Sunday, March 12, 2006

Liveblog: NCAA Selection Show & Pistons, Thoughts on Hockey Last Night

Time for my first liveblog. We’re coming to you from a townhouse in Ann Arbor, where I’ve got two TV’s rolling, and a whole lotta sports to watch tonight. By my count, there’s the NASCAR race, the NCAA selection show, the Pistons/Bobcats, Wings/Blackhawks, the A1 Grand Prix from Laguna Seca, CA, and the MSU/UAF hockey game on

5:47 pm: Tony Stewart clips a cone on his way into the pits. NASCAR decides that it was improperly placed and thus he won’t be penalized. Anyone want to bet that if it was Kevin Harvick he’d be coming to the pits right now?

5:49 pm: An article on CBS Sportsline caught my eye. Basically a couple of NHL teams (The Wild, the Ducks) are bitching to the NHL about the Red Wings sitting their 5 Swedes against the Sharks. They think the Wings basically handed 2 points to the Sharks, who are in the playoff race against those two teams. Anaheim? If they would’ve taken care of business the next night (or maybe actually scored a goal?) it’d be a moot point. Minnesota? Don’t talk about the Wings playing their “B-team” against SJ. We started Osgood against you guys. That’s as much of a B-team as anything. Stop yer bitching and win some more games. If anything, blame the league for putting us 3 time zones away two days after the Olympics.

5:57 pm: Jay Bilas says we’re in. Digger says we’re out. I love Bilas. He’s been defending us all weekend. It would be such a joke if FSU gets in over us. Worse RPI, horrible SOS.

6:00 pm: Heeere we go! Prepare to be disappointed!

6:02 pm: A storm’s a-brewing in Ann Arbor. I’m going to be pissed if my power goes out as it tends to.

6:03 pm: JJ Redick is incredible. What a fun weekend of basketball. U of M has been dodging bullets all weekend. It’s my hope that this means the basketball gods are finally smiling on us. Can’t believe that guy on Utah State missed that putback last night.

6:04 pm: ESPN just announces that Duke is a #1 seed. I just realized that I was watching the wrong station here. CBS not ESPN ya idiot.

6:08 pm: Here’s the Atlanta region: GW falls all the way to an 8 seed. Holy crap. 26-2 and they’re an 8? Syracuse went from not making the tournament to being a 5-seed. Not a bad weekend for them. Texas A&M makes it. That can’t be a good sign….even though jsmirman points out that “Everyone had them in”.

6:12 pm: BBA points out the Southern Illinois is only an 11 seed and that could be an extremely good sign for Michigan. I can’t stand the guy, but he has had some really great posts over the weekend. Kind of a dick, but he knows his stuff about college bball.

6:15 pm: Some quick thoughts about hockey last night during the commercial: That was the best game they’ve played in 4 months, if not all season. I’ve watched that team too much this season to say with absolute certainty that the lightbulb has come on for them, but if they play that way the rest of the season, they’re going to be a very tough team to beat. Johnson and Hunwick had their best weekend since the start of the year when a lot of people thought they would be the best pairing we’ve ever had. Both players were defensively responsible the entire weekend, but were still able to chip in on the offensive end somewhat. Jack had just an awesome shot for the GWG. This was the complete opposite of that 2-0 game at Munn when you couldn’t say that anyone actually played well. This game, I’m not sure that you can say that anyone didn’t play well. The best part about having that bye may have been that Red got to work with that team in practice for 2 straight weeks. It’ll be either MSU or NMU in the semis. Gotta think that we’re in no matter what.

6:18 pm: Here comes the Oakland bracket. BTW, I never get sick of seeing that NC State National Championship clip. They’re talking about the Auburn Hills bracket right now. When the regional was there before, UCLA was practicing at Troy High, and they basically broke one of the rims in a dunk exhibition. We had to play a game on it the next day and basically it was impossible to score on that basket. We started the game with 4 guys, but it didn’t matter because we weren’t scoring on that basket anyway. We ended up winning because the other team didn’t score in the second half. It was good times.

6:20 pm: No Sparty in Auburn Hills. That’s unfortunate. Indiana is a 6 seed. That’s gotta be a good sign too right? I posted that on The Wolverine board, and Raleigh Blue, BBA, rrajani, southu, bluex2, Helmholdt, beardie and blueman92 all posted the same thing at the same time. We’re starting to be a hopeful bunch.

Gonzaga is a 3 seed??!! Yikes.

