Monday, November 24, 2008

Michigan Season Review: A Look Back At Our Predictions

...would be ashamed.

They say hindsight is 20/20. To make the obvious joke, our Michigan Football Roundtable series showed foresight so poor it needed some JoePa glasses. Few Michigan fans were able to predict just how poor this season would turn out to be, but some of our predictions were comical, even though we didn't get our act together in time to post a final season record prediction. Judging by our other previews, it's a damn good thing we didn't try to pick the Wolverines' final record. That could've been embarassing.

Anyways, for the purpose of comic relief, here are our preseason roundtable predictions, in all their misguided glory:

Impact Freshman:

Joe and Webstarr: Darryl Stonum.
Not a terrible choice, considering he finished with 14 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown. However, he was never a huge part of the offense, disappeared for long stretches (although that can be blamed on the general ineptitude of the passing offense), and showed a troubling propensity for dropping passes.

Sam: J.B. Fitzgerald. Finished with 8 tackles, and saw playing time almost exclusively on special teams.

Ace: Terrence Robinson. Damn, wrong pocket-sized slot receiver. Robinson took a redshirt after injuring his knee before the season. I did include this caveat:
[Note: If Odoms beats out Robinson as the designated slot guy/returner, just switch my vote to him. You can basically just swap "Odoms" for "Robinson" for that entire post and it would still ring true. I'm totally cheating, but you get the idea. Slot guy = big deal.]
However, this is called "hedging your bet" and is totally cheating.

The Actual Impact Freshman: Martavious Odoms.


Sam McGuffie showed early flashes of brilliance (mostly in the Notre Dame game) and finished second on the team in rushing (486 yards) but faded quickly down the stretch. Michael Shaw seemed to have a big impact any time he touched the ball (5.1 yards per carry), but that didn't happen very often (42 attempts in 10 games). Boubacar Cissoko saw the field sporadically, and traded decent plays (3 pass breakups, tied for second on the team) with coverage blunders one would expect out of a true freshman.

Ultimately, Odoms was the freshman with the biggest impact. He led the team with 49 catches, 443 receiving yards, and 1040 all-purpose yards, and the offense's ability to move the ball often relied on him to turn bubble screens into first downs. He also returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown in the Purdue game. Yes, he had some major issues holding on to the ball on punt and kick returns, but it's hard to argue against him being the best freshman on the team this season.

Breakout Player:

Joe: Kevin Grady. Joe certainly went out on a limb here, and the gamble didn't really pay off. Grady was a seldom-used short-yardage back, carrying the ball 14 times for 33 yards and a touchdown. It is clear that he doesn't fit in to RichRod's offense.

Webstarr: Brandon Graham.

More on Graham later.

Sam: Stevie Brown. If this award went to the player who caused the most fans to "break out" their inner demons and do serious damage to property, people in the vicinity, and unfortunately placed pets, Brown would win in a landslide. However, we were looking for something different. From Stevie and Sam. Sorry, guys.

Ace: Carson Butler. Caught two passes all year, was in the coaches' doghouse for blowing assignments and punching opposing players, and eventually moved to defensive end. Epic fail on my part.

The Actual Breakout Player: Brandon Graham.


Went from a pass rush specialist (8.5 sacks in 2007, but only one other tackle for loss, and 3.5 of those sacks came against an incompetent Notre Dame line) to a full-fledged beast this season. Led the team with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, had 46 total tackles and forced two fumbles. Despite facing constant double-teams, BG lived in the opponent's backfield. Graham was by far the best player on Michigan's defense, and was named second-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.

Team MVP:

Joe: Tim Jamison. Jamison had a solid season, with 5.5 sacks and 10.5 TFLs, but had nowhere near the impact of Graham.

Webstarr: Wasn't in the article, but knowing Noah the pick would have been BG. Too bad he didn't send me anything before the season. Children, this is why you shouldn't be lazy -- you lose the right to gloat if there's no proof you were right in the first place.

Sam: Morgan Trent. Sam made the argument that Trent was the most proven player on the roster in the preseason, and used this pick as evidence that Michigan was not going to be very good. The overall point was correct, but Trent actually seemed to regress this season after a solid 2007 campaign. He did intercept three passes, but nobody in the Wolverine secondary can escape the fact that as a whole they gave up way too many big plays to considered anything but a liability.

