Friday, March 23, 2007

NCAA Hockey Previews: East Regional

Seriously, we're really excited about the NCAA hockey tournament. Deadspin did a preview of all 64 teams in the basketball edition, so in that tradition we offer you these incredibly uninformative previews of the teams in the hockey tournament. We started posting these by regional yesterday, so today's are the last two. All the regional previews are compiled in a handy PDF here (205K).

East Regional – Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, NY

Clarkson University Golden Knights
Clarkson logo

The Empty Seats Do Raise Questions. Verbatim from Wikipedia: "The Cheel Arena attendance record of 4,125 was set on January 18th, 2003 against arch-rival St. Lawrence University, although many consider it to be unofficial due to the large number of empty seats at the game." Clarkson also owns the dubious distinction of the only school to reach the finals three times and come away without a championship.

It Really Was An Awful Film. Then Again, So Was Down Periscope. Roger Ebert coined the "Stanton-Walsh Rule" which states that "no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or [Clarkson alumnus] M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad." Ebert later conceded that this rule was broken by 1999's Wild Wild West.

St. Cloud State Huskies
St. Cloud logo

Thanks, Unky Herb! Herb Brooks coached the St. Cloud State Huskies in the 1986-87, helping the Huskies move up to Division I play. He was also instrumental in the building of the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.

Ducks Fly Together. That same National Hockey Center became the site where many of the interior scenes were filmed in The Mighty Ducks. No word on whether Brooks helped develop the Flying V.

University of Maine Black Bears
Maine logo

We're #2! Strangely, the University of Maine is only the second largest university in the state, and not only that, it loses out to a directional school. Its enrollment of 11,000 students is eclipsed by the University of Southern Maine.

Twice As Nice. Maine is one of only two schools (Minnesota-Duluth being the other) to see back-to-back winners of the Hobey Baker Award. This occurred in 1992 when Scott Pellerin won it and then in 1993 when Paul Kariya was honored as the Black Bears won their first national championship.

University of Massachusetts (Amherst) Minutemen
UMass logo

Take THAT, Bob Vila! Among the famous non-sporting alumni of UMass include William Monahan, the Oscar winning screenwriter of The Departed, Bill Pullman (not Bill Paxton), Rob Corddry, formerly of The Daily Show and now starring on Fox's The Winner, and Black Francis of The Pixies (did not graduate). The best of these however may be Norm Abram, Class of 1972, "America's most famous carpenter", host of New Yankee Workshop, and Massachusetts' second most famous television Norm.

Jack Donaghy will be rooting for the Minutemen. Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, is a UMass alum (Class of 1957). Known as Neutron Jack for his sometimes ruthless style of cutting employees, he was named Manager of the Century by Fortune Magazine in 1999. Geoff only has nice things to say about him.

Top 9 Tournament Games In Michigan Hockey: Part 3

We're attempting to put together a list of the top 9 – one for each Michigan national championship – NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament games we've witnessed, either on TV or in person. This list is presented in no particular order. Without further adieu, Part 3

Michigan 4 - 3 North Dakota (1998). In their first game of the 1998 regionals at Yost, Michigan's game-winning goal came on a fluky bounce where a Princeton defender's skate tipped a Michigan pass into his own net. That wouldn't be enough if Michigan was going to beat North Dakota. In the first period, Michigan looked like a team about to get hustled off its own ice. North Dakota raced out to a 2-0 lead. As the period wound down, Michigan made things worse by giving the Fighting Sioux a 5-3 power play and a 3-0 game seemed almost inevitable. Matt Herr was still in the box when the second period began, but when he jumped back onto the ice, his teammates got him the puck and he cut the deficit in half with a shorthanded goal. North Dakota scored a few minutes later, but again the Wolverines made it a one-goal game going into the third. They leveled the score with Greg Crozier's powerplay goal less than a minute into the period and Yost went NUTS. Not just any-other-arena crazy, but insane-for-even-Yost crazy. The rest of the period was a titanic struggle, but Michigan broke through again with 2:54 to go when Herr gave the puck to Bobby Hayes on a 2-on-1. He buried the game-winner and pandemonium broke out. Marty Turco sums it up as "Best game ever" and "the biggest game I have ever played in." This from a two-time NCAA champion. –Geoff

Michigan 5 - 3 Colorado College (2003). In an up and down regional final at Yost, Eric Nystrom gave Michigan an early lead when Dwight Helminen's rebound came to him, but Colorado College quickly surged ahead on the strength of their lethal power play and future Hobey Baker winner Peter Sejna. Sejna assisted on CC's first powerplay goal at 8:10 and scored his own at 10:42 of the first. Michigan was getting annihilated by the powerplay and had to find a way to either stay out of the box entirely or play better on special teams. As the former wasn't really an option, the Wolverines opted instead to apply more pressure all over the ice. CC went on the powerplay 6 more times without registering another goal and Michigan's offense kept plugging away. Milan Gajic tied the game again in the first by just getting to David Moss's pass and putting it past CC's drawn-off goaltender. Early in the second, Jeff Tambellini was in the box for a stupid, stupid crosschecking penalty (taken with :33 left in the first!) when Mark Mink jumped on a bad, lazy turnover by CC in front of their own net and sent it home for the 3-2 lead. CC wasn't about to go away though, and midway through the second they pounced on an Andy Burnes turnover at center ice to tie it up at 3-3. Even though CC was a dangerous, dangerous team, I started feeling like Michigan was going to make it through if only because it was a Yost crowd. I'd seen it happen just last year, and it felt right. Sure enough, about 4.5 minutes into the third, Jason Ryznar and Moss were digging for the puck behind the CC net. Ryznar came away with it, moved in front of the goal and put away the game-winner. –Geoff

Michigan 3 - 2 Colorado College (1996). It was on like at noon on a Saturday on ESPN as I was finishing up my senior year of high school. It was a Saturday and I knew Michigan was doing well because I had seen the loop of Mike Legg's goal played in perpetuity on SportsCenter during the previous week. I don't even have to say which Mike Legg goal, you know the one. Michigan was riding a hot netminder in sophomore Marty Turco, and the scoring of a pair of guys with the same initials, Brendan Morrison and Bill Muckalt. Michigan is in the Maize unis, and Colorado College, a school I had never heard of, is giving them fits. It's back and forth, up and down, a defensive struggle (only eight shots were taken in the first period between the two teams. I don't remember if this had anything to do with the less than stellar ice at the Coliseum, it's been a while.) But then it happens, in overtime, sort of out of nowhere, going top shelf on a falling CC goalie at the 3:35 mark of overtime to seal the deal. Michigan wins its eighth national title, and their first since 1964. I'm a fan for life and I know I want season tickets for Yost when I get there next year. I get my first Michigan jersey from M Den, and the rest is history. –Craig

NCAA Hockey Previews: Northeast Regional

We started posting these by regional yesterday, so today's are the last two. All the regional previews are compiled in a handy PDF here (205K).

Northeast Regional – Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, NH

University of New Hampshire Wildcats
UNH logo

Who Are We? The Wildcats! Unlike certain other sports, New Hampshire is the lone team in this year's tournament calling themselves the Wildcats and only one of two in all of Division I hockey. The most popular mascot? Four teams (Michigan Tech, Northeastern, St. Cloud State, and UConn) call themselves the Huskies.

Get The Picture. Famous UNH alumni include novelist John Irving, actor Blanchard Ryan (of Open Water fame) and Craig's favorite, actor Mike O'Malley of Yes, Dear and an eponymous sitcom which was cancelled after two episodes.

Miami University RedHawks
Miami logo

They're a Bit Pedantic About That. Miami University is a bit touchy about that other Miami, as they've been around since 1809 and feel they've earned it. The first line of their Wikipedia page states that it is often "colloquially and incorrectly" referred to as "Miami of Ohio", so that about sums it up.

Harrison Wouldn't Wear A Helmet Either. Miami is one of only four schools to produce both a president and a Super Bowl-winning quarterback (the others being Michigan, Stanford, and the Naval Academy). Their alumnus Benjamin Harrison (not the Harrison that died after 30 days in office) is one of the mostly forgotten presidents of the late 19th century. Ben Roethlisberger left Miami after his junior season to declare for the NFL draft.

Boston College Eagles
BC logo

The 700 Club. Coach Jerry York is the leader among all active coaches, besting cross-town rival Jack Parker of BU. However, many of his 749 wins at the start of this season came not with BC, but with Bowling Green and Clarkson, so Parker is the leader by a longshot for wins at a single school.

NBC. Both SNL's Nancy Walls and Amy Poehler are alumnae of Boston College. Walls, who's married to Steve Carrell, has also been featured on the Daily Show and as Michael Scott's girlfriend/real estate agent on The Office. Poehler (married to Will Arnett) has been part of the Upright Citizens Brigade and did some excellent work as an RA on Undeclared ("We don't have judgment, we just...have pizza").

St. Lawrence Saints
St. Lawrence logo

Viggo the Carpathian. Or rather, the Cantonese. Nestled way upstate in Canton, NY, St. Lawrence counts among its alumni actor/poet/musician/Aragorn Viggo Mortensen. Apparently the university has a talent for producing stars of epic movies, as Kirk Douglas attended class somewhat earlier in the century.

