Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yeah. We Get It. You Don't Like The Pistons.

Bill Simmons was killing me today. In more ways than one.

He wrote a column about the sorry state of the NBA's Eastern Conference--calling it the worst conference in sports history (and with the 5-11 Knicks one game out of a playoff spot, he's probably right).

Now, let me be clear about this. I love Bill Simmons. Yes, I think his act has gotten a little bit tired over the years. I don't laugh nearly as often as I did back about 4 years ago, since a fair portion of it is the same material rehashed over again. But when the guy is on, there's still no one better. And I check every day to see if he's written something new. The Mailbags, chat transcripts and the NFL Picks alone are worth it.

There's also not a lot of things that I like more than when he cracks on how dumb NBA teams can be. I'm not blown away by his general sports knowledge, but he definitely knows his stuff when it comes to the NBA. So I love columns like this.

There were some great lines in there, and I had a great 15 minutes reading it. Until I got toward the end and he started cracking on Joe Dumars again.

Worst-case scenario: They lose in the second round, Billups leaves after the season, Melo wins the MVP and Pistons fans still refuse to admit that Joe Dumars screwed this entire decade up for them.

Earlier in the column, he recapped some of the things that Dumars has done "wrong": "Now here's the team that should be kicking itself, between passing on Melo and Bosh, giving away Arroyo and Darko, screwing up the Wallace situation and everything else."

First let's address the Darko pick. He's harped on it for years. Yes, Anthony, Bosh, and Wade are better players than Darko. Yes, we passed on 3 of the top 15 players in the NBA for Darko. That being said: It's unfair to kill Dumars for that move. The fact of the matter is that no GM in the entire league would have taken Bosh or Wade over Darko, and pretty much everything I read indicated that there were only a few that preferred Anthony. In addition, I'm positive I heard reports leading up to the draft that some GMs liked Milicic more than LeBron. Dumars didn't screw up more than any other GM in that situation would have. Also, we needed another big man at the time because, remember, we didn't have Rasheed Wallace at that point. And Tayshaun Prince just had his breakout playoff, so we really didn't need a small forward.

Not to mention the possibility (which is a fairly likely one, in my opinion) that Anthony wouldn't have gotten along with Larry Brown, since he didn't play defense and all. Which was kind of important on that team.

So was Darko a great pick? No. Does it look awful in hindsight? Absolutely. Would 80% (at least) of the GM's in the league have made the same mistake? Yup.

As for Darko and Arroyo: It's very questionable if this team a whole lot better with them here. And we got a first round pick in one of the deepest drafts ever (and some cap space) for them.

Onto the Ben Wallace situation. It seems awful funny to me to kill Dumars for "screwing up the Wallace situation" when earlier in the exact same column, Simmons wrote that: "It might have been a mistake to hand out $60 million to a past-his-prime, mercurial, 34-year-old rebounder/defender who can't score, hadn't been an impact player since the defensive rules changed and had just about no chance of getting along with a control freak like Scott Skiles".

It's one or the other. Either the Bulls are stupid for signing him or Dumars is stupid for letting him go. Because it seems to me, that if he's past his prime, he can't score, and he's not an impact player defensively, that maybe Dumars didn't screw us by letting Wallace go. He just refused to overpay and get locked into one of those bad contracts. Keep in mind that Wallace didn't like Flip Saunders at all.

Short-term, it absolutely hurts to have lost Ben Wallace. This team would be better with him (provided that the Wallace/Saunders feud didn't turn into a major distraction--which it VERY well could have). Long-term, we're going to be really happy that that contract isn't on our books. Signing him long-term would've done as much to "screw up this decade" as anything.

It's just another case of Simmons throwing jabs at a team that he has never liked (probably due to the feud with the Celtics back in the day). It's too bad, because otherwise that was a pretty darn entertaining column.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

College Hockey Showcase in Review

When I pleaded with the Wolverine hockey team to "Pretend we're Holy Cross" on Saturday night, I was referencing their hockey team from last season. Not their 2003 football team.

What a brutal result. I figured a loss was coming. I didn't see 8-2 though.

It's another disappointment against the Gophers, but a loss wasn't that shocking. It was the last of a brutal five-games-in-nine-nights stretch, and the Wolverines were finishing up with the best team of the stretch (and in the country) and on the big ice to boot.

I was watching the game in a bar (plug for Joe Koolsky's in Troy…great place, great food) so the details of the game are a little fuzzy. But my overall impression was that they soundly outplayed us, but it was more 5-2 bad rather than 8-2 bad.

The big difference in the game was that Minnesota converted on seemingly every breakaway and odd-man rush that they had, while Michigan didn't. Tim Miller had a glorious scoring chance right off the bat and Briggs made a fantastic save. Johnson (I think) had a breakaway and didn't convert. Cogliano had at least one breakaway and didn't score. Meanwhile, Minnesota got us with the old "Alley-Oop" play from The Mighty Ducks.

We've obviously got big-time problems with allowing short-handed goals. You never like to see one allowed—and we've seen that far too many times this year. Three is completely inexcusable.

I can't say a whole lot more than that. It's hard to get a read on actual players' performances when you're sitting at a bar and also trying to watch the Wings, Pistons, and USC/Notre Dame.

