and... i like them? I think I like them.
So the Pistons unveiled their new "alternate" jersey today. Pretty boring if you ask me. Maybe the Pistons would be a great candidate for UNIFORMZ?
So, we are in the stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, with 75,000 other fans. I look for my Atlanta friend, but the seats she was in Saturday are empty. I text her, still outside fighting the crowd to get in.
Now we find our seats, in the upper deck, corner, about halfway up.
However, the view through the binoculars is perfect, taking in the whole court. A friend who was there Saturday had told me the sight lines were better than the United Center, where the Bulls play.
I look to my daughter and say I can't believe we made the title game. She says: “I can't believe I'm here!” with a big, parent satisfying grin.
And it is all over twitter that Webber is at the game. Just to continue to make it all about him, though, he does not sit with his four teammates. As my daughter says, whatever.
It seems there are more Louisville fans in the crowd, judging by wearing apparel. Not all of our fans wear maize, of course, but it seems that more than half the throng is wearing red.
The Louisville end zone is in front of us; ours at the opposite end. Our students act as they did at home games, standing througout, crowding to the court, so that the last few rows of seats were empty during the first half.
I am told the half-time performing bands used them for the second half.
Our noise making leads the elderly Kansas fans next to us to note that Michigan fans are really serious.
My great fear, the zebras, appears to materialize as Burke picks up two quick fouls, the second yet to be seen by anyone else. I feel impending doom. Disaster. A Louisville blowout.
Bad calls are made on both teams. When you can see a mid-court foul from my seat, without binoculars, it is impossible to conclude that the officials all missed it. That one would have been on Hardaway.
A friend texts that he does not think that the referees are in good enough shape to keep up with the players, so that they can be in position to actually see the game they are calling.
You could not disprove that theory by what I am seeing.
So, Burke sits. Spike shoots. And scores. And shoots and scores and shoots and scores and, you saw the game.
I raise my hands to the heavens like Ecstasy Guy. Yes, it is our destiny, clearly, nothing can stop us!
The half winds down. I figure we need to be ahead by at least ten.
Woops. The entire lead evaporates in a rain of Louisville threes. We just barely get back on top as the half ends.
The vibes are bad again. I remember leading Indiana in the 76 game at the half, still tied with ten minutes left, and, the end, losing by double digits.
I find my friend at halftime, take a picture, have a short visit. Her son is sitting in a different spot. I am sorry to miss him, a 16 year old survivor of Ewing's sarcoma, a virulent form of cancer.
The second half begins.
It is a battle of two heavyweights, exhanging blows, no quarter asked, none given.
I keep thinking Louisville will pull away, but they do not.
Then the play of the year, the Burke block at the far end of the court. Looked good to me live. Looked better on the replay.
The advantage of attending sporting events live is that you can look where you want. You are not bound by the director mandating shots of players' parents in the crowd.
I watch Burke, wander alone to the corner, looking away from the court.
He is pissed, I tell my daughter.
And rightly so. But he composes himself, and plays out the game, to the best of his ability.
As did all the players, on both teams. And the coaches.
I cannot remember another championship game like this, in any sport. No one ever seized the momentum and ran with it. Neither team was able to work its will on the other.
Disappointing result? Of course. It was meant to be. That is how I handle such things after decades of the ups and, more frequent, downs, cheering on the Maize and Blue.
Bad officiating? Blatantly, but that does not mean a perfectly called game would have mandated a different result.
With 3.9 seconds on the clock, my daughter and I look at each other and get up to leave. She has to punch in at the barn in Lexington in less than 8 hours, and it is 6 hours driving time.
The parking spot works to a charm; we seem to be in the first 15 vehicles leaving the stadium. And the road leads right to the freeway.
Erin is still up front next to me in the passenger seat. I call my friend who texted me to get his impressions from watching on TV.
A magnificent spectacle, he agrees.
The adrenaline is still going, for a while.
I stop for gas and a cappuccino and she takes up residence on the sleeping bags and pillows in the back of the mini-van.
Hmmmm. Maybe I should have pounded some 5 hour energy drinks.
Out of Georgia and back into the curving mountain roads of Tennessee. Which I do not remember. Oh, yeah, I was napping during this part of the trip down.
No lights on these roads either. Usually a semi truck or two is in sight.
Somewhere around 3:30 a.m., I pull off for a power nap.
