Saturday, December 28, 2013

Michigan's McGary elects to have surgery; Wolverines must move on without him

Michigan center Mitch McGary has elected to have surgery to correct a "lower back problem", pretty much ending the season for the sophomore center.

"I’ve done research and stuff, but it’s kind of personal and whatnot. I really don’t know the timetable (for a return to the court)," McGary said, later adding, "I just have a lower back condition. That’s about as much as I can say right now. It’s kind of personal."

McGary said the surgery will occur "next week, sometime."

This isn't what Wolverines fans envisioned once the season started. The team was ranked No.7 and was expected to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. Instead the team has stumbled to a 7-4 start and is still searching for someone to fill the go to void left by Trey Burke.

With McGary out it's time for Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III to turn it up a notch. Stauskas has shown signs but teams have started to hone in on him defensively. I believe Stauskas will take it upon himself to put the team on his back. Robinson will have to really kick it into high gear. He's a better athlete than his father but doesn't possess the will to take over a game like the Big Dog did at Purdue. GR III's time is now and he must realize that for the Wolverines to salvage their season he must play like the Big Dog.

Role players have to step up as well. Jordan Morgan (who's seemingly been there forever) and Jon Horford have to play better defense, rebound and make the hustle plays. Spike Albrecht has looks like he's picked up where he left off last season. Derrick Walton Jr. must take advantage of the open looks he's going to get wit teams trying to take away Robinson and Stauskas.

The loss of McGary is a big one, but that doesn't mean the Wolverines have to go in the tank. More than likely McGary will be back for next season and if the team stays together the Wolverines could have what it takes to make another run to the Final Four.    

Reggie Bush says lack of chemistry hurt Lions

The Detroit Lions are just a few plays from being in the hunt for home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. Then again if my aunt had a package, she'd be my uncle. It's not good being close, you have to find a way to get over the hump and the Lions couldn't do it.

The team was hurt by it's inability to get crucial third down stops on defense and untimely turnovers on offense. The Lions couldn't find a way to overcome the avalanche of bad luck that caught up to them.

Lions running back Reggie Bush seems to have an idea what went wrong for a team that had such a promising start to missing the playoffs.

"There were certain games where maybe the offense was playing well and the defense struggled," he said, per the Detroit Free Press. "Then there's games where defense played well and offense struggled. Or there's games -- I'm thinking of the Philadelphia game -- where special teams just played lights out and offense and defense couldn't really get it together.

"I just think that maybe our chemistry as a team definitely struggled and lacked a little bit -- and obviously the turnovers and big plays, making more plays when needed."

Bush is probably the only Lion in the locker room with the credibility to be a team leader. He's won national championships at USC and was on a Super Bowl winning team in New Orleans as a member of the Saints.

 “As a team, when you have kind of have that mentality that no matter what the situation is, you can always overcome it and come out with a win. That type of chemistry. ... And you’re feeding off each other, too. When offense scores a big touchdown and defense goes out there and gets a big stop or defense gets a turnover, offense goes out there and kind of answers with a touchdown. Something kind of like that.” 

When Bush and Nate Burleson talked about having a team meeting to get things right after losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback Matthew Stafford shot down the idea.

I'm not saying that would've made a difference, but maybe things might've changed and the team might've shown more of a sense of urgency instead of just talking about it. I think Bush might have been alluding o that moment.

"It begins in the offseason," Bush said. "It's not something that happens overnight. From my experience, it's something that builds. It's a culture, a mentality that's built from the offseason and not in Week 1 or Week 2."

The Lions need to make a few changes and do some soul searching during the offseason. This was a golden opportunity and the Lions blew it. They have to come back next season and play like a team on a mission, not one hoping for a few lucky breaks that they didn't capitalize on this season.

Matthew Stafford says no to working with a quarterback guru

The Detroit Lions were primed to win the NFC North and get a home playoff game this season. Even talking head Skip Bayless thought the Lions could go on the road and beat the Seattle Seahawks if they met in the playoffs.

In true Lions fashion the team imploded over the last six games after a 6-3 start and will struggle to finish .500. Many point the finger at head coach Jim Schwartz. Others point at the statistical nosedive and erratic play of quarterback Matthew Stafford.

At times Stafford looks like he's ready to break into the elite of NFL quarterbacks. Then he has moments like he has over the past five games. He has passed for 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. But his interceptions come at the most inopportune moments. Since week 11 Stafford has thrown 12 interceptions and has lost a few fumbles along the way. Stafford's mechanics and sometimes sidearm throwing motion has been questioned and many figure that Stafford should work with a quarterback coach in the offseason (Steve Clarkson, George Whitfield). some say if the Lions fire Schwartz that a quarterback friendly coach could help Stafford. As far as going to a quarterback guru in the offseason Stafford nixed the idea.

"Probably not," Stafford said. "It's not something that I feel would be my style or beneficial to me."

Throwing the ball to the other team isn't beneficial to his game either. I'm not suggesting he's a bust but he needs to get some help to keep him from making dreadful, game changing decisions.

Plenty of NFL quarterbacks -- including Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Nick Foles -- have worked with Clarkson or Whitfield, but Stafford said he's never looked into the possibility.

If the Lions are smart they will hire a head coach or coordinator that can help Stafford before he turns into another Jim Everett. Stafford also would be wise to seek out a little help and to work harder in the offseason.