Kyle Okposo, Jim O'Brien, and Mike Carmen were extremely impressive in that game. I always liked Carmen at USA. I think I'm in agreement with WCH on this one that it is hard to believe that O'Brien hadn't scored coming into this game. He's a good player—and it's scary that he's on the fourth line. Damn that's a talented hockey team.

As for the Wisconsin game, I didn't get to watch it. But it says a lot about our team that they were able to come back against the defending champs in their house, after getting down by a couple of goals. I know Wisconsin is struggling right now, but I would gamble that by the end of the season that's going to look like a very nice win for us. I think it already does, despite the Badgers' record.

Overall I'm very happy. Playing Michigan State, Wisconsin and Minnesota in a five day span is no easy task and I said coming into the week that I wanted to see 2 wins. We got them. We were clearly overmatched against the Gophers, but we're not nearly as bad as that score looked. I'm sure that was a tired hockey team, and that's not a good thing when you're going up against a team that's that talented—and you're on Olympic ice.

I feel good about the direction of this team. They've been playing better and better. After going what seemed like 12 years without beating MSU, now they've taken two in a row. They're winning close games. They've shown that they can come back against solid opponents. They've won some low scoring games—which is great to see because it means that Sauer and our defense are playing well. They took 3 road games against Ferris and Wisconsin—places where we've had trouble in recent years. The setback against Minnesota was disappointing but they were due. Now it's time to regroup, play strong hockey heading into the break, and dare I say…get that GLI monkey off our back?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

LOUD NOISES!!!!!!!!!!

I was hoping that post #200 for The Blog That Yost Built would be celebrating a trip to the BCS Championship Game, but sadly it is not. Great football game, though. Both teams obviously made mistakes, but it really doesn’t get a whole lot better than that (ignoring the outcome). 1 vs. 2. Michigan vs. OSU. Michigan coming back to possess the ball, down by 4 points with a chance to go ahead late in the game.

I’m obviously biased, but I will stick with what I said before the game: They lost a very close game, so they deserve a chance to prove it on a neutral field. If a one-loss team is going to the BCS Championship, then how do you not take the team whose only loss was by a field goal against the #1 undefeated team? By definition, every one loss team has a “worse” loss than us.

The only acceptable alternative in my eyes is if Rutgers wins out. If people were talking about Louisville and West Virginia having a shot at the title game, then it’s only fair that if Rutgers does everything that was asked of them that they get a chance to play for it. Especially considering an undefeated Rutgers team will have beaten Louisville and West Virginia on the road. That said, they would lose by 30 to Ohio State.

If the goal is to get the two best teams playing for the national title, then it has to be Michigan vs. Ohio State on a neutral field. Has to be. My only fear is that the voters in the South are going to kill us in an effort to make sure it doesn’t happen, opening the door for an SEC team to perhaps go.

So far, Herbstreit (I believe), Davie, Holtz, Flutie and John freaking Saunders of all people have said they favor a rematch after seeing that game, and the best thing that could happen for us would be for them to keep saying it. Several of them were firmly against a rematch before the game and the performance swayed them. Hopefully it did the same to a lot of the voters. Honestly, I can’t imagine that people would be against seeing these two teams duke it out again on a neutral field. Give each of them a month to prepare for it too? Man.

On to the game:

You have to tip your hat to Jim Tressel, Troy Smith and the Buckeyes. They came out with a gameplan that attacked Michigan’s big weakness—the nickel and dime corners. Oh and Morgan Trent.

I’m sure in the coming weeks we’ll hear that only the fumbled snaps kept this game from being a blowout. And that may be true, but at the same time, Henne missing Manningham on the second drive, Crable’s late hit, Crable’s missed tackle on the first long touchdown run (which is just as much of an execution error as a bad snap), and some questionable (in my eyes) calls on third and short kept Michigan from winning this game. And frankly it would’ve only taken one of those things going the other way to swing the outcome of this game.

Losing Willis absolutely killed us because the backup safeties played like hell as far as I’m concerned. I’ll be curious to see what the final “Yards After Mundy” total is for this game because it has to have been astronomical. The other safeties had some missed tackles as well.

The field conditions hurt Michigan worse than they hurt OSU and I’m not really sure why. Is OSU more used to playing on that surface than Michigan? I find that questionable since it was just installed (unless their other surfaces this year were just as bad). Were they wearing longer cleats or something? I don’t know. But I will say that I can think of at least 6 or 7 plays off the top of my head that resulted in probably close to 200 yards for Ohio State simply because a Michigan player slipped. Add in a couple of them on offense and it was a big problem. You can’t use it as an excuse because both teams had to play on the same surface, but Michigan was definitely hurt by the conditions worse than the Buckeyes. Part of playing at home I guess.

Henne didn’t make any mistakes as far as turnovers go, but he didn’t play a GREAT game. The overthrown ball to Manningham cost us 7 points and with those markers, it’s a completely different game. He wasn’t under any pressure on the play, Manningham didn’t have anyone close to him, and he just missed the throw.

I also thought he was too slow to react to the pocket collapsing around him. And when he did react, it seemed that he was moving back into the rush instead of away from it. Even though Henne played well (don’t get me wrong, he DID play well), we left a lot of points on the field.

The clock management was problematic. Under no circumstance should you have to burn a timeout coming off a kickoff return. That timeout could have been big at the end of the game.

Mike Hart: What can you say. That kid just never quits, he never loses fumbles (I know, I know), he runs for 100 yards or more on everyone, and had Michigan pulled that game out, I think there’s at least a decent chance that HE would be the favorite for the Heisman.

