Saturday, January 31, 2009

Michigan-Purdue LIVE from Mackey Arena

Listen LIVE as WCBN completes its Journey Through the Midwest in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Game of the Week Archive: 1/30/09

1st hour: Michigan Basketball

2nd hour: Interview w/ Richard Deitsch (SI)

3rd hour: Family Feud: Super Bowl Edition

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Password: wcbnfm

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Michigan Hoops @ Ohio State Archive

Our Journey Through the Midwest got off to a rough start last night in Columbus.  Click below to re-live the misery in-full.

WCBN will have LIVE coverage of Michigan-Purdue from West Lafayette, IN this Saturday at 1pm.

Maize and Blog Mixer

We are almost a month into 2009, but here is something that will hopefully catch on here at Maize & Blog. It's called "The Mixer." Every week, we will bring you a grab bag of stories and links from the recent days and weeks, much of it pretaining to U of M Sports... and some just for fun. Anyways, if you have anything you wanted posted, e-mail us at

The Mixer:

I'm not really in the mood to discuss Michigan's play against OSU just yet. I'll save that for tomorrow with our Purdue preview. In the meantime, here is a great Fab Five package done by ESPN and posted by none other than Jalen Rose. Little known fact about Rose: He posts EVERYTHING he does on TV to YouTube. Seriously. Everytime that guy is on TV, he cuts the footage and posts it. I'm sure we haven't seen our last clip from Jalen TV.

Even LeBron loves himself some Fab Five.

How many tries does it take for MSU's Alyssa Dehaan (6'9) to dunk a basketball? Apparently more than a digital camera is able to showcase on one memory card....

(...sigh) Oh, Little Brother. Obviously, she's got a long way to go to hit Candace Parker territory.

Behind the Scenes at Yost: The Detroit News gives readers a great look inside a day at Yost. This is a great photo journalistic piece by John Greilick and is worth watching if you've ever been to Yost.

MGoBlue Clip of the Week: Doug Karsch interviews new Defenisve Coordinator Greg Robinson. I wasn't sold on him coming in, but he's gotten good reviews from people in football. Here's his first interview as a Wolverine.

Featured Guest: Later this week on "Game of the Week," Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch will be in to talk with us. He covers Olympic sports, as well as is the main writer detailing what goes on in the sports media world. Here is a little background to get you set for Friday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Extra Points Archive: 1/26/09

The WCBN crew recaps the weekend in sports.  Topics include: Michigan-Michigan State hockey, Michigan-Northwestern basketball and the WWE Royal Rumble.  LISTEN HERE!!!

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Journey Through the Midwest

Two months ago, WCBN made its Trek Across America to broadcast Michigan basketball games at Madison Square Garden in NYC and the Michigan-Ohio State football game in Columbus.  This week WCBN returns to road with the Michigan basketball team for its Journey Through the Midwest.  On Wednesday night, WCBN will be on-hand for the LIVE call of Michigan-Ohio State in Columbus at 6:30.  Then, our journey concludes in West Lafayette at Mackey Arena on Saturday to watch the Wolverines tangle with Purdue LIVE at 1:00.  Two games in two cities over four days that will greatly influence Michigan's NCAA Tournament chances.  Listen to our journey all week long LIVE on the WCBN Sports Stream.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Extra Points & Game of the Week Archives: 1/19, 1/24

To listen, click on link and use the ID and password below:

ID: wcbn
Password: wcbnfm

GOTW: 1/24/09
Hour 1: Michigan Hoops, UM-MSU 1st Period
Hour 2: Australian Open, UM-MSU 2nd Period
Hour 3: "Family Feud": NHL All Star Edition, UM-MSU 3rd Period

EP: 1/19/09
LISTEN HERE: NFL Recap, Michigan Basketball & Hockey Review

Friday, January 23, 2009

Barwis owes WVU 50,000

Looks like Coach Rich Rodriguez isn't the only guy that owes WVU some cash. 

Michigan Strength and Conditioning coach Mike Barwis reportedly owes 50,000 dollars to his former employer under a damages clause in his contract.  The AP picked up this story early this morning although it hasn't gotten much publicity yet.  If people remember, Rodriguez also ended up owing WVU money due to his departure midway through his own contract with the Mountaineers.

