Purdue 69 Michigan 59, Michigan 10-9 (3-4 Big Ten)
Even when I assumed Manny Harris would be hitting the court in West Lafayette with the rest of the Michigan team, I thought Purdue would pretty easily crack an 11.5-point spread. When word got out that he was suspended for the game, I was expecting a blood-letting. At times, it did look like that. But somehow, Michigan managed to scrape out some good possessions and keep the game close. There is no such thing as a moral victory, but this had to be about as close as it gets.
DeShawn Sims was just about all Michigan had working early, but Zack Novak chipped in to help out, finally beating his shooting bugaboo (4-7 from beyond the arc). Sims showed why he's such a great player, carrying the team on his back at a time when Purdue probably could have quintuple-teamed him with no risk of anyone else scoring.
Sadly, Michigan only plays the Boilermakers once this year, and it leaves with a taste of "what could have been?" had Manny participated. As it is, we saw the Michigan team we've known for most of the year: Not bad, but outside of the two stars (or one in this game), not good enough to win the big ones.
- Why, Manny, why? I'm also pretty interested in hearing how a practice can get chippy enough for a guy to get suspended for unsportsmanlike conduct. That was his first missed game in 85 career contests.
- There's no plausible reason that Matt Vogrich should pretty much ever get a rebound, but time and again he manages to do so. He had two defensive rebounds, and one offensive that the boxscore doesn't credit to him, for whatever reason.
- Even when he doesn't shoot well, it's safe to say that Zack Novak is the third most important player on the team. When Manny doesn't play and Novak is actually dropping bombs, his impact to the team is elevated even further.
- My eye for the intricacies of basketball is admittedly untrained, but it really seemed like Stu Douglass had a poor game defensively. There were times that his lack of effort really jumped out at me.
- Purdue is a ton more talented than Michigan at nearly every position (even Sims has competition with JaJuan Johnson), and without Manny, they managed to keep it close. That sucks for now, but does bode well when Beilein gets more of his own players.
- The Wolverines have been rebounding surprisingly well of late. They were only out-rebounded by Purdue by a margin of 4.
The Wolverines host in-state rival #6/7 Michigan State on Tuesday. On short rest, and potentially without Manny for a second consecutive contest, things could get ugly. It is a Maize Out, so pick up your gear today or tomorrow, or plan to show up early: the first 3,000 fans to Crisler will receive a maize t-shirt.
In case you missed it in Tim's preview, this happened:
"Manny has made great strides both on and off the court over the last three years," Beilein said in a release. "Unfortunately he used poor judgment on Friday. It is best for Manny's future if he stays home and sits out this Purdue game. We will meet with Manny and the team again when we return to determine if he has learned enough from this suspension to rejoin the team for Tuesday's game. I am confident that this learning experience will be valuable in the future to both Manny and our basketball program."
Punch thrown? I can't think of much else that would warrant a suspension. Maybe Chris Kramer snuck into practice and Harris gave him a flaming elbow drop.
This reinforces my opinion on Harris's potential departure: he's not likely to go in the first round, but he's probably going to leave anyway. He and Beilein are not on the same page, it appears.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Purdue|
|WHERE||West Lafayette, IN|
January 23rd, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +11.5*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Since I didn't recap the Wisconsin game in it's own post, a brief overview: It was good and then it sucked. And as much as I don't like to whine about the refs, I thought this game (as with most at the Kohl Center) was officiated... sketchily. Moving on...
Though the tournament has been a hardly-realistic dream since much, much earlier this season, the Wolverines would have been back in the picture had they beaten Wisconsin. They didn't, so each game becomes a must-win to keep the dream alive. Unfortunately, that means they'll have to beat some really good teams. Having Wisconsin on the ropes in the Kohl Center is a good sign they can get it done, but now it's time to finish.
DeShawn Sims was a beast against Wisconsin for 25ish minutes, in no small part because they were missing Jon Leuer. It won't be as easy against a fully-heathy Purdue team, and he's going to need some help to get the job done. Manny Harris was having some success Purdue last year before his questionable ejection, and Michigan's shooters will have to be on their game as well.