Where Michigan really missed some opportunities was that they didn’t capitalize on their takeaways. 10 points on 3 takeaways isn’t awful, but after we recovered the Smith fumble on third down with a chance to take the lead, I’m pretty sure we went 3 and out. And there was a crucial drop on first down by Manningham, I believe. (Note: I would double check these things, but my grandma has a dialup connection that works off her only phone line so I have to type this post offline)

All in all, it was a great football game and it will go down in the archives as one of the best in this series. I’m sure Classic Sports is licking their chops, as they won’t be able to play this game enough…since we lost and all.

When figuring out who should play in the title game, I offer this in Michigan’s defense.
A) Who are the two best teams in the country? Clearly Ohio State and Michigan.
B) If a one loss team is going to be in the title game, what one loss team has the “Best” loss? Michigan.
C) Las Vegas indicates that homefield is worth 3-4 points. I don’t think anyone would really dispute that. Well, Michigan lost by 3 points on the road to the undefeated #1 team in the country. Play it on a neutral field and what happens?
D) Is there another team in the country (other than OSU obviously) that has been more impressive throughout the entire season as Michigan? USC has been in several close games, and lost to a bad team. Florida has been in several close games, some against bad teams. Arkansas got it put in their pooper by USC. Notre Dame shouldn’t even factor in. Our loss is to #1, their loss is to us, by more points, and at home.
E) (And this point should factor in significantly less than the others) What would be the best matchup for the title? I think we just saw it.

Michigan/OSU for the national title would be epic. Frankly, Ohio State should probably already get the crown as National Champions, but in the system we have that is designed to put the two best teams on the field, I don’t see how you could possibly send another one loss team to the title game over a team that barely lost to the best team in the country, on the road no less.

And if a rematch doesn’t happen, you can go ahead and give OSU the title, because there’s no one in the country other than Michigan that I think could beat them.

If it doesn’t happen, we will have another 12 months to think about the missed opportunities in this one. Because there were a lot.


We lost a great man today. I was lucky enough to meet Bo on two occasions, both through the Michigan Union Bookstore where I worked for 3 years. He came in to do a book signing for "Tradition" and I got to chat with him for a couple of minutes. It wasn't anything more than chit-chat, but for those 2 minutes or so, I had his full attention. He wasn't hurrying me through the line to sign more books. We chatted about how I worked down in Marketing for a little while, which led to a conversation about Jamie Morris ("Isn't he a peach?" quipped Bo). My boss took a picture of us together, and unfortunately that was the one picture on the roll that didn't come out. It's too bad because I would absolutely cherish that photo now.

The second time, my boss brought me along to help out getting the faculty dressed for graduation. In exchange for having to wake up balls early on a Saturday, the perks were that a) I got to help Bo out, and b) I got to go inside the new football locker room. I didn't spend too much time chatting with Coach that day, but I did notice that he was willing to chat with anyone and everyone who wanted some of his time. He would pose for pictures, even sign autographs.

They were just two minor meetings--and combined they probably didn't total more than 5 minutes. And yet, I still feel lucky to have had the opportunity to shake the hand of the person who played such a big role in making Michigan what it is today.

I was sad when I heard the news, obviously. I was working at about 10% capacity this entire week as it was, but when I read Brian's post around 10:00 or so, all work stopped. I was on The Fort hitting F5 over and over, hoping to find out good news, but having a feeling deep down that it wasn't going to be a happy ending today.

The outpouring of support from fans all across the college football world on the free board amazed me, and it spoke to how much of an impact this man had. I actually have to give credit to the Buckeye fans for showing a lot of class today. It didn't go unnoticed and it was appreciated.

I'm sure Ufer was honking his horn to greet the General, and in a way, it's kind of fitting that Bo and Woody will get to watch this game together from the best seats in the house. It had to be this way.

On thing that I was thinking about today is what if Bo didn't come to Michigan and build up this program? Would my dad have become a fan? And thus, would I have become a fan? Would I have gone to this school if I wasn't so die-hard Maize and Blue? It's possible that I wouldn't have. Which means I wouldn't know the girl I've been dating for 2 1/2 years. Just something to think about.....

Godspeed, Bo. We'll miss you. Thank you for everything.

And Michigan? I'm sure if Bo could pass along a message right now it would be simply this: Beat. The. Buckeyes.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

How is This OK?

I want to talk about the fan behavior at Ohio State. And I want to know why the national media doesn't make a bigger issue out of it.

Everyone knows the story about how an email was sent out to Michigan students this week, warning them about things to do and things not to do down in Columbus this weekend. What I want to know is how did it get to the point that an email became necessary? How did it get to the point that Ann Arbor needs to send campus police down to Columbus so the natives have someone to call if they need to? And why isn't anyone talking about it?

Ask any Michigan fan who has been to Columbus if they've had a positive experience and the answer will undoubtedly come back, "No". The M Zone alone detailed a half dozen instances of behavior that goes beyond what normal human beings should exhibit. Dave Shand talked of getting spit on in the stadium because he was wearing a Michigan jacket. We had full cans of beer thrown at us (unprovoked) in 2002. The band has eggs thrown at their bus. It's not an isolated incident here and there.

