in town for free camps
Friday, January 23rd, 2015
UW 1 UM 0 PPG 02:48 LaBate from Dougherty and Schulze
Michigan starts in a box on the penalty kill when Andrew Copp comes up high to attack the puck near the point. Wisconsin passes the puck down the boards and then back up to the blue line, and as Copp turns he runs into what is essentially a pick being set by Grant Besse. When Copp came up high someone else (Tyler Motte) should have moved over to cover the opposite side of the ice. He doesn’t, and Michigan ends up having three of their four defenders smushed together.
The pass gets through because of Motte’s error, but he isn’t the only one who makes a mistake here. Kevin Lohan needs to be lower in order to eliminate the backdoor player and step up and tie up the guy in the center of the crease if need be.
Leave the middle of the ice undefended and it’s not surprising what happens next. Zach Werenski hesitates and it looks like he’s trying to take away both the pass and shot, and the result is that he takes away neither. Dougherty passes to LaBate for an easy tap in.
[After THE JUMP: Michigan scores with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind]
Hatch Gameday. Via MLive:
Positioned on the Crisler court alongside coach John Beilein and ESPN's Rece Davis and Jay Williams, Michigan freshman Austin Hatch looked up at the arena scoreboard as a his tale of loss and triumph played on the video screen.
If, by chance, a pin had hit the hardwood, you'd have heard it.
Beilein brushed a tear from his eye. As images of the 2011 plane crash that claimed Hatch's father and step-mother and left him in an eight-week coma flashed on the screen, Beilein rested his hand on Hatch's leg.
Hatch gave him an "it's OK" glance.
The nonsense of a 14 team conference defined. UNC and Wake are playing nonconference games in 2019 and 2021, because they'd rather do that than wait a zillion years to play each other again. Congratulations, conference commissioners.
This is a bump. Harbaugh was supposedly getting 7-8 million a year; he is not. The gap between his deal and his rumored deal seems to be headed to his assistants:
Michigan's coaching staff will have a fund of $4-5 million for assistant coaches, not including strength staff.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 23, 2015
That bumps at the same rate Harbaugh does. Michigan was at 3.5 last year; the top end of that scale would see them third nationally behind LSU and Alabama, pending everyone else throwing money at their assistants.
Other contract details. Harbaugh's deal is pretty standard. It specifies that he gets a private plane for recruiting, which I think we're all happy with. Saving time as you flit about and not dealing with commercial air travel are things that make sense for the head man. The rest of the terms are as favorable as you think they might be for a guy in that kind of demand: if Michigan fires him they're on the hook for the whole deal anyway; if he leaves his buyout is a pro-rated portion of his two million dollar signing bonus. IE, nothing.
Izzo is really something. Walter Pitchford got tossed three minutes in to the MSU-Nebraska game for throwing an elbow at Matt Costello. Tim Miles:
“I thought Walt deserved to get kicked out, after seeing it,” Miles said. “He made a mistake. I know he’s sorry for that mistake. He’s being held, he looks at the ref, but you don’t do that. That’s uncalled for. That’s not us. Walt will learn from that.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Nebraska indirectly may have benefited from Pitchford’s ejection.
“I thought it energized them,” he said. “Calls went differently after that, like normally they do.”
Izzo could complain about winning the lottery.
Caris evaluated. Draft Express took the opportunity to evaluate Caris LeVert after the information NBA teams will get before next year's draft was abruptly finished by his foot injury. The upshot:
LeVert will need to decide now whether or not to return to Michigan for his senior season. The feedback he gets from NBA teams in the next few months will likely play a large role in that. While this is not considered a weak draft at the moment, it does look fairly shallow at the guard positions, which could help LeVert's stock.
Most places still have him as first round pick, though now he's out of the lottery. As a young junior he still has a lot of upside he could explore in college. Unfortunately, it's often hard for guys to come back when they go into a year expecting it will be their last in college. We saw that with Glenn Robinson III last year. GRIII entered the draft knowing full well he wasn't getting a guaranteed contract because of that momentum.
This is reasonably nasty. Kyle Connor will be a freshman next year.
— USHL (@USHL) January 24, 2015
He's projected as a first round pick.
So this guy exists. Not sure what job this gentleman landed:
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) January 26, 2015
But he landed a job. Hastings played for D-II Washburn University, which I have just learned has one of the best logo/nickname combinations in college sports:
They are the Ichabods.
Anyway, after college Hastings kicked around the 49ers practice squad for a few years, then landed in the Eagles' front office. He's probably getting one of those analyst jobs Michigan was supposed to be adding.
