Michigan State 57 Michigan 56, Michigan 10-10 (3-5 Big Ten)
So, Michigan has been a pretty good team since the start of conference play. They look like a borderline NCAA squad. Except, uh, the season started in November, not January. Trying to dig out of a 6-5 hole before kicking off a single conference game, then throwing up all over themselves at Indiana, was something this team was never going to be able to do. The MSM articles have been harping on this point for weeks, but we've come to a point where the lack of leadership and the resulting inability to play urgently enough to show that an NCAA bid is something this team really wants, is bringing this team down.
Under different circumstances, a 1-point loss to Michigan State might be something of a moral victory. If Michigan had taken care of the non-conference schedule with only one or two losses like they should have, or not blown games against Indiana and Northwestern, or been able to steal the road win that they probably should have had against Wisconsin, I may be in a better mood. But those things didn't happen, and now this season is lost. An NIT bid is the best-case scenario.
I've gotten this far into the post without even talking about what happened in the game, because it really was that important for this season alone, much less the long-term implications of a Michigan basketball team that might be able to - gasp! - play with the Spartans. The Wolverines needed this game. They probably had this game, and it slipped away. Where last year's team was probably a bit lucky and a lot more grit gritterstein walkon-y, this team seems hollow, and we're beyond the point that the 2009-10 can be fixed.
The Wolverines played their asses off, forced turnovers, even got a few rebounds, and answered MSU runs. The Spartans shots the lights out (when they actually got shots), didn't let Michigan get good shots, and played a physical game. It transpired a lot like you'd expect, and Michigan simply couldn't hold onto a late lead. All credit goes to Kalin Lucas, who has ice flowing through his veins.
- The last actual play Michigan ran was drawn up to get Manny all the way to the hoop. He couldn't get it there (and wasn't going to get a call), so he dished to Stu, who set up DeShawn with a good shot. Can't fault the X-and-O design.
- Similarly, the out of bounds play was drawn up very well, and Michigan had a chance to win the game. I actually didn't think the no-call was egregious, but when I see things like this:
@umhoops Legit complaint -- it's a foul, though one that's hardly ever called in that situation. Truthfully, if I was a M fan, I'd be upset. [from LVS of The Only Colors]
...this morning, it's really frustrating.
- Great work by Michigan's guards holding onto the ball, which they've had a bit of trouble with in the past few games. Only Stu Douglass (3) and Zack Novak (1) had any turnovers.
- The shooting regressed again. Darn. I think a lot of it was good defense by MSU, but there were some open looks that missed, and did so badly. This team needs another confidence booster, and fast.
- Beilein said in the postgame presser that Manny coming off the bench was tactical, not punitive. I sort of liked the way it played out, too. I wouldn't be surprised if you see that type of starting lineup in a couple big games in the future.
- Apparently it didn't come through on the telecast, but the Spartan fans were really damn loud in there. It's the duty of Michigan fans to be louder and not let that happen, and frankly, the M fans embarrassed themselves last night. It was almost as pathetic as the 2007 Ohio State football game. Shame on you.
"Let's just have him come off the bench, and go in and be Manny out there." John Beilein, on Manny Harris not starting the game.
"If I was the other team, I wouldn't have wanted it called." DeShawn Sims, with the night's "duh" moment, on the last play of the game.
"Take a day off tomorrow, clear our mind, and Thursday we'll get ready for Iowa." Zack Novak, on how to shake off this game and move on.
"We've still gotta believe and continue to work hard to get better. At any time, we can make a run." Manny Harris, on the team's mental state.
In these last 10 games, I feel like we should start winning." Darius Morris, on how the tean's improvement will show on the court.
