The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 5A
This is where we put a humorous cutline of our own devising.
'NCAA Basketball 10' is
fun but flawed and
lacking in madness
By MIKE KUNTZ
Daily Arts Writer
Anybody remember Blake Griffin? For
Michigan basketball fans, he will most
likely bring back painful
memories of last year's
second-round loss in the
NCAA Basketball Tour- NCAA
nament at the hands of Bcetball10
the Oklahoma Sooners.
Now Griffin is front and XBox 360/PS3
center on the cover of EA EA Sports
Sports's latest "NCAA
Basketball 10" Time to
revisit the madness - it's college basketball
First, let's get something out of the way.
Excluding titles like "NBA Street" and
"NBA Jam," basketball, in the most classi-
cal sense, is a very difficult sport to trans-
late into a fun video game. Constant motion
offenses and zone defenses can be dizzying
unless you're a seasoned veteran of Princ-
eton cuts, 1-3-1 traps and the like. Nonethe-
less, the game offers a stunning array of
options. As the head coach you can make
substitutions, change matchups, set game
plans before each game and make moves in
the post - everything short of talking to (or
screaming at) the ref.
Complete with updated rosters, rankings
and home-court advantages for, according
to the game, some of the "toughest places to
play," "NCAA" lets you play along with this
year's season. With an Internet connection,
the game actually updates rankings and ros-
ters over the course of a season.
For many, though, online updating might
be a nonfactor - choosing your own rivalry
matchups, no matter the current status of
the team, is always great. And for those still
sore about last year's tournament loss, pick
Michigan and have junior forward Manny
Harris and the boys give those Sooners a
good ass-kicking at Crisler Arena. Redemp-
tion is sweet, even with Griffin in the pros.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of "NCAA Bas-
ketball 10," as with other college basketball
video games, is that one star can dominate a
game so completely thatthe conceptof a team
falls by the wayside. While the game gives
you the option of controlling any ofyour play-
ers on the floor regardless of whether they
have the ball (nifty for open looks behind the
are, setting picks and making cuts), a quick
drive by an overpowering forward or a three-
pointer by a sharpshooting guard makes all
other options seem trivial.
Game developers have yet to figure out
a way to present the complicated sport of
college basketball in a fun and consistently
motion offenses might be exciting for basket-
ball purists, EA can bet most of its audience
won't make much use of these things. Just
give the ball to Manny and watch what he
does with it - you're better off.
All complaints aside, the game looks pret-
ty fantastic. Gameplay is generally smooth
and even includes the signature graphics of
CBS Sports and ESPN along with color com-
mentary from their announcers (yes, Dick
Vitale included). Play as any Division I team
in any stadium in the country and feel the
fans shake up the screen for added intensity
toward the end of a game.
Mid-game, players' strengths are shown
underneath them (an orange "3" for good
shooters behind the arc, a red hand for
a good blocker, etc.), which is helpful in
choosing match-ups and judging where
and how to move your team. Difficulty lev-
els ranging from "Junior Varsity" to "All-
American" change the game significantly,,
affecting player speed, free throws (which
are pretty tough on any level) and whether
or not shots fall.
Aside from the exhibition mode Play
Now, you've got some options in terms of
how you like your college basketball served.
Those familiar with other recent EA Sports
games will recognize Dynasty Mode - a
multi-year coachingcareer for those in it for
the long -haul. Even better is NCAA Tour-
nament Mode, in which up to four players
can select teams and play through an entire
bracket. But those searching for the fever
pitch of true college basketball would be
smart to ditch the controller and wait until
March - there's little madness to be found
in "NCAA Basketball 10."
By EMMA JESZKE
Daily Arts Writer
Make a decision. Take a chance. See
what's out there.