Etc.: ESPN wants to move next year's semifinal playoff games from New Year's Eve because they're afraid of Ryan Seacrest. Seriously. Charles Pierce on deflategate is mandatory. Harbaughtweets power-ranked. Jon Falk on decals.
69 minutes. Nice.
That could have gone worse. The strange split in Derrick Walton's jumping. MAAR/Dawkins flashes, realistic expectations, why rejecting moral victories is for the men in the arena and we can go ahead and accept them.
FIIIIIIREWAGON. Hobey talk, Pairwise talk. Ace expounds at length. Ladies, please don't drive off the road. Can we please decide on how to pronounce JT Compher's last name?
We welcome in Steve Lorenz of Wolverine 247. Steve is very good at talking about recruiting and horrible at marketing himself. Commits! And guys we think are going to commit in the near future!
"Across 110th Street"
"Here Comes The Sun," M. Ward
"Future Husbands Past Lives," White Sea
THE USUAL LINKS
I don't think #60 is gonna catch him. [Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal]
Gentry's commitment post focused a lot on his athleticism and mechanics, so this quote Scout's Greg Biggins gave to MLive's Nick Baumgardner about his arm strength proves useful:
"He's got an NFL arm, I've seen him flick the wrist and it's effortless, he doesn't have to wind up, the release is tight and he can throw it," Scout.com national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said Sunday. "A lot of times you see young quarterbacks try to get more velocity by winding up, and they lose accuracy. With him, it's effortless. He just flicks the wrist and the accuracy and mechanics stay the same.
"Mechanically he's strong, and I love his arm strength."
Three of the four recruiting services rated Gentry as a four-star—Rivals and ESPN have him just outside the top 100—with the only holdout being 247. That doesn't mean 247 doesn't see his potential; when running down the best of the 2015 class, Barton Simmons pegged Gentry as a boom-or-bust candidate with serious upside:
3-star that could play like a 5 – Zach Gentry
A recent Texas decommit and Michigan commit, Gentry is the single most unique talent in this class. He’s huge at 6-7, he has a big arm, he doesn’t have good footwork but he is also extremely athletic, he’s extremely raw, plays shoddy competition in New Mexico but he’s got a world of potential. Still following? Bottom line: Don’t be surprised if Jim Harbaugh turns Gentry into a first-round draft pick as a quarterback, but also don’t be surprised if Gentry goes the Blake Bell route and ends up at tight end either.
Nolan Ulizio's commitment post was a little light on scouting reports; since that published, ESPN gave Ulizio a three-star rating and posted an evaluation ($):
Ulizio is an OL prospect with good size and a physical, lunch pail type style. Little better football player then he is overall athlete and ceiling may not be real high, but with some continued development good prospect that has flown under the radar some and can be a productive contributor to an FBS OL potentially as a RT or could very well see a move inside to OG.
Ulizio's high school coach also discussed his game with The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan ($):
"The great part about Nolan is he's a very physical, aggressive player," said Cox. "He plays with a nasty attitude and enjoys being an offensive lineman. He takes his job of protecting the quarterback and running backs really seriously. He's 6-5, 285. For a high school senior, that's pretty special. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, he plays to the whistle, and he finishes really really well. Secondly, I think Nolan does a great job of conceptualizing what you're trying to do offensively. He can think on his feet, with the defense a moving object that he reacts to quickly.
That last bit is important—a big part of a lineman's job in Harbaugh's offense is identifying the right man to hit when pulling, which isn't always easy to do on the fly.
The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up a position coach at Reuben Jones' school—former M OL Ricky Barnum ($):
"He's one of the players that I love to coach against and coach with," Barnum said. "He's an extremely hard worker and he's very strong. I'm not just saying that either. In games, he gets double and tripled-teamed and he manages to fight through it. You can watch his highlight where he runs plays down from the backside. I'm talking 40 or 50 yards down the field. On the field he really has a motor. That's the one thing I'd say about him, he has a motor."
With the three additions, Michigan's 2015 class jumped 22 spots in the 247 Composite team rankings to #69 overall. That's still well off the pace M would like to be at, obviously, but they're poised to push into the top 30 if they round out the class as expected, which would be quite acceptable given the small group of commits compared to other schools.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Senior-to-be tailback Justice Hayes is seeking greener pastures:
The four years I have spent at this institution have brought some great memories that I will cherish forever. The fact that I will be graduating from the University of Michigan in April will be meritorious. I have earned team captain on numerous occasions, won respect from coaches and players, and most importantly played my heart out every Saturday. I truly appreciate the offer from Coach Harbaugh to allow me to return for my 5th year, but I have decided that I will choose another college to play football as a graduate student.
