Thursday, March 12, 2009

LIVE BLOG: Big Ten Tourney: Game 1

After a pilgrimage-like drive through the cornfields of Indiana, we arrived in Indy for the 2009 Big Ten Tourney. Our (Me, Stu, and Rob) original plan has us sneak-broadcasting, but given that we are two rows behind the bench, someone would notice. So we went with the live blog instead. Always fun, entertaining, and very off the cuff. I was a little intimidated since I saw the LaX live blog that Stu did this week. The response was good…. So good that we had an actual celebrity write Stu to give him praise (I’ll let Stu tell that story later… we may even get this woman to do a podcast. Who knows?)

Anyways, here is the live blog. This was written at the game and then edited after we got back to the hotel. Enjoy!

1:47pm: Minnesota vs. Northwestern is still going on, so me, Rob, and Stu are trying to see the game through the glare off Tubby Smith Jr.’s bald spot. I won’t complain with courtside seats, though. Good game though! The first half was slow with the Gophers getting out to the early lead. The media hospitality room started showing the Providence/Louisville game because it was so bad.

(Speaking of the Big Ten, Stu has 7 teams from the B10 in the tourney right now. I agree. Rob is skeptical, but willing to go along with this assessment).

1:56: Northwestern down 7 with 1:11 to go. Hellooooo, NIT!

2:04pm: Gophers beat up on the Wildcats and stretch it out to a 13 pt. win. The Gopher mascot is the last person in the “sportsmanship line” for shaking hands with the other team. If I were Kevin Coble, I’d hit him in the face. That’s just insulting. I would’ve gone “Randall Simon” upside his fury head.

OK, so we are about 25 minutes to tip-off at this point. I got to hand it to Minnesota. They traveled extremely well and had a nice little cheering section across from their bench. Same with Northwestern. As for your Maize and Blue? Nope. Barely any students and no group seating.

2:24pm: We have our first Erin Andrews sighting of the day! Talking to assistant coach Jerry Dunn… during which she was heckled by two 30 yr. old men behind me. It’s real hard to feel sorry for someone that pretty, but she gets this everywhere she goes! More on EA later. 4 minutes to tip-off.

2:30pm: The UM band just tried to start the GO-BLUE chant with five fans sitting in the middle section courtside. This school has seen prouder moments.

GAME TIME: The time counter will now coincide with game-clock.

18:03: Officials for today’s game are Steed, Gray, and Crawford. Eddie Hightower did the MN/NU game, so this game shouldn’t stop every 30 seconds. Gotta love Ed’s animated calls though. Dick Bavetta he is not.

16:49 : Sims draws a foul on Cole after a nice post-up move. Sims can get basically anything he wants from these guys but whenever I watch him play, I can’t help but think he ends up like a Corliss Williamson-type player in the pros: A guy with huge upside, but kind of a tweener without a niche. I reallllllly hope I’m wrong about this.

14:44: Michigan has worked the ball in the post nicely so far. Sims all but two of the Wolverine points…Nice block by Stu Douglass! Talk about a kid who has turned things around mid-season. He looks more comfortable in transition and doesn’t pick up his dribble anymore.

12:48: Sims is 6 for 6 with 12 points, all within 8 feet of the hoop. Iowa has no answer.

12:20 Sims again with a fall-away J at the free throw line! He has alllllll of Michigan’s points and is on fire! 14 points in 8 minutes.

***Just as I’m typing this, Beilein takes Sims out of the lineup!! What?!? Talk about taking your foot off the gas. (Post Script: Looking back on the game, this was a good move by Beilein. Sims was really pumped and this move probably evened him out a bit. I criticize his lineup changes a lot, but Beilein made the right move here).

10:51 Sims turnaround on the low block! I’m beginning to see a pattern…. (PS): This was the point in the game where we all thought he was going to go for 30+. The Michigan Daily guys floated out the idea and it slowly started gaining momentum.

10:28: Harris with the “And-1” off a pretty feed from David Merritt. Michigan looks like-dare I say it- a tournament team. I thought this day would never come! Somewhere, Robert Traylor is eating his 6th slice of cake to celebrate.

9:44: LLP with his second three of the game. This guy must love big arenas because he’s had his both his biggest games in big arenas (The Barn and the Palace). Bright lights and big stage. However, he looks to have taken my advice and is extending the follow through nicely. He must read the blog.

7:58: The Big Ten and the Big Ten Network are taking this tournament as an opportunity to advertise their new shows, including Eddie George’s new show. I’ve seen the commercial 5 times and still can’t tell you what this show is about. Great job, BTN. Stu has a list of every time we see the commercial. The over/under has been set at 20 for the day. I’m taking the under.

6:00: Gibson got a nice feed in the post, chucked it high off the backboard and ball over to the Hawkeyes. One interesting note about Gibson. Each team is given a booth in the concourse area to show off jerseys and trophies. His jersey is the only one Michigan has in their little booth. Were Nos. 34 and 3 sold out at the M Den? Hell, I would’ve opted for a CJ Lee jersey!

5:08: Harris Dunk. 30-17 Wolverines rolling!!!

