Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My 1st visit to the Detroit Public School System

With Michigan not having a game this weekend, the paper wants me to right a feature for Monday's paper. And I figured it was about time I wrote something on Alex Legion and Manny Harris, you know since I write about guys on this year's team all the time. So yesterday I made my way to Detroit Redford High School to watch Manny Harris play in a big time matchup with Detroit renaissance. And let me tell you, this kid Manny Harris is the real deal.

To put it in context, Renaissance is like the perennial power in the PSL (Public School League) and the PSL consistently gets atleast one team to the state semifinals every year. Renaissance featured this guy Karl Williams who is just a junior but already might be the best player in the state. Amaker wants him, Izzo would give a dude a blow job to sign him, and even Roy Williams has made his way up from Chapel Hill to recruit this kid. But yesterday, Corpperyale "Manny" Harris was THE BEST player on the court. In what amounted to the biggest game of his senior season, the kid put up 37 points, dished out 12 assists and for good measure added 11 boards. Now that's what I call a triple double. So after the game I had just one question for him: why did you choose Michigan over Wisco, Michigan State, and Clemson among others. And of course he gave me the protocol answer of staying close to home.

My thoughts on the kid are pretty high right now judging from the performance I saw yesterday. Redford, where Manny plays, is actually the same high school as Dion Harris even though they aren't related. And during the game I happened to be sitting by some of Dion's old teammates so I asked them: Who was better in high school? Of course, all of them answered Dion and the reason they gave was that Dion had better teammates so he didn't need to score as much. But having watched both myself...this kid Manny is definitely better. Renaissance played zone all game yet the kid still found his way into the lane time and time again. And he passes too. He could've had 50 but dished the ball for easy layups instead. And the best part is that he's 6-foot-5 and can play the point alongside Legion next year. When Renaissance finally got out of the zone at the end of the game Manny promptly did this on successive possessions:
1) Broke down his man along the baseline for a huge tomahawk (watch highlights of DeShawn Stevenson of the Wiz against the 'Stons last night for a good parallel of how huge this dunk was.
2) Crossed his man up and then pulled up for a medium range J
3) Banked in a 3-pointer but since he was on my side of the floor I heard him call it. Oh man that was straight baller.
4) Steals the ball and goes coast to coast for a huge dunk — gets a tech for hanging on the rim

Rob Parker of the Detroit News even went to the game, and felt compelled to write an entire column about Manny

Impressive; that's all I can say.

But did I mention I went to this game. Not to start anything here, but I was literally one of two white people in the gym. The other was this guy Abe, one of the most interesting people I've ever met. He's like a 60-year old who teaches at another Detroit public school, and the guy claims to have been watching Detroit area basketball since the 1960s. And here's a direct statement by him about our great coach Amaker:

"I saw Lester Abram and Dion Harris in high school. Those two haven't improved one bit since their senior seasons of high school. And that Sims kid from Boston hasn't improved one bit since the first time I saw him freshman year. What the hell is going on over there at your school? Are they blind about how bad their coach is? You have so many smart people on one campus, yet you may have the dumbest people running your athletic department."

I've been real busy all week with this feature, but because of it I've got some cool stuff to put up here on the blog when I get a chance. This morning I talked to Jerry Meyer, the senior recruiting expert at, so I'll probably post a transcript once I type it out. Man, just thinking about all the stuff I saw simply going to place I would never imagine going to is unbelievable. Redford High, considered one of the better public schools in Detroit, is an absolute dump. It's no wonder half the kids drop out. The AD there was telling me that most of the kids only come to school because the basketball team is good. And since Abe seemed to know so much about the high school basketball scene, I asked him how many of the kids on the court had D-1 potential. His answer:

"If you include MAC schools, probably 6 or 7, but the rest will probably go to jail, not to mention out of that 6 or 7 atleast half won't make it through two years at whatever school they go to. These kids here (in Detroit) don't realize what they are missing. But it's also our fault. Look at this school, does it look like the public high school you went to in Potomac?" (of course the dude knew where Potomac was, so it was a dead giveaway for my wealthy background).

And to be honest the place was definitely subpar. They start the basketball games at 4pm because no one, even the people who love there, want to be outside in that part of Detroit once nightfall hits. To add onto that, I found myself checking my watch once the game ended because as much as I hate to say it, I didn't want to be there once it was nighttime. But it's good to see a kid like Manny — who according to his parents has a 4.0 and has been on the honor roll his whole life — will get a chance to get out of the 'hood and see where it takes him. By the way, did I mention how sick this kid is at basketball?

Oh yeah, forgot to talk about Michigan playing Iowa tonight at Crisler, and I'm going to use maybe the most overused phrase in sports: This one is a must win.

This was the illest dunk of DeShawn's I could find.
Last night, both Manny and Deshawn had sicker jams.
Neither were poster material like this one.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Palestra

I just read this article in Sunday's Washington Post about the return of Fran Dunphy to his old stomping grounds at the Palestra. If you didn't know, Dunphy coached Penn for 17 seasons leading them to over 300 wins and in the process won over 10 Ivy League titles. His best year was probably 1994 when Penn, as an 11 seed, upset sixth seeded Nebraska in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and nearly upset the Antonio McDyess-led Auburn Tigers. He won 48 straight Ivy League games from 1992-1996. The guy consistently got the most talented players in the IVYs despite having no scholarships and a ridiculous academic standard to uphold. Well, after this past season when the Temple job opened up, Dunphy became the first coach of a Big Five school to leave for another Big Five school. This guy has the chance to really bring Temple to another level, or atleast to a level similar to where they used to be when John Chaney took them to the Elite 8 on a yearly basis. Caoch K was even quoted as saying that at Temple, Dunphy will take the Owls to the Final Four at some point. This past weekend Penn and Temple met for the first time this season, with the Quakers pulling out a close win. By the way here's a link to the article by John Feinstein:

And in reading this article it brought back a bunch of memories of the Palestra, the most historic college basketball venue in the country. The place is ancient now, but is still, in my mind the best place to watch a college basketball game. This guy who works with me at the Daily has been to Cameron and the Palestra and still thinks the Palestra is better. All of the seats are wooden bleachers and everyone is real cramped, but the atmosphere during a close game doesn't get much better. I've been there a couple times with my Dad for Penn games and I enjoyed every one of them. I remember my junior year of high school when I went up to Philly for a game between Penn and Brown, and it turned into an epic classic. Both teams were undefeated in the league at the time and the game went into double OT, with Penn coming out on top.

Tipoff at a great college venue

And seeing as I've been going to all these new, different arenas this season, it reminded me of what college basketball arenas should be about. For instance places like The Kohl Center in Wisconsin and the Comcast Center in Maryland are nice and new, but they feel almost like pro arenas. You don't feel close to the action when the building is so large it can fit close to 20000 people in it. I'll take the 8,000 seat feel of the Palestra or Cameron or even Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena any day of the week. And next week I'm going to ValuCity Arena in Columbus and I've heard that place feels the same as those other big arenas.

