a terrible blight on our fine country
1/23/2010 – Michigan 2, Ferris State 0 – 14-10-1, 9-7-0-1 CCHA
1/24/2010 – Michigan 2, Ferris State 3 – 14-11-1, 9-8-0-1 CCHA
I think I've come to this conclusion about the Saturday game, in which Michigan tied it up with two minutes left only to concede a game losing goal with under thirty seconds on the clock: GODDAMMIT.
In a little more detail, perhaps. There's no shame in losing to a Ferris State team that basically lived up to their advance billing as a very good team, but it's super frustrating when the three goals scored are
- a terribly soft short-handed goal on a nothing play
- the direct result of a really obvious tripping call, and
- in the final minute of the game.
If Michigan had done better than .500 in the first half of the season it would be easy to let the game go as a combination of misfortune, an excellent opponent, and a tough road venue, but they didn't. The thing stands as a giant missed opportunity in a season that doesn't have many left.
This post probably should be focusing on the full two-minute 5-on-3 kill and a weekend in which Michigan proved itself equal to a team that's solidly in the tournament, but it's hard to do anything but fret when your RPI is in the high teens and you're flirting with the end of a 20-year run in the NCAA tourney. Does Mel Pearson look nervous above or am I projecting? Does it matter?
The great reversal. What a weird series. Despite the 2-0 final score, the Friday game was full of end-to-end rushes and wide open play, with both teams just missing on a number of pretty passing plays. And despite the three extra goals on Saturday, that night's game was a slog where I don't recall a single scoring chance for Michigan in the first period. I don't know if Michigan's breakout caught Ferris by surprise or what, but it was weird. I was shocked that a team with defensive numbers like Michigan State in all its dead-puck Ron Mason glory would get into an end-to-end game like that.
Part of the deal Friday night was a very fast Ferris team pressing hard after they fell behind, which resulted in a lot of open ice—but few odd-man-rushes—once Michigan broke the pressure. When Michigan returned to the ice in the third just looking to close it out, that period became very boring. Saturday was mostly Michigan chasing thanks to the uber-soft shortie. With this team, I buy that first-goal-all-important stuff. The last two weekends are plenty of evidence.
People of note. I thought it was odd that Scooter Vaughn sat out last weekend in favor of freshman Jeff Rohrkemper and still think it's odd after Vaughn got back on the ice against Ferris and played very well, picking up a first assist on Friday and generally being the sort of fourth-liner that gets noticed for positive contributions. I guess you want Rohrkemper to know he's going to get in some games and if you're going to scratch one of the forwards it's probably going to be Scooter.
Louie Caporusso continues to struggle mightily. He's scored once in the past nine games. He has tried 60 spectacular dangles in that time, 58 of which have ended in pucks turned over in dangerous areas. The other two were admittedly pretty sweet scoring chances. I'm worried about him and also AJ Treais, who certainly seems like he should be putting up more points. He's not, and the longer he goes without having something click the less likely it is to ever happen. See also: Ben Winnett.
Greg Pateryn drew in for MGoWhippingBoy Tristin Llewellyn and was just okay. He didn't take any bad penalties but there was one incident where even a relative hockey neophyte like myself could see that he was moving the wrong direction like five seconds before a really poor attempt at a check was blown by and created a two-on-one. Lee Moffie, on the other hand, is super smooth and impresses more each game.
Bryan Hogan… ghaahahhah. Gah.
On that tripping call and other things. I didn't have a lot of complaints Friday night about the refereeing except for Steve McInchak's usual determination to let every post-whistle cheapshot go unpunished, but I also did not have the benefit of replay. Seemingly every call for and against Michigan in the Saturday game was wrong, most comically the Chad Langlais penalty where he took a holding the stick call after he'd established position in a race for the puck and bodied a Ferris player off so that his defense partner could collect the puck. I don't recall the bad calls on Ferris as specifically, but I remember thinking to myself
And then there was the second goal, where David Wohlberg was tripped coming out of the faceoff dot and then rushed out to the point at a speed that allowed Ferris's defenseman to step around him and pick a corner. That's an obvious call you have to make.
