"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
3/13/2009 – Michigan 5, Western Michigan 2 – 27-10-0, 20-8 CCHA
3/14/2009 – Michigan 6, Western Michigan 1 – 28-10-0, 20-8 CCHA
This weekend's hockey series featured huge stretches of play so dominating that the above scoreboard resulted. That is the beginning of the first intermission. Michigan has three goals and 21 shots. Western has zero goals and zero shots.
Western's first shot would come at the beginning of the second when a Bronco forward, clearly instructed to get Western on the board, took a slapper from outside the blueline. It was going high, but they counted it anyway. The next shot was a clearance that dribbled in on Hogan, again from outside the blueline. That counted too: Michigan's official scorer was giving Hogan the full Jeff Lerg treatment out of pity to the visitors. By my count, the first actual shot Western launched on Hogan—certainly the first that originated from the offensive zone—came with 15:40 left in the second.
It was that kind of weekend. Total shots: 103 for Michigan and 41 for Western. Only Riley Gill's best Dominic Hasek impression kept Western from ceding 20 goals on the weekend.
So, again: this team is pretty freakin' good. They've pushed their recent non-crazy-goal-controversy record out to 19-1 since late November. Mark Mitera has been making excellent outlet passes and hasn't seemed out of place since an error that lead to Ferris State's first and only goal of the Friday game two weeks ago. They were 15-1 in NCGC games before they added last year's defenseman of the year. They're scratching an NHL draft pick every night. Our third defense pairing is either Steve Kampfer and Brandon Burlon or Tristin Llewellyn and Chris Summers, either of which pairings would be the #1 pair for any CCHA team other than Notre Dame.
When Michigan did anything other than dominate it was more because they were bored and hadn't spent any time in the defensive zone in two weeks and weren't quite sure what you were supposed to do. I am a little concerned that Michigan spends 80% of its time in the offensive zone because it leads to breakdowns and carelessness in their own end. This is a pretty good concern to have, all things considered.
Bullets Western left in the chamber:
- Holy crap was Carl Hagelin out of his mind this weekend. He singlehandedly dominated the penalty-kill, skated through the opposition like it wasn't there, and did his usual demonic backchecking. The Friday night ENG was justice for an outstanding performance. Two borks up.
- Northern Michigan upset Miami to reach the Joe, which improves Michigan's draw (they get Alaska) but hurts them in other ways: Michigan's SOS goes down as they played Miami four times, and Northern is now a TUC which brings M's 1-1 record against them into play.
- We wanted OSU to win the other series; they did not. Bizarrely, since we play now Alaska we want them to stay a TUC if we beat them since 2-1 is good for our overall percentage in that category.
- It doesn't hurt Michigan nearly as much as it does Miami, which is now the final team in the tourney and is vulnerable to an unexpected winner in any of the power conferences.
- I deeply regret that we were not allowed to trade Scooter and a recruit to be named later for Gill's services during the playoff run. That guy was insane both nights, which brings his record for insanity at Yost up to 3/3 on the year, as he was insane in a game Michigan totally dominated and contrived to lose 2-1 when Western conjured two late goals out of deflections and screening. About halfway through the Saturday game people around me started chanting "goalie-goalie" during the Temptation goalie-sieve chant, and, like, yeah. At some point Gill flat robbed Aaron Palushaj to the point where he was compelled to explain just how the hell the puck didn't go in the net to his linemates.
Gill's got a .920 save percentage, which is impressive but only 17th nationally. In context it's astounding, though. This is Western Michigan we're talking about here, always the worst defensive team in the league under Jim Culhane. He probably sees more grade-A rubber in a game than one of Mason's pedestrian .940 guys (Alban, Blackburn, etc) saw in a year; every Western goalie I've ever checked stats of is languishing around .885 or something. I'm sure Alaska's Chad Johnson is pretty good with his .939, but, man, how did Gill get left off the All CCHA Team for Jeff Lerg?
- Hey: they finally got a goal review right! Michigan's third-period goal to go up 4-2 was waved off by McInchak for no apparent reason—it was a virtual replay of the waved off OSU goal—but reviewed and declared good, largely because Shegos got in the box and was like "dude, that's his chest." Good on you, Shegos. Also, the look on Shegos' face—"not this s--- again"—was priceless.
- Last time we saw Shegos, by the way, he was with Langseth. This time no Langseth. Did he get busted down to linesman again? Or did they just tighten the crews because there were only four series to do this weekend instead of the usual six?
- I don't think we can pass ND, but I'll check.
3/16/2009 – Michigan 1, Decade Of Misery 0 … ok, 11.
