Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Short Ends

HSR tipster Dave sends another item our way.

The Smoking Gun has pictures from a Clemson "MLK party." Why is this a HSR tip? Look at the lower left of the picture.

So yeah. A proud moment indeed. At least it wasn't an actual Michigan student.

Hockey:  Took care of business this weekend, rather nicely. Billy Sauer let up on his shockingly good January long enough to let four by on Friday, but only after we were up 7-1. A better Saturday, and he walks away with the 6-2 win and a much-needed sweep. The Blog That Yost Built has a much better, much more complete look at this.

Basketball:  Yeeeeeesh. They have, indeed, no alibi. Ugly. Maize 'n' Brew live-blogged both halves of the Indiana game, while MGoBlog drew Wisconsin.

Building Boom on South Campus

Geoff:  Michigan is poised to embark on the biggest building expansion of the athletic campus since the days of Fielding Yost. The new academic center is done, the baseball stadium is in progress, and $300 million in other construction is on the horizon.

Craig:  And no new parking!

Geoff:  Seriously.

Geoff:  There's no question that a lot of it is overdue (the softball field is not commensurate with the team that plays there), but it's a huge financial undertaking.

Craig:  Yes, and sadly, being Michigan, we seem to be following that old adage about making no small plans

Geoff:  Let's start with the projects that have already been approved/built.

Geoff:  The academic center cost $12M, entirely private money.

Craig:  I always approved of this highly; I think it shows Michigan's commitment to academics with athletics. I remember packs of varsity athletes wandering around the school of ed back in my day looking for their study tables, and it was just confusing, so for them to have one place, right there on the athletic campus, that's a good call

Geoff:  I like seeing that we're paying more than lip service to the idea that the athletes are also students.

Geoff:  My mom always gets mad that regular students don't get any facility like that

Craig:  And I would agree with that, except that regular students do not have to do their mandatory two hours of study table a night at a specific time and place

Craig:  At least, as I understand

Geoff:  Exactly

Geoff:  I wasn't holding down a more-than-fulltime job for the entire year.

Craig:  So yeah, it's nice, and it does fit in nicely right there by Yost, as does the new front of Yost

Geoff:  They did a nice job of blending it in.

Geoff:  So the next project we're getting into is the baseball stadium renovation.

Geoff:  We got the lights put in last year, and now they've moved on to reconstructing the stands.

Geoff:  The price tag, when it's all done, will be a relatively modest $9M

Craig:  Though I love baseball, I had never been to a Michigan baseball game until last year, but I enjoyed it a great deal (especially for just three dollars, but we'll get to that later.)

Craig:  I think a better Fisher Stadium is in order and I hope it will help Michigan, though I suspect that only thing that will truly help Northern baseball teams is global warming

Geoff:  True enough

Craig:  That said, you don't need a killer app for college baseball.

Geoff:  Nine million isn't chicken feed, but if this renovation lasts as long as the last one did, it's money well spent.

Craig:  Agreed

Geoff:  The one I'm more excited about, actually, is the Alumni Field improvements for the softball team.

Geoff:  The spring before last, I went to the Big Ten tournament we were hosting

Geoff:  They had temporary bleachers set up throughout the outfield, and this should cut down on the need for those.

Craig:  Agreed, the softball team has earned it, although I must ask, does Title IX necessitate this for balance to the Fisher improvements?

Craig:  Not that I mind, I am just wondering if it's required in the timing

Geoff:  I don't think so. There's a debate over the exact application of Title IX, but the current thinking is mostly that the number of teams should be equal.

Geoff:  Football blows up any sort of monetary comparison, for one thing.

Craig:  This is true

Craig:  Anyway, the softball team needs a better field and I am happy to see them getting it

Geoff:  Absolutely. I had a lot of fun at that tournament. I sat in with the alumni band, and it was just a great atmosphere all around.

Geoff:  Their run to the NCAA title was great to follow on ESPN.

Craig:  Even last year was great, until Barry Bonds and ESPN conspired to ruin the SuperRegional, the dastards

Craig:  I know we should be over it, but I am still peeved

Geoff:  Oh, I'd almost put that out of my mind.

Craig:  That was the bottom of the seventh after all

Geoff:  But, yeah. Peeved.

Craig:  But we digress

Geoff:  Indeed. But as long as we're in this rhetorical cul-de-sac, I'll point out that Jennie Ritter is an IOE.

Geoff:  OK. On to the behemoth: Michigan Stadium.

Craig:  The Big House

Geoff:  $226M

Craig:  I will admit, I have waffled on this more lately than a Southern quick service breakfast fan

Geoff:  It's an enormous investment. It could cripple the athletic department for years, it'll result in a big markup in ticket prices, and it could look like dogshit.

