I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Brennen Beyer won't forget that moment. Long after Al Borges is just a name from a past that may or may not haunt us as fans, the Canton native who stayed close to home will delight in telling his family and friends about the time he—a defensive end—scored a touchdown; he'll have the football to prove it, and the final score of the game will be largely irrelevant.
These moments have been frustratingly few and far between this season, especially this month; even in the shadow of defeat, however, they provide fleeting flashes of joy, even when we're doing our best to detach emotionally.
When Devin Gardner rolled out, couldn't reach the corner, then threw aside Tanner Miller like a defective Weeble-Wobble before hitting A.J. Williams for his first career reception—in the end zone, no less—my reaction wasn't to slump back onto the couch, muttering something about Al Borges's doomed waggles; it was "F*** YEAH, DEVIN." Maybe not so profound or eloquent, but damn if it didn't feel good.
Then Michigan lost, miserably, and I drove home in a funk. But they had their moments, and so did I.
[After THE JUMP, basketball moments.]
Previously: Preview MGoPodcast with John Gasaway, Media Day Wrap, Bigs, Wings (Also, BUY HTTV BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE. There's more great preview content in there than I can possibly cover in a sequence of blog posts.)
With the bigs and wings already covered, that leaves just the point guards to preview. Michigan has two very good options here, plus a third (Caris LeVert) that can be used situationally. Will their powers combined equal that of Trey Burke? Well, no, that's simply unreasonable. Will they still be pretty darn good? This blog says yes.
This looks pleasantly familiar.
Measurables: 6'1", 185
Recruiting Rankings: 247Composite #10 PG, #45 overall
The 2013 Michigan Gatorate Player of the Year winner and Mr. Basketball finalist officially took up the now-hallowed mantle of Michigan Starting Point Guard this week, when John Beilein gave Walton the nod over Spike Albrecht in the exhibition finale against Wayne State. The freshman ranked as high as #30 overall (and no lower than #67) depending on your recruiting site of preference. There were a few common threads in the various scouting reports on him:
- First and foremost, he's a pass-first point guard that keeps everyone involved. Scout hailed him as a "true point guard" whose court vision makes his teammates better. ESPN called him a "true point guard [that] can control the game" in their evaluation. Rivals didn't quite get the memo, calling him "one of 2013's top pure point men," after an AAU tournament last May ($). Whether true or pure, guard or man, Walton is certainly a natural fit at the one, and he'll look to distribute more than his predecessor.
- Walton can score, especially at the perimeter. Scout's report lists three-point range as a positive. ESPN also discusses his outside shooting in a good light and adds that he's got a solid mid-range game. The Rivals article cited above notes his ability to score from the outside or around the basket. When he decides it's time to score, Walton is capable, though it's unfair to compare him to Trey Burke in this regard. (That goes for just about everything, actually.) Early returns here are positive: Walton hit 3 of 7 three-pont attempts in the two exhibition games and looked very confident in his shot; yes, I'll acknowledge that's a tiny sample size.
- At the very least, Walton is going to give plenty of effort on defense, and while Scout lists his size and defensive ability in the "areas for improvement" section, that sentiment isn't echoed elsewhere. ESPN loves his toughness and competitive drive on both ends of the floor. Rivals cites his on-ball defense as a major factor in his lofty ranking. In the two exhibition games, Walton has two Burke-esque halfcourt steals and looks like he's well ahead of where Burke was defensively at this early stage.
There's also his leadership; while most AAU squads are disjointed at best, Walton's Michigan Mustangs won a major tournament in Las Vegas thanks to taking on the identity of their point guard, per Rivals's Eric Bossi ($):
It's only fitting that the Michigan Mustangs took home the 17 and under crown at the Adidas Super 64. ... Taking their cue from tough-as-nails floor general and tournament MVP Derrick Walton, the entire Mustangs team played with toughness, togetherness and a unified purpose. Frankly, there weren't enough teams in Las Vegas -- or any of our other stops between April and July -- that played with the same purpose as the Mustangs so it's good to see their efforts result in a big tournament victory.
