The D-League as petri dish for weird basketball concepts.
That would be Ohio resident and inexplicable 'Canes fan Tony from Have You Met Tony?
6/14/2006 - Edmonton 4-3 Carolina - Carolina leads 3-2
This happened last night:
(Favorite bits of that thing, which I have committed to memory: the desperate roar from the crowd once Pisani gets in, the expression on the newly-liberated face of Staois, and Craig MacTavish making some sort of offensive gesture -- possibly six fingers for game six -- to a 'Canes fan in the stands, hopefully the child on the verge of tears. HT: Offwing. Also: "Pisani Scores: the Celebration").
And thus the Stanley Cup is cruelly ripped -- at least temporarily -- from the grasp of the only arena in the country in which the players have more teeth than the fans. The Stanley Cup Finals return to the league's northermost outpost, where 18,000-some banshees await the Hurricanes. Covered In Oil, as always, says it best: Suddenly, I'm Glad to Be Alive.
Hockey! AAAAAH!!!!!! HOCKEY!!!!! When Pisani intercepted that pass and was clearly in alone, I did something I cannot recall doing before: I leapt from my chair, fist-pump at the ready, awaiting the moment of truth. When the puck hit the twine the fist pumped, I leapt into the air, and unleashed a shameful torrent of overjoyed profanity directed at the wonderful Oilers, the shameful refs, the dastardly 'Canes, and ... ahem, swearing ... "you motherfucking NASCAR motherfuckers." I do apologize for the shameless regional stereotyping. Nonetheless, it was a good time.
Yesterday was validation time for the whole tantric sports idea, with Germany bashing shots off the bar or the keeper seemingly every six seconds against Poland until the frenzied crowd was ready to keel over from the shock of it all; Oliver Neuville's stoppage time winner set off the largest collective orgasm in Germany since David Hasselhoff was invented. That was preceded by Tunisia and Saudi Arabia's ridiculous 2-2 tie and followed by the Pisani shortie from heaven. At some point one has to shrug and say there's no accounting for taste: if yesterday didn't do it for you, nothing ever will.
No doubt various Southern readers will ruefully smile at my strange obsession with this weird Canadian game, but I'm telling you: watch game six. Try to find the bar in town that proudly advertises Labatt Blue or better still Kokanee*, find the CBC feed, and watch it from top to bottom.
*(In terms of "likelihood of having a bunch of mounties talkin' aboot boots and watchin' the game, eh," not in terms of flavor. All Canadian beers taste exactly like Budweiser.)
This is unverified voracity. MGoBlog is not responsible for any strident assertions made to friends that become terribly embarassing in retrospect. This post will self-destruct in five seconds. That out of the way, it's time to catch up on the murky prognostications of the insiders who pop up from time to time on BuckeyePlanet.
Resident silverback unionfutura says in one action-packed post he "thinks" that Dionte Allen will commit at camp and has convinced Taurian Washington to commit, and that Michigan "will" get both Ronald Johnson and CA CB Michael Williams. That's in line with the conventional wisdom on Johnson and Allen, but better than expected on Washington and Williams. Washington did just name a top three of UW, MSU, and Michigan that would seem to bode well for Michigan and Williams has repeatedly stated a top two of Michigan and Notre Dame.
Totally Unclear News
I mention this in the spirit of completeness, but the occasional tips that come my way have been very confused on five star defensive tackle Joseph Barksdale so take this even more lightly than usual. The OSU insiders are very confident on Barksdale. UF said at one point he'd be "shocked" if Barksdale did not go to OSU but is reportedly backing off that statement now that English is taking over Barksdale's recruitment. Overall, a mild grunt of disapproval but it sounds similar to the Boren recruitment of a year ago. Hopefully.
It's not like you were actually holding out hope that Alex Legion would recommit, but UF says "UCLA."
Colerain connection H&G says that Eugene Clifford is a "strong OSU lean."
Meanwhile in non-Buckeye land, AP and LA Daily News reporter Scott Wolf has a blog and isn't shy about unverifying some voracity of his own. He says that Marc Tyler is committing to USC. In a second post, he says it's happening today. In the words of one of his "Oaks Christian spies" and in compliance with unofficial all-uncomplimentary-ND-quotes-must-be-replicated MGoBlog policy:
``He's not going to Notre Dame. He said it's boring out there. He wants to be closer to his family. I'm 99 percent certain he will go to USC.''
Wolf also reports that Oaks Christian safety Marshall Jones is only seriously considering Oregon and USC; he then posts a follow-up that says it's USC. Email tipster Mike Kimball says that the Jones and Tyler assertions were published in the Daily News, so you probably want to take them more seriously than the rest of this stuff.
This post is guaranteed to be 75% true. Probably.
Update: Tyler did pick USC, so Wolf's 1/1.
