Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Brief Big Ten Tournament note. No column on it; I wasn't feeling massively invested because I had to miss the second half of the Minnesota game to go to Yost and watched it after I knew the outcome, then Ohio State came out and was all like "today we will play like a team with two lottery picks on it." Once that happened and Burke got annihilated by Craft it was clear this was going to be an ugly old-style loss, which fine. Michigan is not on the level of national contender… yet.
If anything the tourney just reinforced my feeling that this team did fantastically to pick up a Big Ten title split and now that there's a banner in hand the rest of this is house money. After beating OHIO*, that is. Losing to a 13 seed would leave a sour taste. Everything else is gravy-coated candy.
I'll leave the garment rending about how we're not competing for a one-seed for the next couple years.
Side note: now do we believe that Craft is a totally awesome defender? Yes? Okay.
*[SBN MAC blog Hustle Belt refers to the Bobcats as "OHIO" for reasons that are unknown but very probably related to their stunning upset of Georgetown as a 14 seed two years ago.
Since giving them the all-caps treatment is a term of respect that doubles as diss of plain ol' Ohio, this blog will refer to the Bobcats as OHIO from now on.]
Dave Brandon approves. Michigan-ND 1978 was like Michigan-MSU 2012 in two ways: one team looked totally ridiculous and lost 28-14.
The two games were different because one team didn't look ridiculous and Ufer was going ape in '78.
This game also provides ammunition for both sides of the maize/yellow debate. It's clear that UM's maize is much lighter than the yellow ND is wearing; it's also unattractively blinding.
Also ridiculous. I wish I'd found this before I posted on hockey's tourney streak today, as it really hammers home how remarkable it is:
Let me put that in perspective- of ALL of the teams that have won a National Championship in Hockey the last 21 seasons, here's the tournament appearances:
Boston U- 15
North Dakota- 14
Michigan State- 14
Boston College- 13
Lake State- 6
Northern Michigan- 5
Inside that, the longest streak is 9, shared by Maine, Michigan State, and North Dakota, but North Dakota will extend that to 10 this year. At least should.
Unless there's a power lurking outside this list—and I don't think there is—every other team has missed the NCAAs at least six times during the streak.
Help next year. Hockey's got blue chips on the blue line and at forward in their next recruiting class. Boo Nieves is the forward, and he sounds a little like Carl Hagelin:
Matt Herr thought he had seen it all after taking over as coach at the Kent School in Connecticut following a productive collegiate and professional playing career.
That's before he was introduced to 6-foot-3, 184-pound center Cristoval "Boo" Nieves last season.
"I don't know how he skates so freaking fast for his size," Herr told NHL.com. "He's one of the best skaters I've seen this year. I think he can jump into the American Hockey League and play right now and you wouldn't even blink." …
"He just explodes off the mark and has agility, balance and quickness to break loose from traffic," Eggleston said. "He also has the physical strength to plow through checks along the wall and bring the puck with him. He sees the ice very well, is a very smart and creative playmaker and captains the team ... he's a very good team player."
Herr then compares him to Joe Thornton, which… like… probably not. Here's hoping, though. If Michigan doesn't suffer any departures at forward I'm guessing that AJ Treais slides up to the top line next year between Brown and Guptill; Nieves should center the second line with PDG and… Moffatt? That sounds pretty good to me.
If they can keep defections on defense down to one they'd be skating something like Trouba-Merrill/Bennett, Moffie-Chiasson, Clare/Serville-Carrick. Depth is a bit scary there but kids develop; Serville especially seems like an offseason in a weight program will do him good.
Help the Mathlete. He needs some crowd-sourcing to fill in holes in his recruiting database. Your reward is good feelings and some interesting posts.
That's the ticket. Kyle Meinke tries to make us all feel better about going up against that Alabama defense:
"There ain't no one who can learn that defense in under a year," outgoing free safety Mark Barron said last month at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "We played in a very difficult defense, first of all. We did a lot of different schemes.
"I really don’t believe anyone can learn that defense in under a year."
Score! Please score.