Ask any Texas fan who was there last year if they enjoyed the experience. Ask any Notre Dame fan who had the "pleasure" of dealing with these animals at the Fiesta Bowl last year if they'd ever trek down to C-Bus. The answers would come back: No, and no. I met several ND fans this year who told me they were really rooting for us to beat OSU based on how they were treated at the bowl game last year. Texas fans on various message boards have echoed that sentiment. Those aren't rivalry's not isolated to just when Michigan goes down there. Those fan bases aren't looking to cause trouble. There goes the "Michigan fans are just asking for it" excuse. Frankly, the Texas fans and Notre Dame fans were classy enough when I attended games that I actually root for Texas now (as long as they aren't playing Michigan) and I've become one of the few Wolverine fans that harbors no ill will toward the Irish and their program.

The fans in Columbus seem bound and determined to create an atmosphere so hostile that opposing fans won't want to come there, thus increasing home-field advantage for their team. Either that or they're just pricks. And it's working. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to that say they will never go down there again. Or that if they go, they're not wearing Michigan clothing.

So why aren't we talking about it? Especially considering that college hockey is a niche sport, it seems absurd to me that it seems the fan behavior at Yost, which basically amounts to swearing, draws more negative attention nationally than the violence in Columbus. Even Rick Reilly cracked on Yost in a recent column:

We have become a nation of !#$%&ers. Michigan hockey fans serenade each opponent sent to the penalty box with a dozen elegant words: "Chump! D---! Wuss! Douche bag! A------! P----! Cheater! Bitch! Whore! Slut! C---------!"

Higher education at its finest.

He wrote an entire column about swearing (the main focus of the column was about what BU is doing to try and prevent it). Where's the column about people attacking other fans en masse? Wouldn't you think that that would be a little more worthy of mention?

Then there's Jim Carty, who stopped jerking off to his photo and portfolio long enough to contribute this pearl of wisdom in response to Reilly's column:

Every time the Michigan football team travels to Ohio Stadium, we're treated to a litany of stories about how badly the Ohio State crowd harasses Wolverine players, coaches and fans. The kids are cursed at. Their parents are cursed at. Senior citizens wearing Michigan gear are cursed at.

Terrible stuff, just terrible.

Unless, of course, you're doing it at Yost, where the C-Ya - nothing more than organized and tacitly university approved name-calling - has been going on for years.

Sorry Jim, but the swearing is just the tip of the iceberg when Michigan fans talk about how badly they are treated down in Columbus. Frankly, I don't care if someone walks up to me and says "F--- Michigan". I'd prefer it not be every other person. I'd prefer that every photo I have of my trip to the Horseshoe not contain someone flipping the bird in the background. But I can deal. Swearing doesn't bother me. Getting full cans of beer thrown at me on the other hand? That bothers me. Knowing that these people are willing to tackle a crippled person without any provocation? That bothers me. The fact that cops will pull over any car with Michigan plates who dares to go 1 mph over the speed limit bothers me. The fact that I had to back into a parking spot out of fear that my Michigan plates would get my car keyed? That bothers me. The fact that my boss's friend had $1,500 worth of damage to his car after a recent foray to The Game? That bothers me.

Paula Weston (who hails from Columbus of all places), talks about the fan behavior at Yost roughly 13 times a season. After another column in January of 2005, she posted this response to emails from Michigan fans:

I've received a good number of messages that take me to task for not denouncing the behavior of OSU fans at football games.

I don't doubt that fan behavior in The 'Shoe is atrocious. I've never actually attended an OSU football game. I'm not a big college football fan, and although I take a passing professional interest in it — and I can't avoid having it crammed down my throat for five months of the year — I just don't care to attend a game.

But, living in Columbus, I have witnessed some shameful behavior from OSU football fans, and one incident comes to mind from 1990, after I had just relocated here from Western New York.


It's the mob mentality, the bully gene that gets me, and I have to say that what I witnessed that day in 1990, during my very first season of Buckeye football in Columbus, has soured me on the football fans here forever.

Why the Michigan hockey fans would want to stoop to the level of OSU football fans is just baffling to me.

That's the thing though. We're not stooping to the level of OSU football fans. We swear. Yes we swear a lot, but it's simply swearing. And 95% of the time it's directed to the players on the ice. Is it classy? Heck no. Does it even come close to what Buckeye fans do? Heck no. And it's absolutely absurd to make that comparison.

No one going to Yost legitimately fears for their safety. I've venture a guess that at least 75% of opposing fans who attend games at Yost come away having had a positive experience (and I'd say that guess is very conservative). I'd like to point out at this time that most of the complaints about the fan behavior at Yost stem from the "Cya chant" and not from how the opposing fans are treated. I can honestly say that I have never seen someone walking around the concourse stop to say "F--- [insert school name]" to an opposing fan. And I walk 2 laps during every intermission. But go to C-Bus and "F--- Michigan" will be heard more often than "Go Bucks!".