Hockey's Cradle of Coaches? As a player, Ron Mason took St. Lawrence all the way to the finals of the NCAA tournament back in 1961, where they lost to Denver by a painful 12-2. Mike Keenan is another Saints product, and we hear he's still looking for work somewhere. In the early '80's a certain Mike McShane guided the Saints, but we're pretty sure he's not the guy from Whose Line...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Whatever This Is: Hockey Christmas

Craig:  Welcome to WTI, boys and girls...
Geoff:  Tomorrow the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey tournament begins.
Craig:  It's like hockey Christmas!
Geoff:  Michigan doesn't actually begin play until Saturday night, but other Regionals action is on tap. However, we don't really care about that crap on this site.
Craig:  We're acknowledging it, but that's it
Geoff:  There's no way around it, but the Wolverines have an impressively difficult draw in this year's tournament.
Steve:  Yep, in Denver in the same pool as Minnesota and North Dakota
Geoff:  They open up against North Dakota, one of the hottest (if not the hottest) teams in the country.
Craig:  Rated #7 in the country
Geoff:  But they're #9 in the PairWise, so they get a #3 seed.
Craig:  I do want to say that as tough a draw as it is, I have some confidence for Michigan going in, but that said, it all comes down to Billy Sauer.
Geoff:  Sauer's been good, but he did have the one mistake Saturday night that became the game-winner for ND.
Craig:  I think it's interesting that Notre Dame was able to limit Michigan to just one goal, but they did so by playing ugly, ugly hockey. Hockey that makes small children weep and ask plaintively "Why are you trapping?!?"
Geoff:  I hate watching them play that game. It was like Oilers-Wings last year, just brutal, brutal stuff.
Craig:  Yes, and that's the thing, in a tight game, we saw that it was a small mistake that became a huge mistake. Hopefully Sauer and the D all took something from it.
Craig:  But I don't see NoDak having the right personnel to pull off that kind of style. Especially because a lot of that is reliant on David Brown's continued excellence in net.
Geoff:  I don't think North Dakota sees the need to play like that. It's not their game. Whereas ND all year has been about limiting the shots that get to Brown, letting him stop them all, then pouncing on mistakes in the other zone.
Craig:  Which means that Michigan, will, hopefully, be able to play its game. But they will also need to work on limiting NoDak's chances
Craig:  I do think it will be interesting to have no WCHA or CCHA refs in the Regional
Geoff:  Having no CCHA refs may be a good thing. Shegos was frickin' brutal in the final. The second period saw a ridiculous number of trips to the box, especially by one Jack Johnson.
Craig:  Shegos, why? That's all I can ask.
Geoff:  I think Jack Johnson said something about his mom.
Craig:  Wow, I do think that is the only way you can slow down JMFJ
Geoff:  I'd be willing to put that down to just the one night, except that for the past couple of years his penalty calling has been almost as bad.
Craig:  I wonder if that is as much about points of emphasis as anything
Craig:  But, back to Denver, can any team really feel comfortable in this region?
Craig:  North Dakota probably wishes that they had anyone other than Michigan, and I am sure Minnesota, having been asked about Holy Cross dozens of times this week, is making sure they treat Air Force as if they were actually bringing missiles to the game.
Craig:  Plus, I think there might be some pro-USAFA folks in Denver, because really, I believe it's a very hard thing to cheer AGAINST one of our service academies.
Geoff:  Notre Dame finds a way. We all know they hate freedom.
Craig:  True. True. Plus, it's not like the Gophers are much beloved in that part of WCHA country
Craig:  In all of the previews I have looked at, the consensus on Michigan/North Dakota is, well, you pick, we can't.
Craig:  Which makes me hope it will be a good game, but as a Michigan fan, I don't want a good game, I want six goals in the first for Michigan and then putting it in cruise.
Geoff:  They have the ability to beat anyone in the country. It's putting all the pieces together for four straight games that makes it so difficult.
Geoff:  With the way Sauer's been playing and all the weapons we have on offense, it's a stalemate. I'll give a slight edge to North Dakota for having a lot of recent tournament success and having just absolutely pwn3d the WCHA, the toughest league in college hockey, the entire new year.
Craig:  I think I have to agree. As much as I want to believe, for as much as I will be cheering for them, I don't know how any Michigan fan can be objective and go in to this game with a lot of confidence.
Geoff:  Actually, this might come down to our ability to defend UND's top line without ending up in the box. UND's #1 line has 150 points between them. Stopping them goes a long, long way to winning the battle. This sounds like a job for JMFJ.
Craig:  You know, this looks like a job for Chris Summers. Or someone similar. I just get the feeling, in a game like this, it's getting a goal from an unexpected source that can be critical.
Geoff:  These things often do come down to that.
Craig:  I think it speaks volumes that we're sort of stuck on cliches.
Geoff:  I think it means we should pack it in tonight.
Craig:  I agree. Enjoy the games, and Geoff's great work on the previews and reviews.
Geoff:  Briefly: Tubby Smith took the Minnesota job. It's puzzling and insane and it means Michigan is down to the #2 position available at best. It could break open a coaching logjam as guys move a step up. And we won't know much of anything until Bill Martin speaks. That's all we have on that. Goodnight, everyone.

NCAA Hockey Previews: West Regional

Seriously, we're really excited about the NCAA hockey tournament. Deadspin did a preview of all 64 teams in the basketball edition, so in that tradition I offer you these incredibly uninformative previews of the teams in the hockey tournament. We'll be posting them by regional today and tomorrow. All the regional previews are compiled in a handy PDF here (205K).

West Regional – Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
MN logo

We Call It an Herb Because There's an H in It. Herb Brooks, coach of the "Miracle on Ice" team won the Gophers their first 3 NCAA titles in the '70's. A former Gopher player himself and two-time Olympian, Brooks was killed in a car accident in 2004.

In State. In a not uncommon situation for Minnesota hockey, every player but one on this year's Gopher squad hails from that state. In fact, over 1/3 of the entire WCHA's roster comes out of Minnesota.

University of Michigan Wolverines
Michigan logo

Someday We'll Find It, the HSR Connection. Current Michigan captain Matt Hunwick's uncle was my 8th grade history teacher, former defenseman Eric Werner was the brother of one of my high school classmates, and former backup netminder Kevin O'Malley was my eye doctor's son. Current defenseman Mark Mitera was a student of Craig's in high school.

In 2007, There'd Be More "Regina" Puns. Coach Red Berenson grew up near the provincial capital on the Saskatchewan prairie. His Regina Pats juniors coach took the head coaching job at Denver and recruited him, but Berenson didn't think DU's academics were strong enough. Another Saskatchewan native already at Michigan convinced coach Al Renfrew that Berenson was worth getting, resulting in Red getting his first plane ride and the first free recruiting trip ever offered by Michigan hockey. Getting Berenson helped Michigan pull in 14 other Saskatchewan-born players from 1958 to 1964.

University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux
Sort of racist logo

Ralph Engelstad Loved Nazis (Or at Least Their Memorabilia). The namesake of UND's arena was fined $1.5M by the Nevada Gaming Control Board for throwing birthday parties for Adolf Hitler in 1986 and 1988, including bartenders with "Adolf Hitler – European Tour – 1939-1945" t-shirts. His Nazi memorabilia collection featured a painting of himself in Nazi uniform, captioned "to Adolf from Ralphie".

Ralph Engelstad Loved His "Hostile or Abusive" Mascot. Engelstad got his name on the building because it was his money that built the $104M arena. Construction was suspended for two months when Engelstad found out that the university was considering changing its mascot and logo. In the end, he extracted a promise from the state Board of Education that the school couldn't change its mascot and integrated over 2,000 Sioux heads into the arena's design. With the NCAA's ban on "hostile or abusive" mascots, North Dakota is likely to face sanctions, as two of the three Sioux nations actively oppose the "Fighting Sioux" mascot. If appeals are exhausted, North Dakota would be ineligible for postseason play until it changes mascots, and "The Ralph" wouldn't be able to host NCAA events unless all (2,000!) Sioux logos were covered up.

United States Air Force Academy Falcons
Air Force logo

Stretching the Definition. The Air Force Academy's Falcons used to compete in College Hockey America before departing this season for the now-nominal Atlantic Hockey, so as to be in the same conference as Army. We hear they get a discount on airfare. Navy stands opposed to frozen water on principle and does not field a varsity squad.

Well, I Suppose It Worked Out Then. Army and Air Force met in Atlantic Hockey's league final, the first time two service academies had ever met in any championship game. After a scoreless first period, Air Force rolled to a 6-1 victory. In securing the conference's automatic bid, they also became the first service academy to advance to the NCAA hockey tournament.

