a terrible blight on our fine country
Opponent Record (Ranks): 6-1 (none, receiving votes)
All Time Series: 0-0 (first meeting)
Fort Myers, FL
The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles of the Atlantic Sun conference aren't one of the normal middle of the road Florida teams Michigan has scheduled in the past. Unlike Jacksonville, Jacksonville State, or North Florida, FGCU is actually a solid baseball school, and home to multiple players on the preseason All-American watch lists. They are very capable of competing with big-time programs, and they are more than capable at scoring runs.
Weather should be good if not a bit windy tonight. Temperatures are in the low 50s, but winds are expected to be 15-20 mph from the WNW to start the game. The field looks directly north, so it should be a cross wind with a little bit of it coming in from left field. This should lead to a few less homers to left, but could also spell trouble on the infield.
FGCU's primary star is pitcher Chris Sale, who Michigan won't be seeing tonight. He's just that good that he warrants mentioning even in this space. The kid was the MVP of the Cape Cod League this past summer, and he's widely speculated to be a first round if not top 5 draft pick in this year's MLB draft.
But like I said, Michigan is lucky enough to skip that. Instead, they will see junior righty Jack Wagoner, a vagabond pitcher who is on his third school in 3 years. Nothing is available as far as stats in his sophomore year at St. Petersburg College, but in his freshman year, Wagoner started 11 games (13 total appearance) with a 5.84 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched. He did throw two complete games, but the school being Sacred Heart, he did go 2-8 on the season. This season, Wagoner has two relief outings totaling 4 innings, giving up just 2 hits and striking out 4. One of those two outings was a save.
The Eagles are lead by first/third baseman Zach Maxfield. Maxfield was listed on a few preseason All-American teams, and he's batting at a .370 clip with a team leading 13 RBIs out of his clean up spot. His .519 slugging percentage is 4th on the team.
What should be pointed out, though, is that Maxfield is only the 7th best batting average among starters… at .370. No one in the FGCU lineup is hitting under .333. Only one player is slugging below .415. No player has an on base percentage lower than .438. This team has put up pinball numbers, predominantly from a ton of singles, but it does come against some VERY weak competition. The Eagles swept Temple and took 3 of 4 from Sacred Heart. So take the numbers for what the baby seal clubbing numbers they are.
If I had to pick to players to keep your eye on, it'd be Austin Gaines and Stephen Wickens. Both are hitting over .420, but Gaines has been the slugger with 10 RBIs and an .800 slugging percentage. Wickens is the primary base stealer on the team with 7 steals already this season without being caught. Mikel Alvarez is the secondary base stealer, with 4 in 4 attempts.
Rich Maloney will be sending out Bobby Brosnahan as the mid-week pitcher. Brosnahan is a redshirt freshman and one of the teams two primary left-handed pitchers. Brosnahan has two appearances this season for 4 innings of work. In that time, he's given up 2 runs on 5 hits, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. Bobby came highly recruited as one of the top pitchers out of high school before having Tommy-John surgery, and he was to be one of our top starting pitching prospects. Hopefully this goes well, but I wouldn't be surprised if he only went a maximum 4 or 5 innings before being removed, regardless of the score. It will be a good sign if he lasts that long against the FGCU lineup.
The weekly game notes have Kevin Krantz returning to start in left field. This probably isn't a bad idea. His defense is probably the best of the three so far, and a mid-week game might give him a chance to warm up his bat. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Stephens get an at-bat or two tonight with time in left field.
I have a feeling Michigan loses this game. Brosnahan is in his first start, most of our relievers that we'll use tonight will probably be back end of the bullpen. I still can't feel that solidly that our offense has awaken yet. It's just hard to predict a win.
- Ft. Myers News-Press: FGCU baseball prepares for big week. Newspaper outlook on the Eagles.
- FGCU SID: FGCU Set to Host Michigan in ‘Swingin at Swanson’. Getting psyched for a BCS program coming to their stadium. Also the source of the picture at the top.
- Michigan SID: Video journal of team fishing trip pictures. See the team OMG SHIRTLESS.
