So Michigan won a hockey game last night after a ten minute review that contained more back-and-to-the-left moments than JFK.
At first ESPN put on the overhead cam and that was inconclusive, but my instant reaction when I saw the far endzone cam was "that's in the net." The guy doing the actual game then ran the overhead cam on a loop, and once he did it became clear that a portion of Faulkner's skate well in the net was actually the puck. I was convinced, and eventually so were the refs.
The college hockey internets duly blew up. I kind of figured this would happen. There was no "ah-ha" frame. Everything put together made it incredibly unlikely the puck wasn't in the net, and it's always easier in that situation to just say "sorry, inconclusive."
Complainers are wrong.
And the refs were right. More stills.
If you want to argue that the refs shouldn't have called a goal because you couldn't figure out it was a goal and they could and they were later proven right, you are insane. This is a group that appears to include EJ Hradek and ESPNU's studio talking head, who complained that the spot shadow showing the puck well in the net wasn't available to the refs, thus inflaming the already pretty inflamed college hockey internet.
Why people suddenly want it to be harder to prove a puck was in the net than get convicted for murder in Mississippi I don't know, but I think it has something to do with the wings on the helmets.
UPDATE: Josh Houchin has a video look at it:
That's in the net.
Live streaming goes just far enough. There is a live stream of IL PF Max Bielfeldt's announcement, which is going to happen in about ten minutes here. Michigan and Illinois are the contenders with most signs pointing to Michigan despite Bielfeldt's last name being on more than one building in Champaign. Bielfeldt compares himself to Luke Harangody and put up monster numbers as a senior, but recruiting sites say he's an "average at best" athlete. Think Graham Brown, I guess, except apparently he's got a decent shooting stroke that extends to the three point line.
I hope this is one game. Trey Burke highlight reel ahoy:
Probably one game, right? I bet they cut out a couple misses but probably one game.
Even in the unlikely event this is a season's worth of highlights, that's still pretty encouraging. Burke shows a three-point stroke, crossovers, spin moves, a nice pull-up jumper, and a floater in the lane. The diversity of his offensive game is impressive, and if these stats are right…
Burke is averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 steals. He is shooting 58.7 percent from the field, 46.6 percent from three-point range (54 of 116) and 73.3 percent at the free-throw line (88 of 120).
…dang, we may have just ganked* the next Talor Battle away from Penn State. (I only doubt because a separate article has even more ludicrous shooting percentages, FWIW. I believe the very slightly more pessimistic version but there's some wobble that makes me think they may have overlooked some attempts.)
48% from three plus that highlight video plus winning Mr. Basketball over a bunch of other D-I commits including a guy headed to Michigan State equals one extremely underrated recruit—Burke is a three star on Rivals. ESPN does have him a bit higher as a four star ranked #85, and boy were they right about Tim Hardaway Jr. Let's hope their streak continues.
In other basketball recruiting news, Carlton Brundidge just saw his high school career end in painful fashion. He tied Southfield's state semifinal against Kalamazoo Central with a 17-foot pull up, missed a backdoor layup on the ensuing possession, made both halves of a 1-and-1 to re-tie the game, then saw Central get a putback off an airball for the win. Burke plays his semifinal tonight at 8:30.
*["Ganked" should have made the transition from thing you say in sixth grade to critical part of the language by now.]
Frank Beckmann thinks this is racist
The tipping point. I've read Ramzy Nasrallah's stuff on and off for a very long time now and while some of his opinions make me roll my eyes I'm sure that's mutual. It's a natural consequence of being on opposite sides of the rivalry. That said, he's always been worth reading even when we disagree, and when he posts something titled The Case For Regicide that signals a huge shift in the portion of the Ohio State fanbase that doesn't have neckbeards. That shift is from "this shall pass" to "this seems too dumb to tolerate; we're screwed, at least insofar as a football program with OSU's natural advantages can be, which isn't that much."
I've been pretty strident in my opinion that Tressel should be fired and now it seems fairly likely he will. He's already been tried, compared to Nixon, and executed in the media. In that event the big questions lie in the eventual results of what seems like it will be a labyrinthine NCAA investigation and whether or not Tressel will axe Gordon Gee on his way out. I'm guessing "disappointing" and "yes."
More pads. More pads:
At the 35 second mark Denard runs a zone read for many yards, and then a power play gets destroyed. I'm just sayin'…
Seriously though, seeing a zone read makes me happy even if they hardly ran it last year. Tough talk and an open-minded offensive coordinator are where it's at.
