Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Michigan gets a commit and content is a little slow today, so recruiting rankings hit the front page. Plenty of movement this week with Big Ten schools picking up commitments in each of the last eight days. Changes since last rankings:
5-1-13: Rutgers picks up Pete Mokwuah.
5-2-13: Illinois picks up Chayce Crouch.
5-3-13: Penn State picks up Daquan Worley. Northwestern picks up Tommy Doles.
5-6-13: Nothwestern picks up Dareian Watkins.
5-8-13: Nebraska picks up Jason Hall.
5-9-13: Northwestern picks up Auston Anderson. Maryland picks up Johnathan Thomas.
5-10-13: Penn State picks up Marcus Allen and Jared Wangler.
5-11-13: Michigan picks up Lawrence Marshall.
5-12-13: Ohio State picks up Lonnie Johnson.
5-13-13: Michigan State picks up Matt Sokol.
5-14-13: Northwestern picks up Justin Jackson.
5-15-13: Michigan State picks up Chris Frey.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|247 Comp. Rank (Ovr)||School||# Commits||5*||4*||3*||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^|
|2 (12)||Ohio State||8||0||5||3||3.38||3.63||3.88||3.50||3.59|
|3 (14)||Penn State||9||0||3||6||3.00||3.33||3.33||2.89||3.14|
|6 (23)||Michigan State||8||0||0||7||3.17||3.33||3.50||3.00||3.25|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.
In the wake of today's 2013-2014 B1G Men's Basketball schedule release and the dislike that came with it, I thought of a new way to formulate a conference schedule. I tried to keep it balanced where the high-level teams play more high-level teams and the low-level teams play more low-level teams so there's no repeat of Wisconsin's/Ohio State's favorable one-offs.
I introduce to you tier scheduling. Taking the final standings of last year, I broke up teams into four three-team tiers, Tiers 1, 2, 3, and 4 obviously.
Now, once these teams are in tiers, it's time to set up which tiers will play the other tiers how many times. It is cumbersome to explain it in words so I will just show what I have in my spreadsheet
There might be a better way to balance this out, but I feel this does a decent job making sure good teams play more good teams with the occasional bad team and vice versa.
So what would this mean for Michigan this year? Here's a hypothetical schedule based on their tier 2 standing
When it came to the one-offs I picked teams with less of a recent history with Michigan so that's why they play Indiana once out of tier 1 but OSU and MSU twice, then Minnesota and Purdue once out of tier 3 but Illinois twice, etc.
I did this somewhat hastily so if there's any apparent flaws please point them out but I think I have everything squared away.
Obviously this kind of scheduling is too late because 1. 2013-2014 schedule is already done and 2. this is the final year of having 12 teams. But this was a fun "What If?" scenario I wanted to share.
(Click the Image to See Full Size Version)
Would be a whole lot easier to get up had they won, right?
Tomorrow's Friday Fun will be in color. Might be fun.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every week here at MGoBlog and on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out the Friday Fun, my weekly single panel comic based on trending Michigan events, available on Twitter and the home page every Friday.
I know that there have been several threads through the years on what those of us who attended the University Of Michigan did the moment we received the letter saying that we were in, but I thought I might devote a diary to the details of my own experience.
I began collecting applications and starting applications for colleges towards the end of my junior year of high school in 1995. I had my ACT and SAT results by then which, in combination with my GPA, was well above the published minimums for acceptance into Michigan at the time, but that was no guarantee in itself. There was an essay as well, not to mention the thousands of other kids doing and thinking the same thing that I was, wanting to be at the same school that I did.
During the summer of 1995, I was very explicit with my parents about my wishes – I would go to Michigan if accepted. Living 15 minutes from the campus of a world-class institution is a distinct advantage that not everyone has, and it would also allow me to feed my addiction to Michigan athletics uninterrupted for the most part. I grew up watching Michigan teams on TV and in person, and now the opportunity to attend Michigan was real and near to me.
My parents were afraid that I was limiting myself, and even though I applied to 20 different schools simply to hedge my bets (this is what happens when you grow up with statistics too), they would bring home more applications. They would bring home recommendations from co-workers. At one point, I had the application materials from perhaps three-quarters of the Division I football schools at the time, as well as Ivy League and even some European schools.
