Tuesday Quick Hits: Colton Christian Commits to Michigan

By · Tuesday, May 11, 2010 · 2:50 PM |  Share | 1 Comment 
  • Lloyd Carr spoke to Angelique Chengelis about the whole Morgan Trent/Rich Rodriguez draft book fiasco that developed over the weekend, clearing up exactly what his involvement in the situation was.

    “That paragraph is completely a distortion of my conversation with Morgan,” Carr said. “That is a complete distortion, and it is not accurate. I have never spoken with the author. I have never met him. I have never had a conversation with him to the best of my knowledge.”

    Trent also talked to Chengelis and backed off the assertion that Carr was the one who brought up what Rodriguez supposedly said and used specific quotes about it like the book implied.

    “Lloyd didn’t bring any of this to my attention,” Trent said. “When we spoke, I brought it up to him, and he said he had heard some of the same things.”

    This still isn’t a great situation, but at least we now know that Carr didn’t go running to Trent or the author of this book to share the specifics of how Rodriguez was trashing one of his former players to scouts.  That wasn’t necessarily what the book was trying to convey either, but the excerpt could easily be interpreted that way.

  • 2010 power forward Colton Christian has committed to Michigan.  Christian was originally set to go to Tulane, but he changed his mind after a coaching change.  Christian then made a few visits and picked up offers from Cal and Penn State before ultimately deciding on Michigan following a trip to Ann Arbor this past weekend.  He isn’t ranked on Rivals and only has two stars on Scout, but ESPN grades him as an 85, which isn’t bad.  This definitely seems like another sleeper type of recruit, but Christian did play at the Hargrave Military Academy this past year, prompting ESPN to give him this evaluation:

    Tulane may have landed a sleeper as Christian plays a very efficient, and college ready, brand of basketball. He isn’t going to dominate the game with his scoring but has some inside-out skills and impacts the game in a variety of ways. He’s a capable scorer on the block with a little jump hook and can also step out to 18 feet and shoot. He’s strong and very athletic off of two feet, bodies up well defending the post, and rebounds out of his area. Look for him to see immediate minutes next year at Tulane.

    The best part about getting Christian is that he adds more height to the team (Rivals lists him as being 6-7).  He isn’t a seven-footer or anything, but the added depth in the post will be very welcomed by John Beilein and company.  Plus, he becomes the fourth recruit to join the 2010 recruiting class, meaning he, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Jon Horford will be coming to Ann Arbor this summer as true freshmen ready to contribute to the 2010-11 Wolverines in some form.

  • UM Hoops has a recap of yesterday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new basketball practice facility.  AnnArbor.com also has a recap of the event as well as some videos.
  • Patrick Beilein (John’s son), who has been a graduate manager at Michigan, is leaving to take an assistant coaching job at Dartmouth.
  • Some of the top matchups for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge have leaked out.  There’s no word on who Michigan will play yet, but its opponent will not be Duke, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, N.C. State, or Miami (the ‘Canes aren’t participating in it this year).
  • Big Ten expansion rumors went crazy yet again yesterday when a radio station reported that Nebraska, Missouri, Notre Dame, and Rutgers had been invited to join the conference.  The rumor itself seemed like just another BS report, which was seemingly confirmed by the various denials issued throughout the day by the schools involved.  Even so, the rumor picked up steam and even caused ESPN to report on it, kicking discussion of expansion back into high gear.

    I will admit that I took the bait when the Pitt rumor came out a couple months ago, but since then each rumor has just really been annoying more than anything.  Until the Big Ten has deals in place to add teams to the conference, I doubt anything will be announced by them, and all of these other rumors just don’t seem too credible.  I’m sure there is some validity to the idea of where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  However, I will have a tough time believing any rumor until something official is announced by the Big Ten.

  • Personally, I think Black Heart Gold Pants’ take on Big Ten expansion was just about as credible as the rumor that popped up yesterday.

