it's a major award
Tomorrow is the Spring Game, though we've been completely distracting you from all the football going down this week. If you'll be in town for the game, stop by R.U.B. (on State & Packard) afterwards for a live Q&A with Marlin and some high-contrast bloggers. If you won't, the Q&A part will be liveblogged. Bring questions to save us from Chris Farley'ing. Hey remember when you shut down Reggie Williams in the 2002 opener? That was awesome.
That Was Awesome. Hey remember when we had a basketball team in the championship game? The staff here got a bit lethargic afterwards, and we were saved by the work of bronxblue, Diarist o' da Week, who kept a running diary of the entire tournament run. The good: THAT, likeable players, Beilein stories, Burke-Spike-McGary. Bad/Ugly: Refs, injuries, awful announcers, Adidas. Best-worst: expectations:
At the same time, though, the feelings of these past 4 weeks will probably never be there again, or if they are they’ll be tinged with a dread you can’t quite shake. The cloud over UM basketball has finally lifted; it may just be replaced with a far less oppressive one.
The "it's been awhile" sentiment was repeated in the other DotW by Tom From AA, which recounted a decade of would-be ascensions from Bernard Robinson to the walk-on-led B1G champs. Excerpt from the Not Just a Shooter™ prototype:
Stu Douglass – in addition to sporting a Spock-like haircut as a freshmen – was a prototypical example of what a player can be under John Beilein. Initially only an outside shooter (and a streaky one at times), Douglass turned into one of the teams most reliable ball handlers and its best off-ball defender by the end of his senior season – a compliment to both Douglass’ hard work and Beilein’s staff’s ability to develop players. Stu Douglass is the all-time leader in games played at the University of Michigan, beating out his partner in crime by two games. Douglass ranks fifth in career 3-pt field goals made and ninth in minutes played.
I learned this with the 2006 Tigers: the team that takes you up the mountain is the one that will always stick with you; every run afterwards the excitement ebbs into fear of falling short. In this the randomness of single-elimination is your friend. Given the nature of March Madness, I have zero fear of not being able to appreciate any future run to the Elite 8 or beyond.
This 20-year rundown of M players with NBA and/or Euro careers by AC1997 is a quick read in the same vein of we've been through that, appreciate this. Speaking of guys who terminate their college careers just to end up playing in some foreign country…
Trouba No! Jacob did the awful thing, leaving a huge hole on Big Blue's blue line so he could play for a team in Manitoba or Saskatchewan or Nunavut or Prince Edward Island or YES I CAN NAME ALL OF YOUR PROVINCES TAKE THAT CANADIAN STEREOTYPES! If you're wondering what comes after the defections of Merrill and Trouba, read. You can tell MGoBlueline is gonna end up on that Mt. Blogmore image one day because he's already getting his bolded subconscious on.
Other Jumps. I bumped from the boards this Drbogue post where he did some of the early legwork for what could be an important study on whether a player should go pro or not. The evidence suggests young players are so likely to burn through that first year's earnings so fast they ruin this advantage for themselves. Just in case here's a look by 1484 of which NBA teams might have interest in early entry Wolverines. Burke to Pistons yes I am biased.
In a comparison of non-random groups of Sparts and Bucks encountered by mgrowold the in-staters were the bigger jerks. Spartanfreude board threads throughout the week (usually of RCMB melting down with envy) attested to the instability of the green psyche, but the smart ones were with us. I watched every round but the last with my Little-Brother little brother, who after MSU went out added all of his vim to my might and main. His reasoning: if M played themselves into four lottery picks they might all go do that, leaving a smoother path for…
More in perspective. Remember when we hired Beilein? The final version of this-used-to-be-Games Remaining by mistersuits has a final ranking of 2012-'13 games by difficulty according to Kenpom; the last was the toughest. And lunchboxthegoat penned a personal diary of his one-year MGo-Exile, self-imposed after he reamed out Burke for what we thought was a decision to play the 2012-'13 season with the Heat or whatever. Take notes future trolls of America: this is how you redeem yourself.
