Saturday, May 31, 2008

Michigan Advances in NCAA Regional

#2 seed Michigan defeated #3 Kentucky by a score of 7-5. The game was suspended after 4.2 innings on Saturday night when a storm struck Ann Arbor. Michigan was ahead 5-1 at the time with runners at first and second and a 3-1 count to Adam Abraham. The Wolverines wasted no time getting run six across today as on the very first pitch, Maloney sent the runners and Abraham knocked an RBI single into center field.

Kentucky would get back into the game scoring four runs in the top of the eighth to close the margin to 7-5. That would be as close as they'd get however, as Michael Powers came on to earn his fourth save in his last four outings.

Zach Putnam was the winning pitcher, improving to 9-0 on the season. Michigan will take on Arizona tonight at 7:00 at the Fish. Head on down, or listen live on WCBN.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

NCAA Regional Preview

#1 Seed: #23 Arizona Wildcats (38-17, 12-12, RPI #10)

The wildcats are a powerful offensive team, with eight hitters batting .299 or better. The Wildcats went just .500 in PAC-10 play, but are coming off series victories over #4 Arizona State and #15 Stanford to end the season. Arizona hoped to host a regional, but were named the last #1 seed and sent a long way from home to Ann Arbor. Arizona began the season ranked #2 in the country and they are the only #1 seed not hosting their regional.

Offensive player to watch: C.J. Ziegler, Senior 1b (.340; 19 HR; 53 RBI; .684 Slugging %)
Pitcher to watch: Schlereth, Daniel, Junior LHP (2-0; 1.73 ERA; 74 SO; 16 BB)

#2 Seed: #16 Michigan Wolverines (45-12, 26-5, RPI #35)

Michigan is a dark horse in the tournament because nobody is quite sure what to expect out of the Wolverines. Michigan boasts a well balanced team, hitting .315 with a team ERA of 4.07. Despite upsetting #1 ranked Vanderbilt in last year's regionals Michigan's 45-12 record wasn't good enough to warrant a #1 seed this year. The reason - the most of those wins came in the Big Ten which has an RPI of 13, behind conferences such as the WCC, Sun Belt, CAA, Big East, and MVC. I don't even know what the WCC, CAA, or MVC are! Michigan is just 1-4 against RPI top 25 teams so they will need to be clicking on all cylinders if they hope to advance to their second straight super regional.

Offensive player to watch: Nate Recknagel, Senior 1b (.372; 23 HR; 68 RBI; .758 Slugging %)
Pitcher to watch: Chris Fetter, Junior RHP (10-1; 2.39 ERA; 75 SO; 25 BB)

#3 Seed: Kentucky Wildcats (42-17, 16-14, RPI #33)
Kentucky is another extremely balanced team that could make a run to come out of the regional on top despite their #3 seed. The Wildcats are led by first team All-American, Sawyer Carroll who boasts a .415 average to go along with 15 home runs and 78 RBI. As a team, Kentucky hits at a .320 clip to go with a 3.53 ERA. This is Kentucky's 6th ever NCAA appearance and their 42 wins are the second most in school history.

Offensive player to watch: Sawyer Carroll, Senior OF/1B (.415; 15 HR; 78 RBI; .755 Slugging %)
Pitcher to watch: Chris Rusin, Junior LHP (Canton, MI) (6-2; 2.84 ERA; 65 SO; 17 BB)

#4 Seed: Eastern Michigan University (25-32, 15-8, RPI #160)
Somehow Eastern Michigan has come back from an 0-17 start to make the NCAA Tournament after winning the automatic bid from the MAC. The Eagles are huge underdogs and would shock everybody if they can come away with a win in the regional. The Eagles are coached by Jake Boss who is in his first year at Eastern Michigan after leaving his assistant coaching job at Michigan last season.

Offensive player to watch: Zach Leonard, FR OF/IF (.342; 9 HR; 51 RBI)
Pitcher to watch: umm...we'll go with N/A here as EMU has a team ERA of 7.65


Arizona over Eastern
Michigan over Kentucky

Kentucky over Eastern
Arizona over Michigan

Kentucky over Michigan
Arizona over Kentucky

Order of Finish:
1) Arizona
2) Kentucky
3) Michigan
4) Eastern

in other news, my posting will be light for awhile as I'm without my laptop seeing as my house got robbed last night. At least I made the paper....

Quick Hits and a National Championship

Couple quick updates on some of the previous articles we have done on Maize and Blog:

The Udoh Saga Continues: A few weeks ago, we posted that Ekpe Udoh had thought about/decided to transfer from U of M because of reported differences with Michigan's style of basketball. To update the situation, Udoh released his choices for transfer schools earlier this week in the Edmond Sun, his hometown paper. Atop the list were local schools (Oklahoma, OSU, Baylor) and mid-majors Wichita State and Missouri State. The article also quoted Udoh expressing his displeasure for Beilein's offensive schemes (You don't say?!). I wouldn't be surprised to see him at OU or Baylor, both local choices which implement a sound post game on offense. Wichita has traditionally been a perimeter oriented team and OSU has a new coach with a new scheme that also would rely on jumpshots, neither a good fit for Udoh.

Simmons watch: I posted a story a few weeks ago about popular ESPN blogger/writer Bill Simmons in which I mentioned Simmons' ongoing battles with ESPN brass and how Simmons had created an alternate site for some of his old material. It wasn't known at the time that he would be posting regularly on this site, but it turns out that he has been regularly posting articles on this site, many of which were pretty well-written and entertaining. Check 'em out.

1st National Title in 4 years!.... OK, so what if it was in Men's Club Lacrosse. Some people might be quick to dismiss their success, but not me. I'll give the LaX team some much deserved credit. This is a team that, despite Bill Martin's repeated refusals to give them varsity status, has accomplished more than some varsity teams have in the past decade. Not only did they manage to win a national title, but they were also able to bring in top varsity talent to compete against during the offseason in order to draw interest and create a local fan base. (Michigan faced off against both Army and Johns Hopkins earlier this year in the Michigan Lacrosse Showcase on Elbel Field). The event drew an estimated 4,000 people. That's more than some Michigan Men's Bball games, regardless of the attendance figures the Athletic Dept. is putting out. Seriously though. Who are they trying fool by saying 10,000 people came to see Illinois and U of M when there are only 5 people sitting in the upper bowl? Congrats to the Men's LaX team and good luck in achieving varsity status next year. I know that's a ticket I'd gladly purchase after this season.

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer. Sorry if the blogging has been light as I know many people have been busy, but we are finishing strong as the Spring season ends. Look for a Mail Bag post by the end of the week.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chris Graham Signs with the Saints

Yesterday, the New Orleans Saints agreed to a contract with former U of M linebacker, Chris Graham. Graham was a four-year letterman and two year starter for the Wolverines. Graham finished his career at Michigan with 92 tackles, 1 sack, and 11 TFL

Near-Record Setting Performance for Joakim Noah

A few days ago we learned of Joakim Noah's arrest for having an open container of alcohol in public as well as possession of marijuana. A day or so after that, we hear how his father, French tennis star, Yannick Noah defended his son, saying that it shouldn't be such a big deal that Joakim had a beer on the street.

Well today we learned that Noah had another run in with the law that same day. While driving on the campus of the University of Florida, Noah was pulled over for speeding. He was also cited for not wearing a seat belt as well as for driving with a suspended license.

No public response yet from his dad on that one

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Break from Sports

So I returned from Israel earlier this week, to meet my two new housemates who are subletting in my house for the summer. We'll call them John and Jane. Here are my first conversations with both of them:

Stu: So, what brings you from Wisconsin to Ann Arbor for the summer?
Jane: Oh, I'm working at the Botanical Gardnes
S: How'd you find that?
J: The internet
S: Oh, and how'd you find this house to live in all the way in Wisconsin?
J: The internet. But I swear, I really don't like the internet that much. Oh, by the way, my boyfriend flies in from Australia tomorrow night, he's going to be living with us for a month.
S: Oh, thats cool, how long was he in Australia?
J: No, he lives there
S: So how'd you meet him
J: The internet....

I'm pretty sure this is the first time they've met in person

A few days later I meet the other guy who I'm living with and I give him and his girlfriend an Israeli chocolate bar that I brought back from Israel

John: Wow, they speak a different language in Israel?
Stu: Yea...
J: What language do they speak there?
S: Hebrew...
J: Oh
J's Girlfriend: I better save the wrapper then

So that is my current housing situation.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Michigan to Host Basebal Regional

For the first time in 22 years, Michigan will host a regional at Ray Fisher Stadium. The Wolverines will take on Kentucky on Friday, May 30th and then will play the winner/loser of the Arizona vs Eastern Michigan game. The regional is a double elimination four team tournament. Seeds are as following for the Michigan Regional:

(1) Arizona (38-17)
(2) Michigan (45-12)
(3) Kentucky (42-17)
(4) Eastern Michigan (25-32)

Michigan is the only team hosting a regional not to be named a number one seed. The winner of the Michigan regional will go on to face the winner of the Miami regional June 6th. Miami is the tournament's overall #1 seed.

