Thursday, April 2, 2009

C-ya Kelvin Grady

The Michigan basketball team got some sad news in the aftermath of their first tournament appearance in over a decade. Their point guard Kelvin Grady is leaving the program. Largely seen as a potential successor to Fifth Year Senior Captain CJ Lee, Grady's loss will have a huge impact on the team next season.

Although he did not start much this past season after starting his whole freshman season, he was a crucial figure in some games. Against Duke in the regular season he assisted on two key three pointers to Zack Novack by getting the ball up court and driving to the lane before kicking it out to him. Those two plays were the six point swing that the Wolverines needed to be able to pull off the upset, because before that happened Michigan was trailing by three with six minutes left in the game, less than a minute later thanks to Grady and Novack they led by three.

Another game in which Grady was a huge help was in the NCAA tournament in which Grady relieved starter Lee and was able to get the ball past Clemson's full court press in the first round, without his ball handling skills, it's quite possible that Michigan's tourney appearance would have been one and done.

Which begs the question: who will be Michigan's point guard next year? For now the answer will probably be either be redshirt sophomore Laval Lucas-Perry or incoming freshman and four star recruit, Darius Morris.

Perry is generally a shooting guard despite his point guard size, he is not generally the one to bring the ball up the court, although he can do it. Morris is highly regarded as the top point guard out of his home state of California and it was a steal for Michigan to get his commitment before their tournament run, but he's also a freshman and can be expected to make freshman mistakes.

Morris has the potential to be the best point guard at Michigan since Jalen Rose, but he will need some space to grow, which is where the loss of Grady hurts. Without another true point guard on the team, Coach John Beilein will have to scramble to find somebody to give him that growing space.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

All good things come to an end

Michigan's basketball team has exceeded any kind of expectations that any rational person who had been observing them in recent years could make. They were coming off of a 10-22 season in which they finished tenth in their conference and lost their starting center Ekpe Udoh transferred to Baylor. The Wolverines had two largely unheralded guards coming in as freshman from Indiana, the 2007 Michigan Mr. Basketball in Manny Harris, an undersized center in Deshawn Sims, two walk on point guards, and a coach who has over 30 years of experience who decided it was time to go to work.

Wins over UCLA and Duke began to peak some interest in the program as the Wolverines got out to a great non conference start with only two losses. Michigan needed to make an impressive showing in the conference schedule to get a NCAA tournament berth. It looked like the team would falter especially after consecutive 18 point losses to Purdue and Ohio State on the road. Michigan needed a spark, and they got it with late season home victories over Minnesota and Purdue at home, before finishing off the season with a dramatic come from behind victory against Minnesota on the road.

The Wolverines finished the regular season 19-13, on the bubble for the tournament, needing one more win to get that precious 20th win to get them over the hump for certain. They played Iowa, a team that had beaten them two weeks before. With that in mind Deshawn Sims stepped up to the plate and hit a home run in basketball terms. Scoring the first 14 points of the game, Sims would finish with 27 as the wolverines coasted to a 28 point victory.

Despite a loss in the next round of the Big Ten tournament to Illinois, Michigan was in the dance for the first time since 1998 (when i was 10 years old). WOLV TV went gaga for the Hoops team and there is video coming for it.

Michigan would face Clemson in the first round of the tournament. The Tigers had size and a stifling full court press that had frustrated most of their opponents. What the Wolverines had was heart, and when they saw a 16 point second half lead dwindle to one, Manny Harris drove to the lane got the lay in and the foul and converted it to put on ice with less than 40 seconds in the game.

They faced their end against Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners, and while the national media may focus on Griffin's great performance. I personally admire how the young and grossly undersized Wolverines went about trying to stop him and for some periods of the game managed to slow him down without having to resort to taking charges. It was a great effort by a young team that will be back in the tournament next year.