Dated tourney blogs you still ought to read: fuzzy247 rewrote Casey at the Bat for Burke, and UMAmaizinBlue did Devil Went Down to Georgia for Pitino. Stopthewnba quantified the Big Eastness of the refs for the Final Four—Louisville was familiar with them, though I can't imagine that translated to Pitino telling his players not to worry about Trey Burke because they're gonna make up a million fouls on him. Official ref venting thread. Save this for when you go to Atlanta. Some jonvalk wallpapers for the Final Four and Final Final. Where wast thee in '93? How to crush oranges. Non-dated shots from the tourney: LSAClassof2000's statistical review. Being a Michigan dad (bonus: when your kid gets a photo with Novak)
[LET'S JUMP TO THE BOARD.]
The National Championship game was a bitter-sweet affair, but there was one part of the game that was
sweet amazing un-flipping-believable: Spike Motherf***ing Albrecht. the guy came in averaging 2.2 points per game, and he scored 17 points in an 11-minute stretch in the title game. I mean…
Spike Albrecht was on the front page of CNN. Spike Albrecht was trending on Twitter. Spike Albrecht made thousands of curly fries, and those curly fries each went on to shoot lights-out from the outside.
Now, imagine for a second that you are this guy. The world has been awed by your meteoric rise. Today you are a god, but you know that, like Gangnam Style and the Harlem Shake, your run can end at any moment. What do you do? Yeah, you’d probably do this:
This, as Adam Jacobi pointed out, has all the hallmarks of a “heat check.” And while some of you probably think Kate might be out of his range, he’s shown this week that his range is a lot broader than you might have expected.
Moral High Ground: Crumbly, But Extant
As we discussed on an earlier installment, a Michigan Man is gracious in victory and stoic in defeat. Unlike our younger brethren in East Lansing, we can deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with an unflinching gaze. So despite the glorious nature of the win on Saturday and the heartbreaking nature of loss on Monday, we know that these fine Michigan Men would not resort to the kind of childish tomfoolery as those Neanderthals in green and white.
Well, balls. Reports differ, but what is known that several fires were spotted on Michigan’s campus after both the Syracuse game and the Louisville game. Most of these fires involved couches. This induced groans from Michigan fans and glee from Michigan State fans. As a result of this dumb-ass display, I received two types of comments from the many Sparty fans I interact with on a regular basis.*
1) “LOL, looks like scUM isn’t as morally superior as they think. Get off your high horse, scUM”
I hate to say it, but I think they’re right. For as much crap as we talk every time Michigan State burns a couch, we torched them sons-o'-b*tches at the first chance we got… and then after the VERY NEXT chance we got two days later. It’ll take some serious myopia to be all “hurr, go burn some more couches, couch-burners” after this. This was an immature, brah-tastic display by Michigan students. Anyone who thinks this is a Sparty-specific thing is wrong, and anyone who supports this kind of thing makes us all look bad. And is someone who sucks. If we're gonna claim to be above this sort of thing, we have to either be above this sort of thing or we should STFU.
2) “LOL, looks like that ‘Michigan State riots and burns couches’ meme is gonna have to die now!”
Whoooooa there, fella. Not so fast.
First, sure, Michigan burned a few couches, but if we’re gonna call this a riot, then Michigan sucks so very much at rioting. Let’s compare the videos:
One of these is a riot. One of these is a s'more roast gone bad. I'll let you decide which is which.
Second, it isn’t like this is some little thing that Michigan fans conjured up out of nothing. The good people at The Google will back us up on this:
(h/t @Bry_Mac) (Hey… dat’s a me!)
When the Internet thinks of riots and burning couches, it thinks East Lansing. When it thinks East Lansing, it thinks of riots. QED. Besides, since when do rivalry memes live and die with “facts”? A couple of years ago polling data came out that completely destroyed the entire factual basis for the “Walmart Wolverine” meme. Have you noticed a decline in “Walvie” references? No? Okay, then go back you your couch-burning, you couch-burners.
And finally, the meme also won’t die because this week Sparty proved the seventh-oldest adage in the book: never bring a burning couch to a bomb fight.
[*Full Disclosure: I am the son of two Spartans. I married a Spartan. My sister was a double-Spartan. I’ve lived in the Lansing area for almost six years of my life. I speak fluent Brah. I am not one of them, but I am of them.]
Mark May is Terrible at Everything
What if your entire life was about the dumbest things you ever bothered to write down? Well… you’d be Mark May.
May is not good at not being wrong. He also has a running battle with Ohio State dating back to the Tatgate thing. It is not unlike the Michigan/Mike Rosenberg relationship. They hate this dude, and he seems to dislike them just about as much.
