"There's a certain level of confidence and composure he brings to the court," said sophomore forward Aubrey Dawkins, who played the bulk of his minutes as a freshman while LeVert sat on the end of the bench in a sweat suit. "When you know you have a player like that on your team of that caliber, it's just like, we're in his hands and he can do a lot of things for this team. It's a comfort. It's nice."
"I just really wanted to see him in a game and I loved what I saw," Beilein said. "He was active. He's got a motor. He's got some things he's got to work on. He doesn't have the strength to (play) the way he'd like to in the Big Ten yet, but that's what we're going to work on in-between (games) without inhibiting his ability to play the next game."
[KIDS: IF YOU READ THIS POST YOU WILL BE EXPOSED TO SWEARS AND PROBABLY DIE]
I had only stayed because I had come up with a fun game for myself: see how long it would take Michigan to get a shot in a third period where they trailed Bowling Green 4-1. So I was there when BGSU kept Michigan pinned in their own zone for about two minutes and finally slipped one five-hole on Racine. And I was there for The Shot, which happened with about 15:30 gone. 15:30.
Since there were four minutes left in the game I figured I might as well stick around to pick up a hockey version of the Fandom Endurance III badge. I'd long since disconnected from any emotion save extreme hipster irony, so like whatever man. But this team does still have the ability to pull emotion out of me.
With a minute and a half left, a Bowling Green player went low on Mac Bennett, dangerously so. His body went directly into Bennett's knee, and Bennett crumpled to the ground holding it. It looked bad, ACL bad.
I remember Ferris lighting up a Michigan player who I can't recall right now so badly that the entire arena was baying for blood. I remember Travis Turnbull losing his shit after a period and getting kicked out. I remember Bobby Hayes. I remember Bob Gassoff, who shouldn't have been issued a stick and is now a Navy SEAL. All of these men were mean. They ascribed to the hockey code where any offense, no matter how slight, is reason to do some meaningless shoving and maybe facewash a guy. There is a code, and in its simplest form it is "don't go after a goalie or anyone's knee, ever."
A guy who caused a major injury in a game already decided would have spurred a line-brawl with any of these people. It should spur a line brawl. It should do something. Anything. Michigan shrugged and went back to its bench.
That was it for me. I found out there was one last emotion this crew could pull out of me: pure rage at them.
This hockey team with eleven drafted players got outshot 34-20 by Bowling Green, with zero. I'm not sure BG has more than four players taller than six-foot. 5'10" BGSU freshman Dajon Mingo—from Canton, so sadly not related to Barkevious—was the most interesting player on the ice. They have blown the tourney streak already, in early January, and they can't even be bothered to defend a guy wearing an A on his jersey. Not one of them gave a shit, and while a few—Trouba, Merrill, Copp, Hyman, maybe a few others—do actually look like they are trying and improving, as a group this is a leaderless crew that doesn't backcheck and gets outskated by team after team with a tenth of the talent they have. Every game is a new way to be infuriated.
So whatever. I'm done. I'm not writing another word about this hockey team, because all the stuff I put down I have to delete lest the athletic department, readers, PETA, and local law enforcement become alarmed. What a shame it would be to waste time on these [delete] [revise] [delete again] fellows when the basketball team is such a joy.
Before I go, three things.
One: several years back a friend and I got dinner before a game against Notre Dame, then in their year-one resurrection under Jeff Jackson. We noticed a crew of folk decked out in ND gear who were obviously parents, and asked them how Jackson had effected such a turnaround with almost literally the same set of players his predecessor had led to the bottom of the league.
They said that Jackson had challenged them when they had come in: they could either be the losers they were, or they could work their asses off. And that was it.
Shand: You haven’t seen fuckin’ Red after a loss. There’s actually a story in John Bacon’s book Blue Ice. We’re up in Sault Ste Marie, and we’re playing Lake State. I think the previous 27 times we’d played them we beat them twice. This was 90-91. Lake State were defending national champions. They were big, physical and they’d bang the shit out of you, especially in their own building. I think we lost 10-0.
It’s just Red and I up there–Mel’s on a recruiting trip. I thought Red was going to fucking explode. He comes into the locker room, throws shit around and he goes, “That was unbelievable. You guys are wimps and fucking pussies. You’ve got no fuckin’ guts and no fucking balls.” He stomps out of the locker room. I’m the assistant coach so I follow him out.
So the team’s getting on the bus to get back to the hotel, it’s about three miles from the rink and it’s 25 below zero. As the team’s getting on the bus Red goes, “I ain’t fuckin’ riding with those losers.” So we walk back from the hotel in a snow storm, at 25 below zero, I’ve got Italian loafers that I bought when I was in Europe. They were $250 shoes, they were ruined. I get back to the hotel and just throw the shoes in the garbage because they’re done. I had to go back to my room and run a tub of hot water because I thought I was going to get frostbite.
So Red calls and tells me to come down, he’s got the tape from the game. We looked at the tape ‘til 6 o’clock, 7 o’clock in the morning. For six hours, broke down everything. We have the morning skate, Red doesn’t say a fucking word. We have the pregame meal, normally we have a meeting right after. Red comes in, he goes, “If you are men, and I mean men…with balls and a fucking cock and some sense of yourself…then you will fucking play tonight.” He turned around and walked out of the room. We won 4-3 in overtime. It was unbelievable. The bus ride back from the Sault was like 20 minutes. Talk about people who hate to lose.
Three: Before I wrenched the radio dial down to silence yesterday, I heard Bill Trainor delicately ask Red what had happened. Red said some stuff about getting poor goaltending early and being "snakebit" in the third. Seriously. He seemed as placid as ever.
I don't know, man. Maybe he got in that locker room and ripped each and every one of them from top to bottom, Mark Mangino style. Maybe. If he did it's clear no one in this locker room is listening.
UPDATE: I forgot to link Yost Built's recap if you want more detail on the debacle. My favorite was the goal where two BGSU players were at the goalmouth without even one guy trying to check them.
FWIW the hit on Bennett was not the cheap shot that Brian and others make it out to be. The announcers actually described it pretty well.. a fair hip-check that caught Mac at the one moment he was most vulnerable - and it didn't appear to be any intent to injure. It was no more a bad hit than the one that BG's Tate got the misconduct for on Serville - which wasn't.
If I recall correctly, one of Michigan's D-men laid a similar hip check on a BG forward in the late-second/early-thrid period.
Honestly, the most vicious hit in the game, and the only hit possibly warrenting review, was Trouba's elbow in the third.
On a different topic, I will say that the Big Ten Network does a great job covering hockey. The announcers, color commentary, and intermission reporters know their stuff.