[Ed-Ace: Brian (knee) is day-to-day, though he did prepare some content that will be posted this afternoon. Post-Burke-return hoops stuff and a Spring Game primer will appear later this week. In the meantime, enjoy some Mike Hart.]
In honor of Michigan’s all-time leading rusher’s birthday yesterday, a look at one of the unique careers in college football.
Since the 2011 season completed, I have been re-loading 9 seasons worth of games (6,063 to be exact) to update my database to include 2011’s new feature of Win Percent Added. In doing so, something immediately popped out at me. No running back added more wins to their team than Mike Hart did for Michigan.
Sometimes when you are looking at advanced stats you are surprised by how counter-intuitive results can be and sometimes you are surprised how well the data fits the existing narrative. Mike was the back who wouldn’t go down, always got the extra yard, killed the clock and never fumbled. Those are all the things that factor highly in Win Percent Added, especially the 4th quarter capabilities. Burning the clock in the fourth quarter is a key requirement of a successful running back. Especially a Michigan running back. No one did it better than Mike.
For his career, Mike Hart was responsible for 4.4 Wins running the ball. Reggie Bush edges him out if you count receiving WPA, as well, but those are tainted wins. It’s not just longevity and playing time that pushed him to the top. His per game average of 0.11 is fifth, behind two players with only a single season in the database and two more with two seasons at non-BCS level schools.
At this point, writing about Mike Hart is a daunting task. What is left to write that hasn’t been written? He joined the team in the 2004 class as a 3 star recruit. He nearly set the national high school rushing record but wasn’t even the highest ranked running back in Michigan’s class. He would have been the fifth highest rated running back in Miami’s (YTM’s) recruiting class. He saw his first quality action in his second game of his career against Notre Dame in the second week of the season. By week three he was over 100 yards and posting a +5 EV+ and a crucial .36 WPA as Michigan held on for a 24-21 win over San Diego St.
Hart would go on to string together three straight 200 yards games in Big Ten play, including a 0.26 WPA in the Braylon Edwards game. His EV+ was always strong for a running back but where his EV+ was strong, his WPA was Herculean. Mike Hart made all the plays to win the game but none of them to lose them. By the end of the 2004 season true freshman Mike Hart had gone from anonymous three star to posting a per game WPA of 0.15, still my best recorded number in the Big Ten.
Injuries killed a large portion of the 2005 season. Kevin Grady, Max Martin, Antonio Bass and Jerome Jackson all took carries but none could come close to the production from Mike Hart. Kevin Grady was the only one to surpass a +1 EV+ in his absence, and that was mostly unnecessary against Indiana. Jerome Jackson did have a solid 0.14 WPA on 11 carries in an overtime win against Iowa, but that was limit of the success when Hart was out. In five full games of action Hart averaged 0.23 WPA which if replicated across an entire season would have given him the second highest (Reggie Bush, 2005) WPA average in a season for any running back since 2003.
It’s hard to think about what could have been with a healthy Mike Hart. Three carries in a seven point loss to Notre Dame, a DNP in a three point loss to Wisconsin eight ineffective carries in a four point loss to Ohio. There’s a very real chance he swings those three games and Michigan shares a Big Ten title with Penn State and spends its holiday taking on Florida State in the Orange Bowl rather than getting screwed over by the refs in the Alamo Bowl.
With fewer games coming down to key fourth quarter possessions in 2006, Michigan didn’t need the fourth quarter machine Mike Hart. He finished the season with a profile almost exactly like Chris Perry’s 2003 season. With not much in the way of close games, he didn’t have any massive, WPA pushing games like he had in his first two years, but 10 of 13 games would finish at .07 or better. For the year Hart ended at .09 WPA/game, his third top 20 Big Ten WPA year in as many tries. John Clay is the only player to have even 2 top 20 finishes.
For the second time in his career, injuries would derail an outstanding Mike Hart season. After surviving The Horror and somehow managing a strong WPA in the follow-up beating by Oregon, Hart was on track for a season to along side his junior year. An ankle injury in mid-season cost him a couple games of action and a couple more of effectiveness. 2007 would be his lowest rated season but still crack the Big Ten top 50. He would finish the year with enough quality carries to become Michigan’s all-time leading rusher and set the then non-existent WPA record.
