Dwane Casey is the Newest Pistons Coach

BY:DALTON

In a move that shocked very few, the Detroit Pistons announced today that Dwane Casey was hired to coach the salary cap mess of Blake, Andre, and Reggie. Once John Beilein dropped out, it seemed like the no-brainer move for Tom Gores to make. Personally, I like this move by the Pistons owner. Not because its a splashy hire or a win now move, but it was the smart move. In an ownership era where smart moves have been few and far between, its nice to see a move that wont set the franchise back. It will be interesting to see what Casey can do with the current Pistons roster. Obviously the Pistons dont have the guard play the the Raptors do but when a coach wins 60+ games, he has to be decent. I think the biggest improvement we will see this year is on the defensive end. At the end of the regular season, the Pistons were a middle of the pack team defensively and the Raptors were the number 1 defensive team in the East and I dont think its that hot of a take to say that the Pistons have better defensive pieces than the Raptors. Offensively, I have no clue what to expect. It could be awesome if Reggie stays healthy and Casey finds a way to work Griffin and Drummond together, but if he cant it wont be pretty. Again.  I’m not going to get my expectations up until after the summer/free agency/draft/hiring of a GM. After that, I’m sure I can convince myself of an ECF appearance but we will wait till September for that.

SHORT SYNOPSIS: Thank god the Pistons hired, at the very least, good coach. It was clear the team had tuned out SVG so a new voice will be refreshing.

Review: An Evening With Ghost

Saturday May 11th   2018, the Fillmore in Detroit, MI was a chapel of ritual.  The Grammy winning Swedish rock band Ghost was in town performing a blistering two and a half hour set to a sold out crowd.  Ghost is by far the most theatric rock band in the game today. For the Joshbobdotcom.com readers who are not familiar with Ghost, let me catch you up to speed  (it’s a little confusing so try to keep up).

Ghost is band sent on a mission by a secret underground satanic society to take over the world in the name of Lucifer.  Led by a black pope, Papa Nihil, and Sister Imperator (the lead behind the scenes characters) that mastermind a satanic movement through the music of Ghost. Papa Emeritus I was enlisted as the first singer only to be replaced after the first album due to failure to take over the world. Papa Emeritus II and Emeritus III suffered the same fate as their predecessor after their respective albums (it’s the same singer with a different costume). The ancient bloodline was broken with current singer Cardinal Copia (again same guy, new costume). The backing band of nine consists of silver masked, “nameless ghouls” (who Lenny Potocki says look like Power Rangers). So you’re confused?  Don’t worry; the bottom line is Ghost is a hard rock band with over-the-top theatrics that gives an added value to the experience.  Today, it is nearly impossible to shock anyone. Alice Cooper carrying a snake, Slayer and Motley Crüe with their pentagrams, and Marilyn Manson with his anti-Christ superstar production just do not raise the public’s blood pressure like it used to.   Still Ghost manages to provide enough refreshing mystery and occult to grab your attention.  To describe their sound, the first time I heard them it immediately reminded me of the love child of Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult.

Saturday night Ghost would deliver a solid twenty-four songs to a packed house. The band managed to maintain a steady pace throughout the entire show.  Choir hymns rang and the smell of incense permeated through the theatre before Ghost took the stage, opening with their new single “Rats” a radio-friendly rocker that takes me back to early 80’s metal.  Ghost played songs spanning their entire six album catalogue and four new songs off the yet to be released “Prequelle”, due June 1st.  The show had numerous highlights including a saxophone solo by Papa Nihil, several costume changes, and a confetti shower.  The production seemed to build from start to finish with a calculated order that ended with “Square Hammer”, the groups highest charting song, which turned into a full on sing along.  A roaring crowd brought the band back and for the encore. Cardinal Copia gave a passionate speech on the female orgasm, which seemed a little out of place, but Ghost is a band that creates their reality. “Monstrance Clock” was a fitting finale ending with hymn-like sing along, “Come together, together as one, Come together for Lucifer’s son”.

Ghost provided a fantastic show with a band that fired on all cylinders.  The music and voice was spot on. Even to the point that the music comes off better live then their studio productions, which is a rare feat. Ghost left no doubt that they are a seasoned pro-band who know how to capture an audience. Bottom line is, if you’re looking for something new, outside your comfort zone, and wildly entertaining give Ghost a try.  Don’t let the imagery hold you back. Watching Game of Thrones doesn’t mean you believe in dragons and White Walkers, but it is entertaining.  Ghost hasn’t succeeded in converting Satanists around the world, yet, but they prove rock isn’t dead. It’s quite alive and well with Ghost.

Overall  – A (A+ if they would have played my favorite song “Secular Haze”)

(photo credit: Dalton Potocki)

 

How The Lions Did On Each Pick

BY: DALTON

  • FIRST ROUND: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
    • Obviously as I outlined earlier, I was upset then pleasantly surprised and now looking at how the rest of the draft shook out, I love it.
  • SECOND ROUND: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
    • The Lions traded up to get their guy in the second round. While I thought Guice was going to be the pick, his maturity concerns were very real as he continued to slide. Given the issues with Guice, I like this pick. It is clear through his third year that Quinn will not deal with any type of off-field issues.
  • THIRD ROUND: Tracy Walker, DB, Louisiana-Lafayette
    • The most surprising pick of the Lions draft by far. I, once again, was hoping they would pick someone different at this pick. I was hoping for Maurice Hurst but he continued to fall and confirmed to me that NFL GMs weren’t as high on Hurst as I was. This came as a shock to everyone but the Lions War Room seemed absolutely ecstatic to land Walker. The Lions are pretty solid in the secondary as is so it would have been nice to address the defensive line here but if he works out then great pick. This pick will be the one that defines this draft class.
  • FOURTH ROUND: Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama
    • Another trade up for Quinn and Patricia as they finally addressed the concerns on the defensive line. I dont know much about Hand but if you’re an edge rusher for Alabama you’re probably pretty good, at least on the college level. Hopefully Paul Pasqualoni can tap into this fourth round pick and make him a contributor this season.
  • FIFTH ROUND: Tyrell Crosby, T, Oregon
    • From all accounts, this is a steal of a pick in the fifth round. If Crosby is as good as everyone says, he will be an awesome backup to both Decker and Wagner.
  • SEVENTH ROUND: Nick Bawden, FB, San Diego State
    • Meh, maybe he will help with those 3rd-and-1 scenarios that the Lions cant convert on.

