- It’s a good thing Michigan was playing Florida Gulf Coast last night, because even an average team could have possibly given U-M a loss after the way they played. Michigan’s shooting was off all night, and it didn’t help that they attempted 42 three-pointers. They only made 12 of them, which resulted in an awful shooting percentage of 28.6 from behind the arc. Despite the poor shooting, Michigan did win 76-59. Like I said, it was good that they were playing Florida Gulf Coast.
- It wasn’t all bad for Michigan, as DeShawn Sims scored 20 points and had 20 rebounds. He is the first player to do that since Phil Hubbard had 22 points and 26 rebounds in 1977. Kelvin Grady also had a good night scoring-wise, as he ended up with 14 points. Stu Douglass had 12 points, and Laval Lucas-Perry scored 10 in his Crisler Arena debut.
- Surprisingly, Manny Harris only scored 6 points in this game. He did have 5 assists and 6 rebounds, but he didn’t have a very good night offensively.
- Reed Baker, who transferred from Michigan to Florida Gulf Coast last year, scored 16 points in his return to Crisler Arena. He only shot 4-12 for the field and turned the ball over 6 times, but he wasn’t the only one that had issues with turnovers. As a team, FGCU turned the ball over a whopping 26 times. One of the reasons this didn’t become a true blowout is because Michigan had trouble converting those turnovers into points. Plus, Michigan turned the ball over 15 times themselves.
- Michigan led by as many as 24 points in this game, but FGCU cut it down to single digits at one point in the second half. Michigan quickly pulled away again, but it was definitely worrisome that the game ever got that close.
- Michigan’s next game is on Monday, December 29. The Wolverines will host North Carolina Central, who is actually 0-14 this season. Most of their losses have been by double digits, so hopefully Michigan puts them away early and plays better than they did last night. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be shown on the Big Ten Network.
- Students can go to all of the remaining break games (North Carolina Central, Wisconsin, and Illinois) for free.
- Scott Shafer may interview with Syracuse for their defensive coordinator job.
- Varsity Blue took a look at Shavodrick Beaver’s decision to decommit and what the short- and long-term effects of the move will be.
- I forgot to mention this yesterday, but Leon Hall had three interceptions for the Bengals on Sunday. One of his picks happened when he stepped in front of Cleveland’s Braylon Edwards. Hall took that interception back for a touchdown, helping the Bengals win 14-0 over the Browns.
- Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis declared for the NFL Draft yesterday.
- Michigan improved to 8-2 on the season by beating Oakland 89-76 at The Palace on Saturday. The Wolverines led by as many as 17 points after going on an 18-0 run, but Oakland got hot in the second half and got within 4. Michigan remained calm and continued to shoot well from behind the three-point line to eventually win by double digits.
- Laval Lucas-Perry made his Michigan debut and scored 14 points. He made four 3-pointers in his 16 minutes in the game, and Michigan went 13-29 from beyond the arc as a team. Stu Douglass nailed three in a row to start the game and added another later on. David Merritt and Kelvin Grady both made a pair of 3-pointers, and Zack Novak made one late in the second half.
- Manny Harris didn’t score a single point in the first half but ended up with 15 for the game. He had 13 assists (one shy of the Michigan record), which is a big reason why he scored less points than usual.
- DeShawn Sims scored 20 points and had 9 rebounds in the game, coming just short of a double-double.
- As expected, Ben Cronin didn’t play since he is going to redshirt. Anthony Wright also didn’t play, which came as a bit of a surprise. With Laval Lucas-Perry now eligible, all of the bench players will get less playing time. Still, Wright not being in the rotation at all on Saturday was unexpected. It will interesting to see what happens with him in the next couple of games.
- Speaking of which, Michigan’s next game is at 7 p.m. tonight. The Wolverines will host Florida Gulf Coast, which is coached by Michigan graduate and 1989 student-manager Dave Balza. Reed Baker, another former Michigan student, will also be making his return to Crisler tonight. Baker was on Tommy Amaker’s last Michigan team and left after John Beilein became the head coach. Baker’s decision to leave was not really his own, as I don’t think Beilein wanted to use a scholarship on him. That’s no slight against Baker; it says more about Amaker’s talent evaluation skills.
Anyways, the game starts at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on BigTenNetwork.com.
- The women’s basketball team lost to Ohio State 70-50 in its Big Ten opener yesterday.
- WolverineHistorian uploaded a Braylon Edwards tribute video.
- For some reason, only the GLI final will be on TV this year.
