"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Wallpaper by jonvalk.
Kids who were my age in France all grew up with this song Ce Matin, un Lapin… (this morning, a rabbit…) about a hare who turned the tables on a hunter and thus commenced the bunny revolution. The singer is a lady named Chantal Goya who spent years trying to carve out a niche in pop music by being ironically jejune, then found her calling by dropping the irony and singing kids songs on the French Disney Channel.
Kids my age who went to Michigan might remember a band called Tally Hall who have followed a similar career path. In 2005 I earned my Level 5 music cred badge by sharing a booth at a New York bar with the Atlantic Records people while Tally tried out for them. The music folk tossed around fancy adjectives like "jejune" to capture how fresh and cool it was to find a rock band that can occupy the antipode of metal the Beatles brushed with An Octopus's Garden. They signed them, but after one album the label forgot about them and that lapsed into that. Recently my best friend reported via Facebook that his three-year-old is a huge Tally Hall fan.
All this week Michigan fans shared a booth with all the really cool basketball people while they circle-talked themselves into the South Dakota State Jackrabbits as the hipster upset pick and Nate Wolters as the best point guard in the country (though you've probably never heard of him).
Nine minutes into the second half the rabbits were finally starting to lose pace with the Wolverines when Burke and LeVert* went up for a rebound and Wolters ran in to give Trey a 'Wisconsin Special' undercut hip check that sent Michigan's own pretty good guard crashing to the floor. As Burke clutched his head the panic claxons went off in yours. There was no foul (of course), the ball was awarded to the Jackrabbits (of course), and they of course went right down the court and scored.
You could imagine the Disney ending from here, a Cinderella advance amidst the cheers of Spartans in brand new turquoise tees. All it would take was 11 minutes of indifferent D, refs that hate us, threes that clang, twos that shouldn't have been shot, and Spike Albrecht running around with the ball like a mad chicken, to end the career of Michigan's greatest player since _____(?) with the prostrate pose above.
Here's how it really went:
- Stauskas drove hard (NJAS!) to the basket and through hard contact to make a layup and collect a rare and-one, which he made. 52-43.
- Wolters forced to take a long two, missed, rebounded by Albrecht
- Albrecht does his running around thing, gets the ball to Hardaway, TIMMMAYY makes a jumpshot. 54-43.
- Wolters misses a three, Horford MANBALLS the rebound out of another contestant's hands.
- Trey Burke returns, drives inside collecting ALL THE DEFENSE, then kicks out to wide open Hardaway for three, buried. 57-43.
That was enough for the Wolverines to finish off the rascally rabbits, final score 71-56.
As it turns out the audience for simple cutesy catchy formulaic music is little kids, rabbits tend to lose to hunters, and Michigan is better at major sports than those guys you've probably never heard of. Who could have imagined? Also as it turns out this little game column was all a prelude to the Diary of the Week by saveferris, who looked at the performance of past 4 seeds and found, well, the higher seed you are the better your prospects for tourney success. File all of this under the kind of duh that takes occasional reminding.
* His surname is French for "The Green" but a "leveret" is a baby rabbit.
Etc. Every goal from hockey's WMU sweep plus a few bad puns of blue/blew from MGoBlueline. The basketball game is at noon on Saturday so you can watch that then still make it to the Joe. LSAClassof2000 looks at run vs. pass balance over recent Big Ten history, finding Wisconsin and Ohio State run a lot. Need to get the 4th quarters and blowouts out of there though if you want to find the meat. Blockhams was drawn before Ryan was hurt, isn't funny anymore.
[Jump, Best of the Boards]
Officiating that even closely approximated what could plausibly described as normal, a breeze from a passing mosquito on a rim-balancing rock, a half-court prayer by the last guys you'd expect to get one of those answered…pick any two things that should or could have happened this year and that's the difference between the 1 seed in the Big Ten Tourney and the 5th.
As I lay in the middle of the B1G's final season standings, trying to will my defense out of entropy, I could see the faces of the weasels that did this to me and the hair cream aficionados responsible. When fortune smiles on something as violent and ugly as revenge, it seems proof like no other, that not only does God exist, you're doing His will.
