What the Deuce: February 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tommy Amaker Can Do No Wrong

The MSM supports Tommy Amaker. Apparently, being an affable and from Duke means you can do no wrong. More importantly, it means you're a good coach. When discussing the troublesome nature of a senior laden Michigan team missing the NCAA tournament, Cory McCartney writes

"The Wolverines have been too sloppy, averaging 14.6 turnovers a game (163rd nationally) and are 10th in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.97-to-1). But the problem is not Amaker, who has been rebuilding a program in shambles, and he's done it the right way. Michigan fans are understandably growing tired of these [annual February] meltdowns, but giving up on the coach who helped restore the program's reputation, is not the answer."

Conveniently, McCartney does not point a finger at anyone. If Amaker is not the problem, then who or what is? Even after citing damning statistics, McCartney's argument for keeping up Amaker is that he's helped clean up the program. Apparently, it's impossible to run a clean program and make the tournament at the same time.

Win and you're in...oh, I mean, you're still alive: Jerry Palm thinks the winner of tonight's Michigan v. Michigan State game is still in the hunt for an NCAA berth. The loser is out. Michigan fans, don't get your hopes up. Why? 1) Game is in East Lansing; 2) Izzo is a better coach; 3) Izzo's teams are known for their hustle.

In sum: East Lansing + Tom Izzo + Hustle = Michigan in the NIT

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Michigan at Ohio State Running Diary

6:59 EST: Dinner is almost ready. Since The Editor is out of town, I'm reverting back to my single days - the menu consists of a salad with ginger dressing, macaroni with vodka sauce, and a glass of wine...um, I mean beer...yeah, beer!

7:00: ESPN teases the game by showing clips from this year's football game. Thank you, I feel better now. Oh yeah, it's also rivalry week and to promote it, ESPN is showing clips of real people divided by rivalries. In this one, the daughter goes to Michigan while the rest of her family are OSU grads. She starts singing Hail to the Victors and her father ends it with oh so much class, "cesspool of the west." I wonder if he can define cesspool let alone spell it.

7:03: Erin Andrews is easy on the eyes...Courtney Sims is profiled on Star Watch...Andrews says something about OSU focusing on fundamentals. Michigan focusing on avoiding the 20 point rule in the 1st half.

7:04: A shot of Tommy Amaker wearing a grey jacket with a grey mock turtleneck. Insert joke here. Musburger says that Amaker is one of the nicest guys he's met. Oh, by the way, Amaker is 3-6 against the Buckeyes.

7:05: Time for the tip. Let's see how bad Oden makes Michigan look. I think the Wolverines will be down 20 at the 6 minute mark of the 1st half. OSU commits an over and back on its first posession. OSU - 1TOs, Mich - 0TOs. So far, so good.

7:06: Lavin says that Conley, the OSU point guard escorts the ball well in transition. Apparently, he's a man whore.

7:07: Courtney Sims is softer than the Pillsbury Doughboy but not as fat. 24 second violation. Yay Michigan basketball! At this rate I'll have a headache by 7:15.

7:14: A little distraction. Back. 14:47 left, score tied at 6. Immediately after I type the score, OSU hits a 3. OSU presses and almost creates a turnover.

7:16: Dion Harris with 5 points in a row. No headache. Lavin talking about Bruce Pearl painting his chest being a carnival barker move. Huh? 12:46 left, Michigan up 1.

7:17: Dinner finally ready. Can I manage to eat and keep notes? I predict "no."

7:18: Need a bigger fork. Buckeyes score and intercept a pass. OSU 14, M 11. Awesome.

7:19: Citibank needs new commercial. The Spice Girls are so yesterday.

7:20: The Sims connection for 2. Lavin says that Courtney Sims always seems to have a good game when Lavin is present. Maybe he's coaching him unlike Tommy Amaker.

7:22: I love Scrubs. It's one of the funniest shows on tv. I hate women's basketball. If I ever have a kid, its gonna be a girl, I just know it.

7:25: You know how its early February? Michigan has 16 wins and will

7:26: OSU is pressing and why wouldn't it? Name the last true Michigan PG. I'm guessing Avery Queen.

7:30: Mmmm...Vodka Sauce

7:32: What's with the multiple soccer references?

7:34: Greg Oden is big. Courtney Sims is still soft. Way to put the ball on the floor in traffic.

7:39: Oh that janitor. Trying to con Dr. Reid into a date. I love Scrubs.