6:23 pm: The shots of Mateen waiving a towel never get old.

6:27 pm: Albany is a 16 against UConn. I googled them to see just how far away that hockey regional is. They’re 600 miles away? Did not realize that. UAB is in. Not good. Fuck. Utah State is in. It’s over. There’s Seton Hall. Another nail in the coffin. I bet their annoying fans will be all over our board this week.

6:30 pm: 16 teams left. We’re not going to be one of them. This sucks. We can bitch all we want about having a better resume than Air Force or Seton Hall or Utah State or George Mason, but if we won one more freaking game this would be a much more relaxing Sunday.

6:33 pm: Ben Wallace is hobbling with what appears to be a knee injury. The last 6 minutes have sucked.

6:34 pm: Blueman92 points out that Air Force and Utah State weren’t in Bracketology’s last eight teams out. So that’s what they meant by surprises in the opener.

6:35 pm: It’s a formality but here’s the last bracket. Here comes the #12 seed to play Nevada. C’mon…..Montana. Cool. 6 teams in the Big 10 are in the top half of the bracket, but the 7th seed isn’t going to get in. That’s just super. Here’s the last few…and it’s official. No Michigan, no FSU, no Hofstra, no Cincinnati, Missouri State becomes the highest RPI ever to not get in. Michigan has only got themselves to blame I guess. And someone just lit a match under Tommy Amaker’s chair.

6:45 pm: This day is just getting better and better. Chris Osgood is starting for the Red Wings tonight, which means I’m not giving that game more than a passive look as much as I’d like to watch some hockey tonight. The Pistons have woken up and got out to a 9 point lead over the Bobcats.

6:47 pm: Another fun anecdote from last night. We talked with Jack Johnson’s dad for a good long while last night. Great guy. Very intense, you could just see the passion in his eyes when he was talking about how emotional Jack is and how all he wants is to win. He said that anytime that Jack maybe lost his head a little bit it’s just because he hates to lose so much. I’ll take a kid like that anyday on my team. Our basketball team could’ve used a few guys like that, and if TJ Hensick had half of Jack Johnson’s heart, he’d be a lock for the Hobey. Anyway, when we were talking about how great it's been having him here, he suggested that we get a chant going for him, that Jack would really appreciate something like that because he absolutely loves being at U of M and everything.

So the Johnsons were getting in on the chant too. After the game I talked to Mr. Johnson again and he asked if I was going to the Joe. And I said probably to which he replied "ALRIGHT! We're going to the Joe then!". I said something along the lines of "We're going to MILWAUKEE!" and Jack Sr. goes "Yeah f--- the Joe, we're going to Milwaukee!!" Good times.

One of my buddies talked to Jack's mom and she said that if she was a betting woman, they'd be seeing us next year. It’s obvious what side of the fence his parents are on. Hopefully he’ll listen to Mom and Dad. He’s really matured down the stretch, whether anyone wants to admit it or not. In the biggest weekend of the year, he was defensively responsible, scored the series winning goal, and didn’t take a penalty in either game. He also became UM’s all-time leader in freshmen defense scoring and is one assist from tying for the lead in freshman defense assists. Andrew Ebbett has scored a point in 7 straight games down the stretch. He’s moving into Jed Ortmeyer territory IMO.

They asked Jack about the chant after the game last night and he was slightly embarrassed that his parents were joining in, and according to Mike Spath, they asked him if he’d like to be apart of the atmosphere next year and he said “Yeah, and the year after that too”.

6:55 pm: I’m going to cut this off now. I’m not watching the Red Wing game because of Osgood, I’m probably the only person in the US that’s going to be watching the A1 Grand Prix, and the Pistons? They’re playing the Bobcats. Tony Delk is looking to be a pretty nice pickup. Anyway, it’s up to hockey now to salvage something out of this awful sports season at U of M. Thankfully it looks like they finally got the message. I still don’t have real high expectations for them, but they could end up with a nice season yet. Two dangerous scoring lines, a defense corps that might have finally gotten the message, which includes a rejuvinated Tim Cook who was just killing people this weekend. The big question mark is in net.


Anonymous said...

The Wings goaltending situation concerns me. Manny is giving up 3 goals per game of late and Ozzy did as well tonight. Hank, Pavs and Shanny scored tonight as usual, but Cory Cross also got a goal. Good to see the new guy contribute during his first game with the team.