- 2010 commit Ricardo Miller may only be a junior in high school, but he is already a Michigan man.
- ESPN did a story about Michigan commit Taylor Lewan’s transformation from an average defensive lineman into a highly rated offensive lineman.
- Brian of MGoBlog ran into Jay Hopson at Briarwood Mall recently and asked him if he was going to be the new defensive coordinator. As one can imagine, Hopson didn’t really say much in his answer, but it was an interesting story nonetheless.
- Iowa State hired Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads to replace Gene Chizik as the team’s head coach. Chizik actually left Iowa State for Auburn, making this a sort of weird situation. Rhoads was a defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh before he went to Auburn this past season, and there was some talk that he should be hired to replace Scott Shafer at Michigan. That obviously won’t be happening now, but it would have been interesting since Rhoads’ defense was mainly responsible for Pittsburgh’s win against West Virginia in 2007. That loss eliminated WVU from national title contention and ultimately resulted in Rich Rodriguez coming to Michigan.
- Todd McShay said that Colorado State wasn’t a very good running team in his preview of the New Mexico Bowl. Fittingly, Colorado State rushed for 362 yards, 285 of which came from one player, en route to its victory over Fresno State.
- Not that you didn’t know this before, but Rob Parker is an enormous douchebag.
- Michigan will play Florida Gulf Coast University in basketball on December 22. If FGCU sounds familiar to anyone, it’s because former U-M basketball player Reed Baker transferred there prior to the 2007-08 season. Also, FGCU’s head coach graduated from Michigan and was a manager on the 1989 national championship team.
- Laval Lucas-Perry and his team won a silver medal over in Taiwan.
- Stadium and Main points out that the Michigan State football game this fall will likely start at 3:30 p.m. ET.
- The Toledo Blade wrote a nice article on Steven Threet and his family.
- Former Michigan player Dave Brown was recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Also, another former player, Dan Dierdorf, received an award for his announcing.
- Mario Manningham signed a 4-year contract with the New York Giants.
- The Dayton Daily News talked with Cathy Schembechler in a recent article.
- Charles Woodson was recently in Ann Arbor to promote his new wine, although a dumb NFL policy is preventing him from publicly endorsing it. Surprisingly, his signature on the bottle is okay, he just isn’t allowed to talk about it.
- Michigan fans and Carson Palmer can agree on one thing: hating Ohio State.
- Lots of football recruits claim that academics are important when they’re choosing a school, but few actually follow through with that statement in college. Many thought that was the case with cornerback Myron Rolle a few years ago, but as it turns out, he is definitely an exception. Rolle picked Florida State over Michigan after once saying that academics are something he values. Of course, jokes followed about why he picked FSU if he cared about the student part of student-athlete, but he has proven those jokes to be dead wrong.
SI.com’s Stewart Mandel did a story on Rolle, and what you will learn from the article is that Rolle will graduate in two-and-a-half years and is Rhodes Scholarship nominee. On top of that, he will likely be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft next year. Looking back, I guess every once in a while recruits do mean what they say about academics, and man I wish he would’ve picked Michigan.
Football season isn’t here just yet, but it sure is getting closer. Season tickets have arrived, fall practice begins today, and media day took place yesterday in Ann Arbor, giving answers to the questions that many of us still had. Here are notes from the event.
- To start things off on media day, Lloyd Carr talked about a former Michigan player that died last week. Former U-M fullback Garvie Craw passed away after a fight with cancer, but left a legacy remembered for his contributions in a game that was one of Bo Schembechler’s best wins. During the 1969 Michigan-Ohio State game, Craw scored 2 touchdowns from the fullback position to lead the Wolverines to a 24-12 victory. There are two really good articles about Craw and how great of a person he was.
- Also mentioned in the opening statement by Carr was this little tidbit of news that MSC definitely likes to hear.
“I also want to congratulate Bob Becker on his retirement. For those of you who don’t know him, Bob was a long-time sports editor and columnist for the Grand Rapids Press. I’ve met some great people in the media and I’ve made some great friends. Bob is one of those. I have tremendous respect for the way he did his job. In that community, he was a guy that always gave back. I wish him all the best.”
Becker’s retirement means I won’t have to bash his defending of Tommy Amaker or hate of the John Beilein hire anymore. Carr was very complimentary of him, so maybe it’s just the basketball program he doesn’t like. In all seriousness though, if it weren’t for Becker writing those articles, I wouldn’t have been able to critique them, so a congratulations is in order on his retirement.
- I knew Lloyd Carr had become good friends with Russell Crowe during the offseason, but I didn’t know he became his movie promoter. Carr threw this into the opening statement as well.