Trey Burke is childhood friends with everyone on an Ohio D-I roster. OHIO backup PG and lightning bolt Stevie Taylor has played with and against Trey Burke for big chunks of his career. UMHoops has the story and the requisite adorable picture:
Um… check with the basketball team. Michigan's hockey team has adopted a mantra that should be familiar to anyone who followed Michigan basketball's NCAA drought-breaking team of a few years back:
The No. 4 Michigan hockey team emerged from its locker room before Saturday’s game against Notre Dame wearing shirts with the team motto, “Burn the Boats,” prominently displayed.
Hey! I remember that! Isn't that…
“(Sophomore forward Luke) Moffatt brought it up this year,” said sophomore forward Derek DeBlois last month. “It has to do with the Vikings. When they would go to fight, they would burn their boats. No retreat, you just kind of lay all your chips on the table and fight until you win.”
…NOT ABOUT VIKINGS AT ALL. It's actually a famous event in the Spanish conquest of everything when they were discovering the new world, which is why the basketball team's version of the slogan was in Spanish. [Ed-S: actually...] Come on. Vikings. I've never heard about anything so ridicul—
SHOULDN'T HAVE TALKED ISH ABOUT VIKIIIIINGS AIEEEE—
Etc: James Rogers interviewed. Michigan Tech goalie coach and former Michigan goalie Steve Shields profiled. MEL PEARSON UPDATE: Tech reaches the Final Five for the first time in five years. Tech is two games away from .500 on the year. Carty on Draymond Green and Zack Novak. Ohio's PG in a bikini.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Ohio|
7:20 PM Eastern
Friday, March 16
|LINE||M –5 (Kenpom)|
"Who are you guys playing in the NCAA tournament?"
"No, I mean Ohio Ohio. You know, the Bobcats, from the MAC."
"OH LOL SO FUNNY BECAUSE BRADY HOKE OHIO BLAH BLAH BLAH."
I'm not saying Michigan dodged a bullet or anything when they slid down to a four-seed, but they dodged a bullet when they slid down to a four-seed. The three seed in the Midwest region, Georgetown, drew KenPom's #23-ranked team, trendy upset pick Belmont. By falling one seed line, Michigan will play their first-round game against #72 Ohio, easing fears of a first-round* upset while simultaneously filling my Twitter timeline with approximately 4,327 terrible Brady Hoke jokes.
Sure, man. Do your thing.
The Bobcats have a pretty balanced offense; eight players average at least 30% of available minutes and six break the 20% usage mark. The go-to guy is 5'11" junior point guard D.J. Cooper, who has the 17th-best assist rate in the country, an average turnover rate (not bad considering his high usage), and some ugly shooting numbers: 39% on twos and 31% on threes. Cooper does get to the line fairly often and hits at 74% from the stripe; the obvious key here is to keep him on the outside shooting jumpers. He appears willing to pull from just about anywhere, and that's perfectly fine if you're Michigan.
6'8", 263-pound center Reggie Keely comes off the bench, but he plays a little over half the team's minutes and is a high-usage guy when he's out there. Keely does most of his work on the offensive boards, where he reels in 12.1% of misses, and he gets to the line with regularity, drawing 4.8 fouls per 40 minutes. Keely isn't an outstanding shooter, connecting on 53% of his twos and 67% of his free throws, and he turns it over with regularity, but Jordan Morgan will have to make sure to keep him off the offensive glass while staying out of foul trouble.
Continuing the trend of guys who get to the line often is 6'3" wing Walter Offutt, who also draws 4.8 fouls/40 minutes but isn't very remarkable in any other statistical category. Offutt hits 35% of his three-pointers while shooting 49% from inside the arc, making him one of the more efficient scorers on the team.
The other two main contributors are a high-usage guy with a terrible ORtg—6'8" forward Ivo Baltic, a strong defensive rebounder who can't shoot free throws and hits under 50% of his twos—and a low-usage guy with a great ORtg in guard Nick Kellogg, a 42% three-point shooter whose statistical profile suggests he's a (very effective) spot-up shooter and not much else. I'm guessing Kellogg draws Hardaway when Michigan is on defense, assuming that Burke and Douglass take the two guards who dominate the ball more, and THJ had better do a good job of closing out.
