Coaches' timeouts are worse. Basketball teams should get one, full stop.
Full name: The Paul Bunyan Governor of Michigan's Wife Was
Going to Throw It Out Otherwise Trophy.
People don't get this rivalry, why the board seems to get obsessed with it, and why it means so much to take home a tacky statue from an off-highway store in West Branch.
Those Michigan fans not from Michigan, or from a part of Michigan that regularly sprays for Spartans, are often suggesting a bigger second rivalry than this one. They'll grant that game's importance goes as far as winning the Bo Division, with the Dantonio-fueled addition of protecting the purity of the game from one if its biggest dicks (see: press conferences devoted entirely to asking Michigan coaches how they plan to defeat inevitably bad officiating).
|Besides, the guy who went 4/4 vs. MSU can talk all he wants.|
That's because this thing is really for the mitten-staters: those who know what it means to be thrown into the back seat of the station wagon, to defend the middle seat arm rest, to decide who can put whose feet where, and fight to ensure the integrity of fart justice for five hours of pure Michigan hell.
Mercury Hayes, I feel you, man. That's a diary from a former MSU student who has maintained his Michigan fanhood despite four years and assorted change of East Lansinginity. There was another from ttifiblog (formerly Blue Seoul) that went into some of the stuff that'll get retread this weekend, like Narduzzi's quote, and MSU's fake mascot, and Gholston. Let's not leave out the great sin of shopping at non-campus outlets, because when 80% of a state's fans choose one local school over the other, it must mean rooting for a place you didn't graduate from isn't okay (somebody please inform the Ohioans).
I think this rivalry is done a disservice when glib reporters only focus on that time a 22-year-old made a 50-year-old analogy, and a 50-year-old was a total baby about it. Rivalries aren't just as base as hate; they're analogues for human relationships, with all of the sameness and quirks those have. In this case it's two brothers close enough in age to be competitive, and young enough to not have the maturity to appreciate each other.
The inferiority complex is bred out of inferiority; the smugness is bred out of superiority that most of us had little to do with earning. All shit talk is good and encouraged, so long as you remember nobody really believes any of it. Of course it's immature! Rivalries for athletes are motivation to excel; rivalries for sports fans are about finding an outlet for our primal child.
Weeklies. The FEI chart from dnak now includes past opponents. Suggestion: turn it 45 degrees: teams higher vertically are better, and left-right says whether it's the offense or defense doing the pulling:
MSU is off the charts defensively and just under okay on offense, which puts them with Wisconsin and Ohio State among the conference elite. Michigan's about equal with Notre Dame and a clear 2nd tier in the Big Ten. When you look at this and realize State played Illinois instead of Penn State and Purdue instead of Ohio State you get a better appreciation for how vastly different our route to Indianapolis is than theirs.
Turnover Analysis says MSU puts the lie to the "turnovers are random" assertion: their safe offense and high-pressure defense put them far to the good despite recovering just 17% of their fumbles. Purdue remains an outlier of awfulness. MSU miniprogram should have included criminal records.
Etc. Bentley event the Friday night before Nebraska.
3/5/2011 – Michigan 70, Michigan State 63 – 19-12, 9-9 Big Ten
[KIDS! Due to the exact content of the quote this column is built around there are a couple of swears included herein. You should read something else right now.]
right: Marissa McClain/Daily
Set aside the fact that the coach complaining about a last-second layup left his starters in with his team up 50 points against Michigan once. Look past the game two years ago in which Durrell Summers threw down a dunk with 11 seconds left and the shot clock turned off in a 17-point game. Try to forget that the last second layup put Michigan up seven, not 19, and came on a possession that started with 16 seconds on the clock in a two possession game, and that Darius Morris had passed up a similarly open layup with near-disastrous results earlier in the year. Squint hard and pretend that Michigan State doesn't currently features a high master of on-court whine and trash-talk in Draymond Green, that Kalin Lucas didn't chuck the ball at Morris after his layup, that Lucas wasn't the first guy to open his mouth in the handshake line and probably wasn't offering salutations to Morris's mother.
Ignore the many reasons why the epic post-game meltdown about "class" currently underway on the Michigan State internets is ridiculous. If you can't—understandable—at least run off somewhere else to get your fill and then come back when you're ready.