Top 9 Tournament Games In Michigan Hockey: Part 2

We're attempting to put together a list of the top 9 – one for each Michigan national championship – NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament games we've witnessed, either on TV or in person. This list is presented in no particular order. Without further adieu, Part 2

Michigan 4 - 2 St. Cloud State (2002). I remember watching this game on TV in my Alice Lloyd dorm room, because I didn't have the cash to buy Regionals tickets. We jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first, but St. Cloud carried the play in the second and we spent the first seven minutes of the third killing off penalties, including two 5 on 3 stretches. First it became a 3-2 game, then the Huskies appeared to get the equalizer, but it was waved off for an (entirely irrelevant) skate in the crease. I remember the momentum turned when one of our guys (Komisarek?) just absolutely annihilated their best player with a massive open-ice hit and Yost went nuts. The guy got right back up, and we might have even taken a penalty for it, but it changed the entire tenor of the game and Michigan started to attack more. After we weathered those short-handed stretches, Dwight Helminen buried the final goal off a Milan Gajic rebound. St. Cloud ended up taking penalties late in the third to kill any chance of a comeback. –Geoff

Michigan 5 - 3 Denver (2002). The follow-up game was even more insane. A tense, scoreless first period led to 5 goals in the first 12.5 minutes of the second, with Denver leading 3-2. Nobody could get anything on the board for the rest of the period, though there were chances to be had. Eric Werner of all people tied it up about 5:00 into the third on a redirection from Cammlleri. Blackburn stood on his head at various times in the third, while Michigan had trouble getting close enough for good chances on the other end. With a minute and a half left in the game, Cammalleri knocked the puck away from an attacker in our own zone, setting up Ortmeyer and Nystrom to execute a perfect 2-on-1, with Orts getting the goal and Nystrom an empty-netter later to cap it. –Geoff

Michigan 2 - 3 Boston University (1997). It's a little remembered fact, but it is true, Thursday, March 27 at 7:00 pm was a hellacious harmonic convergence of Michigan sports. On one television it was this game, part of the 50th anniversary of the NCAA Hockey Championships, an eagerly anticipated showdown between Michigan and BU. Michigan, the defending national champion and one of the best teams in the country, having come into the Final Four (it would not be called the Frozen Four until 1999) off a 7-4 pummeling of the Gophers at Grand Rapids. The Wolverines were led by eventual Hobey Baker winner Brendan Morrison, and junior netminder Marty Turco. BU was the #2 out of the East, appearing in their fifth straight Frozen Four, and their seventh in eight years. On television #2, it's Michigan vs. Florida State in the finals of the NIT (You may not remember this as 1997 was erased from the collective history of Michigan basketball, but the game was actually played). On television #3, it's the replay of the previous night's Detroit Red Wings/Colorado Avalanche game, a 6-5 OT win by the Wings better known as Fight Night at the Joe, when Claude Lemieux was pummeled into the Turtle Position by Darren McCarty. So you'll forgive me if my memories of this game aren't the clearest. I do remember thinking Michigan had felt invincible all season, and looking suddenly human at the hands of the Terriers. I remember thinking, just one goal, we just need one goal, just one goal. And I remember thinking that this is why the game isn't played on paper, because BU played better than Michigan that day and went to the final. –Craig

NCAA Hockey Previews: Midwest Regional

Seriously, we're really excited about the NCAA hockey tournament. Deadspin did a preview of all 64 teams in the basketball edition, so in that tradition I offer you these incredibly uninformative previews of the teams in the hockey tournament. We'll be posting them by regional today and tomorrow.

Midwest Regional – Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
ND logo

You've Come A Long Way, Baby. This year, Notre Dame won its first CCHA championship. The Irish first joined the league in 1981, when they jumped ship from the WCHA with Michigan, Michigan State, and Michigan Tech (Tech would later jump back to the WCHA). After the 1982-83 season, ND left the league, dropping hockey altogether. It was re-established as a non-scholarship varsity sport the next season and the team operated as an independent, for a while forming an ad-hoc league with Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska-Fairbanks, and American International. Notre Dame returned to the CCHA fold in 1992, agreeing to make hockey a scholarship sport once more and secretly paying the conference entrance fee (Thanks to Mike B. for the correction).

Say Ya To Da UP, Eh. Notre Dame's coach is Jeff Jackson, who won a pair of NCAA titles at Lake Superior State University up in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. Rejected school mottos there include "Your Gateway to Northern Ontario" and "The High School After High School".

Michigan State Spartans
MSU logo

This Is How You Know You've Been Around Awhile. The CCHA's championship tournament trophy was renamed in 2001 after current MSU athletic director Ron Mason while he was still the hockey team's head coach. Mason hoisted his namesake cup in its first year of existence, but couldn't repeat in his final year behind the bench, losing in the 2002 finals to Michigan. Mason's 924 victories are still the all-time mark among all collegiate coaches.

Say Ya To Da UP, Pt. II. MSU's current head coach, Rick Comley, also made his bones in the UP. In 1991, his Northern Michigan University Wildcats won an NCAA hockey championship of their own by outlasting Boston University in a wild 8-7 triple-overtime game.

Boston University Terriers
BU logo

Al Michaels's Finest Hour. The only East Coast players on the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team (of "Miracle on Ice" fame) came from BU, including goalie Jim Craig and left wing Mike Eruzione, whose 20-foot slapshot with ten seconds minutes left in regulation gave the US their 3-2 win over the Soviets in the semifinal.

Old Man Parker. Head coach Jack Parker is in his 34th season behind the bench for BU. He started the year with 724 victories to his name, all with the Terriers, the most victories a coach in D-I has recorded at a single school.

University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers
UAH logo

Hoc-key? UAH is the southernmost hockey program in NCAA Division I and the only one in the former Confederacy. It will formally host the 2012 Frozen Four, though the tournament will take place in Tampa, FL.

The Peenemünde of the South. Legend has it that UAH's program only exists because of Wernher Von Braun. The ex-Nazi rocket scientist was sent to Huntsville to work on American missiles, and its rink is named in his honor. In 1975, UAH fielded its first club hockey team, known as "Von Braun's Bullies". The program eventually graduated to varsity status, playing in Division II (where they won two national titles) and now Division I.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Top 9 Tournament Games In Michigan Hockey: Part 1

We're attempting to put together a list of the top 9 – one for each Michigan national championship – NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament games we've witnessed, either on TV or in person. This list is presented in no particular order. Without further adieu, Part 1

Michigan 3 - 2 Boston College (1998). Here's what I remember about this game. Hurrying back with the rest of the Michigan quiz bowl team to watch the game in one of our Nashville hotel rooms. I remember the breathless anticipation of every shot and how Boston College was just taking it to us on every shift late in the third and into overtime, but Marty was a rock. I remembered the disappointment of the previous year and wondered if it would be yet another let down, same city, different school. I remember one of my friend criticizing Michigan for having the puck in deep behind BC's net, wondering "What are you going to do with it there?", only to have the puck come out to Josh Langfeld who scored, and another friend saying "THAT!" It was a great moment and great fun, and it's been far too long since we had that happen. –Craig

Michigan 2 - 3 Boston College (2004). Best game I've ever seen Michigan play and lose. Al Montoya made 42 (!) saves and kept the team alive, while Michigan could only muster 17 shots on goal. BC was the better team all day, especially in the second period, but Michigan made the most of its opportunities and carried a 2-1 lead into the third period. In the third, there was an insane 9:39 stretch without a stoppage of play, with both teams getting opportunities. Finally, Michigan took an icing call. BC capitalized on it immediately, turning a rebound off Montoya into a goal. BC almost ended it with 37.5 seconds left in regulation, but Montoya made a great save to keep it even. In overtime, a freshman TJ Hensick was so, so close to scoring the biggest goal of his career, first firing one shot blocked by BC's goalie and then having his follow-up just kicked out of the way by the goalie's toe. Halfway through the extra frame BC's Ben Eaves got the game-winner, playing through dehydration and cramping. Montoya made two saves on Eaves's teammates, but couldn't stop him from batting the rebound out of the air and into the net. –Geoff

Michigan 2 - 1 Maine (2003). Michigan wins at Yost 2-1 in a great goalie duel where no one could score. Tightest game I've ever seen in college hockey. Neither team had scored after two, but it wasn't through lack of effort. Anyone would have been forgiven for thinking this one was going to end 1-0 somehow, but when Eric Nystrom scored 6:47 into the third it just cranked up the tension. Maine threw everything they had against the Wolverines and it finally paid off with under 4:00 to go. Martin Kariya (Paul's little brother) found Colin Shields and Shields poked a goal past Montoya. A desperate struggle ensued, and it looked like overtime was imminent, but Maine took a holding call with only 2:00 left on the board. Michigan managed to put a loose puck in traffic in front of Maine's net, where Jed Ortmeyer found it and buried it for the game-winner. The Wolverines withstood the Maine attack for the remaining 1:34 to claim victory. This is another one of the games the Legend of Al Montoya is founded on, as he made 34 saves and a huge number of them were on good scoring opportunities. Michigan went on to win the regional final against Colorado College in a game Craig reminds me had Yost "as intense as I have ever felt it in the arena, which I think speaks volumes..." In the Frozen Four, the Wolverines took the eventual champion Gophers to double overtime before falling. –Geoff

General Howdy and the MMB

Hi all. I'm Jeremy, a new contributing member to this blog. I liked the concept of this site from the beginning, and after regularly visiting, commenting, and badgering the fine founders, they invited me to contribute. So hello!

Brief introduction: I played bass trombone in the MMB from 2002-2006 and was in the hockey pep band each year as well. While I can't take full credit for it, because it was a collaborative effort, I was instrumental in getting the Monty Python show on the field and wrote some of the script for it. My contributions here will probably be band-related; I do closely follow the sports, but I don't know enough of the nitty gritty that can't already be found all over the interwebs. (Band-related and biased, because what kind of Michigan fan would I be if I weren't arrogant and dismissive? For starters, script Ohio is boring, and "Eat Em Up" is a high school cheer.) Now it's time for content with dramatic hyperbole in the title:

Shoes To Fill For 2007!