Craig:  And here's my question...is it really needed?

Geoff:  It depends on if we want to stay in the arms race.

Craig:  I mean, I understand the press box, I have the program cover from 1957 touting Michigan's new football media center, but the rest of it is just arms racing

Geoff:  It's not so much the facilities arms race to keep up with the Buckeyes, it's the revenue stream behind the luxury boxes.

Geoff:  You lock in your corporate crowd and your big donors there.

Craig:  And the saddest part is, honestly, I really love the egalitarian nature of Michigan Stadium

Geoff:  Me too.

Craig:  No ads, and if one person gets soaked, we all do

Craig:  Literally, not figuratively

Geoff:  If you've got the big bucks, you get press box 50. But you get the same 18" everyone else does.

Geoff:  The shelf life on that is limited, though. It's been a matter of "when" for the last 5 years, at least.

Craig:  I know. I think the rumored Kyle Field 115K expansion always made me think that this was on the horizon

Geoff:  Are there even 115K in College Station?

Geoff:  I mean, Ann Arbor isn't a megalopolis unto itself, but at least Detroit's metro area is within shouting distance of 5M.

Craig:  I honestly always felt that smelled of "Screw it, we do everything bigger in Texas." I mean, look at Royal Memorial's new Tyrannovision

Geoff:  Oh, yeah. Another thing I'm glad we haven't entirely caved to.

Craig:  Football stadium size is always argued that it's easy to get massive numbers in for seven Saturdays a year

Craig:  But that always makes me worry as to why we're doing it

Craig:  It's seven Saturdays a year

Geoff:  The thing you get with college football (since we don't have pro football in Detroit) is you go down to the game, you tailgate with the same people for years on end, and you get a sense of a shared endeavor that I've never felt with any other sport.

Craig:  Absolutely. I know that my love of football Saturdays has been greatly enhanced by adding that part of the experience to my quiver in the last couple of years

Geoff:  So. The design itself.

Geoff:  On the whole, I kind of like it.

Craig:  Agreed

Craig:  I like that it feels like Yost

Geoff:  The whole athletic campus is getting the same sort of brick theme with a bit of more modern glass, it seems.

Geoff:  It's the unity of design that Central Campus has never had.

Craig:  Yes, there is a, well, I want to call it 21st Century, but it's really the sleek veneer of the 1950s with the glass, but hey, it's Michigan. In our architectural tastes, that's progress.

Geoff:  I'm not entirely sold on the glassed-in stairwells, but the overall design is better than I'd hoped for. I'm still worried that it'll look like they built a couple of towers outside the stadium, but it shouldn't end up looking like a spaceship landed.

Craig:  It is not Soldier Field, but you're right, it does basically look, on some level, like we threw up a couple of dormers

Geoff:  One thing that we're probably going to lose is that wow effect of going through the tunnels for the first time and realizing just how massive the stadium really is.

Craig:  You're right, but I do think that the majesty will come through as you walk up

Geoff:  The annoying thing to me is that they aren't bothering to add too many rows at the top before planting the towers. If they want extra seating, it's going to have to come in the end zones.

Craig:  Yes, although I will say that the end zone seats provide a tremendous difference in the way you view the game if you're up high enough. But, yeah, your overall point remains

Geoff:  The best thing that should come about from the renovation will be the noise impact.

Craig:  I really hope that the proposed physics on that is correct, that it will make Michigan Stadium loud and raucous, because Michigan fans are passionate about the game and loud at the right times...I apologize Geoff, because I know you know have heard me rant on this, but it always bothers me that Michigan fans are seen as dispassionate because they are not loud, whereas I think it's focused intensity

Geoff:  There's a fair point to be made there. I know, from watching games with my dad, that he could drop dead of an aneurysm he's so intense, but he never makes a sound.

Geoff:  I think that if we reach a critical mass we can turn the Big House into a more exciting place to play.

Craig:  I also think that people have to believe that it will work

Geoff:  Right. When you're in Row 85, it's hard to believe your voice will really be heard.

Craig:  But if you hear a loud crowd, you get into it

Geoff:  I think this will help. Even at the Rose Bowl, with its one big press box to reflect noise, it felt like the Michigan fans that were there were almost as loud as the whole stadium back home.

Craig:  Heck, when we were at Indiana, where there may have only been 30K of us, I thought we were louder than the whole of the Big House

Geoff:  Right. A small, passionate group in a stadium with louder acoustics.

Craig:  Here's the thing

Craig:  I genuinely hope Bill Martin knows how important this idea is to Michigan fans

Craig:  Because we have Hill Auditorium, which we like to claim is the most acoustically perfect place on earth

Craig:  So if we can get that right, people can study this to figure it out, right?