7:40: At 2:42 left in the 1st half, M has 1 assist. Okay, with that basket, probably 2. Oh Avery Queen, how I miss you. I can't believe M is only down 1.

7:42: Conley +1. OSU 33, M 29. Okay, keep it close - under 8 at the half should be good. And a terrible 3 point shot by M. Yay Michigan basketball.

7:43: Apparently Musburger and Lavin don't find the game interesting. Lavin's trying to hit on Erin Andrews on the air. I would too.

7:44: Halftime.

7:45: Teen Jeopardy = Freak Show. Eliza has this look that says "if I don't win, my parents are going to tie me to my bed and make me do math problems."

7:50: Heather Graham is HOT. Good God.

7:58: Is it wrong I want to see Norbit? Ok, dinner over. Think I handled the keeping notes and eating at the same time thing pretty well. Food didn't get too cold.

8:01: Start of the 2nd half and Michigan is shooting 45% so far. OSU hits a quick 3. OSU 36, M 29. Uh-oh.

8:02: Bad shot by Lester Abram. I miss Lester Abram, circa 2001. OSU hits another 3. OSU 39, M 29. Wheels...falling...off?

8:04: Seriously, I miss true-freshman-Lester Abram. Oden misses, gets his own rebound against 3 M defenders and dunks. Oh yeah, Courtney Sims is soft. It's getting ugly.

8:05: Michigan with a nice transition from defense to offense. Blocked shot, fast break, Oden fouls Shepard and goes to the bench with 3 fouls. Nice job M! OSU 41, M 34. 17:20 left.

8:07: Argh! With Oden out, Harris takes a terrible off balance shot. OSU fast break. Sims comes back and gets a dunk off a broken play.

8:09: Commerical for Disney World featuring Tony Dungy and Dominic Rhodes. Read today in SI that even though its tradition for the MVP to do the commercial, Peyton didn't want to. Either he had a unfortunate experience at the Magic Kingdom involving Tigger or Disney doesn't pay as as much as MasterCard.

8:12: Harris with 5 straight points. OSU 45, M 41. Oddly enough, M is playing well. I thought I'd be playing video games by now.

8:13: Strong drive to the basket by Lester Abram. OSU 47, M 43. 13:49 left. Cautiously optimistic.

8:14: This team makes me want to smash things. They get close but can't get over the hump. It's mindboggling. Its like they have an internal clock that causes turnovers automatically when the game is close.

8:15: Michigan taking advantage of Oden's absence by going to the basket and getting offensive rebounds. Shepard at the line for 2. Fans singing something about owning the state of Michigan. I hate the Buckeyes.

8:18: Coming out of halftime, Erin Andrews said that Amaker wanted M to box out better. Still not doing it. OSU up 8...wait, now only 6. Great job breaking the trap.

8:24: Oden has bodyguards? Really?

8:25: Buckeyes have killed the Wolverines with the high pick and roll all night. The guard comes around the pick, no defensive rotation, easy 3.

8:26: Sims splits the double team and scores. OSU 54, M 51.

8:28: Sims going up strong! Thank you Steve Lavin.

8:29: Classic Michigan basketball. Oden checks in and immediately M turns the ball over. Udoh telegraphed his pass to Abram.

8:30: Michigan going to the basket a lot. They need to attack Oden if they have any chance of winning.

8:33: It's troublesome that a team with 4 seniors can bring the margin to within 3 or 4 points but can't get any closer. With the score 52-56, M takes a bad shot and OSU gets the ball back easily.

8:34: OSU has now hit 7 threes tonight. Damnit! Attack Oden!

8:36: Its unraveling now. Surprised it took so long. Oden blocks Sims' shot, then Shepard's shot, and Abram commits a loose ball foul. OSU 63, M 53. 5:56 left. Not looking good

8:37: Dion Harris trying to do too much. Can you blame him. He's the only legitimate offensive threat on this team. Anyway, turnover. Sigh.

8:38: Conley to the hole. Reed Baker hits a shot. OSU 65, M 55. 4:57 remain.

8:40: Another Harris turnover. The only consistent thing about Michigan is that its offense fails in big spots.

8:41: Harris with an awesome reverse. I really feel bad for him. Easy basket for OSU. Michigan is a fake good defensive team.

8:42: Three of the last 5 possessions for Michigan have resulted in turnovers.

8:45: OSU backcourt 41, M backcourt 16. Great job recruiting Tommy.

8:46: I swear Sims has only one move in the post - fake to the baseline, turn into the lane, dribble, dribble, turn back to the baseline, take contested shot or turn ball over. Here, he managed to get a shot somehow. Keep it under 20. How the standards have fallen.