Fortunately, Ramzy (@ramzy) at Eleven Warriors has a handy database of other wise calls May has made over the years:
The terrible thing about the Internet is that nothing is ever forgotten. The fabulous thing about the Internet is that nothing stupid ever said by annoying professional trolls is ever forgotten. I suggest keeping an eye on Ramzy’s feed for future troll trolling.
(Also, I’m not sure if your aware, but May also dislikes spelling and grammar. But that is neither hear nor their.
[UPDATE: Oh, Internet. You never let me down. Looks like overnight @mgoblog, @AceAnbender, @BrianMFloyd, @edsbs, and others jumped on the "look at the amazing things Mark May has said" bandwagon. And it is glorious. I recommend taking 10 minutes of your day to soak in the wisdom.]
[DEFINITIVE UPDATE: Jason Kirk summarizes the Tao of Mark May. All the points]
What Have You Done For Me Lately? Yeah? DON’T CARE YOU STILL SUCK
Losses bring out the trolls in the best of us. In defeat, people freak out and blame the blameless things. They say heat-of-the-moment crap that they know at the time to be stupid, but they can’t help themselves. “Trey Burke is terrible.” “Denard doesn’t seem to care.” “Navarre AAAAAAAHHH NAVARRE.” That is why I largely discount the stupid stuff that happens after losses. The 504 errors on the MGoBoard after a particularly bad loss are usually a blessing in disguise.
But after Saturday’s win (again, I emphasize after Michigan’s FINAL FOUR VICTORY), Ace engaged in this conversation, and it made my jaw drop, melt, and re-form as a giant cartoon mallet that bashed me into the ground like a tent peg:
Substantively, he is almost certainly wrong. The problem down the stretch against Syracuse was free throw shooting, and while Beilein is admittedly a poor free throw shooter, I don’t know if we can blame him for those misses. And as Ace pointed out, the epic return of Jordan Morgan was 100% JB. He used his subs. It was crazy.
Beyond that, the object lesson here is that some people will never, ever be happy. Your team just won a gigantic game. They’re going to the freeking National Championship. Your impulse should be “OMG THIS COUCH MUST DIE,” [Note: resist the impulse. Save the couches] not “I HAZ CONCERNS”. It saddens me that there are Michigan fans who couldn’t enjoy the run Michigan just made, because dollars to donuts you will never have a run that is more fun than this one. And at the highest point of that run, there were people honestly and legitimately complaining about various stuff. And it wasn’t just this guy; after I read this, I poked around to see if other people were seriously upset after the game. And there were. But I stopped reading them because I had some g*ddamn celebrating to do.
After a poor showing last week, Jose is back in fine form.
And I am happy… but then…
We have a complicated relationship, my bash brother.
As ever, once the year is over thoughts turn to the future. With four of five Michigan starters on NBA radars it is impossible to predict how they'll be next year, but I sat down to write stuff and this is the thing I wanted to think about—no doubt a lot of you guys are wondering the same thing.
Along with a number of walk-ons Michigan loses scholarship players Blake McLimans and Matt Vogrich, neither of whom was a significant contributor.
As you've heard incessantly for the past three weeks when you were trying to concentrate on something like, oh I don't know, the live fantastic basketball being played in front of your face, Michigan has some gentlemen on their roster the NBA would like to talk to.
Trey Burke almost left after one year, turned himself into a top-10 pick, and has been regarded as gone-gone-gone since about two weeks into the season when it became clear he had gone from a damn good freshman to the best point guard in the country. Anything other than a departure would be a shock. Whether that's NBA draft entry or a transfer to Penn State is yet to be determined.
Tim Hardaway, Jr., is the Michigan player NBA types seem least enthused about. He doesn't feature in the first round of anyone's mock draft and seems destined for one of those 13th-man-then-billion-years-in-Europe careers. Some guy with spiky hair and a terrible track record said he was out the door, which his parents denied.
Even though Hardaway is not a first round pick at the moment, a lot of juniors end up going because they've reached the peak of their NBA attractiveness. If Hardaway makes another incremental improvement in his game, upside-thirsty pro teams will look at a senior who probably tops out as a bench shooter in the league and still pick him in the second round.
On the other hand, he's not really giving much away if he returns. I'd guess he goes, but won't be surprised either way.
