...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Look, so one of the nice things about this blogging enterprise is that you sort of get to know the person behind the blog. Freed of the restrictions and general demands for sterile decorum (or, even worse, forced lame-o "personality" in columns titled things like "The Rant") imposed by Writing For Money, the blogging thing allows the writer to be who they am, in the parlance of our times. So if you peruse this space regularly you should know a few things about me:
- Likes football.
- Disturbing opinions re: kittens.
- Charmingly absentminded.
The last bullet is the relevant one. I, uh, er, well... thoughttheUCLAgamewasatnoonanddidn'twatchitatallokaybye.
Right. So, I turned the television on at two and said to myself, "self, why is the Michigan game nowhere to be found?" And then I swore. And then I checked the score and swore some more. And then I checked Horton's line (5-17) and Sims' line (1-2) and hoo, boy, it was a festival de # and & and % and * and ! all put together in distinctively implicative ways. Thus, I have no opinion on the game except what I've gleaned from the box score and message board postings. Luckily for you, the voracious blog reader, others are not so hampered. I personally subscribe more to Yost Built's opinion...
I'm not ready to hit the panic button like a lot of people on The Wolverine are. Michigan had a bad game. It happens. Yes it sucks that it happened the first time we played a "real" team, but you can't watch that game and say that Michigan lost because they were facing a more-talented opponent. If Michigan has even a decent day from downtown (and it's not like UCLA had a hand in their face and was making Michigan miss shots) they win that game going away. At one point in the second half, UCLA was 10 of 20 from behind the arc and Michigan was 2 of 18. That's not going to get it done, especially when probably 14 of those 18 were high-quality looks.
...than a lot of the overheated rhetoric you can find on any relevant messageboard you have access to, but then again I didn't actually see the thing. Joey checked in with a lot of bile re: Michigan's strategy... unfortunate misses of wide open threes or inexcusable coaching failure? I have no damn idea. Next time I'll check the tipoff time so I can have opinions of my own.
In the larger scheme of things, Michigan has a selection of nummy morsels left before hitting Big Ten play. If they can take care of Miami (the other one), Coppin State, and Chicago State, they'll come out of the nonconference schedule 10-1 and in good position to make the tournament. The sky isn't falling, though it's probably because the thing never got very far off the ground in the first place.
(HT on the lame-o personality to Mayor Kyle King.)
So... yeah. Much has been ado-ed about Lloyd Carr's latest press conference wherein he advocated a 16 team playoff despite having come out and said that the 12th game "treats the players like professionals" and thus should result in the players getting paid, as professionals often are.
- OMG LOL, LLLLoyd just wants a system where he and his LLLL get to play for a championship despite the LLLL omg lol teh funny.
- Preach on brother!
- Who are you and where have you stuffed the broken remains of Lloyd Carr's body?
- Dude, 16 is way, way too much.
- GODDAMMIT STOP PLAYING SOFT ZONE.
Obviously I went with door #3, though I heartily endorse door #4 as well, a fine door with many qualities to recommend it like, um, good grain and a paucity of knots and stuff. Johnny of RBUAS went with door #5 and also collected a couple of useful links for your edification. Peruse, I say.
And there's actual newsbits, too. Lost in the playoff hootenany is much in the way of injury updates. Revelations of note:
- Mike Hart will probably go; the injury which was supposedly just a mild ankle twist is The Dreaded High Ankle Sprain.
- Jake Long will play.
- Mike Kolodziej had hand surgery and will not.
- Henige will be replaced by Rueben Riley.
- Kraus is questionable.
- No mention of Woodley and his (presumed) stress fracture.
I personally doubt we'll see much more from Hart than we did towards the end of the season. He'll make a valiant attempt to go but his essential Hart-ness will be absent.
Also FYI: Three star Colorado DE Greg Banks committed. Banks may end up at DT down the road, since he's already listed at 260. I have no opinion on this as of yet, but I will attempt to acquire one.
No comment. Um... someone asked this question of Chad Henne:
How do you work on that, just discussions with you and Coach Loeffler, do you do role-play?
Hmmm... sex or dork? I'll go dork: perhaps someone should have told Henne to spend experience points on accuracy when he leveled up instead of buying totally sweet new flattop haircuts.
And this quote from Pierre Woods, well...
Do you have expectations, with all of the bowl talk, were you disappointed? ... "Disappointment is Tennessee. They are not going to a bowl game [for the first time], I guess in the last 26 years, so I'm not disappointed.