Michigan has a nice 3-day layoff (for the first time in 2 weeks) before inviting the Iowa Hawkeyes into Crisler Arena. Iowa is, like, terrible, so it would be very fitting for Michigan to choke this game away and cause mass suicides in the general Washtenaw County region.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Michigan State|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
January 26th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +4.5*|
|TELEVISION||ESPN (O'Brien, Lavin, Andrews)|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Though Ohio State always has and always will be Michigan's #1 football rival, that isn't the case for the hoops team. It's the in-state Spartans that are the A-1 priority for just about every sport that doesn't take place on the gridiron. I guess that's what makes the Wolverines' futility against Michigan State hurt more than it seems like it should. It's no 0-6 record the last six time against the Buckeyes in football, but losing 16 of the last 19 to MSU on the basketball court isn't a stroll through the roses either. I guess it's appropriate that in the Free Press's photo gallery from the last 24 games, even the most recent Michigan win is represented by a picture that makes their efforts look futile against the Green and White Machine (H/T UMHoops):
So tonight, in front of a Maize-Out crowd that will be populated by more than few Spartan fans, the Wolverines get just their third chance to knock off MSU in the John Beilein era. Michigan is struggling through an all-too-familiar disappointing season, while Michigan State chugs along on their annual track to a top seed in the NCAA tournament.
With Manny back in the fold after his suspension and Kelvin Grady re-joining the scout team to simulate Kalin Lucas in practice (for all of 35 minutes yesterday) team chemistry may be iffy. This is compounded the leadership void all year. It's tough to say what to expect from this Michigan team, though DeShawn Sims said Manny will give one of the best performances of his career. Harris has responded to previous benchings with scoring outbursts, whether it was the Iowa overtime last year or large chunks of the Indiana game this year.
The Spartans are a typical Tom Izzo unit that crashes the boards and running the floor to get much of their offense. They also play stingy defense, which has led to the best efficiency margin in the Big Ten. Michigan is at #5, speaking to their improvement over the year, but still well behind MSU. The Spartans are at +15.5; Michigan is just +3.2.
The Spartans have only lost three games this season, but all have been away from home. They fell to Florida in Atlantic City and lost to North Carolina and Texas on their respective home floors. Michigan is probably as good as those teams, right?
So, yeah, Michigan State is a really tough out. They haven't lost in the Big Ten, though they've yet to play in some of the tougher conference venues (yes, I'm well aware Crisler isn't one, especially for the Spartans).
Junior guard Kalin Lucas was struggling somewhat at the beginning of the year, and even started one game off the bench, but he is back where he was last year, playing the majority of available minutes as he shoots, slashes, and dishes for MSU. 6-6 sophomore forward Draymond Green leads the Spartans in offensive rating and field goal percentage, along with defensive rebounding percentage. Senior forward Raymar Morgan, at 6-8, is MSU's other big rebounder. Senior guards Durrell Summers and Chris Allen also play more than 60% of available minutes for State, and Allen is a big downtown threat.
This is a good team of the basket-ed ball, methinks.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Michigan State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. MSU Def eFG%||177||48||SS|
|Mich Def eFG% v. MSU eFG%||168||43||SS|
|Mich TO% v. MSU Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. MSU TO%||67||187||SS|
|Mich OReb% v. MSU DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. MSU OReb%||225||9||SSS|
|Mich FTR v. MSU Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. MSU FTR
|Mich AdjO v. MSU AdjD||82||26||S|
|Mich AdjD v. MSU AdjO||46||23||S|
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.
These numbers are ugly for Michigan, with advantages only in holding onto the rock—something that has not been in evidence of late as the team descends into an Amakerian turnover-fest—and not sending the opponent to the foul line. For both teams, eFG% is directly correlated to efficiency on its respective side of the floor, and though Michigan's has been trending upward (along with their overall efficiency on either side of the floor - those season-long numbers may be worth exploring at a later date), Michigan State still has advantages in each of more than 100 places in the national ranks.
For Michigan to have a chance in this game, DeShawn Sims is going to have to perform like a superstar, which, thankfully, he has been doing a lot of late. The story was similar against Purdue, and even without Manny Harris, the Wolverines were able to keep it close. A hot-shooting day by any of Michigan's outside snipers could tilt the tide in favor of the maize-and-blue.
