Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Michigan: 5, Michigan State: 1

The score says it all doesn't it?

No it doesn't. Actually what really helps to understand is the difference in shots on goal between the two teams. Michigan had 54 throughout the whole game, fairly well distributed throughout each period. State had 20 for the whole game and five of them were in the last two periods. On top of that as my friend who was sitting next to me throughout that second day at Joe Louis Arena was telling me the score should be 7-1 at least. There were several missed opportunities in which a guy was out of place with a wide open net on one side.

Truth be told, the score should have been at least 7-0 because when you take into account the fact that there were a couple of wide open nets that were missed by the Wolverines, one should also think of Michigan State's goal and how it was scored. The Spartans had a two man advantage when they should have been merely playing on the power play.

The tripping penalty that Carl Hagelin was called for seven minutes into the game was one of the worst missed calls i've ever seen in hockey. He merely lifted his stick up and Brandon Gentile took the most blatant dive this side of Christiano Ronaldo. What really got people riled up was when the replay was shown on the video board at Joe Louis Arena, after the goal was scored and the announcer was announcing who assisted on the goal every Michigan fan in my area was yelling,

All in all the tournament was very good. Michigan showed that they could dominate on offense and on the scoreboard as well. However this weekend should not be seen as a marker of things to come just yet. They did not play the best competition that college hockey has to offer. The real test of this team's metal will be on January 9-10 against Miami, the top team in the CCHA whom they have already been swept by in Oxford. Hopefully for the winged helmets on ice their luck and the results of the two contests will be in their favor next time around.



Friday, December 26, 2008

GLI Preview

North Dakota: No Oshie, no Lamorreux, no Ryan Duncan, no problem for the Sioux right?

Wrong. Without those four major stars in the lineup for the men in Grand Forks, hockey season has been a disappointment by their normal standards. Prior to December the Fighting Sioux had not swept a single series, been swept in the season starting Icebreaker by Boston University and UMass. On top of that they had serious problems with every conference team they had played. Prior to a sweep of St. Cloud St at home December 12-13 they had gotten either one or two points in every series for over a month, including a home loss to Alaska-Anchorage, the perennial bottom feeders of the WCHA.

Unfortunately for the Michigan teams in the Great Lakes Invitational, the Sioux might be finding a way out of that slump. They have won four straight games, two on the road against Harvard, somewhat atoning for their poor performance in Boston at the beginning of the season, in addition to the aforementioned sweep of St. Cloud St. However, neither one of these teams is a true power this season. What is apparent, however is that the Sioux will have some confidence to try and carry them through what is expected to be, two tough games.

With the lack of star power the Fighting Sioux have started to spread the puck around more and get as many players on the score sheet as possible. This seems to have worked because they do not have a single player in the top twenty in scoring in the WCHA, but have still managed to have a record above .500, albeit barely at 9-8-1. Whatever travails North Dakota are facing, however, must seem trivial to what are facing their opponents in the semifinal, the Michigan State Spartans.

Michigan State: The Spartans clearly believed that Jeff Lerg would not fall victim to Kasey Keller syndrome, in the sense that he could win games on his own as a goalie. This has not been the case all year, it was most dramatically demonstrated in their most recent home-and-home series against the Michigan Wolverines, in which they got a goal in the first period and their defense proceeded to drop the soap in the second and third periods giving up six goals and more importantly, failing to support Lerg in anyway.

The Spartans are coming into this game on the lowest of lows, not only did they just get swept by their archrivals, they haven't won a game since Halloween. If they want to prove that they are still a capable team in the CCHA this year the GLI could be the shot in the arm the team is looking for, and even if it isn't, they could use it as added incentive to play like more of a nuisance later on in the schedule.

Overall, the MSU-NoDak game looks like it could be one sided, but probably won't be.

Michigan Tech: The Huskies have had it almost as bad as the Spartans, they have won twice since Halloween, but their problems have been compounded by replacing Rob Nolan at goaltender. Nolan, who put on one of the greatest performances i have ever seen in the GLI last year, has been replaced by Josh Robinson who has had a decent showing especially in the last three games in which he has given up a mere two goals.

The Huskies like the Fighting Sioux might be on their way back up again. This past weekend they swept Northern Michigan in a home and home series in which they gave up a single goal. One problem with that is, Northern Michigan has not been known for scoring goals this season, they have tended to rely more on their defense. Tech knows they will be in for an offensive assault from the Wolverines tomorrow at 3 regardless of the fact that Aaron Palushaj and Matt Rust are playing in the World Junior Championships. They had also better be prepared for a Michigan defense that might be revitalized from the return of Steven Kampfer.

