in town for free camps
|WHAT||Michigan at Purdue|
West Lafayette, Indiana
|WHEN||7:00 PM Eastern|
"I want to be a nacho man
nacho nacho man
I want to be a nacho man
who makes engineering"
-"I Tap Plains For Mana," Purdue fight song
Michigan hasn't seen Purdue since January 24th but the Boilers remain about the same team they were back then: a bunch of bricklayers who can get to the bucket surrounding mercurial man-mountain AJ Hammons. Hammons turned in his worst game of the season (two points, two rebounds, two turnovers in 24 indifferent minutes) and Michigan ran away late with a comfortable 68-53 win. Two games later he'd thunder in 30 points against Indiana, albeit in a 37-point loss.
Hammons maintained a high level of production the next few games but has gone cold of late, scoring six points in three of his last four. He did have a good game against Iowa with 12 points and 9 rebounds despite being limited to 18 minutes with foul trouble.
Overall, Hammons is only a decent shooter; he is a high usage, extremely-high block guy who rebounds okay for a seven-footer. Jordan Morgan and company will probably encounter a much more motivated version of him this time out. If he's shooting over a defender, okay.
The guys surrounding Hammons are mostly guys named Johnson. Terone, the junior, is the only one who can shoot it from the outside. He's at a 35% clip. Ronnie and Anthony are at 15 and 21, respectively. All of them shoot about 41% from two—ugh—and the more-heavily-used Terone and Ronnie are under 60% from the line. Those are ugly numbers from your highest-usage players, especially when they're coupled with a high TO rate from Ronnie.
The non-Johnson starter is DJ Byrd, a remorseless chucker who somehow manages a TO rate above 20 despite launching 77% of his shots from behind the arc. Sometimes well behind the arc, as Nik Stauskas found out in the last meeting. That meeting was the foundation for a short-lived Tim Hardaway Lockdown Defender meme after Byrd went from 11 points in the first half to 0 in the second half, but six of those points came on threes that were either banked or shot from 35 feet.
He's a less extreme Marshall Henderson, but he's knocking down 37% of his somewhat inadvisable threes. Since no one save backup wing Raphael Davis gets an appreciable number of twos in at a 50%+ clip, that is Purdue's best shot by some distance.
Purdue will run out large men like Sandi Marcus, Travis Carroll and Donnie Hale when Hammons is on the bench or they're looking for a little more size. Carroll is invisible offensively and has Egwu-level rebounding rates (ie, decent offense, terrible defense); Hale puts up an array of midrange jumpers that fall at the usual 42% rate. Marcus is a clubbing OREB guy who mysteriously only gets 16% of Purdue's minutes despite having good numbers. Must be bad positionally.
The only perimeter backup of any note is the aforementioned Raphael Davis, a freshman who shoots okay in limited opportunities but turns the ball over a great deal.
Purdue's coming off by far their best performance of the year, a 69-56 win at the Trohl Center. That's God's work, Boilermakers. DJ Byrd was 6 of 9 from behind the line, Terone Johnson managed to shoot 50% from the floor on 14 attempts, and Purdue was +6 in OREBs largely because Wisconsin couldn't grab an offensive board to save its life.
This brought them to 7-9 in the Big Ten, king among the conference dwarves. Their other conference wins have mostly come against teams with no shot at the tourney, with exceptions at home against Iowa (in OT) and Illinois (by seven in the opener). But hey Michigan lost to Penn State so everybody's nervous.
Four factors, now conference-only (small sample, yes, but numbers are equally skewed by various cupcakes on the non-conference schedule):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||44.6 (9)||19.4 (11)||35.4 (3)||32.7 (6)|
|Defense||46.1 (4)||15.3 (12)||32.6 (8)||29.5 (5)|
Purdue shoots poorly and doesn't quite make up for a large TO deficit with good rebounding. Fast break points should favor the Wolverines, as Purdue is 11th in the league at giving up steals and 12th at acquiring them. They're also 11th in free throw shooting, 10th in 2 point shooting, and last in threes attempted, because obviously.
All of this would be much more assuring if not for Penn State, of course.
Keep them away from the bucket without sagging off of Byrd. Surprise, right? Michigan picked up their pick and roll defense in their most recent game after the mother of all wakeup calls and should be on point here, but the defensive suck is a much larger trend than one good game against the Spartans. In any case, help off guys and force short pullups, prevent layups, and keep DJ Byrd from doing what he did against Wisconsin and Purdue won't touch a PPP.
Sag off pretty much anyone else. Maybe not Terone Johnson, but he's the nominal PG so that's more a matter of being alert to a jack coming your way.
