Aretha Franklin Appreciation Blog


Well this just sucks. We all knew she was struggling this past week or so in the hospital, but the day has finally come. The world has lost the Queen of Soul. The OG Diva. The Queen of Motown. A woman who’s voice was declared a rare natural resource by the State of Michigan. A champion of women’s and minorities rights. Some one who elongated the National Anthem by, what seemed like, 5 hours and everyone was fine with it because, well, because shes Aretha Franklin. So, take a moment today to appreciate Aretha Franklin and some of her works.



Red Dead Redemption 2 Trailer Reaction


I AM OFFICIALLY AROUSED! For fans of the first Red Dead (if you’re not a fan, you’re a huge loser) this trailer is essentially the dose of drugs they give you at the methadone clinic. The announcement of RDR2 back in October of 2016 was Christmas come early for me and many others. Then production kept getting pushed, to quote Chris Berman, “BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK”. After many teases at the ever popular E3 festival, Rockstar games finally released the first game play footage of their most anticipated squeal ever.

The legion of RDR fans is large and passionate and I fully expect this games release to top any record that Grand Theft Auto has ever set. I will probably be pre-buying, making this the first game I will ever pre-buy.

While trying not to pass out while watching this trailer, here are a few things that really caught my fancy:

  • The scenery: This is, quite far and away, the most exciting thing I got out of the trailer. When the scene of main character on the mountain top (0:37) was looking over the cascading backdrop, my jaw almost dropped. I legitimately will probably buy a newer XBox just for the 4k gaming. Obviously, as technology advances the graphics in video games will get better and better. But, RDR still holds up after eight years (2010) so I fully expect RDR2 to look absolutely awe-inspiring.
  • Camp morale: This is a cool concept that wasn’t in RDR or Red Dead Revolver, the predecessor to Redemption. In the first two Dead games you play as outlaw John Marston and you do have an actual home. But, it seems that Rockstar decided to add a feature where you have to keep your band of outlaws happy and content where ever you set up camp. I feel like this borrows a little bit from Bethesda’s Fall Out series and I certainly don’t hate it.
  • Character/NPC interactions: Compared to RDR, it looks as though you will be able to have a more personal relationship with the characters that you interact with most. While this isnt a new concept to gaming, once again see Fall Out, this is new to the Red Dead franchise. It looks like they will still have the notoriety ratings which is nice but the best part will be the random interactions you come across when riding. In RDR you would frequently come across a stage coach being robbed, someone being held hostage, etc. etc. But in RDR2, you can either diffuse, escalate, or ignore the situation and that will be amazing. Also being able to silence witnesses instead of just gunning them down will help you boost that notoriety rating (if you’re into being a “good” guy).

The 5 Best Places to Drink a Sprite


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This post is brought to you by JP’s Scrap Yard, Inc. The Midwest’s leader in scrap metal things and values!

5. Watching a football game: Whats better on a crisp fall day, where passion and tradition are in the air than an ice cold Sprite? Nothing!

4. At a funeral: Wow, so sad. Ya know what would make that better, pal? The refreshing lemon-lime taste of a Sprite!

3. Swimming: You don’t want to drink any of that nasty lake water when delicious Sprite is available for consumption!

2. Competing in an advanced computer hacking competition: You’ve been up for 72 consecutive hours. You’re growing weary and possibly coming down with scurvy. If only God created something that can give you the caffeine and citrus nutrients your body deserves. Well, God didn’t make that but our good friends at Sprite did! Drink Sprite!

1. When buying things from JP’s Scrap Yard, Inc.: Hands down the best way to Obey Your Thirst ™ and get your hands on some quality scrap! That’s actually how I met my first wife. I was looking at buying a door for my ’94 Jimmy and she was drinking a Sprite. The way that cool, crisp, refreshing, lemon-lime nectar hit her lips, I knew I had to have her. By her, I mean Sprite. Only way I could have that Sprite was if I married this woman in front of me. So I did. The marriage was awful. All we did was fight. We thought having a kid could save it but it only made it worse. The divorce happened and she took the house, the kid, and my ’94 Jimmy (which I just put a door on). But through all the heart break and fighting and lawyers, the one thing she couldn’t take from me was my invigorating Sprite!                  SPRITE!


