4 steals and dishing 5 assists. More importantly, he was in control. No wild, try-to-do-too-much craziness. He was solid. Last night provided him with a great bounce back game after the Purdue disaster. In addition Chris Hunter and Ron Coleman pouring in 13 a piece. Amaker credited Hunter for the team's fast start and energy, and Coleman added three triples to kick start Michigan's first half.

On the minus side, the bench warming and 14 minutes Courtney Sims contributed only highlights his regression as the season has gone on. However, no one besides Horton, Hunter or Coleman scored in double figures, so I shouldn't single him out. The turnover plague that has smote the Michigan offense in recent games hasn't completely gone away, as the team coughed up the ball 12 times. While its 3 fewer turnovers than the average the last three games, its still too many.

Good News on the Injury Front: Dion Harris and Jarret Smith will be back in the line-up for Michigan State. Unfortunately, Lester Abram is still out till the Illinois game. Look for Harris to make an immediate impact. Smith, who's recovering from mono (which I'm sure the Michigan health system initially diagnosed as pregnancy), may still have some troubles getting his wind back.

Bottom line: A must win, won. Amaker made a semi-tough call in benching Sims for Hunter. Sims talent makes him a threat every game, but his effort earned him a seat on the bench and Tommy finally gave it to him. The team is acting like one. According to Jim Spadafore's article in the Detroit News, the Michigan seniors called a players only meeting and straightened some s@&^ out. They came to play last night. Again, I'll take that as a good sign.

Does this mean they're in the tournament? Hell no. Minnesota is a team Michigan is supposed to beat. Tournament teams win those games. They've still got work to do. But, as I wrote earlier, its one of three wins they need to cement an invite. Michigan State is next.

One down. Two to go.

Just for fun, RBUAS is in a celebratory mood after the victory.

Redemption Time

Michigan v. Minnesota

I'm sure when the the basketball schedule was presented to Amaker, he circled a couple of games as "wins", "losses", or "winnable". After dropping two "winnables" and turning a "win" into a loss, another of the pre-season "wins" walks into town. And that pre-season "win" walks into town red-hot.

While I fervently believe there are no guarantees in college basketball, and every game is up for grabs (standard disclaimer), you have games you should, nay, must win in order to be invited to dance in March. Unfortunately, Michigan will get Minnesota at its hottest having won 3 of their last four, including wins over Indiana and Michigan State (who incidently just lost to a white-hot Iowa). To make matters worse Chris Burke at The Diag reports that Michigan will likely be without its best defender in Lester Arbam, team Prozak Dion Harris, and Jarret Smith.

Even so, this is a game Michigan has to win because their last four games are mercilous. At Michigan State, Illinois at home, at Ohio State and Indiana at home. Jim Spadafore of the Detroit News says Michigan needs at least three more wins to make the tournament. I'm inclined to agree with him, and quite frankly I'm nervous. Of the four remaining after tonight, Indiana and Michigan State seem to be our best shots at wins.

The key will be improvement on defense. After the Ohio State game, they showed they could score in bunches. Now its time to show they can improve on the other side of the ball. The story's out on Michigan's defense. Literally. The Detroit Free Press ran an article on it today. So if the rest of the world knows it, so does Amaker. Hopefully that's a good thing and they worked on it in practice this week. We'll see how it pans out.

Update: The Diag is reporting that Smith is questionable to play tonight and at worst, Harris will be back for Michigan State. Harris, if he feels better, could play tonight. Yippee! Abrams however, is still out.

In With the New

Michigan officially hired two new coordinators to man the spots left open by Malone and Herrrrrmannnnn's depatures. Lloyd announced the hiring of Ron Lee and Steve Szabo yesterday. Thanks to The Diag for breaking the story and M Go Blog for the background.

Steve Szabo spent 7 years as Jacksonville's linebacker's coach and has 25 years of college coaching on his resume. He was formerly with the Buffalo Bills as their cornerbacks coach before being let go in the great purge that saw 5 other coaches from the staff get the axe. Based on the limited info I've got on the guy, this could be pretty sweet. Brian at M Go Blog is worried that the crotchety old geezer (he's 65) won't be able to relate to the kids with their all their hibbidy-hoppidy-flipidy-dibbidy, but I'll disagree with that. Any time you can walk into a recruit's living room and say "I coached in the NFL, I know the NFL, and I'll get you there" you've got something. Besides, if we need someone to close the deal, English can always make a visit. We also get to say "Steve Szabo Sztrong Szafety Blitz!" and that can't be bad...

