Monday, July 28, 2008

Tiller admits to owning a Wizard Hat of his own

I stumbled across this article on by Tom Kubat which discusses how Tiller and Rodriguez don't actually have a feud over Michigan's recruitment of Roy Roundtree. In the article Tiller said he was just saying that to support his stance on getting an earlier signing period for recruits.

Tiller also says: "Dustin Keller was committed to Toledo but we got him, right at the end of recruiting, we've gotten (other) players on the very last day. It's not a program, or a coach. It's the system."

He tried to say the comments about a Wizard hat and snake oil were not directed at Rodriguez. Yeah right. At least he finally admits he dons the Wizard hat every once in a while.

On another note, sorry we haven't been posting lately. It's been a busy summer going out of town and working so as September starts to roll around we'll be updating the blog alot more.

In the mean time I'm working on a big football preview, first for Michigan's team, and then a shorter preview about the Big Ten and Michigan's opponents. I'm about halfway done with the Michigan one and will start posting it unit-by-unit sometime in the next week or two. I'm going to see if the practices will actually be open to the media or not before I do.

Camp starts next Monday! Season in 33 days!

Go Blue!

Monday, July 21, 2008

College Football Future Odds

With the Michigan football season a little more than a month away, here are some odds for the upcoming season.
-8/30 Michigan (-7) vs. Utah: Suprised to see Michigan favored by a TD, it seems a bit high for Threet's opener.
-Over/Under Win Totals: Michigan (8), USC (10.5), Ohio State (10), Georgia (9), Utah (8.5), Michigan State (7), Syracuse (2.5)
-Odds to win the BCS National Championship Game: Michigan (40-1), USC (3-1), Ohio State (8-1), LSU (25-1), Penn State (50-1), Michigan State (75-1), Notre Dame (100-1), Utah (150-1)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Benzing Bounced from Michigan

The NCAA eligibility committee has ruled the incoming U of M Basketball recruit Robin Benzing (6'11, F/C) is ineligible to compete at the NCAA level. Coach Beilein issued a statement in conjunction with the University stating that they would try and help Benzing explore other routes for eligibility. Beilein expects Benzing to play professionally this fall in Europe if his status of eligibility doesn't change soon.

This really shouldn't come as much of a shock to Michigan fans. The chances of getting Benzing and have him contribute right away were small as he only put up 9 pts and 3 boards a game in Germany. The fact that he played "club" basketball initially raised a red flag with me, and then when Brandon Jennings said he was going over to play in Europe to play for a year and earn a living, I can't say I wasn't shocked to see the committee's results. The big downside is that now Michigan is left with only two legitimate centers (Cronin and Gibson), neither with extensive experience.

The Wolverines have an incoming class of only four recruits: 7-foot center Ben Cronin of Syracuse, N.Y., guard Stu Douglass of Carmel, Ind., guard Zack Novak of Chesterton, Ind., and guard Laval Lucas-Perry of Grand Blanc. (Lucas-Perry has been with the team since transferring from Arizona last winter)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Michigan Football and Hockey Each Lose a Player

It was announced today that Sophomore Forward, Max Pacioretty has signed a three-year deal with the Montreal Canadians. Patch won CCHA Freshman of the year last year with 15 goals and 24 assists. He was fifth among freshman nationally with 39 points. Pacioretty was expected to step up and help fill the scoring void left from departing Hobey Baker winner, Kevin Porter.

The football team will be without the services of Marques Slocum who will not return in the fall due to academic reasons. Slocum went to JUCO for a year and then spent a year here at U of M to make himself NCAA eligible but apparently that didn't last. This is not a huge surprise to me, considering Slocum has forgotten his U of M ID card at least two or three times in the West Quad Cafeteria over the last year. Slocum is also playing pick up basketball just about every day in the CCRB which now makes a lot more sense.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Update: Summer Ball and Michigan Hoops

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the future of the Michigan basketball program and how tough it was going to be recruiting top talent with up-and-coming mid major programs like Oakland and U of D Mercy bringing in top-tier recruiting classes. It looks as if I might have gotten it right. Free Press reporter Mark Snyder wrote a column yesterday about Oakland's incoming class and how they could be gearing up to challenge the big guns (like MSU) for state basketball supremacy.

Drew Maynard, one of the six incoming players, went as far as to say this was the start of a "dynasty" at OU. While that may be a little bit of a stretch, and though this class isn't likely to be the next Fab Five, Michigan Basketball might need to prepare for a changing of the guard as teams like Oakland and Detroit Mercy have taken full advantage of U of M's absence from the state basketball scene.