So who else had a little heart attack when Arizona made the field and Wisconsin popped up as a twelve seed? I spent most of the past month reassuring everyone, including myself, that 9-9 and 1-1 in the Big Ten tourney would be good enough. But as 8, 9, 10, and 11 seeds rolled off the board with Michigan conspicuously absent, irrational concern rose.
There weren't nearly enough crazy bids deployed for Michigan to come under any threat whatsoever. As soon as two things went right on Saturday—which was about 5 PM—Michigan was in. Everyone everywhere told us so. But paranoia is a powerful thing.
Unruly sections of my brain busied themselves constructing scenarios in which the selection committee had managed to discount the Big Ten's impressive body of work outside of the conference. They'd been listening to Digger Phelps. They were going to put Providence and Notre Dame and Georgetown in. Corroboration: Mike Slive of the SEC was the head of the committee. Corroboration: Ohio State's athletic director was a member. Something could have gone wrong.
Obviously this is ridiculous, but they left us as late as possible and you can only stare at Brian/Greg/Burt Gumbel, whichever it was, so long without having your mind wander towards horrible apocalyptic events.
So when the time came…
…that reaction seemed totally appropriate. Most of the time it comes off as silly; the boredom expressed by Kansas and Pittsburgh is more reasonable than what appeared to be the entire state of North Dakota losing its mind when it found out which major conference team—the aforementioned Kansas—was highly likely to bludgeon it into submission. NDSU knew it was in. Not even the world's most inexplicable and pointless vast SEC/Ohio State conspiracy could keep the Bison out. I mean, it guess it's cool for you guys to be on TV, but it's not like there was any suspense.
The closest analogue I can think of is the reaction when a rock star says "HELLO SPRINGTON!" and the arena goes "OH MY GOD HE'S IN SPRINGTON I AM JUST REALIZING THIS NOW." Usually large groups of people assembled in a gym to be excited about something are going to be excited about something stupid. Lord knows I won't feel that way.
Ten minutes later I was again revealed to be a big huge hypocrite. Whatever. That happens all the time. Michigan making the tournament does not. Here's to future boredom with these things, and current joy.
Sandy, tired, camel-riding, joyous bullets:
- HT UMHoops for the celebration video.
- Crisler's reaction is on the front page of the Washington Post.
- A few things jumped out at me during the seedings: 1) Ohio State in Dayton against a #1 seed? Congratulations, Louisville, on your reward. 2) Siena got a 9; they were definitely in anyway. Not so much Utah State and their 11.
- Season ticket holders can get tickets online.
- At least a couple writers have Michigan as one of their tourney sleepers. Gary Parrish names Michigan one of two double-digit seeds with the best chance to make the Sweet 16. (USC is the other, and is also a ten seed. As far as double-digit seed upset predictions go that's as chalk as you can get.)
- The official site recaps Beilein's day: he goes to St. Thomas! Coffee from Caribou! He "meets family" at Bar Louie and probably enjoys a well-deserved, slightly overpriced drink!
This is going to be a little Simmonsy, but: friend of blog Domicile wanted a Cake Wrecks-inspired celebratory cake and the MGoGirlfriend obliged:
We're in. Death to Clemson.
They made us wait, didn't they? Bastards.
UPDATE: Oh, yeah:
And you can't have one without the other…
One last Bubble Watch just to reassure everyone. (UPDATED: 6:30 PM)
When we first looked at the bubble after the Minnesota game, we had between ten and sixteen spots to give out. Since that time, the Horizon League has given out an extra autobid, the Big 12 has allowed Baylor to run to the tourney final, the A-10 has come down to Temple and Duquense, and USC has made the Pac-10 final. San Diego State has made the Mountain West final. Maryland beat Wake Forest, too.
That's a lot of ugly stuff, right there, so let's just make sure. Everyone Pretty Definitively Below Michigan from last time remains there. In addition, Big Huge Tourney Run participants are down to Maryland and Temple, eliminating VT, Miami, Rhode Island, Kansas State, and Providence.
Meanwhile, on the Bubble Proper South Carolina and Florida both lost in opening-round games of the SEC tournament and are definitely not getting in over Michigan, or probably at all. Minnesota and Penn State both went 1-1 at the Big Ten Tournament like Michigan and should remain behind M in the pecking order. Arizona lost an important game against Arizona State and is now widely regarded the last team in. St Mary's got blown out by Gonzaga in the WCC final. Siena won its autobid. New Mexico and UNLV blew it and are out. All of these teams are not threats to Michigan's bid. Just as much spectacularly good stuff happened as unexpectedly bad.
Three teams above Michigan to start took hits, with Texas A&M losing to Texas Tech, Dayton losing to Duquense, and Wisconsin losing to Ohio State. I don't think any are in danger.