Ace: Carlos Brown. Oops. Brown was limited by variety of injuries throughout the season, and rushed for 122 yards on 29 attempts, all but six of which came against Northwestern in his lone game as the featured back. My visions of Brown as a 1000-yard back and part-time QB could not have been much further from reality.

The Actual Team MVP: Zoltan Mesko.


Yeah, I said it. Our punter is my pick for MVP this year, and only partly because I already named Graham as the breakout player of the year. Brandon Minor, who one could argue was the most valuable player on offense, only ran for 533 yards this season. The rest of the offense teetered somewhere between surprisingly mediocre and epic suck. Besides Graham, nobody on defense can claim that they performed consistently well this season. K.C. Lopata hit only two-thirds of his field goals this season, and blew an easy chance to tie the Toledo debacle.

Mesko, however, averaged 43 yards per punt, nailed 24 kicked inside the 20-yard line while kicking only three touchbacks, boomed 24 50+ yard punts, forced 21 fair catches, and was the biggest reason why Michigan spent much of the season as the top net punting team in the country (we're currently #5). Zoltan the Inconceivable was able to almost single-handedly change field position, and with the 111th ranked offense in the country, field position was at a premium. He was the lone Wolverine to garner first-team All-Big Ten honors.

That should really tell you all you need to know about this season.

Lil' Wayne Lyric:

Before the season, we all tried to choose the Lil' Wayne lyric that would best describe the season. I won't do the rundown, but all our quotes essentially talked about overcoming adversity to achieve great success. In the long term, this should be the case, and I certainly believe it will be. However, if you were to take a Weezy quote that summed up the general Michigan fan's reaction to this season, I would go with:
"And man I miss the times, we would shine, you would keep me on your side
You would teach me how to ride and you would teach me how to pry
Then we get on the line and go over our lines
We were in the same position and that's when you change positions, shit
I never change and I miss ya, and its strange but I never forget ya
say that ain't you in them pictures"
--Lil' Wayne, "I Miss My Dawgs"
Interpret that as you will. In two years, I expect the tune to be very different.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holy Hoop on a Stick! Michigan Beats No. 4 UCLA


I just want to say that the backdoor cut by DeShawn Sims, and the subsequent rim-rocking dunk off an Anthony Wright feed that provided the winning points in Michigan's 55-52 upset over UCLA, was the most beautiful thing related to Michigan basketball I've seen since, um, LaVell Blanchard announced he was coming to school here. Seriously.

Oh, and Stu Douglass officially has a license to shoot.

Regardless of how representative of the team this game really was (no, I don't believe we're a top-5 team, obviously) it was incredibly refreshing and encouraging to see Michigan close out a game like this. Too many times in the past few years we've taken good teams down to the wire, only to falter down the stretch. Tonight Michigan finished, and now we have a signature win and two cracks to upset Duke in the next five games.

For tonight, I am happy. Just don't drop the f-bomb (football) on me for the next 24 hours. I want to enjoy this one.

UPDATE: Here's the final minute of the game, found via The Big Lead.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

About the Banner


I've gotten a few comments about this recently, and they are completely valid.

The banner at the top of this website is completely cursed. Chauncey Billups was traded. Joel Zumaya's arm may fall off before we ever see him have another productive season. Mike Hart is (1) no longer a Wolverine, and (2) is out for the NFL season with a torn ACL. Roy Williams pouted, took plays off, and was then traded (although one could argue that worked out great for both the Lions and Roy). Only Pavel Datsyuk remains untouched by The Ace of Sports Banner Curse (TASBC, for short).

I might throw up a temporary replacement soon, just to ensure that Datsyuk doesn't get run over by a runaway Zamboni. However, I am not a graphic designer, by any standard. If any enterprising reader has the ability to create a banner for the website, I would be forever indebted.

If you are interested:
  • The banner must have "The Ace of Sports" prominently displayed on it somewhere, since that's the name of the blog and all.
  • It should incorporate images somehow involving the Pistons, Red Wings, Lions, Tigers, and Wolverines.
  • The dimensions are 1000 x 200 pixels.
  • Other than that, go wild.
As a college student in the current economy, I have no reward of monetary value to give out if you submit a worthy picture. However, I would be happy to give out a guest post, link to your website, shoutout, or anything else within reason that doesn't rob me of beer money.