Update: HAHA J/K MANNY IS SUSPENDED
The Boilermakers started the season on fire, racing out to a 14-0 start before losing consecutive games to Puronsin, Ohio State, and Northwestern. They stopped the slide on Tuesday against Illinois, and sit at 15-3 on the season.
Purdue is led by a few guys who aren't quite stars on the Evan Turner-Manny Harris level, but are well-known nationally, and a few of them should play in the NBA. 6-4 guard E'Twaun Moore uses the most possessions for Purdue, and leads the team in eFG%. 6-8 forward Robbie Hummel might have the most name recognition on the team, if only because Purdue struggled somewhat last year when he was out with a back injury. He's a good rebounder and shooter, and has Purdue's best offensive rating. 6-10 center JaJuan Johnson rebounds well, swats a lot of shots, and gets to the free throw line more than any other Boilermaker. 6-3 guard Chris Kramer leads the team in getting elbowed in the face, and also in opposing fans wanting to elbow him in the face.
Purdue plays a different defensive style than Wisconsin, though both are known as exceptional defensive teams. Where the Badgers are content to prevent any penetration and clog the inside, Purdue will get out on the perimeter and try to take away passing lanes with their tight man defense.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Purdue: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Purdue Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Pur Def eFG%||187||47||PP|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Pur eFG%||156||111||P|
|Mich TO% v. Pur Def TO%||24||15||-|
|Mich Def TO% v. Pur TO%||57||9||P|
|Mich OReb% v. Pur DReb%||247||120||PP|
|Mich DReb% v. Pur OReb%||238||170||P|
|Mich FTR v. Pur Opp FTR||329||257||P|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Pur FTR||16||135||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. Pur AdjD||84||17||P|
|Mich AdjD v. Pur AdjO||47||23||P|
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.
Going into the game at Wisconsin, I thought MIchigan was a team finally rounding into form (hey, just a little late, guys!), but a team that was finally playing its best ball would have been able to come away with that win if they wanted any hope of making the tournament. So, we're left with the tough truth: Michigan is an NIT-caliber team, and Purdue is a top-5 seed caliber team.
Surprisingly, though, Purdue doesn't have huge advantages in any particular tempo-free category over the Wolverines (although they do have some advantage in nearly everything). This looks like yet another game (as almost all seem to recently) that Michigan should be able to keep close and then hopefully make a bid to steal it. That will be a tough task on the road, especially since Michigan had fewer days to prepare for this game than the Boilermakers did.
KenPom sees an 11-point MIchigan loss, and Vegas likes the Boilers by 11.5. I see this game being a little less close than that, and Purdue ices with free throws in the final couple minutes to emerge with a 16-point victory.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ferris State|
|WHERE||Friday @ Yost
Saturday @ Ferris
January 22/23rd, 2010
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||CBS College Sports both nights|
Record. 16-6-2, 10-4-2-2 CCHA. #5 PWR. Currently third place with 34 points. Michigan is nine points back in a tie for sixth.
Ferris State is back with their septannual kickass team, though this edition probably isn't quite as good as the Chris Kunitz-led 2003 team that won the conference championship, made it to the CCHA playoff final, and snagged Ferris State's first and only NCAA tournament bid. They just got swept by league-leading Miami and their nonconference schedule (Canisius, UConn, Robert Morris, single games against Yale and Merrimack) is exceedingly weak. That 2003 team was a legitimate national power. This appears to be a solid team a step or two down from those guys.
Even so, there's one team playing this weekend on the cusp of a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and it's not Michigan. And Ferris's goal differentials are impressive. They're +30 overall and +18 in the CCHA. They are fifth in scoring margin at 1.25. (Michigan is 11th.) They are for serious.
