Various items about the basketball team.
BEAST. Not going to be the most incisive sentence in blog history but oh well: DeShawn Sims!!!
Not to be lost in the general !!! of Sims performance was Michigan's wide array of fantastic entry passes. Sims had 14 points off the bat and had taken one jumper, IIRC. Douglass, Novak, and Harris all had terrific post feeds—Douglass most frequently—that allowed Sims to rip Matt Gatens' arm from its socket and beat Cyrus Tate to death with it.
Perhaps annoyed by how easy things were coming, Sims proceeded to take tougher shots, hit most of them, and pull off the greatest back-to-back money performances by a Michigan basketball player since… oh, probably something the Fab Five did.
(If only Douglass could handle he would be an excellent candidate to play point guard going forward.)
Today is the greatest. Michigan takes on Illinois at 6:30 tonight, which lamely overlaps with the hockey game against Western so I won't get to see the second half. I'd tape it but it's 1000% guaranteed that six people within earshot will be reporting the score to their friends every ten seconds, so there's no point. Given the trajectory we've got going on here…
- Brian grudgingly does not liveblog the Minnesota game: Michigan wins by 3.
- Brian doesn't even think about liveblogging the Iowa game: Iowa still searching for limbs, which fat chance they're all in Deshawn Sims' belly.
…"Brian doesn't even watch second half" probably means Michigan will win by 300. Woo for that. Also helpful is the projected absence of Illinois point guard and all-around glue-type person Chester Frazier. Illinois is favored by just two.
One for the road. Is the bubble even relevant any more? Unless there's a rain of frogs and every possible autobid is filled with non-tourney dreck from here on out, probably not. Even if it was, the bubble is intent on getting Michigan in:
- Arizona lost to Arizona State and now finds itself on the precipice. Even if they get in it won't be in front of M.
- Providence died against Louisville.
- Rhode Island lost to Duquense and is out.
- Kansas State fell to Texas; they're dead.
- UNLV and New Mexico both ate it and are headed for the NIT. UNLV lost to San Diego State, which is also on the bubble, so that wasn't a major win. OTOH, New Mexico fell to Wyoming; crushing for them, good for us.
- Slightly bad: USC beat Cal and moves on to play UCLA today. They win that and 1) they threaten to take an autobid, and 2) they get in the at-large discussion. Also, Temple won.
Unless some seriously wack stuff goes down today—like Penn State over Purdue, Temple over Xavier, Maryland over Wake, and VT over North Carolina, oh, and probably Baylor winning again—Michigan's bid will go from 95% to pure snow-white lock even if Michigan can't get past Illinois.
A brief list of things ESPN decided to show instead of the basketball game going on, during which time they missed at least one shooting foul and definitely every terrifying attempt for a Michigan walk-on to take the ball upcourt:
- Replays of Deshawn Sims in beast mode
- John Beilein
- Todd Lickliter
Okay, annoying but par for the course.
- Tom Izzo in various hairstyles.
- Tom Izzo in various hairstyles AGAIN
- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany
And the the kicker:
- Big Ten second-in-command SOME GUY
Argh. Argh argh argh. Aaaaaargh.
Devin Bawinkel is so immobile and white and good at shooting. How immobile and white and good at shooting is he? He is the Hylaean Theoric World version of Kyle Korver and so forth and so on.
Potentially huge news that appears to not exist. I briefly thought I was crazy yesterday when multiple message board posters pointed towards this Rosenberg column on Manny Harris and declared that within you could find an assertion from Harris that he would return for his junior year, most likely without even applying his name to the NBA draft. I can find no such quote, even though I saw the same snippet in multiple places. Any help here? Anyone know where this potentially huge assertion lives?
Update: I have no idea why I couldn't find it, but:
Harris likes it so much that he says he will come back for his junior season.
"I love college," he said. "I got a lot to develop as a player, and a lot to do at the University of Michigan."
Will he even inquire about his draft status? "No, I think I'm coming back."
Not 100%, but sounds close to it.
Sometimes I wake up naked in Prague with a dead wildebeest under me, holding only the spoon I was about to eat some TGI Friday's French onion soup with, and that's when I realize—I forgot what I was talking about again. This was mentioned during the broadcast and I feel that DeShawn Sims' quote should be replicated far and wide:
"I always walk on the court playing defense, so I walked to the other end of the court, not knowing we were playing offense," said Sims, Michigan's junior forward. "I always do that during the course of a game. I know that I just won the jump ball and it was out on them, but somehow I just wasn't focused and somehow thought we were on defense."
This happens to him all the time; it's an issue for him.
