Intro by Marc-Grégor Campredon: The MGoBlog photographer team covered over 50 events in 2018, all over the country. Sports photography is not all about capturing the action; It is about the moments, emotions, and stories. I am extremely honored to be part of such a talented team of photographers with Patrick Baron, James Coller, Bryan Fuller, JD Scott, and our now-graduated senior, Eric Upchurch.
Also very thankful to the additional photographers who are always ready to jump in and cover for us when no one can: Bill Rapai, Paul Sherman, George Borel, Ryan McLoughlin and Dianna Oatridge. All that incredible work would not be possible without Brian’s support, David’s help and everyone at MGoBlog: Thanks guys. And of course, thank you to our readers.
You can find all the photos taken this past year and more on our Flickr! page. Each photographer also selected 15 of our personal favorites from 2018, sorted per photographer, and chose three to write a little something about.
The easiest part of photography is taking the picture - it’s literally just pushing a button. The adventure behind what it took to press that button is often lost, because the end result, the photo, is really all that matters. For example, to take a photo of the team coming out of the tunnel under the lights began with a 7 hour drive from Appleton, Wisconsin (where I currently live) to Ann Arbor. After failing to find a seat in the sardine-packed photo editing room and resorting to either the floor or interview room, I take the field during warm-ups by swimming through the sea of sideline pass VIPs like a salmon in Katmai. I wanted to try something new for the player entrance so I did my stadium-step rep to row 60ish and waded my way through the definitely-sober influx of students and around to Section 1. I gave my fondest thanks to the group that sits just above the tunnel who were kind enough to let me squat under them with my camera until the players came out. By the time my leg went numb I had changed my settings four times, taken about 100 practice photos (thank you, band), and 20 minutes had passed. From there it was easy, just press and hold the shutter button. Legs still numb, I did another stadium-step rep to row what-felt-like-1,000 and sprinted my way back around the stadium, down through the student section, and onto the field.
1. SECTION ZERO:
My trip to the Elite 8 in L.A. was planned the day before. I had some sudden availability and Brian was generous enough to expense me a last-minute flight. After getting about 4 hours of sleep I woke up at 4 a.m., booked it to the airport, and was on a 7-hour travel binge to L.A. I never thought I’d have to travel over 2,000 miles the morning of a game to get there on time, but I survived. My typical duties were pretty routine once I was there, but in a celebration ceremony anything can happen. A lot of it is shooting Hail Maries (holding your camera above your head and hoping you get something). I’m only 5’8” so this is pretty much a requirement for basketball players. Pro-tip to aspiring photographers: don’t be rude, but being aggressive and holding your ground during a celebration mosh pit is a necessity. I got my shots and went to publish. Exhausted, I went back onto the court after everyone had left and I grabbed some leftover confetti, as well as a tiny, tiny leftover piece of nylon that was still on the court (now my most prized Michigan sports possession).
As a photographer my goal is to always grow and step outside the box. Think differently. What shots have been done a million times and what’s new? I’ve sprinted, climbed stadiums, driven across the Midwest, flown across the country, fallen on a slippery Spartan Stadium*, had Notre Dame players tackled at me three plays in a row, hockey pucks hit my lens, rained on, sleeted on, and heckled by Bucky. There’s a bit of sweat and tears behind each photo that you don’t see. But am I ready to do it all again? You betcha.
3. THE EYE
*shout out to the MSU player that called me a “dumbass” for slipping as Michigan players celebrated with Paul Bunyan, oops!
[After THE JUMP: the basketball guy, the football guy, the hockey guy]
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When you close your eyes and think of Moe Wagner what moments come to mind? Can have multiple answers.
Ace: Trying to narrow it to one…
But if we had to, it would start here:
Seth: Other than Gary...
Ace: But that moment also shows why this starts to get really hard. That was the final blow in a two-year-long battle with Nick Ward that was an absolute joy to watch. Wagner had a few of those. The Painter-Beilein Wars spring to mind.
Ace: One of the first things that comes to mind for me when I think of Moe Wagner is a Matt Painter postgame press conference.
I still have the quotes saved from when he asks the assembled media if they really want to hear this (I’m nodding furiously) and then goes full scheme-geek on how Wagner absolutely blows up everything you want to do on defense.
Seth: The one for me—other than "ankle breaker"—is late in the Final Four, drenched in more sweat than the guy whose job he usurped, dribbles into the lane then right back out to the corner like he just suddenly had an idea to shoot from out there instead, and swoosh.
Brian: Wagner was so sweaty against Loyola
BiSB: Carrying a team for 30 minutes is sweaty work.
Brian: The sweat a culmination of all the work he put in to become an outstanding defensive rebounder. The brow of the working man. The common 6'11" three point shooting man. The man who could no longer be called soft.
Ace: Seriously, though, those NBA Combine numbers!
Brian: He played 30 MPG at center for a top 5 defense.
Ace: Fair point. I was still surprised.
[After THE JUMP: see what we remembered before you comment what we forgot]
Seth: Geoff Schwartz, an NFL lineman who tweets about drawing weakside ISOs on his daughter's magnetic doodle board, was in awe of Wagner's effort that day. Schwartz has never complimented anybody within 50 pounds of Moe.
Ace: Here’s a glorious sweat putback:
Brian: The moment towards the tail end of the first half against Loyola where he looked like Ricky Doyle in a sauna was a moment for these reasons.
But even though I wrote a whole dang column about Nick Ward's ankles…
…I think my absolute favorite Moe moment was the year before:
Brian: Michigan entered that game a seven seed against two-seed Louisville and their criminal sex vampire coach; Louisville had four different seven-footers and Wagner ate all of their lunches. That upfake that gets a center to commit outside the three point line and guard-like drive to the hoop is Wagner's career in five seconds to me.
Ace: Wagner’s crowd theater stands out to me as much as almost any specific in-game moment. I have so many gifs of him that could be captioned “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”
Brian: Yes, the laughing on the bench gif
He was a walking meme.
Ace: Every foul call.
Brian: I LOOKED EXACTLY THE SAME TBH
He was often justified!
Seth: So there's another one that wasn't his great basketball but it's embedded in my head under its gfycat name: Enchanted Lame Antelope Ground Squirrel. After Poole makes his shot he starts running and then realizes he's being chased by a 7-foot mad German and you can see the moment when his brain clicks off "I WON THE GAME" and goes to full fight or flight.
Ace: Yes, thank you. I couldn’t have been happier that the player nearest to Poole ended up being Moe.
Brian: It feels off brand for the blog to mention that Wagner stopped and consoled one of Houston's many Davii immediately after that GIF.
Like Peter King should say it instead of us.
But that was nice!
Brian: We here at MGoBlog treasure sportsmanship.
Seth: Firm handshakes for everybody.
Brian: That means we're kicking them off the team.
(After they graduated!)
Seth: This is what comes of making light of #sportsmanship for a decade, sir.
Ace: And at the same time I absolutely understand why players (and opposing fans) hated him.
Brian: Oh god yes! The tongue alone.
Ace: Just imagine spending 30 minutes being dragged by a German dude who hits threes, doesn’t play defense, and calls you “bitch” every other possession.
…Nick Ward doesn’t need to imagine except for the 30 minutes bit.
Ace: STILL GOT IT.
Seth: It's one thing to get trash talked all recess. It's another when it's the foreign exchange student. Also you guys: lips.
Ace: While we’re tied up in Wagner’s emotions, the interplay between him and Beilein also made for amazing theatre.
Brian: I wonder if Moe actually hooked Beilein up with his German hip-hop
Ace: This picture is unfairly taken out of context but it absolutely kills me every time:
Also did NOT have to scroll far for one of these:
But in the end:
That’s another one for me: John Beilein talking about Moe Wagner while trying to keep a straight face.
Brian: They would have been perfect in a buddy cop movie. Also I have many ideas about good buddy cop movies involving Michigan persons, 98% of which star Don Brown as the curmudgeon about to retire.
Seth: "Pitch a Don Brown Buddy Cop Movie" is a future TWO.
So my first memory of Moe is his first game (not counting the scrimmage I didn’t go to) against Elon. It sticks because Marc-Gregor was so excited he got the shot and because Demorest and I are two of the fuzzy things behind it:
Ace: Moe really grew an insane amount in two years. Seeing Baby Moe bleed is kinda jarring.
Brian: That's a wing.
Ace: Two years later, he dropped 24-15 in a national semifinal.
Brian: Another excellent on-court thing was that one specific game vs Purdue at Crisler where Matt Painter kicked off his desperation switching defense. As Ace mentioned, Wagner and Purdue made for really fun basketball games.
Ace: Also: learned English.
Just in time.
Ace: I’ll show my NBA habit and make a comparison for Moe that’ll seem odd initially: Steph Curry. There’s been a lot of talk this week based on this bit of brutal and 100% correct insight:
KD went for 37 and 38 the first 2 games and Warriors twitter was like "eh...I guess". Steph had an 18 point quarter and Warriors twitter lost their shit. KD thought he was Kobe. Chasing that farewell tour. They don't love you like that.
— Beyonce has an uncle named Larry Beyince. Bruh.... (@DragonflyJonez) May 21, 2018
Nobody since Stauskas had Crisler under their spell like Moe when he had it rolling and man that Purdue game was one of those times.
Ace: This post would’ve been incomplete without the German three signal.
Seth: Oh what about that Wisconsin game last year (Feb 2017).
Ace: A lot of it runs together for me. There are absolutely peaks that stand out but it’s more faces and threes and murder offense and foul trouble and touching Player’s Tribune articles.
Which is another thing: it was genuinely remarkable to watch a kid from Berlin grow to love and understand Michigan in ways that he expressed quite beautifully by the end of his career.
Seth: Also: mad dunks.
Ace: Yes, MAAR’s face. Also: the future of Wisconsin basketball.
Seth: MAAR vs the camera lens is undefeated.
BiSB: It's hard to believe he was only 20 when he played his last game. The guy was mature and contemplative beyond his years. But only after he played the game like a 16-year-old hopped up on Pixy Stix and Surge.