Dangermen. Ferris has one line that does a huge chunk of their scoring. Seniors Blair Riley (right), Cody Chupp, and Casey Haines are the top line and Ferris's leading scorers; Riley is far and away the top guy with 16 goals and 27 points. Chupp has seven and a couple of other guys are hovering around that mark, but Ferris is a top-heavy team.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Ferris is built on an extremely stingy defense. They're tied for third nationally with Cornell at just 2.12 GPG; goalie Pat Nagle has a nation-leading .932 save percentage. (He's tied with two others, FWIW.) Ferris actually rotates its goalies, with Nagel and sophomore Taylor Nelson both getting 13 games to date. Nelson's got the better record but Nagel is giving up a half-goal less per game. Nelson's save percentage is a stellar .921.
With two goalies sporting save percentages that Patrick Roy would envy, Ferris State has either stumbled onto a goalie gold mine or the defense has a large influence on those numbers. Expect tight-checking, tough games without a ton of grade A scoring chances.
Special teams. Your updated power plays per game stat:
|PP For / G||6.0||5.8|
|PP Ag / G||5.6||5.5|
Essentially even with Ferris a tiny bit more likely to pick up penalties for and against. And there will be penalties. Ferris is #2 in penalty minutes acquired*. Michigan is #10. Also, when these teams face off it tends to get chippy.
The specialty units will get a ton of time, then. They're dead even. Ferris State is converting a little better on the power play but has allowed three shorthanded goals; if you take those into account Michigan actually outperforms them slightly. The penalty kills are outstanding. Ferris is #3 at 88.8%. Michigan is #4 at 88.5%. Since Ferris has a couple extra shorthanded goals their penalty kill is a little better. The two teams could be any more more identical here.
PROTIP: don't take an obvious holding penalty seven seconds into a kill.
*(Possibly interesting side note: despite UAF's uncharacteristic penalty-fest last weekend they are still the least-penalized team in the country by a wide margin. Meanwhile, the team that beat out Ferris for #1 is Alaska-Anchorage. Alaska: land of extremes.)
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Line match where possible. It's a home and home series so the Saturday game will be tricky, but the obvious move is to put Michigan's crazy fast fore-check and shutdown line of Lynch, Hagelin, and Rust on Riley and anyone else who wants to skate with him. Berenson has explicitly stated this is the plan:
“I don’t want to put an inexperienced player out there against the top player in the league and then expect us to win that matchup,” Berenson said. “We have to respect who is on the ice for them and who is on the ice for us.”
While the top lines on both teams highlight the matchup, it’s the players behind them that will be the difference this weekend.
“You’re trying to outscore that line or shut them down,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “But in the meantime, if you do, and they're nullifying you at the same time, then it comes down to your next line or your next line and where are you going to get your offense from?”
Continue to get supporting players scoring. Whether it's Brian Lebler firing wicked wrist shots off the post and in or Lindsey Sparks coming out of the corner or Chris Brown turning into a face-masked version of Thomas Holmstrom, Michigan is going to need to get some production out of guys who aren't the stars of the team. Caporusso and Wohlberg continue to scuffle. Though they continue to put up assists, Brian Lebler now has more goals than they do. Lebler's actually tied for third on the team with seven, and while that's super cool for him it's a major reason Michigan's had trouble this year.
Play from ahead. Yes, this is dangerously close to a Key To The Game that boils down to "score more points."
An attempt at something not tautological: this is not the other Ferris team. That was an offensive machine capable of generating points not only from Kunitz but from a wide array of offensive defensemen. This is a gritty grit Eckstein of a team with one standout player that Carl Hagelin will be tasked with destroying. Michigan cannot afford to give up a goal like the Chad Langlais turnover against UAF, because teams like Ferris and Alaska are built to play from ahead. Just look at the difference between UAF in the third period on Friday and Saturday. On Friday they were overrun; on Saturday they played keep-away for 15 minutes before Langlais got his redemption.
The Big Picture
Just keep repeating "it was a win and a tie and the shootout was an exhibition" about last weekend. That makes Michigan 3-0-1 since the break. That is a roll, especially since they played very well in the tie save for one turnover and one terrible penalty kill.
They're now a TUC and hovering at 19th in the standings facing down a two week stretch that will probably make or break their at-large hopes. If they sweep the next two weekends they're gold. If they go 3-1 they are feeling very good about their chances with a selection of weak CCHA teams coming up and a bunch of guaranteed TUC wins in the bag. If they go 2-2 they have to really tear through the back end of the schedule, and anything worse than that is curtains.
