somehow we're only 124th
You'll know this by the third word but this is a guest post from Johnny of RBUAS, who just popped up and was like "I've got this thing." Here it is.
He came from the internet, just like the rest of them. He was in California in barren gymnasiums, making no-look passes from half court with the audacity of someone who thought he’d be the best one there back when the bus was still idling in the parking lot waiting to depart, even though sometimes he wasn’t.
He was at Michigan last year when it was bad and was supposed to be good and when it wasn’t his team because it wasn’t really anyone’s team. And this year when he stewarded a sinking raft that became a submarine lurking just below the water’s surface.
And he was there in Charlotte with eight seconds left, clapping for the ball with enough intensity to turn carbon to diamonds between his hands. Not out of routine or even because it could be no one else but because he knew exactly where he was going and that he needed to get on with it. He needed only the ball and a chance and pursued it with the sort of maniacal focus that ends with you pulling your head inside your shirt completely when you miss because it is dark in there and calm, or at least calmer than the disorienting, vertiginous return to a reality you thought you had transcended in those brilliant moments.
It was a miss that leaves with it a haunting memory; seconds that play on a loop until you fall asleep and then you see them in your dreams. But sometimes they manifest themselves in the type of theatrical vindication accompanied by a montage and a soaring, orchestral soundtrack or at least a bodacious new haircut. I think, at least.
It's technically over but let's call this an interlude.
I think it was sometime in 2006 but all that matters is that it was years after everything happened that they said didn’t happen. Chris Webber was on The Best Damn Sports Show talking to John Salley and some men with spectacularly gelled hair who had never played basketball professionally. And then Jalen Rose appeared on screen via satellite.
Jalen and Chris existed then as they do now: in an impenetrable nebula with other wealthy people who build bowling alleys in Welsh castles and fill the moats with virgin blood and ride around on hover boards sipping Pterodactyl bone marrow straight from fossils. They were exactly where they told each other they would be.
They were there and I knew that they were there because I could see their bodies, and yet they were still mostly back in Jalen’s Dodge Shadow in jackets that were too big; half baffled that they’d made it, half amused that it had been so easy.
Chris said these things:
“Jay had old, beat up shoes, with holes in ‘em, that he would sit around cleaning with a toothbrush and white shoe polish.”
“You’d get a pizza card every day for five days … but me and Jalen would eat the same pizza, save (the cards), so the next week we could get like 15 pizzas.”
“When we were down to UCLA by 20 at halftime, Jalen came in, and Juwan said something, I might have cried, coach Fisher ain’t say nothing, and we walked right back out on the court.”
“Jalen had a green Dodge Shadow that had no back seat because all it had was speakers in the back, that one of his boys hooked up that probably was going to catch the whole car on fire, and all we would listen to was Scarface.”
“It was the best time of my life.”
When they were in that car they were in orbit, in a way, twisting the world in their palms like a tiny stone they’d found floating on their way to another galaxy. They were there and I think, sort of, they always have been.
Jalen told Bill Simmons, “When media members came into the locker room and they hear that kind of music, they’re looking at us like we’re from another planet.”
In some ways they were. Grotesquely fascinating and, in their most thrilling moments, frighteningly unstoppable. Five kids synchronize to create a monster the country struggles to interpret, let alone fathom. They can only stand and watch and listen to the noise and feel the ground shake beneath them. They were a marauding death squad worthy of a theme song and an action figure, shooting apples off each other’s heads once the curtain was drawn.
And so you can pull the banners down; burn them in an open field while orphans sing hymns around the flame. It happened. Something was there and it sort of isn’t anymore but mostly it is, like getting a tattoo of her name removed after she left you and then really left you. Bubbly, mangled flesh where a life once was. It’s gone except that you never forget the times you opened the door and she was there, just standing there, looking at you, waiting for you to let her in.
Brian’s frustration with Webber is not at all irrational. But I never knew them as something that grew, or simply emerged, and then broke everyone’s heart. I know them only filtered through the tumult and deification. Part of why I’m so capable of appreciating the Fab Five is specifically because I’m so detached. I know them through VHS recordings, retrospectives, and ultimately a reputation not so much for capturing the zeitgeist but for chewing it up and spitting it out unmistakably altered. They existed, somehow, and so that is enough for me. They are a geological force, a museum exhibit, an alien cadaver cryogenically frozen in a remote military base to be studied and dissected. It won nothing except everything that actually matters.
It is like someone saying, “So tell me what it was like when you got electricity.” This is what I know because it has always been. Long ago it was dark when the sun went down and now I plug two metal prongs into a wall and can watch infomercials on a colorful rectangle. Only rather than a lab coat they were wearing black socks and an air of magnetic irreverence. I know only what they became.