For more on this story, click here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Free Fallin'

I was so distraught after seeing the Wolverines lose in Happy Valley last night that I decided not to post a "post game report." Thank God for the Inauguration festivities because I don't think this game was watched by as many viewers as a normal Tuesday night game. The fewer people who witness that game, the better. Michigan, for the second straight game, came out flat in the second half and pounded the self-destruct button. The Wolverines are on a slide, losing their last three in convincing fashion. Penn State was supposed to be a game the Wolverines could use to build some momentum. Well, that didn't happen... but at least they have Northwestern coming up right?

Wait....NU just beat MSU in East Lansing for the first time since 1984. Granted, the Wildcats got a little lucky on a night F Kevin Coble couldn't miss, banked in three pointers, and went for 31 points. Two of the Wildcat starters had NO POINTS. I can't decide what kind of team MSU is going to put on the floor week to week, but give credit to the Wildcats for playing well. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Wolverines are catching NU at the wrong time.

The Wolverines are sliding but here are a few things I feel like they could do to right the ship:

Play Jevohn Shepherd: Or at least tell fans why this kid continues to ride the pine in favor of two freshman when you need a stop. Granted, Novak has really come on lately with his rebounding and Douglass found his touch against OSU. But not giving Shepherd meaningful minutes will only hamper this team defensively. A guy with his athletic ability should not be riding the bench when your team has struggled to play good on-the-ball defense.  His length would help in the zone as well.

Go to the rack:  More points in the paint is what this team needs.  Steve Lavin did a great job in last nights OSU-UI game of illustrating the importance of hitting the "sweet spot" in the zone in order to get points in the point.  Michigan didn't do that against OSU and it cost them a potential win.  Even against PSU, Michigan has relied too much on the jump shot and not enough on working the ball inside/getting to the rim.  Manny Harris did plenty of this early in the season and its time we see more of this heading into NU and OSU next week.

Find an identity or rotation:  I'm not sure this is exactly the root of the problem, but it is now January, and the Wolverines still don't seem to have a sense of a set rotation.  This might be due to John Beilein's preference to not have one, and he might believe in not having one, but it seems like this team hasn't found what works well for them.  Championship teams (or in this case just good teams) usually have the ability to do one or two things far better than their opponent in order to win.  With the Wolverines, it has been 3-point shooting so far this season.  But if the long  shots aren't falling, the Wolverines seem to lose focus and not have a real solid back-up plan.

Quick hits: This is kind of old but Michigan announced their new practice facility that we had reported last April (Props to Stu).  I initially doubted this, but give all the credit to AD Bill Martin for following through on this and doing it quickly.  The press release said private donations accounted for some of the funding.  I haven't been able to find out if Jalen Rose's name is on that list, but hopefully more to come on this later.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Battle for 7th Place: Michigan @ Penn State

A weekend of missed opportunities in sports, from Michigan basketball to Michigan hockey to the Eagles.  On Tuesday, Michigan (13-5, 3-3) travels to State College to take on much-improved Penn State (14-5, 3-3).

Programming Info: The game is on BTN at 9:00 et. on Tuesday night with Gus Johnson and Tim McCormick on the call.  WCBN will have a preview the game on the Tuesday DSR (5:15) and full recap on Wednesday (5:15).

Michigan-Ohio State Recap: Man, I have bad feeling Michigan is going to want to have the final 8 minutes of that game back at the end of the season.  Outside of Manny Harris and Stu Douglass, the Wolverines again struggled to find any sort of offensive production, especially from Sims and LLP. With the depth and talent of the Big Ten, you must win your conference games at home, especially a game you lead by 4 points with 7:45 to go. Now, Michigan has already dropped two and will have to steal a couple to finish at .500 (9-9).

Why Michigan Will Win: #1-Manny Harris is playing more like a 1st team all-conference player in the last few games, scoring more than 20 points in the last two games. He seems to be forcing things less and letting the offense come to him. #2-Lack of size from Penn State, Michigan has struggled most against talented 4 and 5-men from other teams. Think Tisdale, Mullens, Zoubek, Aboya, etc. Zach Novak has been a tremendous job of rebounding at the power-forward position and should keep that up against Penn State.  #3-PSU's weak resume.  While PSU is even with Michigan currently in the Big Ten standings, their RPI is more than 40 spots lower.  Their only decent non-conference win was on the road against Georgia Tech, a team that will finish at the bottom of the ACC. In conference, PSU's 3 wins are over Indiana, Northwestern and a Purdue team playing without 2 of its starters: Hummel and Kramer.