Even though it's the off-season, the Michigan Marching Band staff are busy conducting a job search of their own. A few weeks ago director Jamie Nix announced that he will be pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of Miami. Part of the reason for his departure is that his wife is in her medical school residency down there. She was last year, too, but he said they would "try things out for a year."

Before Nix, both of the previous directors were only around for two years, so the program was plagued by instability since the early 90s. Nix brought a youthful vitality -- he was 29 -- to the position seemingly unmatched by his predecessors. While he had no(t much?) directorial experience, he had enough raw talent to compensate. He wrote shows that covered the whole spectrum, from crowd-pleasing songs that catered to the students and alumni to an appropriate mix of classical shows to upstage opposing bands. And of course, he had the courage to attempt a skit show for the first time in 20 years (which I must say was an astounding success).

The job was posted and applications were accepted until last week. Director of Bands Prof. Michael Haithcock will be reviewing the candidates and narrowing the field. Two years ago when they hired a new assistant director, they had an open session in Revelli Hall where he conducted a small ensemble from the music school and then had a Q&A session with whoever wanted to attend. It sounded like this process will be similar.

What will the new director be like? Haithcock said they're searching for someone with connections to the program, who has either marched in the band or been on staff at some point. They want a Michigan Man (or woman!) who will keep the fine traditions and not come in and change things around to fit their own goals.

I can't fault Nix at all for leaving. He clearly loved his job here, but it's a decision he had to make in the interest of his family. I do hope they find someone who leads with a similar style. Even if he's not as young, the students enjoyed having an approachable figure in front of them, and could easily be put off by a stodgy older person.

Of course, the band is bigger than one man. Even if 2007 proves to be a difficult year of transition and adjustment for the members, the end product will be the same excellence we have all come to expect. The members will produce nothing less. It doesn't matter who is on the ladder; I just hope he conducts The Victors at a more reasonable tempo.

Rick Comley Is Making Sense

It's the Wednesday before the NCAA hockey tournament starts, so get ready for a flurry of posts, because we love this time of year. We've put together a list of the top 9 games we've personally seen Michigan play in the NCAA tournament (one for each national championship the program has won) and we'll be posting three a day until Friday evening. Look for some other new content as well (hint: It may involve Werner Von Braun AND Mike Eruzione!).

For now, USCHO has coaches' reactions to the NCAA brackets, including a quote from Red, but it's MSU coach Rick Comley with the most painful bit of information:

"As late as 11 p.m. [Saturday] night, we were headed to Denver, but apparently the committee changed its mind and went strictly with the numbers."

Ouch. Also, Rick Comley's ideas are intriguing to me and I would like to subscribe to his newsletter:

"What I would like to see is a play-in game [between the CHA and Atlantic Hockey]. The CHA should not have an automatic bid under any circumstance whatsoever. They should have a play-in opportunity."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Whatever This Is?: Emergency Session!

Craig B.: Welcome to an emergency session of Whatever This Is!

Craig B.: Yes, we can have emergency sessions!

Geoff Z.: That's what happens when a major coaching shakeup goes down over the weekend.

Craig B.: Indeed...And yet, from what I have gathered, it maybe should have only happened today

Craig B.: But you can't always control the news cycle

Geoff Z.: Really? You heard they were trying to hold it until after the weekend?

Craig B.: I have read implications in various MSM columnists that indicate that because Bill Martin was out at the Palace for the Wrestling National Championships, he didn't want to handle things until Monday. I disagree with that though, because Martin is smart enough to know, if he does it, it's not going to stay under wraps

Geoff Z.: Right. A weekend meeting with Amaker's going to result in phone calls to both parties and a generous helping of inference even if both issue denials.

Geoff Z.: You saw the letter from Amaker I posted earlier?

Craig B.: But that really isn't the point. The point is, after six seasons as the head coach, Tommy Amaker was let go by the University of Michigan.

Geoff Z.: Regardless of what Jay Bilas wants to say, the Michigan job is the top one available in the country right now.

Craig B.: And I have to say, that is a really classy move on Tommy's part. I don't think that anyone can say that Tommy has ever been anything but classy and "a good guy." The problem is, this is a results oriented industry, and the results weren't there.

Craig B.: Right now. It's a Big Ten job, it's a name school, and it's low pressure, high celing.

Craig B.: Right now Geoff, wouldn't we be happy with seeing Saturday or Sunday of the first weekend of the Big Dance?

Geoff Z.: We want results, but in this case "results" = an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Craig B.: It's not a huge thing to ask.

Craig B.: Now, here's my one issue before we talk about candidates

Geoff Z.: There should be several coaches available that can provide that at Michigan if not in Year 1, than by Year 2.

Geoff Z.: OK. So who's your #1 candidate?

Craig B.: Is Michigan's issue really one of facilities? Or is it that coaches know that Michigan is football first, second, and probably fourth when it comes to athletics? Or is it something else? Is it scandal, the past, some kind of other thing?

Craig B.: You're not going to like it.

Craig B.: Stan Heath

Geoff Z.: You're not entirely wrong.

Geoff Z.: Heath is obviously a guy who can take a program to the tournament.

Craig B.: I'll explain my reasons thusly:

Craig B.: 1). He's a Detroit guy, went to DCC, played at Eastern, coached at State, took Kent on a run (with Antonio Gates IIRC), and has gotten better every year with the Razorbacks.

Craig B.: 2). He isn't popular in Fayetteville, but his style is not what Razorback fans like.

Craig B.: 3). His style is well suited to the Big Ten and he is someone who knows the Midwest and knows the pressure of coaching in a Big Six conference.

Geoff Z.: He's taken Arkansas to the tournament, which is decidedly un-sexy as a name school, although they definitely have a facilities advantage.

Geoff Z.: My problem is that I think that he may have reached his ceiling.

Craig B.: And that is a good counter. I don't know if you're right, but I don't know it's right to find out.

Craig B.: Who is your top candidate

Geoff Z.: Well, I think you have to take Tubby Smith if he's available.

Craig B.: OK, let me say he is my #1 choice as well, but I don't think he'll be available.

Geoff Z.: He comes with a big price tag attached (and not just his base salary -- He'd have facilities demands, and he would probably make Lloyd's salary go up too)

Geoff Z.: You take him if you can get him.

Craig B.: Which will in turn, make Lloyd's successors price tag go up

Geoff Z.: I have a feeling Tubby's situation at UK may be much like Lloyd’s last season – a media fabrication/contriversy where people are unhappy, but not about to fire a proven winner

Craig B.: But Geoff, I know I don't even believe this, but don't you think that Kentucky basketball fans take UK Basketball a little more seriously than we Wolverine fans take football?

Geoff Z.: I think the pressure exerted on UK by Louisville is bigger than MSU's on Michigan (at least recently), but I think it's a solid enough analogy.

Craig B.: And also, we have four pro sports teams to focus on, where as UK has, well, UK basketball.

Geoff Z.: More reasonably, I think Todd Lickliter would be a good get for Michigan.

Craig B.: But that isn't the point. The pressure on Tubby is tremendous, and it's probably unfair, just as it was last season with Coach Carr.

Geoff Z.: Butler’s not quite a no-name school, but it’s not at the front of the line when IU and Purdue are in-state and Champaign’s not a far drive, to say nothing of Notre Dame, DePaul, or anyone else in the neighborhood. I think it’s clear that Lickliter gets the most out of his players, something sure to pay dividends with Harris, Legion, and (hopefully still) Grady coming to town.

Craig B.: I agree. I like Butler's style of play, I like Butler's tenacity, and the willingness to make the tough schedule.

Geoff Z.: I don't know if Lickliter would view Michigan as a stepping stone, but bringing the program back would be good enough for me.

Craig B.: Can I say this...Despite my dad growing up across town concurrently with Lon Kruger, I am not a fan of him coming in here.

Craig B.: If what we want to avoid is another scandal, I don't get a good feeling about a guy who never stays at a job very long.

Geoff Z.: Reasons? Or just a feeling?

Craig B.: It's nothing proven, it's just a hunch

Geoff Z.: That's fair enough.

Craig B.: I'll be totally honest though...

Craig B.: I don't know enough about college basketball to know who the "get" guy is. So I am going to trust that if Bill Martin is the hoops junkie he is claimed to be by sources, he'll make the right call. Because he needs to put his stamp on something.

Craig B.: And if it means building a practice facility, so be it.

Craig B.: If it means reupholstering the seats in Crisler Arena so they look like 1990s vintage as opposed to the 1967 originals, so be it.

Geoff Z.: I think the practice facility will come sooner rather than later, because that's the easy part of upgrading the facilities.

Geoff Z.: And if we score an exciting new hire who brings a whiff of success, the donations will look after themselves.

Craig B.: If it means paying Coach Carr a little more to reassure him he's Lord High Poobah of the Athletics Campus, so be it.

Craig B.: But Mr. Martin needs to make the right call here.

Craig B.: He's going to have to hire a football coach sooner than later, (and probably a hockey coach), and we need the right guys.

Craig B.: So let's start with a small step

Geoff Z.: Agreed. Given all that Maize 'n' Brew and MGoBlog have been working up, I've got some impressions of a few more names that have been floating around.