Tangent: I love how likeable this team is. I liked Graham Brown and Horton and BRJ and Petway and most of the Amaker kids were very nice, but they never got over the hump; they were so frustrating to watch. And before that… well, for every nice guy Ellerbe brought in there were two who were most definitely not. And let's not get into the waning years of the Fisher administration, when the program seemed to actively seek out loathsome characters. This team is full of guys you can't help but pull for. Sims, who had an understandably listless freshman season after his brother was murdered, is at the very top of that list, probably nationwide.
That went just the way I wanted it to: without suspense. I have delved deep into these things the past couple weeks and I can tell you Michigan is in. There will be a selection show worth watching on Sunday.
It's been a long time in the desert. I remember this Thursday a few years ago, when Michigan had to beat Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament to get in, probably, after blowing it in the regular season. Then the sort of person who can't watch 2:30 PM basketball game, I listened to it on the radio. Things were going okay until a seemingly infinite series of consecutive turnovers and the resultant fast-break buckets, and I remember sitting in my chair, disgusted, thinking that Michigan would never atone for Traylor and Taylor and Bullock and all those grim-faced mercenaries that worked their way through the program without loyalty or joy.
The day of atonement is at hand. I added a tag.
Michigan received a verbal commitment from Inkster junior quarterback Devin Gardner late Wednesday. Gardner is 6-foot-3 and weighs 185 pounds. He was named to The Detroit News all-state first team after leading Inkster to the Division 3 final.
"I was surprised," Inkster coach Greg Carter said. "I thought it would be a last-minute thing. He told me he wanted his mom (Marlene McClellan) to be a part of his football experience. He knows what a Michigan education can do for him in this area when he's done playing. That's the type of conversation I had with Cam (Cameron Gordon)."
Fireworks and all that. Informative update coming, but it's going to take a bit what with a basketball game to watch. Get all the jokes about Tulsa out of your system, I guess.
Bubblin'. Last night wasn't of huge import on the bubble. Events of note:
- Nebraska and Notre Dame died.
- Providence flirted with disaster before pulling it out against DePaul.
- Texas A&M gacked it up against Texas Tech.
- Oklahoma State did not against Iowa State.
A&M was only vaguely on the bubble before and isn't in trouble; Bracketology 101 has them a ten seed, and Lunardi has them a nine. So don't get your hopes up there. Oklahoma State has also clinched a bid now.
Today, there is one vastly important game—Michigan versus Iowa—that will either render all of the who-wins-who-loses a sideshow or make it life and death. That's at 2:30 on ESPN2.
Then there is a horde of other stuff as all the big conferences swing into action. Your new favorite team in bold:
- Providence takes on Louisville at noon (ESPN). Providence needs a win over UL or they're done.
- Northwestern vs Minnesota, noon (BTN). Northwestern's at-large hopes are very, very faint and a Minnesota loss would stick them behind Michigan permanently.
- Xavier vs St Louis, noon. The A-10 is in serious danger of coughing up an autobid to a team that wouldn't otherwise be in the field, so you're rooting for Dayton and Xavier whenever they play.
- Arizona State vs Arizona, 3PM (FSN). Arizona's resume is almost identical to Michigan's; if they lose they're probably behind M no matter what.
- Texas vs Kansas State, 3PM (ESPN360). Kansas State has vague at-large hopes that must be put to the sword.
- Indiana vs Penn State, 5PM (ESPN2). Penn State's chances for a bid would evaporate if Indiana managed to beat them.
- Utah State vs Fresno State, 5:30 PM. Utah State might have an at-large case if they don't pick up the WAC autobid.
- Duquense vs Rhode Island, 6:30 PM. Rhode Island needs to get to the A-10 final for an at-large, probably.
- NC State vs Maryland, 7PM (ESPN2). Maryland has fringe hopes with a run in the ACC tourney.
- Virginia vs Boston College, 9PM (ESPN360). BC would put itself in danger with a loss to the awful Cavs.
Miami and Virginia Tech square off, too, but the outcome of that game doesn't matter, you just want whoever wins to lose to UNC in the next round. San Diego State and UNLV also play; I can't figure out which one is preferable. There are a variety of other games like Memphis-Tulane and Utah-TCU where you want tourney locks to win.
As to Iowa. Michigan, of course, blew a four-point last-minute lead thanks to a couple of questionable calls. In overtime Manny Harris sat and Iowa was unconscious and that was that. And they were missing their point guard. And most of their big post guy.
Since then Iowa hung in but lost to MSU, lost to Northwestern, came up two points short of killing Ohio State's tourney bid and mortally wounded Penn State's with a 75-67 victory in double overtime. They finished the conference season 5-13 with three of those wins in overtime. This is not a good opponent we're going up against, but that didn't help much last time.