If you've heard anything about the Palestra, you'll know that it is still to this day open to the public. You don't even need to be a Penn student to play there. That same kid at the Daily said one time he and his friends were playing pick up basketball at the Palestra when Dunphy and his Penn team came onto the court to begin practice (yes, I realize if you read the Feinstein article above this kid's story sounds eerily familiar to the one in that article, so he might be lying to me). Officially their time to use the court was 3:00, but it was just 2:50. So Dunphy and his team waited for this kid and his friends to finish up. As a student I don't think I will ever be allowed to use Crisler Arena, let alone stop Tommy Amaker from coaching (he does that just being himself anyways). It's stuff like that that makes places like the Palestra unique and amazing. I realize a lot of people have been calling for the demise of Crisler, and frankly I agree with them. The place is an absolute dump. It's not cozy, and it doesn't have the amenities that a Kohl center has. But instead of renovating it into some fancy new arena, I would love to see Michigan build a 9,000 seat venue that will sell out every game and create an atmosphere that will truly be exhilarating. We need to embrace our inner Palestra.

Had to have one more shot of it

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Two teams going in opposite directions

I had the luxury of getting tickets to the Wizards-Pistons game last night, and was damn glad to see a huge Wizards win. Or should I say a huge win by the Eastern Conference leading Wizards. And last night was a perfect display of why I really believe this team has all the tools to come out of the East this season. Arenas shot 10-of-27 from the field, Caron only had eight points, and yet the Wiz found a way to win against a Pistons team that had been leading the conference until last night. Antawn had a huge night, pouring in 35. You can stop someone, but there always seems to be another person able to fill in the scoring void. And when it came down to it, Gilbert had some huge buckets down the stretch. Man, going into Detroit and getting a win showed me a whole lot. I really can't wait to watch this team now that the second half is upon us.

Spelled Antawn
Pronounced Antwan

Now onto a team I really am not looking forward to watching anymore. Michigan dropped its second straight today against Indiana on the road. Its looking more and more like the Wolverines are headed down the exact same path as last season. But in all fairness: did I expect them to win either today or at Wisco on Wednesday? No. But if they plan on making the tourny, they've got to get one they aren't supposed to win. Pretty much every team that has NCAA aspirations has some kind of marquee win at this point. Michigan doesn't and it's the reason the NIT is more realistic. But this team has the talent to go places, they just don't have a competent coach. I'm just going to rundown a few of the errors Tommy has made simply in these past two road losses (mind you this isn't all of them):

-With Michigan trailing by seven at the end of the first half on Wednesday, Alando Tucker was on the bench with two fouls. To me, this would seem like the perfect opportunity for the Wolverines to make a little run to even it at half. So this was the lineup Amaker put on the floor. Jerret Smith, reed Baker, Ron Coleman, Brent Petway and Ekpe Udoh. There's literally no one in thaty lineup who can create their own shot.

-He wouldn't play Dion Harris with three fouls in the second half against Wisco

-Despite the fact that Wisco kept driving past Michigan time and time again, he continued to play high pressure man-to-man defense. Wisco's biggest deficiency is 3-point shooting, yet 18 of its 24 field goals on Wednesday were layups.

-With Indiana on fire from 3-point range, Amaker switched from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone, a defense known for allowing 3-pointers.

I'm not even going to begin to critique the offense, or lack thereof. When passes are being made 27 feet from the basket, you have to know something is wrong. During the telecast of the game, Rick Majerus kept referencing Michigan's "spacing" problems on offense. Rick, that wasn't a spacing problem, that's how the offense is drawn up. Tommy Amaker is literally the most incompetent offensive basketball coach I have ever witnessed on any level of competetive basketball. His offense is the biggest joke in the world. I'm pretty sure only Matt will understand this, but everytime I watch this team play I think to myself "Boy, if they only knew how to run the screen and go away, this team could be somewhere". I really want to call up George Brown and bring him on as an assistant here or something. Then maybe we'd have some semblance of both a man-to-man and zone offense. I guess this is just frustration coming out because I really have gotten to the point where I'm fed up watching a team where I like all the guys be sabotaged by a bad coach. Tommy shouldn't even be coaching at the high school level, let alone Division 1. So, yes, I do think his ass needs to be canned, and fast.

Only way to describe Amaker's
offense: Trainwreck

But the only problem with all this is the talent we have coming in next year. Apparently Manny Harris and Alex Legion are better than any player currently on the Michigan roster. These kids, along with Ekpe Udoh and Deshawn Sims, could start a renaissance for this program...but not with Tommy as their coach. It just won't happen because a bad coach will always stunt growth. That being said, Tommy needs to stay atleast another year or these kids won't come into the program. And for all the bashing I do of Tommy, he is a nice guy usually and inherited this program when it was at the lowest of the lows. He deserves credit for bringing Michigan back to relevance atleast. But he is not the coach to take the team to that next level. We need a new mind in here to infuse some creativity into a program that was once so mighty. This would be a dream job for any coach given the resources and notoriety at his disposal. The facilities aren't the greatest but like almost every naive Michigan supporter will tell you: "The Michigan name sells". But that's starting to not be so true anymore. In basketball, we haven't had a better recruiting class than Michigan State in years, and are routinely missing out on the best in-state recruits. Even with harris and Legion, State had a better recruiting year than us. And in football, this upcoming recruiting class may be the worst since 2000 (Thank God we locked up mallet early). The bottom line is that Tommy has given his best and it simply isn't good enough anymore. Hey, and if you're a glass half full kind of guy, maybe Legion and Harris are the saviors this program's been waiting for.

Alex Legion (top), Copperyale "Manny" Harris (bottom)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More from one long, quick road trip

It's like 130pm on Thursday right now, and my body has come to the ugly realization that recovering from this Madison trip is not going to be easy, especially because I plan on getting messed up tonight. We left for Madtown at 1pm on Wednesday, arrived at the Kohl Center at 6pm central time. I then watched the debacle of a game which I'll get to later, wrote my story for the paper, and left the city at 1130 central time. I didn't get back to my room until 630am eastern time, getting little to no sleep along the way. With the loss too, I'd have to say it was a pretty dreadful trip, but atleast I don't have to go to Bloomington on Saturday for a noon tip. That one would have been equally brutal given my reluctance to give up a night of drinking. But here's some interesting tidbits that I thought would interest you about the whole experience:

-I never thought it would happen, especially with a coach like Amaker, but I had a Jim Boeheim/Gerry McNamara from last year's Big Ten Tourny moment with Tommy. When reading this you should take note that at Wisco's press conferences, the coach is up on a raised table/podium and the people asking questions also have a mic. Here's how it went down:
Me: Coach, where do you go from here with another tough road game against Indiana coming up on Saturday, given that 18 of their 24 baskets were layups and your seniors committed 16 of your 19 turnovers? Is it time to go back to the drawing board?
Amaker (please note that he pointed his finger at me first and then proceeded to stare me down as he said the whole thing): Listen we are in the middle of the conference race. We came here in second place, and we're going to be fine. Just because we didn't play well tonight, we aren't ready to tank our basketball team. We aren't. We are going to go back and compete. We're going to go to Bloomington and see if we can get a win there. We wouldn't be much of a team if we had to go back to the drawing board because of one road loss."

