it's a major award
Basketball? Is terrible. Not even mildly competitive against good teams. We appear to be headed for the NIT again. Depressingly, the vibe out there is that six years of total failure is not enough for Michigan to go looking for a new head coach unless the rest of the season is a total mockery of the game of basketball instead of the merely thorough mockery it's been so far when not playing teams like Maryland-Baltimore County and Six Guys With One Arm Between Them.
This is not so much about losing by a bunch to the #2 or #3 team in the country on the road. It's more about the cumulative effect of all those blowouts and the inability of Amaker to get his guys to do fairly basic basketball things like box out or care.
Hockey. WCH links to this article on the NCAA's talent influx, which is obviously a good thing but has the unfortunate side effect of an (I hate) college basketball-esque spate of early departures. I don't know WTF the NHL is thinking when they make assertions like this:
Economic realities of the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement led observers to believe fewer players would leave early. The size of bonuses and salaries teams can offer draft picks has been significantly reduced, with the rookie maximum now at $850,000 per season. Still, Gophers freshman center Kessel, Wisconsin's Pavelski and Denver's Stastny, among others, bid adieu to their college teams.
NHL Executive Vice President Bill Daly points out that the current provision in the CBA was intended to encourage more student athletes to complete their college educations before turning pro.
"I'm not sure the empirical facts actually support the concern about more players leaving college early," Daly said, "but we are obviously monitoring those trends and will continue to do so as we develop more experience operating under the new CBA."
The new CBA is a disaster as far as keeping kids in school is concerned. A team's rights expire the summer after a player graduates, making it unlikely anyone makes it to their senior year. The rookie cap acts as an incentive to go whenever you get offered it: you cannot improve your bargaining position by failing to sign and you want to get that three-year contract out of the way so you can make more money. There are no boundaries on what NHL GMs can do to college teams. They often sign players on the very eve of the season, leaving NCAA teams in the lurch.
Whereas players leaving for the NFL or NBA must announce their entry into the draft a reasonable amount of time before next season, hockey's draft-and-follow allows kids to be plucked off campus at any time. Mike Cammalleri and Dwight Helminen both bolted at the last possible moment, Helminen just a week after Bryan Lerg switched his commitment to Michigan State because Michigan, lacking scholarships, wanted him to play a year in the USHL. Lerg is now leading MSU in scoring; his dwarf cousin is a decent goalie for them even if he's vulnerable to six-hole goals.
This is the long way of saying that this proposed rule change...
[Minnesota coach Don] Lucia is in favor of the NHL adopting a rule that a decision on whether a draftee signs a contract be made by mid-July.
...would be most welcome. This one?
One move discussed would prohibit a player who joins a college team from signing a professional contract for two years.
Not so much, unless you want to see the Erik Johnsons and Phil Kessels go to major junior.
Hey, stupidity. Hensick for Hobey? Not if he keeps scoring those hat tricks!
When's the last time a guy's stock dropped after scoring a hat trick? The three goals he tallied at Alaska Friday were Hensick's first scores since Thanksgiving weekend and other than the hattie, he's collected just five assists in the Wolverines' last nine games. What really hurts Hensick's candidacy, however, are his teammates. Junior forward Kevin Porter has 39 points to Hensick's 41, but he's got at least one point in 23 of U-M's 26 games. Sophomore forward Andrew Cogliano, meanwhile, has just 29 points, but he's been the most productive Wolverine over the last two months. Witness his 10-2â€”12 scoring line in eight games since Dec. 1.
So. Stupid. The reason Kevin Porter has 39 points? TJ Hensick. A hat trick plus five assists in nine games? One point short of a PPG. Nine games is the window because? The game before that he had four assists.
Dude. Some things I didn't know that I do know: TJ was injured for most of the Saturday game against Alaska and the CCHA mandates that a team can't go on the road after making said trip.
Um. Wow. The Hoover Street Rag gets all analytical about this "best conference" stuff and comes up with a few answers.
