So I went on vacation, came back and the real world punched me straight in the grill. I haven’t had a chance to sit down and breathe, let alone write, so please forgive me.
That said, it looks like I have a BUNCH to catch up on from a series of sports goodness over the last few days. Before I start offering up my thoughts and analysis, let me just preface with something: I have watched ZERO games over the past few days. ZERO. (Save ten minutes of the Michigan/Clemson game.)
There goes the shred of credibility I was hanging on to…
I promise, I was doing something really, REALLY cool, so go easy on me. Don’t believe me?
That’s me sailing around on the USS Nimitz. Yea, SAILING on the Nimitz. Be jealous.
Anyways, like I was saying, important things were a-happening, even as I sailed the ocean blue and subsequently putzed around San Diego.
Michigan basketball in the NCAA Tournament
After my prognostication that this hoops squad was “destined for the NIT”, I decided it would be best to quickly eat my crow, say sorry and hop back on board the Beilein Express. Call me fair-weather if you want, but it isn’t true. It was just hard to be excited for this team for the longest time.
Then they took the floor against Clemson. I was like a little kid all over again. After hanging on to win, I was completely giddy. I knew that Oklahoma would be a huge test, but I didn’t care. We had WON in the dance. Anywho, we know how the rest of the story goes: Blake Griffin dominates, he dominates some more, and Michigan’s season comes to an end.
In the end, this was a remarkable season for the Wolverines, one which obviously blew alot of people’s expectations (including yours truly) out of the water. This team should be very proud of their accomplishments. They are relevant again, they have one of the top coaches in the game and they have some tournament experience now.
As for next season, pretty much everyone returns, including most of the core players. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims have both stated that they will be returning, and will help the already maturing freshmen to keep growing. Hopefully, next year will give us the chase for a Big Ten title and a top four seed in the NCAA tourney.
My ship is burned. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Michigan Hockey in the CCHA Tournament
While the hoops squad was doing their thing in St. Louis, the hockey squad made their annual trek to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA tournament semi-finals and finals(sans me and my usual crew). After a workman like win over Alaska to advance to the finals, the Wolverines jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Notre Dame and looked to be in great shape.
Five unanswered goals later, Notre Dame was hanging a banner in the rafters and the Wolverines were headed out of the Joe on their way to a first round NCAA matchup with Air Force. Not quite what we had in mind.
Despite losing the championship, the Wolverines still managed to secure a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and look to have a favorable region…(more on this later today.)
For those of you who read this blog frequently, you know I recently announced that most of the hockey chatter would be moving over to my new hockey home at PuckScoop. In my first column over there, I took a look at how, over the span of one week, Chris Osgood had unseated Ty Conklin for the starting spot in net come playoff time. Pretty much everyone in Detroit was crowing Ozzie king again due to a strong week that included two shutout performances. Manna was falling from the heavens. World peace was imminent.
Not so fast my friend…
After a Friday game against Atlanta, the Wings hit the road, heading up to Canada for showdowns with Calgary and Edmonton, both playoff contenders in the West. Against hard-charging Calgary, Osgood fell on his face. Against Edmonton, Conklin stood on his head and got a win.
Look, I am not trying to say that a win from Conklin and a loss from Osgood this week should determine who starts in goal come playoff time. And I am definitely not trying to call out Chris Osgood. My point is simply this: both of these guys were solid this year in net. Not spectacular, but solid. And no matter who we draw in the playoffs in whatever round it may be, we will more than likely be at a perceived ‘disadvantage’ in a goalie comparison. IMO, it doesn’t necessarily matter who we have in net; the key will be how well our defenders play and if we can score goals. (For what it’s worth, I think Conklin should get the nod. However, I expect to see a pseudo “platoon” system, with both netminders on a short leash. Think “Hasek/Osgood last year.”)
In the meantime, San Jose continues to find ways to make this race for the West interesting, and currently finds themselves tied with Detroit at 107 points, with only one game in hand. Should be an interesting last couple of weeks, as Detroit continues to methodically “reel in” the Sharks (BOOM!).
Finally, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t at least make mention of the passing of one of the greats of the game, both on and off the field, HOF third baseman and former Tigers announcer George Kell. A true gentleman and one of the best to ever play third base, Kell’s legacy is one that will never be questioned.
Personally, (with no offense to Ernie Harwell), Kell will always be the voice of the Detroit Tigers in my mind. I used to watch Tiger games on TV in my living room, and it would always be Kell and Al Kaline bringing the action right into my home. Kell’s easy going, southern gentleman delivery is one that will never be matched in my own mind, and will always take me back to being a kid in Michigan watching the Tigers on a hot summer day.
God Bless you, George Kell.
Well then, it looks like everything is back in order. Check back later today for my NCAA hockey breakdown, and I might even see if I can find some time to toss up a post over at PuckScoop.