- MGoBoard: Rumor-mongering is what the internet is for. A mgoboad poster may be throwing out the first pitch. Plausible story, but we'll believe it when we get the pictures. If anyone else actually is there and catches him throwing the pitch, give him a solid razzing.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Minnesota|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
March 2nd, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +1*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Michigan pulled off a road upset of the 8.5-point favorite Gophers. It was a tease. The team shot the ball well and forced 15 turnovers. DeShawn Sims led the way despite being benched early in the game. During Sims' stay on the bench, his backup Zack Gibson did some work of his own by nailing all three of his shot attempts. Darius Morris showed serious flashes of why he's going to be a damn good player in the next couple years, and everything was sunshine and lollipops.
The Wolverines even put themselves in a position to play their way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble, and made Minnesota's path to The Big Dance a little rougher. That worked out basically awesome.
Since Last We Met
Winning is overrated, right? The only time Michigan's done it since their upset in the Twin Cities was on the road against Iowa. Since then, it's been three straight losses, two of them coming at home against teams Michigan should have beaten in Penn State and Illinois. (The other was at Ohio State, where they put up a valiant effort in defeat). The Wolverines quickly went from potential NCAA bubble team to a longshot for the NIT. You've probably watched most of it; it hasn't been pretty.
Minnesota, on the other hand, has gone 3-2 since falling to Michigan, including a statement victory against Wisconsin. As shaky as their Tournament bid looked after falling to the Wolverines, wins in their last two games would lock up a tourney bid. The Gophers know they have a ton to play for tonight.
The big question seems to be whether Michigan will be able to respond to the urgency Minnesota will bring to the table. The poor performances over the last few games - including lackadaisical effort at times - can't continue if the Wolverines want to at least be respectable, even if it doesn't turn into a postseason bid.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Minnesota: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Minnesota Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Minn Def eFG%||259||58||GGG|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Minn eFG%||230||30||GGG|
|Mich TO% v. Minn Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. Minn TO%||47||99||M|
|Mich OReb% v. Minn DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. Minn OReb%||234||173||G|
|Mich FTR v. Minn Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. Minn FTR
|Mich AdjO v. Minn AdjD||125||36||G|
|Mich AdjD v. Minn AdjO||50||36||G|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc. G is for Gophers.
From the previous Minnesota preview:
Michigan has gone from a mediocre-yet-improving team to a flatly bad one over the course of a couple weeks. Minnesota is a pretty good squad, which means they will probably truck the Wolverines.
Michigan has an advantage in but
twothree categories, which would be forcing the Gophers to turn it over (something they did well last year, forcing 30 Minnesota turnovers in two games), and not sending them to the free throw line, along with not turning it over themselves. The flip side of that is that Michigan probably won't shoot a single free throw , and the Gophers actually have an advantage in forcing Michigan turnovers, something we won't see too many times this year.
As you can see, not a whole lot has changed. Of course, the Wolverines managed to pull off the surprise victory last time, as well. Ken Pomeroy and Vegas think this game is much closer than last time (Pomeroy likes the Gophers by 2, and Vegas pegs them as 1-point favorites). I'm still not sure what to think, as this could be the game where this Michigan team surprises - and teases - us all with a complete effort. I think a 5-10 point margin either way is likely, so I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the team with something to play for.
Yes please. Google is going to turn some city into the future by hooking them up with crazy gigabit fiber lines. That is one gigabit per second. That is 100 times faster than current high speed lines. You want this. The city and university have put together a fiber site that you can hit up and take action if you'd like to download wholesome educational programs at incredible speeds. Join the facebook page, submit your desperate plea to Google—if you're an orphan this is mandatory—and maybe hold a prayer session.
I will mention this again.
Delegation and goodbyes. So Tim is out of town this week and I think it's more productive to look up every last word written about Ray Vinopal than preview a Minnesota game that may make or break Michigan's NIT chances. UMHoops has its typically excellent preview if you are hankering. [ED: Ha ha! Tim just told me he's put up a preview. What part of vacation he doesn't understand, hat hat hat.]
