1 hour 22 minutes
Maryland win is major key for tournament standing, and was acquired without Levert. Helpside defense meh. Duncan diversifying. DJ Wilson flashed a little something against Iowa. Walton's up and down D.
ACE'S HOCKEY PODCAST
#chaoshockey is fun until it's not fun and then it's fun again. Cutler Martin did a bad thing. Tourney standing. I continue pounding the "Dan Dickerson should do Michigan PBP" drum.
INSIDE THE CROOKED BLUE LINE WITH STEVE LORENZ
We manage to get through a segment with Steve without talking about darts. Instead we run down LITERALLY EVERY TARGET MICHIGAN HAS LEFT ON ITS BOARD WOOOOO.
"Across 110th Street"
"Hi, Hey There, Hello", the Mowglis
"Say Hello," Jay-Z
THE USUAL LINKS
Friday, January 15, 2016
Ohio State 5, #6 Michigan 5
Jobst goal, Ohio State
OSU 1 UM 0 EV 09:12 Assists: Larocque & Brevig
Brevig shoots for the boards, and the puck rolls around to Larocque at the opposite point. This looks like a pretty innocuous start to a play until we focus on what’s happening in that scrum in front of Racine.
The next three screen caps take place as the puck is making its way from Brevig’s stick to Larocque’s. Martin shoves Jobst, who bumps Racine hard enough that he ends up nearly outside the crease. Racine’s first reaction after the goal is to skate directly to the ref to complain about the contact, but it was initiated by his own skater.
To make matters worse, Cecconi accidentally skates into Racine. He’s able to reset and lock down the opposite post, but it’s a panicked scramble just to get there.
Jobst, who you may remember as the guy who ran into Racine a couple of screen caps ago, has now skated out of the crease and is lingering in the bottom of the faceoff circle. Larocque throws a shot on net from the point, and Jobst redirects it just inside the far-side post.
Martin gets bumped by another skater in the crease and loses Jobst, allowing him to get out of the crease and into the faceoff circle unchecked.
[After THE JUMP: “Fluky,” the all-encompassing adjective of the day]
1/15/2016 – Michigan 5, Ohio State 5 (OT) – 13-3-4, 4-1-2 Big Ten
1/18/2016 – Michigan 8, Ohio State 6 – 14-3-4, 5-1-2 Big Ten
I can't do better describing the alternating waves of euphoria and loathing this hockey season imposes on the fan than this guy who asked a question on twitter:
@mgoblog if this were football would Michigan be Baylor or Indiana?
— Grant Williams (@g_williams_1999) January 18, 2016
I was feeling pretty Indiana as Michigan looked set to drop Sunday's game. Three minutes later I was feeling pretty Baylor as 3-5 turned into 6-5.
The scoreline is everything. If you're up this is one of the most electric Michigan offenses since Brendan Morrison. If you're down this is just another late Berenson team that waddles around wasting its talent with mind-bending defensive breakdowns. Last weekend was a high-amplitude sine wave oscillating from one state to the other.
In the aftermath of an okay weekend we can see that both things are true. Michigan's top line of Motte-Compher-Connor is putting up numbers Michigan hasn't seen since Red's hair was actually red. Connor (18-18-36) is second nationally in PPG. Compher (7-25-32) is fifth. Motte (18-10-28) is tied for thirteenth. Motte and Connor are tied for the national lead in goals per game. If this keeps up someone is going to have to dig through the history books to see where those guys stack up.
Meanwhile someone tweeted out that it was "incredible" that Steve Racine had only given up five goals, and was entirely correct.
— Jeremy Parks (@j_mitchell47) January 17, 2016
That is one period! One period of hockey on skates and everything! Michigan skates five NHL draft picks on defense! Steve Racine has a .906 save percentage and he's kind of a hero!
Michigan was outshot 27-16 in that second period, fell behind by two goals, and proceeded to not allow Ohio State a shot until they had run off four consecutive goals in the first ten minutes of the third. So I dunno man.
So far they've managed to make it work, and as the season progresses their schedule looks less and less like an albatross. Each game Dartmouth wins both helps Michigan's tourney chances and slightly reframes how impressive Michigan's record is. With everything going right—about which more later—Michigan has a very good record against a reasonable schedule. Their RPI SOS is 20th and the rest of the season is split 50/50 between good teams and bad.
They're probably going to make it. Unless they don't. During the second intermission last night I was sure they weren't. I mean, anything can happen at any time. But they've built themselves a buffer here, and seem to be outracing their mistakes. Big Twelve Hockey is now a thing, and it lives in Ann Arbor.
