Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Update 5/28: Linked to articles on TX WR Daryl Stonum, NJ LB JB Fitzgerald (lolacronym), IL OL Garrett Goebel, MO LB Spencer Ladner, MI WR Fred Smith, IL OL Graham Pocic, GA DT Omar Hunter. Also linked to what seems very solid speculation on NC S Robert Blanton: ND. Added CA S Rahim Moore, AL LB Jerrell Harris, OH DB DJ Woods, CT LB Jonathan Meyers, AZ LB Kurt Mangum, OH RB Michael Shaw. Removed KY DT Brandon Newman (ND).
Backed OH TE Kevin Koger down from blue to green after the Brandon Moore commit. Another article on Goebel. McGuffie is going to be on ESPN2 this fall. Bumped GA DT Omar Hunter to blue; article header encourages. Bumped CA RB Darrell Scott from red to yellow... maybe green? Naw.
Editorial Opinion: Not quite as thrilling as last week's dual commit salvo, but some news of note.
Robert Blanton. Early in the year, Michigan fans were confident about NC S Robert Blanton, who attends the same high school Michigan senior Jamar Adams did and had camped multiple times. Then Notre Dame fans began talking about him like he was an Irish lock for unknown reasons. I initially wrote these off, but now I think the ND fans are legit. The source of the rumor appears to be Blanton's dad or stepdad or, whatever, some sort of paternal Blanton-guy. He's taken up posting on the premium section of the ND Rivals site, all but assuring them that Blanton is in the bag. Internet nut factor? Seemingly very low:
Pete Samson from Irish Illustrated was able to get in contact with the man this afternoon during RJ's track meet, and is now able to report that the guy is completely legit.
RJ took 2nd in the and he also competed in the 300m hurdles, plus he is scheduled to run in the 4x400 relay. Also RJ will now be comming back on another visit next month to be able to hang out with the current players, and gain a better feel for the campus.
According to RJ's step-dad his parents would rather have him stay close to home by going to VT, UNC, or another school in the region, but RJ has his heart set on ND.
There is also this in a Rivals roundup article:
Matthews (N.C.) Butler safety R.J. Blanton is all but committed to Notre Dame. He'll take a visit to South Bend in June and make sure that it's the place for him
I buy it and expect Blanton to commit to ND sometime soonish. Moderate bummer.
Also ND bound is KY DT Brandon Newman, but he didn't have a Michigan offer and wasn't likely to get one. In fact, non-ND offers were "Kentucky, Louisville, Stanford, Indiana, Cincinnati and Mississippi," i.e. nobody. This one is no loss unless unexpected disaster happens in the Omar Hunter and Mike Martin recruitments.
Speaking of Omar Hunter, most expect he'll end up a Michigan commit fairly soon after some articles earlier in the year in which he said some very positive things about Michigan before he even had an offer. A recent local newspaper article highlights his impressive offer list...
LSU, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama have all already offered a scholarship to the Buford star.
...and re-iterates his desire to get his recruitment over with before the end of the summer:
"I'm going to try to know by September," said Hunter, who had 85 tackles and 13 tackles-for-loss last season for the Wolves. "I want to be able to focus on my senior season."
This is good. Also good is this teasing header from GBW:
Georgia defensive tackle Omar Hunter has had all the big programs offering and pursuing him -- from Michigan to Florida to USC -- and he is coming down to one final unofficial visit and an impending decision.
Ah, but you tease too blatantly! Anyone with a lick of sense can infer that unofficial is to Michigan and will, in all probability, result in a commitment.
JB Fitzgerald is another player Michigan fans are confident on. He's already visited a couple times and has a third trip scheduled for June according to a recent Scout article. He claims to not have a top five in it, but the interest he's shown belies that claim. His opinion of Michigan...
"That's a first class program. They're always in the top five, top 10. Academically, they're a great school. I visited them in the spring and felt really comfortable there. I'm going back in early June to check it out. Plus, they have great coaches."
... would seem to bode well when his criteria for making a decison are these:
"My relationship with the coaches will be real important just having a good feeling beind around the guys there will be big."
TX WR Daryl Stonum is another guy like Hunter who confused and thrilled when he said things like "I'm going to Michigan, basically" early in the year. Of late he had backed off those exuberant statements and claimed a level top five, which made me jittery. So it's good news that he has once again narrowed his choices: Florida, USC, and Michigan. Now, usually when you see "Florida" and "USC" as Michigan's competition you grumble and move on to the next recruit, but sometimes recruits basically know where they're going and choose "the competition" based on how flashy it sounds. E.G.: A couple years ago, PA WR Dorin Dickerson chose between Pitt and Michigan having never visited Michigan. Given Stonum's connections to Michigan -- two teammates, Troy Woolfolk and Brandon Herron, in the previous class and a friendship with Sam McGuffie -- and previous sentiment, I remain confident.