TMQuestionable. I hesitate to take issue with Gregg Easterbrook, since he's a Brookings scholar and if he deigned to notice criticism from this quarter he could probably kill me with bolts of pure mental energy, but... yeah. Here goes anyway. Latest TMQ:
Good as New England always is, its offensive strategy in the endgame seemed puzzling. Leading 34-31 with 2:39 remaining, facing second-and-8, the Patriots came out empty backfield. This is a clock-killer situation, run the ball! Short pass, Indianapolis timeout. Now facing third-and-4 with 2:30 remaining, the Patriots came out empty backfield. This is a clock-killer situation, run the ball! Incompletion stopping the clock, and the home team gets possession back with plenty of time.
Nein, TMQ. Nein. With 2:39 remaining and Indianapolis possessing timeouts and the two minute warning, running on second and third down would have resulted in a punt with at least 2:00 on the clock. This is a situation that occurs frequently and is just as frequently ill-coached. In this situation there is a huge benefit to gaining a first down -- game over -- and a clock stoppage on an incompletion costs little, as Indianapolis was going to stop said clock anyway. Weekly dispenser of high-falutin' coachin' advice and cheerleader cheesecake, heal thyself... and continue with the cheesecake.
Get this man a scrabble board. Brent Petway's quote before the Wisconsin game:
"We've been talking about it, we're ready to get back on the road," he said. "Everyone says we can't get a win on the road, so (Madison) would be the best place to put that stigma to rest."
Stigma? Used correctly, even.
Odd Mundy rumor. Apparently there's some rumor kicking around the Pittsburgh internets that Ryan Mundy is looking to transfer there. It was shot down by Chris Dokish of the Pittsburgh Sports Report on his blog. The reason:
d not have a scholarship for him so he would need to walk on.
Volumes about Mundy in on sentence and more fuel for the he-gone fire. (I previously asserted that Mundy would not return next year based on a solid tip.) At first blush such a transfer would seem impossible, but remember that the NCAA passed a new rule last year that allows players with an undergraduate degree to transfer without losing any eligibility.
Internets stalking for good. This is Cass Tech junior Boubacar Cissoko's Myspace page. Cissoko, a cornerback, was the MVP of the Army All-American junior combine. So... like, good.
Etc.: Interesting scouting-process-related quotes from various NFL personages from the Senior Bowl; Apparently, Rob Parker is regarded as the "worst columnist in America" by many. Who can tell?
Hello. It's livebloggin' time. Michigan plays in Madison against the #2 Badgers and projects to get ham sandwiched like you wouldn't believe, at least if you're a perpetually pessimistic Michigan basketball fan. And if you're not... why aren't you? Autism?
Anyway. Bo Ryan can do this:
So we're totally going to lose.
8:00 PM. Hey... the game is at nine. Uh. Nevermind. Catch you in an hour.
9:03 PM. I think this is the second thing that wasn't hockey I ever watched on Comcast Local. Not a good start for the color guy, who can't even read his "keys to the game." Courtney Sims is sporting a creepy 'stache. He wins the tap. Maybe this is like a creepy child-molesting Sampson thing.
So Michigan manages to miss three shots on its first possession, then gets a postup from Abram for a 2-0 lead. Everyone on the team has new haircuts. This is critical information. Tucker misses and Harris nails a deep three; we're up 5-0. Um. 7-0. Harris transition runner off glass.
Wow. We're 8th in the country in three-point shooting. Block inside, missed bunny, open Coleman jumper in transition goes down. 9-0. Offensive rebounds for UW lead to a Petway foul on Tucker; he's one of two and it's 9-1. And a Harris turnover; Harris turnover on the next possession. One of Wisconsin's players is rocking awesome glasses. Third straight turnover after Butch quote-unquote "threw down" Courtney Sims but was not called. First break: 9-3 Michigan.
We appear to have Petway on Tucker, which is an interesting attempt to neutralize their best player with a guy who can, like, block many things.
9:15 PM. I don't actually think Courtney Sims needs to stay out of foul trouble, as he's unnoticeable. Defensive breakdown leads to an Abram foul but two bricked FTs. We're getting jacked by the refs; weak foul on Coleman. Jerrett Smith: new haircut. Abram lets a cutter through for an easy hoop. Second straight bad play from Abram on defense. We follow it up with a turnover, and this is the Michigan basketball team we all know and barely tolerate. Another touch loose ball foul and we already have five fouls to Wisconsin's 0. (Turnovers: 4-0, Wisconsin.) Now 9-9; nice move by Butch.
