Saturday, January 31, 2009

Notes from Michigan/Purdue


Anyone who didn't understand Manny Harris' importance to the Michigan basketball team got to see just how much he means to the Wolverines on national TV Saturday afternoon. Although Harris struggled in his 18 minutes of play, scoring only five points on 2-7 shooting, Michigan led the 17th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers 29-27 with 18:28 to go in the second half. That's when Harris caught the ball on the wing, faced up, and swung his elbow into Purdue's Chris Kramer, knocking him to the ground and drawing blood. Exit Manny, and with him the Wolverine's chances of a huge road upset. Purdue outscored Michigan 40-20 after Harris' ejection as U-M's offense looked completely lost without its leading scorer and distributor.

Some more thoughts on the 67-49 loss:
  • 18 turnovers on the road just isn't going to cut it in the Big Ten. I could've sworn this team was supposed to be tremendous at taking care of the ball.
  • Speaking of turnovers, can we stop playing David Merritt please? I know we were shorthanded this game, but the guy still averages 14 minutes a game. What has he contributed? 1.9 points on 39% shooting, 1.5 personal fouls, and an ugly 1.36 assist/turnover ratio. He turned the ball over three times today and generally looked uncomfortable handling the ball. This is a point guard, ladies and gentlemen.
  • To Stu Douglass, if you're reading this: please, please, please stop taking 30-footers, no matter how open they are. Unless that shot is coming with three seconds or less on the shot clock, there is just no reason to take it. Trust me, nobody is going to cover you out there. There's a reason it's always open.
  • The biggest bright spot: Jevohn Shepherd. He tied for the team lead with 10 points, was 4-7 from the field, and was the most aggressive player on offense once Manny was ejected. He had several good drives to the basket, and with a couple luckier bounces (and whistles) could've ended up with a few more points. Expect to see more of Air Canada as the season goes on.
  • Despite finishing with only two points and no field goals, I liked how Kelvin Grady played. He's starting to look to take it to the basket more, and created a few opportunities for his teammates just by getting penetration and dishing once he drew the defense. It looks like Grady is learning how to take advantage of his ridiculous quickness.
Michigan's next game is February 5th against Penn State at home. Consider that one a must-win if you're still holding on to the NCAA pipe dream. Meanwhile, check out the Michigan hockey team tonight against No. 1 Notre Dame at 7:30 on FSN Detroit. The Wolverines snapped the Irish's 20-game win streak last night with a 2-1 victory, and a weekend sweep would be huge for both the team's confidence and their potential NCAA Tourney seed.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Novak Suspended for Purdue Game

Quick update via UMHoops: John Beilein has suspended Zach Novak one game for his elbow to Buckeye guard P.J. Hill's head near the end of Tuesday's loss at Ohio State.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Beat State: Give Blood


Want a productive way to get out your State hate? It's not too late donate blood in the 2009 Face Off Blood Challenge between Michigan and Michigan State. From the U-M press release on the event:
This winter, while the University of Michigan's hockey team faces off against Michigan State, we are asking you to take on the Spartans in the 2009 Face Off Blood Challenge. Blood drives are being held across campus January 19 - February 27. If you have never given blood, please consider making a donation this time. And if you are a loyal donor, this would be a great time to give the gift of life once again.

The Red Cross often finds it difficult to meet hospitals' need for blood. Every two seconds of every day someone needs blood, whether it is for children with sickle cell, trauma victims, selected surgeries, or chemotherapy. To be prepared for everyday patients' needs and for unexpected disasters, a seven-day inventory of blood is needed. On most days this winter, the inventory reserve has been measured in hours, not days.
Obviously, the game has already happened, and the drive is almost half-over. However, you can still sign up by going to and entering the sponsor code "goblue". There are still 20 different opportunities to give blood for this drive. I've never donated blood before (I get squeamish around needles and blood), but today I allowed a nurse to take a pint of blood out of my 5-11, 140 pound self. I don't like to get on a pulpit and preach on this site, but trust me when I say that if I can do this, you probably can too. The volunteers at the Michigan Union could not have been more helpful, and it wasn't bad at all lying on the donation table while listening to Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 coming out of the speakers. The whole thing took me under an hour. I strongly encourage Michigan students (and non-students as well) to consider doing this. It's for a great cause, and sticking it to State in the process is just icing on the cake.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Notes from Michigan/Ohio State