This is the 21st time that the Wolverines have reached the NCAA tournament, and the fourth consecutive year. Last season Michigan upset #1 ranked Vanderbilt to win the regional, then fell to eventual champions Oregon State in the Super Regional.

Here is the entire 64-team field

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Michigan Softball Wins Game One of Super Regional

Michigan defeated Virginia Tech 1-0 today at Alumni Field in game one of the NCAA Super Regional. It was a pitchers duel that lived up to anyone's expectations as Michigan's freshman phenom, Jordan Taylor outpitched Angela Tincher of Virginia Tech. Tincher came in leading the nation in ERA (.61) and Strikeouts (619). Tincher is also best known for no-hitting Team USA earlier this season, one of four no-hitters that she has thrown this season.

Neither pitcher allowed a run until Angela Findlay singled home Michelle Weatherdon who came on to pinch-run after Allesandra Giampaolo hit her 61st career double giving Michigan their only runner in scoring position all game long. That double tied Giampaolo for the career doubles record, but more importantly gave Michigan the chance to score the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run. With a 3-2 count, Angela Findlay drove a single back through the middle and Weatherdon was just able to beat the throw home.

Jordan Taylor picked up her 31st win of the season, going the distance allowing just three hits, no walks, and struck out seven. The two teams will face off again tomorrow at 1PM. The game will be televised on ESPN and we will have the broadcast on WCBN and

Audio Highlights from Michigan's 1-0 Win:
Allesandra Giampaolo's Double
Angela Findlay's RBI Single
Last out of the Game

Video Highlights Courtesy of

Michigan Baseball Wins Big 10 Tournament

Michigan took the Big 10 Tournament Championship Title tonight at Ray Fisher Stadium to go along with the Regular Season Championship. The Wolverines fell behind 2-0 and things were not looking good as Michigan stranded 10 runners through the first five innings before finally scoring a run on a Kevin Cislo double. They would tie the game up as Ryan Lamarre hit his second career home run, his first ever at Ray Fischer Stadium. Lamarre's blast sailed over the fence in straightaway center field, passing directly over the 395 marker. Michigan would then take the lead on a wild pitch as Cislo scored the eventual game-winner from third.

Eric Katzman struggled, lasting just 2.2 innings but Tyler Burgoon took WCBN Player of the Game honors as he stepped in with 4.1 innings of scoreless relief work, picking up his second win of the season. Michael Powers then came on to pitch a scoreless 8th and 9th innings, getting his seventh save of the season and his third in the past three nights.

Powers was named the tournament's most outstanding player as he worked two scoreless innings in each of the past three nights, picking up three saves. Joining Powers on the all-tournament team were Chris Fetter, Zach Putnam, and Adam Abraham.

Michigan will likely host a regional next weekend at Ray Fisher Stadium. The tournament field and regional hosts will be announced on Monday.

Dear Big 10 Network: Please A) get the names right. It was RYAN Lamarre, not RAY Lamarre that hit the home run and B) STOP CALLING US THE WOLVES! We are the WOLVERINES!!!

Here are the BTN's highlights anyways:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Beilein Signs One More

Michigan has signed Robin Benzing, a 6-10" forward out of Germany to a letter-of-intent for this upcoming season. His initial eligibility is uncertain since he has played professionally in Germany, averaging 9.8 ppg and 3.5 rpg in 2007 for the Under-18 national team.

Another New Facility Planned at Michigan

Looks like Wrestling is next in line for a new facility as Bill Martin announced plans for an 18,000 square foot building to be placed next to Crisler Arena. The project is expected to cost $5.5 million, of which $3.5 million has already been collected from donations. The date of completion has yet to be announced.

Earlier this month, Martin announced that plans are in the works for a new basketball practice facility

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Michigan Baseball Receives Big Ten Accolades

Michigan Baseball received a number of Big Ten honors on the heels of the start of the 2008 Big Ten Tournament. None of these awards were particularly surprising, as Michigan was the dominant team in the Big Ten this year, finishing the regular season ranked 18th in the country.

Coach of the Year: Rich Maloney
Player of the Year: Nate Recknagel

Pitcher of the Year: Zach Putnam

Rich Maloney's Wolverines finished with a 42-12 record, only losing 2 games at home all year (18-2) and 5 games in the Big Ten (26-5). He is, simply put, the best coach in the Big Ten, and is close to realizing his dream of having Michigan host a regional, although winning the Big Ten Tournament is most likely a must.

Nate Recknagel certainly deserved the highest of honors in the Big Ten, as he took the conference by storm this year, finishing the year with a .381 average, along with an absurd 23 HRs and 68 RBIs. Recknagel led Michigan in hits (75), HRs, RBIs, total bases (155), and slugging percentage (.787).

Zach Putnam's only competition for this award was really Chris Fetter. Fetter finished the year 9-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 79.2 innings, only surrendering 59 hits and 21 walks while striking out 65 and holding opposing batters to a .208 average. Putnam, on the other hand, was 7-0 with a 2.64 ERA, while giving up 51 hits and 18 walks in 64.2 innings and, perhaps most impressively, striking out more than a batter per innings (65 Ks). Opponents only hit .215 off of Putnam, who also had the task of starting more 9 inning games than Fetter, who frequently pitched on Saturdays in Big Ten play.

1B - Nate Recknagel, Michigan#
2B - Ben Wolgamot, Purdue
SS - Jason Christian, Michigan
3B - Nate Hanson, Minnesota
OF - Kyle Hudson, Illinois#
OF - Andrew Means, Indiana
OF - Matt Nohelty, Minnesota
C - Josh Phegley, Indiana#
DH - Zach Putnam, Michigan
SP - Matt Bashore, Indiana
SP - Chris Fetter, Michigan
SP - Zach Putnam, Michigan#
SP - Matt Bischoff, Purdue
RP - Drew O'Neil, Penn State

This is the second consecutive year that Putnam received All-Big Ten honors as both a pitcher and a designated hitter, and, with the selection of Putnam to the First Team as both a pitcher and a DH this year, he becomes the first player in Big Ten history to be named to the First Team as both a pitcher and a hitter.

Jason Christian, who was banged up at the beginning of the season after a very slow start, deserves a ton of credit for how he turned around his season, with all of his hard work finally resulting in this recognition. Christian finished the year hitting .325 with 6 HRs and 43 RBIs, ranking him first amongst Big Ten shortstops.

1B - Jake Goebbert, Northwestern
2B - Joe Bonadonna, Illinois
SS - Brandon Wikoff, Illinois
3B - Kevin Hoef, Iowa
OF - Caleb Curry, Iowa
OF - Kevin Cislo, Michigan
OF - Brandon Haveman, Purdue
C - Jeff DeSmidt, Minnesota
DH - Daniel Webb, Illinois
SP - Eric Jokisch, Northwestern
SP - Jake Hale, Ohio State
SP - Dean Wolosiansky, Ohio State
SP - Mike Wanamaker, Penn State
RP - Josh Lindblom, Purdue

Cislo was really the 4th OF on the First Team, and if not for amazing years by Hudson, Means, and Nohelty, combined with a lack of power by the standards set by Big Ten OFers, Cislo would've easily been a First Teamer. Cislo finished the year with a whopping .359 average, played a tremendous CF in his first year starting full time at the position, filled in at 2B when Christian was hurt and Mahler moved over to SS, and led Michigan in stolen bases with 17.

1B - Ryne White, Purdue
2B - Leif Mahler, Michigan
SS - Justin Toole, Iowa
3B - Adam Abraham, Michigan
OF - Chris Roberts, Michigan State
OF - Mike Kalina, Northwestern
OF - J.B. Shuck, Ohio State
C - Joe Blackburn, Penn State
DH - Rob Yodice, Penn State
SP - Kevin Manson, Illinois
SP - Mark Sorensen, Michigan State
SP - J.B. Shuck, Ohio State
SP - Matt Jansen, Purdue
RP - Michael Powers, Michigan

These three guys are only on the Third Team because of some amazing years in the Big Ten by players at their positions. You can't really quantify Mahler's years with numbers, because the fifth-year senior had a huge impact on the team after sitting out the 2007 season. Not only did he exhibit the kind of sportsmanship necessary to receive Big Ten accolades, but he led by example, hitting .309 with 37 RBIs in his return season, and led Michigan in doubles with 16.

Adam Abraham had a case for First Team honors, hitting .344 with 7 HRs and 50 RBIs. Abraham, surprisingly enough, only made 5 appearances on the mound this year, after being named the closer to enter the season. With the additional time off the bump, Abraham was able to concentrate on the stick, and the results followed in a big way.

With Abraham hitting, Michael Powers and Tyler Burgoon took over the closer duties, with Burgoon saving 5 games and Powers saving 4. Powers was absolutely dominating this season, going 6-4 with a 2.94 ERA, including 50 Ks in 52 innings.