Why Michigan Will Lose: #1-DeShawn Sims has been MIA the last 2 games. After shooting 3-14 at Illinois, Sims was just 4 of 13 versus Ohio State.  Add to his offensive struggles the dominating performances of Tisdale and Mullens and I think its safe to say that DeShawn's NBA draft stock has taken quite a hit.  Again, as I have said often, Sims has played well and been a primary focus of the offense in Michigan's key wins (Duke, Illinois and Northeastern). Sims must play better on both ends of the floor if the Wolverines want to be competitive.      #2-Playing on the road, the Wolverines have played in 3 true road road games this year and lost each, really only playing for 20 minutes.  Michigan played a solid 1st half at Illinois and Maryland, along with terrific 2nd half at Indiana, but were nowhere to be found in the other half of the game. #3-Talor Battle, the 2nd leading scorer in the Big Ten (18.6 ppg) scored 28pts and 13rbs against Michigan last year. Michigan has struggled more with opposing big-men this year than guards, but still need to make sure their 1-3-1 zone extends out to cover Battle, a very good 3-point shooter.

"Super Six": Michigan is in the midst of an important 6-game stretch in the Big Ten and has not started well (0-2).  Before the Illinois game last week, I thought Michigan needed to get 3 wins and now they will be lucky to win 2.  With 3 road games in the next 4, Michigan must beat Northwestern at home on Saturday night and hope to win at Penn State and/or Ohio State.  I would be shocked if Michigan could win on the road in West Lafayette.  In a week that saw Minnesota win at Wisconsin and Illinois nearly win in East Lansing, the top six teams in the Big Ten have shown they can win on the road, something Michigan is yet to display.  I can pretty confidently say that the Big Ten will get 6 teams into the NCAA tournament, but the question remains of whether they will take a 7th (either Michigan or Penn State). With only Iowa and Northwestern remaining as easier road games heading forward, the Penn State game is as close to a "must win" as you are going to get in January.

Prediction: Michigan is facing as much adversity as they have all season to this point, coming off two straight defeats.  While every road game in the Big Ten this year will be difficult, I think the Wolverines will steal a huge one in State College and begin to right the ship. 

Michigan 67 Penn State 62

Saturday, January 17, 2009

1883 Days

....That's how long its been since Michigan beat OSU in Football.  The number was spray-painted on a bed sheet and waved in the waining minutes of the 65-58 loss to the Buckeyes.  It was a sign that was displayed proudly during tonight's game by OSU's fans that had made the trip.  These same fans stayed well past the final buzzer, singing "Carmen, Ohio" and spelling the four letters that sting in ears of Wolverine fans.  On the same day that Michigan lost to OSU in "The Dual" (Michigan's head-to-head competition with OSU at the indoor track building) and then proceeded to lose to the Buckeyes in Baskteball, the sign and the singing were a reminder of how this year has gone for Wolverine athletics.

As for the actual game....This game probably would have been a lot more lopsided than the final score showcased if OSU hadn't gotten a bad case of ADD and strayed from the gameplan.  Here's a few questions this game left up in the air:

Why did Thad Matta take his foot off the gas?  Matta made a great move my inserting Dallas Lauderdale and BJ Mullens into the line-up at the same time around the 10 minute mark in the first half.  The Wolverines went to the 1-3-1 zone, playing Gibson with four guards (Harris, Douglass, Grady, and LLP).  The Buckeyes then went on a run, throwing three  quick offensive series consisting of alley-oops and drop-pass dunks to both Lauderdale and Mullens.  Then, Matta stopped going down low and totally went away from that strategy.  In fact, Lauderdale only played 8 minutes in the second half, after playing 13 in the first, getting four points and leading the team in rebounds (4 boards).  Thad Matta let Michigan back into this game and might have changed the course of this game had he gone with a bigger line-up.

Where has Stu Douglass been?  Stu Douglass returned to the sharp-shooter we saw earlier in the year, scoring 12 points from beyond the arc.  He still took one or two ill-advised threes, but otherwise played nicely and within the offense.  Welcome back.

Why did Manny quit going to the rim?  Harris drove to the hoop three times in the first 5 minutes, getting fouls on two of the attempts.  This strategy was working well through the game.  But after there was a no call during the first four minutes of the 2nd half on one of his drives, this strategy stopped.  Manny did the same thing in the Wisconsin game: He got discouraged and it threw him off his game.  This has to change if the Wolverines are to be successful against teams that decide to throw the zone at U of M.