To the city of Columbus's credit, they seem to at least be making a token effort to curtail some of this behavior. But it won't matter. And I don't really have any suggestions to fix the problem short of having loads of police that actually give a damn. The national media calling them out on occasion might help as well. Rick Reilly's mention of the issues at Yost caused the administration to have a little chat with the students again. But the only mention of this sub-human behavior by a national figure that I have ever seen came from Kirk Herbstreit this week. And even that was just on WXYT with Doug Karsch.
"I worry about Michigan fans who are coming down to Columbus. That part of the rivalry sucks. It's embarrassing. Do you know how nice it would be for Michigan fans to come down to Ohio and sure, take a little razzing, but have some fun?"
How bout writing a column on ESPN about it, Kirk? He goes on to mention that Michigan fans can be partially at fault as well. In some instances I don't doubt that that is true, but I'd also say that no one comes out and makes statements like "I'm worried about Ohio State fans" or "I'm legitimately scared that someone might get murdered" before the Buckeyes come up to Ann Arbor.

It's sad that we have to discuss this. It's sad that these people think that behavior such as this is ok. And it's sad that seemingly no one beyond the Michigan blogosphere and message boards will talk about it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Band Director Won't Dance? Mr. Johnson Will.

So who is having a better time in Ann Arbor: Jack Johnson Jr. or Jack Johnson Sr.?

Gotta love Mr. Johnson. Too bad we don't have a video of last weekend when he did the lawn mower. That was classic!

Some belated comments on the weekend, pulled from my posts on The Wolverine's Yost Post:

-Really nice to see Michigan come out and play well for 3 periods. Lots of shots given up, but not a ton of great scoring chances.

-It amazes me sometimes that if there's anyone on this team that's undisciplined, it's our seniors and not the younger guys. Hunwick took another bad penalty Saturday. Dest sold out to try and smoke a guy (up 3-0 mind you), missed him and it led to a 2 on 1 and Summers had to take a penalty to save a goal, and Kolarik got himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when Michigan was going to have a power play.

-I loved everything else about Saturday though. Sauer had one of those nights where he LOOKED shaky on a lot of stops, but only one ended up getting past him. Just quite a few of the plays where a harmless shot would hit him in the glove and bounce out. Probably not as dangerous as it looked, but I still get that "Osgood" feeling that every shot could/might go in.

-Maybe a new name for the Hotboard. Ryan Grimshaw from the U-17 team and his folks were sitting next to us. They said they're from the same city that Billy Sauer came from, and that he played with Kevin Quick last year I believe. I believe Kenny Ryan was also at the game. Merrill definitely was. God that kid is big.

-I really do like Lebler.

-Bailey was just out there smoking people Saturday. He had 3 or 4 big hits...funny moment. He hit a kid and knocked him down. He stood over top of him for a few seconds because his stick was caught and he had his hand up in the air to show he wasn't holding him. The puck came back over by them and into that guy's feet. So Bailey brought his hand down, and hit the kid again. It was great.

-Also nice to see the 4th line contributing. Naurato can't do much but shoot. But he did it well tonight.

-Cogliano's play on Miller's goal was just nasty. He came in, deked his way around the guy to the outside, the goalie came with him, Cogs took the puck around the net, then fed Miller in the slot. He had a wide open net. It was gross.

-Our power play was weird Saturday. They had our checking line out there a couple times. It was like we've got a power play and they throw Naurato, Miller and Turnbull or something out there. Then Kolarik and Cogliano were out there together on the PK. Trying to get guys used to playing in different situations? I dunno.

-Wilkens was weird this weekend. Usually he calls everything, but he let them play for the most part this weekend. I'm a fan of letting the guys was an unexpected surprise.

Other thoughts on the weekend from DC Nole and tbarr.

Michigan received Letters of Intent from 5 of their 10 freshmen yesterday. Caporusso, Winnett, Llewellyn, Quick, and Palushaj are signed, sealed and delivered to Ann Arbor. Mike Spath posted comments from Billy Powers about each of them and Bob Miller had his comments on the entire class. The gist is that this class may not have the top-echelon player like Johnson or Cogliano, but they should have much more offense upside than the 2005 class.
Pacioretty has been having a huge year thus far and Bob says there are whispers he could end up being a first round selection.

That brings me to a new feature that I added this week. If you direct your attention to the right sidebar, you'll notice each of our verbal commits listed. Click on their name, and it will take you to their stats, making it nice and easy to keep up with how our future players are doing.

Lastly, if you go to the website of the St. Michael's Buzzers and click on the number one in the screen that comes up, you can see a video of Louie Caporusso netting a hat trick. He's sniping. In their video section they also have video from the semifinal games of the World Junior A Hockey Challenge. Caporusso is on Canada East and Winnett is on Canada West.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Longest Week

I came into work today and promptly spent the first hour of the day talking about Michigan-Ohio State with my boss. I spent the next 45 minutes or so reading The Wolverine, mgoblog, and talking about Michigan-Ohio State with a co-worker.

It's official. I'm going to be useless this week.

It's Monday at 2:15 pm and I simply can't function. It's like how I was the week before Christmas when I was a little kid. Expect instead of RBI Baseball 2 at the end of my wait, it's the biggest football match-up of my lifetime.

The best rivalry in college football. Only this time, it's undefeated vs. undefeated. #1 vs. #2. Not only will the winner take home sole possession of the Big Ten Championship, they will also punch their ticket for the BCS National Championship Game; a game in which they will likely be at least a touchdown favorite.

What happens when you put this much significance onto a game that's already the biggest rivalry in college football? I can't wait to find out.

Football Gods, you owe us this one. After 4 years of John Navarre, Sparty Bob, the debacle that was my sophomore year in college, the Year of Infinite Pain last year, the Sun Belt officiating….you can give us this one. If all that isn't enough, I propose you go knock on the Hockey Gods' door and buy up the debt owed to me for Jason Ryznar's waived off goal as well.

