coaches say you can't, so don't sign a loi
August isn't usually a hot time for basketball news, but a trip to Europe is fast approaching, and there's a little bit of other news surrounding the Michigan program. For video of John Beilein's press conference, check out UMHoops, where Joe posted the entirety of it.
A few guys are banged up, but all three are expected to be healthy by the time the team leaves for Europe.
- Evan Smotrycz broke his toe (playing wiffle ball!) a week before reporting to Michigan. He's practicing, but is not cleared for full-court drills. Once he's healthy, he'll pick things up very quickly.
- Colton Christian has a pulled hamstring.
- Jordan Morgan has another week to go in his rehab from shoulder surgery in the winter.
John Beilein gave some of his early impressions on Michigan's newest players:
- Tim Hardaway Jr. is focused, and he's learning things quickly. All of the other guys also had good coaching, but it's obvious that he's been very well-coached. He's playing at 190 pounds (though he doesn't look it, and I'd be surprised if this was true). He has a good attitude and wants to improve.
- Jon Horford is long and athletic. He has a desire to learn and be coached.
- Colton Christian will bring a physical presence defensively.
...and shared a bit more about the improvement from some of the guys we already know about:
- Matt Vogrich has shot the ball more consistently so far. He'll get a chance to be either a 2-guard or wing forward.
- Darius Morris has improved his leadership. It's tough for a freshman to be a team leader, so he's moving forward in that respect. He's also been shooting the ball well, and it's clear he put in lots of time individually.
- Blake McLimans is up to 240 pounds, after playing at 200 in high school. He's been getting a lot of time at center because the other options there have been banged up.
- This year, they'll have more opportunities to play Novak at a spot that plays to his strengths. They needed to play him out of position most of last year because they didn't have the bodies.
From my personal observations:
Jordan Morgan might need to work on his finishing. John Beilein joked that, at five push-ups a miss, "you're going to lead the league in push-ups." Blake McLimans looks a lot bigger than he did last year. Evan Smotrycz (at right) looks good, despite the toe injury. He's much broader than I thought he'd be, and he has good athleticism and a nice shot. Michigan fans are really going to like his game.
Novak and Douglass appear to be the vocal leaders of the team. I didn't see a huge change in Darius Morris's shot. It's clear Bacari Alexander is new around here. Beilein had to show him some of the drills before they could instruct the players. Ben Cronin (now a student assistant) had to help him out a bit, too. Still, Bacari's as enthusiastic as his Twitter account would lead you to believe.
The trip overseas is something that teams can do once every four years. It's a good experience from a basketball standpoint, and also culturally (four of Michigan's players had to apply for their first passports). To prepare for the trip, they are allowed 10 days of practice. They're doing 2-a-days for all of them, and today was #4. They'll have next week off and then have five more before they leave.
Former Wolverine Travis Conlan, who played professionally in Belgium before joining Michigan's staff as an Administrative Specialist, helped the team set up their games in Belgium.
The team will have to adjust to playing with a 24-second clock on the trip. They'll probably commit a lot of shot clock violations, Beilein admitted, but it will help them play at a faster tempo when they return.
Michigan's opponent for the semifinals of the Legends Classic on November 26th will be Syracuse. Georgia Tech and UTEP are in the other semi-final. The final pits the winner of the two games against each other at 8PM on Saturday the 27th, and the consolation game will be played at 5:30 - potentially during the Michigan-Ohio State football game.
Photos from Michigan basketball on Facebook.
Get ur Falk on. We are under the 30 day mark, so it's time for you to get POINTED AT
Jack back; he will attack; you don't want that. Michigan's annual alumni hockey games are tomorrow, starting at 6:30 with the old folks with the kids going about an hour after that. Admission is, as always, free. Head out. Jack Johnson makes and appearance, and so does Mike Cammalleri. Is this a thaw between Cammalleri and Red? Not if Cammo suits up for the over 35 game and puts him through the boards, but otherwise… survey says yes.
Win. Also lecture. A marching band insider posts that the first halftime show of the season will be La Traviata, furthering Michigan's effort to bring opera back from the grave. Or not really:
You guys are going to absolutely love the first show. Your voices were heard, and the Blues Brothers will be the first show this upcoming 2010 season. Rejoice? I think so.
