at least it's not just us?
100% worst thing ever
Where the great plains begin. It will not be news to anyone that Ernie Harwell died yesterday. I'm sure most have youtubed a tribute or three in the aftermath; there are plenty. A year-long bout with cancer gives people time to prepare. I think the best, tribute, though, was an improptu one: Dan Dickerson relaying the news on the radio. Clearly heartbroken, Dickerson provides a few seconds of dead air, then gets out a few tear-stained words before managing to interject "Hudson takes a pitch high." Jim Price hops in at this point and the two talk about Harwell as Hudson takes a five-pitch walk. That's baseball.
Here's some of Harwell in his own words:
Chicago, my nemesis, we meet again. After standing outside Hugging Harold Reynold's room with a boombox for months they've finally relented and allowed me to be on one of the panels at Blogs With Balls 3.0. The title of our panel is "Democratizing Sports Media: How Blogging Players, Fans & Leagues Are Changing the Game," and like a good engineer I'll be frantically attempting to make that less vague over email in the next month. Joining me will be Henry Abbott of True Hoop fame, Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo's Big League Stew, Valli Hilaire of The Fast and The Fabulous, which is not New York's gay and lesbian bike club even if Google thinks it is but rather a NASCAR blog, and Robert Littal of Black Sports Online.
Some cursory googling reveals that Littal is an Ohio State grad and Kaduk went to Wisconsin and roots for Notre Dame, so if things get boring I we'll just have a triple threat match for bragging rights. If you want to witness rough country justice firsthand, you can get tickets. They're 50 bucks off until May 15th.
Zoltan, one last time. I read a lot of other college football blogs, so I state this with authority: we are living through a golden age in Michigan-football-related bizarre Youtube projects. There is not a school on the planet that can compete with Mike Cox getting it YGM style, Coner 2000 dropping mad rhymes (THAT'S FEBREZE PEOPLE) or killing some rich guy, Jack Kennedy auditioning for American Idol, O'Neill Depriest Swanson III pumping Vitamin Water, and Zoltan Mesko burning Meijer so hard:
Yea, truly we are the leaders and best.
JT Floyd would like to make cliches. Sometimes I feel deeply for beatwriters. This is one of those times:
J.T. Floyd’s motto as cornerback is simple.
“Make plays,” Floyd said last month after the Michigan football team's spring game. “That’s all you got to do to be successful out here.”
It's May. Football isn't until August. And you've got to publish something, so you grab an old quote in which a football player says "making plays" is the key to success. That article does have a couple encouraging quotes from teammates and coaches on Floyd, but… man. It's rough out there in May.
“It wasn’t my best year, obviously,” Ezeh said after the Wolverines’ April 17 spring game. “That’s in the past and try to move on and build a better future. I got to prove to people that last year was kind of a fluke and this is the (real) Obi.”
So there's that. Good luck in June, everyone.
Fightin' with facts. I don't believe I've mentioned the strange entity that is College Hockey, Inc. in this space, so here goes: USA Hockey finally got the same sort of giant developmental payment that the NHL has been forking over to the CHL for years. They spend some on the NTDP, some on the USHL, and some forming what can only be described as a propaganda organization called College Hockey, Inc. Its head is Paul Kelly and he's spent the year wandering around the country, advocating college hockey and pointing out that unless you're Patrick Kane the CHL is a rube's game. Kelly:
Our most important mission is to be an education and information resource to elite young players and their families on the many benefits of playing college hockey and why, if they're good enough and faced with the option to play for one of the junior teams in Canada or an NCAA Division I program, the option to play NCAA hockey is in most instances, the smarter and better course of action.
I love that there is an organization that causes CHL teams to complain about being "unfairly targeted" for pointing out relative graduation rates. Targeted, yes. Unfair… not so much.
Kelly also talks about future expansion of the USHL to a whopping 24 teams—Muskegon's picking one up this fall—and possible new markets for the college game. The great white sasquatch of the Big Ten is broached:
FTR: Penn State has been kicking that arena idea around for awhile now, and they also have a very good club program. Could they be next?