The rest of the rotation is, well, there. 6'7" forward Jon Smith barely touches the ball while starting and playing nearly half the team's minutes, but he is a plus offensive rebounder and boasts an impressive 8.2 block percentage. Tiny freshman backup point guard Stevie Taylor is nearly as bad a shooter as Cooper and doesn't have the gaudy assist numbers to salvage his efficiency. 6'6" sophomore T.J. Hall actually is a worse shooter than Cooper. I can't find anything worth noting about Ohio's other two bench players save the fact that one is named TyQuane Goard.
*I refuse to use the NCAA nomenclature in which the Thursday/Friday games are "second round" games and Saturday/Sunday marks the "third round." This is stupid. Play-in games are play-in games. GET OFF MY LAWN.
Ohio's resume is severely lacking in the signature win department despite the Bobcats finishing 27-7: according to KenPom, their best victory is a two-point road win against #74 Marshall back in November. Their only other wins over top-100 KenPom teams came in the form of a 17-point road win over #95 Northern Iowa and two defeats of #79 Akron (one a home blowout and the other a one-point squeaker in the MAC title game; the Bobcats also lost by five to the Zips on the road). They do have a victory against the one common opponent shared with Michigan, a two-point win at Oakland, whom the Wolverines beat by ten at the Palace.
The Bobcats lost their only game against a powerhouse program, though falling short by five at #20 Louisville is actually rather impressive. Other losses are the aforementioned Akron road game, a three-point home loss to #141 Robert Morris, and road losses to #123 Bowling Green, #200 Toledo, #279 Eastern Michigan, and #122 Kent State.
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||49.0 171||47.2 94||49|
|Turnover %:||19.7 141||26.7 2||20.3|
|Off. Reb. %:||35.2 64||33.9 246||32.1|
|FTA/FGA:||36.6 168||43.5 301||36.4|
The Bobcat offense relies largely on their solid offensive rebounding to make up for the fact that only one player can really shoot. Just over 38% of the team's shots come from beyond the arc, a distribution which shouldn't cause problems as long as Cooper and Offutt are the ones shooting and not Kellogg.
Defensively, Ohio plays a high-pressure man-to-man look, going all-out for turnovers. While they've amassed the fourth-best steal rate and second overall turnover % in the country, the Bobcats foul a lot in order to do so—opposing teams produce just under a quarter of their points against Ohio from the free-throw line. They do defend the three rather well, sitting at 19th in the country in opponent 3P% (30.3).
Make sure Trey Burke doesn't play 45 minutes the night before the game. Check.
Make sure Trey Burke can play 45 minutes if necessary. This is not a concern about his gas tank as much as it is D.J. Cooper. Namely, D.J. Cooper's ability to draw an absurd 5.6 fouls per 40 minutes. Burke will guard Cooper, and it's obviously obvious that Michigan needs Burke to not foul that much. He's done a great job this season of avoiding foul issues, and if things get hairy Beilein should be able to switch Douglass onto Cooper without creating a major matchup problem elsewhere, but I'd rather not spend large portions of the game tearing my hair out because Beilein refuses to leave anyone in the game who can remotely be described as being in foul trouble.
Okay, now work the pick-and-roll. An aggressive man defense like Ohio's means Michigan isn't going to create open jumpers simply by working the ball around the perimeter, so successfully taking advantage of defensive pressure via the screen is imperative. We'll see if the Bobcats comes out and hedge hard—I'd guess yes—and if they do, Jordan Morgan could be the key to this game. Ohio only has one decent shot-blocking presence and he's 6'7", 190 pounds; let Morgan slip the pick and see if anyone can stop him on the roll.
Good Hardaway. Please show up. Ohio's main perimeter players all check in at 6'3" or shorter, meaning Timmy should be able to shoot/jump right over these guys. The problem will be the temptation to shoot over them while standing still 25 feet away from the basket. With Ohio's propensity for steals and Hardaway's tendency to cough the ball up in traffic, it would be best if Michigan tried to work him off the ball and free him up that way instead of letting him try to create on his own.