Michigan shouldn't by all rights be taking the long way through the Big Ten Tournament. But fortune has seen fit to at least make that path go right through those whose ledgers with us are most in the red: Penn State yesterday, Wisconsin today, and pending survival there, almost certainly Indiana. That's our worst loss and then the only two teams who finished with winning records against us. In Indiana's case that won't change unless we meet in the NCAAs.
Can Wisconsin beat us again? I mean it's basketball: weird things happen even without the increased chaos of fewer possessions. Like for example sometimes the stripes inexplicably side with the harbingers of Rigelian swamp ball:
I felt paranoid watching all of this. It was a temporary window into the world of a 9/11 truther, seeing what looked like an insane conspiracy by Big Ten refs to keep Bo Ryan in their ears, screaming unprintable things about their mothers. A full half-dozen of the calls they made seemed literally impossible, from the two mentioned above to another breakaway layup that Burke missed because a dude hit him on the head and the charge Burke took on Berggren late that went the other way for a critical three-point play. Am I sane? I thought we got a fair whistle at Indiana. I did think that.
At this point a clunky start and a million defensive breakdowns by the freshmen and THJ wouldn't even be filed as weird things. Another weird thing would be an an outfit as attuned to profit margins as this Big Ten allowing a Rigelian sympathizer any kind of access to a whistle. If you need more than "it wouldn't fit the Kill Bill narrative" for reasons to be optimistic, Wisconsin in their own building needed probably the worst complete ref job in the conference's history and an impossible half-court buzzer shot to fall to beat us the first time. Those are thoughts. Here are diaries:
History lessons. Remember the funny Year in Review (with pics) things that saveferris used to write? Here he goes back to 1989, a time when the Simpsons was that new cartoon your mom didn't want you to watch, lest you turn into a spiky-haired scamp child who tells people to not have a cow, man. Most hilarious thing in the world in 1989 according to 1989 me: a nose tackle named Teeter. Teeter you all! Bad memories: the Tigers, kicking it to Rocket Ismail, and Phil Collins. Good memories: Berenson was just beginning to turn the hockey program around. Yzerman scored 155 points for the Wings, who won the Norris Division. The Pistons were at the peak of the Bad Boys period. Bo's last squad (and one of his best) with that backfield of Tony Boles, Leroy Hoard, Jarrod Bunch and Burnie Legette. And Glenn Rice, obvs.
Speaking of Bunch, he just popped up on the blog this week after someone noticed he was in the latest Tarantino film…
[After the jump]
Fruits of the photoshop thread
The weekend respite from blasé hockey brought back a sorely missed tradition: goal-by-goal analysis. MGoBlueline picked up where Center Ice left off, and collects the Diarist of the Week; 200 points to Gryffindor. A sampling:
Copp makes a truly spectacular pass through Guptill that ends up right on the tape of Lynch's stick. Lynch is now all alone in the high slot facing a goaltender who is going to have to move side-to-side to stop a shot.
Lynch doesn't hesitate, roofing a shot over the goaltender's glove that makes his Gatorade bottle jump.
By now, yes, everybody knows that Ferris got a free breakaway when they put a 7th man on the ice and nobody noticed. I remind you that the Penguins once spent over 90 important seconds of an NHL Finals elimination game with too many men on the ice and didn't get flagged. I can only surmise that this is legal to do against teams I root for.
LSAClassof2000 has continued to put together short stats-based diaries with cats at the bottom. This week he went into Big Ten scoring offense since 2000. Since so many different coaches and systems have come through during this time, I'm not sure what aggregating by school really does—scoring offense is probably the most 'duh' statistic available to fans, and having Nebraska in a percent of total calculation is just fruitless. Break it up by seasons and tempo-free stats and we're talking—I'd like to know how good, say, 2010 was compared to 2012 Ohio State.
The Blockhams this week tried a little genetic experiment, which as an amateur evolutionary biologist I should warn you that you'd better isolate a lot of genes or else you're as likely to get a too-small, powerless, nerve-pinch-susceptible swimmer with the power to make Tennessee fans deranged by mere mention of his name.