Kelly: They have been talking about the arena project and if you could ever get one other school from the Big Ten, you could create a Big Ten Hockey Conference. We'd have to shuffle the deck a bit, and reconfigure the WCHA and CCHA a bit.
I don't know how realistic any of these candidates are but if Penn State adds hockey I can't imagine it won't be at least revenue-neutral, especially if the Big Ten Network gets involved. Unfortunately, Title IX means a revenue-neutral men's sport can't be added without a women's sport that will be a money pit, and the economy and etc.
Kelly also suggests an Alaska-like exemption to keep Huntsville viable, something that I support.
Politics exception. There is one exception I will make to the otherwise iron-clad no politics law: copyright law is broken and stupid. Latest example is Google allowing the Downfall parodies to get yanked off Youtube when they could not be clearer instances of fair use. The precedent is worrying to me since I regularly post small snippets of a larger product I do not own for transformative purposes—ie, I employ fair use extensively. Here Google has failed to not be evil.
Etc.: I showed up on a podcast at Bucknuts. Warning: it looks like you have to register (but not subscribe) to get access to it. Also they make me state my opinion of Tressel, which I regret to inform you is respectful. Thus you are warned doubly. The hockey media's treatment of Alexander Ovechkin in the aftermath of the Caps' unceremonious first-round ouster is laughably inaccurate and totally predictable.
He emerged from a local ten-year-old's He-Man rerun last Wednesday and is in the midst of a series of hilarious foibles in which he adapts to the modern world. He will master his strength, get the girl, and go to college. There will be a short-lived spinoff show at Purdue, Louisville, Tennessee, or another place that looks kindly on men wielding swords longer than themselves.
No, Michigan is not involved, but who cares? Carvajal's hair should be in the running for Name of the Year.
Good work there. You know that vandalism that took place in Michigan Stadium? Yeah…
It's not exactly earth-shattering. The turf should be fixed for the spring game, at which point it's getting replaced anyway. It did give Orson a chance to continue his campaign against the area media, at least.
Guh. 96 team NCAA tournament reaches DEFCON 2:
"I said from Day 1 that I would support the decision that came out of the (NCAA's) Board of Directors, which ostensibly is linked back to the presidents (in) the conferences," Delany said. "And if that's where it ends up, I support that."
Asked how he expects the expansion issue to play out, he said, "It's probable."
Won't someone think about the children? Is anyone going to care about any first round game at this point? What is the point of folding the NIT into the NCAA tournament? What is the NCAA's problem with a reasonable playoff field in either basketball or football? Is this the most roundly-despised inevitable idea in history?
The latest from spring. Inside Michigan Football translated into a non-browser-crippling format by anonymous heroes of the internet:
Maybe? No. But you keep waving your gums around. Jack Swarbrick had to open his mouth about conference affiliation. Hubbub ensued, and I pretty much dismissed it. But he keeps talking about it and every time he drops something it seems slightly more plausible than before. The latest tiny step towards plausibility comes from a KC Star article in which the Notre Dame AD elaborates on his previous comments:
“The traditional model, where a conference had a fixed fee media rights deal, if you added somebody you sliced the pie a little thinner,” Swarbrick said. “When you’re dealing with equity in a network ... it’s a situation we haven’t had before.”
At this rate he will elaborate ND right into the Big Ten by the 23rd century. He also said stuff about the Big East being an "extraordinary" partner and so forth and so on. I peg the chances of ND joining the Big Ten in the near future at 1.5%, up from 1%. Points to Mike Dearmond, the author, for deploying "tizzy" in his article.
The worst Final Four ever… and Butler. I guess it would have been more frustrating if Ekpe Udoh and Baylor had made it, but Michigan State, West Virginia, and Duke suck pretty hard because they are Michigan's primary rival, the school that Michigan yoinked its current coach from, and Duke.