It is senior night, and a word on DeShawn Sims: last year I thought Sims would escape the Lavell Blanchard limbo. Blanchard was a pretty good player on a series of lousy teams in the midst of Michigan's long period of raketastic basketball.
RAKE! I SAID RAKE!
He did and he didn't. He was singlehandedly responsible for burying Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament game that was Michigan's last chance to blow its first tourney bid since the Pyramids were built, and for that we thank him. He could not do enough to turn this season away from its head-on course with more rakes, and for that we feel sorry for him. He'll have a long professional career (probably in Europe) and come back in a while to a standing ovation he'll deserve.
As for Anthony Wright, who will not return for a fifth year: thanks for keeping us in that Oklahoma game. There are worse things than being remembered as the guy who inexplicably exploded in a second-round NCAA game. Zack Gibson: I thought they should have played him more, except when they did.
Emo Cold War details. Big Chill details have dropped. Bullets of interest:
- Hockey season ticket holders get the first crack at primo seats.
- Football season ticket holders get the rest of the primo seats.
- MSU's section is sizeable and pretty decent.
- Students are where students go.
- Sideline seats are $25, endzone seats $15. Seems a bit more expensive than I would have gone with.
If they put the MSU students… nevermind. MSU students don't go to hockey games. If, hypothetically, there were going to be any MSU students at the game and they got put in that overhang in sections 3 and 2 they will stand up and there will be crankiness similar to the first Cold War. Suggestion: don't do this.
More Graham. Brandon Graham tweaked his hamstring at the combine but put up an impressive bench and a 4.69 40, further solidifying his status as a first-round pick. He may be a high, high first-rounder:
Graham often gets knocked for his lack of height, but I saw him standing next to TCU’s Jerry Hughes, a very similar player, and Graham’s shoulders were visibly higher and wider than Hughes’. Graham also had better 10 second splits than Hughes, who is universally lauded for his explosiveness. If Graham had a neck he’d be at least an inch and a half taller, and then nobody would question his top 10 draft status. I know the Seahawks, who pick at #6, were paying real close attention.
There's also an approving mention from a Buccaneers site.
Etc.: Interesting News article on the divergent financial situations at Michigan and Michigan State. M is one of the few elite school still hiring and is thus getting their top picks just about everywhere; State is cutting almost a sixth of their undergraduate programs. Donations, endowments, and Michigan's high percentage of out-of-state undergrads are the difference. Will Leitch writes on Roger Ebert. Every time this happens it is a reminder of why Deadspin used to be something better than TMZSports. Rutgers fans know how we're feeling about the media.
About halfway through the St. John's game, I had come to the conclusion that Michigan 2010 (minus Ryan LaMarre) is Michigan State of 2009. Last year, the Spartans were a dark horse contender in the Big Ten with a couple good batters but were unable to score runs. They relied on their pitching to an extreme, winning several games of the 2-0 variety but also losing games 4-1. Each game was a test of patience for Spartan fans as they hoped and prayed that their offense might give their pitchers just enough support. They finished the Big Ten season at 13-11, good for fifth in the conference.
So now we look at Michigan. A team that, since the LaMarre injury, is averaging 4 hits per nine innings and 1.88 runs per nine innings. That's not going to have us competing in the Big Ten, at least from a championship perspective.
Let's take a broad perspective of the weekend in an attempt to stay positive. It's still early in the season. We're still tinkering with the lineup. Our pitching has been spectacular. Our offense showed signs of life by Sunday. We were never completely out of any game; everything was a pitchers' duel. Despite the struggles, it isn't all doom and gloom for Michigan right now. As a matter of fact, Baseball America's Aaron Fitt has some good things to say after catching parts of each of our games this weekend:
the Wolverines have enough pitching to keep them afloat. Michigan went just 1-2 this weekend, but it allowed just two runs in each of its three games. Righties Alan Oaks, Matt Miller and Tyler Burgoon all turned in strong starts this weekend and showed good stuff. Oaks sat at 90-92 and showed a good 80 mph slider and a 78 changeup […] A scout I talked to said Miller was up to 92 and showing a good four-pitch mix Saturday, and Burgoon racked up seven strikeouts over six innings Sunday thanks to an 87-91 mph fastball, a big-breaking slurve and a decent changeup. And sophomore righty Brandon Sinnery will be a rock in the bullpen thanks to a nasty 74-76 breaking ball.