Pick and roll Hammons. Hammons is a force inside, but he's a bit sluggish on the perimeter and can be foul prone when he's trying to move and defend at the same time. Meanwhile Hammons's backups are nowhere near the defender he is. Or rebounder. Or shooter. Hammons is a lot better than other big guy options.
No easy buckets. If Michigan has a choice between giving up a layup and putting a dude on the line, put the dude on the line. Only Byrd is a quality FT shooter on this team. You'll save yourself some points by making them earn transition opportunities at the line.
Shoot a three pointer. And preferably some additional three pointer after the first one. Hammons makes life difficult inside. Winning games without making threes is hard.
Don't suck on the road no mo'. srs
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 6.
After plum forgetting to rank the gifs the last time out, that feature is back just in time to attempt to pick a top moment from Sunday's triumph against Michigan State. I'm sure that won't be hard at all. It's clearly
that Burke steal that other Burke steal the floor slapping the other floor slapping Hardaway trolling Izzo McGary's magnificent pump fake oh god help me.
This is not the number one gif of the game—you'll have to hit the jump to find that out—but this totally unaltered look at the interaction between Tim Hardaway Jr. and Tom Izzo is, again, totally unaltered and completely true to life in every way:
Good to see that when Hardaway's shot isn't falling, he's finding other ways to help the team win. Or, at the very least, trolling Izzo on national TV.
[Hit THE JUMP for the top ten gifs from the game, plus several honorable mentions because I'm terrible at making difficult decisions.]
just win the job thx / just get touches thx
Michigan kicks off spring practice in ten days, whereupon they will hit each other and do things that are football related and not much of import will go down but we will suck it up with the world's largest straw anyway because that's just how we do. This is a welcome change from Rodriguez-era spring practices, where worlds rose and fell because of the quarterback situation. Michigan has that locked down thanks to Denard's elbow injury and Devin Gardner's play.
Still, there are things to look for in the insider buzz and coach-talkin' that we will start receiving soon. (Other schools are out there covering it in person, grumble.) Here are the things I hope we start hearing soon:
Dennis Norfleet is back on offense. Check($). Norfleet's coach told Mike Spath that Norfleet was moving back to a return/slot/change of pace role a couple weeks ago, which makes me go eeee. Speculation that Norfleet's move was related to JT Floyd's suspension appears to have been accurate:
"In the bowl, it was basically a situation where he wanted the chance to earn more playing time, the numbers were down, and they let him compete there, but it was never supposed to be a permanent move."
Next on the checklist is seeing Norfleet get some touches at a place other than kick return.
Devin Gardner has two years to play. Also check. High five your future self.
There are clear leaders for each of the interior line spots. Last year's late Barnum/Mealer flip presaged trouble, and trouble was received. Ideally Michigan will come out of spring practice with an offensive line two-deep written in ink—chiseled in stone is unfortunately out of the question.
In practice this means:
- Kyle Kalis locks down a guard spot.
- There are no whispers about serious competition for Jack Miller since Kugler is not on campus yet.
- Bars, Bosch, Braden, or Bryant becomes the clear leader at the other guard spot.
If the last one doesn't come to fruition that's okay, as Michigan will probably be able to figure out one guard spot in fall camp without much trouble. If either of the first two is false that's not so good. If it's Kalis, that's a five-star guy falling off a stardom track. Meanwhile Miller's current competition at center is…
well, a "tight-lipped" Darrell Funk didn't mention any position changes other than the fact that Joey Burzynski and Graham Glasgow will receive looks at center this spring. If Michigan's going to start a walk-on, center is the place that I'm most comfortable having that happen, especially since they've all got a decent amount of experience there…
"That'll be a really interesting battle," Funk said. "I would prefer not to have another center battle for the second consecutive year, but it is what it is and we've got some candidates. They've all repped it for a year and a half, or two years, and we'll see who the best guy is."
…but I'm with Funk. Someone please lock that job down ASAP.
If it's a walk-on that might be okay. Burzynski was actually ahead of Miller as a sixth lineman on the goal line last year; Glasgow has the size (listed at 6'6", 305), has received some hype and is one of the better twitter follows on the team*. If either wins the job the least we can expect is that the line calls are consistently right, right?
You know you're broke when you ask Kyle Kalis for money
— Graham Glasgow (@gglasgow61) March 1, 2013
needs moar this (Upchurch)
There's someone to throw to. I'd better damn well hear that after last year's Devin Funchess fade—little of it his fault since the guy caught everything they threw at him—that Devin Gardner is throwing to him on every play, often twice. I desire a low rumble of Breaston-level hype relating to Devin Funchess. Oh and I would also like him to be a credible blocker.