Fort? No fort. Last year Michigan had an open practice in Michigan Stadium that you could buy your way into by shelling out for the big baller seats or donating to Mott at the Spring Game. Rodriguez hated it and I had to wait until the rest of the internet had responded to round up third-party impressions because I'd been asked not to relate anything I saw myself. So that was a one-off, right? Hoke's back and so is The Fort and that'll never happen again:
Fans attending the game will be asked to make any donation the hospital. Donations at the following levels will come with a correlating gift:
• $5: A 5”x7” Fathead Trading Card of either Charles Woodson or Desmond Howard.
• $20: A Fathead Teammate Block M (roughly 12”x7”).
• $100: A Fathead Junior Big House Mural (17”x30”).
• $250: Four passes to a pre-season scrimmage
• $500: Two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to one of the following four games: Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State or Minnesota.
• $750: Two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to the Nebraska game.
Except apparently it will. Never underestimate the power of club seating. I went last year with Greg of MVictors and FOB Craig Ross. It was rainy and strange but I thought it was worth it because I'm insane.
PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
Friday: Michigan vs UNO
Saturday: Michigan vs BC, CC, or tears
|WHERE||Hundreds of miles from anywhere reasonable|
Fri: 5:30 PM.
Sat: hypothetically 9 PM
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
Friday: ESPN3, Comcast Local, Altitude
Record. 21-15-2, 17-9-2 WCHA. The Mavericks' debut season in the WCHA was a successful one. A very successful one: the finished third and their +35 goal differential was second only to North Dakota's terrifying +50.
Their performance outside of the conference was not so good. They swept an early-season tournament against Clarkson and RIT and split with Michigan (hey, that's us!) but were swept themselves by eh Quinnipiac and somehow managed to lose to UAH at home. That one seems like a slight fluke since shots were 59-19 UNO.
Also not so good has been recent performance. UNO split its last three series of the regular season and was swept out of the playoffs by Bemidji in the first round; they've lost four of their last five.
Previous meetings. Michigan and UNO split a lopsided pair at Yost earlier in the year. UNO took the Friday game, leaping out to a 4-0 lead before a couple of consolation goals with less than ten minutes left made the final score respectable. The next night it was Michigan leaping out to the 4-0 lead; they fished that game 6-1. Michigan had ten more shots Friday; they were essentially even on Saturday.
I remember having a conversation with Guy Who Would Be JBug If I Was Bill Simmons to the effect of "I thought Saturday's game was exactly like Friday's but both nights the bounces went entirely one team's way" that we both agreed on. This one will be tight. Or it won't, I guess.
Dangermen. The Mavs get goals from everywhere. A whopping eight players hit double digit goals this year and the spectacularly-named Johnny Searfoss just missed with nine, giving UNO three almost utterly balanced scoring lines. The guy to look out for slightly more than the others is senior Matt Ambroz (17-17-34).
UNO has a couple of D with a ton of assists but no one like Michigan's goal machine defensemen.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Sophomore John Faulker has played in every game this year with mediocre results. His .908 save percentage is slightly below average nationally; Michigan has a big edge in net with Shawn Hunwick's .921.
UNO's D doesn't have any stars outside of guy who gets all the power play assists; Bryce Aneloski is the only NHL draftee and that's as a seventh rounder on his third trip through. What you will see is plenty of overage guys—Aneloski, for example, is a 21-year-old sophomore. UNO has a grand total of two teenagers, one a backup goalie, and five 24-year-olds.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||4.2||4.2|
|PP Ag / G||4.6||4.4|
Both teams are slightly more likely to suffer a penalty kill than acquire a power play, but UNO is slightly more so. UNO's power play is mediocre at 17.6%, probably because they have a lot of pretty good offensive players but no lights-out stars. Michigan's kill is slightly better than average at 82.4%. The flipside is similar—both the UNO kill and Michigan PP are slightly above average.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Goalie Hyde, please. The last month has been a little bit of a rollercoaster for Michigan's goaltending. Shawn Hunwick was extremely shaky against WMU, then awesome against NMU. The team had a bye, then he had a virtual bye against BGSU. At the Joe he was extremely shaky against WMU again, then stole the game against ND, Montoya-vs-Maine style. I think we're more likely to get Dr. Hyde, but if things start going badly they might keep going badly.
