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.
One of the great things about this here blog is the user-generated content. After the Michigan State game the board came though with a photoshop thread inspired by Melanie Maxwell's great shot of Trey Burke's steal. This, in turn, has inspired a new regular feature—"Shop Class"—where we'll highlight the best work from these threads (and I'll throw my hat into the ring, as well).
Let's start with one of the many variations of that Maxwell shot, this one posted by hail2thevict0r, who maximized the Appling shadenfreude:
In a similar vein, BlueBarron was reminded of a meme of yore—though I'd imagine the Spartans were quite impressed, actually:
Brian's front-page commentary led to my own effort:
If you're all welped out, I made an alternate version with just Burke's laughter.
[Hit THE JUMP for the, er, inspired(?) work of resident gif wizard chunkums and more.]
The moral of last week: don't lose to Penn State, you guys. Providing the Nittany Lions their only win of the conference season was sufficient to knock Michigan out of one-seed contention for now. Despite the Michigan State win, Michigan has fallen into a mass of teams duking it out for spots on the 2 and 3 lines on the Bracket Matrix, a hair behind Louisville and Florida for the final twos. This isn't a lag effect; brackets updated today are evenly split, with guy-whose-job-this-is Jerry Palm declaring Michigan a 3.
Crashing the Dance also has Michigan in the 3 range, though they're significantly closer to the last #1 seed than dropping to a 4. Kansas and Gonzaga are the main beneficiaries, with Miami hanging on the cusp of a one after a narrow defeat at Cameron. I still think Gonzaga's schedule should disqualify them from a one seed but since Michigan's not in line to replace them, whatever man.
Could Michigan get back in the conversation by winning their last two? It's not out of the question. Indiana is by far the #1 team in all these ranking systems and a win over them would at least vault them up to a solid 2. But they'd have to jump a half-dozen teams at this point, one of whom is the extremely-unlikely-to-lose Gonzaga. Getting back on the top line is not entirely out of the question, but it requires a closing streak that is, to put it kindly, unlikely.
Projected ones: Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Miami
i changed the pictures. run, BJ, run!
Last win for IUPUI: December 27th. Binghamton: January 19th. Central Michigan: won! Against Northern Illinois, but still. IUPUI is done with the regular season and has a Saturday matchup with SDSU that will probably end them. Kenpom gives Binghamton a 1% chance of advancing past Stony Brook in the America East tourney, also on Saturday.
Cleveland State lost their final game and enters conference tourney play at 5-11; their season probably ends tonight. Bradley remains a 500-ish MVC team. Eastern Michigan beat Western in a 50-49 OT Wisconsin special. Both teams have a couple of games before their conference tourney kicks off.
Big sorts of teams
USF: W 64-44. Villanova: W 73-64 (OT)
Crushing rebounding and defense against one of the worst teams in the Big East to start their week, then a home escape against 'Nova in which the stats are close to identical save a burst of OT scoring from the Panthers. With just DePaul left, Pitt is likely to enter the Big East tournament as the #4 seed.
The Panthers are going to be a trendy upset pick in the second round what with their sterling Kenpom numbers, but I've watched them enough to be wary of them against any team that can match their size and rebounding. If Pitt isn't crushing the glass it's hard to see them taking out a 2 or 3 seed.
SEEDWATCH: A strong six on Bracket Matrix; a seven on Crashing The Dance.
Kansas State (24-5)
@ Baylor: W 64-61
Scraped by the Bears thanks to excellent two-point D (38%) and a slight TO advantage in a game with lots of offensive rebounds and a swingy win graph:
That's some high leverage right there. May all tourney games not involving Michigan look like that.
K-State has a gimmie against Texas Tech tomorrow and then a season-ender against high-flying Okie State that could spring them to the three line if they perform reasonably in the Big 12 tourney. That one's on the road.
SEEDWATCH: Narrowly a 3 on Bracket Matrix; four on CTD. Jerry Palm says 4.
North Carolina State (21-8)
Boston College: W 82-64. @ Georgia Tech: W 70-57
Given NC State's defensive struggles this year two solid wins over not-great teams is actually a positive step. This is a team that lost to Maryland and Wake Forest, and BC and GT are hovering around 100 in the Kenpom rankings.
BC actually scored just over a PPP in their matchup but could not compete with an NC State team hitting 62% inside the arc and rebounding half their misses. GT shot horribly and turned it over 15 times; NC State got easy distance despite going 1/11 from three thanks to excellent twos and a lot of FTs.
MCHOBBIT UPDATE: 16 minutes against BC, four points on three shots, 5 to 1 A:TO. 11 minutes, 8 points on five shot equivalents, 2 A, 0 TO.
SEEDWATCH: 7 on Crashing The Dance, 8 on Bracket Matrix. Drawing these guys in the second round as a 1 or 2 seed would be awful.
@ LSU: L 65-60. Kentucky: W 73-60.