Etc. A sense of entitlement fails you at Penn State and undersells beating MSU, however I caution not to underrate the benefits of that feeling like you can just trust your team will win because that is a low simmering awesome feeling that can make entire weeks happy, and expecting too little will just make you numb. THE LAST FINAL REMAINING SCHEDULES FINAL FINAL by GOLBOGM. Wallpaper by jonvalk.
Best of the Board
IT’S ALMOST LIKE THE SEC CAN ONLY WIN WHEN THEY BLATANTLY CHEAT
A decade ago ESPN realized the power of fan polls to drive passions and traffic when its Page 2 ran a sports-wide uniform contest. One by one the greats—Red Wings red, Tigers white, and finally the maize and blue went down to the ugliest Broncos uniform in history. How? Some fans found a way to game the system. Now a guy whose claim to fame is he’s the Heisman winner’s favorite receiver is doing the same through the college ranks, and again Michigan ends up the finalist they’re trying to screw. Video of how they do it? Actually yeah.
Credit mgouser dmoo4u for uncovering the plot in time. It seems if you create a new group that group gets to vote again. Much of this was going on in the wee hours of last night. I suspect they’ve been doing this all the way up the ranks.
Spring football at least but we are starving fans and we’ll take that. Before there was the Brian article on things to look for this spring, there was the thread of things to look for this spring. Eyes are on, in order, the offensive line, the receivers after Gallon, and the young defensive ends. Ojemudia gif appears:
While on the subject of the foosballs YoBoMoLloRoHo (name complaint: I get that Kipke, Crisler and Bump don’t have easily accessible o’s but what’s your excuse for leaving out Oosterbaan?) takes us down to Georgia to see how they’re developing football talent. I appreciate the effort but having followed high school football in the State of Michigan for some time, I think you’re overrating the difference. I felt that certain schools in the past didn’t do what they could to get their players into BCS programs, but year-long S&C training happens here and on better equipment. Take a tour of Farmington Hills Harrison’s program sometime. The biggest difference between the north and the south in the programs themselves is coach longevity, and I don’t see how that’s a bonus. The biggest difference between Midwest HS football and the South is they have more talent there.
STAUSKAS VS LEVERT:
Bryan Fuller | MGoBlog
Following the Penn State disaster the board starting asking whether a Stauskas who isn’t shooting 80% from behind the arc (and wasn’t defending so well) really ought to be starting over the LeVert sensation. Then we immediately got a chance to put this theory to the test when Stauskas was knocked out against MSU. Minutes in the last five games:
LeVert played well, Michigan beat its rival at home, and successful message recipient Stauskas’s defense was much better against Purdue. He drew Byrd and I don’t think that guy made a field goal until finally getting in on the parade of preposterous treys late. Competition is good. If LeVert establishes himself as a guy worth 15 minutes a game and the sum effect is to get Stauskas to play better I take. We’ll be watching what they do against Oladipo and Indiana.
The other question being mulled is whether B1G teams other than Michigan might struggle in the NCAAs when they don’t have Valentine et al. and the conference’s notoriously poop-flavored whistles protecting them. The theory goes that when Aaron Craft can’t mug people and MSU can’t send man-beasts with active elbows into the paint and Wisconsin can’t Wisconsin that those teams will lose a big part of their winning strategies. Answer 1: The rest of the NCAA isn’t the NBA. Answer 2: I don’t give a damn, because B1G officiating is a huge disadvantage for a team like Michigan, which hardly ever fouls and which often has a quicker undersized guy taking non-called charges. Michigan State has been going to Final Fours for over a decade with teams just like the one they have this year. Getting away from awful Big Ten refs won’t matter nearly as much as getting away from ridiculous Big Ten home court advantages.
BASKETBALL RECRUITING: LADIES EDITION
This would be a diary if it wasn’t for a demand by the OP that it remain on the board. Raoul put together an epic review of current recruiting targets for women’s basketball in the 2014, 2015, and yes even 2016. As in current high school freshmen. I’ve mentioned before that it’s quite common for the non-main sports to fill their classes years in advance (they have full and partial scholarships to give out so the athletes race to grab the few full rides available), so there’s a lot of pressure on the kids to commit before they can, you know, drive cars.
