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Friday, May 31, 2013


(Part Ten of a Ten-Part Series)

We have extensively reviewed the MSU and UM Men's Basketball teams as we enjoy the off-season, and now it's time to tie it all up together. After looking very closely at nine different measurable factors, let's add up the results to put it all into perspective.

Here are the categories we've reviewed, along with the comparative results between the two teams. Each category heading is linked to the associated post detail:

TEAM BALANCE:  The Spartans have excellent balance throughout their roster, with players from at least three classes expected to be heavy contributors, and players at the same position spread amongst all the class-levels. Advantage MSU

POINT GUARDS:  The Spartans have three returning point-guards who played 100% of the position minutes, while UM loses their point-guard and will rely on a freshman to lead their team. Advantage MSU

SHOOTING GUARDS:  It's a close call between Gary Harris and whomever may play shooting-guard for UM, but no Wolverine surpasses Harris. Advantage MSU

SMALL FORWARDS:  Another close call between Branden Dawson and the several players who may play against him, but Dawson has size and experience and productivity on his side of the equation. Advantage MSU

POWER FORWARDS:  Adreian Payne wins any possible match-up at power-forward. Advantage MSU

CENTERS:  We give Mitch McGary the nod over Matt Costello at Center, but it may be closer than many people think by next winter. However, Horford and Morgan are the most experienced big men on either team. Advantage UM

BENCH STRENGTH:  With more than a dozen players coming off the bench, six of them freshmen who haven't played yet, it's hard to get a line on this category. It looks pretty even. DRAW

EXPERIENCE:  The Spartans return much more experience than most teams, including UM. Advantage MSU

PERFORMANCE STATISTICS:  Michigan State returns about 80% or more in most statistical categories, while Michigan loses around 50% of almost everything. Advantage MSU

Using these nine categories, MSU leads 7-to-1 with a draw. Two areas were quite close, as UM brings viable players to Center and the two Forward positions. Just one or two untimely injuries for the Spartans and this comparison could become 5-3 or even  4-4. (And we've certainly seen such injuries in the past, especially during the off-season.) But Michigan is more vulnerable to such a mishap, as they could ill afford to lose one of their big three sophomores or either of their top freshmen.

And that's the whole answer in a nutshell. For Michigan to do very well next year, they need at least two freshmen to have excellent seasons, along with one or two veterans showing a major jump in performance factors. That could all happen, but frankly, without it they have little chance of getting any trophies next season. Without two all-star freshmen and multiple candidates for the team "Most Improved Player" award, the Wolverines will be respectable and will probably cap-out at around 20 wins. An injury or two for them to contend with could mean bubble-status.

Turns out the rampant over-rankings of Michigan seem to have cooled off. After a multitude of Top Five preseason picks right after their five-game win streak, they may have started to find their own (lower) level in the minds of sports geeks everywhere. That's fine either way, I really don't care that much about rankings in the sport that has the best playoff system at the college level. Just wanted to point out a few things from our perspective in order to balance out the picture.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013


The snooty folks we call "chUMps" like to brag about their school as if it's the academic pinnacle of excellence, trying to portray the U-of-M as some sort of an honorary member of the Ivy League. They even refer to Michigan as "the Harvard of the Midwest", as if they actually attended either institution.

Well, to be fair, there are some people who actually attended and/or graduated from the University of Michigan, and we should give them fair credit for supporting their school in true-blue fashion. It's just that those actual graduates are increasingly NOT including Wolverine basketball players.

Did you notice how Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway just dropped out of college? Uh huh. Derrick Nix got his MSU degree, but the academic-all-stars from that other school didn't walk the stage and grab the sheepskin. And they're not alone.

The Michigan basketball program has featured four college dropouts in the last four years, those two along with Darius Morris (2011) and Manny Harris (2010). Morris only "attended" (wink-wink) one full year of (ahem) "school" at that prestigious center of higher education. This year's flunkies mean that those four players were enrolled for a grand total of only eight years combined, and none of them are PhD candidates.