Craig:  I mean, we can make stealth technology, we can make it go the other way

Craig:  Not on planes, that would be bad

Geoff:  Right. The acoustics aren't that hard to roughly figure, IIRC. You'll know if a place will be loud or dead. Maybe not how loud, but you'll have an idea.

Craig:  All right. I think I'm nervous about the plan, but I am somewhat relieved because this does not FEEL like Halo 2 in terms of the input level alone

Geoff:  It's going to happen in some form. The possible money to be made is just too huge.

Geoff:  OK. So we've burned through a cool $252.5M so far.

Craig:  Call Everett Dirksen

Geoff:  Whoa. An Everett Dirksen joke. You don't see those every day.

Geoff:  That'll get a Wikipedia link.

Craig:  Make sure you get the quote I'm going for here

Geoff:  What is it? "A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon you're talking about some real money"?

Craig:  Yep

Craig:  That's it

Geoff:  Shot in the dark on that one.

Geoff:  Anyway.

Geoff:  The last stop is the least defined: Crisler.

Craig:  Ahh yes, delicious ambiguity as one of our illustrious alums once said

Geoff:  When it was first announced, there was a $15-$20 million price tag to rip out some seats, put in luxury boxes, and get wrestling and gymnastics their own gym to play in.

Craig:  Ok, so far, so good

Geoff:  Now the Detroit News is saying that the cost could balloon to $75 million.

Geoff:  That's a significant revision there, and you still don't get a new arena.

Craig:  And at that point, why not just start over?

Geoff:  Exactly.

Craig:  I'm sorry, but Crisler is a morgue

Craig:  I've said this for years

Craig:  And if Michigan is serious about being an all-sports power, they need a better arena

Geoff:  The Breslin Center cost $43M in 1986. USC's Galen Center was $143M. A new basketball arena will not come cheap.

Geoff:  The brand-new Galen Center, I should say.

Craig:  I'll throw another one at you

Craig:  $129.8 million for the John Paul Jones Arena at Virginia, and it took three years to build. That's a whole lotta love.

Geoff:  It took some serious privateering for that sort of loot.

Craig:  Comcast at Maryland was $125 million.

Geoff:  Value City was $116M.

Craig:  And that's dual purpose

Craig:  Which raises a specter I don't want to raise

Geoff:  Yeah. The one that's always lurking at the edge of the Crisler discussion.

Geoff:  Yost.

Craig:  I love Yost, mostly because of its flaws

Geoff:  I love the benches, I love the ceiling.

Craig:  THOUGH, if I may make a point, the Athletic Department needs to understand that $25 a seat for a regular season game is way too much

Craig:  I skipped a game this weekend when I was offered tickets because it just seemed wrong for Ferris

Geoff:  That number doesn't go down anytime...ever.

Craig:  Nothing against our Bulldog Friends

Geoff:  Of course.

Craig:  A college hockey game, at best, should top out at $15

Geoff:  Let's see what the Kohl Center is charging...

Craig:  By the way, the Kohl was built in 1998 for 76.4 mil, and it's a dual

Craig:  22 and 18 for this weekend at the Kohl for UAA

Geoff:  Yeah.

Craig:  North Dakota is $25

Geoff:  And noted fan of 1940's Germany [or at least their collectibles] Ralph Engelstad paid for that place.

Craig:  $27 for Minnesota

Craig:  OK, so it's not out of line

Craig:  It's just annoying

Geoff:  Yeah. It's just the way things go when you're a big school hockey team, I think, especially at a shiny new arena.

Geoff:  At Michigan, it's because there isn't a 12000-seat rink.

Craig:  I remember back in 1998, I thought student ticket prices were out of line compared to the rest of the CCHA, and the good people of the athletic department pointed out that they compare to MInnesota, Michigan State, and Wisconsin, not BGSU, Miami, and Northern

Geoff:  Wow. That $27 at Minny is for standing room. If you want a seat, it'll be $30.

Craig:  Wow, and Michigan State is $22

Craig:  OK, so it's not out of line, it’s just – to reiterate – really annoying

Geoff:  Yeah.

Geoff:  To steer this back to Crisler for a second: The basketball team needs better facilities. At the very least, a hardwood floor of their own that they don't have to share with wrestling, men's gymnastics, women's gymnastics, and the women's basketball team.

Craig:  Absolutely

Geoff:  If that costs us $20M, well that's the cost of doing business.

Geoff:  We're already losing recruits because of our inadequate facilities.

Geoff:  At some point, however, it's not worth it to give Crisler a facelift.