Ron Lee left Wisconsin to join Michigan's staff. At Wisconsin, Lee spent two years as their CB's coach, and prior to that as the defensive coordinator for San Jose State. He also spent eight years at Collorado State coaching, but I'm not sure what. Biggest bonus, he was a grad assistant at Miami during 1989-1990. Nothing says recruiting like a history of coke orgies. In all seriousness, having two years of Wisconsin under your belt is nothing to sneeze at. Should be a good hire.

In Other News

American Ted Ligety won the gold in the Men's Downhill Combined yesterday in Torino. He literally came out of nowhere to win the medal. The 21 year old out of Park City capitalized on all the favorites' mistakes and took home the gold with two outstanding runs. Bode Miller, again, failed to medal and was DQ'd for missing/stradling a gate during the first slalom run. No word yet on his BAC during the event. To his credit, Miller continues to support his teammates and remain unfazed by the media circus that's going around him. When Jay Mariotti is taking pot shots at you, you know you're doing something right. I'm hoping he wins one just to shut jackasses like Mariotti up.

Good news on the Women's side, American Lindsey Kildow raced in the women's downhill yesterday, finishing eighth. To even make it up on the mountain after suffering a horrifying crash at 50 mph two days ago certifies her as a grade-A badass. Kudos to her, and hopefully she'll recover enough to take home a medal in her remaining 4 events.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

There and back. A weekend trip to BC.

The joys of waking up at butt o'clock in the morning for court appearances half a state away tend to preclude my normal early morning posting ritual. That being said, can't let the sun go down before putting something up.

About a month ago my wife and I headed to Boston College to go see her sister, who is finishing up her senior year at BC. I love Boston, and any chance I get to go there makes me excited. It's definitely one of my favorite places to visit (wouldn't want to live there though). Doesn't hurt that I'm Irish, but for some reason its always had a "homey" feel to it in that not-so-tone loc-kind-of-way. One of the little perks of this trip was a pair of tickets to check out the BC/Vermont hockey game. Having never seen a game at Conte (no relation to Victor) Forum, I was pretty excited.

The match up at the time was BC#2 v. UVM#5. As further proof I married well, my sister in law came through huge, Center Ice Seats above the glass. (little shout out: Sis, You rock). So I showed up, Block M jersey and all. Here's a brief synopsis of what occurred in comparison to my days at Michigan and a look at BC's hockey team.

If you've never been out to BC for a game I highly recommend it.

1) The Crowd: Unlike at Yost (at right), perhaps the foulest place on earth, unless you're in a particular part of the student section, they frown on repeatedly dropping the f-bomb. After saying "Holy F---!" a few times to describe a save or hit, I got enough glares from the well-to-do patrons seated around me to scare me into submission. They weren't the "I'll kick your ass, sea-bass" kind of glares that you get at Munn or Miami. They were the type of glares that say "I can have someone to kill you solely based favors owed to me by the government." (Important note: BC is full of old old old money). Needless to say I quieted down a bit.


2) The Facility: Conte Forum/Kelley Rink (at left) is huge, wide open, and does not smell like a jock strap. After four years running around Yost, playing hockey and broomball, there's a certain ammonia like smell that emanates from just about every part of the building. Not so at BC. In fact, I'm fairly certain you could perform open heart surgery in the main concourse, during the intermission. One of my favorite differences, they've got luxury boxes behind the visitor's goal and above the goal end student section. In addition, Kelley Rink has TWO (2) huge flat panel mini-jumbo trons over each goal. There were times I caught myself watching the game on the screens rather than the ice infront of me. Again, Old money.

There are no balconies at BC, just long sloping seats that stretch up to the press box about 150 feet from the ice. So its much more spread out than Yost. They use the arena for basketball too, so I guess it makes sense that everything's a little farther away for sight lines purposes, but its too open to give the place an intimidating presence. There's no overhanging press box or half-ass balcony for people to yell from. Further, the student sections are limited to behind the goals. By splitting up the student sections, they managed to kill the mob mentality of the average college hockey fan. Simply put, its not conducive to having the whole crowd to yell "Molly! Molly! Molly!" or berate the visiting team's parents.

It ain't Yost. It ain't even close.