Just to comment on that statement of his: You aren't much of a basketball team, and that's why in six years as head coach Tommy has just four Big Ten road wins over teams not named Northwestern or Penn State. And about the game, well to be honest Wisconsin played like shit and the game was there to be had. If Michigan was good they could have pulled off the upset. But when DIon Harris and Lester commit 4 turnovers apiece and Courtney Sims commits 7 himself, you are going to be doomed. And it was readily apparent how outcoached Michigan was. Bo Ryan admitted afetrwards that he had told his players to take it to the hole against the "pressure defense" of the Wolverines. That's why they got 18 layups. They also made use of pump fakes to avoid any blocks by Udoh or Petway. They are a good team that found a way to win without playing their best game. It's something that Michigabn probably will never do as long as Tommy is coach.

It's sad because they didn't
even play well

-Well in my previous post I commented on how empty the arena was before tipoff. But to be honest that place filled up pretty quick and was by far the loudest arena I've ever been in.

-I met former Wisco football coach and current AD Barry Alvarez post game. I just said hello because didn't have the time or mental wherewithal to get in a full out convo with the guy.

-Devin Harris was at the game, wearing an Alando Tucker jersey. The crowd serenaded him with chants for awhile. Texans tight end Owen Daniels was there too but it felt like most people didn't even know who he was so he just got some mild applause.

-Here's another great postgame quote, this time from Bo Ryan
Media Person: Do you think the guys on the bench got motivated to perform like they did once Alando went out with two fouls?
Bo: If any player on my team got motivation from that, they would have their scholarship taken away. That's crap and that's not what we're about. You can write that down."

-So at Wisconsin they have three players come up to the podium for postgame questions. After this one it was Brian Butch, Marcus Landry and Tucker. Literally the press asked Landry and Butch one question apiece and spent the next 20 minutes grilling Tucker. As they were walking out I heard Landry go to Tucker: "Man I ain't walking all the way across the arena again just to get disrespected and watch a bunch of old dudes suck your dick, Tuck." He didn't think anyone heard it until myself and the daily photographer with me starting dying of laughter.

-The student section started chanting "NIT" late in the game. So appropriate and so great.

-On the way to the game, as we drove through the Chicago area, we decided to listen to some Chitown sports talk radio, and I must say it was highly entertaining. Obviously they were talking a shitload about the Bears, given that they are in the Super Bowl and this great debate came up: the classic Chicago argument. Who would win in a fight: Ditka or Lovie Smith? The radio guys literally talked about it for like a half hour, and came to the conclusion that althought Lovie has the quickness advantage because of Ditka's bad hips, the size and power of Ditka would win out.

Ditka is way too old
to win this fight

-On another note, when the radio guys started talking about the Bulls, I decided to call in. I said I was from Barrington. But the reason I called in was that these jackasses had the audacity to say the Bulls would be coming out of the east this season. I reminded them of the 20-point drubbing courtesy of the Wiz at the United Center just 3 weeks ago. Of course, I got flushed.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ramblings from Madison

So I'm here in Madison covering the Michigan-Wisco game coming up in about a half hour here at the Kohl Center. Unfortunately the press doesn't get to sit courtside here, in fact, I'm higher up here than I ever am at Crisler. But that's due in large part to how big this place is. It's capacity is basically the same as the Verizon Center. It is really nice inside, and the media food was pretty solid: Caesar salad, baked potatoes, chips and salsa, and country fried steak. And then the kicker — Tiramissiu (did I spell that right?) for dessert. I would be lying to you if I told you I thought Michigan was going to win this one. Since Bo Ryan started coaching here in Madison, the Badgers have lost just TWO home Big Ten games, both losses coming at the hands of Illinois. That makes Ryan 41-2 in six years at the Kohl Center. He's 86-5 overall at home during his tenure. And when you look at these two teams, you would be remiss to not look at both coaches. Ryan and Amaker started in the same year (2001). While Tommy has yet to make it to the NCAA Tournament, Bo has made it 5 of his 6 years at the helm. And oh yeah, I forgot to mention: Bo Ryan currently has the No. 2 ranked team in that nation! Man, what I wouldn't give for a real basketball coach.

Bo knows Badger basketball

Well there's like 20 minutes until tipoff, and given the reputation this place has I was expecting it to be more full than it is right now. It's not even close to half full, and the student section isn't even here. Maybe they all come in at once or something. Your guess is as good as mine. I'm hoping for a big Wolverine upset, which would definitely propel them into Tournament conversation...but let's be serious — this is a Tommy Amaker-coached team. There's no way they're coming in here prepared for a big time road game.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Two minutes with...

We had an unexpected visitor grace us with his presense this past Thursday night. The Rios just suddenly appeared out of thin air for a night of drinking in Ann Arbor. Too bad he took a 615am flight back to NYC in the morning. I'm going to be honest, I'm not quite sure how he works such depressing hours. Also in town was Randy, and he came up with a pretty good idea for this blog. He said that my blog about Big Ten Media Day was the only one he really liked, and that he didn't actually care what my opinion was. He suggested I have more posts like the Big Ten one. So in honor of him, I have created a two minutes with whomever thing. I'll probably do this every once in awhile, likely following various basketball games. So today's inaugural edition is Two Minutes With Purdue head coach Matt Painter. This was actually not during his postgame press conference, but I actually got him one-on-one in the Crisler Arena tunnel. This is pretty much a direct trabscript of the conversation we had.

Me: Hey coach, I didn't catch your press conference, but I was wondering if I could get a quick word with you? I'm Mark Giannotto from the Michigan Daily.
Matt Painter: The what?
Me: The Michigan Daily. It's the student newspaper at Michigan.
MP: Oh ok, go ahead.
Me: What was the biggest difference between today and last weekend?
MP: We just let them go on too many runs. We weren't hedging out on screens like we should have been, and it allowed them to get way too many open looks. And we settled for far too many jump shots ourselves. We needed to feed it into the paint more than we did. I really don't think the guys came ready to play tonight, offensively or defensively.
Me: How concerned are you with the fact that this was your 29th straight road loss?
MP: Obviously that's a huge concern for our team. On the one hand, you aren't going to go anywhere in this game if you can't win on the road, but on the other hand winning a road game in the Big Ten is tough. I think this team has the mental makeup to win on the road, we just have to get the monkey off our back and actually win one.
Me: Before the game, were you expecting your team to respond better, especially in a quieter atmosphere such as Crisler Arena?
MP: Like I said, winning a road game in the Big Ten is extremely difficult. You can't just show up and expect to win no matter where you are. And personally, I thought the atmosphere here today was daunting enough for me. The crowd really seemed into the game, and I noticed the energy Michigan coaches and players got feeding off the crowd.
Me: But don't you think it was a little strange to have huge sections of the upper bowl virtually empty?
MP: I can't really comment on the attendance of another team because I really have no knowledge of the situation.
Me: Well would you have been disappointed if Mackey Arena (home of Purdue basketball) had large sections empty?
MP: Yes I would. I think we take pride in the fact that our school has such a strong basketball fanbase. Purdue fans love their basketball and they have continued to be great fans year after year.
Me: You have to be excited about your upcoming recruiting class. It kind of came out of nowhere.
MP: Yeah I think we have a great group of kids coming in and they should make great contributions to Purdue basketball. But I think having a great recruting class is something we want to make a staple of as a program.