Craig:  There's no way to put lipstick on that pig

Craig:  But if you give the pig some lipo...

Geoff:  And I don't think that line is anywhere north of $30M.

Craig:  How much will it cost to light things a little better?

Geoff:  Fair enough question on that one.

Geoff:  I think we need to think of it in terms of the separate costs for each facility built. Wrestling and gymnastics need their own spaces.

Craig:  Though you can give one of the two Cliff Keen

Craig:  And let the other get the new place

Geoff:  Right.

Geoff:  I don't know how much meet space each one needs, though.

Craig:  Wrestling does not need much room, five mats and some locker room. Honestly, a good sized high school gym would do the trick

Geoff:  With that done, a new locker room and weight room would go a long way to upgrading what's already there.

Craig:  Agreed

Geoff:  It's a band-aid [on Crisler], but that $226M for Michigan Stadium is going to be a lot of debt hanging around.

Craig:  Honestly, you could take care of wrestling and volleyball for I think roughly $12.5 mill

Craig:  So I don't know

Geoff:  I think a Crisler replacement is going to happen, but it would be a lot to get it done within the next decade with the financial burden that football will hang on the athletic department.

Craig:  I think that's a major conclusion...with one major possibility: a huge gift

Geoff:  Yeah. Bill Martin is always listening to what a greenback has to say.

Craig:  If you look at a lot of the arenas that have been built lately, they have had seed money, like the JPJ and the Kohl

Geoff:  The Galen Center squeezed $50M+ out of its namesake.

Craig:  And I am wondering if Michigan basketball has an angel out there

Geoff:  Well, they'd better report any contact with him to the compliance officer.

Craig:  Zing

Geoff:  Which hangs a lantern: Part of the issue here is basketball's continuing status as the athletic department's bastard child.

Geoff:  It's an embarrassment that hasn't brought them anything worthwhile in the past decade.

Craig:  Except grief, lots of grief

Geoff:  Oh, we got grief. Plenty of that to go around.

Craig:  And to raise a point inelegantly

Craig:  In reading about Texas A&M's football history this year, I was struck by the quote from the University president whose name escapes me at the moment, around the time when the Aggie football program began in earnest. He wrote to one of his colleagues that he was not sure if they needed to have football, but if we must have football, I'd like to have the kind that wins

Craig:  I think that's how people feel about Michigan basketball

Geoff:  Exactly. We're a football school that likes its hockey and expects its basketball team to be worthy of the name it carries.

Geoff:  We don't understand why they aren't yearly contenders for the Big Ten title, or at least a tournament appearance. And I'm not talking about the NIT.

Craig:  Michigan is not a desert of basketball talent, after all

Craig:  I blame that damn explorer

Geoff:  Which one, exactly?

Craig:  The one that flipped on the way back from Detroit with Matteen Cleaves in it

Geoff:  Oh. That damn Explorer. I thought you meant Cadillac or Father Marquette.

Craig:  No, I should have been clearer

Geoff:  At any rate, basketball isn't about to eat Tommy Amaker's contract any time soon. It'll keep puttering around for a few more years at least. Then Tommy'll either start winning or the number left on his tab won't look so bad.

Craig:  That rolls about right

Geoff:  If they do start winning, I think they get a much better look from the athletic department and some work on the facilities accelerates.

Craig:  So, perhaps it comes down to "earn it?"

Geoff:  I think so.

Craig:  I think the key in all of this is that Michigan needs to listen to the alums (and the fans, which as we know, are not always one and the same)

Geoff:  If a replacement for Crisler comes along, do you think they go dual use, shuttle the hockey team into Crisler, keep them in Yost, or build a new hockey arena too?

Craig:  That's a complicated question. I think that Yost occupies some classic real estate along State Street and does give Michigan a link to the past. They also have spent a LOT in renovations in the past 15 years on Yost, so it's hard to see dumping the barn. The possibility of Michigan hockey playing in a modified Crisler feels weird to me, because it is not a hockey arena (I know it would be, but I just can't see it.) Honestly Geoff, I really can't speculate because I just can't see it

Geoff:  I think they'd build a dual-use arena if they went down that road. The marginal cost doesn't seem like it would be huge and you know that they'd salivate over they extra ticket revenue.

Geoff:  I'd hate, hate, hate to dump Yost. No new arena could possibly have a tenth of the character of that building.

Craig:  And those quick-convert Friday night hockey / Saturday afternoon hoops / Saturday night hockey games would be fun, fun, fun.

Geoff:  Yeah. Somehow they manage at the Kohl Center, but the Buckeyes have been known to squat at Nationwide.

Craig:  I honestly think that this is what will keep it from happening at Michigan.