Is this the end of Michigan's newest streak in the rankings? Yes
Are the next two against PSU and NU must wins? Definitely

Where do we go from here? Michigan needs to regroup and put this week behind them.  DeShawn Sims needs to become more assertive in the offense and needs to find his shot.  If he and Manny can get back on track (along with the emergence on Zack Novak this past week with his hustle plays and rebounding) Michigan should put themselves in good position going into the last week of January.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Michigan vs Ohio State LIVE at 7:50pm ET

Huge game between Michigan (13-4) and Ohio State (12-3).  Our coverage begins at 7:50pm, with the tip-off slated for 8:06pm ET.  We will also have halftime coverage of the 1989 National Championship team being recognized on the 20-year anniversary of their title.  LISTEN HERE!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Showdown in Champaign

Tonight, Michigan (13-3) gets Illinois (14-2) for the second time and it won't be easy.  The Wolverines are a 6.5 point underdog.

Programming Info: The game is on BTN at 8:30 et. with Wayne Larrivee and Shon Morris on the call.  WCBN will have a preview of the game tonight on the DSR (5:15) and reaction tomorrow on the DSR (5:15).  Michigan State @ Penn State precedes the Michigan game at 6:30 on the BTN.  I'll give credit where its due, I am greatly enjoying BTN's coverage of basketball this year.  They are covering more games and I like the 6:30/8:30 doubleheaders.  
***Gus Johnson Alert: Gus will call the Michigan-Penn State game in State College next Tuesday night.

Game #1: Back on January 4, just ten days ago, Michigan defeated Illinois 74-64.  Here's the post game thoughts.  All I will say is that Michigan was the more desperate team in that one, coming off a home loss to Wisconsin, while Illinois had just defeated Purdue on the road in overtime.   

Why Michigan Will Lose: #1- Michigan is playing on the road in front of a very tough environment. The Wolverines have only played two true road games thus far at Maryland and Indiana and neither were pretty.  In fact, if you look at Michigan's total resume, Michigan has seven wins against teams currently ranked below #100 in the RPI. Granted, they do have 3 wins versus top 50 teams (UCLA, Duke and Illinois), but they're still should be some concern over whether Michigan can win consistently in the grind of Big Ten season.  #2- In the first game between the two teams, Zach Gibson was terrific, finishing with 10 points in 17 minutes. Unfortunately, that will not happen tonight.  No further explanation needed.  #3- The matchup of Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale against Zach Novak and DeShawn Sims. I don't mind that Michigan has gone to a small starting lineup, with Novak playing at the 4-position. There are very few teams they will play that have great size and it enables the Wolverines to stretch the defense, leading to open three's or back-door cuts.  However, the one exception is Illinois.  As one of the few teams with size in the front-court in the Big Ten, I would be surprised if Tisdale and Davis fail to exceed the combined 17 points and 8 rebounds they had in the two teams first meeting of the year.  Add to that the sudden disappearance of Jevohn Shepard and Michigan is going to be really dependent on its guards to rebound, namely Harris and Novak.

Why Michigan Will Win: #1- John Beilein has historically had great success when facing a team for the second time in a single season.  In fact, Beilein won three of five of those games last year and is perfect this year (Duke).  I'll take Beilein over Bruce Weber any day of the week. #2- Michigan's bench outplays that of Illinois.  While this may seem highly unlikely, especially considering the fact that role players tend to play better on their home floor, CJ Lee has been playing well lately and Stu Douglass is due for a performance more like what we saw at MSG. Beilein has used Sims and Grady off the bench at different points this year to provide some sort of spark and someone else needs to step up and fill that void.  #3-Big game from DeShawn Sims. In all of Michigan's significant wins this season (UCLA, Duke, Illinois and Northeastern), the Wolverines made a concerted effort to get the ball to Sims inside.  Very much a rhythm player, Michigan must go to DeShawn early and often tonight.  Furthermore, Sims must stay out of foul trouble, in defending Tisdale and/or Davis.

