mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
"In the world of branding, you build what's called brand equity"
-Dave Brandon, Michigan Athletic Director, 2010-2014
I'm pretty mad about Dave Brandon on the internet, but in real life social cues prevent you from ranting for two thousand words at a time; mostly they argue for nodding silence. I kept the wild-eyed revolutionary on the internet. So it was crazy how Brandon angst followed me around.
One day during my ACL rehab, I was doing my various stretching things when one of the therapists came in steamed. He started relating to one of his buddies that he'd been booted from his position with Michigan football in favor of a kid who had literally just graduated from college, because that kid would worship Brandon as a god.
When we bought our house, one of the seemingly infinite signing ceremony things involved a conversation with someone who had been an assistant with a nonrevenue sport. My job came up, she had never heard of MGoBlog, she proceeded to sigh and say that the department was really something and then… not that any more.
A woman who Brandon tried to get fired from the alumni association because she had the temerity to disagree with him. Her friendship with Jamie Morris was demonstration enough that she "had no character."
One day, two staffers sent home for insufficiently ironed khakis, and then berated because their blazers were "from JC Penney."
Report after report that the regents couldn't stand him and he had a year, tops, left. For three years.
And of course, email after email in my inbox, all from the same insulting man prone to exclamation points and misused ellipses.
As a kid I was really good at memorizing things and had no friends. A large part of why, I would find out in retrospect, is that I was an annoying person. I was convinced I was the smartest person in the room, something that was often true for a given definition of smartest that stopped once the tests were turned in. It was never true when it came to interacting with something other than a piece of paper.
My attempt to be an adult centers around that fact: I'm an idiot when it comes to a lot of things. Faltering progress has been made. I hired Tom VanHaaren back in the day when he was just a guy with an idea to use social media to get information about recruits (this was controversial at the time). Tom proceeded to get his own bat signal. To this day he gets requests from people on the internet to hold him.
Tom's prose was rough at the time, prone to sentence after sentence with the same structure. A lot of adverbs. (I measure my progress as a writer by how many adverbs I edit out of my own stuff.) Twelve year old me would have been too annoying about it to deal. But by the time I made that decision I had realized that there were a lot of skills. zTalking to people you don't know and making them come out of that experience feeling like something good had just happened was emphatically not one I possessed. Tom is now at ESPN because of that skill.
Everyone has peaks and valleys in their intelligences, which is why I can do this for a job and still get pwned by Tom Dienhart whenever I try to act like an Actual Journalist.
That is how a guy can be in charge of three different things and still be an idiot: Dave Brandon's skill is for creating personal leverage for Dave Brandon. And there end the skills. There is that sub-genre of successful person that achieves seemingly without any reason to. They are nature's bullshitters. Charlie Weis is their treasurer. Dave Brandon is their king.
[After THE JUMP: a sordid history and the lessons learned: none]
Ace: When do you expect Michigan to get on level footing with Michigan State and Ohio State? Do you expect them to, in the latter case?
Dave Nasternak: Well, those are 2 different levels, especially after the last year.
As far as reaching Michigan State's level, I'm thinking (hoping?) Harbaugh will get them to that level in the next 2-3 years. I actually think that the talent differential is not huge, outside of a couple of obvious positions. The coaching differential, however...has been quite large. One of the interesting things about Michigan State has been their recruiting. They have not had stand-out, elite level recruiting during their stretch of dominance over Michigan (and kinda the Big Ten). But they have developed their roster as well as anyone has...which is coaching. It has also not hurt Michigan State that Michigan and Penn State have not been at program expectations over the past 5+ years. However, with Harbaugh in Ann Arbor, now -and a competitively talented roster to work with- I think that gap has already shrunk a bit...and will presumably do so in the next couple of years.