META: HELLO NEW MODS, NOT LIKE THE OLD MODS
Profitgoblue is stepping down from his longtime moderator chair in order to pursue his lifelong dream of getting a newborn to sleep through the night. Stepping into his place is LSAClassof2000. Better have some good, minable data in your posts from now on.
YOU MIGHT BE A THING IF YOU GET TAKEN IN BY THAT THING’S YOU MIGHT BE… LISTS
Buzzfeed is to Reddit as Flounder is to a group of fraternity brothers playing cards. That said, when Michigan fandom comes in for the “You might be a _____ if…” treatment anywhere, we bite. Here’s all the things from the Buzzfeed list you need to care about:
- Chipatis. Pizza House takes all the credit but Pizza Bob invented the thing, which makes sense when you consider the whole trick is to make the salad on a paper plate first and then stuff it into a pita, and Bob’s is the place that 1) serves everything on paper plates, and 2) uses pita dough for its pizzas because it’s cheaper.
- Not a Blimpy virgin. If you haven’t heard, it’s not going to be there much longer.
- “Constant Buzz” and Casa Dominicks.
I guess you need to at least have taken the orientation tour to know not to step on the M on the Diag, that the UGLI exists, and the stacks are for scandalous trysts (I only ever went there to do research and found other people doing research). The other 29 things are generic, stupid, or things you would discover if you’re from Los Angeles and Googled “Things to do in Ann Arbor.” DON’T BE TAKEN IN BY STUPID BUZZFEED LISTS.
The comments at least mentioned the first day of spring, when the North Face jackets disappear and everyone is outside in shorts throwing frisbees because it’s blessedly 49 degrees. And while the Fishbowl is known to all, the c. 2001 Fishbowl RIsing movement and the Brabbs for Heisman campaign that originated there shall ne’er be forgot.
ETC. Softball has Wagner back. Also back: mercies. Possibly leaked Illinois alternate helmet that doesn’t seem to jive with the school’s attempts to get away from 1950s-‘how, white man’ Native American imagery [insert my usual spiel about how this is peanuts when there’s pro teams called Redskins and Indians].
Your Moment of Zen:
Woman with Cat|Pierre Bonnard
True Genius is Getting Away With It. Before I get into my self-indulgent emo crap about the Penn State game, go read consecutive Diarist of the Week Ron Utah's conclusion to the two-parter (Part I here) on Hoke vs. Saban recruiting and whether Michigan's at least following Bama's recruiting pattern toward future success. Money chart shows contributions from Saban recruits of various rivals ratings, with 1 (blue) the washouts, 2 (orange) the spot starters/useable depth, and 3 (maize) the starters & stars:
Yes, chartnazis he should have labeled that better. As I've mentioned before a lot of those sub-four stars (5.7 and lower) were down-rated against their apparent talent by Rivals and other sites because the kids were high-risk to meet NCAA academic requirements. Saban's strategy for tapping all of that talent was to oversign like a mother and let that the risk work to his benefit. Hoke's smaller classes have very few academic risks.
Diaries Etc.: LSAClassof2000 found the Big Ten has rushed for enough yards since 2000 to make two trips to the moon. I'll let GOLBOGM update his charts before diving too far into his comparison of the best NCAA hoops coaches. Here's his latest remaining schedule update. The Blockhams have a power outage and this is a metaphor for something. Marching On (the wallpaper by jonvalk). Marching on…
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So this week we learned a few hard truths. Like this basketball team isn't a 1 seed. And according to this thread there's a lot of people who come to MGoBlog for something other than cleverness and cats.
The "I only come for Brian" crowd got an inadvertent taste of that yesterday. Thursday content on the front page after a game with Penn State is supposed to be Ace's gifs, Brian's game column, the video highlights thing that keeps promising me they're upgrading their servers, UV, and This Week in Twitterverse. Instead you got Brian talking to cats and then nothing, because—raise of hands—after THAT who really wants gifs and highlights and links and tweets of Michigan defenders standing around while PSU's floppy walk-on drives for easy layups? If you weren't around for the game thread, or the postgame thread, I'll save you the trouble: it's 1200 comments alternating between calling our defense pathetic and the refs awful.