Here's where I point out that Udoh's coach hired John Wall's AAU coach in the hopes of landing him and falls on the Calipari end of the dirtiness scale.
Etc.: UMHoops scouts Cody Zeller and Yogi Farrell. Georgia president Michael Adams is the guy who attempted to kill the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" nickname and appears to be spectacularly corrupt to boot. Naturally, the NCAA is considering him in their search to find Myles Brand's replacement.
SOMEONE HIRED TIM FLOYD. IT MAKES A GREGG DOYEL COLUMN LOOK SANE. RUN.
3/28/2010 – Michigan 5, Bemidji State 1 – 26-17-1
3/29/2010 – Michigan 2, Miami 3 (2 OT) – 26-18-1, season over
Indiana's state motto is "The Crossroads of America," which promises nothing more than the ability to leave it. As you do so the towns radiating northward from Fort Wayne on I-69 have ill-omened names like Angola and Waterloo and make you wish you had a heinous ex-girlfriend named Ashley or a bone to pick with Auburn, color or university, doesn't matter. There, the flat American expanse of a pitch-black highway makes prime brooding habitat. Nearby zings of color and denuded trees that make their presence known by obscuring something flashing red in the distance provide momentary focal points that slip past, their steady movement drawing the primitive sections of your intelligence and slightly distracting you from the reason you're staring grimly at a Big Lots that closed hours ago. The recent past recedes at 80 miles an hour, except five miles into Michigan where there is a cop. Fragments of your heart throw ropy pseudopods to each other and pull, slower than that. But steady.
Because 1997-98 was the year my teams had fantastic success and I had idiotic ideas, the first two Michigan hockey games I saw were a 4-0 win over New Hampshire in a national semifinal and a national championship game featuring an overtime winner from Josh Langfeld. I thought it was pretty cool, but that was all. I'd meant to get season tickets but it had slipped my mind. That year I also watched the Rose Bowl at my then-girlfriend's house. At one point her mom mentioned a Washington State touchdown would win her a quarter in squares. The GF and a mutual friend sort of tittered in a corner about things unrelated to the game. I was just a freshman. I'd go to a Rose Bowl later.
The next year I took up a residence in the Yost student section that ended only this year, six seasons after I graduated for the second and final time. Every season since there has been that crushing moment when the puck goes in the wrong goal and it's all over. Though it's hard to distinguish between levels of terror emanating from the reptilian sections of your brain, it seems to me these days the most knee-buckling moments of the sporting year come when the hockey team is playing in the NCAA tournament.
There's something different there. Each football season defines itself, and by the end it usually seems you got approximately what you deserve. A single-elimination hockey tournament after 40 games is the closest sports comes to Russian roulette. In hockey, the way you die is always a thunderbolt. And so I think the most painful part of every sports year for me is that horrible instant when the red light goes on and your whole self just deflates. I keep thinking the word "crushing," unrelated to anything else. Just an adjective, floating on the mile markers.
But the alternative to knee-buckling terror was just to not be here at all, for March to be a unbroken expanse of asphalt in the middle of nowhere. To get here is something after a 10-10 start and that ignominious road sweep at UNO that ended any hope of an at-large bid or even a bye in the CCHA tourney. I had been planning a series on what went so horribly wrong with the three major sports and was just waiting for hockey to make an undignified exit, probably at the hands of Michigan State, before embarking on it. They were just another flailing team caught in Michigan's winter of discontent, no different from a football team that can't punch it in from the one against Illinois or a basketball team that can't even turn a top-15 preseason ranking into an NIT bid.
As Michigan walked into Munn three weeks ago all 2009-10 offered was the same thing Indiana does: eventually, it ends. Now, at least, there is some redemption and schadenfreude and plain old inspiring victory, things Michigan fans needed reminding about. When it comes to the history books, this team will be one that picked itself up off the mat without its captain and starting goalie and was a heartbeat away from a Frozen Four. As it is, they picked up a banner and extended Michigan's tournament streak to twenty years.