Many thanks in advance.


Thoughts on the Transfers


Yikes. Take a couple (unannounced) weeks off, and shit really starts hitting the fan. We lost to Northwestern during a miserable day at Michigan Stadium. I left at halftime while we were ahead, something I could never have imagined doing just a short few months ago. I was too numb, in every sense of the word, to willfully stay while every fiber of my body screamed for a warm couch, some hot food, and a clear view of an HDTV. I watched the rest of the second half, still caring about the outcome, but for the first time as a Michigan fan also caring about my sanity, and whether this was all worth it.

I guess I wasn't the only one feeling like that. Zion Babb got kicked off the team, Jason Kates has decided to transfer, and there is rampant speculation that Artis Chambers and Sam McGuffie will also finish their collegiate careers elsewhere. From a completely nonpartisan standpoint, I can't say I blame them. It's easy to sit here, quote Bo, and dismiss the players as not tough enough, mentally or physically, to play for Michigan.

Except, as much as I can, being a 5-11, 140 pound bespectacled aspiring writer, I understand why these guys would leave. Nobody signs up to play for Michigan player thinking 3-8 (and in all likelihood, 3-9) is within the realm of possibility. Recruits weren't thrown into the middle of a Mike Barwis workout on their official visit. Most of this team signed a letter of intent to play for Lloyd Carr. Many of these players saw their positions disappear, or other players leap them on the depth chart, and have little hope of seeing the field is they remain Wolverines. To see the end of your playing career when you're 20 years old can't be easy. I'd be looking for ways to extend it as long as possible, too.

It doesn't just end with football. No matter how much help these guys get, Michigan classes are hard. Nothing in high school prepares you for your first week of midterms, or having hour-long tests that count for 30% of your overall grade, or how hard it is to write a five-page paper when you know your friends are just ten minute walk away, getting drunk at a house party. The flip-side to being a great school academically is, well, that it's a great school academically. I can't imagine how poorly I'd be doing in school if I had to juggle academics with a sport as time-consuming as football.

It's not just the academics. Ever been through a Michigan winter? It sucks. You go outside only as a last resort. The wind cuts straight to your bones at every corner, and it always seems to find a way to blow right into your face. Nobody wants to party anymore, since cabs are expensive and there's just no way you're walking across campus. All the pretty girls in tank tops and miniskirts you saw during welcome week are replaced by an army of puffy Northface coats, scarves, and sweatpants. You're pretty sure there's a girl in there somewhere, but there's just no way to be sure.

North Face, the official sponsor of the least-titillating winters of your life.

I love Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan. I grew up here. I always knew I would go to school here. But for the kids who came here expecting one thing, and getting something completely different, I feel you. As Brian so eloquently put it, these guys want a place that will specialize in Not Vomiting Every Weekday. And maybe that place won't stress you out so much with an academic program that causes 4.0 GPA high school students to decide that Tuesday is a tremendous night to get shitfaced, as long as it makes them forget about their test on Thursday. Maybe they'll even be able to see the sun between November and May.

Although I didn't intend this when I started writing tonight, this has essentially become an open letter to the fans who make personal attacks on the players.

Get a life.

Bill Simmons Is Scared

I'm assuming most of you readers, since you are reading an online blog, know who Bill Simmons, aka "The Sports Guy" for is. He is probably the most famous sports blogger ever, and is a champion to any one of us typing away at our keyboards to probably no one just because we have opinions. He's the one who "made it," not because he had connections or because he had the right internships, but because people really loved reading what he had to say. In the blogging world, at least in my blogging world, he is king.

