I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Michigan 68 UConn 63, Michigan 10-7 (3-2 Big Ten)
At some point during the game, I tweeted something to the effect of, "In a game like this, I have a really hard time not bursting out in cheers." This may have confused some people, who didn't realize that press row is supposed to be a fully non-partisan portion of the arena. By the time there were just a couple minutes left in the game, I didn't have to hide my excitement, because most of the journalists right around me were drawn into the excitement as well.
The Indiana game was a sloppy, unappealing contest for the viewer. A lot of people said afterwards that they wished it hadn't even been a nationally-televised game. To me, a win on national TV is a win on national TV, especially when it comes by 24 points, but that's not my point here. The game against UConn, to me, seemed to be redemption for the national audience, and a chance to see what Good Michigan can look like when the Wolverines actually play well.
Against a huge team like UConn, Michigan isn't supposed to stand a chance. The Huskies are supposed to bang it down low, get Michigan in foul trouble, and come away with a comfortable win, even on the road. Michigan didn't get the memo, as they harassed men much bigger than them into missed shots and turnovers down low, and barely lost the rebounding battle to a squad much bigger than them at nearly every single position.
This is the Michigan team we saw last year. It may have showed up too late into the year to make it to the tournament again, but they weren't going down without a fight. This UConn team isn't what their top-15 ranking would imply (and after dropping their last three game, they can kiss that ranking goodbye), but the Huskies are no pushover. This might be the Wolverines' best win of the year, and though it probably won't be enough to get them into the tournament without an insane run through the Big Ten, it certainly re-opens the NIT as a possibility, even likelihood.
The next few games no longer look like a curse, but rather an opportunity.
- To those clamoring for a third scorer to emerge from the team, I think you got your answer today: It's not necessary to have a 1-2-3 (Manny/DeShawn and another go-to guy) as long as there are several guys scoring. Sims was only the 4th leading scorer, but Michigan pull off a win against a ranked squad.
- Matt Vogrich almost became a member of Club Trillion, but played two minutes without accruing any other stats, which I guess makes him a member of Club Two Trillion.
- Michigan... has... bench? Zack Gibson and Anthony Wright came up big today, when the team really needed them because of foul trouble for Novak and Sims. I've been hard in Wright in the past, but I'll also give him props when he earns them. Hats off to both of those guys.
- Also from the bench, Darius Morris comes in for a round of praise after the past couple games, and practically disappears. 0/4 with 1 turnover, 1 steal, and 1 assist. Can't blame him too much as these are probably some of the best opposing guards he's faced, but he has to play up to the competition if Michigan wants to continue having success.
- Zack Novak is capable, more than almost any basketball player I've ever seen, of turning in a mediocre statistical performance, but looking like one of the biggest factors to his team's success. The 3-ball at the end was huge.
- The shooting performance was mediocre, but UConn is also a pretty good defensive squad, with a ton of quickness on the perimeter. I'll take 44.9 eFG% against them, with hopes it'll continue improving.
- Dude, a UConn player airballed a free throw. I haven't seen that since the first time Ben Wallace played for the Pistons.
- I really liked the presentation for BRandon Graham at halftime. It was a shame there was some booing directed at Rich Rodriguez. I would have loved to see the students respond with a chant in support. Next Tuesday is another opportunity, I guess.
Additional important photo from the Detroit News.
"I don't care about nothin' else but the win." DeShawn Sims, on having a quiet day on the statsheet.
"That's the whole joke, I just chill on the rest of the games, and just play whenever it's a big game." Anthony Wright, comparing his performance to the NCAA tournament loss against Oklahoma last year, in which he led the team with 14 points.
"This is just the first game of a big four-game series we have coming up, and it's always great to get that first win." Anthony Wright, on looking to the Wisconsin game.
"It's cool, its cool. Just to have that support from the football team and Coach Rich Rod, you know, kind of a Michigan family atmosphere type of thing." Stu Douglass, on having the football team in the stands.
"It's definitely a step in the season, and it could be a turning point, I don't know. But I know from here on out, the team's gonna come out with a lot more hunger." Manny Harris, on whether this game should be considered a turning point for the team.
"The crowd was big for us today, I think a sellout. The Maize Rage was awesome, even our other fans, everyone was into it." Zack Novak, on the crowd support.
"Especially from a defensive standpoint right now, we're really learning a lot more of what it takes to do this." John Beilein, on the team's improved defense and overall play over the past few games.
Michigan begins (or continues, if you count the UConn game) a brutal stretch, traveling to Madison to take on the Badgers Wednesday, then turning right back around to face Purdue in West Lafayette. Following that road swing they'll return to Crisler Arena to take on in-state rivals Michigan State in another Maize Out game.
