Hockeybear searches for the best place for a Big Ten tournament
I guess it's college hockey so I shouldn't be surprised. Apparently the ludicrous worst-case scenario for a Big Ten playoff is maybe possibly happening:
Andy Baggott is reporting that a majority of athletic directors from the future Big Ten hockey schools are in favor of moving their postseason tournament to a neutral location, rather than having home sites host tournament games. The tournament would take place over three days, with all six teams from the league involved, meaning the top two seeds would receive byes into the semifinal round. Baggott also reports that the league is close to finalizing a deal with the XCel Center in St. Paul, Minnesota to host the tournament.
Why on earth anyone other than UW and Minnesota would agree to this, let alone have it at the X, escapes me. Before you, Minnesota fan, go "durr durr money" consider three weeks of home series: 10-15 games averaging between 6 and 15 thousand people sold at full price. This alternative is five games, only two or three of them anywhere near a sellout because they'll feature Minnesota. It would be marginally worse at the Joe (fewer fans per local attraction but more of them plus more OSU/PSU fans).
This setup is throwing away tens of thousands of dollars, cheapening the regular season, and giving Minnesota an unearned home-field advantage because a couple schools want to use their buildings for high schools. It's almost as ridiculous as not having a regional closer to the CCHA than Green Bay this year and St. Louis(!) last year.
Red isn't having it, at least, and at least provides the hope the dumb single-weekend system won't necessarily be the worst possible one:
Berenson: I'd prefer to see early rounds of Big Ten tournament played at teams who earn home ice, semis and finals at a neutral site. … Berenson also said he hasn't heard Minneapolis as the front runner, but certainly in consideration. Thinks Detroit should be as well.
It never made sense that Michigan, MSU, Penn State would ever agree to the XCel bit. All have (or will have, in PSU's case) dedicated hockey facilities. Even if OSU wants a one-weekend system that's still 3 vs 3 and it appears that we're talking a rotation between the XCel and the Joe.
Neutral sites… guh. Why does college hockey hate atmosphere and money?
Speaking of atmosphere. Hey, this sounds cool:
The Big Ten is not only ready to listen to proposals regarding a national four-team football playoff, league and school officials are kicking around an intriguing idea.
Sources told the Tribune that a Big Ten plan would remove the top four teams from the BCS bowl pool and have semifinal games played on the college campus of the higher seed. That would do away with the facade of “neutral” sites such as New Orleans, Miami and Pasadena, Calif., and ease travel concern for fans.
The championship game then could be bid out, like the Super Bowl.
Two more games and making the Rose Bowl the permanent location for the title game and we're talkin' MGoPlayoff. I'll take an 80% solution. Everyone and their uncle has cannily pointed out that Jim Delany's suggestion benefits the Big Ten(!) since it wouldn't require two rounds of distant travel for teams that are remote from bowl games. This is true. It also helps cut out the thieving middlemen, raises the importance of the regular season, and would be awesome. In this instance, naked self-interest benefits everyone not wearing a yellow jacket.
More importantly: that's it, there's going to be a four-team playoff. Delany is publicly negotiating terms of surrender. He knows he's lost the war and is trying to get the best deal possible for the Big Ten. Since it's the thing that actually makes the most competitive and financial sense, let's hope he wins out.
Alabama game setup: banned on the West Coast. Interesting change to the Pac-12's bylaws:
No member institution shall enter into an agreement to play a neutral-site football game (except in circumstances where such neutral-site game is the away leg of a home-and-home series) unless such agreement provides the Conference with the exclusive broadcast rights and digital rights in all media, and copyright to such neutral-site game.
IE, no more Washington State-Notre Dame in Texas. Previously the Pac-10 banned these sort of things within their footprint; now it's everywhere. This is a clear shot at Jerryworld-type games.
Q: Why are Jerryworld-type games becoming vogue? A:
- The Big Ten shares all television revenue*, even that acquired from nonconference games. Michigan makes no profit relative to the rest of the league for playing Notre Dame instead of East Nowhere State, because all that money goes into the kitty that's distributed evenly at the end of the year.
- Independent skylarker in Texas figures out he's not a part of the Big Ten footprint and can make an end-around on this agreement by paying two teams to show up and selling the television rights himself.
- Teams get home game money—possibly more than home-game money—plus big national attention and sign up.
- Conference loses revenue from big team home game.
- Conference bans these sorts of things.
I would not be surprised to see the Big Ten follow suit shortly.