Red Line Report continues its runup to the NHL draft with a column on the top defensemen from Kyle Woodlief. As you might expect from the earlier mock draft, Woodlief is extremely high on both sophomore-to-be Mark Mitera and incoming freshman Chris Summers, ranking them fifth and third respectively. Woodlief on Summers:
Summers is vastly underrated, but there's much to like about his game. Start with excellent footwork, strong hockey smarts, and good puck moving skills, and add in a nasty streak and a penchant for big hits. Summers plays the game hard and is a team-first guy at all times.
And on Mitera:
Mark Mitera is, like Summers, frequently overlooked since he's not flashy. But he is big and physical, and plays a sound defensive game. Mitera needs to make his decisions faster in puck movement, but he's an intelligent kid who works hard on his game and has made steady incremental progress.
Less happily, Blog That Yost Built brings news that '08 recruit AJ Jenks has signed with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. Insert standard complaining about the OHL being pure evil in ice hockey form here. Hopefully this counts as Michigan's NCAA-mandated painful offseason departure and we'll be allowed to hold onto Johnson, Hensick, and Hunwick. (Zach MacVoy does not count as painful.)
...but in a backhanded way.
Real soccer-mad nations have a set of distinguishing characteristics: a tendency to shut down whenever the national team even thinks about playing a friendly versus Malta, hordes of singing, face-painted-like-the-flag partisans, and hysterical overreaction to all things at all times. If this was an actual soccer-mad nation, something like Tuesday's 0-3 bitchslap at the hands of the Czechs would be met with headline sizes usually reserved for the outbreak of a World War. ESPN.com would put up a poll discussing the proper punishment for Bruce Arena:
A. Placed in stocks and spanked on ABC by Marv Albert
B. Fired, re-hired, fired again, re-hired again, and then shot.
C. Testicles make fantastic voyage through wood-chipper
D. Put in a room with Dick Vitale, Marcelo Balboa, Stephen A. Smith, and Bill Walton
E. Forced to watch a tape of the game
E would win, as the horror of it would far outstrip even option D.
So it's a mixed blessing that the USA is in no way, shape, or form soccer-ma-- what's this? Do I hear a storm, even a small one, of petulant bitching? Indeed, I do. there are two main themes: "Reality Czech" and "We Waited Four Years For This?"
The latter camp seems to think that soccer evaporates for four years and re-emerges for the World Cup, ignoring the whole qualifying process. That in and of itself is progress of a sort since the USA has gone from scraping a Miracle-on-Grass team of college kids and naturalized foreigners together to the number one team in CONCACAF and a guaranteed entry in World Cups from here to eternity.
Pats on the back for everyone, then, but the guy who guided the team through the last eight years of competency probably needs a result against Italy to prevent a "Fire Bruce" campaign. In almost any other country in the world he'd be a guaranteed goner mere weeks after his fawning coverage in the NYT and everywhere else. This too is progress of a sort, but not the sort that gets you to the second round.
A note on soccer fandom. Perhaps I should have made this clear earlier: I am perhaps the very definition of the undiscerning sports fan. I gave up the ghost a few years ago when I sat at least moderately enraptured by a bunch of dudes riding bikes. I am now resigned to the fact that I'll watch nearly anything that can be vaguely defined as athletic competition as long as there's a chance there might be some nut with a flag and painted face screaming incomprehensibly.
It's actually worse than that, since the aforementioned is not a necessary component. Nor is... well... anything. I am notably silent on the offensive notion of nonstop poker on ESPN because I like televised poker. (There but for the grace of God go you.)
So be gentle with your barbed comments, as I am clearly handicapped.
A second note on the goddamned Mexicans. This is not like a collegiate bowl game featuring some also-ran from your conference. Mexico, despite being the USA's bitch for the past eight years, is seeded by FIFA and their stupid, stupid minds. Thus, instead of Ghana, Italy, and the Czechs they get candy fluffy soft group: Portugal, Iran, Angola. Mexican WC victories only further the Mexican lead over the US. And that's not even getting into the whole "Osama Bin Laden" chants in their country which is smelly and poor or their attempted murder of Cobi Jones or their freakin' ponytails.
You hate Mexico. You root against Mexico. You call the INS on anyone you see rooting for Mexico even if you know damn well they're a citizen, because someone should be told. There will be no discussion.
...that aren't football. First, former Grand Blanc center and erstwhile Rutgers freshman Zach Gibson, a former teammate of incoming recruit K'len Morris, is transferring to Michigan. Gibson's thrilling freshman year stats: 1.1 points and 1 rebound in ten games. He'll redshirt and have three years of eligibility starting in '07.
