"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
In case you are just coming out from the rock you live under and haven't heard, Michigan beat UCLA last night in basketball. By no means does this automatically put them in the NCAA tourny, or make them a top-25 team for that matter, but it certainly puts a hypothetical light at the end of the hypothetical tunnel that is John Beilein's unhypothetical transitional period.
Loyal readers of this blog may think back to August or possibly July, when Brian posted an email that pointed out the similarities between Beilein's situation and RichRod's, (new, 'wacky' offensive system, history of success with low-rated recruits, a bunch of young players not recruited to play his system, both from WVU etc.) and how this could be a foreshadow into the upcoming football season. And it would seem that the 2008 Michigan football season turned out to be very comparable to '07-'08 Michigan basketball campaign.
So, now that the '08-'09 basketball season has begun, only three games in the improvements have already become apparent. This isn't even close to an established Beilein team, and he already has an upset over a top-5 team.
What does it mean for '09 Michigan football? Well, statistically speaking, the two are unrelated. However, it does give us M-faithful hope. Clearly Beilein was a good coach before he came to Michigan despite a 9-win first season. And RichRod was an equally-clear good coach before he came to Michigan, despite a likely 3-win (worst in program history- DAMN!) first season. Will Michigan be a 10-win team next year? Doubtful, and I know this is premature, but it would seem Michigan will have a successful basketball season (by success I mean relative to last year), and if they do, it means that football has just as good a chance of having a good 2009 football season (And at this point, 'good' means 8-wins).
On a side note, when you consider that Alabama has 5 more wins already than last year (they could end the season with 7 or 8 more) that means Michigan is also capable of an improvement like that. Even if they win 8 next year, I'll take it.
There is 2 minuetes to go in the game and michigan is up by 3. Stu Douglass, a true freshman from Indian has just hit a huge three pointer while not facing the basket. As the teams go to commercial I have to think to myself, even if the wolverines dont end up pulling this one out of the bag, man do they have a refreshing attitude and style of basketball. They are aggresive on D. They force steals and tournovers like crazy. They need to work on their fastbreak a little bit but they certainly know what they are doing while shooting the ball. Simms Stepped up big in this game being a leader on offense and defense. Recieving a ton of praise from Dicky V. I personally dont care if he comes off the bench or starts as long as he is on the court. This is a big moral victory for the mens basketball program, even if they dont pull it it. It has been fun to watch and a great game. The Wolverines definatily dont look like an unranked team that only won 10 games last year. Quite the conterairy, thye look like an experienced team that is playing with tremendous swagger. SIMMS JUST PUNISHED THE RIM!!!!! MICHIGAN BASKETBALL IS BACK!!!
I've been thinking about this for a while.
Lots of sites have this. Over the years Brian has been running this blog, there have been some truly epic posts/moments in time to go along with it. There have been highs and lows, times both hilarious and nostalgic.
I'll try to start this off...My favorite ever posts have been:
(most of those were on the old site, by the way, here is a link to it: http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/2006/05/offseason-roundtable-2.html)
The New Math post : http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/2005/10/new-math.html
The Florida Preview/ Open Thread post (for its epic comment thread): http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/preview-florida.html
The Northwestern 07 Game Review post (Debord throws rock!) : http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/thirty-minutes-of-hell.html
The Mike Hart for Heisman post: http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/2007/09/lionized.html
The Game 06 Preview (when it was all that mattered): http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/2006/11/eleven-swans.html
OMG WE HIRED RODRIGUEZ! : http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/its-peanut-butter-jelly-time.html
Obviously, you come to this site for a reason. What have your favorite posts here been?
(and I need more words to conclude this with, so....JEDDAH – Pakistan International School - English Section defeated American International School in the opening match of the My Care Under-17 Inter-School Championship at the Eskan cricket ground last week.
The championship is being organized by Western Province Cricket Association as a part of its 5-year development plan of Saudi Cricket Center.
The eight-week contest will feature eight international schools with 15 matches in total. The event is sponsored by My Care Polyclinic under its awareness program of common diseases. My Care Polyclinic will offer free medical checkups to all participating students and will organize awareness sessions with schoolchildren. Ejaz Sheikh, representative of My Care Polyclinic, formally opened the championship. During his opening speech, he declared that “Healthier Youth” is the basic theme of this competition.
The match was off to flying start as Abdullah Khurram of PISJ (ES) hit the first four on the first ball of the match. The stunning firework by both the openers, Abdullah and Hamza, led to a brisk opening stand of 105 runs.)
