spoiler alert: i linked this
I'm a bit too young to have anything personal to say about Vada Murray. I don't remember him playing, as anything other than a guy with cancer.
It's one of the great things about the internet, though, that the collective can make up for any one individual's shortcomings. Wolverine Historian put together a Murray highlight reel that lets you see what Jamiemac wrote about a couple years ago in HTTV—Murray and Tripp Welborne blocking everything in sight—amongst other things:
RIP. Also if you would talk to God about lightening up on the safeties now that would be good.
Everywhere you go. A reader sends along this BBC news piece on goings-on in Libya featuring this guy at prayer:
CCHA champs and rid of Qaddafi in the same week*—everything's coming up Milhouse!
BONUS: random Mississippi State sweatshirt in different protest. The 2011 Gator Bowl is coming for you, Qadddafi.
*[Michigan hockey guy lives in the liberated east; Qaddafi's still hanging on in the west.]
Vada latest. Vada Murray is home after radiation treatments:
We have never, ever, in our lives felt so scared. We also have never felt so loved. Thank you for the cards, emails, text messages, phone calls & messages on this website; thank you for your continued expressions of love & support. Thank you to the Ann Arbor Police Department for their unwavering love. They give true meaning to the phrase, "Whatever you need, whenever you need it." Thank you for understanding if we don't personally return your message. We both want you to know, we love you back.
Moves. Touch The Banner relates that Rivals relates a couple of position switches: Steve Watson has moved back to tight end and Will Campbell to the defensive line. You're probably thinking "meh" and "duh," but there's an interesting wrinkle:
But unlike Rodriguez and his clunky defensive staff, Campbell will actually be playing the 3-tech defensive tackle position. I can't imagine the conversations in the former defensive staff's meeting rooms. "Well, we've got this 6'5" behemoth with loads of talent, but his one problem is that he can't stay low and get leverage. We just can't figure out what to do with him."
There wasn't a three-tech DT in the 3-3-5 and Campbell wasn't going to play DE, so since he's not so good at NT it's off to offense. I'm not entirely sure this is as much of a slam dunk as TTB does—Campbell has fallen prey to single blocks plenty—but it's at least worth a shot. I'd rather he became an awesome NT but I think it's far more likely he becomes an acceptable three-tech, and either one of those allows Ryan Van Bergen to be the SDE I think Michigan needs him to be if their defensive line is going to be good against the run.
FWIW, Campbell was pretty effective in the goal line set when he could just plow into the backfield. He'll have to do a bit more than get under a guy and drive him back as he falls down if he's going to be an effective player in the other 98 yards of field, though.
Well, yes. It's natural for people to explode when your floppy-haired gritmonster makes two enormous plays that turn a probable loss into a certain win. As the morning's post indicated in the "elsewhere" section, if you don't have a post extolling Zack Novak today you probably don't have a Michigan blog. The Wolverine Blog says "what about the awesome guys?"
Tim Hardaway, Jr. locked up his third straight Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor — no small feat in a conference featuring Jared Sullinger — with a first-half outburst of “en fuego” proportions: four three-pointers in the first five minutes gave Michigan an early cushion that would allow them to weather a big Minnesota run and still enter halftime with a 35-33 lead. Hardaway finished the game leading all scorers with 22 points on 7-11 shooting (5-8 from three) …
It was Michigan’s other difference-maker, Darius Morris, who came through with 11 second-half points — continually finding his way into the paint among Minnesota’s massive front line and finding a way to create baskets — en route to a 17-point, 8-15 shooting, 7-assist performance while committing just one lone turnover.
That's ridiculously efficient and very efficient with ridiculous assist-to-turnover; Morris is also ~60% responsible for Jordan Morgan leading all D-I players in FG% in the last five games. I hesitate when TWB calls Novak a "role player"—Vogrich is a role player—but he's not one of the two lights-out stars that keep Michigan around so Novak can declare winnin' time.