Second, hockey has picked up commitments from goalie Bryan Hogan and (probably) defenseman Chad Langlais from the USHL's Lincoln Stars according to Bob Miller of the Wolverine and Chris Dilks from WCH. Langlais's commitment is unconfirmed, but the Lincoln Stars website has notification of Hogan's commit for '07. At that point point junior Billy Sauer, sophomore Steve Jakiel, and a freshman Hogan will all compete for playing time: crowded indeed. Hogan is no roster-filler, having driven Jakiel from the starting job at Lincoln a year ago. Hogan posted a .916 save percentage and was named March goalie of the month.
Langlais staples an opponent to the boards.
Langlais, like Hogan, is a product of a Michigan high school, having attended Cranbrook with his twin brother Chase. There's an actual Oakland Press article on the pair and something from the USHL on Chad. Of note: Langlais is tiny, standing 5'8" and weighing 170. Despite that, he was selected in the second round of the USHL draft. Another Eric Werner, perhaps.
Michigan is now set on goalies until at least '09, but waits on Pat Kane and Jeff Petry amongst others unmentioned to finish up the '07 class. Kane is reputed to be favoring the OHL at the moment; Petry is between Michigan and Michigan State.
Update 6/10: Added IL OL Dave Molk, who checks it towards the bottom of the Scout 100 and plans to cap for a day. There's also this fantastic, fantastic story. Linked to article on Dionte Allen (will camp) and Marshall Jones (M in top four). Removed Justin Trattou (ND) and John Ditto (PSU). Linked to large thing from Fox Sports that contains notes on MI WR Mark Dell and WI RB John Clay.
Editorial Opinion: Apparently the Notre Dame staff forgot to slip the E they give everyone else into Molk's lunch:
"We had a lunch after the camp but the (Notre Dame) coaches all sat in one corner and didn't talk to anyone and I didn't get that. When we left, Coach Ianello told me that he'd be in touch."
He lists about half of the Big Ten plus West Virginia as favorites:
"My favorites right now are Wisconsin, Michigan, West Virginia, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan State and I'd probably say.....Northwestern." Molk said.
"As far as commitment is concerned, I'd like to get it done before the season, hopefully by August."
Cautious optimism in this corner. Molk projects as a center.
There's been mild concern about Dionte Allen, widely presumed to be a Michigan lock but hesitant about committing already, dammit. If you like obsessively reading between the lines (and who doesn't?), this article should be reassuring. Allen has repeatedly asserted that his childhood dream school was FSU, so a visit there seems threatening until this quote implies that he isn't taking it very seriously:
"The coach said I didn't have to come to that [camp], so I'm not going," said Allen regarding the FSU camp. "I'm just going down there to visit a bit in July. I'm just going to see what it's like."
Also, speaking of "E," that's what he calls charismatic new defensive coordinator Ron English:
"I was talking to Coach E (AKA, Michigan DC Ron English) about it and I'm probably coming down for the camp."
The power of E compels you to commit! Er.
There's been much confusion about the status of WI RB John Clay: does he have an offer? Why the hell wouldn't he, being OMG shirtless and all? Well, this FoxSports article claims he has one, so there's that, but also implies that Wisconsin is the probable destination. This can't bode well, either:
"I'll definitely see how loaded they are," he said. "If they are very deep, I won't look at them. I want to get my degree and I'm looking at schools with a good grad rate. I also want a running program that has a good tradition of running backs."
Pay no attention to the Brown/Grady/Minor behind the curtain.
That same article says still no offer for MI WR Mark Dell, though Dell still lists Michigan in his top four. With a bunch of offers already out for guys like Clemons and Hemingway, Dell might end up on the outside looking in unless he impresses at camp.
We're still hanging in there with Marshall Jones, but if you would like my opinion I am less than bullish on the prospects of pulling him away from the West Coast. He says he'll visit, so there's a chance.
Finally, this is a month old aaaand from Tom Lemming, but there are assertions in it that you can take or leave at your pleasure. First, M leads for IL RB Robert Hughes, who is, um, "getting pounded by everybody." Illinois leads for IL OT Miles Stroter; Michigan is in the chasing pack. And Martez Wilson is a very bad man:
As for defensive linemen, perhaps the best pure pass rusher in the country is Simeon product Martez Wilson (6-4, 235 lbs.), who runs a 4.5. This is a high school best known for its basketball players. Last year, Martez was a 6-3, 200-pounder being recruited more as a wideout even though he had 20 sacks. Now, since he's grown, people have realized he has natural instincts as a pass rusher. He runs the 100 meters in 11.0 second and is a terrific all-round athlete. His favorite schools are Michigan, Notre Dame, Illinois, USC and Texas -- he's been offered by all of them. He'll be one of the most recruited players in the country. The relentless style he demonstrates on film reminds me of Simeon Rice, who came out of the Chicago area 10 years ago.
Lemming is noted for just guessing at leading schools and sometimes being hilariously wrong, but that assertion seems to agree with the general opinion of the Internet.