Speaking of Sam McGuffie, he is going to be on the tee vee October 18th; hopefully by that time he'll be a commit and we can all watch enraptured as he runs for one million yards.
CA RB Darrell Scott was sporting a Nefarious Eduardo after an article in which he declared a top three that did not include Michigan, but apparently that report was false:
"I don't have a top three; you're going to have to scratch that one," Scott s
aid. "My top 10 was practically forced on me, so I won't say I have a top 10 either. The truth is, I don't really have a list of favorite schools yet. I have a lot of schools I'm looking at, but I need to take some visits before I can make a decision. I will take five official visits and then decide right after that. It may happen early in the year, but I'm taking five visits."
The good news for Michigan is though Scott doesn't have a top ten he knows some teams that, presumably, would be on it and we are one of them:
"Right now, I have three schools locked into visits. I have LSU, Florida and Michigan. I haven't figured out what other two schools will get visits. But that's not even a top three. Those are just three schools I need to see more of."
It's back to yellow for Scott. It does appear that we've got as good a shot as anyone.
New guys! AL LB Jerrell Harris lists Michigan in his top five with all southern schools; extremely doubtful he ends up here. CA S Rahim Moore is a big-time player who is a "commit" to UCLA but intends on taking official visits in the fall. Michigan will be one of those visits. Optimism is also low here. AZ LB Kurt Mangum attended local feeder OLSM, home of Morgan Trent, Jermaine Gonzalez, and Grant Mason, until last year when he (obviously) moved to Arizona. He might get a look at fullback or linebacker. He's good friends with AZ RB Covaughn Deboskie, one of the three-count-'em-just-three running backs with confirmed offers out; that might help his cause.
I added a couple of mid-level Ohio prospects based on tips. DB DJ Woods (right) has a father who wears Michigan jerseys around Ohio, a brave and thick-skinned fan. Most recruiting services have Woods a wide receiver, but given his speed (reportedly in the 4.35 range and at a combine, not self-reported), agility (silly shuttle), height (under 6'), and Michigan's strong standing with three or four different wideouts, if he picks up a Michigan offer it will be as a defensive back, IMO. Will he? Well, he's got offers from Iowa and other second-tier Big Ten powers (no offense, Iowa, but the Hawkeyes don't recruit on the level of Michigan or Ohio State) and Ohio State is taking a serious look at him, so maybe. He'll camp and is a guy to keep an eye on. I bet he's fighting PSL CBs Troy Tidwell and Anthony Hollis for an offer there.
The other Ohioan is Trotwood-Madison running back Michael Shaw. I received some information from a guy close to the program that Shaw, a teammate of TE commit Brandon Moore, was likely to end up a Michigan commit sooner or later... pending an offer. I haven't heard much about Shaw but am looking into it.
And then there's CT LB Jonathan Meyers, who you can read all about at his official website, JonathanMeyers.com. There is copious video of Meyers on both sides of the ball and a word-for-word republishing of anything that's been written about him by anyone, including premium articles from the recruiting sites. Not sure how they feel about that, but I give it two thumbs up. So we can get really detailed here: Meyers' father played for the Gators in the 80s but he seems geniunely interested in Michigan:
"I think Michigan and Florida will be the two guaranteed in my list," he said. "Both of them are championship programs and national contenders. They are high caliber universities as well and show dominance you don't see in other places. They also are great academic schools and the coaches are great people.
"I've been to Florida and met coach Meyer. I'm looking forward to getting to Michigan and meeting coach Carr and Szabo. I'm getting a good vibe from them."
Earlier in the year, Meyer named Michigan and Florida a top two despite lacking a Michigan offer (he has one now). Michigan is recruiting him as a WLB; he is also under the misconception that an M linebacker went in the first round of the most recent NFL draft (shhhhhhh!). I would think Florida has the advanage what with the legacy and all, but I think we've got a legit shot.
Apparently everyone has beaten me to the punch: Yes, that was a a foul. It was a fouly foul made out of 100% foul. Kids love it because it comes with 100% of the recommended daily allowance of foul.