This is not that team; it is not any team and I have no idea what it will be and for that reason I love it. It is not peculiar or compellingly flawed or even one of Beilein’s self-effacing, limitation embracing West Virginia teams. It is just a thing that is constantly turning into another thing and we see it happen in Jon Horford moving through the lane in what seems like a single step and in laser-precise backdoor bounce passes. In Tim Hardaway Jr. launching three pointers undaunted by distance or obstruction, knowing only of a force that overcomes his entire body and having no desire to suppress it, and a confidence that builds like a tidal wave in the distance and leaves in its wake snapped umbrellas and a 900-win coach’s emasculated smile after barely managing to make it out of there alive.
It is a team at once starkly pragmatic and gleefully ambitious, a kid posing in the mirror in its dad’s fatigues from Vietnam when no one’s home. It is proud and quietly defiant; it is something where things shouldn’t be. If the Fab Five was a seismic force capable of shifting the earth on its axis, this is a plant growing from the fractured pavement.
They came from the internet, obscure aside from their lineage and some of them, for a time, with hair like members of 60’s British rock bands. They are here now and they will be here and I am watching it happen.
Johnny used to write stuff like this at RBUAS before everything became too depressing. He met Lloyd Carr once because Carr liked what he wrote.
Again with the killing. The Daily's latest feature is on Michigan's connection to the St. Mike's prep program that produced Louie Caporusso, Andrew Cogliano, Brandon Burlon, and plenty of other Wolverines over the years. It features a what-if on the level of "what if Kevin Garnett went to Michigan":
When Lindros first visited before the OHL draft, Berenson was sure to make the right impression.
Berenson called Lindros into his office with an offer he hoped the 6-foot-4 power forward wouldn't be able to pass up. Hanging in the coaches’ room when Lindros entered was a traditional white Michigan jersey, with the trademark 'M' on the chest. Berenson then revealed the back of the sweater: LINDROS 88.
Lindros had been No. 8 at St. Mike’s, but Berenson was making a statement.
“I didn't let anyone have a high number back then,” Berenson said. “But (Lindros) was big time, and we knew that. Gretzky was 99 — I gave Lindros 88.”
The offer was made and the decision was left up to Lindros. He chose Michigan.
The OHL promptly changed its rules against trading first-round draft picks and Lindros went there instead.
Also most of the pictures are credited to "Danger Nesbitt," which is either author Stephen Nesbitt's ironic nickname or ass-kicking nine year old sister.
Recruiting blitz. Lost in the most crammed sports day I can remember—basketball, hockey, and US soccer were all going on simultaneously—was the commitment of 2012 Canadian wing Nick Stauskas. Stauskas claimed a Kansas offer at one point and was definitely getting recruited by Wake Forest, Iowa State, Butler, and others. Scouting from UMHoops's "Hello" equivalent:
Strengths: Stauskas is a well built swingman who can really shoot the basketball. He has good size for the two-guard and has gotten noticeably stronger within the last year. He is a big time shooter who makes shots in bunches and can never be left unchecked anywhere within 25 feet of the rim. He can handle and pass the ball in the open floor, will attack bad closeouts off the dribble, and isn’t afraid to mix it up inside the paint to battle for rebounds.
The consistent knock is raw athleticism; a half-dozen reports on UMHoops are split down the middle on whether or not he can actually create a shot for himself. On WTKA this morning Sam Webb said he was like Stu Douglass with a better handle, but once you start talking about a 6'6" Stu Douglass who can get to the rack are you really talking about Stu Douglass anymore?
Stauskas's commitment fills Michigan's roster for 2012 if there's no attrition. That's kind of a big if at this point, so Michigan should be planning to fill Darius Morris's slot. Most people talk about Indiana five star Gary Harris as someone to look at but that's something of a pipe dream. I'm still holding out for man-mountain Sim Bhullar because it would be terribly fun to have a 7'4", 300-pound Indo-Canadian on the team. As a bonus, envision Gus Johnson exclaiming his name.
BONUS: Remember the almost-but-not-quite recruitment of Nate Lubick? That paid off with dad:
Stauskas credited his high school coach, Dave Lubick, for helping to connect him with the Michigan staff. "He was the one who started the relationship with Michigan," Stauskas said. "They never would have seen me if not for him."
It was just a couple of years ago that Michigan recruited Lubick's eldest son, Nate, as hard as anyone in the country and while he ultimately committed to Georgetown, the process left Lubick extremely impressed with Beilein.
"I thought it was a gift that I was given, that I was now able to give to this family," Lubick said of getting to know Beilein. "This is a great man and a great coach. I have as much respect and admiration for him as I do anyone I've met in this business."
Invites questions as to why he went to Georgetown, but whateva. If you're curious as to how the younger Lubick did this year, he played half of Georgetown's minutes and shot well but was extremely low-usage. Like Petway low-usage.
As for Bielfeldt. Mike Rothstein got some clarification on just what he is in a Q&A:
…right now they like me playing the four and, depending how I develop, they said I might play a little five as well.
Q: Where do you feel the most comfortable in their offense and defense?
MB: Their four spot. They said next year they are thinking about running a little bit more two-post stuff. I think either one, they are kind of similar to us with the offense. If I can develop my game a little bit over the summer, I think I’d be comfortable at either one.
Bielfeldt says he shoots "when he has to" but is more of a post and short corner guy, so his fit in the offense is going to be interesting. Same goes for Brundidge, FWIW.