That's very poetic: Disappointment is Tennessee. Fat Bastard Chili Cheese Fries is Tennessee. Getting The Short End Of The Cutler is Tennessee. Peyton Manning Didn't Deserve The Heisman Any More Than Ron Dayne Did is Tennessee.
Mas Cogs. He scored again; he's a lock. And I doubt anyone who cares about hockey isn't reading the Rivals message board, but Michael Spath posted an extensive evaluation of several players gathered from talking to people close to the program.
Shaky head. The Peach Bowl is no longer the Peach Bowl. It's now the "Chick Fil-A Bowl," which means you should never go to Chick Fil-A again. I fail to understand why corporations think this sort of thing is a good idea. The Citrus Bowl is still the Citrus Bowl to me, changing it to the "Capital One" Bowl changed nothing except my opinion of said bank and the likelihood of ever patronizing it (now holding steady at zero).
Yes, Ben Wallace is my hero. Hell, even Joey likes the Pistons. I'm having flashbacks to those Life commercials: Joey likes it! He really likes it! I second his swipe at Larry Brown:
In previous seasons when Brown DMC was still the coach, it took Herculean efforts to reach 100 points; guys would get yanked if they weren't "playing the right way" and running DMC's unimaginative offense; and every deficit engendered anxiety because you never knew when the isolations and curls would stop working. These are not those Pistons.
Most prominent and mystifying was Brown's aversion to any and all three-pointers, which was retarded given the various strokes he had available. This year the Pistons are hitting 41% of their threes (eFG = 62%!), second in the league... good thing we weren't taking any of those last year.
It's like this: there's this crazy old guy who hangs out in the student section at Yost. This particular habit has receded recently, but a year or two ago whenever anything of dodgy legality occurred to one of our skating warrior-poets he would burst into a Timmy-with-Tourette's explosion of staccato one word anger:
HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!
Eventually the student section picked up the chant and the entire arena would leap into sustained bursts of "HEY!" whenever it wanted a penalty. Good harmless fun directed at annoying the refs. Now take this man, make him your hall of fame basketball coach, and have him scream "HEY!" on every damned possession: Larry Brown. Watch your players glance towards the bench like they're about to have scalding water thrown on them after every missed three pointer. Listen to postgame press conferences delivered in excuse-me-I-have-to-go-kill-myself style. Do not wonder why he wanders around the league like John the Baptist: sooner or later everyone gets tired of prophets and the stones come out.
We now return to your regularly scheduled Michigan Wolverines coverage.
Cease and desist, spreaders of unwarranted glee! Okay, yes, Michigan basketball is 7-0 with a nice road win over Notre Dame and a couple of victories over decent to good mid-majors. This does not warrant what can only be called "big heapum story," to use patently offensive faux-Native American lingo in an attempt to get banned from the Alamo Bowl.
Don't Look Now...
but Tommy Amaker has the Michigan Wolverines at 7-0, including wins over Miami and Notre Dame.
Up next? UCLA. (I love this game).
And whoomp: FOXSports CNNSI ESPN ESPN(2)($) ESPN(3)($). Okay, three are just mentions of Michigan in "these teams started well" columns and the estimable Grant Wahl's CNNSI version places UM squarely in the "???" category where they belong, but goddamn that's a lot of mention for a team that hasn't done anything since Charles Woodson was still bumping the winged helmet. So...
There it is indeed.
Sweet sassy molassey.
[/Typical Hack Sportswriter]
Anyway, other than one of the Insider articles (written by Ken Pomeroy... ESPN Insider has already assimilated Kyle Whelliston; how long before Wonk gets picked up?) on Horton's radically improved efficiency, most of them are reduced to handwaving about BU after mentioning the ND and Miami games:
It started with the second game of the season. That's when Michigan played at Boston U. ...The 51-46 victory wasn't easy and it wasn't a thing of beauty, but it was Michigan showing some toughness and grit. And it was a start.
Let's be clear: Michigan's start is mostly smoke and crap opponents (not to devalue the ND win but it was one game, and one that easily could have turned into a loss). But the media loves a redemption story, especially when you have Horton's tragic soap opera taking center stage and the cachet of the big block M looming in the background. Thus storydammerung. I say bah humbug, at least temporarily.
If, and this is a major if, Michigan beats UCLA on Saturday, yes, they are headed for the unprecedented heights of a meaningful March... hell, a meaningful February, and then you should unleash the floodgates of OMG YAY. Until then, please poke Michigan's 7-0 start with a stick and a cautiously cocked eyebrow--it could still bite.