I can see the argument being thrown about by some Piston fans that the game was being refereed like a cage match and that in the waning moments of a playoff game it would require a chainsaw and some bloody stumps to get a call, but... man, that's a foul. Maybe you don't call the friendly, constant bumping from behind. You definitely don't call the arm-straight up stuff at right, but in between Rip brought his arm down and raked Lebron's elbow as he went up to shoot. That is not permitted. Of course, this is the NBA and so "not permitted" is wildly inconsistent unless you wander a few feet from the bench when a Spur does something dastardly, but... foul!
(the best video I could find is up at the Fanhouse but is not conclusive.)
On the other hand, I think everyone associated with the NBA except Manu Ginobli and his loathsome floppy ilk experienced a private moment of delight when Anderson Varejao allowed a Rasheed Wallace shove to send him into low earth orbit and the referees watched impassively as 'Sheed turned and hit a dagger. I speak for everyone on the planet when I say that Anderson Varejao could never get a call again and it would be too soon. People should be allowed to punch him in the face as he shoots. They should be allowed to charge into a stationary Varejao like they are crash-testing a car against a stupid Brazilian walls with ridiculous haircuts. If a Cavalier is injured and cannot take foul shots that are assigned and he is chosen to replace that Cavalier at the line, the referee should throw the ball at his nads and call him for a technical. (I don't like Anderson Varejao.)
So, yeah. Fouls and non-.
Non-conspiracy conspiracy! A theory: sick of the constant conspiracy theories thrown around by NBA fans, David Stern and his Illuminati cronies hatched a conspiracy to make it obvious to everyone that there were no money-generating conspiracies in the NBA. Oden and Durant were carefully shepherded to the Pacific Northwest to franchises no one really cares about that start most of their games at 10:30 PM. Not coincidentally, both of them are in the Western conference, further unbalancing the level of play between East and West. The hugely entertaining Phoenix Suns get thugged out of a series against the Spurs, a team everyone in the country would like to see deported, thanks to the most tone-deaf, inane suspension in NBA history. And Lebron James, of all people, can't get a call in the Eastern Conference Finals, presumably setting up another Spurs-Pistons Finals that no one, not even Pistons fans, wants to see.
The inescapable conclusion: only an idiot could possibly screw up a conspiracy this badly. There must be no conspiracy. And that's the conspiracy! Truly, David Stern is the Machiavellian puppet master for our time. "Dance!" he says. And we dance!
Sheed. I figure most people who have to deal with Rasheed game-in, game-out have conflicted feelings about the guy on a regular basis. He was the guy who left Marshall oh so wide open in Game 1, and if anyone on the planet should know better it's him. But he had seven blocks that game. This game: 7 for 10, 16 points, 11 rebounds, stiff defense, one dagger -- dagger! -- that was as clutch as the Lebron foul was foul.
And then he goes and says this in the postgame:
Ohhhhh, amen. Let's all punch him when he shoots! Then give him a technical! Yesssssss.
I will bring you fresh baby. Maxiell must be hungry. Feed him. Feed him baby.
Bulls! When I posted on game 1 of the ECF, Chicagoans in the comments lamented that the Bulls series was ignored in this space. I have good reasons: book, Canada, missing game 3, and the overwhelming dullness of the constant blowouts. I have opinions on the Bulls, but nothing you haven't heard before:
- Ben Gordon is a terrifying offensive player but such a defensive liability that he should resume the super-sub role he had when he entered the league. You should still give him starters minutes but try to get him soft minutes when, say, Chauncey Billups is on the bench.
- They should try giving Sefo... Sefa... the Swiss guy a ton of minutes next year in an effort to find out just what they have in him. He's big, a decent shooter, and seems like he's got the skills to play. Anything that gets Duhon out of the lineup is good and if Guy Who Is Swiss Guy can play, really play, that lets Gordon do the super-sub thing.
- I want to headbutt Scott Skiles.
- Deng good, still a couple years away from being a real star.
- As everyone said, the Wallace signing was complete nonsense that is probably going to kill their chances of putting together a championship-level core until it expires. I was ambivalent about the Pistons bringing him back at $13 million per year when they were exercising their Bird exception -- ie, when they couldn't have spent that money on anyone else in the entire league. Dropping $15 million per when that 15 million is precious, precious space actually under the actual cap was insane.
You can blame "back problems" for his performance in the last game, but where was he the rest of the series? The Bulls had no advantage on the boards and, though Wallace blocked a couple shots here and there, no real defensive advantage because of his presence. If Tyrus Thomas could go ten seconds without dribbling the ball off his foot he would have been a clear upgrade over Wallace.