I believe in my heart that if John Beilein does not receive the National Coach of the Year award he should be given another one, the Lemonade Maker of the Year. Because he took the lemons that he was given by the previous tenure and he made tournament quality lemonade in two years, not many coaches can say that they turned around programs that quickly.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dance Preview of Michigan vs. Clemson

As everybody should know the Wolverines are in the NCAA tournament for the first time since i was a ten year old going on eleven. I recently got an internship for Bleacher Report and i have a link for my preview of the game that i had to write for them right here.

Just so you know, this might mean that i have to update this blog less often.



Go Blue beat Palin's Money.

Michigan's playing that school that's really close to Russia, in the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, I would post a picture of Sarah Palin on this blog, but my parents read it and I don't want to offend them. I'll have a more in-depth preview up later in the week, because i've had a busy week and i need some relaxation to catch up on.

FINALLY!!!!!!!!! Here's the video i promised of fan interviews at Yost Ice Arena which I said I was going to do last year.

Check out the old guy i interviewed.



Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Michigan hockey fan's longest week of the year.

With the bye week going on there has been plenty to occupy the mind of the typical obsessive Michigan hockey fan for the week. Namely the fact that Michigan has gotten not one but two outdoor hockey games next year. On top of the fact that Red Berenson will be back for at least one more season. And this doesn't take into account the fact that the Michigan basketball team is playing their biggest game in years on saturday, which i will get back to later.

The Michigan hockey team itself aside from dealing with post break stresses of every other student in Ann Arbor is also wondering who they are going to be playing next week at the great cathedral of college hockey, Yost Ice Arena. There is a possibility that the winged helmets on ice will be playing the now extremely hated Michigan State Spartans. However it is a remote possibility because the Spartans are the No. 11 team in the conference which would mean in order for them to play the Wolverines they would not only have to beat Northern Michigan in Marquette, they would also need Bowling Green to upset Ohio State.

The former might actually be possible, MSU got three points against the Wildcats in October, but that was before a wave of injuries and suspensions swept over the Spartans and reduced them to the laughingstock of the CCHA. The latter is highly unlikely due to the fact that the only quality win BGSU has had all year is against Michigan on a friday which shouldn't count because at that point in the year it seemed unlikely Michigan wanted to play anybody on friday at home for some strange reason.

The realistic teams that Michigan could face are Northern Michigan, Western, and Nebraska Omaha (UNO to those who care). They could also face Ferris State and Lake Superior State, but i'm not going to talk about them because it would involve some really weird upsets.

Northern and Western are the most realistic teams that the Wolverines will face next week, and they lost to both teams earlier in the year. In both games they lost with Billy Sauer in goal when the team was refusing to give him goal support. If Bryan Hogan is in goal they should have no such problem and advance to Joe Louis Arena with goals to spare.

Go Blue.



Friday, February 27, 2009


It's incredibly hard for me to find words that describe the performance of the Michigan basketball team against Purdue without having to dip into some of the great literary geniuses like Shakespeare and Dickens. Shakespeare wrote with eloquence that has been unmatched by any speaker of the English language and Dickens wrote of struggles that any human could go through and live to tell the tale about.

In essence that's what this team is about, it's about beauty and eloquence at home in front of your own fans, and struggle and hardship on the road. The wolverines have been high as Mt. Everest at times this season like when they beat Duke in December, and they have been low as Death Valley as recent as this past sunday when they lost to Iowa in overtime. But they have managed to get through it and for most of this past night they achieved perfection on the hardwood for a program that has been kicked while it was down for the past 11 years.

They've dealt with scandal, shame, probation, bad coaching, and under performing overachievers. But now they have something, something that feels right, it's not perfect but it might be enough for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They're hoping it isn't a train, but they feel if they make it out of the darkness they will be ready for whatever challenges may await them, because boy did they go through some stuff in that darkness.

The road to the NCAA tournament is neither completed nor easy for the Michigan Wolverines but it is getting closer to its end, and they will soon find out if that road will get them inside the big dance or not.

according to the daily this was the video they showed the team before the game.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

Are we going dancing?