Monday Quick Hits: Germany Breaks Cold War Attendance Record

By · Monday, May 10, 2010 · 2:23 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • The hockey attendance record set by the Cold War at Spartan Stadium in 2001 is no more.  That is because Germany broke the record last week when 77,803 fans came out to watch the United States and Germany play in the opening game of the IIHF World Championships.  The record Michigan and Michigan State set back in 2001 was an attendance of 74,554 people.  That record had stood ever since but now moves down to No. 2 on the list.  Even so, Michigan and Michigan State should easily take the record back this December at Michigan Stadium.  Already more than 100,000 tickets have been sold to the event, so barring some really crappy weather, this new record of 77,803 should go by the wayside with ease.
  • It’s been a while since the last Rich Rodriguez controversy, so naturally this weekend there was a story written about how Morgan Trent was one of the players focused on in a book about the draft.  The story mentioned that the end of the book included something very interesting about Trent, Rich Rodriguez, and Lloyd Carr.

    At the end of the book, Deren describes the scene with Lloyd Carr, the former Michigan head coach that recruited Trent to Ann Arbor, breaking the news to Trent that current head coach Rich Rodriguez did him no favors.

    “Rodriguez had bad-mouthed him to every NFL scout he could,” Deren writes. “Rodriguez claimed that Morgan was lazy, he had an attitude problem and he was a big reason the Wolverines finished with a 3-9 record…”

    Trent admits the words were “jarring,” and they were hard to understand given that he was so serious about his career that he actually moved in with his brother and sister-in-law and their two small children while going to Michigan.

    But Trent was also worried about what Carr thought about his words showing up in the book. He talks to him, not Rodriguez.

    “I really like Coach Carr. He’s been very good to me,” Morgan says. “I think at first he was wondering, but I let him know it didn’t put him in a bad light. I would never do something like that to Lloyd. He’s great.”

    The claim here is that Carr let Trent know that Rodriguez had trashed Trent to NFL scouts.  Trent’s position coach from the Bengals didn’t talk to Rodriguez during the pre-draft process, but he did give some interesting insight about the situation.

    “When there is a coaching transition and the team ends up not having success, you have to step back and try to decipher what the truth really is,” Coyle says. “There was a lot of heat on those people and there was some pointing of blame. Plus, the players were somewhat chagrined, so you had to look at everything.”

    Rodriguez denied the supposed comments, saying the following:

    “The comments attributed to me are inaccurate and absolutely ridiculous.  I said just the opposite about Morgan Trent to NFL scouts and wish him well with the Bengals.”

    As Brian pointed out on mgoblog, by the time Rodriguez’s supposed comments got to the author of this book, they had been passed along by four or so different people, meaning the chances of them being 100% accurate weren’t great anyways.  What’s more, as Tim pointed out in the comments section on MVictors, this may be a case of Rodriguez giving an accurate assessment of Trent rather than badmouthing his former player.  It’s not like Trent was some great player that somehow fell to the sixth round of the draft.  He was a guy that struggled throughout his career and was downright awful in 2008, his final year at Michigan.  It’s no secret that Trent isn’t a fan of Rodriguez, and although this whole story is annoying in the sense that it’s more bad PR for Rodriguez, it’s not all that surprising given who the player involved is.

  • Michigan’s deal with adidas is at the top of the list when it comes college apparel contracts.
  • Manny Harris is officially gone since the deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft was this past Saturday and no change to his status was made.
  • E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, on the other hand, are both coming back to Purdue after originally declaring for the NBA Draft.
  • Apparently some “unnamed sources” from the Big 12 are upset that Nebraska and Missouri are so publicly interested in Big Ten expansion.  This all boils down to the fact that revenue sharing in the Big 12 isn’t equal, which is why Nebraska and Missouri have an interest in giving themselves leverage.  By expressing interest in potentially joining the Big Ten, they have quite a bit of leverage since they can threaten to leave the Big 12 if things go unchanged.  Of course, for that to actually work they would need to have an invite to the Big Ten waiting for them, and right now nothing is official.  We’re still in the rumor phase of possible Big Ten expansion, and these “unnamed sources” don’t like hearing Nebraska and Missouri mentioned so often.  I don’t know what will eventually happen with Big Ten expansion, but there could be chaos across the land of college sports, especially with the Big 12, regardless of what the Big Ten actually does.