What face do you give
when you lose to a
terrible Michigan team?
Answer: This face

Painter's not the most compelling guy in the world, but he seemed pretty nice. Obviously he was pretty disappointed with having lost so resoundingly to Michigan just an hour earlier, but like he said himself, winning a road game in the Big Ten is tough. By the way, I would make fun of the pitiful crowds at Crsiler for these Big Ten games, but I have to be honest with myself: I wouldn't be at any of the games either if I didn't have to cover them for the paper.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ron Mexico at it again

I returned from class today with one of the more interesting stories waiting for me on Falcons QB Mike Vick was caught at Miami Airport with a water bottle containing a substance that had an aroma that was similar to marijuana.

"Vick reluctantly surrendered a water bottle to security at Miami International Airport that officials said smelled like marijuana and contained a substance in a hidden compartment. He was not arrested and was allowed to board an AirTran flight that landed in Atlanta before noon Wednesday."

First of all, what the hell is Mike Vick doing on an airline like AirTran. Is it even a real airline? It kind if sounds like that rinky dink ValuJet that crashed 10 years ago in the Everglades. Secondly, a hidden a water bottle? In the words of Tracy Morgan, "That's just crazy!" But it gets better my friends.

"We'll do an analysis and see what it is. There's no sense of urgency to it," detective Alvaro Zabaleta said Thursday. "The bottle was found to have a compartment that contained "a small amount of dark particulate and a pungent aroma closely associated with marijuana," a Miami police report said. "The compartment was hidden by the bottle's label so that it appeared to be a full bottle of water when held upright, police said."

I respect the professionalism this Miami police report is trying to uphold in this case but let's call it like it is. That was no particulate. That was a nug hidden in that water bottle. And further, why use a word like pungent? If you look up pungent in the dictionary it says "something that affects the nose or mouth; bitter". I'd use a lot of words to describe pot but one of them wouldn't be bitter. And while we're here, I for one would like to congratulate Vick for coming up with something so ingenious as the water bottle holder for marijuana. Think about how much that would go for at the local head shop. I mean really Mike, did you think this was actually going to work? I think we all know the only safe way to bring pot through an airport is to hide it in your shampoo bottle. For some reason, I feel like if you really wanted pot so badly wherever you were going you could have found some kind of hook up. I mean you are a multimillionaire football superstar.

"Smoke two joints in the morning
Smoke two joints before flights"

This is just another incident in the life of the Vick family. Marcus got a bunch of 16-year olds drunk (and presumably took advantage of the circumstances...I mean why else would he do it), got caught with pot himself, and then straight up donkey kicked some dude in a bowl game. Mike got caught at an STD clinic using the alias Ron Mexico, gave the bird to a bunch of New orleans fans, and now this Aquajuana. What's funny is that I wouldn't be the least bit suprised if this "particulate" in the water bottle turns out to be planted by one of Vick's friends a la Daunte Culpeper. I mean c'mon only common folk smoke mary jane.

Monday, January 15, 2007

What a weekend

I wasn't sure if it could live up to all the hype I was giving it, but it was divisional weekend so it really couldn't disappoint that much. There were so many great sports moments, you can't help but look back on it with a smile. This really is the best time of the year to be a diehard sports fan. Now, if only the Redskins could somehow be on the field at this time of year, and then you would have me hooked.

Man it was good to see those Ravens lose. I just really despise that entire city, and to see their football team lose to such a flawed Indy team made me so happy. The MVP of the game was clearly Adam Vinatieri. What more can you say about the guy than what Tony Dungy said about him as his fifth field goal went through the uprights. He's just "money". Peyton finally gets a chance to exercise those demons and maybe — just maybe — play in a Super Bowl. Obviously that's easier said than done when you have to play the Patriots. And speaking of the Pats, that game was awesome against the Chargers. No, it didn't live up to the "greatest divisional game of all time" hype that I gave it, but it was still a great game. The Patriots really are the only team in the NFL that consistently do more with less. I just don't understand how they find so many diamonds in the rough. Remember when they released Troy Brown and then no one picked him up so the Pats simply re-signed him for cheaper. He proved to be extremely important, making that strip off the INT that essentially saved the Pats season. And as shocking as it was to see LT all pissed off after the game, you can sort of understand where he is coming from. If someone slights you, you fight back. Look back over time and you'll realize all the greats have some sort of chip on their shoulders, and now we know LT does too. Don't forget how young this Chargers team is. The D-Line is all under 28, the offensive nucleus (Rivers, LT, Gates) are all under 28 as well, and they have an all-world defender in Merriman. This team is going to be around for awhile. Now, if only they could get a coach who can deliver in the playoffs.

Is this finally the year for Peyton?

And speaking of impressive, you have to hand it to the Bears. They played a great game. That 70-yard bomb that Grossman threw in the first half was a thing of beauty. It literally had myself and Krauss with our jaws dropped. Just an absolutely perfect throw. I really thought the Seahawks were going to pull this one out, and that Gould fellow delivered in the clutch with that game-winning field goal. And for some reason, I just don't have that much respect for the Saints. I was definitely glad to see them eliminate the Eagles, but I just think Chicago is going to have their way with them. I'm willing to guess a lot of the prognosticators are going to favor the Saints, but that's just going to add more fuel to the Bears' fire. Look back at their season, and you'll realize that they haven't lost a "big" NFC game all year. They beat all of the good teams in their conference. By the way, while we were watching the Saints-Eagles game, I asked Krauss who he thought Jeff Garcia would sign with after the season was over. He gave me an interesting answer. "If the Bears lose to the Seahawks, I could see Chicago signing Garcia". Nice pull Krauss, that would be a nice fit. But I think it might be all for naught, because I see the Bears sticking with Rex "Let's party like it's 2007" Grossman.

Speaking of signing Garcia, who do you think he signs with next season. As well as he has played for the Eagles, I don't see them giving him the starting job over McNabb, and I also don't see him settling for being a back-up again. What teams need a QB right now.