Michigan's basketball team is about as bubble-licious as they get right now. They have wins over three currently ranked teams in Illinois, Duke and UCLA. They are not ranked and sit at a 16-10 overall record with a 6-7 mark in the Big Ten. Something that could help the Wolverines make their first tournament appearance in over a decade is the fact that this year, the Big Ten is absolutely crazy as far as who's beating who. For example, today Penn State beat Illinois and Northwestern beat Ohio State. Michigan split with both Illinois and Penn State winning both games at Crisler and losing both road games, they swept Northwestern and got swept by the Buckeyes.

They face a test to their hopes at Crisler Arena tomorrow in the Minnesota (mini-pop) Golden Gophers coached by the legendary Tubby Smith, a man who i initially wanted to take the job at Michigan when it became open. The Gophers, like a healthy chunk of the conference has been in and out of the rankings for much of the year. They had their greatest start in school history in the non-conference schedule, going 12-0. Since then they have won 7 of their past 13 games and look like if they maintain their pace they're going to make it into the NCAA tournament. But like Michigan they have been streaky, they have lost three out of their last four games.

The Wolverines have split their last four games, but the two wins came against traditionally lowly opponents in Northwestern and Penn State. The Gophers only win came against Indiana, the traditional power in the Big Ten who's going through the same thing Michigan's football team went through this past season, more on that later.

Neither team can afford to lose this game and stand a chance at staying in the good graces of the tournament selection committee. They're both on thin ice and if they slip up on the hard wood they could fall through the cracks. Michigan has to be hungrier in order to win this game, they don't just have to play bigger than the guys they have. They have to be bigger then the guys they have. They have to play like their scared to lose. A former Green Bay Packer under Vince Lombardi once said it best,
whenever we played a great team like the Cleavland Browns with Jim Brown we played out of fear that we had to stop him because his performance would determine the outcome of the game, and he played his last game against us in the championship and lost, so that means he didn't have a good day.

The Packers weren't always as big as Jim Brown but they played bigger than him and they felt that they were bigger than him. To bring this football analogy to the point, Michigan has been getting outsized in big ten games so far this year, and when they've beaten teams it's because they didn't try to be bigger than their opponents, it's because they felt bigger than their opponents. It's because Zack Novack felt that he could stretch his 6'5" frame out just enough to get that rebound against Illinois, it's because 5'10" David Merritt made the extra effort to knock a ball away from an opponent against Duke. That's what it takes to win games, that's what it takes to make it to the big dance, hopefully that's what Michigan will do tomorrow night.

(preview of hockey series vs. OSU tomorrow)



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Michigan Baseball preview

Seeing that the collegiate baseball season starts friday against South Florida, i figure that i should give a statement on how good i think the team is. I think they should be one of the top teams in the big ten this year, but don't take my word for it.



Sunday, February 8, 2009

Taking Care of Business


Michigan swept a team that was neither a major rival or a team that was in the upper echelon of the college hockey. The first win was more impressive with the short handed goal by Matt Rust to tie the game up at the end of the first period was the biggest spark i've ever seen the winged helmets on ice receive.

Scoring two goals in the first two minutes of the second period is the best follow up i've ever seen at Yost because there was a real sense of urgency by the team to capitalize on the momentum swing from the first one. As a result the fans were about as pumped as i've ever seen them for a game against a relatively weaker opponent this season.

Everybody knew Michigan had struggled in games against teams like Lake Superior State, nobody knew that more than Red Berenson. I don't know what he used to get the team pumped up and motivated for this series but he should keep it. It even got the team through the grinding defensive battle that was last night's game.

Most of the people i've talked to about the game said it was ugly. My response is,
ugly or not a win's a win and a loss is a loss, and we won that game.