Friday Quick Hits: The Big Chill Eclipses 100,000 Tickets Sold

By · Friday, May 7, 2010 · 1:33 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Over 100,000 tickets to The Big Chill have now been sold, causing a ticket freeze so incoming students have a chance to purchase seats with their football or hockey season-ticket packages.  By the time that happens and the public gets one last crack at tickets (via a waiting list), chances are the total number of tickets sold will close to or at a sellout, which is pretty awesome.
  • The NCAA hockey tournament might be changing a bit in the future.
  • Michigan State lost another player to the NHL.
  • The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein did a Q&A about Big Ten expansion.

Big Ten Expansion Quick Hits: Talk of 14 or 16 Teams Heats Up

By · Wednesday, April 28, 2010 · 11:38 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Big Ten expansion talk has been heating up in the last couple of weeks on blogs and message boards because there was a report of an “accelerated timetable.”  That turned out to not be true and was refuted by Jim Delaney, but Big Ten expansion is still a hot topic because it looks certain that at least a few teams will be added rather than just one.  Some even think the conference could expand to 16 teams, which would completely change the landscape of college sports.  I personally have been against going that big and would much rather just add Notre Dame and call it a day.  I suppose if each team is a big name then it would be worth it, but maybe this is all just to scare ND into accepting an invite because if they don’t, the Big East could be a goner, which would screw them over in every sport outside of hockey and football.  We’ll see, I guess.
  • Dave Brandon doesn’t really care how big the conference gets, but he made one thing clear: “Anybody who comes up with a proposal that said Michigan shouldn’t play Ohio State should be institutionalized.”  Amen.
  • Adam Rittenberg put together a post breaking down how the process of voting on Big Ten expansion works.
  • Frank the Tank, who has been all over potential Big Ten expansion, broke down what TV value possible new members would bring to the conference.  His current prediction for a 16-team conference is that Notre Dame, Nebraska, Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers would be added, which would make sense geographically and would open up the Big Ten to a number of new markets.  More than anything, it would effectively destroy the Big 12 and Big East, completely turning the college sports world upside down.
  • Brian Kelly doesn’t want Notre Dame to join a conference for football.
  • Joe Paterno wants the Big Ten to add three teams to get up to 14 total.
  • If the Big Ten dramatically expands, the SEC could be next in line to add new teams.

Tuesday Quick Hits: DeShawn Sims Shares MVP Award with Manny Harris

By · Tuesday, April 13, 2010 · 1:16 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • DeShawn Sims was named the basketball team’s MVP during its banquet last night, but he asked to share the award with Manny Harris, just as Harris did with Sims a year ago.
  • Eso Akunne is no longer on scholarship.  Also, it looks like Ben Cronin will be placed on medical scholarship because of his hip injury, opening up another regular scholarship for the team.
  • Kelvin Grady’s status with the basketball team going forward is uncertain, but John Beilein apparently doesn’t think he will be back.
  • Once Michigan’s basketball practice facility is built it will try to land the MHSAA state finals, which would be nice since they are held at Breslin Center currently.  I imagine that if the state finals were to ever return to Crisler Arena, it would be after the extensive renovations are completed down the road.
  • Trey Zeigler is finally going to make an announcement regarding where he will play college basketball sometime next week.  If I had to guess I’d say that he picks Central Michigan to play for his dad.
  • The Michigan Daily’s Ryan Kartje put together a great piece on Red Berenson.
  • Adam Rittenberg interviewed Rich Rodriguez.
  • The Big Ten re-upped its deal with the Little Caesars Bowl through 2013.  Chances are the matchup will usually feature a MAC and Sun Belt team, though.  I say that because the Little Caesars Bowl will get the eighth pick in the Big Ten’s bowl lineup, but since two teams make it to the BCS so often, that probably will be the ninth pick in reality.  I don’t expect the Big Ten to be producing that many bowl eligible teams year in and year out, and this bowl didn’t get Big Ten teams very often even when it had the seventh pick.