This time around Michigan has one big advantage: it's on a neutral court. Cyrus Tate, who missed both of Michigan's games against Iowa this year*, is back; starting point guard Jeff Petersen "might get some floor time" but is doubtful. With the way Jake Kelly has been playing of late Petersen's absence doesn't seem that important.
*(Tate did play a few minutes at the end of the game in Iowa City.)
I doubt this is applicable generally since newspapers generally do some investigative journalism in the news department as opposed to the virtually none that happens in sports*, but, man, are web-based properties murdering, burying, and putting up "do not disturb" signs when it comes to the in-depth stuff. Yahoo's latest is a fantastic story on the intersection of agents, AAU coaches, and Kevin Love that has a ton of interesting quotes from both sides of the aisle—former Duke PG and spectacular motorcycle crash victim Jay Williams features, as does love—none of which top this blunt assessment from Love:
“If I was going with an agent,” said Kevin Love, “why would I ever go with a guy who, no offense, but he crashed a motorcycle into a tree. I’m not going to go with a guy that’s reckless.”
Oh, snap. The rest of the article his highly recommended, with Love and Williams calling out Love's AAU coach and the cool quarter-million he banked for his "nonprofit" by setting up a meeting.
*(Except, of course, for the Ann Arbor News and their academics investigation. Of all the programs to get raked over the coals by their local paper, eh? Not, like, you know, Memphis or USC. Michigan. I would freakin' love for every program in the country to have their books gone over so minutely.)
BGSU goodbye? BGSU is facing a massive university-wide budget shortfall of between 6 to 10 million dollars, about $750,000 of which is the athletic department's fault. As a result, BGSU hockey has an uncertain future. The school president already killed Kent State's program at her last job and hockey is an expensive thing to run.
But the hockey team is BGSU's most prominent sport, and the only one in which they can claim a national title. Killing it because it's marginally more expensive would be a shame even if it was responsible for spawning Ron Mason's boring death hockey. It would also eliminate the easiest road trip in the CCHA for Michigan fans, and losing a school with a national title would be terribly embarrassing for the sport in general. About the only entity that might be happy with BGSU's demise is Alabama-Huntsville.
To the chase: three solid sources, one of them Buckeye Planet's unionfutura, indicate that MI QB Devin Gardner has moved up his announcement date to Monday. He plans on attending the Michigan junior day festivities this Friday; you can draw your own conclusions from that. Also, both sources indicate it's looking very, very good for M. BP has already labeled him a Michigan verbal. Party hats are likely.
Gardner would be a big pickup. Today's weird Rivals 100—which does not include Gardner or Ricardo Miller—aside, Gardner is widely regarded as one of two players vying to be the state's top prospect. (Southeastern LB/DE Will Gholston is the other.) Gardner was Michigan's top QB priority this year and has offers on the table from Notre Dame, LSU, Michigan State, and others.
Here's a TomVH interview with Gardner from last year for more detail, and some camp highlights:
He is a fantastic prospect athletically and looks great on the hoof. Is the ideal fit for the spread offense and a short controlled passing game that plays off his threat as a runner. He is a gifted player with his legs and can improvise and create positive plays when things break down. Initial quickness and ability to take off out of the pocket is excellent.… However, for all his athleticism and arm strength, Gardner's mechanics need a lot of work. Fortunately he is blessed with height because he has a very low release point and is a side-arm passer that cradles the ball and tends to push it in his delivery. … Like Vince Young there is probably only so much you can do with his throwing mechanics, but lots that can be done with his feet to help him become more consistent. He is green, but talented.
Actually. I may be excessively paranoid about Michigan's chances to make the tournament. Joe Sheehan of Basketball Prospects may be a whinging prat about the Big Ten, but I like his ordering of the bubble:
San Diego State
Temple …(and so on and so forth)
Leaving aside the idea that it's preposterous to put Auburn, which has done nothing in the nonconference except lose to Mercer and plays in an almost literally unbelievably bad SEC, ahead of Minnesota and its neutral court win over Louisville: Michigan in front of all those teams bodes well. That is lock-even-with-Iowa-loss right there.
But we have to return to the whinging. This is an incredibly stupid argument:
The middle of this conference is larded with mediocrity, not parity, with records inflated by the 1-17 team at the bottom (of the muddled middle, only Michigan was denied two free wins over the marginally Division I team)
…when combined with this argument:
I can't put excessive weight on the head-to-head matchup because of the lack of a return game. Hey, Big 11, here's an idea: instead of everyone playing two Horizon/MAC teams, play a full round-robin.