3) The Students: Very friendly people to talk to, but they have their moments. During the game a student that can best be described as "that fat dude down the hall, you know, with the beard" put up a "Elephant Walk" sign during the Vermont warmups. In case you don't remember why this is funny, read here. A little tardy considering the hazing incidents date back to 1999-2000, but he still gets credit for the effort.

Ten seconds later a "security" guard came down and took the sign away. Not surprisingly, there were no chants worth mentioning (besides the standard "sieve", etc...), and nothing else particularly funny that sticks to memory. The old money rules the roost there. They like it clean. I've heard some of their chants when they play rivals, but nothing came out at this game that made me feel they were on par with the Wisconsin or BU type fan bases in terms of crassness.

4) The Intangibles: Its a DAMN nice arena. You almost feel like you're at a professional sporting event. Almost. However, the joy of going to college sporting events is to feel like, well, you're at a college sporting event. Its too sterile. Its too clean. The old money isn't particularly friendly. Its a tough place to bond with your aislemates.That being said, if you just want to go watch a hockey game its a tough place to beat. The place is so brightly lit its nearly blinding. The seats support even the portliest of alumni and the on ice product is a lot of fun to watch. Not Yost, but still excellent. (One last minus, crappy nachos).

As for the game, BC is shockingly good. Very fast and physical. I am fairly certain in an exhibition with the Chicago Blackhawks, BC'd win 10-0. Like I said, figuring a #2 v #5 matchup, I expected a tight 4-3 or 3-2 game. Wrong. BC absolutely destroyed UVM. Wasn't even close. The final score was 3-0, but should have been considerably worse. To add insult to injury, UVM had been blanked the night before, by BC. Don't sleep on BC just because they lost the Beanpot. This team will make the Frozen Four barring injuries.

BC has what Michigan desperately needs, a No. 1 goalie. BC's Cory Schneider is awesome. His victory that night was his third straight shut out. Great size at 6'2", fast, stick is solid, decent glove, and plays his angles to a tee. He preserved his shutout with about 3 minutes left stopping a breakaway that most NHL goalies couldn't stop.

As for the forwards, BC is big. There was at least a four to six inch height advantage for BC. They've got some hulks that can move and they use it to their advantage. BC employs a pretty aggressive forecheck. They kept UVM pinned deep for most of the game. When the Catamounts actually got out of the zone they simply got leveled.

Usually, the smaller guys make up for their lack of size with more speed and skill. However, when the big guys are as fast and skilled as the little guys, the little guys get crushed. I lost count of the number of times I saw UVM's little forwards try to sneak by on the boards only to end up with their heads being surgically implanted into their lower instetines.

BC's defense is quiet. Quiet in the sense that they don't do anything negative that would make you notice a deficiency. But they can pass. They outlet quickly, and if you sleep on a forward around the center ice line they find him in a hurry. Physical enough to keep the play honest in front of the net, but they leave the banging to their bigger forwards.

Players to watch:

#15 Stephen Gionta: Fast with great hands. A little undersized height wise, but built like a brick shithouse. Doesn't like to shoot unless he's in the clear, but a great playmaker that's hard to knock off the puck.

#10 Brian Boyle: The perfect college hockey player. Won't last a minute in the pros as he is right now, but has the size now to make a difference. Totally unafraid of anyone on the ice because of his 6'7" frame. Surprisingly fast and has decent hands to effectively break the zone and cycle for shots. Unmoveable at the net by college defensemen. Weak shot.

#12 Chris Collins: Damn. This boy is good. The senior left wing has registered 20 goals and 20 assists through his first 24 games. Fast, totally unafraid to shoot from anywhere. Little on the small side at 5' 8", but no one seems to be able to lay a hit on him.

Now this is not meant to be a big, wet kiss for the BC hockey team. Just some observations from a long time hockey fan. However, moral of the story, we do not want to play this team in the NCAA tourney. I know they've slipped a little recently, but if they're as good as they looked against UVM, they're gonna be hard to beat.

Monday, February 13, 2006

I'll pass on the 'mole....