 

 

Lets Be Frank About the First Round

BY:DALTON

I, like many of you, were watching the NFL Draft last night and was fully expecting the Lions to draft either a running back (Guice) or a defensive lineman/edge rusher (Landry). When the Lions announced their first pick, almost 2 hours after the draft started, I was absolutely stunned that the Lions took neither the running back or the edge rusher. Instead, they went with Frank Ragnow. Obviously, at first, I was quite disappointed because, lets be honest, offensive lineman picks arent exactly “sexy”. Instantly after the pick was announced I got on to twitter.com. After doing some research and letting some time pass, here are some thoughts:

  • Ragnow was considered the second best interior lineman in this draft, behind Nelson, and was the highest graded center EVER in the Pro Football Focus era.
  • Ragnow isnt a slouch: DbwcxC8W0AA_q53
  • The saying goes “football is won in the trenches” and Bob Quinn has bought into that mantra. He has completely overhauled this offensive line in his 3rd year as GM. If everyone can stay relatively healthy, this line should be one of the top in the league. Remember, last year the Lions offensive line was a rotating cast and crew. I’m not 100% sure on this stat, but the Lions pre-season starters played like 60-some snaps together all season. Someone should fact check that.
  • There will be running back and defensive line help through out this draft and if the Lions didnt pick Ragnow, he was going 21st to the Bengals.
  • To contend in the NFL you have to be elite on one side of the ball and we all know the Lions are quite far away from being elite on defense.
  • Adding to the offensive line should help the running game that ranked dead last in the NFL in the previous season.
  • The two guys that I thought the Lions should draft (Guice or Landry) are still on the board for Day 2. That says a lot about other teams’ thoughts on them. I know there are a lot of maturity concerns around Guice and I just learned last night that Landry was flagged with knee/back concerns. Knowing what I know now, I’m glad the Lions made the safe pick.
  • If Ragnow can become the next Dominic Raiola for 8-10 year, it was a hell of a pick.

A Few Routes for a Successful First Night of the Draft

BY: DALTON

As many of you know, the Lions have the 20th pick in this years NFL Draft. Usually, at the 20th pick you expect to get someone who can contribute immediately but wont be a star, i.e. Jarrad Davis. This year is quite different though. Given the quarterback needs of the teams in front of the Lions and the fact that some players just slip, there will be some Top 10 talent at the 20th pick.  Here are a few different ways the Lions can have a successful first night of the draft:

  • PICK:
    • Derrius Guice, RB, LSU- Some people think he can be better than Barkley and if he is available at 20 he would be an absolute steal for a team in desperate need of a running identity. He would be my favorite move the Lions could make here.
    • Harold Landry, DE, BU- Lions definitely need some help rushing the passer and on the defensive line. Landry fits both of those needs and will give the Lions insurance for the future if they cant get a deal done with Ansah.
    • Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA- Same reasons as above, Landry is just a little bit better in my opinion. If both of them are gone by 20, I’d be shocked. Davenport is a fine consolation prize for anyone who has their eyes set on Landry.
    • Vita Vea, DT, Washington- Doubt he will be here at 20 but I would be ecstatic if the Lions had a chance to draft Vea. It certainly is wishful thinking but crazier things have happened.
  • Trade:
    • Trade down with New England or New Orleans: Both of these teams have been linked to Lamar Jackson. If he slides a little bit then Jackson should still be around at 20. The Pats have a two picks in the bottom of the first round and would be my preferred trade partner. Even if they offer their 23rd and 31st for the 20th, I take that deal. Obviously it wouldnt be that simple but if the Pats really like Jackson then it would be worth it for them to move up a few spots to guarantee they get their guy. As for the Saints, they have the 27th pick and if New England looks like they are trying to make a move, the Saints will probably put together a pretty enticing package of mid-round picks. This is all dependent on in Jackson is there at 20, but my second favorite move the Lions could make is trade down and gather picks, I really think the draft is that deep.

Lions Too Early Season Preview

BY: DALTON

Its everyone’s favorite time of year! Where every team’s fan base looks at the schedule and says their team has a floor of 8-8 and a ceiling of 10-6. Without further hesitation, here is a week by week break down of the Lions 2018 schedule:

Week 1 vs NYJ, MNF: Lions starting the year in prime time, at home, versus the lowly Jets. The Patricia Era will get off on the right foot. 1-0

Week 2 @ SF: Patricia and Jimmy G reunite once more, this time in The City. I, personally, am not sold on the Garoppolo hype train. I think the 49ers will be decent, but not decent enough. 2-0

Week 3 vs NE, SNF: Father vs Son. Prodigy vs Master. In prime time and at home against the toughest opponent of the year the Lions should be ready to roll. But Bill Belichick is still Bill Belichick and the Lions are still the Lions. 2-1

Week 4 @ DAL: I’m sick and tired of hearing about how good a team the Cowboys have. SCREW ‘EM! I know Zeke is good and that line is good but a suspect defense and no receiving threats should bode well for the Lions. 3-1

Week 5 vs GB: The Lions first look at the Packers this year happens to be at home. The Pack is still pretty healthy at this point and Rodgers finds all of his new weapons. 3-2