Summer Ball: As of yesterday evening, Forward Bernard Robinson Jr. leads all former Wolverines with 13 points and 13 boards in the NBA Summer League. Robinson Jr. has seen action in 2 games (44 minutes total) and has started one of them. Robert "Tractor" Traylor is second with 8 points in 13 minutes played with the Cavs, while Brent Petway and Courtney Sims have yet to see the court for the Grizzlies and Hornets, respectively.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Michigan's Home/Away Jersey for this Season

These have already been published on various blogs and by the Detroit News, Free Press, and Ann Arbor News, but just in case you've been living under a rock and your only source for Michigan Football news comes from Maize & Blog, here are Michigan's Jerseys for this upcoming year:


I really don't like the road jerseys. The home ones look the same just swap an Adidas symbol for the Nike swoosh. The road jerseys scream West Virginia. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Apparently these new jerseys are high-tech and will allow for more natural body movements...combine that and the Mike Barwis workouts and the Wolverines should really be flying this year

Monday, July 14, 2008

Billy Packer's Most Memorable Moments

ESPN is reporting via the Miami Herald that Billy Packer's string of 34 consecutive final fours will end this year. Clark Kellogg is set to replace Packer with the color duties and should be a definite upgrade on the March Madness telecasts.

We'll leave you with a few of our favorite Billy Packer memories below

Billy Packer's Most Memorable Moments

Sunday, July 13, 2008

ESPN Title Town Taping

ESPN will be in Ann Arbor taping a segment for it's Title Town series tomorrow. Ann Arbor has been named one of the twenty finalists. Detroit also made the top twenty list but I haven't heard anything about when the ESPN crew will head to "The D" as they call it at my internship with the Detroit Visitors Bureau.

The taping will take place at 12:00-1:00 on the diag tomorrow with Desmond Howard and other guests scheduled to be present. If you're in the Ann Arbor area, come on in to give Ann Arbor a good representation. There aren't many students around right now so hopefully we can get a decent turnout. Weather is supposed to be perfect tomorrow too!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Ball

For the University of Michigan Men's Basketball Team, having a lack players in the NBA has become somewhat of a punchline in recent years. Not since 2004 has the program had a player taken in the draft (Bernard Robinson Jr., 45th Pick by Charlotte). Although there hasn't been many players taken in the draft, a few of the Wolverines' former players are still hard at work on the court trying to earn invites to training camp through the NBA's Summer League.

The 2008 Summer League has been noticeably full of Wolverines this season, with 4 former players all working out with different teams. Brent "Air Georgia" Petway (Grizzlies), Robert "Tractor" Traylor (Cavaliers), Courtney Sims (Hornets), and Bernard Robinson Jr. (Portland) are all looking for a chance to show their teams that they have what it takes to earn a spot on their twelve-man roster come November 1. None of these players have received any playing time through the first round of games, even though a guy like Sims was on a NBA roster last season (In Sims' case, he received only garbage minutes with the Pacers at the end of games very early on in the season. I guess you could say the double team is still a problem for him).

Oddly enough, many of the scouting reports have Petway listed as the candidate most likely to stick with a team throughout training camp. Petway, who is most remembered for his highlight dunks and artistic expression through the designs shaved into his head, was often seen as a symbol of everything wrong with the Amaker Era: A kid with a lot of potential and athletic ability, but lacking the discipline and focus to steadily improve his game. He has reportedly added a consistent 15 foot jumper to his game and shown much improvement with his rebounding skills.

Having one of these guys make an NBA roster is just the kind of exposure this Wolverine team needs right now. The NBA is quickly becoming the 2nd most popular sport in the world, and viewer-ship has never been higher. While guys like Lute Olson have openly admitted to shying away from recruiting "one-and-done" high school players (former AZ recruit Brandon Jennings spurned the Wildcats for big money overseas), having one of these guys in Maize and Blue for a year (and subsequently jumping to the NBA) would not only draw interest from national media, but it would also generate interest from kids trying to select the best school to develop their game. Yes, there is the question about Michigan's academic standards. And Yes, Whether a player like this would ever appeal to John Beilein remains to be seen. But the bottom line is that Michigan Basketball is in desperate need of a shot in the arm when it comes to generating interest, and these are the types of things that could provide it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Grady Pleads Not Guilty

Fox Sports is reporting that Michigan running back Kevin Grady has pleaded not guilty to the charge of drunk driving. Obviously Grady will not be attending Michigan Law School anytime soon. How gusty, ahem, stupid, is this? Never mind the fact that you blew a .287 blood alcohol level, which is more than three times the legal limit. Never mind the fact that your mug shot looks like you are about to slip into an alcoholic coma. Grady must have one hell of a legal team to plead not guilty...oh wait, he hasn't even hired an attorney yet, I suspect a guilty plea might be coming once that is done.