Bossi's evaluation of Walton's play in that tournament was glowing, to say the least ($):
Setting the tone for the Mustangs was four-star point guard Derrick Walton. The Michigan bound guard was an absolute stud on both ends of the floor. He went right at defenders' chests on drives, dimed up his teammates with pinpoint passes, defended at a high level and generally played with a level of confidence that allowed him to do whatever he wanted to do.
One strength of Walton's that's become immediately apparent is his ability to push the pace and control the tempo of the game; he's always looking to run when he gets an outlet pass (or a defensive rebound—he had seven combined in the two exhibitions) and that resulted in a lot of easy transition buckets for Michigan. When McGary—and his Unseldian outlets—returns to the court, the fast break could become one of Michigan's primary offensive weapons.
Golden Age Rap Song That Describes His Game/Impact: "For My Dogs" — DMX
And I'm gonna be the one behind just to keep you on your toes
I be your extra eyes and hold you down around your foes
I be your extra gun you need me let me know
For my dogs I be the first to cock it back and let it go
Walton isn't going to be the first option on this team; he's going to let his teammates know he's got their back, however—whether that comes in the form of assists, timely buckets, or giving his all on defense.
The Bottom Line: Walton is a freshman point guard, and that means he's going to make the occasional mistake on both ends of the court. The difference between Walton and other point guards of recent vintage is that there are other options—not only is Spike Albrecht a viable starter on a solid team, Caris LeVert is quickly emerging as a serious drive-and-kick threat playing the point in bigger lineups. Walton is the starter and should be for the duration; on this team, that means he's going to be pretty good, even if he's the fourth or fifth option on the court whose primary job is to distribute—think Yogi Ferrell on last year's Indiana team, except hopefully with a more consistent outside shot.
[Hit THE JUMP for SPIKE.]
The ghost of Lloyd Carr haunts everything. Oh yes.
Lloyd Carr stopped @Peedi3416 and I one day on the sidewalk and randomly said, "the hardest part about winning is the expectation it brings"
— Anthony Wright (@ItsAntWright) July 26, 2013
Life advice, or just Lloyd Carr musing darkly on a life he perceives as a slate-gray expanse of clouds? Does Lloyd Carr show up at orientation, pick a bright-eyed pre-med student, and tell them "this doesn't make you an adult"? I hope so. It would be very Michigan if one of their former coaches became the Dark Oracle Of Ann Arbor.
Nine minutes of game winning field goals. Right here:
Glenn Robinson III throwing various things down. Also right here:
Kate. I wish you to see this picture. I think the basketball team has gotten their Final Four rings.
A handsome man, now handsomer.
Piling on Emmert. Mark Emmert is getting hammered from all sides these days, with the latest hits a unified front from the Big 5 conferences against the NCAA status quo and an extensive OTL article detailing the chaos inside the organization:
One source said that at least one major conference has gone so far as to send a directive to its representative on the NCAA Executive Committee -- which, among other duties, hires and fires the association's president -- to make it "crystal clear that they were not at all happy with the direction of the entire enterprise under Emmert."
He picked up the dread vote of confidence a while ago.
Meanwhile, with an obviously coordinated assault on the current state of the NCAA launched by the commissioners of the top five conferences, change is coming, and soon. Emmert himself is joining the chorus:
Emmert said he expects significant changes to how the NCAA operates to be adopted within the next year.
At issue is the ability of the richest athletic programs --- which attract the massive television rights fees --- to set policy without the smaller D-I programs stopping them because of financial concerns.
“There’s one thing that virtually everybody in Division I has in common right now, and that is they don’t like the governance model,” Emmert said. “Now, there’s not agreement on what the new model should be. But there’s very little support for continuing things in the governing process the way they are today.”
Emmert actually may have been at the forefront of this, but don't tell anyone that. He may gone about everything in the most ham-handed way possible, but given what he's been trying to do he's likely on board with Division Zero or whatever.
I am too, of course. The gap between programs that are net spenders and those that have to figure out what to do with their buckets of money is untenable, and the players should get some more of the money coming in. If this is the way to do it, great:
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday he wants lifetime scholarships for athletes to finish their educations and a non-athletic year for “at-risk” students followed by four years of eligibility.
