the season has truly begun now
April 24, 2010
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Saturday, April 24) the hiring of Bacari Alexander as an assistant coach for the Wolverine program.
"I am very excited about the addition of Bacari Alexander to our coaching staff," said Beilein. "From the very beginning of this search, I had specific qualities and characteristics I was looking for in our next basketball coach. Bacari fits that profile 100 percent."
"He has strong roots in Michigan and significant recruiting experience both here and in neighboring states," added Beilein. "He is a passionate teacher with strong communication skills. Bacari is a former post player and has a proven ability in the development of big men at the college level. With our young front court, that was an important factor in my final selection. I look forward to Bacari's immediate and very positive impact on the growth of our program."
More after the jump!
Bubbly. AnnArbor.com catches up to a smiling Brandon Graham after his selection by the Eagles:
Rarely have I been so happy for a Michigan player. After the last two years, Graham deserves every good thing that can possibly happen to him. I hope he learns how to fly.
(Also: can I take a moment to tout how useful UFRs have been in tracking Brandon Graham's impact? I was a little worried that BG was outperforming Woodley, but there he is in the top half of the first round after the NFL saw how unblockable he is.)
Denard-o. Gerry DiNardo has lost more football games than you've ever watched, but he's still on the television so people ascend to his yurt high up in the Indiana mountains to beseech him for his wisdom. Last year his wisdom was "Denard Robinson is going to start at quarterback," which is a strong indicator as to why he's lost more football games than you've ever watched. DiNardo single criterion for choosing a starting quarterback is "is it vaguely possible this kid was named after me?" By no other measure was Robinson a plausible starter in 2009.
In 2010 things are different. Denard Robinson is still named after Dinardo, though:
"I think it has to be Denard Robinson," he said. "If you think about the way Rich Rodriguez became so successful at West Virginia it wasn't with a drop-back quarterback that threw 50 times, even though that approached worked for him some as an offensive coordinator. He wants to play the game that Denard plays, with a greater emphasis on the running attack than the passing attack. He wants to have that guy that can tuck the ball and make you miss even when the blocking isn't perfect, that can make you miss even if he misreads the read-option, and from everything I've seen, Denard Robinson is that guy.
"In college football nowadays, defenses, as much as they try to practice this, cannot tackle in space. From the earliest age, you're not coached to tackle one-on-one without help. The instruction is always about rallying to the ball and then for your defensive backs to use the sideline as their friend. But when you're stuck in a one-on-one situation, against an athlete like Denard Robinson, most of the time you're going to be left grasping for air.
"So when I see what he can do, and then I see what Forcier did last year - to me there is no comparison for where this offense wants to go."
I'm not sure he's right that Rodriguez is dedicated to running 75% of the time, but his other points are solid. The bit about defenses being unable to tackle in space could be the operational philosophy of Rodriguez's entire offensive system. Tate missed reads on the option plenty last year—most of the time, it seemed—and while he was slippery enough to evade lumbering defensive ends he wasn't fast enough to turn his frequent missed reads into anything more than a few yards. A prime example from the Illinois game:
It's possible Robinson can turn this into another couple yards, or even break something long (although probably not on this particular play). A quarterback who can get that extra couple yards is an extremely dangerous option. For all Forcier's flaws, he was an effective runner. If you cut out the copious sacks Michigan gave up last year (24 for 184 yards), he averaged 4.7 YPC. (This is slightly optimistic since Robinson probably took a couple sacks, so you may want to mentally adjust that to 4.5 or so.) A version of Denard Robinson that can run the zone read and throw well enough to keep linebackers honest will obliterate that.
Keeping the linebackers honest will take some doing, but the nice thing about being Denard Robinson is that when you go to play action, it's time to cheat like a mother for all but the best defenses. I don't think Ohio State is going to be particularly vulnerable to a raw sophomore like Robinson, but I also don't think Illinois or Purdue has much of a chance to stop him.