HOWEVA, Ken Pomeroy likes Michigan State by three points, Vegas likes them by four-and-a-half, and I think those numbers are even a little too kind to Michigan. I guess that may be attributable to the Wolverines' basketball team becoming a much better version of the John L. Smith football teams: any individual game can end with a wild swing one way or another, but at the end of the year, you have a good idea what the final record is going to be. Sure, it isn't 5-7 for this hoops squad (they'll probably sneak into the NIT), but it would take one of the surprising upsets of the year to knock of Michigan State. Come in, wear maize, be loud, and hope for the best.
The Only Colors previews the game, and KJ does more hoping for than predicting an MSU win. Official site release on Manny's return to the team. The Big Ten Geeks study how Michigan State ripped Minnesota's heart out. Story behind that awful new logo can be found hyah. Dylan previews at UMHoops.
Around here, the above all-caps exclamation has turned into a sarcastic shorthand for a super blue-chip recruit. Lesser folk are said to be partially shirtless. It's a meme. And it all started in 2005 when Michigan was recruiting Tim Tebow and someone found the site because MGoBlog was the #1 hit for "Tim Tebow shirtless."
At the time Google couldn't provide anything racier than a shot of Tebow in his basketball uniform, but thanks to the Senior Bowl and a crafty, hits-mad editor at al.com, your long wait is ended, anonymous and creepy drive by from about four years ago.
Tim Tebow. OMG. Shirtless.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.
[Warning: Mount Cody also shirtless in that link. Scarring.]
Okay, he's enrolled. Now strike! Devin Gardner finally managing his early enrollment has spurred not one but two columns echoing a theme from this blog. It's "please God, no more freshman quarterbacks." Angelique Chengelis:
So former Inkster star Devin Gardner has enrolled at Michigan, and the potentially next great quarterback will participate in spring practice and compete for the starting job this fall.
Operative word: Compete.
And the Daily's Andy Reid:
So, Devin Gardner is officially on campus — but be careful what you wish for, Wolverine fans. He’s not the answer for next season.
I agree with both takes, as is obvious anyone who's been reading this site's annoyingly persistent demand to redshirt Gardner if at all possible. I've read a couple other evaluations of Gardner's recent play that jive with what I though I saw in the later editions of the MGoCreeperVan's Gardner highlight videos: his throwing motion degraded over the course of the year from the very pro-style delivery I saw in Inkster's opener against Pioneer to the shotput pushing motion that was more prevalent in the state championship game. I don't think Gardner got a lot of dedicated QB coaching at Inkster and will probably need a year of constant correction to get his mechanics back to the point they were at when he was the #1 QB in the country to Rivals.
Is it really not that bad? I basically share the same opinion most people seem to have about this Michigan class: it's short on blue chips and—on paper—the worst recruiting class since Kelly Baraka and Reggie Benton were the highlights of the lame 2001 group. In terms of production on the field, Lloyd Carr's last two classes are probably worse for reasons that aren't anyone's fault, but at least when those kids were in high school people thought they were pretty good.
But actually it might not be that big a deal. This was created by a Rivals poster elegantly named "Stinky P1nky" on the 21st. [Update: FWIW, the poster in question first put this chart on The Mainboard.] It is thus a tiny bit dated but the changes since then are small and the resulting chart is an interesting one:
Michigan's class is #11 nationally if you average out the four major services that do these things, though I'm not that familiar with MaxPreps's rankings. (They're probably a little better than that now since the Black commit temporarily bumped them a spot on Scout and Rivals, but then again they'll probably fall by signing day as they're almost full and other teams have more room to add players.) Notre Dame is just behind M and probably dropped after losing a couple of high profile recruits, one of whom is a four-star defensive end from Indiana who goes to a Catholic high school. Harbaugh can recruit a little bit.
This doesn't take class sizes into account very well and thus probably overstates the class quality, but at the very least it's a lot of solid players who will help Michigan solidify the roster, banish walk-ons to the scout team, and put them on a talent footing at or above the Wisconsin-Iowa range in which it's obviously possible to have an excellent team. If and when Michigan gets back there and the maelstrom of negativity surrounding Rodriguez subsides, a recruiting bounce would have them back at their traditional level. And last year's class, the first that Rodriguez was wholly responsible for, certainly indicates that is where Rodriguez would like to go.