“There’s no one talking about this being some incremental change,” Emmert said. “I think there’s an interest in some pretty fundamental change in the way decisions are made, both to accomodate those (financial) differences but also to deal with concerns people have about representation ... in the policy debates.”
Etc.: Ace points out that OSU has the best record against the spread in conference games over the past ten years, nationally. Michigan is barely below .500. Baseball brings in 16 kids, including the co-Mr. Baseballs in the state. They are 11 guys over their roster limit, though. That's just how baseball works, I guess?
Charlie Weis has an epiphany. Jordan Kovacs gets hazed. The randomness of turnovers is pretty much why Darrell Hazell got to Purdue. Bill Connolly previews State. Think he's way underrating LeVeon Bell and thus overrating MSU's line, FWIW. Connolly also does Iowa. Targeting is going to be a fiasco.
The National Championship game was a bitter-sweet affair, but there was one part of the game that was
sweet amazing un-flipping-believable: Spike Motherf***ing Albrecht. the guy came in averaging 2.2 points per game, and he scored 17 points in an 11-minute stretch in the title game. I mean…
Spike Albrecht was on the front page of CNN. Spike Albrecht was trending on Twitter. Spike Albrecht made thousands of curly fries, and those curly fries each went on to shoot lights-out from the outside.
Now, imagine for a second that you are this guy. The world has been awed by your meteoric rise. Today you are a god, but you know that, like Gangnam Style and the Harlem Shake, your run can end at any moment. What do you do? Yeah, you’d probably do this:
This, as Adam Jacobi pointed out, has all the hallmarks of a “heat check.” And while some of you probably think Kate might be out of his range, he’s shown this week that his range is a lot broader than you might have expected.
Moral High Ground: Crumbly, But Extant
As we discussed on an earlier installment, a Michigan Man is gracious in victory and stoic in defeat. Unlike our younger brethren in East Lansing, we can deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with an unflinching gaze. So despite the glorious nature of the win on Saturday and the heartbreaking nature of loss on Monday, we know that these fine Michigan Men would not resort to the kind of childish tomfoolery as those Neanderthals in green and white.
Well, balls. Reports differ, but what is known that several fires were spotted on Michigan’s campus after both the Syracuse game and the Louisville game. Most of these fires involved couches. This induced groans from Michigan fans and glee from Michigan State fans. As a result of this dumb-ass display, I received two types of comments from the many Sparty fans I interact with on a regular basis.*
1) “LOL, looks like scUM isn’t as morally superior as they think. Get off your high horse, scUM”
I hate to say it, but I think they’re right. For as much crap as we talk every time Michigan State burns a couch, we torched them sons-o'-b*tches at the first chance we got… and then after the VERY NEXT chance we got two days later. It’ll take some serious myopia to be all “hurr, go burn some more couches, couch-burners” after this. This was an immature, brah-tastic display by Michigan students. Anyone who thinks this is a Sparty-specific thing is wrong, and anyone who supports this kind of thing makes us all look bad. And is someone who sucks. If we're gonna claim to be above this sort of thing, we have to either be above this sort of thing or we should STFU.
2) “LOL, looks like that ‘Michigan State riots and burns couches’ meme is gonna have to die now!”
Whoooooa there, fella. Not so fast.
First, sure, Michigan burned a few couches, but if we’re gonna call this a riot, then Michigan sucks so very much at rioting. Let’s compare the videos:
One of these is a riot. One of these is a s'more roast gone bad. I'll let you decide which is which.
Second, it isn’t like this is some little thing that Michigan fans conjured up out of nothing. The good people at The Google will back us up on this:
(h/t @Bry_Mac) (Hey… dat’s a me!)
When the Internet thinks of riots and burning couches, it thinks East Lansing. When it thinks East Lansing, it thinks of riots. QED. Besides, since when do rivalry memes live and die with “facts”? A couple of years ago polling data came out that completely destroyed the entire factual basis for the “Walmart Wolverine” meme. Have you noticed a decline in “Walvie” references? No? Okay, then go back you your couch-burning, you couch-burners.
And finally, the meme also won’t die because this week Sparty proved the seventh-oldest adage in the book: never bring a burning couch to a bomb fight.