On the outside, it's time for Amarah Darboh or Jehu Chesson or hopefully both to start getting buzz as a possession magnet or deep ball specialist. Michigan is okay with Jeremy Gallon (suddenly rampant with Gardner at the helm) and Drew Dileo at two spots; they'd dearly like to acquire a large receiver for various purposes.
New-ish defensive lineman X is making The Leap. Prime candidates are Ondre Pipkins and either Frank Clark or Mario Ojemudia. Someone on that line should be getting way better right now, and while Pipkins isn't going to start this year Michigan is going to count on him heavily the next three years. He needs to be a guy who does not get knocked over by running backs one-on-one.
Then you've got a cavalcade of redshirt freshmen. Chris Wormley's ACL injury was 6 or 7 months ago so we probably won't get to hear much about him; it would be nice if Willie Henry, Matt Godin, or Tom Strobel started generating some buzz.
James Ross is beast. I'm not including either rising sophomore linebacker in the above discussion since we have already seen them in action plenty and they are marked for stardom. I still think Desmond Morgan is going to hold a job, leaving one of the two a frequent substitute rather than a starter. The preferred way for this to work out is for James Ross to put on 20 pounds and leave no doubt about who is Michigan's weakside linebacker for the next three years.
It's like nothing ever happened to Blake Countess. Obvious.
The loss of Jordan Kovacs, while inevitably painful, will be mitigated. Also obvious. The battle here is between Dymonte Thomas, who enrolled early, Jarrod Wilson, and little-used veterans Marvin Robinson and Josh Furman. Jeremy Clark may figure in as well.
I'm not sure how I want that to work out just yet but like center, it's for the best if someone grabs the job and sits on it. At least here seem to be a number of reasonable options.
Starting Beard is taken care of. Elliott Mealer is gone. Time to step it up, people. This town needs Vikings.
So one way to get the shirts we put up in GTGWS is to correctly guess the score. You have about a 1/500 chance of winning. Another is to go and buy them from our store, where you have about a 1/1 chance of winning. If you're planning to do that, do that now since the store's offering free shipping for all of March. As for the other route…
We didn't listen! A few weeks ago when Michigan was looking at a road trip to Wisconsin before the big game in East Lansing I said hell let's not make people guess a 40-possession Bo Ryan game. A guy in the comments said don't do that. I didn't listen.
Last week Michigan was looking at a trip to lowly Penn State on Wednesday with MSU coming to town on Sunday afternoon. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but no, I went ahead and asked folks to ignore Penn State and guess the Sparty game. I didn't listen!
And this week? This week Michigan has yet another mid-week visit to a downrated team that ran into a brutal Big Ten schedule before a season-defining matchup over the weekend. I don't want to ruin the fun of Indiana, but I'm not falling for that overlook-the-road-opponent thing again neither. So both. Guess both. Like this:
Boils 78-68 Go Blue!
Whose yers: 71-70 MEEESHIGAN!
If there's a winner for two games I'll give out two shirts. If nobody gets the score this time, no shirts. This way perhaps the gods will let us have our fun without all the nasty smiting.
Also: Indiana liveblog: we're thinking of doing it again. If somebody wants to sponsor that send 'em my way: seth at mgoblog dot com.
How it works:
- I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of the designated game, and put it in the comments, preferably in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score]. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you guess either game correctly, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
- Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.
About Last Time:
Last week in this game,
A user FairleyStUHpid came.
And though he guessed M-59
I guess he did that by design!
(Rah rah rah)
Go hard guess the score,
With honor you may win some more!
Head you to our store,
To claim your MGo-victory!
Rooting for both the biggest local college and the local pro team puts Michiganders in the interesting position of singing the best fight song in the world on Saturdays and the worst on Sundays. Also: MMB vs a fat middle aged guy in a hard hat: reason 5857 that college is better than pro.
This Week's Games:
@Purdue tonight (at 7) and vs. Indiana at home on Sunday. Guess 'em both. To make it easy on me please use the [M's score]-[hyphen]-[Opponent's score] format and specify on that line which game that score's for.