Geoff Z.: Larry Brown Syndrome is the reason I don't like Ernie Kent.

Geoff Z.: Chris Lowery (Southern Illinois)

Geoff Z.: Southern Illinois isn’t a name school, but it should be. They’ve consistently made the tournament since before Lowery got there, so I don’t know how to totally evaluate the job he’s done in his shortish tenure. They did just kick Virginia Tech’s teeth in, though

Geoff Z.: Tony Bennett (Washington State) -- Made his mark using dad’s mind-bending defense to send the Cougars’ moribund program to the big dance as a 3 seed before losing in the second round to Vandy. It’s his first year as a head coach so there’s a lot of risk here, but who knows?

Craig B.: Will he leave his heart in Pullman?

Geoff Z.: Tony Bennett has got to be ever lazy column writer's dream-come-true. Mitch Albom is practically foaming at the mouth at this prospect.

Craig B.: Wait, that implies Mitch still writes...oh, I see your point

Geoff Z.: The "No Way In Hell Is This Actually Happening" Camp -- Bruce Pearl, Bill Gillispie, Rudy Tomjanovich, Rick Majerus.

Geoff Z.: None of these guys will end up at Michigan. Pearl and Gillispie may not be at traditional powers, but they’re winning at programs where they’re beloved. Why exchange one gig where you play second fiddle to the football team for another? And I’d love to have Rudy T, but he’s got health issues to contend with. Majerus is a heck of a coach, but I’d have to stop saying mean things about Charlie Weiss’s weight. His health problems may rank above Rudy’s, and I really don’t want a coach dying on us.

Craig B.: Here's my horrifying question

Craig B.: Could Bruce Pearl handle that the LOUD jacket for Michigan would be a Navy Blazer, like he's going sailing?

Craig B.: Pearl's third fiddle in Knoxville, let's not deny this

Geoff Z.: Ha! You know he's showing up at a hockey game to dance with the band.

Craig B.: With Jack Johnson's dad?

Geoff Z.: You live in the lovely fantasy world where Jack's back for another year, I see.

Geoff Z.: If Pearl gives up Tennessee to come here, I guess why not throw that in too.

Craig B.: No, I am waiting for KMFJ

Geoff Z.: Ah, Johnson the Even Younger.

Craig B.: My dad would never wear a CMFB shirt for me. My mom might, but she hates the f-bomb.

Geoff Z.: That's why the Kings haven't signed you yet.

Craig B.: Touche. We should wrap this up, as it makes a perfect segue to our regular WTI on Thursday at 10. You need to conserve battery power

Geoff Z.: Right.

Geoff Z.: Finally my "No"s: Reggie Theus – He doesn’t have the resume yet, especially one not earned on the backs of JUCOs and transfers

Craig B.: Agreed, even if he did do really well with that high school team on Hang Time

Geoff Z.: Karl Hobbs -- Another guy who I think has reached his ceiling.

Geoff Z.: Finally, Tom Crean – Michigan doesn’t need a guy who weeps in front of his Izzo shrine the night before he has to play MSU. Getting bounced early in the tournament seems to be his ceiling in years not featuring Dwyane Wade

Geoff Z.: OK, I've gone as far as I can here.

Craig B.: So basically, we know what we know, and the rest plays itself out.

Craig B.: Basically, MONITORING

Geoff Z.: Everybody's favorite activity, sure.

Craig B.: I hereby close this emergency session of WTI. Join us Thursday for our regular time and session. It's an all hockey edition, unless it isn't.

Geoff Z.: That's it for tonight, everyone. Thanks for reading.

A Letter From Tommy Amaker

The U of M Club of Detroit today sent out this missive from Tommy Amaker:


I just want to sincerely thank you for the opportunity that I was given to be the basketball coach at this tremendous university. I will always be grateful for it.

I truly loved teaching and coaching at the University of Michigan. I loved representing you, and I wish you all well.

Please continue to support the team and the new coach--they need you and deserve you!

Thank you so much for everything, and GO BLUE!



Classy guy. I wish it would've worked out with him and Michigan, but I don't think another year would have done either any good.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Gabe Watson Takes Some Plays Payments Off

Nice job, Gabe Watson. You buy a new Dodge Charger, your high school coach co-signs, and then you just stop making payments, sticking him with the bill. Even though you're on the roster of the Arizona Cardinals, who we're told are still an NFL franchise. Lloyd Carr wishes you still had some eligibility left, just so he could bench you some more. (via Deadspin and the Fox 2 Problem Causers)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Amaker Gone

Tommy Amaker has been fired. The Free Press has him walking away with $900,000 after spending six seasons behind Michigan's bench. More tomorrow, since both Craig and I are at the CCHA Finals tonight.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Whatever This Is: The Shortcut

Craig:  Welcome to WTI boys and girls.
Craig:  We have a veritable buffet of topics to discuss tonight, so let's get it started
Geoff:  I don't know about you, but I'm always excited at this time of year.
Craig:  Oh I am as well, there's nothing better than this weekend
Geoff:  We're speaking, of course, of NCAA hockey playoffs.
Craig:  CCHA playoffs are down to the final four at the Joe this weekend
Geoff:  Michigan's a lock for the NCAA tournament, but they've got a lot to play for, seeding-wise.
Geoff:  And it's always good to go in with some momentum, let alone the hardware.
Craig:  In the early game, it's upstart Lake State, hot off their dual upsets, including last weekend's sweep of Miami against top seeded Notre Dame
Geoff:  They possess that most dangerous of things: A goalie on a hot streak.
Craig:  You can ride a hot goalie in the playoffs. It would be a stunner to see them keep winning, but you never know
Geoff:  Despite them finishing something like eighth in the conference, netminder Jeff Jakaitis still pops up on the outskirts of Hobey Baker discussions.
Craig:  In the late game, it's the thing that the people who sell tickets for this thing pray for: Michigan State/Michigan
Geoff:  You said it, Craig.
Geoff:  Michigan/MSU puts people in the seats.
Craig:  The last Michigan/MSU game at the Joe was one of the most maddening and entertaining games I have seen all year.
Craig:  Michigan slept through the first 30, woke up and came all the way back for the tie.
Geoff:  I watched it in the middle of the woods in Gaylord with my brother and my (MSU student) sister.
Geoff:  When State put that third goal in the net, I thought we were done.
Geoff:  By the end of the overtime, she was thrilled to keep the tie.
Craig:  It was a complete momentum flip-around on that game.
Craig:  Strictly from a Michigan standpoint, I think last weekend showed us some good things
Craig:  Like getting 8 goals on Saturday night
Geoff:  You love seeing your team just absolutely lay the hammer down on inferior opposition.
Craig:  Agreed, and TJ getting the hat trick in his last home game was not only a nice touch, but also can't hurt the Hobey talk
Craig:  Now, let's talk about the stakes this weekend
Craig:  It is my understanding that Michigan should be a three, and is likely slated to be sent to you out in West Michigan GZ
Geoff:  That's the hope, anyway. It'll drive the attendance way up.
Craig:  But, should Michigan pull the sweep, especially if coupled with a NoDak loss, we could see them get a #2
Craig:  Could this be a strange case where Michigan's actually almost better off as the three
Craig:  I mean, they seem to be on the 8/9 overall cusp, which means that it's just a matter of jersey color?
Geoff:  It's possible. But one thing that would happen, in theory, is that it could take us out of Minnesota's bracket.
Craig:  INCH has us in Notre Dame's bracket though
Craig:  Which, if we beat them at the Joe, I think we could go into the game with some confidence
Geoff:  Yeah. That's the difference of opinion between USCHO and INCH.
Craig:  I'd worry that GR is relatively close to South Bend, but the Domers do not exactly have the hockey following
Craig:  Basically, what we know is that a lot of things can still happen, and winning is what will make things better.
Craig:  So we'll see what happens this weekend
Craig:  Now, on to a more frustrating topic: Coach Carr's announcements in re: Spring Practice today
Geoff:  Since I don't follow any message boards, that stuff came out of the blue for me.
Craig:  Agreed. I did not know about the Hart surgery (question, does all surgery on Mike Hart require a cardiologist?) and I had heard rumblings about "the other thing"
Geoff:  The Mike Hart stuff doesn't worry me a whole lot, since we have plenty of time left for him to rehab, but the "other thing" caught me unaware.
Geoff:  Arrington, Butler, and Germany are suspended for spring practice and Carr says it's "possible. Maybe not probable" that they'll return to the team.
Geoff:  Arrington, I think that situation isn't a huge surprise to anyone.
Craig:  And since Coach Carr is being customarily laconic about it, it's hard to read how much he means the statement about "possible, maybe not probable." Is he trying to make it clear to those guys he means business, is he trying to downplay expectations, is he just stating his genuine opinion
Geoff:  I wonder if the "not probable" might be directed straight at Arrington.
Craig:  Well, you know, I think this is Coach using the media to his advantage
Craig:  He knows that this will come back to Arrington. Maybe he is trying to light a fire and say "guess what, I don't think you're gonna do what we asked you to do...prove me wrong" Mar 15 10:20 PM
Craig:  With some guys, that works, with other guys, it won't. I trust that Coach Carr knows his players well enough to know what he is doing here.
Geoff:  It's a strategy he's used before, just in different form (i.e. presenting Crable and others with transfer papers).
Craig:  I guess the positive here is that spring football means that real football is closer than ever
Geoff:  I'm practically setting the countdown timer.
Craig:  On to our next topic, which is a slight divergence from our usual Michigan sports talk
Craig:  It's about the Sudler Award
Geoff:  Yes.
Craig:  Geoff, as a MMB alum, would you explain for our audience?
Geoff:  The Sudler Trophy is given to college marching bands that have made "outstanding contributions to the American way of life"
Geoff:  It was first awarded in 1982, and the first band so honored was our own MMB.
Geoff:  No band can win it more than once, and it's really the highest honor a program can receive.
Craig:  Which, while a little grandiose in its statement, is basically a lifetime achievement award for Division I-A Marching bands
Craig:  Florida A&M being the only exception, but I mean, come on, it's the Marching 100!
Geoff:  This year's honoree is Indiana University's similarly-named Marching Hundred.
Craig:  Indiana is the NINTH Big Ten School to win
Craig:  Which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Nine of the 25 winners are from the Big Ten
Geoff:  Yeah. The Big Ten definitely gets serious respect in the world of college bands.
Craig:  And yet, we learned something very interesting in the research
Geoff:  You pointed this out to me last night, and it bears repeating here. The only Big Ten bands not to have won the Sudler Trophy are Minnesota...and Wisconsin. WISCONSIN.
Geoff:  I've let it be known in this space before that I think the Wisconsin band is overrated, but...c'mon!
Craig:  Wisconsin, beloved by the fans, less beloved by critics and fellow marching bands. I have seen where the Badgers represent the Loud=Good fallacy.
Craig:  It was also pointed out to us though that another popular fan band has not won either
Craig:  The USC band has not won it
Geoff:  They'll have to cry themselves to sleep on their pillows stuffed with money.
Craig:  Just don't break the sunglasses
Craig:  Ready for the big finish?
Geoff:  OK. Here we go...
Craig:  Michigan is hosting the NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Palace this week. Looks like attendance might set a record. Kind of unexpected.
Geoff:  Yeah, I didn't see that one coming.
Craig:  Tickets got on sale for the 2008 Midwest Men's Basketball Regional at Ford Field on Monday. I will not be beating down the door to get those.
Geoff:  Wake me when it's time for the 2010 Frozen Four.
Craig:  Duke lost. This pleases me.
Geoff:  As it does all right-thinking people.
Craig:  Who you got in your Final Four GZ?
Geoff:  Kansas, Florida (hate the team, but don't see anyone beating them), Georgetown, OSU. Kansas wins.
Geoff:  You?
Craig:  Kansas, Wisconsin, Texas A&M and Texas. KU over UT in the final.
Geoff:  I have Wisconsin in one of my brackets, too, just because I'm down on Florida.
Craig:  And, I have this feeling we're forgetting something...
Geoff:  Ahh, yes.
Geoff:  Michigan lost in the NIT tonight to Florida State by a score of 87-66. Their season is over. Let us never speak of this again
Geoff:  Does that about cover it?
Craig:  I think it does. Let us never speak of it again. Until the semis then my friend?
Geoff:  Until then.
Craig:  Thanks for checking out this week's edition of "Whatever This Is". Feel free to peruse our new shop, where you can get hilarious HSR merchandise