The first five. Now that we've got five full classes of Beilein recruits, a brief survey:
2008: Douglass, Novak,
Cronin, Benzing 2009: Morris, Vogrich, Morgan, McLimans
2010: Hardaway, Smotrycz, Horford
2011: Burke, Brundidge, Bielfeldt
2012: Robinson III, Stauskas
Since picking up Douglass and Novak in his first class Beilein has recruited just one unranked kid anywhere except the five—Bielfeldt. Pickups at those four spots all seem to be in the 75-125 range with at least one guy who seems to be (or has already proven to be) massively underrated per class: Morris, Hardaway, Burke, and Robinson III. Morris throws a wrench into theories about four-year players but I don't think anyone expected he'd be in a position to think about moving on when he was recruited.
Redux. I added this a few hours after I posted on the Zapruder goal, but in case you missed it and need to email a North Dakota fan or something:
The guy you're emailing will then say that's not conclusive and you'll throttle him with your mind.
Additional Fab Five stuff. Via Wolverine Historian, the 1993 Purdue game:
Bouncyfreude. Sippin' On Purple adapts This Week In Schadenfreude into This Tournament In Schadenfreude with awesome results:
want to throw up right now, i cried shortly after the loss. F*CK VCU with a capital FFFFFFFF. Your fans are all ugly decrepite mason nazi pricks who don't know the essense of our great program. they were lucky as hell.
If you thought incoherent rage was restricted to football fans… well, no one thinks that. Just click over.
Etc.: MSU C Garrick Sherman transfers. Slightly sketchy seeming since MSU does not have a scholarship for Harris at this instant, but Sherman did play 30% of MSU's minutes this year so it's not like he's a total scrub. Once Nix hits five bills they might regret losing him.
People who write about the NFL draft are probably the dumbest people putting words in sentences outside the USCHO.com message board. EBay watch hits on a highball glass I got for Christmas this year. It did not cost 65 dollars, I checked. Baseball swept by MSU for first time since 1955—yeesh. Jim Jackson says one more year for Morris. A Rich Rodriguez piece? Oh boy! KJ of The Only Colors says goodbye. /shakes fist at time
Oh, I'm an idiot. WCBN's fundraising drive lasts until March 20th, which is… um… four days ago. I said I'd give them a plug. This is it. Their online donation form is still up, though, so this isn't completely useless.
Pads! OH MY GOD IT'S SPRING PRACTICE VIDEO
Excellent savvy on the part of the athletic department to defuse any panic about Michigan wearing white pants this fall. Someone in the department has learned about the internet.
The Wolverine Blog has some spring practice content up, with five guys with the most to lose and most to gain. Maize and Blue Nation has had "whispers come across his desk" that may be random unreliable internet stuff but include reassuring comments like "Craig Roh three point stance" and "Thomas Gordon seeming competent at safety."
Think about that bit: Thomas Gordon seems like the most likely of what will be three or four moved linebackers to be a competent free safety due to his size, speed, and high school position. He was a strongside linebacker last year. Cam Gordon is a strapping guy headed for 230 pounds everyone thought would play linebacker even when he was a receiver. He started at free safety. This year we might (will probably?) see those guys switch positions.
/shakes fist at sky
The second-dumbest thing. Apparently I'm not done with people who say stupid things about Jalen Rose, but what am I supposed to do when Jason Whitlock writes this?
And if it’s clear Rose and Jimmy King were speaking in past tense, there would’ve been no need for Rose to send Hill and Jay Williams tweets before the documentary aired explaining that’s how the Fab Five felt 20 years ago.
Or it was clear but since it was not explicit Rose made it so before the damn thing ever came out, for all the good that did. Whitlock then goes on with his usual condescending What Ails Black Folk crusade because that's what he does. Here's Dave Zirin at the Nation—high up on the list of websites I never thought I'd have cause to link to on MGoBlog—annihilating Whitlock*.
Meanwhile, Frank Beckmann should drop the "mann" from his last name:
I love that Jack Sharp looks like he could be Purdue's head coach. I don't love that a guy closely associated with the University is essentially Glenn Beck.
*[This is not an endorsement of the Nation's opinion on anything other than Jason Whitlock. I still remember that back in the day the most ludicrously communist Daily columnist during my time as an undergrad got a coveted internship there that he used to write more ludicrously communist pieces. It is a silly place.]
Bah, Burlon. Brandon Burlon's strep infection/bad reaction to antibiotics is probably going to knock him out for the entire weekend. Red's already said playing Friday is out of the question and this doesn't sound like he's going to be able to go at all:
Burlon — out of the lineup for both games this past weekend at Joe Louis Arena — has been plagued by an “inflamed esophagus,” according to Michigan coach Red Berenson.
The junior defenseman has been in and out of the hospital since last Monday when he came down with strep throat. He’s had trouble eating solid food and has lost about 15 pounds over the past week.
Also in that article: Shawn Hunwick is having a mid-life crisis because he never wants to leave Michigan. His first action is taking a fifth year. Suggestion: master's degree. It worked for me.