Erin wakes me up about half an hour later, and off we go again.
After the next gas stop, I have her drive the last hour and a half or so. We are on schedule, and she is fully awake.
I am in the passenger seat and we chat about the hoop programs our our respective alma maters, Kentucky and Michigan.
She says the only player to graduate during Calipari's tenure was a holdover, who had promised his grandmother he would get a degree. He talks at post-game conferences about how some of his guys are not coachable. Well, why the hell should they be? They are just on a one year layover before they go pro. She is familiar with player attendance at classes, and not impressed.
The contrast with our coaching staff could not be more stark.
The team, the team, the team. Michigan Man values. Exposure to these beliefs is the benefit of having taken my girls to UM games since before they could talk.
Sports imitates life. You win some, you lose some. But how do you play the game?
As a parent, how do you get quality time with your kids?
I heartily recommend long road trips to Michigan sporting events.
Having exhausted the topic of basketball, she goes on to tell me her relationship with her bosses, the owners of the huge horse farm, the ladder to advancement, what she wants to do, and how she plans to get there.
This is the reason for my trip. To have that time, to check in on her life, to see how she is really doing.
Her sister lives in Detroit and I am blessed with frequent contact with that wonderful person.
I have not seen Erin since this trip. She will be up here this weekend, August 16.
She pulls in front of her house about 6:15 a.m. I go in to use the bathroom, but my dog allergies drive me back to the van for some sleep. I hear her “Thank you!” as she gets in her car to drive to work.
After some sleep, I drive home, arriving about 3:30 p.m., meaning that, except for 6 hours in Atlanta and pit stops, I have been in the mini-van for about 33 hours.
I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I just found this video and I don't remember seeing it around here, thought it was cool to see him call out plays and lead the team from the very beginning. Watch from 0:30-1:50. I am sure he will shoot much better than 1-19, once he gets used to the pace of the game and has Burks, Hayward, Favors, and Kanter alongside him.
Sorry I can't embed the video...
Looks like this got lost in the midst of Fall Camp starting and all, but Austin Hatch is moving from Fort Wayne to LA to finish his high school career. Hopefully this will help his rehabbing and will get him into game shape in time for his Michigan Career to start.
Best of luck to Austin, he's been through more than most.
The 2013 National Runner-Up Wolverines open up the 13-14 season with the mighty River Hawks of UMass Lowell November 8 inside the friendly confines of our beautiful Crisler Center..
Does anyone else hear Rhapsody in Blue when they use this entrance? Must just be me. Luv u Dave.
The Hawks are making their Division 1 debut representing the America East Conference. Their new coach Pat Duquette has spent most of his career as an assistant under Al Skinner at Boston College, with a recent stint as assistant coach at Northeastern. Duquette recently made waves when he told incoming freshman recruits Jack Sullivan and Tyler Gibson(recruited by former coach Greg Herenda) that "there was no chance of us playing, and that it'd be in our best interest to leave and find somewhere else to go."
Michigan enters the season facing one major question: How do you replace 33 points, 9 assists and two 38% 3 point shooters(Trey and Tim)?
The easy answer comes from the 51 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists and 7 steals Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin bring to the table. Those are high school statistics though. For a guesstimate on how their statistics might drop, lets look at what happened to Trey and Tim’s statistics in their freshman year.
In Trey’s senior year of high school, he averaged 23 points. That dropped to 15 his freshman year at Michigan, or 35%. Trey’s assists dropped by two(29%) and his rebounding actually improved a bit.
For Tim, his points dropped from 32!?! As a high school senior to 14(57%), his assists dropped by two(50%), and his rebounds dropped by 3(43%). Obviously I am ignoring things like strength of schedule, available minutes and recruiting rankings(which yeah, we’re talking about 3stars vs 5 stars) but the moral of the story is that College Basketball is hard. If we’re going to be fair(keeping Walton’s drop proportionalish to Trey’s and Irvin’s to Hardaway) we should probably expect:
6-1 PG Derrick Walton might drop from 26 to 17points(that still feels like a lot for a freshman) 5 rebounds(no way he doesn’t drop down from 8 rebounds at 6ft1) His assists will drop from 10 to maybe 7.
6-6 SG Zak Irvin
might drop from 25 to 11points(yes, that feels low for his recruiting rank) his assists might drop from 3 and change to oneish, and his rebounds might drop from 9 to 5ish(maybe not? Lets err on the side of caution).