And do you really want to let those drunk-ass, mullet-wearing, bird-flipping, white-trash, scum-of-the-earth, phantom-pass-interference-championship-winning, Clarett-loving, city-burning, M-Club-banner-ripping, yard-marker-throwing, can-of-beer-chucking, basketball-player-paying…..ERRR can't go there, Dave-Shand-harassing, Heisman-Trophy-breaking, library-masturbating, horrible-rapping, motherfucking assholes and their fans to get to enjoy another title? Didn't think so.

Besides, you still owe us for that half-championship that Fat Phil decided to gift to Nebraska.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Link-O-Rama About Kevin Quick

As Bob Miller reported on The Yost Post, Michigan received a commitment late last week from Salisbury prep defenseman Kevin Quick, a 2006 third round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s listed as 6’0” 175. Last year for the 25-1-2 Varsity team, he posted a 3-20—23 line and was +45 with only 6 PIMs.

Here’s a sampling of information from around the internet on the newest Wolverine verbal:

Western College Hockey says this about him:

“All-around solid defenseman. Does everything pretty well. 11th best defenseman at 2005 Select 17 Festival.Drafted 78th by Tampa Bay in 2006 NHL Draft. Narrowed choices down to Michigan, Ohio State, Clarkson, and Providence.”

McKeen has a long question and answer with him from February of 2006. It’s well worth the read. Quick says that, “I think I am an offensive defenseman, and also can play solid defense. I can join the rush and create an odd man advantage and still get back to play defense. My strengths would be passing, and skating. I think I am a good skater. My weaknesses would be I need to get bigger and stronger and this will help improve many areas of my game, and burying more of my chances.”

He also goes on to say that Billy Sauer is one of the five best players he has ever played against. “[He’s] an amazing goalie who is a great kid off the ice too. He is a sound goalie who is consistent and we see that this year at Michigan. He holds teams in games and helped a lot in winning the nationals with the Buffalo Saints a few years ago.”

All due respect to our new young’un, but I don’t think “consistent” would be the first word I’d use to describe Billy Sauer’s play last year.

McKeen also raves about him in the “player profile” section:

03/28/2006 - An excellent skater with loads of offensive potential .. good vision and good hands .. not afraid to get involved in the physical aspect of the game .. not an overly aggressive checker, but good at clearing bodies in front of his team's net .. follows plays and anticipates quite well .. shows remarkable patience with the puck and possesses a good, hard shot .. whenever the opportunity presents itself, he is willing to jump up to join in offensive situations. His patience under pressure proved to be very valuable at the end of the game when Salisbury took the lead .. never scrambled when Taft swarmed around the net .. an effortless skater, who has shifty moves for a defenseman .. played a ton of minutes with Alex Biega .. his draft stock could have gone up a bit with his performance.

01/01/2006 - A member of the USA U-18 team, Quick is not only very responsible in his own zone, but also possesses solid offensive capabilities .. shows an ability to carry the puck up the ice and is an integral part of Salisbury's power play .. moves the puck extremely well and makes hard, sharp passes .. also boasts a good point shot which he consistently keeps low and on target .. very quick on his feet .. displays impressive two-way instincts and is a legitimate pro prospect.

09/02/2005 - (u18) solid all-around defenseman was at his best early on, but retreated for a more stay-at-home style deeper into the tournament. Scouting: good skater for his size with decent ability and lateral movement .. acceptably strong on his feet .. mobile enough to stay with his man at most times .. sound, safe positionally .. some offensive upside, as he has good enough hands to corral most passes and make quick, accurate feeds .. good instincts and hockey sense .. hard slap shot but struggles with accuracy .. has an edge and doesn't lose position when going for a hit .. effective and persistent playing along the boards.

From Hockey’s Future:

The smooth-skating, offensively skilled (yet defensively responsible) playmaking defenseman was invited to Tampa Bay’s summer prospect camp. Quick made perhaps the biggest impact of any of the invites, bringing dynamic playmaking ability with levelheaded decision-making far beyond his years to camp.

They say he’s likely a power-play QB. has this profile:

Quick is a US high school player out of Salisbury Prep in New England who fills the Lightning's role need for an offensive defenseman. Quick is an excellent skater and talented puckhandler who helped lead his team to the New England Prep School championship. He has a hard one time shot on the power play and is as smart in the defensive zone as he is in the offensive third of the ice as he was +45 after 20 games this season. He doesn't have ideal size but he isn't afraid to mix it up physically. Red Line compares him to Buffalo's Brian Campbell and sees him as a player who was "definitely flying under the radar" going into this draft. As of our latest information he has yet to commit to a college.

Positives: Outstanding skater with excellent balance and agility. Confident puckhandler and loves to jump into the play. Smart at both ends of the ice. Not afraid to get involved physically.
Negatives: Undersized. Has only played prep level competition to this point and it remains to be seen how he will handle the next level of hockey.

They list him as Tampa Bay’s 13th best prospect (HF has him 18th) and as the 5th best blue-liner in the organization.

In another article, they drop the JJ bomb:

The 6-foot, 175-pound defenseman took his official visit to the CCHA school this past weekend. Considering that Quick has drawn comparisons to current Michigan defensive standout Jack Johnson, his decision to play for the Wolverines bodes well for his continued development.

Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster called the choice "great," saying Michigan is "one of the best programs in the country."

"[Kevin] will be well-coached and well-developed there," Feaster stated. "I believe it is an excellent choice."

Tampa Bay’s official site talks about him after the draft, and uses the obvious play on his name to talk about his speed:

With its second pick, in the third round, the Lightning selected a defenseman tailor-made for the new NHL, Kevin Quick from The Salisbury (prep) School in Salisbury, Connecticut. His last name is quite fitting as he is regarded as a quick-skating offensive defenseman in the mold of current Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle.

“He’s one of the most fluid skaters in this year’s draft,” Lightning Chief Scout Jake Goertzen said. “He is a very agile, puck-moving defenseman and is very well-suited for the new NHL."

Sounds like a very nice pickup for Michigan. Especially considering the severe lack of returning defensemen we could have next year.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Comments on the "Good" Michigan-MSU Game

Didn't get to catch Friday night's loss due to volleyball and my own hockey game, but they looked pretty good last night. Random thoughts:

-Sauer would like to have the first one back for sure (got caught looking over his right shoulder when the puck was behind the net, they came out to his left and stuffed it...he never moved), but apart from that he played very well. Absolutely can't fault him on the second goal. He did a great job at locating the puck...lots of goalmouth scrambles tonight.

-Jason Dest is going to get killed when they look at the film of the second goal. We were killing a 5 on 3 (the call on Summers was BS, and I didn't see the one on Johnson but I'm betting that they wouldn't have called it on 99% of the other players in college hockey...seemed to be the trend tonight) and Dest cross-checked someone in the slot (It was a legit call, he did it Chelios-style). When Dest saw the ref was going to make the call, he stopped playing to look up at the sky in disbelief. When he did that, the MSU player snuck in behind him and scored.

-Great crowd tonight and they were loud. The maize out really works when they give out shirts (go figure!).

-Hensick and Porter were outstanding tonight. Hensick was a "passing machine" as tbarr put it, and Porter actually hit the net about 70% of the time, including his second goal, which I believe went 6-hole (over the head) on Lerg. I've been waiting for one of those since Mini-Me came into the CCHA. I think teams are starting to figure him out; he's had an awful year so far. Hensick actually was pretty good defensively tonight as well. He even lined someone up in the third period. Didn't quite connect, but Jack still would've been proud.

-Shegos called a terrible game. Just brutal.

-Johnson and Hunwick were really disciplined defensively tonight. Neither one had a rush that was remotely irresponsible. Solid stuff out of both of them tonight. Funny enough, the defenseman that made it the furthest into the zone tonight was Cook.

-I haven't seen the last 3 games, but I'm guessing the turnovers finally caught up with Kampfer as he was sitting tonight.

-I still can't believe Cogliano's wheels. Every time I see that kid play his speed just amazes me.

-I was really happy with how guys were throwing their bodies at the puck tonight. Haven't seen the blocked shot numbers but we had a LOT.

-Can't even get the alumni band director to dance anymore. That's sad.

-I wish they allowed fighting, so we could see Tim Miller drop the gloves. I'm guessing Kennedy wouldn't have been talking so much at the end of the game if Miller or Johnson was allowed to beat his head in. Miller just cross-checked him instead. Got his money's worth on that one. Not sure how Jack ended up in the box beyond "he was on the ice so he must've roughed someone after the whistle". He actually showed restraint because Kennedy hit him first and Jack didn't pop him back like you know he wanted to.

-Naurato has such a great release on his snap shot. It really makes you wish he could do more out there and be kind of a Kaleniecki type player.

-If Kolarik ever gets a "C" or "A" on his jersey, he wins the Scott Matzka Memorial Award for "Most likely to be stripped of it for blowing up on the ref".

That's all I got.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Teams in Review

Time to catch up on my various teams:

Let's start with Michigan hockey. I didn't see either game against Northeastern, so it's hard for me to comment, other than to say that losing to them is extremely disappointing, as is the fact that it took an overtime goal by us to avoid taking just 1 point at home vs. a lower-half Hockey East team.

It appears that the "Red Wing powerplay" that we debuted in the second game against Miami reared its ugly head again Saturday night, going 0 for 12 with the man advantage. There's no reason for a team with that much talent to not score on that many PP opportunities.

From what I saw on the Wolverine Sports Magazine, it looks like Billy Sauer wasn't really the problem. He made some HUGE saves in both games. And it seems like he's been absolutely outstanding on breakaways this year.

As for the Jack Johnson suspension: He deserved the DQ, and I'm not sure how anyone who watched the tape could say otherwise. He jumped the kid and pounded him for quite awhile. That said, I applaud Jack for doing it. You have to protect your goalie, and a beatdown of that punk was absolutely warranted.

As for the Northeastern player, he should've been given a match penalty and a DQ for intent to injure. That was about as blatant of a charge of the goalie as I've ever seen. He made no effort to stop and just plowed our goaltender. He's just lucky Jack didn't beat his ass any worse.

You would think that after the Exter/Eaves situation, the NCAA would be all about cracking down on players running the goaltender, but they haven't shown any interest in doing so that I know of. If they're willing to put a no-tolerance rule in for hitting from behind, which leads to minor bumps drawing 5 and a game, why not do the same for hitting the goaltender?