The Raiders? That could work, but I'm feeling like that would be Garcia's last resort. The Lions? I mean he was already there last season, would he really go back? The Packers? Only if Brett Favre decides to hang em up. The Browns? He was already there too. The Chiefs? Now you're making some sense because I think the writing might be on the wall for Trent Green. Jags? Maybe, but I can't see them giving up on Garrard/Leftwich just yet. The Texans? Ahah, a match. I'm pretty sure they're getting tired of David Carr, and with Andre Johnson, who would pass up a chance to lead an up and coming team. But if you read what Garcia, Andy Reid, and the Eagles are saying, it looks like Garcia may just end up staying with the Eagles as a back-up. Garcia claims to be done with switching teams. He wants to stay an Eagle. But if (and when because I don't believe this postgame bullshit out of his mouth) Garcia leaves via free agency, these are his most likely destinations: 1) Texans 2) Chiefs 3) Packers (but only if Favre retires).

Does anyone else notice how every time he returns to the
sideline, Garcia runs over to his baseball hat and puts it on.
Why does he do that? Insecurity about his head maybe? I really don't know.

Some random college backetball notes:
- If it really thinks it has a shot at the NCAA Tournament, Michigan needs to start winning on the road. That first half performance against Purdue really was pathetic.
- Nice little win by the Terps at Comcast on Saturday. Too bad the game was on ESPNU, which like no one gets.
- I don't know if anyone caught it (I didn't because of Krauss's 21st bday) but from the highlights of Oregon-Zona, it looked like one awesome game. And for the record that means Oregon has now beaten 'Zona at Zona, GTown at Verizon, and UCLA at home. That's really impressive. Definitely a top-10 team in the nation.
-Thank God Duke won.
-Virginia Tech = legit? I don't know, but beating Duke at Cameron, and then the No. 1 team in the land in the same week is quite the achievement. Their coach is Seth Greenberg. Do you think he was a very good player back in his day?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Planning a great sports weekend

I just returned from my dreadful Noon-1pm Friday discussion that seems to get worse every week considering I nurse a pretty gnarly hangover week after week. But who am I to blame but myself. However, the class was made worthwhile by what I saw on my way back to my house. Right outside of the Diag there was a man probably no older than 35, handing out flyers. But this wasn't just your ordinary flyer guy. This flyer guy was dressed up as Boomhower from King of the Hill, and proceeded to hand out flyers doing a dead-on Boomhower impression. I literally had to stop and marvel at this man. And although my hate for these flyer people is well-documented as seen here:

I simply had to take one of those flyers out of respect for the character that is Boomhower and the show that is King of the Hill.

It really was too funny

I know in my previous post I discussed how ridiculously awesome this weekend is for sports viewing, but I think I can take it a little further. I am going to take you through what I hope my weekend viewing pattern will look like for this weekend. So here it goes — an hour by hour look at what my weekend will be like:

Saturday January 13
11am: Hopefully I'll be able to wake up, but I'm thinking my excitement over such a great sports day will force me to wake. And I mean let's be honest with ourselves here — I'm not seeing myself being preoccupied with a girl either. But if I'm up I'll be switching back and forth between ESPN and the Deuce watching either NFL Countdown or College Gameday. And if you have ESPNU, Bucknell and Holy Cross are playing at 10am...yes you read the right 10 AM!

Noon: There's a huge Big east matchup with Marquette facing West Virginia. Both teams are legitimate contenders in the Big East and like I said before the Big East is loaded. And if you haven't seen Marquette's Dominic James play, you've been missing out. He isn't as good as DWade, but he can straight ball. I'll probably also take a few quick peaks at the Indiana/Penn State game shown here in Detroit locally on ABC-7. That one could be interesting since it's in State College, and the Nittany Lions actually have something resembling a basketball team this season.

1pm: Big time non conference matchup between Tennessee and Ohio State is on CBS nationally. I really can't believe how loaded the Buckeyes schedule is this season. Think about it: UNC, Florida, and Tennessee in one year. Imagine if Michigan had a schedule like that. Although I probably won't watch much of the first half of this one if the Marquette game is close.

2pm: There's some regional NHL action on NBC. They haven't put up whose going to be on the air in Detroit as of today, but if it's the Caps, I'll be watching. That was a tough one against the Lightning last night. Martin St. Louis always seems to kill us. But it actuality I'm going to be watching the end of that UT-OSU battle.

3pm: If you need to get anything done today, this is the time to do it. Because if you don't want to miss any playoff action, you gotta go do whatever it is you need to do now. But if you're like me and have set aside the whole weekend for sports, there is UCLA visiting USC on Fox Sports Net and Wisco travels to Northwestern on local ABC-7 here in the Detroit area.

330pm: NFL Today pregame show on CBS. I'll probably just watch snippets of this but I mean you have to love hearing Shannon Sharpe flap his gums for an hour. Watch the show and you'll realize that for as many words the man says, he equals them in the amount of times he laughs. He literally thinks everything is hilarious. And Boomer Esiason, who I think is a great analyst, gets lost in the shuffle because of it.

430pm: Colts @ Ravens...I mean what more can you really say about this. It's the Divisional Round, and if you consider yourself a football fan, you will be watching. I don't think it gets much better than Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne versus Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and the rest of that ferocious Ravens defense. Too bad the game has to take place in the decrepit city of Baltimore.

Th city of Baltimore in a nutshell

8pm: Eagles at Saints, although this one gets complicated. Obviously I want to watch this game because like I said above it's the playoffs. But unlike the Colts/Ravens game, which had nothing else decent going on at the same time...this Saints/Eagles game has a couple good things going on. Over on ESPN, Pitt battles GTown in another ginormous Big East game. The NBA scouts will definitely be keeping an eye the Aaron Gray/Roy Hibbert matchup. And then you've got...

9pm: Michigan faces Purdue in West Lafayette, a place they haven't won at in four years. Last year, i would have obviously gone with the NFL playoffs, but my job forces me to watch this game. I'm obviously going to be switching back and forth, but I'm really torn here. I guess it's a great problem to have. BY the way, if anyone has read the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press lately, they have been pumping white boy extroadinaire Reed Baker. Too bad I beat 'em to the punch with my shoes article that appeared in Tuesday's paper.

Which one is Deshawn Sims and
which one is K'Len Morris?
I'll give you a hint: Deshawn
is not white

What's great about this whole thing is that was just Saturday. Sunday is all about quality over quantity. There aren't as many games, but the ones that are there are pretty awesome:

1pm: So this day starts a little bit later than the day before. And hopefully all of you will be enjoying a night of boozing wherever you are on Saturday night, which means the 1pm start will be welcomed. But once you wake up the sports fun start immediately. Seahawks vs. Bears is a 1pm kick, and I like I said last week I really like this Seahawk team. The Bears defense and offense are shaky, and Rex Grossman is a novice in the playoffs. By the way, I know all of the announcers are giving him shit for admitting he was looking forward to New Year's Eve rather than that Packers game, but I mean c'mon the guy is like 25 give him a break. I know I would be looking forward to getting tanked if I were him.