Goodbye midget scoring line. I'm not super happy about Michigan abandoning the Sparks-Treais-Anchor setup on the third line but after looking at UNO's scoring it's clear this is not a team that has a third line that's just trying to keep the puck out of its own net. The results:
This week, Winnett stayed put, joining senior center Matt Rust and junior right wing Luke Glendening, while Vaughan is now on the third line with sophomore center Kevin Lynch and sophomore right wing A.J. Treais (previously at center).
This setup leaves sophomore Jeff Rohrkemper as the fourth-line center with sophomore Lindsay Sparks and freshmen Luke Moffatt and Derek DeBlois fighting for two wing positions.
The nominally top line—defined as whichever one Hagelin's on—remains Brown-Hagelin-Caporusso. Also I am not trying to hear that Vaughn and Treais are on the third line. That's #2, yo.
That setup on the fourth line means we can kiss it goodbye, IME. Not exactly what I wanted but anything that results in moar Hagelin increases your chances.
Pray like hell. This is actually left over from the CCHA finals last year when Michigan was staring down a juggernaut Miami team with a 19-year tourney streak on the line. It is the best advice for a one-and-done hockey tournament, so here it stays.
The Big Picture
Win or die.
HSR previews the Mavs:
Blais has garnered UNO's second trip to the NCAA tournament, and as one of my friends put it to my bluntly, "I am loathe to bet against Blais in a tournament setting." He has a point. Blais resume includes 5 30+ win seasons at North Dakota and two national championships for the Fighting [NICKNAME] and he lead the USA Hockey World Junior team to the gold medal in Saskatoon in 2009-2010. He is a coach who gets the most out of his talent and whose team will play hard every shift.
Yost Built does the same:
Faulkner was a microcosm of Nebraska-Omaha's inconsistency. He was 6-6-0 against tournament teams, splitting series against Michigan, North Dakota, CC, North Dakota again, DU, and Minnesota-Duluth. He gave up 35 goals in those 12 games. Minnesota-State, Michigan Tech, and Alabama-Huntsville were the only series all season where he gave up 2-or-fewer goals in both games. He had shutouts against North Dakota and Colorado College, but gave up 6 and 5 goals in the other game of the weekend. He's very capable of being great, and he's very capable of being chased. We saw both ends of the spectrum earlier in the year. Friday night, he stopped 34 of 36 shots. The next night, he lasted just over 23 minutes before getting the hook.
WCH points out a one-and-done hockey tournament is a random number generator:
I think the ideal NCAA tournament preview would chronicle what each team ate for breakfast the morning of their game, since that would seem to be a lot more important than any sort of statistics accrued over the course of the season. Brad Schlossman posted the statistic last night that in the past four years, #1 seeds are just 9-7 against #4 seeds in the first round of the tournament. Some may that call that exciting, but it's almost random to the point of being meaningless.
I've got a pretty good way to address this in a mailbag coming up.
Berenson returns to his second hockey home. 2013 recruit Tyler Motte made the NTDP. Michigan Hockey Net deploys a live blog for the game. I'd participate but I'd just type "FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU" the entire game unless we got up five goals.
Finally… um… can someone who goes to the official WCHA site more often than I do tell me how long this tagline has been up?
Consult the flowchart? Consult the flowchart. Oh, snap.
hope you like sweatervests made from your own wool, sheeps
I mean, right?
When Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel learned last spring that some of his current players were in trouble, he shared the information with someone he thought could help his star quarterback even though he said he didn't tell his bosses.
Tressel forwarded the information to Ted Sarniak, a mentor to Terrelle Pryor, after the coach received emails warning that Pryor and at least one other player had sold memorabilia to a local tattoo-parlor owner who was under federal investigation for drug trafficking, multiple sources have confirmed to The Dispatch.
Sarniak is the "shady, cop-bribing handler whose glass business suddenly blew up" when Pryor materialized in Columbus according to Slow States. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I stare at "glass business suddenly blew up" a link does not appear under it. He's also the guy who spurred the most wackily conspiratorial post* in the history of MGoBlog since it was his Corvette Pryor infamously borrowed—seriously, how many cars can Terrelle Pryor drive that he does not own?