DTF: Preseason Week One


Its time for the Detroit Lions to start playing football again. With it being that time of the year again, SideLion Report decided to bring in the hired gun. That’s right, a no-name blogger who applied at the link down below. Cant figure out who it is? Its ME! Welp, if I had to guess you’re not here to read about me, so here are three things I’m looking for in the Lions first preseason game against the Oakland (1960-1982, 1995-2019) Raiders:


  • Back-Up Quarterback Battle: It will be interesting to see who gets more snaps with the second team in the game. Second year quarterback Jake Rudock or journeyman back-up Matt Cassel. A lot of reports from camp thus far says its been a 50/50 race. I would expect to see Rudock to start out with the second team, because hes the incumbent, but if Cassel out performs him in the glorified scrimmage dont be surprised to see a non-Stafford Matt to lead the second team in the second preseason game.
  • Second Corner Position: All-Pro corner Darius Slay is set as the main corner for the Lions, but his partner is still up in the air. As of now, it seems to be between former Seahawk DeShawn Shead and second year cornerback Nevin Lawson. Shead, a former member of the Legion of Boom, would be my pick for the position that mirrors Slay because of his experience and championship pedigree. Lawson wont go down without a fight though. After a strong second half to the 2017-2018 season, he can solidify his spot as the second corner with an impressive preseason, which starts tomorrow.
  • Kerryon Johnson: The rookie running back is the most anticipated player since the last time the Lions drafted a running back. We all know the woes of the Lions in the run game and it seems that the Lions’ front office also know. Trading up to draft Johnson proves their commitment to give Stafford a little bit of help on the offensive end. Obviously Johnson will get a lot of run during the regular season, so this isnt so much about a running back “battle” as much as it is to see how good/bad the rookie will be.

I Lost the JBDC Gmail Password


God damn it. I wanted to just casually log into the joshbobdotcom gmail account for the first time in a year and I cant remember the password. Did I set up a separate account for password recovery? Of course not! Did I set up text message recovery? Oh hell no, and give my phone number to the government? Certainly couldn’t be me.

So, now Im stuck between a rock and a hard place.

So, if any readers out there have an idea for what the JBDC password could be, Im all ears. Here are a few clues, it probably has joshbobdotcom in there and it probably has the number(s) 69 or 420. Please help by figuring it out or donating enough money so I can buy Google. My venmo is open @DPotocki. Thanks and have a blessed day

Lions Training Camp: What to Watch For


Lions training camp is this Friday (thank god football is back) and here are 5 things the I am really looking forward to:

  1. Running Back Battles: As of now, I fully expect LeGarrette Blount to be getting most of the first-team reps on day one. The role of Theo Riddick is pretty well cemented as the 3rd down back but that leaves a big question mark for the newest Lion RB, Kerryon Johnson. Will he be used in certain sets? Which sets? Are we not going to see much of Johnson because of Blount/Riddick? Then, in all of this RB mess, there is still Ameer Abdullah. It will be interesting to see these internal battles play out because, I think its safe to say, this is the first time in a while the Lions have had a logjam at running back.
  2. Cornerbacks: We all know Big Play is one of the top corners in the NFL, but who is going to play opposite of him? Will it be, free agent addition, DeShawn Shead or, the second-year player, Teez Tabor? If I had to put some money on it, I would say Shead is going to start out as the starter along with Slay. Tabor showed some promise at the end of last season but Shead is a professional who was an important member in the Legion of Boom out in Seattle.
  3. Kerry Hyder: The defensive line was one of the personnel groups on the Lions last season, but they also didn’t have Hyder the entire season. He suffered a torn Achilles a couple seasons ago and its one of the toughest injuries to come back from because it limits your explosiveness. We see it all the time in the NBA, a sport where explosiveness is considerably more important. If Hyder can return to 80% of what he was in the 2016-2016 campaign, then it is a major upgrade for the defensive front.
  4. How Players React to Patricia: This one is pretty straightforward. A new coaching staff means a new way of practice. You don’t have to be a genius either to recognize that Matt Patricia and Jim Caldwell MIGHT have some different coaching styles. How the players react to a more fiery coach will determine how the season starts and which players (special teams) will earn spots at the bottom of the roster.
  5. Offensive Line: I’m not worried about this group at all, in fact, the only positions I am more confident about are quarterbacks and wide receivers. If this group can just stay healthy through camp and develop a little bit of chemistry then they will be a lot of fun to watch.

Dwane Casey is the Newest Pistons Coach


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 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


  • 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


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 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


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


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


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


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.