When I talk to people about how much more valuable quarterbacks are than running backs they usually point to running out the clock in the fourth as the unquantifiable equalizer between the two. When I first developed the Win Percent Added I was anxious to see how true it was. If you properly value the ability for a running back to keep the clock running and close out a game, what happens to the value relationship between quarterback and running back. After I crunched the numbers I found that the fourth quarter benefit was largely overstated. Until I looked at Mike Hart. There are very few running backs whose value is truly magnified by the little things like the narrative claims.
Mike Hart is the narrative.
Mike Hart, Seasons
Mike Hart, Games
|Year||Week||Vs||EV+||WPA||Rush EV+||Rush Att||Yards|
|2004||3||San Diego St||5||0.36||5||25||121|
[Ed-S: Gee golly willickers this guy knows his hockey. Bump Elliott'd]
I know it's not about Trey Burke... but Brian suggested I post it Monday night:
Hockey Special Teams 1: Power Play Basics
Brian recently asked me “What’s wrong with Michigan’s powerplay?” Since that is a complicated answer, I’ll answer it in a 3 part Diary. This one focuses on the Power Play, the next will be on the penalty kill, and once I’ve explained those basics I’ll dive into Michigan’s specifics. There are many situations that can lead to a power play during a hockey game:
First, my hockey resume: I’ve been playing hockey for 20 years. I tried out for the club team at Michigan and was told I was the 2nd best goalie trying out, but they were only taking 1 that year (they might have told that to all the goalies). I played on Sunday nights at the Cube from 2006-2009, so if you played in that student league you probably played against me. I’ve done some coaching since graduation but had to take a break from that when I changed jobs. OK, enough about that. There are plenty of better hockey minds on the board (JimLahey comes to mind) who will hopefully chime in and add to what I’ve put together here.
All powerplays have 3 parts:
1. Establish possession in the offensive zone
3. Profit! Er. Score.
In this Diary I’m mainly going to focus on #2. In my diary on the penalty kill I’ll talk more about #1 (and how to stop it). The obvious advantage of a powerplay is that you have an extra man. The objective becomes taking advantage of that extra man and getting him a scoring change in space. It comes down to spacing and angles. Forgive the Word Art, but a basic offensive zone powerplay formation is the “Umbrella”
In this formation you have 3 players high in the zone, with one in the middle. This formation works best if the man on the left circle is a right-handed shot and the man on the right circle is a left-handed shot as seen here:
Right now the wing players are on their “opposite” sides, which allows them to be open to a pass from the middle and one-time the puck right away. We used to teach our “Quarterback” – the player at the top of the umbrella – to shoot it right away the first time he got it and establish himself as a threat. You make the PK commit to the middle player and he’ll have options on either side. In the above frame against Western, the WMU penalty killer approaching the puck is doing so after challenging the QB up top.
If you’ve got 5 minutes, this video does a good job of breaking down the Umbrella:
In the frame above, Michigan actually ran a different set off an umbrella look that lead to a goal. Rather than just cycling the puck among the top 3 guys, Michigan flipped the puck low and took advantage of what Western gave us. The same principles apply here though – get a scoring chance to a guy in space.
Another powerplay set up I learned as the “Swedish” play. This works well if you want to have 2 defensemen on the ice for the powerplay (like Red does) and you don’t want to have them switch sides (right D man is on the right side)
Again, forgive the word art. This set up lulls the defenders to sleep and sets up a quick one timer for one of your defensemen. The play starts at the top middle with a right handed defenseman. The puck should move between the top 3 players for a while until the play starts. The top defenseman passes to his partner, who passes down the wall, who passes to the man in the corner – who should be a lefty in this case. As the puck works around to the corner a few things can happen depending on what the defense gives you. The player in the corner can drive the puck to the net, look for the man directly in front of the net, or drive hard around the net and find the crashing defenseman for a one-timer. This works because the puck has been busy rotating on the right for a while, and your top left penalty killer can be caught sleeping when the defenseman crashes. Again, creates a scoring chance in space.
Those are 2 basic powerplay set ups. Now for some general powerplay non-bullets:
You have to establish possession in the offensive zone
I mentioned this above, but that is really where Michigan struggled this year. This isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds, as I’ll try to show you in the upcoming “Penalty Kill” diary. It’s a lot like breaking a press in basketball. There are a lot of different neutral zone kills, and the offsides rule really helps the defenders out.
The powerplay is a lot like football plays – constraints are huge
This will come into view with the “Penalty Kill” diary, but depending on what the offense is doing, the defense does something and vice versa. There are ways to break kills, kills designed to stop specific powerplays, etc.