# unanimous selection

Freshman of the Year: Eric Jokisch, Northwestern

Kyle Hudson, Illinois
Andrew Means, Indiana
Caleb Curry, Iowa
Leif Mahler, Michigan
Mark Sorensen, Michigan State
Tom Steidl, Minnesota
Jake Goebbert, Northwestern
Dan DeLucia, Ohio State
Brian Ernst, Penn State
Ryne White, Purdue

Congrats to everyone on the lists. Big Ten baseball is certainly on the rise.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NBA Draft Lottery Live Blog

The blogging begins at around 8:00pm tonight. Here are the odds for the 14 lottery teams of getting the #1 pick:
-Golden State: 5/1000 (.05%)
-Portland: 6/1000 (.06%)
-Sacramento: 7/1000 (.07%)
-Indiana: 8/1000 (.08%)
-New Jersey: 11/1000 (1.1%)
-Chicago: 17/1000 (1.7%)
-Charlotte: 28/1000 (2.8%)
-Milwaukee: 43/1000 (4.3%)
-LA Clippers: 75/1000 (7.5%)
-NY Knicks: 76/1000 (7.6%)
-Memphis: 137/1000 (13.7%)
-Minnesota: 138/1000 (13.8%)
-Seattle/Oklahoma City: 199/1000 (19.9%)
-Miami: 250/1000 (25%)

8:00: Alright, ready to go. A few historical notes first- (1): Just 4 teams with the best percentage chance of winning the lottery having actually won the lottery. Not good news for the Heat. (2): The team with the second greatest probability of recieving the #1 pick has only been awarded it twice. Bad news for the Seattle (soon to be Oklahoma City) Sonics.
8:01: Jay Z in the house representing the Nets in Secaucus, New Jersey. Nice to see Jay Bilas again. I wonder what he's been up to since the Final Four. O yeah, he took part in this memorable interview with Dan Le Batard...
8:02: Ok, predictions time. #3 pick-Minnesota, #2 pick-NY Knicks, #1 pick-Memphis. Won't it be fun to listen to the debate over whether the Grizz should take Beasley or Rose? Rose is the home-town product, but plays the same position as Mike Conley Jr, who Memphis took last year. Doesn't that remind of you the Houston Texans supposed Vince Young-Reggie Bush debate? O yeah, they took neither.
8:03: Mark Jones of ESPN just rubs me the wrong way. He described the lottery as "seducing lady luck" and the anticipation as "tangible." Is that even possible?
8:04: Bilas breaking down Rose and Beasley. Jay compares Beasley to Derrick Coleman. Is that supposed to be a good thing?
8:05: Russell Westbrook is #10 on Jay Bilas' top available players. I think he'll be a superstar in a few years.
8:06: Doris Burke is interviewing Jay-Z. He calls himself an "investor" with the team. Jay Z tells us that he loves OJ Mayo. We go to commercial.
8:07: By the way, Hillary won by alomst 30 points in Kentucky. Results from Oregon expected at 11pm tonight.
8:08: ESPN piece on Margie Parilo, a fan of the Sacramento Kings, who will represent the team tonight at the the lottery. Her grandmother had a ticket to sail the Titanic, but missed the boat.
8:10: Off to Breenie, Van Gundy, and Mark (I'm not the Knicks coach) Jackson to preview Game 1 of the Eastern Finals.
8:11: 4 out of the 9 voters on the blog believe the Knicks will the Lottery. Let the conspiracy theories begin.
8:13: Ok, the envelopes to open after the break.
8:17: Let's meet the team representatives: Mitch Richmond (GS), Larry Miller (POR), Margie Parillo (SAC), Jay Z (NJ), Stan Schanwald (CHI), Rod Higgens (CHA), John Hammons (MIL), Mike Dunleavy (LAC), Mike D'Antoni (NYK), Rudy Gay (MEM), Fred Hoiberg (MIN), Kevin Durant (SEA) and Dwayne Wade (MIA).
8:18: Adam Silver of the NBA to give the results. Pick #14 to Golden State
8:18: The 13th pick to Portland. #12 to Sacramento. No suprises yet.
8:18: #11 to the Pacers. The 10th pick goes to the NJ Nets.
8:19: #9 to the Charlotte Bobcats. BULLS into TOP 3. Wow, what a move. They only had a 1.7% chance of getting the #1 pick.
8:19: #8 to the Bucks.
8:19:The 7th pick to the LA Clippers.
8:20: Pick #6 belongs to the NY Knicks. No conspiracy theories this year.
8:20: Pick #5 goes to Memphis. Oops, my prediction was wrong.
8:21: The 4th pick goes to the Seattle/Oklahoma City Sonics.
8:21: The Miami Heat, Minnesota T'Wolves, and Chicago Bulls remain. Off we go to commercial.
8:24: Top 3 picks. The 3rd pick will be made by Minnesota. Bulls still alive.
8:24: 2nd pick goes to the Miami Heat. WOW!!!
8:24: The #1 pick goes to the Chicago Bulls.
8:25: Season ticket phone number given out by the Bulls rep.
8:26: Well, that was unexpected. I guess the Bulls take Beasley with Hinrich already at the point. Yet, Rose is from Chicago, so who knows?
8:27: Mark Jones sends it to Boston with Stu Scott, Jon Barry, Mike Wilbon, and Avery Johnson. Man, doesn't Avery wish he took that Bulls job now?
8:29: Alright, that's it for tonight. Again, the Bulls had a 1.7% chance of winning the lottery. Unbelievable! It looks like the young Bulls are about to get younger. Add Beasley or Rose to Hinrich, Gordon, Deng, Thomas, and Noah. Now, that's a pretty good young core. I assume the Heat will take either Beasley or Rose, whoever is left with the #2 pick. Add him to Wade and Marion and they are probably a playoff team in the East next year. Good night!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Michigan Baseball/Softball Schedule This Week

7:05 Baseball: Michigan vs. TBD (Big 10 Conference Tournament Opener)

12:05/3:35/7:05 Baseball: Michigan vs TBD (Big 10 Conference Tournament)

12:00 Softball: Michigan vs. Virginia Tech (NCAA Super Regionals-Game 1)
3:35/7:05 Baseball: Michigan vs. TBD (Big 10 Conference Tournament)

*12:05 Baseball: Michigan vs. TBD (Big 10 Conference Tournament Championship-If necessary)
1:00 Softball: Michigan vs. Virginia Tech (NCAA Super Regionals-Game 2)
*3:00 Softball: Michigan vs. Virginia Tech (NCAA Super Regionals-Game 3-If necessary)

PROGRAMMING INFO: Here are our broadcast plans for this weekend. Every game of the Big 10 Conference Baseball Tournament involving Michigan, with the exception of the Sunday game (if necessary) can be heard on the WCBN Sports Stream. We will broadcast the entire NCAA Super Regional Softball best-of-three series exclusively on WCBN and

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Michigan Softball Starts NCAA Tourney In Style

GAME NOTES: The Michigan softball team just won their 2nd game in as many days at Alumni Field. Michigan defeated Notre Dame 8-0 in 5 innings. The Wolverines broke open a scoreless tie by scoring 4 runs in the 4th and then 4 more in the 5th. Marley Powers had the biggest hit of the game for Michigan with a pinch-hit 3 run two out, two strike homerun in the 4th inning. In the circle, Jordan Taylor threw a 5 inning shutout, allowing just 1 hit. On Friday night, Michigan beat Wright State in come from behind fashion by a score of 13-5 in 5 innings. The Wolverines trailed 4-0 heading into the bottom of the 3rd. Michigan crept closer over the next 2 innings and then broke the game open with a 10 run 5th inning, that included 2 grand slams, one by pinch hitter Marley Powers and the other by Maggie Viefhaus.

PROGRAMMING INFO: Michigan will next play Sunday at 1:00 et against a team to be determined. Coverage of the game can be heard on both the WCBN Sports Stream and starting at 12:50pm.

UPDATE: Kent State won twice today and will face Michigan at 1:00 tomorrow.

UPDATE, UPDATE: Michigan defeated Kent State 5-0 to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. Jordan Taylor threw another 1-hit shutout from the circle. Offensively, Dorian Shaw broke the game open with a grand slam in the 6th inning. Michigan will play either Tennessee or Virginia Tech in a best-of-three series starting on Friday at Alumni Field.

Personnel Foul on ESPN

As I am writing this, I just finished watching the Utah Jazz lose to the LA Lakers and I am disappointed for two reasons. The first being that Kobe is closer to a championship and having his ego leave the stratosphere. The second reason is Kyle Korver, a great three point shooter, passed on the game tying shot in favor of Memo Okur(Rob, I can hear the "I told you so" all the way from Philly). It was the worst last second decision I've seen since Tyler Ecker decided not to lateral to Steve Breaston in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. But I digress.

In an interview last week with's Will Leitch, popular ESPN writer Bill Simmons said last week that there is good reason for him writing less frequently these past few weeks. In the interview, Simmons expresses his displeasure with ESPN, saying that contract and content disputes have lead to him writing fewer pieces for the "World Wide Leader." Simmons recently signed a new contract with the network that has him at ESPN thru 2010. Simmons has most recently alluded to these conflicts in his podcasts with ESPN writer Jamele Hill, in which he makes reference to being unable to poke fun at one's own network (47 minutes into the 57 minute podcast). Simmons has even gone as far as setting up a "alternate blog" in which he posted a lengthy piece (15,000 words) about a high-school basketball team he followed from South Boston 15 years ago (the piece is the only story on the blog and it is unclear if Simmons will continue to update this page with material). Curiously enough, E:60 (a new investigative sports journalism program on ESPN that Simmons has done work for) has pulled Simmons' spots that were, as of last week, rated among the most popular video clips available. Coincidence? I highly doubt it.

