Friday, November 28, 2008

And now for something happy and positive: Basketball

When i saw Manny Harris and the guys beat UCLA at the Garden last Thursday. When i saw them blow out Norfolk State on Tuesday i felt that this is Michigan basketball back again. This team is in full force and they'll be able to at the very least challenge for an NCAA tournament berth. If they can start executing like they did against Norfolk every game they will be one of the best teams in the country by the end of the season and there will be no reason why they shouldn't go to the tournament. But they have to get past the brunt of their schedule first.

After taking on Savannah State tomorrow in a game they should be able to win. Michigan has to go into College Park to take on the Terrapins. Maryland just beat that school from East Lansing last night and beat them quite convincingly i might add. Not only did they beat the Spartans they beat them at a neutral site arena just like the Wolverines beat the Bruins in New York. This is crucial for Michigan's comeback, if they can beat a team who's in a similar situation of trying to comeback from mediocrity back into national prominence they will be energized going into the Big Ten season no matter how they do against Duke later at home.

While i do realize that it is a long season and that it's hard for things to go right all the time but i have to say that this team has me excited right now. It might be the beginning but it seems like the beginning of a beautiful and inspiring story that makes me feel like a little girl watching one of those Julie Andrews movies from the sixties. I hope it ends as well as it has begun.

I can't get over how happy this makes me feel.



for real this time.

Hockey update

Note: i couldn't think of anything better for a title for this one.

With the exception of the Saturday game against Western, the winged helmets on ice have been having a huge problem. They can't score goals. They've scored two goals combined in three of the last four games against Western Michigan and Miami. This is not only unacceptable it's a travesty for any Michigan hockey team, who pride themselves for their ability to put the puck in the net, maybe there is a lack of senior leadership out there, maybe they are missing Chad Kolarick and Kevin Porter, but they still have great potential goal scoring threats on this team and they're not doing what they're supposed to.

Michigan is taking on Minnesota and Wisconsin this weekend and if they want to beat them they better hope that turkey they had was packed with some kind of scoring magic because boy do they need it now.



Post Thanksgiving mortem

After watching the Michigan football team die in the second half against that school in Columbus. I tried to think of a way to not be negative about Rich Rodriguez's tenure here at the University so far. The most common saying thrown my way has been, all of his previous teams did really bad in their first seasons and they improved exponentially after that, i didn't accept that because this is Michigan and play like that is still unacceptable under any circumstances.

The conclusion i came to was that if the players who stay stick together they will be able to accomplish a better season next year. The biggest thing for this team in the off season is to preach teamwork and the ability to pick up for another's mistake, that means going after fumbles like you've never gone after fumbles before, block like your life depends on it not just your team's success. Together the Wolverines must stand or divided they will fail.

This season had promise in it, when they beat Wisconsin it seemed like everything was going to go right for this team, and the exact opposite happened. Threet got hurt and was never the same, the offensive line lost its sense of purpose and the secondary could not execute for some reason, except in the Minnesota. It seemed like every winged helmets worse nightmare come true and the problem was the team was not together it seemed like everybody out there was trying to take care of number one before busting their butt for the team.

In this case i want to single out two individuals for two very different reasons. Charles Stewart the strong safety has played like an embarrassment to all people named Charles especially Woodson and myself. His failed attempt at getting an interception against Illinois was the turning point in the game and quite possibly in the season because by playing the ball and not the man he allowed the big play to be made and exposed the world to the secondary's great weakness. Then, in the Ohio State he gets into it with one of the coaches for no reason that's been revealed so far. That is not only unacceptable behavior for a Michigan Wolverine it's unacceptable for any college football player to mouth off at a coach on national television especially if you're the one who's been screwing up lately. I'm glad he's graduating and i hope he finds something other than football to work in because he's been an abomination on the field.

Brandon Minor should be saluted for the following postgame quote:

You can’t really blame Rich Rod because everybody on the team did not buy in like they’re supposed to. We have a couple of guys not going hard,” he said. “We’ll correct that most definitely. That ain’t going to happen on my watch as a senior.

This is truly one of the most positive things that could happen to this team all season when Minor acknowledged this. He told the fans, we are taking the brunt of this season on ourselves as well as the responsibility of making it better next year. If there is anybody who should become the next great leader on the Wolverines for next season it's him.