Arkansas keeps giving themselves hope at home—wins over UK and Florida—and then blowing it on the road—losses to LSU and Vandy. Their vague flutter towards a spot on the bubble comes down to winning at Mizzou and at home against A&M, plus a run in the SEC tourney.
Likely? No. But not impossible. Crashing the Dance has moved them up from the fringe bubble to Next Four Out territory, with Kentucky and Tennessee the last at large bids in and two more SEC teams (Ole Miss and Alabama) just in front of them. Lunardi also has them in Next Four Out. They've got a 10-20% shot at a bid.
SEEDWATCH: CTD next four out; no one has them in on the Matrix.
West Virginia (13-16)
Baylor: L 65-62. @ Kansas: L 91-65
At least we won this coaching switch.
SEEDWATCH: exploding seeds that kill spiders like in Zelda or something
Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes. Bolded teams are suggested teams to root for, calibrated for …
1) helping M win conference title
2) best chance for quality-win pile-up to help M seeding
3) greatest number of tourney teams from league
4) eff Michigan State
5) also Wisconsin
Yesterday; no games.
Illinois at Iowa, 7:06 PM, BTN
Ohio State at Indiana, 9PM, ESPN
Arkansas at Missouri, 7PM, ESPN
MICHIGAN at Purdue, 7PM, BTN
Minnesota at Nebraska, 9PM, BTN
Wake Forest at NC State, 9PM, ESPN3
Penn State at Northwestern, 7PM, ESPNU
Wisconsin at Michigan State, 9PM, ESPN (rooting interest: meteor)
Minnesota at Purdue, 12PM, BTN
Kansas State at Oklahoma State, 1:30, no tv(?!?)
Texas A&M at Arkansas , 2PM, ESPNU
Nebraska at Iowa, 2:21 PM, BTN
NC State at Florida State, 9PM, ESPN2
Wisconsin at Penn State, 12PM, BTN
Illinois at Ohio State, 12:30, ESPN
Indiana at MICHIGAN, 4PM, CBS
Northwestern at Michigan State, 6PM, BTN
Left: Leon Jones doing a thing that kind of resembles defense while a teammate goes in search of somebody to foul. Right: Dani Wohl when fully assembled.
So let's get a thing straight: I'm not the basketball guy around here.
When I was a wee little freshman on the Daily the seniors were busy exposing the Ed Martin scandal and Michigan was busy carousing and hacking their way through an unwatchable season. For those reasons I didn't go to my first game as a student until Christmas Break of sophomore year ('99-'00), when LaVell Blanchard, Jamal Crawford, Kevin Gaines and Leon Jones dropped 98 on Towson in a student-less Crisler. They didn't play defense then either—unless fouling counts as such—but they were young, and fast (when Ellerbe didn't make them play Bo Ryan ball), and most importantly they were winning.
Winning makes everything likeable. Recruiting red flags were full-page Chris Duprey personality features on overcoming adversity. Rumors of goonish behavior (e.g. Jamal Crawford fighting one of the assistant coaches in November) were evidence of personality and competitiveness (or that coach's fault). Michigan could face anybody except Duke and expect to win, and Duke we made close.
When the students got back Michigan went on a brutal losing streak, ending the regular season with a 114-63 curb-stomp courtesy of Cleaves et al. in EL. Gaines got into a fistfight on the side of
US-23 [EDIT: M-39], Crawford had to leave for the NBA, and we were off to mediocrity.
The first sign of post-Fisher life proved to be just the first of several high-water marks in a long and terrible ice age. In this one I learned to make references to Leon Jones and complain intelligently about Crawford's de facto forced departure. In another I got some stories about Horton as a freshman and Amaker-era student traditions. In another it was Dion Harris and Courtney Sims. Then suddenly it's a different Harris and Sims and I have to ask someone "whatever happened to that big guy we were excited about—Ekpe Udoh or something. Oh he did transfer after all? I missed that." Then I learned this Harris's name was actually Corperryale L'Adorable. Then he argued with Beilein and here we go again. A chart of that:
SRS is sports-reference.com's "Simple Rating System" and is meant to represent that team's expected points differential versus an average team.
There's a small segment of the fanbase who stuck it out even when Michigan's backcourt was down to the heart of Dani Wohl plus a few other functioning body parts of Dani Wohl. Dani today would tell you that was a good investment that's now paying off with a high return, but that's because he doesn't understand why anyone should be afraid of a little pain.
There were entire stretches of Ellerbe and Amaker when this team basically dropped off my plane of interest. Like many others squishing into a crowded bandwagon since Beilein's ceiling started to look an awful lot like the sky, I've had to play a little catch-up. I got about 75% through putting together an all-drought team, but then I stumbled onto the same thing by AC1997 in 2009. So…yeah…an article on this. Well I made a database and some charts to visualize the stats to help me put "Back" in perspective, so have those I guess.
The Family Measuring Shtick
We've yet to face MSU in the Big Ten Tournament so the head-to-heads since '89 are all regular season matchups. Here's what that looks like:
Click for bigger. The blowout in East Lansing this year was the worst of the series except for the three-year span that began with the afore mentioned 2000 thing.