Craig:  They'll look at Yost and say, “It's selling out, it's a draw, it has a good rep, and we're spending so much anyway.”

Geoff:  The other possibility is to keep some of the games at Yost and some at the new joint. Some people wouldn't get full-season [ticket] packages, but it could be done. Anyway, it's a complete pipe dream at this point.

Craig:  You know, that would be interesting, because keeping Yost would also allow Michigan to upgrade to varsity women's hockey

Craig:  And you could have your Ferris' et al at Yost and your Notre Dame, etc at NeoCrostler

Geoff:  (CROAST-ler?)

Geoff:  (Crisler + Yost?)

Craig:  Yes

Geoff:  Ha!

Craig:  And Yeastler sounded wrong

Geoff:  Yeah. Don't go with that one.

Craig:  But Crostler, yes, that's what I am calling faux dual purpose

Geoff:  Well, I think we might've raked this topic over the coals for as long as possible, at least for tonight.

Geoff:  Final thoughts?

Craig:  As long as we can come back to Eight Games a Week at some other point`

Geoff:  Oh, definitely.

Geoff:  We can do the Scheduling Spectacular after 30 Rock [On Thursday at 10:00. If anyone else wants to join in our chat, I’ll set up a room on AIM under “hooverstreet”].

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What's the Best Conference in College Football?

I've spent time on and off for about the past month working on this post, and it's finally here. I've done an analysis of all of the BCS conferences to find the best one out there. It's pretty long, and Blogger isn't conducive to letting me mess with the CSS like I want to, so the full text follows after the jump.

1.  Foreword

On Saturday, December 2 of last year, as people debated whether Florida or Michigan should be invited to face Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game, the perceived historical strength of the SEC and weakness of the Big Ten was taken as a given by some commentators and voters.  This was not a new statement, and I'd heard it so many times before that I almost believed it.  But as a lifelong fan of a Big Ten team, it irked me and I wanted to see for myself if it was true, or just another myth.  To answer my own question, I've prepared a comparison of the BCS conferences over the past 15 seasons (and shorter intervals) and here I'll share with you my results.

Continue reading...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Live-Blogging Out of Control: Michigan vs. PSU

First Half

Michigan takes the tip, and half-heartedly passes it around beyond the arc before an equally lame to get it to Courtney Sims down low.

Penn State gets it out of bounds and they waste no time before making an equally unproductive attempt to drive the lane.

Michigan takes it upcourt, where Dion Harris nearly loses it. They pass around, looking for an opening, but get nothing before Ronald Coleman gets a fairly open look from 3-point range as the shot clock threatens to expire. He gets the shot off and drains it.

Penn State's possession mirrors Michigan's, but they can't find their own open look. A shot doesn't hit the rim, though they retain possession until the shot clock expires.

Michigan tries to work the ball down low to Courtney Sims, but he can't get anything. Petway finishes. 5-0.

Penn State gets a long look from 2 and Cornley knocks it down. 5-2.

Dion Harris is jealous that everyone's been shooting but him, so he promptly drains the 3. 8-2.

PSU's Geary Claxton draws a foul off of Ron Coleman near the free-throw line. He drains both, 8-4.

Harris rotates it around, gets it back. He feints down the lane before dishing it back out. Lester Abrams can't hit the open look from the three point line.

PSU quickly comes back the other way, but Claxton can't hit an open three from the wing. They follow it up, control the rebound, and get the easy two. 8-6.

Michigan commits their first turnover of the game, getting caught for 3 seconds awfully soon into their next possession.

The maize and blue press on PSU's possession, but it doesn't do much. Penn State probes the man coverage. They throw up a running 3, and Claxton nabs the long rebound before it can go out on the wing. They get another shot, and it's tipped in on offensive goaltending, maybe? Whatever, it's still 8-6.

Michigan wastes its next possession down low, as the ball goes out.

Claxton is camped out under the basket. Someone hacks him as he goes up. Knocks both down. 8-8.

Penn State defends at halfcourt, forcing some dangerous passing between Reed Baker and Dion Harris. Harris gets the ball back and hits his second three of the night. 11-8.

Nice defense from Michigan yields a pass deflected. Reed Baker passes it up the court and Udoh finishes, even with his shoe untied. 13-8.

Dion Harris gets called for a weak bump; it's his second foul and he has to sit. Michigan immediately yields a dunk on the out of bounds play.

Michigan's attempts at shot creation are worthless. Penn State comes back and quickly drains a 3. Ugggh. 13-12.

We pick up another foul, this time on the offensive side. Claxton can't drive the lane and we get the ball back.

Jerret Smith looks a little more competent today. Lester Abram gets the ball and is fouled as he goes up for a jumper. He hits both his free throw attempts. 15-12.