I have mixed feelings about this. While Jerryworld-type games are a trend I'm not a fan of, I'm even less of a fan of meaningless cupcakery and this is a move clearly designed to keep the Indianas and Purdues of the world hooked into a revenue stream they have nothing to do with. That wouldn't be a disaster except for the fact that removing 11/12ths of the financial incentive to schedule a real opponent has seen college football nonconference scheduling devolve significantly. If teams were free to cut their own deals on nonconference games we'd see a lot more competitive matchups.
At least the BTN gives the conference at large a similar incentive: the desire to improve nonconference inventory is the impetus behind the Big Ten-Pac 12 scheduling agreement that will at least slightly increase the number of real games going on in September.
*[This was true as of a few years ago at least. I was having a discussion with someone in the AD about the sorry state of college football scheduling and this was brought up as a major reason.]
This is never going to happen, but if it does… If College Hockey Inc can actually pull this off, Paul Kelly is a genius:
College Hockey Inc., is working to enact legislation — either with the oversight of the NHL or through the transfer agreement between USA Hockey and Hockey Canada — to bar Canadian major junior teams from stealing a player who has signed a letter of intent until after the player’s freshman year.
IE, Michigan has John Gibson and a letter of intent actually means there is a 100% chance that player shows up on campus for a whole year.
The only problem is there is no incentive for the CHL to go for this. USA Hockey does have a potential saber to rattle: right now USA kids can go play in major junior at any age. As we learned during the Max Domi head fake, Canadians who want to play in the USHL must have their families move to the United States. That's a clear double standard, one that USA hockey could threaten to go both ways. That would get the CHL's attention.
UND's Dave Hakstol also wants to give CHL players NCAA eligibility, which sounds good in theory but would not work in practice. A kid who has spent his junior and senior years of high school in the CHL would have a zero percent chance of being academically eligible for NCAA play—major junior franchises will see to that. Hypothetically opening the door back to the NCAA will just give the CHL a marketing bullet point with little basis in reality.
And now the glidepath. If you're wondering just how tough basketball's last stretch was, they currently sit #1 nationally in Kenpom's Pythagorean strength of schedule($):
They've faced the most imposing opponent offenses and the tenth-most imposing defenses. It eases significantly from here.
Geediot. Stop talking!
"We hired the best coach and we went out and got the best kids so get a life," Gee said of Bielema's criticisms.
Stop dressing like a five-year-old, as well. Actually continue these things.
Etc.: The Daily successfully trolled me with this Jon Merrill article. Yeah, Denard is everywhere. So is Roundtree. Can we get some Roundtree love? Michigan's RPI is 15. I looked up their nitty gritty stats on ESPN and, man: 3-3 against the RPI top 25. They've really been playing some tough opponents. Yesman breaks down Michigan's special teams goals against Miami.
Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin WR Jaron Dukes may have grown up deep in enemy territory, but he's a lifelong Michigan fan. His childhood favorites extended a scholarship offer on signing day and the Wolverines immediately jumped to the forefront of his recruitment. The 6'5", 200-pound junior also holds an offer from Toledo and has interest from several prominent Midwest schools, but other suitors might have to hurry if they want a say before he makes a decision. I talked to Jaron last night and he made it very clear which team leads for him in a big way:
ACE: How is everything going with your recruitment, and which schools are going after you the hardest right now?
JARON: Everything's going great. I'm starting to hear from Ohio State, all of a sudden I'm starting to hear a lot more from Michigan, Michigan State, and I'm getting letters from Nebraska now and Illinois.
ACE: You got your Michigan offer recently. What was your reaction to that and what are your thoughts on the school and the program?
JARON: Ecstatic. (laughs) I'm going up there for a visit on Friday. When I first got the offer my mind was blown.
ACE: I know you're coming out of Columbus. Did you grow up as a Michigan fan or were you an Ohio State guy?
JARON: I was a Michigan fan all my life. I got a lot of criticism, you know, being a Michigan fan in Ohio.
ACE: Is that going to play a factor at all when it comes down to making a decision?
JARON: I think I kind of have my mind set on where I want to go. I think all I can do is pray on it and make sure, hope I make the right decision.
ACE: You said you've got your mind set on it. In terms of a timeline, when do you think you're going to make that decision?
JARON: I'm not sure. I'd like to talk it over with my coaches and everything and make sure that's what I really want to do—[see if I should] visit the college more than once, see it in different environments like dorm food, after school, and on weekends, make sure that's where I officially want to be, and do the same for other schools.
ACE: How did your junior season go and what kind of numbers did you put up?