By the end, they were Michigan hockey again. After fading badly towards the end of the third period they found their legs and terrorized Miami in overtime, launching twenty (official) shots to their six. They were struck down by bloody fortune and did not deserve their fate. They are like their compatriots before them, and will be remembered for a heroic stand. They died like Vikings.
Fifteen minutes past Angola, Indiana keeps its promise and releases you. Here, too, ends this year. Now we bury it and move on with some little hope thanks to a tiny goaltender and some feverish backchecking that point towards better days.
Obviously, this John Gravallese guy robbed Michigan of the game thanks to his galaxy-spanning incompetence. The irony of waving off a Michigan goal because you called a high-sticking penalty when 1) it's overtime and you aren't calling anything short of attempted murder and 2) amongst the zillion calls you missed in regulation were two blindingly obvious high sticking calls perpetrated by Michigan players—we clearly heard both in row 18—is head-exploding. For the wave-off to occur because you "lost sight of the puck" when zero players on the ice are reacting like the goalie has it—the goalie wasn't even down—after you allowed a Miami goal that Hunwick had pinned under his pad for a second or two is just despair inducing. At that moment my righteous anger broke and I awaited the inevitable end.
The reaction of a potentially apocryphal HE ref who knows this guy has appeared on the message board: "it happens" To which I say: look at Shawn Hunwick above and say that. "It happens" is the reaction of a failure of a person. As WolverineBoston puts it: "refs aren't humans." During the interminable replay that we knew was pointless, and the interminable (and totally impermissible) replay following that to determine whether a faceoff should be in Miami's zone or the neutral zone, we joked that they were making the refs watch the goal over and over again so they'd feel terrible. But I bet Gravallese doesn't even care.
I mentioned this after the Bemidji game, but it would be one thing if this guy was making a mockery of hockey in a the dispassionate manner of a badly malfunctioning robot. It's entirely another for him to make every call as if he is using the Hammer Of Thor to Dispense Justice To Wrongdoers. His children secretly hate him.
If you need the rule, it's been dug up here. Maybe they should change it to something less ambiguous, like getting the puck out of your zone if the opponent brings it in. No one really cares if a play is accidentally blown dead at center ice, but the ambiguity of what counts for possession is can be disastrous in the attacking zone. Forcing the team that took the penalty to clear the zone is 100% clear.
- Did we miss Ariel Bond taking a season-defining photo of the football team? She nailed the basketball season and that item above just about obviates the need for me to put all these words beneath it.
- I liked Fort Wayne's arena a lot but if they're going to have future NCAA tournaments there they need to make a change. Unlike every arena I've ever been to, at Fort Wayne the benches are on the same side of the red line, which means when one team has a short change the other has a long one. (Michigan State has benches on the opposite sides of the ice but they're also on opposite sides of the red line.) The home team gets two short and one long; the road team two long and one short. Okay, I guess, not really anything you can do about it and the higher seed did earn that privilege. But once you get to overtime you need to start alternating. Michigan was facing a long change for four of five periods in that game.
- It's not like Robbie Czarnik was great or anything while at Michigan, but seeing Jeff Rohrkemper limited to three or four shifts after the first period made me pine for a guy Michigan could throw out there as a functional fourth-line forward. After a couple early shifts from the fourth line that went poorly, Michigan abandoned them entirely in favor of occasional shifts from Scooter to give someone on the top three lines a breather; Winnett saw a shift here and there at even strength and played his usual inexplicable amount on special teams. They would have been better off dressing Moffie if that's as much as they were going to play Rohrkemper. (By the way, Czarnik is currently averaging over a PPG at Plymouth, further evidence that there's a considerable gap between NCAA and CHL hockey. Every Michigan player to leave for the CHL has seen his scoring explode as the competition level deflates. My favorite example is Jason Bailey, who had a 0-0-0 and was -11 in 19 games at M his sophomore year and scored half a PPG in 70 OHL games.)