Why the CCHA allows McInchak and Some Guy I've Never Seen Before to ref a really important series when there's an opportunity to stash them at Western-Bowling Green I'll never know. In their stead we could have gotten the marginally more competent BG-WMU crew of Confused Marmoset and PCP-Enraged Physics Professor.
JMFJ. Two days after the Dean Lombardi incident, Jack Johnson is where?
At Yost, playing Score-O in his letter jacket. Not even Danny Fardig wore his, and if I was Danny Fardig I would never take mine off. Jack Johnson is awesome.
Still slightly to the good. Splitting with a team as highly regarded as Ferris is in the PWR is still progress: Michigan gained a spot over the weekend and now sits #18. Ferris, on the other hand, dropped from 5 to 8.) In the brief window between the Friday and Saturday games Michigan was technically in the tournament at #14.
PWR is really jittery, though, and the current RPI will predict the future PWR better than the current PWR. In that, Michigan was static.
Re-evaluating the 14 of 17 meme. I suggested that Michigan had to storm the last half of its schedule to have any hope of an at large bid and with the Saturday loss Michigan is off pace. They've used half of those three losses in six games. Doom?
Well… it does look pretty doomy. Sioux Sports shows that Michigan has to win nine of its last eleven to move into an RPI spot better than the last team in the tournament. If we can give them a little more slack it's not mch more: basically we don't have to count the Alaska tie against them.
This weekend is huge, huge, huge. HUGE. For one, it's against Michigan State. For two, State has slid of late and is now on the bubble itself. They're on the right side at the moment but Michigan could—probably would—pass them with a weekend sweep. That would give them the two head-to-head points they lost earlier back and probably send M past the Spartans in RPI. At the very least, Michigan would put that comparison back in play. Anything short of a sweep and that comparison is gone and Michigan will have spent another weekend doing nothing in particular to move on up in the world.
Before the weekend I suggested that 3-1 in this four game stretch was just about required if Michigan was going to be in position for an at-large bid, and they're 1-1. There are nine games plus the CCHA playoffs left after this weekend, which is a lot of time, but if they want to give themselves any leeway at all down the stretch they'll have to take a win and a tie from the weekend.
Informative update coming later.
|4*, #15 DT||3*, #25 DE||3*, 78, #44 DE|
The gurus are all over the map with this kid, with Scout calling him a 4* tackle while Rivals and ESPN both think of him as a 3* d-end. At Michigan, he'll probably end up on the interior of the line, as the Wolverines need much more help on the inside than they do out. ESPN even points out in their evaluation:
He is a good example of why not to judge a book by its cover. On film, he has kind of a thick and squatty build with less-than-ideal height. He almost looks like a defensive tackle, but plays the end position well.
So, if he plays like a tackle, and most schools that he has committed to (Michigan is #3 behind Indiana and Cincinnati) have considered him a tackle, why not grade him as a tackle? Anyway, ESPN's judgment of his game:
There are more naturally athletic ends, but he can get it done. He is a good wrap-up tackler and plays with a good motor. As a pass-rusher, he can bring some heat off the edge. He works to attack that outside shoulder and use his weapons to knock the blockers hands down and turn the corner. He does not look like a dangerous edge rusher, but he can cause some problems.
Again, it seems as though they're "meh"-ish on him as a defensive end, but his upside as a tackle seems much higher. Scout's brief evaluation of him falls in line with that:
Black is a player who could line up as a defensive end or at the tackle position. He's got great burst and will give all out effort on each play. Does a good job going lateral and shows great strength and toughness. With good size and speed, Black is still learning techniques and moves that will take his game to another level. Special player who doesn't get the credit he deserves.
(Sidetrack: I never understood people whose job it is to rate players calling a particular player is underrated. If you think that, just raise his rating, no? That's on you, man). An athletic defensive tackle who is still a little raw, as Scout lists his only weakness as technique, but strengths of body control, explosion, and effort. From a local article when he committed to the Hoosiers, Black gives a short breakdown of his skills:
Black brings a combination of speed, strength, and technique to IU. “I’m a very physical player, and my footwork and handwork separates me. I use my hands a lot to get free, and that allows me to get to the running back and quarterback. And I’m pretty fast for being 295 lbs, 4.9 speed right there.”
