Friday, September 10, 2021

Washington - Before and After

Before

This is not an effort to fire Jim Harbaugh.

My prediction is that Washington will win.  Washington's first game was tougher than Michigan's.  Their defense was stout, their offense bad, and they had three interceptions.  Now they have serious wide receiver problems.

Michigan plays Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Northwestern in crossover games.  The Nebraska game stacks up as the must-watch game of the season.  I am confident Michigan will win that one and I want to see it.  The rest of them, including NIU, I don't know.

This one looks like a Jim Harbaugh classic in terms of face time.  Look for a lot of dull runs, timeouts, and commercials.  Heaven forbid Kirk Herbstreit narrates.

Maybe Washington's problems create a primetime win.  Ronnie Bell did appear to make major strides in his career as a football player--after all, he is rather new at it--and he will be sorely missed.  It is just that, in the past, he has disappeared for entire games.  At the same time, he makes spectacular, game-winning plays.  Slowly, he has put together Michigan stats with a high yards per catch average.

Washington has strong linebackers and what I suspect is a upper-division Big Ten defense.  Harbaugh is so happy with the tandem of running backs that he has pledged to add Donovan Edwards to it.  

How bad is Washington's offense?  Pac 12 flair may be the difference in the game.  Michigan's offense comes from an occasional call from space, the booth, or wherever that creates a big play.  I don't see Harbaugh calling it, or winning it.

During and After the Game

I hate Jim Harbaugh.

Michigan's best team under Harbaugh was his first.  Reeling from the decay under Brady Hoke, the team was talented and very eager.  The coach was able to snag Jake Ruddock and he was Michigan's best quarterback since Denard Robinson.

Since then the program has been an enigma.  All the coaches have come and gone except Harbaugh and his son.  We don't see him at basketball games with the eldest Harbaugh anymore.  John is still in Baltimore exerting his influence too.  The biggest question has been, what is wrong with him?

Now, finally, we have a more complete picture.  I'm going to do it my way and middle-of-the-pack is just fine.  The hell with the students, fans, alumni, and the once-proud history:  It is all about me.

Now we know.  No wonder top recruits don't want to play for Michigan.  While not unusual these days, it explains the transfers out.  It reveals and casts a pall on the constant hiring, firing, explanations, and lies.  No one agrees with Jim Harbaugh. 

The only thing that is constant is he is in power and he alone controls the purse-strings.  It is the absolute worst of college sports because it doesn't represent the whole.  I wish he would just leave because that alone will be proof-positive that the University of Michigan and the football team can get along just fine without him.  Just please, make it a finite time block.  Seven, eight, nine years...  It has to end sometime.

It is all about Jim Harbaugh.  And now, because they beat Washington, he will insist he is right.  Maybe he is even a God.  I feel really badly for all those maize-wearing fans scrunching in and paying for it too.  

I can hardly wait to watch the games against Northern Illinois, Rutgers, and Maryland...  What a waste.

When a win isn't a win at all.



Sunday, September 5, 2021

Michigan 47 Western Michigan 14

Who the heck is Alex.Drain?  I checked Mgoblog for a game preview and it is sad.  Given that they don't do any actual reporting like on-site interviews, it takes maybe an hour.

Evidence.

With due respect to Western Michigan, a team with an around .500 or better recent record in the MAC, they are not Penn State, Wisconsin, or anywhere near Ohio State.  The game was typically Harbaugh conservative, with a lot of shuffling, particularly on the defensive line.

Dull sums it up for me.  Cade McNamara leads the charge.  He made a few throws, just to keep them honest, but he was there mostly to hand it off or make passes that are really pitches or laterals.  He is not a runner, or mobile, and he is only a modest drop-back threat.  McCarthy made one play but on the ones before that he looked lost (or someone else there to hand it off), and almost had the ball taken right out of his hand.  Third string?  Ouch.

