One Final Quick Hits

By · Monday, June 7, 2010 · 11:04 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Monday Quick Hits: More Big Chill News

By · Monday, May 3, 2010 · 2:42 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Close to 96,000 tickets have now been sold to The Big Chill.  It’s only a matter of time until the ticket counter goes over 100,000.
  • Michigan is going to wear throwback jerseys from the 1940s in The Big Chill game against Michigan State.  (Lots more about the game can be found in a great article at Athletic Business.  Hat tip to The Blog That Yost Built.)
  • Three high school hockey games are going to be played at Michigan Stadium on December 5, six days before Michigan and Michigan State hit the ice.
  • The CCHA has essentially adopted the Big Ten basketball tournament’s setup for its playoffs since it will only have 11 teams starting next season.  Like the BTT, five teams will receive a first-round bye.  The 4 and 5 seeds will be scheduled to play each other from the beginning of the playoffs, but they won’t have to do the series until the second week of action.
  • Brandon Graham (pictured here with fellow senior DeShawn Sims) graduated and met President Obama, who spoke at Michigan’s commencement, on Saturday.
  • Donovan Warren, who is going to play free safety for the Jets, is blaming the NFL’s Draft Advisory Board for his decision to leave Michigan a year early only to go undrafted.
  • Anthony Wright’s basketball career at Michigan may be over, but with another year of eligibility left, he may play for one more season at a Division II or NAIA school.
  • Michigan’s lacrosse team is the top overall seed in the MCLA tournament.

Tuesday Quick Hits: Seating Chart Out for Big House Hockey Game

By · Tuesday, March 2, 2010 · 2:31 AM |  Share | 1 Comment 
  • The seating chart for The Big Chill at the Big House has been released.  My initial impression is that hockey season-ticket holders are going to have great seats, but it looks like student hockey season-ticket holders may get the shaft.  The student section is going to be the same as it is for football games, and there is no indication that students with hockey season tickets will get to sit in the “Hockey Season Ticket Holder Seating” section, which are really the best seats in the stadium for this event.  I’d imagine that all students will sit in the student section, which I will just say right now as a hockey season-ticket holder that I am not thrilled with that news.  I would much rather sit in the seats that will have a great view than off in the corner, and I’m sure the rest of the hockey student section would agree.
  • The public sale of tickets to this game begins on April 21.
  • Bryan Hogan missed practice on Monday, meaning Shawn Hunwick will start for Michigan this weekend.  I just hope Michigan makes it to the next round and Hogan is healthy enough to return by then.
  • Sunday’s game against Lake Superior State, which will only be played if the first two games of the series are split, has a start time of 7:35 p.m.  It doesn’t appear that Sunday’s game will be televised.
  • Seniors DeShawn Sims, Zack Gibson, and Anthony Wright will be honored tonight before the Minnesota game. (Although Wright has a year of eligibility left, this is apparently going to be his final season since he is technically a senior and will graduate in a couple months.)
  • Originally it was reported that Ben Cronin would be spending his spring break in Haiti, but as it turns out he is in New Orleans instead.  Also part of this mission trip are football players Craig Roh and Jordan Reilly.  You can read Cronin’s thoughts on the trip on MGoBlue.
  • AnnArbor.com sat down with former Michigan kicker Philip Brabbs, who is battling multiple myeloma.

Thursday Quick Hits: Yeah, College Basketball Refs Suck

By · Thursday, February 18, 2010 · 10:49 AM |  Share | 2 Comments 
  • According to Greg Banks, Michigan will attempt to fill the void created by Brandon Graham’s departure with various players, including Ryan Van Bergen.
  • Mel Kiper thinks Donovan Warren should have returned for his senior season.
  • How lame is the officiating of Ed Hightower and company?  Had DeShawn Sims missed his game-tying three at the end of regulation, a foul would have been called.  Because he made it there was no foul.  That about sums up how inconsistent college basketball referees are, especially in the Big Ten.
  • Anthony Wright didn’t play against Iowa because of a forehead injury.  Based on what John Beilein said about Wright, it sounds like he was in an altercation of some sort, but that is just pure speculation.
  • Michigan hockey commit Jon Merrill is ranked fourth in the nation by CollegeHockey247.com.
  • A poster over at mgoblog has a recap of Mock Rock, which took place earlier this week.  AnnArbor.com also has a recap.
  • Frank the Tank has another great look at why Texas to the Big Ten isn’t quite as crazy as you might think.