This could not have come at a worse time for ESPN. The network just announced that it will add former CBS (and NBA on NBC alum) anchor Hannah Storm to its bullpen of Sportscenter anchors. Storm did a great job at NBC and should have an easy time getting back into it after taking a sports hiatus for CBS's The Early Show . In addition to this move, ESPN will add Rick Reilly (of Sports Illustrated's Back Page fame) to ESPN the Magazine. Reilly will also become the host ESPN's new show "Homecoming." Reilly will interview sports figures in their hometown (the premiere episode featuring Charles Barkley from his hometown of Leeds, Alabama). The show is supposed to be an athlete version "Inside the Actor's Studio." With all these positive additions, the last thing ESPN wants is a public dispute with its most popular employee.

By bringing Reilly to the "ESPN Family", it gives ESPN the two most popular sports writers (in terms of audience size) in all the land. While their main demographics are somewhat different (Reilly's readers are usually found to be somewhat older than the Simmons' demographic), the loyalty the readers show towards their writing is almost unparalleled in the realm of sports journalism. SI's readership has dropped considerably since Reilly left, a strong indication of the void left by Reilly's readers. Because of this predictable spike in readership at ESPN, my prediction is that ESPN the Mag will start to phase out Sports Illustrated the same way SI phased out the Sporting News years ago. I am willing to guarantee you will almost certainly see this change occur within the next five years

All this, of course, is contingent on what happens with Simmons. ESPN now has the opportunity to take a huge chunk of revenue away from SI, their biggest competition in print media. However, Simmons is a key ingredient in making this possible. He is currently ESPN's most popular writer and has the most potential as a versatile and marketable entity. He has the most successful column and podcast on the ESPN website, and is a guaranteed ratings increase whenever he is on E:60 (I'd love to see what the ratings are like when he does pieces as opposed to when he isn't on the show). He brings in a loyal fan base that visit religiously to read his articles. If Simmons were to leave the network, the decrease in viewers of the web site (and Magazine) would be astonishing. The fact that Simmons is the only writer to have an entire page (The Sports Guy's World) devoted to only his writing is a telling statistic.

By alienating Simmons, ESPN could potentially alienate their chances at controlling the marketplace in sports journalism for years to come.

Friday, May 16, 2008

At Least the T’Wolves Are Creative

I was reading about the NBA Draft Lottery that takes place next Tuesday night and came across this interesting item on the Minnesota Timberwolves website. “Pay the Pick” allows season tickets for next year to be bought for as little as $43. Depending on the lottery fortunes of the T’Wolves, the customer’s per game ticket price will match the team’s draft pick number. For instance, the #1 pick = $1 per game, the #2 pick = $2 per game and so on. Just for the record the T’Wolves have the 3rd best chance of the fourteen lottery teams to receive the #1 pick, at 138 out of 1000 (13.8%). So, even if the T’Wolves remain in the 3rd spot, where they are mathematically expected to, season tickets are still only $129. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Completely Irrelevant Post

Rob wrote a piece on Bob Costas' HBO Special on Sports and the Media a little while back, which I also got a chance to watch, and I thought the whole discussion was definitely a necessity to say the least. Will Leitch was the resident blogger, who apparently was responsible for defending the entire "blogosphere." As a side note, what Will Leitch does is very different from what we do at Maize and Blog, in that he does very little link gathering and sports opinion forming from a point of access. Instead, he uses his access to talk about things often non-sports related and he uses his lack of knowledge to post Facebook pictures of athletes doing things on perhaps the one day of the week where they are not working out, with the implication being that they drink with women in hot tubs during the day, everyday, rather than working out. But that's neither here nor there. The point of my post, if you're curious, is that Deadspin wrote a piece on the team that I work for during the summer, so check it out if you're interested by clicking here. My response to Deadspin's post can be found at SaintsBlog.

Forecast: A Lonely Winter

Before I start, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the live blog from Rob. Thanks to him and his Sixers, Kyle Korver got to show why he was one of the most underrated players in the league due to a trade for which the Sixers got... nobody, just a pick. Can't wait to see which athletic player with no jump shot (see Iguodala, Thad Young, Sam Dalembert) they draft next.

(Sorry, Rob. That was for the DET shots in the live blog. By the way, I'm holding you to the Dalembert Hawk thing if the Phils win the Series. No exceptions.)

OK, time to transition now from the pro game to the college game. According to a report off, University of Detroit Mercy landed another transfer played to their roster. The Titans have reportedly recruited Jason Bennett, a 7'3 center out of Tallahassee Community College. Bennett played at Kansas State for one season before transferring to TCC. Played in 27 games at KSU and averaged 2 points, 2 boards and 3 blocks a game. Bennett will join transfer Eli Holman, 6'11 forward from IU who was recently denied reinstatement to IU's basketball program by incoming coach Tom Crean, as part of new coach Ray McCallum's first recruiting class. U of D's front line next year will be 3 players with heights of 6'9, 7'3, and 6'11. And for a mid major, that's plain nasty.

WAIT! Don't stop reading yet....I would not waste 2 minutes of your life on U of D Mercy Athletics for no good reason. I'm just not that cruel. This story has meaning for two reasons: The first was that coming out of high school, Rivals had Michigan listed as Bennett's second choice in 2006. This means that although there was a vested interest in the University, Coach Beilein decided not to go after him because he appears to have a lot of vested confidence in Ben Cronin, the 7'1 incoming freshman. Let's hope this Cronin kid turns into the next Joe Alexander (and not the second coming of Zach Gibson) or else passing on a chance to get a 7'3 Center with Michigan ties could be costly .

The other (and more important) reason this move is terrible for Michigan is that it now could potentially mean that the state of Michigan could send four teams to the NCAA tournament next year, NONE of which would be the Wolverines. U of D now becomes a huge contender in the Horizon League (with Butler being the only big opponent), Oakland University will dress an experienced team that will be the favorite for the Summit League crown (and almost beat MSU and Michigan last year), and Western Michigan (who faltered in the MAC tourney last year) will be the favorite to get the automatic bid from their conference. And, of course, MSU will be among the top teams in the Big Ten despite losing Drew Nietizel. Kalin Lucas went under the radar for most of the year but had a huge NCAA tourney and will continue his progress. Lucas would've started at the point guard spot last year, had Neitzel not lost his mind and forgot how to shoot a basketball at the end of last year.

Having 4 solid programs in the State of Michigan will do great things for the game itself in the State, but it will also magnify Michigan's disappearance as a once proud basketball power. These schools will also be competitive, making it hard for Beilein to recruit big in-state talent (Two of the Top 3 players in Michigan will be headed to Oakland next year). This could make the rebuilding process far longer than anyone could have guessed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Game 5's: Will A Road Team Please Stand Up? (Continued)