9:20 PM. Smith carries the ball; turnover. Wisconsin's Guy Who Looks Like Chris Rock Guy all up in his face as the clock wound down after a Udoh offensive rebound. Tucker shoves away a Michigan defender and gets a foul; Bo Ryan is livid. Abram manages to pick up a 15-footer. And he picks up a foul(!). Second commercial break.
Udoh and Deshawn Sims have been in for this last little stretch and haven't done much. Big Ten Wonk's scouting report on Wisconsin has borne out so far. On defense they never try to block shots. They just stay in position, get their hands up and in your face, and make you shoot over them.
Wisconsin's student section: the "Grateful Red." Stupidest name in all of college basketball student sections?
Abram toasted again by some guy who sounds like his last name goes on a jar of sauerkraut; more dribble penetration, this one from Brian Butch... uh, sag off that guy? Sims got elbowed in the face on that play; no call. Wisconsin now leads for the first time, 15-13. Petway HUGE dunk. Stiemsma (this is not the proper spelling, I don't care) posterized and picks up a foul. Tied again. Super. Petway takes an obvious charge: blocking foul. Michigan now in the penalty with ten minutes left in the half. Smith gets called for traveling. Seven turnovers. We're keeping pace with the fouls. Another traveling call. I hate college basketball.
You know, it's really irritating to see Ryan bitch after every call against his team when they have three fouls and we have eighty seven. Udoh's first shot is an ugly brick... and hey, another off-the-ball foul. Eight minutes left in the half, Wisconsin by four. We have eight fouls and eight turnovers.
9:36 PM. Tucker has two fouls? This was not useful information for the announcers to relate when it happened? Sims hits a long hook shot. Bad shot, but it goes in. Feel the power of the creepy mustache. Sims travel; forget the mustache. Wisconsin turnover -- pass thrown into two guys -- leads to Udoh getting two on a nice post move that ends up getting goaltended. No... seriously, this Wisconsin team is like a polite version of Rasheed Wallace whenever called for a foul. Udoh runs over Butch on an innocent pass near the three point line. Unnecessary. I'd call it a freshman mistake, but... uh... yeah. Abram bricks a three; Deshawn Sims gets wildly out of position yield a dunk. Wisconsin by five. Abram brick; Sims foul in the backcourt leads to more Wisconsin foul shots. Front end of the one-and-one missed. Courtney Sims with a weak offensive foul. A turnover and a foul all in one; Guy Who Looks Like Chris Rock Guy nails a three. Jerrett Smith bricks a left-handed runner. Taylor fouled; more foul shots. I hate college basketball.
No, seriously, why do I do this to myself? Michigan's turnover and foul-filled badcoachingfest is only brought into starker relief when playing Wisconsin, a team that hardly ever does either of those things. I'm sticking to this 20-point rule, by the way.
9:48 PM. CSims fouled after a nice Smith pass to set up what would have been a dunk otherwise. CSims one of two. Udoh lets a guy in front of him for a two-pointer... turnover. I hate college basketball. A charging foul on Wisconsin. Smith sets up Udoh and gets him to the line and converts; UW turnover and another Smith pass that setes up a CSims layup. Wisconsin three. Sims dunk again; sealing Landry. Udoh block on Taylor; Landry block on Smith coming down at the end of the half. 33-26, UW.
Well: we've shot well and made a number of nice plays, but we've committed a ton of fouls and turnovers. Defensively we've let Wisconsin have a ton of easy opportunities, three of which can be left directly at Lester Abram's feet. Smith's played well. Harris missed most of the half after picking up two quick fouls, neither of which was particularly smart or necessary.
10:04 PM. 90% of the commercials at halftime have been for either the schools or the conference. It's like college hockey on FSN, where every ad is for some Ilitch-related enterprise like Little Caesar's or horrible miscarriages of acting at the Fox Theater or wherever. Feel the advertising dollars pour... somewhere else.
10:06 PM. Note: I think we only have three or four attempts from beyond the arc. Wisconsin has smartly limited our opportunities. Correction: we have TWO three-point attempts. (Space, bitches!) Part of that is Harris being out; part of it is not having anyone who can dribble penetrate, and part of that is just Wisconsin. Montage of the first half consist mostly of people bitching at the referees; no surprise.