Hardaway's stats are now gross. In his last five games he's made 60% of his threes. Okay, that's a hot streak. It's more than that: since January 9th he's pulled his eFG% up from 42% to 52%. In that stretch of 14 games he's made 48% of his threes. Even if you chuck out the last five games in the other nine he's hit 42%. Over essentially half of Michigan's season—the tough half—Hardaway is hitting half his threes.
30 for 30 on black socks. Jalen Rose tweets this:
That is an ESPN documentary on the Fab Five smack dab in he middle of March. Prepare to be massively conflicted.
God, the Penn State game. That's when it all came crashing down. After a somewhat encouraging performance against Iowa—at least it was encouraging on the ground—Michigan hits the bye week, dumps the mostly 4-3/3-4 sets they'd been using, and comes out in a 3-3-5 that Penn State gashes all day. Before that game PSU couldn't run if you spotted them two guys and three yards, and in the aftermath I blew up. UFR tags included "fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu," "fire coach x," "greg robinson," "i want a staple gun," "i've got a feeling i'm going to punch the black eyed peas," and "idiocracy."
This bit was particularly painful:
|Line||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M1||1||G||Goal line||3-3-5 stack||Run||Dive||?||1|
|Whatever. This isn't even M's to-date successful goal line package. RPS -1.|
That's right: Michigan ran a stack on first and goal from the one. I bring it up because a reader hit up a coaching clinic featuring PSU's Mike McQueary and reports back:
He used Michigan as an example of the importance of finding a few things as a coach that you can connect with your players on re: scheme, rather than trying to run every kind of scheme with minimal understanding (Less is better).
The hardest thing to watch was a near-goal line stand where PSU ran a Fullback draw into a 3-man front and barely needed any blocking to get the TD. He referred to that as "some knuckleheaded goal-line defense".
I still can't believe RR screwed up his defense enough to get fired. I mean, of all the epic fails in the history of epic fails. All they had to be was mediocre in year three. This is painful:
"This clip makes me feel a little sad for Coach Rodriguez. His offense is nearly impossible to gameplan for, but the defense couldn't get it done"
Etc.: The Wolverine Blog rebuts the Rodriguez-attrition meme. I think the truth lies somewhere in between it and the MNB piece. The problem was that Michigan needed to have a run of below-average attrition after late Carr-era departures and didn't get it. Robocop speaks to the city of Detroit: statue yes. Denard Robinson was a clue on Jeopardy.
Not good. The latest update on Vada Murray's condition is not good at all:
Vada was admitted to the hospital early last week, shortly after we learned that the cancer had metastasized to his brain. This, and a number of other complications from his pain meds caused a 5 day hospital stay.
Unfortunately, he was readmitted to the hospital this afternoon. … Because Vada is extremely tired & we are struggling to get his pain under control, we humbly ask you for privacy at this time.
That sounds like he doesn't have much time left. I don't have any personal memories of Murray—too young—but when and if the time comes I'll be looking for some from people who do.
HT: Gustave Ferbert on the board.
Forty gallons in a steady stream. Misopogon bumped UMHero's offer list to a diary and I was all like—dude. So I created a new wiki page for it. You can see it under "Useful Stuff" and people with over 500 points should be able to edit it. You will have to do this every thirty seconds to keep up with Michigan's enormous offer hose.
CEASE PANIC. Yesterday's offhand mention that Darius Morris was "leaning towards entering the draft" from NBADraft.net set the Michigan internets ablaze. Morris immediately appeared on the BTN, endured someone calling him "the butterfly" to his face without threatening to eat someone's pinky finger ("I don't know if it's catchy, but some people like it"), and said things that reassure:
The PANIC-related bits come at the end when Morris is asked about next year:
"We still have a lot of work to do. It's not going to come easy, it's going to take a lot of time in the weight room, a lot of time in the gym. But I definitely think we have the potential to be good down the road, be one of the dominant teams in the Big Ten in the future. I tell everybody 'just keep working hard, no matter what it looks like today.' We're always looking towards our future, and our future does look bright. We're all young, and we're all coming back next year."
