Thursday, November 30, 2006

The rest of the Big Ten is furious and terrified

Jesus Christ. I was kind of skeptical of the Bucks, and extremely skeptical of them being the #1 team in the country, Greg Oden or no Greg Oden. Well, last night alleviated pretty much all of my concerns. Yeah, they're super-young. And yeah, they actually ended up losing the game. But oh my God, they are good. Like, really good. Stupidly talented, ath-eh-letic as all get-out...

TIME OUT. I'm watching the MAC title game, being played in downtown Detroit, and apparently the player of the game gets a deep dish pizza pie. I WONDER WHERE IT'LL COME FROM?!? Will Jeff drive up and eat half of it? I'm on pins and needles!

Anyway, the Buckeyes: basketball version.

Yeah, they lost. But that was obviously going to happen when, less than 4 minutes into the second half, all of our viable post options had at least 3 fouls. These kids are poised beyond their years, they're great shooters, there's just a lot to like. They lost, on the road to a top-5 team, and there's no shame in that. In fact, even the minuses were downright encouraging. OSU was susceptible to fouls, especially inside (it was infuriating during the game, but let's not talk about the ridiculous officiating -- and I'll leave it to Todd to give his thoughts on Dookie V's *ahem* "performance" during the game), which was huge because it threw off Matta's rotations and forced us to play a zone, which just got shredded, and that's not even mentioning the 34-13 free throw disparity. OSU also got beaten soundly on the boards, and had no answer defensively for Carolina's post players.

So, the minuses: interior defense and defensive rebounding. Can you think of any way those two things can be shored up before the end of the season? Anything, hmm?

Seriously, even if Oden is completely inept offensively and can only block shots and get rebounds, this team is easily top-5 in the country, and a VERY serious title contender. All that? After this football season? I'm speechless. I'm all bibbledy at the thought of being excited about college basketball again. The seventh post of this blog's existence, back when we were still on that abortion of a site known as eBloggy, was titled "Thad ... I MattaDore You!!!" I bet Todd had no idea how true that statement would be...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ACC/Big Ten Challenge: HYARRRRRR

Sheesh, nothing written since before The Big Game? Can we blame it on Big Game Hangover? Let's do that.

Anywho, the annual pimped-to-the-max "ACC/Big Ten Challenge" has begun in earnest, which caused me to finally realize what was probably obvious to everyone, Buckeye and non-Buckeye alike: BASKETBALL HAS STARTED. Holy shit, what was I paying attention to? I guess it didn't help that the Thad Five (full disclosure: I don't like that nickname. I have no logical reason not to; I mean, it makes sense, it's semi-making fun of Michigan, really, it's got everything you could want. But I don't like it. Sue me) played its first six games either A. not on television, or B. on ONN with no promotion at all and the digital cable claiming that whatever was on in that timeslot was "high school football."

They were finally on TV Friday night against ... *sigh* Youngstown State, so when I watched about 60% of that game out of the corner of my eye at King Avenue 5, I learned essentially nothing about the team. But what I saw seemed to confirm what Todd predicted after catching a few games: I am going to hate watching this team. They don't seem to run any discernible offense, just chucking up threes willy nilly with a drive to the basket thrown in here and there, and most of them are super-handsy on defense. I have total confidence that Thad will coach the latter attribute out of them eventually, but judging by last year's offense, I think the triples are gonna stick around. Hey, if we keep hitting 'em, I guess I'll probably be able to deal with it.

Point is, we're probably gonna learn a helluva lot more about the Young Bucks (hey, that's bett- no, no it isn't) tonight, as they travel to Chapel Hill to take on the Fighting Stuart Scotts and their bastard coach Roy Williams. Even if we lose, I'm gonna turn the game off right away and pretend that in the postgame handshakes Thad headbutted Roy Williams WWE-style. Yeah, lemme just .... yeah...

So, the Challenge. Unsurprisingly, the Big Ten is getting its ass handed to it - again - as the ACC has jumped out to a 4-2 lead after the first two nights of action. Big Ten Wonk has everything you could possibly want to read about the games thus far, which featured the usual number of close losses for the midwesterners. Should have figured we'd never win the damn thing when we lost it the first two years despite having the vastly superior conference each time. Oh well. On the bright side, the Duke/Indiana game yielded the above picture of Duke freshman Jon Scheyer, who's clearly a couple months late on the whole National Talk Like a Pirate Day thing. Or maybe he just fell in with the wrong crowd...