JARON: I thought my junior season went very well. I didn't know it was going to be that good. My freshman year my coaches always said "you can't catch a cold," and I dropped everything that came towards me. Other than that, I think it went very well. I had 663 or 673 yards, 18.5 yards per catch, 36 catches, and seven touchdowns.
ACE: If you had to evaluate your game, what would say are your biggest strengths on the field and what are you trying to work on for your senior year and beyond?
JARON: My biggest strengths are being able to read the secondary, keeping a level head, going out there and having fun and being able to go out and catch, just catch the ball. I would love to get faster. They keep telling me speed kills, so I want to be the fastest one out there. I want to be the fastest one on the field.
ACE: I know it sounds like you're leaning towards Michigan right now, but in terms of when it comes down to making your choice, what are you looking for in a school specifically?
JARON: Academics, somewhere where I can be happy. The technique of the game, if they're a passing team, if they're going to pass me the ball when it's there or if they're just going to keep running the ball. Somewhere where it just feels right.
ACE: Moving off the field, what's one thing you'd want people to know about you that has nothing to do with football?
JARON: (laughs) Oh, man, I don't really know. I draw a lot. I love music. I like sitting—sometimes I just like being by myself and just relaxing.
ACE: What kind of music?
JARON: I listen to all types of music. Country, rock, metal, rap, R&B. The funny thing is, a lot of times, I don't like the new generation of rap now.
ACE: I'm with you there. I like the old school stuff, but the new stuff isn't really my thing.
JARON: Yeah, it's not mine, either.
This wasn't a bad year, was it?
|Scout (4th)||247 (8th)||ESPN (7th)||Committed|
|Ben Braden||OL||5.7 (3-star)||3-star||85 (3-star)||79 (3-star)||Mar 24|
|Kaleb Ringer||LB||5.7 (3-star)||3-star||88 (3-star)||78 (3-star)||Apr 12|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||LB||5.8 (4-star)||4-star||93 (4-star)||80 (4-star)||Apr 16|
|Devin Funchess||TE||5.7 (3-star)||4-star||90 (4-star)||80 (4-star)||Apr 22|
|A.J. Williams||TE||5.7 (3-star)||4-star||86 (3-star)||77 (3-star)||Apr 22|
|Joe Bolden||LB||5.8 (4-star)||4-star||96 (4-star)||80 (4-star)||Apr 29|
|James Ross||LB||5.8 (4-star)||4-star||95 (4-star)||80 (4-star)||May 2|
|Mario Ojemudia||DE||5.7 (3-star)||4-star||89 (3-star)||80 (4-star)||May 7|
|Matt Godin||DT||5.7 (3-star)||3-star||91 (4-star)||79 (3-star)||May 12|
|Terry Richardson||CB||5.8 (4-star)||4-star||95 (4-star)||81 (4-star)||May 19|
|Allen Gant||S||5.6 (3-star)||3-star||85 (3-star)||75 (3-star)||May 31|
|Erik Magnuson||OT||5.9 (4-star)||4-star||96 (4-star)||79 (4-star)||Jun 10|
|Tom Strobel||DE||5.8 (4-star)||4-star||93 (4-star)||78 (3-star)||Jun 10|
|Jeremy Clark||DB||5.7 (3-star)||3-star||85 (3-star)||76 (3-star)||Jun 24|
|Blake Bars||OL||5.8 (4-star)||3-star||89 (3-star)||79 (3-star)||Jun 26|
|Jarrod Wilson||S||5.8 (4-star)||4-star||91 (4-star)||80 (4-star)||Jul 8|
|Kyle Kalis||OL||6.1 (5-star)||5-star||96 (4-star)||80 (4-star)||Jul 10|
|Sione Houma||FB||5.5 (3-star)||3-star||83 (3-star)||74 (2-star)||Jul 25|
|Chris Wormley||DE||5.7 (3-star)||4-star||96 (4-star)||80 (4-star)||Jul 31|
|Ondre Pipkins||DT||6.1 (5-star)||4-star||96 (4-star)||80 (4-star)||Aug 8|
|Drake Johnson||RB||5.6 (3-star)||3-star||85 (3-star)||72 (2-star)||Nov 10|
|Amara Darboh||WR||5.8 (4-star)||4-star||93 (4-star)||78 (3-star)||Dec 4|
|Jehu Chesson||WR||5.6 (3-star)||3-star||89 (3-star)||79 (3-star)||Dec 21|
|Willie Henry||DT||5.6 (3-star)||3-star||83 (3-star)||75 (3-star)||Jan 31|
|Dennis Norfleet||RB||5.8 (4-star)||4-star||94 (4-star)||75 (3-star)||Feb 1|
Considering how good things looked last July, people on the boards and whatnot are kinda disappointed that the class finished as only consensus Top 10. This was back when nobody but Ohio State thought its cars-for-commitments program would continue, if there even would be such a thing as Columbus when The Law was through with them.