LIVE BLOG: Jazz @ Lakers Game 5- 2nd Half
12:13am: O, Kyle. Interesting pic, to say the least.
12:15am: Quick start to 2nd half for Utah. 4 straight points.
12:16am: Harlan: "Going back to the 2nd quarter, Utah is on a 19-12 run." Not sure that counts.
12:17am: Kirilenko with a nice reverse layup... Utah within 1.
12:18am: I was watching Jack Hanna on Letterman at the half. Good stuff.
12:19am: Nice move by Odom. Remember back to that Heat-Pistons playoff series from a few years ago. Wade was a rookie and Odom was a star. He looks so much more comfortable as the 3rd option for the Lakers.
12:20am: Speaking of Odom, he was hit on the chin and heads to the bench.
12:21am: Don't you like how once a quarter the announcers provide the TV viewer with the national TV schedule?
12:22am: Deron Williams makes 2 free throws to bring the Jazz back within 1.
12:24am: Harlan on a game-tying three by Williams, "Bulls-eye."
12:25am: Kobe posts up and takes Deron Williams to the basket... LA by 2.
12:26am: Great pass, Kobe to Odom, Lakers back up by 4.
12:26am: Ronnie Brewer has been awesome. He elevates high above the rim for the offensive rebound and put back.
12:27am: Timeout inside of 5 minutes in the 3rd quarter. Very good game so far, Lakers 73-Jazz 71.
12:29am: I mentioned about how much I liked the WNBA commercials. Well, I like the NBA playoff commercials with the split faces talking at the same time nearly as much. Having said that, I'm not sure that Derek Fisher should represent the Lakers in it.
12:31am: Kobe has to start to take over more offensively. We'll see if his back holds up. Harlan discussing how he seems to be laboring a bit.
12:33am: Tied at 73 at the 3:21 mark of the 3rd quarter.
12:35am: Turnovers on both ends. Going to commercial on a Dodge Journey ad, Harlan talking about Collins, says: "he drives as fast as a bullet... he drives with one hand... he gets a pizza... he loves Beverly Hills... and he loves a Dodge Journey.
12:39am: An easy dunk for Brewer, who now has 16 pts. LA is now in a 4 minute scoring drought, as the Jazz get within 1.
12:41am: And-1 drive for Kobe, who now has 22 pts and a free throw coming.
12:44am: Kobe draws a charge from Millsap. 2 point Lakers lead in the final minute of the quarter.
12:45am: Price with a layup at the 8 second mark to tie the game. Farmer misses a 3 at the buzzer. After 3, Utah 81-LA Lakers 81. We are instore for quite a 4th quarter.
12:47am: Before the drama of the 4th quarter begins, I digress with a picture of the now former couple of Romo and Jessica. Too bad, I thought it could have worked out for them. O well.
12:50am: Big 3 by Radmonovic to start the 4th quarter.
12:51am: Korver hits a rare 2, Utah within 1.
12:52am: The Lakers are bailed out by a Matt Harpring foul against Luke Walton attempting a fade away jumper as the shot clock wound down.
12:54am: Remarkably, the Jazz have never led.
12:55am: Nice pick-and-roll by LA and an excellent finish by Gasol. Deron Williams responds on the other end.
12:56am: Farmar will go to the line to complete the 3 point play...LA leads by 3.
12:57am: Shane Battier just announced that he will no longer be a candidate for the US Olympic team this summer. How was he a candidate to begin with?
12:59am: Kobe has been on the bench for the entire 4th quarter thus far. Lakers up by 2.
1:00am: We're now passed the 5 hour mark of live blogging. My fingers are beginning to tire some. Only 8 minutes left... in regulation.
1:01am: Nice slam by Odom off a feed by Kobe, who just checked back into the game.
1:02am: Terrible foul call by Tommy Washington on Kirilenko against a falling Sasha. Jazz are now into the penalty at the 6:53 mark of the 4th.
1:04am: Gasol reminds me of Chris Webber as a passer. Great feed to Lamar who slams it home and is fouled. Odom makes the foul shot and the Lakers lead by 6.
1:05am: The Jazz committ their postseason high 19th turnover. Timeout on the floor with 6:01 to play in the 4th... 97-91 LA.
1:08am: Upcoming NBA Playoffs schedule- Hornets @ Spurs Game 6 is tomorrow night at 9pm on ESPN. Game 6's of Boston-Cleveland and LA-Utah are Friday night at 8:00 and 10:30, respectively, on ESPN.
1:09am: Jazz now down by 4 after 2 free throws by Okur.
1:11am: Both teams now into the penalty. Boozer to shoot two at the line. He misses the first, makes the second... 3 point game.
1:12am: A lot of fouls in the 4th quarter... Harlan and Collins discussing the importance of free throws down the stretch.
1:13am: Neither team has scored in the last minute. Fisher and Sasha missed 3's for the Lakers and Kirilenko missed a 3 for the Jazz. Timeout on the Floor... 5 point LA lead.
1:17am: Collins on what the Jazz should do: "put the ball in the hands of Deron Williams."
1:18am: Boozer scores off a pass from Williams, 3 point game with 2:43 left.
1:19am: Silly foul by the Jazz on Fisher far away from the basket. Fisher makes both FT's.
1:19am: Sasha picks up a terrible technical foul for yapping with Korver. Collins describes Sasha as "when you're the self-proclaimed machine, you better to come through here."
1:20am: Huge 3 by Deron Williams, just a 1 point game.
1:20am: Dunk by Odom, who now has 22 and 10. LA by 3 with 90 seconds left.
1:21am: Okur with an offensive rebound off of a Deron Williams missed 2, back to a 1 point game.
1:21am: Pau scores down low on the other end... back and forth we go.
1:22am: Quick shot by the Jazz and a missed 3 by Okur.
1:22am: Missed 3 by Sasha, but an offensive rebound and slam by PAU!!! Lakers up by 5, with just 20 seconds left.
1:24am: Matt: "no comments from ssreporters? guess 4 hours of straight hours of following our blog was his limit." I guess so, though he easily broke the comments record for our site tonight.
1:25am: Jazz miss a shot and Fisher is fouled. Derek makes 1 of 2 and the Lakers lead by 6 with 15.5 seconds left.
1:26am: It is certainly looking like no road team will have stood up by night's end. Road teams will fall to 1-19 in the 2nd round. Unbelievable.
1:27am: Boozer hits a baseline jumper to bring the Jazz within 4.
1:28am: Just 3 seconds left, the Lakers lead by 6 and Kobe is fouled.
1:29am: Final score: LA 111-Utah 104. The Lakers now lead the series 3 games to 2. Game 6 will be at 10:30pm on ESPN Friday night.
1:30am: Ok, time to go to sleep. I enjoyed the marathon blogging tonight. I probably will blog the much briefer NBA Draft Lottery next Tuesday night at 8:00. Programming note: You can listen to our coverage of Michigan baseball over the next four days against Northwestern. Rushi Vyas, Andrew Seid, and Rob Salaman will have the call of game one of the series tomorrow night starting at 6:30pm. Talk to you then. Good night!

Game 5's: Will A Road Team Please Stand Up? (CONTINUED)

LIVE BLOG: Jazz @ Lakers Game 5- 1st Half
10:50pm: 8-4 Lakers lead just over 3 minutes into the game.
10:52pm: A nice picture of Phil Jackson and Jeannie Buss.
10:53pm: Brewer with 3 dunks already, 11-8 LA.
10:54pm: Harlan and Collins on the call for TNT. Hopefully, Harlan has another great call like he had for Lebron's dunk in Game 4.
10:55pm: Vladamir hits a shot for the Lakers... 15-8 LA as we head to commercials. Collins lets us know that the Jazz already have 5 turnovers.
10:57pm: Again, I have to reiterate just how great those WNBA commercials are. What a great idea to call out the problems in your own league.
11:00pm: Interesting, I read today that the Jazz were worried about their attendance at Game 4 on Sunday. With the practices of the Mormon faith and their large presence in Salt Lake, Utah thought the might not fill half the arena. Luckily, they were wrong.
11:02pm: Ronnie Brewer with a game high 10 points. Yet, the Lakers lead 19-12.
11:03pm: Kirilenko hits a jumper. Utah within 3.
11:04pm: Quick response by LA with a Radmanovic 3.
11:05pm: Another Vladamir three pointer. Lakers up by 9.
11:06pm: Timeout taken by LA. Great start for the Lakers, as they lead by 7 with 2:52 to play in the 1st quarter.
11:08pm: If you're into the hockey, Dallas avoided the sweep tonight. They beat Detroit 3-1. I'm hoping Game 5 on NBC Saturday goes into overtime, so all the hockey purists can complain about the game shifting to Versus to give way to the Preakness. To me, it's a simple decision for NBC: air a hockey game that barely records a 1.0 rating or the pre-race festivities of the Triple Crown Race that will do more than a 7.0 rating.
11:10pm: I still maintain that when Kyle Korver is on the floor it's a negative for your team. Good job by Eddie Stefanski trading him away from the Sixers.
11:12pm: Korver hits a big 3 to silence me... Jazz down 27-23.
11:13pm: Boozer has only taken 2 shots so far. Wake up, Carlos.
11:14pm: Sloppy 1st quarter, 12 combined turnovers.
11:15pm: Boozer fouled on the way up right at the end of the 1st quarter.
11:17pm: After 1, 29-26 LA. Nice comeback by the Jazz. I got a feeling that this game will go down to the last few minutes of the 4th quarter.

11:19pm: Picture of the Mormon fans at the Delta... no the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake. Creative
11:21pm: Hey, ssreporters is sticking with us, stating "gosh this PA announcer for the Lakers is soooooooo boring." I haven't noticed, to be perfectly honest.
11:22pm: Aldridge and Jerry Sloan. Can I get that minute of my life back?
11:23pm: Too many turnovers for Utah... they already have 9 tonight.
11:24pm: Collins going crazy, "uh oh" over one made Farmar three pointer.
11:25pm: Man, how good would the Lakers be if Bynum were healthy?
11:26pm: Deron Williams hits a jumper. Utah is hanging around, only down by 3.
11:27pm: Millsap just picked up his third foul. 36-33 Lakers, inside 9 minutes 2nd quarter.
11:29pm: How much do you think Jacksonville State is paying Ryan Perrilloux to play quarterback? More than USC paid OJ Mayo?
11:30pm: It turns out the last foul was on Korver, not Millsap... Paul still with 2 fouls.
11:33pm: Collins make a good point on where the Jazz are starting their offense from, extremely far away from the basket.
11:34pm: Sasha hits a triple and the Lakers lead by 10. Make it 8 after a Boozer layup.
11:36pm: 45-35 LA, Collins: "The Lakers are getting into the lane at will." I agree... this is looking like a blowout, come the second half.
11:40pm: Harlan and Collins discussing the 'throttle' nickname they have given to Deron Williams.
11:41pm: That Kobe and Pau pick-and-roll is so tough to stop.
11:42pm: My friend that was studying in Barcelona last semester said that on the local newscast, Lakers highlights are usually shown in the first ten minutes. 95% of the highlights are Pau-related.
11:44pm: Okur hits a difficult 3. Wouldn't the Pistons like to have him back?
11:45pm: Miles with an awesome dunk for the Jazz. Nice call by Harlan, saying that Miles "drops the sledgehammer."
11:48pm: I just found the American Idol results. Syesha Mercado voted off and next week it'll be a David Cook-David Archuleta finale.
11:49pm: Utah creeping closer, down by 5 with the ball.
11:50pm: What a feed from Bryant to Gasol running the floor. 55-50 Lakers lead with a minute left in the half.
11:52pm: Kobe with 13 pts now after a steal and layup on the other end.
11:53pm: Harlan says The Closer is the #1 cable series of all time and that "it is not very funny."
11:54pm: Entertaining 1st half. LA 61- Utah 54. Pau and Kobe combined for 28 pts. Back with the second half in a new blog at 12:10am.