I came across an interesting article written by John U. Bacon and thought I'd share it for those of you who haven't yet read it. (Note: I tried to post this earlier but thought it didn't go through, so forgive me if this is a duplicate.)
After reading this article, I realized RR has done a lot with the little he's been afforded, both in his personal life, and his career in athletics. Very admirable trait! In the same light, I can only imagine what he'll be able to accomplish with what he'll get here at Michigan.
Article can be found here: http://michigantoday.umich.edu/2008/11/rodriguez.php
John U. Bacon
"As of this writing, Michigan's football season is not over—but Rich Rodriguez has already endured enough travails to fill a decade of Saturdays.
Just one year ago Rodriguez had a golden opportunity to get his second-ranked West Virginia team into the national title game. But in their last regular season game, the Mountaineers were stunned by lowly Pittsburgh, knocking them out of title contention.
A few days after that crushing defeat, Rodriguez got some good news: Michigan was on the line, prepared to propose. It was a whirlwind courtship between the most successful program in college football and the sport's fastest rising star—and consummated within a week.
You'd think the story might have ended there—but that was only the beginning. Still ahead: a seemingly endless lawsuit over a buy-out clause in Rodriguez's West Virginia contract, and the loss of ten of eleven starters from his new Michigan offense—five to graduation (four of whom were good enough to play in the NFL), two more who jumped early to the NFL and three who transferred to other schools.
"The last seven months have been the hardest of my career—hands down," he told me. "We should have been able to enjoy the honeymoon, instead of dealing with all this."
Next up: the most trying season in recent Michigan football history—one that has seen the Wolverines' blow a seven-game winning streak against Michigan State, a nine-game winning streak against Penn State, and a 24-game winning streak against the entire Mid-American Conference. Add it all up, and you have the first losing season since 1967, which will break a 33-year streak of bowl games—the longest in the sport—and Michigan's first eight-loss campaign ever.
But when you consider the long, winding road that has led Rodriguez from Grant Town, West Virginia, to Ann Arbor, this past year looks less like a roadblock than a speed bump.
Rodriguez's grandfather left Spain for the coal mines of West Virginia. Looking for a better life, the family moved to Chicago, where he was born.
His father soon became fed up with the crime and intimidation of their rough neighborhood. So one night he rented a U-Haul and a guard dog, packed the family's scant belongings in the middle of the night, and headed for tiny Grant Town, West Virginia, under cover of darkness.
"I was in the second grade," Rodriguez recalls, "and I'd never even heard of West Virginia. Man, I just hated it. But what saved me was sports. I could go outside, and bounce a ball off our roof for hours—a baseball, a basketball, even a football, it didn't matter—until my dad got a hoop and bolted it onto the roof. Looking back on it, for a family that was getting government cheese and didn't have enough money to pave our dirt driveway, that was a hell of a gift."
Rodriguez shot on that hoop every chance he had. In the winter, he'd grab the family snow shovel, pack down the snow, put his gloves on, and keep shooting. By his senior year in high school, he was the state's leading scorer.
"I knew two things: I wanted to spend my life in sports, and I wanted to do it on the biggest stage around. I wanted the pressure!"
He turned down scholarship offers to play basketball at Davidson, Marshall and Army because, he says, "I really loved football, and I wanted to play for the Mountaineers. That was always my dream. So I decided to walk on and take my chances."
As a 4.0 student in high school, he had cobbled together enough scholarship money to last one year. After that, he either had to earn a scholarship—or drop out.
When his father drove him down to the University of West Virginia, it was an adventure for both of them. Neither had ever seen the campus before. "He dropped me off with just a single hand bag—that's all I had. We left me at the stadium—on the wrong side! We didn't even know where the locker rooms were."
The assistant coach who welcomed the walk-ons didn't know Rodriguez's name. When the coach barked out the list of walk-ons, he called off "Gonzalez," thinking it was Rodriguez.
It's been a tough season for Rodriguez and U-M football, but the coach says he's faced longer odds before. (Photo: Scott Galvin, U-M Photo Services.)
"Once I realized they had no idea who I was, my plan was simple: I was going to get in as many fights as I could the first week, just so they would know my name! They put me at defensive back, and I was getting in everyone's face, especially the offensive linemen, because they were all taped up and couldn't really get you. The other guys might not have liked me too much, but the coaches remembered my name!
"I played hard—every play, every practice and every game. No exceptions. I played desperate—because I was. If I didn't get a full ride by the end of the year, my college days were over."