I mean, honestly, game six was bittersweet. It was good to see the Pistons had made the right decision, but watching Ben Wallace limp and clatter through a playoff game he had no impact on was
sad. Mostly I felt bad that I didn't feel worse, though. Wallace was the reason I started following the NBA again and now he'll end his career a cap albatross at the end of Chicago's bench with an entire city sort of hating him for costing so much and sucking so bad. Was it worth eight million to give up a retired number and demi-godhood in a city that loved him? I don't think so, and I don't think Ben does either.
- They seriously f-ed up if there was any way to swing a Gasol deal that didn't involve Deng/Gordon/Hinrich. That's debatable, but you don't think Memphis would have gone for Thomas, the Knicks pick, Nocioni, and spare parts to make up the salaries? I mean, if Baron Davis proved anything it's that you don't mess with a guy who can grow a killer beard in the playoffs.
- I'm not afraid of the Bulls passing the Pistons the next couple years. Just don't see the growth potential. Gordon is who he'll be, same with Hinrich. Deng will improve, but Tayshaun is always an equalizer against those sorts of players. If Thomas gets much better very quickly -- possible but unlikely -- they'll be a threat. Otherwise... not so much.
I hope this concludes my Bulls-related duties.
Bill Martin goes to golf with members of the '97 national championship team. While there he is quizzed on the future of the Notre Dame series. He says this:
If Michigan athletic director Bill Martin had his druthers, Ohio State and Notre Dame would not play at Michigan Stadium in the same season.
But it appears Notre Dame is unable to accommodate a move like that for similar reasons of its own.
"They don't want to have at home the same year Southern Cal and Michigan, because those are their two premier games," Martin said. "If they moved to accommodate us, then they're stuck with Southern Cal and Michigan at home the same year, so I'm not sure how it's going to get resolved. That's a challenge."
The Michigan-Notre Dame series goes through the 2011 season. Martin said he has been talking about a series renewal with Irish athletic department officials for the last three or four years.
"We've been talking about taking off an odd number of years so we can accomplish that (schedule maneuvering), but then that doesn't do what they want," Martin said.
It does not appear there has been any talk of dropping the series.
"It's the highest-rated television preseason game in college football," Martin said. "Those are the two winningest programs in college football history. It's the game that all of our fans want and all of the Notre Dame fans want. It's hard to drop that series. They don't want to drop it, I don't want to drop it; I want to simply fine-tune it a little bit."
In this passage Martin has
- praised the game,
- specifically denied any desire to drop the series,
- stated he's been working on an extension for years, and
- expressed a reasonable concern about the ND/OSU rotation.
BGS seizes upon this to argue that this is evidence that... Michigan would like to stop playing Notre Dame! Okay, that's a bit odd, but since Martin didn't come right out and say "you'll pry the Michigan-ND series from my cold dead hands," if you are in a certain untrustworthy frame of mind you could potentially see in this the seeds for the dissolution of the series. As Martin's desire to spread Michigan's two marquee games out so season ticket holders don't get stuck with a home slate like last year's -- Wisconsin and, uh, Iowa? -- is expressly built on the idea that Notre Dame is an anchor in the schedule, it's obviously paranoid and unlikely, but it's not entirely impossible that this is the ultimate nonsensical weasel move. Stipulated. (Also stipulated: it is the height of irony to take this conversation, spin it into something unflattering about the University of Michigan, and then title your post "You know how I know you're Michigan?" Someone get me a textbook so I can insert this sequence into it.)
But the really fun part comes in the comments, where people take up the paranoid and unlikely speculation built upon the Michigan athletic director's direct statement that he wants to continue the Notre Dame series and go to town. (To be fair: there were quite a few reasonable commenters in the BGS thread, but it really was split 50-50 between "f-em! we're Notre Dame" and sanity; just about everyone took the assertion that Michigan was looking to end the series at face value.) At first there's just sad acceptance of the inevitable end of the series:
It's a shame that it's probably going to end. To me, that game is the true start of the CFB season. Maybe there's a little fear that with the resurgence in recruiting in South Bend, that their season will be bookended(?) by losses.....
...says the team that last won a bowl game in the Hayes administration. And then there's the guy who blacked out for a convenient three-hour period last year:
If Monk Davieham was still in charge, Michigan would be pushing like hell for a long term extension. The skunks know that once we truly turn the corner on this rebuild, their ass is grass and Charlie's a big 'ol lawn mower.