Merrill rising, talkin' smack. Incoming defenseman Jon Merrill saw his stock slip slightly over the course of his final year with the NTDP, but a strong U-18 tournament (where the US is obliterating all comers) has seen Merrill's stock pop up into the rarefied air of a potential top ten selection once more:
At the beginning of the tournament Gudbranson had the inside edge as the potential top defender to be selected this year, battling it out with Windsor's Cam Fowler, but the gap is closing. The play of Merrill, along with the struggles of the Gudbranson-led Canadian team, may have catapulted Merrill into that coveted position and certainly into the overall debate.
Coming into the tournament many even felt Forbort would likely be ranked and selected ahead of Merrill, and even though Forbort has looked strong, the abilities that Merrill has showcased so far during this tournament have pushed him ahead in the eyes of many scouting circles. Merrill is a tall and lanky player with a lot of room to build on his frame. He has tremendous speed and has extremely good intelligence with and around the puck. Merrill has been the kingpin of the US's powerplay and quarterbacks it tremendously well.
Merrill will jump into Michigan's top four on day one and I'm betting he'll be on the top powerplay and top pairing by midseason at the latest. He was also interviewed by McKeen's, and because he's going to play in college he was asked to justify his existence. He did so with aplomb:
I think a lot of guys make the argument that the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) is the most similar to the NHL in style of play, and you play a lot of games, and things like that, but you’ve got to look at it from my perspective. I’m 18 years old. If I went and played in the CHL, there’s 15 and 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds, in the league. There’s top-end 18 and 19-year-old guys, too, but if you go to college, everyone’s older than you. I’m a freshman in a bigger, stronger, faster game, and you get up for every game, because you only play 35, 40 games, or whatever it is. Every game is a big game. Whereas in the CHL, you’re playing in Sudbury on a Tuesday night, and how do you get up for that, you know?
Tuesdays in Sudbury is a best-seller by Bizzaro Canadian Mitch Albom, but not a particularly attractive option compared to playing outdoors in front of one million people, give or take nine hundred thousand.
Nothing on Moffatt, unfortunately. He has just one assist for a rampant USA. The U18s are the last opportunity to put it out there for NHL scouts and he's not drawing a whole lot of notice. Hopefully he'll slide in comfortably—a mid-round NHL draft pick is usually a good player—but an instant impact is unlikely.
Side note: please don't read anything about Jack Campbell. It will make you sad.
(Interview HT: Michigan Hockey Net.)
About the one million people. Sales for Cold War II have been ridiculous so far:
General ticket sales began Wednesday, netting 14,700 purchases by 4 p.m., according to an athletic department spokesman. When added to the that seats have already been sold or committed to by season-ticket holders, former players and other groups, officials announced Wednesday that close to 80,000 tickets have already been sold.
"This has just taken off. You knew it would when you have something this special at the Big House - the first time ever, maybe the only time ever," Berenson said in a statement. " Everybody wants to be there. I think we'll be sold out before we know it. It'll be a tough ticket to buy."
With the original Cold War still the all-time hockey attendance record, the question at this point is not if this December's game will break it, but if the record shatters with enough force to match the destructive power of a bear dropping a bomb into a volcano.
Probably not. But it will be close, yo.
Cancer, again. Chris Perry's arrest was a family thing in which something went down with a cousin, possibly because Perry's mom is terminally ill with the cancer she was battling when Perry played at Michigan. Irene Perry is the main reason Chris didn't transfer a couple years into his career. Best wishes, for whatever that's worth, to the Perry family.
This Saturday the #1 ranked Michigan Lacrosse team will take on their instate rival at 7PM at East Grand Rapids High School as part of the Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic. Tickets are $6, and gates open at 5:30. Defending Division 2 state champions East Grand Rapids will take on Division 1 reigning champs Birmingham Brother Rice at 1PM as part of the festivities. For more, check out the EGR lacrosse page.