I honestly think that this game is the type of game we need to win in order to seal up home ice advantage and a first round bye in the CCHA tournament, because it's becoming increasingly evident that Michigan's not going to be the number one seed because of the lead that Notre Dame continues to hold over the rest of the conference.

more coming later.



Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Move over Sam, in comes Graham the Superman

Many of us remember Sam McGuffie prior to becoming just another defector as the guy who front flipped a guy on the football field in high school. Needless that guy never materialized at the collegiate level and he left to pursue Gymnastics at Rice University in Houston.

Well the maize and blue faithful need not fear. A new superhero has been found in Defensive End Brandon Graham. After taping my Charles In Charge segment on WOLV Overtime, i went to Mock Rock the annual charity dance off/lip syncing contest at Hill Auditorium. Not only was i spending my hard earned money on a good cause i saw several good routines, the best of which was not the football team. But the football team's routine was very good this year, and when Graham and another player who's name i did not catch back/front flipped and somersaulted through the air, the host Desmond Howard exclaimed in awe, "OH MY!!! IT'S OVER!!!!" While i will admit that Howard was probably saying the latter part because he's a former football player. I was just as in awe of what he did, and it got me thinking.

What if he could flip like that over offensive linemen and tackle a quarterback all in the same motion? There would be no way to stop him. He could be unstoppable. I'm caffinated, trying to write a paper, and full of excitement towards next football season. It really sucks that i won't be a student to enjoy it.



Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A mixed weekend

The first game was one of the best Michigan hockey game i've ever seen. They went on the road into a hostile environment into probably the worst arena in the CCHA, according to my friend Shaun, and they beat the number one team in the nation.

Not only did they do that they beat them on some incredible skilled goals from two undrafted seniors in Travis Turnbull and Tim Miller.

Although the first game was a masterpiece the second one is more likely to be on ESPN classic, as if they ever show a college hockey game, due to their general disdain towards all things at the University of Michigan, and love of all things Notre Dame. The first period featured a goal that is appropriate in the world's greatest game on grass, futbol, but should not be even considered legal in hockey.

I was at center ice and even i could clearly see from where i was standing that the goal shouldn't have counted. His foot was going forward as it hit the puck, and it went in the net. On top of that, if i saw it, how did the ref who was standing behind the net and called it a goal not see it. Was he looking away? Distracted by the crowd? Distracted by a player? Because if he saw the whole play he would not have called that a goal. I didn't make that big a deal of it at the time though, mainly because i thought that Michigan was going to come back and win it.

I knew Notre Dame had a great defense and was worried when they got that first "goal" but when the first period ended without another one, i felt confident that the wolverines would at least tie it.

This kinda summarizes how i felt after a penalty shot goal and another goal in the second period. (NSFW)

The so called "Irish" fans sitting in the student section proceeded to rub it in our faces that they were "the better team" so they claimed. Tensions and tempers were running high when i took my place in the dance for "Can't Turn You Loose."

Getting that first power play goal from Aaron Palushaj was just what the doctor ordered. Hope was restored, there was a flash of light towards the end of the metaphorical tunnel. Then Robbie Czarnik ended his 21 game goalless streak and the light was becoming more visible. Then with about half a minute to go and an extra attacker on the ice, after a lengthy scrum around the net a goal had been scored, and the winged helmets on ice had made it. They had gone into a series with the number one team in the country and were going to come out of it with at least three points.

But hold the phone.....

What was this? The refs were going into the booth to have a look and determine whether they had blown the play dead before the shot was released. They ruled it to be not a goal from their overhead camera, and the puck luck of the Irish prevailed once again to the general disdain of the thunderstick wielding Yost crowd, who proceeded to pop those balloons in disgust afterward. Michigan has retained their place in the top four in the CCHA and are four points, and two games behind second place Miami, but they would prefer to be four points and zero games behind Notre Dame.