Get in and anything can happen. This used to be a curse; now it feels like hope. Michigan switches between behemoth and bust multiple times a weekend. Indiana or Baylor? Ask again later.
Why did that even happen? For all the rivalry stuff that gets tossed around, OSU games aren't unusually chippy most of the time. The 8-6 series finisher was exceptionally clean throughout, largely because everybody was too busy scoring to hit people. Then all hell breaks loose in the aftermath, including an ugly incident where Cutler Martin punched a defenseless guy on the ice in full view of the world:
— Bill Rapai (@BRapai) January 18, 2016
I can't imagine Martin is going to be available for an important Penn State series after that. There was a bunch of other extracurriculars that might ensnare another player or two as well. All of it came seemingly out of nowhere.
I don't know what to make of the defense. When you're as bad as Michigan was this weekend it's not anything that is traceable to one player, or even the defense corps as a whole. Michigan has breakdowns all game every game from wingers, centers, and defensemen. I kind of thought things were getting fixed during the MSU series, but that was probably just MSU being very bad at hockey.
I do wish we'd held on to Andrew Copp. In retrospect Larkin was never going to stick around since he's an NHL all-star. Copp also went direct to the NHL but has 4 points in 41 games; his defensive abilities would be very welcome on this team.
OSU does not feel like a bad team. The contrast between OSU and MSU couldn't have been greater despite their similar records. Michigan spent half of the Friday game unable to get a clean zone exit because of the OSU forecheck. The Buckeyes are also super aggressive on penalty kills. They made a lot of mistakes in an attempt to control the game; contrast that with MSU's incredibly passive style. One of those styles has upside.
For big stretches of both games OSU took the game to Michigan; Michigan fought back and tilted the ice the other way after settling down and devising adjustments to what OSU was doing. The Buckeyes are very young this year; if they finish the year as strongly as they've played over the last month they could be a team to keep an eye on next year.
Man, Dan Dickerson is good. I'm not really a baseball person but I've heard bits and pieces of Tigers games for years because I'm often tuned to WTKA. Dickerson is their play by play guy, and while he's good it doesn't leap out at you because baseball is a slow, leisurely sport. Dickerson comes off as a very professional but standard baseball guy.
Hearing him do the games this weekend was a revelation. He was outstanding at a completely different variety of sport, one with a ton of things happening one after the other.
Here is a thought: Michigan needs a real play by play guy. Jim Brandstatter is a miscast color guy and I think everyone knows it; Michigan should add Dickerson to the booth. September might be tough but making it work would be good for everyone.
I thought Manny Legace was also good. He does the thing that goalies (in any sport) do where they focus a bit too much on the guy between the pipes, but he had a lot of interesting technical hockey things he related intelligibly.
A shootout doesn't matter to the pairwise so Michigan gets a win and a tie out of the weekend. Michigan slides up to 7th in the rankings. I am pleasantly surprised by this. I thought it would be tough for Michigan to move up much unless they had good weekends against PSU and Minnesota.
Why is this less grim than I was projecting early in the season?
- OSU won its tourney. Wins over BC and Cornell (8-0!) are inexplicable. They also give OSU a huge boost. Whereas before they were hanging out in MSU territory in RPI they're 38th now, ie, worth beating.
- BU has done well. They're 12th in RPI, which give Michigan a quality win bump in addition to helping them out with SOS.
- So has Dartmouth. They've won 5 of 6 and are just inside the top 20.
- Robert Morris is beating up on Atlantic Hockey. They're 21st in RPI, just a hair away from the quality win bump, and should continue that—they have a +32 goal differential in conference.
- The Big Ten is heavily stratified. Both PSU and Minnesota are in the top twenty while OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin cannot buy wins against the top of the league. This helps all three teams with at-large hopes thanks to QWB.
Everything that could go right for Michigan's RPI has over the past few weeks, which has moved Michigan off the bubble despite not having opponents who provide much traction.
Rooting interests remain obvious: for PSU and Minnesota and all of Michigan's nonconference opponents. You should double down on hating MSU—not that you have a problem with that—because they are so low in RPI that soon wins against them will not even count in Michigan's calculations, at which point MSU losses boost the rest of the Big Ten while not impacting M.
we will take the McOne Ring to him
The pealing of bells, ringing of klaxons, and riders with tidings you heard around midnight last night was a name coming back to us. And yes, it is the One Name: FL WR Eddie McDoom. McDoom abruptly decommitted from Oregon and a few minutes later:
— Brice Marich (@BriceMarich) January 18, 2016
Marich also mentioned that Jedd Fisch never backed off even after his commitment; this staff has never heard of a "gentleman's agreement" except as something to poop on.