So what now
If we count the above three teams as locks still, we have six bids left. These teams could leap in front of Michigan in the pecking order:
The A-10 Winner. Temple may have an at-large case now but it won't be strong enough to pass Michigan should they lose to Duquense in the A-10 final.
That one will happen. So really we have five bids and the following teams that could leap M:
Tulsa. If they beat Memphis. Update: Memphis destroys Tulsa.
Mississippi State or
Auburn. If they win the SEC. Update: Mississippi State bashes LSU and is into the final; Auburn is out and you're rooting for Tennessee tomorrow. Baylor. If they win the Big 12. Update: lost to Missouri and is out.
USC. If they win the Pac-10. Update: USC in.
Maryland. If they win the ACC, or maybe if they get to the final. Update: Maryland lost to Duke; they may get in but it won't be at our expense. San Diego State. If they win the WAC, and possibly if they don't. Update: lost to Utah.
Utah State? If they don't win their autobid tonight at ten I have no idea how the committee will handle a 29-5 team with no good wins.
That's seven teams, as you can see, for five bids. If any five of these teams pull off the string of upsets, Michigan can get locked out. How likely is that? Not very, as you're asking for the vast majority of some serious upsets to come to fruition. But it is still faintly possible.
So, your final rootin' guide:
- Memphis over Tulsa, now, CBS.
- LSU over Mississippi State, ESPN2, 1PM.
- Tennessee over Auburn, ESPN2, 3:15 PM
- Duke over Maryland, ESPN, 4 PM
- Missouri over Baylor, ESPN, 6 PM
- Utah over San Diego State, 7PM
- Temple over Duquense, 6PM ESPN2
- Arizona State over USC, 6PM CBS
- Utah State over Nevada, 10PM ESPN2
Let's not blow this, universe.
UPDATE: With Duke and Memphis wins, Michigan should be safe. You're rooting for the above still just to be safe.
UPDATE UPDATE: Baylor and San Diego State go down, which knocks Baylor out and SDSU behind Michigan. No worries: they're in.
|Detroit, Michigan - 6'5" 317|
|Scout||5*, #6 DT, #35 overall|
|Rivals||5*, #5 DT, #26 overall|
|ESPN||79, #21 OT|
|Other Suitors||Miami, LSU, Alabama, Florida|
|Chaos. Otters. Hello.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. Cass Tech.|
Will Campbell is an extremely large, extremely nerve-wracking person in an extremely silly getup above. (He's "Thor"; there was some photoshoot with Michigan high school players themed to be comic book heroes. Which, guy who came up with that idea: thank you.) Here is a silly dance:
That is the Will Campbell commit dance, which he only executed after arriving at the Army All-American game and declaring Michigan to be off his list and LSU his leader. Let's just get it out of the way: yes, it is a little annoying that Campbell decided he needed to give me and a lot of other people a heart attack for purposes of self-glorification. Kids these days, lawn, baggy pants and the goo-goo eyeball glasses drinking their milkshakes and bler bler bler. If it makes you feel any better, Campbell seems like a lighthearted giant a la Terrance Taylor, not a raging narcissist. Or at least no more of a raging narcissist than the average enormous muscle-bound 18-year-old who is 100% sure he's going to the NFL.
Also something that should make you feel better are salivating reports like so from the Army All-American game:
6-0/310, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech
He is a full grown man out on the gridiron even when compared to some of the nation's best offensive and defensive linemen. Most of the centers really struggled with the snap for two reasons - one they are new at it and two Campbell was bringing the most powerful bull rush they have ever seen. Just ask Nick Alajajian what it feels like to keep this future college star from getting into the backfield.
Campbell actually played both ways in that game:
"He's enormous, he's explosive and he's really athletic for a big guy," Smith said. "He's a fast learner. He's a fun-spirited kid who loves the game and that's why we're able to move him on both sides of the ball because he can pick it up. He just enjoys playing the game."
Though he avoided some things:
Campbell is one of the biggest players in the Army game, but he's apparently not ready for the roller coasters when the teams visit Six Flags on Tuesday night.
"There's a weight limit on those things," he said. "I might be on the tea cups."
When it was over, Rivals named him the second-strongest DT in the country and the top run-stuffer. It's hard for defensive tackles to make a big impact at the Army game itself, but Campbell did swallow a couple guys whole. More from his Army AA coach:
"Campbell is a true Warren Sapp kind of athlete," Smith said. "I saw him out there catching punts, catching passes and then he's making all those tackles on the defensive line. He's fast, he's strong, athletic and he's big."