Let Ohio's chuckers chuck. As long as it isn't coming from right next to the basket, any D.J. Cooper shot seems like a good one for Michigan. Offutt isn't a whole lot more efficient while the backup guards are simply not good at putting the ball through the basket. Meanwhile, Kellogg is rather deadly from beyond the arc and the Bobcats crash the boards well. The Wolverines would be best served denying Kellogg the ball while sagging off the other shooters, encouraging Ohio to settle for shooting from deep—Cooper seems to have no issue with that—and making sure they don't get killed on the glass.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by five.
3/09/2012 – Michigan 2, Notre Dame 1 (OT) – 22-11-4
3/10/2012 – Michigan 3, Notre Dame 1 – 23-11-4, advance to CCHA semifinals
This weekend Michigan will make its 24th straight trip to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA semifinals. The program hasn't recruited a kid who was alive the last time Michigan was absent for going on a decade now. The last 21 of those years, Michigan has followed up the Joe with an appearance in the NCAA tourney. Since they responded to their ugly November with a 16-3-2 tear to end the year they'll make it 22 in two weeks. The only people who remember a time when these streaks were not active are the old men in Yost not quite old enough to forget.
That is incredible consistency. Just look across the lake and find future Big Ten foes Wisconsin and Minnesota if you want to chalk it up to recruiting. Both those teams select who they want, like Michigan, and have rosters littered with NHL draft picks, like Michigan. They're both working on a tourney streak of zero. Michigan State is also in that situation. (Since Rick Comley left the roster stacked with AARP members instead of future NHLers, that's a different argument.) Those are three of college hockey's glamour programs and they have one bid between them the last three years.
A lot of the vibe around Michigan's program in recent years has focused on how the team has only turned two of those 21 bids into national championships, but that's a conversation for the flat blank day the day after your soul shrivels up when a puck goes in the wrong net and hides inside its lonely crevasse for 52 more weeks of winter. In the immediate aftermath of Michigan punching out Jeff Jackson's eighth-place, college-hockey-NIT-bound Irish and Ferris State blowing it against Bowling Green it's time to give thanks for consistency.
Notre Dame was supposed to finish first in the league this year unless Miami did; they took their great talent and legendary coach and shiny new arena and finished one game above .500. Ferris State actually won the league this year; they took on the worst team in the conference and lost. Neither will be at the Joe. Michigan will, because Michigan always is.
It would be one thing if that was because they always had some ludicrous talents on the team. In recent years this hasn't really been the case. They don't have a lights-out scorer. Their top guys in PPG tied for 94th this year. They've made a transition from firewagon hockey to a more defensive style; they coped with the total implosion of their power play. The big star last year was either a defenseman who never hits anyone or a lightning-fast Swede better known for his defense than his offense. Their big star this year is their goalie.
Michigan has transitioned into a new, monstrously tight-checking era of college hockey without missing a beat. They've all but locked down a one seed after that terrible awful vertiginous November showed us a picture hardly anyone remembers: April without Michigan hockey.
I've got a few Illinois fans on my twitter feed and their mournfulness yesterday as Selection Sunday played on without the Illini was striking as I pondered Michigan's 24 and 22-year streaks. We've been there ourselves, as Michigan's 2008 season spiraled into the dirt and Bo's bowl streak went up in flames. As the basketball program embarks on a baby streak of their own and football gets back up to speed, let's take a moment and give thanks for the unchanging excellence in Yost.
Things happen. Your goalie flames out or some guy leaves school and you're left with a guy from the club team and a mop Jon Falk said you could borrow you call "Lee Moppie" because all hockey nicknames consist of putting "—ie" at the end of someone's name. Moppie sees way too much time and gets stuck in his own end because it's a mop and you lose a bunch of games. Even Bo's bowl streak was a flimsy thing when Harbaugh went down.
It is at this point that your program lays down for a breather, and you find out that the only thing worse than the horrible deflating feeling in April is one in March or February or November. But not for us, not yet.