- Shawn Hunwick finished the year 8-3 with a 1.82 GAA and a .918 save percentage against a tougher than average schedule, and late in his audition that was not an effect of his team shielding him from any and all scoring chances. The goalie competition is on for next year, and I'm guessing they'll add a freshman they can redshirt if they can find a guy they like.
- I actually screamed out "CARL" at one point in the overtime. I never use first names. I think I have a problem.
- The open thread on the game logged 1271 posts and 24k views; I am 100% positive the first is a record for MGoBlog 3.0.
- More on individuals a bit later; I'll take a look at next year soon.
If you're looking for some punishment, the Daily has comprehensive coverage with a game story, column suggesting that the team's late-season run is something to hold on to, a piece on the missed(-ish) opportunities in the first overtime that spelled doom, and a piece on the "questionable, disappointing" no-goal call. Too bad they misspelled "outrageous" and "soul-crushing." Also there is a flickr set.
*(not a typo, and no, I'm not apologizing)
Your humble author at around 8PM on Wednesday
So, right. I didn't want to harsh the hockey buzz earlier and mention it then, but I will mention it now: Spirit Airlines sucks. I waited long enough that I am no longer a spittle-flecked FFFFFFUUUUUU-bot about the whole thing and can now relate to you my story without having it devolve into fantasies where I chop off their heads. Instead I will rationally explain to you why Spirit Air is an exceptionally bad choice for anyone looking to use a plane to change their location.
Event #1: I am flying to New York for Blogs With Balls 1.0, the first ever sportsblogger convention-type substance. Due to crazy weather things, the flight is cancelled. Okay, fine, out of their control. I am then told that I can get on the next available flight. The flight is on Sunday. It is Thursday. BWB is on Saturday. I am attempting to get to New York City, which is a large and notable place with no fewer than three major airports if you count Newark.
It turns out I cannot explode the heads of people who are talking to me on the phone. I cancel. I do manage to Priceline a flight for less than one zillion dollars, but I have to get up at 4 AM to catch it. That day is fun.
Event #2: I purchase tickets to head out to Las Vegas for the NCAA tournament's opening weekend in order to see my friend who moved to Nowhere, Arizona, and spends the first weekend of the NCAA tournament running around like one of those little dogs whose blood is 90% cocaine. Because MGoSignificantOther has to TA classes, we have a tight window. It only makes sense to fly out Wednesday night and come back Sunday and unfortunately in that window Spirit is about 300 bucks cheaper than the alternatives. I grit my teeth and buy.
When we arrive at the airport more than an hour before the flight, our boarding passes have no seats. I know this is very bad. It turns out they have oversold the flight by a whopping six people and we are all totally screwed. We are given the option to fly out later… 24 hours later. This totally destroys the sense in going. We cancel. Spirit offers us exactly nothing in compensation.
I FFFFFFUUUUUUU my way out of the airport and fall into a funk that only magically delicious Shawn Hunwick can cure.
A Totally Non Spittle-Flecked Reason You Should Avoid Spirit
I have been caught in the throes of airline fiascoes a few times before, and have been pissed off. But in those instances the delays have been on the order of hours because other airlines have reciprocal agreements where they will reduce FFFUUUU as much as possible by letting you on their flights.
Spirit does not have these agreements—my Priceline flight is proof of that—and if anything goes wrong with your flight, or you are one of the unfortunate folk who Spirit says "psyche!" to when you say "you sold me a ticket", you will be waiting at least a full day and possibly up to, like, forever, before you can actually get on a plane. If getting somewhere at a particular time is important, avoid Spirit Air at all costs. If you have a wedding or a holiday or a space ninja convention or have made any plans whatsoever, Spirit Air is a terrible choice.
I understand that sometimes the flight is going to be ridiculously cheaper and you'll want to roll the dice, but trust me: if it's anywhere under a couple hundred bucks—which most of them are—they'll extract most of that from you in hidden fees for booking a seat or checking luggage or breathing funny and you'll be exposing yourself to greatly increased risk that your plans will just evaporate.