Glenn Robinson III is 6'6" and can jump real high. He's also 18 months younger than Mitch McGary, which means he has not hit that Hardaway zone where people expect him to be essentially what he is forever and ever amen. He's consistently rated a pick in the teens. There's been some second-hand message board posts about various interactions that make people believe he'll stay; those are unconfirmed but credible-seeming to me.
Mitch McGary's blazing tournament put him in Hated Chad Ford's lottery. Despite that and his prep school year, he seems likeliest to stay. For one, he directly said he'd becoming back—that he didn't even "have a decision to make"—before the Final Four. Though he's backed off that a little, if he's coming from that mindset chances are he comes back. After the championship game the noises were still positive:
"This will be a great team next year, with great guys coming in and a great group of guys leaving, you can't replace those five seniors," he said. "We'll see."
"There's some unfinished business. ... We'll see next year."
Like GRIII, interactions with McGary's parents from the Final Four weekend have filtered out to the internet; they indicate he'll stay. Let's clutch that unreliable hint to our bosoms.
My personal spidey sense says Burke's out the door (surprise!) while Robinson and McGary stay. Hardaway could go either way.
Side note: there is essentially no withdrawal anymore. Technically you can take your name out of the draft until the 16th, which is before any event that might make you want to pull out. The NBA deadline is the 28th.
Last year rumors had floated around about guys leaving for weeks. Those came to fruition with three post-season transfers. This year it's quiet on that front.
Eyeballing it, the only players who may be in playing-time jams are Max Bielfeldt and Jordan Morgan. Morgan's a bit of a folk hero these days and did find a role as the tourney progressed. I'd bet he gets over the disappointment of losing his starting job and sticks around; he will get minutes. I heard from a good source midseason that Bielfeldt was a little worried about his long-term PT prospects.
Both guys may be affected by NBA decisions. GRIII or McGary leaving would open up a lot of playing time for both. Meanwhile, the high post role McGary flourished in against Syracuse may allow Michigan to go bigger at the four from time to time without making the offense suffer too badly.
You could also throw Jon Horford in amongst the playing time battlers. He seems focused on those study things to the point where he wouldn't want to disrupt his schooling by finding somewhere else to play.
Incoming And Returning
Assuming Burke's departure, point guard Derrick Walton has some big shoes to fill. The good news is he's got serious game. A quick look at any of the various highlight reels out there shows a quick-step PG reminiscent of Burke. He put up over 30 points a game this high school season and is generally rated inside the top 50 at the major sites.
I like single-game highlights because they give you a better picture of a player. (This is in fact irony, people who use the word irony.) There's less to cull from so you get a better picture of what they do. In the above you get deep shooting, floaters, and at about a minute in a crossover-to-three sequence that is very Burke-like.
In his matchup with Kentucky-bound James Young it's a lot of deep shooting; it starts off with the steal I now think of as The Burke:
Walton will not be Burke, at least not sophomore Burke. If he hits freshman Burke levels of performance (74/49/35 shooting, high but not outlandish usage, 29% assist rate, TO rate just under 20) Michigan can survive Burke's loss as long as they don't get the max exodus and do get expected improvements from other players.
Indiana Mr. Basketball Zak Irvin is a 6'6" wing with a huge wingspan and advanced pull-up game. He's ranked in the same neighborhood GRIII was last year (24th ESPN, 34th Rivals, 49th Scout). Judging by highlight tapes and scouting reports…
…he is a bigger version of Tim Hardaway Jr. The buckets on many, many individual game highlight packages up on Youtube have an 80/20 split between jumpers and the rim. He'll occasionally go to the bucket; mostly he's going to shoot threes and pull up. As with most jump shooters, streakiness comes as part of the package.
He's listed between 6'6" and 6'8" and is reputed to have the sort of improbably long arms that allow you to be a defensive pest on the perimeter. With Irvin's blowout high school finish and recent camp performances…
@dandakich Michigan fans..Indiana Mr Bball and Michigan signee Zak Irvin absolutely killing at Indiana Top 60 workout!!
…he might have some upward mobility in the rankings yet. Dakich just hyped him as the Big Ten freshman of the year favorite, which says something what with Noah Vonleh at Indiana.
Irvin is not going to be a super-efficient scorer unless he adds more drive to his game, but he can bounce between the 3 and the 4 and be a plus defender at one of those spots.