Friday, January 30, 2009

Looking out for the no. 1

Jeff Jackson's Irish fighters have finally discovered the keys to having a good offense in college hockey, getting lots of shots on goal and having goal scorers. With guys like Christian Hanson (son of one of the infamous Hanson Brothers of Slap shot) and Calle Ridderwall, the second and fifth leading goal scorers in the CCHA. On top of that they still have the second best goaltender in the conference in Jordan Pearce.

Notre Dame is not ranked No. 1 for nothing they haven't lost since before Halloween, and the only blemishes on their record since then have been three shootout wins against Lake Superior State and Western Michigan. Granted the most challenging teams they've beaten are an overrated Boston College team and an Alaska squad who have traditionally had problems winning on the road.

That being said this is going to be the toughest home and home for the Wolverines all year. They have to beat a team that has a strategy that has frustrated them two years in a row, and now they've added something extra to that strategy, goal scoring. Michigan has to score first in each game they can't afford to fall behind against them in any case, playing behind a Jeff Jackson team is always costly. In this case they absolutely have to come out aggressive and alert at the same time. They can't afford to make mistakes, something that the Irish thrive on making their opponents do. Last but not least the winged helmets on ice have to be confident that when the going gets tough their tough get going. If they have to play without Kampfer use him as an inspiration for a victory do not let him be hurt in vain.

And where do you go when it's all done?



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Downer on a great day

Everything was going so well that evening for the Michigan athletic department. The basketball team had beaten Northwestern and pulled even in their conference record making their case for the NCAA tournament selection committee stronger. The hockey team was playing a great game against their arch rival Michigan State, they were up by two goals with less than a minute to play, thank you.

The Wolverines were about to wrap up their sixth straight victory over their little brothers the Spartans. The latter were not pleased about this outcome, but what could they do? A lot of damage that's what.

Steve Kampfer had a so so game, he assisted on an early goal in the first period and then he got juked in the second period on State's first goal later on in that period he had been playing either lethargic or tired, depending on your definition. But he was playing hard in the third period when he made a clean open ice hit on Corey Tropp in order to separate him from the puck. From my understanding of the rules of hockey there is nothing wrong with doing that, as long as the guy has the puck you can check him. Kampfer didn't have the puck, but that didn't stop Andrew Conboy from clotheslining him. As if that weren't enough, Tropp decided to get in on the action and hit him on the head with his stick, i guess it was for "good measure."

The melee that ensued was not as noteworthy, the fans got upset and started chanting "**** you State" and "sore losers." I was told later in the game that Kampfer's dad found out it was his son who had just been the victim of the on ice assault, he ran out of the parents section of the arena and started screaming at Rick Comley from behind the bench, and later allegedly stormed into the visiting locker room to confront Conboy, Tropp and Comley.

Profanity and chants and open ice hits are all part of hockey at Yost, but what Conboy and Tropp did was not normal. Personally i'd go so far as to call it aggravated assault, a felony under state law. I think that not only should Rick Comley move to expel those two players from the team the Washtenaw County prosecutor Brian L. Mackie should start drafting charges for aggravated assault on them as well.

What could have been a great day for the Michigan athletic department turned into a day of great shame for college hockey in general as we see it's greatest rivalry devolve into senseless violence. Hopefully somebody will make some sense out of this and see that Kampfer returns to the ice and to the classroom where he is working on a bachelor's in political science like me.

It's times like these when we realize how vulnerable we are as human beings.



Friday, January 23, 2009

Coming back from the worst week ever

Aside from the winged helmets on ice's absolutely unacceptable loss to Bowling Green AT YOST on Friday. Michigan also suffered greatly at the hands of the hoops teams of Illinois, that school in Columbus, and the cherry on top of this sundae of vomit was a fifteen point loss to Penn State, one of the Big Ten's perennial cellar dwellers.