Every conference has a bottom feeder or three and the Big Ten's records aren't "inflated" any more than the Pac-10 records are by teams in Oregon or Big East records are by St Johns and Depaul and so forth and so on. Also, how can you bitch about the Big Ten's lack of a full round robin every power conference save the Pac-10 lacks one? The SEC and Big 12 don't even play 18 games! If you want to argue against the conference, fine, but please bring at least one non-idiotic reason. So suffice it to say I'm not putting a huge amount of stock into that ordering.
File under "duh": Cornell, ETSU, UNI, Radford, Morehead St., Siena, VCU, UT-Chattanooga, UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida St., Boston College, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma St., Michigan St., Illinois, Purdue, Ohio St., Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington, UCLA, Cal, Arizona St., UConn, Pitt, Louisville, 'Nova, Marquette, Syracuse, West Virginia, LSU, Tennessee, Xavier, Dayton, Memphis, Gonzaga, Butler, Utah, BYU.
That's 46 teams. A couple of these teams could conceivably miss (the Ohio St./Wisconsin loser, Michigan, maaaaaaaybe Dayton) but regardless I don't see any way Auburn "passes" any of them.
So that's good. Also, Western Kentucky did secure the Sun Belt autobid and remove their remote at-large hopes from relevance. Bad: Cleveland State took out Butler last night and secured themselves what appears to be a 13 seed. The bubble has shrunk by one team; from the sounds of it right now that's St Mary's spot. The spot of St Mary's. Attempting to turn a possessive into a possessive argh.
On the (slightly relieving) side of things, both Cincinnati and Georgetown saw their tourney aspirations die with thudding losses against Big East doormats. Notre Dame scraped by Rutgers, keeping their remote hopes alive.
Tonight's games of relevance, with your new favorite team bolded:
- DePaul vs Providence, noon. DePaul sucks and went 0-18 in the league this year, but they took out Cinci yesterday and would put a stake through the heart of any Providence at-large hopes if they could pull another upset.
- Baylor vs Nebraska, 12:30 PM. Epke Udoh will enjoy a view from the bench of a 5-11 Big 12 team; M would like Nebraska's faint at-large hopes to flatline.
- West Virginia vs Notre Dame, 7 PM ESPN. The Nonconference Teams Who Hate Michigan Bowl tips at 7; Notre Dame's tourney hopes would go from flatline to vaguely-possible-with-one-more if they pull the upset.
- Iowa State vs Oklahoma State, 7 PM. Eh… Oklahoma State is likely in but if they blow it here they could be in trouble.
Most of your mojo thoughts should be dedicated to a Notre Dame loss. I guess Providence imploding versus DePaul would be the most helpful, but your weird juju rituals are more likely* to swing the result of the ND game.
Tomorrow all this becomes almost totally irrelevant or very, very relevant indeed; if it stays relevant 1) want a blankie and possibly a gun and 2) there are a ton of relevant games.
*(and by this I mean, of course, "not more likely," or at least I did until Sri Lanka happened. Now I believe in everything. Aaargh! What's that! I don't know, but I'm terrified of it!)
Presserizing. Michigan's about to start spring practice and there have been a few injuries and roster adjustments:
Rodriguez confirmed the injuries reported recently — Jonas Mouton (shoulder) and Michael Shaw (sports hernia) — will miss the spring. Offensive lineman Ricky Barnum will play through a wrist problem. … Rodriguez said tight end Steve Watson is switching to defensive end.
No offense to Watson, but that sounds like the death knell for his future as a potential contributor. He's a longshot to ever see meaningful playing time, a la Quintin Patilla, fullback.
Rodriguez said he’s thinking about trying to break the national attendance record for a spring game. Alabama reportedly had about 92,000 two years ago.
That would require… I don't know what. An actual game, for one. And good weather. And pretty much a 180 degree flip from the way the Spring Game was promoted and marketed under Carr, and by "promoted and marketed" I mean "detested and ignored."
Other news from the press conference concerned medical redshirts: Junior Hemingway has his, which we knew, and they applied for redshirts for Kenny Demens and Adam Patterson but haven't heard back yet. Those things are mostly a formality, AFAIK; that would make Demens a freshman and Patterson a junior. There have been rumors Patterson will move inside given the lack of depth at DT, but there's a similar lack of depth at DE. Also:
Vince Helmuth could move from DT to DE if he gets in shape — playing DT gave him “the free reign to eat,” and he “went overboard.”
Also, there is a "noticeable difference" in the size and strength of the guys on the OL according to Barwis. Eeee. Liveblogging at the Daily for more details.