Thursday Quick Hits: Red Berenson Wants Some Answers

By · Thursday, April 1, 2010 · 10:47 AM |  Share | 2 Comments 
  • Red Berenson wants answers as to why Michigan’s game-winning goal in overtime was waved off.  I think that’s what everyone wants right now.  The outcome can’t be changed, but I’d like to hear an explanation from the referee.  I mean, the easy explanation is that the officials are morons, but I would like to hear what was going through the ref’s mind and if he feels bad about screwing Michigan over.
  • Seniors Steve Kampfer and Chris Summers have signed with their NHL teams and will start out in the AHL.
  • The football program has put together a Relay for Life team (they’re doing it in support of Phil Brabbs), and they are auctioning off field passes to the spring game, an autographed football, and “coffee with Coach Carr,” among other things.
  • The women’s basketball team lost to Miami (Florida) in the WNIT semifinals last night.
  • 50 Michigan athletes were on the winter Academic All-Big Ten team, including Manny Harris and Zack Novak.
  • Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany thinks that NCAA tournament expansion is “probable.”  All I can say is that expanding the tournament to 96 teams would be an enormous mistake.

Evan Turner Ends Michigan’s Season with 37-Footer at the Buzzer

By · Sunday, March 14, 2010 · 2:59 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Let’s cut right to the chase: 2.2 seconds were on the clock after Manny Harris made a shot to give Michigan a 68-66 lead.  Ohio State called a timeout to draw up a play that would allow it to either tie or win the game despite having to go the length of the court in only 2.2 seconds.

As OSU got ready to pass in the ball, immediately it was pointed out by the announcers that nobody was guarding the inbounder.  Personally that worried me, but the more concerning thing was the fact that only Stu Douglass was even on that side of the court for Michigan.  Everybody else was on the other side, which gave Evan Turner a clear path to get up the court after the inbounder passed him the ball.  Thanks to a screen on Douglass just as the play was developing, Turner had lots of room to run and was able to fire up a relatively uncontested shot from 37 feet out.  In what was sadly a fitting end to a tumultuous season, the shot was dead on and gave Ohio State a 69-68 win.

”Honestly I thought they were going to press or something like that,” Turner said. ”The whole game, they were swarming me. They gave me one good look. Being open felt a little bit free. I felt like I was in the gym by myself.”

That quote from Turner perfectly sums up Michigan’s defense on the final play.  Why Michigan opted to go to a 1-3-1 defense and not put anybody on the inbounder is beyond me.  In that situation, it’s key to make the other team struggle to even get a shot off, or at the very least make sure that shot is a prayer at best.  Although Turner’s shot wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, it was far from a prayer considering Stu Douglass barely managed to get a hand in his face.  The other four players on the court for Michigan basically just stood there and watched the shot fall.  It really seemed like Michigan’s defense on that final play was about the best thing Ohio State could hope for.  Instead of pressuring the inbounder and putting somebody right on Turner, Michigan allowed him to run right down the court and fire up an uncontested shot.  I know John Beilein didn’t want Michigan to foul him, but that fear should not force your defense to disappear.

John Beilein knows a lot more about basketball than me, but just based on similar situations to this one in the past, it seems like it would have made the most sense to put Zack Gibson right in the inbounder’s face, at least one and maybe two players right on Evan Turner, and the other players back near half/the other side of the court in case OSU tries to throw a Hail Mary.  Hell, simply playing man-to-man defense would have made more sense than what actually happened.  I know a lot of times teams just get lucky on some ridiculous shot and that’s that, but Michigan could have prevented this from happening and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.  Instead Evan Turner ripped out the hearts of Michigan fans everywhere and ended the Wolverines’ season.

As for the rest of the game, it was interesting to watch how quickly the momentum would change.  Early on Michigan went on a run and took a 19-10 lead, for example, but Ohio State quickly came back and went on a big run of its own to eventually lead 35-25 at halftime.  At this point it looked like Michigan would be lucky to simply keep things close after a great start turned into another awful stretch of basketball.