Yes. Electronic disco, defeated forever. We may commence feeling simultaneously vindicated and heelish for last year's extended whine-fest about the band, which I participated in extensively.
Lecture time: sweet hot Moses in a pickle jar, our MMB insider put an "OT" on the message board thread. Let me be explicit: anything about any Big Ten team or future opponent is on topic. This includes Michigan, which is sort of the subject of this blog. Anything tangentially related to a tangent of Michigan athletics, or the university itself, is on topic. This mincing fear of getting negged for on-topic posts will not stand.
Testing the 95% theory. West Virginia has been hit with an NCAA notice of allegations for doing what seems like the same stuff Michigan was:
…yesterday afternoon, West Virginia University received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, which we are providing to the public. The allegations focus primarily on the activities and roles of graduate assistants, student managers and other non-coaching staff in the football program -- from 2005 to 2009.
They haven't posted the notice yet, so the exact details aren't known but seems likely WVU was doing the same sort of 35 in a 30 Michigan was during the last two years of Rodriguez's tenure and the first two of Bill Stewart's. This will endear Rodriguez even further to his home state, no doubt. Whether the NCAA would actually do something that impacts Michigan because of it is unknown. It would be unprecedented, but the NCAA seems to be gearing up for a period of breaking precedent.
Now entering the DSM: quarterback derangement syndrome. I've been increasingly irritated at Black Shoe Diaries (the guy who posts as BSD, not the whole blog) for his insistence that having a redshirt freshman who couldn't hit Charlie Weis—miss you, big guy xoxo—in three tries neck-and-neck with a walk-on is a JUST FINE quarterback situation THANK YOU, but this has gone from standard-issue fan denial to plain old insanity right here:
At what point is Terrelle Pryor going to live up to his hype and actually, like, win something on the field? And no, beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl does not count.
Meanwhile, BSD is busy saying Kevin Newsome could totally work out:
Newsome showed in his limited playing time last year that he can be explosive in the running game. At the risk of drawing some other very poor comparisons, I see the Penn State offense looking a lot like the 2007 Illinois offense. A proven NFL-caliber running back (Mendenhall) and a young quarterback that can run like a race horse and also throw like one (Juice Williams). Putting aside comparisons to Bad Juice later in his career, the 2007 Illinois offense led the Big Ten in rushing and finished last in passing, yet they upset Ohio State and went to the Rose Bowl (where they got clobbered by USC, but that's beside the point).
Meanwhile, Michigan fans pointing out that even the house outlets like Penn State's scout site were politely saying Kevin Newsome is terrible is "bitterness" at the kid's decommit.
If Juice Williams 2007 (but definitely not 2006, 2008, or 2009) is your best-case scenario, run. Where? Doesn't matter. Just run. And then keep running. The evidence that Newsome can be "explosive in the running game" consists of 7 carries for 49 yards against Eastern Illinois and 3.5 YPC in 13 carries against Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan State. At least Denard scored a touchdown against Iowa and did slightly better than 5 of 12 for 50 yards and three sacks taken in Michigan's spring game.
But no, seriously, guys, Matt McGloin reminds me of Matt LoVecchio that one time he threw a touchdown. If he just throws a touchdown every time he passes, like Matt LoVecchio did that one time, Penn State's offense will score lots of touchdowns. No, I'm not chewing glass I think is crystal meth because I've been eating crystal meth for the last six hours. I'm chewing MORE AWESOME CRYSTAL METH.
Fiutakin' it. A few years ago when the blog was more of a helpless voice in the wilderness it was a lot fiskier, and one of the things I did one year was comb the CFN Michigan preview for the dozens of errors it would contain in an effort to show the world how little value there was in their content. That's pointless now, but damned if reader Matt Nolan didn't go to the trouble and come up with some doozies. For instance:
December 30, 2010 San Diego, CA
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl 7:00 pm ESPN
Big Ten No. 5 vs. Pac 10 No. 3
Way Too Early Projection: Michigan vs. Oregon
WHY? How much would the bowl love to get Michigan? It would be a homecoming for Wolverine QB Tate Forcier (who's from the area), while Oregon could finish anywhere in the top three.