Dude, Tucker, their best player by a country mile, only played five minutes in the first half and we were still down seven. Wooo Abram foul. Woo easy layup for Tucker. Woo bricked Harris three; woo layup for Wisconsin. Coleman comes off a screen deep into the shot clock and hits a tough fallaway. Woo? GWLLCRG misses a three; Sims takes a eighteen footer. We get a rebound the other end, it's stripped and Petway gives up the basket and a foul. Tucker picks up another foul and will have to sit again. And Harris picks up his third on the next possession. Woo. Wisconsin by 11 at the first commercial break.
>10:17 PM. A commenter suggests that the now-defunct "Gene Pool" at Purdue had a stupider name than the "Grateful Red," but I disagree. Both are stupid, but one at least refers to, you know, science and stuff instead of a band adored by Bill Walton.
Udoh commits another foul. Abram is visibly disgusted, and so am I. Wisconsin scores, Sims blocked. Harris left wide open for three; hideous brick. Another Wisconsin layup and a Michigan timeout. Wisconsin up 15; we are potentially two possessions away from the 20-point rule.
10:23 PM. Turnover! No. The Badger guy got a finger on it. Smith tossed the ball away when he had an open three. Harris does get a three, but bricked. Okay, this is ridiculous. Every trip down the floor Michigan picks up a ticky-tack foul. I, attempting to follow the magnanimous lead of Big Ten Wonk -- one of his "four dullest topics for a college hoops blog" is refereeing -- attempt to not go all tinfoil hat, but goddamn this home/away thing in the Big Ten is unbelievable. If you are on the road in this league you have no chance of getting a fair whistle. Petway's just fouled out with 12:43 left in the game, then he got T-ed up. A joke. A goddamn joke. I hate college basketball.
10:29 PM. Meanwhile, we've gotten a five-minute break for no particular reason. Feel the competence emanating from every pore on these referee's bodies. Abram hits a three; I'm torn because of the 20 point rule. DSims is awful defensively at this point in his career, allowing Landry to blow by for the easiest two points ever.
10:39 PM. Well, Jerrett Smith just got killed on a Graham-Brown-esque screen. He's down and staying down. Wisconsin ignores a Reed Baker-Tucker mismatch in the post and nails a three. Coleman with a jumper. Tucker hacked by Abram. Next possession for Wisconsin: Tucker blows by Abram. Wisconsin shooting 60%; Abram travel. Wisconsin up 19 with the ball. Tension! Udoh foul! Wisconsin hits a free-throw! Twenty-point rule invoked!
Empty today. Liveblog of Wisconsin-Michigan coming tomorrow. Prediction: pain!
So hey! At least for things that weren't football recruiting, this weekend was the anti-last weekend. I managed to miss the basketball game but did see the hockey team perform this "sweep" operation that is all the rage in Minnesota these days. Though it was hard to draw many impressions from the low-quality ESPNU feed -- it looked like it was delivered via caribou herd, though it's hard to get on anyone for televising college hockey games from Alaska -- and the sound-free broadcast, some bullets on the weekend.
Billy Sauer. I believe these will be the first unambiguously positive words I've ever written on they guy: unambiguously positive! Though he gave me the flaming heebie-jeebies at times on Saturday versus Northern (one sequence where Sauer was stuck in his net for seemingly forever, flailing around uselessly while play was going on elsewhere, stands out), he hasn't allowed a soft goal since at least the GLI. That's only four games, but that's something. Also he saved Michigan's bacon early in both games versus Fairbanks. At one point Saturday Michigan trailed 1-0 and was being outshot 22-8. He looked so poised late in that game that the panic about every shot heading towards the net that emerged midway through Montoya's junior year disappeared for a time.