Per Go Blue Wolverine, Michigan has gained a class of 2011 commitment from MI CB Delonte Hollowell, which should come as no surprise to those who remember he said at the US Army Combine that he was planning on committing to Michigan soon. Informative portion below:
|3*, NR CB||NR DB||NR, 150 Watch List|
First things first, Hollowell is one little dude, bigger than Dior Mathis, but comparable in size to Boubacar Cissoko. Somewhere in Detroit, there is a factory producing tiny corners and sending them to Cass Tech. Delonte measured in at 5-8.125 at the Army Combine. There's always the chance he's still growing, as he's 16 or 17 years old, but I wouldn't count on it. The National Underclassmen Combine Blog evaluates him thusly:
PERFORMANCE: Kind of a quiet day, but not in a bad way, in a blowout loss to Detroit Southeastern.
STRENGTHS: Does a good job of turning and running with receivers down the field, and appears to be an aggressive tackler. He is quite strong for a kid his size.
WEAKNESSES: Not as quick as his teammate, Dior Mathis, but few are. But like Mathis, Hollowell will be vulnerable in covering taller receivers. - G.L.
Scouts Inc's Craig Haubert gives a (brief) take on Hollowell following the Army Combine:
A player who caught my eye this fall when I attended one of his games was Delonte Hollowell (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech). He lacks ideal size, but is a good athlete and once again put forth a good performance.
"Caught my eye" means that Haubert's impression is a good one. It seems that, outside of the height issue, he has good tools to become a productive player.
From his video (which you can see below), I would say he's a little slow in play recognition, but has good physical skills to play in the defensive backfield. It's often a little tough to judge high school DBs, as they're given the responsibility of "Stay back there, and don't ever let anything behind you. Ever." Hollowell is no exception, which may explain his hesitance to come up in run support.
It certainly isn't a physical attitude that's the problem. His highlights show a willingness to lay the wood as frequently as he can. He still has a lot of physical developing to do before he can actually lay big hits, but God bless him for trying now, as small as he is. As with all kids from Detroit's PSL, his technique is not at a college-ready level yet.
He made the Detroit News' All-Metro Second Team as a junior, though the first team only had 3 DBs. He's far from a lock, but his impressive performance at the Army Combine may get him an invite to next year's game.
Besides Michigan and Central Michigan, Hollowell is also receiving recruiting interest from Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State, LSU and UCLA.
Through five games, Hollowell had three interceptions and more than 25 tackles. No word on how he finished the year. Cass Tech finished the season 6-4, including two losses to Detroit Southeastern.
FAKE 40 TIME
Hollowell ran a laser-timed 4.66 second 40 yard dash at the 2009 Army Combine. For a corner, this gets 0 FAKEs out of 5. Don't worry too much about speed, though, as the testing track in San Antonio is notoriously slow, and that time was as a mere sophomore. Times from this year's combine should be available soon. In track, he ran a 7.65 60-meter dash (to Dior Mathis's 6.95), one of the less impressive times at that meet.
Hollowell appears to be a highlight video producing fiend, an here's what he has uploaded to Youtube at this point:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As mentioned above, Hollowell has some physical development to do, as well as a lot of technique to learn. Unlike Boubacar Cissoko before him, he'll have a chance to sit for a while and learn from the starters ahead of him, due to Michigan's big DB haul in 2010. Hollowell is basically a sure-shot redshirt for his freshman year.
Following the inevitable redshirt, Hollowell will probably play on some special teams for a season, as long as he's bulked up enough to not get handled in punt coverage, and if he's got the skill to do it, he could even be tabbed for return duty a bit. He might get a bit of work on defense in blowouts.
In year 3, he could get rotated into defenses, getting time in nickel packages, and potentially getting significant time as a substitute. Long-term, he'll always be a bit limited by his diminutive stature, and if he is able to nab a role as a starting corner, might get pulled off the field when he would otherwise face the Michael Floyds of the world.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Hollowell is Michigan's second commitment in the class, joining fellow defensive back Greg Brown. Both play corner in high school, though Brown will play free safety as a high school senior, and there's a chance that will be his eventual position in college.
Still, Michigan projects to have a bunch of defensive backs in the class of 2010, so they won't be nearly as necessary in 2011. After getting these first two commits, Expect Michigan to hold off on defensive backs until later in the class, unless they are able to convince some more highly-rated ones (in their eyes, not necessarily the recruiting sites) to join the class.
Rivals is reporting that OH DE Davion Rogers, a teammate of DJ Williamson at Warren G. Harding High School, has committed to the Wolverines. Informative update coming later (perhaps tomorrow, what with the basketball game and all).