Hassan Haskins is as expected--tough--and Blake Corum is productive but at this point not endearing to this writer.  Ronnie Bell is or was the leading receiver on a leading receiver-less team.  I do not see who this team is going to go to, or how the ball will get there, when they are behind.  They will be behind.  The offensive line is heavy and experienced--seemingly a strong spot on the team--but they looked average.  The entire attack is not explosive enough.

Brad Robbins should pick it up but this was not his best game.

New coaches...  Why is that, doesn't the head coach know what is going on?  Mike Macdonald had to have a look and the defensive line was a turnstyle.  Two players I didn't notice were Speight and Welschof.  Hutchinson is of course excellent.  Mazi Smith looks fat and slow.  It is great to see them have a chance to play and see what they can do, but...  I don't think any of them will stop the three previously-mentioned Big Ten teams nor some others.

As for the rest of the defense, Gray looked a little more composed and filled-out; Green had one go right over his head into a receiver's hands.  There was shuffling among the linebackers too.  They are unspectacular if not unimpressive.

Michigan had the familiar game of wasted offensive plays running straight into nothing.  (There was one end around, until garbage time.)  It is not going to work against better teams.  Variety and space means one end around (duplicated again later).  It is a new offense and boy wonder Josh Gattis just hasn't had an opportunity to implement it!

I don't recall seeing young, up and coming, reason to be optimistic about the future players.  Edwards and McCarthy played.

Blake Corum does not come off as the most likeable guy; after some nice plays, team members were not the priority.  There was a lot of me-congratulating on both sides.  Yes, David Ojabo (starting at nose tackle), running up to a tackled opponent 30 yards away to yell in his face is taunting.  Sad to see Ronnie Bell, a complementary offensive player injured.  I did not enjoy learning McCarthy already transferred once, to IMG football academy.  Sky, the receiver for Western Michigan, looked as surprised and forlorn as Ronnie Bell when he was injured.  Your football career may be over; it could be the best thing that ever happened to you.  From now on you get NIL.

Football Season Begins

Jim Harbaugh>Finebaum.

Never finished.  I was anxious to see the team.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

#3 (Football)

The 2021 season will start in 3 weeks.  The schedule is OK, this year, for an also-ran.

It is rare:  Michigan is not in the top 25.  They are just like Indiana (of old) or Purdue or Northwestern and the other middling Big Ten teams.  Maybe they will have a really good season of 8-4, including easy, home, out of conference games.

You cannot blame the players.  The ones who have stuck around are the only reason the team capable at all.  They're young, they are getting an education, and they habituated into believing they are career professional athletes.

The only news is fluff or and the same coming from assistants.  

The recruiting trail is cold.

Anything is possible, but I just don't see how Jess Speight, Julies Welschoff, Mazi Smith, or even Chris Hinton rising above average.  Behind them, save for "linebacker" Aidan Hutchinson, is even more suspect, and behind them is the same porous secondary as last year.

Gawd, I am sick of hearing a bunch of new assistants are going to save the day.

Jim Harbaugh is non-existent.  Remember the storyline, is this his last year?


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

#2

Distraction, distraction, distraction.

Does Stephen A. Smith really make $12 million?  Anyone who calls it a career or, worse yet, devotes their life to it is going to run out of things to say.  And a blowhard like that never has anything to say.

So let's get to it:  recruiting, recruiting, recruiting.  Used to be that news about the 5-stars was exciting but now we are relegated to who is wearing what gloves.  The star from Grosse Pointe South has remained solid and is becoming a leader, so that is good news.

Recruiting has been excellent the last few years under Harbaugh--generally hanging around the Top 10, a star or two, and a solid group of 4-stars.  I usually count top three hundred recruits and serious and NFL potential, and if they stick around a program like Michigan for four or more years in most cases they are pretty good.  Some, and if you look back they (e.g., Peppers, DPJ) are usually promising recruits if not top fifty.

Attrition has been average.  It is older than a cliche:  usually they are buried on the depth chart.

It is anyone's guess why it hasn't worked out better.  We are getting to the point where even undrafted free agent will be unattainable.