Michigan: Woo hoo, Kampfer's back and blonder than ever. After losing two of their top defensemen, the winged helmets on ice have struggled to find the right combination of blueliners to go with Chris Summers. Scooter Vaughn and Chad Langlais have played admirably in the absence of Kampfer and Mark Mitera, but they have also succumb to fatigue at times due to the lack of depth the injuries have caused. Would they have beaten Miami, Western Michigan, and Wisconsin if one of them had been healthy, maybe, maybe not.

What is true about this team is that they are coming in having won three of their last four, they beat the top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers at Mariucci Arena and swept their bitter in state rival the Spartans three weeks ago. They have had plenty of rest and are looking to justify their place in the pantheon of the gods of college hockey with or without their leading scorer.

Even without Palushaj and Rust, they still have Louie Caporusso, Carl Hagelin, and Travis Turnbull who scored the tournament winner last year in the dramatic double overtime win against Tech. They have Bryan Hogan, a goalie, who may not be the best, but somehow manages to inspire his teammates to score goals for him, something Billy Sauer seems to be incapable of doing in his senior year.

I expect Michigan vs. Michigan Tech to be a good competitive game with the good guys coming out on top.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Shavodrick Beaver didn't just de commit, he recommitted to Tulsa.


Not only this, he did this in a matter of hours. Right after de committing from Michigan, he gave the announcement that he was now committed to Tulsa. Tulsa has a good team, they made the Conference USA championship, but do they have the same kind of calibre and recognition as Michigan, even with the atrocious season that just passed us by. No.

Maybe i'm over reacting to this, but i think this could be a huge problem for the image of Michigan football, that there are things that high school football players need to think twice about when they commit to play for the winged helmets. That maybe the academics are too hard for a good player to come here, or that maybe the coaches might be a little to impersonal with their players and not involved in the players lives. I think that this also may create a perception that players can just back out of a commitment to Michigan without repercussions.

Do i think that Rich Rodriguez is at the root of this problem? Not yet, he's only been the coach for a year, and this is one blog that is not ready to pass hasty judgment against a coach after one season, even one as bad as this past one.

Beaver's backing out does not affect the team as much as some people have said it would. I believed before and i still believe today that Steve Threet will be the starting quarterback next year. Tate Forcier may get some playing time as a backup, but i don't think he will start as a freshman. In all honesty if Threet stays healthy and the offensive line plays better than they did next year they should at least make a bowl game.

The number one thing i DON'T want for Christmas is any more surprises involving Michigan football.

Stay tuned for the GLI preview on friday.



Friday, December 19, 2008


Laval Lucas Perry makes his debut for the Michigan Wolverine basketball team tomorrow at 4:00 pm at the Palace of Auburn Hills a few miles south of his hometown of Flint. Unfortunately i will not be there, but i hope that i will be able to find a way to watch, due to the fact that i am home for the holidays at my parents house and they do not have cable.

Still i will be rooting for the Wolverines and be trying to keep up with this historic game as it happens.

On You Say Maize I Say Blue last month i predicted that Laval Lucas Perry and Stu Douglass would be the impact freshmen who would lighten the load of Manny Harris this year. I also said that any expectation higher than a winning record overall and a NIT appearance would be unreasonable. The former may still be correct but as a result of the early season play i feel that i underestimated the Wolverines.

I had heard a lot about Perry when he transferred here, i heard he was the kind of player that fit Beilein's system of shooting threes. Of course at the time i was under the impression that the system relied entirely on shooting three pointers and not any sort of mixing it up with inside shots. This year the Coach's system has began to flesh itself out with the three point shot setting up the inside game. Make a few triples and then pound it inside with the backdoor cut has been Michigan's mantra all season, giving them an astounding 7-2 start and upsets over Duke and UCLA.

The most amazing thing about this is that they did this without the player who was supposed to fit the new system. They also did it without relying on Manny Harris to do everything, and while Manny has done pretty much everything on the court at one point or another, he's gotten plenty of help from his supporting cast, which Perry joins tomorrow.

I hope i get to see the game on TV because this game is on as big a stage as one can find in the state of Michigan. The Palace, the home of the Pistons on a road game against a team that made the tournament four years ago, and have challenged in their conference to make it the past two years. Oakland is not a team to be overlooked, they have a loyal fanbase and they will show up hoping that they will replicate something that happened last year, a win over Oregon at the Palace last year. Michigan has to be on the guard, and keep their new guard from messing up in his first game in front of a bigger crowd than he will play against in normal competition. But then again there are so many ways that this game is not normal.