Week 6 Bye

Week 7 @ MIA: Miami=Bad. 4-2

Week 8 vs SEA: This Seattle team isnt even a shell of its Super Bowl-self. The defense is in shambles, still no offense, and I think Pete Carroll’s tactics arent working on this team the same way. Being at home will just about lock this one up for the Lions. 5-2

Week 9 @ MIN: Reigning NFC North Champs get their first look at the new Detroit Lions at home. Cousins does a nice enough job under center and lets the defense let them win the game. 5-3

Week 10 @ CHI: Facing the Bears late in the season for the first time, I just hope the weather stays decent. If there isnt snow on the ground yet, the Lions win and continue to dominate the Bears. 6-3

Week 11 vs CAR: The Lions let one slip away against the Panthers last year and they will let this one slip too. Super Cam is just too good. 6-4

Week 12 vs CHI, Thanksgiving: The first of many Thanksgiving day wins for Matt Patricia. No chance for Trubisky in Ford Field, the crowd will be just too rowdy. 7-4

Week 13 vs LAR: If things work out, the Rams should be an absolute unit this year. I think they will steam roll most of the NFC. The Lions are included in “most of the NFC”. 7-5

Week 14 @ AZ: The Lions have always struggled in the desert. Even though its a dry heat, the Lions still melt down in a classic SOL game. 7-6

Week 15 @ BUF: I’ll be at this game. No chance the Lions even think about losing in front of me. 8-6

Week 16 vs MIN: The Lions exact their revenge and keep their playoff hopes alive. Patricia’s face at this point is either beard or red from the winter/stress. 9-6

Week 17 @ GB: You know the drill by now. 9-7

 

There you have it. Told y’all that every year fans have their teams winning the same amount of games. Obviously things can change. Injuries, the draft, trades, or just randomness. Hell, the Eagles were supposed to be shitty last year and the Giants were supposed to contend for the NFC East. There is hope for big things this year but just remember that for every high there will certainly be a worse low. That’s the deal as a Lions fan.

 

 

On Legacy

I’ve never been a fan of the legacy talk that abounds in the postseason. Assigning permanent virtue or failure to players and coaches based on what often boils down to pure chance flies in the face of traditional notions of merit. While Jordan Poole will rightfully carry the glory of his heroism to his grave, I know that throughout the ages there have been forgotten players in similar situations who put in the thousands of practice reps Poole did only to see their shots draw iron.

Of course, Poole’s shot found twine. Miraculously, no matter how many times I watch the highlight, no matter how aggressively Corey Davis Jr. undercuts him as he rises and fires, it always ends with Wolverine victory and Cougar agony. While this memory may be tinged bittersweet by Monday’s shellacking at the hands of the Wildcats, it will remain the climax of one of the most enjoyable sports campaigns in recent memory.

The NCAA tournament is an imperfect evaluator. It is also impeccable in assessing John Beilein, who, since the last Tommy Amaker recruit left the program in 2011, has outperformed his seed more than any active coach not named John Calipari. His attention to detail and adaptability stand out even in an adapt-or-die profession. Michigan fans are privileged to enjoy the labor of a man who gets everything possible out of every team he has and, on top of it all, is a genuinely good dude. Playing with house money since a February beatdown at Breslin, he’s added two more banners to a now-unimpeachable résumé. After failing to MacGyver his way past one final foe, he has also once again fallen one game short of the banner that means most. While these next few iterations of Michigan basketball will be some of his best, at 65 years of age, every Michigan fan knows there’s a finite number of bullets left in the proverbial chamber. If Beilein never wins a title, the Trey Burke block-foul on Peyton Siva will still resonate painfully years from now. To me, however, his career will be defined by the men he helped mold on the way to those title tilts, not the results themselves. That may sound cliché, but the best part of John Beilein is that he truly embodies the clichés commonly used to paper over the cynical corruption of college sports.

As for the molded men: it would have made for a delicious cherry on top of the careers of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Moritz Wagner (whom I would advise to leave, and would assume is gone), and Duncan Robinson to bring home a national championship. Much has already been made of their unheralded origins; taking down Nova would’ve been some fairy-tale stuff. In a world where grit and effort often fail fighting well-coiffed abundance, they have already broken through every conceivable chandelier-adorned glass ceiling.

Rahkman had already amassed commendable accolades as a supporting-cast starter on some very good teams. When Michigan needed an offensive identity after their February loss to Northwestern, the unassuming senior emerged from the periphery and, without any sacrifice in efficiency, somehow became The Guy on a team that wouldn’t lose for another two months.

Midway through his junior year, hampered by an ankle injury, it seemed as though Wagner would never consistently capture the form that put the nation on notice against Louisville. He then burned down Breslin, submitted the strongest defensive performance of his career against a Florida State team that would have previously bullied him out of the game, then single-handedly kicked Cinderella to the curb. When he erupted at the start of the Nova game, he damn near had me convinced he could drop 50. Wagner has always leaned into the persona of the sneering, domineering German, but his work to complement his offensive versatility as a rebounder and rim protector on a top 5 defense lent terrifying substance to the charade.

I will admit, I said some things about Duncan Robinson in November that I would like to take back. The dude was a defensive sieve who had seemingly lost his shooting stroke, with little else to offer. As a guy who started his career playing at Williams, it was impressive he even made it to Michigan. He lost his spot to a freshman in Isaiah Livers, playing a season-low 8 minutes in a 92-88 loss to Purdue that immediately preceded the inflection point of the season in Evanston. When Livers turned his ankle, Robinson was forced back into action and, with strategic help from Luke Yaklich, suddenly became a stopper in the post. Lineups with Robinson were now not only viable, but active positives. His scoring served to stabilize the team, and his steady hand at the charity stripe probably prevented an untold number of cardiac events, but his highlight rejections were a chapter in his story that no one saw coming.