"Super Six": Michigan is now into the heart of Big Ten Conference play and the final six games in January are vital to their tournament chances.  The next six include four road games (Illinois, Penn State, Ohio State and Purdue) and just two games at Crisler (Ohio State and Northwestern). With a back-loaded conference schedule that is much more difficult (Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State, Minnesota twice) and UConn out of conference, Michigan really needs to get 3 wins in their next 6. If we assume wins at home against Ohio State and Northwestern and losses at Purdue and Illinois, Michigan has to find a way to steal a road win from either Penn State or Ohio State, neither of which will be easy.  People have to remember while Michigan is 13-3 right now, it is highly likely they will be well under .500 in their final 15 games. Still, a 6-9 finish would put Michigan at .500 in conference and more than likely into the NCAA tournament. Michigan must protect its home floor, as one slip-up against the likes of Northwestern or Penn State could prove costly.  The depth of the Big Ten will and the weakness of mid-majors will see the Big Ten get six or seven teams into the tournament, meaning one or two of Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State will probably be left out.

Prediction: Michigan has nothing to lose in this one.  Road wins in the Big Ten this year will be hard to come by.  The Wolverines just have to keep it within 10 points at the half and give themselves a chance to steal the game late. I know Michigan has two awfully impressive wins thus far over two teams ranked #4 in the country at the time, but if the Wolverines were to pull this off tonight, it would be the most impressive of all.

Illinois 72 Michigan 60

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Florida: From 2 to 6 Point Favorite, Why?

Over the past 3 weeks, #2 Florida has gradually become more of a favorite, now close to a touchdown over #1 Oklahoma. Usually, "someone knows something" when the line shifts this drastically. In this case, the lack of success of recent Heisman trophy winners in bowl games and the struggles of the Big 12 in this bowl season are the main reasons behind the line movement. Heisman trophy winners have struggled in high-profile games, with the lone exception of Carson Palmer at USC. Think back to Reggie Bush losing to Texas, Jason White falling to USC, and even Tim Tebow losing to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl last year. Also, there is a distinct divide between the coaches, Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer. Stoops has struggled in big games as of late, losing to West Virginia and Boise State as huge favorites in the 2007 and 2008 Fiesta Bowls. Meanwhile, if Urban Meyer wins tonight, he will ascend to the throne of the sport as the top coach, winning 2 out of 3 national championships. While one may still wonder about his future, specifically that out-clause to Notre Dame, Meyer has had more success than Pete Carroll, Bob Stoops, and Mack Brown in the last four years.

While Oklahoma has a record-setting offense, Sooner fans should be concerned about their defense. Overall, the defenses of Big 12 teams have not slowed down opponents in this bowl season and their offenses have not put up the kind of points they did during conference play. For instance, Missouri struggled with Northwestern only winning 30-23 in OT in the Alamo Bowl. Texas Tech was beaten soundly by Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. Sure, Kansas won the Insight Bowl, but that was against a terrible Minnesota team that likely should not have been invited to a bowl game to begin with. Oklahoma State could not move the ball in 8 of 10 possessions in 2nd half of the Holiday Bowl, losing to heavy underdog Oregon. Finally, Texas was shut down in the Fiesta Bowl, trailing 21-17 to Ohio State with 2 minutes left in the game and gave up a ton of rushing yardage to the Buckeyes. All in all, the prolific offenses of the Big 12 have not put up big numbers in bowl games. Special teams is also a major problem for OU and I guarantee that Oklahoma gives up a special teams TD tonight, either from a kickoff or punt. The presence of the coach (Meyer), the QB (Tebow), and the league (SEC) all point towards Florida tonight. Coverage begins at 7:30pm tonight on the FOX. This is the last year that FOX will broadcast the BCS National Championship game, as coverage for the title game shifts to ABC in 2010.

Prediction: Florida 42 Oklahoma 24

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ahead on WCBN in 2009

Following a 2008 that saw WCBN cover a record-setting Michigan football season (not in a good way) and make our "Trek Across America", 2009 has even more to offer.

Weekly Schedule:
Monday: Extra Points (6-6:30pm)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Daily Sports Report (5:15-5:30pm)
Friday: Game of the Week (7-10pm)

Michigan Basketball:
Home games broadcast LIVE on 1/11, 1/17, 1/24, 2/5, 2/10, 2/19, 2/26
1 or 2 road games broadcast LIVE (To Be Announced)
LIVE coverage of the Big Ten Tournament from Indianapolis for a 2nd straight year (3/12-3/15)
LIVE coverage of the NCAA Tournament (???)