The Holiday Bowl might be delighted to get Michigan but they'd definitely be confused since it matches the Pac-10 against the Big 12 and hasn't had a Big 10 team since 1994.
Meanwhile, the Michigan preview itself spells Jordan Kovacs's last name "Kovacks" and "Kouvacs," and lists sophomore [sic] Obi Ezeh as one of Michigan's ten best players at the same time they decry his "shockingly disappointing" 2009, which was not shocking at all. At least they didn't talk up the prospects of hot freshman Tom Harmon after his tragic death from old age.
Etc.: Someone gave Mark Shapiro a job in TV again. The NFL Network is about to suck. Bonus Derek-Dooley-is-Lane-Kiffin ammo: a fight which saw a cop end up in the hospital after getting gang-beaten result in one dismissal and zero else. New M blog alert: Maize Wings. Eleven Warriors wonders what to do with The Game and settles on the same-division, last-game format. I'm with them.
Remember that you can check out the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board for the updates over time.
Kellen Jones Goes Blue
"We were in Coach Rodriguez' office, and my family was in there with me. I told Coach that I was committing, and my whole family broke into the Michigan fight song. My Dad, Uncle, me, everybody was singing the fight song. Coach Rodriguez laughed and said he had never seen that before. He was shocked."
He also told Tom about getting to see the Big House. For video evidence, you can see a Youtube video that a family member (I presume) uploaded. I'll warn you in advance that it's not particularly interesting:
Other outlets have covered Jones's commitment as well. Check out breakdowns from GBMWolverine:
He is an outstanding blitzer, shows excellent timing getting to the ball, and has a nice closing burst. Kellen will need to improve his scraping and coverage skills.
[T]he thing that jumps out at me about Jones is his playmaking ability and athleticism. He uses his speed and quickness to get into the backfield, and has a great nose for the football once he’s in position to make a play
Jones takes a bit of pressure off linebacker recruiting, though there are still a couple spots open in the class.
- MI RB Justice Hayes committed to Notre Dame. Though he's off the board, he might re-emerge as a prospect if something weird goes down with Demetrius Hart.
- Michigan seems unlikely to make the cut for FL RB Andrew Buie.
- FL Slot WR Tacoi Sumler committed to Oregon.
- Michigan has missed the cut to five schools in the recruitment of FL WR Curt "Spiffy" Evans.
- MI WR Jermal Hosley was never going to earn a Michigan offer. He's committed to Bowling Green.
- LA OL Jonah Austin has committed to Houston.
- MI LB Ed Davis has committed to Michigan State.
- PA S Mike Caputo will make a commitment within a few weeks, and he's only considering Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, and Ohio State.
Happy Trails from the future for FL S LaQuentin Smith? He's close to a decision, and Michigan gets no mention other than as one of his offers. I'll leave him on the board until we have a better idea how the Dr. Phillips recruits shake out. His teammate, fellow safety Roderick Ryles, has committed to Arkansas, but will visit other schools ($, info in header).
Rivals' Michael Langston caught up with FL RB Demetrius Hart at Gridiron Kings, and Dee talked about Michigan and Alabama, his decision timeframe, and what other Florida players he finds impressive:
That decision could come as early as the UConn game, and it's encouraging to hear how much he gushes about his friendship with current Wolverine Ricardo Miller. Brice's Recruiting has the highlights from Hart's performance at Gridiron Kings.
OH WR AJ Jordan has pushed back his timeframe for making a final decision ($, info in header). He's planning to announce a favorites list soon, and Michigan is likely to be on it.
Added FL WR Quinta Funderburk. He's a possibility for Michigan's second receiver spot in the class, and according to MGoRecruit, Michigan is in his final five, along with Arkansas, West Virginia, Penn State, and Florida.
FL Slot WR Prince Holloway wants to take an official to Michigan ($, info in header). He's the only true slot receiver Michigan has given an offer, to the best of my recollection.
NJ TE Jack Tabb was offered by Michigan last week, and promptly made a visit to Ann Arbor. Following the visit, Michigan moved into his top group ($, info in header). Tabb was under the radar until recently, as he didn't put up big stats his junior year.