He's probably overstating his footwork and hand technique, since those attributes are listed by others a the ones he needs the most work on. Also: 295 pounds is a huge difference from what the recruiting site list his weight, in the 260-pound range. Did the writer just make a typographical error of 259? That has to be the case.
As a guy who is considered. a tweener between defensive end and tackle, he probably won't develop into the big 1-tech space-eater that MIchigan is lacking in this class, but the 3-tech Ryan Van Bergen position may be a better option, with Richard Ash given time to grow into a 1-tech.
Black had previously been committed to both Indiana and Cincinnati, so he obviously held offers from them. Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan State, Bowling Green, Purdue, Syracuse, South Florida, Kansas, Wake Forest, Minnesota, South Carolina, Illinois, Michigan offered him in March, so it's not like he was some fall-back plan: the Wolverines really liked this guy.
Following his junior season, he also picked up some interest from Alabama, as well as Tennessee back when they had the all-star recruiting staff. He also received interest (but no offer) from the in-state Buckeyes.
As a junior, Black racked up 76 tackles and 8 sacks, along with 3 forced fumbles and 2 recoveries, with one going all the way to the end zone. That was his first season playing defensive end, as he had previously been a tackle. His senior year, he had 10 sacks and 61 total tackles along with 2 forced fumbles, as Wyoming made it to the State Finals.
FAKE 40 TIME
His self-reported time is 4.9, though Rivals gives him credit for a 4.8-second 40-yard dash. I'll take his word for it, since he would be more likely to exaggerate how fast he is, and didn't do so. That gets a mere one FAKE out of five.
He has a highlight video up on Youtube, but Black's ScoutingOhio video is longer (and therefore better, of course):
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Black is Michigan's third defensive tackle in the class of 2010 (more if you count someone like Jordan Paskorz as a future possibility), but all three seem to be 3-technique guys. Black is one of the smaller, at just 250ish pounds, right around the same size as Terry Talbott. Michigan currently has good talent starting, with limited depth behind.
The plan is probably to have all three guys redshirt, with Ash, the biggest of the three, aiming to bulk up enough to become a true nose tackle. Michigan's starters at DT are good, but there is limited depth, so these guys could get a little bit of playing time as redshirt freshmen, and move into key backup roles as sophomores.
Black seems to have some pretty high potential, and as a possible multi-position guy (he could play RVB's DE/DT spot or even Brandon Graham's DE position), he's tough to predict too specifically for the future.
[Editor's Note: I think maybe we might be thinking about this all wrong by attempting to file the DEs and DTs in different piles. RVB and Graham both played inside and out during their careers at Michigan and the sort of body types M is looking for at the three-tech and strongside defensive end are similar enough that I'm looking at the big glob of defensive linemen like so:
Quick: everyone apparently but Paskorz, Rogers, and possibly Ryan or Kinard most prominently.
SDE or DT: Ash, Talbott, Wilkins, Black
Once Michigan gets these guys in for a year or two they'll have a better idea of who fits in what spot and if any of them are NT material. They probably won't be and Michigan will bring in a couple different mounds of humanity next year.]
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The final numbers are all very muddled. Black's spot could be the last one in the class, or there could be as many as two spots left depending on the academic status of a couple kids and if a couple players are willing to grayshirt.
Any remaining spots are probably being reserved for safeties (Sean Parker, Demar Dorsey, Rashad Knight) unless a surprise blue-chip falls into Michigan's lap.
Purdue 69 Michigan 59, Michigan 10-9 (3-4 Big Ten)
Even when I assumed Manny Harris would be hitting the court in West Lafayette with the rest of the Michigan team, I thought Purdue would pretty easily crack an 11.5-point spread. When word got out that he was suspended for the game, I was expecting a blood-letting. At times, it did look like that. But somehow, Michigan managed to scrape out some good possessions and keep the game close. There is no such thing as a moral victory, but this had to be about as close as it gets.