[*Full Disclosure: I am the son of two Spartans. I married a Spartan. My sister was a double-Spartan. I’ve lived in the Lansing area for almost six years of my life. I speak fluent Brah. I am not one of them, but I am of them.]
Mark May is Terrible at Everything
What if your entire life was about the dumbest things you ever bothered to write down? Well… you’d be Mark May.
May is not good at not being wrong. He also has a running battle with Ohio State dating back to the Tatgate thing. It is not unlike the Michigan/Mike Rosenberg relationship. They hate this dude, and he seems to dislike them just about as much.
Fortunately, Ramzy (@ramzy) at Eleven Warriors has a handy database of other wise calls May has made over the years:
The terrible thing about the Internet is that nothing is ever forgotten. The fabulous thing about the Internet is that nothing stupid ever said by annoying professional trolls is ever forgotten. I suggest keeping an eye on Ramzy’s feed for future troll trolling.
(Also, I’m not sure if your aware, but May also dislikes spelling and grammar. But that is neither hear nor their.
[UPDATE: Oh, Internet. You never let me down. Looks like overnight @mgoblog, @AceAnbender, @BrianMFloyd, @edsbs, and others jumped on the "look at the amazing things Mark May has said" bandwagon. And it is glorious. I recommend taking 10 minutes of your day to soak in the wisdom.]
[DEFINITIVE UPDATE: Jason Kirk summarizes the Tao of Mark May. All the points]
What Have You Done For Me Lately? Yeah? DON’T CARE YOU STILL SUCK
Losses bring out the trolls in the best of us. In defeat, people freak out and blame the blameless things. They say heat-of-the-moment crap that they know at the time to be stupid, but they can’t help themselves. “Trey Burke is terrible.” “Denard doesn’t seem to care.” “Navarre AAAAAAAHHH NAVARRE.” That is why I largely discount the stupid stuff that happens after losses. The 504 errors on the MGoBoard after a particularly bad loss are usually a blessing in disguise.
But after Saturday’s win (again, I emphasize after Michigan’s FINAL FOUR VICTORY), Ace engaged in this conversation, and it made my jaw drop, melt, and re-form as a giant cartoon mallet that bashed me into the ground like a tent peg:
Substantively, he is almost certainly wrong. The problem down the stretch against Syracuse was free throw shooting, and while Beilein is admittedly a poor free throw shooter, I don’t know if we can blame him for those misses. And as Ace pointed out, the epic return of Jordan Morgan was 100% JB. He used his subs. It was crazy.
Beyond that, the object lesson here is that some people will never, ever be happy. Your team just won a gigantic game. They’re going to the freeking National Championship. Your impulse should be “OMG THIS COUCH MUST DIE,” [Note: resist the impulse. Save the couches] not “I HAZ CONCERNS”. It saddens me that there are Michigan fans who couldn’t enjoy the run Michigan just made, because dollars to donuts you will never have a run that is more fun than this one. And at the highest point of that run, there were people honestly and legitimately complaining about various stuff. And it wasn’t just this guy; after I read this, I poked around to see if other people were seriously upset after the game. And there were. But I stopped reading them because I had some g*ddamn celebrating to do.
After a poor showing last week, Jose is back in fine form.
And I am happy… but then…
We have a complicated relationship, my bash brother.
I haven't had the chance to go through the full tape yet, but here are a few of the more memorable moments (from a Michigan standpoint) from Monday's title game. Above, obviously, is Spike Albrecht Bonanza. Hit the jump for a couple of high-flying Wolverines and some great shots from the CBS intro.
Hi. You may be experiencing a tide of listlessness as the adrenaline pumping of the last few weeks subsides and takes its toll. We are there with you, glassily staring into nothing for minutes at a time. Absentmindedly putting mango habanero salsa on potato pancakes. Sweeping the same spot on the floor for a half hour. That kind of stuff. You're probably trying to add the word "butt" to a column of numbers in Excel. That's what I'd be doing if I had to have Excel open, anyway.
Instead I'm staring out at the rain, because I don't have to have Excel open, and typing this fairly poor excuse for things for people to read. Here are some things that MGoVideo thinks you may be interested in from Monday's game. The best is the Albrechtining:
And the infamous call on the block: