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.]
As usual, click the stills/links to open each GIF in a lightbox.
Of course, it's easier to find and enjoy these moments in victory, like Michigan's dramatic comeback against Florida State on Friday. Even as the Wolverines trailed early, we got to see Spike Albrecht thread a perfect pass to Mitch McGary on the pick-and-roll, then McGary return the favor on the very next possession, two longtime teammates playing beautiful basketball. I'll let the pictures speak for what Caris LeVert did to set up this alley-oop to Glenn Robinson III:
Before Nik Stauskas made a brilliant play to decline McGary's screen and go straight to the hoop for the game-tying layup, we'd witnessed our 6'10" center fake a behind-the-back pass on a coast-to-coast drive, Stauskas weave his way through four defenders for an up-and-under layup, and Stauskas—yeah, he had a game—unleash a two-handed throwdown in a crowd of Seminoles:
If those don't tickle your fancy, might I interest you in a banana-suit-wearing exemplar of joie de vivre? I sure hope so.
Even in Sunday's brutal slog against Charlotte, there were moments of sheer delight. Stauskas made another bid for Sportscenter glory by following a potent hesitation move with an authoritative one-handed slam. LeVert somehow found a way to get this left-handed, behind-the-head flip-shot to fall while drawing a foul:
This play, in a miracle of science, briefly caused McGary to turn into a Tyrannosaurus Rex, albeit one with unusually long arms:
This was thoroughly enjoyable, and remains so despite the game's ultimate result.
Yes, last weekend was disappointing, and the forecast for this weekend is more of the same, with extra rivalry bitterness. This is a good time to remember that even in last year's defeat, we had the privilege of witnessing a pantheon play by a pantheon Michigan athlete. The final result isn't likely to be pretty; that doesn't mean The Game isn't worth watching.