Also, when you try to email them you will have to jump through sixteen hoops to do so and then you will be all FFFFUUUU again when you send them a link to your post.
A Side Note
Is there any other industry that will promise you something, take hundreds or thousands of dollars from you, and then say "sorry, we were just kidding?" I can hardly believe this "oversold" bullcrap is legal. Two would be one thing, but six? Seriously?
Obligatory Planes, Trains, And Automobiles Embed
The most NSFW 53 seconds that does not involve nudity can be:
For the record, I did not do this. For the first time in my life I did pull the "DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO?!?" card, though. They did not.
I'm sure we all agree on a few things around here. To wit: USA #1. Love it or leave it. What makes America great, though? I think we'll all agree on this too: America derives 90% of its strength the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It's a fact. I read it on Bleacher Report. (The other ten percent comes from engineers on H1B visas.)
I was having a conversation with War Blog Eagle proprietor and NCAA tournament fanatic Jerry Hinnen yesterday in which we discussed the various and sundry ways in which expanding the NCAA tournament to 96 teams was an Al Qaeda plot to ruin America. In this conversation, Jerry expressed a hope that the "done deal" post Sports By Brooks threw up was a diabolical trial balloon to gauge reaction. It is then the patriotic duty of everyone with a platform via which to react to react.
This has been everyone's reaction. I haven't seen or heard one person, even in the depths of the contrarian internet or the murky fog of sports talk radio—where one guy suggested that Brandon Graham was a "second or third rounder" yesterday—who thinks the idea of expanding the NCAA tournament is anything other than evil. (I just found some on the Google now, which only goes to show that the Murray Chass was right about everything.) Some guy tweeted that the mere consideration of 96 teams is a harsh blow to this site's pet playoff proposal because it suggests the people in charge of things are soulless mercenaries who care about nothing but short-term dollars. It's hard to disagree.
Where are the crotchety old men? Rose Bowl curmudgeons, where are you in our hour of need? Oh. USA Today. Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, formerly the WTA commissioner:
"In professional tennis," he says, "the temptation to increase playing opportunities and go for the short-term economic value in adding tournaments led to significant dilution of value long term and other problematic side effects for the sport. One day, you wake up and realize that, while each expansion decision sounded good at the time, you have lost what was once so special. Once you go down that route, it's exceedingly difficult to put the genie back in the bottle."
Big Ten commissioner and college football playoff bete noire Jim Delany:
"I think nobody would disagree that the 65-team, three-week event … has worked," says Delany, a former chairman of the NCAA committee that runs the men's tournament. "You have David vs. Goliath. You have all sorts of internal story lines year in and year out. It's compelling. It's one of the great sports properties in the world.
"I have no problem with looking at expansion, whether it's small or big. I only say that issue is one that must be managed openly and transparently, (and) I have concerns that it's not." …
"We know, in the first round, you have a lot of David and Goliath (matchups)," Delany says. "What happens when it becomes largely David vs. David?"
What say you now, Orson, that it's Jim Delany taking up cape and shield to defend the nation from enemies within?
Finally, the Onion:
America #1. Love it or leave it. That means get out, men pushing for 96 team tournament. Get out.
1/26/2010 – Michigan 56, Michigan State 57 – 10-10, 3-5 Big Ten
Compelled to chip in on that occurrence. Thunder not meant to spoil. Zack Novak versus Kalin Lucas mandatory representation of last night's game.
I spent like 20 minutes looking for this because South Park Studios doesn't let you start clips at arbitrary points. But it was worth it. I present last night:
It's not like a win would have done much except make it more likely Michigan gets to .500 and therefore snags an NIT bid, but the basketball program fell into the state where Beat Rival is your season long ago. It would have been some vague redemption for this cursed year. It wasn't, obviously, because that's just the way 09-10 works. When it's all over I'll burn something in commemoration. Possibly the world.
