Coach Rodriguez briefly talked to the media at halftime of the basketball game against Iowa (Michigan leads 29-17 at the half). Relevant notes from coach:
- Michigan is looking to sign 26-28 recruits in the class of 2010.
- Rodriguez talked to a few coaches about Michigan's open linebackers coaching position at the coaches' meetings a couple weeks ago. They won't worry about hiring somebody until after Signing Day, but should have the new coach hired within a week of that date.
- All the players who have had offseason surgery (Mike Martin, Vincent Smith, et al) are progressing on pace with their rehab. They'll still be out for spring, but should be ready to play in the fall.
- As long as Kelvin Grady can manage his academics with playing basketball, Rodriguez has no problem with him re-joining John Beilein's squad. There shouldn't be too much interference between football spring practice and the basketball season, but if there is, the coaches will let him continue playing basketball.
- In spring practice, the slots and running backs are overlapping duties a bit, because many of the guys who play slot are used to the running back position from their high school days.
- The coaches are still trying to find guys who can help on defense. Cameron Gordon is one guy who is looking at a potential switch to the other side of the ball.
Rodriguez will have a formal press conference on Wednesday for the signing of the Class of 2010. More details on MGoBlog's Signing Day coverage coming later.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Iowa|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||4:30 PM EST
January 29th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan -13*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
After the heartbreaker against Michigan State, Michigan's tough 3-game stretch in the Big Ten Conference has come to an end. The Wolverines will have to go on quite a run to have a chance at the NCAA tournament, and will have to go better than .500 in their final 10 contests to even qualify for the NIT.
I'm still of the opinion that, since conference play has kicked off, Michigan has been a pretty good team. Despite chokes against Indiana and Northwestern, they've been steadily improving on both ends of the court, but primarily on defense (more on this following the weekend). Facing a team like Iowa, Michigan's defense should be able to shut down the opponent, creating opportunities on the other end of the floor, and hopefully leading to a blowout.
Not of particular relevance to this game, but still important to the program, is that Beilein announced yesterday that assistant coach Jerry Dunn, who has been on a leave of absence for family reason since late December, will rejoin the team following this weekend.
The Hawkeyes are a lot like the 2007-08 Michigan team, or last year's Indiana squad: They're undermanned, and kinda terrible. The key difference is that Iowa is in year three of the Todd Lickliter Experience, not year one like those other squads were. Of course, Penn State may prevent Iowa from even finishing last in the conference, but the Hawkeyes are pretty bad.
Iowa started the year with losses to college basketball luminaries Texas-San Antonio and Duquesne, but has actually not been that bad since. They've lost to every opponent that Ken Pomeroy ranks better than 100, and beaten everyone below that line (including #108 Penn State and #135 Indiana). They currently sit at 8-13 on the season, with a 2-6 record in Big Ten Play.
Iowa is a very young team, with only two players, forwards Jarryd Cole and Devan Bawinkel, upperclassmen (a result of major attrition over the first couple year of the Lickliter era). Sophomore Matt Gatens and freshman Cully Payne play the lion's share of available minutes, but don't really excel in any one skill except not fouling opponents and dishing the ball (the only categories in which either is ranked in Ken Pomeroy's top 500 players). Gatens will play today on a sprained ankle he suffered prior to the Ohio State game. Sophomore Anthony Tucker is one of the team's most talented players, using the most possessions and shooting the ball among the best on the team when he's on the court, but he's been suspended since December for a public intoxication infraction, and will not play against Michigan.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Iowa: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Iowa Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Iowa Def eFG%||195||276||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Iowa eFG%||174||111||I|
|Mich TO% v. Iowa Def TO%||19||277||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Iowa TO%||58||278||MMM|
|Mich OReb% v. Iowa DReb%||278||46||III|
|Mich DReb% v. Iowa OReb%||234||247||M|
|Mich FTR v. Iowa Opp FTR||330||25||IIII|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Iowa FTR||16||320||MMMM|
|Mich AdjO v. Iowa AdjD||91||175||M|
|Mich AdjD v. Iowa AdjO||43||134||M|
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.