Monday Quick Hits: Brandon Smith to Transfer?

By · Monday, December 7, 2009 · 6:56 AM |  Share | 4 Comments 
  • Brandon Smith is apparently planning on or strongly thinking about transferring.  Smith was a redshirt freshman this past season and switched back and forth between safety and linebacker.  He started at safety against Wisconsin, but that was about it as far as his non-special teams playing time went.  Smith was recruited to Michigan initially by Lloyd Carr as a fairly highly-rated athlete.  When he came to Michigan it was unclear what position he would play (LB or S), and that uncertainty continued this past season, as he got shifted around quite a bit.  I hope Smith reconsiders and decides to stay at Michigan, but it certainly doesn’t look like that will happen.
  • UPDATE: The video is now back up on MGoBlue.A video of Rich Rodriguez’s speech at the Michigan football bust was posted on MGoBlue over the weekend, but it has since been pulled.  There were some issues with the video not working at certain points, so maybe they are just fixing it before putting it back up.

    Either way, I finally got a chance to hear the context of what Rodriguez said about New Orleans and hurricanes, which caused some people to criticize him.  Rodriguez was making a point about overcoming adversity and said something about New Orleans and what it went through with Hurricane Katrina.  As mentioned, Rodriguez received some criticism for comparing going through practicegate to being hit by Hurricane Katrina, but he was simply making a point about adversity based on what was originally brought up by a U-M Regent who spoke earlier (her speech was also in the video).  She brought up the Saints and what they overcame as an example of how people overcome adversity.  What she and Rodriguez said was not trying to liken a tragedy like Hurricane Katrina to Michigan rebuilding its football program; it was simply an example of overcoming adversity.

  • The Wolverine has a recap of what the seniors had to say at the bust.
  • Rodriguez opened his speech by making it sound like he was going to talk about rumors regarding his job security, but he instead joked about the Notre Dame opening:

    “There’s been a lot of innuendo,” Rodriguez said about his future. ” … I just want to set the record straight: I am not a candidate for the University of Notre Dame.”

    That got a big laugh from the crowd and loosened things up a bit before Rodriguez spoke with a more serious tone, talking about how proud he is of the team and the seniors and how championships will come eventually.  All in all it was a very good speech, and I hope it is posted again soon on MGoBlue so you all can watch it.

  • Speaking of Notre Dame, how lame are they?  ND actually decided not to play in a bowl game because of what their athletic director called “unique circumstances.”  In reality, ND probably didn’t want to go to a game like the GMAC Bowl, where it would have had to face Central Michigan and probably would have lost.  Sure, Notre Dame is without a coach, but it’s not like that is a reason to not go to a bowl.
  • A full bowl schedule can be found here.
  • I was really hoping that TCU and Boise State would play against BCS opponents in their bowl games, but instead they will play each other in the Fiesta Bowl.  That is a really crappy matchup to me simply because I was hoping to see what each team is really made of.  Playing each other, just as they did last season, will not prove anything, whereas playing against Florida, Iowa, Georgia Tech, or Cincinnati would have given the nation a chance to see how deserving these non-BCS teams are of someday getting a shot at the national title.  Utah and Boise State have already proved that mid-majors deserve to play in the BCS, but this could have been the year where the system was really brought down if TCU and Boise State took care of their opponents.  Instead, it will be TCU vs. Boise State, and while the matchup is certainly intriguing, it won’t do anything to bring the BCS one step closer to making some serious changes.
  • Football commit Cullen Christian has been named a U.S. Army All-American.
  • Burgeoning Wolverine Star took a look at what Michigan’s defense would be like next season without Donovan Warren.  My exact reaction when I read the post was “ahh” due to the scariness of a Warren-less defense.
  • Anthony Wright is now a father.
  • UM Hoops has another commit diary with Evan Smotrycz.
  • Ohio State’s Evan Turner is out for two months after breaking bones in his back on a missed dunk attempt on Saturday.  Michigan plays Ohio State on January 3 and February 27/28, meaning that the Wolverines for sure won’t have to worry about Turner in the first meeting.