It was really too bad this one wasn't on TV. It was the game of the year, no question, and up there as far as Yost all-timers go. Obviously not at the level of tourney games; other than that it's competing with Ryan Miller-era games against MSU and that BC game when Jack Johnson shot the goalie's helmet off.
Hunwick on his last game at Yost:
The flag. It's above. It's fabulous. They'll have to figure out exactly when to deploy it since their current idea conflicts with the "who cares" bit during player introductions, but it is awesome. They'll figure it out. Aaron Ward paid for most of it, which is also awesome. Also, Taylor Lewan pled for the Arizona state flag—which the student section deployed when Moffatt got a penalty just to show it off—to make an appearance at Michigan Stadium this fall.
I want more flags. All of the flags!
That's more like it, Notre Dame goalie situation. CenterIce has a diary breaking down the Michigan goals and came away from the weekend with an impression similar to mine:
Watching the highlights I was very surprised by how the scoring played out for us. I could not see anything televised because of my location, but it was very strange to see an entire series of lucky bounces and soft goals.
Michigan had a bunch of legit scoring chances they rang off the posts (three of them in the first OT Friday); everything else was soft.
Even though Summerhays wasn't exactly awful—he did give up just over 2 GAA—most of the goals he gave up were soft-ish, none worse than the harmless dink Phil Di Giuseppe managed to slide through his five hole:
If you let something in through the five hole at that angle from that tight, you have earned the "it's all your fault" in the aftermath.
Meanwhile, Hunwick was just about flawless. He had no hope on ND's Saturday goal, on which Jon Merrill didn't realize he had a two-on-one situation down low and went after a puckhandler emerging from the half-boards, leaving the back door wide open. The Friday goal came after a long period of Notre Dame pressure featuring several grade A stops from Hunwick; finally he could not react fast enough when ND found an open guy in the slot on a pass that came from behind the net.
Meanwhile, the all-Gongshow goalie gave up ten in a three game series against BGSU. Well done, hockey gods.
Notre Dame. Good? Bad? ND is such a confusing team. I think I was right to be very much against playing them in the second round, as they dominated large stretches of the first game and could have/should have put it away. Hunwick was ridiculous, and Michigan was much better in the OT. Michigan was much better on Saturday; even so my impression from watching ND play four times this year is that they should be easily in the tourney.
The goalie thing is a big, big problem. You could tell the body language on Saturday night was "here we go again." If they just had an average goalie I'm guessing they're well above the bubble.
Top line re-emerges. They had a little bit of a quiet spot there. That's over after Brown got the winner Friday and Wohlberg's top-quality snipes Saturday. They were dominant for stretches on the cycle, as well.
Now that Glendening and Di Giuseppe are getting some goals it seems like Michigan has two solid scoring lines for the tournament with the potential for some bonus stuff from Moffatt, a Lynch, etc.
The main problem left. The power play is just horrendous. They could not even get the zone on Friday night, and while they fixed the problem somewhat Saturday they still ended up 0/7 on the weekend. There's an obvious lack of dipsy-doo on the team that is a problem. Michigan has never in my memory played two defensemen on the PP, and I remember many years where the solution to getting the zone on the powerplay was "give it to Hensick."
This year the guy most likely to get the zone on the rush is… Mac Bennett, probably, and he does it by beating a guy as he leaves the defensive zone. When an opponent is lining four up across the blue line like ND was he doesn't have the puckhandling to make guys back off.
I don't really have any answers here. I'll just be over here massaging my temples for the next two minutes.
Sparks. : ( Scratched again and with no points in forever it's hard to make the case he should not be. I just thought that line was so close to putting in a half-dozen goals once he returned to the lineup. Oh well.
MFan in Ohio has been ably summing up the situation on the message board. Michigan actually dropped after Friday night's action thanks to a weird confluence of factors seemingly designed to play up the PWR's flaws: a bunch of not very good teams won or lost to fall above or below the .500 RPI mark that makes teams a TUC. They did this in just the right fashion for Cornell's TUC record to be momentarily very good, and Cornell took its comparison from Michigan based on that and the 3-4 games they've played against common opponents. Cornell is almost 300 points back in RPI.