|You will NOT take away the year of Fickell. [Upchurch]|
Since the end of the 2004 season, Ohio State is 110-21. 104-14 if you take away the Year of Fickell. That's...uh...I don't even know. I definitely think this past 10 or so years has not been the Big Ten's best -definitely some under-performing teams and questionable hiring decisions by a few of the schools- but...yikes, man. There were a few years where its felt like Michigan has lost 14 games...just in that year, alone! I'm not sure anyone is going to THAT level, any time soon. If anyone can give Michigan a chance to do so, it would be Jim Harbaugh, though. Anyway...my next point, haha. One of the things that Ohio State has that has eluded most of the Big Ten teams (at least lately) is a game-changer. And they have had many. Going back to Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor and now Miller/Barrett/Jones and Elliott. These are guys that can score every time they touch the ball...and always seem to make a play to keep a drive alive or score when OSU needs points. They are Heisman trophy winners...or at least candidates. That is level of recruit AND development that Michigan is going to need in order to compete at the OSU level. Can and will Harbaugh take Michigan there? I think he can. I hope he will. When? It will be years before he will be able to make a mark like OSU has been able to over the last decade or so. But I do think that once Harbaugh gets Top 100/300/whatever recruits flowing into his system, Michigan will be able to go toe-to-toe with Ohio State and at least beat them at a competitive rate...instead of the 1(Fickell) and 10 it has been over the past 11 years.
[After the jump: projections on a sophomore roster]
It could've gone either way. Alvin Ellis drove baseline, Muhammad-Ali Adbur-Rahkman squared up, the two collided, then Ted Valentine hopped three times and called a block.
With 13:11 left in the first half, Adbur-Rahkman exited with two fouls. Michigan State led 11-8. When John Beilein reinserted him a little over eight minutes later, the Spartans held a commanding 33-14 lead.
It'd be too easy to point to that 16-point swing and say auto-benching MAAR proved the difference in the game. Michigan's problems tonight went far beyond early foul trouble for their freshman guard. No matter the defensive strategy, the Wolverines couldn't defend the paint. The Spartans finished an astonishing 25/32 on two-pointers, rebounded nine of their 19 missed shots, and turned the ball over just eight times. That's a far bigger issue than who's playing at one spot on the floor.
On this Michigan team, though, the dropoff is so severe that ceding points in the name of caution isn't an option—and, let's face it, playing Andrew Dakich instead of MAAR is handing over points to the opposition. That's twice now Beilein has benched MAAR for extended time while the Spartans pulled away. While it's unlikely Michigan would've forced overtime in this one, seeing MAAR score 12 points on seven shots in the second half—after Dakich went 0/1 with a foul in eight minutes—made it hard to imagine the strategy gave them the best shot at winning.
The story of the game on the other side was the dominance of Branden Dawson, who finished with 23 points (10/12 FG) and 13 boards. Michigan's wings couldn't handle Dawson one-on-one, but when the Wolverines went zone, Travis Trice served up lob after lob for the athletic forward to finish. Trice had an excellent night himself, scoring 22 points and dishing out seven assists; his two early threes from nearly the same spot above the break helped ignite MSU's early run. From start to finish, the Spartan offense ran smoothly and effectively.
The Wolverines, on the other hand, couldn't consistently hang. Zak Irvin needed 15 shot equivalents to score 16 points; Aubrey Dawkins needed 12 for his 12; Spike Albrecht ten for his 12. The big men were all but nonexistent; the bench, of course, depleted. On a night when Michigan's defense needed the offense to wring out every bit of talent, strategy, and luck available, they couldn't maintain that for 40 minutes.
Sometimes it's not your night. Lowrawls Nairn hit just his second three-pointer of the season early on, when Michigan sagged off of him, and it felt then like it'd be a long game. What's equally frustrating as the loss, though, is the overwhelming feeling that it could've—should've—been closer, if only Michigan approached the first half with the same urgency as the second.
Michigan (13-12, 6-7 B1G) at
Michigan State (17-8, 8-4)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||MSU -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Mike Tirico
Analyst: Dan Dakich
While there's still hope that Derrick Walton will return before the season ends, he won't be back in uniform tonight.
Losing four in a row has put Michigan in danger of missing the NIT. The Bracket Matrix listed M as a six-seed when they updated at the end of last week; DRatings put them as the last three-seed; Big Apple Buckets placed them as a five-seed before the Illinois loss.
While Michigan finishes with two very winnable games (at Northwestern, Rutgers), they probably need to pull an upset in one of these next three much more difficult games (MSU, OSU, at Maryland) to feel comfortable with their postseason chances heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
As for pride, Michigan hasn't lost to State at Crisler since 2010, when the Spartans got away with murder on the would-be game-winning lob to Deshawn Sims.