And the rank hypocrisy:
The real reason the Skunks are maneuvering and trying to justify dropping the IRISH is because next year they have already scheduled Toledo, as in Holy Toledo!! Gee the Winningest football program can surely keep on winning when it reaches across the state line to start playing Holy Toledo. The Holy part is to justify dropping the IRISH, if that ever happens.
Insert "Commander-in-Chief" reference here. And then there's this:
Voice has it right. Screw them if they think getting off our schedule will make them better - perhaps it will, until the SOS rankings and opinion of B10 football goes in the tank.
Not playing Notre Dame will destroy the Big Ten. Destroy!
And then, the favorite:
Aren't they pulling a tOSU and trying to limit their away games to 3 or 4 away games per season?
It was no different when Fielding Yost was there. Michigan has always been afraid of a schedule that might challenge them.
What a bunch of sissy boys.
Waa, don't want 2 challenging games in one season Waa.
Lets add Nebraska, Texas and OU into a rotation.
Michigan and their conference suck.
...all because Bill Martin said "I very much want to continue the Notre Dame series." Verily, all this illuminates the dodgy character of Michigan fans. Yea, we are caught in its chemical-green florescent glow, each hair-ridden mole and dusky, craterous pore magnified for the world to see. Lo. We are undone.
I dunno, Bill, maybe next time just say "no comment"?
Baseball. If you've been hovering over mgo.licio.us on the sidebar and feverishly hitting refresh (and who hasn't?) of late you know that the baseball team is Big Ten champs. As a result, they'll host the conference tournament at Ray Fisher starting tonight. The bottom four seeds start play today; Michigan will face the winner with the lowest seed at 7 PM tomorrow. I am planning on attending if anyone wants to wander by and say high.
As far as the importance of the tournament: not much. Though Michigan's late season "slide" -- basically one bad series against Penn State -- has dented their tourney resume, Rivals still has them a three-seed in their latest projected brackets. Clunking out of the double-elimination tourney at 0-2 would probably hurt their positioning but they'd still get in. Winning might bump them up to a two-seed but they'd still be going on the road.
Hey, yeah, that was totally voluntary! A reader passes along this Boston Globe interview with Amaker that has this hilarious softball passage:
You've spent the last 10 years coaching at Seton Hall and Michigan. Why did you accept the head coaching job at Harvard?
Obviously, it's Harvard, first of all. Its brand is as big, or bigger, than any other name or brand in higher education. So my wife and I were very intrigued, very interested, and as we grew to learn more, boy, did it become even that much more attractive.
Let's go ask Chris Shelton why he chose the job at AAA Toledo next, guys.
Skepticism continues. So the Big Ten Network keeps claiming that it's signed up "40 cable providers" in an effort to reassure spooked fans like myself (and, probably, you). But then the loquacious president rolls into town and drops this nugget...
"We've had productive conversations with Comcast and feel they're moving forward in a very productive way," Silverman said. "... The fact that everyone's been really receptive to our meetings and we've gotten 40 deals done in the terms we're looking for are really encouraging."
...and I'm just like "this guy has to be spouting a bunch of crap." How many cable providers are there in the country? And how can you possibly sign "40 deals" without, you know, covering Comcast? Maybe this will all work out, but I wouldn't take the sunny confidence being relentlessly churned out as anything other than PR.
October 11th, 2008 will see the Toledo Rockets visit Michigan Stadium:
"This is a great opportunity for our football program," said UT Athletic Director Mike O'Brien. "Any time you have a chance to play in Michigan Stadium before 110,000 fans, you have to take it. I think it is a game that our fans, as well as our football program, are very excited to have on the schedule. "
This will mark the appearance of planetoid coach Tom Amstutz, who will break the record for most enormous football coach in Michigan Stadium currently held by Charlie Weis, and absolutely nothing else of interest. Hopefully the final '08 opponent is going to be someone half respectable. Schedule as of now:
Aug. 30 open?
Sept. 6 MIAMI (OHIO)
Sept. 13 at Notre Dame
Sept. 20 open?
Sept. 27 WISCONSIN
Oct. 4 ILLINOIS (HC)
Oct. 11 TOLEDO
Oct. 18 at Penn State
Oct. 25 MICHIGAN STATE
Nov. 1 at Purdue
Nov. 8 at Minnesota
Nov. 15 NORTHWESTERN
Nov. 22 at Ohio State
5/22/2007 - Detroit 79-76 Cleveland - Up 1-0, ECF.