What are you afraid $ee Rock City
These are just a and Other
few of the take-home Destinations
mantras provided by
the Department of Thursday at 7:30
Musical Theatre's lat- p.m.; Friday at 8
est production, "See p.m.;Saturday
Rock City and other at 2p.m.& 8
Destinations." The p.m.; Sunday at
new musical plays 2p.m. & 5p.m.
out like a series of AttheArthur
short stories. It con- MillerTheatre
sists of six one-act $9
segments, each with
its own score with musical styles ranging
from pop-rock to more traditional musi-
cal theater tunes.
"The play takes place at six differ-
ent tourist locations, all with different
expectations of what people expect from
being there,"said Bret Wagner, Depart-
ment of Musical Theatre chair and "See
Rock City" director.
The plot doesn't follow the same char-
acters from start to finish. Each one-act
segment introduces new characters with
different sets of goals, challenges and
hopes for what they will discover on their
"Each (act) tells a different story, and
they are connected by a theme of people
trying to connect in relationships - dif-
ferent kinds of relationships," Wagner
Audiences will be introduced to a
diverse set of characters: a vengeful,
recently dumped boyfriend hell-bent on
encountering intelligent life in Roswell,
N.M., two boys who play hooky from
Dalton School in New York City to go to
Coney Island and discover something
shocking, and a girl who ditches her
fianc6 at the altar in Niagara Falls. The
one constant character between each act,
called "The Tourist," acts as a conscience
for the hit-or-miss connections between
each character, guiding them through
"It's meant to have a cumulative
effect," Wagner said.
"It's brave of the writers because I
think when people see shows they don't
expect that. They expect a plot to follow
the characters all the way through."
Wagner believes that the common
themes between the different characters
and scenarios will be clear to the audi-
ence at the end: "I think you can relate
to the characters, but you kind of have to
let go of what preceded it and go to the
Since this is the department's studio
production, the budget is limited and the
show is much smaller in scale.
"People aren't going to see large scen-
ery or rolling sets, so really it's a project
for the actors," Wagner explained.
Because only the department's black
rehearsal furniture is used to create the
six different locations explored in "See
Rock City," audiences will need to come
equipped with their imaginative think-
"It's a chance for the public to see the
work, the actors and to use their imagi-
nations," Wagner said.
The Department of Musical Theatre
tries to produce at least one new show
every year. This is because, according to
Wagner, when performance graduates
move to New York, a lot of their experi-
ences will be in an off-Broadway setting
working on new plays similar to "See
"I am trying to really prompt the stu-
dent imagination - I'd say that there's a
lot of different kinds of writers out there
and. a lot of different approaches to the
work," Wagner said.
"It's one of my goals to expose (stu-
dents) to as (many productions) as pos-
Music, Theatre & Dance senior Alle-
Faye Monka said her experience acting
Six stories about
in this show has been unique because the
original writers and composers were in
contact with the cast. When the depart-
ment performs classic Broadway shows,
the actors only have past performances,
the director and the musical director on
which to base their artistic interpreta-
"Actually hearing what (the writers)
had to say about it was so great because
you get the real insight," Monka said.
. "It's interesting to know what you're
really being apart of Especially because
('See Rock City') is not a completed work.
It's cool to know that (the writers) are
going to come here and watch us perform,
and if we do something that theyilike, they
might just keep it."
"See Rock City and Other Destina-
tions" is a contemporary musical about
contemporary people, places and expe-
riences. The broad-ranging score and
series of relatable circumstances and
characters should leave audiences
touched. And, with the production's
characters and musical numbers, the
show just might be on its way to becom-
ing established in the Broadwayworld.
PLAYING AS THE WOLVERINES
The NCAA prevents video games from copying the exact like-
nesses of college players, so Player #34 on Michigan doesn't per-
fectly resemble Michigan senior forward DeShawn Sims. But the
game does precisely mimic the playing style of the team, specifi-
cally Coach John Beilein's signature motion offense.
"You're going to see a lot of movement, back cuts, things along
those lines that are specific to Michigan's offense," explains Con-
nor Dougan, lead producer of "NCAA Basketball 10."
The game also incorporates team-specific defenses, so Michigan
frequently uses its 1-3-1zone defense.