Brandon Naurato? No... seriously, Brandon Naurato? A friend who shall remain shamefully anonymous said "there's a guy who won't play next year" after a goal from him -- it's been the kind of year where everything gets sarcastically assessed, even the good things -- earlier in the season. At the time it seemed plausible: Michigan brings in five forwards who are going to play and loses only two. If Cogliano, Porter, and Kolarik all stay he'd have to compete with Fardig and Hagelin for the last spot on the fourth line... as long as he doesn't spend the rest of the year scoring sick partial breakaways worthy of Hensick, firing critical cross-ice passes to set up tying-goal tap-ins, and having four-point weekends. The line on Naurato has been "boy, can he shoot... too bad he can't do anything else" for a year and a half now, but we may have to reassess him. Submitted that he's on a hot streak right now and he's not likely to keep up this torrid pace, but like Sauer he's had a bangup last four games. Now has 9-6-15.
TJ! I think TJ Hensick might be the best player I've seen at Michigan, a subset of players that goes back to '98. There's only one player in the conversation as a forward, and that's Mike Comrie. Even during the miserable 2-1 loss to Northern, your depressed correspondent found several tiny moments of pure joy watching Hensick do everything exactly right, setting up his teammates for scoring chances they couldn't finish. He's now the country's second-leading scorer; the leader plays for Air Force and thus against poor competition. (Nate Davis of Miami is tied with Hensick, but TJ has two games in hands.) I guess what I'm saying is: can we get a "Hobey Baker" chant at Yost? It's the least TJ deserves.
Hoback or Hoglind or whatever. Question for anyone in the know: is there a special Alaska ref who just does UAA and UAF games? I'd never heard of the guy they had doing the games this weekend. He seemed to do an all right job except for a tendency to put Michigan down 5x3 for two-minute chunks for little reason.
A friendly note amongst friends. As mentioned, I'm loathe to criticize anything when the luxury of a televised Michigan away game is kindly provided by ESPN or CSTV or whoever, but good Lord it can't be that difficult to get a penalty clock up. Combined with Ho-something's 5x3 carnivale, the U crew's inability to get Hockey Broadcasting 101 down would have caused several heart attacks if hockey was really popular. As it is, it just caused great irritation localized in me.
Huh? At least for the moment, Michigan is in position to receive an at-large bid to the NCAAs. USCHO's current pairwise has them in a tie for tenth with CC. I'll take a closer look at the individual comparisons sometime later in the season and attempt to determine our range of potential results; the pairwise is a notoriously flaky system prone to inexplicable swings.
Four CCHA teams are in the tournament as of right now: #4 ND, #8 MSU, #10 Michigan, and #12 Miami. No one else is in the top 25 in RPI. Interesting wild-card: the CHA's Niagara is on the cusp of an at-large bid. At #16 they'll have to move up at least two spots and hope that upsets don't happen in the major conference tourneys, but it's a possibility.
So: tourney streak has a shot, but Michigan's weak schedule down the stretch means they have precious little room for error. Hensick for Hobey. Naurato for Regular Contributor, 2007. Sauer for I'll Take Average And Like It.
Update 1/12: Linked to article on IN DT Jeff Boyd: we lead, no offer (academics)... nevermind. Removed commits Jerimy Finch and Marquis Maze. Removed everyone else, basically.
Editorial Opinion: The list of uncommitted recruits we're still in with a shot at: Ronald Johnson, Rashad Mason. We are also recruiting Jermale Hines and Donovan Warren, but they're widely presumed to be locks to OSU and USC, respectively. Mason appears to be a longshot. He's from Tennessee and is visiting various southern schools plus us. Everyone in a position to rumble about RoJo says he's going to Michigan but -- unlike Hines and Warren -- hasn't publicly expressed any sentiment about a leader.
In sum: we're waiting on Ronald Johnson and scouring for potential contributors. I'm sure a couple names will come up and commit. They'll have offers from MAC schools and few stars, but they'll be bodies who are potential contributors.
So... yeah, Finch. Even with a hypothetical RoJo commit he would have been easily the third best recruit in the class. His loss moves the class a fair chunk of the way from "disappointing" to "outright disaster." No RoJo == outright disaster, on a par with the 2000 class. If we do get him, we'll have addressed the crying needs at QB and CB from last year's excellent class and shouldn't have a Willingham-esque gap between quality recruits that's going to hammer Notre Dame's lines next year. (Other than the current gap at cornerback that's already hammering us.) There will be a lot of pressure on the Michigan staff to put together a 2008 class on a par with the 2006 group -- one bad recruiting class won't kill you but two in a row will cause problems.