My notes from the first half can pretty much be summed up by this picture:


Michigan went 0-11 from three, 5-25 from the field overall, and turned the ball over 12 times in one of the ugliest halves of basketball I've ever seen. Although U-M heated up in the second half, cutting an 18-point halftime deficit down to eight with 6:35 left, they couldn't dig themselves out of the early hole. Some thoughts:
  • The Ohio State press killed Michigan in the first half. Kelvin Grady was the only player who could consistently break it without turning the ball over.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry came out cold (as did everyone else), but he did hit two threes early in the second half. Hopefully he builds off of that success.
  • I feel like this every game, but we really didn't go inside enough. Sims flashed open across the middle of the Buckeye's 2-3 zone several times, and often didn't get the ball when he was open. He needs to be touching the ball more regularly.
  • Manny Harris played a great game, especially in the second half, and was a force on both ends of the court.
  • Harris and Stu Douglass did a good job of getting into the passing lanes on defense. Their steals kept the Wolverines within reach in the first half.
  • After the hockey events of last weekend, it would be a bit hypocritical of me to not point this out: Zack Novak got booted from the game with around a minute left for throwing an elbow at P.J. Hill (not that P.J. Hill) (hooray for ripping off MGoBlog) after an Ohio State free throw. It was a frustration foul, and Novak shouldn't be playing like that. Keep it clean out there, guys.
Michigan goes to Purdue on Saturday. I get the feeling fans are flying off the bandwagon already, but I was encouraged by how we came out in the second half. We just need to put together a solid 40-minute game of basketball. Tonight we put in 15.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Conboy and Tropp Off Team

Conboy (l) and Tropp (r)

I swear this is the last Kampfer-related post, barring criminal charges in the matter. Andrew "Ber-2-zzi" Conboy (I'm so effing clever) and Corey Tropp (I can't figure out how to incorporate a "2" into "McSorley") are no longer members of the Michigan State hockey program, according to the Detroit News:
Michigan State hockey players Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp are no longer on the team after their violent actions in Saturday's game at Michigan, MSU coach Rick Comley said Tuesday.

"It was a tough decision, but the right decision," Comley said. "I don't think the kids are bad kids. I don't think (their actions) were premeditated."

In Conboy's case, he has left the university entirely, probably to continue his hockey career somewhere where fighting is legal and teams actually have use for a low-scoring enforcer. The article also states that Tropp "might be allowed to return to the program after this season if he remains enrolled in school."

Credit where credit is due: State's handling of the incident has been great. Comley has done all one can reasonably expect of a coach in his situation, and he addressed Conboy and Tropp's suspensions in a timely and appropriate manner. At this point, I'm satisfied with how the whole thing has turned out, although I hope the Spartans take a long, hard look at whether they want to allow Tropp back on the team next year (assuming he stays in school).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Conboy and Tropp Suspended for Season

This news comes via the Detroit Free Press, which reports Michigan State came to the decision today to suspend Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp for the season for their attack on Steve Kampfer.
“What happened near the end of the game this weekend is not the way in which we want our hockey program represented,” Michigan State coach Rick Comley said in a news release. “We cannot condone their actions. We felt that we had to send a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated.”
It's great to see that Michigan State decided to take action themselves instead of waiting on the CCHA to hand down suspensions. Now we'll see if the CCHA hands down any further suspensions or kicks either player out of the league.

According to the article, Kampfer says he expects to play on Friday, which is outstanding news.

The article also contains the highest-quality video I've seen so far:

More on the Kampfer Incident

Photo by Zachary Meisner of The Michigan Daily

I thought after a couple days my rage about this whole thing would simmer down to a mere seething anger. Not quite. I just got off the phone with my mom (I know, cute, right?) and had to explain the entire thing blow-by-blow to her because she hadn't read the sports section in a few days. Just describing what the Conboy/Tropp tag team did to Kampfer made my blood boil.

Even worse was subsequently reading this account of the game from The State News (found via The Diag). Let's start with the title: "MSU, U-M behavior bad all-around". Regardless of how you view public profanity and the actions of Kampfer's father, putting them on the same level as what Conboy and (especially) Tropp did is homerism at its worst.

