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Showing posts from 2013

It was a Hike of a Trip

Michigan Clinic: How to Break a Press

I really can't believe it's been 19 years since Michigan reached a Sweet Sixteen. They have either been out of the tournament completely, or eliminated in the first weekend, for nineteen years.

"Havoc" is what they call Virginia Commonwealth's defense, but to me it looked a lot like a high-intense 3/4 press. And I've learned, ever since grade school basketball, that the best way to break a press is to pass.

And boy, I sure saw some great passing by Michigan!

It was clear that head coach John Beilein prepared this team for what it was going to face today against VCU. They ran up and down the court, spreading out the floor and finding the open man when VCU tried to trap.

It didn't help that VCU shot less than 40% from the floor for the game. More important than that, Mitch McGary was out of his mind today, scoring a career high 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. The Michigan offense had to prevent turnovers from VCU, and they "only" gave up the b…

Bracket Pointers

68 teams, and you can only pick one? But in the process you have to narrow down 67 different games?

No problem!

I have been doing brackets for over 15 years, and each time I do them badly. I follow the same pattern, and each time the result is less than ideal. But I'm here to give you some pointers - rather, I'm here to tell you the stuff I used to do, and tell you not to do it that way!

Step 1: Take Your Time
I always was so eager to get to my bracket, I would fill them out right away Sunday night or Monday morning. I even managed to draw out my own brackets so I could fill it out right away!

But that was always a mistake. I never wanted to change my picks after I made them ("first instinct" rule), but as the week went on, players would get hurt, shots would be tossed around by a player or coach, and sometimes even momentum would shift from the power team to the underdog. Then I'd look back at my schedule on Thursday morning and go, "Man, I wish I'd wai…

News Flash...

Kentucky is NOT on the bubble. No matter how much the media freaks out that the defending national champions won't make the NCAA Tournament, it won't happen. Kentucky is too much of a basketball stalwart to be shut out of a 68-team field. Yes, they had a rough year, but their victory over Florida last weekend assured them of a spot.

Don't be fooled - Kentucky will make the Tournament.

Time to Hike a Mountain

Next weekend, I take the plunge...or, to be more appropriate, the climb. I am climbing one of Colorado's 53 mountains that have a summit of over 14,000 feet, Mt. Bierstadt. It is one of the "easier" mountains to hike, or so they tell me. There is a significant amount of snow on the ground, which means climbing this mountain in mid March is waaaay different than climbing it in July.

I am taking the hike with several experienced winter hikers - that is a good thing. They have already suggested what to wear, what to bring, and what to expect when climbing in the winter. But it's also intimidating, since they are going to have to look out for me as I trudge up the mountain.

I am doing my best to train my body for the 10/11-mile round-trip hike that I'm going to endure. I'm breaking in my new boots. I'm going on the treadmill and walking with a steep grade. I'm expanding my regular walks. I'm also investing in some new clothing that is non-cotton, brea…

Not a First Half Team

I guess it's better than the other way around?

...?

I am looking forward to watching a game played by the University of Michigan men's basketball team where they don't start in the hole.

It's as if they need to play a half of basketball in their practice gym before they begin the real game! Their warmup routine needs a real makeover. I don't know if the team isn't mentally prepared for the first half, or if they just work better from behind.

It even seemed like the second half was much more of a Michigan style today. They started running up and down the floor better, their passes were sharper, and they were getting rebounds and avoiding blocked shots.Their shooting percentage improved from 48% in the first half to 54%. Three point percentage improved from 28% to 36%. Trey Burke got back on track, even becoming the seventh player in Michigan basketball history to get to 1,000 points as a sophomore with his game high 26 points.

But what is taking them so long? Is…

With Great Ranking Comes Great Responsibility

I still can't believe that in the 20 years it's taken Michigan basketball to return to the #1 spot, only 26 different teams have been the top-ranked team in the nation. Twenty six!

But it finally happened: Michigan took the top spot again. With a Duke loss at Miami last week, and two Michigan wins over Purdue and Illinois, there wasn't any real doubt over who was the mightiest team in the land...for the AP. I don't know many news outlets that still use the USA Today Coaches Poll, but that poll has Kansas ranked number one.

I'm not here to talk about that, though. In many people's eyes, this week is a huge one for Michigan. Yes, it is the number one team in the land. But they have to defend that ranking against one of the top teams in the nation - and who had been #1 for the first month of the season - Indiana. The Hoosiers have taken their hits - first against in-state rival Butler, then against Wisconsin, and finally in a near defeat by Michigan State last wee…

Don't Be Too Quick to Dismiss HarBowl

My First Hockey Post

Hi, my name is _______, and I am a hockey fan.

It almost seems that you need to do that in order for people to understand you. "You're a hockey fan? Even with all the crap the NHL has put you through? Your seasons never start on time! Hockey shouldn't be played in the summer! Blah blahblahblahblahblah?"

Yes, even with all the crap the NHL has put me through, I am still a fan of hockey. Exhibit A: as I was preparing to go out and run my errands, I turned on the Blackhawks-Kings game and was immediately drawn in. In the first five minutes of the game, there was a 5-on-3 and Chicago scored a goal. How does anyone not get drawn in?

As my father says, hockey is the best sport to watch on an HD TV, too. The whiteness of the ice really makes the players pop out of the picture - not to mention it's a lot easier to follow the puck, too. No bright flashes of red or blue necessary, FOX.

Some hockey fans vow to never watch or attend the sport ever again because of what the …

The Problem with Youth

I seem to remember something like this happening 20 years ago.

Back then, the Fab Five dominated the college court. Their style was unconstitutional, their swagger was unorthodox. But they won - a lot. And the thing that really got people talking about them was their youth. Five freshmen started for Michigan, sending juniors and seniors to the bench that weren't bad players - they just couldn't keep up.

But what happened in the NCAA Tournaments? As freshmen and sophomores, the Fab Five (and Friends) couldn't pull out that last game. The more experienced Duke and North Carolina teams beat them.

And before we could say "Wait till next year, when we've got these guys as upperclassmen!", Chris Webber bolted for the NBA, and the magic was gone. Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose left the next year.

I even remember something like this two years ago. Darius Morris was poised to help Michigan basketball compete in a tough Big Ten Conference. But amid the whisperings of his …