Order was restored on Saturday, and with just one weekend left you can run scenarios out the wazoo. The worst-case chalk scenario (all higher seeds win except M going 0-2 at the Joe) still sees Michigan finish second; the worst-case-period scenario (UMD, BU, Miami, and Cornell win conference tourneys) sees Michigan finish in a three way tie for fifth. If Michigan beats BG in the semi they'll finish in a tie for third.
Upshot: Michigan has to both blow it as hard as possible and have every opponent within striking distance do as well as they can to lose the top seed.
As far as draw goes, I have no idea. One set of results sees Michigan drawing #4 seed Cornell in the first round; others have Cornell a strong two. The PWR is a jittery thing.
It does seem like Michigan has a solid shot at getting another Atlantic Hockey champ despite not being the #1 overall seed. For that to happen, the following must transpire:
- Two CCHA teams must be one seeds
- Two CCHA teams must be four seeds
- Michigan must be the highest-ranked CCHA team
In that case the committee has no choice but to match the CCHA teams up against the other folks and hand the not-very-good AH champ to Michigan. Your wicked hangover from that one year Michigan played Air Force suggests this may not be the absolute best thing in the world, but… well, yeah.
That is likely to happen if Miami beats Michigan Saturday. It's a consolation prize.
As far as the league goes: Miami, Michigan, and Ferris are solidly in. Ferris and their all-world goalie gave up a billion goals to BGSU and ended up not making the Joe; they're a solid two seed. Western Michigan and State are on the bubble. Both are in unless there is a bid stolen.
One will make it unless two bids are stolen this weekend; that team will be State unless WMU wins the CCHA. In that case State can be knocked out with a single stolen bid.
not with a bang
Mike Rothstein is reporting that LB/DE Isaiah Bell has left the program:
Michigan redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Bell is no longer with the football team, a Michigan spokesperson confirmed Sunday evening.
Bell never saw a snap at Michigan. Now that he's departed I can tell you that while he was still on the team this fall he was actually left out of fall camp because there's a roster limit there and Michigan thought it was better to spend that time on various walk-ons. He wasn't part of the plans going forward.
While his departure does technically open up another scholarship for Brady Hoke's monster 2013 class, he was one of the guys I was assuming would not return for a fifth year. It was already built into 20 that is the no-attrition baseline. So this is a non-event: a guy who wasn't going to play or take up space next year not being around is just like him being around.
Sail on, Isaiah. We'll always have your ludicrous ESPN scouting report.
Michigan's third bid in four years is a Sweet Sixteen seed in the Midwest region and draws Brady Hoke's favorite team: Ohio. Not that Ohio, Actual Ohio. This Ohio:
Ohio won the MAC title and is #72 in Kenpom.
A second round matchup will be against either Temple (#37 Kenpom), Cal, or South Florida. According to Kenpom, Michigan got a better draw than Michigan State. Also Seth Davis hates the entire Big Ten.
Image via FridayNighOhio.com
After pretty much letting the cat out of the bag on Twitter yesterday, Massillon (OH) Washington cornerback Gareon Conley confirmed today that he has committed to Michigan ($). He becomes the 15th commitment in the class of 2013—the 13th to earn a four-star rating on at least one recruiting site—and the second cornerback, joining Cass Tech's Jourdan Lewis.
4*, #20 CB,
|NR CB||NR CB||3*, 88, NR CB|
Conley is flying under the radar to every service save Scout, though it's worth pointing out that Scout has updated their rankings most recently of the four. The sites are evenly split as to whether he's 6'1" or 6'2", and all agree that he's between 165 and 170 pounds. Considering Michigan wanted a bigger cornerback to add to the class and complement Jourdan Lewis, that's a pretty solid frame.