THE LAST TIME
Led by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan almost pulled off a shocker in the Breslin Center, surging in the second half before going scoreless in overtime. The Wolverines haven't won since.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. 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||20||Travis Trice||Sr.||6'0, 170||80||25||No|
|Disciplined, productive distributor. Dangerous outside shooter. Not great inside arc.|
|G||5||Bryn Forbes||Jr.||6'3, 180||68||15||No|
|Spot-up gunner hitting 46% of threes.|
|G||45||Denzel Valentine||Jr.||6'5, 220||75||28||No|
|Does a bit of everything: rebounding, passing, shooting, and hilarious turnovers.|
|F||22||Branden Dawson||Sr.||6'6, 225||84||22||Very|
|Great athlete, monster on the boards, excellent defender. Not a shot creator.|
|F||34||Gavin Schilling||So.||6'9, 240||45||18||Very|
|Solid rebounder and rim protector. Decent finisher.|
|F||10||Matt Costello||Jr.||6'9, 245||48||18||Very|
|Very similar minutes and profile as Schilling. Eminently elbowable face.|
|G||11||Lowrawls "Tum Tum" Nairn||Fr.||5'10, 170||41||13||Very|
|All-pass, no-shoot PG who's prone to freshman mistakes.|
|G||3||Alvin Ellis||So.||6'4, 205||18||14||Yes|
|Getting minutes with Javon Bess hurt. Has been really bad this year.|
Since the last meeting, MSU dropped a home game against Illinois, blew out Northwestern on the road, and most recently staved off Ohio State at the Breslin Center on a game-winner by Denzel Valentine. The Spartans are currently on the right side of the NCAA bubble. Michigan can play spoiler.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Brian buzzed me last week with a recruiting question on early enrollees:
1) Are EEs less likely to redshirt?
2) Are EEs more likely to start as freshmen? Underclassmen?
3) Are EEs more likely to be all-conference? Drafted?
4) Are EEs more likely to stick around as 4th and/or 5th year Seniors?
I hear a lot about the benefits of being an EE; you get on campus early, you get to start working out with the team trainers and players, start taking classes, etc. I think Clemson has something crazy like 12 EEs this year and I can't imagine that hurts their team development. I'm just curious if it actually gives any empirical advantage to those who do so.
Thanks and Go Blue!
I don't have national data, but I've got the early enrollees in my giant spreadsheet (see "EE" column). I'm pretty sure of things since 2008, but before that I had to rely on Michigan's press releases from signing days and spring games.
2015: Malzone, Cole
2014: Speight, Canteen, Harris, Cole, Mone, Ferns, Watson
2013: Douglas, Butt, Bosch, LTT, Taco, Dymonte
2012: Ringer, Bolden, Wilson
2011: Greg Brown
2010: Gardner, White, Hopkins, J.Rob, J.Jackson, Ricardo, Pace
2009: Forcier, V.Smith, Campbell, LaLota, M.Jones, Hawthorne, Vlad
2007: Mallett, Helmuth, Chambers
2006: C.Brown, Boren
2005: Kevin Grady
Just from reading that list you'll notice transition years have relatively few of them; a healthy Michigan probably has six or seven guys enrolling in January each year. You'll also note a lot of guys who left for one reason or another.
1) Are EEs less likely to redshirt?
Yes. 32% of EEs redshirted as freshmen versus 65% of those who enrolled in fall (those who never enrolled not counted). They obviously came to play.
2) Are EEs more likely to play early? Yes, but they're less likely to play overall. Here's the average number of starts per their season in the program for players who would be eligible*. Notice the difference?
* "Would be eligible" means I've removed redshirt (including medical), and transfer years, and 5th years of guys who never redshirted. Those lost to attrition otherwise are counted.
That is wow. It is extremely weird for there to be as many starts for true freshmen as for third- or fourth-year players. This shows that early enrollees are more likely to play as freshmen, but were progressively less likely to be starters each season thereafter.
You also can see the average start numbers per eligible player are rather low.
It's more accurate to say you find out what they are much earlier. Notably, NONE of the early enrollees to earn starts at Michigan redshirted initially (the 11 starts by a 5th year are all Gardner's).
