Saturday, February 28, 2009

Catchin' Up

Well, it's been a little over a week since we last met.  Like I said, my in-laws were in town, so I did my fair share of entertaining.  I can't really complain much, my wife and I enjoyed the company, and we didn't have to worry about dinner for seven days straight.  Anyway, the wife is in Tempe today for some dance concert thing, so I decided to take some time and blog a lil' bit.

It was an interesting morning for Michigan Basketball fans this morning if you watched College Gameday with Digger Phelps, Hubert Davis, Bob Knight, and Jay Bilas.  The boys had a conversation debating four bubble teams and which team should get one hypothetical spot.  The four teams were: Michigan, Providence, Siena, and Virginia Tech.  At first, Digger wanted to eliminate Michigan in favor of Siena!  Luckily, he was outvoted by the rest of the crew and Siena was ousted instead.  Then, Providence was eliminated -- much to the dismay of Phelps again.  Then, the boys decided that VA Tech's two quality road wins were enough to nudge them over Michigan.  Thus, Michigan was the loser of the "last team in," according to the Gameday crew.  Surprisingly, the usual Michigan-basher Jay Bilas was so pro-Michigan today I didn't know what to do with myself.  All bias aside, how can you seriously consider Siena a better tourney team than Michigan?  Their best wins, I believe, were Niagra and Northern Iowa!  Try taking Michigan's wins over Duke and UCLA away and replacing them with those two Siena "quality" victories.  Does Michigan even stand a chance in the bubble discussion at that point?

Also frustrating during the debate was the amount of disrespect the Big Ten gets.  Once again the ACC/Big East bias was evident.  These conferences are obviously superior according to these analysts.  Did they watch any non-conference games?  The Big Ten racked up impressive victory after victory.  I'm not sure what the disconnect is.  I'm not saying the Big Ten is the best conference, but it certainly isn't the MAC.

Anyway, the only reason this discussion was even relevant was because of Michigan's HUGE victory over Purdue on Thursday night.  DeShawn Sims was an absolute MAN in this game -- especially during the second half when Michigan went on to shoot 81%!  Sims' final stat line: 29 points, 5 board, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 0 TOs in 34 minutes.  In the second half especially, Purdue had no answer for Sims.  Their main defensive player got into early foul trouble and was extremely limited, so Sims took advantage of this all night.  The whole team was fired up and playing with absolute intensity.  

Manny finished with 27 points, 4 assists, and only 4 TOs in 35 minutes.  Clearly, his benching at Iowa did some sort of good.  This was nice to see.  After all the discussion as to whether or not the move was fair, it would be interesting to see which scenario Michigan Fans would have preferred: allow Manny to play and win at Iowa or bench Manny like Beilein did, fire up the team and Manny, and beat Purdue at home?  Personally, I value the Purdue victory over the could-have-been Iowa victory.  Good move Johnny B!

Tomorrow's game at Wisconsin should be interesting although I never get a good feeling when playing Wisconsin.  I'm not sure exactly why.  Maybe it's because Michigan, IMO, just doesn't match up well with them and haven't for a while now.  The Badgers are just a much more physical team -- especially in the inside, where Michigan has no answer aside from Peedi, who, if he expends too much energy on the defensive side may become limited on offense.  We've seen the results when he plays his best ball offensively so we need him to conserve energy on the defensive end.  When he is playing his game offensively, it opens up everyone else's game, as evidenced by the Purdue game.  

If all goes well, a road victory in Madison would go a long way in securing this tournament birth.  Live blog will be over at Mgoblog tomorrow for the game.  Get there 15 minutes early to get the party started.