3:10: Michigan SID Tom Wywrot gets a little hug from Erin Andrews. Tom’s one of the best SID’s Michigan has in the Media Relations Dept… and I’m not saying that just because I’m hoping he gives me her number. Tom also just became the envy of all the men sitting in Section 8 of the lower bowl. Sims hits a pair of FTs for 18 points IN THE FIRST HALF. He looks like a young Antonio McDyess (Rob says I’m being too generous. Probably true, but 18 points in 20 minutes? Just for today I’m going with this)

1:19 Michigan up 38 to 17 on Iowa. Nice little 8-0 run the past few minutes. ..Timeout on the floor. Zack Novak is bleeding (go figure). A cut on the hand. He should be back. He’s a hockey player.

HALFTIME: Here is the Halftime story as told by Stu Zaas:

Deshawn Sims has dominated, leading all scorers with 18 points on 8-8 shooting from the field and 2-2 from the free throw line. Seven of his eight buckets have been assisted on and if Manny Harris can finish off a triple-double he’ll have Sims to thank. Harris has eight points, five boards, and five assists (four of them to Sims) at the break. Michigan as a team has been passing the ball around extremely well as they have 12 assists on 15 field goals. The extra passes have led to great looks and a much improved shot selection which has contributed to the team’s torrid 68.2% field goal shooting percentage.

I’ll take this opportunity to add that Conseco Fieldhouse is one of the nicest places I’ve ever taken in a basketball game. It reminds me of the Palace but a whole lot smaller and thus more intimate. The seats are only about 40-50% full for this game with Indiana fans dominating the attendance as the Hoosiers will look to pull the upset and end Penn State’s NCAA Tournament hopes in this afternoon’s final game.

****Quick note before the second half: In the media hospitality room, I got coffee right next to Erin Andrews and we exchanged pleasantries. From now on, I can say I “got coffee with Erin Andrews.” No one is going to take this away from me. I refuse to hear otherwise. Mike Titus, eat your heart out.


18:35: Iowa scores two quick unanswered hoops. CJ Lee answers with a nice move to the rim. Look at old-man grad student being assertive! The WCBN/Daily Coalition agree that Lee was probably the kid in 3rd Grade YMCA Leagues who always had his shirt tucked in, and got way too excited over pass deflections out of bounds when he is cheering on the bench.

17:01 Sims from the baseline. 9 of 10 from the floor and 20 points on the day. Ridiculous. Nasty. Stupid. I’m running out of adjectives… 47-26 now off the Douglass triple.

15:45: Sims dunks the lob from Manny Harris. 22 for Sims on 2nd alley-oop dunk of the season.

Timeout Iowa. SLAMMM IT HOME, DeSHAWN!!! During the timeout, we see two commercials on the Jumbotron…. And there is Eddie George!...again, plugging his show. I’ve asked five people what that show is about and no one knows. This commercial has been plugged more times than The Watchmen.

15:16: Three for Sims! 25 points and shooting the lights out. Guess he took the 2nd Team All-Big Ten thing kinda personally.

Kelly gets his fourth for Iowa. 54-28 Wolverines. Looks like I’m going to have an extended stay in Indy, Dad!!

13:25: Gibson gets a nice dime from Harris on the high screen and roll. Harris is 10pts, 6 Rebs, 8 Asts. He’s obviously looking to pass, hitting Douglass who misses a three. He’s been watching Lebron this week, and thought the triple double might be fun. 56-32 Big Blue

Timeout: Stu and I have come up with the rankings of preferable tournament cites we would like to cover for Michigan’s first round game. They are ranked in order with estimated drive times: Miami( 22 hrs.), KC (11hrs), Philly (8hrs), Greensboro (11hrs), Boise (27hrs), Dayton (3 hrs), and Portland (34 hrs)

6:25: 61-36 Wolverines…. BUT Sims and Harris are still in the game. The Coalition all are trying to figure out why the two best players are playing in a blowout when the prospect of 4 games in 4 days looms overhead.

6:09: Harris hits a three to go up 64 to 36. Uhhhh, Coach B? Hello?….

4:38: Harris with a stat-padding three…. IN A GAME YOU’VE ALREADY WON!!!! What are you doing?!?! Keep these last 10 minutes in mind when you are watching the Illinois game. I need a cigarette… and I don’t even smoke.

4:26: Lee and Sims and Harris come out of the game… I’m putting down my cigarette

3:29: Timeout Michigan. Erin Andrews was just put up on the Jumbotron for the “Flex Cam” and showed off the guns. Highlight of the game! I always worry this will happen to me, much to the disappoint of all in attendance. I better see this on Youtube tomorrow.

2:48: CJ Lee says, “Start drinkin’ for tomorrow!” on the bench. Good advice from the captain… Grady into the game for the first time.

1:45: Douglass with the jam! Starters up off the bench in approval… Novak looks jealous.

47.5: Eric Puls into the game after Beilein says “This is how we earn victories!” Over/under 0.5 three point attempts for Eric Puls. I got the over. Stu has the under. Fasten your seatbelts.

46.1 Puls into the stat sheet with one foul! Cyrus Tate (who really fell of the map after last season) makes a pair. 73-45 Blue.

9.2 Puls for threeeeeee!!!!!! A miss…. But I still win the bet. I’ve been 1 for 2 on over/under bets today.

0.0 Game. Set. Match. Illinois tomorrow. Sims with 27, Harris with 18, 7, and 8.

Final Thoughts: Sims says that he “Can get a little crazy” sometimes and said he never started a game as hot as he did today. Coach Beilein is very happy with the maturity of his players.

Assuming things go like they did today, we’ll be doing this again tomorrow. Hopefully it lived up the Lacrosse blog.

Until tomorrow…

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