“Don’t forget to see ’3:10 to Yuma’ tomorrow, starring Russell Crowe. I recommend it, I give it five stars.”
Maybe Carr could become a movie critic after his coaching days are done.
- Moving on to stuff related to this year’s football team, Carr discussed the status of two players that many have been wondering about. First, he said that we should be hearing something about Carson Butler in the very near future. From everything that I’ve already heard, Butler will be back on the team. He’s got a long way to go before seeing serious playing time or starting again, but getting back on the team is the first step. The other player mentioned was wide receiver Antonio Bass, who again will not see the field this year because of that ongoing injury. He has worked and worked to try to get back on the field, but now will have to set his sights on 2008. I hope we do someday get to see Bass play because of how much he’s put into getting back, but the chances of that don’t look very good.
- Carr on the kicking situation:
“I think Bryan Wright, based on what I saw in the spring, will be our kickoff guy. He’s got a great leg, probably as strong a leg we’ve had since I’ve been here. We’ve got K.C. Lopata and Jason Gingell who will also compete for the placekicking job.”
- Carr on the kick returning situation:
“I expect Carlos Brown to play a major role. Stevie Brown is certainly going to be a factor there. Greg Mathews will work back there as will Brandon Minor. We have got some freshmen that we’ll want to work out how they handle a ball. The most important thing, where it all starts, is with a guy who is going to make good decisions whether to field the ball or not, where to fair catch it. So, experience is something we don’t have.”
- Getting to some of the player’s quotes, Chad Henne talked a little about the shotgun.
“The shotgun definitely buys the quarterback a little bit more time. It gives offensive linemen a better pass set and makes them comfortable. If we can do it and we’re good it definitely can be a big help for us.”
The shotgun was about the only thing that worked against USC in the Rose Bowl, and with so much talent on offense coming back this season, I want Michigan to use the shotgun. We really don’t see it too often, but with Henne, Hart, Manningham, and all the other weapons, it could do some damage… in a good way that is.
- To read full transcripts from Lloyd Carr and players, click here and here.
- Moving from the football field to the football blogosphere, RBUAS is back with another great post. Also, The Diag got a tip from someone that was listening to Colin Cowherd’s radio show (why?) and posted that he said Wisconsin over Michigan would be 2007′s biggest upset. As Chris says, Wisconsin beating U-M is not that big of an upset. Considering how closely ranked the two teams are and the fact that this game is at Madison in November and will probably be a night game, the chances of U-M losing are pretty good. Finally, although this isn’t related to football, Reed Baker has officially transferred to FGCU. Good luck to the Rainmaker down in Florida.
- Overall, the team looked like they were enjoying themselves quite a bit yesterday. There was a lot of goofing around, but it was all in good fun. I think this picture below sums it up best:
Kickoff of the Appalachian State game is only 25 days away. I’ll start previewing the season next week, but until then, thanks for reading and Go Blue.
Alex Legion has finally made a decision regarding his status with the University of Michigan and it is not good for the Wolverines. Legion has been released from his LOI and will open up his recruitment again.
“We have had several discussions with Alex and his family and they have expressed an interest in opening his recruitment,” said new Michigan coach John Beilein in an official release. “We understand his situation and encouraged him to do so, giving Alex his unconditional release. We will continue to have dialogue with Alex and his family throughout this process. With his release, he is now a prospect again and due to NCAA compliance issues we can have no further comment on the situation.”
From the sounds of it, Beilein will continue to recruit Legion on the off chance that he doesn’t like any other college and ultimately could decide to committ to Michigan for a third separate time. Don’t get your hopes up though as I imagine Legion will find a home in somewhere other than Ann Arbor. The early rumors have indicated that UCLA is the front runner, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Legion actually was taking the ACT this weekend and was unable to attend an all-star basketball game down in Highland Park. Maybe he is trying to increase his score to follow Amaker to Harvard. Ok, that was just a joke as Legion will not be going to Harvard, but it is something funny to think about.
Where does this now leave Michigan for next season? Well, there’s actually some other news to report regarding Reed Baker as he is no longer with the team.
“With the fact that Reed’s financial aid package had expired, he has decided to look into other options for his playing career,” added Beilein. “We have encouraged Reed to do so and will do whatever we can to help him with that process. We wish him nothing but the best in the future.”
This is a little surprising as I have thought that Baker would play great in Beilein’s offense as he is such a good 3-point shooter. I imagine there is also the chance that Baker could return, but again, we’ll just have to wait and see. Michigan now has two extra scholarships to fill, so it’ll be interesting to follow the recruiting again as one or two new players could sign on.