Scrum under the basket, but Penn State gets the ball out of bounds. PSU kicks it out, then tries to lob it down to the block. Yeah, not a good idea when it's Petway defending that.

Careless play with the ball lets the Nittany Lions strip it, and C. Sims takes a foul trying to get it back. D-U-M.

PSU's 3-pointer rims out and we recover and make the most of the opportunity. 17-12.

They're shooting quicker than they'd like, I think, on PSU. Play's going quickly back and forth with a fair number of misses by both teams. The tempo after a few of these transitions gets to Penn State and lets Michigan get a transition basket. 19-12.

ESPN+ is talking about Daniel Horton. I miss him too.

Claxton is drawing a crowd and not getting open looks.

On the other end, Sims muscles his way up, but can't hit the easy basket.

Petway with a huge block on Claxton gives Abram the same opportunity, but he can't get it done. Sims can't tip it in, but the rebound comes right back to him. He gets hacked on the way up this time and will shoot two after the break.

If Sims can't find his touch, we are screwed. His teammates are getting him some looks, but he can't knock them down. I'll choose to play optimist for now, because there's no way that the universe should allow those kind of shots to go unconverted for too long. Besides, Sims just made his two free throws. 21-12.

Man. That zone experiment did not go well. Claxton dissected it. 21-14.

Claxton picks up his second foul on a bump, but the Nittany Lions steal the inbounds pass. Sims returns Claxton's favor by picking his own foul on the floor when he gets beat defensively.

Ekpe Udoh cannot shoot free throws. Yikes. He makes his first Big Ten free throw (1/5!) to make it 22-14.

Penn State's short white guy finds space out on the wing for three. 22-17. Since he's Morrissey, he'll probably crysturbate over it later tonight.

Damn. Ron Coleman does that whole 3-to-beat-the-shot-clock thing again. Sweetness. 25-17.

OH, COME ON. Morrissey's shooting another three and we foul him. Someone misjudged his approach angle there, but there's no excuse for that. Morrissey is an 81% free throw shooter, but he's so surprised by this development that he misses his first two. He regains his composure to hit the third. 25-18.

Reed Baker, Three Point Maker gets one coming off the screen. 28-18.

4:30 left in the half. PSU picks up a foul. Udoh was held after picking up their turnover, and Hassell (?) now has three personals. Fouls all over the place. Lester Abrams makes a jumper to make it 30-18, then picks up his second. Note to players: Don't breathe on anyone tonight. That's totally a foul.

PSU makes it a 30-20 game, but Coleman comes right back to drain yet another three. He is en fuego. 33-20.

Petway takes a direct charge from Morrissey on the other end, and he's fired up. On the other end, he finds Udoh under the basket to make it a 35-20 ballgame.

Penn State isn't playing as a team right now, and Michigan's making them pay, as they get nothing again. On the other end, Reed Baker walks with the ball.

The Nittany Lions come back the other way and it's like there's a wall in front of them. Petway grabs a rebound and is fouled. It's too bad he's such a terrible free throw shooter. PSU scrambles to get the ball and push it upcourt. Petway and Udoh come flying in to block the first shot from the behind (awesomely, I might add), but Claxton is there to finish. 35-24.

It's just chaos down there now. Michigan lets a possession get away, and Penn State cashes in on their end.

Ron Coleman draws a foul, and he hasn't missed tonight. His first free throw is easily in there. The second one hangs on the rim for an eternity before the ball remembers that he isn't missing tonight and drops. 37-24, 1:05 left in the half.

It's been so wild tonight that someone bounces into Claxton and PSU's in the double bonus. He hasn't missed from the line until now, when he goes 1/2. 37-25.

The shot clock is ten seconds ahead of the game clock. As it winds down, with nothing left, Petway is left alone under the bucket. Jerret Smith finds him and he gets hammered by Cornley. He gets 1/2. 38-25.

Penn State will have last shot if they can find it. Morrissey puts up a dying quail as he's getting smothered beyond the arc, and the half will finish 38-25.

I'm pretty sure PSU's advertisement is some leftover song from Vitamin C's last album. It's pretty terrible.

The Foul Situation:
2:   Coleman, Harris, Abram, C. Sims (Michigan).

ESPN doesn't even list the PSU players on their site, but they aren't exempt from it either. Both sides are going to need to adjust to tonights refs..

Second Half

Morrissey gets called for a foul on the floor to start the half. Michigan quickly yields the ball back, though. Petway picks up his first personal foul as he pushes Cornley. The possession still ends in futility.

Ron Coleman misses his first attempt of the night, his first attempt at a two.