So cats. This isn't solely an internet phenomenon. The ancient Egyptians worshipped cats for their irreverence in the face of massive upsets to Hittites. The ancient Michigan fans used pictures of adorable kittens to make it through the aftermath of The Horror.
Since the late '90s the nittany variety has been that cathartic release for Michigan. Whenever it looked like our program was about to atrophy, a kitten in a scarf would appear, dressed all up nice like a real national program of consequence and culture, and lose in a fashion that let us regain at least some plausible measure of being Michigan fergodsakes. It was their apparent strength that catapulted the 1997 team to a #1 ranking we'd never relinquish. My freshman year a theretofore underwhelming squad blanked a top ten Penn State team in what's still one of the most memorable games I've ever been to. Minnesota tripped up their title-bound team in '99 but Michigan traveled to Happy Valley the following week, went nose to nose with Arrington and Brown, and sealed Tom Brady as the comeback kid. There's 2002. 2005 when is seemed all we could do was lose 4th quarters. 2007.
I discovered MGoBlog during that whole '07 Comcast/Big Ten Network spat. The Midwest's least favorite company was having a hissy fit over putting another Fox channel on a basic tier, because the way cable works is you have to buy 150 channels you don't want before getting to the ones you do, and nothing drives the masses to move up like sticking the Michigan game just out of reach.
As a result I had to go to a local bar to watch the Northwestern game. Amidst a classic DeBordian display of zone left that made that game way too close I ran into my old fraternity brother Dave Malak, who informed me there's a website that responded to Appalachian State by turning pink and posting lots of cats. Phones didn't yet have the internet they have today so it wasn't until that evening that I got home, searched for "michigan blog cats the horror" and got the September archives starting with the newest on top. The first MGo article I ever read began thus…
9/22/2007 - Michigan 14, Penn State 9 - 2-2, 1-0 Big Ten
Adrift on a sea of bodies, legs gone, head yanked back, enemies all around and pawing, Mike Hart stretches for the inch he needs and gets it. When Hart is gone and I am old and my mind flips through the rolodex of players past, this will be the image that lingers. It's his career writ microscopic. He takes his natural ability, and stretches it to its breaking point, and Michigan has a season again.
Somehow Mike Hart still feels like a secret. In some extremely obvious ways he is not: one of Michigan's vaunted triplets going into this season, he is widely acclaimed as the best back in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. Anyone claiming the "no respect" card for Hart is going to have to make a strong case indeed. Everyone knows he is good. Maybe even great. But they don't know.
You can maybe forgive me and the other front-pagers if we try to sound like that sometimes. Writing is an impressionable craft; consciously or unconsciously we all imitate what we admire. I read Cook long before Foster-Wallace whom I've since devoured; prior to that my major sportswriting influences were Mitch Albom and Craig Ross. I adopted Brian's cheekiness because levity is the key to his genius for brevity and that's something I've always lacked; in turn he has little use for my themography or acoustic sensibilities. The advent of blogging sparked a new age of Impressionism in sports journalism, and I ask your patience as those of us who came after the vanguard fill in the white space of d'Orsay with our mimicry; we're all here for the Monets.
Contractually obligated highlight video
Board etc.: Denard catches footballs. MJ14 culled Twitter for some recruiting updates. Michael Scarn put together a handicapped 2014 recruiting board. M1817 explains Tom Brady's restructured contract so you can explain to people who question how/whether Tom could take less money.
Krzychawe Kryzewefski Coach K comments spark an interesting discussion on when it's appropriate to rush the court, situationally and in a "give the other team a second to get off the court" kind of way. The M's in the center of Crisler and Yost are "UNACCEPTABLE" according to M. Discover posters' super-secret double identities. Blackhawks fan tries to solicit mourning from Red Wings fans over the potential loss of that rivalry if Detroit moves East, receives a chorus full of "Yeah we'll miss you when we play Florida, maybe."