Warn't a foul. Or rather it probably was but it was never going to to get called. (See Tim's post for the image getting passed around.) Sims pushed off to get open and fouled the State player about as much as he got fouled anyway. Still almost went down.
1-3-1… bzzt. When Beilein went into the 1-3-1 on the last possession I thought that was a mistake. The 1-3-1 is an extremely high pressure defense that offers up a lot of easy two-point looks. You're up one and playing a team that doesn't have a lot of shooters or take a lot of threes. If you're going to go into a zone it should be a post-packing one that tends to allow open looks from three, like the 2-3 Michigan has played infrequently. Also, the last time Michigan went to the 1-3-1 MSU sliced it open for a layup and a foul.
MSU didn't get a great shot but it was an open one from reasonable distance.
Start carrying razors. It's too bad that Laval Lucas-Perry doesn't have enough grit to bleed like a hemophiliac after getting elbowed in the nose, because other than the pool of blood that foul he took was a carbon copy of the one that got Manny Harris ejected last year. It would have been equally outrageous if Kalin Lucas had gotten the boot, of course, but shouldn't it have at least been a flagrant? You can give someone a flagrant without ejecting them and that elbow was face level. LLP did not have his face in the Kramer position where he just begs you to turn his cartilage into soup.
Paging the ghost of Gavin Groninger. It is ugly when you bring in a guy who can do exactly one thing and that guy can't do the thing. This is Stu Douglass, who's got an eFG% of 43.9 with a 15.6 usage rate. He's making 34% of his twos and 31% of his threes. I still think he's the best passer on the team and would be useful if he could hit the broad side of a barn with a nuclear bomb. It doesn't look like he can. Maybe he's just not getting many good looks? Last year he was only 33% from three, though. There's a lot of evidence that he's just not the shooter he needs to be.
Novak's kind of in the same boat—his 3PT% is an ugly 29%—but brings more Eckstein with him. Thanks to his relatively frequent rebounds his 2PT% is a healthy 54%.
Roster management. It's not Beilein's fault that Robin Benzing got stuck in Germany one year before the NCAA passed legislation to make kids like him—amateurs who have played on pro teams—eligible or that Ben Cronin's hip imploded, but not getting a big with any ability to play this year is a major failing. If Jordan Morgan could play at all yet he would be out there, missed practice time from his injury or not. Same with Blake McLimans. Beilein has a lot of guys who develop over the course of their careers; the team really needed someone to contribute right away.
Also, I know Kelvin Grady was not very good defensively, but he did make 36% of his threes last year—second on the team to CJ Lee—and would be useful. Were extreme amounts of pine that influenced him to take up football necessary? Would Grady have stayed if Beilein suggested he stick with it?
Manny. It's annoying but it's accurate to append the "…being Manny," isn't it? He's indisputably the best player on the team. Without him the Purdue game was a writeoff. He scored sixteen points, led the team in assists, and had five steals.
But holy crap: he's a 28% three-point shooter this year. Last year he was a 32% shooter. So why is he taking three contested three-pointers on which he does nothing except hold the ball and jack it up? He did the same thing at the end of the Alabama game this year, too. He just jacks up shots he has no business taking. It's one thing if he gets an open look—he was one of two on those—but to just hold the ball and then launch a bad shot without even attempting to run the offense is supremely lazy. Michigan probably converts at least one of those possessions otherwise, which is slightly important in a one-point game. I find him really frustrating.
Kenpom oddity. Michigan is now 58th in the Kenpom rankings, hardly off their pace from last year when they were 50th.
How this? Well, Kenpom also has a "luck" measure, which is basically the difference between your record and what Kenpom would expect your record to be given your performance. This year Michigan is 337th of 347 in this metric. Last year they were 131st, which is slightly above average. Related UMHoops tweet:
If my calculations are correct. Michigan is 2-6 in games that are within 4 pts in the final 2 minutes.
One more way in which this year is like having tiny gremlins stretch your scrotum across two counties.