Michigan Hockey:
Home games broadcast LIVE on 1/9, 1/10, 1/16, 1/23, 1/24, 1/31, 2/7, 2/13, 2/14, 2/28
LIVE coverage of the CCHA tournament (3/6, 3/7, 3/8, 3/13, 3/14, 3/15, 3/20, 3/21)
LIVE coverage of the NCAA Tournament (???)

Michigan Baseball:
Home games broadcast LIVE on 3/20, 3/21, 3/22, 3/25, 3/31, 4/1, 4/3, 4/4, 4/5, 4/7, 4/8, 4/10, 4/11, 4/12, 4/13, 4/14, 4/15, 4/18, 4/21, 4/24, 4/25, 4/26 (Weather Permitting)
LIVE coverage of the first annual Big Ten/Big East Challenge on 2/20, 2/21, and 2/22
LIVE coverage of Michigan's second annual exhibition game against the New York Mets on 3/8

Additional Programming:
Michigan Women's Basketball
Michigan Softball
College Hoops Picks
WCBN's traditional Masters Week
WCBN Trivia
High-profile interviews (To Be Announced)
NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl, NCAA Signing Day, NBA All Star Game, March Madness bubble watch, Australian Open, PGA Tour, etc.
And Much More...

Ohio St. vs. Texas Tonight

Given that the Fiesta Bowl is tonight (8 P.M. ET), I thought this might be an appropriate time to return to an age-old question that has been debated ad nauseam on WCBN. Should Michigan fans root for Texas tonight given their hatred for Ohio St. or, with the Big Ten having only one victory in the bowl season thus far (Shonn Greene over South Carolina), should Michigan fans root for Ohio St. with the hopes that the conference can salvage a semblance of respectability with a win over a top-two Big 12 team?

On a side note, Texas is favored by 9 points tonight, which seems a little steep to me. If you are a non-betting man, like myself, but are intrigued by sports lines, check out -- I was just referred to it and it's an interesting concept. The website gives you ten cents for free (and will always replenish your ten cents if you go "bankrupt") and they will cash you out if you acquire $20 or more by using your Nostradamus-esque powers. Naturally, the site is riddled with advertising banners, which allows the site to make money. So, if you want to be the guy or girl who wins a dollar on a seven-line parlay, have at it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Huge Weekend for Michigan

#23 Michigan 74 Illinois 64

Let's start with the huge 74-64 win for #23 (for a few more hours until the new poll comes out) Michigan (11-3, 1-1) over Illinois (13-2, 1-1) on Sunday. It was a game that Laval Lucas-Perry said Michigan "needed to win" and they did just that to get to .500 in Big Ten Conference play. If Michigan wants to go dancing, they need to beat tough teams like the Illini on their home court. Illinois came in receiving votes in the polls and with a RPI of #18. With the way they've looked all season, I'd expect them to be around the top 25 at the end of the year.

Michigan trailed by one at the half but battled back and eventually pulled away in the final minutes to earn the ten point win. After playing man-to-man for most of the game against Wisconsin, the Wolverines spent much of the Illinois game in their 1-3-1 zone. While Illinois only turned the ball over eight times, the zone was effective in hiding Michigan's lack of size down low. There were still a few times where Beilein had four guards in the game and Bruce Weber exploited that size advantage for a few easy buckets by his big men but I like Michigan much better defensively in that 1-3-1.

Michigan used a balanced scoring attack as Harris lead the way with 16 but Sims, Perry, Novak, and Gibson also reached double figures. Novak earned his second start of the season and played well in the first half, scoring all of his 11 points on 5-6 shooting, 4-5 from beyond the arc. For those keeping track at home, that makes Novak 8-11 from beyond the arc (or 72.7% if you prefer percentages to fractions as I do) in the two games he's started - I'm disregarding the desperation three that he shot at the end of the Wisconsin game. Novak was neutralized for much of the second half by an Alex Legion elbow that left a trail of blood from the far basket all the way to the tunnel and required six stitches above Novak's left eye (see picture above).

Zach Gibson played above the rim, showing signs of athleticism that caught everybody, including Gibson, off guard. I know Gibson wasn't expecting himself to dunk because he couldn't stick the landing on his first slam, falling straight on his tailbone. Gibson jokes aside, he had a monster game for Michigan with the fast break dunk, a huge block on a Brock layup, a three pointer, then beating Tisdale off the dribble for his second dunk. His three pointer gave Michigan a lead that they would not surrender. The win improved Michigan's RPI 13 slots to #39 while dropping Illinois just one spot to #19. Michigan will next be in action on Wednesday night at 6:30 at Indiana with the game televised on the Big Ten Network. Now, moving on to recruiting...