DeShawn Sims was just about all Michigan had working early, but Zack Novak chipped in to help out, finally beating his shooting bugaboo (4-7 from beyond the arc). Sims showed why he's such a great player, carrying the team on his back at a time when Purdue probably could have quintuple-teamed him with no risk of anyone else scoring.
Sadly, Michigan only plays the Boilermakers once this year, and it leaves with a taste of "what could have been?" had Manny participated. As it is, we saw the Michigan team we've known for most of the year: Not bad, but outside of the two stars (or one in this game), not good enough to win the big ones.
- Why, Manny, why? I'm also pretty interested in hearing how a practice can get chippy enough for a guy to get suspended for unsportsmanlike conduct. That was his first missed game in 85 career contests.
- There's no plausible reason that Matt Vogrich should pretty much ever get a rebound, but time and again he manages to do so. He had two defensive rebounds, and one offensive that the boxscore doesn't credit to him, for whatever reason.
- Even when he doesn't shoot well, it's safe to say that Zack Novak is the third most important player on the team. When Manny doesn't play and Novak is actually dropping bombs, his impact to the team is elevated even further.
- My eye for the intricacies of basketball is admittedly untrained, but it really seemed like Stu Douglass had a poor game defensively. There were times that his lack of effort really jumped out at me.
- Purdue is a ton more talented than Michigan at nearly every position (even Sims has competition with JaJuan Johnson), and without Manny, they managed to keep it close. That sucks for now, but does bode well when Beilein gets more of his own players.
- The Wolverines have been rebounding surprisingly well of late. They were only out-rebounded by Purdue by a margin of 4.
The Wolverines host in-state rival #6/7 Michigan State on Tuesday. On short rest, and potentially without Manny for a second consecutive contest, things could get ugly. It is a Maize Out, so pick up your gear today or tomorrow, or plan to show up early: the first 3,000 fans to Crisler will receive a maize t-shirt.
In case you missed it in Tim's preview, this happened:
"Manny has made great strides both on and off the court over the last three years," Beilein said in a release. "Unfortunately he used poor judgment on Friday. It is best for Manny's future if he stays home and sits out this Purdue game. We will meet with Manny and the team again when we return to determine if he has learned enough from this suspension to rejoin the team for Tuesday's game. I am confident that this learning experience will be valuable in the future to both Manny and our basketball program."
Punch thrown? I can't think of much else that would warrant a suspension. Maybe Chris Kramer snuck into practice and Harris gave him a flaming elbow drop.
This reinforces my opinion on Harris's potential departure: he's not likely to go in the first round, but he's probably going to leave anyway. He and Beilein are not on the same page, it appears.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Purdue|
|WHERE||West Lafayette, IN|
January 23rd, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +11.5*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Since I didn't recap the Wisconsin game in it's own post, a brief overview: It was good and then it sucked. And as much as I don't like to whine about the refs, I thought this game (as with most at the Kohl Center) was officiated... sketchily. Moving on...
Though the tournament has been a hardly-realistic dream since much, much earlier this season, the Wolverines would have been back in the picture had they beaten Wisconsin. They didn't, so each game becomes a must-win to keep the dream alive. Unfortunately, that means they'll have to beat some really good teams. Having Wisconsin on the ropes in the Kohl Center is a good sign they can get it done, but now it's time to finish.
DeShawn Sims was a beast against Wisconsin for 25ish minutes, in no small part because they were missing Jon Leuer. It won't be as easy against a fully-heathy Purdue team, and he's going to need some help to get the job done. Manny Harris was having some success Purdue last year before his questionable ejection, and Michigan's shooters will have to be on their game as well.
Update: HAHA J/K MANNY IS SUSPENDED
The Boilermakers started the season on fire, racing out to a 14-0 start before losing consecutive games to Puronsin, Ohio State, and Northwestern. They stopped the slide on Tuesday against Illinois, and sit at 15-3 on the season.