Nearly all of these applications required an essay of some sort (I steered away from a lot of schools that simply require the application and test results – I wanted to show them who I was), and here’s where I did something that probably no one should do – the essay I wrote was intended for my Michigan application. With minor alterations, I made it fit for the other schools to which I mailed applications (I still have many of them on disks actually), but everything about the application adventure was betting on my chances at getting into Michigan. In essence, if it was not Michigan, the essay was in effect a canned reply and by far the most personal form letter ever written by me.
After a flurry of application activity in August and September of 1995, there was little to do but wait. There were no electronic facilities that would have made this easier sadly, save for the essay, written on my trusty Mac Quadra. In the middle of September, replies began to roll in – I was accepted at NYU, USC, Vanderbilt, Penn State, Columbia and quite a few schools of note. Of course, my parents would not have been able to even hope to help me with the expenses if I went to the West Coast or to a place like Columbia. In reality, about 15 of the 20 applications were non-starters for financial reasons even if I had been accepted.
I waited for Michigan’s reply anxiously. A few more came in the first half of October, including one from Illinois. By the week of the 23rdof October, I was starting to think that this was not happening, and on a very cold and very damp Tuesday, I opened the mailbox as I always did on the way into the house after school, and lo and behold, there was a very large envelope from the University Of Michigan.
At that point, it was one of two things in my admittedly cynical mind – either a letter of acceptance and some welcome-type materials, or the single most detailed rejection in the history of rejections. Either way, I ran up the driveway and into the house, leaving my car idling at the end of the driveway with the driver door open in the middle of a fall shower.
Nervously, I searched for the letter opener in my dad’s desk. Failing in this search, I opened the packet with the only thing I could find – the pizza cutter. A few good, hard rolls and I was in – quite literally, as I read the letter. I was going to Michigan.
I stacked the other items in the packet on the kitchen counter, as for now, I knew what I needed to know. I ran back outside, past my car – still sitting there, blocking the driveway – and did a short celebratory run to the end of the street. I had worked hard to keep good grades and I had numerous AP classes to my credit, but I was going to a place I wanted to go. Indeed, I still have the letter as it meant that much.
By this time, my father was coming up the street, greeted by his son running around and a car blocking his driveway. I managed to get back to my car as he pulled in behind it. I still remember the exchange clearly.
“What the hell is going on?”, he said as he rolled down the window.
“I got into Michigan, dad!”, I said.
Unannounced, he gets out of the car, proceeded to hug me, and then gets right back in the car.
“So, what’s next for you?”, he asked.
“I don’t know. I have so many people I want to tell!”
“Are you going to be driving to their houses to tell them?”, he asked.
A strange question, I thought. Then it dawned on me. I got back in my now soaked car and pulled up into my normal spot in the driveway as my father wheeled into the garage.
It was a day that affected the course of my life, and even though it has now been nearly eighteen years since that day, I still remember the day I was officially told that I was accepted at Michigan as one of the happiest of my life.
The day started with a present.
Well, two actually.
I was in Lexington, Kentucky Friday night for my daughter's
Sunday graduation from the University of Kentucky (but still a UM fan, her room is decorated with Michigan Daily articles about Wolverine wins) and Sunday derby at Churchill Downs.
I was watching the Tigers-Chisox game on my laptop, through the slingbox, getting more and more sleepy, one on for the Tigers in the bottom of the 9th, trailing 4-3 when I closed it up and set it down on the floor and crashed.
I woke up Saturday morning, picked up the laptop and turned it back on. In a series of jerky pictures, the Tiger batter swung and the right fielder ran toward the wall and – the picture froze.
Damn, that looked like a home run! Better check ESPN.com.
The first present: “OSU recruit decommits over sex offender” is one of the top links on the home page. Gotta click thru on that one!
Must be a follow up on Ace's Friday story about the registered sex offender, pictured with three recruits on a trip to Columbus. The guy who followed up with tweets to the recruits.
Sure enough, it is. The one of the three who had actually committed, un-committed.
You can't make it up. What parent won't feel confident sending their precious son into Urban Meyer's care now.