Now it's time to go at this article Fire Joe Morgan-style. Alex DiFilippo (The State News reporter) will be represented in italics. My commentary will follow.

With the game all but over, U-M’s Steve Kampfer took a run at MSU sophomore forward Corey Tropp at center ice.

The game was 5-3 with 55 seconds remaining. Granted, at the time it looked pretty bleak for the Spartans. However, much crazier things have happened in the game of hockey than scoring two goals in under a minute, especially if you get the chance to pull your goalie (which was almost certainly State's intention when they dumped the puck in to U-M's zone right as Conboy punched Kampfer).

Also, Kampfer's hit was totally clean and legal. This is not "taking a run". This is hitting a guy with his head down and making a solid hockey play.

In an attempt to stick up for his teammate, MSU freshman Andrew Conboy went after Kampfer to try and teach him a lesson.

The lesson being "screw eye-for-an-eye, and every code among hockey players, a hard hit deserves a retaliatory assault".

Conboy punched and threw Kampfer to the ice and Tropp came in and struck Kampfer across the head with his stick.

A moment after Tropp committed the violent act, you could see him look down at Kampfer and come to the realization of what had just occurred.

DiFilippo clearly forgot to add "sucker-" to the front of "punched", which should've immediately been followed with "from behind". Somewhere in his description of what Tropp did he should've noted the fact that Kampfer was down, and probably unconscious, when Tropp decided to COCK HIS STICK AND SLASH HIM IN THE NECK.

Also, if Tropp's reaction to his "realization" of what he did was to immediately get in a shoving match with:

1) Conboy, his own teammate.
2) David Wohlberg, who was the first Michigan player to skate over

then the man has no soul. How DiFilippo can watch that tape and think Tropp became immediately remorseful is absolutely beyond my realm of understanding.

While Kampfer was being helped off the ice, the student section began a cheer that was so loud the ground was trembling in the press box.

I’ll give you a little hint on what it was — the first word rhymed with “duck” and the second word was “State.”

Actually, the second word was "you" but that's kind of nitpicking. I will say this: I would much rather have had the student section chant "Steven Kampfer", or simply rain down a chorus of boos on the Spartans. Chanting "F*ck You State" certainly didn't help matters, nor did it show any class. However, for a sportswriter from a school that chants "First Down, Bitches" (and much worse, if you happen to be a Michigan student in Spartan Stadium ... I speak from experience) during football games, this seems like a strange time to rant against profanity in the student section.

When the final horn sounded and it came time for the ritual handshake, tempers were still flaring and players were pushing and shoving each other through the line.

Members of the Wolverines team even came over and had a few choice words for Comley.

If those words were anything along the lines of "get control of your goons and teach your team to play like men," then the Michigan players were totally in line. Regardless, they just watched their teammate, who had recently come back from a fractured skull and neck injuries, lay on the ice for several minutes with Spartan-induced injuries to the same area. DiFilippo should be pointing out how classy it was for Red Berenson and the Wolverines to even shake the Spartans hands in the first place, especially when the officials suggested they should forego the post-game handshake.

When the Spartans returned to their locker room, a parent of a U-M player barged in and attempted to fight Tropp.

This type of thing is absolutely unacceptable.

The CCHA has to come down with some sort of fine or punishment on U-M for not having proper security outside of the opposing team’s locker room.

What if this man would have entered the locker room with a weapon?

Granted, all of this stemmed back to Tropp’s cheap shot, but U-M fans are crazy if they thought the league or Comley was going to overlook something as serious as this.

I am not defending the actions of Kampfer's father, but if you're going to talk about how slugging a guy in the back of the head is "sticking up for your teammate," Mr. Kampfer was doing the least he could do to stick up for his son. If he was going to stoop to State's level he would've brought along a hockey stick and waited for Tropp to turn around. Tropp has already decided not to press charges, and I'm pretty damn sure the league will not be punishing Michigan for anything that transpired Saturday night. Yes, they'll make sure there is more security, but my bet is this is a league-wide issue, and not just a problem at Yost. Officials and police probably weren't planning on an on-ice assault when planning security for the game. Next time we'll make sure to remember how bush-league the Spartans are, and throw a little more security in the locker room.

Instead of being the victims in this incident, U-M fans became part of the problem and committed some big-time sins of their own.