Following a huge win for Tommy Amaker and his Wolverines last week over Illinois, the team headed to Evanston for a game against Northwestern. Any road game for Michigan isn’t an easy task, but coming after a victory that could be considered an upset, a letdown would have to be prevented. Although it wasn’t pretty, and if you watched the first 35 minutes of the game you know what I’m talking about, Michigan ended up pulling away from the Wildcats down the stretch to go on to win 58-46.
The first half went about as bad as it could. Michigan reverted back into the good ol’ Amaker ball as I call it now. Nobody could hit a shot or hold on to the ball. Something that has been seen in all of the Maize and Blue’s three losses this season. However, playing a team like Northwestern helped balance out all of the miscues. Even with all of the mistakes, Michigan was tied after the first 20 minutes and actually came out the better team.
In the second half, the game was much of the same with both teams going back and forth. Michigan held a lead and caught the break they needed. Apparently, Northwestern forgot how to make a shot near the end of the game as only 3 total points were scored in the final 7 minutes for the Wildcats. With that cold streak happening, Michigan pulled away to get the victory. Things would’ve been much closer for Michigan if Northwestern hadn’t played so poorly. The Wolverines were lucky that the Wildcats only scored 3 points in the final 7 minutes, otherwise, they may be 1-1 in Big Ten play rather than 2-0.
Freshmen Reed Baker and Ekpe Udoh provided a lift for Michigan coming off the bench. Baker led all Michigan scorers with 11 points while Udoh added 8 points and 7 rebounds. Michigan is currently one of only two teams in the Big Ten to have a record of 2-0. The Wolverines look to go to 3-0 next Saturday when they travel to Purdue for a showdown with the Boilermakers. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.
Following an embarrassing loss out at #1 UCLA in which nobody seemed to be focused on the task at hand, Tommy Amaker decided to change everything for the next game. That game was on Thursday when Army came to Ann Arbor hoping to score the upset. Amaker didn’t move one or two players around in the starting rotation. Not even three. But try the entire starting lineup. That’s right, Tommy Amaker benched all five of the regular starters to debut a new lineup that featured three freshmen and two sophomores.
The move proved to be a good one as Reed Baker, Jerret Smith, DeShawn Sims, Jevohn Shepherd, and Ekpe Udoh led the Wolverines to a 62-50 victory. Although Army may not seem like the best team, a win with a brand new starting rotation that features such young players is always a good thing. Plus, Michigan got way ahead and let Army catch up near the end.
What exactly was Tommy Amaker thinking when he made the decision to bench five experienced players? He obviously wanted to light a fire under the players that should be leaders and shouldn’t be committing stupid turnovers. The Maize and Blue still committed 21 total turnovers against Army, which is an alarming stat. But if you look at the boxscore, then you will notice that 11 of them can be accounted for by the regular starters (Harris, Abram, Coleman, Petway, and C. Sims), which was also in nearly half the time that the new five played. The new five only had 10 turnovers throughout the game. Considering this was really their first time playing together, I’d say that’s pretty good.
As for the standouts in this experiment by Tommy Amaker, Reed Baker, DeShawn Sims, and Ekpe Udoh, all freshman, definitely proved they were worthy of making the start. Reed Baker scored 19 points off of 5 three-pointers and 4 free throws. DeShawn Sims scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Finally, the best of the three, Ekpe Udoh, scored 8 points, had 7 rebounds, and swatted a near-record 9 blocks. Udoh has looked far better than Courtney Sims just by the way he plays all season long, and that was evident against Army.
I have been critical of Tommy Amaker in the past, and most of it was well-deserved, but I’ll take this time to commend him for this move. I don’t like it. I love it. To bench all five starters after they just go out and fall flat on their faces against UCLA takes guts. Not only that, but he may be on to something. If a move like this could motivate the usual starters, then this team could start playing better and smarter.
Michigan’s next game is today at noon on ESPN2 home to Georgetown. It is the final game of the non-conference portion of the schedule and is beyond important. This will really be a test to see if this team is going anywhere in the remainder of the season. Georgetown is 9-3 currently and started the season highly ranked, so they won’t be an easy opponent. I would bet on Tommy Amaker using a starting lineup similar or identical to the one he had against Army as it did essentially work.
