Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Miscellaneous Minutiae: MAAR goes to Spain, Taco Tuesday and Walton in the City Beautiful

It's June, nothing is happening -- so, Miscellaneous Minutiae is back. 

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman took a trip to Spain, and it sounded delightful. From MGoBlue:

"I went to Barceloneta Beach, which is the main beach there," said Abdur-Rahkman. "I'd take the subway to the beach right after classes, and it was a great way to relax. I'm pretty sure it's better than any beach I've been to. I went swimming a little bit, but mainly just soaked up the sun.
"Putting your feet in the sand, letting the water hit your feet and watching the sunsets. I had such a great time there. Now it's back to the grind."
Abdur-Rahkman was there taking a class on how sports and society intertwine. I wonder what an America-centric class on that subject would be like...

"Now, class, in this module we'll discuss the inverse relationship between tweeting at high school recruits and said recruits coming to the tweeter's preferred school. Next slide, please. As you'll see, the data show a whopping 93 percent block rate..."

On the basketball side, for a guy who has gotten as much run as him (albeit to varying degrees), his production as a senior will be key for a team that is replacing a lot of offensive firepower. As the article notes, he shot 48.9 percent from three during Big Ten play -- pretty good. That, combined with his ability to make things happen off the dribble make him a pivotal piece for the 2017-18 team.

Speaking of basketball, Derrick Walton went undrafted but signed a free-agent deal with the Orlando Magic.

As Michigan fans know, Walton lit the college basketball landscape on fire during the last couple of months of the 2016-17 season, carrying Michigan to a conference tournament title and a Sweet 16 appearance. As for the next step? It's always hard to predict which NBA hopefuls will wade through the swamp of Summer League play with a shot at a roster spot, but I can't help but think of a guy like Yogi Ferrell when I consider Walton's chances.

I know, it's a pretty facile comparison -- both sturdy, yet undersized Big Ten point guards; dynamic from outside; engines of their college offenses. For all of Ferrell's exploits in Bloomington, he also went undrafted.

Ferrell eventually signed a 10-day deal with the Dallas Mavericks and impressed so much that he signed a two-year deal with the team in February. He also made the All-Rookie Second Team.

Every year that passes, I'm certain that a lot of NBA scouts are not good at their jobs. As a Bulls fan, I know this all too well.

Teams missed on Ferrell, likely wary of his lack of size. But, like him, Walton plays bigger than his size, especially with respect to his rebounding numbers (something Michigan will miss in a big way).

It also helps that Orlando isn't very good. Looking at their roster, Elfrid Payton is a flawed, albeit capable NBA point guard. After that, it's less than ideal.

Perennial Bench Spark Plug Guy D.J. Augustin just finished the first year of a four-year deal, but his play was less than inspiring this past season. There's also the 33-year-old C.J. Watson, who is entering the final year of a three-year deal and is a candidate to be waived or dealt.

In short, there's clearly opportunity here for Walton.

A footnote: former Michigan State Spartans point guard Kalin Lucas, of the G-League's Erie BayHawks, is also on the Magic's Summer League roster. There may be some Spartan-Wolverine competition during the coming Summer League action.

All in all, I think Walton is in a good spot. He might not make the team to start the season (or even get a preseason camp invite) -- but as Ferrell showed, all it takes is a shot to impress.

The Orlando Pro Summer League runs from July 1-6.

It was a joyous Taco Tuesday, indeed. Only a matter of time:
Charlton already had a deal with Big Red soda in place, but on Tuesday it was announced that Charlton also would be endorsing Taco Bueno.
I look forward to future deals: Rashan Gary professing his love for Gary, Ind. in a tourism ad; John O'Korn popping Karmelkorn and Ian Bunting in the new, modernized Tom Emanski instructional baseball videos focusing specifically on the dark art of bunting.

Gators with familiar concerns. Looking ahead to Michigan's season opener, Gator Country has been highlighting question marks in each position group for Florida. The offensive line is one such group with question marks -- a familiar song for Michigan fans.

Also in familiar songs:
He takes over an offensive line that returns four starters in Martez Ivey, T.J. McCoy, Tyler Jordan and Jawaan Taylor. There is talent and experience, he just has to bring it out. When Davis took over, he made an interesting analogy, telling his players that it is pointless to have a Lamborghini with a bad transmission.
“We have a bunch of tough, physical, athletic football players that really haven’t maximized their football potential,” said Davis. “My job and why I’m here is to get the best out of them every day.”
If Michigan's defensive line takes a step down -- and, let's be serious, it will by virtue of relative depth compared to 2016 -- it won't be much of a step down at all, barring injuries. If Florida's offensive line is still figuring things out, it could be a good day for the Michigan defense, especially given the question mark at quarterback for UF.

What are words but mere distractions from tantalizing video content? is ditching the whole written word thing in favor of, yes, wait for it -- videos!

The website is laying off 20 writers and editors in favor of video production staff and, of course, hyping up the on-air "personalities" (I prefer the term "useless caricatures of caricatures," but that's just me). The layoffs include Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel -- the pair discussed their writing/podcasting futures in their most recent -- and possibly last -- episode of The Audible (which also features Dave Wannstedt talking about 2007).

I cannot fathom this decision, but I also can't wrap my head around just about anything Fox Sports is doing. Yes, I understand, they are trying to differentiate themselves from ESPN while, oddly, siphoning off the worst aspects of ESPN (e.g. Skip Bayless).

But now you're coming after the written word, Fox Sports? Word?

It might be intuitive to see all the social media being used by young folks and assume they want video content, not things to read. It's an easy logical leap to make. And, safely in my own media consumption bubble, perhaps more people want that sort of thing than I am estimating. That might be the case for some people -- I know it's not the case for me (it's also why I tend to avoid TV news, except for local broadcasts and major breaking news events).

In a sense, this will be somewhat of a referendum on the aforementioned: Do people actually want short videos explaining the news of the day? Will that drive eyeballs to the site? Maybe. If anything, it will be an interesting media experiment, not unlike seeing what happens when you take two curiously unmarked bottles of liquids in a chemistry lab and mix them together.

Even if the radical shift away from words and toward video proves successful, it is stupid.

Awful Announcing has an interesting longform rundown -- words, beautiful words! -- of the leadup to the decision to put the kibosh on the website's original, written content. During a meeting held in January, Jamie Horowitz, president of Fox Sports National Networks (and formerly of ESPN), laid out the new path to staff:
"What really does work is when you take things are good like ’11 Coaches Oregon Might Hire’, that might be something someone is interested in the day Helfrich gets fired, and we change to ‘Colin Cowherd’s 11 Coaches.’ We’ve seen this be very successful. You look at Fox News right now, O’Reilly and his take. That’s all it is. And there are many different ways. “Colin, some of our guys and girls want to write stuff.” Sometimes you might ghost-write it for them. Sometimes you might just hear them say things on shows and that can lead you to write a story about stuff they have said. And here’s a good example of something like that. Bradshaw says something interesting about Greg Hardy on a pre-game show, and immediately writing a story about what TB said. Taking our existing content and making that into news.”
Who are these people who want more of Bayless, Shannon Sharpe and Terry Bradshaw? Do they really exist?

Maybe I could find the answer somewhere on the internet -- perhaps an article with graphs, charts and words?

Probably not in a video, though.

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