Hayes was a touted recruit who stuck with Michigan after Rich Rodriguez's departure despite being regarded as a spread back in the mold of a Theo Riddick. He was subsequently buried on the depth chart as the Hoke staff systematically ignored any tailback smaller than a moose.
Hayes never really got an opportunity despite the thoroughly mediocre performances of Michigan's tailbacks over the past couple years and probably doesn't see much more opportunity now what with Harbaugh's desire to manball all the live long day. It'll be interesting to see if he blows up in a fashion similar to Mike Cox and Thomas Rawls (when eligible) in a place that is not the purgatory of Brady Hoke offenses.
Michigan has three juniors-to-be (De'Veon Smith, Derrick Green, and Drake Johnson) on the roster plus USC transfer Ty Isaac, so they'll probably be fine this year. This shouldn't change recruiting approaches.
It does open up another slot. Michigan now has 13 or 14 depending on the status of Joe Kerridge—I have to assume both Glasgows are on scholarship now—and seems to be recruiting for 16, maybe 17 spots*. Hoke mentioned a few pending departures before his own exit, so I would expect Michigan to announce three or four more departures that are already known to them in the near future.
*[They have 9 and appear to be looking for two DEs, two CBs, and two TE/FB types plus a wildcard or two extra.]
Back in the day I had a brief period as an Edmonton Oilers fan. (Long story short: never had much of a Red Wings connection since I grew up in pre-Avs Colorado and Edmonton had Mike Comrie.) This was at the point where they had one of the most bizarrely popular players in the league, Georges Laraque.
The French-Canadian was more province than man, kept on the team to grind on the fourth line and facepunch people. He had one more skill than that, though. If provided the puck along the boards in the offensive zone, he could keep it there indefinitely.
This had almost no utility. Laraque couldn't do much of anything once he had established possession. He was too slow to threaten to take the puck off the boards himself and not skilled enough to pick out his teammates. Even so it was a thing to see: Laraque fending off increasingly enormous piles of opposition players as the arena got more and more fevered about something that would never, ever lead to a goal. In this it was like his fighting, there to entertain in a way totally orthogonal to the stated goal of hockey.
When Zach Hyman started doing this at the outset of last season, it had a Laraquian feel to it. He was stuck on three points a third of the way through the year and no amount of cheerleading from this space made a difference. At that point Hyman was a guy who had a great season as an overager in junior but had done nothing to suggest he was going to replicate that through 60% of his career at Michigan.
And then he started walking into the slot.
Michigan's weekend was a rote walkover introduced by a penalty-induced hangover. I've been on both sides of games like Friday where the ice tilts towards the losing team and no lead seems safe, and by the time Michigan scored to pull within 1 late in the second period that game felt like a Michigan win.
The way it transpired is quickly becoming familiar. Hyman walked off the wall again, flicking the puck to the far side of a goalie worried about a wrap-around attempt. Then Michigan marauded through the slot for the go-ahead goal and the double-tap to make sure Wisconsin's zombie upset bid was well and truly dead. They'd solved prominent goaltending issues by removing them from the relevant section of the game. An empty-netter felt appropriate as an extra-point exclamation mark.
Saturday's game was over two minutes in when Michigan had scored twice and chased Joel Rumpel to the bench in world-record time. By the time Michigan scored to go up 5-0 early in the second period they were barely celebrating. After two periods shots were 37-9.
Even Wisconsin's frustrated after-the-play Standard Hockey Goonery felt obligatory. It takes a remarkable mental state to shove someone without meaning anything by it, but by the third period Wisconsin was doing it solely by reflex, thinking about what they would watch on Netflix after the game.
Eliminate Tony Calderone's five minute major and this weekend wasn't a hockey series. It was a reason that Michigan should be forced to wear body cams when on duty.
Hyman's surged into serious Hobey Baker contention in a way I don't think I've ever seen a Michigan player do so. Previous dominant Hobey types have mostly been the little puck wizards that felt like Michigan's birthright for most of the 90s and aughts. Brendan Morrison was an NHL-sized version of those guys, Kevin Porter a gentleman who scored buckets of goals without being dominant in any particular facet of the game.
All of these guys reached the point where you look for them to hit the ice because they are generating chances every shift. Most of them did so by having the puck on a string. A guy like Hyman, who is so physically dominant he creates most of his chances off the cycle, is a new thing.