Now, in the context of the interview that last statement was not a repudiation of the idea he'd leave. It was more a restatement of the fact that Michigan has no seniors. But even NBADraft.net suggested that Morris leaving would be pretty odd since he has an opportunity to play himself into a first round pick down the road and right now he'd be leaving for the un-guaranteed contracts of the second round. You'd have to be really mad to leave.
I have an email in to the author of the piece—who is not a random crank, BTW, he's making it his job—and will let you know if I get any more details.
On projected improvement. The Only Colors surveys this year's uniquely senior-laden Big Ten, finding that all the really good teams are getting about 50% of their points from old guys save OSU, and OSU is probably going to lose at least one guy in the offseason. You know this but Michigan checks in dead last with 0%. TOC on this:
Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan will basically return every significant contributor next season. Not surprisingly, the youngest teams also find themselves at or near the bottom of the standings.
This was written before the Iowa game when Michigan was hanging out in eighth but even then there's a big difference between where Michigan is and where Iowa and Indiana are. File under yet more reasons for optimism. The big takeaway: Penn State is going to be awful next year.
Also while we're on TOC, there's a diary purveying "enhanced" PORPAG but I'm pretty sure the basketball statistical community isn't a big fan of steals and blocks as a picture of defense, which is usually a team thing stats barely shed light on.
Where Michigan is: the vague bubble. After Michigan completed its nonconference schedule the conventional wisdom was that being vaguely on the bubble was M's best case scenario as the season wound down. The season is winding down and Michigan is indeed vaguely on the bubble. Huzzah for predictions.
The other prediction of late has been that 9-9 and a win in the Big Ten Tourney would be enough. Is that reasonable? I'm not sure—hockey bracketology is my specialty—but Maize and Go Blue has assembled a chart (chart) of various teams that are in the tournament according to Joe Lunardi:
|Team||Record||Conf. Pos.||Conf. Rank||RPI||KenPom||SOS||v. Top 50
||v. Top 100
One of those teams is Michigan. The other eight are in the tourney according to Lunardi. I won't spoil the surprise for people who don't know Michigan's conference record, but the studies of the other teams are pretty interesting. You have to think that going 2-1 against Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan State would be enough if this rabble is in.
More Ward. AP article on the upcoming Willis Ward documentary contains quote on par with O Brother Where Art Thou in old-timey elegance:
"On Monday morning, (Ford) and Bill Borgmann told me that they'd done something during the game for me and I'll never forget it," Ward said. "It seems as though as the game got started, a fellow on the other side of the line made a remark about him loving people like me. And his adjectives, they were 'bleep' adjectives, so I won't use it. Whereupon Jerry and Bill put a block on him that ended that fellow's participation in the game. So they came back that Monday and told me that they dedicated that block to me."
Details as to that game and the rest of the Harry Kipke era can be found at MVictors. Also check out the comments to the AP article for a fun discussion of slavery and racism between morons. Godwin happens in post #5. Amurrica.
"Wurst state ever." What it says on the tin.
Etc.: NCAA baseball clamps down on metal bats to reduce the number of 25-19 games. Michigan folk estimate home runs will be halved; they'd gone up 41 percent(!) just since 2006. Wonk/Gasaway explains his thinking to Sippin' On Purple after the author there went slapfight on him. Man applies to manage Middlesborough FC based on Football Manager experience. Bruce Ciskie on college hockey's upcoming Big Ten realignment.
See what I did there?
The Zeiglering. According to Trey Zeigler, Trey Zeigler will announce his college destination on ESPNU tomorrow. A guy named Drew Ellis said he was delaying his decision, but on matters related to Trey Zeigler my number one source is Trey Zeigler. His destination is unknown but Michigan and Central Michigan, where his dad just picked up a four-year extension, are usually the teams mentioned as having the best shot. UCLA doesn't think it's part of the festival and Arizona State didn't get a visit and is almost definitely out of the picture. Michigan State is the other team in Ziegler's top five. They have a logjam at the three with Keith Appling and others, though.
ESPNU's signing day special kicks off at 4 PM, which means we'll be waiting anxiously for an hour before Zeigler shows up. No one has anything approaching solid information. I think it's Central but I am biased to believe nothing good will happen with Michigan basketball recruiting.