You, Mr. DiFilippo, are forgetting who exactly the victim is in this incident. Steve Kampfer was a victim. The Kampfer family, who had to watch their son lie motionless on the ice after getting attacked by two goons, was a victim. The Michigan State hockey program, which lost a ton of national respect because of this, was a victim. Michigan fans were only a victim in that we had to watch Kampfer get attacked, and then pray overnight that he was going to be okay. I prayed for Kampfer, and I prayed for his family. I did not have to pray for Tropp, who was completely unharmed in the incident, despite being attacked by a justifiably furious parent. I did not have to pray for the people watching the game who hear the profanity. I'm sure they'll be fine.

This is homer journalism at its ugliest. Get a grip, DiFilippo. I realize you're a State fan catering to State fans, but I would hope that any Michigan blogger or writer would have the sense to present what happened in a far less biased way.

Update: Michigan Hockey Net did pretty much the exact same thing I did. Pardon my redundancy, but I had to get this one off my chest. That article deserved a double-dose of reality anyway.

Kampfer Released from Hospital, Not Seriously Injured

Relieving to hear this, via George Sipple of the Free Press:
“I have a strained neck right now,” Kampfer said in a phone interview with the Free Press on Sunday. “I had no relapse of what happened earlier. Hopefully, I’ll be back this weekend.”
Kampfer also showed way more class than I could've ever mustered:
Asked if he thought the players should miss more time, Kampfer said: “That’s not up for me to decide. I’m biased because it happened to me. It’s up to (CCHA commissioner) Tom Anastos and the refs to decide.”
It's great to know that Kampfer is okay, and it is almost as great to see that he is conducting himself with a tremendous amount of class and restraint. I probably would've been calling for Tropp's head on a platter after what happened Saturday night. I am proud to call Kampfer a fellow Wolverine, and relieved to hear that he will be fine.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This Is Not Hockey

(video via The Diag)

However, I would consider it assault. At the end of Michigan's 5-3 victory over Michigan State last night (giving Michigan the season series sweep), Spartan Andrew Conboy sucker-punched Wolverine defenseman Steve Kampfer from behind, and his teammate Corey Tropp added a couple vicious slashes to the head while Kampfer lay motionless on the ice. This was in response to a clean open-ice check by Kampfer on Tropp just seconds earlier. Kampfer was down on the ice for several minutes before being helped off by teammates, and was later taken to the hospital while wearing a neck brace.

If you don't remember, Kampfer was the player who was attacked by former Michigan football player Mike Milano in an off-campus incident earlier this year. He returned less than a month ago from a fractured skull and serious neck injuries.

Tropp was assessed a slashing major and a double game misconduct, while Conboy somehow escaped with only a double-minor roughing penalty. Spartan Coach Rick Comley said he would "take care of" his players, which hopefully means suspending these two goons for the duration of the season. The CCHA will also review the incident, and hopefully will come to the same conclusion that any sane hockey fan would: this was a beyond-dirty play with intent to seriously injure an opposing player. If either Tropp or Conboy sees the ice the rest of this season it will be an embarassment to Michigan State's program, the CCHA, and the game of hockey as a whole. The whole thing was eerily reminiscent of Todd Bertuzzi's 2004 hit on Steve Moore that left Moore with three fractured vertebrae and a concussion. Moore has not returned to the NHL since that hit.

After the game, Comley called security after he was reportedly attacked by a Michigan fan. Rumor has it that fan was Kampfer's father, and that he was going after Tropp, not Comley, but nothing has been confirmed other than the fact that Comley asked for a police escort for his team.

The most important thing here is hoping that Kampfer is okay. I can't imagine how scary it is for him, his family, and hit teammates seeing him taken to the hospital in a neck brace knowing his injury history.

Here's another video of the incident, taken from the stands (hit happens 40 seconds in; video from MVictors, which has a great rundown of the whole thing):

UPDATE: MVictors now has still frames of the assault. Tropp's slash is made even more sickening by the fact that it looks like he cocked back, had second thoughts, and then decided to go through with bashing Kampfer in the head anyway.

Also, the Fanhouse's Bruce Ciskie has posted about last night, calling Tropp's slash "disgusting", calling for Tropp and Conboy to be suspended the rest of the season, and throwing out this quote:
Oh, and [Tropp] slashed a player who was probably unconscious at the time. There's a special place in hockey hell for people like that.
It isn't just Michigan fans who are disgusted with this.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where You At?: Marcus Ray Edition


The "Where You At?" series returns with a look at former Michigan safety Marcus Ray.