Michigan: "I have been talking with Michigan about their offense. It's the kind of offense I would like to play in and I am used to playing in. I know things haven't been the best up there but they have been recruiting well and I think this team is ready. They are close and this will be their breakout year."
Prevailing wisdom had been that he'd pick the Wolverines, but South Florida has made a strong push lately. Keep an eye out next Wednesday to see if Hello: Tony Posada comes to fruition.
Kentucky-oriented fluff on IN OL Nick Martin, who recently visited campus ($, info in header). The offensive tackle plans to narrow his list within a couple weeks, and make a decision shortly thereafter.
Rivals says OH LB/DE Austin Traylor is a similar player to recently-departed Ed Davis, and briefly breaks down his game:
Traylor can play a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role in a 3-4 defense... With Traylor’s unique skills, Ohio’s defensive coordinator can switch formations without having to change personnel much
Traylor told Tom that's he'll narrow his list soon, and Tom thinks Michigan will make that list.
VA LBs Travis Hughes and Curtis Grant are both "considering" Michigan, but neither is likely to become a Wolverine any time soon. Grant did talk to Sam Webb about Michigan ($, info in header), so maybe he more interest than it seems.
Local fluff on FL S Wayne Lyons. Michigan is in his final 14, and he'll announce at the Army All-American game.
Lyons, who raised his GPA entering his senior year to a 5.0 by getting straight A's in every one of his classes except Biology (one of his classes at BCC), doesn't need anyone to put a positive spin on anything he does.
Sounds like he'll be a great asset on and off the field to whichever program he ultimately chooses.
GA S Avery Walls has transferred high schools to seek out a christian-oriented education. Michigan still has a great shot at landing him, but he's no longer playing for Wolverines in high school (as he had been at Union Grove, pictured to the right).
MI CB Valdez Showers has announced a top 6 of Florida, Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern, Auburn, and Iowa, in no particular order. He plans to make a decision at the end of August.
MI DT Danny O'Brien grew up an Ohio State fan, mostly to rib his older brother:
"I've always loved Ohio State," O'Brien said. "I was a Michigan fan when I was really young. Me and Pat had a little rivalry. He'd go for Michigan and I went to Ohio State. We'd always talk trash to each other during games. Pat and I could never like the same teams."
That doesn't seem like the most deep-seated fandom in the world, and Michigan is reportedly among his early favorites. He's already holding a Tennessee offer, so he's likely to be a big-time prospect down the road.
For the duration of his tenure, Joe Tiller was infamously supposed to be the guy behind Tom Dienhart's bitchy anonymous quotes in the Sporting News. So it's good to know that the mustachioed Wilford Brimley impersonator doesn't fall far from the diabeetus commercial:
"We've had about 90 kids on campus all summer and they've been in summer school. We don't have a general studies major at Purdue so they've had to take real classes too."
This, as anyone who remembers the grand tenure of Garrett Bushong can tell you, is hypocritcal bunk. Purdue is an engineering college full of nerds that preserves a small section of itself so it can jam Big Ten athletes onto its campus. This is totally fine by me as long as their head coach doesn't take shots at Michigan for doing the same thing. Presenting the Purdue major breakdown*:
|Aristide, Ishmael||RS FR||Safety||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Cooks, LaSalle||SO||Defensive Tackle||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Crank, Jared||JR||Fullback||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Ezenwa, Nnamdi||SO||Linebacker||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Flood, De'Ron||FR||Tight End||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Foy, Trevor||RS FR||Offensive Tackle||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Gooden, Gerald||JR||Defensive End||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Greaves, DeVarro||JR||Linebacker||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Holmes, Gabe||FR||Tight End||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Humphrey, John||RS SR||Linebacker||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Johnson, Josh||SO||Cornerback||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Kelly, Dennis||JR||Offensive Tackle||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Lindsay, Jeff||RS SR||Tight End||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Lucas, Will||FR||Linebacker||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Short, Kawann||SO||Defensive Tackle||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Siller, Justin||JR||QB-RB-WR||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Smith, Cortez||SR||Wide Receiver||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Thomas, Tommie||SO||Wide Receiver||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Werner, Jason||GS||Linebacker||organizational leadership and supervision|