Game 5's: Will A Road Team Please Stand Up? (Continued)

LIVE BLOG: Cavs @ Celtics Game 5- 2nd Half

Ok, a fresh blog for the second half. Over/under 40 for Lebron. I'm taking the over.
9:26pm: Didn't learn much from halftime. Avery didn't add much insight into where he'll be coaching next year. The Bulls seem likea pretty good fit to me.
9:27pm: Wow, Big Brown is a 1-2 favorite at the Preakness. He's not even worth betting on. Alright, back to basketball.
9:28pm: A nice picture of Doc Rivers. I wonder what he said at the half. Bill Simmons has an idea... Hopefully, Simmons leaves soon. It'd be nice to see him rip on his fellow employess.
9:29pm: O, TNT had a camera inside the Celtics locker room. Doc told his team to "make the extra pass every time down."
9:30pm: Quick start for Boston with a Ray Allen bucket. Just a 1 point game.
9:31pm: Another basket by the C's and then a turnover by Cleveland. Boston leads.
9:32pm: Rondo looks terrific to start the second half. Cassell should really never come off the bench.
9:33pm: Man, Fratello is older than I thought. Doc Rivers played 7 years for him.
9:34pm: Great defensive play by Rondo to strip Delonte West. TNT is stuggling with their scoreboard. It just changed from 50-48 Boston to 49-49. I guess we're tied.
9:35pm: Fratello discussing the hand signals of Mike Brown. Stockton took a shot at Spygate.
9:36pm: Tied at 53. Garnett and Z exchange baskets.
9:37pm: Ben Wallace is playing like it is 2004.
9:39pm: The last few minutes have been played at a very high level. 60-57 Boston.
9:40pm: Largest lead of the game for the C's at 5. Mike Brown takes a TO as Dick Stockton says, "we're cruising through the streets of Boston."
9:42pm: ssreporters: "It may already be over. Why they are letting LeBron not handle the ball is beyond me, and Boston won't miss because Cleveland's big men are probably the most unathletic of all time." I'm not sure that it's over yet, but Lebron has to get the ball more.
9:43pm: Wow, how great are those WNBA commercials. I may actually watch.
9:44pm: Why is Joe Smith drving to the basket? Cavs are in real trouble.
9:45pm: Hey, Ryan Howard homered... Phils down by 3.
9:47pm: Stockton on Perkin's defense of Lebron, "he squeezed him."
9:50pm: ssreporters: "I'm convinced Boston will win by 20 now...Plus the NBA is fixing this so that the favorites make their way in like Detroit, Boston, LA...maybe San Antonio." I don't believe in NBA conspiracies... why did Oden and Durant go to Portland and Seattle, respectively? However, assigning Joey Crawford to that Spurs game last night certainly leads you to believe the NBA would like to oust the Spurs from the playoffs.
9:51pm: Joe Smith to the line to shoot 2 as Perkins picks up his 4th foul. Boston leads by 8.
9:53pm: Fratello saying the Celtics listened to their head coach. Now, that's a first.
9:54pm: Boston up double digits. Lebron still has not scored this quarter. I guess I lost that over/under bet.
9:56pm: Lebron finally hits his first field goal of the second half. 71-61 Celtics with less than a minute left in the 3rd.
9:58pm: Boston up by 9 after outscoring the Cavs 29-17 the 3rd quarter, alone.


9:59pm: ssreporters: "You believe me now Rob S.? Cleveland Centers = Series Loss." Yeah, starting too. That was an ugly quarter for them. Lebron needs a huge 4th or this series is over. I don't see Cleveland winning a Game 7 in Boston.
10:03pm: Nice glasses I found on Big Ben.
10:05pm: Gibson to the locker room with an apparent injury. Too many missed free throws for the Cavs.
10:07pm: Game being called very closely to start the 4th quarter. TNT doesn't want the Lakers game to start until 10:50.
10:08pm: Joe Smith with a nice basket, as the Cavs get back within 8.
10:09pm: Garnett now 10 for 15. Lebron scores on the on the other end. He now has 27 pts.
10:10pm: Big Baby Davis with an awkard foul on Wally. 80-70 Boston leads as we get a TO nearly halfway through the 4th quarter.
10:11pm: By the way, Phils lost 8-6 to the Braves. Rubber game of the series is tomorrow.
10:14pm: TNT with their Yellowbook Future Faces feature of David West out of the commercial.
10:15pm: I like the Spurs to come back and win in 7.
10:16pm: Booby Gibson with a shoulder contusion injury. Not good news for the Cavs down the stretch.
10:17pm: Rondo with a runner in the lane, C's up by 12. Amazing how different of a team they are at home.
10:19pm: It looks like home teams will go to 18-1 in the 2nd round of the playoffs. That 8.5 point spread is still in play.
10:21pm: Those NBA Cares features are a little much. Maybe I spoke to soon as West drives to the basket for 2.
10:22pm: Offensive foul on LeBron. Boston has really ramped up the D in the second half.
10:24pm: West is the best player on the floor right now... Cavs down by 8 with 4 minutes left. Cleveland has missed 10 free throws.
10:26pm: Stockton: "Rondo is the player of the game, has turned it over only once."
10:29pm: Fratello discussing the size of the trophy given to Danny Ainge for being named Executive of the Year.
10:31pm: Celtics closing in on a 3-2 series lead. I still have a feeling that we will back in Boston for a Game 7 on Sunday afternoon.
10:32pm: Hold on, West with a steal. Now, its just a 6 point game.
10:33pm: Wally misses a big 3 with 90 seconds left.
10:34pm: Pierce makes 1 of 2 from the line. Boston up 7. LeBron to the basket to make it 89-84 C's.
10:36pm: Pierce back to the foul line and makes both.
10:37pm: LeBron fould en route to the basket. He should have been more aggressive earlier this quarter.
10:38pm: Stockton: "This is playoff basketball, so hard fouls are the rule."
10:38pm: West with a steal and hits both free throws to bring the Cavs within 4.
10:39pm: Stockton lets us know that when we return it will be time for the Charles Schwab Time to Talk. I can't wait.
10:40pm: Boston milks the clock and gets the rebound off of a Garnett miss. The Cavs are forced to foul Pierce with 15.6 seconds left.
10:41pm: Pierce makes both free throws. Bos 93-Cle 87. Stockton: "3 pointers have to be the order of the day for the Cavaliers."
10:43pm: ssreporters: "Some of the most careless mistakes ever by Boston. Cleveland should be dead by now." I agree, at least it looks like I'll win against the spread.
10:44pm: West is fouled with 12.2 seconds left. Two foul shots down by 6.
10:45pm: Delonte makes both. Cleveland immediately fouls both. Game status: 93-89 Boston, 11.6 secs left.
10:46pm: Jazz-Lakers started on TBS. They couldn't have waited two more minutes. Pierce makes both... timeout Cavs.
10:47pm: 5 second violation for the Cavs. That should do it.
10:49pm: EJ lets us know it's 3-0 Lakers. The Celtics survive a late scare and win Game Five 96-89. The dominance of home teams continues. The live-blogging continues with a fresh blog for the Jazz-Lakers Game 5.

Pistons: Sixth Straight Conference Finals-Schizophrenic or Not, the Pistons are for Real Now...I think