Anyone who has followed Michigan recently knows that the Wolverines have had their fair share of problems at safety (the mere mention of Ryan Mundy or Stevie Brown sends shivers down my spine). However, the 1997 national title team featured Marcus Ray, one of my personal favorite Wolverines and a hard hitting strong safety.

Ray was a product of the same Columbus, OH high school that produced Archie Griffin (Eastmoor High School). While Charles Woodson was the more highly-regarded defensive back in the 1995 recruiting class, Ray also made an immediate impact during his freshman year. He started six games at safety, amassing 27 tackles, three pass breakups, and an interception.

Woodson and Ray: Not a bad DB class (photo from

He broke out as a sophomore, starting all twelve games at strong safety. His best game came in Michigan's 45-29 victory over Michigan State, when he tallied ten tackles, broke up a pass, and had two of the Wolverines' four interceptions. Ray would finish the season with 100 tackles, good for second on the team, as well as seven pass breakups and three picks. He was named second-team All-Big Ten, as selected by the coaches, and was an honorable mention for the media team.

As we all know, everything came together during the 1997 season. Ray finished third on the team with 71 tackles, broke up four passes and had five interceptions (second on the team behind a certain Heisman Trophy winner). He had two interceptions during Michigan's 28-24 comeback victory over Iowa, and added two more during the team's blowout of Michigan State. However, the defining moment of Ray's season, career, and arguably the 1997 season as a whole came during the regular season finale against Ohio State. Late in the fourth quarter, OSU quarterback Joe Germaine rolled to his right and sailed a pass over the head of receiver David Boston, who had been physically and verbally battling with the Wolverine defensive backfield all day. Ray pounced on the opportunity to give Boston the licking he deserved, and sent him flying up into the air before crashing down onto his back (video here). The hit was immortalized on the next week's cover of Sports Illustrated, and would come to symbolize the smashmouth defense of the 1997 title team. Ray was named second-team All-America and first-team All-Big Ten after the season.


Ray's 1998 season was a rocky one. After Ray started in the Wolverines' season-opening losses to Notre Dame and Syracuse, it came to light that he had accepted illegal benefits from a Cincinnati-based agent named James Gould. He was forced to serve a five-game suspension, and when he returned his starting role and captaincy were both gone. He would finish the season with only 31 tackles and one interception, coming in the last regular season game against Hawaii.

After graduating from Michigan in 1998, Ray went undrafted, and signed a free agent deal with the Oakland Raiders for the 1999 season. He appeared in eight games and recorded one tackle that year, and in 2000 was optioned to the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe. He had a solid season for the Claymores, recording 39 tackles, defending seven passes, and picking off a pass while helping lead the team to a World Bowl appearance.

Ray after a game-sealing interception of Danny Wuerffel sent the Claymores to the 2000 World Bowl (I'm not making this up)

Ray hung up his cleats after the 2000 season, and he took a job as co-defensive coordinator at Linden McKinley High School in Columbus in 2001. The next season he was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Eastmoor, his alma mater, before taking the same positions in 2003 at Northland High School.

He moved his way up to the college ranks in 2004, taking over as defensive backs coach for Division II Ohio Dominican University. He coached for three years at Ohio Dominican before accepting a job as a graduate assistant on Lloyd Carr's staff in 2007. When Carr retired, he helped Ray get a job as a graduate assistant at Central Michigan, where he currently works. He lives with his wife, Lynda, and his two young sons, Marcus II ("Deuce") and Malik.

Here's hoping Ray works his way onto Michigan's coaching staff in the future. He sure seems to be a football lifer, and it would always be great to have a former national champ and All-American. Having potential recruiting ties into Ohio State's backyard certainly wouldn't hurt either.