Ace: Really personable, too. He found a way to connect with people. This will sound a little fanboy-ish but whatever. I’m not one who asks a lot of questions in pressers. After a game this year I was the last person lingering behind the player scrum for Wagner, who I really doubt knows me from Adam (so to speak, hi Adam), and I slipped in an off-kilter question that I don’t completely remember but am 97% sure was about Jordan Poole. A lot of guys would quite understandably fire off something quick and run back to the locker room. He paused for a moment, said something legitimately funny and insightful, and winked before heading for the exit.
Seth: Also: ran over Tom Crean.
Brian: You're going to be asking a lot of questions about mulch next year
Ace: I’ve already taken notes on pitchforks vs. shovels.
BiSB: Jars three. Runs over Tom Crean. Appears to feel bad about running over Tom Crean. The Moe Wagner Story.
Brian: God if that was Izzo instead of Crean he'd have a statue already
Ace: We can give him partial credit for this:
Brian: I think this is where i say YAAAAAAS QUEEEN?
Ace: Good couple years for angry opposing coach gifs, and again, Wagner is largely responsible. Also some very short opposing coach postgame press conferences, hello Tom Crean.
Brian: Pretty much the direct cause of Twenty Minutes Of Izzo Eating His Liver At Breslin
BiSB: Unlike Izzo, at least Wagner put Nick Ward on the floor once in a while.
Ace: I feel like I’m taking the lid off my still-only-outlined Moe retrospective post early but, yeah, that man’s legacy is being pure uncaged emotion and sucking everything around him into that vortex. I’ll, uh, work on the metaphor.
Ace: Are we missing anything glaringly obvious?
But that's what commenters are for.
Ace: One last shoutout to his signature, awkward, devastating behind-the-back move, which in addition to murderating Nick Ward’s ankles also produced the most hilariously evil basket in the Texas A&M game, which was 40 minutes of hilariously evil baskets:
The deadline for putting one's name into the NBA Draft has come and gone, so we now enter the period of uncertainty as players who didn't hire agents go through the pre-draft process before deciding whether to return to school. The Big Ten already has several notable early entrants who will hire agents and stay in the draft, including Moe Wagner and the duo of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges at Michigan State. (Also, uh, Nebraska's Jack McVeigh?)
Even more are testing the waters without an agent, including Charles Matthews, and those decisions will go a long way towards determining the Big Ten outlook for 2018-19. College Basketball Talk's Rob Dauster put together a list of the most influential early entry decisions from a college hoops perspective; of the 12 teams listed, five are from the B1G, and two of those teams (Maryland and Nebraska) have two players with NBA choices to make.
Here's a look at who's gone, who's testing, and how the draft could impact the conference standings next season.
Gone For Sure
These players have declared and will hire an agent, locking them into the draft.
F Leron Black — A big loss for an Illinois team that relied heavily on Black's scoring and rebounding. The Illini have some decent young talent and a solid incoming class but this is a setback for Brad Underwood after a rough first year. As for Black, he's probably going undrafted.
F Justin Jackson — Jackson had the misfortune of getting injured after coming back for his sophomore season, and he'd already been off to a stock-hurting start. Still, he's a talented player who made a solid impact as a freshman, and the Terps could be losing a lot depending on a couple other draft decisions.
C Moe Wagner — I don't need to tell you about the impact of this one for Michigan—we've covered it extensively and there will be plenty more to come. Wagner is currently a late first- or second-round prospect who's considered a safe pick without a ton of upside (his defense remains a sticking point).
F Miles Bridges and F Jaren Jackson Jr. — Bridges was overdue to enter and probably slipped a few spots in a loaded draft year because he returned to jack up 25-footers over a 2-3 zone. Jackson, after taking a strangely long time to make a decision that seemed quite obvious after that Syracuse game, made the obvious choice—he could go as high as #3 overall. Both are obviously major losses for an MSU team that may end up starting Kenny Goins at the four. They could lose the third member of their starting frontcourt, too.
F Jack McVeigh — Is not an NBA prospect, to be frank. He barely played for the Huskers this year after being useful rotation piece in his first two seasons. Nebraska's fates are much more closely tied to the decisions of two players who haven't hired agents.
F Keita Bates-Diop — An expected departure as KBD put together a Player of the Year-caliber junior season that earned him first-round projections. The Bucks also lose Jae'Sean Tate and Kam Williams from the starting lineup. They're set to drop back after a shockingly good first year under Chris Holtmann.
PG Tony Carr — Remember that brief moment when Penn State was a dark horse conference title contender for 2018-19? It's over now. Pat Chambers still has a team that could make some noise but they're going to have a very tough time replacing Carr's high-usage, high-efficiency offense. Carr should go in the second round.
PG Corey Sanders — A huge loss for Rutgers, as Sanders dragged that offense out of the KenPom 300s in efficiency the last couple years by taking all the bad shots he could handle and making a respectable number of them given the circumstances. While bad-shot-making is an NBA trait, Sanders isn't expected to be drafted.