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion

If you're a dedicated reader of the Hoover Street Rag (and we do thank you all six of you!), you have probably thought to myself "How do I show my allegiance to this fine, upstanding blog in public? If only there were some form of garment that I could use to tell the world what I read!" Fear not and BEHOLD!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Whatever This Is: Why Being Lonely Is Sometimes Super Awesome

Steve: Good evening all
Geoff: It is a good evening, I'll say.
Craig: Good evening!
Steve: Michigan triumphed over the Golden Gophers today.
Geoff: Yes, yes they did. And by "triumphed" we mean slugged their way through what was, by all accounts, a staggeringly ugly game. A game that went to halftime with a score of 20 to 16. 20 to 16!
Craig: I can't really speak to anything today, but that just LOOKS ugly.
Steve: Same here.
Geoff: I think it was for the best that it was a noon game.
Craig: That was step one, and step three is tournament. Is step 2 beat OSU? Or is it beat OSU and 4/5?
Steve: I thought step 2 was "?"
Craig: Steve, my lack of assurance MAKES it a "???".
Geoff: Personally, I'm just hoping that this was Courtney Sims' bad game for the tourney. Because his line looks terrible. 4 pts? Against Minnesota?
Steve: Sadly my brain has become fixated on the South Park underwear gnomes' business plan.
Geoff: It's sounder than Ford's business model.
Geoff: I have to say, I'm not that optimistic about tomorrow.
Craig: It's hard to beat a team three times in a year. You know, unless it's Minnesota.
Geoff: Yeah, but I don't know that our team can get up for it in the same way they did on Saturday. They faltered down the stretch, but they played hard, tough defense that I haven't really seen from them consistently.
Craig: And unlike Saturday, Ohio State is playing for something. Like the #1 seed.
Craig: And maybe the #1 overall seed.
Steve: Would you say that Michigan's level of play has risen and fallen based on the quality of the oponent?
Geoff: A little. Not to the degree of the football team, but it's there.
Craig: I agree with Geoff on that one.
Craig: It's just a maddening lack of consistency overall
Geoff: They have a tendency to coast whenever they feel like they can.
Geoff: Like today. They were up 16 at one point and let Minnesota come back to within 6, I think.
Steve: Wow.
Geoff: Or the infamous Iowa game.
Geoff: That one they were up something like 17 at one point.
Geoff: (OK, it was 14. I checked)
Craig: Well, we did try to forgot.
Craig: And all stories become exaggerated with time.
Geoff: One other side note I want to raise, with a hat tip to Maize 'n' Brew, is the disappearance from the offensive side of the stat sheet of Ekpe Udoh.
Steve: When did this start?
Geoff: In his last two games, he's scored 2 points.
Craig: Oh dear goodness.
Geoff: His teammates just aren't getting the ball to him, it seems, and that's confounding.
Craig: That's a disaster of Presidential declaration proportions
Geoff: He was an absolute monster against Minnesota the previous time they played, so I have no idea why he isn't the same sort of contributor this time. Especially on a day when Lester Abram went 1 for 10.
Craig: Did someone check to see if the rims were topped by thin sheets of plexiglass?
Geoff: Hmm. That could have been the problem.
Geoff: Or maybe they were using pop-a-shot hoops with regulation-size basketballs.
Craig: Ooh, that's an interesting take.
Craig: So basically, the season comes down to tomorrow.
Craig: Just like the season came down to Saturday.
Craig: Just like the season came down to the MSU game.
Geoff: Win and you're in, lose and you're going to the NIT.
Geoff: Any more basketball thoughts or shall we move on to the NIT?
Steve: Let's move on
Geoff: Oops, getting ahead of myself...
Craig: Thank you!!!!
Geoff: Rather, let's go to hockey.
Steve: Craig, you seem to have something to share, why don't you enlighten us?
Craig: No, that was me just reacting like a penalty was over.
Craig: Because Michigan basketball is like playing short's your own fault, and only bad things seem to happen
Steve: Not quite, in hockey you do occasionally get a short handed goal.
Craig: The Michigan State win.
Steve: Touché.
Geoff: Hockey! We now know that we'll be facing Northern Michigan in the second round of the CCHA playoffs. All I really know about them is that their goalie is no longer Finnish.
Craig: Michigan split the season series with the team that shops at the Minnesota North Stars' fire sale.
Craig: Michigan does have a solid record against them and a Joe streak to keep intact. Northern was a ten seed, so this is unexpected.
Geoff: They're probably a better team than their record would indicate, since this is a down year for a consistent program, but I don't think they're going to walk out of Yost with the series.
Craig: Agreed, but Michigan needs to show greater defensive prowess to scare anyone going into the Joe, let alone the tournament.
Geoff: Definitely.
Geoff: We want the sweep to firm up our PairWise/RPI for seeding and placement in the NCAAs. We want to win the series so that we don't just get bounced from the tournament. Because that's still a mathematical possibility, even if a whole bunch of things would have to line up for that to happen.
Craig: But you don't want to make things even iffy.
Craig: I just think that M hockey, even though it had a good year, was in many ways as inconsistent as M Hoops. Special parallel construction in the coasting department.
Geoff: Yeah. You were a witness to that.
Geoff: Hockey was really good at dropping inexplicable games to teams like Northern and Bowling Green.
Steve: Agreed
Craig: I think Billy Sauer has Hockey ADD. He isn't always as sharp as he has shown he can be
Geoff: Agreed.
Geoff: I will note that Northern represents our only home loss this calendar year, way back on January 13.
Craig: Long story short. If Michigan plays like the Michigan it's capable of being, it will roll NMU, even if NMU is playing like the team THEY can be. But if Michigan plays like they have played of late, this becomes nail-biter time
Geoff: I'll forecast that they wake up in the playoffs and get it done. It might be ugly, but TJ Hensick has been lighting everyone up, be it by assists or goals.
Craig: The week off could help.
Geoff: I think nothing helps more than Yost.
Steve: Definitely. It truly is a wonderful home
Geoff: Playoff crowds there know how to kick it into a higher gear.
Craig: Agreed.
Geoff: I was at a series against Nebraska-Omaha one year that they managed to steal a game from us, and they led by a goal going into the third, and the house was INSANE. We came back to score FOUR in the third and come away with it.
Craig: Loud, strong, and a bit crude. That should do the trick.
Geoff: And with the end of Geoff's Rambling Hockey Story Theatre, I think we'll close.
Geoff: Thanks, guys. We should do this again some time.
Steve: Sounds good, same time next week then
Craig: Agreed, it's better than blogging about one's crushing loneliness, which can sometimes be super cool.
Geoff: I'm going to abuse the Blogger tag system so much...
Craig: Indeed.
Craig: OK, gentlemen, let's hope for best results possible.
Craig: Until later, good night.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Live-Blog vs. OSU: Someone Has to Do It

We join at 3-0 Michigan. OSU Miss, Jerret Smith rebound. Pass in to Abram down low, he's fouled as he goes up. Sims started today, by the way. Lester hits his free throws. 5-0.