Michael Chandler Commits to Michigan...and Lousiville?
After the Michigan win over Illinois, they won a verbal commitment from Michael Chandler, a 4-star, #4 ranked 6'10" Center in the 2011 class. This commitment seemed to come out of nowhere so I decided to do a little digging to find out about this Michael Chandler. ESPN's Scouts Inc. grade him at a 96 and said this about him:

If you want to see him play, you better get to the JV game at Lawrence North High School. He runs the floor extremely well, he is active on both ends of the floor and he rebounds very well. He is very coordinated for a kid his size and his age. He oozes with potential and is certain to attract a lot of attention as he gets older and continues to develop as a player.

Did scouts inc really send someone to watch this kid's JV game???

Chandler apparently has offers from Duke, Michigan State, Kansas, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State, among several others. The strange thing? Of the three recruiting sites I checked out (Rivals, Scout, and ESPN) Scout was the only one that even listed Michigan as a possible interest!

Better yet, tonight Rivals posted their own article saying that Chandler committed to Lousiville today! Scouts and Rivals need to get together and figure out whats going on, or better yet, they need to stop covering high school sophomores in their JV games. Who's willing to put any amount of money that this kid actually puts on a maize and blue jersey in three years?

William Campbell Commits to Michigan...Again
During the third quarter of the Army All-American Game, Cass Tech's 5-star Defensive Tackle Will Campbell announced his commitment to the Wolverines (wait, hadn't he already done this...?) Campbell who seemed to be enjoying the recruitment process way too much faked for the LSU hat before donning the block M. Earlier in the week, Campbell had told the media that Michigan as no longer under much for that, I guess. Campbell is the only 5-star in Rich Rod's 2009 class and plays a position where Michigan will be extremely thin next year as the entire Defensive line minus Brandon Graham (if he stays) graduates.

We'll leave you with some WCBN percentages after the weekend's events. Feel free to argue them in the comments section :
  • Chance Michigan hoops makes the NCAA tournament: 75%
  • Chance Zach Gibson ever has two dunks in a game again: 10%
  • Chance Alex Legion's mom hears another prophecy from God about her son's basketball career and Legion transfers to University of Detroit Mercy: 17%
  • Chance Will Campbell signs with Michigan: 90% (He's supposed to enroll classes and start on Wednesday)
  • Chance Michael Chandler ever wears Maize and Blue: 20%
For the audio highlights of Michigan's win over Illinois, click HERE

Michigan vs Illinois

Michigan basketball looks to rebound (basketball pun there...get it?) from the Big Ten opening shellacking handed down by Wisconsin last Wednesday at Crisler Arena. Illinois (13-1, 1-0)comes to town after a big overtime win on the road at Purdue. The Illini feasted on a very weak non-conference schedule but a win at Crisler Arena should silence the critics and earn Illinois a spot in the top 25.

The Wolverines face what Laval Lucas-Perry has called a must win, "We're only one game into the league season, but we now have to win Sunday. We have to." While a loss won't eliminate the Wolverines from the Big Dance, it would certainly take away a lot of the momentum created from the big wins over UCLA and Duke. If Michigan wants to make the tournament they need to win home games in conference. Picking up a victory over Illinois would restore some momentum as the young Wolverines make their first road trip of the year to a very weak Indiana team.

--Side Note: How quickly has the Indiana program fallen? After starting 19-1 last season they almost miss the tournament, find out their coach was a cheater, lose pretty much their entire starting lineup, then lose to Northeastern and Lipscomb at home in the same week!--

It will be interesting to see the starting lineup the Beilein goes with after starting both Zach Novak and Stu Douglas for the first time against Wisconsin. Having those two on the court at the same time gave Michigan all sorts of troubles defensively against the bigger and stronger Badger team. Novak proved worthy of the start as he finished with a career-best 20 points and 8 rebounds but Stu Douglas struggled, failing to score a point in 20 minutes of play.

