Thursday Notes: Michigan to Retire Jim Abbott’s Jersey

By · Thursday, February 12, 2009 · 7:21 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Michigan is going to retire Jim Abbott’s #31 jersey prior to the Michigan State baseball game on Saturday, April 18. Abbott will be honored 20 minutes before the game (starts at 1:05 p.m.).
  • I am obviously getting way, way ahead of myself since this may not be relevant to Michigan (hopefully it is), but it looks like the ice for the Frozen Four is going to suck. The Verizon Center is hosting the Frozen Four this year, and the arena’s ice has been greatly criticized lately. (HT: D.C. Sports Bog)
  • Apparently the NCAA wants college football to become more like the NFL in a “No Fun League” type of way. There is talk about taking points off the board if a player taunts someone before he actually crosses the goal line. Although that makes sense when you consider that the infraction happens before the touchdown is actually scored, I see a change like this simply resulting in more controversy. Celebrating and taunting are different things, but there is a fine line between the two.

    I can already imagine a situation where a player is heading into the end zone for a huge touchdown and does something celebratory that is perceived as taunting. The official throws a flag, negating the touchdown, and controversy commences. I get that the NCAA wants to cut down on players taunting, but I just see this possible rule change (unlikely to be implemented if it is officially proposed for “at least two years”) as another way to give referees the chance to blow a call and help decide a game.

  • The NCAA’s Double-A Zone blog recently completed something called the “Michigan Winter Sports Extravaganza” and posted a video featuring interviews with Michigan gymnast Maureen Moody and hockey player Louie Caporusso, as well as other athletes from around the state.

Monday Quick Hits: Michigan Looks to Improve to 10-2 in Basketball

By · Monday, December 29, 2008 · 12:53 PM |  Share | 3 Comments 
  • I really don’t have any update on William Campbell, as there is nothing out there that isn’t premium info. All I will say is that people probably should not trash the kid until a final decision is made. Remember Jai Eugene, who picked Michigan at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl a few years ago? He committed to LSU a week later. I’m not saying Campbell will change his mind after the announcement since he is enrolling early, but nothing is final until he announces on Saturday in San Antonio.

    UPDATE: GBW’s Andre Barthwell was on WTKA today and made it sound like Campbell is still going to pick Michigan.

  • The Free Press dug up the details of Scott Shafer’s settlement agreement that was signed earlier this month.
    Shafer parted ways with Michigan by “mutual agreement” a week before the school announced the change in the letter from athletic director Bill Martin, but there were conditions. It said Shafer could not publicly release the terms of his agreement, and he also agreed “that I will not issue any statements to the media or in a public or similar setting which demean or disparage the University of Michigan, the football program, or any of their employees, in any way.”

    I guess that explains why Shafer’s comments following his resignation put the blame all on himself. I still don’t know if he made the comments to take a shot at Michigan, possibly for this agreement, or simply because he felt that way. It doesn’t really matter, but it is interesting to think about nonetheless.

    As part of the settlement, Shafer “will continue to draw his salary and benefits” until May 1, 2009, as long as he doesn’t get a new job.

  • As mentioned yesterday, Michigan won its second straight Great Lakes Invitational championship. Michigan beat Michigan State 5-1 to win the title in a very one-sided game. Michigan outshot the Spartans 51-19 and only faced five or so shots in the final two periods. MSU’s only goal was on a 5-on-3, and after that they couldn’t do anything. They were lucky to only give up 5 goals, as Michigan hit the post a few times in the third period and had many more great scoring chances. U-M beat Michigan Tech on Saturday by a score of 5-0 to advance to the finals.
  • Louie Caporusso scored four goals in the two GLI games. He had a natural hat trick against Michigan Tech and scored Michigan’s fifth goal against MSU. He actually leads the nation in goals scored thanks to his performance in the GLI and won the tournament’s MVP award.
  • Defenseman Steve Kampfer returned to the ice this weekend and had an assist. He played well, even though he had been out since October.
  • Michigan basketball’s final non-conference game this year is tonight. The Wolverines host 0-14 North Carolina Central at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. If Michigan wins tonight, they will be 10-2 heading into the Big Ten portion of the schedule. They still have a tough game against UConn in February, but even a .500 finish in the Big Ten should put them in position to make the NCAA tournament.
  • The Big Ten Network went all-access with John Beilein.