Petway quickly picks up his second, as Cornley tries to get around him. Amaker really believes that the bump should've been an offensive foul, and he's not all that wrong. Cornley takes advantage to hit both. 38-27.

Michigan shrugs it off. Coleman intercepts a pass and they bring it up again. The pass down low gets deflected back out to halfcourt and out of bounds. A long three attempt doesn't go down.

Another freaking foul, only 17:13 into the second half. Abram's 3rd. He'll sit. Tough pass goes in to Claxton, past three Wolverines. Claxton converts. 40-29.

Courtney Sims goes right after Brandon Hassell, forcing him into his fourth fouls and out of the game. Sims hits both free throws. 42-29.

Steal by Courtney Sims, way out, but he can't control it. With him out of position, PSU tries to drive the lane. Petway blocks the hell out of it, then steals the pass from Bogatic(?), hits the bucket, and draws the foul. He misses the free throw, but what a play. 44-29.

After PSU converts on their possession, we get lazy on ours. The ball is stolen from Coleman and Jerret Smith gets called for the blocking foul as PSU's Jackson heads in for a layup. He gets one. 44-32.

Penn State gets the ball back, and finally the call for contact goes our way as Udoh draws the charge. Then Sims goes ahead and gets an offensive foul called on him. I don't know if there's going to be anyone left on the floor at the end of this. 15:00 or so left.

Claxton makes the layup. 44-34.

Udoh comes back the other way and sinks a ten-footer. 46-34.

Michigan steals the pass and pushes it up the court. Harris's three is just off, but Udoh skies for the rebound and is fouled. The ESPN+ crew thinks he might've gotten away with going over the back. It's on Claxton, and he has to sit. Dion Harris hits a jumper to push the lead up to 48-34.

They can't do anything on the ensuing possession and the pace is getting quicker and more frenetic, the way Michigan wants it. PSU picks up a foul on the floor, on Bogetic. Harris tries another three that won't go, and Bogetic commits his third foul, a weak push-off. Michigan, now in the bonus for the last 13:00 of the half, converts, making it 50-34.

On the other end, Petway gets called for his 3rd personal, and Bogetic is on the receiving end for a change. He gets 1/2. 50-35.

The teams trade ineffective possessions before Cornley finally breaks it up with a short jumper. 50-37.

Ed DeChellis is gambling. When D. Sims gets called for traveling, he puts 4-foulers Claxton and Hassell back in the game, with a full 11:00+ left on the clock. I guess he figures he's already down 13 with a weak bench that's racking up fouls, so what is there to lose?

PSU trips as the try to drive the lane, giving Michigan the ball back. Harris takes an ill-advised three that won't go. Penn State takes an equally ill-advised shot on the other side. Reed Baker, of all people, tries to go baseline. He draws the foul and goes 2/2 at the line. 52-37.

Claxton gets a wide-open look at the basket and can't hit his three. Lester Abram, on the other hand, drops his. 55-37.

Penn State is crashing the glass tonight. Off their miss, no one can pull it down. It goes off Reed Baker as he gets demolished. PSU's Walker hits a big three-pointer. 55-40.

Reed Baker answers with an authoritative three. 58-40.

Possessions traded, before Hassell drives the lane and draws a foul from Dion Harris. He can't make either, and it remains 58-40.

Baker's wild three -- maybe deflected -- is saved by a flying Deshawn Sims. Dion Harris is so shocked to get it back that he travels at the top of the arc.

When we return, PSU is shooting free throws. They get both. 58-42.

Our shoddy point guard play costs us again, as we turn it right back over. Cornley gets it down low when he gets D. Sims to lose his balance and finishes his layup. In his face, he forces Udoh to waste a timeout on the inbound pass. Michigan needs to get their heads back in this one; there's still about 7:00 left on the clock and we're rattled by PSU's pressure defense. 58-44.

Michigan takes their turn to push the tempo. A streaking Dion Harris takes an easy 2. 60-44.

A PSU player gets breathed on wrong and they're in the bonus. He's an 85%+ free throw shooter, so he makes both. 60-46.

GAAAAAAHHHHHHHH. Another turnover. And they turn it into a three-pointer. We absolutely need to be able to hang onto the ball and pressure Claxton and Hassell into their final fouls. 60-49, 6:40+ left.

A Lester Abram pull-up jumper makes it a 62-49 ballgame. On the other end, he comes up with the loose ball after Petway and Cornley get a little physical. We push the tempo up-court and find an open look at a three. Knocked down. 65-49.

Being in the bonus pays off, as Lester Abram gets right back to the line to hit both and restoring the lead to a full 18 points. 67-49.