Michigan 70 Purdue 84

The one thing this season has proved is that Michigan Basketball is like going to a questionable Mexican Restaurant. You go there once or twice and like the food. In fact you go there one night and its the greatest meal you've ever eaten. But, in the back of your mind you know somethings not quite right with place. Clinging to that incredible meal you go back over and over again. You see a mouse, nah, that wasn't a mouse, it was a... a.... black torilla chip by the vent. Despite your better judgement you keep going back. Its that element of risk that makes it so much fun. Yeah, the food's good, but you know there's the possibility hanging out there that the rat poison over the stove could fall into your chimichunga. And finally, after one too many tacos-not-so-al-fresco, you're huddled around the toilet, lying in the fetal position, praying for death.

Hence the comparison with Saturday. I know everytime I turn on that television to watch them play, it's like going to El Guapo's. I'm putting it out there knowing something bad is going to happen, but I'm clinging to the hope of a good meal. And on Saturday, the roach motel really fell in the salsa. By the time I finally figured out that the game was being played on The Ocho, we were down fourteen. Purdue shot 60% from three point land in the first half. Note to Tommy Amaker, that line between the free throw line and half court, its important. This is the third straight game Michigan opponents have shot over 60% of their threes in the first half. *burb/mini-throwup* But when you think about it, OSU shot 75% from three land, so technically we're getting better. Good job boys.

Anyway, when the game hit halftime and we were down 20, I switched it off and game-casted the rest it. Courtney Sims pulled his usual disappearing act, pouring in 7 points on a 1 for 2 shooting night and tearing down 3 boards. Graham Brown was likewise invisible. Ron Coleman and Chris Hunter put in nice performances, putting in 18 and 16 points respectively. However nothing could help them recover from shooting 35% for the game, and playing defense like the French army, circa 1939.

In the end, the e. coli guacamole finishes you off. Pretty much like this game. Now if you don't mind, I'm going back to the bathroom....

Hell Will Have to Wait, Herrmann to J-E-T-S
You knew it was coming. The Detroit News, Schembechler Hall, Mgoblog, and others have reported that Jim Herrmann is not going to the firey bowels of hell as first reported. Instead, he'll coach linebackers for the Jets. Thank god he's gone, but the New Yorkers are going to kill him for the swarm of locusts he's bringing with him. Thanks to Schembechler Hall, Mgoblog, and iBlogForCookies for breaking the story to those of us too lazy to read the papers...

Michigan 4 Lake State 2
In other news Michigan split another series. After dropping Friday's game 2-3 in overtime to the Lakers, Michigan came back to post a 4-2 victory at Yost. No word yet if Jim Tressel has been indicted in the Rick Tocchet gambling ring.

And in Other News...
My two favorite sports to participate in are Skiing and Hockey. In that order. Nothing else comes remotely close to the amount of fun you can have participating in either.

To wit, the Winter Olympics get me more excited than... (insert Michael Jackson joke here). Seriously, is there anyting more entertaining than alpine skiing during the Olympics? These guys/girls are going 60-70 mph down a mountain, in spandex. As a certified ski-speed freak, I love this stuff. So I was a little disappointed to see the U.S. fail to medal in the men's downhill, specifcally Bode Miller. I was praying he'd be out till 2 am, hung over, and still take the gold. Then answer the press sippin on a bottle of Jack. Oh well, he's still got a couple more events...

If you don't know it, Lindsey Kildow, a U.S. downhiller crashed in practice and was flown to the ICU for care. Her injuries aren't as bad as feared, but its uncertain if she'll actually race in the Olympics. Here's hoping for a quick recovery.

Finally, Shaun White clinched the snowboarding half-pipe gold yesterday. While his runs were outstanding, his interview with Bob Costas afterwards was the stuff of legends. During his five minutes interview, Costas threw open the bear trap and White danced right into it. Apparently White said in an interview before hand that winning gold would help him get babes. Costas broke that little nugget out and White basically told him in response that he wanted to jump Sacha Cohen and that maybe his gold medal was the key to opening up her sow cow. Costas ended the intereview a minute later saying that White was going out tonight and "hoping for something better."

Priceless. That's why we love Bob...

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Clean Shave

Its official. English to DC according to the Detroit News. Herrmann back to the bowels of hell from wince he came. (This is unconfirmed, but widely assumed to be true.)

We will never have to see his mustache again.

And in the tradition of good news and bad news balancing each other out, the Detroit News is also confirming Dion Harris is out with a sprained right ankle. He is questionable for the Purdue game. This means Daniel Horton will take over running the show. Somehow I get the feeling this is like Captain Edward John Smith telling the steward to man the watchtower and look for icebergs.