Two things that Rich Rod will have to work on in the off season are:

1.) Teach the offensive line how to run block for your scheme and run these plays over and over again until you can get them to block correctly.

2.) Get the secondary to learn when to go for the interception, how not to get beat and how to break up passes.

Also i've been watching the Pittsburgh Steelers have some success with the type of defense HRG wants to run, their reason:


If Rich Rod wants to be successful on both sides of the ball he will have to load up on recruiting linebackers as well as recruiting running backs and linemen.

P.S.: It's not summer so i have to be able to post on all major sports individually now.



Friday, November 21, 2008

Michigan metaphorical rivalry essays part 2: Ohio State

Remember when i said that i would post a metaphorical essay for each of Michigan's major rivals? Well here's the second edition.

Ohio Stat is like the neighborhood redneck bully. You know the one who lives with his cat lady mom, who tries to beat you at everything because you're the most unique person around. He hates you because you're both smart and good at sports, the latter is the only thing he's good at. He's frustrated with his life so he's taken out his frustration on you the past four years by pounding you.

It's not that you haven't fought back, it's just that the last couple of years he's had some help from his wine cooler drinking friend Mr. Rogers. Who thinks he's helping the kid when he's really just making him more aggressive.

He seems to be taking some kind of rage inducers that help him pound you on the football field, although it's also possible he's making up for 1988-2000.

But there is hope of him not kicking your ass this week, you challenged him to a basketball game which you won. And he was eating his heart out over that, but you and i know that that redneck bully lives for one thing, beating your ass especially on the football field.

P.S. If the state of Michigan looks like a hand then doesn't the state of Ohio look like a pair of tighty whiteys?




I'm still in shock from what happened for a number of reasons.

1.) Michigan finished against a ranked team for the first time in 11 years.

2.) They won without Manny Harris having to score 20 points and give them at least half of their offensive output.

3.) They beat UCLA with a 1-3-1 zone that gave up countless wide open three pointers last year. I know they had been practicing this but i thought that without Ekpe in the post they'd be back to square one on the defensive side of the ball.

Now they play Duke and everybody in the college basketball world is talking about the Michigan upset.

Stay tuned for my obligatory OSU rivalry post.



Friday, November 14, 2008

A season lof AUUUUUUUUHGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH on the ice too.

Football has been having a terribly excruciating season this year and it has put every person who bleeds Maize and Blue this year through a lot of pain.

But what happened today with hockey was just ridiculous. I don't understand how you can out play a team like Western like that and still lose. They had twice as many shots, applied almost constant pressure to Riley Gill throughout the first two periods and yet they only got one goal. On top of that, you really have to convince me that Gill had that good of a game and is that good of a goalie, a lot of time their opportunities were good it's just that either the passes out in front ended up untouched or they shot the puck into traffic and it ran into a guy in the wrong jersey. Granted he came up big when he could, but you can't tell me Michigan's ineptness was not the cause of several fans in the student section angrily screaming obscenities after the game.

I thought hockey was supposed to be a diversion from the crap that has been going on the gridiron this year. But the winged helmets on ice are disappointing too at this point as well, Michigan just had their first home loss to a team that prior to tonight hadn't won a game in conference play. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. You can't go to Michigan and lose a home game to WESTERN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On the subject of Billy Sauer i am truly torn, i have to ask, WHAT HAPPENED???????

Last year he was standing on his head to get the Wolverines to the frozen four. Now? He let's in a slap shot in that he apparently doesn't see. I don't get it what is it with him this year. Last year he didn't have many problems and aside from the Notre Dame game in the Frozen Four last year he had an excellent year, and in my opinion was the comeback player of the year, but this is just bizarre and i am swallowing my words as far as Billy Sauer is concerned.

And for those of you naysayers who say that the defense is depleted without Mitera and Kampfer, yes those losses are crucial, but that's no excuse for losing to WESTERN AT HOME!!!!!!!!!!!