2pm: CBS has a national Big Ten game on just like Saturday. This time it's Michigan State vs. Illinois. And although I will obviously be watching the playoffs, it's nice to have something to fall back on during commercial time. I know this — I don't care what Krauss says — I will be controlling the remote all weekend. Another thing in this game is that it really is a game both teams need to win. The Illini lost to Michigan for God's sake. Trust me, that doesn't bode well for a season.

430pm: Immediately following the conclusion of one playoff game, another one starts. And this SD-NE game could go down as the best divisional matchup of all time. I seriously cannot wait for this game. And the fact that Graham told me Shawne Merriman has a tatoo of a light switch in the off position (his nickname is lights out) is hysterical to me. Oh yeah did I mention I have insider information (it's actually just what Matt Brown told me) that Lights Out and his former teammate Vernon Davis both did 'roids back in their days at College Park.

530pm: Duke plays Miami in a nationally televised game on FSN (Comcast SportsNet to all you DC natives). Honestly, if the Pats-Chargers game is close I won't really be watching this except during commercials. I'll definitely be checking up on the score though because Duke really needs this one. They haven't started 0-3 in the ACC since that year where Coach K took a leave of absense and the team finished below .500 overall.

8pm: And if you weren't absolutely exhausted from all the sports already, FSN has another big time game following the Duke game. Oregon and Arizona play in a key Pac-10 matchup. It's prefectly timed to coincide with the end of the Pats-Chargers game. Nice move by FSN. And speaking of the Pac-10: Has it ever been stronger than it is this season? Just think about how many good teams are there (UCLA, 'Zona, Oregon, USC Washington, Washington State, there might be more).

Man, looking back over this post just makes me even more excited for a weekend that should truly be special. Oh wait, I get to repeat it next weekend when there's more college bball and the conference title games. Jackpot!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A lot of bit of everything

Have you noticed how many different sports are going on right now? It's the best time of the year for someone like me. It seems like there's a good game every single day of the week. You've got the NFL Playoffs, conference seasons start for college basketball, BCS fallout, NBA basketball, NHL, college hockey, and before we know it Spring Training is going to be here. I found myself wanting to post here, but there was just so much going on in my head, I didn't know how to process it. So to get over this dilemma I'm just going to throw out some of my opinions on what's been going down lately. I'm going to avoid talking about Michigan basketball because I feel somewhat obligated to devote an entire post to the team that seems to consume too much of my life. I feel like it's going to be one of those Peter King Monday morning quarterback rundown columns:

1) This San Diego-New England game is going to be awesome. Think about how much talent and football smarts are going to be on the same field at the same time. I don't have a clue who to pick in this one...not a clue. But when you think about both AFC matchups are unreal. Ravens-Colts is one of those games that I feel will either be a close Indy win or a Ravens blowout. There's no way I see Baltimore winning a close game.

2) Duke basketball is in trouble right now. Their lack of actual talent looks like it's coming back to hurt them. They really have no off-the-wall athleticism that every other perennial power has. No offense, they've got a bunch of white stiffs who are good shooters, but nothing more. In the end, they don't have any NBA-talent except McRoberts. Past Blue Devil squads atleast 2 or 3 guys who you knew would be in the NBA. Meanwhile, Maryland lost tonight too. But I really don't think Terp fans should panic. I think maryland was overlooking this HUrricane team because of that looming home game with the undefeated Clemson Tigers. And I think Clemson is due for a loss in that one. Expect the Terps to bounce back.

3) Wisconsin is legit. No one has touched them this year except Missouri State, and they aren't actually that bad. Ohio State is going to be there in the end as well. They have Elite 8 written all over them.

4) So when I was travelling to Northwestern on Saturday morning, I turned on some Chicago sports talk radio and heard this statement that I think is the absolute truth: "The Bears are the worst 13-3 team ever. No 13-3 team has ever had this many question marks heading into the playoffs." So true, so true.

5) Were any other redskins fans breaking out in a grin when it was announced Tom Coughlin was back for another go around? He has 5-11 disaster written all over him without Tiki.

6) In personal news, I'm right now taking an English class on Jane Austen books. I'm literally in a lecture hall with over 100 people in the class, and I could count less than 10 guys. It's pretty unbelievable.

7) Man, the Wizards just keep on rolling. That team got a win over a damn good Bulls team without Gilbert producing at the elite level. It's really starting to look like a 50+ win season.

8) Alright, you got me. The SEC is better than the Big Ten. Florida abolutely manhandled an Ohio State team that I thought was invicible. That was just a thorough beatdown. I love it how the Gator players came out after the game and were straight up like, "We've seen 4 or 5 teams that were better than the Buckeyes." Yeah it's cocky, but you really can't say anything because they are the national champs. And it's good to see Troy Smith go out on a sour note. I can only hope the Lions use a 4th round pick on him, thereby officially ending his career before it even starts.

9) If you look back at my bowl picks, I was not nearly as good as advertised. Back to the drawing board on that one.

10) Have you looked at the 16 teams that make up the Big East. Top to bottom that conference is just ridiculously loaded. There is not a break in the conference schedule. There really isn't a cupcake on there.

As much as I think I should go outside this weekend it really just isn't going to happen. I have a feeling Saturday and Sunday could go down as two of the best days of sports television in years. There are so many big college basketball conference games, NFL playoff games, and the Wizards are on national television. And for anyone from Churchill High School, isn't it eery how close to Martin Luther King Day all of this gang stuff is happening?

Oh yeah I would include pictures but for some reason my computer won't let me. I'm out

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Gilbert the Superstar

I don't know if anyone realizes how big of a star our own Gilbert Arenas is becoming. Just this week he had his very own New York Times profile seen here:

Not to mention the various stuff the Washington Post has been running on him lately. And now if you haven't heard, the man held his 25th birthday at a DC nightclub. But this wasn't your run of the mill basketball player soiree. No this Gilbert Arenas lovefest was hosted by the one and only Diddy. It featured performances by Busta Rhymes, T.I, Lil' wayne and The Game. For God's sake there was an ice sculpture of Gilber himself. He even had his own website about the party.

Check out the ice sculpture here:

I really have to figure out how to create a link on this blog. Sorry about that, I guess you'll have to just copy and paste all those links.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Playoff Time

I'm writing from the friendly confines of Ryan-Welsh Arena on the campus of Northwestern. It's got the feel of a big high school gym, but I bet it's pretty loud if there were a good team here. But wait, remember, it's Northwestern. Not exactly a basketball powerhouse. They've got more white guys on their team than Churchill this year. I must say I was impressed with the chicken fingers and baked beans in the media room. The only problem is the dance team here. Now you'd think that a dancer would be in decent shape, but they have some legit fat chicks on their dance team here. Like absolutely inappropriately fat. And the worst part is they literally dance right in front of press row. Hopefully Michigan gets a much-needed road win against a team that just lost by 30 to Penn State on Wednesday, and might have the ugliest dance team in Division 1. But now onto more important sporting stuff...the NFL

Two games today and another two on Saturday. I'm going to probably miss the Cheifs-Colts game because I'll be driving back to Ann Arbor, but I'm not going to take a huge risk and pick the Chiefs. As bad as Indy's defense is, I just can't see a team like the Chiefs providing that much trouble. Their defense just doesn't have the talent to match up with the Colts and offense. And as bad as Peyton is in the playoffs, do you really see him going out this early? In the late game, I'm going with the Seahawks. You can't go into the playoffs on a slide like the 'Boys are on and expect to go very far. I think a lot of people are overlooking Seattle. This is the same team that made the Super Bowl last season, and they still have Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, and Deion Branch. They got blown out by the Bears on national TV mid-season, and everyone kind of forgot about them. But that was when Alexander was out with foot injuries.