First Michigan hockey. The icers are in a mini goal scoring slump that they had better break out of quickly, because they are going into the coldest of all wars. They have to beat Jeff Lerg who despite having less support from his teammates is still a great goalie. The Wolverines have to score plenty of goals against MSU to win this one, they have to maintain the pressure they got on him earlier in the season and they have to get over the godawful performance of last Friday, in which i might add it looked like Chris Summers was playing like a bored drunk and was leading his team by example into a loss.

Michigan cannot afford another loss to another down team with upcoming games against Notre Dame, Nebraska Omaha and Ohio State, all of whom are in the top four in the CCHA. There is no excuse for them not getting four points out of this weekend series, if they want to have a first round bye in the conference tournament they have to start with a sweep of MSU.

Turning our attention to the hardwood, the loss to Penn State was the worst loss i've ever seen the Michigan basketball team play in, and i've seen a few. It was so painful to watch that i watched most of TNT's new show Leverage instead, primarily because i couldn't deal with the fact they were losing to the Nittany Lions.

They lacked the will, swagger, and the never say die attitude that i saw in the non conference schedule and in the Indiana game recently. They didn't just play tentatively, they played as if they had loss that sense of urgency that drove them to upset Duke and UCLA, as if that was enough to make the NCAA tournament all on their own.

What i have to say to that is, WAKE THE HELL UP PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Wolverines still have a shot at making the Big Dance due to the absolute insanity that is going on in the Big Ten tournament this year, if they can still squeak out a .500 record and make it out of the second round of the conference tourney they should be going to the dance. But they have to finish the regular season with the same intensity they started it with in order to get into the madness of March. They can start by beating Northwestern the team that just beat seventh ranked Michigan State at the Breslin Center for the first time since 1984.

p.s. those of you who actually watched the game this is what you're missing.



Thursday, January 8, 2009

Michigan vs. Miami series hype blog.

Disclaimer: i'm kinda drunk right now, so please excuse the way i might come off here.

The winged helmets on ice are going into what seems like the most important series of the regular season. They're coming into it pretty pumped up from winning their second straight GLI with Inside College Hockey's new hidden Hobey Louie Caporusso. Judging from that and the "Hobey Baker" chants i heard at the Joe after the death of the Spartans it wouldn't surprise me if he got some consideration for the hockey version of the Heisman trophy.

The Wolverines are hoping to capitalize off a win two weeks ago against a team that was limping through their season. Miami is hoping to recover from a loss to a team that hadn't won in 56 days. Ironically, or perhaps fittingly Michigan ended that team's season last year in the game that sent them to the frozen four.

There are many factors in this game, not the least of which is vengance. Last year that was a big enough factor in getting the Wolverines over the Redhawks in Miami with three hard earned points, especially considering how crazy that second game was.

Other than that there are the scorers. Michigan boasts two 25 point getters in Aaron Palushaj (who played in the World Junior Championship) and Louie Caporusso (who did not). Miami has the leading scorer in the CCHA in Carter Camper with 27 points 12 of them from goals. Louie trails him in points but is considered more deadly with his shooting as 18 of his points come from goals. He will probably start and he will probably get the old Bobby Hull treatment, wherever he goes, the Redhawk defenders go with him. With him and probably Camper being constantly trailed both teams will have to look to other options that are more likely to be open.

Special teams will also be a factor, Miami has a decided advantage in that department with three of the top seven power play goal getters in the CCHA. Staying out of the box will be absolutely crucial for the Wolverines if they want to win. They have to be able to play the type of disciplined hockey that Red Berenson has been preaching since he came back to Ann Arbor from the pro ranks in 1984. They need to play like they are ready to give their coach a championship in his last season. In order to execute that latter statement they have to get at least two points out of this series in order for them to be taken seriously by the selection committee, and that will also go a long way to get the team to make a first round bye in the CCHA tournament for the umpteenth year. They need all the help they can get they can get it from everybody who's available.



Indiana game: a retrospective.

