|WHAT||Michigan v. Michigan State|
|WHERE||Friday @ Munn Ice Arena
Saturday @ Joe Louis Arena
|WHEN||Friday @ 7:05PM EST
Saturday @ 7:35PM EST
January 29/30, 2010
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday on Big Ten Network
Saturday on FSD (HD!)
Record. 16-8-4, 11-5-4-1 CCHA. #13 PWR. #11 KRACH. Currently second place with 38 points. Michigan is ten points back in seventh, but has two games in hand. 18th in PWR, 16th KRACH.
The Spartans have done most of their damage against weaker opponents. Outside of the previous series with Michigan, the Spartans are 1-6-3 against teams under consideration—the top 25 in RPI. The first two teams out right now are CCHA teams MSU is 2-1-1 against, though. In any case, Michigan State has been decidedly mediocre against quality competition and lethal against 1) bad teams and 2) Michigan. KRACH has their schedule strength 23rd; Michigan is 17th.
State's been streaky. Their recent streak is the bad sort, as they've gone 1-2-2 in their last five and now find themselves squarely on the NCAA bubble. If the season ended today everyone would be very surprised and State would either be one of the last teams in or first teams out depending on how the conference tournaments went.
Before that, State ripped off five straight wins, albeit against BGSU, Michigan Tech, RPI, and Lake State. Only one of those teams—Lake State—is not bad, but Michigan's managed to lose to two of the bad ones this year so hurray.
Dangermen… literally. Well, you're not going to like this except as an example of Michigan State's willingness to tolerate anything, but Corey "Practicing My Golf Swing On Your Head" Tropp is Michigan State's leading scorer. By all rights he should be in the CHL with his goon buddy or playing a year in the USHL in preparation for a transfer somewhere far away, but Second Chance U doesn't care what you did the first time around.
Anyway. Tropp has a 17-19-36 line and, though he hasn't scored in a while has continued to pile up assists. Freshman Derek Grant has 10-17-27 and junior Andrew Rowe has 11-10-21. From there it's a pile of guys with five or so goals. Nick Sucharski has seven but appears to be a minimal threat outside of the power play, where he's got five.
Michigan will attempt to match Hagelin against the Tropp line as often as possible, I'm assuming. They are the home team at the Joe this year so they'll get one night where that's a possibility.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. It's been a weird year for Michigan State, which has plenty of 0, 1, and 2 goal games to its credit but also gave up five to Maine, seven(!) to Wisconsin, and has yielded 18 goals in this recent rough patch. For the first time in the history of the universe, Michigan is scoring less and giving up fewer goals than State.
Spartan goalie Drew Palimsano isn't quite at the level of Ferris State goal Pat Nagle, but he's not that far off. He's in a three-way tie for 7th in save pecentage with a .927; Brian Hogan improved last weekend to .906 despite giving up a really terrible shorthanded goal.
On defense, Jeff Petry has rebounded from a dire sophomore season to post 3-18-21 and has actually gotten his plus minus above zero (+5) after his epic –31 last year, but it's a couple of younger players—sophomore Matt Carndell and freshman Zach Josepher—leading the defensemen in +/- at +10 and +11, respectively. (Yes, yes, +/- is a pretty dumb stat, but it's all we've got for college hockey.)
Special teams. Power plays for and against:
|PP For / G||5.4||5.8|
|PP Ag / G||5.2||5.4|
Michigan has a slight advantage, but only slight. When it comes to the specialty units' efficiency, though, Michigan has a clear advantage. Their penalty kill has slipped to 5th nationally but Michigan State's is basically average at #24. Neither powerplay is gang busters but Michigan does have a slight advantage, converting 19.7% of its opportunities to Michigan State's 18.5. State has also given up two more. Michigan is +1 in shorthanded goals; Michigan State is even.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Be careful in the neutral zone. State tends to back off on the forecheck pressure in favor of sitting in passing lanes when you try to break out and Michigan's been pretty turnover-prone this year. They're also short on guys who can stickhandle past the first opponent and open up space—that's basically Chad Langlais and zero other players—so dumping the puck might be a frustratingly common occurrence. Or, worse, not dumping the puck and turning it over in a dangerous spot.
I'm extra concerned about this after the last weekend, where the Friday night game was acres of open ice and cross-ice passes galore. Those things will get picked off against State.
Be seriously aggressive on the forecheck. State's defense corps consists of Petry (a junior) and six freshmen or sophomores. With Michigan's speed up front they can probably force their share of crippling turnovers or draw some penalties.