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Dead Schembechler


Just when I think this thing can't get any bigger, Schembechler goes and sacrifices himself for the good of the Michigan football team. Giving them extra motivation is just not what I wanted to see. Come on Coach Bruce, it's time to take one for the team. You're old. Go eat a hoagie and try to run 10 miles. That'll at least get you taken to the hospital.

By the way, you think that show at the Newport tonight just got a little crazier/wierder?

Less than 27 hours

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Two days and counting

I have a hard time concentrating, eating, sleeping, or generally sitting down. The wait is torturous, and I try not to think about it, and then every time I turn on the TV or the radio or my computer, I am bombarded by OSU-Michigan talk. Friggin' everywhere. So why am I not really talking about it beforehand?

If you take a cursory look around the CFB blogs, you'll see tons of analysis (conversely, checking out the MSM leads to an array of puff pieces. Which I guess are good in their own way). And it's of high-quality, to be sure. The thing is ... this game has shown us some weird shit in the past, and while totally in-depth looks at what has happened this season can inform us of what may happen in The Game, this rivalry tends to be wholly unpredictable. Remember 1999, when the worst OSU team of the last 20 years went into Michigan Stadium and put up more rushing yards than Michigan had total offense? Remember 2003, when OSU came in with the top-ranked rushing defense in the nation and got absolutely bowled over by Chris Perry and the Michigan O-Line? Remember games like the 1995, 1996, 2001, and 2004 editions, each case an instance of the clearly inferior team on paper coming in and pulling off a shocker?

What's the most you can say about a rivalry like this, that doesn't have a high probability of making you sound stupid a few days later? "Both teams are really really good, and something strange and/or totally unexpected will probably happen over the course of the game"? Pull a Cutman and say, "One team is going to win this game, and the other will almost certainly not"? The Game largely transcends logic and expectations.

Which is not to say that IF someone has an opinion stronger than mine about this game I would not like to hear it. Please, if any of my fellow blogtributors or any of the five loyal readers have something approaching insight or any kind of gut feeling about this game, I would love to be made aware of it. Because, after all these matchups, most of what I can say about OSU-Michigan is the following:

"It's gonna be a toss-up. Because it always is."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Back from Chicago

So, yeah: I went to visit my sister in Chicago this past weekend and lucked into a ticket to the Northwestern game. It was a fun game, but bitterly, bitterly cold. Northwestern's stadium is essentially horseshoe-shaped, with the open end really truly open, with no seating. Being in Evanston, right on the lake, it was exceedingly windy, and that wind was cruising through the stadium right through the open end and into the faces of everyone sitting in the opposite end zone. Which is where we were. By the time the game was ending and the sun was down, it might as well have been 20 degrees. The kind of cold that hurt.

Other random thoughts:

Despite the turnovers, I was terrified by the way the defense was shredded in the first half. Not getting to the QB, falling for screens constantly, and generally poor tackling were all-too-prevalent in the first 30 minutes. Keith over at BC gained a little optimism by the defense holding NW to about 60 yards after intermission, but I'm still nonplussed to say the least: all season long, when competent opposing offenses have presented the threat of both the run and the pass, this defense has been brutal. What has saved them has been the proclivity of the Buckeye offense to jump out to sizable leads early in almost every game, as teams have had to abandon the run and commit to the pass. And as mediocre as the D has looked early in games against the run (and occasionally against the pass), they've throttled teams once they got to the point where they knew passes were coming and could pin their ears back and go apeshit rushing the QB, without having to worry about rushing plays. Will we jump out to a 2+ score lead early against Michigan? Doubtful. The Wolverines will play the entire game with all offensive options a plausible possibility on every single play, and I'm worried about our defense's ability to stop them.

The offense, on the other hand, was brutally efficient for most of the game. Troy's thumb problem still bothers me, but it's more of a lingering doubt than a full-fledged panic button.

Ash once again reminded me of how much she hates Journey, which is just inconceivable. Although it did remind me that last week on VH1Classic I saw one of those "videos" that's just a clip of a band performing some song live at a concert. Well, it was Journey, obviously, and I'm pretty sure it was from that concert of theirs we saw that one night while playing poker at Cuervo 2005. Anyway, I was struck (figuratively, not literally) by something that was not so obvious when watching while playing cards: Steve Perry's cock. I mean, it was RIGHT THERE. And not in the "amorphous bulge" kind of way either -- you could probably have paused the tv and made a perfect outline of it through his pants. It was like his entire lower body - legs, cock, and balls - had been vacuum-sealed in some kind of Foodsaver brand of 80s jeans. Legitimately disturbing. And now all those high notes on "Don't Stop Believin'" are making a lot more sense.

