Odd time for this to break but it has indeed broken:
— Jason Arkley (@JasonAmessenger) April 25, 2017
Simmons has an indifferent Kenpom profile and a remarkable Hoop Math profile. His sub-100 ORTG features 72/46/35 percent shooting on 28% usage, a ton of assists—21st in the country—and a post-like 22 TO rate. He was a bit more efficient as a sophomore, with 78/48/42 splits on 27% usage. His assist rate was sixth nationally, and he got to the line a lot more often.
At first blush that's not great but things get a lot more intriguing when you check out his Hoop Math peripherals. To wit, I have never seen a guy get less help from his teammates. Last year approximately 3% of Simmons's buckets from inside the arc were assisted, and just 35% of his threes. That is insane. To put that in perspective: Ohio had 772 made shots last year that were not putbacks. Simmons created 361 of those shots either by making an unassisted bucket or assisting a teammate. 47%. One guy.
this video does not end well for Ohio's coach
If Simmons can successfully downshift from "literally half his team's offense" to interchangeable Beilein component there's an efficient offensive player somewhere in there. Even money the first time Beilein's offense gets him a wide open three he breaks down in tears. A couple of twitter takes:
Wolverines get a tough, ball-in-hand PG that can really get downhill. Better shooter than given credit for. Bobcats get a hole in the lineup
— Jason Arkley (@JasonAmessenger) April 25, 2017
@guestavoo Simmons - great use of head/fake shots, arsenal of floaters, shoots of the bounce, the worst 3pt shooter and the best PnR handler
— guestavo (@guestavoo) April 14, 2017
If three point shooting is the drawback for a guy who shot 35% when two thirds of his makes were jacks, eh, I'll take it. UMHoops put together scouting video for Simmons so you can judge for yourself:
If you're like me, about 60% of those shots from the first section gave you hives. Stepback long twos and whatnot. Simmons very much looks like a guy burdened with more responsibility than any one basketball player should be forced to shoulder. Given the context his 43% 2-point jumper shooting is truly impressive; the question is whether he'll be able to restrict those shots to late-clock situations now that he's going to be a third banana instead of bananas 1-3 and sometimes 4.
DTR to LAX
Four-star NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Michigan's longtime top target at quarterback, took to Twitter last night to announce his commitment to UCLA.
The coaches already have two potential replacements lined up, and in fact have been telling quarterback prospects that they plan to take two in this cycle despite a relatively small projected class. Steve Lorenz says he's "as close as you can get" to putting in a crystal ball pick for four-star FL QB Joe Milton, who visited for the spring game.
The other option is three-star AZ QB Tyler Shough, who 247's Isaiah Hole reports received a visit from Pep Hamilton before Michigan took off for Italy. Shough has a visit to Ann Arbor set for mid-May and all of his crystal ball picks, including one from Steve Wiltfong, are for the Wolverines, though he recently picked up an Alabama offer. While Michigan missed out on DTR, they look set to land a quarterback in the relatively near future.
A similar situation is playing out at tight end. Four-star FL TE Will Mallory, a legacy prospect, chose Miami (YTM) over Michigan and several other blue-blood programs on Friday. Lorenz says Michigan remains in "excellent position" with four-star TX TE Mustapha Muhammad, a spring game visitor, and it looks like a M-OSU race for four-star NY TE Jeremy Ruckert; if the Wolverines can land both, they won't try to pick things back up with Mallory.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Mel Pearson is Michigan's hockey coach now, and that's fine. Your author started stumping for Pearson shortly after he arrived at Michigan Tech and their program took off. This was year one, pre-realignment WCHA:
Pearson won 16 games with a Tech team that won 4 games the previous year, got them within a goal of a WCHA semifinal in 2012.
— Joe Meloni (@JoeMeloni) April 24, 2017
Tech won 13 games the next year and 14 in 2013-14, the first year of college hockey's new landscape. This alone is impressive in the modern context of Tech hockey; that's the first time Tech had won double-digit games since Bob Mancini did it from 1993 to 1996.