Bucknuts ranked Conley as the #16 player in Ohio for the class of 2013, one spot in front of Taco Charlton and two spots ahead of Mike McCray (this means you can probably expect him to move up when 247 updates their rankings). A concern about taller cornerbacks is usually their overall athleticism and fluidity in the hips, but neither is an issue according to Mark Porter ($):
“I think he may be the best pure corner in Ohio. His ball skills are second to none. His range and athletic ability are second to none. He can match up with the number one receiver. The trait that Cam (Burrows) has over him is he may be more physical. But Gareon is ‘twitchier’ in the hips.”
Scout's group of Midwest analysts also has Conley ranked as the #16 player in the state, and Allen Trieu had some high praise in his evaluation ($):
I may disagree with Bill's statement on Munger [that he's the best player in Ohio nobody has heard of], because this might be the best kid in Ohio no one's talking about. He's long, smooth, can run, and shows good ball skills and smarts. He makes plays in zone and in man coverage, and although he definitely needs to add weight, he's a solid tackler as well.
Scout's Bill Greene questions Conley's size—though I assume it's about his weight; his height is an unquestioned positive—but echoes the sentiments about his athleticism and coverage ability ($):
A fine basketball player as well, Conley has the skill set to succeed at the next level. Although not blessed with great size, he has shown the willingness to come up and hit in run support. His best strength would be his coverage ability, and his speed. Very similar player to Canton McKinley's Jermaine Edmondson, who signed with Michigan State.
Finally, Massillon Washington assistant coach Jamie Palma notes that Conley's coverage ability is exemplary considering his height, making him an ideal matchup against larger receivers ($):
“One thing you don’t see a lot of is guys that can defend and can play corner at 6-2,” said Palma. “Most corners are 5-9 or 5-10… maybe six foot. He is a good 6-2 with a real long wingspan. So what I think he does is he brings that size out there at corner that you normally don’t see. You think you are going to have a mismatch when you see a lot bigger wide outs. He matches up better with those types of players.”
As you can see, Conley's biggest assets are his athletic ability and coverage skills given his size. Once he adds some weight, he should be able to match up quite well against bigger receivers while still having the speed and agility to hang with quicker players.
When he committed, Conley also held offers from Northwestern, Toledo, and West Virginia. According to 247, Cincinnati, Indiana, Ohio State, Virginia, and Wisconsin also showed interest.
In 2011, Conley recorded 26 solo tackles, three TFLs, a sack, nine pass breakups, and four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He put up those numbers despite playing a large portion of the season while wearing a cast due to a wrist injury.
FAKE 40 TIME
Bucknuts credited Conley with a 4.5, which I'll give three FAKEs out of five—he's reportedly pretty fast, but that sounds like just an estimation or hand-timed run.
Junior highlights [RATHER LARGE PUNTER ALERT AT THE :15 MARK]:
I've seen this pointed out elsewhere, but it bears repeating: his long stride bears an uncanny resemblance to Steve Breaston's.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Conley brings somethat that no other corner on the roster will by the time he shows up on campus, and that is size. Of the CBs on the current roster, only J.T. Floyd breaks the 6'0" barrier, and he'll be gone after the 2012 season. If Michigan wants a taller cornerback—and somebody who can come up in run support—to play the "field" corner (wide side of the field, as opposed to the "boundary"), Conley could see action early in his career.
That said, he's going to have to add some weight first. 170 pounds is quite skinny for a 6'2" frame, and if Conley is going to match up with bigger receivers, he's going to need to add some muscle. He has two years to do just that, so we'll see how he looks when he shows up on campus. If he takes a redshirt year, he should be right in the mix for a starting spot across from Blake Countess in 2014, likely competing with a trio of Cass Tech grads in Delonte Hollowell, Terry Richardson, and Jourdan Lewis.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now almost certainly done recruiting at cornerback for 2013, barring a player like five-star Kendall Fuller deciding to come on board. They may be done recruiting the secondary entirely, as taking another safety to go along with Dymonte Thomas isn't imperative; again, however, a top talent like Su'a Cravens would have a spot available.
The Wolverines can now focus on bringing aboard a second tailback, one or two receivers, a nose tackle, and a strongside DE. After that, IN EARLY MARCH, the coaching staff can focus almost entirely on targeting the top players in the class and shifting their focus to the class of 2014. Jebus.