That said, there are a few drawbacks to his writing, the first being he is an unabashed Boston sports fan. We all know how obnoxious they are -- they are the ones who somehow perfected the art of being whiny and arrogant at the same time. Part of me actually likes this aspect of his writing, and it is refreshing to hear him just come out and say it, because he sounds like me writing about my teams. He covers the Boston teams with the same love and affection we at the Ace of Sports do for Detroit teams. However, there are times where it is so glaring he actually makes himself look bad. Here's the example I'm getting at (watch out -- this is pretty long. You know how he can be):

Random tangent since we're here: I want to come back in my next life as Joe Dumars. He should have broken up the Pistons after they folded in the 2007 East finals against the Cavs, but instead, he waited an extra 16 months, overpaid Chauncey Billups, then killed this season's team by getting out of the Billups contract by dumping his salary for Iverson's expiring contract, only nobody in Detroit caught on because, "Hey, we got Allen Iverson!!!!!" Meanwhile, he has the media convinced Rodney Stuckey is headed for the Hall of Fame, and the Pistons have a chance to land LeBron in 2010. Really? LeBron is going to drop a nuclear bomb on Cleveland by ditching it for a division rival? That's happening? Last time I checked, free agents were fleeing Detroit (Allan Houston, Grant Hill, Ben Wallace) and not signing there. And if you really think Detroit is landing a marquee guy in 2010 when big markets such as New York and L.A. and warm-weather cities such as Miami, Phoenix and Orlando will all be throwing money around -- not to mention deep-pocketed Portland, which will have assembled a contender at that point and remains the most logical destination for LeBron if he only cares about winning titles and nothing else (and also, Nike is right there) -- then you're obviously in denial. Chris Bosh loves Toronto. He's not leaving. Dwyane Wade isn't leaving South Beach so he can wear a parka and live in Michigan. And LeBron wants to be the next Jordan and/or the most famous athlete on the planet; these things aren't happening in Detroit just because Worldwide Wes likes the Pistons. Come on.

Here's what that cap space will get Dumars: Maybe a discount superstar like Dirk Nowitzki (who's about three months away from turning into the 1991 Tom Chambers) or a nonsuperstar free agent like Carlos Boozer. That's about it. As for the Pistons fans, Dumars might be better than many GMs in the league, but remember, he's the same guy who botched the Darko pick, hired Flip Saunders, overpaid Nazr Mohammed, shoved Carlos Delfino down your throats, pushed out Larry Brown and badly misjudged Mehmet Okur. He's not a genius. He's a solid GM who made some good moves and some bad ones, and he definitely held on to the 2004 nucleus for about 18 months too long. It's OK to lightly question the direction of this team without feeling like an ingrate. Really, it is. You are within your rights. The five-year grace period is almost up.

And there it is: the fear. Can you smell it? It practically oozes from his words. The best part is when he tries to convince himself that Portland is more of a contender in the hugely competitive Western conference than Detroit is in the much weaker Eastern conference. Bill, I'm sorry Joe D can't make all the right decisions. Your squad has been known to blow a few big ones as well (Antoine Walker, anyone?). The fact is, we in Detroit trust him. All he's done is win us a championship with one of the most likable and truly team-first teams in recent memory, certainly a more legit project than your Celts, who were gift-wrapped, packaged and sealed for you by a former player in a trade that should have been vetoed by the Commish. So good job Danny Ainge, you've built a winner, at least until the aging Ray Allen slows down (which he already did against, ahem, Detroit in the playoffs. It's only a matter of time), Kevin Garnett gets a little older and loses some of his defensive quickness, and Paul Pierce decides he's done enough and starts mailing it in. That day is rapidly approaching. The point is, your team may be good now, but they're OLD. OLD, OLD, O-L-D OLD. And who do you have waiting in the wings? The great Rajon Rondo, Big Baby Davis, Eddie House (truly a joke of a player), and Kendrick Perkins (nothing but a body). The only legit players you got are Tony Allen ( and that's stretching the definition of "legit") and Leon Powe, who is, admittedly, a beast. Good luck with that team in five years. Hell, three years.

Here's the thing: Bill knows all of this. This is not new to him. That's why he went on his "tangent." It was written as much to reassure himself as to demoralize Detroit fans. You can hear it, especially when he talks about free agents leaving Detroit instead of going there. Good argument, Bill. Every team lets free agents go. It's not like players look at teams that have let a few go and say, "oooh, they let those guys go, I don't want to go there." Each case is different, and the players know that. Also, Allen Houston? Grant Hill? Really? I think I was nine when the Houston was here, and only a little older during Grant Hill. You're showing your age, Bill. Maybe you should take some of your own advice that you give Charles Barkley in the paragraph before the one I posted. Another good part is when he says the weather is one of the top reasons players decide where to go. Here's a revelation for you. Real players care about two things: money and rings. If the Stons got the money and the team, there should be no problem whatsoever signing a top-notch free agent.