Fun. I don't know if this means anything other than the NCAA doing its due diligence:
"The NCAA has met with individuals involved with the West Virginia football program to identify any potential rules violations," school officials said in a statement, released on Tuesday. "The university has fully cooperated with the NCAA during this process. West Virginia University and its department of intercollegiate athletics is committed to operating its athletics department in conformance with the legislation and policies of the NCAA and the Big East Conference."
We'll see if anything comes of it. Right now it's just a phone call and another opportunity for people to restate their opinions about how Rodriguez should or should not be fired.
Epic Red. The Daily continues its series of articles that have no-foolies established it as probably the best newspaper of any variety covering Michigan sports. Seriously. the sort of long-form profile/investigative pieces that are the main thing people point to when they lament the coming end of newspapers have been almost exclusively the province of the Daily this year. There was the Pahokee article, the Antonio Bass profile, and now a look at Red Berenson 26 years into his career as Michigan's head coach. Here's Red recruiting Chris Fox:
“If you want to be a Michigan Man, you should know in the next week,” the coach said to the recruit, who looked and felt much more like a kid than he did when he walked into the office just minutes before. “It will just become clear.”
It became clear.
Quarterback. Rapper. Auteur. David Cone has a short film in the Statesboro Film Festival. Seriously.
/in before lame freep joke based on ending.
A "these are my readers" moment. So a junior clarinet major at Michigan sends me this Microsoft paint reimagining of Tom Harmon:
It's a revamp of a Terran Marine:
By his account, this took Andrew Kobalka seven hours. He asked I not retouch it before posting.
Yeah… these are my readers. I am a privileged man.
Vada update. It kind of sucks that I'm tracking the progress of three separate former Michigan players battling cancer, but at least the news on all three has been encouraging of late. Vada Murray's wife has just updated their caringbridge site and the news in it seems positive:
We needed more tissue in order for the tissue to be tested to get Vada into a very promising clinical trial. In order to get into this trial, Vada's cancer needed to carry a particular mutation. After lots of waiting for the trial to be approved, a screw up at the lab, and many sleepless nights, we learned recently that Vada's cancer does carry this mutation. The presence of the mutation is significant. Only 7% of non-smoking adenocarcinoma patients carry this mutation. We haven't felt recently like the odds have been in our favor, but now they are. We plan to head to Karmanos shortly for some tests & his official "start" of the trial.
Vada has felt great physically but emotionally has been out of gas, especially for the last two months.
So there's that. Phil Brabbs just underwent a bone marrow transpant and seems in good spirits.
We cheer and cheer again. Touch The Banner brings a reveal and a story. The reveal: epic MGoCommenter Magnus was in the glee club. The story comes from the GC's 150th anniversary celebration, which featured one Lloyd Carr:
Coach Carr told a story about former UMMGC director Willis Patterson, who directed the group from 1969 to 1975. When Carr was head coach, he invited Patterson to teach his players how to sing "The Victors," Michigan's fight song. After ten years of teaching the team the song, Patterson once said to Carr, "You know, those players just aren't very good at singing that song."
Carr responded, "Well, who's teaching them?"
Etc.: BHGP's latest linkdump post notes that Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God has stricken all three of Iowa's potential starters for their upcoming spring game, documents the annual refugee camp forming outside Carver-Hawkeye, and embeds a truly epic redneck video. WLA propaganda posters ho.
return to sender
Vada Murray's wife occasionally posts updates on his progress in his cancer treatment. The latest is not encouraging:
Unfortunately, we learned yesterday that the chemo is not working. There has been further growth of Vada's tumors. He begins a new form of chemotherapy on Monday.
Many people have asked how Vada is doing. He is tired. We are 24 hours into receiving the news that his chemo is not working. He is having a hard time.
As for me, I would say the same. I am very scared.
I've got nothing to add; I read her last couple entries and felt terrible. It does not sound like it's going well. That's all.
There's a guestbook you can sign that Murray's wife says they read. Unfortunately, that's about all you can do to help.