Powerplays can be very mental and high pressure situations
You're supposed to score, you can press, you can play tight, and you can fail. Especially if a powerplay is struggling. Like THJ - when he was in his slump, everyone knew it, when he was open for a 3 he should make it, and stuff like that can become a self fulfilling prophecy. That's the mental part. The physical is more akin to the red zone or goal line football. Everything gets turned up a notch. Again, you're supposed to score and the defense turns it up too. Every little mistake gets jumped on - if you don't have a perfect clean pass the D pounces and you have to try to gain the zone again. As an aside, Michigan’s PK was dominant against Ohio State in Cleveland, we were on every loose puck.
A 5-on-3 is a goal one way or the other. Everything mental I just mentioned about a normal powerplay is turned up to 11. A goal is scored, either by the offensive team or by the team that shut down the 5-on-3. The momentum swing and huge boost is as good as a goal, and I am not exaggerating. Many teams will run their normal powerplay, just condensed. So rather than the umbrella being near the top of the zone, your middle guy is even with the top of the circles and your wings are closer to the dots.
A Good goalie can muck all of this up
A team’s best penalty killer is their goalie. A goalie can affect a series more than any other player in any other sport. Some nights no matter what happens you’re not scoring on a goalie. Sometimes this is awesome and Hunwick takes us far. Sometimes we run into the hot goalie and can’t do anything about it.
Powerplays can get too fancy
Just like a basketball team trying to get a pretty play on a 3-on-1 break, the powerplay can be over thought and fail. Sometimes you just need to make the smart pass, or throw the puck at the net. Dirty goals are still goals. On the powerplay often players will try to go for the beautiful pass for a seamless one-timer… when what they should have done is throw the puck at the net at crash it.
That’s it for my Powerplay Overview. I’ll try to get the penalty kill diary up within about a week, followed by a breakdown of where exactly Michigan struggles.
Hunwick. Got in. Faced zero shots. But got in!
If that's it for Hunwick in the show at least he got his cup of coffee. Couldn't happen to a better guy. Speaking of…
College hockey on the upswing. This is a remarkable graph, albeit one that is a little deceptive in its axes:
In ten years the percentage of NHL players from college has jumped 50%. Euros made up 23% of the league a year ago, leaving 47% of the NHL from the traditional major junior route. Since there are only 40-some college hockey teams that produce NHL talent* versus 60 CHL teams, the NHL talent per capita between NCAA and junior is now almost a dead heat. The CHL continues to have a lion's share of the top, top guys but college competition is a lot older.
*[Atlantic Hockey excluded.]
Final rankings. The CSB has published final rankings for the various eligible Michigan guys. Results:
- Jacob Trouba: 9th
- PDG: 22nd
- Boo Nievies: 29th
- Connor Carrick: 124th
Milne and Selman are not ranked. Neither is Rutledge. As always, remember that the CSB splits these guys into North American and European categories and ranks goalies separately so add 20-30% to draft rankings to get approximate positions. Trouba should go around #12, PDG and Nieves sometime in the second, and Carrick in the fifth or sixth.
Oddity: The IIHF yanks Q-bound NTDPer Stefan Matteau from its U18 roster after stating that he hasn't played two consecutive years in the US since he turned ten. His spot goes to Anthony Louis, a diminutive Miami commit who is amongst the NTDP U17 leaders in scoring.
Basketball recruiting: now what (again)? Michigan has one open slot for 2012 and a second they could use on a grad-year guy if they want. With Burke's return and Albrecht's commitment the urgency to fill that latter spot—and the attractiveness of it—gets drastically lower. I doubt they add a 13th guy now, graduate or not.
The 12th spot is another matter. UMHoops reports that Arizona picked up a commitment from Matt Korcheck, a 6'9" power forward. While Korcheck doesn't directly conflict with Amedeo Della Valle, he's no longer visiting Arizona this weekend. The Wildcats are likely out of spots. Point Guard U says his Michigan visit is still on and "likely Ohio State" after that. Texas A&M and Gonzaga are the other suitors; it probably comes down to the Big Ten teams now.
Should Michigan take Della Valle now that Albrecht is in and Burke is back? I'm not sure. It was hard to get any sort of read on his game from the Findlay Prep games I watched. If he's really a 50%+ three-point shooter, obviously you take him. That's doubtful, though. He is a 6'6" wing/SG/PG who would be useful to have on the roster if GRIII or Hardaway leaves early and he does have a number of other offers from majors. Michigan would be filling their roster for 2013 by taking him only if everyone sticks around, and how likely is that? Not likely. I'd take him if he wants to come and continue going after a fourth guy in the class of 2013.
