“On the offense last year, they had great spacing. That’s what I remember. Great spacing, great shooters, like Nik Stauskas, who’s not there right now. But they always have someone to fill the roles. They have a cutting offense, kind of hard to guard.”
Comments were broken this morning but are fixed now. Lo siento.
- Top 9 games in Michigan history: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
- Deadspin-style regional previews: West | Northeast | East | Midwest
One of the unfortunate parts of college hockey fandom is that I have virtually no knowledge of anyone outside our league since it's impossible to get either CSTV or ESPNU on cable. So I can't tell you all that much about the Fighting Sioux except that Ryan Duncan shouldn't get the Hobey over Hensick. One thing I think may be in our favor: North Dakota's Toews-Oshie-Duncan line -- popularly referred to as "the DOT line" even though calling it the "TOD" line opens up all sorts of Flanders jokes, I mean seriously North Dakota let's get on the ball here -- is close to the be-all and end-all of their scoring. The Flanderses all score more than a PPG, but one other forward does more than 0.6 -- Brad Miller with 10-13-23 -- and he's an outlier. NoDak's fifth forward has 15 points on the season.
I'm generally not hockey-savvy enough to pick up on matchup issues, but this one will be glaring: watch who we put on the ice against the Flanderses. Since we have last change we have the luxury of putting Jack on the ice whenever Christianity threatens. Unfortunately, if the rest of the year is any indication this also means sending Matt Hunwick and his turnover machine onto the ice. If I was Red Berenson I'd break my pairings and send Mitera and Jack out there versus the DOT line, though both have played RD this year. I'm sure Jack can handle LD. This would be the world's most perfect situation to have Dwight Helminen around, too, but alas there is no equivalent shutdown center available. It'll be fascinating to see whether or not Red matches Hensick up against them or not. I think I'd rather see another line blend to get Cogs on the ice with Porter and Rohlfs, who are our most defensively responsible forwards. Cogs' backchecking is far superior to Hensick's just because he's Helminen fast and I don't want to see any Flanderses on an odd-man rush. I kind of doubt we'll see these changes, but there it is: my strategic plan for tomorrow. Shut down the Flanderses, try to get Kolarik and Hensick to hook up for a couple goals, and get the hell out of dodge.
And thus... hope. The cycle begins anew. Unlike last year's identical matchup, in which every reasonable Michigan fan expected a brief burst of pain and then a soothing white light, Michigan has a reasonable chance of beating North Dakota tomorrow. It's a shame that this team has played whack-a-mole with its fans' hopes, losing to Bowling Green or Lake State or Ohio State just when they seemed to be rounding the corner and pushing towards the Michigan hockey of old where no team would have prompted an insane burst of profanity just because Michigan had drawn them in the regional.
In my effort to make all Michigan sporting events as melodramatic as possible, I pondered some sort of hockey post about this team that was alternately titled "Hope Exists Only To Be Crushed" or "Hope Is A Thing That Flutters" as my manic-depressive fandom swung wildly from one pole to the other. A goalpost or two fewer against Notre Dame and we're in Rochester or Grand Rapids against some ECAC teams or Maine or something and hope is fluttering its ass to St. Louis to make hotel reservations right now. But just as our heads started poking its way out into the neon sunshine of the arcade, down came the hammer. And it's Denver and the absolute best team in the country and then a hotly debatable second and, uh, Air Force, and hope is a distant country with extremely strict entry visas and customs guys with submachine guns and a dictatorial type with a limp and a cigar and a 300,000 person rally, all of them screaming "Death to Michigan" with inflamed fervor. What a shame it seems that the JMFJ era and the TMFJ era will end with their respective figgins on gibbets a mile high, sending out a warning for any CCHA teams who dare venture west of Chicago.
But if TJ can just stickhandle through a couple guys and JMFJ can make the Flanderses ghosts and Sauer can just hold it together... so I'll watch. With a brick posed over a butterfly, I'll watch. Hockey's weird.