Keep your composure. Always difficult against MSU, worse when Tropp is going to be out there, worse still when you've dropped the last two against them and are playing for your season, essentially.
The Big Picture
This is the biggest series left in the season for many reasons. One: it's Michigan State. Two: a sweep puts the MSU-UM pairwise comparison back in play; anything short of that and Michigan basically can't win it unless the two teams meet in the CCHA playoffs. (And even then Michigan will probably have to get three points this weekend.) Three: Michigan can drop two, maybe three games in the eleven they have left and still have a reasonable chance of a bid without a CCHA tourney championship. Aside from the Wisconsin game, these two are the toughest left on the docket.
So… basically like last week: a split does nothing good or bad for Michigan, which is bad when you're on the wrong side of the bubble. A win and a tie helps but not nearly as much as a sweep.
The goal differential says "split"…
Team GP GF GF/G GA GA/G MARGIN
8 Michigan State 28 92 3.29 67 2.39 0.89 9 Michigan 26 81 3.12 58 2.23 0.88
…but performance since the holiday break gives Michigan some hope that they'll come away with something more than that. Also, Michigan's put up that margin against a slightly tougher schedule. Then again, performance in the previous series argues they won't do better.
So I'm watching some of season two of The Wire last night and Herc is doing "hand to hands," wherein he buys a bunch of drugs and a couple other cops take pictures from afar. There's a montage of various buys, and one of the kids who runs up to deliver the goods is, well, he's this guy:
I have that same baseball jersey from Steve & Barry's. That is all.
Obviously there's something wrong the front page. I've alerted Brian, and hopefully the issue will be resolved ASAP.
Thanks for bearing with us, and regular posting should resume shortly.
[UPDATE from Brian: Ha ha ha! Er. So I've been fiddling with an attempt to get my WTKA podcasts integrated into the site and apparently it works *really really well*. I don't think anything goofy will happen again, as I've fiddled with a bit or two.
Michigan P Zoltan Mesko ruined the punt return drills by being unable to kick the ball far enough to allow a return more often than not (my rough count was 2 returnable out of 7), and his kicks consistently bounce backwards or straight sideways.
I'm sure this person meant to say Mesko ruined the drills by punting the ball into low Earth orbit. Either that or Jeff Risdon—if that is his real name—of RealGM is a compulsive liar who lies. These are the only two options.
That goes for you, too, "Chad Reuter":
This year's class of specialists is not very strong, and Michigan's Zoltan Mesko has been rated as the top punter on the board most of the year. However, his punts have lacked height and spirals, rarely turning over to gain maximum hang time and distance. He'll need a strong game performance to regain the confidence of scouts.
During the game on Saturday, Mesko will shank a punt that nails both of these fellows in the head.
Yost Hall of Fame. You know the monster Swedish flag that's taken up residence in Yost?
Yeah… it's homemade. Engineering sophomore Rob Eckert's mother is a hero of the people:
“I asked my mom around Christmas time when I saw her if I could borrow her sewing machine," Eckert said. "She was like ‘What are you making?’ I (told) her I was making a Swedish flag, a big one. And my Mom made it for me for my Christmas present.”
I assumed that someone had purchased it off EBay or something, but it was a modern-day Betsy Ross. Someone get her a medal.
Expansion bits. Nominal Chicagoland/Illinois sports blog "Frank the Tank's Slant" has turned into an all-Big-Ten-Expansion-all-the-time sort of place, and it continues its long-running series with an analysis of the main thing: money. The Slant is a weird combo of useful information and totally bats conclusions like "Pitt is a ridiculous idea" and "a 14-team conference is worth spending 1000 words discussing."
I think the bats conclusions come from an excessive focus on money and only money. Pitt doesn't expand the BTN footprint but does make sense in a zillion other ways from academics to providing Penn State an actual rival to geography. A 14 team conference might make more money on average but is a nightmare on the field. Money is important—it's one of the many reasons Iowa State is not a candidate—but it's not everything.
Elsewhere, evidence that Missouri will give the Big Ten a good hard look continues to mount with a KC Star article on Mizzou's willingness to make a move. The main issues are Mizzou's century-long membership in the MVC/Big 8/Big 12 and the hit the Tigers would take in Texas, one of their main recruiting hotbeds, when they don't make regular trips to Tech, A&M, etc.
As always, it's dolla dolla bill ya'll making the most compelling case in favor:
“Illinois and Indiana will make $9 million more from its televisions contracts this year,” Alden said. “Arkansas and Mississippi will make even more. That’s our comparison. In five years, they’ll have generated almost $50 million more than us without selling a ticket.”
