Michigan Wolverines mailbag

Ann Arbor, Mich. -- The holiday festivities are spilling over in Ann Arbor and it seems like an extended party for Wolverines fans as they anticipate the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the start of the Big Ten season for the basketball team.

Brings me back to my childhood days of waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. I never asked for a bowl game or a Big Ten season, though.

But with the excitement, we’re sure there are plenty of questions. We love hearing from our readers and answering what questions you have. The mailbag, though, is only as good as what you ask. Questions for next week's mailbag can be sent to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com.

Now, on to this week's questions.

Webster Hall, New Orleans: Is Michigan football back? Would it take a BCS bowl win in Brady Hoke’s first year to solidify that view?

A: What a win would do for the Wolverines is boost excitement around the program from alumni, fans and recruits. But players around the program have given differing views about whether Michigan football is back or not. I think fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen said it best when he told me last week, “I don’t know if I’ll say Michigan football is back until we put together three or four big-time years of football that people are used to seeing. Michigan isn’t going to be back because of one year. It’ll be back because of multiple years of Big Ten championships.”

I think the most important part of Van Bergen’s quote is “multiple years of Big Ten championships.” Michigan didn’t win one this year and that was their goal. In that respect, the Wolverines fell short, even though they exceeded almost everyone else’s expectations. I think in five years, if the Wolverines have won at least two Big Ten championships, then you can say they’re back.

Lin Z., DC: What’s up with senior guard Stu Douglass’ shot? He has shown over the years that he can make shots, but what’s happening now?

A: Shooting can be streaky. It’s not his mechanics, because I’ve been watching how he misses and it’s not a consistent miss (e.g. he doesn’t always miss to the left or right, he doesn’t always overshoot). With him, I think it’s mental. It seems that any time he’s wide open he can’t hit. But with a hand in his face or coming off a screen with a guard trailing, he has better odds. Give him a bit more time. Once he starts hitting a few, I think he’ll start hitting more and more. Michigan coach John Beilein has dealt with shooters like this before and he’s not going to take away Douglass’ green light.

Shane Fuller, via Twitter: On @umichbball in their @bigtenconf season ... do they have a shot as conference champs?

A: Doutbful. If Jared Sullinger stays healthy, I think you’ve got a pretty talented group in Ohio State among Sullinger, sophomore guard Aaron Craft and senior guard William Buford. Past the Buckeyes, I’d say Wisconsin is probably more likely to win the title than the Wolverines. I have a ton of respect for Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan (plus, he does a mean “Soulja Boy” -- if you don’t know what I’m talking about then type “Bo Ryan Soulja Boy” into Youtube. You’re welcome). But it’s still so early in the season and maybe sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and freshman point guard Trey Burke could be a scary combo for teams to face in tournament play. But as of now, my money is on Ohio State or Wisconsin.

Christopher Wee, via Twitter: What part of the marching band, minus "The Victors," do you like the most?

A: Easy. I’d have to say their summer practices. I lived near the band’s practice field one summer and woke up to the sounds of “Sweet Caroline” and Lady Gaga. It was the best alarm clock anyone could ask for.