Good God, y'all:
(WCCO) Minneapolis WCCO's Mike Max has learned that the University of Minnesota may be close to announcing a new men's basketball coach, and the newest name in the mix is Tubby Smith of Kentucky.
In a meeting Tuesday night between Smith and University of Kentucky officials, a resignation from Smith was expected. Word is that Gophers athletics director Joel Maturi was on a flight Wednesday afternoon to Lexington to meet with Smith.
Confirmed and replicated everywhere. Good? Bad? Who knows? Minnesota is obviously acting fast as hell on this one in an attempt to get this over and done with before Smith seriously considers other options. Probably throwing a bucket of money at him, too. The choice between Smith and Beilein and Lowery and Miller is one of preference: Beilein has been successful recruiting nobodies; Tubby has been more successful -- vastly so -- recruiting the best talent in the country... until the last two years, when the rumor has it that a Smith fed up with AAU coaches burning him time and again cut ties and,not coincidentally, the rankings of players who sign up to play for UK. If you remove Smith's presence at arguably the premiere program in the country, how good of a coach is he? And did Michigan screw up by not throwing their hat in the ring here? I don't know. I'm sure Drew Sharp does and will come out with an article all about how this proves Michigan's irrelevance, but I'd rather not be forced into a decision right now about a guy who has some questions. (Yes, even though I strongly endorsed him earlier in the week.)
Update: Friend of Blog Russ Levine notes that the UK opening suddenly makes Michigan the second best job available, and second in the sense that Ohio State was second in the Not Fiesta Bowl. Potential impact on our coaching search? UK won't stoop to hiring a Miller or Lowery but might cast an eye towards Beilein. You have to think that they'll start with Billy Gillespie and work their way down before considering a guy who hasn't proven he can recruit at the level UK expects.
Who has? Well, what about Thad Matta?
Update 3/21: Linked to articles on NC DB Robert Blanton, NJ LB JB Fitzgerald (lol). Noted that GA DT Omar Hunter has his offer now. (woot) Moved MI OL Dann O'Neill to committed. Added IL RB Jason Ford, NJ LB Brendan Beal. Removed OH TE Kyle Rudolph (dropped us), OH LB Devoe Torrence (OSU). Moved PA DT Lucas Nix to OT, where he's getting recruited by a lot of schools. If he ends up here OT is a much more logical place for him to play.
Editorial Opinion: Lost in this weekend's Amaker firing, at least here, was the commitment of instate OT Dann O'Neill, which was expected sooner or later but is still nice to have given last year's fiasco. O'Neill seems like a solid four star at this point, a guy closer to the top 100 than three-star status. At 6'7", he's a tackle. Michigan has now locked up two of the top three prospects in the state. (The third is DCD RB Jonas Gray, who Michigan still hasn't offered, though Florida has. Gators lead...
Jonas Gray: Received a UF offer and almost committed. UF leads. Holds offers from Michigan State, Florida, Minnesota, Illinois and Colorado.
...or do they?
Jonas Gray: Now says Michigan State and UF are his top 2 of the teams who have offered.
Gray's offer list is surpassingly weird: CU, Illinois, MSU, Minnesota, and frickin' Florida. The only confirmed RB offers I've found are to CA's Darrell Scott and the incomparable Sam McGuffie. Wonder what the holdup is?)
Anyway: O'Neill is a hugely important pickup and the first of what should be a five or six guy OL class. And he's a tackle. Three cheers for all that.
Omar Hunter, the guy from Georgia who was so darn excited about Michigan a few weeks ago, has his offer. GBW claims we are the favorite:
He has numerous offers, but U-M has offered now and is his fav.
There's an opening on the DL all of a sudden.
Robert Blanton's Michigan quote in this Scout article is priceless:
"Michigan was my first offer," he said. "It was my sophomore year. I've been there two times. I attended their camp last summer and got to meet Coach (Lloyd) Carr and talk with him for a while. We went into his office and he showed me his custom-made putting green he has. I couldn't believe it. Then he told me I had the offer. That was great. I really like everything about Michigan. They have won more than any other team in college football...they dominate. I like that."