McGary continues to slide. I don't think this will affect any recruiting rankings but reports on him from the Hoop Summit were not positive, particularly this bombing by NBA Draft.net:
Mitch McGary, C: The big lefty who burst onto the 2012 recruiting scene this past summer showed he is definitely far from a finished product. After going from relative unknown to garnering comparisons of Tyler Hansbrough, McGary came back down to earth once he got to the more organized play of his Brewster Academy prep school. Mitch’s motor was advertised as being non-stop, but have yet to see that and have yet to see anything close to the ability of Psycho T. Mitch is a decent athlete and has good size, but he went with the trend of staying more out on the perimeter.
FWIW, another observer noted that McGary spent the week icing his feet and legs due to a presumed injury. He weighed in at 6'10", 265 and looked a lot more sluggish than he did over the AAU season. He'll have to recapture the passion that drove him to the top of rankings boards and get in shape to have the sort of impact Michigan fans are hoping for.
Brock walks. Brock Mealer update video from Barwis Methods:
Keith Jackson, Ufer, Bo, and Anthony Carter, 1979. If you need more than this, I cannot help you.
It kills me not to be able to see what Jackson's wearing.
Fun fun fun. I may have more on this later but for right now know that Matt Hayes just bombed Urban Meyer in a Sporting News article:
Multiple sources told Sporting News that Meyer—who won two national championships in six years at Florida and cemented his legacy as one of the game’s greatest coaches—told the Diggs family that he wouldn’t let his son go to Florida because of significant character issues in the locker room.
Character issues that we now know were fueled by a culture Meyer created. Character issues that gutted what was four years earlier the most powerful program in college football.
I haven't had time to read it yet but am preparing bib and knife to do so.
UPDATE ON FURMAN: Better Call Saul disclaimers apply but this is the picture painted by his potty-mouthed lawyer:
"Joshua didn't do anything," Mason said. "He's got one guy sending him threatening text messages, and then when he gets upset about the nasty text messages, somebody else pulls his hair out, and then the poor bastard gets arrested.
"My suspicion is (the women) will show up in court and make a record in court and say, 'Hey look, this guy didn't hit us, he didn't punch us, he didn't do anything,' and at that time the judge will have a little trial or entertain a motion to dismiss it.
"We're working through the case and hope the charges disappear, once cooler heads prevail."
If that turns out to be true then Furman will get restored to active status in a couple weeks.
sorry this has to be the next thing
Sam Webb confirmed that Josh Furman is currently suspended from the team this morning and an alert reader passed along the likely reason as to why after a search of the Michigan courts' open database:
If 600 East Madison sounds like a familiar address, congratulations. You have lived or currently live in South Quad. Furman is facing three charges: domestic violence, assault, and breaking and entering. He's got a trial date in two weeks. Hoke:
“Josh was suspended indefinitely from team activities as soon as we became aware of the report,” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke in a released statement. “These are serious allegations, We will allow the judicial process to run its course before making a final determination on his status with the program.”
Please refrain from using your jump to conclusions mat about the severity of these charges. Once the legal system is done with him we'll have a better picture about how serious the trouble is and how likely he is to return.
The moral of the story, as always, is never do anything after midnight.
Light 'em if you've got 'em and praise any available deity or animal spirit. The official Michigan basketball feed:
Big News from Ann Arbor! Trey Burke will be continuing his collegiate career with U-M!
You may cease running in a circle. Here are some muppets.
And you can't have one without the other...
UPDATE: Quotes via press release.
"Over the past few weeks, I have spent a lot of time thinking and praying about my future -- not just about next year but many years down the road," said Burke. "After gathering information, I am excited to be continuing my education at Michigan as we look to accomplish even more in our 2012-13 season.
"I have so much more to develop as both a student and athlete, and there is no better place to do that than here at Michigan. I love my Michigan family and am really excited about playing with my teammates and our incoming freshmen. I want to thank my parents, my teammates and my coaches for the patience and guidance they gave me since this process began a few weeks ago."
"We tried to provide Trey and his family with the best information possible and as much time as possible to make an informed decision," said U-M head coach John Beilein. "We wanted him to think this through carefully so he was 100 percent certain of what he wanted to do moving forward.
"We loved coaching Trey this season. It is very unusual to have a freshman point guard play with such poise and confidence all year long. He is a clutch performer with a great work ethic and a brilliant future in front of him. As our team leadership changes hands, I know Trey will join the other returning players as we strive to be the leaders and best in all we do."