The fudge factor. Now to throw some cold water on the above positivity with a seemingly unrelated Notre Dame commitment. A relatively anonymous TE/OT from Kentucky named Tate Nichols is committed to Stanford, but then backs off and switches to Notre Dame. His rankings then:
Two of the three main recruiting sites considered Nichols a tight end recruit and as such didn't slot him very high. Both Scout and Rivals tabbed Nichols as a 2-star tight end recruit with Scout considering him the 52nd overall TE. ESPN did list him as an offensive lineman, giving him 3-stars, a 75 grade rating, and a ranking as the 101st overall offensive tackle recruit.
His rankings now:
Update: These were his rankings on Saturday when he committed. Today, Tuesday morning, Scout has changed him to a 3-star offensive line prospect and the #71 overall OT recruit.
Would this have happened if Nichols switched his commitment to Kentucky? I seriously doubt it. But when it's Notre Dame or Michigan picking up a who-dat type recruit that guy tends to grab stars almost instantly. This year Michigan saw it with Carvin Johnson, Jake Ryan, and, to a lesser extent since he's still two stars on Rivals, Ray Vinopal. All of those guys were unranked or two stars until their Michigan commit prompted a re-evaluation.
That's not to say that the guys who got bumps didn't deserve them, but it's obvious that committing to a primo school causes the sites to re-evaluate your game. San Diego State commits are not afforded this privilege.
Speaking of Jibreel Black. Useful: Touch the Banner has a scouting report in which Brandon Graham gets name-checked. Useless: remember these guys?
Apparently part of the Rodriguez rebuild is getting a couple of defensive linemen whose names combine in a funny way when they're on the bench: Michigan has just recruited guys named "Black" and "Ash." They should go the whole nine yards and invite Ball State running back Brandon Kish to walk on and then have poker pro Tony Ma hang around on the sidelines.
Kramer was defending on the left wing in front of Michigan's bench when Laval Lucas-Perry swung his elbow high, forcing Kramer to bob out of the way.
Seconds later, Michigan called a timeout and Kramer walked toward Purdue's huddle motioning to his arm and patting his elbow. That was likely directed to the officials.
Apparently, Kramer also told coach Matt Painter. Painter -- spouting mad -- then appeared to go toward Michigan's bench. He was held back by official Steve Olson, who had his hand on Painter's chest. Painter appeared to be jawing at Michigan assistant coach John Mahoney. Mahoney came over to Painter and appeared to pat him on the back and then walk away.
And by "incident" we mean "non-incident." Was this on TV? I don't recall this, though I admit that for a good chunk of the second half I was not paying super-close attention. I imagine a gritty gritadillo like Kramer spends a lot of time dodgy elbows that want to go where his craggy, pore-laden gritface happens to be. A little hissy from your coach about not actually getting hit is a little weird even if he got clocked last year. He's Gritopher Gritmer: he likes elbows in the face. Makes him feel alive.
Side note: Mahoney is the assistant who got T-ed up last year. He's yappy.
It's a matter of national security. The Detroit News reports back on their efforts to FOIA something from MSU about the Posse Roundup & Engineer/Woman Beatdown:
Most details of the altercation at the Rather Hall dormitory, however, were blacked out on the document. Officials cited sections of the FOIA law that protect an individual from unwarranted invasion of privacy and legal proceedings in an ongoing criminal investigation as reasons why most of the information was withheld.
Officials also declined to reveal details of six 911 calls made around the time of the incident, video surveillance footage in the dormitory, results of polygraph tests and taped interviews with players.
This is not surprising given the lengths to which universities go to avoid FOIA compliance, and I said earlier that the four additional departures from Michigan State's team seemed like a stiff price to pay. I do wonder if some of the big names returning to the team (Cunningham and Dell, mostly) might be the beneficiaries of a double standard that Michigan State would not like to see in the public eye.