Gotta collect 'em all. Ray Vinopal's transfer destination is Pitt, which is indeed closer to home—it's about an hour—and also features a bunch of Michigan's former coaches, including his position coach. Because this is a Michigan safety we're talking about he will become an All-American now that he's free from the clutches of Angry Michigan Safety-Hating God.
Guh. You don't even need to know what SDPI is to know this is true:
/shakes fist at Greg Robinson hire
/also 3-3-5 installation
/actually hasn't stopped shaking fist since January 2nd
Even more hockey recruiting. The United States of Hockey checked out a recent NTDP game and reports back on goalie John Gibson, amongst others:
John Gibson: The big goaltender looks like a pro goalie when he plays. He takes up so much net whether he’s standing up or on his knees. During the shootout, when he came out to challenge, I think the net basically disappeared. When I say the moves Gaudreau and Girgensons put on Gibson were nasty, I mean… just filthy. The big guy made 35 saves, including several key stops late.
I asked one of the team staffers if Gibson was excited about his season and his commitment to Michigan. The reply, “Gibby doesn’t get excited about much of anything.”
So Gibson is the exact opposite of Shawn Hunwick. Warning: don't read the bits on Rocco Grimaldi. They will make you sad he is headed for North Dakota.
Kenpom is the bible. Pete Thamel's NYT article on how accepted Kenpom is amongst college basketball coaches makes me wonder what it will take for halftime statistics to feature offensive rebounding percentage. The brilliant/frustrating thing about tempo-free numbers is that they're stupidly easy to explain (with the admittedly vast exception of "offensive rating"): we took this number, and then we divided it by something. This allows coaches to say things like this:
“I’m not a math geek,” said the George Mason assistant coach Chris Caputo, who does all of the team’s scouting reports. “But it gives me a quick statistical synopsis of who they are before we watch tape and personnel. What do they do well? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Where do their points come from? It’s a snapshot of relevant statistics.”
No football or baseball coach that confesses he looks at advanced metrics would start off his statement "I'm not a math geek," or at least they'd obviously be lying. With Kenpom it's plausible Caputo just knows how to divide.
The frustrating part about all this is how stubborn the broadcasting establishment is about incorporating this stuff. I'm tired of seeing "FG%" next to "three pointers" and trying to figure out on the fly what each team's percentage on twos is.
Ain't nobody there. Mmmm fluffy headline:
Brady Hoke reaffirms Wolverines' love for recruiting from Detroit
I'll take that over "Darius Morris can't be sure he's returning to Michigan State" any day, though. The Hoke Media 180 continues unabated. Let's hope it's as important as the media thinks it is.
Etc.: Northwestern won't be adding D-I hockey either. Notre Dame seems to be preparing for life without Michael Floyd. Minnesota and Wisconsin nonconference schedule issues. Derek Dooley gets a "year zero," which seems fair but makes me think about Nick Sheridan. The Hoover Street Rag has fired up its annual hockey tournament preview. Yost Built on the BTHC—FWIW, I doubt that both Alaska schools will end up in the same conference because I don't think you can exempt four games up there, thus depriving them of their main enticement.
3/20/2011 – Michigan 71, Duke 73 – 21-14, 9-9 Big Ten, season over
This is the point where the author is obliged to disclaim any belief in moral victories, whatever that means.
Wikipedia's article on the concept is a poorly-written stub that goes right to the sports definition before making a couple of flaccid thrusts in the direction of applicability outside of sportswriting disclaimers. Those thrusts are getting crushed to death by rocks but keeping the land in the family, dying at the Alamo, or dying at Thermopylae and seem to indicate the anonymous author has never heard of a Pyrrhic victory. That last link goes to a much, much better article that indirectly confirms that "moral victory" has no currency amongst the sort of people—scientists, historians, television fans—that make for good wikipedia articles. Moral victories, and disclaiming them, appear to be the exclusive domain of people who have just watched their sport-ball team exceed expectations just enough to suffer an agonizing loss.
After disclaiming the moral victory, the author then explains why he feels better about the sport-ball team in question than he did before the sport-ball match in which his team was defeated agonizingly, which kind of seems like exactly what a moral victory is. This makes the disclaimer the equivalent of "I'm not a racist, but…": a lie meant to deflect criticism.
I hate the concept of moral victories and denounce anyone who accepts them. Truly, the only thing worth striving for is numerical superiority, and claiming mitigating factors when you have not achieved numerical superiority is indicative of a diseased mind and probably communism. Love it or leave it.
That said, we totally just beat Duke.
Not, like, you know, when it comes to numbers or anything, but definitely when it comes to not embodying class privilege and being able to parse sentences about Grant Hill's family. Also almost in the numbers. In fact, if Evan Smotrycz was allowed to exist within three feet of a Duke player on a basketball court, we totally won. I will see you all in the Moral Sweet Sixteen, where we will play Butler despite the fact they're in the actual Sweet Sixteen—that's how crazy that Butler game was.