Recapping Michigan Madness

By · Tuesday, October 20, 2009 · 1:28 PM |  Share | 1 Comment 
Photo by AP/Tony Ding

Photo by AP/Tony Ding

Michigan Madness was held last Friday to help kick off the start of basketball practice and to help get fans ready for the upcoming season.  This was the first time that there has been a “basketball season-opening event” at Michigan since 1996, according to the Michigan Daily, and hopefully this is just the first of many more to come.  There was a decent crowd of around 3,500 people in attendance for the event, and it would have been bigger had it not been fall break at U-M.  Either way, I’m sure that as time goes by, this will become a bigger and bigger event that every Michigan basketball fan looks forward to.

After having a BBQ for students that included some great food, the festivities moved inside Crisler Arena for the Greek Shootout.  It was a comical event for the students in the crowd, as most players weren’t very good, but more than anything it was an event to kill some time before the teams were announced.  The best part was getting to see David Merritt again, as he hosted this particular event. (He and C.J. Lee sat courtside for the rest of the night.)

Right around 9 p.m. is when the lights dimmed and the team introductions began.  One player from the men’s team and one player from the women’s team were introduced together, and they came down to the floor from the crowd.  The most memorable moment from the team intros happened when Stu Douglass and Courtney Boylan made their way to the court.  Those two are dating, and the person in charge of the music was aware of that, changing their entrance music to the wedding song just as they hit the floor.  It got a big laugh from the crowd and their teammates, though that probably wasn’t quite as funny as watching the coaches dance when they were introduced.  Some of the coaches were really getting into it and dancing quite well, such as Jerry Dunn.  For others it was more awkward than anything, like with Kevin Borseth, but it was all in good fun.  John Beilein came out last and ran around the court, pumping up the crowd and dancing a little bit himself.

After each of the coaches spoke to the crowd, the skills competition took place.  Each group in the competition was made up of a member from the men’s and women’s teams and a fan from the Maize Rage.  Each member had to dribble two basketballs from a baseline to near half court and pass one of them away, and then came the tricky part for almost everybody who participated in the competition.  The challenge was to bounce a ball through a rim that was propped up on a chair, and nearly everybody had trouble doing that.  It was quite funny to watch the actual basketball players struggle with it.  After they finally got the ball through the rim, the end of the competition was a bit easier, as the course finished with a layup, dribbling through some cones, passing the ball off of a pitch-back type of thing, and then doing another layup.  In the end, Blake McLimans’ team won the competition, edging out Ben Cronin’s team by one second.

The next event was the three-point contest.  I thought it would be like the usual three-point contests where you shoot a rack of five balls at five different stations, but it ended up being a team competition.  One member of the men’s and women’s teams competed together and the contest was to see who could make a shot at the most stations in a minute.  The stations were the same five as a usual three-point contest, and the two players rotated on each shot.  To move on to the next station, someone had to make a shot.  For this event, there was a tie for first between Anthony Wright/Dayeesha Hollins and Stu Douglass/Courtney Boylan with one pair remaining.  Manny Harris and Carmen Reynolds needed to make 11 shots to win the event, and just as time expired, Reynolds hit their 11th three-pointer to move into first place.

The most anticipated event of the night — the dunk contest — was up next.  Darius Morris got things started by throwing the ball off the shot clock, catching it, and dunking it, good for a score of 39 out of 40.  Zack Novak got the same score by throwing the ball up in the air, catching it, and doing a windmill dunk.  Laval Lucas-Perry and DeShawn Sims were the other two competitors, but it was Morris and Novak who were headed to the finals.  It looked like Morris had the event wrapped up after he caught a pass from Matt Vogrich, who was 10 or so rows up in the crowd, and dunked it for a perfect score.  Novak had other ideas, though, and he made the crowd explode by tossing the ball to himself on the baseline and doing a perfect through-the-legs dunk.  It was a given that he got a perfect score, as the four judges from the women’s team threw all of the score cards into the air and went crazy with the rest of the people who saw Novak pull off that dunk.  Although Novak technically tied Darius Morris with a score of 40, John Beilein declared Novak the winner for obvious reasons.