You may remember that McDoom's Oregon commitment was the one that seemingly closed off Oregon as an option for CA WR commit Dylan Crawford, so this is a mega-crootin development. Ryan Bartow caught up with McDoom, who said that Oregon yanked his scholarship because he wanted to visit Ann Arbor and he hasn't been talking to anyone else. A couple of West Coast analysts fired off CBs in the aftermath. This close to Signing Day it seems inevitable that McDoom does indeed commit.
So… that's bizarre. FWIW, the Oregon 247 guys believe the Ducks will spend their remaining scholarships on defense and won't take another swing at Crawford.
What about Young and Stewart?
Your guess is as good as mine, man. NJ WR Donald Stewart took his official to Stanford this weekend, where he had a good time while being sort of threatened:
"I met with the dean of admissions, and we had a general conversation. … He literally said about 10 times, 'This school is very hard and you need to meet expectations.' He said it about 10 or 15 times, and I was like, 'OK, I think I get it.'"
On the other hand, he met Condoleeza Rice, noted CFP member.
Stanford was always kind of assumed to be the leader but the vibe from this article is that he might have been a little put off. Meanwhile he is from New Jersey and thus knows about 30% of Michigan's recruiting class personally.
Meanwhile FL WR Pie Young took an official to Louisville this weekend that hasn't yet spawned articles. He takes an official to FSU this weekend that was set up just recently. Given the chatter around him I assume he's a silent commit, for what that's worth. It is worth something but not everything, especially with Young lining up visits to FSU and possibly USC and Alabama before signing day.
The Dwumfour gambit
Sounds like a Star Trek episode, is actually Michigan's attempt to flip NJ DT and PSU commit Michael Dwumfour. Dwumfour, a teammate of NJ RB enrollee Kareem Walker, announced he would spend the past weekend in Ann Arbor about 30 seconds after I posted Thursday Recruitin'. This is good for two reasons:
- Dwumfour is a nose tackle type at 6'2" and Michigan needs one of those; as a PSU commit who had a good senior season he's a solid prospect.
- He is super-tight with Rashan Gary. Webb held back part of an interview with Gary and Walker at the UA game because Dwumfour wanted to tell PSU coaches he was visiting before the news broke; in it Gary refers to Dwumfour as "his boy" almost constantly.
We haven't actually heard about an offer yet and Lorenz was told to hold off on a Crystal Ball for him, so there's some uncertainty going on there. Dwumfour reportedly really wanted an offer from Michigan early in the process but one did not come. I enjoy the fact that he is avoiding the "committed, but…" cliché:
"There is a chance I could flip my commitment to Michigan. I wouldn't be visiting them if there wasn't a chance."
Webb reports that Dwumfour "raved about Michigan," as did his parents. Dwumfour has a visit scheduled to Penn State next weekend. PSU is poking around a bunch of defensive tackles; they seem nervous.
[After THE JUMP: an encouraging Gary Panic Of The Week, Khaleke Hudson as Clark Kent, wobblers, best-guess lists, and more.]
After Iowa had four scores on its first four possessions, Beilein took a timeout to stem the bleeding: Michigan trailed 9-0 just a minute and a half into the game and conceded a basket on the next possession. On the road, against one of the hottest teams in the country (arguably one of the nation's ten best teams), Michigan was off to the worst possible start.
The Wolverines eventually strung together some stops and started getting open looks on offense; a quintessential "weird guys" lineup (Walton / Abdur-Rahkman / Aubrey Dawkins / D.J. Wilson / Moritz Wagner) sparked a 13-0 run midway through the half and Michigan actually pulled into the lead by the eight-minute mark in the first half. Early on, Michigan found success inside with some nifty cuts as Iowa overplayed the three (2-9 shooting from deep in the half), but Iowa led at halftime after some back-and-forth play to close the half.
Michigan hit three three-point attempts before the first TV timeout in the second half and took the lead with a banked-in Zak Irvin and-one. Over the next eight minutes, Michigan's offense stagnated with turnovers (the Wolverines finished with an atypical 13 turnovers, while Iowa had just 4) and missed jumpers; Iowa went on a 16-3 run to open up a double-digit lead. Ultimately, U-M wasn't able to keep up with the Hawkeyes' shot-making down the stretch, particularly from Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok, and wound up hitting the Kenpom spread on the nose with an 11-point defeat.