John Beilein had Michigan sing the Victors after the Duke game. I renounce my renouncing of moral victories. We are moral national champs.
I think that last bit might actually be true: in an "exceeded expectations" tournament Michigan is a one-seed. A quick glance at the Sweet Sixteen reveals chalk, the occasional mid-major expected to be good in-conference that pulled out a couple wins at the right time, the eleventh Big East qualifier, Florida State, and a couple of powers bouncing off down years. The only competition comes from the two MWC teams, San Diego State and BYU, and Ohio State, and none of those teams were responding to a victory over a hated rival by saying "too bad this isn't likely to help score an NIT bid."
I've been searching for a Michigan equivalent and in my memory can only come up with the '97 national title team. Unless there was a basketball team that outdid this year's—unlikely—I think you have to go back to 1969 to pull another team that so wildly exceeded what was expected of them*.
So no one's mad. No one's thinking about the other places in which the sun shines and the band plays and men laugh, because though Michigan's Casey struck out on a last-ditch floater no one expected to get anything out of this season other than yet another test of how much grim tolerance you can squeeze out of your pores.
We got much more than that: wins over Michigan State, a tourney bid, a grisly human sacrifice in the first round, and something that was most definitely not a moral victory in the second. We got an Aneurysm Of Leadership, a triple double, Drunken Sailor Assault Basketball, epic Smotrycz wallpaper, a genocidal campaign against backboards, Zack Novak alternate universe posterization, "Get off my court," Tim Hardaway mouthpiece thousand words, Hardaway fighting Harris for efficiency supremacy in context (and eventually winning!), Hardaway engaging killswitch, Matt Vogrich elevating himself into a photoshoppable entity (right), Zack Novak fouling out on five attempts to take a charge, and possibly more muppets than the last three football seasons combined.
We got a season, even if numerical superiority was not acquired against Duke. Next year they threaten to create a program here. If people are naturally leery of an '09 repeat, remember this time around slackers will be bled on by Zack Novak.
*[There was probably a point at which a hockey observer went "whoah," but they were so few and far between then that I'm not even sure that counts. The other main candidate is the '06 football team but in the end they were just another Rose Bowl losing team, so I think that puts them in a second tier.]
The engoodening. How does it do? That question is worthy of a post, or a series of posts, but here's a paragraph or two off the cuff anyway.
Engoodening #1: getting Smotrycz most of his minutes at the four. This would be a combination of development from Smotrycz and Horford. This year the only thing worse than having 6'4" Zack Novak guarding enormous leaping machines like Trevor Mbakwe was having Smotrycz do it, so he ended up at the four and Michigan's defense had a hard cap on how good it could be. Michigan was above average in rebounding nationally but click that conference-only box on Kenpom and Michigan turns red and ends up eighth. They're worse (ninth) at defending two-pointers. Getting Horford significant minutes seems like it will improve both numbers since he's easily Michigan's most athletic big. Insert tallest midget joke here.
Engoodening #2: vicious competition at the guard spots. Adding Burke and Brundidge and getting another year of development from floppy-haired assassin Matt Vogrich will put Douglass's minutes under threat and give Michigan an option other than panic when Morris is on the bench. Though I'm not as down on Douglass as the rest of the internet—he consistently draws the other team's top perimeter scorer, though Michigan's propensity to switch screens makes this not quite as impressive as it would be on other teams—he's an obvious target for opposing teams playing pressure defense and very rarely does anything good happen when he attempts to create a shot. Either he'll get better or someone will take his minutes.
Other bits: Jordan Morgan becomes less of a foul machine, Hardaway shoots like he did over the latter half of the season, Darius Morris develops a corner three a-la Richard Hamilton, leaning a bit more on the bench—for perspective, Michigan is actually more starter-dependent(337th in bench minutes*) than they are young(335th)—makes the starters more effective.
*[This is impressively low in a pool of 345 but isn't good for last in the league. It's not even good for second-to-last: OSU and PSU are both lower. If Sullinger and Buford leave OSU could be in for an ugly year; Penn State is going to be atrocious.]
A rocket to Kenpom. If you're wondering what a 30-point bludgeoning and a two point loss at a "semi-away" venue against the #2 team in the country does to your computer rankings, it makes for an implausibly huge leap. Michigan is now #23 on Kenpom, up from 44th before the tournament IIRC. Tennessee lost ten spots in a single game-type substance.
That's still only good for fifth in the league (Purdue, Wisconsin, and OSU are all top ten and Illinois is 17th) but everyone in front of them is getting smashed by graduation and possibly early draft entry. It's still amazing that if you take every possession Michigan played this year, and adjust it for the strength of schedule only 22 teams would expect to do better.
His Old Kentucky Home. I hope this is the last thing I have to say about people who obviously didn't bother watching the Fab Five documentary, but I bet you a dollar Jim Nantz has done this at some point:
It must be awkward for Clark Kellogg to sit next to Nantz as he goes on his righteous crusade without having even the vaguest grasp of the facts. Nantz managed to indict four people who didn't do anything wrong in the eyes of the NCAA and repeat the canard that Rose said anything at all negative about Grant Hill's family, something Grant Hill, Michael Wilbon ("Calvin and Janet Hill were left hanging out there, depicted as anything other than the model parents that they are"), and now Nantz have asserted.