The small sample size of March often serves to validate or repudiate lifetimes of work. Narratives naturally build toward one shining moment in a crucible that posits philosophical conflict diluted through the physical efforts of tall teenagers. It’s terrifying, euphoric, and devastating all at once. It’s also a woefully incomplete summary. In a thousand years, the only remnants of these basketball seasons will be those that make the record books. But sports, and life, are so much more than that. I think John Beilein, perhaps more than any other college basketball coach, understands that the joy of life is in the filler, that the richest narratives are the ones in which the author agonizes over every last sentence. The stories that define us, the ones that will hopefully get told at our funerals, talk about all the stuff in between the exposition and the climax, a collage of seemingly insignificant moments that, when assembled, reveals something profound.

Michigan Basketball Season Recap

BY: DALTON

Well, now that the college basketball season is over, it’s time to reflect. Reflect upon life, friends, and Michigan Basketball.  It was a fun and surprising year for Wolverine fans of all ages. Now, to be fair, I am not the biggest college basketball fan. For the most part I find the games boring and riddled with mistakes that stem from lack of skill and the fact that all of these players are now younger than me. I would be a hypocrite to sit here and shame kids for making mistakes because they aren’t that long in the tooth, but, on the whole, it makes for a less appealing game. That being said, sometimes a team can have the right mixture of players and flair to capture my attention and heart. This year’s Michigan team had me captivated more so than the 2013 Michigan team. Why? Im not sure I can say. Maybe the fact that they were overlooked for most of the year? Is it that each player considerably developed over the season into someone with identifiable skills instead of a collection of potential? Once again, I cant say so stop asking.

Lets start in January. In the first week of January, the Michigan Wolverines received exactly zero votes for the AP Top 25. Despite being 15-3 after the opening week of B1G play, the Wolverines were not one of the 25 best teams in the country. That is when this team finally started to take its form. Despite his glaring lack of shooting skill, Zavier Simpson was quietly locking opponents up on a nightly basis like he was a corrupt, power-hungry czar. Moe Wagner was starting to annoy rival fan bases with his tongue-sticking-out-ness and flexing on and-1s. MAAR was still his emotionless self that he has been his four years and was quietly playing at a level that we won’t quite appreciate until he is gone. They were out there winning conference games, building hope in the fan base for a NCAA Tournament appearance. While Purdue and Michigan State were grabbing all of the national headlines for the B1G, Michigan was building their resume and were getting ready to expose the frauds that resided in East Lansing. The second ranked Spartans had everything you needed to be a dominant basketball team. Two NBA lottery picks, a Hall of Fame coach, role players who were better than other team’s stars. As me and a few other Michigan grads were sitting in a bar in Austin, Texas, we loudly discussed how there was no possible way Michigan could lose in EL to the supposedly second best team in the country. Some of us were so positive that multiple units (gambling term) were put on the Maize & Blue. Sure enough J.B. and the Boys went into the Bres and kicked ass from start to finish. It was glorious. Little did we know, it was sign of much better things to come. Later that month, Michigan battled Purdue for the second time tough but ultimately lost again. It was at that point, most people nationally knew what the Michigan faithful had knew all along, that this team had a chance.

As the final days of the first month of 2018 passed by, the snowball that was Michigan basketball started to roll downhill. Picking up wins along the way, this team’s confidence and resume was growing and growing and growing. A dominant win over Ohio State here, and waltz over Penn State there and closing out the season with a drubbing over a lowly Maryland team to end February set Michigan up for a run that will not soon be forgotten.

As Michigan barreled into March, it was a given that they had stamped their ticket into the NCAA Tournament. Now, everyone is dreaming of how fun a B1G Tourney run would be. First opponent was Iowa and while Michigan struggled, they sent the Hawkeyes back to Corn Town. Next up Nebraska was promptly sent to Further West Corn Town. Now time for the much anticipated rematch against Michigan State. There is no way that TWO lottery picks would be swept by this Michigan team. Hell, some MSU pundits were saying that not a single UM player would start for MSU and the only one that MIGHT play is Wagner. Well, to the tune of another double-digit victory “Mr. February” Tom Izzo was swept by his in-state rival.  No biggie, State isn’t concerned about the B1G Tournament, their eyes were set on the national prize. Michigan still had work to do in their first tournament run. After slaying David, the Wolverines set their eyes on Goliath. Purdue had beating Michigan both previous times these teams had faced off. But, as I learned from a wise man in Buffalo, you can’t beat a team 3 times. Oh boy, did that ring true on the 4th of March. John Beilein had just captured his second B1G Tournament title in as many tries. In January if you told Michigan fans that they would win the B1G Tourney, most would say it had been a successful season. But now, after winning 9 games in a row, many had their eyes on a much bigger prize.

With Michigan earning a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the imagination of Michigan fans ran wild. Sweet 16? Elite 8? Both of these would be fine end caps to a fun season. But, before Michigan reaches the point of satisfaction, they had to get through Montana and Houston. Montana came out tough. Had Michigan on the ropes early but the defense dug in, the offense grinded it out and despite playing a painful 40 minutes, they advanced with a double-digit win. Next on the menu was Houston and Rob Gray. What a battle it was, my goodness. Michigan couldn’t seem to get anything to go in. Down the entire second half but they kept it just close enough. A pair of missed free throws, a time out, and then a miracle. That’s all it took to dispatch H-Town. Pretty easy stuff actually. Not only did Jordan Poole give me one of the most memorable sports moments I’ll ever have, Michigan State lost the next day to the juggernaut that is Syracuse basketball. Combine those two with the fact that it was St.Paddys on Saturday and 50 degrees and sunny on Sunday, it made a damn near perfect weekend.