So with that, a recap of the weekend's games, the left field situation, and the pitching staff: [Ed: after the jump.]
There is no official word about it yet, but both premium sites have started with the grumbles about the upcoming APR report. As demanded by math, Michigan won't fare well. This here site has been fretting about the APR numbers since at least May of last year when the 2008 numbers came out:
I am a bit concerned Michigan's football numbers will dip over the next few years. The four-year rolling numbers:
That's a steady decline as the Carr years waned and attrition increased. The APR issues two points per student per year, one for being academically eligible and one for not leaving, and Michigan's suffered a lot of premature departures.
Note that I didn't have that quite right. The APR issues two points per term:
What is the APR?
The Academic Progress Rate is an NCAA measure to track the academic achievement of Division I teams during each academic term. Each student-athlete earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s APR score. Teams that fall below the minimum APR score of 925 face possible sanctions ranging from scholarship reductions to more severe penalties.
Also, early pro departures who leave in good standing don't hurt you. If they leave ineligible, that's 0-for-2.
In late July, I tried to put some hard numbers on the departures and came up with improbably positive results: even after somewhere between twelve and fifteen players left the team in 2009 I came up with a worst-case number of 941, which is considerably above the NCAA minimum of 925. After some consideration, I think my error was in overestimating the number of available points. Michigan's latest APR report shows an N of 241. If Michigan was using every last scholarship every semester—or, rather, if the NCAA was counting every last scholarship—that N would be 260. If you assume that only 93% of the points are available in an average year, the 941 estimate drops to 937. Since Michigan has spent the last two years really short that is a conservative estimate.
Since then Michigan has lost Justin Feagin, Marell Evans, Vince Helmuth, Boubacar Cissoko, and Brandon Smith, but it's unclear where those guys will count. Smith and Cissoko will clearly apply to 2010 numbers, but Feagin, Evans, and Helmuth all left over the summer and it's not clear which year their departures will be charged to. Feagin played at Texas Southern this year and therefore must have left eligible. Evans was a member of Hampton's latest recruiting class*, which makes me think he stayed at Michigan for at least a semester. If he'd transferred immediately he would have played, like Feagin did. (He's still in the directory, but I'm still in the directory. This is not conclusive.) Vince Helmuth transferred to Miami (Not That Miami). Since that's a D-I school he has to sit out a year eligible or not, but IIRC Helmuth was a good student in high school and Miami is not a common destination for the academically challenged.
Departures after the July 22 post should cost Michigan two more APR points if they count against '09 at all. That brings them down to 930 using the same system my rough, still-optimistic math above suggests. My guess is Michigan's APR this year is below 925.
ARRRRGH GIVE ME A FRICKIN' SIREN?
But will they fall under the mark when all four years are averaged? Probably not. Since the first APR reports on the NCAA's site cover shorter periods of time we can figure out Michigan's yearly APR and find the ones that will figure in this year's calculation.
The last three scores are 970, 930, and 933. The premium grumbles give me pause—does anyone care enough to mention it if Michigan's four-year APR drops to 935?—but Michigan would have to drop an 867 this year to be subject to penalties. That 970 is a big buffer.
It's a buffer that will go away next year, though, and Michigan will have to resume its usual practice of not flailing around with 67 scholarship kids because of a zillion transfers if it's going to stay out of the penalty box. Of course, if Michigan doesn't do that the APR is just going to be another reason Michigan's looking for a new coach.
*(So is Nu'Keese Richardson, FWIW.)
Iowa. Asian pop bands. A love that is forever. Via the message board, another inexplicable Asian pop song in which the Hawkeyes feature prominently. This one is less pedobear and more 120 Minutes.
One correction to the MGoBoard poster: Girls' Generation is totally not obscure. "Gee" was the longest-running #1 song on KBS's Music Bank, I will have you know.