That dispensed with: Michigan State basketball fans, even the elaborately reasonable ones, are whining about class on the internet. Since a Vick isn't involved, this can only mean one thing: they lost, and it wasn't that close, and they can't say anything else. Basketball! The game with the ball that you bounce and attempt to throw through a hoop and if you're Michigan you never do it quite as much as Michigan State, certainly not twice in one season. It is in this sport that a Michigan team with no seniors and approximately 45% freshman usage has reduced the Michigan State fanbase to a blubbering collection of brahs with zeroes on their chest looking up the Queensberry Rules and fainting at rough language. In other news, Michigan fans did the same after a football game in fall and earth's magnetic poles have flipped.
Michigan didn't even play that well. They shot poorly and Stu Douglass took two NBA threes for no reason and every shot that wasn't a delicately executed easy bucket was a flung prayer. But State played worse, especially right at the beginning, and most of the game was played in a six to eight point range that would have been comfortable if we weren't talking about a team that Michigan hadn't swept since Charles Woodson was walking around with a rose in his teeth and another that had seen simply massive leads against tourney no-hopers Northwestern and Indiana dwindle alarmingly down the stretch.
But after the usual dwindling and a brief moment of alarm Michigan just felt… better. While they had to use Evan Smotrycz as a center again and Blake McLimans made a cameo appearance they didn't have walk-ons on the court for most of the game and didn't spend offensive possessions running the three man weave in a desperate attempt to generate something other than a long two off a curl screen. Michigan's best players seemed better than Michigan State's, and so did the role players.
To get to the previous sentence from hoping for double digit wins in the preseason and staring at a 1-6 Big Ten record before the first MSU matchup is almost incomprehensible. I spent most of the second half of the game at Breslin terrified that this would be the moment the vastly superior Spartans blew the doors off and showed us our hopes were foolish. If wasn't exactly serene on Saturday*, second half thoughts were at least things like "don't blow this" and "OMG Hardaway." When the Spartans cut it to two, Michigan treated them like Indiana or Northwestern by throwing down a dunk and immediately pushing the margin back out. Michigan didn't make a whole lot of shots—Jordan Morgan is the only guy coming out of the State game with a high FG%—but it didn't matter. Somewhere, there is a commentator talking about how good teams win even when they don't play well who does not know he's actually talking about Michigan.
Yes: good. No qualifiers. Right now they are good. Since the last Michigan State game Michigan has won eight of eleven. Two of the losses were by two and one to tournament teams; the other was by nine to a one-seed on the road. Only the Iowa game qualifies as an escape—Michigan's kind of unlucky to have won only eight of eleven. They got up from an all-time gut punch to beat Minnesota and MSU and have probably punched their ticket no matter what happens in the Big Ten Tournament.
They're good. Full stop. They'll be better next year. Anyone who can remember a time in which the future was brighter for Michigan basketball that hasn't been vacated in retrospect is probably thinking of the first time they saw Glen Rice shoot.
Kalin Lucas said something to Darius Morris. Whether Morris actually did or not, the rivalry's legends will now include the fact-type substance that he responded "get the fuck off my court."
Depending on what side of the rivalry you're on that's either a shocking violation of the Queen's English or something you've been waiting ten years for a Michigan player to say. But if interpreting that comment is a matter of perspective, what happened after is not: Kalin Lucas got the fuck off Darius Morris's court. Again.
*[In part because I was watching the game at 1 AM because I had been travelling literally the whole day; by the time I got home I could have seen my grandmother and thought she was a loud, stupid, slow person I wished did not exist. Air travel from obscure locations inflates your natural level of misanthropy 1000%.]
Official restatement of trash-talk policy. Entirely in favor. Makes game spicier for fans without doing anything negative other than spawning I'm-looking-over-my-hornrims comments about "ugly scenes" from newspaper folk. I dislike opposing players who are annoying, but like that I dislike them, if that makes any sense. I miss David Boston and think Ohio State fans secretly love Mike Hart.
Michigan's sweep and Morris's layup/swearin' raises the stakes for next year, and there's nothing bad in that.
The great disaster. Here it is as captured by WXYZ:
Newspapers see an "ugly scene," I see games worth investing in. Seriously: Rollerball. Too bad Lucas won't be around.