In the second half, Michigan’s struggles continued early on before Stu Douglass caught fire and cut down the lead considerably thanks to back-to-back-to-back threes.  Just like that Michigan was only down by 4 points and seemed to have momentum on its side.  OSU made it obvious that it still had the momentum just as quickly, however, going on a 9-0 run to take a 51-38 lead.

Manny Harris took over the game at this point and helped Michigan cut the lead down to 6 points after a 7-0 run.  Ohio State tried to stave off the comeback, but Michigan slowly but surely kept chipping away at the lead and eventually tied the game with 1:06 left when Stu Douglass hit another three from way behind the arc.  That three came right after Manny made one to cut the lead down to 1 point and Evan Turner made a pair of free throws to extend the lead back to 3 points.

With the game now tied, Turner tried to make something happen and missed a layup.  Michigan went down the floor and Manny made a jumper to give the Wolverines a 2-point lead with 30 seconds left to play.  Ohio State’s David Lighty made a runner in the lane to tie the game up on the next possession with 14 seconds left, and Michigan called a timeout to draw up a play.  Whatever that play was, the key was to get Manny the ball, and that is exactly what happened.  Manny made a nice fade-away jumper with only 2.2 seconds left on the clock, and suddenly Michigan appeared to be in position to pull off the shocking upset.  What happened next?  Well, as described above, Evan Turner happened and gave Ohio State a 69-68 victory.

Michigan played very inconsistent and allowed Ohio State to go on runs far too often, but this team fought and fought until the very end.  Manny Harris showed just how good he can be and absolutely took over this game in the final 10 minutes.  If it weren’t for Evan Turner and his buzzer beater, the story of this game would have been Manny’s clutch play at the end of the game along with Stu Douglass’ great shooting from three-point land.  Stu went 5-8 from behind the arc, and Manny put up good numbers as well, going 3-5 from three-point land.  The rest of the team didn’t hit a single three-pointer, but Stu and Manny made up for everybody else and helped Michigan to a three-point percentage of 38.1, a number that could have been a lot worse.

Scoring-wise, Manny led the team with 26 points.  Stu scored 16 points, as did DeShawn Sims, who shot the ball pretty well (7-13 from the field).  Zack Novak scored 8 points even though he went 0-2 from behind the arc, and Zack Gibson was the only other player to score, netting 2 points on 1-2 shooting in 10 minutes.  Darius Morris played 18 minutes and missed the only shot he took, and Laval Lucas-Perry went 0-3 in 19 minutes of action.  Anthony Wright got in for less than a minute and turned the ball over and committed a foul.  After that he went back to the bench and didn’t see the floor again.

Unless the NIT selection committee gives Michigan a bid solely based on the goodness of their hearts, the Wolverines’ season is over.  It’s a tough way to go out, especially when you consider that an upset of Ohio State would have put Michigan only two wins away from a Big Ten tournament title and a berth to the NCAA tournament.  Not only that, but Ohio State beat Illinois in double overtime on Saturday and gets to face Minnesota in the finals today.  Yes, the team that Michigan just destroyed earlier this month is one win away from a Big Ten tournament title.

Just like the final play of the Ohio State game, looking back on the entire season brings out a lot of ifs.  Michigan lost quite a few close games, but it also underachieved far too often.  There were occasional glimpses of greatness like against Minnesota earlier this month, but the usual feeling after a game was something along the lines of if Michigan would have done this or if Michigan would have done that.  Really this season was one of missed opportunities.  Michigan probably wasn’t going to live up to its preseason ranking no matter what, but to miss the tournament and the NIT is just embarrassing and disappointing.  More than anything, it’s tough to see the program take a step back after such a great 2008-09 season.

Going forward, the key storyline in the next few months will be what Manny Harris decides to do.  I don’t see how he could go pro just based on how much his stock has dropped, but him coming back is far from a guarantee.  Considering that, it probably is way too early to look ahead to next season.  Even so, what we do know is that DeShawn Sims, Zack Gibson, and Anthony Wright are gone.  Sims is obviously the biggest loss considering he was Michigan’s best player more often than not this season, but losing a bench player like Gibson and his height will be tough with the lack of height left on the roster as it is.

