Even with a huge game against rival Michigan State looming tonight, much of the blogosphere’s attention is still on Manny Harris’ suspension, what it means for the team, and the apparent lack of leadership on this Michigan squad. Reactions to Harris’ suspension covered the spectrum of negative emotions, from anger and disgust to disappointment and resignation. Here are a few of the reactions (some coming before the suspension was lifted yesterday, for the record).
Putting aside whether the suspension was warranted or not, there is a bigger issue here. The fact that Harris did something in practice that warranted suspension.
It’s been a tough couple weeks for Harris. He has been struggled for long stretches, played poor defense, and has just looked lost and out of sorts at times. Some pointed to his lingering hamstring injury but I think it was more the effects of frustrating season, personally and for this team. His struggles peaked versus Wisconsin in what was easily one of his worst games this season.
Harris’s frustration likely reached its boiling point during whatever incident occurred in Friday’s practice. At this point, the key is to figure out how to move on post-incident.
Dylan also points out that Manny has played very well after being disciplined in the past, scoring 28 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and dishing six assists against Penn State after being ejected from the Purdue game and posting 27, 7 and 6 after being benched against Iowa last year.
Beilein is going to have a press conference in about 20 minutes and will likely answer all of the speculation I’m about to throw into the Internet, but man, this sounds like an open insubordination/”I’m the star” kind of suspension to me. From the sound of it, he did something that attacked the team, rather than punching someone or personally attacking one player/coach.
This is another reason I’ve been kind of down on Harris this year: He just doesn’t look like he cares. He seems to be biding his time before he declares for the NBA (which will be at the end of this year). But with his performance this year, and this suspension now on the national radar, dude is seriously hurting his NBA stock.
That’s why this whole thing makes so little sense to me. Michigan wasn’t a top 20 team going into this season. But they were a tournament bubble team. Their wins over Ohio State and Penn State, as well as their dominating until the last five minutes performances against Wisconsin and Northwestern show that this is a capable team. There’s plenty of talent, just not a lot of size. Irrespective of either, Michigan just hasn’t played as a team this season. No one’s stepped up to lead the squad. No one has shouldered the responsibility of being the guy. Not just early in the game, but late when discipline and control matter. Harris may be Michigan’s best player, but he’s made more mental mistakes at critical times already this season than he made all of last year. The biggest by far, was the mistake that got him suspended. Leaders don’t make mistakes like that.
Now that we’ve gotten the latest depressing basketball development out of the way, let’s move on to football (hooray!). The Wolverine has posted their best early guess for the spring depth chart, which is worth checking out for curiosity’s sake. Interesting note: the coaches have changed the depth chart to show two starting slot receivers, with no starting tight ends. I expect Michigan fans will be very split on this. I like any move that gets Martavious Odoms and Roy Roundtree on the field at the same time, as they’re two of our best weapons on offense. However, I also think Kevin Koger has a lot of talent, and would like to see him continue to get ample playing time, and I think there’s a definite place for the tight end position in the spread offense. Keep an eye on this situation as we head into spring ball.
Michigan secured another commitment for the class of 2010, snake-oiling DE/DT Jibreel Black (3* Rivals, 4* Scout) from Cincinnati. Black is a great pickup for Michigan, and a guy who projects to either the three-technique DT spot (Ryan Van Bergen’s position) or defensive end. MGoBlog has your full rundown on Black.
The Other Brian, over at Genuinely Sarcastic, picks up on the ESPN story on Elliott Mealer and his family, who have developed a special connection with Rich Rodriguez and his staff in the wake of the tragic car accident involving the Mealers on Christmas Eve, 2007. It’s great to see the video of Elliott’s brother Brock learning to walk again with Mike Barwis at his side. A great story, and one that hasn’t received enough attention with all the negative press surrounding Rodriguez and Michigan.
Finally, MVictors gives us another Bo story that shows just how awesome and well-respected he was, stemming from a case involving ex-Wolverine Garland Rivers and illegal contact with an agent. Just click over there, since to give context I’d have to block-quote the whole story. Moral of the story: Don’t ever cross Bo.
On that note, make sure to tune in to the game tonight, whether live at Crisler or on TV. Go Blue!