Enter the Schnell. Michigan will play Howard Schnellenberger University, also known as Florida Atlantic, in 2012:
It appears the Owls will play at Michigan in 2012 barring any snags in the final negotiations.
"It looks like both sides are amenable to it," said FAU AD Craig Angelos.
I don't really care who Michigan brings in as a random tomato can, but do have a preference for local schools. I guess the FAU game is a vague attempt to increase Michigan's profile in the state, or something. Rod Payne is a coach there and Grant Debenedictis an athletic department employee, FWIW.
"Hey, in my kit back there where I've got all my dope." I hit up NCAA.org today in search of APR information to update last summer's post about what will certainly be a dip in Michigan's numbers this year—more on that later—and the top headline is the fourth item in a series about Division II reform. This would normally rank low on my list of things to bring you, but here's the topic:
Hourly limits to be evaluated in Phase II review
Among the areas of review in Phase II of the Life in the Balance initiative is the nebulous “20/8-hour rule,” which regulates athletically related activities in and out of season.
Given that it’s difficult to understand and even harder to track (the rule trips up Division I institutions, too), it’s probably going to be tough for the Division II Legislation Committee to develop recommendations for modifying it.
The NCAA's official website just called the in- and out-of-season hourly limits "nebulous," "difficult to understand," and "even harder to track." So there you go.
Well… yeah. Add this to the pile of former Michigan players asked about Rich Rodriguez who all basically say the same thing in different ways. It's Brandon Graham's turn:
“After the season, we said that, ‘you can’t be up for so long, eventually you have to pay taxes,’ ” Graham said on Saturday. “That’s how we look at it until we get it back up. That’s what we’re going to do. I hope them boys get right next year. Because coach (Rich Rodriguez has) only got one more year — if they don’t do (anything). Because of the allegations, and then, if you have a bad year, then you’ve got to get someone new.”
Again, this is just a different version of the same opinion heard in all of these quotes. They don't say anything about Rodriguez, really. They say something about the guy offering the quote. Brandon Graham, as per usual, is win.
Target date for reacquisition of mojo. … If you mean "enough for Rich Rodriguez to keep his job," there is no patience for those questions to work themselves out; it's 2010 or never. The Wolverines need seven regular season wins to ward off the inevitable mob clamoring for Rodriguez's head, which probably means breaking even in Big Ten play, which means winning more conference games this season (four) than the 2008-09 teams won in the last two combined (three).
That's a dramatically lowered bar relative to anything Michigan has considered a reasonable standard in 40 years. At this point, though, beggars can't be choosers: Every energy this fall has to go to getting back above .500, finding something to hang a helmet on and setting higher goals from there.
A theory put to the test. My swanky blogging program has an auto-link capacity that I've used to link to my Bleacher Report hating (hey, there it goes) since I published it. In that post is this assertion:
The mere fact that people can't immediately tell the difference between the dreck on the Bleacher Report and your average MSM columnist is perhaps the most damning criticism you can offer of MSM columnists.
Now we'll get an opportunity to test that out in practice. A few newspapers desperate for free content have signed one of them content-sharing agreements. Congratulations to newspaper subscribers in Houston, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Seattle: you are the vanguard. Someone who works for a newspaper said this:
“Bleacher Report’s publishing platform provides a powerful way to serve our readers quality, original content that complements our own coverage,” Stephen Weis, executive vice president of the Houston Chronicle and general manager of Chron.com, said in a statement. “Working with Bleacher Report, we’re able to reach out to local fans and add a variety of viewpoints on each of the day’s sports stories that matters most to our readers in their home markets.”
Sporting News colleague Dan Levy says "there's something missing" in his BR critique on the Sporting Blog. This is because Dan Levy is a very nice man. I have many theories as to what the missing thing is that are not very nice. I do eagerly anticipate the day when either the Free Press or the LA Times hops on board and people can't tell the difference between Plaschke, Sharp, and a 14-year-old whose main interests are Tony Hawk and imagining what it would be like to touch a boob. Dress them up in Official Journalist trappings and give them once-over from a copy editor and it'll be hard to distinguish.
Etc.: Tom Harmon goes to work.