That alone would not be impressive enough to grab the Michigan job, but then Pearson had the following three seasons:
- 29-10-2, at-large bid to tourney as #2 seed, #5 ES Corsi*
- 23-9-5, WCHA regular season champs, #3 ES Corsi
- 23-15-7, WCHA playoff champs, NCAA bid, #3 ES Corsi
It's likely that 2016-17 Tech would have had close to the same winning percentage Pearson's previous two teams did except for the fact that they spent about 8 games playing two goalies with .883 and .857 save percentages before freshman Angus Redmond emerged as the clear starter.
Schedule strength is a concern for WCHA schools so Dave broke down Pearson's "relevant" Corsi outings from the last three years. We defined relevant teams as Big Ten, NCHC, and HE schools plus Yale, an at-large bid from the ECAC in 2016. Red are clear Corsi losses, yellow tie-ish games, and green are clear wins. Keep in mind that some of these MSU and Wisconsin teams are very bad teams, as is this year's Michigan outfit. Nonetheless this is very impressive for a guy working at a severe talent disadvantage to most of these schools:
Dave helpfully exclaimed about the 72-29 and 63-33 hamblastings of your Michigan Wolverines this year.
The modern WCHA is a mid-major conference but given what Tech was before Pearson arrived this is very close to hiring Lavall Jordan if he has a six-year tenure at Wisconsin-Milwaukee that includes two tourney bids and a regular season title. IE, the kind of hire major schools make all the time. Mel's deep roots with the program are certainly a bonus, but if Pearson's name was Neverheardof Annarbor he would still be a strong candidate.
There is an undercurrent of discontent from Demand Excellence sorts. I do know that Michigan reached out to both Jeff Blashill and Mike Babcock at various points over the last few years and was unsurprisingly turned down by a pair of sitting NHL coaches. I have not heard that Michigan made overtures to any of the three slam-dunk college coaches (Nate Leaman, Norm Bazin, and Jim Montgomery) but I would not be surprised if anyone contacted offered a polite thanks-but-no-thanks. All three of those guys have essentially infinite job security at programs that are competing at a national title level. Taking over for a legend who left behind a very bad team is a recipe for a quick exit, pursued by a mob. Rich Rodriguez is nodding vigorously for reasons that are mysterious to him at this very moment. Michigan could have come in with a big offer and it might not do much other than get the coach in question a nice bump.
Mel's only a fallback because there's an unprecedented number of college hockey coaches who kind of look like Urban Meyer at Utah. In most circumstances the guy who took Tech to the tourney for the first time in 34 years—as an at large—would be one of or the top guy on the market.
Pearson's age is a downside. Michigan just experienced a long slide into darkness because of a not-uncommon phenomenon where legends go very, very gradually and then suddenly. But Pearson's status as an obviously very good coach right now should make for some productive years as he inherits Michigan's still-top-five recruiting and pairs him with whatever crazy Corsi mojo he's got. Pearson is the best clearly-available coach right now, and this is a team with ten NHL draft picks and a first-rounder inbound. Right now is good enough.
*["ES Corsi" == your percentage of all shot attempts at even strength. Not SOS adjusted, admittedly. There is also a "Fenwick" which is your percentage of all unblocked shot attempts; Tech was #2, #3 and #2 in that stat. Here is a helpful intro to these kind of stats:
Unadjusted college Corsi is a very rough measure but as a teamwide stat over three seasons it strongly implies that Pearson's teams are excellent at puck possession. This is something my eyes have confirmed over the last few years of Michigan-Tech matchups, FWIW.]
Mel Pearson has been officially announced as Michigan's hockey coach:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Mel Pearson has been named the University of Michigan's head coach of ice hockey, as announced today (Monday, April 24) by Warde Manuel, the Charles F-ing Woodson Director of Athletics. Pearson, who becomes the ninth head coach in program history, returns to Ann Arbor after previously serving 23 seasons as an assistant coach for the Wolverines.