As a huge Pistons' fan, the last few years have taught me not to put trust in the team and get my hopes up. After multiple years of the team deciding not to try their hardest and overly relying on their "we've been here before attitude" I was learning that this group of guys might not ever win it all again. But even with that attitude, they, without fail, continued to reach the eastern conference finals simply due to the talent Joe Dumars assembled. But they would still lose early, either to the Heat or the Cavs' the last two years since they decided they were too good to try.
That looked to be the same in the first round against the 76'ers when the Pistons allowed themselve to get down 2-1 with a twenty point drubbing by the 6'ers. I thought it was the same disappointing team I'd watched for the past two playoffs. With no sense of urgency, the Pistons let themselves go down 2-1 by going into game 3 with the attitude that it was not indeed a must win situation. Chauncey Billups, the team leader, was the one proclaiming that sentiment. I honestly thought the Pistons' attitude was going to be their downfall again and I thought they would somehow get through the 6'ers series, but then fall to Orlando without much of a fight. They had taught me not to believe and I started to worry about what Joe Dumars might do in the offseasonBut, perhaps the troubles against the 6'ers finally turned the team's attitude around. As if exits to the Heat, and even more troubling, the Cavs' last year (after a 2-0 lead) weren't enough, it seems the Pistons needed the challenge of the Sixers to finally smack them awake. After tying the first round series at 2 a piece, the Pistons closed out the series with a couple of decisive wins and I was thinking "maybe they get it." But then again, I would tell myself, don't get your hopes up, let's wait and see if they decide to play against Orlando. Well, they did. Starting the series with a blowout and then another big win at home, the Pistons looked like they finally understood they needed to play like everyone else. Game 3's big loss can be explained by losing Chauncey Billups during the course of the game. The loss of Billups now seemed like the perfect excuse for the Pistons not to show up.
Detroit always has claimed to play better in the face of adversity (even after losing in the face of it the last two postseasons), this would be a perfect chance to prove they could still do it. They did, coming back from a 17 point 3rd quarter deficit to win in a nailbiter, without Chauncey, and then closing out the series at home, without Chauncey. The reason the Pistons were able to win without Billups is because they all actually played with a sense of urgency throughout the game. There was great defensive effort on nearly each possession which is something that was obviously lacking against the Cavs' and Heat. Maybe having a rookie point guard on the floor made the other starters avoid playing with a "sense of entitlement" and actually give a full effort (wow what a great idea). Now the Pistons get to nurse Chauncey back to health, for probably a week, while Cleveland and Boston duke it out. If they are able to maintain that sense of urgency when the laid back Billups returns, the Pistons might be unbeatable. Even though I might be biased as a fan, the lineup the Pistons have had since the year after they won the championship, is in my opinion the best lineup, on paper, in the NBA. Their only fierce rival is themselves. Maybe they have finally beaten that alter ego. I will say it, I think they have.
The Pistons are the team to beat, not only in the East, but in the NBA since they seem to have figured out how to play hard every game of a series. They cannot slip back into the attitude that "if we lose a game, we're fine." That is the only thing that can stop this team from getting a second ring. McDyess wants his first, the bench is finally young (always playing hard), and the four mainstays of Billups, Prince, Wallace, and Hamilton finally have enough critics to prove wrong. The Pistons play best in the face of adversity. The last two seasons they had been the favorites, not many doubters. Therefore, they had to beat themselves to the point that the doubters would appear. They are here, and with Billups back in the lineup, they either have to play the team that knocked them out last year, or the team that has stolen all the awards this season. The Pistons are a lock for the NBA finals, at least while their alter ego is banished.

Did you know that: Six straight Conference Finals appearances is something that is extremely rare. While a number of teams have reached five in a row, Detroit is only the 2nd team in NBA history to reach the conference finals 6 straight times since the NBA has had "conferences" instead of only "divisions" (1971-72). The only other team is the L.A. Lakers who reached 8 in a row from the 1981-82 season through the 88-89 season.

Game 5's: Will A Road Team Please Stand Up?

I enjoyed live blogging Game 6 of the Pistons-Sixers series last week. So, I'll be back at it tonight with two pivotal Game 5's, Celtics-Cavs at 8pm and Lakers-Jazz at 10:30pm. Just a hunch, but I think Lebron may have a Game 5 performance like last year up his sleeve tonight. Also, Avery Johnson will be a guest in the TNT studio. The 5+ hour live blogging marathon begins at 8:00. Talk to you then.
Predictions: Cleveland (+8) and LA Lakers (-8.5).
LIVE BLOG: Cavs @ Celtics Game 5- 1ST HALF
8:00pm: Ok, top of the hour and ready to go. I'm very much looking forward to these two games. Two big news items prior to tipoff: 1-Kobe is expected to play despite the back injury and 2-Edwards endorsed Obama...finally. Alright, time for basketball.
8:01pm: Excellent intro video tease by Ernie Johnson of TNT.
8:02pm: Dick Stockton and Mike Fratello on hand at the Garden for the call on TNT. I can't help to think back when a much younger Stockton, alongside Hubie Brown, called the Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals games of the 1980s at the old Boston Garden for CBS.
8:03pm: Celtics win the opening tip. Shot clock violation for the C's right out of the gate.
8:04pm: I happen to disagree with Rushi's statement on the Pistons in the above post that they "are the team to beat, not only in the east." I'd take the Lakers and Spurs against them in the Finals.
8:05pm: What a start. The Cavs out-do the Celtics with a missed technical free throw for a defensive 3 and then a shot clock violation.
8:06pm: Lebron makes his 1st shot. I'm telling you...he's due for a huge game.
8:09pm: Wally nails a 3 pointer. Great start for the Cavs, they lead 7-2.
8:10pm: Rondo shoots too much...turnover by the Cavs, now 4 and a half minutes into the game.
8:12pm: Good end-to-end action. Pierce hits a 3 for Boston and then Lebron gets a steal and gets a conventional three point play.
8:13pm: Ray Allen with 2 fouls at the 6:17 mark of the 1st quarter.
8:15pm: 1st TV timeout of the game. Excellent start for Cleveland... leading by 3. Lebron with 7 points early.
8:17pm: I have a free minute to talk about the lack of success of road teams in these playoffs. 1-17 this round. I'm not sure if I've heard a great reason why. At least, no one can argue next year that the NBA regular season doesn't matter.
8:20pm: Fratello: "2 parts to the shot, one is getting there and the other is finishing the shot."
8:21pm: So far, Skip Bayless is right... Kevin Garnett is really Kevin 'Gar-not'.
8:22pm: Lebron is driving it to the basket at ease. James with 11 early as the Cavs lead 16-9.
8:26pm: ssreporters: "Sasha" Stockton is up there in years. I remember when he called the Eagles-Falcons playoff game a few years ago and called the Philadelphia Eagles, the Philadelphia 76ers.
8:28pm: Terrible pass by Lebron, easily stolen by Rando. Nice run by Boston to get within 3.
8:29pm: Good call on the block against Varejao, Pierce at the line to complete the 3 point play.
8:30pm: Huge 1st quarter for Wally, now with 8 pts.
8:31pm: Cle 23-Bos 18 after 1. Stockton: "It looks like King James has emerged as a scoring threat." You think.
8:32pm: ssreporters: "Me thinks Cleveland's 50 turnovers in a quarter will bite them in the 4th....again." Wouldn't suprise me. I got a funny feeling though Lebron will pull it out in the 4th.
8:35pm: As usual, I learned nothing from the Cheryl Miller interview with Doc Rivers.
8:36pm: Sam Cassell in the game. Fratello might put Eddie House in the game for Cassell. Wow, maybe Sam really should retire.
8:37pm: Good point by the Czar on Lebron guarding Cassell.
8:38pm: O, what a move by Lebron. Then, he forces a turnover on the other end. 27-20 Cavs...Lebron has 15.
8:39pm: Stockton: "Sam Cassell is 0-12 in the last 3 games."
8:40pm: Joe Smith with a bucket, Cavs up by 9. Remember when Smith was the #1 pick from Maryland. Man, that's a long time ago.
8:41pm: Stockton going into the commercial: "Where did Lebron James go? He left the court." Huh?
8:43pm: ssreporters, you may set the comments record for our site. I agree, it's only a matter of time before Stockton says, "And James goes in for the touchdown!"
8:44pm: Dick and the Czar talking about the Cavs past uniforms and stadium seat colors. Good times.
8:45pm: Boston does realize it can't win on the road. Their now down double digits.
8:47pm: I would start booing. This is getting ugly.
8:49pm: Ray Allen hits a 3... the Garden crowd into the game for the first time tonight. 8 point game as the Cavs call time.
8:53pm: A nice pic of Sam Cassell.
8:54pm: Garnett gets the bounce off the rim, now a 6 point game.
8:55pm: Make it 8 after Lebron drives to the bucket for 2.
8:56pm: Fratello on James: "the best open field runner in Cleveland since Jim Brown."
8:59pm: Rando hits two 3's in a row. Boston within 6.
9:02pm: Quick check of the Phils, down 8-4 to the Braves after 6. What happened to Brett Myers?
9:04pm: Game status-Lebron has 23 pts, 43-39 Cavs with 1:33 left in the half.
9:05pm: Huge 3 from Delonte West. Garnett hits a shot on the other end for Boston.
9:06pm: Doc calls a 20 second TO. I'm sure he'll draw up a great play.
9:08pm: Well, I was wrong on that one. Nice shot by Pierce. C's have to feel pretty happy to only be down 46-43 at the half. Boston ended the half on 14-3 run.
9:09pm: Lebron with 23 pts in the 1st two quarters. Enjoy Avery Johnson at the half. I'll be back with a fresh blog in 15 for the second half.

Baseball/Softball This Week

Here's the Michigan baseball and softball schedule for the week ahead. The Michigan baseball team has already wrapped up the Big Ten regular season championship. Meanwhile, the softball team is the #4 national seed and hosts a regional to start the NCAA tournament. I'm still not entirely sure what our broadcast schedule will be. We will certainly broadcast the Michigan-Northwestern baseball game on Thursday night. Coverage on the WCBN Sports Stream begins at 6:30pm on Thursday.

