Monday, October 22, 2007

We're #3...But is That a Good Thing?

With the sweep of Northern Michigan combined with the other happenings around the nation, the Wolverines vaulted Boston College, Minnesota, and Denver in the latest USCHO/CSTV and USA Today polls, rising up to #3 in the nation.

Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that we were thought of as the #4 team--in the CCHA?

While I'm beyond thrilled about the way this season has started, I still remember 2005-06 and don't particularly want a repeat of that. It might be a case of complaining along the lines of "My wallet is too small for my fifties and my diamond shoes are too tight" but a big part of me wishes we were a bit farther down the poll.

I absolutely loved the fact that we were under the radar at the start of the season. 4th in the CCHA, no expectations, no press clippings to read and get a big head over. I don't want that target on our backs, especially this early in the season. Not to go all Roy Williams, but we're not so far away from being 1-3 or 0-4 right now. Instead we're ahead of everyone in the country not named North Dakota or Miami (OH).

The next test is going to see how this team responds to a tough loss, or a tough weekend. And while I'm hoping that they won't get that test for a long, long time, that day is coming. If they respond better than that 05-06 team did, I'll be very happy. In the meantime, I'll just hope that they respond better to a high ranking than our football team typically does.

A few other comments from the weekend:
-Lloyd Carr deserves a ton of credit for the way Michigan has played after the way this season started. They could've easily rolled over and lost 6, 7, 8 games, especially considering Henne and Hart have been dinged up, along with the problems in the kicking game and whatnot. Instead, they need to win just 2 of the next 3 (Minnesota, at Sparty, at Wisconsin) to set up a showdown with OSU for the Rose Bowl. I said at various times that they still had the Rose Bowl to play for, but I didn't really believe it. I thought it was possible but didn't think it would happen. Now it seems likely that we'll get another crack at OSU with a trip to Pasadena on the line.

-That was a major gut-check win over Illinois in a hostile environment. With the way the game started, Henne getting injured and missing half the game, and Hart not playing, they still found a way to step up and win the game. Or at least take the game when Illinois handed it to them. Either way, it was a nice victory against a pretty decent team who really wanted that one.

-Our field hockey team knocked off Northwestern to finish off a 6-0 Big Ten season and win their first outright Big Ten title since 2002. They've now run off 11 in a row, and haven't lost to a team ranked lower than #3 all year.

-For anyone who hasn't been watching the Red Wings, you're really missing out on seeing one of the great players in hockey rise to another level. Henrik Zetterberg has been absolutely sensational this season. He has 7-10--17 in 9 games this season, and has tallied at least one point in every game thusfar. What's more impressive is that he has multiple points in 6 of the 9 games. And going back to last year, he's now scored a point or more in 16 straight regular season games, and 36 out of the last 40.

-ESPN had a nice article about how Rob Blake is mentoring JMFJ.


colin said...

Man, I know exactly what you mean about the '05 season. I wish we could go back a couple spots and remember that we're all freshmen and Billy Sauer or something. We'll believe that this 3-1 team is the baseline, not the high end of performance and end up with the rug pulled out from under us.

But if this is the high end, then that's pretty good and it means that we have enough to get to the tournament, which was definitely in question as far as I was concerned.

On the other hand, I'm also already aware of this team's flaws and I'm not going to get too far up anyway. I was naive in '05, having only experienced that '04 team. But I know that we're going to have nights when we can't score and can't stop teams from scoring, that our power play often goes to crap and that Billy is just a few games from a meltdown. Honestly? It makes it so much easier to enjoy what we've already done, as little as that may turn out to be.

Packer487 said...

I'm trying really hard to keep my enthusiasm in check. I'm having a similarly hard time doing that when watching the Packers (we're 5-1??!!).

It's such a long season and so much can happen. The good part, is that at least in theory, the freshmen should progress as the year moves along.

If this commitment to team defense continues, we're going to have a successful season. Maybe they learned a little something from Little Brother's national championship last year...

No doubt there are going to be bumps along the road. And as I wrote above, the way they respond will ultimately decide how good this team can be.

colin said...

State and Notre Dame made a killing last season off playing D, something we really haven't bothered with since I've been watching the team play. Nice to see Red can just go, "Okay, now we're going to be good at this," and they are. He's kind of a good coach.