If they're not going to allow fighting, then they need to do something to keep guys from crashing into the goalie. Don't think for a second that teams would have run Montoya nearly as much if Mike Brown was allowed to throw down when he wanted to. Don't think for a second that teams would run Billy Sauer if Jack Johnson and Timmy Miller could drop the gloves.

Jack did what he had to do. It sucks that we're playing Sparty tonight instead of say, Ferris, and even though I'm sure the media will blow it up into another "OMG JACK JOHNSON IS OUT OF CONTROL" story, this incident was completely 100% warranted.

We need to get a win against State this weekend. I don't care if it's tonight or tomorrow, but we absolutely HAVE to get at least one, and I'd really like 3 points. If I'm not mistaken, if we don't get a win in this home-and-home, it will mark the longest we have EVER gone without beating the Spartans. That's a problem.

To football now:
I missed the Northwestern game due to my brother's wedding in Maine (unfortunately, there was no Julie "The Cat" Gaffney sighting when I was in Bangor). As for what happened though, I'll revert back to what I said after Central and Vandy: People need to calm down. As Bill Simmons put it when talking about the Patriots, we only pulled out just enough to win (and if you don't get the reference, you're luckier than me).

It was crappy weather, we're banged up, and we were playing a bad football team. Yes in past years, not respecting the opponent has cost us wins, but did anyone really think Northwestern was going to score on our defense? I didn't.

You know tomorrow we're going to get our 28 points and then just ride out the game. They'll score against our scrubs, we'll walk out of there with a 31-10 win or something and everyone will be panicking even more. They're not going to show anything until November 18th and the sooner people realize it, the better. This is a great football team, and they're on cruise control until the real National Championship game down in Franklin Counnnnnnnnty.

Lately the topic of a rematch in the BCS title game has come up. My view on it is this: If Michigan wins on the road against the Buckeyes, they don't deserve to get a rematch. If Michigan gets blown out in Columbus, we don't deserve a rematch. If, however, it's a very close game (I'm talking like within a field goal, or a very late touchdown providing the margin of victory) then Michigan probably deserves the chance to prove who is better on a neutral field. Vegas says homefield is worth what? 3-4 points? If we're within that, then I think a rematch on a neutral field is probably warranted.

Will it happen? I doubt it. It's looking like Louisville will be coming out of the Big East unbeaten (Go Cards!) after that win last night (Entertaining game by the way). And either team losing at this point in the year probably drops them behind Florida. Unless UM loses and gets blown out in the process, I can't see the loser of this game dropping below Texas though. OSU smoked them in Austin, and Michigan would be playing that same OSU team, only on the road.

It's going to be interesting regardless. And it's nice knowing that as long as we don't stuff up in the next two games, we've got the Rose Bowl as a worst case scenario. There are worse things in the world, as much as I want to go to the BCS Championship Game.

Packers:It's hard to say how good or how bad that team actually is. They've lost to 4 teams with records .500 or better, and they've beaten the three worst teams in football. They're currently sitting at 3-4 with 9 games to play, and looking at their schedule the rest of the way, I don't think 9-7 is completely out of the question. Likely? Heck no. But definitely possible.

Buffalo, NYJ, Detroit, SF are all very winnable games, though they'll be underdogs against the Bills and Jets. Win all four of those, and we're sitting at 7 wins. A split with Minnesota is pretty likely in my eyes (especially since the game at Lambeau is the home finale, and a night game in December).

Then they'd have four games left: New England, Seattle, Minnesota away and Chicago away. Gotta win one of those four to get to nine wins. Beating New England is very unlikely, but the other 3 are possible (the Bears will have everything wrapped up by the time they meet in week 17).

Like I said, is it likely? Heck no. I think 7-9 or 8-8 is what they're looking at right now. But I'll take having at least an outside shot at the playoffs. I'd really like to have the St. Louis and New Orleans games back right about now though. At least one of those should have been a win.

I love the way Charles Woodson has played as of late. The Green Bay media (and Packers fans as well) are really starting to come around on him. He's been outstanding the last couple of games.

And don't look now, but Brett Favre hasn't thrown a pick in 3 games, and he has just 5 for the season (4 of the 5 have been with the Packers trailing by 8 points or more). Amazing how much better a guy can look when his team isn't trailing 90% of the time and he's got a line that can somewhat protect him isn't it?

My last thought on the Packers: Why don't more teams run zone blocking? In the last four games, it's gone like this:Morency: 99 yards
Herron: 120 yards
Green: 110 yards
Green & Morency: 105 apiece
It seems they're getting to the point of being able to plug in a back and count on 100 yards, now that the line is starting to figure this thing out. Denver and Atlanta have run with great success, and Michigan is doing pretty well this year as well. The more I read about it, the more I can't believe that every team in the league isn't running this system.

To the Wings:
They're starting to play a little bit better, though I'm still very concerned about our offense. I think the power play and penalty kill will sort themselves out. Too many holdovers from last year's brilliant special teams for them to stay bad the entire year. Hasek is a notoriously slow starter, so I'm sure his play will improve. They need to find a scoring winger at some point this season though. Bondra would be a great pickup, and I don't know why no one has signed him yet.

Even though they've run off 5 straight now, I still can't help but feel that we're headed for another tank job in April. They're the same type of team they've been for the past few years, only now we've lost 60 goals of our offense and haven't replaced it.

That's all I've got for now. Beat State, dammit.