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.