It's also worth nothing that it wasn't the same guys contributing to those columns. Your true freshman EEs with more than 3 starts were Mason Cole (12), Jake Butt (8), Tate Forcier (12), and Darryl Stonum (10). Those guys—for reasons of injury, Denard, or temporal existence—contributed just 8 starts to the sophomore column, which is filled instead by Boren, Vincent Smith, and Jarrod Wilson.
3) Are EEs more likely to be all-conference? Drafted?
That seems to be much more relative to their talent, but we'd need national data to make that assumption. One day I'll add NFL draft information to the big spreadsheet; maybe we'll discover something then.
4) Are EEs more likely to stick around as 4th and/or 5th year Seniors?
As you probably guessed from the above chart, they are way LESS likely, and from the data it appears that's mostly because they're flight risks. Even if you figure all of the current players make it to graduation, early enrollees at Michigan have an average of 1.92 (!) lost seasons of eligibility out of the four they get, compared to 0.82 for fall entries.
This remains true even if you remove all the guys currently on the team. Here's a breakdown of the % of former players (from 1993 class to 2014) who stuck around X amount of years by when they enrolled:
|Seasons at M—>||5||4||3||2||1||DNQ|
That is stark. A good third of early enrollees left the program after just a year, and the hits kept on coming. When you total up all the eligible seasons of enrollees lost to various types of attrition, the EEs were particularly likely to be giving those seasons to other schools:
|% of Season Lost To:||Fall||Early|
|Gave up football||10%||2%|
Of the 37 early enrollees, six played out their eligibility and 13 are currently on the team. Three losses were natural attrition (Mike Jones was an unrenewed 5th, Hopkins gave up football, and Pace was a medical loss), and three were dismissals (Forcier, Stonum, and Austin White). That leaves 12 transfers: Boren, Mallett, Helmuth, Chambers, Emilien, LaLota, Ricardo, J-Rob, G.Brown, Ringer, Bosch, and Ferns.
Only the first two of those transfers wound up helping Power Five programs, though Bosch and Ferns still have the opportunity to do so. Mallett and Boren would have been guaranteed starters on the 2008-forward teams. The rest seem to be guys who were buried on the depth chart and realized it early.
What have we learned?
An early enrollee is more likely to care extremely about early playing time. They chose Michigan in part for an immediate opportunity to start, thus raising the likelihood of early playing time. However they are way more volatile in attrition.
Your expectations of an early enrollee from Michigan's smallish sample is that you'll find out right away if he's going to be either a long-term starter or a non-major contributor. A lot of these guys come to compete for an open spot, and either win it or move on.
Apologies. This posted as a draft yesterday and I didn't notice until late.
2/14/2015 – Michigan 2, Minnesota 6 – 16-9-0, 8-3 Big Ten
2/15/2015 – Michigan 0, Minnesota 2 – 16-10-0, 8-4 Big Ten
There can be no contrast of hockey styles greater than going from playing Michigan State on ice that may as well be gravel to Minnesota's immaculate Olympic sheet. On the Olympic sheet you will play the biggest, fastest, and often finest players the "State of Hockey" has to offer. Also the occasional Austrian. (This year Minnesota State, the school you thought was fictional, has claim.)
Sometimes this goes okay. Sometimes it really does not.
Michigan got bombed out of the building on Friday as Minnesota repaid the favor Michigan did them when they met in Yost; they lost narrowly the next night as Minnesota repaid the favor from the first matchup. It wasn't fun, except it kind of still was even when Michigan was getting their ass handed to it.
I don't know man, it's weird. Multiple times a period teams would make little clever passes to break out of the zone and rush the puck in. Dump and chase, these days the default method of doing anything, was just about unheard of. The Olympic ice has weird effects on visitors, who tend to spread out on both ends. On offense this leaves you taking speculative shots from the outside that don't have a lot of chance to go in; on defense your slot is exposed*.
*(That's not what she said.)
So Minnesota opened the scoring by wiring a puck from the slot to the top corner on a power play and things continued from there. Hockey's weird and I don't think this means Michigan's a thousand times worse than the Gophers any more than the previous series meant the inverse. But sometimes you get Minnesota and you're just like… dude.