This is literally everything Rose said about Hill's family:
"I was jealous of Grant Hill. He came from a great black family. Congratulations. Your mom went to college and was roommates with Hillary Clinton. Your dad played in the NFL and was a very well-spoken and successful man. I was upset and bitter that my mom had to bust her hump for 20-plus years. I was bitter that I had a professional athlete that was my father that I didn't know. I resented that moreso than I resented him."
In the end this just confirms everything Jalen Rose thought as an 18-year-old—Hill is still the person the world accepts, and asshats like Jim Nantz can't see through the red mist to see that literally the only things Rose said about Hill's family were they were "great," mom went to college, and dad was "well-spoken and successful."
The charitable interpretation is that Nantz is too stupid to parse the above quote, but I don't think that's true.
Morris return reiteration. Just in case:
“Yep,” Morris said when he was asked if he was definitely returning next season.
This echoes what Morris said a week ago, when he said “yeah, I’m here man. I’m not going anywhere.”
Chantel Jennings in the Daily. Matt Vogrich had his car covered in post-its. He cleared off enough to see and left the rest there. Surprise! No one who was zero years old in 1993 wants to talk about the Fab Five. Stu Douglass epic throwdown vs Tennessee. Also more evidence that taking a picture of Tim Hardaway, Jr., is always a good idea:
Merry Christmas. We get presents this year. I'm an American so my productivity collapses like everyone else's during these couple days—content will be a bit light. Expect Tennessee/CCHA finals previews at least. A game column immediately afterwards is up in the air since I might be in Detroit rooting for Notre Dame. We'll play it by ear.
He's so articulate*. Man… I suggested the Grant Hill NYT op-ed would just confirm the Fab Five's 20-year-old opinions but I had no idea he'd actually drop Latin into it and call Duke a "special family," then tweet that his interminable diploma-waving had been edited for length and that you could find the whole thing on his website. I can't believe we actually hired one of these dips to coach our basketball team, and by "can't believe" I mean "can totally believe."
WLA truth bombs!
“was”. “hated”. “hated”. “felt”. “hated”. “was”. “came”. “went”. “played”. “was”. “had to”. “was”. “resented”. “looked”.
These are the verbs that the four members of the Fab Five use during their description of their feelings towards Duke. What do all these verbs have in common? They are in the past tense. This is an elementary fact of grammar of which you would expect one who mentions his place in the “special” brotherhood of Duke graduates to be aware. Apparently, he is not.
Rose has since clarified to foreigners, people with learning disabilities that prevent them from understanding verb conjugations, and Duke graduates that when he used verbs in the past tense he was talking about the past.
No one thought Grant Hill was a bitch, even the guys who said they thought he was when they were 19, until he wrote his response. Now everyone thinks he's a bitch. Can we get a Grant Hill Effect wikipedia page?
*[514 hits for "grant hill articulate" in the last 24 hours by people who don't know what articulate means but do know he's black. Hill's clunky constructions are reminiscent of a high school term paper even after going through a battery of NYT editors. Look at this:
It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a bitch and worse, calling all black players at Duke “Uncle Toms” and, to some degree, disparaging my parents for their education, work ethic and commitment to each other and to me.
Too many commas. Pointless use of "interesting"—95% of the time a filler word. Awful finger-wagging intro. Too many goddamn commas. This sentence could have been half as long and communicated the same thing**. If this is articulate to you, you need to read more.]
**[That thing, of course: "The Fab Five was right."]
Dead coach walking. Bruce Pearl's athletic director said his status was undecided yesterday and it took all of two hours for this to morph into a "he's fired" news-type substance propagated by local radio. This is a perfect opportunity for hindpsychology no matter what happens tomorrow: if Tennessee loses, they have been distracted. If they win, they were motivated to protect their embattled coach.
Since Pearl's job status isn't likely to affect Hopson's jumper his wavering status is more interesting as a window into Tatgate. Tennessee is trying to hang on to Pearl, something that hardly any team facing a serious ethical violation has done before. If they can't do that it could bode poorly for Tressel, who'll get the same charge on his docket of major violations. The NCAA typically levies show-cause penalties when you break bylaw 10.1 ("don't be a liar, coach"), and those are basically a death-knell.
Bolden wavering. Robert Bolden is in at Penn State… for now:
"Nothing is official," he said [Wednesday]. "I'm just here for the spring. I decided to come back. I'm just here. I'm going to work hard and we'll see what happens from there."
That's a sticky spot for PSU. If he sticks around because he "won" the job in spring—for whatever that's worth—his threat to transfer hangs over that decision and a fall benching for McGloin or redshirt freshman Paul Jones seems likely to cause instant hissyfit + transfer. If he doesn't win the job he's out, leaving PSU with walk-on Favre and a guy who wasn't as good as Bolden last year.