When I clicked over to the Tiger game result, I found out the ball was, indeed, a walk off home run.
* ** ** *
This was my second Derby; the first being 1986, back in my
drinking days. I remember starting the day caressing the commode, worshipping at the altar of the porcelain goddess, or whatever they call it these days. And feeling terminally hungover for hours.
Then trying to cure that with a mint julep, which tastes like the last five times you got sick all mixed together in a souvenir glass full of sugar.
This time would be more fun.
Both graduating daughter and her older sister (three UM degrees) had already left with their Mom. At 3:30 a.m., as, in the morning. As in, arrive at the track at 5:00 a.m.
The gates do not open until eight. But, having learned from the veteran Joe, here for his 36th consecutive Derby, that, this is what you do when you are on the infield and want to be right at the fence for the races.
Which we were.
I was in the second shift, with a couple of friends who made the trip for the first time.
My wife and daughters had done the same drill last year, so they had firmed up the plans with Joe, where to park, who was running to the third turn corner to stake out our territory, et cetera.
I drove the hour and a half into Louisville. Part of the time, my friends were reading something to me out of the paper about the race. About which, I had studied not at all.
Go through the names for me, I said.
Horse owners have to register a name, which has to be unique.
Can't have another Secretariat running around out there. Only one name on the list stuck out for me.
“I'll Have Another.”
The old tapes came up again, back at Animal House, back in the day.
So much fun.
So many adventures with T-Bird and Nanook of the North, the Yooopers. One in med school, out of high school, back when UM had that program, the other, headed for law school.
The painful battle for the med student who washed out, then out of the marriage to his high school sweetheart after two daughters and a son, and all the arrests and job losses and illnesses and injuries and disapperances interspersed among stretches of clean time.
Then the long expected word. October, 2011. Congestive heart failure, the email said. Yeah, the ex-wife said, it is easier to take as a cause of death than the truth.
The lawyer was dry for a long time, couple of decades, I think.
I knew something was up, but not exactly what. He returned to the Upper Peninsula after law school; but had not returned my occasional phone calls.
I googled his name to tell him T-Bird was gone, and found a story of him in court for stealing client money.
Then, another email from the med student's ex. The lawyer was gone too. December 1. C.O.D. also called “congestive heart failure.”
I'll have another.
So, figured I would bet $2.00 to win, for each dead friend.
We found our way to the area of the Louisville, uh, sorry, Papa
John, football stadium.
Headed toward the track, we thought.
Saw three young ladies, with the requisite hats, and asked them which way to the horses.
We're not sure, said they.
We're Northwestern students.
I pointed to the maize M on by blue baseball cap.
Well, we got to the one gate that allowed entry with chairs and
coolers, just as the second (of 13, the Derby being #11) races, concluded, which we gleaned from cell phone contact with the advance party inside.
What a throng.
All ages, all sizes, all shapes.
We could barely see the entry gate, as the line started at the
intersection some distance away.
Well, that is, one of the lines.
There appreared to be a feeder stream aimed directly at the gate,
a couple hundred feet from the intersection where we stood. We had to make a 90 degree right turn to get in.
And, another line aimed right at us, which had to make the corresponding 90 degree turn to their left to get through.
When I say line, I don't mean, line. I mean, at least 3,000 people proceeding at an undiscernable pace. The guy next to us said he had already been waiting 2 hours.
And the morning thunderstorms had given way to a blazing hot sun.
Just to make things perfect, two small groups of fanatics bracketed the feeder stream with homophobic conclusions yelled through megaphones, which were a mere sidelight from the signs, and exhortations to keep your women at home, ironing and washing dishes, and, not talking.
A continuous tirade delineating all the ways we were going to hell. The crowd reaction varied and cycled through catcalls and derisive
responses all the way to pre-riot tension.
Constables were there to preserve order.
There were, however, no race officials of any description advising of
the precise procedures required to get in to the track. Nor was anyone making any attempt to organize the lines, steer them in any direction, say, well, anything, like, cash only for infield admission, no ticket needed..
I've never seen anything like it.
Later we figured the early storms and rain forecast had caused folks
to leave later.