That’s probably optimistic on Walton and pessimistic on Irvin(Upton-melting National Championship game aside, I think there will be more minutes for Walton at point guard), but it averages out to 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. That feels right-ish(albeit quick and dirty guesstimation), and really isn’t all that far off from the 33 points and 9 assists we’re trying to replace.
Projecting McGary’s minutes up a tad, we’re looking at 13ish points and 11ish rebounds(up from 8 and 6). Doing the same for Stauskas projects to 13 and 4, GRIII to 13 and 6…Spike(who shot 55% from downtown last year!) and/or Caris(If rumors of his development are true) could easily average double digits…I don’t think it’ll be that difficult to make up those 5ish points. I suspect that Morgan’s minutes will drop some, but if Mitch or GRIII get dinged, I don’t imagine there would be a lot of drop off there. What we’re going to have is a bunch of guys averaging 13ish who are all capable of going off on any given night. But who is going to step up and give us the Trey Burke consistency? Whole lotta candidates, no guarantees.
I’m calling defense a wash. I don’t know that Walton and Irvin are going to be the defenders that Burke and Hardaway were(honestly reports of their defense are a mixed bag) but second year guys like Nik and Spike are only going to improve in this area.
I scoured the internets for interesting facts about the River Hawks, and came up with exactly one: They test baseball bats for MLB. There you are. I do not suggest looking up stats on your own, as their goriverhawks.com sports server seems by all indications to be an Apple II on a 34k modem. You will be treated to several minutes of what appears to be lovely blue boat wake while each screen loads(if it ever does). Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Umass Lowell returns 11 or 12 of 14 players, and 4 of 5 starters from a team that went 15-13 representing the Northeast 10 last year. They didn’t play anyone. Their only loss of note was 6-6 senior forward Matt Welch’s 13pts(9 of them 3pointers at 43%) and 7rebounds. Welch was the only player to throw more up from deep than star player Akeem Williams.
They held opponents to 75.6 points(44%), outscoring them by a blistering .7 points a game. The River Hawks shot a surprisingly respectable 37% from downtown(about 7 makes/game) and held opponents to 35% from deep. Opponents outrebounded them by 3/game last year, which frankly doesn’t bode well for them going up against Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan.
The vaunted River Hawks offense depends heavily on do it all senior combo guard #11 5-10 Akeem Williams(I think he's third from the left holding a basketball as if it were wet paper mache). He scores 20 points/game averaging 35 minutes. Williams shoots 46% from the floor and 40% from deep. He also leads the team in assists and turnovers at around 3 each per game.
NE-10 Baby. All day every day.
He’s pretty good, and will be hellachallenge for whoever has the misfortune of drawing him on defense.
Fortunately there is some drop-off after that. #22 6-5 senior swingman Antonio Bivins adds 16 points and 7 rebounds shooting 55% from the field...which would be pretty good…if it wasn’t against the mighty mighty Northeast 10.
#32 5-10 Junior Guard Chad Holley kicks in 11 points 3 assists and 3 turnovers. He can play the point when they want Williams to focus on scoring…which…who else is gonna do it?
#14 5-9 Graduate Student Greg DeSantis may or may not have elegibility left(it’s a bit of a challenge to get current information). He played 18 minutes and scored 6ish.
Honestly it looks like they kinda brought everybody else into the games in kind of a peewee baseball everybody participates manner
Which sans Walter Matthau rarely seems to work out.
Prediction based on presumed sanity, logic and order in the Universe:
They’ve really just got the one or two Division 1 players. . They lost half of their 3pt production to graduation. They got outrebounded by the Northeast 10, a conference that…Let’s be honest, you’re pretty much giving me the benefit of the doubt that it’s not fictional. If it doesn’t get ugly early I’ll be pretty disappointed.
Michigan 105, UMass Lowell 64
Side note...Can you believe Beiein was rooming with Frank Martin while coaching at the World University Games? Yes, this Frank Martin http://mgoblog.com/diaries/hoops-preview-kansas-state Th
Actual link: http://www.umhoops.com/2013/07/25/john-beilein-learns-new-tricks-at-world-university-games/ They must have done it on a dare(like rooming poor Tim with Appling at the US Under 19's) To be a fly on the wall...