- For the third straight year, Michigan’s season-opener in football will be broadcast nationally and start in the afternoon. Just like the Utah game in 2008 and the Western Michigan game a year ago, the UConn game on September 4 will start at 3:30 p.m. and be shown on ABC/ESPN2 (depending on where you live). Also, it was announced that the UMass game on September 18 will start at noon and be shown on the Big Ten Network. So far the game times/TV details have been announced for five games. The other game times will be determined either six or twelve days prior to kickoff.
- Brian of mgoblog went through the documents included in Michigan’s response to the NCAA and determined that Brad Labadie and Scott Draper should be canned over how incompetent they were in handling the CARA forms. It’s truly amazing to read through the different e-mails and see just how poorly this was handled. If I were Rich Rodriguez, I would demand both to be fired right now, because this situation was made a lot worse over how mishandled it was by Labadie and Draper.
- Jonathan Chait took the Free Press to task for how inaccurate their “investigation” was.
- Michigan’s game against Kansas at Crisler Arena has been scheduled for January 9, the Sunday after the winter semester starts. Also, the Utah game is set for December 10, meaning it will be played the night before The Big Chill at the Big House.
- Ashton Kutcher had to wear a Michigan Wolverines shirt for some movie he’s in, and based on this picture I’d say he’s not a fan.
- The Crisler Arena renovation was approved by the U-M Board of Regents on Thursday. The $20 million project will overhaul quite a bit of Crisler Arena, though it is only the first phase of renovations.
The first phase would address the highest priority infrastructure needs such as repair of the roof, electrical, plumbing and air handling systems. Lower bowl seats also would be replaced, with the expansion of seating for people with disabilities, addition of hand rails and other code related issues.
On top of the initial phase, Michigan will look into doing additional renovations of Crisler Arena down the road.
Future phases could possibly address what would be left in the Arena, including the upper bowl, the concourses, the playing floor and other more cosmetic things.
I imagine the entire arena will eventually be overhauled in one form or another by the time all renovations are complete. Although it’s good that the first phase will address many of Crisler Arena’s issues, there’s no doubt that future phases will be necessary to truly fix things up.
- Bill Martin was asked about simply replacing Crisler Arena with a brand new facility, and this is what he had to say:
“We looked at it,” Martin said. “But understand to begin with that Crisler has good bones. It’s sized right. Structurally, it’s very sound and it’s going to last a long time.”
The cost of a potential new arena wasn’t a factor, Martin said, although when it is done he anticipates when all phases are done the renovations will cost between $40-60 million instead of a new arena, which could cost more than $100 million.
Personally I would have been on the new arena bandwagon simply because it’s tough for me to envision a renovated Crisler Arena truly being that much better than it currently is, but there would have been a lot of issues with starting from scratch. Aside from the cost, location would have been a big problem. Regardless of your thoughts on Crisler or its appearance, there’s no doubt it is in a good location. Unless Crisler was torn down and a new arena was built on that same land, it would be tough for a new facility to come even close to being in as good of a location as Crisler is. Either way, I would have been decidedly for a new arena unless this renovation and future renovations will really freshen up Crisler. It just has a dreary and dark look to it, both on the outside and inside, so hopefully the renovations will change that.
- According to a poster on MGoBoard, Kelvin Grady is going to rejoin the basketball team. He isn’t leaving the football team, though. Grady will simply be a football player that is also playing for the basketball team. Quite frankly I hope this turns out to be true, because Grady would have been the best returning point guard this season had he continued playing basketball. I don’t know exactly how he will fit into the rotation with Stu Douglass and Darius Morris at point guard, but I will gladly welcome the added depth. Grady’s defense is far from great, but he is a great shooter and does an even better job of running the floor.
- There is a video on MGoBlue of the basketball team celebrating after the UConn win, and it shows Rich Rodriguez high-fiving everybody and congratulating the team on the upset.
- Via PaulVB, UConn head coach Jim Calhoun had a great quote following his team’s loss to Michigan.
“Their 6’3″ guys bodied up and prevented our 6’9″ guys from getting lay ups. I don’t know how, but they did”
Speaking of Calhoun, he announced earlier this week that he is taking a leave of absence for medical-related reasons. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.
- UM Hoops has a rundown of just how much Manny Harris struggled in the last part of Wednesday’s game against Wisconsin.
- John Beilein has no interest in recruiting players in the eighth grade.