It will be very interesting to see how Michigan's hockey team looks next weekend. The sweep against FSU is a good sign. That may be an auspicious sign of things to come for the remainder of the season.

Packer487 said...

The goaltending has to be the big concern with the Wings heading into the playoffs. Manny has been so good all season, I'm not going to get too worked up over him struggling a little bit coming out of the break. If he's still giving up 3 per 3 weeks from now, I'll be hitting the panic button. Of course if our offense keeps dropping in 4-5 it's not going to matter!

Dats, Shanny, Z, Schneider, Lidstrom and Sammy are all 20 goal scorers now with Lang soon to follow. Z has been awesome since the break, and I believe I saw that Dats now has a 10 game point streak. Lots of pressure on #13 to perform in the postseason this year, because he hasn't in his career thusfar.

Tom said...

Its too bad that you didn't watch the game, Cory Cross looked pretty good. When you expressed enthusiasm a couple of posts ago about him, I was skeptical. The move just reeked of Jiri Slegr to me. Good call though, he really seemed to fit in, even getting in a couple of scuffles.

I just wish the Red Wings could lock down leads (sound like any other hockey team you know?) Posting huge leads against Chicago, only to give up 7 goals in two nights to make things interesting just isn't good.

Packer487 said...

I had it on in the background. Luckily I flipped it on just in time to see Datsyuk's ridiculous goal on the breakaway. Prettiest goal he's scored since that move he put on Turco. Didn't watch too much though.

I'm glad to hear that Cross played well. I really do like that signing (for the record, I liked Slegr too...not sure why he didn't get to play more). I haven't seen too much of him, but he's huge and apparently he can make a nice first pass.

That was a little odd how they kept giving up goals to Chicago, but I'm sure they'll get it taken care of. Everyone's just getting back into the groove. God I can't wait for playoffs!

Tom said...

I think that the Slegr deal was as much to keep him away from other contenders (like Colorado) than it was that Detroit really needed depth that year. I was a little bit disappointed initially with the Cross deal in part because the buzz on the Rivers trade was that the Wings were clearing cap space to do something significant. Nashville gave up a fortune for Witt, so I can't help but wonder if Detroit got involved in the bidding and then took Cross as a plan B. Either way, Cross replaces Fischer very nicely and I too am excited for the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

What are the chances of Johnson staying? Seems he's already been offered the Crosby package?

Anonymous said...


Packer487 said...

Johnson should've been up for freshman of the year. But at the same time, who do you take out? Lerg took the starting job away from a vet and has an MSU team that frankly I thought was going to be middle of the pack to the verge of a potential #1 seed. Zatkoff has had a huge huge year for Miami and Condra led all CCHA freshmen in scoring.

Personally I'd have Lerg, Zatkoff and Johnson, but with his reputation it doesn't shock me they left him off (even though I think it's wrong). Hopefully he uses it as motivation and proves to be the best in the conference the rest of the season.

Last weekend was the best he's played all year.

And Anon #1) He's been saying all the right things but publicly and privately about wanting to come back. His family wants him to come back obviously. Carolina can't offer him more than the rookie max that they offered him last year (I suppose it probably has an increase along with the cap, but even still it's probably not a large sum). I'd put the odds at slightly better than 50-50 that he'll be back.

But it is Michigan and it will be summer.

Anonymous said...

Not sure I agree, Lerg was good but not as good as Johnson. Did Lerg set any records? Did Lerg play World Juniors? Did Lerg play all season? The ND kid, come on, he had only 2-3 more points than Johnson, and in ND's biggest games of the year, their playoffs, he was pointless! The Miami goalie only plays half the games for gods sake. Would his numbers be as good night in and night out? I do agree that Johnson was left off soley because of his style. He truly deserved the award hands down.

Packer487 said...

I'm just expressing what the CCHA may have been thinking. Makes sense to have the guy who led CCHA freshmen in points as a finalist for Frosh of the Year....

I have no problem with Lerg or Zatkoff on the list. They were the goalies for the 1st and 2nd place CCHA teams (granted Zatkoff splits time...Lerg pretty much took over from Vicari), and neither of those teams was really on the radar in the preseason. Lerg was the main starter, and Zatkoff's #s were off the chart.

There's always going to be snubs, and I would say that Johnson should have been a finalist over Condra for sure. I have no problem with Lerg winning it though.

But I'd be willing to bet that Jack doesn't care that much. Use it as motivation tonight and maybe he can put one past the "Best Freshman in the CCHA" tonight for the GWG.

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