Lebron kicked it, and Rasheed was vastly, enormously, unforgivably out of position and Donyell Marshall morphed into Robert Horry for one or three hateful seconds before the ball clanged off the rim and Marshall was lovable, unthreatening Donyell Marshall again. We like Donyell Marshall. We do not like Robert Horry and it has nothing to do with his hipcheck; it has to do with the irritating playoffs-clutch-guy thing.
And so the hot topic appears to be the Pass of Destiny. I, being a Pistons fan, hated the Pass of Destiny; therefore it was probably a really good idea. Math:
- Donyell Marshall is a career 35% three-point shooter and most of his looks haven't been nearly as good as a wide open corner three. A conservative estimate of that shot's chance to go in is around 40%.
Marshall's shot wins the game if it goes in.Update: I remembered the end of the game wrong. There would still have been time for a response from the Pistons.
- Hypothetical Lebron shot ties the game and takes less time, giving the Pistons an opportunity to respond at the other end of the floor. Chances of Cleveland winning are less than 50%. If you conservatively estimate that Detroit's last second shot when they inbound at half-court after a timeout is 20% to go in and that OT is 50-50, Lebron scoring gives the Cavs a 40% chance to win.
- The chance Lebron scores must be 2 times greater than the chance Marshall scores for the kick to be a bad idea (80% chance of win / 40% chance of win = 2).
- 40% * 2 = 80%.
- Lebron didn't have any 80% chance to make his shot.
- He did the right thing. QED, MFer.
That's a pat conclusion that requires some hypothetical numbers. It also assumes that Lebron is basketball Deep Thought and has this sort of game theory analysis going on constantly; the tipping factor here is the difference in potential Detroit ripostes given the amount of time left on the clock, which would require some preternatural sixth sense to absorb and evaluate. So Lebron might not have known that he was doing the right thing and it might be a symbol of his vexing failure to become the ur-player or even the best player in his draft class.
Because Lebron chews his nails. He misses important free throws. He has not thrown down and roared in a critical situation for all to see. He is not... clutch. So when you kick to a wide open player who has a shot for the win it is read as further evidence of being UnClutch even though you have just set your teammate up with the best possible shot he could have and given your team the best possible avenue to win. That's the job of any player, and sometimes even when you're a superstar the best play is for someone else to shoot.
Now, the ten points and no free throws? Well... that seemed to be an interesting reaction by Mike Brown to the defense the Pistons threw at the Cavs last year, when they essentially played a zone whenever the Cavs tried to iso Lebron and did so to good effect. Last night they displayed a willingness to continue this, switching every screen when Lebron came across the perimeter and having help defenders keep an eye out for any potential drives. They left other players open and for a while Cleveland took advantage of that strategy by getting open looks and using the out-of-position help guys to their advantage and crashing the boards. Lebron had no points in the first quarter and his team led by six. Was that a bad performance? Um... no? The problems came later when the Cavaliers remembered that they were the Cavaliers and therefore sucked. By that time it seemed that Lebron was all too content to remain peripheral, and the few times when he took it upon himself to create something the result was a tough jumper after a double-team. He was damned if he did or did not; those criticizing him today are choosing between two different ways to reach the same end.
- Hated the insertion of Lindsay Hunter. I know the last time I talked Pistons here I declared my abiding hatred for all things Flip Murray, but essentially from that moment on Murray turned his season around and started playing inexplicably well when given a chance. Hunter still has him on ball-hounding and has a place in the lineup, but when the opposing point guard is Eric Snow? Um... what? If the point of putting Hunter out there is to shut down an opposing perimeter player and the person you are shutting down is Eric Snow, there is a problem. Flip Murray is perfectly capable of doing the same. There are probably WNBA players capable of doing the same. Hell, you could send Reed Baker out there to watch Snow launch his jacked up shot with no detrimental effect on your winning percentage. So... what is the purpose of sending Hunter out, especially when your offense is clunking along to 35 first half points?
- OTOH, the Maxiell insertion was very effective late (though there was that ugly, unnecessary goaltending).
- Antonio McDyess lost his jumpshot, found it in a major way in the second half of the season, and then lost it again. It's frustrating to watch him throw up shots that were almost guaranteed in the waning days of the regular season and watch them clang off the rim. An average performance from him and the game is tied at the half and comfortable down the stretch.
- This felt like a game Cleveland had to have if they were going to win the series. Detroit has now survived a game in which Prince was something like 1/11 and Billups not only failed to get his shot but coughed up seven(!!!) turnovers. All told, Detroit had 16 to Cleveland's 7; this will not happen again.