Dollars to donuts Mark Donnal redshirts. At 6'8" or 6'9" he's a four or five, and those spots are jammed at the moment. When he does get on the court, think Christian Watford.
Donnal has a high skill level and three-point range; the knock on him is athleticism. If GRIII goes he would likely be forced into the lineup as a more offensive option at the 4 than either Morgan or Bielfeldt, especially in the context of the Michigan offense.
Definitely Returning: Perimeter
Nik Stauskas is the lone starter certain to return. His shooting percentage was mellow Kid Icarus: explosive rise, steady decline. He entered Big Ten play well over 50% and finished the year at 44%; in the final 26 games of the season (IE, Big Ten, conference tourney, NCAA run) he was at a merely respectable 36%. Details:
- He was More Than Just A Shooter™, taking only about 60% of his shots from behind the arc and getting to the rim for a quarter of his attempts. Once he got inside the line the shots there were mostly his own creation—80% of his buckets inside the line were unassisted. Game, blouses. Etc.
- He was great from three, good at the rim, and bad in-between. At 85% he was the best FT shooter on the team.
- His creepy ability to not foul may have been more of a detriment than a positive. Stauskas was second nationally in fewest fouls acquired; he did little rebounding, blocking, or stealing.
- Touchy-feely eyeball test says Stauskas's defense wasn't as bad as the most serious grumblers would have it. Save for Gary Harris in the grim blowout at Breslin, none of the guys he checked really went off. Part of that was Michigan hiding Stauskas against role players for the most part, yeah. I think he'll improve.
Michigan would like Stauskas to take some of Burke's usage and turn it into his assists. He should spend the summer running a million pick and rolls with McGary—his handle is good enough to make that effective, Darius Morris-style. Doubling his assist rate to around 15—approximately Hardaway level—is feasible and would help out Walton/Spike a lot.
Meanwhile, Stauskas's three point shooting could use some diversity. He was poor off of the dribble and Michigan could not execute catch and shoot screens for him like they did Hardaway. Getting Stauskas's efficiency (top 50 in true shooting) up to 23-25 percent usage will go a long way towards mitigating Burke's likely departure.
Is Upton-chasing, three-draining Spike Albrecht a real thing? I dunno man. In about eight minutes a game he had the lowest usage on the team. Stats are thin on the ground. We do have 18 of 33 shooting from three, 10/12 from the line, and 10/26 from two. That's about what you would expect from a little bugger with a dead-eye shot.
Unfortunately, his stature means that once teams start taking him seriously there's no way he can get the shots he was draining in the tourney with any frequency. (Other than the 30-footers. He can probably still get those.) Can he show more of the at-the-rim finishing he did against Louisville? Can he get that TO rate down to Burke levels—ie, cut it by almost half—and can he act as a bonafide point guard?
I think the answers to all these things are "not yet." Albrecht's got a tight handle and can obviously shoot; too often this year possessions featured him dribbling the air out of the ball without getting past his man or disrupting the defense, i.e. PG job one. But he'll get a shot now. At the very least he's earned a month or two of platooning with Walton until one of them shows he's the better player. I bet Albrecht provides 12-15 minutes off the bench, shoots a bunch of threes effectively, and never quite recaptures the delirious first half of the championship game.
Fellow freshman bench player Caris LeVert looked like a promising player for big swathes of the year. Emphasis on "looked." Statistically he's a bit of a wreck, with a 50/33/30 shooting line and not much else that jumps out except a low TO rate. He was supposed to be a defensive specialist, but all I can remember is that 3/4 Hancock threes came with LeVert trying to guard him. Also the whole Brust thing—not only the half-court heave but the critical OT three he hit when LeVert didn't put a hand in his face on the perimeter.
So he's got a ways to go. The good news is that he should improve a lot. Michigan will slap another 20 pounds on him, he's a freshman, kids get better, etc. He'll probably start if Hardaway goes. He doesn't have to create shots with Walton, Stauskas, and potentially High Post Mitch McGary around him; it would be nice if he took his reputation as a defensive player and lived up to it.
Definitely Returning: Post
Leaving aside the possibility of transfers, everyone is back. Jordan Morgan lost his job late and doesn't look to be getting it back, but recovered from one minute in the opening weekend of the tourney to provide some key plays for Michigan against Kansas and Syracuse. As a senior he can expect minutes here and there spotting McGary; that will certainly include some long stretches when McGary's eagerness gets him in foul trouble.