Maize Rage is jumping today. Conley nearly loses it, Oden saves it. Conley's three is off the mark. Time out, Smith has lost his shoe. Jerret Smith tries to do WAY too much inside, can't make a quick decision, and loses the ball. OSU runs the floor and Othello Hunter finishes with an easy layup. 5-2.

Turnover on the other end. Ergghhh.

Oden tries to back his way down against Courtney Sims, but instead gets called for the offensive foul.

On the other side, Oden's arm causes a miss. Butler three ties it up. 5-5.

Jerret Smith...knocks down a three?? OK. 8-5.

Conley finds an open spot and hits a long two. 8-7.

Lester Abram gets trapped by a double team trying to go baseline. A foul is called, but we won't know on whom until the commercials are over.

Looks like it was on OSU. Buckeyes already have five personals. Whoa, Jerret Smith walks in for a layup. 10-7.

AIR GEORGIA WOOOOO! Butler is rejected, and OSU gets it out of bounds. Petway has the winged helmet shaved into his head. Foul on the floor on Abram. Othello Hunter gets a lay-up. 10-9.

Dion Harris desperation three is terrible. Matt "Sideshow Bob" Terwilliger finds himself wide open at the top of the arc, but can't drop it. Udoh tries to dribble in from the 3-point line, but nothing doing. Udoh's defense forces a bad shot, even if the range was close. OSU's defense forces a bad shot, even if the range was close. Abram goes over the back. 13:00 left. Cook's 3 is no good. Ron Lewis gets it under the basket, and is just hacked from behind by Deshawn Sims. He makes 2. 10-11.

Dion Harris loses the handle on the other end. Was that supposed to be a pass? Weird. OSU turns it into a quick transition basket for Hunter. 10-13.


OSU launches a three that goes off the iron. Courtney Sims makes his first basket of the day. 12-13.

Jerret Smith gets a steal and goes all the way to the rim. He's fouled as his layup attempt is off. This time out is brought to you by The Media.

13,700+ is the announced attendance here. Smith hits his free throws. 14-13.

Petway almost gets a swipe at a pass, but Oden takes it and rolls to the hoop. 14-15.

Spot-up jumper from Ron Coleman at the high post. 16-15.

Runner for OSU doesn't drop, but it was open. Petway spins down to the baseline and makes a nice bucket. 18-15.

Sims commits his second foul, though it looked to me like Shepherd was more to blame. Butler's three is off the mark, good of Michigan to grab the rebound.

Dion Harris fouled, and misses the front half of a 1-and-1. Oden can't handle the pass and Michigan runs the floor nicely. Jevohn Shepherd finishes.

Oden's shooting free throws right-handed now. 20-17.

Foul on Butler. Harris gets to go to the line again. This time he connects on his first one. I hate this Spirit Fingers thing on free throws. He gets the second one, so maybe there's something to it after all. 22-17.

Bucks can't get it done from outside. They're 1-7 now from 3. Petway should not shoot from the free throw line. Ew.

OSU is 7/20 right now. We're 7/12. That tells you something about the turnovers, since we've been doing pretty well on the boards, I'd say. We're getting stranded outside here until Harris takes it in. Unfortunately, several Buckeyes are waiting for him and the shot won't drop.

Ron Lewis htis his layup and misses the +1. Jerret Smith committed the foul 22-19.

Good point, CBS color guy. We're just kind of throwing the ball around the arc, not probing for a place to go inside on this zone. All the same, Butler fouls Harris again. Dion hits both free throws. 24-19.

Nice defense on the three attempt by Cook. He wasn't nearly as open as he thought. Ball out of bounds on us. Wide open Buckeye sneaks out to three point range, but airballs it.

Things are a little wild on the transition, and Petway winds up on the line, foul on Oden. Makes his first free throw! Not his second. 25-19.

Ron Coleman commits a useless foul on the floor, which puts Cook on the line. He misses the 1-and-1.

OH SNAP!!!! Jerret Smith takes the pass on the wing, drives baseline, kicks it to Petway who LEAPS from 8 feet out for a thunderdunk.

Sigh. Cook goes baseline and his bad shot comes back to him. Foul on Jevohn Shepherd when he goes up again. He makes both. 27-21.

Shepherd's standing on the arc when he tries his shot, off iron. It goes right to our...someone camped out underneath. Scrum develops. Shepherd's followed up his miss and gets fouled. He makes 2. 29-21.

Well. Disorganized as OSU drives the lane, they kick it out and hit a three. 29-24.

Dion Harris quickly answers with two on the other end. 31-24.

Damn. Damn. Way, way downtown, falling backwards, and a prayer goes in. 31-27.

Harris tries a three. He is not as successful. Lewis hits a pull-up jumper from inside the free throw line. 31-29. Time out.

Smith's insane lob pass finds Petway. He reels it in, but is in no position to do anything with it. Over to Deshawn Sims and...something unclear happens because CBS needs to get some more commercials in.

Whatever. We've got the ball out of bounds. We work it around the perimeter, and Harris isn't really on target there. OSU gets the rebound. Udoh takes a charge on the other end. Dion Harris drains a sweet, sweet three 34-29.

Well, this time Jerret Smith is the one who gets called. Blocking foul. David Lighty makes his free throws. 34-31. 36 seconds left in the first half. We'll hold as long as possible. Jerret Smith again tries to "drive" and then kicks it out to Dion Harris, who didn't really see that coming. He walks with the ball. Butler's missed three essentially ends the half. 34-31, Michigan.

Hummer's using Star Trek to sell trucks. NERDS!!

ESPN is insisting that the score is 34-33. Uh, no?

Never. Gets. Old. Space, bitches. Space.

OSU starts out rationally, by passing it to Oden. Off the glass and in. 34-33. Are you happy now, ESPN?

Dion Harris from pro-length 3 range and he buries it. 37-33.

Oden misses a jump hook. Harris tries another three, but it's off iron. Butler says "I can miss just as good as you!" Inside to Sims, who's blocked by Oden, but Sims gets fouled. Should be on Oden, but it's assigned to someone else for his own third. Sims misses both. And that's the one thing he's usually good at.

OSU drives the lane in transition to make it a 37-33 game. Sims loses it, gets it back. Dion Harris drives to the hoop and loses the handle. Might've been a foul if he could've retained possession.

OSU shot misses, but Oden dunks the miss. 37-37.

Oden is Sims' own personal menace, block from behind (maybe from Lewis?). Amaker is incensed that no foul is called and gets T-ed up. Amaker is furious and not speaking nice words. The crowd is all over the refs. OSU's guy hits his free throw, putting them up 37-38. Michigan gets the ball back out of bounds. Jerret Smith starts to pull up for a jumper in no man's land, then sees Petway down low. NOW Oden gets called for his third. Petway makes his first and his second. 39-38.

Terwilliger's long two won't go down. Sims is getting double teamed down low. Finally, one guy rotates off him and he's fed inside for a lay-in. 41-38.

OSU tries for a transition basket, but Conley's lay-up doesn't work and Sims collects the rebound.

Harris's shot won't go, but Petway saves it back to half-court for Jerret Smith. TV time out. Yes. What we want is to KILL THE MOMENTUM. Crisler was rocking there.

Hey! Way to be, Alumni Band. Hi Mike! Hi, other people I know!

Smith tries for a lay-up, and he misses too. But it's another offensive rebound, and Smith accidentally pokes Butler in the eye while getting it. Block by Othello Hunter. Michigan gets back on D, and locks down, forcing Terwilliger out of bounds. He tries to fling it off Sims' face, but he steps out first.

Terwilliger looks frustrated. Wow. Our only victory against a #1 team was against Duke under Ellerbee, of all people. We're 0-17 otherwise. Abram drives and scores a floater. 43-38.

OSU answers with two of their own. 43-40. Smith drives baseline and kicks it all the way out to three. Udoh takes a shot that I don't really understand, and misses. OSU comes down and commits an offensive foul. Hunter, Harris, Conley, and Oden all have three fouls for OSU now.

Sims makes a move to the basket, but hooks Terwilliger on the way and picks up his own 3rd personal foul. Othello Hunter makes a longish two. 43-42.

Shepherd pull-up jumper won't happen. The ball is going out and an OSU player tries to save it, but travels. 11:49 left to go. Almost 3:00 since we've scored. Harris drives baseline, is fouled and...just gets the ball to drop. Misses the +1. 45-42.

