Signing Day 2010 promises to be far less hectic than last year, when Michigan picked up Denard Robinson, Adrian Witty, and Je'ron Stokes but lost out on Pearlie Graves and Dequinta Jones, and far, far less hectic than 2008, when Michigan snake-oiled a half-dozen guys and Sam McGuffie went on a vision quest. But it's still going down, and we'll be here to answer all your questions six to ten times each.
An up-to-the-minute accounting of events that will go down tomorrow: [UPDATE: HA HA! I meant Wednesday.]
CA S Sean Parker announces at 10 AM on ESPN. National guru opinion is USC, Michigan insider opinion is Michigan.
FL S Rashad Knight could drop to Rutgers or Michigan at any time but since he's waited this long he'll probably have a signing day press conference of some sort. Time is indeterminate. This one is fuzzy.
FL S Demar Dorsey announces tomorrow. Florida State is the favorite; Michigan just put on the full-court press. USC is also involved. Florida pulled his offer once he started looking around.
OH DT Terry Talbott may end up elsewhere. Twitter du Tom:
Jay Minton, Terry Talbott's coach sent me an email: "Terry's head is spinning, I wish I could tell you what he'll do."
There is an article on Rivals($) to similar effect. Talbott visited North Carolina two weeks ago. Brother and OH CB Terrence Talbott did not go and has been adamant he will sign with Michigan and the brothers wanted to stay together, so Michigan should come out on top here. That quote is alarming, though.
Other decommits are unlikely. No other Michigan recruits have taken post-commitment visits and all of them have taken Michigan officials; it would take some Roy Roundtree-style subterfuge for a Michigan commit to end up elsewhere. MI RB Austin White, TX RB Stephen Hopkins, MI QB Devin Gardner, MI WR Ricardo Miller, MI WR Jeremy Jackson, OH WR Jerald Robinson, and OH OL Christian Pace are already on campus.
Things happening tomorrow:
- A potentially epic signing day liveblog kicks off at 9:30 to catch the Parker announcement. Depending on level of interest and how tolerant we are of answering the same questions fifteen times, this may extend until the Rich Rodriguez press conference scheduled for 6 PM.
- The most timely MGoPodcast in history will drop, though obviously it will not contain information on Parker, Knight, or Dorsey.
- The front page will update throughout the day with things that are occurring.
1/29/2010 – Michigan 2-ish, Michigan State 3-ish – 14-12-1, 9-9-1-0 CCHA
1/30/2010 – Michigan 5, Michigan State 4 – 15-12-1, 10-9-1-0 CCHA
I feel kind of bad that when you google former CCHA referee Kevin Langseth's name the first three hits are:
- A post on this blog titled "People Better At Their Jobs Than Kevin Langseth" featuring Stephen A. Smith, Carrot Top, the FEMA director during Hurricane Katrina, William Henry Harrison and, most lethally, Nickelback.
- A duplicate of that post with some useless html doohickeys on the end.
- A duplicate of that post from the Notre Dame message board that reposts my RSS feed in full.
Thanks to me, Langseth is in need of some serious online brand management. Then I go back and click the link to the Yost Built post which I let stand as explanation and the red mist descends and all I remembered is mustachioed walrus incompetence and I shake my head. That post came in the aftermath of a game against Ohio State in which 1) an OSU player kicked a goal in* and 2) a goal that banked in off Louie Caporusso's chest was inexplicably disallowed by Langseth despite the fact that there was a senior official in an excellent spot to make a call. Michigan lost by a goal. It was the second important game that year—a game against Notre Dame was the first— in which Michigan had lost by a goal in a game where two blatantly incorrect decisions to allow or disallow goals had gone against them.
Langseth hasn't been seen around Yost this fall; I assume he decided having rabid bloggers seriously damage his online brand wasn't worth it and is now in the nascent stages of a lucrative career selling mustache grooming accessories. The senior official in an excellent spot was Matt Shegos.
So now Michigan has a man-advantage with just over two minutes to go and a chance to pull off a huge comeback on the road. Just after the penalty expired, Chris Brown was standing in the slot. The puck hit him and bounced down, through the legs of Drew Palmisano, and into the net. Like, straight through the legs of Palmisano. We're not talking pinballing. We're not talking the puck died between his legs but was still loose and someone jammed it in. It hit Chris Brown, bounced down, went right through Palmisano into the net.