Petway picks up his fourth personal foul, and they go to the line with a chance to cut back into it. Cornley gets one and Ron Coleman gets his miss. 67-50.

Abram tries a tough jumper, despite being close, and it won't fall. At least we drained the clock on that possession.

PSU takes a quick shot that won't go. Michigan moves the ball around and around before Jerret Smith decides to get on the stat sheet with a 3. 70-50, and I'm starting to relax with 3:30 left.

The three-point shot has been working insanely well for us tonight. His teammates finally let Dion Harris get the ball back and he buries one. 73-50.

We're in garbage time now. PSU gets two, somehow. Cornley is 5" shorter, but he gets a hand on a Sims shot, then tries his own off-the-mark 3.

Sims draws a foul, and he's been excellent from the line tonight. He just needs to get there more often. He hits his fourth and fifth of the evening. 75-52.

Bogetic can't get the layout to fall and some Finnish dude can't get the rebound. Michigan moves the ball around, and PSU has conceded, as they aren't fouling. Jerret Smith takes this opportunity to drain a jumper. 77-52.

Bogetic answers on the other end. I haven't seen this many threes in a game since Colts/Ravens. 77-55.

"Just like football! Just like football!"

PSU gets a meaningless basket to make it a 77-57 blowout, and everyone just lets the clock run out.

This is the best game I've seen Michigan play all season. We were helped out by the foul trouble that Penn State's only good players got into, but we found what we needed to step on their throats once they were down. The three-point shooting was just phenomenal, but we shouldn't count on it. What I liked best was at the end of the first half. We pushed the tempo and played emotional basketball, but we didn't play stupid basketball. We just hustled them off the court.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rose Bowl Wrap-Up

Hey, all. We haven't forgotten about this, we promise. It's just that, well, what are you going to say? Michigan played terrible football. They didn't make any adjustments at halftime, even though it was a minor miracle that they were tied at 3-3. They were demolished on the offensive line all day long. The defensive line was outgamed (the number of times Woodley was just a little too late was depressing), and our secondary wasn't going to be able to stop USC's receivers without help from them.

I would've written it all up anyway, since I at least had some fun pictures to share, but some asshole stole my digital camera out of my luggage. I stupidly left it in my checked suitcase on my flight home and someone in the baggage-handling crew made off with it. Maybe they worked for the TSA, maybe they worked for US Airways/America West. Whoever you it is, screw them.

So you guys get the abbreviated version, wherein I ignore everything but the band-related parts. Enjoy!


USC's band was first, and they sounded very average. Their marching was like Wisconsin's, but drained of all the energy, and their sound was just as listless. The coolest part was when the drum major (in Trojan costume) pierced the 50-yard-line with his sword, but in the end it's still just a guy sticking a knife in dirt. What's actually cool is Traveler, the white horse.

Michigan came next and it was night and day. They were focused, they were energetic, and they blew me away. The band was louder than I've heard them in a long time, but they were still top-notch, musically. The marching looked better than I've seen it all year. Even if the audience was 75% USC, you could tell which band meant more to its fans.

The first half occurred. It ended 3-3.


The MMB went first at halftime and played their Led Zeppelin show, which rocked even more the second time I heard it. That probably had a lot to do with being on the press box side of the field for once, but they were really cranking it out. USC's band did a lot better with their halftime than their pre-game. Their theme was "Hey, we're close to Hollywood, so when anyone needs a marching band they call us." They did "Pump It" by the Black Eyed Peas, and a couple of other pop songs.

The second half was very, very bad. My brother and I left with 4:00 on the clock, something I've never done at a Michigan football game we were losing.

Motor City Bowl Fever!

Before I left Detroit, I had the opportunity to attend the Motor City Bowl. They seemed to be understaffed at the security gates, so I missed pregame from the Middle Tennessee State Band of Blue, but they sounded pretty good. Their halftime was really a quality performance. The tuba section had some show-band moves going for them and the whole band's musicianship was way higher than you'd expect from Directional State University. The Chippewa Marching band, however, lost serious points with me when their halftime show needed 3 vibraphones, a gong, and a bass drum on the sideline. For one thing, who's going to hear 3 vibraphones over the rest of the band at halftime? And a bass drum? Don't you already have like 6 of those things out on the field? Lame.

The game wasn't a total cakewalk for CMU, but it wasn't really in doubt. Middle Tennessee did their best, and their quarterback was certainly a gamer to come back after Dan Bazuin rung his bell pretty good, but they didn't have the talent. Speaking of Bazuin, he made some serious plays and was a general menace in the backfield. One play in the second half left him nearly motionless on the field for several minutes. He popped up, ran it off, and missed just the one play. Totally deserved his MVP award.