Ray, today (photo from

I cannot let this article end without commenting on an incredibly strange thing I stumbled across while researching this piece. In September 1998, just nine months after Michigan won the national title, the movie "Knock Out" was released. According to IMDB, in the movie "Action star Jean Claude Van Damme plays a fashion designer who must join forces with a C.I.A. agent to combat terrorism.". The name of Van Damme's character: Marcus Ray. Coincidence, right? Not so fast, my friend! His sidekick, played by Rob Schneider (what a cast!) is named Tommy Hendricks, which also happens to be the name of the Wolverines' starting free safety in '97. I used Wikipedia to the best of my ability to try to find the reason for the main characters being named after the Michigan safety duo, and the only thing I could find was that the screenwriter, Steven E. de Souza (who also wrote Die Hard and Die Hard II) went to Penn State. The only reason I can think of for him naming the characters Marcus Ray and Tommy Hendricks is that he lost a bet. If so, just be glad the characters weren't named Curtis Enis and Mike McQueary.

UPDATE: Something I missed last night that attests to Ray's character: while suspended during the 1998 season, he suited up at running back for the scout team after the Wolverines struggled mightily against two option offenses. That's how to put your ego on the back burner and do whatever it takes to help the team win.

MGoBlue Statistics Archive
Bentley Historical Library
NCAA: Ray to miss two more games (Michigan Daily)
Marcus Ray Statistics (
2000 Scottish Claymores Team Statistics (indexNFLEL)
Scottish Claymores (Wikipedia)
NFLE2000 Week 9 (Scottish Cheddarheads)
CMU adds well-known graduate assistant (MLive)
Marcus Ray (
Knock Off (Wikipedia)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sick Day

I blame the Michigan basketball game. Here's a couple links to tide you over:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Michigan Hires a Defensive Coordinator


It's official: former Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson will be Michigan's next DC. Robinson went 10-37 as a head coach at 'Cuse before being fired, and has previously been a DC at Texas and in the NFL with Kansas City, Denver, and the New York Jets. He has two Super Bowl rings from his time with the Broncos.

As expected when you hire a horrible college head coach with a mixed-bag NFL background, reactions are mixed. Personally, I think you can pretty much throw out a candidates head coaching career when looking at him for a coordinator position. To me, those jobs entail entirely different skill sets (especially at the collegiate level). Would I be happier if our new coordinator's heyday was more recent than 1997-1998 (with the exception of his one-year stint as a co-defensive coordinator with Texas in 2004)? Of course. However, I'm willing to put any criticism on the back burner until I see how the team performs on the field this year.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Old School ABC College Football Intro

Via The Wiz of Odds comes this intro to the 1990 Michigan/UCLA game, which happened to be Gary Moeller's home debut (which U-M won 38-15):

The video is great for so many reasons. Gotta love Brent Musburger's glasses, which fit perfectly with the old school graphics (I especially liked the UCLA logo). The Big Ten logo didn't have the incorporate an "11". Dick Vermeil was the color commentator, and raved about Michigan's enormous offensive line. That line averaged all of 6-5, 282 pounds, which outweighed the New York Jets line that year.

But the reason you can really tell this video is over 18 years old? Notre Dame was number one in the polls at the time. When it's put that way, it's a wonder that Musburger and Vermeil are still alive today.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Observations from Michigan/Ohio State

At least our jerseys looked good (AP Photo)

Michigan fell 65-58 to the visiting Ohio State Buckeyes. This loss hurt. A lot. The Wolverines charged ahead early in the second half after being behind for the entirety of the game, but Ohio State finished the game on a 25-14 run. A few thoughts from the game:
  • Manny was the main bright spot, with a stat line of 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He hit a couple of ridiculous threes at critical moments, and sparked Michigan's run to the lead in the late first and early second half.
  • LLP completely disappeared. He had a layup on an aggressive drive to the basket four minutes into the game, and never scored again. Harris and Sims needed help, and LLP couldn't deliver tonight.
  • Speaking of Sims, he finished with 10 points on 4-13 shooting, but his off-night seemed more the product of bad luck than poor shot selection. He did a great job of getting into the middle of the Buckeye zone, but his shots just seemed to always rattle out. I thought he did an admirable job of not getting discouraged and continuing to look for his shot.
  • From what I could tell, Michigan went away from the 1-3-1 after it was continually abused inside. OSU was able to lob the ball to their bigs right over the zone, and Kelvin Grady wasn't going to stop B.J. Mullens from dunking. I thought the second-half defensive adjustments worked relatively well.
  • It was good to see Stu Douglass hit a rhythm (4-9 shooting, all from three, for 12 points), although he still has a tendency to jack up NBA-range threes when they aren't necessary.
  • Zack Novak, once again, was all over rebounds and loose balls. I love watching the guy play, even when he's not putting up big numbers.
  • The 1989 National Championship team was honored at halftime, and Michigan played in '89 throwback jerseys. I thought they looked really sharp.
  • Anyone else think LLP kinda looks like a thinner Biggie Smalls?
Michigan plays Tuesday at Penn State.