There has been much debate over fans rushing the court following Michigan’s win over UConn on Sunday, and I will admit, I was on the no rush side of the argument. One of the things discussed hours before the game by a few of us that were lined up outside of Crisler was if the crowd would rush the court if we won. Even beforehand I assumed we would given the circumstances, but my reasoning for being on the no rush bandwagon was mainly that a win would likely knock UConn out of the top 25, making them an opponent not worthy of storming the court for. (By the way, UConn did drop out of the AP Poll, but they’re still somehow ranked 21st in the USA Today Poll.) Yes, UConn is a big-name program, but I would rather save rushing of the court for wins over top 5 teams like Duke (i.e. last year) or perhaps a top-10 rival in Michigan State (i.e. hopefully next week). That said, I figured we would rush the court because of a variety of reasons.
1. As mentioned, UConn is a big-name program. Although they have been struggling lately, the Huskies went to the Final Four last year and were the marquee game on this season’s home schedule. Michigan State is obviously a huge game as well, but the UConn game was equivalent to the Duke game last season — a non-conference matchup against one of the biggest basketball schools in the nation.
2. Around 2,000 or so of this year’s season-ticket holders weren’t around for the Duke game last season and didn’t get to experience the feeling of such a big win and the celebration that occurred afterward. That was really the biggest reason I assumed the crowd would storm the court if Michigan beat UConn. Once it became clear the game was in hand, I really started thinking about it and understood the thinking behind storming the court in that sense. The majority of the students in attendance didn’t get a chance to do it against Duke, and this was the biggest win they got to see in person.
(What was really evidence of the difference between the new season-ticket holders and the ones that have been around for at least last year or longer was that quite a few people in the first few rows of the middle of the Maize Rage (e.g. the “core of the Maize Rage”) did not rush the court. Not to slight the rest of the student section, but I think it would be accurate to characterize them as the hardest of the hardcore fans, who likely realized that beating UConn wasn’t necessarily worthy of rushing the court.)
3. For freshmen or students who are new season-ticket holders for basketball, this was one of the few really positive sports moments they’ve seen at Michigan. For freshman especially, not a lot has gone well sports-wise at Michigan for them outside of September, so I can see how this was viewed as a moment worthy of rushing the court. I mean, the football team stunk the last two months of the season, hockey has had a down year, and the basketball team has gotten off to a disappointing start. Beating UConn for them and hell, for everyone, was a moment where you look back and say something to the effect of, “about damn time something went right.”
4. The atmosphere of the game was so through the roof that rushing the court did feel like an appropriate celebration. It was very similar to the atmosphere of the Duke game, although with so many more students, I’d say it was probably even louder than when the Blue Devils came to Crisler Arena. Either way, the entire crowd brought it strong, and you could feel how important of a game this was just by listening to the fans. For most, rushing the court was simply the appropriate way to cap off the win. (As an added bonus, I’m sure the recruits enjoyed being able to rush the court, just like last year against Duke.)
What I will say is that I’m glad Michigan won and we have the opportunity to debate this. Debating over things like this only happens when Michigan is winning, so it’s definitely welcomed, and I wish it would happen more often if it meant Michigan is winning more often as well.
Basically for me it wasn’t that I had a problem with people storming the court or anything like that, I just wasn’t for it. Although announcer Verne Lundquist’s reaction came off as a “hey kids, get off my lawn” type of tone, I was with him in simply saying “whatever” to it. I wasn’t for it, but whatever, it’s not a big deal.
(On a side note, it was interesting to listen to Gus Johnson’s reaction to Indiana fans rushing the court after they beat Minnesota in a close game on Sunday night. Personally I was against that far more than Michigan fans storming the court after a win against UConn, but then again, Indiana fans haven’t had a lot to celebrate lately with their basketball program. Either way, Gus Johnson’s reaction, which was the complete opposite of Verne Lundquist’s feelings on the matter, was that “this is what college sports are all about.” He couldn’t be any more accurate. At the end of the day, storming the court was about fans celebrating a win and having fun, which truly is what college sports are all about.)
All season long Michigan had been waiting for a signature non-conference win, and it finally got one yesterday against Connecticut. In an unbelievable atmosphere that was similar to the Duke game from last season, Michigan put up a fight from start to finish and edged out the Huskies for a 68-63 victory.
Early on things were relatively even, though UConn did jump out to a 12-6 lead. That didn’t hold up for long, though, as Michigan heated up from three-point land. Stu Douglass made threes on back-to-back trips down the floor to tie things back up, and the score remained even at 14 after each team made a two-pointer. Michigan then really went off from behind the arc, hitting a three-pointer on three straight possessions. Laval Lucas-Perry got the run started with a three after Darius Morris missed one and DeShawn Sims came down with the rebound. After UConn’s Stanley Robinson missed a three, Michigan repeated its previous possession. Morris missed a shot, there was an offensive rebound, and then there was a three-pointer, this time from Anthony Wright. Capping off the run was LLP, who came down the floor after a UConn turnover and made a pull-up three that gave Michigan a 9-point lead and sent Crisler into a frenzy.
