Michigan got a much-needed win on Friday night against Notre Dame in what was a great game from start to finish for the Wolverines. Carl Hagelin scored less than halfway through the first period to put Michigan on top 1-0, and a busy second period ended with Michigan on top 3-1. Brian Lebler scored to put Michigan up 2-0, but Notre Dame pulled within one on a power-play goal. Lee Moffie scored a power-play goal of his own about a minute and a half later, though, again making the lead 2 goals. Louie Caporusso scored a goal about a minute into the third period to add to his 2 assists for a 3-point night. Bryan Hogan had a solid night in net for Michigan, giving up only 1 goal in the Wolverines’ 4-1 victory.
A sweep of Notre Dame would have been a great way to finish the first half of the season, but Michigan reverted back to its strategy of outshooting the opponent only to lose in South Bend on Sunday (also known as the Red Wings method). I didn’t see the game because it was on Comcast, but the stats are nothing new. Michigan outshot Notre Dame 38-20 but didn’t score a single goal. The Fighting Irish scored twice during the second period and that was more than enough, as they won 2-0.
The loss means that Michigan was a disappointing 9-9-0 overall during the first half of the season and an even more disappointing 5-7-0-0 in the CCHA (10th place). The GLI comes up at the end of the month, and then Michigan will get a week or so off before starting up CCHA play again. To say Michigan needs to play lights out in the second half of the season is an understatement, because splits aren’t even any good at this point. Michigan needs sweeps if it wants to improve its spot in the CCHA standings and have any legitimate chance of winning the conference tournament to in turn make the NCAA tournament.
(Side story from Friday’s game: You know those warnings about always paying attention since pucks could enter the crowd? Well, I will start taking them more seriously in the future, because I got drilled with a puck above my right eye on Friday. I sit in the front row down in the south end and wasn’t paying attention, and I thought the play was going in the opposite direction. Apparently it wasn’t, because the puck came flying over the glass and bounced right off of my head. It really didn’t hurt and I was more pissed off than anything that I didn’t get the puck (it bounced under the bleachers or something), but boy was that unexpected. An usher came over to make sure I was alright and I gave him a thumbs up in order to make sure I didn’t miss any of the game, but I’m still pissed I didn’t get the puck. Injury-wise I thankfully only ended up with a bump above my eye, so I’m just glad the puck hit me where it did and not, say, an inch lower. Either way, regardless of where you sit, make sure to always pay attention to where the puck is. I wasn’t worried about the puck ever coming close to me based on how the boards are set up in front of my seat, but needless to say, I will be watching things more closely in the future.)
Michigan again got off to a slow start against an opponent it should blow out and didn’t really pull away until late in the second half. Detroit put up a fight at Crisler Arena on Sunday and was actually up 36-33 at halftime. Michigan sort of woke up after a few minutes of the second half went by and took the lead, but Detroit managed to hang around for quite some time. Eventually Michigan did finally start to pull away from the Titans, but it wasn’t until there were seven or so minutes left in the game. At that point Michigan went on a run and ended up winning 75-64. It was another ugly effort, but like I said after the Utah game, it’s clear that this team is just not very good right now.
All I can say is that it’s a good thing that Michigan has Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims. Both of the Detroit natives brought it against the Titans and ended up with 27 and 23 points, respectively. Manny had 9 rebounds and 6 assists to go along with his 27 points, and Sims ended up with 12 rebounds, good for a double-double. The rest of the team’s scoring basically came from Laval Lucas-Perry and Stu Douglass. LLP and Stu both shot 3-7 from the field and 1-5 from three-point land. LLP ended up with 10 points, one more than Stu’s 9, because of an extra trip to the free throw line.
Next up for Michigan is Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. This is definitely the toughest game of the season not only because of how much Michigan is playing right now and the fact that Kansas is the #1 team in the nation, but also because Kansas has won 47 straight home games. It certainly seems like this game is destined to be a blowout, but if Michigan can finally get hot from three-point land for a change (it has to happen at some point) then I think it could be similar to last season’s UConn game. I doubt Michigan will win no matter what happens, but if it can get hot then this could actually be a close game. Tip off is set for noon ET on ESPN.
Michigan upset Stanford on Friday night to become one of eight teams still alive in the NCAA tournament. It won the first set relatively comfortably before barely dropping the second set. Then, after winning the third set by only 3 points, Michigan stormed out to a big lead and won the match with a 25-11 victory in the fourth set. The win was impressive not only because Stanford was the #4 team in the country, but also because the match was at Stanford’s arena.
On Saturday, Michigan went up against Hawaii. If Michigan won, three Big Ten teams would have been in the Final Four (Minnesota and Penn State already advanced). That, unfortunately, did not happen, though. Hawaii just barely beat Michigan in the first set by a score of 25-23, and the Wolverines just played sloppy after that. Hawaii won the next two sets by scores of 25-19 and 25-18 to eliminate Michigan from the tournament and end the Wolverines’ season. It was a good run for sure, although it’s obviously too bad it didn’t continue for another round or two of the tournament.