If Mizzou is willing to go, I think the additional markets they bring outweigh Pitt's superiority in basketball and academics.
You find a playlist 100,000 people can agree on, we talk. Maize n Brew Dave makes a case for improving the Michigan game day experience re: piped in music. My solution is simple: find Special K and have him transfer to Michigan State. His solution is removing stuff like "Lose Yourself" and "Don't Stop Believing" because while he likes piped in music "only when it's good." He suggests this playlist instead:
Guns n Roses: Paradise City, Nitetrain, Welcome to the Jungle
Motley Crue: Kickstart My Heart, Dr. Feelgood
AC/DC: Thunderstruck, Back in Black, Shoot To Thrill, Highway to Hell, Hells Bells (Defense only), Rock n Roll Train
Motorhead: Ace of Spades
Quiet Riot: Metal Health (opening scream only)
Metallica: Enter Sandman (Defense only)
KISS: Detroit Rock City
Problem: all this music sucks so hard. It's generic. It's played out. It's being RAWKED at an ECHL arena right now. And oh my god:
So how bout "Breakin the Law" by Judas Priest for penalties? "Why can't we be friends" for personal fouls? "Mama's little helper" when the refs screws us? "Sympathy for the Devil" when Tressel's around? "Play that Funky Music White Boy" for Tate Forcier and the "Speed Racer" Theme for Denard Robinson? This stuff isn't rocket sciene.
Dave is Special K. I can (barely) tolerate Don't Stop Believin'. When Special K plays Bob Seger at ear-splitting volume during a critical review I want to die. If he started making stupid little jokes about on-field events when I am on the verge of a panic attack it would make me want to stay home and that would make me feel terrible. The arrow on this points exactly one way: Joe Louis.
Dave makes this argument for piped in music:
The best example I can give is the Jagr-led Washington Capitals* … whose PA dude put together the most awesome montage-collages of heavy metal/death rock this pathetic planet has ever known. That Caps intro would melt your face right into your beer cup. … They knew their target audience and they fed it guitar heavy ROK like you'd feed makrel to a trained seal. We ate it up.
So… let's think about knowing your audience. At Michigan Stadium you have a vast variety of Michigan fans, students, and alums ranging from 18 to 80. Maybe 5% of them grew up driving a Camaro and rocking a rat-tail. "Knowing your audience" this is not. Keep the eighth-grade sense of humor ("boners!") and your 1985 hair metal where it belongs—everywhere else on the planet—, please, and let's go back to the things Michigan fans can actually agree on: Temptation, War Chant, Let's Go Blue, The Victors.
The thing that bothers me is that I really loathe the piped in music and, from the reactions I've gotten it seems like a lot of people do. For the people who hate it, the music ruins one of the few pristine sporting events luddites have left. For people who like it, it's just another opportunity to hear the same fifteen seconds of that one song you hear fifteen seconds of everywhere else. The cost to one group greatly exceeds the benefit to the other.
Rooting interest. I admit that I have no plans to watch ice dancing no matter what personal connection I have to it—I could be actively participating in a routine and be screaming "SWEEP" at my slingbox-enhanced smartphone—but others might be less curling-obsessed so it's worth mentioning that two current Michigan students are the sequined Brandon Graham and slightly-less-sequined-but-still-pretty-damn-sequined Brandon Graham of ice dancing. They are Meryl Davis and Charlie White:
White and Davis, both native Metro Detroiters, are University of Michigan students and die-hard Wolverine sports fans.
They're about to become very famous, as they head into the Olympics as the No. 1-ranked ice dancers in the world. White, a sophomore who has not chosen a major yet, and Davis, a junior in cultural anthropology, could become the most famous Michigan students in the Olympics since star swimmer Michael Phelps.
That's pretty remarkable. This bit goes beyond remarkable into the bizarre, though: the third-place team at nationals, and therefore the third Olympic qualifier, consists of fellow Michigan students Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates. Four of the six competitors for the US at the Olympic ice dancing competition will be Michigan undergraduates. Bates and White are freakin' housemates. I bet one dollar the four hit the ice at Yost during an intermission sometime before the year is out.
So, yeah, Tanith Belbin and Anonymous Partner can fall in a ditch. I want big, sequined block Ms on the medal podium.
Ask Vlad Emilien anything! Seriously. However, he will sometimes answer incorrectly:
Who wins: Mike Barwis or Chuck Norris?
i dont really know maybe chuck norris
Has Barwis ever brought his wolves to workouts?