A win and a tie from the weekend would be great.
Jack Johnson has responded to his general manager's stunning call-out of both himself and Red Berenson, and the item bringing his quotes uses "irate" in the headline:
"I'm a Michigan man. I'm very proud of it. I wouldn't want to have it any other way," Johnson said after the Kings' 4-3 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center.
"Michigan has produced more NHL players than any other school. Even the U.S. development program, people rip that and they just don't know anything about it and don't know what they're talking about."
Berenson, Johnson said, "is one of the finest coaches and men that I've met. For my general manager to rip me as a person and criticize me as a person and as a player and call me an awful hockey player is irresponsible and unprofessional."
Excellent work, Mr. Lombardi.
Stephen Spiewak, the National Football Editor for MaxPreps.com, graciously answered a few questions about Michigan’s current recruiting class. MaxPreps.com is a part of CBS Sports and covers recruiting in football and other sports nationally. MaxPreps currently has the Michigan class ranked 9th nationally, which is on the optimistic end.
TOM: How does MaxPreps rank recruiting classes for each year?
STEPHEN: It's based on a computer formula from our lead researcher, Brian Raab, so it can update quickly as commitments/decommits occur. Brian assigns a rating to every player in our recruiting database based on their ranking according to Tom Lemming. (Top 100, top 25 pos. rankings, etc). His formula considers the quality of each recruit and the number of total recruits, to guard against sample size issues (e.g. a large class of mediocre recruits ranking higher than a smaller class of stellar recruits).
TOM: MaxPreps is really high on Devin Gardner, but around the recruiting world there seems to be some difference in opinion on him. Why do you think there's such a wide range of rankings when it comes to Devin?
And why is MaxPreps so high on him?
STEPHEN: I think part of the reason there's a difference of opinion on Gardner is because he's one of the top quarterbacks in a class that's probably lacking the Jimmy Clausen/Matt Barkley/Garrett Gilbert elite recruit. I think there's always the presumption that if you're one of the top QB’s in the country, regardless of how strong the QB class is, you should be ranked at a certain position. I think some people disagree. The thing that I like about him is that he's a high-ceiling guy that was still productive as a high school player. Sometimes I think the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of performances at combines, games, and camps, and track records of success at the high school level are somewhat trivialized.
TOM: With the team coming off of two poor seasons, how do you think Rich Rodriguez has done recruiting-wise, with bringing in top recruits, his kind of players, and position of need?
STEPHEN: Well, right off the bat, I think Gardner is a great fit, but probably won't help right away. I like the wide receivers he reeled in. I think that a speedy, slot back type threat would be a big boost to this class. But if Gardner can contribute sooner rather than later, perhaps that's what becomes of Denard Robinson.
TOM: Besides Gardner, is there anyone in this class that you look at and say, Michigan really needed to get him, or they're going to be excited about him?
STEPHEN: I really, really like Josh Furman. I think he'd be able to contribute on offense, but I think he'll be a big boost to the linebacking unit. I have heard about Furman for a few years, and this year he really put it together and was flat out dominant. I know some people think he has NFL potential.
TOM: Who do you think are the possible early contributors out of this class, either by need or talent?
STEPHEN: I suspect Richard Ash might be able to plug some holes on the defensive line. Cullen Christian is a nice, big corner. Wouldn't be surprised if he saw some reps.
TOM: How do you think, if you were to guess, Michigan closes out this class. Any surprises on signing day?
STEPHEN: I think they land Sean Parker and end on a high note. It's down to USC and Michigan. His coach paints him as the type of kid who wouldn't mind getting away from home. The problem is that he's played in the Tampa 2 his whole high school career, so it'd be an easy transition to play for Monte Kiffin. Landing Parker might open up the door for his teammate, junior Chris Brown. And there's a freshman quarterback on that team who will start at a sophomore named Troy Williams who could be one of the nations best by the time he's a senior. He's definitely one to keep an eye on.