There is no way Michigan should have been down by 17 at the half against the decidedly un-vaunted for a change Indiana Hoosiers. As a matter of fact the way i saw it, i was surprised that they weren't down by more at that time period. When i left my apartment at halftime to go to an undisclosed location where i ended up watching the second, I was considering writing a tirade about how the Michigan basketball team should be forbidden from scheduling games on Wednesdays.

Michigan's miraculous run back to tie the game was shocking to say at the very least. I'm so used to seeing the wolverine basketball team collapse under the weight of a huge deficit but this turned out to be the second time that they turned a 20 point deficit into a victory. They needed overtime this time just like against Savannah State. But this was on the road in conference play, and a win against Indiana in basketball is still a win against Indiana no matter how you look at it. It doesn't matter that the Hoosiers are on probation, it doesn't matter that they're starting four freshman for the first time in school history. What does matter is that Michigan basketball is back, they have beaten the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall for the first time since Jimmy King and Ray Jackson were seniors.

What matters is that the wolverines are back in consideration for their first Big Ten title since 1986 after being in danger of falling to the last place team in the conference, as well as falling to 1-2, putting them in dangerous territory to drop out of the race entirely. Now they have space to recover, space that allows them to beat Michigan State in Crisler Arena. Space that might afford them another loss which might hurt, but won't kill the maize and blue's tournament chances. All that matters this year for the athletic department this year is that Michigan make one of the major money making ventures in college sports, the last ten years they've made bowl games but not the NCAA men's basketball tourney. This year could be the first time since 1974 that vice versa is the case.

stay tuned for my Miami hype blog next.



Sunday, January 4, 2009

Review of the first two Big Ten games.

Michigan showed both inexperience and poise in their first two conference matchups. Against Wisconsin they seemed to be completely lacking in the ability to stop the Badgers offense. When they played Illinois they wore their opponent down over the course of the game and eventually took the fight out of the Illini.

One thing i have noticed about Beilein's system is that not only do they execute a shoot threes to set up the inside game on offense, they know how to defend against teams that do the same thing. However, when the Wolverines played the Badgers they had a problem in the fact that they were playing a team that was thinking, pound it in first, then go outside. This left the maize and blue guessing where the Badgers were gonna take their shots, and ultimately guessing wrong. The lack of multiple post presences in the Michigan defense has made it vulnerable all season to the inside post game. On top of this i really think they stijavascript:void(0)ll have a long way to go to executing a good man-to-man defense in order to complement their superb zone play.

However i was able to see some hopeful things out of that particular game. The first was that Zack Novak is one of the most resilient players in the nation, hitting three pointers with multiple hands in his face and playing uneffected by the struggles of Manny Harris and then injured Deshawn Sims.

Everybody knew Illinois was going to be a big test for this team, they were a good team but some people were unsure how good they were. They had lost to a top ten Clemson team and beaten a top ten Purdue team a few days earlier in overtime on the road. Michigan however was not impressed, they came out and decided to throw the kitchen sink at them with the three point shot which kept it close as the Illini shot 58% from the field during the first half yet led by a single point.

In the second half, the 1-3-1 defense that Coach Beilein is famous for took over and forced turnovers and bad contested shots. On top of that there were a few moments during that game where i saw Michigan playing a very solid man to man defense, especially on in bounds plays, they were forcing Illinois to scramble to find open men and when screens were set, someone was always around to help pick up the slack.

I was glad to see Deshawn Sims playing like a man again, after fighting through the Wisconsin game with a bad toe, and Zack Novak is a warrior out there after getting hit by a moving screen from Alex Legion that ended up forcing a turnover for a fast break to Manny Harris as Novak's eyebrow bled. Fortunately he came back which shows not only how resilient the Wolverines are, but also how they play with so much of a sense of purpose that silly things like bleeding eyebrows can't hold them down. Hopefully the maize and blue machine will continue their rolling through the big ten schedule with games against Iowa and Indiana this upcoming week, before going to Champaign for the rematch of today's game and the hosting of the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 17.