To create an authentic playing experience, Dougan and his team
have recreated various home courts, including Crisler Arena. But
Michigan's home base isn't part of the game's "Toughest Places to
Play" feature, which gives teams with a wild fan base a true home
court advantage. Still, Michigan starjunior forward Manny Harris
is psyched about "NCAA."
"That's something I always wanted to do - just be on a video
game," Harris said.
"I don't care who picks who. I'm going to play with Michigan."
Tonight, University students perform with phones for intsruments
By BRAD SANDERS
For the Dauily
"Excuse me, can you put your
This is some- .
thing a student The Michigan
might hear dur- Mobile Phone
ing class from Ensemble
teacher. But in Final Projecs
some classroom, Concert
phones are no
longer taboo. Today at 8 p.m.
As if iPhones At Britton
and new mobile Recital Hall
have enough uses already, these
super-phones also double as musi-
cal instruments. Users can create
melodies using various Phone appli-
cations like the mini-piano and the
ocarina. Sound is either created by
blowing air into the phone's micro-
phone or by touching piano "keys"
on the screen. Speakers worn on the
students' wrists amplify the beats
and rhythms produced by the iPods.
This fresh and modern musical
concept has been used to create a
new inter-disciplinary class at the
University. One of the results of this
"Building a Mobile Phone Ensemble"
course was the Michigan Mobile
Phone Ensemble (or the MoPhos, as
the group is affectionately called),
which will be having an end-of-
semester performance tonight at 8
p.m. in the Britton Recital Hall in the
E.V. Moore Building.
Students majoring in a diverse
array of subjects like electrical
engineering and computer science,
as well as students in the School
of Music, Theatre & Dance, are
involved in the ensemble.
"I've been working on turning
mobile phones into musical instru-
ments since 2005," wrote Georg Essl,
assistantprofessor and co-founder of
MoPho, in an e-mail interview.
"In 2007, the topic had matured
enough to actually start playing in
ensembles, and the idea to start a in an e-mail interview.
mobile phone orchestra was born at "Usually if you take an art class,
Stanford. Given my interests, it was the engineering components get
a natural thing to bring the idea to watered down or overlooked, and
Michigan and incorporate the con- viceversawithanengineeringclass."
cept into a course." By programming and compos-
ing their own original pieces for the
show, MoPho students hold unique
You i ho e leadership positions while planning
Your P b-0 n e. the performance.
a great ocarina. "I wrote a piece for the various
instruments we coded, which has
a graphical score and I direct it,"
Music, Theatre & Dance senior
The class fuses both aspects of Matthew Steele explained in an
engineering and performance into e-mail.
its curriculum. "It consists of me conducting a
"Students learn both engineering 'musical conversation.' I put music
skills - programming Phones, deal- in quotes because some people don't
ing with sound synthesis and sensor- consider a pulsating, skittering
based inputs - as well as artistic mass ofgratingnoises to be music,"
concerns - how to write pieces, how he said.
to conduct, how to make the pieces "I put conversation in quotes
work on stage," Essl explained. because the piece is a combina-
"The mixture of art and engineer- tion of the players having to listen
ing is really refreshing," Rackham to each other in order to create
graduate student Devin Kerr wrote the types of textures I direct,"
"Another student and I wrote a
piece for around 12 iPhones that is
meant to be played on a completely
dark stage," Kerr explained.
"Every phone plays a different
role in the piece, playing different
loops together, creating different
visual color patterns that tightly cor-
respond to the sounds being played."
Having worked on Kerr's and
their own compositions throughout
the semester, the students are excit-
ed about their new medium.
"Professor Essl really deserves
kudos for taking the initiative with
this class. As time goes on and he
develops the class more and more,
expect future performances to get
better and better," Music, Theatre &
Dance senior Owen Campbell wrote.
The MoPho way of producing
music is an innovative step for
creativity on campus, and who
knows, it may even revolutionize
the music industry.
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