At the end of Rodriguez's freshman year, Coach Don Nehlen offered him a full ride. He'd made it. His gamble had paid off.
Since then, Rodriguez has repeated the formula at every stop: Turn down the sure thing, bet on himself—then work to make it come true.
In his first season as Glenville State's head coach, his team posted an anemic 1-7-1 mark. "We were so bad, the crowd would literally give us a standing ovation if we got a first down," he says. "Trust me, just to keep that team together, that was the best coaching job I've ever done!"
The next year he knew he had to shake things up to get his offense going. "I started thinking about what was the toughest thing to defend when I played defensive back. To me, it was the two minute drill. Well, let's see if we can do that the whole game."
From that point on, Rodriguez's team skipped the huddle, went to a shotgun snap, spread the receivers out and started taking chances to get some points on the board—and kept it up for the entire game, every game.
It worked. Glenville State's radical offense left opponents chasing their tails and gasping for air. His revamped squad started rising up the ranks, and finally won the first of four league titles in just his fourth season. For good measure, they also won the Division II national championship.
As an offensive coordinator, Rodriguez worked the same magic for Tulane and Clemson before becoming the head coach at his alma mater in 2001—where he did it again, taking a 3-8 squad his first year and transforming them into a national contender.
Coach Rodriguez's invention, the spread offense, the very scheme that was once considered the last resort for desperate Division II teams, has now taken over the college game. You might argue it's worked too well, because many of the teams Michigan faces every year now employ Rodriguez's stratagem—and it works for them, too.
This season has tested Rodriguez in every way imaginable, on and off the field. After Michigan's 48-42 loss to Purdue left the hopes of a winning record—and with it, a bowl game—in the dust, Rodriguez faced one of the greatest challenges of his career. How do you motivate a team to keep playing hard the remaining three games of the season when you have virtually nothing to play for? It was a new problem for a Michigan coach.
When he addressed the team the night before the Minnesota game, he said, "You seniors can make a statement about your careers in the last three games, and you freshmen can make a statement about the future. Like the movie says, we need to get busy living, or get busy dying."
Instead of packing it in, the Wolverines packed a punch, dominating heavily favored Minnesota 29-6, to keep the Brown Jug, their confidence up and their hopes alive for the games—and the seasons—ahead. It's difficult to remember a Michigan team so happy to hoist the Jug.
"People say it's harder to be at the top than the bottom," he says. "But I guarantee you, anyone who says that has never been at the bottom.
"We're going to get there. It won't be tomorrow, and it won't be easy, but we're going to get there." "
Oh, UCLA, Michigan cant seem to quit you. Just when you're off the schedule, you reappear as an opponent in this pre-conference tournament. Luckily, the Bruins survived a spirited effort out of Miami Ohio last week to advance to tonight's semifinal game against Michigan.
Previously, the teams had played for six straight seasons, but that series ended last year. The first couple of years of this head to head worked out well for Michigan as they notched wins over the Bruins. Of course, those were the final two years of the Stevie Lavin era. Since BEN Howland took over, things have bee much different in this series. The Bruins won and covered each of the final four meetings, at times dominating the Michigan squad. Remarkably, as recently as 2005, Michigan was favered by seven points to win in this matchup. Since then, UCLA has played in three Final Fours. Michigan, meanwhile, uh, has not. Tonight, the Bruins are favored by 12 points.
Michigan advanced to this game with a pair of smooth wins over Michigan Tech and Northeastern. The Wolverines played good D, shot the ball reasonably well and Manny Harris showed All-American potential in those games. That was nice. Step forward and take a bow. Now, forget about it. The next two nights, the competition takes a major step up with the Bruins tonight and either Duke or Southern Illinois tomorrow.
It begs the question of not only how will Michigan perform, but what should Michigan fans' expectations be for their squad during the rest of this tournament?
A third place finish--meaning a win tomorrow night--would set the bar a little bit higher for UM this season. If they can get out of this foursome with one win, considering the other three squads are perennial tournament teams and each season rank among the best defensively in the country, it would signal a tougher Michigan squad than what they've shown in recent years. It could set them up for a run at the upper half of a pretty watered down Big 10.
Its hard to see Michigan getting by UCLA tonight. I would be happy just to see Michigan compete, give the Bruins a run for their money and cover the spread.