If Michigan could come away with a victory over Georgetown, then it would be a great momentum-builder going into the Big Ten part of the schedule. Things won’t get any easier then as so many teams always present a tough challenge, so getting a win now is important. As I said, tune in at noon on ESPN2 to watch the Wolverines and Hoyas battle it out.
Prior to the Michigan game against MSU this past Saturday, the men’s basketball team held an open practice/scrimmage so fans could get their first look at this year’s team. By the time I had made it over to Crisler Arena, the team had already been playing, and for about 10 or so more minutes continued. But, from the little amount of time I did see them play, some observations should be noted. Below is a player-by-player recap that includes players who I had some notes on (Not everyone is listed, just the ones that I felt were worth mentioning).
*Jerret Smith ran from the point guard position and unfortunately still did not look all that good. He is only a sophomore, so he’ll continue to adjust and become better over the next couple of years, but for right now, I don’t trust him to run the offense. Smith seems hesitant and still had trouble controlling the ball. I’d like to see more aggressiveness out of him.
*C.J. Lee is a transfer from Manhattan, so will be playing some tougher competition here in Ann Arbor. Lee actually was on the floor quite a bit and looked poised out there. He knew what he was doing from a basketball mindset standpoint, and controlled things nicely. His shooting touch was good as well, and taking it to the hole is always good in my book.
*K’Len Morris is one of those incoming freshman that could end up making an immediate impact right now. By the time I had arrived at the practice, I think Morris may have already put in his good amount of playing time as he was resting on the scorer’s table for most of the scrimmage. But, after the practice ended, he stuck around to practice shooting with Courtney Sims, so his work ethic obviously is good.
*DeShawn Sims is in that same group with K’Len Morris as a freshman who can have a big impact. Sims looks good out on the court. His presence was felt towards the end of the scrimmage when he received a pass after a turnover and slammed it home.
*Reed Baker received a lot of bad press when he committed to Michigan as his original choice was The Citadel. I, along with many others, criticized the fact that Tommy Amaker offered a scholarship to someone he had never seen play. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by how Baker looked. Almost all of his attempted shots were good, and it appears he knows how to run the offense. I like what I see from Baker. If I had to choose right now between Baker and Jerret Smith after watching that scrimmage, I’d actually choose Baker.
*Ekpe Udoh is a big center that can control the paint area. Udoh had a nice block while defending Courtney Sims (I think), and looks like he could easily become a starter by season’s end. If I were Courtney, I’d watch my back, because with so much height and talent, Ekpe Udoh can impose a big force at the five spot.
*Brent Petway just boggles my mind. Last season, he was ineligible until January because of bad grades, and wasted a lot of valuable time off the court because of that. I don’t know what the exact situation is, but I’m beginning to wonder if Petway is once again ineligible. Throughout the entire practice, he never stepped on the court during live play. The only time he even did anything except for standing there was when he tried to show off to the crowd with a dunk (he missed it BTW). Unless he’s injured, which very well could be the case, we may be looking at more issues with the high-flier.
*Zack Gibson can’t play in the 2006-2007 season because he transferred from Rutgers, but I can’t wait until he becomes eligible. I definitely liked what I saw out of Gibson. He was hustling up and down the court, and didn’t shy away in the trenches. Gibson reminds me a lot Graham Brown just minus some size. Both share the #25, and exhibit great emotion while out there. Plus, neither minded getting physical, Gibson was always up there trying to get a rebound or put-back.
*Courtney Sims did not have the greatest of seasons last year, and I’m fearful that may be the case this season as well. He still doesn’t play like he should be. He passed it off instead of backing down and taking it to the hoop, and the few times he did do that, the shot was missed. He plays like he’s afraid it seems like. Sims is going to be a big part of this offense and defense, so he will have to start being more aggressive in order for Michigan to be successful.
*Some other notes worth mentioning are that Amadou Ba showed up towards the end of everything and exchanged greetings with teammates. Luckily, no drunken State fans were harassing him. Also, the Michigan/Illinois game from last season was being shown on the jumbotron. That was the game where Daniel Horton had a career day en route to leading the Wolverines to the upset.
I can’t wait for this year’s basketball season to get started. With so many young players, those few senior leaders will have to step it up and help this team to reach its final goal of getting a berth into the NCAA tournament.
The season officially tips off on October 28th when the annual Maize and Blue Scrimmage is being held following the conclusion of homecoming when the Wolverines host the Wildcats of Northwestern. Admission is free, and the game will last 30 minutes, so make sure to check it out.
Finally, below are other pictures I took at the scrimmage (click to enlarge), sorry for the blurriness on some of them, but couldn’t get a good shot inside Crisler.
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