And excuse us in Detroit for being excited about landing the player with the third-best average of all time. I love Iverson. He truly showed me what the NBA could be when I was in sixth grade and he took the Sixers to the finals when the second-best player on the team was Aaron McKie and he was THIS CLOSE to winning the first two games in L.A. against the mighty Lakers. I will always be grateful to him for what he showed in that series. And you know what's funny about Allen Iverson? I've never seen him cry and be wheeled out of the gym in a wheelchair from a fake knee injury. Even you, Bill, had to see the sapiness in that whole act. The Celts were praised and hyped and fawned over and dramatized (Bill Russel's televised conversation with KG, anyone?) by the media that whole season, and Pierce wanted just a little bit more, so he sold his dignity for a chance that a few people would believe he was actually hurt and he could pretend he was a hero. One problem: he lost the respect of countless fans. Congratulations, Paul.

So there you have it: the unflappable Bill Simmons, he of the boundless ego, is officially scared. I am looking forward to the rest of the season like I have never before. Go Pistons, and God Bless Joe Dumars.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Zion Babb Off Team

Wide Receiver Zion Babb has left the Michigan football team, according to pretty much everyone but us.  RichRod won't tell anybody why, but we can assume it has something to do with the 3-8 record.  
Look for a lot more players to leave after this season, possibly even Sam I Am McGiffie, which would be a huge blow.  However, I'm convinced that Michael Shaw is just a less-hyped version of Sam, so I won't be crying if he leaves.
That's all for now, more updates to come.  To those thinking of leaving: Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.  Think about it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Suck My Balls, ESPN


Please, please put that same bet up again for the Ohio State game. Assholes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Iverson In His New Duds

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

I must say, it's pretty unreal to see AI in a Pistons jersey. I've always been an Iverson fan, every since he a high-flying phenom at Georgetown. He may not be the spectacular dunker he was for the Hoyas (don't believe me? Check this out), but the man still can put the ball in the basket. Iverson may be on the decline, but he still brings more superstar power to Detroit than anyone since Grant Hill.

I loved watching him play during his Sixers days, when he single-handedly carried terrible teams way further than they ever should have gone. Remember, Aaron McKie was Philly's number two scoring option when they made the NBA Finals in 2001 (I guess you could argue Dikembe Mutombo was, but he mostly just cleaned up what AI's not like they ran the offense through him). Iverson's step-over on Tyronn Lue remains one of my favorite highlights from my lifetime.

It's going to be fun watching AI suit up for Detroit Friday night at New Jersey, and for the rest of the season. Now that he is not burdened with carrying a team, or the growth of another superstar, we may just see a reenergized Iverson. If we do, this Detroit team will be one to watch out for deep into the summer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's November Fourth


That's all. Happy Election Day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why I'm Not Sorry Chauncey Billups was Traded

I have talked to many, many, many fans today who liked the trade for Allen Iverson, but were hesitant to celebrate too much because they had a hard time watching Chauncey Billups leave the 'Stons.  Don't hesitate!  Celebrate!  (Like that one?  That was waiting for a while).

Look, Chauncey was one of the best point guards in the league when he was with the Pistons.  Until 2004.  Yes, after 2004 he still averaged around the same amount of points and assists, and he remained a favorite among fans, but something had happened.  Winning the title in 2004 was probably the worst thing that could have happened to Billups and many others on that roster, most obviously Rasheed Wallace.  

For most great players, winning their first championship only provides them with the added incentive of defending it.  Jordan, Magic, Bird, all of them were like this.  They won, but they wanted to win more.  For other players, winning a championship is more like the end of a lifelong dream.  This is not necessarily a bad thing; few have a championship, and those who do have accomplished something extraordinary.  However, what sets apart the very, very good players from the great ones is how they react to that first championship.  Jordan, Bird, even Duncan and Shaq, used it to motivate them to get even better, to defend their title.  The Pistons who won in 2004 used it in the exact opposite way, which is why Detroit has not seen another championship banner since then.

Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace seemed to be the spokespeople for the horrible attitude that afflicted the Pistons after their 2004 title, especially after Larry Brown left.  Their attitude was:

"We've been to the top, which means We are already better than everyone else.  If we play poorly, it's not because the other team beat us, it's because we didn't play well.  We can toy with teams for the first few games of a playoff series and flip a switch when we decide we want to win, and we can win another championship that way."