Baseball: 6:35pm Northwestern @ Michigan

Baseball (DH): 4:05pm Northwestern @ Michigan
Softball: 7:00pm Wright State @ Michigan
Baseball (DH): 7:05pm Northwestern @ Michigan

Softball: 12:00pm or 2:30pm Notre Dame/Kent State @ Michigan
Baseball: 1:05pm Northwestern @ Michigan

Softball: 1:00pm TBD

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Laval Lucas-Perry Wins NCAA Appeal

The NCAA ruled yesterday that Laval Lucas-Perry will have three years of eligibility left after the conclusion of the 2008-09 season. Perry still is not eligible to play until the conclusion of the fall semester in December, but this is a favorable ruling for the Wolverines. Perry played five games for Arizona last fall, averaging 4.0 points per game before deciding to transfer closer to home.

Perry scored 27 ppg as a junior and 20 ppg as a senior at Flint Powers High School. He also followed in the Courtney Sims model of success as he was named all conference as part of the #1 varsity doubles team.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bitter Braylon

The Michigan Football program came under fire once again Tuesday, this time from its most prestigious alum in recent history. In an interview with ESPN's Mike Tirico on ESPN Radio Tuesday, Braylon Edwards expressed his displeasure towards Coach Rich Rodriguez's decision to assign the "No.1 Jersey" to incoming freshman J.T. Floyd, a defensive back. Tirico (a frequent visitor to the Ann Arbor area and Michigan sporting events) asked Edwards if he had any comment on the new regime in Ann Arbor, and Edwards took the opportunity in stride. Edwards said he had no problem with Rich Rod as a coach, but was noticeably upset that Rodriguez had disrupted the tradition of the No.1 Jersey being worn by the team's best wideout. This tradition had dated back to the Anthony Carter days, and has been passed on through the years to the likes of David Terrell and Barylon Edwards most recently. Edwards also recently endowed the jersey with a 500,000 dollar scholarship fund, which provides scholarship money to the player currently sporting Braylon's old uniform. Edwards' generosity is the largest scholarship donation made by any former player in program history.

I haven't always been a huge Braylon Edwards fan, but I have to side with him on this one. If I just put down half a million bucks for a rookie to wear the jersey I had to wait two years to wear, I'd be a little steamed, too. The thing that really gets me is the fact that no one said anything to Coach Rod when this happened. Umm Coach? Number 1 is sort of a big deal around here. That was in the first chapter of the assigned reading about Michigan Tradition. Oh, and there is 500 grand attached to it by an All-Pro alum. Just a heads up. I understand he's new, but come on! There had to be SOMEBODY who said something to the guy. All in all, it was not a good week for Coach Rod (Earlier in the week, Charlie "I only recruit trust fund babies" Weiss called out him and the University in anticipation for making excuses for a potentially sub par 2008 season).

Does Braylon have a point? Or should Coach Rod give Bo's Lasting Lessons another read-through?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Latest Acedemic Progress Reports Released

Tuesday the NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Report (APR). The APR is the NCAA's new way to gage a school's academic progress on a sport by sport basis. The scoring system is a bit complicated, so instead of trying to confuse you by trying to explain it, I'll let a professional journalist do it.

From the St.Louis Post-Dispatch:

The scores are calculated by giving teams one point for each athlete that stays in school and another for each athlete that remains academically eligible. The point totals are then divided by the team’s maximum points possible to derive a score equivalent to a percentage.

Per NCAA guidelines, teams that score below 925 and have a student leave school academically ineligible can lose up to 10 percent of their scholarships. Known as immediate penalties, these scholarships can be lost each year and not awarded until the following year.

Starting next year, teams that receive three straight years of historical penalties (below 900 APR) face the potential of restrictions on postseason competition for the team, in addition to scholarship and practice restrictions.

Over 700 Division I teams had APR scores below the required 925, however only 218 were punished, ranging from warnings to scholarship restrictions. Among BCS schools, eighteen schools were penalized, eight each in men's and women's basketball and two in football. Around the Big Ten, the most notable punishment was Purdue losing one scholarship for men's basketball.

On the bright side, the NCAA also released a list of schools receiving Public Recognition Awards, given out to a team finishing in the top 10 percent of the APR in their sport. Michigan received four such awards, for baseball, men's and women's golf, and women's tennis, with both golf teams and the women's tennis teams receiving perfect scores. The only Michigan team to come close to missing the APR guidelines was the men's basketball team, with a score of 927. You can get a complete breakdown of every Michigan sport here. Every Big Ten team received at least one award, and Northwestern led the conference with 8 awards. Some other notes from across the country, Duke had the most awards of any BCS school with 12 awards, and Yale led all schools with 28 awards (note that there are only 29 possible sports in which to win awards). As should be expected, each team in the Ivy League received awards, with Colombia taking home the fewest, 9, although only 5 other non-Ivy teams had higher totals (behind the US Naval Academy, Duke, Georgetown, Boston College, and Stanford).

The new NCAA policies seem to be working, as over the last four years scores have increased in 26 of the 29 sports covered by the APR (men's ice hockey, men's swimming, and men's water polo decreased). Overall women's teams had an average score of 969, while men's teams had an average of 951.

Construction in Ann Arbor? You don't say...

On the heels of the Udoh announcement that he is leaving town for greener pastures, Michigan AD Bill Martin has announced that plans have begun to start construction on a new basketball practice facility. The BTN interviewed Martin, in which he said architects have been hired and plans were in motion to put the new facility on the East side of the stadium (this is where the bus stop is currently located at the foot of the Crisler Arena hill). No timetable has been set for the project.

While this is good news, there are still a few red flags that are raised from these comments. The biggest of these is timing. Although Martin did not specify when it was supposed to be finished by, I can't imagine it will be anytime soon. With the football stadium not supposed to be totally completed until after '10, the football practice facility still being redone, and new soccer field being built behind the Varsity Tennis Center, this puts "Basketball Practice facility" way down the "To-Do List." For a basketball program that has players jumping from it like rats on a sinking ship, this is not good news. Michigan cannot compete with the MSUs or the Illinois type programs without a practice facility to show recruits. This is something that Martin is going to need to bring some luster back to a once storied program. Although Martin has given fans a light at the end of the tunnel, no one has any idea just how long that tunnel is going to be.

Sidenote: With the aforementioned Udoh gone, Michigan boasts a front line of Shepard, Sims, and Gibson. Backing up Gibson is Puls and Cronin, and neither one of them has played in a college game. Somewhere, a season ticket holder weeps into his Jalen Rose Day t-shirt. If this doesn't motivate the Athletic Department to sell Maize Rage tickets for 25 dollars for the whole season, I don't know what would. Women's season tickets go for that much, and they are at least an NIT team!

The last red flag is Martin's refusal to be interviewed by the local press about the announcement. Free Press writer Mark Snyder's Tuesday article included Martin declining to be interviewed on the matter. Why the hell would Martin go on national television to talk about breaking ground on a new building, but not do it locally and alienate the local fan base/media even further? Now, I'm not saying Martin isn't true to his word, but this does show me that it's possible even he does not know when visual progress can be seen by fans when they drive down to Crisler Arena.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dodd's Preseason Football Rankings

Dennis Dodd, a Senior Writer, has released his preseason college football rankings. Here are some relevant highlights:

1. Ohio St: "Thirteen juniors explored the draft, only one declared -- Vernon Gholston. That should tell you that the Bucks are absolutely loaded. Mix in the roll of baby-soft Charmin known as the Big Ten schedule and this is the team to beat."

9. West Virginia: "Is there a more elusive quarterback than Patrick White? Is there a faster breakaway runner than Noel Devine? The Mountaineers remain the class of the Big East in Bill Stewart's first season."

12. Illinois: "Heart-and-soul guys J Leman and Rashard Mendenhall are gone. Few in Champaign are sweating, though. The Illini will know where they're heading by early October. By then they will have played Missouri and taken trips to Penn State and Michigan."

15. Wisconsin: "Spring ended with the quarterback situation unsettled. But who needs a rocket arm with the Badgers' running game and tight end Travis Beckum?"

16. LSU: "Perrilloux leaving will cost Les Miles the SEC West. A schedule that includes eight home games will soften the blow. The season opener against Appalachian State just became huge with an inexperienced quarterback playing against the defending I-AA champions. Don't laugh. Ask Michigan."

23. Michigan St.: "The Spartans seem to be everyone's sleeper for '08. This is a program ready to turn the corner. All six of Michigan State's losses were by a touchdown or less. Tailback Javon Ringer was held out of the spring because of shoulder surgery."

Don't read too much into this... it's Dennis Dodd's preseason rankings. But still, this hurts. Not only has Michigan dropped out of the Big Ten, but they are apparently ranked well below Illinois, as well as below Michigan St. and possibly Penn St. Again, this is according to Dennis Dodd. But the team that Rich Rod leaves is ranked in the top 10, Michigan is viewed as a team which won't finish in the top four/five (depending on where you have Penn St. ranked... I personally have Michigan ranked as the #4 team in the conference behind Ohio St., Wisconsin, and Illinois in that order), and Appalachian St. jabs are gonna keep coming.

I'm mostly just curious what everyone else thinks of these rankings... is Dodd crazy? Is Michigan St. a legitimate threat in the Big Ten? Is Michigan going to surprise everyone and ride a weak schedule to a two-loss season? Who knows? But we might as well rant and rave as if we do.