Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Michigan basketball is sucking

I had one helluva few days there right after Thanksgiving Break. I left Monday afternoon from Potomac to go to Raleigh, NC to cover the Michigan-NC State basketball game. After I wrote my story at the RBC Center, I left Raleigh at like 1130pm, returning to Potomac at 4am. I then left for the airport to catch a plane back to Michigan at 530am. I returned to my room at 10am. Was it worth it? Well I did get to sit courtside at a nice arena, within arms reach of Danny Ainge. That was sweet.

But while at the RBC Center I witnessed a basketball team that I thought was NCAA Tournament-worthy get dissected by an NC State team that wasn't that good. I figure the Wolfpack are going to be a bottom-tier team in the ACC, especially now that Maryland is playing well beyond anybody's expectations. And Michigan just got crushed by them. The final score doesn't indicate it, but Michigan was completely outplayed by a team that had just six scholarship players on its roster. Then Engin Atsur, probably their best player, got hurt before the first TV timeout of the first half. And the Wolverines still lost.

As I sat there below the basket, I came to a realization about Michigan and Tommy Amaker in general. Amaker has this team playing high-pressure man to man defense just like the Duke teams he played and coached for in the past. He also runs basically the same motion offense that Duke plays. The only difference is that he just doesn't have the Duke athletes to pull it off. Time and time again on Monday night, NC State players would just blow by a Michigan defender for an easy layup. And on offense, Michigan's best interior scorer, Courtney Sims, simply couldn't keep up with the pace of the game. Watching him meander down the court, it was so obvious that he's just a big stiff. This game will come back to bite them in the ass because the WOlfpack just aren't that good. But that just means Michigan is worse. I see 18 wins for this Wolverine team. But even that will be misleading since 12 of those wins are going to come before Big Ten season. Michigan's non-conference schedule is a joke this year. They had/have all cupcakes except for NC State, Georgetown at home, and UCLA on the road. And I think it's pretty obvious that the GTown and UCLA games can be chalked up as losses right now. That leaves them at 12-3 heading into Big Ten season, and a 6-10 record in the Big Ten. Tommy Amaker, you are the master of mediocrity.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Seven Locks Showdown

I'm sitting here in the friendly confines of my home basking in the glory of a pretty solid Thanksgiving. This morning we had a pretty sick little 4-on-4 football game at the old stomping grounds, Seven Locks Elementary School. It was lame that more people didn't show up, but it was raining. Teams went like this:

The Giannotto Brothers, The Broonsta, and Willman Lazartay vs.

Chachi, Miller, Bruno Baiao's brother, and Cahill Magic.

The first misstep of the day was Miller wearing this bullshit Ohio State t shirt to the game. Big mistake. The Gods were definitely against his team for that one. I was matched up on Magic for most of the game, and for most of the game he was playing quarterback. So naturally, in honor of Graham Townsend, I tried to do my best Shawne Merriman impression. The key word was tried. After such a dominating performance in the mud about a month ago, I followed it up with a lackluster showing. I was slipping and sliding all over the place, although I did manage a couple TDs and a couple sacks...not to mention a forced fumble and recovery on one of them.

The game started out pretty one-sided. Chachi and Baiao's speed were killing myself, Broon and Willman. Luckily Jeff is in the middle of wrestling season, so he was in the best shape out of all of us. But after falling behind 2-0, we stepped it up. While at first the Broonsta was playing QB, we realized we needed him as a receiving threat. The youngest Giannotto took on the challenge of playing quarterback in the same valiant manner that I took the Mudbowl team on my shoulders against Beta this year. It was a Tony Romoesque performance by Jeff, as he brought us to a 3-3 tie heading into halftime.

The unsung hero throughout was the Broonsta. If Jeff was Romo, Broon was Terry Glenn..i.e damn good receiver who doesn't get enough press because he's overshadowed by a player who talks too much (me). I really think the big mistake for Chachi's team was putting Cahill on Broon for a majority of the game. Well, and the fact that Cahill couldn't hold onto the ball. Magic gave up a sure TD in the first half as he fumbled while trying to reach over the goal plane, and then fumbled again late in the game as I sacked him.

As you can probably tell from the tone of my writing, our team, led by Jeffrey Ross Giannotto came out storming in the second half. The Giannotto-Broonsta connection was apparently passed down through my genes. They ran roughshod over a secondary that simply had too many breakdowns. Throw in some careless turnovers by Patchie's team and a ball hawking secondary (also led by Jeff)and you have a runaway victory for my team.