As the first half winded down, UConn tried to chip away at the lead but could only get within 5. Michigan kept fighting back and even went up by 10 points after Anthony Wright nailed another three and Manny Harris blew by UConn defenders for a dunk. In the final two minutes or so of the half there was only one point scored, a UConn free throw, meaning Michigan was up by 9 at halftime.
Michigan opened up the second half with a layup to go up by 11, but things started to go a little downhill after that. UConn started playing tougher defense and began to slowly but surely even things up. Anthony Wright made his third three-pointer of the game to put Michigan up 7 after the Huskies got within 4, but UConn wasn’t deterred. Thanks to a boatload of offensive rebounds, providing second and even some third chances for UConn, what once was an 11-point lead was gone and the game was tied at 39 less than 7 minutes into the half. UConn went ahead by 1 point shortly after, but Stu Douglass gave the lead back to Michigan on a three. Continuing the back and forth nature of this game, UConn made a couple baskets and went up by 2.
Unlike last week against Northwestern, Michigan didn’t lose its composure after blowing a lead and decided to fight back instead of fold under pressure. Zack Novak was a big reason why Michigan kept fighting, which was evident when he somehow came away with an offensive rebound and a layup to break a 47-47 tie. Michigan never trailed again in this game, though Novak did have another huge play to break a tied score once again.
With around a minute and a half left in the game, following what had been nothing but back and forth basketball, Zack Novak nailed a three to give Michigan a 61-58 lead. Stu Douglass then stole the ball and gave it to Manny Harris, who went down the court and finished with a nice layup. Suddenly Michigan led by 5, and after Jerome Dyson missed a pair of free throws, it looked like the game was as good as over. It was a little early to have that feeling, though, because Laval Lucas-Perry turned the ball over and fouled Kemba Walker, who made both free throws to cut the lead down to 3 points.
Once again Zack Novak came up big under pressure, making both free throws on what was a 1-and-1. Jerome Dyson missed a layup, but another offensive rebound ended up leading to a foul by LLP, putting Stanley Robinson at the line. Unbelievably, he air-balled the first free throw before making the second, meaning Michigan’s lead was 4 points. Stu Douglass, like Novak, delivered under pressure and made both of his free throws on a 1-and-1 trip to the line. UConn had one last glimmer of hope when Kemba Walker was fouled on a three-pointer after another offensive rebound. He only managed to make 2 of the 3 free throw attempts, though, and Manny Harris made 1 of 2 to ice away the game. Michigan won 68-63 as a UConn three bounced off the rim as time expired. Just like the Duke game last season, the crowd stormed the floor and celebrated the win in style.
Unlike most Michigan victories, this was a team-wide effort instead of a Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims show. Manny did lead Michigan in scoring with 18 points, but there was a healthy contribution from the rest of the team. Stu Douglass, thanks in part to 3 threes, ended up with 13 points. Zack Novak, who only had 1 three, scored 10 points. Anthony Wright played his best game since scoring 14 against Oklahoma in the NCAA tournament, putting up 9 points on 3 three-pointers. Sims had the next-most points with 8, and he was followed by Laval Lucas-Perry, who had 6 on 2 threes, and Zack Gibson, who had 4 points in 13 minutes of action. Darius Morris went 0-4 during 17 minutes of action, though he did have a steal and an assist. Finally, Matt Vogrich played only 2 minutes and didn’t record any stats.
Although this win was definitely awesome, Michigan has to quickly forget about it and get ready for the next three games in this tough four-game stretch. Michigan plays at Wisconsin on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. on the BTN) and then heads to Purdue on Saturday. Finishing up this stretch of games against ranked teams, Michigan will host Michigan State a week from Tuesday.
There is still a lot of work that has to be done before even thinking about the NCAA tournament as a realistic possibility, but like I said last week, although these games are tough, they give Michigan a great opportunity to get back in the picture for the Big Dance. For the sake of discussion, I think Michigan has to get at least one upset in these next three games. Anything more would go a long, long way to helping Michigan simply get back on the bubble, but I think the Wolverines need to get at least one to even have a chance at being a bubble team. If Michigan plays great down the stretch, an added upset in these next three games could very well be the difference between being on the good or bad side of the fence come Selection Sunday, whereas only one upset could be the difference between a guaranteed trip to the NIT and simply being a bubble team. Again, there’s a lot of work to be done, but Michigan can start to work its way back into the NCAA tournament discussion with an upset or two in the next few games.