Lots of odds and ends to tie up, since I haven’t had a lot of time to post lately:
First off, Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha: Disappointing weekend for sure. You have to feel like they left 2 points on the table this weekend, even if we shouldn’t have really been in position to get one of them. To get down by 3 goals and still have the heart to fight back shows me something, but then to give up the game winning goal six seconds after you tied the game up is just…I don’t have a word. Is it possible to do that any faster? If Nikiforuk started at center ice with no defenders whatsoever, would it take him at least four seconds to score?
Note that on 3 of the 4 UNO goals Friday night, a defenseman (or two) screwed up. I really wish I had a stat to back this up (and who knows, it may even be the norm for the country), but I’m convinced that 80% of the goals we allow are on rushes and not a result of a team just setting up in our end. I really feel like we do a good job in our own zone once everyone is back. It’s just a rare occasion that that’s the case. A commitment to team defense (by everyone) would go a long way to helping this team. I’ve pretty much given up hope that that’s going to happen now, if it hasn’t happened already though.
I guess the bottom line is this: Defensemen need to do a better job playing defense, forwards need to do a better job scoring, goalie needs to do a better job stopping the puck, power play needs to score an effing goal once in awhile. At least the penalty kill is good.
Saturday night: Shocker, another blown game. This time they blew two 2-goal leads, letting Omaha finally tie the game up with about two minutes to play. Once again, no power play goals—0 for 3, with a whopping 2 shots on goal—putting them up to 20 straight without a goal.
From reading the game wrap it sounds like we had some excellent goalie play coupled with a pair of goals that he’d like to have back. All-in-all a pretty typical Michigan hockey weekend. I didn’t listen to a second of either game, and yet I feel like I could paint a pretty accurate picture as to what happened, since it’s been going on for months.
On to Daytona: Thank God racing’s back. Overall I thought it was a pretty good race. Lots of leaders, lots of lead changes, lots of 3-wide racing. Tony Stewart had everyone covered, but he drove like a fricken moron and threw it away. That guy just cracks me up. It wasn’t more than a week ago that he was complaining about how they were going to kill someone out there, and then he (admittedly) intentionally wrecks Matt Kenseth at 190 miles per hour. And true to form, Nascar is completely inconsistent with their penalties. Yes, Kenseth deserved a black flag for ramming Stewart coming out of the pits, but when all’s said and done, how does Kenseth end up with more of a penalty than Stewart? Is it really a penalty to put someone at the back of the longest line a) at a restrictor plate track and b) when he probably needs to pit anyway? Then Kyle Busch gets a black flag, can’t get down the racetrack to serve it, the caution comes out, and they let him serve it under yellow. What dude?
It really amuses me that Nascar apparently frowns more upon swearing on TV than they do on intentionally wrecking someone in front of the entire field. Junior loses 20 or so points last year for saying “Shit” on TV, but Stewart, Jarrett, Robby Gordon, etc. don’t even get a slap on the wrist for intentionally wrecking another driver. It’s unreal.
Jeff Gordon drove a helluva race. He fought through a wreck with Stewart, losing third gear, blowing a tire, and finally a wreck with McMurray. Up until the wreck with McMurray he was still in contention for a win. He deserved a better finish than he ended up with.
NBC’s coverage is horrible. Too many commercials, they go “through the field” too much, they don’t keep you aware of what’s happened to guys on the track (e.g. Harvick went from 4th to 37th a lap down and we never heard a word about what happened to him). And their announcers just grate on me. I couldn’t be happier that they lost the bid for next year’s package. Good riddance.
Junior cost himself three spots at the end of the race with what was honestly a pretty futile attempt at pulling out a victory. I give him credit for trying though. I’d much rather have a guy at least trying to win races, rather than doing what Kenseth did his championship year, just finishing seventh every race.
The NBA All-Star game: I didn’t see much of the actual game, though it was nice to see pretty much everyone agree that the Pistons won it for the East. The Skills Competition was pretty darn good though. I like the obstacle course, there’s some originality in the dunk contest again, and the three point contest is still a classic. The dunk contest was the highlight though. It was outstanding this year. Nate Robinson dunking in it of itself would get me to watch but to see him throw one down jumping over Spud Webb in the process was just fabulous. Iguodala wins for creativity though, with his dunk off the back of the backboard. Was there anyone watching that actually thought he was going to pull that one off? I wonder if the 76ers brass was having a heart attack after he almost decapitated himself on his first attempt.
I disagree with Bill Simmons about Robinson’s last dunk of the night. I feel like it was worth waiting for. If he had been able to pull it off from half court—like he almost did on the second or third attempt—it would’ve brought the house down. Yes it sucked that it took him 15 tries to get it right—and that he moved in to the 3-point line in the process, but it was still a sweet dunk. Iguodala should have won, but of the three most memorable dunks of the night, Robinson had two of them.
I do, however, like Simmons’ idea of increasing the money payouts, adding H-O-R-S-E and a half-court shot contest to the night. They could get rid of the shooting stars and the obstacle course (though I do like the latter) in favor of those.
As for Michigan/MSU basketball: Did anyone really expect anything different, especially after Chris Hunter went out? If Harris was completely healthy and Sims stayed out of foul trouble, maybe then you’ve got a shot without Hunter. But being down Abram and Hunter—and essentially down Harris and Smith—and with Sims in foul trouble, that spelled disaster. That means that your two bigs in there are Petway and Brown, neither of whom is a real big offensive threat and you’ve only got one legit guard in there with Horton. Add that to great games out of Shannon Brown, Ager, and Neitzel [insensitive German comment deleted], and you’ve got a loss on the road.
I still think this team gets into the tournament. They’ll beat Indiana, and they should win at least a game in the Big 10 Tournament. That should be more than enough, especially if the committee sees that the team is getting healthy (please Basketball Gods, please!).
That’s all for now, since I should actually get some work done today. There will be a Dale Earnhardt tribute coming. Wanted to get it done on the 5 year anniversary, but it didn’t happen (no internet). Also, the Jack Johnson Milestone Watch will be updated.