  • Steve Breaston had 1,006 yards receiving this season for the Arizona Cardinals.
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did a study of football players’ SAT scores from 54 public universities. Michigan’s players tied for the second best average behind Georgia Tech. Michigan State, on the other hand, was in the bottom 10.
  • The New York Times profiled the recruitment of Jamarkus McFarland, a defensive tackle from Texas. The piece focused mainly on the battle between Texas and Oklahoma to land McFarland, but there were many interesting things throughout the article, including tidbits about his visit to LSU and why it wasn’t very good.
  • Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio received a contract extension last week.

Monday Quick Hits: Ohio State Favored by 19 Against Michigan

By · Monday, November 17, 2008 · 2:35 AM |  Share | 2 Comments 
  • Michigan is a 19-point underdog in this coming Saturday’s game against Ohio State.
  • The announced attendance for the Michigan-Northwestern game was 107,856. There is no way that many people showed up to the game, though. It was more filled than I thought it would be at the start of the game, but as you can imagine, it emptied out pretty quickly after kickoff.

    Once Northwestern took the lead in the third quarter, there were really a ton of empty seats. Think of it this way: I sat in section 27, row 86 for home games this past season. I was able to move over to section 26 and down all the way to row 40 or so right at the start of the game. By Michigan’s final drive of the game, I was in section 25, row 2. Obviously not every row in front of me was empty or anything like that, but there were quite a few gaps that allowed you to move all over the stadium.

  • Justin Feagin only came in for one snap at QB during the game on Saturday and ran the ball for only a yard.
  • Michigan split with Western Michigan in hockey, with the home team losing both games. On Friday, Michigan lost 2-1 despite doubling Western’s shot total. Saturday night went better for the Wolverines, thankfully, as Michigan won 5-0 thanks in part to a Louie Caporusso hat trick. Bryan Hogan was in net on Saturday and stopped all 20 shots he faced. It seems like he is playing better than Billy Sauer right now, so it would not surprise me if he was elevated to become the starting goalie.
  • Walk-on running back Mike Milano was charged with “one count of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder and one count of aggravated assault” for his attack on hockey defenseman Steve Kampfer last month. The first charge is a felony and carries a punishment of up to ten years in prison. The latter charge is a misdemeanor that could result in a sentence of a year in jail. Kampfer requested a restraining order against Milano, but it was not accepted since repeated harassment is not taking place.
  • The women’s basketball team opened its season with a 70-60 win over Kentucky on Saturday.
  • Michigan’s newest commit, kicker Brendan Gibbons, can punt the ball a great distance and can deliver a hit as well.

  • There was a good article about Brandon Graham in The Michigan Daily last week.
  • The Big Ten Network put together an interesting piece about brothers Charles and Sidney Stewart. Charles is a safety for Michigan and Sidney is a wide receiver for Northwestern. A grease fire burned Sidney pretty badly seven years ago, and Charles actually saved his life by putting the fire on Sidney out. Their father was also badly burned in the fire. You can watch the video of the story below:

  • William Campbell visited Alabama this past weekend. (Link goes to a premium story)
  • The title of this article (another premium story) about Jordan Barnes, a linebacker commit, is not very encouraging: “Barnes Committed, But Looking.”
  • Jamar Adams was signed to the Seattle Seahawks’ active roster on Friday.
  • Syracuse finally fired head coach Greg Robinson.