Keep your eyes peeled....

Its almost official...

Ron English has officially said his good-byes to Da Bears. K.C. Johnson's article in the Chicago Tribune says English has officially backed out his new job as denfensive backs coach for the bears, and is expected to be named Defensive Coordinator at the University of Michigan. Where this leaves Jim Herrmannnnnnn, no one really knows. He hasn't found a new job yet, but is rumored to be a candidate for the NY Jets linebacker coaching job. All we know is he doesn't get to call the plays anymore.

English's resume is limited, but no one can argue with his sucess last year. While the defensive line was puttering along like a 56 chevy and the linebacking core was imploding, English pasted together an impressive season from the defensive backfield out of paperclips and bublegum. The national statistics are somewhat misleading, as Michigan finished 42 out of 117 D-1A schools, but this was a solid group. If he can perfrom the same MacGyver like magic on the whole defense next year, it should be a great season for the Maize and Blue

What is more important is the fact that Jim Herrmann will no longer be coordinating our defense. That alone is reason to celebrate.

Michigan 85 Ohio State 94... Cough Cough...

And then the clock read 8:20. 8:20, that's when the wheels fell off. Up three. Blink. Down seven. Ball game.

After the woodshed beating Michigan got from Iowa on Saturday I knew/hoped they'd come out and show us something. Anything. After being ranked for the first time in ten years, I knew a hiccup was coming at Iowa, the first real team they faced after getting their ranking. And true to form they got blown out. Yet I sensed tonight would be a different story.

This was "the statement game". This was the game they showed Michigan basketball was a legitimate Big Ten championship threat. This was the game we showed Michigan State wasn't a fluke. Not only that, Michigan is 16-3! We're going back to the dance! We can see our ticket, clearly sitting on the table, waiting to be picked up. This is the game where Michigan showed it belonged back with the best.

Cough. Cough...

To their credit, they played hard. Courtney Sims was playing out of his mind. Faced with single coverage in the post, he became a threat, pouring in points (16 points) and grabbing boards (7 rebounds). In the first half! This was better than his box score in several games, combined. Even the team turnovers were somewhat under control. While you're never comfortable when your team lead the league in turnovers, the first half felt alright. They played close, and managed to be down just six at half-time. They were poised to make a run. And run they did. Sims continued his hot hand.

And all of a sudden, Michigan had gone from down six to up three. It looks in control. Okay, osu's making a run, no biggie. We'll be fine....

It was too good to last. Ohio State apparently forgot during the first half that placing two people on Courtney Sims makes it impossible for Michigan to run its offense. Unfortunately, after halftime they regained their senses. From the 10 minute mark of the second half, Sims didn't attempt a shot.

The statement game veered horrendously off course when an already hobbled squad lost Dion Harris to a sprained ankle. I'm not sure how it happened, I believe he went up to contest a layup, but he came down hard on his right ankle. Harris seemed to bring some order to the chaos that is our back court. The second he grabbed his ankle, you knew we were in trouble.

The only guard left to run the offense was Daniel Horton. After watching him play tonight I'd feel safer giving Oksana Biaul the keys to my car than having him as my de-facto point guard. The turnovers became comical. His final cough up to Terrence Dials was straight out of a keystone cops routine. In the blink of an eye we were down ten.

For some unknown reason, Amaker, seeing his squad in serious trouble decided to sit on his hands. An eight point run turned in twelve. Tommy's a good coach, but I can't for the life of me figure out what the hell he was thinking on that one. And then it was over.

This game was a statement game. The statement was “We ain't there yet.” And that tourney invite is looking a little less certain than it did earlier today.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Up and Running Soon...

Well. I guess I'm doing this too. Welcome to the Maize n Brew. A little blog about the random ravings of a Michigan grad living happily in the Second City. As time goes on you'll learn that there are only a few subjects that'll be discussed. First and foremost, Michigan Football and Beer. The two seem to be interlinked and take up way too of my free time. Other subjects will include Michigan Hockey, a little Michigan Basketball (but only around tourney time), and the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks. The wife's a Notre Dame grad, so occasionally I'll ramble on about going to ND games, drinking heavily and making fun of the people I see there. You'll find I don't post with the regularity of my far more distinguished counterparts and that my insight is far less indepth. But, at a minimum, at least it'll make you laugh.

More soon. Thanks for dropping in...

Dave