Following a short break, each team finished off the night with an 8-minute scrimmage.  There isn’t much to say about the scrimmages, but it was nice to see them play some actual basketball at the end of the night.  Afterward, the teams gathered at center court and sang The Victors with the crowd to close out the first ever Michigan Madness.  It was an entertaining event for sure, and I can’t wait for it to become even bigger in the future.

For more on Michigan Madness check out:

Oklahoma Ends Michigan’s Season with 73-63 Victory

By · Sunday, March 22, 2009 · 2:38 AM |  Share | 8 Comments 

Just like the theme of this entire season, Michigan gave Oklahoma everything it had and fought until the very end on Saturday. Unfortunately, the Sooners proved to be too overpowering, as Blake Griffin dominated Michigan and helped put the Wolverines in foul trouble from almost the very start of the game. Despite having Manny Harris on the bench for most of the first half because of foul trouble, Michigan not only stayed in the game, but they only trailed by a point at the half thanks to some great play by Anthony Wright. In the second half, however, more foul trouble allowed Blake Griffin to take over and dominate Michigan. The Wolverines did make a comeback to cut the lead down to 3 at one point, but OU pulled away to win 73-63 and advance to the Sweet 16.

Coming into this game, I thought it would be very similar to the matchup against UConn back in February. Michigan had to face a great center and was at a clear disadvantage against the Huskies, and that was exactly the case on Saturday as well. Obviously Blake Griffin doesn’t have Hasheem Thabeet’s height, but he is as athletic as centers get. Griffin not only is tough to defend because of his talent, but he is also great at drawing calls and forcing teams to center in on him. That was evident on Saturday, and although the score didn’t reflect it in the first half, his play was setting up the Sooners to pull away in the final 20 minutes of the game.

Manny Harris went out of the game after picking up his second foul (he undercut Blake Griffin at the hoop) at the 15:09 mark of the first half. His absence made it look like things could get ugly pretty quickly, but Michigan surprised everyone and didn’t back down, even when DeShawn Sims left the game for a good length of time after getting hit in the eye inadvertently. His injury was only a microcosm of the physical play, as Blake Griffin had already received a cut elbow and bloody nose.

When Michigan lost its top two scorers, an unlikely hero stepped up and kept the Wolverines in this game. Anthony Wright, who began the season in the starting lineup and had seen very limited playing time since the Maryland game, made a long two-pointer and 3 three-pointers in a seven-minute or so span to put Michigan on top for a few minutes. Oklahoma regained the lead, but Wright knocked down a free throw to make it a 1-point game at halftime.

Oklahoma came out to start the second half on another level. Blake Griffin was having little trouble scoring, and Michigan couldn’t hit a shot. Manny Harris looked rusty, probably because he hadn’t played in 63 or so real time minutes. He wasn’t the only one, though. The entire team was having shooting issues, allowing Oklahoma to jump out to an 11-point lead only six minutes into the half.

Michigan managed to stop the bleeding, so to speak, and Oklahoma’s lead remained around 10 or so points until it jumped to 13 with 9:23 left in the game. Oklahoma was on the verge of running away with this game, but C.J. Lee nailed a pair of threes to lead a Michigan comeback. Anthony Wright scored on a put back layup in between Lee’s threes and then made a steal to set up a DeShawn Sims layup. Sims’ basket made this a 3-point game and left fans stunned at what had just happened. Oklahoma went from leading by 13 to leading by 3 in about three minutes, setting up what looked like it would be a dramatic finish.

Rather than lose its composure, though, the Sooners stayed calm and stopped Michigan’s run right after Sims’ layup. The key was that Oklahoma fed the ball to Blake Griffin. During Michigan’s run, the Sooners missed 3 three-pointers and turned the ball over once. Griffin didn’t take a single shot, which is mainly why OU didn’t score. After Willie Warren made a two-pointer to stop Michigan’s run, Blake Griffin got the ball on three straight possessions. Two of them ended with Griffin laying the ball in, and the other resulted in 2 points from the free throw line.