Tuesday Quick Hits: Michigan Sweeps Ohio State in Hockey

By · Tuesday, November 4, 2008 · 3:20 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Louie Caporusso was named the CCHA Offensive Player of the Week after amassing six points in two games against Ohio State.
  • Speaking of those two games, Michigan won 4-3 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday. Both games were very exciting, and the atmosphere was awesome since Ohio State was the opponent.
  • Sam McGuffie and Mike Williams didn’t make the trip to the Purdue game since both were still recovering from slight concussions. McGuffie and Williams are expected to play on Saturday against Minnesota.
  • Justin Feagin has switched to #30 and played on special teams coverage against Purdue. It is very strange that the coaches decided to burn his redshirt for special teams coverage, but they must feel that he won’t contribute too much beyond that. If they felt differently they wouldn’t have played him, so their feelings must be that there is no need to keep him around for five years, especially when he can contribute on special teams and possibly slot receiver right now.
  • The Big Ten Network’s coverage of the Purdue game was absolutely terrible. It was an all around dismal effort, and the announcing was beyond annoying. Note to Charles Davis, Vance Bedford is no longer Michigan’s secondary coach. He left for Florida after Rich Rodriguez was hired, and it is an insult to Bedford to mention him with Michigan’s current secondary. The secondary actually improved quite a bit under Bedford in 2007. This year, though, it seems like every defensive back has regressed, and Tony Gibson and Scott Shafer can be blamed for that.
  • It has been well documented what streaks came to an end after Michigan lost to Purdue this past Saturday. In case you have been living under a rock, Michigan will have its first losing season since the 1967 and will not go to a bowl game for the first time in 33 years. It is going to be a strange feeling after the Ohio State game since that will be it. There is no bowl game to look forward to, and football season for Michigan will be over in November for the first time since 1974.
  • The Lansing State Journal’s Tim Staudt talked with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany recently, and many interesting topics were discussed. Delany said that there will be discussion about adding a ninth conference game for football, though I don’t even know if that would be possible. Since a ninth conference game would mean that teams wouldn’t play only one team rather than two, there would be an uneven number of games if I did my math correctly. One team would be left out of the rotation, so I’m not sure how that would work.

    Delany also said that the Motor City Bowl is interested in moving up in the Big Ten’s bowl lineup. I personally don’t think they should be able to since it isn’t that great of a bowl. Playing a MAC team in Detroit is not an ideal bowl trip for any Big Ten team, so I can’t imagine there would be much support for the Motor City Bowl to get a higher selection.

  • The basketball team’s exhibition game against Saginaw Valley State on Thursday will be shown live on the Big Ten Network’s website.
  • UM Hoops has a summary of the basketball student tickets policy. There are going to be incentives to attend games this year, which hopefully will result in the bleachers not being as empty as they usually are for games that aren’t against high-profile teams or rivals.
  • Also at UM Hoops is the great news that Michigan had little trouble against Kent State in a closed scrimmage on Sunday. A year ago Kent State supposedly took it to Michigan, so it’s good to see things were different this time around.
  • Manny Harris was interviewed by the BTN recently. (See below)

  • Recruit Vladimir Emilien is going to announce his decision on November 23rd. His finalists are Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Stanford.
  • Toledo head coach Tom Amstutz is going to step down at the end of the season. The Rockets have only won two games this season, and sadly one of them came against Michigan.
  • Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer is also going to step down at the end of the season, though it is not really his choice.

Monday Quick Hits: Frozen Four Is Set

By · Monday, March 31, 2008 · 12:20 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • The Frozen Four will feature two CCHA teams as Michigan and Notre Dame are still standing, but Miami (Ohio) nearly was the third team from that conference to qualify for a trip to Denver. The RedHawks went to overtime for the second game in a row in yesterday’s Northeast Regional final. Unlike Saturday’s victory over Air Force, Miami was on the losing end of things this time as Boston College won 4-3 in OT. That means BC will be headed to Denver. In the national semifinals, the Golden Eagles will play North Dakota, who also got to the Frozen Four thanks to an overtime victory. The Fighting Sioux beat Wisconsin in Madison by a score of 3-2 after coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period.
  • The updated bracket for the NCAA Hockey Tournament can be found here. Michigan will play Notre Dame at 9:00 p.m. ET, whereas North Dakota and Boston College will play at 6:00. Michigan won the only two meetings with the Fighting Irish this season, which hopefully is a good omen for the third game between these two teams that will happen on April 10. The first game of this series featured Michigan coming back from 2 early ND goals to win 3-2 after Louie Caporusso scored with only 20 seconds left in the third period. In complete opposite fashion, the second game in this series was a blowout as Michigan won 5-1 at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
  • Later this week I will put up a post with information on how to get to Denver to watch Michigan play in the Frozen Four. I know quite a few Michigan fans have already made travel plans, some even back in January (good thing everything worked out), and I imagine many will hope to make the trip to Denver.
  • Shifting gears to football, Michigan hit the practice field on Saturday for a scrimmage, and apparently a ton of family members of players and coaches were in attendance. This isn’t unusual at all, but it certainly is a topic of conversation after Justin Boren threw the program under the bus last week. Rich Rodriguez was quite upset with the comments made by Boren, and had this to say in regards to them:
    “I’ve been a head coach for 15 years,” Rodriguez told reporters. “I think we have as close a family unit … than anybody in the country. Always has been and always will be.”