Sunday, November 9, 2008

Changing of the Guard part 1

As the winged helmets on ice struggled on the road against Sarah Palin's money at work. I read the score in the game tracker that said that Michigan State lost 3-0 to that school in Columbus. This came as an absolute shock to me because normally the Spartans would take apart a team like the Nuts. But not only did the Bucks beat MSU on the scoreboard, they outshot them 49-21. While outshooting opponents has never been State's mantra, this was still pretty jarring, even with as good a goalie as Jeff Lerg is in goal, Michigan State let the Bucks let loose on him and eventually he let three in. On top of that, the next day OSU completed the sweep with a 3-1 victory in a much more even handed game.

This plus the fact that the Nanooks played Michigan ridiculously close in both games despite the fact that the Wolverines outshot them in both games, cause me to wonder whether there is going to be a changing of the guard in the CCHA. It makes me wonder if the intra state rivalry is going to carry as much weight as it has in the past. With the emergence of Notre Dame in the last two years under Jeff Jackson questions have been raised and a new quadrumvirate has arisen in Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio). Now with State starting to falter and Michigan having playing under .500 hockey on the road it raises questions about who the State of Michigan's top two college hockey programs are.

Well rest assured dear readers one of them is undoubtedly still Michigan, they just need to adjust to playing on the road better. This year they've been letting the Yost crowd carrying them through the early part of their home schedule. I understand that this has been the way it's been done in the past, but they'd better snap out of it by now because otherwise they're not going to get very far in the season if they can only win half their games on the road. It's a tough conference to play on the road in, but this is a problem that needs to be addressed and soon, and hopefully they will when they face the Lawson Lunatics this upcoming saturday after my dear friend Peter Saul will try to attempt the impossible and get a one camera broadcast of a hockey game this Friday against Western Michigan.



Monday, November 3, 2008

Back to reality (football)

Denial's a bitch and i've been sleeping with her for the last couple of weeks. I honestly thought Michigan was going to beat the Spartans. They didn't seem to have much of a passing game before then, i guess i was wrong. I thought the wolverines might beat Purdue because they were desperate to keep their bowl hopes alive, but i was wrong there too, because i didn't account on the defense not showing up.

To say that this football season has been a disappointment would be a gross understatement, it is an unprecedented (i'll explain later) catastrophe that could (fingers crossed that it won't) have very bad long term consequences for the program i loved as a boy and taught me what it felt like to win in a world where i always felt like i was going to lose.

I grew up with two truly great loves as far as sports were concerned, Detroit Tigers baseball and Michigan football, i loved the Red Wings but there was a lull in that love due to the strike. I never stopped loving Michigan or the Tigers. With all of the turmoil the Tigers went through under Randy Smith as general manager i got used to the feeling of the Tigers being a perennial losing team. The Wolverines however create something different for me, one of the first memories for me as far as football is concerned was the Remy Hamilton game, which i watched at my grandma's house just over a month after my grandfather had died.

For some reason the winged helmets that Michigan had just spoke to me in a way that Notre Dame's plain golden domes didn't. Secondly i liked the sound of a name like Biakabatuka. But they kept winning after that game and Frank Beckman was consistently the voice of both the Tigers on TV and the Wolverines on the radio, so as a kid with aspirations to be an announcer i felt very close to both. And the way i felt about both was understandable, the Wolverines were the rock pillars of winning and consistency and all that was good in the world, the Tigers were the lovable losers whom i knew.

But now that has all changed and it may not get better. What is happening at Michigan, an outsider taking over at head coach and having a losing season right out of the get go, after a good coach steps down, is unprecedented in the 129 years of Michigan football. However i can think of a relevant comparison that makes me shudder to think it might be true, but unfortunately it may be. John Cooper.

Cooper was hired one year after both the death of Woody Hayes and the firing of Earle Bruce. Michigan fans are all familiar with his record of futility against them. On top of that he also was part although he did not start or finish the downfall of academics in the college football program, something Michigan has prided themselves on in the past.

On the latter part i don't think there is too much to be worried about, but on the former, i am deeply troubled. If he doesn't beat Ohio State in a season this bad it would be the greatest failure of a season in the living memory since before Bo came to town.

It's not the problem of the spread not working anymore, the wolverines have the skill players what they don't have is the tools to defend it. Not enough emphasis is put on defense in the current system right now, if HRG had put an emphasis on the defensive backs and getting them to do better in defending against the pass Michigan would not be in this position. If anybody is on the chopping block right now it's either him or defensive backs coach Tony Gibson.

stay tuned for happy days when i write about Michigan hockey.