In addition, Detroit News hockey writer George Sipple asserted this on WTKA this morning:
From George Sipple on WTKA: "I think the only way Bill Muckalt is not on the staff is if he's the Tech coach."
— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) April 24, 2017
That would be bad news for one of Billy Powers and Brian Wiseman, the current assistants.
UPDATE: it sounds like John Madden, currently head coach of the AHL's Cleveland Monsters, will not be the second assistant.
Spath (I'm paraphrasing): John Madden has been told to keep running his own program and he'll have a shot at the M job down the road.
— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) April 24, 2017
From John Buccigross himself so likely to be accurate:
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) April 23, 2017
Everyone reading this likely has at least a vague idea of who Mel Pearson is, but the Cliffs Notes: long, long time Red Berenson assistant who left to be the head coach at Michigan Tech, his alma mater, several years ago. Michigan immediately dropped off and Tech got a lot better. A lot. In 2015 the Huskies got their first bid to the NCAA tournament since 1981(!), and Tech was a two-seed. They went again this year by winning their conference tourney.
It's a bit hard to tell exactly how much Tech's newfound success comes from Mel and how much is the radical reshaping of Western college hockey occasioned by the creation of Big Ten hockey. The WCHA went from the most powerful league in the country to a mid-major, and Tech's rise is partially due to that.
On the other hand, Tech was top five in ES Corsi the last three years. Mel Pearson can coach, and he knows his way around Ann Arbor. It might work out. From a year ago:
I was going to put a vertical line on the chart when Mel left for Tech and then I realized it was already more or less there. It's the blue uptick and red downtick in 2012. Pearson got Tech in the tourney for the first time since 1981 last year. This year the Huskies won their first conference title since 1976. (I realize this WCHA is not the old WCHA but when you're Tech hockey any hardware is a miracle.) They've currently scrapped their way onto the bubble again. Pearson immediately made Tech much better and now that it's his program they're at a level they haven been at since Pearson was playing in Houghton.
Yes, he's a bit older than is ideal at 57. On the other hand, Red was 57 in 1997. He won a national title the year before and the year after. Michigan has the raw tools to win a national title every year; there need be no building phase. Even if Pearson does retire at around 65, you get almost a decade out of him. That decade is immediately productive. He is obviously a top-level coach who was a linchpin of Michigan's success under Red.
I'd have preferred one of the younger slam dunk guys but the first person to compare this hire to Brady Hoke gets ejected into space.
[Sponsor Note: Joe Pichey of GoBlueBBQ makes and writes these, and we can supply him with the stuff to do so thanks to…
Wait, hold up, we’ve got a name change folks:
So MGoBlog’s favorite hummus has changed its name to Lantana, as it turns out “Eat Well Embrace Life” was a bit of a mouthful. An outrageously delicious one, true, but still that’s a lot of words. Also the green and white logo had to go.
So: Lantana—pronounced like “Santana”—The flavors remain the same, which is to say amazing—www.lantanafoods.com. Except if you shop at the Kroger on Orchard Lake they’re all out of the Carrot Siracha right now because I bought them out again for Slider Night tonight. Stop looking at me like that; hummus sliders are a thing and if you don’t believe me you’re probably eating the wrong humus]
We can’t let this trip to Italy go by without firing up the grill and tossing back a few glasses of high quality boxed wine, right? I couldn’t, because I’m classy like that. It’s been awhile since we’ve stuffed meats and cheeses inside other meats and cheeses and dipped other meats and cheeses in some tasty hummus. As a matter of fact, it’s been so long that the name has changed. Eat Well Embrace Life Hummus is now Lantana Hummus. Matt asked that we put together something for the trip to Italy in conjunction with the new name. I can never pass up the opportunity to do some live fire cooking, so here it it. This one can be done in the oven just as easy as the grill as we are cooking in a cast iron pan.
- Chicken Breasts
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Mozzarella and Feta Cheese
- Salt and Pepper
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Helloumi Cheese - (Whole Foods, Central Market or specialty market)
- LANTANA White Bean Hummus
[After the JUMP: Hannibal and Saban will be equally furious]