Other News

  • The Lions have reportedly traded Jon Kitna to the Cowboys for a late-round draft pick in this year's draft.  Smart move by the Lions, IMO, as he was due a $1 million roster bonus in a few weeks.
  • Matt Cassel has been traded to the Chiefs.  No word yet on what the Patriots' compensation will be.
  • The Lions acquired Seahawks backup RB Maurice Morris yesterday.  He filled in decently for Shaun Alexander a couple years ago when he went down.  He's expected to back up Kevin Smith, and maybe push him for some playing time?
  • The Lions are making some moves.  They reportedly just signed WR Bryant Johnson today.  That isn't absolutely confirmed yet.  I'm not sure how much of an immediate impact he would make.  He will likely provide some much needed WR depth at the very least.
Let me know if I missed anything and I'll try to add it in.  I'm still trying to get this blog rolling guys, so if you're reading, let me know.  A couple comments might just give me enough motivation to post daily and keep up to date with everything going on...

Go blue from AZ!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Steven Threet Transfers

Incumbent Michigan quarterback Steven Threet has decided to transfer from the University of Michigan. Threet gave a statement to the press Monday announcing his decision. No word as of yet as to where he will transfer. Last year, he started eight games for Michigan, completing 102 of 210 passes for 1,105 yards and throwing nine touchdowns.

Everyone knows Threet isn't the type of QB that Rodriguez prefers, as evidenced by the signing of two dual-threat QB's this year, but I think most people agree he was a decent player last year when healthy. Given a year under his belt, he may have either pushed the freshmen for playing time, or provided a crucial role by mentoring the two.

Is this a devastating blow to Michigan's chances for success in 2009? I don't think so. Personally, I think Tate was going to start from day one regardless. Still, this situation is disappointing because of depth. For example, if Tate starts and Denard picks up the system early enough to earn the backup role, then Sheridan almost by default becomes the 3rd option. I like Nick, and think he's a good kid, but I'm not sure if anyone ever wants to see him take a meaningful snap again for the Wolverines.

It is what it is. Threet was not brought in by Rodriguez to run his offense. The writing is on the wall for Steven. This obviously shows that the transition is far from complete. It will probably take another year or two for Rodriguez to fully put his stamp on the program. Still, I think his track record speaks for itself.

Michigan will be back. Will it happen this year? Who knows? Will this year be as bad as last? Probably not. At the very least, we will see improvement on the field. An improved offensive line, improved RB play, more skilled offensive players, and two extremely talented freshmen QBs will improve upon 3-9 most certainly.

Let the countdown to spring practice begin...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Michigan 70 - Northwestern 67

What is it about Northwestern teams that are always so pesky?  It doesn't matter if it's football or basketball, they always seem to do just enough to make you cringe.  Today, they did just enough to force a decent Michigan team into overtime.  Thankfully for the Wolverines, Manny Harris took the game into his own hands and played basketball the way he knows how.  It actually was pretty scary down the stretch with C.J. Lee looking shaky under duress.  It was interesting to see Kelvin get into the game so late to handle the defensive pressure.  Unfortunately, he gave Craig Moore a wide open look as he played a screen wrong - again.

It was ugly, but hey, a win's a win, especially in the Big Ten...on the road.

Dylan over at has a nice write-up of the post game.  I'd write my own but like I said before, the in-laws are in town from Michigan.  I've got to be a "good hubby."

Go Blue!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Noteworthy Links

No basketball game today, so let's take a look at some of the happenings around the world of sports.  Remember, this blog is a lot of Maize and Blue, but also a little bit of everything.  :)

  • Over at Beck's MLB blog, we are provided with an early look of the Tigers 2009 lineup.
  • Mlive has a nice article about the state of Michigan sports (specifically attendance) given the weak economy.
  • Paul at Varsity Blue provided some quality videos of a few new Michigan football recruits.  The one with Tate Forcier is probably what you all want to see.
  • Apparently the "A-11 Offense" was too much for some.  The NFHS changed some rules around to outlaw the "gimmick" offense.  I've never seen the offense in person, but I would hate to scheme against it defensively.
  • There's a video over at Prep Ticket illustrating the story of future Michigan WR Je'Ron Stokes.  He was probably the last 2009 recruit to sign-on at Michigan.  Coach Rod definitely deserves credit for reeling in this kid.  He was exciting to watch at the Army All-American Bowl.
  • A. Sherrod Blakely wrote a piece on Mlive about the Pistons' Amir Johnson being mentioned in trade rumors.  This is especially interesting for me now since I'm living in Phoenix and constantly hear about the Suns' desire to trade Amare Stoudemire.  Hopefully, the Pistons can make it happen.
  • Amare apparently doesn't like all the trade talk.
  • The Lions have found their personnel man.  Former Jaguars V.P. of Player Personnel James Harris will now have a very similar role in the Lions' organization.  It's no secret there is a ton of work to do with the roster.  How about starting with the QB decision, the offensive line, and then the entire defense.
  • Pre-game for tomorrow's basketball game can be found here.  It could be a struggle for the Maize and Blue.  Evanston is a tough place to play, as the Illini found out Thursday night, having to rally from a double-digit deficit to secure the victory.
That's it for today.  I'll definitely post on the Michigan-Northwestern game tomorrow.  It's at 1 PM my time, so I should have something around 4-5 PM.  My mother-in-law is coming in from Michigan tomorrow though, so I can't make any promises.  