|Bush, Gary||RS FR||Wide Receiver||organizational leadership and supervision|
|SR||Running back||organizational leadership and supervision|
I Can Manage And Stuff
|Panfil, Jeff||RS SR||Tight End||selling and sales management|
|Adams, Kyle||RS SR||Tight End||Management|
|Barry, Dan||JR||Offensive Guard||management|
|Carlino, Chris||JR||Linebacker||building construction management technology|
|Shepherd, James||JR||Offensive Guard||building construction management technology|
|Wiggs, Carson||JR||Kicker-Punter||building construction management technology|
Many Purdue players have variants on lifting weights all scientific-like as their majors:
|Edison, Antavian||SO||Wide Receiver||health and fitness|
|Evans, Albert||JR||Safety||health and fitness|
|Higgs, Antwon||SO||Linebacker||health and fitness|
|McDaniel, Eric||RS FR||Defensive Tackle||health and fitness|
|Melton, Xavier||RS FR||Offensive Guard||health and fitness|
|Pierce, Justin||RS SR||Offensive Guard||health and fitness|
|Roberts, Gavin||SO||Running Back||health and fitness|
|Williams, Charlton||JR||Cornerback||health and fitness|
|Holland, Joe||JR||Linebacker||movement and sport science|
|Kitchens, Justin||RS FR||Defensive End||movement and sport science|
|Taylor, Brandon||RS FR||Defensive Tackle||movement and sports science|
|Ballinger, Kevin||JR||Long Snapper||physical education|
|Mondek, Nick||JR||Offensive Tackle||physical education|
|Allen, Ricardo||FR||Cornerback||general health sciences|
Majors That A Lot Of Football Players End Up In Everywhere
|McBurse, Al-Terek||SO||Running Back||communication|
|Mebane, Eric||SO||Defensive End||communication|
|Pamphile, Kevin||RS FR||Defensive Tackle||communication|
|Davis, Cody||RS FR||Center||sociology|
|Gravesande, Waynelle||JR||Wide Receiver||sociology|
|Plue, Ken||JR||Offensive Guard||sociology|
|Bolden, Ralph||JR||Running Back||law and society|
|Marve, Robert||JR||Quarterback||law and society|
|Reese, Xavier||RS FR||Wide Receiver||law and society|
|Schmeig, Rick||SO||Center-Offensive Guard||law and society|
|Smith, Keith||RS SR||Wide Receiver||law and society|
Possibly Actual Majors
|Drey, Peters||SO||Center||industrial engineering|
|Maci, Robert||SO||Defensive End||industrial engineering|
|McKey, Colton||JR||Offensive Tackle||industrial technology/distribution|
|Kerrigan, Ryan||SR||Defensive End||math education|
|Jackson, Derek||SO||Fullback||computer technology|
|RS SR||Offensive Tackle||mechanical engineering|
The Grand Accounting
|One Specific Fake Football Major||21||34%|
|Standard-Issue Cake Majors||14||23%|
|You Too Can Supervise A McDonald's||7||11%|
|Actual Engineering Type Majors||6||10%|
60% of Purdue's declared majors are either in one specific fake major or physical education. 90% of them are in stuff like the aforementioned, construction, or the usual diet of communications/sociology. Danny Hope should stick to personal grooming tips during his public appearances. That is all.
*(Notes and caveats: Purdue's site was pretty good about picking out walk-ons but some of the guys without bios or at positions like third string kicker or backup longsnapper didn't explicitly mention it. Kickers, punters, long snappers, and anyone without a bio or with a really short bio that didn't mention recruiting rankings is excluded. So are the folk explicitly declared walk-ons. Undecided players and those who "plan on" majoring in something or another are excluded, but the breakdown of the planning stuff was basically more of the same with a greater emphasis on "management.")
- The more guys who are stepping up to compete, the better the team will be. That's one of the reasons Mark asked to play some defense. "Competition only makes us better as a team, and I just want to win. If I don't pay a snap and we win 12 games, then I'm happy."
- Mark expects to compete for a linebacker spot, and if he plays, then great. Otherwise, he's willing to help the team.