There's a couple of interesting responses, though. Molk is the "strongest, hardest working" player on the team, and this oddly grammatical question shoots down the idea that a lingering knee injury kept Emilien off the field:
Hey Vlad, Just curious, did a lingering injury keep you off the field last year? Did it affect your play? A lot of us expected to see more of you and that was the rumor. I'm looking forward to seeing you play next year. Thanks for making Blue proud!
to be honest i dont know why i wasnt playing... my coach told me he felt i wasnt ready yet
Sammi Sweatheart or Jwoww?
who is these people lol
So there you go.
Despite the fact that Michigan is only waiting on a couple more guys, recruiting will probably still be a little hectic for the next 7 days. Bear with us, and I'll have details on Signing Day coverage later this week.
Recruiting Boards of Note:
Jibreel Black Goes Blue
As reported on this here e-blog Sunday, OH DE/DT Jibreel Black has committed to Michigan (after decommitting from Cincinnati, after decommitting from Indiana). Black is a 3.67-star player according to the average of the three main recruiting site, and he will probably end up playing the Brandon Graham position—strongside defensive end—at Michigan. Black's senior highlights:
For more on Black, including another highlight video, visit the Hello: Jibreel Black post. Also, brace yourself for 4-5 years of "Black and Blue" puns.
One of the items giving hope to Michigan fans in the recruitment of FL S Demar Dorsey was the rumor that Florida had threatened to pull his offer if he continued taking visits to other schools. He did indeed continue taking visits, including one to Michigan last week, and another to Florida State over the weekend, and has reportedly switched his commitment to the 'Noles.
With so little time left in the 2010 recruiting cycle (Signing Day is 1 week from today), I'll leave him on the board for now, and we'll see whether the Florida State commitment has indeed happened, and if Michigan's coaches can convince him to suit up as a Wolverine with his cousin, Denard Robinson (who does things like this).
As for TX RB Tony Drake, he's been out of the class for a couple weeks now, and he recently switched his commitment to Colorado State ($, info in header). It's a shame it didn't work out with Michigan, because he seems like a pretty good player. Best of luck to Tony in Fort Collins. I've officially removed him from the recruiting board.
The Ohio tandem of DT Terry Talbott and CB Terrence Talbott has come into question lately as Terry visited North Carolina last weekend. They are still expected to sign with Michigan in the class of 2010, as they want to attend the same school.
The Final Few
Aside from backup options (Is FL CB Tre Boston an option or Joe McKnight's little bro, LA CB Jonathan McKnight? Probably no on both) and maaaybe a surprise blue-chip, CA S Sean Parker and FL S/CB Rashad Knight are the last two men standing as realistic possibilities. Parker received an in-home visit from Rich Rodriguez Monday, after taking his final visit to Washington over the weekend. He's shut down his talking to the media and will announce on Signing Day (10 AM, ESPN).
Knight recently narrowed his list to Rutgers and Michigan ($, info in header). Speculation was that he committed to Rutgers yesterday, but MGoBlog's own TomVH talked to Knight, who says that isn't the case. Optimism has waned since Knight's Michigan visit. Knight now seems like a tossup.
Note: more on current commits after Signing Day. There simply isn't enough space to cover all the info with time winding down).
The North-South Ohio All-Star Game has revealed its rosters, and there are a few guys of note:
Courtney Avery, DB, 5-10, 170, Lexington, Michigan
Antonio Kinard, LB, 6-3, 220, Young. Liberty, Michigan
Jake Ryan, LB, 6-3, 225, Clev. St. Ignatius, Michigan
Terrance Talbott, DB, 5-10, 175, Huber Hgts. Wayne, Michigan
Terry Talbott, DL, 6-4, 265, Huber Hgts. Wayne, Michigan
Carey Spear, K, 5-11, 175, Mayfield, Michigan
Wait, who is that last guy? Rivals lists Carey Spear as a 2-star kicker from Highland Heights, holding offers from Ball State, Miami (NTM) and Air Force. False alarm though, as he's accepted a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt over a preferred wakon offer from the Wolverines (H/T Big House Blog).
In other All-Star games, the Big 33 Ohio-Pennsylvania game has selected PA CB Commit Cullen Christian on the Pennsylvania side, and the Ohio roster hasn't been announced yet (either that, or I just can't find it anywhere).
Adam Rittenberg runs down Big Ten recruiting. Tom Lemming likes the athletes in Michigan's class. Michigan will bring in a number of preferred walkon candidates this weekend, to get them to join the Wolverines. PA DE Jordan Paskorz gets profiled by AnnArbor.com.