Also: Wonk has his OSU preview up. Huzzah!

The week is here, amigos. Here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Issues (think about, think-think about it)

The Illinois Debacle Issue: Not surprisingly, The Ozone has some salient analysis on OSU's "get up 17 then go run and hide" escape last Saturday in Champaign. Was it a confluence of conservative playcalling and the absence of left tackle Alex Boone? Absolutely, they say. Keith over at Buckeye Commentary did a little MythBusting in the aftermath as well.

The Beanie Issue: Yes, I've said on what I believe were numerous occasions that I think "Beanie" is a stupid nickname and completely unworthy of a player with the potential of Chris Wells. But in the service of economy of language, that's what I'm calling him. What the hell will Tressel do with fumble machine Chris Wells? I expect to see him relatively often this week against Northwestern, but what about football armageddon in a week and a half? Tressel has always been pretty forgiving about mistakes like this (up to a point - remember last year, when Schnittker was being used as a tailback inside the ten, only he kept fumbling? Tress gave him multiple chances, then hit a certain point where he just said "that's it, we can't put up with this anymore."), but the question is, where will he draw the line? Also, consider last year's Michigan game, where OSU dominated early play and was driving while up 9-0 when Maurice Wells came in and lost a fumble on his first carry, leading to a short-field Michigan touchdown and a much tighter game than it was looking to be up to that point? I'd be shocked if Tressel doesn't remember it. The question is, what does he do about it?

The Louisville Issue: Should they get to the title game if they win out? It's become more of a "Big East" issue, and is a subject that has certainly piqued SMQ's interest over the past week.

Crap, I have to go. What does y'all think about the issues above, or even about homeless guys with cutlery in their lower bodies?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Your shitty music made me barf, Loggins

So, Nips and I watched the Louisville-West Virginia game last night, and it was fun, but let me just say that OSU or Michigan (with Manningham) would each beat both of those teams by about three touchdowns. Brian Brohm is really good, as are White and Slaton over at WVU (though, and I'm sure I've said this on here before, I find Slaton to be mildly overrated. The vast majority of his big runs have come after the 'Eers' wildly underrated offensive line has opened up a hole big enough to drive a Mack Erin through. I think Slaton is a super-fast running back who's playing in a system that's relatively uniquely suited to his talents. Not that that's a bad thing, but still); shit, pretty much all of the skill position players on each side are decent pro prospects and superb at the college level. And both offenses are really fun to watch in their creativity and execution. But cripes, man ... can't you play some defense? West Virginia's defensive deficiencies have been extremely well-documented, and Louisville, as SMQ pointed out, won the game despite allowing WVU to run (expected) and pass (???!!???) all effing over them, to the tune of 540 yards of offense. That should never happen to an allegedly championship-caliber team.

But anyways ... the dance through the lillies for both OSU and Michigan toward the November 18 clash continues, but ... all the games the teams play until then are gonna keep being boring. And that's okay; I mean, I enjoy stat-stuffing games as much as the next guy. They're just tough to talk about beforehand.

So, on to the title of the post. I don't know how many of you have watched this before, but there's this internet show called "Yacht Rock," all about the "smooth" 70s grooves of artists like main protagonists Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, chronicling how they came up with their tunes. Quite frankly, I find it flippin' hilarious. So far, I can't decide if my favorite episode is the Toto one ("Go, go, Toto go!") or the Michael Jackson one. I wish there were more episodes right now, because they're fuckin' killing me.

This is the first one, on the origins of Cave's karaoke song, "What a Fool Believes"...

You're a sentimental fool, Kenny...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Omigod omigod omigod

College basketball is just around the corner, compadres, and boy am I expected! Why? Is it because the Buckeyes and their mewing babes will be tipping off in a few hours in their first exhibition game, against ... the Findlay ... Oilers? Well, that's cool, but not quite the reason. Is it because I will soon be unable to ignore Dick Vitale's shouting visage, I don't know, any day now? Goodness no! It's because the one and only Big Ten Wonk has returned, with a reliably wonkish and well-written opus on the subject of defense. And while I appreciate the work the man does and read him as regularly as I do anyone, let me just say that sometimes statistics can lie: there is no way IN HELL that North Carolina had one of the best defenses in the country in 2005. I watched that team play 10-15 times that season, and they were an "ole!" factory. I don't claim to know how they had such a gaudy "opponents points per possession" number, but I'll be damned if it was because of "great defense." What are you still doing here? GO READ IT.