    “Family is pretty important to all of us, and every coach can tell you that,” Rodriguez said. “Just ask anybody who has played for me in the last 15 years. Don’t ask somebody that’s left with a different agenda.”

    Rodriguez also said in his press conference following Saturday’s scrimmage that Boren’s comments were “ridiculous,” and I couldn’t agree more.

  • The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes also agrees as he wrote an entire article about the situation, and unlike many members of the media, greatly criticized Boren for leaving in the way he did.
    In the real world, we call this turnover. We have a job, we love our job and now all of a sudden we have a new boss. And the new boss is different.

    Not all bosses motivate the same. Some motivate with positive reinforcement, others with fear and still others with goal-oriented benchmarks. Some use a combination of all three.

    Now here’s what’s important: Nearly every new boss is not like the old boss. Boren’s comfort zone that felt so easy and so right is now gone. Of course, that comfort zone included losses to rival Ohio State in six of the last seven years.

    Rodriguez was hired to win football games; it’s just that simple. He was hired to beat Ohio State — not placate 18-, 19- and 20-year-old kids who don’t like change.

    Every new coach goes through this; just like every new boss goes through it. It’s a process: Weeding out those who don’t fit. Some don’t like to work hard, some are malcontents.

    As I said last week, I had no problem with Boren leaving, but his comments were simply uncalled for. It was clear that he was simply trying to save face as some may have viewed him as being a quitter. In hindsight, being quiet would have brought about far less criticism. That’s for sure.

  • MVictors has the audio of Rich Rodriguez’s appearance on Jim Rome’s radio show last Thursday. Rome wasn’t hosting it, but his replacements were the Sklar Brothers, who both graduated from Michigan.
  • John Bacon wrote a great article for Michigan Radio about the Ann Arbor News’ look at Michigan athletes and academics.
  • Professor John Hagen, who was the focus of the first part of the Ann Arbor News’ four-day series looking into Michigan athletes and academics, released a response to the articles written about him.
  • The Detroit Free Press has a photo gallery up of Saturday’s football practice, and pictures 12 and 29 are really interesting. Other than the fact that Kevin Grady looks to be in much better shape than before (thank you, Mike Barwis), it should be pointed out that he was handing off the ball. I don’t know if he was acting as the quarterback or if it was simply a trick play, but either way, I bet the play was fun to watch. Also go to pictures 11 and 14 for priceless looks on David Cone’s face, and check out picture 15 to see Avery Horn’s awesome head of hair.
  • The baseball team finally got to play as the weather was nice for a change, and they ended up sweeping Iowa by winning 4 games in 2 days.
  • The softball team won all 4 of its games played against Indiana and Purdue over the course of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • Michigan’s women’s gymnastics team won its 16th Big Ten title.
  • Michigan State beat Michigan 45-40 in overtime in the WNIT quarterfinals yesterday. U-M’s postseason run may have ended a game short of the WNIT Final Four, but this was definitely a successful season. Considering how bad the team had been the last few years, getting to the postseason alone was an accomplishment. The fact that they got to the quarterfinals of the WNIT just shows that Kevin Borseth is a great coach and has this program headed in the right direction.
  • Davidson’s unbelievable run in the NCAA Tournament ended in Detroit yesterday as they just barely lost to Kansas. With the win, the Jayhawks became the fourth #1 seed to advance to the Final Four, which surprisingly has never happened before. As far as my bracket goes, I ended up getting three of the Final Four teams right. The only one I missed on was Memphis, who really shocked me with big wins over Michigan State and Texas to win the South Regional. I’m in good position to win all of the pools I’m in, but it’ll take a North Carolina win over UCLA in the title game to accomplish that.
  • Ohio State beefed up its non-conference schedule for 2018 and 2019 by agreeing to a home-and-home series with Tennessee.
  • And finally, a Clemson recruit decided to take a picture of himself with an unusually large amount of money. Yeah, that seems like a great idea.