On the other hand. Izzo has got to be the worst loser on the planet. After the game:
Lucas took exception to whatever Morris yelled at the visiting team, following his game-ending coast-to-coast layup with the Spartans appearing to lay off. Lucas responded by throwing the ball at him, causing a small tussle that Michigan's Jordan Dumars broke up as the teams shook hands.
“I'm not for that, so I'll straighten that out," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after the game. "But at the same time, going for a layup with three seconds left — (Morris) talked a lot of stuff all game, including at our place, so maybe he deserved it.”
"Going for a layup with three seconds left"—what a hypocritical asshat. Again: Durrell Summers dunk to go up 19 two years ago. Criticizing another player for talking trash when you have the team you do—hypocritical asshat.
Paint by mouthguard. The other side of the now-infamous picture of Hardaway after the Wisconsin game:
Oh snap. I don't think MSU AD Mark Hollis's tweet in the aftermath of the game about a "great program" being preferable to a "great season" had anything to do with Michigan. (People who do have lowered their expectations well beyond reason.) So whatever… except for one of the great zingers in the history of MGoBlog:
That's pretty rude to his football team
In the aftermath, I consulted the flowchart.
If you haven't gotten your fill of Lloyd Brady versus Michigan State, BlueBarron's thread has you covered.
Emergence. Everyone's focused on Hardaway exploding over the second half of the Big Ten season—and with good reason—but another player is quietly emerging as we move along here: Matt Vogrich. Vogrich is never going to be a star but you've probably noticed a few defensive MANBOUNDS in the last couple games that came from a surprising source. After one against State the amiably incompetent color guy called Vogrich "Novak," which was wrong but at least understandably so. Vogrich hasn't seemed like a huge liability on defense and is currently shooting 40% from 3—48% in the Big Ten. As Michigan adds slashers like Brundidge and Burke and hopefully gets more driving action from Hardaway and Smotrycz there will be more open threes to be had, and Vogrich is probably the best guy on the roster to take them.
Smotrycz. Obviously had himself a day despite not getting any rebounds. One of his fast break layups was a gift but he made the other one by poking the ball out; his fake and drop step on Roe was Morgan-like. Also hit a three. He obviously does not have a long term future at the five so the biggest thing Michigan needs from him is a leap forward on defense.
Nosesplosion. The Lucas "intentional foul" that gave Michigan the ball and two free throws was a major turning point in the game. Some bits on it. One: Lucas nailed LLP in a previous game. Two: after the Manny Harris debacle against Purdue the Big Ten has been pretty consistent about their reaction to similar plays. No ejections but the opponent gets two shots and the ball. Lucas's elbow got above his neck and nailed a 6'5" guy in the face—it was clear as day that they were going to call the harsher version of the foul. Three: they really should change the lingo from "intentional," which confuses everyone, to something like "severe."
Morgan. Have we not been giving him enough credit for his FG%? He gets a lot of help, sure, but he's got that baby hook and a variety of other shots that turn Morris passes into baskets. He's not just a dunk machine. He's been hesitant from time to time this year and has spun into trouble some; I think the improvement we get from him is not in efficiency but time on the court—must stop taking nothing fouls—and usage.
Eamonn Brennan awards Michigan his "best bubble win":
Considering where the Wolverines started -- getting blown out by teams in Belgium in the summer and being picked to finish close to the Big Ten cellar -- and considering this win came over a hated in-state rival that's dominated Michigan for a decade-plus ... well, let's just say it was a good day for the Maize and Blue. Enjoy it, folks.
Izzoface? Izzoface. Also the comments after the State News story are amaaaazing. Daily game story. News game story. Wojo column. Five Key Plays from UMHoops. Player interviews. Torrent. Tourney bracket features Michigan's first bye in seven years(!). Um… Kesha? Alex Legion is in the wilderness again. Blame crazy mother? Um… maybe.
Programming note: the Martin news and AD search was clearly more important than slapping up half of the Delaware State UFR, so both halves will land tomorrow.
A couple AD clarifications. The thing about Dave Brandon politicizing the AD position was not meant to suggest a staunch anything couldn't run the department—Bo, good God. The thing is: Brandon almost made a run for senate the last time around and is considering a run for governor. If he's got political aspirations he'd have to resign to pursue them, and Michigan would just be at square one again.