Hair: no ... Quality QB: yes

I've got the Giants on Sunday pulling the upset over the Eagles. It's just too hard to beat a team three times in one season. The GMen are going to give the ball to Tiki and let him work, and I think they will pull off a win against an Eagles team that is floating on cloud nine right now. And I'm not going to be a risk taker and pick against Tom Brady in that Jets-Pats game. The Jets are a nice story, but the playoffs are dominated by stars, and that's what the Jets lack.

So to recap: I've got Colts, Seahawks, Giants, and Patriots

Well, it's getting pretty close to tipoff. I'm out.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Triumphant Return

It was a good winter break, but it feels good to be back in the friendly confines of room 4. I got some sick posters for the room, so it seems a little more homely these days. Myself and Reagan did the drive together from Maryland to Ann Arbor. Well actually I did all the driving, and might I add in record time (7 hours 10 minutes). After getting settled in it was time to go watch the sorry excuse for a basketball team that is the Michigan Wolverines. But hold the phone...they actually won tonight.

This was a must-win for Michigan considering they had lost 2 of their past 3. And as we all know those two losses weren't really that close. They faced off against an Illinois team sporting an identical 12-3 record heading into the matchup. Before the game, I told the other Michigan Daily writers that if the Wolverines lost this game at home to Illinois, then the season would be over. This was simply a game they had to have. And to my shock, the team came up with its most impressive performance to date. Senior captain Lester Abram, who had been playing awful through the first 15 games of the season, put up a virtuoso performance, scoring 25 points and pulling down seven rebounds. He seemed to have a different kind of energy level out there on the floor. In general, Michigan was attacking the basket, and really looked like a totally different team than the one I had grown accustomed to watching so far this year. After the game, many on the team were surrounded by all sorts of media, and gave the usual bland answer when asked what was different. It went something like, "Man, nothin changed. I was just playin' ball out there."

But after the media horde left , I made a beeline for a certain somebody on the team. See, we have some mutual friends plus I've talked to him a lot this year.. So I'm pretty sure he got some level of trust in me. Well he actually has a high level given his response to my question.

Q: What was the difference out there tonight?
A: I gave up pot over break.

That was it. What a great answer. Too bad it was off the record, so I can't print it in the newspaper. And hopefully this blog isn't big enough to the point that anyone finds out I just wrote that.

Les did what all good captains
do: He stepped up in the clutch

I also got a chance to hear Illinois coach Bruce Weber's comments following the game. Obviously he was pretty disappointed because I think he realized how atrocious Michigan actually is this season. He told the media that his team had "no leadership and no heart". He then ripped into Rich McBride and Brian Randle for their poor play. He then proceeded to make a whole boatload of excuses for his team's poor play. And I will admit, his team did play poorly, but I also think he made some catastrophic errors coaching wise.

First of all, if the man had done any scouting whatsoever, he would have realized that Michigan simply cannot handle a zone defense. They have nobody on its roster who can hit an open outside jumper on a consistent basis. But even that sin is forgiveable. But as Wolverine guards Dion Harris, Abram, and Jerret Smith were continually beating Illini guards off the dribble, he still stayed away from the zone. Eric Lacy of the Detroit News came up to me at halftime and put it perfectly. He said, "This game will be a blowout if they play zone." But for some reason Weber didn't do it. Again, although his team did not play well, Weber committed the ultimate sin. He got outcoached by Tommy Amaker! Trust me, that doesn't happen often. I've got a pretty good feeling that this Illini team is on the verge of collapse. After questioning his team's desire, Weber expects them to come out and beat Ohio State on Saturday. I don't think so Bruce. Illinois also faces Iowa on the road, and then have Wisconsin at home. I'm going to give them that Iowa game even though it won't be a gimme, but that still leaves them at 1-3 to start the conference season. My money is definitely on them not making the Tourny at this point.

I don't know how Tommy
outsmarted you either, coach

But let's not allow Tommy to get off the hook here. It wasn't like he did anything special tonight, he simply didn't do anything wrong. His seniors finally came through, despite recent lineup changes that rocked their confidence. The offense still looked stagnant, it was just that Harris and Abram caught fire in the second half. The Wolverines were on life support before this game, and now seem to have righted the ship somewhat. This Saturday they travel to Evanston to face a Northwestern team that just lost by 30 to Penn State at home. It's obviously a game Michigan can not lose.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Just some ramblings to wrap up winter break

Well it's my last day in Maryland before returning to Michigan, so I thought I'd give my thoughts on what was a relatively relaxing winter break.

1) Chods New Year's Eve party was pretty sweet. Not only did Chachi come out in full force, we got to drink to-p shelf liquor all night. Highlight of the night was definitely smearing dip all over Reagan while he was passed out. Lowlight was Ashley Benjamin calling me Jordan Sill to my face. And even after one Andrew Friedson corrected her...she did it again. Do I really look that much like him?

2) Jeff (my little bro) made the family proud as well on New Year's Eve collecting a nice little alcohol citation for himself. Apparently him and his friends forgot the novel concept of running from the cops rather than hiding from them. For those who read this in Maryland you'll like this: Even Terrance Ihm got cited!

Chachi: MVP of NYE

3) Tommy Amaker might just be the worst in-game basketball coach I have ever seen. I firmly believe that George Brown could coach this Wolverine team better than he does. Jay Bilas said on the broadcast of the GTown-Michigan game on Saturday that if Michigan just got some offense they would be alright. Well Jay, if Michigan ran something that resembled a zone offense or any offense at all, maybe they would be better. I have seriously never seen a college basketball team with such awful offensive sets in my life. I don't know if Tommy draws it up this way, but it essentially it goes like this: They pass it around the perimeter until there are about 7 seconds on the shot clock. Then either Jerret Smith or Dion Harris try to go one-on-one and force up a tough shot that is usually way off the mark. But what's even worse is that Tommy has been running this same offense the entire time I've been at Michigan. It's clear he's not going to change, which means the athletic department needs to make one. Oh wait they just signed Amaker to an extension through 2011. Silly me for thinking the Michigan athletic department would ever made a wise decision.