I'm not sure this particular item tightens the noose in the eyes of the NCAA, but if Sarniak got a forward that doesn't help any case they're going to try to make about the emails not being credible or Tressel not taking them seriously or forgetting about them. It's also hard to imagine an email worth forwarding to your sketchy Pryor advisor that doesn't get sent to, like, compliance. At best Tressel was trying to end-around the system to keep his guys eligible. At worst the stuff at the press conference about how Tressel was the only one who knew was as true as everything else.
*[One that now stands a 50-50 chance of being correct despite being essentially message board drivel.]
Michigan has broken the seal on the class of 2012 with a big in-state offensive lineman. Ben Braden hails from Rockford, and the informative portion goes like this:
|3*, NR OT||NR OL||NR DT|
It's early in the process, so prospects that start a little under-the-radar rarely have a whole lot of info out there. We'll start with size. Rivals is the most optimistic, measuring him at 6-6, 285. Scout isn't far behind at 280 pounds, but ESPN calls him a mere 6-5, 250 - while simultaneously calling him a defensive tackle. I'd say ESPN, as both an outlier and the absolute worst at evaluating prospects in a reasonable time, is least likely to be accurate. Braden's probably a shade under 6-6, and around 270-280 pounds. 24/7 Sports calls him 6-7, 295, which seems like an exaggeration given all the other evidence at our disposal.
Braden has gotten some message board comparisons to erstwhile Michigan commit Jake Fisher, but based on pictures alone (from the same game, at least), Fisher looks to be a taller, leaner player - unsurprising given he was listed an inch taller and anywhere from 10-30 pounds lighter - than Braden. Of course, that could just mean Braden has done more work in the weight room to this point.
Based on measurements and appearance alone, I would guess Braden could play either inside or outside. In high school, he's a right tackle:
“He’s just a big boy and hard worker, very unassuming, very coachable and very aggressive,” Munger said. He also coached current San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Joe Staley.
“He’s been blessed with size, strength and speed. He’s the right kind of guy. He’s been raised by a wonderful family and believes in the values his family taught him. For us, he’s an awfully good offensive lineman and he’s raw. He’s coming into his own.”
Size, strength, and speed are probably the three most important qualities for an offensive lineman, and it's a bonus to see he has a good head on his shoulders.
Braden held a Wisconsin offer, which you should know by now is the automatic sign he's a serious prospect - much like Ohio State for safeties or USC for Pro-Style quarterbacks. He also held offers from Syracuse and Michigan State.
Not only is Braden an under-the-radar prospect (at least in terms of news out there on the internets), he's also an offensive lineman. They don't have stats, so nothing to see here.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the premium sites have a listed 40 time for Braden, so I'll take the liberty to give him an automatic five FAKEs out of five.
I couldn't find any free video of Braden anywhere out there. If you come across any, let me know.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
With the new coaching staff putting a serious emphasis on size rather than agility, a redshirt to bulk up is all but guaranteed (and it probably would have been under RichRod and co. anyway). As a redshirt freshman, Braden will be entering a lineup that loses Patrick Omameh, Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer, and Rocko Khoury, so a two-deep position is practically guaranteed, with a starting position possible.
The question becomes what position he plays. He has a good body for tackle if the 6-6 number is accurate (and especially if 6-7 is the right height), and the Wolverines are likely going to have a pair of senior starters in Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield. On the other hand, the interior OL will be decimated by graduation.
Although "it's too early to tell" is basically accurate for all Hello posts, without knowing who else will end up in this class of linemen, we can't even peg a definitive position for Braden.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Needs MOAR linemen. The Wolverines will probably take 5 or 6 on the offensive line in this class, thanks to the above-mentioned graduations on the way. Braden is a combo player, which means the maize-and-blue can still take many more interior AND exterior OL.
From a less pragmatic standpoint, the commitment of Braden breaks the seal on the class of 2012, and makes fans feel a lot better about recruiting early in this cycle. Hopefully, it'll get the ball rolling for other commits as well.
Michigan's ground game stopped being effective in 1995.
I'm not sure if Jon Chait was reacting to the latest MANBALL quote from Brady Hoke or not, but when an article titled "You Can't Go Home Again" pops up the day after Michigan's new head coach says this:
"Once we get the power play down, then we'll go to the next phase. You know, because we're gonna run the power play."…
"We don't have a lot of fullbacks." Hopkins works out well at FB "for a lot of the old 49ers stuff" with split backs. Hoke wants fullbacks to block so hard they "come in at about 6-3, and leave the program at 6-1." …
It's hard to think otherwise. Of course, even ESPN folk have picked up on Hoke's love affair with the word "toughness"—the article could have been spurred by anything Hoke's said over the last three months. There are consistent reports that Hoke makes condescending comments about the spread at alumni events. Manball? Manball.