The other day I happened to see that Mike Sainristil and JJ McCarthy were ranked around 25th as most important players going into the season.  Sainristil has a total of 15 receptions in two years and has probably dropped the same number.  McCarthy has never played and no one has even seen him practice.

Brandon Brown, that pundit of Michigan forecasting who somehow arranged a gig with Sports Illustrated announced recently that Michigan is 'not supposed to be very good' this year.  

Who the hell knows?  They're doing it in reverse.  New coaches and a hoard of new players.  All these returning players but none stand out.  The 4-stars didn't work, let's try 3-stars...  Wow, that new coach from Kentucky can really recruit.  It takes "potential" to a new level and meaning.

As I look at the roster there are three players with experience and who stand out.  They are Aiden Hutchinson, Hassan Haskins, and Daxton Hill.

Oh, something else I read recently is that Jim Harbaugh is on the hot seat.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Harbaugh 2021 #1

Note:  The author does not intend to suggest that Jim Harbaugh is #1.

I have written this before and I will probably write it again:  sports are a distraction from the real world.  I think that is why I have a problem with bloggers with a compunction to perform a web search and write things even they don't want to read.  Same goes for people who call themselves writers too.  Write something if you have something to write.

Victors Weekend or Weekendpalooza or some such thing happened to kick off the post-Covid football year.  Snoozefest is an understatement.  Having a relative in the Detroit area--the definition of a hot prospect--is scraping the bottom.

Who knows--I'll take a stab--knows what the current team holds, but the future doesn't look rosy either.  Perhaps I'll get into it in future editions--Harbaugh took a paycut and a lot is riding on this year.  He says he will show it and I don't like what I see.

I feel compelled to recognize that coaching changes have been such a disaster in the past at Michigan, and many other places too, that it is unlikely Harbaugh is going anywhere.  That will make for a long season.  The point is, fans or just followers expecting more than a .500 Big Ten team better get used to it.  He is moderately capable, runs a clean program, and the alternatives are about the same.

By position group, the current team does not look promising.  While there are reports of barracks full of returning players, the offseason was a minus if not an embarrassment.  There is the guy who transferred in only to transfer out and the 350-pound career transfer student.  Overall, the talent in vs. the talent out from all sources is a loss.

The problem with Harbaugh?  It is undefined or undiagnosed.  The annual downturn in play on the field is exceed only by the coaching turnstyle.  One of the came and then left immediately, or never showed-up in the first place, I can't even remember.  I do know that there is a defensive coordinator with no experience ever in the role or as a college coach.  The offensive coordinator--he is not a household name where I live--has shown nothing; the dink and drop attack, otherwise known as athletes in space, is a myth.  

Harbaugh, the leader survives, with a grin on his face.


Monday, May 3, 2021

the team

 

DeVante Jones didn't have the quote machine working properly during his second recruiting, but he is an outstanding pick-up.  I don't see him going pro--a year or two with a step up in competition, exposure, and coaching will be very good for him.  He looks like a high character, grad transfer person.  The highlights are impressive; shooting, ball-handling, and passing.

The film clips for Jones look a lot like the high school clips of the incoming freshman.  There is a lot of standing around watching guys score.  You can't always predict...  And it always takes time.

It is hard to see how Juwan Howard can hold it together:  six highly-recruited freshman, a Covid returnee, and a transfer.  It is a new way of doing things, and at the same time it is a return to the rumors, rankings, and optimism surrounding a championship-caliber team. 

That means roster speculation.  For instance, Zeb Jackson has a lot of potential and as his game grows he will have opportunities behind Brooks and Jones.  But what happens to Frankie Collins?

Caleb Houstan looks awesome as a scoring forward.  Brandon Johns will have a chance to expand his game as the 4.  And Hunter Dickinson is back.

Freshman shouldn't be counted on to start or lead.  It is a perfect setting for them to do it as it comes...  

But how long will anyone stay on the roster?  You cannot predict it.  Instead they are just problems and opportunities.  Simply reload.