- The defense has put in a lot of different fronts this spring. That should help confuse offenses, and it's helped Mark catch up with everyone else, because they're learning too.
- The coaches are preparing a gameplan for UConn already. The Huskies have different offensive sets. What the defense does will depend on that.
- Mark hopes they keep the Ohio State game at the end of the year, but if that's not possible after re-alignment, then so be it. Everyone looks forward to that game over the course of the year.
- Mark will play a bit of fullback as well this fall, but he plans to play linebacker. He wants to help the team in any way that he can. He told Rodriguez that he could compete on defense, so he's getting his chance. He might be in the mix for playing time, but "I try not to think about what's on the depth chart." Helping the team is more important.
- Michael Cox is a physical back, Michael Shaw is quick and fast. Vincent Smith has good feet and "can cut like no other." Fitzgerald Toussaint is quick and powerful, and Stephen Hopkins has great power.
- Moundros was nervous to be one of the team representatives in Chicago. He was excited for the opportunity though: "What a great school. What an honor to be a part of such a great tradition and a great team." Moundros grew up loving Michigan and the connection with his brother Kirk had a little to do with that. The great tradition of doing things the right way is what makes Michigan what it is.
- The defense is much more deep this year than it has been in the recent past. Mark isn't sure exactly who will step up, but that's exciting because there are many viable options.
- Mark approached Coach Rodriguez about playing defense, and after a couple weeks, Rich Rod decided to give him a shot.
The players are working hard. The summer is growing old. There's a slight scent in the air, one of leaves and cider, and of change. You find yourself tempted, to daydream of tailgates, of afternoons in front of your television, and of the confines of the hallowed stadium itself. You find yourself dreaming of football.
And your wardrobe seems suddenly... unworthy.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure to formally present the
MGoShirt 2010 Season Line, as designed by yours truly and produced exclusively
by Underground Printing in conjunction with our very own MGoBlog.
As an MGoBlog exclusive, we’ll be officially premiering a series of shirts every Wednesday, allowing all of you maize and blue faithful to get the very first glimpse of these new designs. And, conveniently enough, the very same shirts will then be available for purchase at the MGoStore.
So enough with the sales pitch—let’s get to the shirts!
Forget the ScanTron sheets, forget all of your Calculus tutoring sessions… this is sure to be the most important question that should be in every test on campus this fall. Who’s going to start? Here’s your chance to identify your UM quarterback partisanship—feel free to take a Sharpie to the shirt and check the box of your preferred player under center.
DESIGNER INSIDER: I must admit that I can’t really claim this idea as my own, but I enjoyed running with it. It’s worth noting that the last player reference was literally created by banging haphazardly on the keyboard with the back of my hand. Good times!
The new hero on the defensive line, young Craig is sure to be a force to be reckoned with on the outside this year. One of the things I’m looking forward to the most this season is watching that #88 break through the lines and wreak havoc on Big Ten backfields this year. This shirt was simply a no-brainer, and I’d probably have been neg-banged to Iowa City if we didn’t have a Death Roh shirt this year.
DESIGNER INSIDER: Two inside tidbits worth revealing: The typeface of this shirt is literally modeled after the “EVIL DEAD” movie wordmarks, rather fitting. And, the skull itself is modeled after the very same head bone as seen in the dotted eye of the “Goonies” mark as well. As for the eyebrows, that’s an absolute original.
Okay Big Will… you know we’re expecting big things from you when you get your own T-shirt. Pimpin’ your own killer MGoShirt carries a certain degree of clout, and we feel that you’re capable of carrying the load. I’d like to find any other D-1 team that boasts its own Thor.
DESIGNER INSIDER: Thor, Bitches, Thor. Do we need to say anything more? I originally played with no cape, but in my opinion it just seals the deal.
Like the shirts? Not big on waiting? Well, you’re in luck-- these designs are on on the MGoStore. Moving forward, the MGoShirt Alert will appear every Wednesday, and the plan is that the shirts featured on subsequent days will be available for purchase the very same day. Instant MGoGratification, so to speak. Personally, I’m really excited about finally unveiling them—this is a true sign that the SEASON IS ABOUT TO BEGIN!!