8:48: Oden runs over Sims. Completely legal. Sims gave the resistance of a feather. Oden dunks, OSU 70, M59. 1:00 to go.

8:51: Lavin is apparently buying tonight.

8:54: 10 blocks for Oden.

8:55: Game over. I'm tired of losing to OSU. Final: OSU 76, M 63. 16-8 (4-5). Four game losing streak. Goodbye NCAA, hello NIT!

Monday, February 05, 2007

My Feeble Attempt to be a NBA Scout

Texas down 5 to A&M at the half. I watched about 5 minutes of the first half, so no meaningful observations yet. I intended to focus solely on Kevin Durant, potentially the top prize in this June's NBA draft but after Saturday night, I'm going to also keep notes on Acie Law, A&M's senior point guard. Law took over down the stretch against the Jayhawks, helping the Aggies come from behind to win in Lawrence.

Kevin Durant: I've always hated the way basketball analysts compare current players to past players - Dwayne Wade is the next Jordan. Lebron is a modern day Magic. The problem is, that these comparisons are too general. It's like comparing X and X because they are both Y. I caught myself doing the same while watching Kevin Durant, but the truth is that he doesn't remind me of anyone. During the 15 game minutes I watched, Durant reminded me of KG, Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller. On one defense to offense transition, Durant blocked a shot to himself, turned, dribbled to the offensive 3 point line, hesitated, and when a defender came out to challege, Durant made an accurate chest pass to a man cutting to the basket for an easy layup.

Durant's ability to play like a guard is what's most impressive about his game. He dribbles well (multiple times he led the fast break), passes well (3 assists), and has a quick release which enables him to come off screen and shoot a la Rip Hamilton or Reggie Miller. On an inbounds play from under the Texas basket, Durant curled off a screen at the elbow, took a quick shot (missed but fouled). At least three times he caught the ball behind the 3 point line and went straight up and shot. This allows him to keep defenders off balance because he can either shoot or drive around them.

Defensively, I had trouble gauging his abilities because of Texas playing a zone. Things he did do well: close out on the perimeter and rebound. I like the way he hustles and crashes the boards. Also, his length allows him go deflect passes (3 steals) and creates a problem when he fronts the post. I think Durant may need to get a little stronger for the NBA game, but according to Dick Vitale, Durant is willing to work and accepts coaching openly. Personally, I think he should be the #1 ahead of Oden but I'll assess this statement again tonight after watching Oden against Michigan.

Acie Law

It was hard to get a read on Law because he's a point guard and I think its the hardest position to evaluate. He's very controlled when directing the offense. He is pretty consistent from 3 point range and being a left handed shooter, he creates problems for defenders. Unfortunately, he sprained his ankle and was out until the around the 5 minute mark...also the time I switched over to the Daily Show. Law's final line: 21 pts and 15 assists. The points are impressive but his assist number shows his willingness to pass and get his teammates good shots. I don't have a grade on his ability to penetrate because A&M, in the half court, played an inside-out offense which had Law stationed on the perimeter. On the fast break, Law does a great job of pushing the ball and finding the open man. He dribbles when needed but he'll make the pass when its there which is critical because a lot of point guards singlehandedly kill breaks because they dribble too much. Defensively, Law fights through screens well and does a great job of sticking with his man. As a Pistons fan, might be a good late 1st round pick.

Bloggin Ain't Easy

While smashing my New Year's resolution like a piggy bank, I quickly acquired a new found respect for sites like MGoBlog, EDSBS, The M Zone, etc. I thought it'd be easy to post something everyday - even if the post was a couple of lines about something that happened in the sports world that day. Nope. In fact, posting everyday is very difficult. I had trouble coming up with content. I had trouble doing the research. I had trouble putting words onto paper. By the time all the problems were solved, my topic was old news.

I have no idea how these sites come up with new content, daily, that's interesting, well thought out, well written, informative and funny. I'd get a little annoyed on days when there was nothing new to read at these sites, but no more. Thanks for the hard work guys...

My ambitious goals for the next few days, including tonight are as follows:

Monday: Texas @ Texas A&M. Notes on Kevin Durant and Acie Law IV.
Tuesday: Michigan @ Ohio State. A running diary of the travesty that's Michigan basketball.
Wednesday: National Signing Day. Words about Wolverine football and the future.

Let's see how many of these get posted. I'm hoping to go 2 for 3.