Ok, scouts and a particular high school coach think he's a beast. That's nice. Now add the rest of college football to the list:
DT William Campbell, Detroit Cass Tech: LSU and Miami are getting official visits, but USC seemingly has this one right. The Trojans aren't pushing hard for Campbell despite his talent because they seem to be hearing what I am hearing: Campbell will end up at Michigan in the end.
A stat update from halfway through the season has some eyepopping numbers:
The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder anchors both lines for the Technicians and has proven unbeatable in one-on-one situations. That's why teams have consistently double-, and at times triple-teamed him. Despite all of that attention, he has managed to rack up 25 tackles, including 12 for loss and nine sacks, while also forcing two fumbles. He has been the engine for a defense that has pitched three shutouts in five games and given up only 13 points all year.
Campbell ended up tacking on officials to Florida and Alabama. Let's play Jeopardy(!). LSU, Florida, Miami, USC, and Alabama. What are five schools that desperately wanted to add Campbell to their class? Correct. We would also have accepted "a short list of the top five recruiting schools in the country." Everyone wanted the guy. (Perhaps the scariest mind-juju yet in USC recruiting was their decision to avoid Campbell simply because they didn't think there was much chance to land him. 1) Prescient. 2) Who does that? USC does.)
It is worth noting the dissenting vote from ESPN, which said he was a pretty good prospect but not the budding superstar the other two sites did:
We recognize he has plenty of talent, but he fell short of a 150 grade at this time. We also feel he is not a defensive lineman at the college level -- he will be a better fit on offense. He reminds us of former Cass Tech prospect Joseph Barksdale, a defensive tackle prospect who will be playing offensive tackle this year for LSU. Campbell may enter college as a defensive tackle, but we think, much like Barksdale, he will end up on offense. Campbell is a big, but raw prospect who needs to keep developing his game.
I've said this before, but a recap: the difference between Barksdale and Campbell is that a lot of colleges, including Michigan, were recruiting Barksdale as a tackle—that was part of the rift between he and Michigan—while Campbell was recruited almost exclusively as a defensive tackle. Also, while ESPN ended up right about Barksdale's collegiate position they were still wrong to rank him so low: Barksdale became LSU's starting right tackle as a true sophomore and is on track to be an excellent three-year starter.
Also detrimental to ESPN's cause here is their directive to totally ignore the Army game (which also them to underrate Justin Turner after his dynamite performance there). Campbell showed and impressed, as noted above, and justified his position high atop the Scout and Rivals lists.
Ironically, it was ESPN that provided the picture that had everyone thinking "schwing" or "oh god if he goes to LSU I'm going to shoot myself"; let it stand as Will Campbell's image until such time as it's replaced by one with a winged helmet:
Okay, so: five-star recruit with offers from everyone at a position where there is one obvious starter—sophomore Mike Martin—and then a Canadian who didn't see much time at all last year and people switching positions from defensive end or even fullback. Also the above picture. Initiate the Thor era now?
Eh… sort of. As is often the case with enormous manbeasts that you could slice open with a light saber and use as an emergency tent without them so much as noticing, Campbell has some weight issues. And running issues:
"The hardest part is the running," he said. "The first day, we ran like eight gassers and like eight 40's. That just killed me. That was the hardest."
Campbell, who is listed by Michigan at 6 feet, 5 inches and 317 pounds, said he actually weighs 335 pounds, thanks to too much eating and inactivity before arriving in Ann Arbor. Besides shedding 20 pounds, Campbell wants to put himself in position to be a starter this season.
But he's gon' work:
"I'm going to work hard, there's no doubt about that," Campbell said. "If I work hard enough, most likely I will be starting."
Concerns about raw technique are almost definitely legit, as Campbell could throw anyone in the PSL into the ballcarrier without learning about leverage. His early enrollment will help with both that and his conditioning; chances are he is not NFL ready just yet. A year of promise beckons; it's just too bad there's no one in front of him to take the tough minutes.
Etc.: He wants #73 and knows who Zoltan is.
Why Gabe Watson? Watson was an in-state man-mountain rated about where Campbell is; Watson also had some weight issues and nice-guy issues, and a lot of people thought he didn't quite live up to his rating, which is a little silly since he was two-time all Big Ten and is an NFL starter. Also, Campbell appears to be an enormous two-gap space-eater, who's not going to get after the passer much, which makes him more in the Watson mold than the Branch mold.
Guru Reliability: Well, outside of ESPN: high. All-star game and multiple combine appearances, and offers up the wazoo.
General Excitement Level: Very high. Ratings + offers = very high likelihood to be a multi-year starter and NFL draft pick.
Projection: Immediately into the defensive tackle rotation, probably behind Sagesse to start. Potentially works his way into a starting job by the end of the year; sophomore through senior year he should be somewhere between Watson and what Watson could have been if he was mean.
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.