Your Moment of Zen:
From Marley Nowell.
As of this week for the first time in my adult life I have a front yard. I'm stoked for gardening and tossing various balls back and forth and stuff, but so far this is all I've done with it.
Why yes there is a story behind this photo:
"I took this picture at the pre-Super Bowl NFL Tailgate Party last week of my brother and Urban Meyer. My brother's hat was backwards but he twisted it around as I set up for the pic. Thought you might enjoy."
--Jared of Sports Power Weekends
As you may have heard on National Signing Day Urban Meyer inked a lot of five-stars (and poached as many three-stars from his conference rivals), then rounded on the rest of the B1G for not faring so well. MaizeNBlueInDC took to the Scout rankings to confirm, compiling the recruits by state to demonstrate how each conference was doing versus its footprint. He starts with a chart that seems to suggest the Big Ten recruited just like every other major conference except the SEC which I graph:
The parts I faded are the top two teams from each conference according to Scout's team rankings, respectively Bama/Texas A&M, UCLA/Wash(!), Mich/OSU, Okla/Texas, Clemson/FSU, and Rutgers/Cincy. That's what Urbz is whining about; he and we finished with the 1 and 2 teams to Scout, and the fourth Big Ten team doesn't appear until two spots above Kentucky. Course I'm not sure what Meyer expects to say at the coaches meeting except "Stop being MAC coaches promoted to your Peter Principle limit." For QED purposes, a reminder of Big Ten coaching hires since 2007:
- 2007: Saban/Tressel acolyte who turned Cincy into a BCS team, LSU's DC, Mack Brown's recruiting guy, Indiana's OC who coached Ball State before Hoke.
- 2008: WVU's head coach who invented the spread 'n shred
- 2009: Eastern Kentucky's head coach (hired in '08 under grooming plan)
- 2010: Bob Stoop's longtime OC
- 2011: SDSU's head coach, NIU's head coach
- 2012: Two-time national championship winner at Florida, Toledo's head coach (CBs under Tressel), a Belichick assistant
- 2013: Utah State's head coach, Kent State's head coach (WRs under Tressel)
Recently the SEC has taken to hiring rising star high school coaches who spend a year at Arkansas State, but they've also pilfered Bielema and hired a string of successful coordinators and guys who turned mid-majors into Top 10 teams, and, you know, former national championship winners who tried the NFL because their NCAA dynasties were no longer challenging.
Returning to the Diary of the Week at hand, the rest of the charts use the state data to show things like the SEC has a third of the nation's talent while Big Ten states accounted for a sixth—every other conference is less than us. In the comments turd furguson charted where the schools line up in ranking vs avg prospect rank to see if they're just hauling in more kids period. That also makes for easy graphing and general usefulness so:
In other takes on meeting Meyer's standards, here's EGD with a list of Urban-approved, non-"Don't be a Peters'd MAC coach" tips for Big Ten coaches heading out on the recruiting trail.
Basketball, the What's Leftening: Two of the three remaining tough games for basketball were just played. Our Big Ten opponents all have enough rough stuff still to play that everyone's expected to end up 14-4.
Etc. A better-late-than-never wrap-up of things Brian said on the D.C. trip—if you ask your local alumni chapter nicely (and you don't live in a crappy, unvisitable place like Dallas) you too can get a visit. The weekly LSAClassof2000 stats thing is a Geographic survey of freshmen in the Bentley database that's mostly useless if you don't take out the walk-ons—I had a hell of a time with that same problem when I did the historical team makeup from Ohio (the yellow part) graph for 2011 HTTV. Free throw attempts = EFFORT (and refs but mostly EFFORT!) A made-up backstory for rapture guy (the guy who reached ecstasy in that one gif); the real story will be on these pages soon courtesy of Ace. Lacrosse opponents primer. Please give details. Blockhams was pretty funny.
Requested: A diary on Michigan's ski team, which is club but I'm told is pretty good this year and has Bob Thomas's son on it (and competes in a division called "Michigan Men").
[After the jump: the winner of last week's "Find me a Game…Stauskus lookalike from the Fab Five" contest, and some stuff from the board.]