Also: six 911 calls. !!!
Meanwhile, two more Spartans have been charged. They are DT Oren Wilson and perpetually troubled walk-on Myles White. White 1) was involved in the first PREWB, 2) just plead guilty to public urination, and 3) is now involved in PREWB II. Surely this must be the end for him. He's a walk-on. I track because I fret: Myles White is incoming Michigan tailback Austin White's brother.
Wilson started all last year as the NT, FWIW.
Small disaster apparently averted. Depending on what you believe, 2010 hockey recruit Jacob Fallon either got the boot or voluntarily left the NTDP, thus throwing his immediate future in flux and opening up a possibility he would play in the CHL. That is apparently not going to happen. Fallon has latched on with the Indiana Ice of the USHL and will presumably be in Ann Arbor next year unless Dean Lombardi drafts him and then kidnaps his mom.
Good work, Nike. This kind of stuff is why I'm glad Michigan got away from Nike:
Item: MGoBlog and Underground Printing have ensnared Jalen Rose into a complicated plot wherein we take some of the money spent on t-shirts and—mwa ha ha!—give it to underprivileged children in the form of a donation to the Jalen Rose Charitable Fund.
You can support this diabolical plan in the following ways:
1. Ordering "Jalen Rose line" apparel from Underground. Proceeds from these shirts go to the JCRF now and forever.
2. Ordering anything at all from the MGoStore. 20% of all sales today and tomorrow go directly to the JRCF.
3. Showing up at the UGP store tomorrow at around 6, or possibly a little bit before that if there's a line, as Jalen Rose will be there for an unveiling and an autograph session.
BONUS note: 3-5 random folk who buy shirts today or tomorrow will get a signed Rose shirt for zero dollars.
1/23/2010 – Michigan 2, Ferris State 0 – 14-10-1, 9-7-0-1 CCHA
1/24/2010 – Michigan 2, Ferris State 3 – 14-11-1, 9-8-0-1 CCHA
I think I've come to this conclusion about the Saturday game, in which Michigan tied it up with two minutes left only to concede a game losing goal with under thirty seconds on the clock: GODDAMMIT.
In a little more detail, perhaps. There's no shame in losing to a Ferris State team that basically lived up to their advance billing as a very good team, but it's super frustrating when the three goals scored are
- a terribly soft short-handed goal on a nothing play
- the direct result of a really obvious tripping call, and
- in the final minute of the game.
If Michigan had done better than .500 in the first half of the season it would be easy to let the game go as a combination of misfortune, an excellent opponent, and a tough road venue, but they didn't. The thing stands as a giant missed opportunity in a season that doesn't have many left.
This post probably should be focusing on the full two-minute 5-on-3 kill and a weekend in which Michigan proved itself equal to a team that's solidly in the tournament, but it's hard to do anything but fret when your RPI is in the high teens and you're flirting with the end of a 20-year run in the NCAA tourney. Does Mel Pearson look nervous above or am I projecting? Does it matter?
The great reversal. What a weird series. Despite the 2-0 final score, the Friday game was full of end-to-end rushes and wide open play, with both teams just missing on a number of pretty passing plays. And despite the three extra goals on Saturday, that night's game was a slog where I don't recall a single scoring chance for Michigan in the first period. I don't know if Michigan's breakout caught Ferris by surprise or what, but it was weird. I was shocked that a team with defensive numbers like Michigan State in all its dead-puck Ron Mason glory would get into an end-to-end game like that.
Part of the deal Friday night was a very fast Ferris team pressing hard after they fell behind, which resulted in a lot of open ice—but few odd-man-rushes—once Michigan broke the pressure. When Michigan returned to the ice in the third just looking to close it out, that period became very boring. Saturday was mostly Michigan chasing thanks to the uber-soft shortie. With this team, I buy that first-goal-all-important stuff. The last two weekends are plenty of evidence.