I tried but couldn't find historic league averages (the above was calculated from Bentley's stats) and compiling them myself would have taken too much time, but you should know that non-Wisconsin teams in the Big Ten averaged 71 to 85 points a game in 1989, and this year that spread is 59 to 82.
EDIT: I forgot to post the 3's chart. Treys chart. Trips chart.
They're not going in any more often, but there's more of 'em. That's a good thing. The 3-point line was moved back a foot for the 2008-'09 season, so that may have depressed the numbers after Beilein's first year and made that 46.8% in 1989 seem even further from possible.
On the Road:
This makes me feel a little better: it's really hard to win NCAA basketball games on the road. Wait until after Indiana to declare anything about how well we fare at Crisler. By the way I forgot to label: the Y-axis is # of games.
Details for home (left), neutral (right) and road (below) sites:
It's just hard to win on the road.
Have at it:
The database is here if you'd like to piddle around and find more things.
Source needed, but too good to pass up. This image is awesome.
Message board random who posted this only linked to imgur, so it could come from anywhere. UPDATE: Melanie Maxwell of MLive is the photographer.
Burke is of course going WHEEEEEE, and then the Michigan State folk from L to R are going "welp," "welp," "welp," "I am terrified of all things," and "welp."
All the better to rip your heart out. Burke called his shot with McGary earlier in the game:
Michigan forward Mitch McGary said Appling used a spin move earlier in the game, which Michigan won 58-57, and Burke told him exactly how he was going to swipe the ball.
"He told me whenever (Appling) spins, he puts it in his right hand and it's an easy steal," McGary said. "Tim and I were just hoping he didn't hang on the rim."
Note that if it didn't work Appling would have had a choice between pressing the opportunity presented and giving Michigan a last shot of their own or holding for the final shot—it was an excellent time to go for broke.
Champions are made in the hot tub eating pizza. Greg unearths this great shot of Michigan kicker Bob Bergeron eating pizza in a hot tub that made SI:
He got to keep the pizza. Wild west back then.
CIVILIZATION. This is the end of it. There is nowhere to go but down from this.
Gritalanche. It was a gritclone on Saturday. A toughdome.
Michigan's Mitch McGary provides much-needed energy, toughness off bench against Michigan State
It was a tickertocker.
Michigan shows its heart in critical win over MSU
It was a toughygritintestinalblockage.
Michigan finally shows grit, toughness, desperation in gutty win over rival Michigan State
It was a basketforge.
Trey Burke, Michigan show mettle in win over Michigan State
To be fair, John Beilein started it:
“We’ve had some real pretty wins here, where we did everything right and the ball went in and we just played lights-out,” Beilein explained after the win. “Today, it was all about grit.”
Michigan allowed Michigan State to rebound half of their misses. Congratulations to Mike Rothstein, who did not play along.
Burke steals a signature win for Michigan
Or at least his headline writer. You never know who does those things these days.
Make sure you use the right block M, as long as it's some shade of blinding yellow. Via Kyle Meinke, Michigan's persnicketiness about the block M:
I'm fine with this. Persnicketiness is good with the whole branding thing. but don't try to tell me that that color maize represents the colors Michigan is using on their uniforms these days. Y'all need to get your persnick on more.
BONUS: Hey, #FFCC000 is what I settled on when I was eyeballing what maize was way back in the blogspot days. I was off on the blue, using #000022. This portion of the post brought to you by things no one cares about but me.
Tiebreaker scenarios. The events of last week have caused an enormous hairball in the Big Ten standings below Indiana. Michigan actually has a not-infinitesimal shot at the title since Indiana finishes with Ohio State and Michigan. These teams are still in the hunt:
- Indiana: share clinched. Win outright by winning at home versus OSU or @ Michigan.
- OSU: win out (@ IU, Illinois), Michigan beats IU
- Michigan: win out (@ Purdue, IU), OSU beats IU
- Wisconsin/MSU: IU loses out, win UW/MSU game, don't blow last game against low-level opponent.
The chances are not good, but they're not zero. You may shake your fist at the Wisconsin and Penn State games now. In the event that a bunch of teams tie at the same record, Michigan is hurt by going 0-1 against Wisconsin (grrr) and often loses the tiebreaker and gets stuck without a bye in the first round of the Big Ten tourney, playing (grr) Penn State. If Michigan finishes 12-6 in the Big Ten that is at least a 50/50 proposition.
Lolizzo. Classic "my players destroyed the universe, but it's my fault" line:
"We were looking to get Gary a shot at the top of the key or to Keith and we didn't run it right," Izzo said. "We had a couple of freshmen in there that struggled with it. That was my fault."
Izzo : "my fault" :: humans : "just sayin'"
MINUTES FROM FRESHMEN, M/MSU, 3/3/2013
- Michigan: 93
- Michigan State: 72