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.