This not guilty plea just escalates this whole entire situation. First, it was an incredibly idiotic decision to get behind the wheel that night. But now, to have the nerve to say, "I didn't do it"? This demonstrates that Grady has no remorse for what he did, he is not even taking responsibility for his actions, and it shows a lack of maturity. If he took the guilty plea, took his medicine, and worked his ass off, Americans have shown in the past that they are willing to forgive someone for making a mistake, to give them a second chance.

Oh the media would have loved it, a college kid who makes a major mistake but learns from it only to become a better person. I can already see the piece on ESPN's College Game Day, maybe even Desmond Howard conducting the interview.

But now? Forget it. It is time to cut the tie with Kevin Grady, at least when it comes to playing football for Michigan. Allow Grady to stay in school and finish his degree, but he should never play another down for Michigan. I can accept a young man making a mistake, even one of this size. But, with the right punishment (a lengthy suspension from the team, community service) I would have welcomed Grady back to the team, but not any more. Not with this scoff to the legal system, further embarrassing the university.

Now the burden falls on RichRod. This isn't West Virginia Rich. The higher ups here at Michigan don't like off the field troubles, and they expect these things to be dealt with swiftly, and not simply swept under the rug like Ohio State. Rich has to throw Grady off the team now. He cannot allow for Grady to stay on the team, he has to send a message to the rest of the team, Lloyd may be gone but the standards he set will continue to be up held. And that brings up another issue with the fans. Michigan supporters have been so quick to blast Ohio State for every issue that has come up with Tressel and his players. Now I hear some fans saying that Grady is just a kid who made a bad decision. How quickly things change.

Rich, it's time to make the right decision because clearly Grady didn't.

Less Rich, More Rod

One distraction is out of the way as it was announced today that Rich Rodriguez has come to an agreement with West Virginia University in which the full $4 million buyout will be paid to WVU. Rodriguez will be aided by the U of M Athletic Department which will fork over $2.5 million with the other $1.5 coming from his pocket.

Rodriguez will pay the $1.5 million in three installments of $500,000 while the Michigan payment will come as a lump sum from their reserve fund.

WVU put the pressure on Rodriguez/U of M as Athletic Director, Bill Martin and University President, Mary Sue Coleman would have been forced to testify at the trial as to whether or not there was an agreement made that would have Michigan pay the buyout clause before Rodriguez accepted the U of M job.

Either way, this story is finally over with and we can concentrate on the upcoming season. Rushi is busy preparing an in-depth season preview that should make its way onto the blog in the weeks ahead.

51 days till the opener!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Club Wolverine: Making Waves at Olympic Trials

For the past week at the U.S Swimming Trials in Omaha, the University of Michigan has been constantly mentioned by broadcasters and swimming critics. In almost every single semi-final or final heat, for both men and women, there has been a swimmer with Maize and Blue ties. This is largely due to the fact that the University is home to one of the nation's most elite swimming groups in Club Wolverine.

Club Wolverine is a group of elite swimmers, most of whom are currently on the Wolverine roster or are notable alumni swimmers that have been swimming competitively since graduating. They are coached by Bob Bowman, Phelps' personal coach, since Bowman arrived in Ann Arbor almost four years ago. Assisting Bowman is John Urbanchek, Michigan's former swim coach that led the Wolverines to a National Championship in 1995. Urbanchek was enshrined into the International Swimming Hall of Fame this year and at 72 is the swimming equivalent to John Wooden in basketball. He has been a coach on the last 5 Olympic teams

The team has been the one of Michigan's best recruiting tools as far as its swimming program is concerned. For example, the signature "CW" that the Club's members wear on their swim caps have been seen all over the trials, the most notable swimmer wearing one being Phelps. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard the meaning behind the "CW" on Phelps's swim cap, I probably wouldn't have to work the rest of this summer. This kind of exposure is extremely valuable and plays right into the hands of U of M recruiting in getting the Wolverines' name out to the public as one of the best college swimming programs.

However, Club Wolverine's future seems uncertain with Bowman announcing his departure from the program to take a directorial position at his former aquatic center... taking prized pupil Phelps with him. Although losing the main attraction in Phelps will hurt, the Club should be in good hands in the coming years. Michigan has already sent a handful of underclassmen to this year's trials, in addition to a few highly recruited incoming freshman making the stop at Omaha before heading east to Ann Arbor. Incoming Coach Mike Bottom (formerly of Cal) has also asked Urbanchek to stay on to assist with the transition phase. Bottom is best known for coaching sprinters, but don't look for things to drastically change just yet. Bottom should provided enough of a sprinting balance (to the already well established distance program of Urbanchek) to give the Wolverines a shot at another national title within the next two to three years in collegiate competition.