But with no 'Pryor' testimony available, the NCAA effectively rubber-stamped the automotive business, OSU turned in their slightly used Tresselwagon for a shiny refurbished Urban model and the Big Ten race went from this in July:
…today. The above is a visualization of Michigan's 2012 class final rankings by Rivals and doesn't count Caleb Stacey and Anthony Standifer, who were in the class at the time. The red is 6.1, the yellow 5.8, yellow-green 5.7, everything right of the line is 3-stars. The link takes you back to July 18, when I used the same graphical representation to show just how good it was to be a Michigan Wolverine.
It wasn't just Ohio State blue was beating. Michigan was killing in the conference. This was then:
…and this is now:
Penn State's scandal turned them into Northwestern, while Ohio State's wasn't enough to counter the Urban effect. Michigan held steady but those late whiffs ended up with a class that's largely balanced between blue chips and the 60%-likely-to-be-"solid"-or-better-as-upperclassmen guys.
That's still good for among the top teams in the country:
Now this is Michigan, fergodsakes. More importantly Michigan, who by last July was already well extended into Ohio territory didn't seem to fall victim to the great Buckeye Reclamation of home state products late in the process. Gant, a legacy, and Wormley were Toledo-ish guys long considered Michigan's barring strange circumstances. Kaleb Ringer, A.J. Williams, and Willie Henry come from schools and have profiles that might have been automatic Buckeyes in a typical Tressel cycle but were probably second options for Meyer's late push. But I have to imagine Jarrod Wilson received a desperate phone call before he enrolled at Michigan in January, and we know Kyle Kalis did. In return Meyer convinced Bri'onte Dunn, a Tressel commit worried about the sanctions, to stay in the fold and beat Michigan head to head for Armani Reeves after he shook loose from Penn State's class. That's 2 for 4 in head-to-head battles in Ohio with Ohio State's new coach. This is important; if we're going to travel back in time to battle Buckeyes on their own turf, it's important to plant Woody Hayes or one of his ancestors in manure every 30 years or so.
So did we make it? Are we back?
We're back, but it's an alternate 2005, when 4-stars are just plain 4-stars not Taylor and Jamison and Antonio Bass, and the 3-stars are mostly the good type of 3-stars—Gordon-like 3-stars as opposed to lots of Mister Simpsons and Nerd Terminators. More importantly there's just more of everybody, and the old defensive line coach is rich and powerful and the head coach at Michigan, and the guy at West Virginia has been committed.
Many of the key contributors from the classes before this experienced above normal attrition. By some of the decisions made during this year's cycle—backing off Yuri Wright after his expulsion, and seemingly backing off a rumored grade risk in one of the top in-state prospects, hopefully Hoke's excellent class of of 2012 will make up for in staying power what it lost by the slow close.
The glory of signing with Alabama. Three-star DT Darius Philon announced he'd be going to Alabama on Signing Day. He did it like this:
If that seems unusual, it's because Philon had probably just been told that he wasn't actually going to Alabama. Alabama swung a decommit and pulled his offer; Philon ended up signing with Arkansas, a school he hadn't so much as visited. The actual video is… weird:
The AJC says the "moral of the story" is…
If you commit to Alabama, it’s safe unless you get injured or Alabama has the opportunity to upgrade at your position before you officially sign the paperwork.
Horford redshirt update: happening. Jon Horford's injury redshirt has been increasingly likely with every game he misses and now seems all but certain. Horford himself says as much:
"If coach said, 'We absolutely need you to come back,' I could come back," Horford said Sunday following Michigan's 64-54 loss to Michigan State. "But other than that, I've missed so many games that I feel like coming back at this point would almost be a waste of a season."
In the long run that's probably a good thing for the program as it will move Horford out of Jordan Morgan's class and give the team a fifth-year senior to rely on after he departs (and who knows what Mitch McGary's going to do). That will help bridge the gap between this generation of posts and the Bielfeldt/Donnal setup. Speaking of Bielfeldt…
Bielfeldt hype. Beilein talked up the redshirting freshman in a conference call recently:
He came in here with really bad tendonitis in his knees and was not nearly as athletic as he (had shown in the past)," Beilein said during the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "He was really just struggling. But he's young, with a young birthday, and given the fact that we were still evolving with some positions here, it did not make sense for him or for us to burn a redshirt."