And the Prize:
People who just see the parts of Indiana on the skyway or I-94 don't realize that the state shaped like a spilled sack of beans actually has a lot more going for it. Like there are several bars in Indianapolis. And there's corn fields. And there's gas stations. And the gas is cheaper than in Michigan or Illinois. (You know we should have just made a shirt that says "America's gas station.") Somehow this state surrounded by football enthusiasts ended up being cookoo for basketball. Maybe that's because you can't smell Gary indoors.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (make it easy on me and write your score in digits with a hyphen between them. Deadline for entries is sometime within 24 hours before the start of the game—whenever I can get online in that time and lock the thread. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning because you can change scores. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm spent 10 years as the Indiana of basketball, if that makes sense. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm's name has to be spelled wrong. The algorithm is not just a shooter. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
It is obviously huge to have Gardner around for a fifth year in 2014, when Brady Hoke's OL recruiting will be emerging into upper-class years, Derrick Green is a sophomore, and Drake Harris is wearing the #1*. Getting a fifth year out of any starting QB is big time, especially one with as much upside as Gardner. Since he's pretty raw right now, he should use it unless he absolutely blows up in 2013—a problem I will take if it goes down like that.
Also a bonus is this presumably pushes the Morris/Speight/true freshman battle out to 2015, when Morris is (probably) a redshirt sophomore and Speight a redshirt freshman. Not starting a freshman QB is a nice thing.
*[Projection based on awesome dream. Also, Drake Harris is made of of mushroom marshmallows, the offensive line mutates into candybears, and Michigan beats East Magellanic Cloud for the Universe Title. Suck it, Bama.]
3/1/2013 – Michigan 4, Ferris State 1 – 13-18-2, 10-15-2 CCHA
3/2/2013 – Michigan 1, Ferris State 1 (shootout win), 13-18-3, 10-15-3 CCHA
it was messy, like we like it (MGoBlue)
After the Bowling Green meltdown from myself and the hockey team I vowed I was done talking about them. They'd just gotten blown out by BG and topped it off by letting a dangerous knee-to-knee hit slide without so much as a shove. They sucked, which was bad enough. That they did nothing when a guy wearing an A was on the ice after a cheap shot in an already-lost game was the end.
I spent the following two months of the season watching them in a depressed, cynical fugue state, dreading the ticket in my hand that condemned me to watch them get swept by Alaska for the first time since Alaska was a thing, not really caring if we missed half of a first period against Western because the waitress couldn't figure out how to change the channel, content to pick up twitter updates on the Ohio State series. I kept thinking of better things to do with 500 dollars, like use it to set my beard on fire.
Friday, I went to the ticket drawer, pulled out not one but two Ferris State tickets, realized that the home-and-home I expected was a two game home series, and sighed.
Friday started off rough with a penalty 30 seconds in; Michigan only killed it off with a couple of fine point blank saves from Steve Racine and then suffered another shift of heavy Ferris pressure. I was just prepping to enter fugue state when Michigan scored; Zach Hyman and young Lynch and Selman cobbled out a goal from some hard work. Guptill won a board battle and Andrew Copp made a cross-ice pass that Deblois buried, and Ferris got chippy.
Jacob Trouba probably got speared at some point, and another opponent knee met a Michigan player dangerously. This time there wasn't even time for me to put the Bowling Green game together with that incident before Copp came over and let that Ferris guy know he was marked. Roughing penalties followed; Trouba took an extra two late with Michigan up four. Michigan had incidentally dominated a 4-1 win, outshooting a decent team by 14. It was fun.
Saturday's ticket felt like an opportunity instead of a burden, and Copp—now ensconced in his role as the #1 center—started screwing with Ferris before the puck even dropped. He assisted on a first period goal, drew two penalties, intercepted stretch passes like he was playing for a Ron Mason Michigan State outfit, and spent large chunks of the game giving anyone who looked at a Michigan player funny the business. A pissed-off Trouba picked up a misconduct. I grew little grudges against Ferris State players, and was incensed by after the whistle business.
Michigan again significantly outshot Ferris. Racine stoned a couple of breakaways and then three straight shootout attempts. The team mobbed him for an unnaturally long time after the last one.
It felt like a team again, and Yost a place to be. It was Michigan hockey: end to end, pissy, ref-baiting, out-shooting, chippy fun. Michigan has always been a team with its heart on its sleeve, prone to dumb penalties of aggression that I used to loathe. They are far superior to the sleepwalk of the last year. By the end of Saturday's tumultuous draw Ferris's goalie was out in overtime and Yost was on its feet, moaning and screeching, full of hate and joy and fear. The new building seemed like the old one for a bit. Finally.
I don't know if Racine is going to keep up this level of performance or if Trouba's going to stick around or if Copp can really be the emotional center of a team as just a sophomore. I do have something to say about them that isn't randomly assorted swear words now. It's hard to see them winning two series and two at the Joe to extend that tourney streak, but at least I'll be pulling for them instead of silently hating everything. At least I've got a reason to renew.