While Griffin was carrying OU to victory, Michigan was struggling to just hang on to the ball. You could see Michigan start to panic once the shots stopped falling, and generally a possession at this point in the game ended with a bad three-pointer or a turnover. To make matters worse, both C.J. Lee and Manny Harris fouled out, leaving a great leader and Michigan’s best player confined to the bench for the final few minutes of the game. This allowed Oklahoma to once again increase its lead to double figures when Austin Johnson delivered a knock out three-pointer with 1:36 left in the game. The lead was 12 after Johnson’s three-pointer, and Michigan’s hopes of a run to the Sweet 16 were over. The final score ended up being 73-63 after the final minute produced 3 made OU free throws, a Stu Douglass three, and a DeShawn Sims three-point play.

Although it was disappointing for the game to turn out how it did after Michigan made such a great run in the second half, the fact that they were so close to making it to the Sweet 16 is pretty amazing. The progress made this season shows just how great of a coach John Beilein is and how bright the future is for this program. Back in November, I never would have expected Michigan to, at one time, be leading Oklahoma in a second round NCAA tournament game. I already expressed my surprise at how well this season went in the Clemson recap, so I won’t summarize all of that again.

I do want to say how proud I am of John Beilein and all of the players, coaches, and other people involved with this program, especially C.J. Lee, David Merritt, and Jevohn Shepherd, the three seniors on this team that have played their final game for Michigan. Who could have guessed that someone like Lee, who was a walk-on at one time in his career, would play such an integral part of this team’s success and run to the second round of the NCAA tournament? The same goes for Merritt, who was also once a walk-on.

It will hurt to lose the leadership of Lee and Merritt, who were the team’s captains this season. Here’s to hoping we see them around the team in the future, preferably on the sidelines. Lee was already like a coach during games, and Merritt was like one in the locker room delivering the pre-game speeches. As for Shepherd, it seems like he has the athleticism to play basketball in the future, so maybe he could end up in the NBDL or something like that.

It’s never too early to start looking ahead to next season, but I’m going to wait to do that until a later time. Right now we should look back on the best season of Michigan basketball in a very long time and be thankful for the great things this team did. It was a fun ride, and although I wish it was continuing in Memphis next weekend, a big congratulations goes out to the entire program for a job well done. Here’s to John Beilein and everyone involved with the team for a great season.

Go Blue!

Saturday Quick Hits: Bill Davidson Passes Away

By · Saturday, March 14, 2009 · 9:55 AM |  Share | 1 Comment 
  • Bill Davidson, a University of Michigan graduate and owner of the Pistons and Shock, passed away at the age of 86 on Friday.
  • Michigan beat Western Michigan last night to take a 1-0 series lead. The Wolverines led 3-0 after the first period and proceeded to let WMU make it 3-2 in the second. In the third, though, Michigan put the clamps down and took a 4-2 lead after finally coming out on the good side of a goal review. Carl Hagelin put in an empty netter with around a minute left in the game to give Michigan a 5-2 victory. Game two of the series is tonight at 7:05 p.m. and can be seen on FSN Detroit.
  • Michigan’s spring football roster is out, as practice begins today.
  • The second annual Night of Champions took place yesterday. It is basically a team-wide competition consisting of nine events, and the team that won was coached by Bruce Tall and consisted of Tate Forcier, Kevin Grady, Will Heininger, Elias Kos, Zoltan Mesko, David Moosman, Renaldo Sagesse, Vincent Smith, Ben Sutton and Mike Williams.
  • MGoBlue has a recap of Michigan’s pro day, which went very well. Will Johnson had 47 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, breaking Jake Long’s NFL combine record of 42 reps. Also, Carson Butler ran an impressive 4.5 40-yard dash. Many players did well in the 40.
  • In the pro day photo gallery, it appears that Mike Hart and Lloyd Carr were at the event.
  • Rich Rodriguez supposedly is now on Twitter. It seems pretty authentic, but I will be skeptical until it is confirmed to be him.
  • Andre Criswell, who would have been a fifth-year senior in 2009, is now working as a student assistant and is on a medical scholarship.
  • A fan received three tickets to the Iowa game on Thursday from Anthony Wright thanks to Facebook.
  • UM Hoops has a guide to which teams we should root for today.
  • Mike Bellotti resigned as head coach of Oregon to take the athletic director job. Chip Kelly, the offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting, takes over for Bellotti.
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