People of note. I thought it was odd that Scooter Vaughn sat out last weekend in favor of freshman Jeff Rohrkemper and still think it's odd after Vaughn got back on the ice against Ferris and played very well, picking up a first assist on Friday and generally being the sort of fourth-liner that gets noticed for positive contributions. I guess you want Rohrkemper to know he's going to get in some games and if you're going to scratch one of the forwards it's probably going to be Scooter.
Louie Caporusso continues to struggle mightily. He's scored once in the past nine games. He has tried 60 spectacular dangles in that time, 58 of which have ended in pucks turned over in dangerous areas. The other two were admittedly pretty sweet scoring chances. I'm worried about him and also AJ Treais, who certainly seems like he should be putting up more points. He's not, and the longer he goes without having something click the less likely it is to ever happen. See also: Ben Winnett.
Greg Pateryn drew in for MGoWhippingBoy Tristin Llewellyn and was just okay. He didn't take any bad penalties but there was one incident where even a relative hockey neophyte like myself could see that he was moving the wrong direction like five seconds before a really poor attempt at a check was blown by and created a two-on-one. Lee Moffie, on the other hand, is super smooth and impresses more each game.
Bryan Hogan… ghaahahhah. Gah.
On that tripping call and other things. I didn't have a lot of complaints Friday night about the refereeing except for Steve McInchak's usual determination to let every post-whistle cheapshot go unpunished, but I also did not have the benefit of replay. Seemingly every call for and against Michigan in the Saturday game was wrong, most comically the Chad Langlais penalty where he took a holding the stick call after he'd established position in a race for the puck and bodied a Ferris player off so that his defense partner could collect the puck. I don't recall the bad calls on Ferris as specifically, but I remember thinking to myself
And then there was the second goal, where David Wohlberg was tripped coming out of the faceoff dot and then rushed out to the point at a speed that allowed Ferris's defenseman to step around him and pick a corner. That's an obvious call you have to make.
Why the CCHA allows McInchak and Some Guy I've Never Seen Before to ref a really important series when there's an opportunity to stash them at Western-Bowling Green I'll never know. In their stead we could have gotten the marginally more competent BG-WMU crew of Confused Marmoset and PCP-Enraged Physics Professor.
JMFJ. Two days after the Dean Lombardi incident, Jack Johnson is where?
At Yost, playing Score-O in his letter jacket. Not even Danny Fardig wore his, and if I was Danny Fardig I would never take mine off. Jack Johnson is awesome.
Still slightly to the good. Splitting with a team as highly regarded as Ferris is in the PWR is still progress: Michigan gained a spot over the weekend and now sits #18. Ferris, on the other hand, dropped from 5 to 8.) In the brief window between the Friday and Saturday games Michigan was technically in the tournament at #14.
PWR is really jittery, though, and the current RPI will predict the future PWR better than the current PWR. In that, Michigan was static.
Re-evaluating the 14 of 17 meme. I suggested that Michigan had to storm the last half of its schedule to have any hope of an at large bid and with the Saturday loss Michigan is off pace. They've used half of those three losses in six games. Doom?
Well… it does look pretty doomy. Sioux Sports shows that Michigan has to win nine of its last eleven to move into an RPI spot better than the last team in the tournament. If we can give them a little more slack it's not mch more: basically we don't have to count the Alaska tie against them.
This weekend is huge, huge, huge. HUGE. For one, it's against Michigan State. For two, State has slid of late and is now on the bubble itself. They're on the right side at the moment but Michigan could—probably would—pass them with a weekend sweep. That would give them the two head-to-head points they lost earlier back and probably send M past the Spartans in RPI. At the very least, Michigan would put that comparison back in play. Anything short of a sweep and that comparison is gone and Michigan will have spent another weekend doing nothing in particular to move on up in the world.
Before the weekend I suggested that 3-1 in this four game stretch was just about required if Michigan was going to be in position for an at-large bid, and they're 1-1. There are nine games plus the CCHA playoffs left after this weekend, which is a lot of time, but if they want to give themselves any leeway at all down the stretch they'll have to take a win and a tie from the weekend.