Michigan currently has two recruits — Evan Smotrycz and Tim Hardaway Jr. — set to join the team next season.  The hope is for that number to grow with Trey Zeigler and/or Jon Horford, but neither has made a decision yet.  Adding Horford would help Michigan’s lack of height, and adding Zeigler would give the Wolverines a playmaker and a potential replacement for Manny Harris for whenever he leaves.

For me, it’s tough to even place expectations on next season.  Like the football team, there are so many question marks that nothing would really be too surprising.  For example, the loss of a player like DeShawn Sims leaves a big void in the lineup, but perhaps another year in John Beilein’s system will offset that with the development of other players.  I just don’t really know what will happen at this point, but more than anything I hope this team shows improvement and at least gets back to being over .500.  It sucks that that is the hope when a year ago we were all gearing up for Selection Sunday, but then again, the 2008-09 team came out of nowhere and surprised everybody.  Maybe something similar will happen next season.  Although expectations won’t be very high, at the very least we can hope for a better season in 2010-11.

Despite Inconsistent Play, Michigan Beats Iowa 59-52

By · Friday, March 12, 2010 · 3:01 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Michigan’s game with Iowa yesterday was plagued with inconsistency, which is nothing new for this season’s team.  The Wolverines opened the game up with a nice showing, leading 24-8 at one point in the first half.  Michigan appeared to be well on its way to a blowout victory reminiscent of the first meeting of the season with Iowa.  That would have been too easy, though, so Michigan made it interesting like they usually do.

Over the course of the rest of the game, Michigan’s went from leading by 16, to only being up by 9 at halftime, to going on a six-minute scoring drought at the beginning of the second half, allowing Iowa to cut the lead down to 4.  Zack Novak ended the scoring drought with a three-pointer, and suddenly Michigan started to increase its lead again, eventually going up by 16 with four minutes to play.  Michigan finished the afternoon with another scoring drought, though, once again allowing Iowa to get back in the game.  Thankfully Iowa played like, well, Iowa, and missed 4 straight shots on one of their last possessions.  The Hawkeyes could have cut the lead down to 2 or 3 points, but Iowa missed every shot and eventually Manny Harris ended up with the ball and nailed a pair of free throws.  The scoring drought was over, and so were Iowa’s chances of a comeback.  Michigan managed to hang on for the 59-52 victory.

Despite playing well at times, Michigan’s stats weren’t impressive.  The Wolverines shot the ball 38% from the field (19-50) and 24% from three-point land (6-25), and both of those stats were actually just worse than what Iowa did on Thursday.  The difference in this game was at the free throw line, where Michigan went 15-18 and Iowa only went 3-4.  Looking at the shooting statistics, it’s amazing to think that Michigan was blowing out Iowa at various points during this game before the Hawkeyes made a comeback, but that difference at the free throw line was where Michigan was the big winner.

Manny Harris led Michigan in scoring with 22 points, and he added 9 rebounds to almost record a double-double.  DeShawn Sims scored 14 points, and that was essentially it for big scoring contributions.  Every other player scored in single digits or had 0 points, not that that was necessarily a bad thing since there was a healthy distribution of scoring that included bench players.  Zack Gibson, for example, played for 11 minutes off the bench and scored 7 points.  Laval Lucas-Perry played for 16 minutes and scored 5 points.  Finally, Anthony Wright was on the floor for 9 minutes and made a three-pointer.  As for the starting lineup outside of Manny and Peedi, Stu Douglass scored 5 points, Zack Novak scored 3 points, and Darius Morris missed the only shot and only free throw he attempted.

Michigan’s next opponent is Ohio State in a rematch of a game played nearly two weeks ago.  The Buckeyes were victorious in Columbus that day against Michigan en route to a Big Ten title and the top seed in the Big Ten tournament.  To say Michigan is an underdog today is an understatement.  Michigan did have its chances to make things interesting in Columbus, but as bad as OSU played at times, the Wolverines were just that much worse.  To put it bluntly, Michigan better bring its “A” game and hope Ohio State takes some time to shake off the rust.  Tip off is set for noon ET on ESPN.

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