This trend has been noticed, as recent articles from the Detroit Free Press and MLive have shown. But instead of being embarrassed by their academic failures, the Michigan camp is spinning the story that these non-students prove that U-of-M is "elite".

This is just another distortion about Michigan, perpetuated by Michigan. They once again are trying to have it both ways. If their athletes all graduate, they will point to their academic superiority. If their athletes drop out of school, they will claim it makes them special. Whatever.

Here in Spartan Country, Tom Izzo hasn't had a prominent player drop out of school for the NBA since 2006, a seven-year run of athletic and academic synergy, during which time his teams have made the Big Dance each year, won three conference titles, and made two final fours. Where are the trumpets blaring on behalf of Michigan State Basketball?

Instead, the mainstream sports media are slowly spoon-feeding us the illusion that Michigan is better because, in effect, they are Michigan. Whatever UM does will be considered the correct state of being, regardless of how MSU is better, and no matter how long MSU is better.

BOTTOM LINE: The University of Michigan is selling out it's self-proclaimed academic priorities in a bold-faced attempt to try to catch-up to Michigan State University, especially in Basketball. Perhaps Mary Sue Coleman should proclaim another "day of great shame" in Crisler Arena.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013


(based on a true story)

You may have heard the news reports today that Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis is orchestrating a four-team, two-game tribute to former MSU Basketball Coach Jud Heathcote. The Spartans will play Gonzaga in a twin-bill preceded by Montana versus Washington State. All four teams have a connection to Heathcote, the beloved and respected mentor to Tom Izzo.

Not to be outdone, the University of Michigan Basketball Program has also announced a tribute event to honor former Wolverine booster, Ed "The Godfather" Martin. Martin was known to have played a key role in UM Basketball history, as he was proven through an FBI investigation to have arranged for hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal payments to several players, most notably Chris Webber.

To commemorate Martin's role in generating countless sums of dirty money to fuel the Wolverine's rise to power in the late 1980's and early 1990's, all of his numbers-runners from the River Rouge factories will be invited to attend the games. Webber will be the keynote speaker during a pre-game ceremony.

Other honored guests to be recognized by Webber during the pre-game event will include Bud Middaugh, the former Michigan Baseball Coach who paid his players for fake jobs around campus, leading to the NCAA probation penalties that resulted in trophies being returned and record books being revised. Also appearing will be Trish Roberts, the former Michigan Women's Basketball Coach who was sued by one of her players before being fired after a petition drive against her by parents of the team members.

The halftime festivities will feature former University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, who is expected to recite her famous "Day of Shame" speech, originally given when she ordered that the banners hanging in Crisler Arena from the Ed Martin Era be taken down. Webber will also perform a special rap-dance called "Time Out", during which he will receive an inbound pass, drag his back foot conspicuously as if traveling, then dribble the length of the court only to stop abruptly and call timeout with a sheepish look on his face.

Steve Fisher is not expected to attend the event. Fisher was the UM Basketball Coach who signed Webber to his employment contract on behalf of Martin. Fisher is blamed for the entire scandal by university officials, who often refer to him as "that damn Fisher". Fisher was appointed to replace Bill Frieder when Frieder was fired by Glenn Shembechler on the grounds that Frieder was "not a Michigan Man". None of the three went to college at U-of-M.

A bit of frivolity will mark the interlude between games, as former Michigan Football Coach Gary Moeller will play a spirited game of quarter-bounce with current Michigan Hockey Coach Red Berenson. After both gentlemen have finished their drinks, they will split the audience in two groups for gender-separated activities. The women will be invited to watch Moeller punch-box a police officer at center-court while tearfully pleading with him to stop, while the men will follow Berenson to a nearby library where they will take turns urinating on the walls of the building.

Other teams expected to play during the event include Connecticut, Tennessee, and St. Mary's, all of whom are currently on NCAA probation.

A date for the event has not yet been selected, but the games will be played in Palermo, Sicily, legendary birthplace of La Cosa Nostra, known in America as "The Mafia".

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