We have a lockdown on any and all recruits who want to play putt-putt in the head coaches' office. Pimpin' Lloyd Carr aside, Michigan must really want Blanton to offer him as a sophomore. He's from Jamar Adams' school and we've got a good shot at him, but he's playing it close to the vest.
(Is this further evidence to throw on the Charlie Weis is a Enormous Tool pile?
He asked me how I'd feel if I got an offer from Notre Dame. I told him it would be amazing, I would love to get an offer. Then he said 'okay you do.'
I just can't envision that going down. "Son, how would it feel to get an offer from Notre Dame?" ...as if he expects the recruit to break down and start blubbering as if his life's one true goal had been accomplished. I'm pretty sure I would regard Weis with the same scorn no matter where he coached, but could he coach anywhere other than Notre Dame? "Son... how would it feel to get an offer from Purdue?" Yeah. Not so good.)
JB Fitzgerald has us in his top three:
"I can't say I have a strong favorite or favorites," said Fitzgerald, who reports a 4.7 forty time. "I want to see what each school has to offer before I rule anyone out. Right now, I'd say I like Rutgers, Michigan and USC. If I got an offer from the Trojans, that might change things a little bit.
"I took an unofficial to Michigan the second week of February," he said. "I liked the program a lot. They really showed off their tradition....how much of a part of life it is to them. I got to sit down with Coach (Lloyd) Carr for 20 minutes and that's when I got the offer. Then he sat with me and my dad at the basketball game that night. I can't say enough about what a great guy he is. He is so down-to-earth and easy to talk to. All the coaches are like that there."
"Easy to talk to"... some Detroit beatwriters might like to contest that description. Fitzgerald goes on to talk about USC in an alarming fashion. Trojans haven't offered but if they do I think they become solid favorites.
We lead for NY S Brendan Smith, though slightly:
"I grew up following Michigan," Smith said. "I just love their style of play. They are a fast-paced team and they know how to control the game. They also have really good academics and are well respected in both football and academics.
"They are the only school that has told me what position they want me for," he said. "They are saying safety. Everybody else is telling me that I'm an athlete."
JB Shugarts has a telling quote:
They are reconstructing their facilities and the campus is really nice," he said. "The program is really family-oriented and I like that coach Jim Tressel will be around for a long time."
Dollars to donuts our competition is hammering the Carr retirement thing into the ground... what an odd thing to say unless someone else isn't going to be around a long time. It's a valid thing to bring up; we just have to hope that the other attractions of Michigan can bring classes good enough to keep us afloat until Ron English becomes head coach and turns us into an OMG shirtless beacon on a hill.
The Detroit News recaps the recent shenanigans within the program; mostly stuff you've heard before except for this bit:
And backup defensive end Eugene Germany was ticketed for marijuana possession in Ann Arbor on Feb. 12, according to court records. But Germany, who admitted responsibility and paid a $50 fine, recently was granted a release from his scholarship so he can transfer.
With the assumed dismissal of Butler, that would bring us to two of the three bad actors called out in the spring press conference already gone; now we're just waiting on Arrington's fate. Dude: you're from Iowa. Let's get some sensibility up in this place. You can either return to the land of cows and corn or play in the NFL. This is not a hard decision.
Gracias to commenter RossMBA, who pointed out that my assertion about the unimportance of the Germany possession charge was really wrong here.
...but, like, 25% less than usual.
Now would be a good time to explore the wonders of MGoStore; yea, verily there is a sale ongoing with a secret code. Merely enter "SECRETBLOGSALE" in the text field designated for such things when you check out and 25% will be hacked off the price of your dozen shirts.
But wait... there's more! There actually isn't. Sorry. But it's still pretty awesome. Sale goes until March 31st. Click for store:
Eugene Germany ticketed for weed:
University of Michigan defensive end Eugene Germany was ticketed for marijuana possession last month, according to 15th District Court records. Germany admitted responsibility and paid a $50 fine on Feb. 20 at the court in Ann Arbor.
Impact: minimal. This is probably the reason he's being held out of spring practice and is already factored into his tenuous status.