So while Phelps may be on his way out of A2, and even though the program is on its last Vanderkaay brother, Club Wolverine looks to remain one of the top swimming programs for years to come.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen....Michigan Stadium!

umm...hopefully they get going on this so it looks somewhat presentable on August 30th.

also, an update on the Kevin Grady situation: Grady blew a .28 which is over 3x the legal limit and according to my M Stay in the Blue table that the University gives to all freshman at the beginning of each year, Grady, a 228 pound male would have to drink roughly 15 drinks in one hour, 25 in three hours, and 30 in five hours to achieve that whopping .28 blood alcohol level.

UHS also says that in the .25-.29 range: Severe impairment of mental, physical, sensory functions; risk of serious injury; passing out likely

Had Grady consumed one more drink and gotten up to that .30 level, UHS says: Stupor, little copmrehension, hard to wake, death possible.

No wonder his mug shot looked like this:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kevin Grady: First Player with Legal Troubles for Rodriguez to Handle

Michigan Runningback Kevin Grady was released from jail this morning on a $5,000 bond after being arrested for a misdemeanor charge of Drunk Driving. This is the first Michigan player with legal trouble since Rodriguez has arrived.

For Grady, this is a very unfortunate and terrible mistake. After battling through a torn ACL and recovering to where coaches expect(ed) him to be a big factor in the backfield, Grady might have found his way back off the field. It will probably only be for a few games, but we will have to see how Rodriguez plans to deal with it.

The backfield definitely will take a hit for the games without Grady, but still should be ok. Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown have been the assumed #1 and #2 running backs (unsure of who is first) followed by Grady and Avery Horn who was very impressive in the Spring scrimmage. Many thought Grady might be used in the mold of Rodriguez's West Virginia fullback Owen Schmidt, however, coaches indicated that Grady was probably going to be a normal running back.

While Grady provides power, and seemed to gain an ability to find the open field in the spring game (an ability he lacked before the injury) Michigan is plenty deep at the running back spot. Still, his loss would hurt.

In a released statement, Rodriguez said this would be handled "in-house" after all the details are gathered. I think this will fairly lead to a suspension of a few games to start the season. A 2-3 game suspension would suffice in my belief, granted that Grady shows remorse for his actions and doesn't do anything else. The 22 year old made a mistake, is probably remorseful and probably won't put himself in that situation again anytime soon. In addition to a suspension, he has to face the punishment the government hands down to him as well. He worked his butt off to rehab his knee back to full strength and will not risk his chance to see the field again. I think he stays out of trouble and we will see him either against Notre Dame or the Big Ten opener.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Michigan Baseball Draftees

An update on the Michigan Baseball Team's players selected in the 2008 Draft:

Jason Christian, Nate Recknagel, Michael Powers, and Adam Abraham have all signed MLB contracts and therefore will not return to Michigan next season. All except for Recknagel were Juniors. Zach Putnam has not signed with the Indians yet and although most assumed that he was the most likely to leave early, there still is a possibility that he will return with the Wolverines next season. Putnam was drafted in the fifth round, much lower than projected.

Here's my early projection for the starting lineup/rotation (assuming Putnam does not return*):

1) Kevin Cislo (2B)
2) Ryan Lamarre (CF)
3) Derek Vanbuskirk (1B)
4) Mike Dufek (DH)
5) Alan Oaks (RF)
6) Chris Berset (C)
7) Tyler Mills (SS)
8) Nick Urban (3B)
9) Kenny Fellows (LF)

Starting Rotation:
1) Chris Fetter
2) Tyler Burgoon
3) Tyler Mills
4) Eric Katzman

Ha, this will be fun...

*If Putnam returns, slide him into that DH/#1 pitcher spot and slide everyone else down. Dufek's bat would probably find itself in the lineup at first base, moving Vanbuskirk back to left in place of Fellows.

Well it's safe to say that expectations will not be as high for Michigan Baseball in 2009 as their roster will be extremely depleted. There are no returning infielders, the only functioning reliever is gone in Michael Powers. The starting pitching which lacked a consistent three or four starters loses the Big 10 Pitcher of the Year in Zach Putnam.

I think Michigan will still have enough talent to win the Big 10 behind some excellent coaching and recruiting by Rich Maloney. Tyler Mills is the only recruit I know much about as he was just named Michigan's (co) Mr. Baseball as he went 12-2 with an ERA of 1.50. Mills also hit .426 with 30 RBIs as the shortstop/centerfielder for Mount Pleasant.

Michigan's roster currently lacks any shortstops or third basemen so I'm penciling Mills in at short when he doesn't pitch and giving the third base job to Urban. Look for Adam Arbour and Mike Kittle to be in the mix for playing time at those two positions as well.

Michigan finished the 2008 season ranked in the top twenty-five in three separate polls:
Collegiate Baseball (20th)
Baseball America (22nd)
USAToday/ESPN Coaches Poll (22nd)