Franz Wagner?  Saying nothing is a classy move.  Classes end soon.  Rumor is he is a conscientious student.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Devante Jones

https://247sports.cohttps://247sports.com/Article/Basketball-recruiting-Texas-Michigan-Memphis-Baylor-Devante-Jones-164444647/m/Article/Basketball-recruiting-Texas-Michigan-Memphis-Baylor-Devante-Jones-164444647/

Not what I want to see.  Some day I'll pick apart the statements.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Basketball Roster 2/2

For posterity.

I didn't think Chaundee Brown would come back.  I don't a thing about his classwork and I probably couldn't find out much if I tried, but he doesn't seem like a masters degree kind of guy right now.  He is correct in that he has had enough amateur basketball training.  At Michigan he showed that he is outstanding at learning and fulfilling a role--a defensive stopper, energetic 6th man, and 3-point shooter.  He is a talented basketball player, although not a superstar shot creator, assist man, or speedster; he is motivated and concentrates.  Brown would have been an asset for Michigan next year, but it is time to move on.

Ditto Mike Smith--I didn't think he'd be back--but for only slightly different reasons.  He already has a degree from Columbia and about half of a masters from Michigan; he has been very capable as a student, the door is always open for more, and it is enough for now.  He wants to be a pro basketball player for a few years and he knows he will be a life of short contracts and hanging-on.  No one is going to change that ambition.  Like Brown, he has achieved or come close to maximizing the college game along with an element of diversity.  At Michigan he was an excellent point guard and steadying influence.

According to the news, Austin Davis was glad and seemingly surprised to be offered a 5th year.  He represented Michigan well--always prepared and trying.  He got absolutely everything he could out of an amateur basketball career.  Particularly without Colin Castleton, Michigan had to have a back-up center, he was a known person, and it was a smart decision by Howard.  Michigan will need to replace him; out with the old and in with the new is the way it works.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Basketball Roster, Part 1

Sports is a diversion and I am in the mood for a little of that.  I just got done searching for a picture of the Brooklyn Center police chief that was probably on Daily Mail.  If so, it is bound to be there again today and also every day for the next week.  The picture was one from a day or two ago where he looked sleep-deprived and really worried.


 

I solved the glow plug situation on the big Mercedes with another and better mobile mechanic.  It is nice to have options.  More to the point personally, it is great to be healthy and nice to have money in the bank, a booming stock market, and a government handing out more.

Back to the task at hand.  Everyone is scrambling with the free year.  It is more on top of more in terms of the ubiquitous portal and the self-expression involved in every 18, 20, or 23 year-old getting what they want.  Don't attend any no cellphones allowed parties or "meetings" because there are going to be rumors and scandals up the ying-yang; you may want to record them.

There will be expansion and profiteering too, as that defunct, sarcastic and funny, anti-communist Michigan sports blog would have described it.  Opportunities will come to life or be shot down.  Most likely, the rich will get richer.

Aside from late-night jitters against UCLA, Michigan played with such aplomb during the one tournament that counts that they will get attention if he calls.  In the much, much bigger picture Juwan is a hot coach and a ticket to the NBA is what they all want.  Michigan football, by comparison, is in danger of flat-out losing it, but in basketball, Ann Arbor is on the map.  Howard, if successful, is attempting to carve out a niche in NBA/college coaching that has never really been done before.  That may be a stretch and or wishful thinking, but compared to Spokane or Lawrence...

(Sorry, Patrick Ewing and Georgetown looked awful.  Look at John Beilein and his coaching search...  Can you see him at a small college just enjoying coaching?  I can't.  Being in Ann Arbor and on BTN is apparently just fine.  BTW, he wanted the NBA too.)

A look back says that Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown were lucky transfer hits.  A lot of the names Michigan didn't get looked ordinary.  

Currently, Juwan Howard's family outweighs roster sense but last year there was room.  Once the toothpaste--scholarship--is out of the tube it is hard to put back in.  Again, a wrath of recruiting no-shows caused it and both the planning and the solutions looked awful.  Adrien Nunez is number two.  I have never seen an upperclass player so incapable of playing in a real game ever.  He did not do it the whole season.