Shegos somehow missed this and blew the play dead within milliseconds of the puck going underneath Palmisano. The whistle may not have gone until the puck was in the net (I'm not sure), but thanks to the most retarded rule in sports--the play is dead when it's dead in the referee's mind, not when he blows the whistle--you can't review it.
Son of a.
What's the story of the weekend when Michigan claws back from 3-0 down to tie and manages to blow its own 3-0 lead only to charge back with a season-rescuing win at Joe Louis? "Hey, maybe we can do this thing." What's the story now? Yost Built, let your graphic stylings roam free!
That's inescapable. Michigan split the weekend and ended up dropping a slot in the pairwise. If we're looking at RPI, as we usually do this far out, the #14 team has a 0.5385. Here's what they have to do to approach that:
Win seven and a half of nine.
I don't even know what to say. Shegos is clearly the best ref in the league. He still made a huge, game changing error that was so far beyond plausible that I'd rather have the rotating cast of drafted linesmen and guys I've never seen before—the pool Langseth was taken from—in charge.
*(Since this rule changes every two months and is different in every league across the continent, let me clarify how egregious this was: at this moment in history the NCAA rule on kicking the puck in was "anything that touches an offensive player's skate and goes into the net as a result is disallowed." Intent, kicking motions, all that stuff: irrelevant. Skate –> net –> disallowed.)
Holy God was Michigan bad on Friday. Even getting in a position to tie that game was a minor miracle after two and a half periods had yielded maybe three or four scoring chances and probably double or triple that number for Michigan State. It was the reverse of the Ferris weekend, where Michigan played an excellent game Friday and a totally gross one Saturday. The Saturday Ferris and Friday State games were identical down to the final-ish score and the late, ultimately unsuccessful (-ish) Michigan comeback.
Hogan's save percentage speaks for itself. I've been arguing with people about how much culpability Bryan Hogan has for Michigan's crappy record all year, and I think the soft shortie against Ferris and the fat rebounds he kicked out all weekend against State are evidence enough that the reason Hogan has a .902 save percentage—54th nationally of 77 qualifying goalies—is mostly that he's not playing well.
The other idea was that Michigan gives up a small quantity of high quality shots. That may have some truth to it, but every study that serious hockey bloggers have undertaken suggests that relative save percentage is a seriously meaningful way to compare goalies, and Hogan is not doing well in that.
Persons of note. I don't think Chris Brown's at the point where he could pull a Pacioretty and leave just as he turned into a ninja, but I am a little concerned the NHL will look at his corner-friendly frame and willingness to take a beating in front of the net and scoop him up before his time. Except—hey—he's a Coyotes draft pick. The 'Yotes are either cheap or patient or wise or all three and have left their last three Michigan draft picks in school for all four years. That might not be a huge surprise with Kevin Porter or Chad Kolarik, both mid-round picks, but Chris Summers was a first-rounder. First round picks who play four years at Michigan are rare indeed.
Anyway, the reason to fret is that Brown's been the most effective freshman forward on the team in a way unfamiliar to Michigan fans: by being huge and ornery. The last Wolverine to score so many dirty crease goals was Brandon Kaleniecki. Kaleniecki was a highly effective player over the course of his career at Michigan despite not having the talent Brown does—Kal was never drafted and never made it out of the ECHL post-college—and a huge version of him seems like a nice player to have around for four years. He's already displayed more scoring touch than Eric Nystrom ever did, if only because he'll put his nose in wherever it needs to go and is handy with a deflection.
Summers, meanwhile, finally put his speed to good use on a rush that got AJ Treais an easy tip-in goal. I don't think he's lived up to expectations as a senior captain—he's been good, but seems far short of the All-American level you'd expect a senior first-round pick would reach.
Weekly Oh My God, Are We Going To Miss The Tourney update was actually covered above in the midst of near-weekly If I Was As Bad As My Job As CCHA Referees Are I Would Be Drew Sharp rant: Michigan's split with Michigan State did zero for them. They are basically where they were before the Ferris State series with four fewer opportunities to drag themselves out of the muck.
This week: must sweep BGSU in the weird split series and a win over Wisconsin would be a huge help.
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.