You have to wonder how Michigan is going to score against UCLA tonight. In the last three matchups with the Bruins, Michigan has averaged just 56.6 ppg and shot a combined 38.9% from the field. While the operation looked smooth last week, no secondary scorer emerged after Harris. The Bruins specialize in taking out the other team's best guy and making others beat them. Dont expect that scorer to emerge tonight against the stingy Bruins who have been ranked in the top-10 nationally in scoring D each year during their Final Four run. Can Harris overcome the Bruin D? Can he score 30 tonight? More importanly perhaps, is can he score the ball tonight with efficiency and help set up his teammates?
The Bruins counter with Darren Collison at point guard. Its unclear how much Harris and Collison will match up head to head, but you have two of the best guards in the country tonight. That alone will make this quality viewing. If Collison stands out over Harris, this will be a blowout. If Harris has the upper hand, then Michigan might be in the ball game the whole way through.
Overall, the jury is out on this year's UCLA team. They are not as talented and fine tuned as other Howland squads. Other than Collison and Josh Shipp, they are relying on a lot of freshmen. And, while its a great freshmen class, they looked out of sorts in their game with Miami last week. Miami is a tough team to play. They play in your shorts D and have a goofy, half court style of O, that always seems to surprise the big name out of conference foes. Collison and Shipp starred against Miami, but they needed every bit they got out of them to advance. The rest of the club, however, shot less than 40 percent against Miami. If Michigan can keep the ball out of Collison's hands, the Wolverines can probably thwart the young Bruins with their 1-3-1 defense. Of course, keeping the ball out of Collison's hands is a lot easier said than done.
Beyond the win-loss expectation, I think there is an intangible element of success or failure that hangs in the air the next two nights for the Michigan basketball program. Can they come out of these two games with their confidence intact? Even if they go 0-2, do they do it in close affairs, or, under the pressure of some of the best D they'll face all year, do they wilt and get blown out?
Lets assume they go to the consolation game and play SIU tomorrow. The Salukis are a great program coming off a down season. Despite that, Chris Lowery's crew was right up there with UCLA in most defensive categories last year. If you can score 60 or more against the Egyptian Dogs, then you are doing better than most. In a span of 24 hours, Michigan will be playing a pair of teams that have the best defensive systems in the country. For a team that has no consistent secondary scoring, it could get ugly.
Aesthetics may be as important as the actual scoreboard results for Michigan the next two nights. Last year, the team came out looking OK, but then struggled mightily against some cupcakes. The team never recovered their confidence until late February. By that point, any possible postseason berth was off the table. UCLA and then Duke/SIU can destroy this team's confidence. Would anybody be totally shocked if Michigan failed to score a combined 100 points the next two nights? Disappointed, yes. But, totally out of left field shocked? No.
The next two nights are not as much about wins and losses for Michigan. Its about can they stand up and play against some of the winningest programs of the decade? Its about can their offensive system manage enough efficiency against some of the best defenses they will face all year? Its about role players like David Merrit, who was a surprisingly steady force in the opening games last week, not being so overwhelmed by the step up in competition that his confidence does not get so shattered. If the team goes 1-1 or loses a pair of competitive games, then feel free to raise your expectations a little. If the team loses its dignity and the coaches have to spend time rebuilding their spirits, then keep your expectations down until further notice.
Enough of what I think. What about you guys? Are you interested at all in these games? What do you expect out of UM in these games? In your mind,what would be a succesful weekend for the hoops team?
- That didn't score a TD in 3 games this year(2 games @ home)
- Including Purdue @ home....c'mon seriously???
- Trailed after 3 quarters to Ohio U @ home
- Only led Troy by 4 points after 3 quarters @ home
- Starts a freshmen QB who fumbled away the Penn St game @home
- Passed for 70 yards against Minnesota @ home
- Rushed for only 61 yards against Penn St. @ home
Many columnists, tv personalities, and even people on this blog are eager to point out UM's deficiencies but no one is talking about the fact that OSU also has some issues. Ahhhh how they're all are so quick to gloss over those above points when considering what will happen this Saturday.
Everyone speculates about the manner in which UM is going to lose instead of what UM can do to win. I'm not naive enough to think UM will win by 20 points but I don't think OSU will either. Why is it so hard to believe that UM might actually have a chance to keep this game close and win?
If you take the averages against the 7 common opponents UM & OSU have played the #'s aren't as lopsided as you might think. (Yes I understand there are many variables before you comment). Wouldn't most of you assume that OSU would have a larger advantage over UM in these categories against common opponents?
UM averages 24 points per game, 164 rush yds, 145 pass yds which amounts to 309 yds per game and just over 2 TO per game
OSU averages 28 points per game, 203 rush yds, 128 pass yds which amounts to 331 yds per game and only 1 TO per game