Second weekend of the Tourney. Most of the high seeds are falling to “lower” opponents and Michigan’s path to the 3rd weekend is looking easier by the day. The flood gates opened against Texas A&M in the Sweet 16. Its nice to have a game that’s over in the first 10 minutes, on to the Elite 8. Easily the weirdest game of the tournament. It felt like Michigan was playing the worst game of the season, yet they were ahead almost the entire game. Not a whole lot of drama, no spectacular performances or season-saving-shots. Just a hardnose defensive battle.

The Final 4 posed the greatest matchup problem this season. Sister Jean aka Mrs.God. How would this team defeat one of the most worshiped deities in history? The start of the game did not look good for the Boys in Blue. They played lackadaisical and seemed shocked by the pressure being put on the perimeter by Loyola. Going into halftime the Ramblers held a seven point lead and it was nothing but doom and gloom in the group chats/conversations I was in. The first 10 minutes of the second half were not any better. Loyola had the lead up to 12 at one point and the Wolverines season was going to be stopped short by an 11-seed. Charles Matthews had a different idea. Through stifling defense and clutch offense, Michigan dominated the final 10 minutes of the game and ended up cruising to an easy victory. Dreams of a National Championship still alive, but little did Maize & Blue Nation know, they would soon be meeting a Goliath that couldn’t be slayed.

Villanova is an absolute beast of a program right now. Every single player on that team is a threat to go off and DiVincenzo proved it on April 2nd. He had 31 off the bench and now has the very real option of going to the association. I’m not going to get into the Championship game itself, Villanova was the better team. Plain and simple. I thought Michigan gave a valiant effort and wasn’t able to pull off the upset. Somehow, after the final buzzer went off, I didn’t feel defeated. I didn’t feel like Michigan had let me down. A sense of pride came over me. I know that probably isn’t a very popular sentiment but watching this team grow from an unranked, unvoted for team in January to having one chance to win it all is something that I can’t say I’ve ever experienced. The closest thing I guess would be the ’06 Tigers but even then I was only 12 years old, I didn’t really care about sports back then.

So, another season has come and went. Michigan’s roster will certainly change next year. MAAR and Duncan are for sure gone. I hope Mo comes back but ya can’t fault him if he wants to leave and get paid. It will be interesting to see the development of Teske, Poole, Livers, and Z. Then, throw in the new, highly touted freshman and Beilein could have some fresh ingredients to cook with. But, until next January (when the college basketball season actually starts) I’ll have to entertain myself with the NBA, MLB and NFL. Not a bad deal by any means but it was one hell of a ride and I think it’s safe to say all Michigan fans are upset that it’s over.

The Anatomy of Superstition

BY NEW WRITER DANNY RYAN

When I was younger I was weird(er). For years I had this weird little OCD tick where I had to touch my face and glasses an even number of times for good luck. I could be seen, fidgeting, whenever I was incredibly nervous about the future. This would be heightened in high-anxiety situations, most notably when I was around women I found attractive and during big sports games. Trust me, it made sense at the time. When the fate of the universe is dependent on how many times you touch your face, life can be stressful. While I have since partially grown out of that routine in my everyday life, superstition has always played a part in my short-lived sports career and long-term fandom. Every athlete has their pregame routines, but mine bordered on obsessive. Before lacrosse games, I would always do everything identically to how I did it the game before. I would say goodbye to my dog right before I left the house, making sure to pet him an even number of times and reminding him that he was indeed a good boy and always would be. It was comforting to know that even if I did die during the game, at least he would know how I truly felt about him (I did not do this for anyone else in my family). Once I got into my car and drove to the game, I had a strict order of songs I would play on the way to the game, culminating in me bumping “Welcome to the Black Parade” by the TIMELESS band My Chemical Romance alone in the parking lot. When I got in the locker room, I would always get dressed halfway before getting my ankles taped (bender). After I was ready, I would always play catch with the same kid, to warm up our sticks. For some reason, I always insisted on the throwing session ending in a hug instead of a handshake which is a lot weirder in hindsight, but I digress. After, I’d get fully dressed before having my teammate do my eye-black for me. My senior year we won more when I just wrote “Lion” on my face, so that became my staple. This was because I started trying to go by Dan Lion instead of Dan Ryan. It did not catch on. When we went out on the field I would always be in the second row, enough to make noise but not be a focal point. We would touch the field and I would always immediately yell “Cabs are here!”, in honor of Dj Pauly D and to symbolize that we were indeed in this motherfucker. Everything about each day was systematic and precise to a key and it usually produced results, so I persisted. Even though my athletic career did not continue (shocker), my anxiety/OCD still thinks I play a humongous part in every game for my favorite teams.

Now, during Michigan’s dream run to the national championship, it has been in full force. Today, right before the biggest game of my basketball career, I have my new rituals. I will be wearing the same clothes I have worn every game: a yellow Michigan long sleeve, black jeans and Sandlot edition PF flyers. No, they have not been washed yet. They still reek of beer and terrible body odor, but anything for the team the team the team. I will be watching with one of my oldest friends, because we win when we watch together. Naturally, I did not get a lot of sleep. Every dream I had ended with me dunking on Miles Bridges and for some reason I’d wake up screaming “HOWS YOUR HEART NOW URBAN.” Luckily, this morning I abused my cold brew consumption and listened to 400 Meek Mill songs to guarantee that I’ll be up till 2021. The final hours leading up to the game will be grueling, but, much like Duncan scoring at least 6, I know I’m doing my part.

Moments away from leaving, my dog is now sitting next to me waiting for me to say goodbye to him (he can sense anxiety, rain and victory). This could be our final goodbye, because there is an 80% chance that I don’t survive this game. Villanova is the most talented team in the country and is capable of blowing out any team. But luckily, we have a secret weapon they can’t create a game plan for: me.

Keys to Defeat Loyola-Chicago

By: DALTON

Im sure you people have read Morris’ record-setting article on Michigan’s past weekend of basketball. If not, here is the link: https://joshbobdotcom.com/2018/03/26/the-sum-of-its-parts/

While Morris writes his weekly recap articles and does the only posting, I’m going to finally put my opinions on the internet. But, so we don’t get repetitive here repetitive here I will give you, the reader, my keys to defeating the behemoth that is now the Loyola-Chicago Saint Jeans (Ramblers).