This attitude that these players were so good that they could toy with whatever teams they wanted to for however long they wanted led to some dubious playoff series, especially last year against Philadelphia, in a series that should not have gone six games.  There have been other examples of this, but I won't go into them because it will take too long.   

To put it simply: Billups stopped being hungry.  He didn't crave a championship like he did in '04, and it showed.  Sheed doesn't care what the hell happens and it shows.  These guys were the main proponents of the inflated view the Pistons had of themselves from '04 until now.  Unfortunately, we traded Dice, not Sheed, so some of that attitude is still around.  

Allen Iverson, however, is probably the hungriest player in the League now that Kevin Garnett got his title.  That attitude that he brings to every game, where he goes all out, never lets up, and tries his hardest at all times, is one the Pistons need more than any other team at this point.  Hopefully, his play, and the way he plays, will be infectious.

Now, analysis of the trade itself: if you hadn't guessed, I love it.  It is a no-lose situation for the Pistons, and as usual, a shrewd business move by our ever-shrewd president, Joe Dumars.  Allen Iverson has one year left on his contract.  Billups had three.  If Iverson doesn't work out, which he almost undoubtedly will, the worst that happens is we don't do so well this year, we don't re-sign him, and we got rid of an expensive, over-the-hill guard (Chauncey).  Also, the chances are good that Dice, out of love for the Pistons organization, will sit out this year and re-sign with us next year, which would be awesome.  Great move financially, and overall a steal.  

Here's how I see this playing out as far as the lineup is concerned: Curry will start with Iverson at point, Rip at 2, Tay at 3, Amir at 4, Sheed at 5.  Stuck will come off the bench, along with Mad Max.  That's a fucking great lineup.  As the season progresses, the lineup will be shuffled during games.  I see about 20 minutes each game of a small-ball lineup: Stuck, AI, Rip, Tay, Sheed.  That's a good lineup, especially because, if you replace Sheed with someone more mobile, maybe Kwame Brown (can't believe I just said that), it allows the Pistons to play more up-tempo and will give opponents a completely different look.  With all those scorers on the floor, the only thing we would need Kwame to do is rebound, and there is no reason he can't do that.  Tay is an almost impossible matchup for anybody, by posting up against small forwards or blowing by slower power forwards.  Rip is faster than most small forwards, the only question is if he can hold his own on defense.  That puts Stuck in a role most of us imagined him taking over after a few more years, but if Joe D thinks he is ready now, I believe him.

Awesome trade.  For the first time in a while, I am genuinely excited about the Pistons winning it all this year.  This puts us right back into the headlines, but so be it.  I have loved AI for a while, ever since he introduced me to the NBA in 2001 when he almost won the first two games of the Finals in L.A. when the Sixers' second-best player was Aaron McKie.  He will improve this team dramatically both on the court and attitude-wise.  Now, how do we get rid of Sheed... 

Rip Signed to Extension


From ESPN via DBB: Detroit has just signed Rip Hamilton to a three-year, $34 million extension.

I'm going to wait for someone who knows more about the salary cap to break this one down. I'm still recovering from the AI trade. My initial reaction is relief that there won't be a total overhaul of the roster after this season. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to eat lunch. Um, dinner. I need to get away from my computer now.

Now That It's Official...


Lost in all the hoopla of whether the Chauncey/Dyess/Samb-for-AI deal is good for the Pistons is the fact that, well, Detroit is trading Mr. Big Shot. This may seem dumbfoundingly obvious, but it seems that the fact hasn't sunk in yet that Detroit is trading a fan favorite, as well as a superb basketball player.

I have to get this off my chest: I don't believe in clutch. There's a multitude of reasons, but here's my argument boiled down in to a couple of sentences. Check out's "Clutch" statistics (they use the quotes too). Notice something about the top of the leaderboard? It's just the league's best players, with almost no exceptions. To me, "clutch" falls in to the same category as "grit" and "being a winner" as terms thrown around by sportswriters because they're easier to say than it is to actually break down why a player is good.