One elderly lady plunked down in her unfolded chair right in front of us. Her assumed husband looked 85 if he was a day. Someone produced a water bottle, and we wondered what they were doing here.
This was a half hour into our wait, and we had progressed less than 50 feet.
Every few minutes, the old lady would rise, the old man would scoot the chair forward a few inches, and the old lady would sit down again.
Of course, they were being passed left and right by others in the crowd as we were pressed in behind them.
Next thing I know, she is smoking a cigarette.
End of my sympathy.
Next time I look up, she has scooted ten feet ahead of me, the
other side of a big trash bin.
An elderly gentleman to my left tries to toss his empty beverage
container into the bin, and, overshooting his target, hits her right in the ass.
There is a God.
I made a reconnaissance trip around the back of the feeder stream that led to the gate, and someone official, who advised everyone was steered through the security checks, before they could get to the gate, whether the credit windows, or the cash gates.
Ah, I at least now know something.
Turning around, I cannot help but notice that the megaphone wielding fanatic on this side, screaming about sinners, must weigh in at a minimum of 350 pounds.
I resist the urge to inquire of him whether gluttony isn't still one of the seven deadly sins.
Making my way back to my friends, I passed next to a Buckeye going the other way. In full game regalia, hat, jersey, buckeye nut necklace.
I doubted anyone had read him the sex offender story yet, so I just said, Hi!.
Momentarily stupefied by the depth of my two letter remark, or maybe the UM hat, or, maybe the combination, he mumbled Go Bucks.
As we made the turn, now a mere first down from the destination, I executed the plan for me to cut through to buy us three tickets, while my friends checked the coolers and chairs.
As soon as I was out of sight, which was not far, all the security guards jumped up on tables or whatever and started taking pictures of everyone.
Then they all yelled: No more checking! Again and again and again. Having waited nearly two hours to be checked, it took the crowd a
while to absorb the impact of this announcement.
I continued with the strategy, pulling out $150 cash for 3 tickets, ony to be told, there are: no tickets. Each person pays $50, which is shoved into a box, and slides through the turnstile.
Interesting skimming possiblities there. How do you verify the attendance count?
However, my immediate problem was to get back from the place that had been my goal for, forever, and find my friends.
I found them, told them I would go in first, and pay for them from inside.
A female officer gently told me I could not stand next to the cash box behind the ticket taker. Uh, that is, money grabber.
I stated that sounded like a rule that made enormous sense and she took the $100 bill to pay for my friends when they finally got to the front.
Now, make the cell call to my oldest daughter to advise that we were finally in the building.
She met us at the other end of the tunnel that goes under the track from the entrance.
Now, if people watching is your thing, you have to do the Derby.
Six foot eight guys dressed in full jockey uniforms, cap, silks, riding boots.
People in all sorts of horse outfits. People is suits, puking on the grass. People exhibiting all the symptoms of a closed head injury. People with “Derby Virgin” buttons taking ten minutes to make a bet at the window. The Mayor of the infield.
And so on.
We finally arrived at our seats after the 6th race.
Hey, I was not going to bet much anyway.
Saw Joe the Derby veteran napping with his exposed belly, which I
perceived to be crying out for an ice cube from the cooler. I sated this desire as quietly as possible, so as not to wake up the rest of his body.
It must be told he was wearing his MSU hat.
He looked great, considering he is fighting the big C.
We swapped sports stories and tried to avoid the drunks, one of
whom was leering at my soon to graduate daughter. Too bad she can't show him some of the targets from her trips to the gun range.
When you go to the Derby, all your friends give you money to place their gets. My wife has developed an ingenious system for placing the various bets the races.
You get a blank envelope, write the number of the race, your bet, the amount, and the horse's number on the outside, and put the exact change for the bet inside the envelope.
Whoever runs to the window, then puts the betting slip in the appropriate envelope, and all is done quickly, and, the records are in order.
I had stuck a preview of the race, in my gear, and had read it during the tortuos wait outside.
I determined to go with Gemoligist with perfectas and trifectas and whatever.
I then had $10 left, so put $2 on the 8th, 9th and 10th races on the choices one of our group who had been picking winners.