Molk to return. It sounds like David Molk will return to the lineup against Penn State:
"Medically, everything has been cleared for him to go to practice, so I think it is just a matter of how comfortable he feels with that and getting back in action," Rodriguez said. “He really hasn’t done much football wise. He did a little bit last week, but nothing with full pads so tomorrow will be the truer test as opposed to today."
Moosman would slide over, leaving Huyge and Dorrestein to fight it out for the last spot. Everyone else is on track to go, with Forcier declaring himself "100%" yesterday. To steal some of Tim press-tweet thunder:
Molk healthy, will start at C. Moos to RG, Dorrestein or Huyge at RT // CBrown, Tate healthy. RB starter depends on Minor's health and play selection. Minor's injury day-to-day.
Everyone's full-go, then, except Minor, and that's just life with Brandon Minor.
Down, pull, tomato tomato. So that play that Michigan got burned on a few times against Eastern Michigan and exists as the staple of the Michigan State rushing offense has been called at least two different things around here. Steve Sharik calls it "Down G" because the line blocks down and a guard pulls around. I've tended to call it "power off tackle" because it's a power run that usually goes off tackle. Chris Brown splits the difference, calls it "Power O," and breaks it down in the usual clear language that teaches you something:
The lineman to the side the run is going (playside) essentially “down” block, meaning they take the man to the inside of them. For the guards and center, that includes anyone “heads up” or covering them, but for the playside tackle, he does not want to block the defensive end or other “end man on the line of scrimmage.” These lineman use their leverage to get good angles to crush the defensive lineman, and the fact that they don’t have to block a couple of defenders on the playside frees them to get good double teams and block the backside linebackers. To use Vince Lombardi’s phrase, the idea is to get so much force going that direction that they completely seal off the backside.
There are four or five additional aspects to the play and accompanying cut ups. Every once in a long while Michigan will run this, but not often; usually they just zone to one side of the field or the other. They did bust it out a couple times against Delaware State; they use it as a short-yardage play. (As opposed to DeBord, who loved running the stretch on third and short.) They tried it on the goal line once but Vincent Smith didn't get the memo and ran directly into the space the pulling guard had vacated.
If they do run it in non I-form short yardage sets in the future, I'd expect it would be from a set featuring Robinson and Minor in the backfield.
Michigan gets exposed to this play on defense a ton, though, and the key to it is for the unblocked defensive end to prevent this from happening:
First, the fullback (or, more often nowadays, some kind of H-back or other player) is responsible for blocking the otherwise unblocked end man on the line of scrimmage (”EMLOS”). He uses a “kick out” technique, simply meaning he blocks him from the inside to out, in order to create Lombardi’s famous “seal” going the other way.
EMLOS: football jargon or the cybernetic virtual intelligence gone awry that you must defeat to save the station and turn the zombiefied crew back into humans?
Er. Anyway: the defensive end has to get inside that block. If he does this he almost always turns the pulling guard into a useless hunk of meat stuck in the backfield and then "spills" the play outside, where an unblocked linebacker should have an easy time stringing the play out and tackling for a minimal gain. At least in theory. Michigan's done this a lot this year and sometimes the linebacker has not made the easy play on the outside. Por ejemplo:
That's JB Fitzgerald there but Mouton has also done that more than once. Not recently, though, so that's good.
Not exactly making a sandwich with someone else's cheese. I guess this qualifies as trash talk, but it has a decidedly Victorian air to it:
“I think we feel like we’re the better team and we can go out there and still beat them," Royster told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for a story published Tuesday.
Not one but two qualifiers there. Graham in response:
“He’s just going to have to show it,” Graham said on a teleconference. “We’re going to come. They better come hard, cause we’re coming. I just don’t think they really know. How much preparation and how much we’ve been waiting for this game since last year. If he feels pretty confident, they better prepare. That’s all I have to say.”
Good show, Mr. Graham. Your delicately phrased bon mot will be the talk of the salons this day! I daresay the viceroy's daughter may even catch wind of it and permit herself a lady-like titter. Write her a letter confessing your affections, but beware her devious half-brother's designs on the throne—and milady's heaving bosom!