Bullets still mostly about next year
Gongshow forever. I don't actually know if the refereeing in the Big Ten is going to be any better, but it's fitting that the last ten seconds of regular-season CCHA play saw Ferris State get a breakaway thanks to having seven guys on the ice. Here are four:
Here are two more:
This is okay since the goalie is out. This guy…
Not so much. Racine stoned the guy anyway.
Racine, come on baby. I was hoping he'd pop that save percentage over .900 with that weekend but he remains stuck at .892. Nonetheless, he was probably the star of the weekend if it wasn't Copp. Two goals against and many quality saves.
The one goal on Saturday was a little strange—still not sure if that was deflected or just unexpected—and is a bit concerning. Racine has had games like that where he makes a bunch of good stops and then lets some bizarre stuff in; it's a major weakness.
Despite it, the kid looked good… confident post-to-post, able to come out on shooters when it's appropriate, and seemingly technically sound. I was watching Saturday's game with a couple of guys who have played the position as kids and on the beer league level and they also thought he'd come a long way. My amateur impressions are that I see a ton of places where pucks can slide through Rutledge, and Racine provides not only a bigger guy but one with fewer gaps as he moves around.
Michigan should still try to find another goalie next year; I think Racine has a decent chance of developing into a quality guy. If he does, Josh Blackburn for president.
Copp. At the beginning of the year I said I thought he could be more than a fourth-line PK guy like the Swistaks and Fardigs before him who came from the end of the USNTDP bench. I didn't think he'd be centering the top line by the end of the year. I cannot overstate how excellent he looked this weekend: he played smart, made nice passes, took a couple of high-quality shots, and seems to have become the on-ice leader of the team. Not bad for a late add.
I'm guessing the split between football and hockey—he was Skyline's QB—held him back and now that he's finally focusing full time on one he's making a leap. At 7-9-16 he's ten points off the team leaders, but that's with very little PP time and after spending big chunks of the year down the depth chart. He's making a late-year leap and I bet he sees those points go up a lot next year.
Nieves. Another guy who is rounding into form as his freshman season comes to a close. A lot of guys who become stars start out slowly as freshmen and then emerge in the second half of their first year—Palushaj, Pacioretty (though he never came back), and Tambellini spring to mind. He's showing that he may be a guy Michigan can lean on heavily next year.
Next year. This was discussed in a UV last week, but it's all about offseason departures. Michigan loses Sparks, Lynch The Elder, Treais, Moffie, and Rohrkemper. Only three of those guys really play important roles. Sparks and Rohrkemper get scratched a lot. Moffie is the 4/5 defenseman if Clare is healthy. Lynch is okay but eminently replaceable. Only Treais might sting. Most schools are going to lose players more important than one guy with 20-something points, though.
But what with the rampant rumors about dissention in the ranks, an already-bulging roster, and a recruiting class that could have as many as eleven kids in it, defections are all but inevitable. Merrill, Trouba and Bennett will have NHL options; Di Guiseppe, Guptill, and Nieves will also. Other guys may just want to leave.
Michigan is committed to bringing in at least seven of those guys: forwards Evan Allen, Bryson Cianfrone, JT Compher, Alex Kile, and Tyler Motte plus defensemen Michael Downing and Nolan DeJong. Hockey is an equivalency sport so not all of those guys are necessarily on full rides and Michigan lost Daniel Milne midseason, but if they're going to keep the roster at its currently rather packed level they are going to suffer a defection. If they don't, they will carry nine defensemen into next year. If they suffer lots, then Max Shuart, Spencer Hyman, and Kevin Lohan may also join up, and then there's the goalie situation.
Michigan is a team that could go into next year featuring Trouba, Merrill, Bennett, and projected first-rounder Downing as their top four defensemen… or they could lose half of those guys and end up icing Mike Szuma quite a bit.
Meanwhile at forward, Compher is a high-end prospect expected to go in the middle of the first round; Allen and Motte are second and fourth in NTDP scoring. Cianfrone was projected as a first-round OHL pick before his Michigan commitment but has struggled in the USHL with a 3-14-17 line in 39 games. An emergency appendectomy may have something to do with that, he is small (5'8"), and he is young, but it looks like his star has fallen. Kile on the other hand has put up a PPG this year with Green Bay. At least one or two of those guys will probably end up on a big line.
Here it's less precipitous a dropoff if only because none of the forwards are near Merrill or Trouba's level, but Guptill's been playing well of late and it would suck to lose Nieves just as he starts rounding into a player.
In any case, find or grow a goalie and the talent will be there for a major bounce-back year as long as there's a guy to grab folks by the scruff of their neck. Please hockey Jesus, don't let Trouba's only year at Michigan be this floundering one.