MVP of the Seven Locks Showdown: Jeff "Future Mudbowl MVP" Giannotto

Goat of the Showdown: Patrick "I don't wanna wear a speedo" Cahill

The Michael George Battey Memorial Award for absolute hilarity: Mark "The Reigning Mudbowl MVP" Giannotto for slipping and falling on his face on a perfectly timed cornerback blitz. Because of the slip the defense was exposed and a touchdown was scored. This will probably be the last time this award is given to someone other than Battey himself because he is currently somewhere in this great world of ours on a big ass boat. Ordinarily, Battey just playing in the game is hilarious by itself.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jerome Update

UCONN had three games this weekend. Jerome started in all three of them. He led the team in scoring on Friday night against Central Arkansas with 20. He had a clunker against Fairfield on Saturday afternoon, shooting 1-for-7 from the field and scoring 7 points, but the Huskies still won. And then Sunday, against Ole Miss, Jerome poured in another 16 points in another UCONN win. UCONN is now 4-0 and Jerome is averaging a little under 15 points a game on the season so far. I heard he's been doing a lot of visualizing after the game to correct some of the mistakes he's made during the actual games. Rumor has it that he picked up the technique from his legendary high school basketball coach at Churchill High School, Mike Dichov

Soriano's Record Deal

The Nationals lost out on the Alfonso Soriano derby as he signed an 8-year 135 million dollar contract with the Chicago Cubs yesterday. And frankly, I can't say I'm upset that the Natties let him go. 135 million is way too much for a player who even in his best season, couldn't get the team out of the NL East basement. I'm still fuming that the Nationals didn't trade Soriano at the trade deadline. I will never understand the logic behind that move. I'm going to enjoy watching the Cubs be a major flop this season. They have way too many guys on their roster who are being overpaid big time. And when it comes down to it, their success has always depended on the health of their pitching. The Sweet Lou blowups should be phenomenal.

And while we're on baseball, Ryan Zimmerman was robbed of the NL rookie of the year award. Not only were his RBI and homerun totals better than Hanley Ramirez, he also played thurd base at a Gold Glove clip. Scott Rolen, who won the Gold Glove again this year, had the same amount of errors as Zimmerman. Does good defense mean nothing anymore? Ramirez showed good range at shortstop but had a lot of errors typical of a rookie in his first Big League season. Zimmerman showed none of that immaturity and is going to be a star in years to come.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


What can you really say? That game was just phenomenal. It had everything a great game should have. And frankly, it was fitting that Ohio State won because they were the better team. The fact that Michigan got three tunrovers and didn't commit any themselves and still lost shows how good the BUckeyes really are. The sad part is that if you had told me on Friday that Michigan would put up 39 points against OSU, I would have told you we would be going to the BCS National Championship. It's a lot like the redskins loss in the playoffs last year against the Seahawks. The Skins managed to knock out Shaun Alexander early, created some turnovers and still lost. The better team won. I have no regrets from that football game...well maybe that overthrow on the second drive by Henne with Mario wide open...oh and that Crable personal foul...but other than that no regrets.

And after bashing Lloyd for the past two years, I'm gonna give him his credit. The guy is a good coach. The way Michgan came out in the second half proved that. It appeared the game was on the verge of a blowout, but Lloyd and his staff made some adjustments and the team came out fired up. You won't hear another anti-Lloyd peep out of me for awhile.

Count me among those who don't want to see a rematch. Michigan had their chance to go to the National Championship and it didn't work out. Michigan-Ohio State is a rivalry that is unparalleled in college football and the game is meant to be played in either The Big House or the Horseshoe, not the Alien Dome in Glendale. It would make this epic game that occurred yesterday meaningless. And as I type this I see that we are still No. 2 in the BCS. I won't lie...I'll still go to the BCS Title game if we get there.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bo Schembechler is an amusing human being

I'm writing this from the upper press row here at Crisler Arena as Michigan and Wisconsin-Milwaukee tip off in an early season non-conference game. Wisc-Mil made the tourny last year, but lost a lot of their studs from that team. So I'm hoping this will be another win for the Wolverines. But enough college basketball, it's time for the mother fucking Big Game.

