Another day in paradise. Congrats on surviving and advancing.
Song of the Day: "At the Bottom of Everything" by Brighteyes.
Word of the Day: Scintillating.
INSIDE THE LAST DANCE. As someone who used to play basketball with his tongue out and try to recreate Michael Jordan's dunk from Space Jam on my children's hoop at home, The Last Dance has been a delightful viewing experience for me these past few weeks.
And as good as it's been to look back for us commoners, it's even more of a nostalgia bump for former Ohio State all-time leading scorer Dennis Hopson, who was along for the ride for Jordan's first NBA title.
“I think it’s been pretty good,” Hopson, now the head coach at Lourdes College in northwest Ohio, told The Dispatch. “I think there were some things said about other players that I don’t think should’ve been said.
“They show Michael doing X, Y and Z, but they don’t show the other guys doing X, Y and Z back to Michael.”
Upon his arrival for the 1990-91 season, Hopson said he had to adjust to a new locker-room mentality after three seasons with the New Jersey Nets that saw them post a record of 62-184. It helped that he was already familiar with Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, having been part of the same draft class.
He also had to adapt to the reality that it was Jordan’s show, not his.
“They had a goal there, man, and that was to win an NBA championship, and they were very, very focused on getting that done,” Hopson said. “I knew that going to Chicago was going to stunt my growth as a player because ... no matter what, Mike was going to play. No matter if I went in and knocked down 10 jump shots in a row or missed 10 jump shots in a row, Michael was going to play.”
He ain't wrong, but on the flip side, he's got a ring, so the results were pretty damn undeniable.
MICHIGAN QB FOR... HEISMAN? I never thought I'd see the words "Michigan quarterback" and "Heisman contender" used together, even if "darkhorse" is used as a caveat, but here we are, courtesy of CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli.
Dylan McCaffrey, QB, Michigan +7500
We don't know who Michigan's starting QB is going to be in 2020. All we know is that Shea Patterson is gone, and Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton are competing to take his place. Based on Heisman odds, it seems sportsbooks are putting their money on it being McCaffrey. I'm approaching this from the standpoint of the darkhorse being "Michigan QB," whether that's McCaffrey or Milton.
Like LSU, Michigan broke in a new offense last season. One meant to spread things out and modernize an attack that had grown a bit obsolete. Unlike LSU, Michigan's offense didn't hit the ground running, mostly because it didn't have a Joe Burrow leading the way. Odds are neither McCaffrey or Milton are Burrow, either, but heading into the second season of a new offense -- one that improved in the second half of last season -- I expect Michigan to be better on that side of the ball.
I also expect Wolverine receivers not to drop so many passes.
Michigan's receiving corps had a drop rate of 12.6% last season. That ranked 121st nationally. Even worse, Michigan receivers had an on-target catch rate of 75.2% last year, according to Sports Info Solutions. That ranked 129th nationally, with only Buffalo being worse at 73.5%.
So, basically we're going to see Michigan's quarterback play go from undraftable to Heisman contending this year because the offense will be *actually* different this time and there will be fewer drops. Color me skeptical.
Look, I think actually that Dylan McCaffrey is pretty good, especially relative to the warm body I'm used to seeing back there on Jim Harbaugh's Michigan teams. But betting on "Michigan QB" to win the Heisman Trophy is just as good as lighting money on fire – historically speaking – and I don't foresee that changing this year or as long as Harbaugh is at Michigan.
But good on Josh Gattis and Harbaugh for hoodwinking at least one person into believing that "speed in space" will actually materialize this year. I'll believe it when they muster more than a touchdown against the Buckeyes this year and their offensive coordinator takes it off of repeat.
MALCOLM JENKINS GIVES OUT SCHOLARSHIPS. We don't have enough smile-inducing news these days, so enjoy this video of Malcolm Jenkins giving away a bunch of $1,000 scholarships.
I'm always down for a little positive news, and first-generation college students getting a little help from a Buckeye surely qualifies. Good stuff, Malcolm.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR. Ohio State freshman tennis star Cannon Kingsley was balling in his debut season with the Buckeyes before COVID-19 derailed everything.
The virus may have ended the rest of the season, but it didn't erase what had already happened, and Kingsley very clearly earned the ITA National Rookie of the Year award.
Ohio State freshman Cannon Kingsley caps his first season in Scarlet & Gray with the nation’s top award for a rookie as he was named the ITA National Rookie of the Year. The award was announced by the ITA in a special virtual awards ceremony on Monday.
Kingsley is the first Buckeye freshman to be named national rookie of the year and he is just the fourth OSU freshman to earn All-America honors.
“My first year at Ohio State was everything I could have asked for,” Kingsley said. “We didn’t get an opportunity to achieve our team goals, but for me personally, I achieved some things that I will remember for the rest of my life. Receiving this award shows me that I’m right there with the top tennis players in the country, but also that I need to improve so much more in order to maintain that status. I can’t wait back to work with the coaches and my teammates and make strides to become the best team in the country next season. Also, I would not be where I am without my seniors and captains, who pushed me to put in work every single day no matter what. There’s no better feeling then playing for the “O” on my chest.”
Let's get a quick recap of his 2020-21 season:
- Singles All-American
- ITA National Rookie of the Year
- ITA Midwest Region Rookie of the Year
- Big Ten Freshman of the Year
- Unanimous first team All-Big Ten
- ITA All-American Championship Consolation Bracket Champion
- ITA Fall Championship Round of 16
- Only freshman invited to the USTA Winter Wild Card Playoff
- 22-1 combined record in dual matches (12-1 singles, 10-0 doubles)
- Nine wins over ranked opponents including two over top-10 foes
- Defeated No. 1 Daniel Cukierman in Ohio State’s 4-2 win over No. 1 Southern Cal
- Spent the entire season ranked in the top-25 and finished the year ranked No. 14
I fear that is more than I will accomplish in my life – however long it may be – but congrats to Cannon all the same.
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