Keys

  1. Make shots: No duh, but outside of the TAMU game, Michigan has shot horribly from the floor, especially deep. If Michigan can hit even 40% in the first half, it should open up so many more lanes for the guards to drive to the rack.
  2. Zavier Simpson: If he can continue to lock up like Fort Knox then Clayton Custer is going to have a 40 minute head ache. Loyola hasn’t faced a team as good defensively as Michigan all year and that starts with their feisty point guard.
  3. Worship Satan: If you don’t know by now, Loyola is God’s team thanks to the 98-year marriage he has with Sister Jean. We all know that God is a Michigan Man but happy wife happy life, amirite? We have to combat God. I know it doesn’t sound easy but, heres the good news, we don’t have to defeat God. We only have to neutralize him. The Michigan basketball team is better than the Loyola basketball team but this God guy has been a match up nightmare for almost as long as Perry Ellis was. BADABING!
  4. Beilein Adjustments: John is clearly an elite level coach in college basketball and if he can win the chess match between Porter Moser (he should) he is one step closer to cementing his place as the Michigan GOAT and being arguably the best coach in America.
  5. Mo Early, Mo Often: Wagner is one of those dudes where you can tell what kind of game he is going to have in the first five minutes of the game. I would love to see the offense run through Mo early and if he has it going, get out of his way and let him dominate.
  6. Teske Time: Set your watches folks, if Teske can give positive minutes offensive rebounding and defending the rim than there will be no real lanes for the Ramblers to get to the rim.
  7. Sir Charles: Clearly the best offensive player we’ve had since the tournament started and he needs to continue being that guy. Finally finding his spot in Beilein’s offense has allowed him to score double figures in each tourny game this year and win the West Region’s MVP.

 

END OF POST

And Then There Were Four

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Michigan – a team many thought were destined to miss the NCAA tournament halfway through the season – held on for their second victory this weekend, punching their ticket to the national semifinals for the first time in a half-decade-plus.” Continue reading “And Then There Were Four”

The Sum Of Its Parts

One of my favorite fables my grandmother used to tell me was that of a man who hit himself repeatedly in the head with a hammer. When asked why he did this, he replied “because it feels so good when I stop!” To this day, I don’t know the moral of that story, or whether it even has one, but I feel like it perfectly encapsulates the experience of following this Michigan team’s road to the final four. At one point during Florida State’s failed comeback, I repeatedly bashed my own head against the wall of a booth at Good Time Charley’s. I felt pretty damn good about 10 minutes later.

With the exception of a sweet 16 explosion against Texas A&M, Michigan’s wins have been two and a half hours of tension and misery interrupted by frequent commercial breaks. I’ve watched every win from Michigan’s 2013 run at least five times. I’ll probably watch the Poole shot another thousand times, but aside from that, I don’t think I’ll ever want to relive any aspect of this tournament. The 2013 squad at its best was poetry in motion, a dizzying barrage of 3s, dunks, and ball movement that seemed alien to college basketball. The 2018 team is basically Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin with way more swagger.

A brash, diminutive point guard with no shooting stroke, an unassuming two-star from Pennsylvania, a D-III transfer, a Kentucky castoff nicknamed “turnover,” and a German center who once struggled to rebound, defend, or stay on the court form the core of a team on the precipice of greatness in an era dominated by one-and-dones. On its face, it seems farcical to describe any team from the University of Michigan in the cliché-ridden language we use to define a scrappy underdog. But, as they say, if the slipper fits, wear it. These Wolverines defend every possession like it’s their last. The bench is stocked with role players who have proven themselves invaluable in Michigan’s biggest wins of the season. The Achilles’ heel that would doom the team, a lack of a prototypical go-to scorer, has instead turned into its greatest strength, with five guys ready and willing to assume the mantle on any given night. With the help of a dedicated, visionary coaching staff and a humility rarely found in 65-year-old basketball lifers, John Beilein has cobbled together a team in the truest sense of the word, one in which everyone can maximize his individual potential while contributing to something far greater than the sum of its parts.

Like anyone immersed in Michigan fanhood, my mind can’t help but wander and wonder wistful what-could-have-beens about John Beilein’s many missed recruiting targets starring across the basketball universe. Like anyone well-versed in Michigan basketball, I should have known better than to wait-til-next-year a John Beilein team in November (or December, or January, or February). Amidst all our flights of fancy, Beilein has anchored the team he has with his usual down-to-earth, methodical approach. The on-court product hasn’t always been pretty, but the results sure are beautiful: two new banners in the Crisler rafters, with a chance to tack on the most hallowed of them all.

Shot vs. Shot

These two minutes of video hold in them two of the three greatest moments of my life so far (the third being when my little league team won a championship on a triple play back in ’06. But that deserves its own article.). Both were moments of impossible heroism by guys for whom I would have taken a bullet even before they cemented their places in Michigan lore. But in 2018, it’s not enough to merely appreciate great things for being great. We’re in the ranking business here at joshbobdotcom.com. So, in preparation for future parenthood, I’ll use the rest of this space to compare, contrast, and pick a favorite between the two things I love most.