However, I never had a problem with Chauncey's "Mr. Big Shot" moniker. Why? Because the dude had cajones. Detroit did not have a go-to scorer during its run to six straight conference finals appearances, but Chauncey was always the man in big-time situations. Whether he made the big shot or missed it, a Pistons fan was never unhappy to see the ball in Billups' hands with the clock winding down. Many will call that clutch; I prefer to say that Chauncey just has no fear.

I've already said I love the trade, from the standpoint that the Pistons have a brighter future and a great present as well. Still, there's a heavy feeling in my gut, one that knows that number one in the Red, White and Blue won't be suiting up for the D again. "Allen ... I-I-I-Iverson" just doesn't have the same ring as Mason's "B-B-B-Billups" introduction. And so, I'll be pouring out a beer for Chauncey tonight (and probably drinking a couple as well).

They say the mark of a great GM is the ability to make personnel moves without letting sentiment get in the way. Good think Joe Dumars is our GM, because this is a trade most Pistons fans would have a really hard time making.

Just look back and appreciate some of Chauncey's finest playoff exploits:

Breaking Pistons News: Iverson to Detroit


Stephen A. Smith is reporting on Sportscenter that a HUGE deal is near completion in Detroit. The Pistons will reportedly send Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess to Denver in exchange for Allen Iverson.

My first instinct is to say I like the trade. AI is still a go-to scorer who is as hungry as anyone in the league for an NBA title. He can play both guard spots, and with Rip Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey will form one of the most potent backcourt rotations in the league.

The trade, if it goes through, is bittersweet. Chauncey has always been a fan favorite, and it's always tough to see an NBA Finals MVP go. However, he is going to his hometown team and a playoff contender, so as a Pistons fan I'm happy for him.

This is definitely a huge vote of confidence for Stuckey, Amir Johnson, and Jason Maxiell, all of whom are in line to play even bigger roles with the team if this trade goes through. Losing Ben Wallace to free agency was one thing, but trading Chauncey really signals the beginning of the end of the old guard (the core of the team that won the 2004 title) and the start of the youth movement in Detroit.

More on this later, after it is (and IF it is) confirmed.

UPDATE: Tom Ziller at the Fanhouse posts another reason why this deal makes a whole lot of sense for Detroit:
This deal isn't about tomorrow or April, though: it's about July. Iverson is a pending free agent, while Billups and Antonio McDyess will take up $19 million of cap space next season. If Dumars lets A.I. flee and fails to re-sign aging forward Rasheed Wallace, the Pistons will be looking at upwards of $20 million in cap space in the summer of 2009. The free agent crop is solid -- not replete with superstars, but solid. Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion, Hedo Turkoglu, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Ben Gordon ... there's a chance Dumars could pick up two of those guys with all his space. (UPDATE: Rip Hamilton could also opt out this summer, if he wants to pass up $11 million in exchange for long-term security. That'd give Dumars more than $30 million to play with.)

Or -- and here's the scary thought for non-Pistons fans -- Dumars could let the freedom ride til the summer of '10, when Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire hit the market. Atonement for the '03 draft debacle, perhaps?
Don't doubt Joe D. This move doesn't severely cripple the Pistons' chances this season (in my opinion), and gives up a hell of a lot more flexibility down the road. If we pick up a superstar or two in a couple of years, this will be looked at as possibly the best personnel move Dumars has ever made.

UPDATE 2: Damn, take a nap, and things get all official. Yes, this trade is actually happening, and there's seemingly hundreds of reactions out there on the internets already. True Hoop loves the deal for Detroit. So does Ball Don't Lie. Kevin Sawyer at DBB is less enthused (still waiting to see what Matt thinks). ESPN's Chad Ford and John Hollinger weigh in, as does Keith Langlois at True Blue Pistons. Also, Dave Dial at MLive's Full Court Press blog has a great breakdown of the salary cap ramifications of the deal, as well as a list of potential free agents for next offseason, if Detroit chooses to use its cap space on the class of 2009.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Michigan Three-Man Front


I mean, seriously. Scott Shafer, please stop single-handedly raising my blood pressure to Old Faithful-esque levels. The last time the Wolverines gave up 48 points to Purdue? Um, never.

Have I mentioned their quarterback played running back two weeks ago? Ugh.

Time to block this out of my mind and attempt to enjoy the rest of Halloween weekend. Heavy drinking is absolutely inevitable.