Michigan has an 19-1 record all-time against Michigan State. For the past four seasons, the Wolverines and Spartans have closed the regular season with the Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic, with the venue alternating between Grand Rapids and Birmingham each year.
In the 2006 regular season, #1 Michigan defeated #22 Michigan State 14-8 at Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids. The Spartans would get their revenge in the CCLA tournament, however, coming away with an 11-10 win in which they were dominated in every aspect except the final score.
The 2007 season would bring a sweep of Michigan State, with a 14-6 victory at Birmingham Seaholm High School in the regular season and a 10-3 domination in the championship game of the CCLA tournament at Kings High School in Mason, Ohio. In that game, now-senior faceoff specialist David Reinhard won 5-of-6 draws, and Anthony Hrusovsky notched two goals and an assist. [Ed: full preview after the jump.]
The Eagles just leapt up 11 spots to draft Brandon Graham 13th overall and the NFL Network guy said he'd be a "situational pass rusher" his first year because he doesn't know. It's okay. You couldn't really without paying minute detail to a not good football team. May he destroy the universe from Philadelphia, where we always knew the end of civilization would originate from.
I think I might have to slightly care about the Eagles, who also have Jason Avant and Marlin Jackson, now. Someone make them trade for David Harris.
Michigan took two games against a weak opponent that is still looking to wake the echoes and return to glory from their days when Paul Mainieri, current coach at LSU, was still in South Bend. In Notre Dame's first visit to Ann Arbor since 1977, Michigan won a closely contested game, and the next night, the Wolverines pounded out a huge win.
Abbreviated midweek recaps and thoughts after the jump.
Okay. Complaints about a lack of clarity in the 16-team bats scenario have been lodged and heeded. Let's walk through an example of the "backwards scenario," which I will dub "Dynamic Crossover" because it sounds cool.
Yes, this is all irrelevant for at least a year now, and given the accuracy of media speculation to date the Big Ten will probably end up kicking everyone except Illinois and Northwestern out, and the chances that the Big Ten will adopt anyone's loony internet proposal are dim indeed. It's April 22nd. Minds will wander. On with show.
Let's say the final standings of each eight team division are like so:
|Ohio State||7-0||Penn State||6-1|
We now break the conference into four groups:
|Ohio State||Penn State||Illinois||Minnesota|
|Michigan State||Wisconsin||Indiana||Notre Dame|
"Paterno" and "Osborne" are the good teams, "Colleto" and "Dinardo" the bad ones. Now we play games that haven't already been played in each group. Hypothetical focus on Paterno:
- Ohio State has already played Michigan State, with OSU winning. (They dominated in yardage but a series of fluky turnovers made it look closer than it was.)
- Iowa beat Pitt 6-5.
In week one:
- Ohio State plays at Pitt. Pitt wins.
- Michigan State plays at Iowa. Iowa wins.
In week two:
- Pitt plays at Michigan State. Pitt wins.
- Iowa plays at Ohio State. Ohio State wins.
The final standings:
Ohio State advances to the conference championship game by virtue of its overall record. You'll note that it is hard or even impossible for third or fourth place teams to win through—Pitt won both of its crossover games and still didn't make it—but this seems like a good compromise between keeping a lot of teams involved and making sure the totality of the regular season is weighed appropriately.
If this is too complicated or falls foul of the NCAA's bylaws that restrict conference championship games to conferences that play round robin in two separate divisions, you can get rid of the group concept but leave the crossover games dynamic. The scheduling remains the same—#1 and #4 play #2 and #3 from the other division—but the winner is just the team in each division with the best record.
- Crossover games are equitable, important, and high profile.
- Guarantees two weeks of hyped games between good teams, culminating in a championship game.
- Eliminates unbalanced scheduling complaints.
- Leaves two weeks of the season uncertain. Although you know you'll be playing you don't know where or against who.
- Increases the chance of a championship game rematch.
- Increased connectivity between top teams will add extra losses and may hurt chances at additional BCS bids.