Purdue is led by a few guys who aren't quite stars on the Evan Turner-Manny Harris level, but are well-known nationally, and a few of them should play in the NBA. 6-4 guard E'Twaun Moore uses the most possessions for Purdue, and leads the team in eFG%. 6-8 forward Robbie Hummel might have the most name recognition on the team, if only because Purdue struggled somewhat last year when he was out with a back injury. He's a good rebounder and shooter, and has Purdue's best offensive rating. 6-10 center JaJuan Johnson rebounds well, swats a lot of shots, and gets to the free throw line more than any other Boilermaker. 6-3 guard Chris Kramer leads the team in getting elbowed in the face, and also in opposing fans wanting to elbow him in the face.
Purdue plays a different defensive style than Wisconsin, though both are known as exceptional defensive teams. Where the Badgers are content to prevent any penetration and clog the inside, Purdue will get out on the perimeter and try to take away passing lanes with their tight man defense.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Purdue: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Purdue Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Pur Def eFG%||187||47||PP|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Pur eFG%||156||111||P|
|Mich TO% v. Pur Def TO%||24||15||-|
|Mich Def TO% v. Pur TO%||57||9||P|
|Mich OReb% v. Pur DReb%||247||120||PP|
|Mich DReb% v. Pur OReb%||238||170||P|
|Mich FTR v. Pur Opp FTR||329||257||P|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Pur FTR||16||135||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. Pur AdjD||84||17||P|
|Mich AdjD v. Pur AdjO||47||23||P|
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.
Going into the game at Wisconsin, I thought MIchigan was a team finally rounding into form (hey, just a little late, guys!), but a team that was finally playing its best ball would have been able to come away with that win if they wanted any hope of making the tournament. So, we're left with the tough truth: Michigan is an NIT-caliber team, and Purdue is a top-5 seed caliber team.
Surprisingly, though, Purdue doesn't have huge advantages in any particular tempo-free category over the Wolverines (although they do have some advantage in nearly everything). This looks like yet another game (as almost all seem to recently) that Michigan should be able to keep close and then hopefully make a bid to steal it. That will be a tough task on the road, especially since Michigan had fewer days to prepare for this game than the Boilermakers did.
KenPom sees an 11-point MIchigan loss, and Vegas likes the Boilers by 11.5. I see this game being a little less close than that, and Purdue ices with free throws in the final couple minutes to emerge with a 16-point victory.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ferris State|
|WHERE||Friday @ Yost
Saturday @ Ferris
January 22/23rd, 2010
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||CBS College Sports both nights|
Record. 16-6-2, 10-4-2-2 CCHA. #5 PWR. Currently third place with 34 points. Michigan is nine points back in a tie for sixth.
Ferris State is back with their septannual kickass team, though this edition probably isn't quite as good as the Chris Kunitz-led 2003 team that won the conference championship, made it to the CCHA playoff final, and snagged Ferris State's first and only NCAA tournament bid. They just got swept by league-leading Miami and their nonconference schedule (Canisius, UConn, Robert Morris, single games against Yale and Merrimack) is exceedingly weak. That 2003 team was a legitimate national power. This appears to be a solid team a step or two down from those guys.
Even so, there's one team playing this weekend on the cusp of a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and it's not Michigan. And Ferris's goal differentials are impressive. They're +30 overall and +18 in the CCHA. They are fifth in scoring margin at 1.25. (Michigan is 11th.) They are for serious.
Dangermen. Ferris has one line that does a huge chunk of their scoring. Seniors Blair Riley (right), Cody Chupp, and Casey Haines are the top line and Ferris's leading scorers; Riley is far and away the top guy with 16 goals and 27 points. Chupp has seven and a couple of other guys are hovering around that mark, but Ferris is a top-heavy team.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Ferris is built on an extremely stingy defense. They're tied for third nationally with Cornell at just 2.12 GPG; goalie Pat Nagle has a nation-leading .932 save percentage. (He's tied with two others, FWIW.) Ferris actually rotates its goalies, with Nagel and sophomore Taylor Nelson both getting 13 games to date. Nelson's got the better record but Nagel is giving up a half-goal less per game. Nelson's save percentage is a stellar .921.