Stat abuse. I mentioned the huge swing in Michigan's statistics after the Delaware State game in the game column; Ace has a fuller breakdown over at his site. My favorite line in the table is Zoltan & Co jumping from third in net punting to second on a day with no punts. More drastic than even the huge jump in offense rankings are some of the individual statistics. Denard, welcome to the realm of the statistically viable:
Denard Robinson’s season (and, therefore, career) passer efficiency rating skyrocketed from a paltry 55.39 (for context, the 100th best qualifying passer in the country, Clemson’s Kyle Parker, has a rating of 106.55) to a very acceptable 131.83 (which would qualify for 54th in the country, just above Northwestern’s Mike Kafka). David Cone’s season rating went from 0.00 to 150.72.
Meanwhile, Michigan has been outgained in four games against BCS opponents.
Understated positivity, also ROOOOONEY! You probably have no idea who Martin Tyler is unless you're British or have FIFA 200X, but even if you don't you have to understand this is good news:
SI.com has learned that Martin Tyler, the venerable British announcer who was voted the FA Premier League Commentator of the Decade, has been hired by ESPN to be the lead play-by-play voice for the network's English-language coverage of next summer's tournament in South Africa. The formal announcement is expected this week.
Guess who's not watching the 2010 World Cup in Spanish? This guy. This is going from Pam Ward and a howler monkey that spends 90 minutes screeching your embarrassing personal secrets to the world to Keith Jackson and a somewhat annoying Irish guy. The guy behind this delightful turn of events is the improbably-named Jed Drake, and he's possibly signaling a shift in ESPN policy away from "let's try to make Brian stab the cat":
"After the ['08] Euros we said, 'OK, let's take the presumption that we are going from scratch and start looking at those who can contribute at the highest level to our ongoing efforts in the world arena of football," said Jed Drake, ESPN's senior vice president and executive producer, event production.
Yes. Yes please.
Etc.: Cinci radio stations are getting uppity re: OSU. UMHoops interviews John Gasaway, the artist formerly known as Big Ten Wonk. Chuck Klosterman's new book is excerpted on Page 2; Michigan zone readin' it against Minnesota is a jump-off point for a Klosterman discursion into life, the universe, and everything. It probably says something uncomplimentary about me that I thought Klosterman's description of the play was irritatingly inaccurate in an article where Klosterman apologizes for the excessive football detail four or five times, even inviting readers to skip ahead.
It's tiny and it's in the corner but it's something. (Via MVictors.)
ISO. I'm looking for an iPhone programmer for a startup project. Email me if you're interested.
WHOAH. Yes Forcier woo but hold on just a dang minute here:
It's only two games, but you would not be completely unreasonable to start worrying about Michigan as Penn State's main competition in the conference.
That's Black Shoe Diaries, and yes it would be completely unreasonable. A
five three-point loss to USC does not destroy Ohio State's status as a team that doesn't run out walk-ons on defense. Let's keep the increased expectations at the Alamo/Outback level, plz, lest Michigan failing to hit the BCS this year is cause for another round of "I'm not saying Michigan should fire Rich Rodriguez, but did you know he uses babies as fuel for his Hummer?" stories. This team still has huge problems on defense and the offense is currently held together by Forcier's insane magic, something that's probably going to lose Michigan a game or two when the freshman in Forcier bites back.
Also from that post halol:
If there's one thing Penn State and Michigan fans can get together on, it's Terrelle Pryor schadenfreude.
Quick kickin'. Tate Forcier's quick kick ended up downed at the four and it sounds like Michigan will be inclined to use it in similar situations in the future:
Forcier, Michigan's true freshman quarterback, doubled as a punter (and defensive back) for his high school team in California, and Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez said Forcier worked occasionally on the skill during fall camp.
"He's very good at it," Rodriguez said.
Later in that article Rodriguez points out he won't call that on third down, which uh thanks for that clarification. Shades of Brian Griese and a much better alternative than Carr's well-loved fake-FG punt that hardly worked and often saw teams put a returner back anyway. Michigan hurrying to the line and threatening to go for it means no one can get back lest a fake happen.