The Stakes:

Both shots saved Michigan’s respective seasons, but how much were those seasons actually worth? We now know 2013 to be the best and most talented team John Beilein has ever assembled, but the legend of the ’13 team is as much derived from what the team and its players did after Burke’s shot went down as it is from what they did in the season leading up to the Sweet 16. In the regular season, Michigan scuffled a bit against its rivals, lost the Big Ten title on its home court to a loaded Indiana squad on the final day of the season, and bowed out in the second round of the Big Ten Tourney. On the other hand, everyone still knew the team was loaded. Trey Burke’s defining moment up until that point was picking Keith Appling’s pocket at halfcourt, but it would’ve seemed a waste of his talents to lose him to the pros without ever making it past the Sweet 16. A win against Kansas added substance to John Beilein’s stylish program and injected a team-of-destiny confidence that carried into the championship against [redacted]. If Burke’s shot rattled out, the Wolverines’ run would have belied the hype and No. 1 ranking they earned early on; after staggered departures sent half the roster to the NBA, fans would be left to wonder what could have been for years to come. Hell, some fans might’ve even tried to get the guy fired a few years down the road.

This year’s team has already more than earned its stripes, boasting a convincing 3-1 record against the Buckeyes and Spartans and a Big Ten Tournament championship in what was initially seen to be a holding year before the cavalry arrived in the 2018 recruiting class. Mo Wagner, MAAR, and Duncan Robinson are poised to depart, but their legacies are already full of career-defining triumphs, and the Wolverines’ top 5 defense(!) should be even better next year. It would have stung to lose to the underrated Cougars as a 3-seed, especially given how the bracket has opened up in the aftermath. Poole’s miracle also made it waaaaaaay easier to shit-talk Michigan State fans after yet another March failure. Also, Poole’s shot was for the win, while Burke’s left work to do in overtime. But, and maybe this is because I took in Burke’s shot as a hopeful freshman in the north campus dorms while I saw Poole’s as a jaded twenty-something in a motel in Liberty, Indiana, to me it felt like Burke’s shot marked a cosmic shift in the fate of the basketball program. Poole’s took this season from a 10 to an 11, serving as a refreshing reminder that we, too, can have nice things, no matter how bleak the rest of Michigan athletics may seem. The edge here goes to Trey.

The Context:

Michigan-Kansas was a far more aesthetically pleasing game than Michigan-Houston. Both huge Michigan shots followed failure from their foes at the free throw line, but that’s where the similarities end. The Kansas game wasn’t marred by horrific officiating or ugly shooting. It followed the form of a typical 1-4 matchup, with the better team slowly pulling away in the second half as Trey Burke had an off night. Down 10 with 2:25 to go, Michigan faced near-impossible odds. Then: Glen Robinson III jumped a passing lane for a dunk. Trey Burke single-handedly forced Elijah Johnson into a 10-second violation. Burke drove and found Mitch McGary, having a career game, for a layup to cut it to 6. Burke finally connected on a step-back 3 to cut it to 5 after a pair of Travis Releford free throws. After a stop, Hardaway missed a transition 3, but Jordan Morgan dove to the floor amidst 3 Jayhawks, forcing a loose ball that fell to GRIII, who hit an acrobatic reverse layup. Burke drove and finished past the mighty ent Jeff Withey after 2 Kansas free throws, making it 76-73. Y’all know what happened next. Michigan’s comeback was a furious, desperate display of team execution against an excellent and experienced Kansas squad. The gradual crescendo to the climax and aftermath was downright cinematic. If only one domino fell out of place during the Wolverines’ charge, the cascade of joy that followed would have been but a figment of our imaginations.

I’ve been told that Michigan-Houston was a fun game to watch from a neutral point of view, but it all seemed pretty miserable in the moment to me. Michigan air balled open 3 after open 3, a dwarf in a man bun channeled the spirit of Allen Iverson crossed with Steph Curry, the refs over-officiated, and Michigan’s offense was stagnant. Through some lucky bounces, clutch free throw shooting, and the lock-down defense of Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske, Michigan stayed close and even took a lead in the final minute. But after the only two guys who got to the rim all night saw bunnies roll off the rim, I was resigned to defeat. I had already sent out the customary good-job-good-effort texts and tweets as John Beilein iced poor damn Devin Davis with a maximally useful timeout. Burke’s shot felt like destiny. Poole’s was a jolt of joy out of the blue, stealing a game Michigan had no business winning and yanking the Wolverines straight from despondency to delirium. It seemed unfathomable that that game could convey the kind of euphoria that left me cackling at random moments throughout the next day. I went into this blog expecting to give this section and the overall win to Trey Burke. Call it recency bias, call it an irrational man-crush on Jordan Poole, but I’ve swayed myself to make this one a push.

The play:

The appeal of Trey Burke’s shot derives from two main aspects. The first, obviously, is the shot itself: everyone in the building knew he was looking for a 3 for the tie, and he still rattled home a rainbow in Kevin Young’s craw from 30 feet out. The second is the crushing screen Mitch McGary set that took both him and Elijah Johnson to the floor. Bodies fell at the feet of the shortest guy on the court as the best player in the country rose to the biggest occasion of his life.

For Poole, there were more moving parts and a defensive urgency borne of time pressure. Michigan’s movement was not frenzied, but rather flawless as Houston ignored the inbounding Livers and failed to pressure MAAR on the catch. In a play the Wolverines have honed down to an art form, Poole caught, rose, and fired over a perfect closeout as a stadium watched and prayed. Thanks to the positioning of the camera, TV viewers knew the line on the shot was pure as soon as it left his hands. Two seasons would depend on the calibration of the most gifted, erratic, and confident player on the court, a freshman whose overdose of swag was only tragic for the Cougars.

As I alluded to earlier, I initially wrote this as a response to young Michigan fans who instantly vaulted this to the top of their lists of great moments in sports fanhood and in life. Influenced by nostalgia, I was incredulous that anything could approach the unassailable moment that was the Burke shot. But I wanted to be sure to do Poole’s shot justice. In doing so, rather than proving my point, I’ve come to doubt my initial position. I had fun watching each shot a few more times, and now I appreciate why parents usually answer with a cop-out when you ask them to pick a favorite. Sorry if you were hoping for something more definitive after 1,400 words, but you’ll have to answer this one for yourself.