Not far enough. Gasaway's annual rule-fixing column is up, and as per usual he is mincingly weak on the tyranny of basketball timeouts:
3. Reduce the number of timeouts. Here's a tip. If the coaches in your sport can call timeout, send their players into action, see what defense the opponent is using, and then call another timeout before anything has even happened, your sport gives its coaches too many timeouts. Let's make a start here by taking away one timeout per game from each team. The earth will continue to spin, I promise, and TV networks fretting about lost commercial time can be accommodated via slightly extended breaks in the action during the remaining timeouts.
Take away one timeout per team? Teams should only have one timeout. Make it count, yo, like they do in hockey, and stop turning the last two minutes of a basketball game into the Odyssey.
Big Ten hockey en route. Rumor has it a Big Ten Hockey conference, already a fait accompli—SUCK ON THAT GRANT HILL—could be announced as early as Monday. Big Ten play would start in 2013 when Penn State moves into its new building. They'd spend a year getting their feet as an independent.
Small schools will complain but Big Ten Hockey is great for the sport. Reasons:
- It opens up spots for expansion that don't exist right now. A variety of schools have come and gone over the past ten years, unable to stick because their only conference option was the constantly shifting, constantly almost evaporating CHA. Creating a Big Ten creates 12 slots in stable conferences for new programs, although half of those would have to be Big Ten schools.
- Twelve schools is too much for a hockey conference anyway. Nonconference schedules are preposterously small when 28 of your 34 games are ticketed for your conference. Getting the Western conferences down to 6, 8, and 10 teams greatly increases available nonconference games, making schedules more varied and ranking systems more reliable.
- Big Ten hockey will increase the profile of college hockey as a whole, helping it as it battles with the OHL for players.
A lot of small school fans are horrified at the prospect but it's not like North Dakota, Denver, and CC are going away. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota would be hard pressed to recruit any better even with the promise of gorgeous Big Ten Network HD. Big Ten hockey will help the sports profile but not so much that it turns everyone else into mid-majors.
Fears that some of the smaller CCHA programs could be threatened by loss of revenue are more worrying. BG considered dropping its program a couple years back and hockey is an expensive sport. Ferris and Lake State and other places where it's the flagship are probably going to suck it up, but that's not the case everywhere. I certainly hope the Big Ten schools create scheduling agreements that see them regularly visit former conference opponents, and hate the idea of Miami and Notre Dame moving to the WCHA. That would see two perfectly viable conferences turn into one very good conference and CHA 2.0, and we know how CHA 1.0 ended.
Losing schools is bad for everyone since college is in a perpetual war against major junior; college hockey needs to work together to make this transition one that everyone can live with.
Etc.: Michigan has an 0.9 percent chance to make the Final Four. Zack Novak is short. Wojo column on Beilein. Hardaway fluff comes with another spectacularrrrrr Emotions of Tim Hardaway photo. Hockey fluff. Caporusso returns this weekend to the place where he scores.
no reason at all. also not stupid.
Stupid random statistic. ESPN put together an Outside the Lines piece on whether college athletes should be paid—for some reason the appointment of Mark Emmert to the top job has spurred even more chatter on this topic than there is usually—that revolves around one stupid statistic. The NCAA says this:
That number (14) comes from the NCAA's most recent analysis of athletic department finances at member institutions, based on data supplied by schools for the 2008-09 school year. The NCAA notes that 25 schools in each of the prior two years generated more revenue than expenses, before the nation's economic recession took hold.
ESPN says this:
But the NCAA understates the amount of revenue that flows into athletic departments.
Why do they say this?
The organization arrives at its lower number of 14 schools in the black by not counting what it calls "allocated revenue," which it considers direct and indirect support provided by the university, student fees and direct government support.
Because the NCAA does not count subsidies that keep money-losing programs afloat. This is not exactly "whoops, the Pirates are wildly profitable." The Bylaw Blog's pithy summation: "ESPN shows athletic departments that are making money. NCAA shows university that are making money on athletics."
Why anyone would care about the former is unclear, but ESPN charges off with their revised number of schools breaking even once you count funding grudgingly handed over to make sure they break even. Surprise: it's fairly large.
Stupid Fab Five reacts. They are legion, from complaints that a documentary called Fab Five was almost entirely about the Fab Five to Duke players writing New York Times op-eds that haven't even been published yet [UPDATE: now published.] but seem to confirm everything that was said about them* merely by their existence. Also Whitlock wrote something that no doubt accused people of "bojangling."
There was even a stupid Fab Five pre-act by Ramzy at 11 Warriors, who went out of his way to point out they didn't actually win anything, as if that wasn't possibly the main selling point or something anyone needed to be reminded of. The most compelling part of the entire thing was watching Webber walk down the tunnel after the timeout, then explain to the brutally persistent media that losing the national championship game for a second consecutive year felt "the same… exactly the same." Braves and Birds compares them to teams like Holland's Clockwork Orange two-time-runners up, and that's right—in soccer there's a rich tradition of teams that couldn't quite grasp the brass ring but are remembered for their style, and so the Fab Five.