Some people love this. In my mind they all look like this…
yes, that's the Beckmann aficionado
…and could be coaching Purdue. I would not want to get in a conversation with any of these people because they would have very strong opinions about things they know nothing about. They would repeat inane aphorisms as if those were the final word on any subject, and they would regard any dispute as evidence of a diseased mind. I have talked to these people on the radio some. It's not fun. I close my eyes and imagine the exact dimensions and color of their mustaches. They are boringly consistent.
My hope is Hoke is a brilliant, innocent-as-snow delegator or a con man. He's got a quarterback who was an All-American as a true sophomore last year because of his legs. He's got an offensive coordinator whose track record suggests he prefers to air it out and that things get desperately bad when MANBALL advocates push him away from his mad bombing ways. He's got a set of running backs best described as underwhelming, a center who can teleport his way into tough reach blocks, and a guard who can block Manti Te'o twenty yards downfield. If the offseason could be spent fixing whatever it is that causes Robinson to turn the ball over willy-nilly, Michigan's offense would be insane. According to statistical things it already is.
Switching to an actual pro-style offense would be doing exactly what Michigan did last year when it installed the 3-3-5 despite the total unsuitability of its personnel for the scheme. It would be exactly as stupid. It can't be as bad statistically because instead of true freshman two star Ray Vinopal backed up by a duck, next to a walk on, and vaguely in front of more freshmen you have ten returning starters and Denard Robinson, but it would be just as dumb. If Hoke's bravado about being a bunch of tough bastards who love grinding out four yards on a power play is true I'm worried for the immediate and long term future of the program in the same way I was when hiring Greg Robinson caused me to dig out a picture of Tweek.
On the other hand, Beckmann aficionados love that stuff, and so do the newspapers that are no longer read by anyone other than Beckmann aficionados. English has developed lingo to distinguish words meant to be true from words meant to produce inoffensive newspaper blather: the latter is coachspeak. Rich Rodriguez was beyond awful at coachspeak. Hoke is a grand master. When IBM develops "Jim" and challenges Hoke to a duel, Watson-style, Hoke will destroy his opponent so badly smoke will come out of its nonexistent ears like that robot asked to rhyme something with "orange" in a story I read when I was eight. Hoke will lament Jim's lack of toughness.
This is a real skill the last three years have shown is way more important than you'd think. It's a relief when every press conference is Hoke being gently tickled on the belly and fed peeled grapes, and telling everyone you're establishing a mindset of toughness is fine. It's something that will help the program in the long run.
As long as you don't believe yourself. It won't help as much as winning a crapton of games, and even if the defense gets vastly better the best way to do that next year is to have an offense that puts up points, and the best way to do that is to very gently shift the offense towards your long term vision while still keeping Denard in the Heisman race.
This isn't 2008, when Michigan was screwed no matter what offense they put in. Getting Michigan's offense to go from explosive but inconsistent to world-destroying is a matter of getting a kicker, finding a good running back, working on Denard's reads and accuracy, and leaving everything else the hell alone. Michigan can't reasonably do that because they've got new coaches, but how hard is it to run a QB lead draw and follow that with QB Lead Oh Noes? The secret of Michigan's 2010 offense is that the zone read was hardly used. The other secret is it was a power running offense, one more effective than anything Michigan's run in at least the last decade and probably a lot longer.
Michigan YPC Career Leaders Since 1949 (min: 100 carries)
Michigan YPC, Team, Since 2001
Borges should install his passing game immediately and Michigan should start running power schemes more frequently—power did feature occasionally last year—if they want to, but lining up under center to hand it off to Vincent Smith isn't going to be any better of an idea in 2011 than it was in 2010.
You can run a "pro-style" offense, but run it from the shotgun and run downhill using Denard Robinson as one of three primary tailbacks. You can't get rid of the scare quotes because he's Denard Robinson. If you do run a no-scare-quotes pro-style offense he's not Denard Robinson anymore. He's the guy handing off and you're walking back into the days where Michigan averaged less than four yards per carry and ran 65% of the time.
I think Borges knows this, but Hoke's coachspeak is going to make this the most terrifying spring game of all time.