You have Hudson Fasching, a guy who I've heard about since he was 15, and he is a boring third-liner. The tic-tac-toe of the puck is mesmerizing, and if they get zeroed in on your breakout, as they did in the second period Friday, you are in deep without a paddle. Friday's game went from a relatively even 3-0 game to a 4-0 blowout over the first ten minutes of the second, if that makes any sense.
The kind of things Michigan does to a lot of star-struck opponents (or did until the last few years) Minnesota does from time to time. Sometimes when they're on, etc. Michigan competed, but they currently do not have the defense to deal with these things. Minnesota erased Zach Hyman with NHL uber-prospect Brady Skjei; Michigan has no equivalent defender. Zach Werenski is real good… and 17. Check back with me when Werenski is a senior to see if he's as good as Skjei, a junior, is now.
So it was over the weekend, as two teams playing with buckets of space made it 120 minutes of 4-on-4. 120 minutes of 4-on-4 is terrific to watch even if you aren't, like, scoring any goals. It restores a faith you didn't know you needed restoring in the wisdom of flinging pucks at a guy in a mask.
Margin for error is gone after losing three of four with weak competition ahead. Michigan is 17th after the sweep, currently on the wrong side of the bubble. They have eight regular season games left against the dregs of the league and Penn State; they have to win a lot of games if they're going to feel good about their at-large chances.
Michigan's schedule strength is languishing at 34th nationally despite nonconference matchups against Lowell, BU, BC, Michigan Tech, and New Hampshire. The league is really dragging them down, and they got unlucky to draw a really bad version of RPI (the university).
Anyway: I figured that Michigan had three or four games to give if they wanted to be secure going into the Big Ten tournament. They've just about given all of them. It is go time the next two weekends against Ohio State (who may not be as bad as they seemed the first time around, as they were dealing with a Michigan basketball level of injuries) and dire Wisconsin. Sweeps in both are imperative.
Olympic ice is terrific. I don't see any reason not to adopt it. More ice to cover means long periods like 4-on-4 hockey where the team with the puck can maintain possession and threaten for a 30 or 40 second period, as both Minnesota and Michigan did. I prefer anything that brings the skill of the rush back to prominence, especially a week after MSU's "line four guys up on the blueline and pray" strategy.
If I was the NHL commissioner I'd decree any new building has to have Olympic ice. I'm a fan of weird variations in playing situations, something that gives baseball some of its allure. The time to make that change was probably 20 years ago before the various stadiums went up, but I'd make that change anyway.
Goaltending: insufficient. Nagelvoort got chased on Friday as he let in one very soft goal (the second trickled through him and he was unaware of that fact, leaving a ton of time for a forward to swat at the puck twice) and did not make many of an admittedly very difficult sequence of saves on water-bottle jobs from the Gophers. Still, I don't have much confidence in either guy at this point… and that's coming from a person who was claiming the problem largely rested with the defense corps for the first half of the season.
Which it certainly does, in part. Michigan's slot has been… not well defended dammit that's still a PHRASING. Is there any way to talk about the section of the hockey rink between the circles that now that I'm thinking in this manner really really resemble breasts ARGH I blame twitter for everything.
Nieves is modern day Milan Gajic. Looks like he should be a scorer, isn't a scorer, reinforces this by putting his first two in since November in a situation in which no one will remember because they don't matter.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Minnesota crew. The color guy was a little willing to condone disproportionate reprisals for a bit of Michigan frustration on Friday and the PBP guy was inclined to exclaim "no penalty!" in situations where there wasn't even much complaining from the crowd. Other than that, they were excellent—much better than the anodyne BTN duo, still featuring Fred Pletsch for reasons that escape me.
The PBP guy, who turns out to be named Doug MacLeod, brought up Ufer apropos of nothing other than respect for the fraternity of announcer bros, and that felt appropriate. He has that certain gravitas a Bud Lynch or Carl Grapentine does.
One thing not so much though. The color guy kept knocking Compher for not pulling the trigger on a couple of 2-on-1 opportunities he got. This felt wrong because Compher's last second pass after a shot fake trickled through the crease and Shuart really should have gotten a stick on it. If he did that was a slam dunk into an open net. The other one didn't come off as his attempted saucer pass was flicked into the air by a defenseman's stick, but a super great opportunity for a tap-in in two tries is worth more than any two two-on-one shots are.