At this point he is what he is: an agile, undersized post who finishes decently, rebounds well, and provides good positional defense without acquiring anything in the box score that represents it.
Jon Horford has a statistical profile essentially identical to Morgan except in two regards: he's a decent shotblocker and he fouls a lot more frequently. He's not an offensive factor except on putbacks and here-is-a-free-dunk-from-your-point-guard; he does have upside left since he is a big and what's more a big who keeps getting sidelined with injury. His development will be key not necessarily for this team, but for the 2014-2015 crew, when Horford is a senior, Morgan graduates, and McGary is probably in the NBA.
Max Bielfeldt got scattered minutes during Jordan Morgan's period of injury. We don't really know what he's going to be like yet; the best case scenario is one of those undersized Notre Dame forwards that inexplicably collects all of the rebounds.
What It Looks Like
In the Hardaway departure scenario, give or take five minutes here and there:
PG: Walton (25) / Spike (15)
SG: Stauskas (30) / LeVert (10)
SF: Irvin (25) / LeVert (15)
PF: GRIII (35) / Morgan (5)
C: McGary(30) / Morgan (5) / Horford (5)
If Hardaway returns hack out 30 minutes for him from Stauskas, Irvin, and LeVert. If GRIII leaves, that's interesting. I wouldn't put it past Beilein to play Irvin at the 4 for a good chunk of time. That would end up increasing the minutes of both PGs as they would have to play simultaneously with few other perimeter backup options.
What is that? It's hard to say. It's a tourney team, certainly. It's still super young. The minutes above give Michigan an average experience level of 0.95 years, better than this season's 0.73 but still very, very low. Michigan was 342nd at 0.73. 0.95 would have been good for… 329th. (That doesn't account for the fact that McGary and Spike both took postgrad years, FWIW. The experience number conflates age with system/level-of-competition familiarity.)
That collection of players could be anything from a 2 seed to an 8 depending on the Burke dropoff, how sustainable Mitch McGary's tourney run is, and how much the returning freshmen improve. Things get bubbly in the event four Michigan players are in this NBA draft.
Today's recruiting roundup attempts to catch on everything that's gone down in the Michigan recruiting world since last Tuesday, when certain other events precluded any coverage involving high school athletes.
Schembechler Hall Presumably Now Covered In Brains
As Michigan's basketball team made their run to the national title game, the football team hosted some big-time recruiting visitors over the past week. The biggest name on campus was five-star Paramus (NJ) Catholic CB Jabrill Peppers, the #2 overall player (behind Da'Shawn Hand) on the Rivals100 and a consensus top-ten recruit. Peppers told Rivals' Adam Friedman that the trip to Ann Arbor was his "best visit"($) and changed his expectations for any school he'll check out:
"Now I don't even know what to expect anymore," Peppers laughed. "Michigan just completely exceeded my expectations. I'm just going to have to see how Michigan and Ohio State pair up and it should be a great experience but Michigan was probably one of the best visits I've been on without a doubt. Everything felt right."
According to his interview with 247's Steve Wiltfong, Peppers plans to be back, too ($):
“All in all, it was a really, really great visit and they exceeded expectations. I definitely didn’t think it would be that mind-blowing. I’ll definitely have to take a trip back.”
Peppers was joined on his visit by Paramus Catholic teammate and four-star OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty*—after the pair checked out Ohio State following the Michigan trip, their high school coach gave the update on where both stand to Friedman ($) [emphasis mine]:
"I don't know about Jabrill," [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge] said. "He's still kind of evaluating everything, and he's got LSU and Stanford to look at. I know Juwan's top school is Michigan right now. He's pretty fired up about them. Ohio State didn't offer [Bushell-Beatty], so who knows. Jabrill is a pretty loyal guy, so I don't know if it left a sour taste in his mouth. I know Juwan loved Michigan and it's a great fit for him, too.
So Michigan is in the lead for Bushell-Beatty (whom they have offered, to be clear) and made a very strong impression on Peppers, at the very least. The only direct quote from Peppers on his Ohio State trip—the rest were handled by his coach—is from this Wiltfong article ($):
"I really think that the Coach (Kerry) Coombs is a great coach," Peppers said. "I love him and enjoy being around him. Obviously Urban Meyer is an incredible, smart, proven winner. They let me meet the athletic director and the president of the school and it's really cool to see how everyone is behind the Ohio State football team."