Holy crap UPDATE: Big Ten Wonk's first All Wonk Team of 05-06 has not one but two Wolverines on it, plus Graham Brown and his Rebound Machine waiting in the wings. Please consider this definitive proof that I'm totally right about this:
Is this all just a smidge too much love for a team that beat Boston U. by five? Dunno. Tune in Saturday.
Aye... 'Tis. Aye, t'will. Hyyyarrr!
Speaking of tortured segues... er... bite. Andrew Cogliano is impressing at Team Canada's WJC camp, scoring two goals in their latest scrimmage. He is a lock to make the team and will likely be featured on one of Canada's top lines. Yay for Cogs, grim for GLI. Also: Guy Flaming has an extensive, quality article up at Hockey's Future on the man the shirtless cocaine addict who sits behind me at Yost calls "Drew Cogs!!!"
Update 12/12: Linked to Mike Morgan article where he names three leaders, none of whom are Michigan. Removed LB Toryan Smith(ND), moved LB/FB Obi Ezeh to commited. Added NY TE Andrew Quarless (highlights and bumpin' rap at AndrewQuarless.com; profile indicates he is visiting this weekend). Noted that WR commit Greg Mathews moved into the Rivals 100 at #91 after their last update... no, I haven't updated everyone else's rankings. Cone also got a bonus star.
Yes, removed OMG SHIRTLESS TIM TEBOW(UF).
Editorial Opinion: As expected, Ezeh committed on his visit. He's being brought in as an "athlete," which will translate to either fullback or linebacker according to Ezeh himself:
"He said they could use me as an athletic fullback to give the ball to or I could get involved in the passing game at tight end, or defensively, they might want me at linebacker," Ezeh said. "One of the main reasons I wanted to go there was that I did not have to play the first year, then when I do get on the field, I will be fully prepared. I know they will put me in a position to succeed."
So he's redshirting. Another reason he wanted to come to Michigan: his other Big Ten offer was Indiana. Ezeh's a sleeper, but Michigan has a good track record when it comes to cherry-picking in-state guys they like and getting them to contribute.
Greg Mathews' rise into the Rivals 100 is totally unexpected. Scout--the more promiscuous of the two services--still has him at three stars, but apparently the jumpy and the lots of catchy impressed Rivals enough to throw him in at #91 despite his reported 40 times of either 4.72 or (gasp) 4.9. Given the general tendency to understate 40 times, especially for wide recievers and double especially for players from Florida, converting those listed times to reality implied that his mobility is somewhere between Gabe Watson and the Indian subcontinent (plate tectonics joke what!). Apparently he can move just fine.
Rivals also threw out a freebie with a bunch of vague-but-interesting information. Points of interest:
[Re: QBs] The Wolverines have also gotten a serious early jump on one of the nation's top juniors.
That would be Texas' Ryan Mallet, from all indications, who attended the entirety of Michigan's summer camp. Mallet will probably reach OMG SHIRTLESS status next year; he's 6'6" and has your proverbial cannon where his arm should go.
Merillville (Ind.) defensive tackle Dexter Larimore, though, is very high on OSU, and just received an in-home visit from OSU head coach Jim Tressel and his staff. ... OSU was rumored to have gotten a leg up before Carr's visit, but the Wolverines seem to have made up some ground. Whether it will be enough is yet to be determined.
Doesn't take very much reading between the lines here: OSU's probably going to get him.
The Wolverines are looking much better for others in the class of 2006, including Denver (Colo.) Montbello defensive end Greg Banks (see Josh Helmholdt's story on him here: Banks nearing a decision). Euclid (Ohio) outside linebacker Thaddeus Gibson enjoyed a recent visit to Tennessee, but Michigan could be tough to beat for Rivals.com's No. 8 outside 'backer, too.
As discussed earlier, Banks' coach is talking like Michigan is the place. Gibson would be an interesting recruit, since Michigan has either 3 or 4 linebackers committed (depending on whether Obi Ezeh is a FB or a LB), though none seem to be SAM types. Caveat: BuckeyePlanet is overflowing with polite speculation that Gibson is unlikely to qualify, and they're usually right.
...there are at least some analysts who believe U-M leads for Richmond (Va.) Varina fullback Brandon Minor (read his latest story here: Minor visits Michigan and Venice (Calif.) safety Jonas Mouton (Rivals.com's No. 43 overall prospect), though there have been conflicting reports on him.
More fullbacks! Minor's listed at the #1 FB in the country, but with Ezeh on board and Andre Criswell's last-minute addition to the 2005 class it would seem that we're either switching to a wing-T or recruting Minor as a tailback.
This is as close as the Internet provides:
Now stop being creepy.
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