UPDATE II: Just received this in my inbox from Mark Hollis.
Ur heart are stupid
ARE YOU STILL RUNNING AROUND IN A CIRCLE? GODDAMMIT YOU BETTER BE
How was your Easter? Mine was lovely apart from the multiple quizzes about Trey Burke's future I had to answer with a vague negativity precisely calibrated to imply a 73.2% chance of departure. Not because of the quizzes necessarily. It was more the repeated consideration of next year's basketball season without Mr. Burke.
As this was happening the Trey Burke zeitgeist—he's got his own now—shifted away from the razor wire and urban warfare towards the bunnies and butterflies. First Keith Langlois tweeted this:
FWIW. NBA personnel guy in Miami for #Pistons game says he believes Trey Burke is headed back to Michigan. Would go in 30s, he said.
And then a young lady who goes to Burke's church tweeted this after noting that the Burke family was at their service:
report from church. The Burke family is telling members of our congregation that Trey's staying another year. We'll see!
Apply grains of salt as you will. My internet spidey sense says legit (30k tweets is a hell of a sockpuppet) and better than hearing about it from an NBA guy in Miami, but still not certain. It has the whiff of a real thing that will be the turning point in internet PANIC about losing Burke a year early.
I am fully aware that blind hope is capable of autopiloting me to this belief; find your own Bayesian estimate. Mine… it moved.
ALSO: Please note the excellent form of mgouser Jivas's post on this stuff:
Trey Burke Twitter rumors [Good]
This is a headline we should all strive for. Concise, informative, and non-stomach-churning.
Now Please Please Please Let Me Introduce You To Your Backup This Time
As seemed ordained from the moment Sam Webb caused Spike Albrecht's name to pop up on the Michigan internets, the Crown Point Guard [HIKM!] committed to Michigan on his official visit. UMHoops has a commitment post and this site covered Albrecht a couple weeks ago.
Albrecht committed to Michigan over… uh… Appalachian State* and interest that may or may not have resulted in a scholarship offer from various Ivies, Vermont, etc. You get the idea. As Beilein recruits go this is more Colton Christian than, well, Trey Burke, but if you're busy making lists of the late Beilein pickups that didn't go so well don't forget to include Stu Douglass and Zack Novak and feel VERY BAD ABOUT YOURSELF.
If Burke comes back Albrecht doesn't ever have to be a big-time player to be a good idea. He just has to be a heady guy who hands out assists, shoots decently, and doesn't turn the ball over in 15 minutes a game. He'll give the point guard spot some desperately-needed stability even if he never ends up starting.
He's a 5'11" kid from Indiana who took a post-grad year in the same league Mitch McGary and a bunch of other high-level recruits idled in this year. He led his team to the title and garnered MVP honors while doing so. This quote Dylan gathered seems like the quickest path to an understanding of his game:
He’s an old-school style pass first point guard. He’s very cerebral with a high basketball I.Q. His best physical attribute is his endurance – he can play all day – but he isn’t especially explosive. He’s a threat with the three-point line but not a great shooter. He takes care of the ball, makes very good decisions, and knows how to run a team.
You can check out one of his games from the NESPAC playoffs on Youtube and get the same impression. Albrecht will get into the interior of the defense a lot and fling passes to open guys either on the perimeter or inside. Every once in a while he'll take the shot himself. He's clever, which allows him to overcome some of his physical limitations, and he seems to have a plan whenever he gets into the lane. Heady, smart, etc.
If Burke does go they will have to devolve a lot of usage from the point guard spot and find a way to cope with what looks like some pretty bad defense, but they'd survive. The coach quotes are encouraging about his ability to step in immediately. Por ejemplo:
"We played a very similar offense to what Michigan runs, and this kid is designed for this offense," Carroll said. "He was years ahead of other players when it came to understanding where this offense could go, and that's what you hope your point guard is.
"And I think he'll be the same for Michigan. I think (Beilein) will have a blast coaching this kid." … "He was our tournament MVP, and one thing (Michigan can) expect was what we saw, is that he makes the right decisions.
"He is absolutely clutch."
So he'll come in a lot closer to his ceiling than most kids after a postgrad year and his AP-level understanding of stuff. Also, his coach points out that the league he plays in is overflowing with D-I guys. His transition won't be as harsh.
Hopefully he won't have to step right in, though. Keep running in that circle.
*[WOOOO SUCKIT WOOOOOOO 1-1 BABY LET'S CANCEL THE RUBBER MATCH]