With two goalies sporting save percentages that Patrick Roy would envy, Ferris State has either stumbled onto a goalie gold mine or the defense has a large influence on those numbers. Expect tight-checking, tough games without a ton of grade A scoring chances.
Special teams. Your updated power plays per game stat:
|PP For / G||6.0||5.8|
|PP Ag / G||5.6||5.5|
Essentially even with Ferris a tiny bit more likely to pick up penalties for and against. And there will be penalties. Ferris is #2 in penalty minutes acquired*. Michigan is #10. Also, when these teams face off it tends to get chippy.
The specialty units will get a ton of time, then. They're dead even. Ferris State is converting a little better on the power play but has allowed three shorthanded goals; if you take those into account Michigan actually outperforms them slightly. The penalty kills are outstanding. Ferris is #3 at 88.8%. Michigan is #4 at 88.5%. Since Ferris has a couple extra shorthanded goals their penalty kill is a little better. The two teams could be any more more identical here.
PROTIP: don't take an obvious holding penalty seven seconds into a kill.
*(Possibly interesting side note: despite UAF's uncharacteristic penalty-fest last weekend they are still the least-penalized team in the country by a wide margin. Meanwhile, the team that beat out Ferris for #1 is Alaska-Anchorage. Alaska: land of extremes.)
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Line match where possible. It's a home and home series so the Saturday game will be tricky, but the obvious move is to put Michigan's crazy fast fore-check and shutdown line of Lynch, Hagelin, and Rust on Riley and anyone else who wants to skate with him. Berenson has explicitly stated this is the plan:
“I don’t want to put an inexperienced player out there against the top player in the league and then expect us to win that matchup,” Berenson said. “We have to respect who is on the ice for them and who is on the ice for us.”
While the top lines on both teams highlight the matchup, it’s the players behind them that will be the difference this weekend.
“You’re trying to outscore that line or shut them down,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “But in the meantime, if you do, and they're nullifying you at the same time, then it comes down to your next line or your next line and where are you going to get your offense from?”
Continue to get supporting players scoring. Whether it's Brian Lebler firing wicked wrist shots off the post and in or Lindsey Sparks coming out of the corner or Chris Brown turning into a face-masked version of Thomas Holmstrom, Michigan is going to need to get some production out of guys who aren't the stars of the team. Caporusso and Wohlberg continue to scuffle. Though they continue to put up assists, Brian Lebler now has more goals than they do. Lebler's actually tied for third on the team with seven, and while that's super cool for him it's a major reason Michigan's had trouble this year.
Play from ahead. Yes, this is dangerously close to a Key To The Game that boils down to "score more points."
An attempt at something not tautological: this is not the other Ferris team. That was an offensive machine capable of generating points not only from Kunitz but from a wide array of offensive defensemen. This is a gritty grit Eckstein of a team with one standout player that Carl Hagelin will be tasked with destroying. Michigan cannot afford to give up a goal like the Chad Langlais turnover against UAF, because teams like Ferris and Alaska are built to play from ahead. Just look at the difference between UAF in the third period on Friday and Saturday. On Friday they were overrun; on Saturday they played keep-away for 15 minutes before Langlais got his redemption.
The Big Picture
Just keep repeating "it was a win and a tie and the shootout was an exhibition" about last weekend. That makes Michigan 3-0-1 since the break. That is a roll, especially since they played very well in the tie save for one turnover and one terrible penalty kill.
They're now a TUC and hovering at 19th in the standings facing down a two week stretch that will probably make or break their at-large hopes. If they sweep the next two weekends they're gold. If they go 3-1 they are feeling very good about their chances with a selection of weak CCHA teams coming up and a bunch of guaranteed TUC wins in the bag. If they go 2-2 they have to really tear through the back end of the schedule, and anything worse than that is curtains.
A win and a tie from the weekend would be great.