I thought I'd make fun of Bo Schembechler a little in this post. Seeing as I'm not from the state of Michigan, I don't view good ol' Bo as a living God. I do think he is the single reason why the Big Game is the Big Game. Imagine this rivalry without him and Woody Hayes shooting insults at each other. The sincere disdain they had for each other's programs was remarkable. I found it great when the other day at Bo's press conference (why he had one I don't know) he was still yapping about how much he hates Ohio State today. The guy just had his heart replaced, and yet still stresses over the slights he feels Michigan gets in comparisan to the Buckeyes. He was talking about how the last time the Wolverines visited Columbus, the team had to clear their bus on the way home so the Columbus police could search their bags for bombs. The police were legitimately worried that there were bombs planted by fans, yet Bo took it as a slight. It didn't matter that there could be explosives that would kill players and coaches, all that mattered was that Ohio State is a bunch of jackasses for delaying our trip home.

But deep down inside I love this type of contempt. Bo doesn't like Ohio State University, he doesn't like Woody Hayes, hell, he doesn't like the entire state of Ohio. And that's why he's a legend. He had the foresight as a head coach to realize what Ohio is: The second worst state in America (behind New Jersey). If NJ is the armpit of America, then that makes Ohio the buttcrack.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Too Much?

Well the hype has begun. I noticed during Sportscenter last night that there were exactly eight commercials for Saturday's matchup between Michigan and Ohio State. That means that over the course of one morning there were probably something like 40-50 commercials simply talking about The BIg Game. Not to mention the little feature during Sportscenter talking about how Michigan players have been watching Cinderella Man as motivation all year. Another example of the hype getting out of control is the press conferences. Ordinarily, on the Monday following a game, Michigan holds a one hour presser in which Lloyd Carr talks for a half hour and then three Michigan players talk for another half hour. Today, the press conference went from 930 until nearly 3 o'clock. Chad Henne spioke for an hour, then Bo Schembechler (why I don't know) for an hour, then a lunch break, then a bunch of players for an hour, and finally Lloyd Carr spoke for almost an hour and a half. My question is how can this game live up to the hype?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Portis hurt

I'm sitting here watching the game cast of the SKins-Eagles game and just found out about CPort's broken hand. I had said all week that if the Skins win this game they would have a shot at finally getting on a roll. But now that they are already losing, even if they do come back, how are they gonna run the table without Portis? He's the heart and soul of that offense. And I bet Ladell regrets signing that contract extension this offseason. Now, he's gonna get the opportunity to be the featured back for awhile. And if he plays well, he could have parlaed that into a starting job next year. Hey Snyder, here's an idea. If Ladell plays well, why don't you try to trade him for a high draft pick? Maybe it would be smart to build the team the way other successful NFL franchises do it: Through the draft.

The Big Game

Well it is finally upon us. Ohio State. Michigan. Here in Ann Arbor, we've all been thinking about it since that Iowa win about a month ago. I personally have no idea who is going to win the game either. Both teams are sick. Ohio State's offense is a juggernaut, but Michigan's defense is just as insane. Michigan's defense is going to end up being like that Miami team from a few years know the one with like seven first round draft picks. Because last time I checked, the Wolverine defense had like six guys in Mel Kiper's first round projections. CB Leon Hall is listed at No. 4 overall, DT Allen Branch is the No. 1 defensive tackle and listed as a top-10 prospect, Lamarr Woodley is listed as a top-15 prospect, LB David Harris is now listed ahead of Paul Puzlosny as the No. 1 linebacker according to Mel Kiper, and LB Prescott Burgess and DE Rondell Biggs are considered low first round/high second round prospects. But the amount of talent on Michigan's defense is matched by Ohio State's talent on offense.

But to me, this game is going to come down to two players, one on each team. For the Buckeyes, it is Anthony Gonzales, their No. 2 wideout. I'm pretty sure Leon Hall is going to lock down Ted Ginn, because Hall is the real deal. Some around campus are expecting him to have a Charles Woodson '97 type game (you know the one where he cemented himself as maybe the greatest college football player ever). But I don't think that will happen. Troy Smith is too good of a QB to give Hall a chance to have that type of game. Ted Ginn won't have more than 3 catches. The key will be if Gonzales has a big game. He's showed he is a leit threat in that Texas game, and if you've watched Michigan's defense this season, you'll know that their one glaring weak spot is No. 2 corner Morgan Trent. I'm curios whether Michigan has enough confidence in Hall to just leave him out on an island against Ginn. That will allow them to roll the safeties over to Trent's side. I don't think they do, and I think Gonzales will have a huge impact. If he doesn't that defense will dominate.