High praise, yes, but not the over-the-moon review that he gave Michigan. Of course, visit reactions often depend on the interviewer, the questions they ask, and what they choose to print—in this case, however, Wiltfong got two very different post-visit reactions from Peppers. Read into that what you will.
Four-star PA ATH K.J. Williams also checked out campus last week, and there's no need to read between the lines of his post-visit reaction:
Michigan is by far my top school now!! #BlewMyMind
— TheWorldsGreatest#2 (@KJWilliams2) April 8, 2013
Another young mind destroyed by Michigan's overwhelming recruiting tactics. They show no respect for these recruits, I say. /RCMB'd
Two familar names also made appearances in Ann Arbor. Detroit Country Day WR Maurice Ways was there for the second straight weekend and the coaches have him "very high on their radar," per an interview with Tim Sullivan ($). Ways doesn't have an offer but it seems like one will come sooner or later—if he gets one, Michigan should be in the driver's seat. Meanwhile, Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall (offer) told GBW's Josh Newkirk($) that "everything was good" as he checked out a spring practice, and he came away impressed with Frank Clark, who plays the same weakside DE spot that Michigan hopes Marshall will play for them.
[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of Spring Game visitors, a new offer, the latest on Drake Harris, a couple happy trails, and more.]
At center. The one in the goalie pads. Obviously.
Michigan hockey had been scouting around for a goalie ever since… well… for a while, anyway. They have acquired him: Zach Nagelvoort, a '94—ie, about a year older than a kid straight out of high school—currently playing in the NAHL for the Aberdeen Wings.
Nagelvoort was traded midseason at his request after he found himself behind former Lake State commit Tyler Marble and his .940. Good call, dude. Nagelvoort tore it up after the trade, going 8-1-1 down the stretch and winning the league's goalie of the month award. His stats during that run were pretty good: a .957 save percentage and GAA of 1.42 for one of the worst teams in the league. As a team, Aberdeen's save percentage .908 even with his contributions. He wasn't bad with his previous team, either, as his cumulative save percentage is .936.
Aberdeen head coach Travis Winter said the Nagelvoort came in wanting to succeed and wanting to help turn things around. “Zach came in and immediately injected the team with confidence. He is a very confident goaltender and person and it rubbed off on the rest of the team. We know we have a chance to win every night when he is in goal and during the last two months of the season, that was the mindset in every game and one of the reasons the team played so well.” Winter also said that Nagelvoort’s strengths in goal lies within his athleticism. “Zach is a very athletic goalie, who doesn’t give up on plays and he is very quick from side to side. He makes the 2nd and sometimes 3rd saves you need to stay in the game and keep momentum going and you almost never see a bad goal scored on him. I think all that combined with his confidence makes him an elite goaltender at this level.”
He's 6'2", just under 200 pounds.
While this is a flier, Nagelvoort has real shot at playing time. Nagelvoort's stats suggest he's got potential, and the Rangers (yes those Rangers) apparently checked him out in December. While taking an NAHL skater is almost always a sign of desperation—or at least a signal that you need a guy to scratch nightly—goalies are weird and come from weird places and the NAHL is one of these places. Last year two(!) NAHL goalies were drafted by the NHL, one of them (Anthony Stolarz) in the second round. This year the NTDP grabbed an NAHL goalie for the Five Nations tourney, bypassing the USHL. Former OSU goalie Cal Heeter came from the NAHL, as did former Maine starter and NHL backup Ben Bishop. [UPDATE: Oh and a guy named Shawn Hunwick you might have heard of.]
Steve Racine established a grip on the starting goalie job during Michigan's late run and will likely enter next year as the starter. If he falters, Michigan needed an option other than Jared Rutledge, which they've found. Whether Rutledge stays around with dim prospects or tries to find playing time elsewhere is unknown. The scholarship situation is murky there; one thing that may have helped with Nagelvoort is that he is originally from Michigan and presumably can get instate tuition.
I haven't had the chance to go through the full tape yet, but here are a few of the more memorable moments (from a Michigan standpoint) from Monday's title game. Above, obviously, is Spike Albrecht Bonanza. Hit the jump for a couple of high-flying Wolverines and some great shots from the CBS intro.