4) I've really been digging the big features in the Washington Post lately chronicling the demise of the Rerdskins this season. It's pretty interesting to read about how all these free agent acquisitions essentially sabotaged the team because the players lost trust in the coaching staff. But I think the offense found an identity at the end of the season, and Gibbs won't be stupid and mess that up next year. The defense is another thing. If Gregg Williams is really as smart as he thinks he is, he will be able to go back to the drawing board and figure out what went wrong this year and fix it. Hopefully the Skins will use that No. 6 pick in the draft to get somehow of immediate impact on the defense (Alan Branch?). Rumor has it that Dan Snyder has his sights set on nabbing Nate Clements this offseason. We'll see how that goes.

Please become a Redskin

5) That Boise State-Oklahoma game was awesome. The ending was just phenomenal. It was a smart coaching move by Chris Peterson to go for two in overtime because I don't know how much longer the Broncos could have held on. But despite all the praise Boise State is getting right now, the old-schoolers from the power conferences will always hold it against the Broncos for winning the game with a couple of gadget plays. Whether that is fair or not, I don't know. Also, while myself and Battey were watching the game, I came up with a theory that I'm not sure about, so I figured I'd just post it here. The interception thrown by Paul Thompson in the third quarter was so bad, that it almost looked like he threw it on purpose. And the same goes for Zabransky's interception at the end of the game. Then after both INTs, each QB suddenly became completion machines. Kind of sketchy if you ask me. How far is Glendale from Vegas?

Paul Thompson and Rhett Bomar:
More similarities than being
Sonner signal callers?

6) I was really skeptical about Fox broadcasting the most of the BCS bowl games this year. It just didn't seem right not having the familiar voices of Brad Nessler and Brent Musberger calling the games. But I must say, from watching the Fiesta Bowl, I really enjoyed the analysis from Charles Davis and Barry Alvarez. Davis is a little corny at times, but both him and Alvarez are much more critical than other announce teams. I liked that they made strong points, rather than making bland statements that sort of imply something, but in the end mean nothing (see Kirk Herbstreit).

7) On Saturday following the UCONN-West Virginia bball game, Rick Majerus and Steve Lavin were calling Jerome "Jerome 'Slicin' Dyson". I don't know about that one fellas. But I hope everyone caught his dirty dunk on a breakaway in the first half of that WVU game. And just an FYI here...this Saturday night UCONN faces LSU and Dickie V is calling the game. And if you know me well, you know that I'm a sucker for Dickie V -- and now add on that Jerome is playing in a Dickie V game. I'm not really sure it can get more awesome.

8) You heard it here first: The Wizards will make it to the Eastern Conference Finals this season. And the Capitals...well I have no idea about that team right now. This recent stretch has been deadly for a team that rose to as high as sixth in the eatern conference just a few weeks ago.

Caron and the Wiz have
been straight ballin'

9) And just to add onto my previous post following the Rose Bowl. I realize that Michigan getting thomped by USC gives credence to the notion that Florida deserves to be in the National Championship, but look at the bowl results. Penn State -- a team given no credit during the regular season -- physically dominated an overmatched Tennessee team that finished second in the SEC East. Then the first place team in the SEC West (Arkansas) was beaten by a Wisconsin team that was also left for dead because they didn't beat any "elite teams". To me, that indicates that the Big Ten could have had 3 teams in BCS bowl games if it were allowed. When all is said and done in the bowl season, the Big Ten is likely to finish with 3 teams in the top 10 (Ohio State, Wisco, and Michigan) and four in the top-20 (Penn State). That deadly schedule that every SEC team has to face doesn't look so fatal anymore

Lastly, I hope everyone has a great 2007. Everyone be safe abroad.

Rose Bowl Aftermatch

When you get the top recruiting classes in the nation year in and year out, it's no surprise that USC is capable of destroying anyone if they play up to their capabilities. And the Trojans showed just that in dominating Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Lloyd Carr once again showed the inability to win the big game, and once again was outmaneuvered by his coaching counterpart. But in saying that, what was Michigan supposed to do in order to stop Dwayne Jarrett. It wasn't like Michigan's secondary was in terrible position on a lot of his catches. Most of Jarrett's big plays came on missed tackles or simply winning a jump ball. That's not positioning or strategy -- that's just being a freakishly good.

Dwayne Jarrett = sick nasty

The team speed of both USC's offense and defense was remarkable, and they dominated Michigan in most facets of the game. This game was similar to the Rose Bowl these teams played in 2004. The score wouldn't necessarily indicate a thorough beatdown, but it wasn't actually close. And getting back to Lloyd. I've made it clear in the past that I thought he got outcoached in all the big time games, and it was no different this year. But how can you really fault the guy considering Michigan won 11 games this year. Although he's been having some issues with Jim Tressel and Pete Carroll, he still got this team 11 wins. We don't need Michigan to turn into the Alabama of the north where we fire a coach for not being undefeated every season. Discontinuity is what kills a team. For God's sake look at the Redskins!

Will Lloyd feel the heat again?

Looking ahead to the future, as in next season, Michigan returns almost everybody on offense. Henne, Hart, Manningham, and Arrington make up a core of skill players on offense that talent-wise can matchup with anybody in the country. The offensive line loses two starters, but returns tackle Jake Long, who likely would have been a top-15 pick in the draft. On the other hand, the defense loses a lot, and to make matters worse the flimsy secondary only gets weaker. All American cornerback Leon Hall is lost to graduation, making Morgan (you can count on me to give up 2-3 big plays a game) Trent as the NO. 1 corner. The strength of this year's defense was the defensive line, which loses a ton. Lamar Woodley and Rondell Biggs, the two ends, are both seniors. And junior tackle Alan Branch is a near-certainty to head to the NFL. That leaves promising sophomore Terrance Taylor and reserves Will Johnson and Tim Jamison as holdovers. The linebacking core loses leading tackler David Harris and playmaker Prescott Burgess to graduation. I've got to say this now, if I'm a team in the second round of the NFL draft and David Harris is still available, I would be thrilled to get him. He will make a huge impact in the pros. Sack machine Shawn Crable returns, along with middle linebacker and Kovel-favorite Chris Graham. Lloyd and the Wolverines must hope that this year's great defense (not including the last two games) was not a fluke. Hopefully, Ron English has a system in place that will be effective enough that it won't matter what players are in it.

And in my opinion, heading into next year, I believe Michigan should start the year at no lower than No. 3 in the nation. USC is obviously going to be preseason No. 1 given the amount of talent they are bringing in, and the amount of talent they already have. And I think that if LSU beats Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl in a few days, they have the right to be ranked higher than the Wolverines. Next year the Tigers bring back a good portion of their team including quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Lloyd Carr is undoubtedly going to get some shit from outsiders given his atrocious bowl record recently, and his inability to beat Jim Tressel. That being said, it was a great season despite the sour finish. Those players played their hearts out, and definitely made up for a disappointing season last year.

I really can't complain all that much about this team.