For the Wolverines, it is Chad Henne. The bottom line is that when he throws the ball less than 20 times in a game, Michigan wins. But usually when he only throws the ball a limited amount of times, he makes the most of each of those throws. We finally saw the return of the big play in Michigan's offense against Indiana yesterday with Breaston's huge grab. Manningham really opens up the offense whether it be catching the ball or serving as a decoy. If you look at the highlights of that throw, Henne was staring down Manningham, and the safety went right to Mario, but Henne then turned and threw to Breaston. Next Saturday, if Chad gets careless and throws some picks, the Wolverines are in trouble. Michigan is not going to be able to simply rely on Mike Hart pounding the ball every play. While they do need to run the ball, and run it a lot, Henne is goign to need to make some big throws and avoid turnovers in order for Michigan to come out on top.

And since the media is hyping this game more than any other college football game in a long time, I will hype it up all this week as well. So basically, Krauss and Brown should look forward to a lot of blogging this week.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tommy Amaker does something good?

I was on the internet today, when I suddenly realized that NOvember 8 is the first day high school basketball recruits from the class of 2011 could sign their national letters of intent. So I went over to to see if the players who teams got verbal committments actually signed. And much to my surprise, listed Michigan as having a top-20 recruting class, specifically it was ranked number 18. It's higlighted by star shooting guard Alex Legion, easily the WOlverines best recruit since Daniel Horton. BUt what is significant is the depth of the recruiting class. This is the first time in Tommy's six years as coach at Michigan, that he has gotten a truly "good" class. So congrats to him.

Nationally though, things don't look good for the Wolverines. Four Big Ten teams had top-10 classes. Purdue was the most shocking, as rated them No. 4. Essentially Matt Painter found these three kids on the same AAU team a couple years ago and recruited them extremely aggressively even though they weren't highly rated at the time. But over the past two years all three of their stocks went up to the point to where they were all rated as top-50 prospects. And they rewarded Painter's early recognition by signing on to play in West Lafayette. Ohio State had another strong haul, piggy backing on the success of getting Mike Conley and Greg Oden this year. They actually got a 5-star 7 footer to replace Oden if and when he leaves for the NBA. Michigan State got two of the best three guards in the class of 2011. And Indiana got the number one recruit in the land in Eric Gordon. I believe I mentioned in an earlier post how that sneaky Kelvin Sampson stole him away from Bruce Weber and Illinois.

And in other college basketball news. Jerome Dyson, the man who made gym class triple doubles at Churchill a regularity, has been the STARTING SHOOTING GUARD for UCONN in their two exhibition games. This is the same guy who would go into Dichov's PE class and regularly tell all the ghetto Scotland kids that he could beat them in 3-on-3 with the two whitest kids in the class. He would then proceed to select the one and only Michael Battey for his team everyday.

By the way, if you look at The Michigan Daily's Tipoff issue, I picked Jerome as my National player of the year. I had to have some I-270 basketball pride.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Terps Sports

I know Matt is gonna love this post. I noticed that the Maryland football team has made its way into the AP top 25 this week. They got a huge road win in Clemson against a Tigers team that I watched a few weeks ago look damn good against Georgia Tech. I definitely didn't see the Terps pulling this one out. BUt Hollenbach has really come into his own this season. A totally different QB than a year ago. I believe he made only one really bad throw and that was the interception. And the Terps defense looked pretty damn good. It reminded me a lot of the Terps D from that Orange Bowl year. That 2001 team has Madieu Williams in the secondary, and EJ Henderson at linebacker, and they dominated the football field. This year the Terps D has EJ's little brother, Erin, who looked like a tackling machine against Clemson. And then that cornerback, Josh Wilson, was just ferocious on the edge. He reminds me a lot of a young Champ Bailey, in that he's such a sure tackler. Now the Terps sit at 7-2, and got a shot at the ACC Title.

And what makes all this so weird is that the AP top 25 poll for college basketball came out today. And it seems to me that Terps basketball has reached a recent low for them. The Terps were not only not ranked in the top 25, but they weren't even in the receiving votes section. Didn't Gary Williams just win a national championship in 2002? And honestly, looking at that roster, I'm not really surprised. When Ekene Ibekwe is probably your most reliable offensive weapon you've got issues. Gary WIlliams needs to be held to a higher standard when it comes to recruiting. They haven't had a blue chip recruit since Caner-Medley and DJ Strawberry, and frankly, both of them did not or have not been as good as advertised coming out of high school.