Sports Smatterings with Dalton

BY: DALTON

Lions Free Agency:

It seemed as if every team but the Lions in the NFC North made some big, splashy move in free agency. A lot of skill players were signed to the Packers, Bears, and Vikings and it seems as if the Lions only grabbed a few linebackers. It’s all well and good to grab position players but free agency is not a time where teams put themselves over the proverbial hump. Most of the time it leads to overpaying players whom were not wanted on their previous team. I do really like the linebacker signings, not like “these guys are going to be all star” signings but in the sense of a couple of guys that can help a depleted unit. That being said, I would like to see the Lions sign a few nice defensive tackles (SUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHH) and then patch up everything else in the draft.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this the Lions cut Ebron. While I agree that he isn’t worth $8.5 million, its tough not having a TE on the roster. I hope we can sign him back at a lesser amount but I doubt he would do that.

UPDATE 2.0: We signed DeShawn Shead to a 1-year deal. Love this move. Love it a lot. Really no impact on our future and an immediate upgrade to the secondary. Only thing that would suck is if he turns out to be amazing and we only have him for the year.

Michigan in the Tourney:

I like the region that Michigan is in, I really do. Quite winnable, if I do say so myself. I do say that! Obviously a deep run will rely on the guard play of Simpson and Mathews. I feel that at this point you know what youre going to get out of MAAR, Mo, and Duncan. Here are a few obvious keys that you definitely did not miss; Mo needs to stay out of foul trouble. Free throws need to be knocked down in clutch time. Duncan needs to continue to defend the way he had at the end of the season. My player that could make everyone fall in love with? Teske. If you follow me on twitter (@dpotocki) and Teske does anything of note, get ready to see this:tt

 

Michigan State in the Tourney:

Pretty simple, these guys just need to remember that they are, in fact, pretty good at basketball. Not sure why Bridges is scared of taking it inside but if he runs more of the “Im bigger than the guy guarding me so I will go dunk it” play, things are looking bright in East Lansing. JJJ should get more run that he had been getting. It seemed like every time I watched the Spartans that JJJ would sit inexcusable amounts of time. Izzo needs to shorten up that bench and hope to god that TumTum finds an ounce of offense if they want to get by Duke in the Sweet 16. Sorry State fans, but no cool graphics for you.

The Fix Was In

At its highest level, college basketball rivalry is a battle of great basketball minds and some of the best young athletes in the country. As tensions run high, fans see games less as a basketball contest and more as a clash of ideologies. The winners gains the ultimate triumph, while the losers submit with a grudging respect for the victors and a chance to reflect on the flaws that were their undoing.

But not on the Red Cedar Message Board.

Without further ado, let’s see how the best and brightest of the Spartans community took in their showdown with the Wolverines on Saturday.

(Link to the full game thread here)

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“We’re better against the field.” Bears out. They did barely beat Northwestern on the road. I feel guilty about winning now that I know Michigan’s modern offense only carved up MSU’s D due to “finesse.”

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Over two thousand posts, and this guy’s already ready to give it all up after a 13-4 Michigan run to start the game. I don’t respect the weird sex metaphor but I do respect the defiance.

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The Red Cedar Message Board holds a reverence for Matt “Pidgy” McQuaid that I can only begin to understand when I realize that all of these posters are white dudes. I’m sure he’s alright and all but I straight up guffawed every time that guy got the ball or saw the floor at Breslin.

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msufan98 will turn out to be a voice of reason down the road, but he is not off to a strong start.

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I’m sure the Spartans have many inventive insults for Michigan players, Wagner especially, but “Mo the ho” takes the cake.

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Matt McQuaid is the Spartans’ X-factor and we are now Wisconsin on defense. I like the way things are going.

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It’s a bit unfair that the refs, announcers, fans, MSU players and coaches did everything they could to tilt the game in Michigan’s favor.

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We’ve got another prophet on our hands, folks.

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It’s fans like this that give me the strength to keep making fun of the other fans.

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The Eagle has finally blown the Big Ten’s cover. Clearly, MSU doesn’t get ticky-tack foul calls as payback for winning games by playing in a manner that is conducive to success when ticky-tack fouls aren’t called.

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Complaints about the refs might be more compelling if they were valid or consistent

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This is not the last “outcoached” you’ll see in this post.

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Michigan basketball is Michigan State football with Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin defense. I’ll take it.

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If we were making more shots than they were, we would be winning. We’re not playing bad, we’re just being forced into awful shots and missing them.

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Go watch golf, dude.

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A fantastic trio of posts in sequence.

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According to the RCMB:

Good: Matt McQuaid, Mo Wagner, Cassius Winston

Bad: Miles Bridges, Charles Matthews, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (whose name this board misspelled in about 80 different ways).

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Also good: Zavier Simpson, whose name was spelled with an X every time he was mentioned on this board.

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They’re sick of the floor slaps! Shoot it straight into my veins!

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Straight into my veins!

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Fucking potatoes! Xavier Simpson! Every facet of the game! I need more!

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Is baby shit notably softer than normal shit? Also, what is a team, but a collection of individuals, WesternSpartan?

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It’s not Izzo’s fault his players are mentally and physically weaker than the other team despite having two lottery picks in the starting lineup. Beilein’s just a dirty coach who uses tactics that are just philosophically inaccessible to a morally upstanding fella like Izzo.

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To be fair to the board, I would’ve freaked out at Nick Ward’s missed bunny too.

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It’s not the refs, or the coaching, it’s the ink!

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Outcoached again!

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Moritz “Mo the ho” “Vahgner” Wagner

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God, yes.

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Credit msuspartan4eva and msudabest for being able to see truth through all the bias.

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Sand in the vajayjay.

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I’m beginning to think “finesse” might just be a compliment of the highest order.

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Move along folks, nothing to see here. Also, god save Matt McQuaid.

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Straight. Into. My. Veins.