That left $4, of my small budget, which I put on I'll Have Another, the big underdog, to win, remembering my earlier decision.
On my last trip, in 1986, from the same vantage point, you could see the horses round the turn, but it took awhile to find out the results, because the noise in the infield overwhelms the stadium announcer.
Now, they have a large video screen across the track, so you can see all of the race, including the finish.
Son of a gun, I'll Have Another pulls it off.
In memorium, T-Bird and Nanook.
Well, I've been busy. I had plans to write this but spring break and a deep NCAA Tournament run by my favorite team got in the way. So after the Final Four (and a week of depression) I decided I better write this again. Well it turns out I find watching 10 hours of Masters coverage every day more entertaining than, well, anything. Then it was back to school, and two weeks later, I still hadn't written anything. So after several hours of procrastination, here I sit, finally writing that ever elusive diary. But it's great to be back.
You may be thinking "Ugh, he's going to skip over all of that great stuff that happened", and to that, as Lee Corso would say, I give a "Not so fast my friend" in your general direction. Because even though I might have been gone, I might have been down, but I was not out. No, not even close. You see, I have been observing. Very closely in fact. These are my observations. Maybe a tad late, yes, but these can only get better with age. Fittingly, they will be called "Observations on The Game". I feel like David Hartley right now, writing a philosophical narrative about one man's cunning observations. Except these aren't exactly cunning, nor are they going to change philosophy forever. This is a stream of consciousness. About a game. And it just might be one of the best we will ever see.
Observations on The Game:
I sat in my seat and prepared myself for the game of a lifetime.
Michigan vs Louisville for the national championship. It did not get any better than this. I expected great things, but little did I know that the spectacle that was about to appear in front of me would be one of the greatest games in the modern era of basketball. The fans were great. The atmosphere was electric.
The game started, and it was an epic, back and forth affair. Then a small kid that can shoot the lights out decided to get hot. Michigan's back up point guard Spike Albrecht made 4/4 threes in the first half, finishing with 17 points at the break in relief of star point guard Trey Burke, who had to sit with 2 fouls. Spike's performance was inspiring, and raised a chorus of "Who the heck is this kid?" from the Louisville fans in my section.
Louisville tried everything they could to stop Spike. But he's an Indiana kid. "Hoosiers" is probably his favorite movie. He was unheralded He was unappreciated He was just a freshman. But on the big stage in the big dance everyone is equal. And Spike proved he belonged there.
Louisville was out of sorts. They were getting beaten in every way possible. Their coach Rick Pitino called a timeout with about 3:40 left in the half. Whatever he said in that huddle must have worked. Because Louisville's Luke Hancock looked at what Spike just did, and said to himself "I can do that". He did just that, and with Louisville down 12, with 3:00 to go in the first half made a three.
And then on the next possession, made another. And on the next trip down made another.
Michigan called a timeout, came out of it, and missed a shot. Louisville took it down, gave it to Hancock, who just wildly heaved it up from about 28 feet out. It was an off balance, one footed, going away from his dominant side, shoulder heave. From where I stood, I had a perfect line on this shot. My mouth slowly fell open in awe as the ball arched on a perfect trajectory towards the hoop, going through with a perfect swoosh. That's a 12 point lead eliminated by one player in four possessions in less than 2 minutes on 4 shots. Utter. Pandemonium.
Michigan managed to take a one point halftime lead. It didn't feel like a lead thought. The look on the faces of Michigan fans were that of fans whose team was down 20. But it felt like that. Everyone in that building knew that there was a storm coming in the second half. But there was an air of anticipation Because that was the greatest first half of basketball I had ever seen, and I couldn't even begin to fathom what the second half had in store.
This epic back and forth battle between these two heavyweights continued into the second half. This was Ali vs Foreman. This was The Rumble in Downtown Atlanta. These teams were trading blows, and it was only a matter of time before one of them would become the knockout punch. Michigan took an early lead, and then Louisville, and then Michigan, and then Louisville again. This was the type of game you never wanted to end. Just two teams of athletes at their physical and mental best giving everything they had and then some at the pursuit of a National Championship. That's what it was, and everyone in that building that night knew it.