Go blue!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

To Help Soothe the Soul

Amidst the 3-9 football season and the ups and downs of this year's basketball team, it's been tough sledding for Michigan Fans. Here's a little something to help ease all the pain.

MSU Loss Aftermath

U-M's Beilein: 'We're just working to get better'

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

#9 MSU 54 UM 42

Well, that was NOT pretty.  MSU grinds it out at Crisler for a 54-42 win.  For Michigan, this was a devastating blow to their tournament chances.  MSU, on the other hand, gets a quality Big Ten road victory.

Without stats in front of me, it seems like this loss comes down to free throw shooting.  UM struggled at the stripe tonight.  At one point during the game, they were 4 for 9 and trailing MSU by 5.  Two painful misses came at the end of the first half when Gibson's dunk was called back because of an intentional foul on State.  Gibson subsequently missed his two freebies.  I would have rather had the no-call, as Gibson had the easy dunk.  Dylan from said it best during a live blog over at mgoblog: "Murphy's Law."

On the other hand, credit MSU's defense.  They managed to challenge Michigan's shots all night long.  It was no secret they play extremely solid D.  Again, without stats in front of me, I can't imagine UM having shot better than 35-40 percent.

As I mentioned during halftime, Delvon Roe continued to be a force.  He was named player of the game after finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds.  That's a decent double-double for a freshman.

For UM, Sims led the way with a very solid night.  He finished with 18 points and 4 boards in only 25 minutes.  He got into early foul trouble in the second half and had to miss quite some time while MSU continued their onslaught on the glass.  Gibson I'm sure gives it his best every night, but at 6-11 you'd expect a little more out of him simply on height alone.  Maybe a try-out with the football team will give him some toughness?

Highlights here

*My brother sent me another text during the game saying "Greg Robinson is sitting in front of me."  An interesting and exciting night for him I'm sure.  I'm glad he got the opportunity to be in the limelight for a couple of hours.*

Michigan vs. MSU at the Half

At the half, it's Michigan State 23 - Michigan 15.  

The one question I have in my mind right now: did Michigan really just score 15 points in an entire half?

The frustration continues to mount about the missed 3 point shots.  Novak threw up a few; two tough ones from the corner that didn't have chance.  Manny forced at least one with an MSU defender in his face.  Kelvin's lone attempt rattled in and out.  Surprisingly, LLP finally made a shot.

On a positive note, MSU only has 23 points.  The defense seems to have gotten better lately.  JB has been mixing up the looks, using man, the 1-3-1, and the 2-3.  IMO, the 2-3 has been extremely efficient as of late.  I'd like to see them utilize it a bit more.  This should help take care of the mismatches in the post, as UM would have two wing defenders to crash down on an entry pass down low.  Roe has 11 points at the half, at least two of those on a soft Shepherd foul.  If you're going to foul, do it STRONG!

On a more personal note, my brother called me from the game to let me know he met Rich Rod, Bill Martin, and Drew Henson.  He's been hanging out with Jeremy Jackson lately (a 2010 WR commit for UM).  I saw him heading down toward the court as the ESPN cameras showed Izzo heading to the locker room.

Go blue!  Post game wrap-up to follow.