OK, this isn't about counting.  It is about having choices.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

UCLA 51 Michigan 49

 

This was as good as it got, from a Michigan perspective.  They were cocky in the beginning and tense and scared after that.  Johnny Juzang was a big part of it, but the whole UCLA team was responsible for the win.  

After LSU and Florida State, Michigan faced a real coach and was out-coached.  For a moment the basketball bench looked like the football sideline, a place filled with coaches, trainers, and players who are either injured or never play.  But what could they do?  

The only reliable scoring came from Dickinson or even Davis, perhaps with a little help from Johns or Wagner, under the basket.  There was very little passing and, aside from two aggressive 3's from Brown and one open shot from Smith, there was no 3-point attack.  The hard-headed plan, or the reality, offered nothing more.

Kick-outs.  High post from Johns or Wagner...  They didn't do anything.

Tyger Campbell chipped in with a 3 and other scoring too; it was supposed to be a favorable match-up for Mike Smith and Campbell won.

UCLA center Cody Riley was in foul trouble the whole game and that was a favorable match too and then Juzang was injured and...  On many occasions Michigan players stood there and watched the jumpshooters hoping they wouldn't go in.  UCLA won the loose ball scrambles too.

Franz Wagner showed leadership through his actions the last few games.  Of course his overall game always helps.  In this one he did not rise to star or go-to guy level.

Turnovers.  Missed free throws.  Open 3's that weren't close.  Terrible shots, the worst of which was Brooks trying to throw it over and behind his head at the basket.  I can understand the strategy:  Michigan had plenty of chances.

Despite the piss-poor TBS production, one of the announcers got it right.  Someone said, RE UCLA coach Mick Cronin, "Get used to it.  We're going to play ugly."  They did.  They won and they deserved it. 

Always a bad sign.  Over confident.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

 

 




Sunday, March 28, 2021

Michigan 76 Florida State 58

Reactions

Florida State did not show leadership or a go-to guy.  Some of the players were making gestures to the officials and whining after foul calls.

There is something wrong with FSU's reliance on size.  It does not guarantee rebounds.  Gray, for instance, is overweight.  They are slow.  Ball-handling and pressing are are not done well.

Leonard Hamilton is out of place on a college campus.  I am hesitant to learn more about his relationship with Juwan Howard.  In this one, Howard out-coached him.  Whatever Michigan had going on with people standing under the basket and/or dunking, it worked. 

Michigan did not shoot well from the free throw line and Franz Wagner and Eli Brooks were 0-6 from 3pt range.  It could have been worse.

Hamilton was classy and complimentary after the game.


Prediction

If Michigan plays smart, they will win.  It has not happened often this year, but if they crumble--foul trouble, lack of movement, an injury, for instance--they will lose. 

Using your brains includes making free throws.

Franz Wagner and Hunter Dickinson need to play intelligently and composed, the former against Scottie Barnes and the latter around the basket.  Austin Davis too; this is a game where his size will be needed.

This is not a bad match-up for Michigan.  Cover the shooters and lay off the others.

I hope Michigan wins and I do not like Florida State basketball.  The coach reminds me of a mafia leader.  Everyone is recruited based on height--it is more of a show of intimidation rather than basketball.  The team does not represent or embody the college experience at all.

Michigan 75 Florida State 70.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Michigan 86 LSU 78

Had to do a double check:  Cameron Thomas and Javonte Smart played 40 minutes each and I do not remember seeing that in a box score.

They are the two most obvious recipients of strong-ass offers.  There is no team otherwise.

So it is nice to win against a team like that.  It would also be nice to be able to find a video of the whole game and not settle for 8 minutes of highlights.  That makes it harder to explain the whys and wherefores.

My reaction live was that it was easier than I thought it would be.  Steve Lappas is excellent as a TV analyst and at one point he said Thomas is tired.  So why not take him out?  I mean, that is not coaching at all.

Chaundee Brown and Eli Brooks both had great games.  Brooks is lethal if left open, so how about guarding him?