Be sure to tune in as we'll have the call live from Crisler Arena at 12:00. As always, you can hear our broadcast by clicking HERE.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

UM-Wisco: Humble Pie

Yesterday's game at Crisler was not pleasant.  Michigan's offense (like the weather outside) had dropped below freezing and those who had turned out for the game were disappointed to see their Wolverines drop the Big Ten opener 73-61.  Wisconsin got off to a hot start, shooting 65% in the first half.  When shown the box score to the first half, one fan in front of our seats told us "Wow... I thought they were shooting a lot higher than that."  Wisconsin had killed the Wolverines momentum, taking the shot clock down to about 3 second on at least 4 possesions and then nailing a three with only a second to spare.  Just to give you an idea of how badly things had gotten: Much of the discussion between reporters/broadcasters centered on how much each of us would give to be covering Michigan Women's Gymnastics in Cancun this week (One person offered their first-born child in exchange for a ticket).  It was one of those games.

Anyways, here are the slices to this post of "Humble Pie"...

Not so Fresh:  Manny Harris struggled mightily all day long, going 3-13 for 9 pts and 6 rebs.  It was very reminiscent of last year's game in the B10 tournament when  Harris had only 4 points and 3 rebounds in a 51-34 Wisconsin blow-out.  Ryan made the necessary adjustments on Harris after he lit-up the Badgers for 26 pts in Madison  early last year. I said it during our broadcast and I'll say it again: Bo Ryan's meticulous coaching style and attention to defense/rebounding are the reasons why he has taken his team to 7 straight tournament appearances.  His teams are always well-disciplined and defend extremely well.  Ryan seemed to have plenty of pins placed in the Manny Harris Voodoo doll yesterday.  It's just a good thing the Wolverines won't see the Badgers again until March.

A Herd without a Shepherd:  I talked to a lot of Michigan students who attended or watched at home last night and 90% of these people asked me the same question: What happened to Jevohn Shepherd?  After starting every game since Duke, Shepherd was taken out of the starting rotation in favor of Zack Novak.  Yes, Novak had a big game... but why not take Douglass out of the line-up in favor of Novak and keep Shepherd (arguably this team's best wing defender)?  UM has been undefeated and has been winning games comfortably (sans Savannah St.) since Shepherd has been a starter.  Shepherd had the quickness to stay with Landry (16 points) and the size to play with Jon Leuer (12 points).   Stay with what works! 

On the other hand, Douglass played 20 minutes for ZERO POINTS, ZERO REBOUNDS, two turnovers and went 0-3 from beyond the arc.  Shepherd played 4 minutes, didn't see the ball, and barely had enough time to break a sweat.  I think this game showed the Twine Twins are better used as interchangable parts than players that can play alongside each other.  This line-up might've worked better if the Twins were two years older, but they are too big of a defensive liablity right now. 

Too little Too late?  I couldn't figure out why Coach Beilein decided to keep Manny Harris AND DeShawn Sims out of the game with just over two minutes left down by 11 points.  It makes perfect sense to take them out if Beilein was going to foul.... but he didn't foul anyone until Michigan 1:37 left in the 2nd!!! Not only that, but down by 11 with two minutes left, Beilein subbed in Stu Douglass and Zack Gibson for LLP and Sims.  Wait...What?!?  What are you doing?!?! This move didn't make much sense, inserting two scorless players for your second and third leading scorers (niether of whom are in any danger of fouling out).  By the way, Douglass is now 3-13 over his last 3 games from 3pt-range, yet has started every game.  I have no idea why he continues to average 20 minutes a game. 

To make things even weirder, Coach Beilein left LLP (the second leading scorer) on the bench until 54 seconds left.  Perry was one of only four players to make a 3 pointer the entire game for Michigan.  Yet, he rides the bench in crunch time in favor of Douglass (who didn't score a single point!), who proceded to turn the ball over and committ a foul in that time.  I don't tend to question Michigan coaches who start 10-2 to begin a season and beat Duke... but what gives?!?Did they believe the game was too far out of hand?  Does Beilein owe Douglass money or something?  I just didn't get understand why some of those coaching moves were made throughout the game.  A lot of that didn't make sense to myself, or five other people sitting with us in press row. 

Attendance was listed as 11,000 but it'll be interesting to see how many people keep coming if Michigan drops the next game to Illinois on Sunday.  Michigan's ticket department was giving a free tickets to the OSU game later this year for every Wisco ticket purchased, so maybe that had something to do with the inflated numbers.