Thursday, March 14, 2013
By Tom VanHaaren, Michael Rothstein & Chantel Jennings
On Thursdays, our writers sit down to chat Michigan sports. Today, they ponder this weekend’s two big visitors, a possible Big Ten tournament run for the basketball team, and how often Brady Hoke will use the word “competitive” during Friday’s news conference.
Watch List tight end Nic Weishar will visit Michigan this weekend.
1. Watch List defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and Watch List tight end Nic Weishar (Chicago/Marist) visit this weekend. What part of the visit is the most important to keep these top players interested in Michigan?
Chantel Jennings: I think it’s important that they get a feel for Michigan academically. Every school they visit will roll out the red carpet with facilities, coaches and weightlifting. However, Hand and Weishar are very academically focused, and in the end it could be a big selling point if either looks back on that great talk he had with a Michigan professor or how accommodating certain features were for education.
Michael Rothstein: This sounds simplistic, but having fun and making a connection with at least one player who will be around when they arrive on campus. It’s pretty early in the process for these guys, so just giving them a good experience is the most critical thing.
Tom VanHaaren: For Hand it will be two things; the academic side and finding out if Ann Arbor is a place he can see himself living. Hand is one of the top prospects in his class, but he is very focused on academics, specifically engineering, so it will be important for Michigan to show him everything on that side. I think this visit could be a big deal in the end, especially because he is planning a return visit for the Notre Dame night game.
2. Michigan starts its Big Ten Tournament run today, how far do the Wolverines go?
Jennings: I think they’ll make it to the championship and lose to Ohio State. I think they’ll beat IU in the semis because one of the hardest things to do in a single season is beating the same team three times.
Rothstein: Semifinals, before another loss to Indiana. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for Michigan, though. Right now, the Wolverines do not have the feel of a team that can win 10 consecutive games, which is what they would need to do to win the Big Ten and national championship. They do, however, have the capability of winning six in a row. The most important thing for Michigan now, though, is winning a couple of games in the Big Ten tournament to get its confidence back.
VanHaaren: The conference has been a toss-up all season, so it's probably going to be tough to predict the tournament. I think the Wolverines make it to the championship game. I don't know who wins, but I think they make it to the final game.
3. Spring ball starts up this weekend, how many times does Brady Hoke say "compete" (or some derivative of the word) during his opening news conference?
Jennings: At least 30. My guess is at least eight of those instances deal with the offensive line, five to seven are in reference to the quarterback position, three to four will be about wide receivers and the rest is a crapshoot about whichever defensive position gets talked about the most.
Rothstein: I'm going to say 25. That may seem like a lot, but this presser will likely be a combination of a pro day presser and spring practice opener, which means there will be a lot of competing going on.
VanHaaren: A lot.
3b. What position competition are you most looking forward to see this spring?
Jennings: I’m interested to see what happens in the secondary. Blake Countess not participating in the spring opens up reps for some younger guys. Should be interesting to see if anyone stands out.
Rothstein: I'm most curious about the Will linebacker between Desmond Morgan and James Ross III. It might be the most talented individual position on the roster and should be fierce between players who have at least some experience.
VanHaaren: It's too bad that Derrick Green didn't enroll early, because I think the running backs would be my pick if he were here. I will say defensive line, though. I think there are some interesting battles that could take place and players who haven't proven themselves yet. It should be interesting to see who rises to the top along the line and what the D-line ultimately looks like during the season.