A little more on Lemming's opinion of Michigan's class. His top 100 is more Scout than Rivals in its optimism:
9. Devin Gardner
42. Marvin Robinson
50. (Hypothetically) Sean Parker
92. Cullen Christian
News from the future: a look to the 2011 class. We'll be jumping in with both feet as soon as the 2010 class signs. There should be another Michigan Junior Day coming up in February.
FL WR Chris Gallon has been hearing from Michigan. He is transferring to Dr. Phillips High School from Oviedo, and the Wolverines would like to add him as another piece in a package deal including RB Demetrius Hart and S Hasean Clinton-Dix. Michigan is the leader for Hart, and has offered Clinton-Dix, though Alabama and Florida State lead. Be forewarned though, as Nick Saban is on the trail in Orlando.
The Wolverines extended an offer to WV RB Allan Wasonga. The Wolverines are his second offer, joining the Ohio RAWRCATZ of the MAC. As you can see in the picture to the right, Wasonga appears to be a very serious fellow.
Michigan has offered TX OL Garrett Greenlea.
The Wolverines join Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Baylor, Texas Tech, Houston and Duke in offering the two time all-district pick.
Greenlea looks like he'll be a big-time prospect (Oklahoma is reportedly soon to offer), so he might be a tough pull. Michigan is definitely in the market for some offensive linemen in this class, so top recruits are obviously the goal.
OH LB Trey DePriest, an mgoblog favorite, talks with Sam Webb about his recruitment in the Detroit News:
"I can't lie, I've been a fan of Michigan growing up, but that doesn't mean that they are my school of choice at this time," DePriest told Scout.com. "I'm going into this with open eyes. I want to go where I can play early and go to a school that has a winning tradition. I like to win. I'm going to treat them just like all the rest of the schools. I have to go through the process with eyes wide open. I'm just looking at everything. Another school might have something that Michigan doesn't."
"The main thing is if they've got what I want academically," he explained. "One of my coaches told me something and I got to thinking about it. Knock on wood, if I got hurt would it be somewhere that I'd want to stay for four years?"
Michigan certainly passes all those tests: Play early? Check. Winning tradition? Check. Good academics? Check. As long as Michigan can turn it around on the field in 2010, they'll have a great shot at Trey. Just for the record (since these Detroit News articles disappear behind a paywall), here were DePriest's testing numbers from the Under Armor Combine:
DePriest lived up to that billing at the recent Under Armour All American combine in Orlando, Fla. He measured in at 6 foot 2 and 225 pounds, vertical jumped 32 inches and did 28 reps of 185 pounds. In one-on-one drills, his 4.55 speed in the 40 and outstanding quickness allowed him to cover the nimblest of backs like a blanket.
He has been offered a position in the 2011 Under Armour Game, which he has already accepted. Caution, though: He hit up Ohio State's Junior Day a couple weeks ago instead of the Wolverines'.
DePriest's buddy, OH QB Braxton Miller, is considered a mortal lock to Ohio State, but even if he wasn't, it doesn't sound like the Wolverines have a great shot at him. Eleven Warriors caught up with Miller at a basketball tournament in Columbus, and the dual-threat expressed interest in a few schools, not including the one in Ann Arbor:
Assuming the Talbott brothers stick in Michigan's 2010 class, they'll give the Wolverines a familiar face to Miller, their high school teammate, which at least gives them a chance to land him.
In more bad QB recruiting news for the Class of 2011, we're quarterback-centric. NC QB Christian LeMay (pictured at right) has narrowed to a top 10, and the Wolverines ain't in it:
Stacey LeMay said his son's list of 10 potential college choices are: Florida, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, Miami, Mississippi State, Florida State, Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
Note: All are in the Southeast except for Oklahoma. I'll leave him on the board for now (though downgrade to a nefarious Eduardo) since Rich Rodriguez was in his school this week, and teammate LB Kris Frost loves Michigan. He plans to decide and enroll early, so we should know very quickly if MIchigan's chance is indeed 0%.
Rick Comley said that he didn't think this was happening, but apparently it is:
Michigan and Michigan State will take their hockey rivalry to another level in December when they play outdoors at the Big House.
The deal was recently finalized, a U-M official said, and the Wolverines and Spartans will take the ice at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 11 at 3 p.m.
A game at Michigan Stadium would shatter the hockey attendance record—still held by the first Cold War, but under threat later this year—if it sells out.