Iowa's potent offense resembles Michigan's high-powered attacks of the recent past: the Hawkeyes don't get to the free throw line too often, but make up for it with an extremely low turnover rate and great shooting from pretty much everywhere on the floor. Unlike those Michigan teams, the Hawkeyes boast size and depth; they overwhelmed Michigan on the offensive end (1.29 points per possession, per Kenpom, tying U-M's worst defensive effort of the season against Purdue).
National Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff was bothered into missing 11 shots, but still finished with a game-high 23 points. It was a group effort from Iowa though: their starting backcourt combined for 13 assists and the Hawkeyes put up shooting splits of 51% (2P) / 45% (3P) / 90% (FT). U-M's poor defensive habits were exposed by a pretty-close-to-elite offense, too frequently Iowa took wide-open, high-percentage shots with a defender a step or two away.
Michigan's offense hit 1.12 points per possession -- which is one of the best performances against Iowa's defense this year -- but some inefficient shooting from key players doomed Michigan. Duncan Robinson and Derrick Walton came into the game shooting more than 50% from three; the two totaled 5-19 from deep against Iowa today. Zak Irvin struggled against Iowa's length, shooting 33% total from the field. Aubrey Dawkins was a notable exception, hitting three three's. Impressively, Walton, Irvin, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman combined for 16 rebounds and 15 assists, but the lack of efficient scoring from Michigan's three biggest scorers was critical.
In the front-court, Mark Donnal remained the most consistent option, though he was sometimes overwhelmed by Iowa's size (Donnal's four offensive boards were a nice bonus, however). Moritz Wagner was the second big off the bench and showed skill around the basket on offense. D.J. Wilson might have played his best minutes of the season, but they came in relief of Irvin at the four -- he looks to be a more valuable asset there than at the five.
Now that Michigan's toughest three-game stretch of the season (@ Purdue, Maryland, @ Iowa) is over, the schedule gets easier. Even with LeVert's availability still in question, Michigan should be expected to win its next four games, though a road trip to Nebraska might be tricky. Still, as the team continues to develop, it's hard not to be optimistic about the return of a player of LeVert's caliber. It wasn't a surprise to see Michigan's second- and third-options to create on offense struggle against Iowa, who looks very much like the best team in the Big Ten.
Michigan (13-4, 3-1 B1G) at
Iowa (13-3, 4-0)
Iowa City, Iowa
|WHEN||4:30 pm ET, Sunday|
|LINE||Iowa -11 (KenPom)|
PBP: Jeff Levering
Analyst: John Crispin
Right: Obligatory Franpic. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
I hoped waiting until today to write the preview would provide clarity on Caris LeVert's situation, but as of this writing his availability is unknown:
Michigan coach John Beilein provided little update on the Wolverines' injured senior star on Friday, other than to say that LeVert's injury, which the program has only described as a lower-left leg injury, would be tested on Friday.
"Caris will go through a series of tests today, again, to see where he is," Beilein said during an afternoon press conference previewing the Wolverines' weekend trip to Iowa (13-3, 4-0 Big Ten). "If he tests with no pain, he'll begin the process of practicing. If he tests with pain, then he'll just be doing some things that will help his healing."
No word yet on how those tests went; I'm guessing we won't know if he's a go until warmups.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||10||Mike Gesell||Sr.||6'2, 190||72||21||No|
|#11 assist rate nationally, low-volume but effective shooter.|
|G||5||Anthony Clemmons||Sr.||6'2, 200||69||17||Not Really|
|Unremarkable SG has improved finishing but outside shot is iffy (32% 3P).|
|G||14||Peter Jok||Jr.||6'6, 205||57||26||No|
|Good athlete with solid jumper. 4th in B1G in steal rate.|
|F||20||Jarrod Uthoff||Sr.||6'9, 221||73||26||No|
|2nd in KPOY standings. 50/45/81 shooting splits, 17th nationally in block rate.|
|C||34||Adam Woodbury||Sr.||7'1, 250||59||18||Very|
|Plus rebounder, skilled around the basket, might poke you in the eye.|
|F||25||Dom Uhl||So.||6'9, 215||45||18||No|
|Backup big hits 52% of threes, hits offensive boards, has decent block rate.|
|F||51||Nicholas Baer||R-Fr.||6'7, 200||39||15||No|
|Efficient gunner (58% 2P, 49% 3P) also posts solid rebounding numbers.|
|G||24||Brady Ellington||R-Fr.||6'4, 190||29||14||Kinda|
|Just A Shooter™? 10/33 on threes... and 14/14 on twos.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]