Michigan Wins CCHA Regular Season Title

By · Monday, March 3, 2008 · 1:15 AM |  Share | 3 Comments 

The Michigan hockey team won its 10th CCHA regular season title on Friday night with a 5-3 win over Ferris State. Coming into the series with the Bulldogs, the Wolverines needed only 2 points to win the title, and Michigan took care of business on Senior Night at Yost. It really was the perfect way to send out seniors Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik. Even though Kolarik didn’t play due to his injury, he did get in uniform for the post-game ceremony, which was great to see as he was in skates. Hopefully he can get back on the ice for a game sometime soon.

The 5-3 victory didn’t come easy as Ferris State fought hard for all three periods. The first period was a defensive struggle that left the score tied at 0, but business did pick up in the second period as both teams had little trouble scoring.

Michigan started the scoring just 3 minutes and 20 seconds into the second period thanks to a goal scored by Brandon Naurato. Nearly 3 minutes later, though, Ferris State answered with a power-play goal, tying things up at 1-1. The game wouldn’t stay tied for very long as Michigan added another goal only 21 seconds later, this time coming off the stick of Brian Lebler.

Ferris State once again was able to answer back with another power-play goal to even the game back up. However, Michigan captain and Hobey Baker candidate Kevin Porter was having none of that, and put the Wolverines back up with a power-play goal of his own as the second period was nearing its end. That goal gave Michigan a 3-2 lead going into the final period of play.

The third period opened with Michigan quickly putting the game out of reach. Max Pacioretty scored just 15 seconds in to give the Wolverines a 4-2 lead, and then 2 minutes and 41 seconds later Louie Caporusso scored on a power-play to give Michigan an edge of 3 goals. Ferris State did manage to make things a little interesting with another power-play goal shortly after, but Billy Sauer stepped up his game to close out the 5-3 victory.

As soon as the buzzer sounded, the entire Michigan team made its way over to Sauer to start celebrating the CCHA regular season title. It was a tough path to the title considering how strong the top of the CCHA was this season with Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, and Notre Dame all being serious contenders at one point or another, but the Wolverines came out on top in the end.

Following that celebration, another one began once the trophy for winning the CCHA was given to Kevin Porter and the rest of the team. The trophy was passed around before the most memorable ceremony of the night took place.

Three seniors – Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik, and Chris Fragner – were honored as a part of the Senior Night festivities. Each had a chance to skate around the ice with a Michigan flag (Kolarik included, as already mentioned) before kissing the middle of the block “M” at mid-ice. All three seniors also got hugs from all of their teammates and family, who made their way down to the ice for pictures.

Senior Night was great for many reasons, but Michigan did have to take the ice again on Saturday at Ferris State. The game really was meaningless in regards to the CCHA standings, but you know Michigan wanted to win anyways. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as Ferris State won 4-3 in overtime, but you can bet it wasn’t too disappointing for Michigan since they still were atop the CCHA.

By winning the CCHA title, Michigan gets a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs that begin later this week. Michigan also will be guaranteed to face the lowest seed in the quarterfinals and semifinals. The quarters will be held at Yost, and if Michigan makes it to the semifinals, they will be headed to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. A year ago Michigan was defeated by Notre Dame in the championship game of this tournament, so the Wolverines will be looking to get all the way to the top this time around.

(For pictures from the Ferris State game on Friday, click here)

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