Rising. I always like it when the assessments I make in UFR are echoed by other people, as it makes me think I'm not totally bats in said assessments. So here's a rising guy for the NFL draft after two games:
Donovan Warren/CB/Michigan: Warren, the Wolverines well-sized cornerback, seems to have his game back on track after a disappointing sophomore campaign. He broke up three passes during the victory over Notre Dame and was forceful helping to stop the run. The junior's game comes with a great amount of upside potential and should Warren consistently play at a high level, he will eventually move into the draft's initial 45 selections.
That would be just about perfect: an excellent season, a mid-second round rating, and a reason to come back to school.
What in the hell? Deadspin's gone downhill ever since Leitch (mostly) left but I didn't know they'd turned into an LSU message board:
Have you ever been to Auburn? No? Well, I have, and IT SUCKS! Which is why, in order to "attract" recruits, the program has to dispatch its illiterate boosters to harass the nation's top prep talent into signing with them.
I have been to Auburn, and I can say confidently that it sucks far less than "The Cajun Boy" and his post. Don't they pay people to write there? I don't understand.
Point of clarification. The Only Colors took some exception to gentle—you might say brotherly—ribbing at the bottom of Monday's game column:
1. To me, this [the press box announcer stating that the MSU-CMU score was an exception to "no cheering in the press box"] is a hell of a lot less defensible than MSU fans cheering on the HORROR. (That video, of course, being one which Michigan fans have alternately whined about and made fun of for two years now.) Fans aren't supposed to maintain any pretense of objectivity …
First, this isn't about defensible or not. What we are talking about here is talking, and the worst of it rises to "ha you lost." This blog has always been wildly in favor of press conference trash-talking from anyone from the pope on down. The whole "moment of silence/little brother/Mike Hart is short/pride comes before the fall" sequence was awesome. It raised the stakes in the rivalry to the point that OSU fans entering a tailspin of self-doubt, regret, and pining for Tate Forcier was only my third favorite thing that happened over the weekend. In no way do I disapprove of Dantonio taunting Mike Hart. In that spirit, press box announcer trash-talk adds fuel to the fire. Fuel is good until Ned gets involved.
Second, I don't know what he's referring to about the fans. I've never seen Michigan fans suggest State fans shouldn't enjoy The Horror—maybe the occasional dig at brahs wearing App St gear around, which is sad. But "pride comes before the fall" and "should we have a moment of silence?" are direct quotes from the head man and definitely deserve comeuppance mocking.
2. For our purposes, I'll assume that Freep writers weren't among those cheering. Still, how exactly does this square with the Michigan-fan meme/persecution complex that the lolmsm has effectively become an arm of the MSU athletic department?
I think that's restricted to the Free Press, FWIW. Also, the Michigan press box is full of your Ebling and (lol) Spartanmag equivalents too; every press box is divided between aloof observers and homers.
In summation: I can't complain about Michigan fans playing the comeuppins' card, especially when my team choked as badly as they did on Saturday. But, playing that card also forfeits the high ground they've staked out for themselves, as Dex from WLA essentially admitted. Welcome to the muck.
What high ground? We mock you for being dunderheaded nitwits who can't get into the country club, you accuse us of never getting laid. It's the circle of life. It's a circle.
Falcon punch? Jonas Mouton got a little pop on one of ND's offensive linemen on Saturday:
This is really weird. It looks like a punch, but on the complete tape Mouton just jogs away after it and in the second or two before the camera angle cuts the ND OL appears to get up like nothing happened. Contrast that to the reaction when Greg Mathews kicked an Oregon player. Slightly different. If there'd been any problems afterwards I'd think you'd suspend the guy—though Mathews didn't get a game for a far more blatant case of poor sportsmanship, nor did that Wisconsin punt scrub who twisted Breaston's knee—but no one seems to have a problem with it except Charlie Weis. I might sit Mouton down anyway. That's not likely if Robert Reynolds got all of a game for choking out Jim Sorgi.
Etc.: Old timers will remember unofficial MGoBlog editorial cartoonist Joel A Morgan; he's taken his stuff to Mustaches with Michigan. MfM wasn't just a one-off, by the way. They're around for the long haul. Michigan Monday is always more entertaining when we're not awful. LSUFreek tackles last weekend's game.