However, nothing tops this, possibly dating back to cuneiform:
The same folks who are clamoring for a public mea culpa from Webber are the same people who wrote racist letters, calling Webber and teammates the "N" word.
That's the News's Vincent Goodwill successful trolling his way onto the "most read" list. Congratulations, Mr. Goodwill. Unless you actually believe that, in which case I am deeply sorry someone else has to dress you every morning.
Most of the letter-writers are dead now since they were already watching Matlock 20 years ago, but you don't have to be in the KKK to think Webber's actions badly hurt the program. Exploited or not, all Webber had to do was suck it up a little while before he was insanely rich. He didn't and even super-conflicted me would like an explanation, at least, if not an apology.
*[And in any case, when Rose was discussing Grant Hill he was obviously talking about a feeling he'd had in the past. Seventeen-year-old Rose didn't think "I don't like Grant Hill because his athlete father is in his life." He thought "I hate this bitch." Rose's explanation is necessarily him figuring out why he was so pissed off at Hill.
Also, Christian Laettner was relatively sanguine about everything, so there's that.]
Stupid apology. Tressel says "I'm sorry," then starts repeating things he heard from his robot-in-a-suit:
I apologize for the fact I wasn’t able to find the ones to partner with to handle our difficult and complex situation.
I agree. Ohio State should have synergized its core competencies and then attacked the Asian market. Or they could have difficultly and complexly asked the players involved if they had exchanged memorabilia for goods and services. However, this would have involved talking to them in some sort of office setting and was clearly impossible. The Asian market is where it's at.
Stupid bracket react. It never fails: whenever a major conference team is left out of the field of 60-something, people complain. This year there were actual complaints that small conference teams were somehow gaming the system. Joe Sheehan blows this up:
Maybe the biggest problem in college basketball is that teams in the mid-tier conferences can't get games against the ones in the top six, and they absolutely can't get home games. Mid-majors have been screaming at the top of their lungs for years about wanting to play up, and the better those teams have gotten, the less access to games they've been able to get. Teams in the BCS leagues refuse, out-and-out refuse to play road games at teams in the #7-#18 conferences.
In fact, the RPI gimmickry cited by Phelps and Davis is actually the purview of the power leagues, who have taken to playing road games against bottom-100 teams in an effort to gain "road win" points in the new version of the RPI. (They understand that there's a concept in play, but don't quite grok the details.) The ACC played as many road games at Elon (2) and UNC-Greensboro (4) as they did against mid-major schools in the top 200 (6), and one of the latter games was in an exempt event hosted by one. Miami played at Florida Gulf Coast. Florida State played at FIU. Wake played at UNC Wilmington. You think Conference USA is trying to game the system? Really?
I'm actually happy with the way this year's play-in games fell out: both feature a major-conference team against a mid-major. If you look at the two at-large play-ins as the committee throwing its hands up and saying "I don't know, play for it" this makes perfect sense. We don't have much information about how the good teams in small leagues compare with meh teams in big leagues so you can just have 'em settle it on the court. I'm sure that's just a coincidence but I wouldn't mind that being a yearly occurrence.
Another '95. Michigan has picked up another 2013 hockey commit. Evan Allen is also playing for Honeybaked and is their leading scorer with one point more than fellow commit Tyler Motte. There's not much out there other than a couple of Select 14/15 reports from USHR and the usual hyperventilating from sketchy pay sites, but Yost Built rounds it up all the same. Allen, like Motte and JT Compher, is competing for a spot on the NTDP right now.
Michigan now has something like five or six forwards in the 2013 class already (depending on whether Max Shuart is 2012 or 2013), all of them from the midget circuit centered around Michigan that is a heavy feeder to the NTDP and USHL, four of them Honeybaked teammates. They'll be replacing kids who are currently sophomores, of which there are six (Brown, Lynch, Treais, Sparks, Moffie and Rohrkemper). Unfortunately, one is a defenseman and two are probably not on scholarship.
They must be anticipating some of these kids ending up in major junior or having to fill holes when players leave early/don't show up at all. That's veering close to Wisconsin/SEC territory, but 1) having to take an extra year of junior is just something that happens in hockey and 2) Michigan cannot sign any of these players to LOIs they can't fulfill—remember when Brandon Burlon couldn't sign until Kevin Quick got booted?—so anyone who is discontent with that arrangement can just go elsewhere.
Chances are the winnowing will be on the players', not the program's, end.
Dense bones. Jon Horford's been conspicuously absent of late without anyone really knowing why. Injury was suspected and is the case, but this bit from Rothstein's latest notes column makes the ears perk up:
Beilein spent 30 minutes with him Monday to help develop him further for next year. The Grand Ledge native, Beilein said, is already much stronger than when he started and is up to 242 pounds — the same weight as starting forward Jordan Morgan.
“There’s not any extra fat in there,” Beilein said. “Really, his body is developing.”
Really? Horford weighs as much as Morgan now? This is stunning.
He's healthy, BTW, and we could see him in the tourney.