Good defense by the blue. Conley gets around Shepherd, I think, but the help gets there quickly. Butler has a hand in his face when he tries the three, and it shows. Unfortunately, our trip to the other end is regrettably brief. OSU comes back down and their Harris gets his first points of the game. 45-44.

On the other end, Shepherd makes a low bounce pass to Petway who goes up and scores right over Oden. Sweetness. 47-44.

OH, COME ON. Conley was WIDE OPEN for the three. I guess he doesn't take a lot of those, though, and he misses it. Petway insanity continues as he makes a jump hook. 49-44.

Oden tries a longish jump hook and complains he's fouled. That's not getting called in the Big Ten on the road. As he grumbles, Courtney Sims is already putting another two in the bucket. 51-44. CRISLER A SPLODE. Thad Matta wants a time out.

Aww, Sims. He's a little lazy and gets a hold of an OSU jersey to take his fourth personal. Oden spins around Udoh, who fouls him going up. Oden makes both. 51-46.

Dion Harris finds Udoh outside, and he shouldn't take that shot. OSU goes right to Oden, who gets immediately fouled by flying Michigan defenders. Oden makes both. 51-48.

We have to get something going again, but not this trip. Ron Lewis is a terror as he drives the baseline. 51-50.

(Craig would like everyone to know that he fell asleep and just woke up seven minutes ago. Thus, this is all his fault.)

Abram's three is just off. Petway saves, and it's slight pandemonium. Out of bounds to Michigan on a blocking foul. Bad timing. Trying to go back out again as Udoh decides to come toward the rim. OSU out of bounds. 6:19 remaining now. Oh, sweet defence as OSU gets desperate to go inside. Abram almost has a gimme, but Butler hustles and breaks up the pass. Dion Harris elevates and floats one in. 53-50.

Good defense, but the motion eventually gets Conley WIDE OPEN and this time he buries the three. 53-53.

Michigan works the ball down inside to Sims and he goes up right at Oden. Foul called, on Oden. His fourth. Sims makes both. 55-53.

4:45 left. Oden takes it inside and ties it right back up at 55-55. He's just pwning us inside when they can get him the ball.

Aww yeah. Jerret Smith is en fuego (Well, relatively speaking). Three-bomb. 58-55.

OSU miss by Hunter, Abram clear. Sims goes up strong inside and gets fouled by Terwilliger and makes the +1. 61-55.

Conley immediately goes inside to get two. 61-57.

3:19 left. Sims gets it way to far outside, he makes a bad pass back out and OSU steals. Oden does his thing inside, tapping a miss in. 61-59.

Oden now does it on the other end, blocking Sims' shot. No one gets open and a time out has to get burned on the in-bounds play. We complete this one, but OSU steals it right out from Smith. Ron Lewis is fouled by Abram as they run the floor. He hits both to tie it. 61-61.

Harris's three is no good, leading to a long rebound. Conley runs the floor, makes the layup, and takes the lead. 61-63.


Bad pass by Conley bails us out on the other side. Dion Harris is trying to singlehandedly win the game. Lewis gets called for an iffy reach-in when he goes for the block. what the hell? Harris is missing these free throws all over the place. 85% my ass. Still 61-63. Could've tied it.

GAAAAHHHH. Can't pull down the rebound on Conley's three-point miss. Have to foul. 10 seconds left. Jamar Butler hits his first. Huge free throw coming here. And he gets it. Dead. Dead. Dead. Even before Jerret Smith loses his mind on the worst pass I've seen in a long time. DEATH. Final score: 61-65.

I hate everything.

Whatever This Is: Making a Mockery of the Source Awards

Geoff:  So, we find ourselves here again.
Craig:  Once more unto the breach.
Craig:  I do worry no one reads these.
Geoff:  Sooner or later I'll learn to be funny. Then people will have to pay attention.
Craig:  You'll make 'em pay, like you're at the Source Awards!
Geoff:  If things don't work out, I'll set a homeless man on fire and begin a new life in Arizona under the name "Ron Mexico."
Steve:  I'm John Henry Giles and I approved this message.
Craig:  So we're agreed then.
Craig:  OK, so let's get to it.
Geoff:  The basketball team keeps hanging on to the merest of threads. If we beat Ohio State and take one Big Ten Tournament game, we might claw our way into an NCAA berth.
Craig:  Which is strange, because I can't see Michigan making any noise in the dance
Geoff:  Yeah. It's just the act of making it back there. But it would mean a lot to this program; the first time to accomplish that feat since the sanctions.
Brian:  It's a reward for any program that has missed out for a while.
Steve:  It would be, but it's just not going to happen.
Craig:  I guess the other important thing is, you have to start somewhere.
Geoff:  As for Saturday, I think OSU's a beatable #1 team, but it's not bloody likely that we'll get it done.
Craig:  It's a strange day, isn't it. On the one hand, tOSU has nothing to play for expect staying #1. On the other hand, they are on the cover of SI this week
Steve:  However, last time we lost to them by double digits and we took it as a moral victory.
Geoff:  Yeah. We did. This is, after all, the team that was thoroughly embarrassed by UCLA.
Craig:  But, if there is one positive here, we're at home...Which, save the Iowa game...
Geoff:  Yeah. The Iowa game was one where we just fell apart in the second half. You can't let anyone take a 20-1 run at you.
Geoff:  I like the way we responded when State started going after us on Tuesday.
Craig:  And you know, maybe some pieces finally fit. Maybe, after months of frustration, the team finally realizes what it can do. Which would piss me off, if true.
Craig:  But you know, take what you can get I guess.
Geoff:  I've said it before, but Jerret Smith is starting to play much better ball. And Courtney Sims took that first OSU game as the starting point for some much improved play as well. Those two, along with Dion Harris, are the keys to Michigan's game this weekend.
Craig:  Best bet, get an early lead and hope tOSU doesn't get ideas
Geoff:  We need Sims to play as a real inside presence, Smith to simply not turn the ball over, and Dion Harris not to go 0-15 from the field, like I think he did during said Iowa game.
Craig:  No turnovers and make your free throws.
Steve:  How many games does OSU have until the tournament when they play us?
Brian:  Should be just the Mich. game then the Big 10 tourney.
Craig:  Brian is correct, plus they will have Thursday off. Michigan will not.
Geoff:  I don't think the seeds are set in stone yet, so we don't know if they'd be a second or third round game, right?
Craig:  Nothing is known for sure until after Saturday.
Brian:  Ohio State is the #1 seed, Wisconsin #2, everything else is up for grabs.
Steve:  So it's doubtful they'll decide to rest that game.
Geoff:  No, they want that NCAA #1 seed.
Craig:  Well, when the rest of the world seems to be faltering, winning would be a chance for them to make a statement. Even if it is against Michigan, winning on the road in the Big Ten is not easy.
Brian:  Speaking of faltering, UNC down 10 at GT, 15:42 to play
Brian:  down 13
Brian:  back to 10,
Geoff:  I think Michigan's recipe for victory looks like this: Aggressive play inside gets Oden in foul trouble, so he has to go sit with Thought and Memory on the bench, and OSU's outside shooters have a bad day.
Craig:  Speaking of that GT game, can they make the center court logos any bigger?
Geoff:  I blame Tennessee for this trend.
Craig:  Texas and A&M also check in on that, but you expect that from them.
Brian:  If you could get Coach Cremins to accept a smaller font...but that almost makes the sabres on the JPJ court seem reasonable.
Craig:  I digress, however. Geoff, your strategy seems sound. But also, easier said than done
Geoff:  Yeah. It depends on the refs and luck, but that's kind of what you need when you're a lower level team like Michigan going after the top team in the country.
Steve:  Has Oden's hand completely healed? I heard it was going to be with him for a while but never a specific date.
Craig:  It's speculated that he is still only at 75%
Geoff:  It's still an ongoing thing, but that hasn't stopped him from playing some punishing defense. And the offensive end hasn't exactly been slack either.
Craig:  I love that you can guess on that sort of thing, by the way.
Craig:  Oden is, I think, unfairly being maligned because he is not Durant, but I think he is more than Durant, but then again, I know nothing of college basketball.
Craig:  This world frightens and confuses me.
Steve:  With any luck Oden'll be entering the draft after this season
Geoff:  It's quite likely. He's a guaranteed top 2 pick. He gains nothing by staying at OSU, really.
Craig:  Unless he just really likes it there
Craig:  But you're right, it's just too good
Brian:  Oden can enjoy being a BMOC without having to play for Coach Sweatervest, that may be worth something.
Geoff:  He's said that he really enjoys just being a student there, so you never know, but I'd be surprised if he sticks around.
Brian:  That being said, the money's too big these days and NBA teams can peg him in at center.
Craig:  Agreed, it could be misdirection and the like. It's just nice to have options...
Craig:  So yeah...only Saturday will tell
Brian:  As for Durant, I think even the "experts" were surprised at just how good he's playing, especially since a lot of POY talk seems to center around either him or Tucker of Wisconsin
Craig:  So, until next time gentlemen?
Brian:  Good luck, Wolverines...UW could use the boost for that last #1 seed
Geoff:  Thanks, we'll take whatever we can get.
Craig:  Have a great week folks, and if you have suggestions for future "Whatever this is" topics, please leave us a comment...