For the first time in quite a while (since the home contest against Indiana), the Wolverines have a significant advantage by the numbers. The only things Iowa looks to do well are prevent Michigan from making a lot of shots, prevent the Wolverines from coming down with those misses, and not send them to the free throw line. In terms of shooting, Michigan has struggled this year, but against an overmatched team like Iowa figures to be, Deshawn Sims can likely have a field day from midrange, and the 3-balls that so often miss might not even be attempted.
One thing that the Hawkeyes have managed to do when holding opponents to lower scoring outputs (on a per-possession basis) is turn them over, but unfortunately for them, they haven't been able to do it that frequently, and it should be no difference this afternoon, as the Wolverines are exceptional at holding onto the rock.
Ken Pomeroy predicts an 11-point Michigan win, and gives the Wolverines an 89% chance of emerging victorious. I think the margin will actually be a little wider, and Michigan pounds the overmatched Hawkeyes by a score of 70-52.
Dylan previews the game at UMHoops. Black Heart Gold Pants talks a number of basketball issues, including idiotic newspaper columns and the absence of Anthony Tucker. AnnArbor.com's Michael Rothstein previews the game.
Red versus the fly. Oilers blogger Lowetide usually kicks off his posts with some old-timey pictures and a comparison between then and now. The latest one is a shot, of all possible things, of Red Berenson taking on the LA Kings:
Appparently their goalie at the time was The Fly. Somehow Red managed to not score here, by the way.
Iowa takes the lead. I'm claiming Demon Bear II for Michigan since he blows up Michigan's three primary rivals. Even so, Iowa has surged back into the lead when it comes to absurd, awesome internet memeage:
(Stanzi the Americanzi was Iowa's first point in this battle.)
Biographical note: when I was in college one of the things we carved out unassailable TV time for was a K-pop video show called "MVH"—for reasons unknown we called it "Mein Video Hitten"—that was a combination of this, ridiculous Korean hip-hop by groups like "Highfive of Teenagers" (or "HOT"), and terrible six-minute ballads in which someone was definitely going to die of a wasting disease. The tension was palpable whenever a new video would come on and we didn't know if it was going to be smokin' chicks in bathtubs or something painfully earnest. I am intensely jealous of Iowa for this. I have definitely not been watching the video most of today.
The sudden relevance of tricorn hats. I wasn't going into Signing Day thinking that musketeers would have any relevance but two separate incidents are taking us back to 1776. One is Bucknell—of the Patriot League—raiding Rutgers for a head coach:
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell hired Joe Susan to take over as head football coach Wednesday, luring back a former Bison assistant to lead a program coming off three straight losing seasons.
Why do you care? Susan is also the recruiting coordinator for Rutgers and his departure might have an impact on FL S Rashad Knight's final decision. Schiano says it won't impact recruiting but it can't help. Bleed Scarlet thinks he was an important guy, FWIW.
The other is a reminder that recruiting could always be worse:
Now all Bruce Heggie has to do is "seal the deal." Heggie, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound TE/DE at Mount Dora High, was mired in a dilemma since December. He was looking for a place to play college football and kept striking out.
"Last week FAMU backed out of their offer and said there wasn't going to be an official visit this weekend," Heggie said. "There was William & Mary, [ed: of the Colonial Athletic Association!] but other than that there weren't really anymore options."
Heggie's taking a visit to… yes… Notre Dame this weekend. It'll be interesting to see how the recruiting rivalry between Michigan and ND develops now that Weis is gone. Weis flat-out killed Michigan head to head even in the waning days of his administration; about the only folks who had a short list with both schools on it that chose Michigan were Mike Williams and Mike Schofield. Things can only get better for Michigan with Kelly there.
DANCE DANCE DANCE TILL WE RUN THIS TOWN.
More Graham. AnnArbor.com was in on a Todd McShay conference call in which the torrent of Brandon Graham praise continued:
“There wasn’t a guy here this week that hustled more, that had better technique, that picked up schemes and did things as quickly as anyone at the defensive-line position or outside-linebacker position,” McShay said. “He’s just a Bill Belichick-type of guy. He’s going to come in and love playing the game and play it better than his measurables and his skill set would lead you to believe.”
I'm hoping he lands somewhere Michigan-heavy so I can have a proxy NFL team. Also, I think we can exclude Bruce Tall from any diagnoses of what ails Michigan's defense.
Historian. This one is seriously obscure: the 1971 Michigan-OSU game, which wasn't even on TV. No audio, of course, just coaches tapes:
|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.