Lappas also said, after the first 10 minutes Michigan made Thomas work for everything, i.e., a team effort to deny him the ball and stick a hand in his face.  It worked.

Michigan getting great shots is a result of plays that screen, require motion, and create open shots.  LSU just shoots; Michigan plays unrelenting defense and eventually a lot of those shots miss.

Smart and Thomas were both 12 for 23 from the floor.  As Brian at mgoblog correctly stated in his pregame post, a lot of those shots, drives to the basket notwithstanding, are dumb, selfish, poorly-conceived 2-pointers.

Michigan's plays result in rebounds and put-backs.  LSU's offense creates scoring that can be demoralizing, plus rebounds for the other team.  Usually, and with Isaiah Livers, Michigan is better at the open-floor game too, but they still have "athletes."  In this one they had enough to stay with LSU during their spurts.

At the end of the game LSU had no clock management, 3-point strategy, turnover creation, or coaching.  Again, without the full game...  At the end they did very little.  It was a tough, back and forth game, but the ending was relatively easy.

Cam Thomas can go to the NBA.  Will Wade can go f*** himself.  Michigan advances.

Florida State.  We've seen them before.  Size isn't everything.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Image of Isaiah Livers

Yes, Adrien Nunez should be paid.  Jace Howard too.  How about Austin Davis, he deserves something for enduring that fifth year?

By whom?  Maybe the answer is more commercials during the games.


There is little question the NCAA is an illegal monopoly and idiots like Kenny Smith and Charlie Barkley make out like bandits.  Change is underway, but it is a complicated process involving the whole country.  For young Mr. Livers, it smacks of selfishness and desperation, and make no mistake, it has nothing to do with whether he plays tomorrow or not.  It is not metoo, it is me now.

I will not be shopping for Zavier Simpson memorabilia.  I doubt they are big sellers, but it is fine if you want to do it and there may be wounded souls who buy them or worse yet, consider them payment for memories.  You are not going to make any money, or provide for a family, or launch a sustainable career by selling $25 pictures of yourself.  It is perhaps a side benefit if you have whopping name and image recognition, but you have to get there first.  Is a couple three years in the NCAA system going to hurt you that much?

If I needed a soundbite from the past I would probably google it, download a picture, and maybe write something about why it is relevant now.  I can see why a super fan, like those residing in an Ohio bar, might want to buy a picture and hang it on the wall.  One of Simpson getting snuffed on a layup or hook shot would be a conversation piece.  Anyway, a Michigan fan would only do it as part of an obsession or chronology.  Those of us who follow closely know that the college game is nothing but a few years and then it is on to the next.  It does not mean any individual is being picked-on because that is how it works for players, coaches, and whole teams.  Cliches about winning are not needed. 

The only thing that stays constant is the logo and the institution behind it.  It is a failure in many ways but it has been around for 160 years and, in an extreme rarity these days, because it survives through education, it is well equipped for the future.  That is what is so god damn selfish.  Everyone there is doing the best they can for the biggest universe possible.

It makes for good news, just ask mgoblog.com.  Maybe not good, but lots of it.  The sports teams are "transitional."

To quote Piers Morgan, these are the days of "whine-athons" and "bilge water."  Everyone is doing it, and for the right reasons and sometimes better done in private than on TV, it is a step forward.  But be careful, you may just get what you wanted...  an image for all the wrong reasons.

For Livers it hit him, or rather, he realized the transition.  There is more on the record and findable in terms of interviews.  There may also be a little second-guessing in terms of when the injury started, the treatment or lack thereof, and the 23-day covid layoff.  It is also a reminder that he missed 10 of 27 games last year too and...  The team will still play, but those are not pluses on a professional basketball player's resume.

I have already moved on.  Anxious for the tournament, I was looking for injury updates and hoping for a return because the team can be electric with Livers as a part of it, but the T-shirt put an end to that.  Michigan is still in it and I'll be watching and probably blogging on Monday, even though they did play like Big Ten thugs against Texas Southern.