Apologies for the delay, Denard happened.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Connecticut|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
January 16th, 2010
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The Wolverines have been inconsistent all year, but from this (admittedly optimistic) observer's point of view, they are really improving as the year goes on. Part of that is the maturation of Darius Morris and the Stu Douglass comfort level at point guard, and part of it is improving leadership. Hell, part of it might just be a mirage that I'm fooling myself into believing. The Wolverines are the 4th most efficient Big Ten team overall since conference play began, so maybe I'm not crazy after all.
Part of the improvement from Michigan's end has been production on the inside (or the mid-range) from DeShawn Sims, with Manny Harris providing the slashing to the bucket, allowing the role players to be just that - role players. The improvement on the defensive end has been notable as well, with Darius Morris coming into his own as a college player.
This game is a big deal for the Wolverines. They limped through the non-conference season during December, and could use a big win outside the league to salvage what has looked like a major regression on the court.
The Huskies come into Crisler Arena with a #15 ranking (sure to drop next week, as they're on a 2-game slide), and an 11-5 record (1-4 away from home). Their losses have come to Duke and Kentucky (in Madison Square Garden), at Cincinnati and Georgetown, and home against Pittsburgh. That last one may be relevant because, according to AnnArbor.com's Mike Rothstein, UConn coach Jim Calhoun said Michigan is a similar team to the Panthers.
Key players for UConn include guards Jerome Dyson (the scorer) and Kemba Walker (the distributor). They're also key defensive players, and Michigan has had trouble this year when facing athletic guards on the opposing team. The defensive tone is also set by shot blocks, as the 6-9 trio of Stanley Robinson, Gavin Edwards, and Alex Oriakhi are all in the nation's top 300 in block %.
UConn hasn't proven itself as much as you'd think, and Michigan might have a decent chance for a win. This isn't last year's team. The tempo-free profiles bear out that MIchigan isn't too far behind the Huskies.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Connecticut: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||UConn Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Conn Def eFG%||169||11||CC|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Conn eFG%||197||123||C|
|Mich TO% v. Conn Def TO%||20||307||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Conn TO%||37||101||M|
|Mich OReb% v. Conn DReb%||239||182||C|
|Mich DReb% v. Conn OReb%||246||72||CC|
|Mich FTR v. Conn Opp FTR||330||4||CCCC|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Conn FTR||13||41||M|
|Mich AdjO v. Conn AdjD||79||29||C|
|Mich AdjD v. Conn AdjO||68||69||-|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
That matchup, on paper, certainly doesn't look like the difference between a top-15 squad and one that has already been written off as an NIT contender, at best. UConn is a pretty good team, but Michigan has been progressing pretty well statistically since the year's rough start. If they can hammer out the inconsistencies, the Wolverines stand a decent chance against UConn.
Still, it's hard to see Michigan standing even with the Huskies in this game, despite the fact that they hung tough last year on the road. The home fans will be a big factor, and a bit of luck will be required. If Michigan can keep the game close until the end, they stand a chance to pull the upset. Otherwise, I see this as a comfortable 10-15 point win for the men from Storrs. Surprisingly, Kenpom disagrees, saying Michigan should emerge as 1-point victors.
Fans, this is important: tomorrow is an official maize out, so wear your maize, and come early, as the first 7,000 fans will get a "rally spinner," whatever that is. Also, UConn has been shaky away from their home arena, ,so bring some serious noise and cheer the Wolverines on to victory.
Also: water wet.
One Denard Xavier Robinson is not only a quarterback for the University of Michigan football team, but a scary-fast dude who runs track for the Wolverines as well. Today (seriously, less than an hour ago), Denard raced in the 60 meter dash against Ohio State WITH HIS SHOES UNTIED OMG. I'll let the video speak for itself:
He's the be-dreadlocked dude in the 4th lane, winning the race in a time of 6.81 seconds.
The meet was packed, and I'm sure much of the excitement was about Denard's performance this afternoon. Nearly every Michigan football coach and about half the team was in attendance, along with some football recruits, in addition to members of various other Michigan teams (shout out to women's basketball, who stood right near me). Paul also got some pics:
Sorry if some of them are blurry, he's just too fast for any shutter speed.
Um, so Little Bro posted it in the Alaska preview comments. It has fewer than a thousand views on the Youtube so it must be under the radar still. This lack of aggression will not stand.
So… yeah… the bear video came into our lives and was fantastic. There is another. I know what you're thinking: this can only be a disappointment. That's what I thought. I was so very wrong.
Here's a youtube comment:
Is this plot line taken from Scientology scripture?
Now you watch.
Wasn't this the plot of Battlestar Galactica, except awesome?