He's a good metaphor for the team as a whole: eventually overwhelming. Michigan shoves line after line at you—they have eight guys on or within a couple points of a PPG, and that doesn't count NHL Draft second-rounders Boo Nieves and JT Compher. Every time they go for a line change someone you don't want to see is coming over the boards.
They do have to get their act together on defense. The goalies' flagging save percentages are not entirely their regression. Michigan's giving up grade A scoring chances with alarming regularity. Not so much this weekend, but Wisconsin is truly, bogglingly bad.
Even so at this point you have to wonder if they can outscore anyone. The 80s called, offering their hockey again. All aboard the firewagon.
Michigan's sweep did count for something, as they moved up about four tenths of a point despite Lowell and Minnesota (teams that give them quality win points) having bad weekends. Wisconsin has a solid SOS (4th in RPI terms) and that helps them remain somewhat relevant. Then the road multiplier kicks in.
That four tenths of a point corresponded to a whopping five-spot move in RPI/PWR because the teams immediately in front of Michigan had horrible weekends, with three getting swept and a fourth taking just one point.
Michigan is now solidly in the tournament but vulnerable to backsliding. They're barely a point above the 16 slot which is guaranteed doom.
Suggestion: keep winning. Michigan has 12 games left in the regular season and probably has to go 8-4, maybe 9-3 to feel secure entering the Big Ten Tournament. Given the way they've been playing and the way the rest of the Big Ten has, that's not too tall an order.
Pile 'em in. Michigan has surged to an enormous lead in scoring offense, a full six tenths of a goal past #2 Robert Morris. Last year's leading offense, BC, was at 4.1 GPG; Michigan is at 4.4. BC got their piles of goals thanks to 80-point Hobey winner Johnny Gadreau.
PPGs. Those eight(!) guys at or a couple points away from a PPG: Hyman, Larkin, Copp, and Motte are past that pace. Kile and Werenski are one and two points short, respectively. And after a five-point weekend featuring a Friday hat trick, Justin Selman is at 5-6-11 in just 11 games.
This goal was rightfully disallowed. Kile got a little bumped here but yeah:
I wasn't expecting that to stand after one replay.
Goalie issues. The BTN announcers made a great deal about Michigan's goalie issues this year, which I thought was pretty simplistic given the sheer number of grade-A chances they'd faced but then both goalies gave up horrendous goals on Friday and now that I'm poking at the numbers… yeah. Nagelvoort is 50th of 80 qualifying goalies on CollegeHockeyStats and Racine is 74th.
These things can turn around quickly—Racine was horrible the first half of his freshman year and put up a .920 the rest of the way—because you need a pile of shots before save percentage becomes statistically meaningful. Michigan's going to have to hope someone steps forward as we approach the stretch run. It's Nagelvoort's turn for a while, it seems.
Selman? Selman's been one of my argh-play-him-more favorites. Sometimes these work out (Hyman), sometimes not so much (Lindsay Sparks), but a five point weekend on the wing of Selman and Larkin probably buys him a few more weekends as the third wheel there. Selman brings a net-driving presence on a line that generates a lot of chaos and rebounds, and he seems like a good fit there.
Already prepping to pump Selman as next year's upperclass breakout forward, which has been an annual tradition (Rohlfs, Scooter) until recently.
Larkin. Hyman is carrying that line and has been all season but Larkin is obviously contributing, and he's contributing on a higher level since the GLI break, where he was one of the best forwards on the WJC team. Larkin reminds me a bit of Max Pacioretty, who wasn't particularly noticeable during the first half of his only year at Michigan but absolutely blew up in the second half. Larkin's adding some flair to his game now that he's comfortable with college and his line.
Sinelli on defense? Michigan listed Andrew Sinelli as a defender this weekend, leading to weird things like a box score featuring "XD" as a position for Nolan De Jong. Michigan rotated through its centers for extra shifts on the fourth line—when those guys are Compher, Copp, and Larkin that's not a bad idea—and played with what they were going to do on the back end.
I liked Sinelli as a defender last year. I actually thought he was a top four guy for them. He's not great shakes as a forward with the puck but for a defenseman he's very capable in that department, and while he's small he was generally in the right spot. That would be a large improvement for Michigan's defensive corps.
I'd keep an eye on that going forward, especially since Michigan is going to plug Lynch back into that fourth line center spot when he gets back. Given the Michigan offense a solid senior like Sinelli might be preferable to a guy who has more upside but offers up more WTF moments.