This was the most beautiful thing until just over 5 minutes left in the second half. Michigan had just cut Louisville's lead down to three, and there was a buzz in the building. Was the momentum going to switch back Michigan's way? Could Michigan, the youngest team in the tournament, pull this win off? All they needed was a spark. Both teams had some momentum when Spike Albrecht missed a layup and Louisville forward Chase Behanan grabbed the rebound. He looked and found Louisville guard Peyton Siva streaking alone in the open court. The pass was perfect and Siva started to glide in for a layup. Michigan guard Trey Burke was the only one in the vicinity, he slowed a bit to time his leap.
With 5 minutes to go in a national title game, you don't concede uncontested layups. Burke and Siva both leaped at the same time, Burke on the inside, closest to the basket. This all seemed to happen in slow motion to me. Burke extended his left hand as far as he could, grabbed the ball, and pressed it against the glass. What. A. Play!
Almost the moment he did this, a short, shrill noise erupted from near the sideline.
The whistle of a referee. At the same time, a Michigan player grabbed the rebound, and looked to start a fast break going in the other direction, because according to him, and most of the stadium, this was the spark that Michigan needed. This game was theirs for the taking. Except for that whistle.
Trey Burke had just made the best play of his incredible career. And this is what it looked like in the play by play:
Foul on Trey Burke
5: 09 Foul on Trey Burke. Foul on Trey Burke. Foul.
Trey Burke couldn't believe it. His reaction is exactly that of someone that knows he has been robbed of possibly the most athletic and greatest play of his career.
I knew it. The Michigan bench knew it. Their coach John Beilein knew it. The crowd knew it, and immediately erupted into boos.
Peyton Siva silenced those boos with two free throws, pushing the Louisville lead to 5, a lead that they would not relinquish. Another Luke Hancock three made it a 10 point game, but like they did all year, and all tournament long, Michigan fought back, pulling it to 4 points with 1:20 remaining. But they were unable to get that clutch bucket to turn it into a real nail-biter, and a key turnover sealed the deal for Louisville, who after some free throws won 82-76.
Walking off the court while confetti that could have been for you rains down and another team celebrates a victory has to be one of the worst feelings in the world.
The way the teams celebrated were total opposites, as one would expect. For Michigan, it was a solemn handshake between coach John Beilein and freshman forward Mitch McGary.
For the players it was a simple hug. No words are needed.
For Louisville, it was a time for celebration, for rejoicing, for joy. It was time to cut down the nets. The hoop was lowered so that Kevin Ware, a sophomore guard who broke his leg in Louisville's Elite Eight game could cut down the final strand.
They truly won that game for Kevin Ware. They stood for endless pictures, posing with various signs, and of course, the National Championship Trophy.
When Louisville coach Rick Pitino finally made his way off the court to go celebrate with his players and conduct all of the necessary interviews, he flashed one last sign of victory to the remaining crowd. He formed his hand into a "L" and held it there for a minute before finally succumbing to a wash of security, fans, and reporters who were all pushing him towards the exit.
This was truly a game for the ages.
Something about this game's finish was melancholy for me when it ended. As I sat there, surrounded by some fans who had tears of joy in their eyes, others had tears of sadness. In front of me, as confetti streamed down from the rafters, I came to a stark realization. This is the only time I would ever see something like this ever again. If this epic of a game had happened in the NBA, both teams would simply resign everyone to a contract, and there was a good chance that this same matchup would happen again next year. But this is college basketball. This will never happen again. I'd seen Trey Burke's last game in college. I'm am very confident that he will have a long and extremely successful NBA career, but there was something magical about that night. This is what makes college basketball so painful, but so beautiful. The rosters are always changing, the game is always evolving. This is what makes it great, but for once, I wish I could have a time machine, so I could go back and see them play this game again. Not because I didn't like the result the first time, but because it was such a beautiful battle between two teams who left everything they had on the court. That was a game that even Hollywood couldn't have scripted. But we must move on from the past. Michigan is losing 7 players from that roster, Louisville only 1 (they have a TON of juniors). But for about 3 hours in downtown Atlanta, time seemed to stand still. There was nothing going on in the world except a duel to the death between two opponents on a basketball court. It was beautiful. It was a work of art.