I Think We Took Different Versions of the S.A.T.

Ohio State plays Michigan at Crisler tonight, and a local reporter interviewed Buckeye center B.J. Mullens about the game, and his hatred for Michigan. The beginning is typical Michigan hate, but Mullens unwittingly drops a gem at the end of the interview (video via MVictors):

Raj Nair -- "In as many S.A.T. vocabulary words as you can, your opinion of Michigan."
B.J. Mullens -- "Boo."

I am at a loss for words. Much like B.J. Mullens during a standardized test.

Game tips at 8 pm on the Big Ten Network. Here's hoping the student section picks up on this vid and comes up with a little heckling material for B.J. You know, besides the fact his name is B.J.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

May The Schwartz Be With Us


The Lions have named Tennessee Titans Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz as the new head coach, replacing the very fired Rod Marinelli. After looking at the Titans' defensive numbers this season, I'm happy with the hire. Tennessee finished the season second in the NFL in points allowed, seventh in yards allowed, and fourth in yards allowed per play. The Lions finished last in all three of those categories.

Kudos begrudgingly given to William Clay Ford and the Lions' front office for making a solid hire, and not allowing the process of finding a head coach to drag out past the postseason. It will be interesting to see what caliber of staff Schwartz is able to surround himself with.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Observations from Michigan/Illinois

Very large man shooting over not-so-large man. An unfortunately common sight tonight. (AP Photo)

My winter break extended a little longer than planned. However, I've still been keeping up with the U-M hoops team, so here are some thoughts from tonight's 66-51 loss against the Illini.
  • After watching that game, I had a hard time coming up with how we even scored 51. Manny scored a very quiet 20 points (I know that sounds strange, but trust me on this), and DeShawn Sims only had 7 points on 3-14 shooting. As a team the Wolverines shot only 32.2%.
  • I'm actually somewhat encouraged by the fact that we could play so poorly offensively on the road and still be in the game up until the waning minutes. The transition defense was great, and there's nothing you can do when a 7-1 center steps out and drills a three.
  • The interior defense left something to be desired. I know this is a flaw in Beilein's defensive system (and playing four guards in general), but it's still frustrating to see the ball go to Illinois' 7-1 center and see C.J. Lee and Kelvin Grady trying to stop him from laying it in.
  • The Big Ten Network announcers touched on this, and I agree: the NCAA really needs to follow the NBA's example and adopt the semi-circle underneath the basket for charging calls. Both teams were the beneficiaries of a charge being called when the defender established position directly under the basket.
  • Speaking of charges, Big Ten officials might do better to just flip a coin every time there's a charge/block foul to be called. Let's just say if I was a Big Ten coach I would probably be averaging a technical foul every five minutes. Just ask my upstairs neighbors.
  • I've been a pretty vocal detractor of Zack Gibson, but I actually though he played a relatively decent game, especially in the first half. However, he still needs to learn how to go up strong. I'm tired of seeing him get layups blocked by guys a half-foot shorter than him.
  • Even though he only had five points, I really thought Zack Novak was the second-best playing on the floor tonight for Michigan (behind Manny, of course). He pulled down nine rebounds, and always seemed to be near a loose ball. He also didn't force his shot, which cannot be said about fellow freshman Stu Douglass.
  • Someone still needs to explain to me how L-A-V-A-L is pronounced "Luh-vell".
Michigan drops to 13-4 (3-2 Big Ten), and hosts Ohio State on Saturday. The Wolverines really need to pull out a victory this weekend and hold serve at home. I don't expect the offense to struggle as mightily at home, especially with a potential NCAA Tournament bid at stake.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Blog of Note

A couple of friends just started up a blog, Homer Eroticism, so I figured I'd come out of my hibernation to send you their way. I will warn you: strong language ahead. However, if you have a sense of humor, and enjoy a section entirely dedicated to people getting dunked on, follow the link.