More on Schafer and McGuffie, plus i'll have a GLI preview after Christmas.

ahhhhhhhhh c-ya

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


If Mason can show up for a game at Crisler that would be a fantasy come true.

Unlike so many of my esteemed colleagues i was not at the match up between Michigan and Duke in basketball. I did, however watch the game on TV and i was in shock.

That's the best word i can use for what i saw, shock, beating UCLA was nice, but it didn't prove anything. UCLA might be one of the best teams in the nation and they certainly deserve to be ranked, but anybody can forgive them for an early season slip up or two because they have some relative inexperience in the front court with the departure of Mike Love from last year, i guarantee that if Love had not made the jump for the NBA after last season Michigan loses that game. Also i had just seen Michigan lose to Maryland on the road in a game they clearly had a chance to win. They lost by a mere five points and gave up an obscene number of second chance points due to a lack of poise in the defensive rebounding department. I saw them lose a game they could have won had they played it right.

On top of that i saw them squeak by Savannah State in overtime after trailing by twenty points, but i saw this comeback as a positive sign especially after the Tigers upset Bowling Green on the road.

But the real reason for my shock was that the team Michigan was playing had just manhandled a top ten Purdue team in West Lafayette in front of Gene Keady's disciples. They were disciplined and tough, and they didn't make any mistakes that i could easily detect.

Once the game in Ann Arbor began it became clear that this would be different. Michigan's 1-3-1 defense seemed to be poised at shutting down Duke's three point game. Although it had done that in their first meeting the Blue Devils made up for it by picking apart the maize and blue's relative weakness inside. This time was different because it seemed that for once, Michigan was prepared, they got the rebounds off of Duke's missed three pointers, they were able to keep them from driving to the basket with regularity. They didn't shut down the Blue Devils entirely, but who does that.

This defensive showing was just part of what i saw that shocked me from Michigan. They were using Beilien's three-point oriented offense to use the long shot to set up their inside game. The offense would use the threat of the three pointer and the kick out to drive to the basket on the give and go or the backdoor cut and get the lay up or the dunk. In my opinion this was best illustrated by Manny Harris's airplane jam with less than two minutes in the game.

This game was special for a number of reasons, not the least of which was because the court was rushed. Something that hasn't been done since the Ohio State game last year.

But another reason was because i got to see the smirk wiped off of Kyle (Paul Bettany) Singler.

I love Michigan, in spite of its deceivingly hard class, its problems with football lately and the fact that it's in a state where the economy has been awful since the Carter administration. This game was more reason to be reminded of how great it is to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Go Blue



Monday, December 8, 2008

If you can't play hockey right, go to state.

(clap, clap)

I had heard that the school in East Lansing was having trouble with their hockey team this year, but i had no idea how bad they were until i saw it with my own eyes at Yost on Friday. After getting a goal on weird breakaway, (highlights coming soon) their offense died and gave up several breakaway opportunities in which Michigan was able to shift the puck to the open side of the net away from Lerg and score. Not only did they do that, they seemed to be doing it at will by the end of the game.

A 6-1 win is great for any team, but when that team is Michigan and that win is against Michigan State after struggling to put goals in the net against Wisconsin can be a momentum builder for a team like the Wolverines. The momentum they got eventually carried them as they got three goals in the last two minutes to beat the Spartans at Munn.

Apparently State's team is young, but they won't admit it, my friend from the good guys went to the game on Saturday and remarked to one of the female students of the other school that Michigan was a young team last year too. She responded with a "ghetto head roll" and threatened him with physical harm, my friend, an occasional commenter on this blog told me his brother had to intervene to keep him from getting hurt. I guess not everybody loses graciously, or is willing to accept their own problems with their team.

The winged helmets on ice now look to get that momentum going against Michigan Tech on Saturday December 27 at Joe Louis Arena in the Great Lakes Invitational where they hope to retain the Macinnis Cup for the second year in a row after not winning it for nearly eleven years in a row.

If Michigan's offense is going to improve it will need to be much better than it was against WCHA competition last time it played them (Wisconsin). If they're not expect a defensive struggle with Bryan Hogan in net, something he's not accustomed to yet. More on Hogan later, but first here's my first experimental youtube video.