The tendons have gotten better and allowed him to play scout-team center:
"He's a big man with good hands, and those aren't a dime a dozen," Beilein said. "He's a tremendous rebounder. Where he's not gifted vertically, he's really good in small spaces."
It'll be interesting to see what he plays like… and where. He doesn't seem like either a four or a five at 6'7", 240. Presumably he'll be a backup at both spots for his first couple seasons.
The move. I'm not in agreement that Belichick's decision to let New York score in the waning moments of the Super Bowl was "the ballsiest call in Super Bowl History." It was obvious. The choices there are between watching an NFL kicker attempt a virtual extra point with no time on the clock or giving Tom Brady a minute with which to attempt the comeback.
It would have been ballsy if Belichick had come out of the two-minute warning with a red carpet and instructed his defense to bodily carry any Giant with the ball into the endzone. It also would have been correct:
The smartest play of all would've been for Belichick to have allowed the touchdown even earlier. The Patriots certainly could have done so on the play prior to Bradshaw's touchdown run, when he was stopped for a one-yard gain, forcing New England to burn its second timeout. In fact, they probably should have allowed a touchdown as early as the two-minute warning.That's the point at which the Win Probability of receiving a kickoff down by four or six points (0.23) exceeds the Win Probability of trying to stop the Giants from bleeding the clock dry (0.2). The Patriots would have had almost two minutes, two timeouts, and all four downs available to get a touchdown and steal the win. The lesson: New England didn't lie down soon enough.
Always quit, son.
The difference. There are many reasons I couldn't give two craps about the NFL. Many derive from the fact that merely contemplating Tom Coughlin's staid, fun-murdering face seriously damages my quality of life.
Many others are summarized by the Lombardi trophy presentation. Michael from Braves & Birds contrasts Barca's celebrations after winning the Champions League with the ceremony last night:
Instead of a football icon handing the trophy over, we get Roger Goodell, a life-long NFL suit who is most noted for giving himself the power to suspend players for any reason he sees fit and for persuading Peter King to write the most sycophantic cover story that I can recall reading in Sports Illustrated. Instead of a [Barcelona FC] totem like Puyol or a cancer-survivor like Abidal accepting the trophy, we had the New York Giants' owners getting the honor. Puyol and Abidal got the right to hold the trophy aloft because they established themselves as some of the best players in the world at their positions; John Mara and Steve Tisch got the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy because they inherited the team from their parents.
The Michigan equivalent would be handing the Sugar Bowl trophy to Dave Brandon. This, thankfully, does not happen. Instead we get Junior Hemingway breaking down.
Juxtaposing a Michigan-MSU game at Breslin with the Super Bowl on the same day really drove the point home.
I am much more invested in the stories of people who have reasons to do what they are doing other than "I have a contract."
Tooley. Derek Dooley is amazingly hypocritical:
“I’m still trying to figure out what I’m missing,” he said. “You have these contracts. It’s called quid pro quo. We give you this. You give us that. But if they don’t give us that and we decide not to give them this, then it’s the worst thing you can do. I’m still struggling to understand that issue…”
This verges on "I'm not even mad, I'm impressed" territory.
Etc.: Jim Herrmann might be coming back to be Iowa's DC, which would be the most Kirk Ferentz move ever. NCAA president urges school presidents to support multi-year scholarship offers. 2012 hockey recruit Justin Selman's stock seems to be on the rise.
According to 24/7's Steve Wiltfong, Michigan has picked up their third commitment in the class of 2013 in Detroit Crockett TE Khalid Hill. Hill received his offer from the Wolverines today and also had one from Central Michigan. He joins Maximum Exposure 7-on-7 teammate Shane Morris and Dymonte Thomas among Michigan's 2013 commits.
|NR TE||NR WDE||NR TE||3*, 86, NR TE|
Hill doesn't have rankings from three of the four recruiting services yet, but that shouldn't be of major concern—it's still very early in the process and the vast majority of juniors still haven't been evaluated. Three of the four list Hill at 6'2" (Scout has him an inch taller) and his listed weight ranges from 223-235 pounds—I'd guess he's closer to the higher number based on the picture above.
Hill was a standout at the Maximum Exposure combine at the Silverdome in December and he apparently developed a strong rapport with his future quarterback ($):
The other Hill at Crockett, Khalid Hill, already has good size. At 6-2, 230 he is big enough to be a good blocker in the run game, but what is most intriguing about him is his ability to run routes and catch passes like a receiver. Hill was clearly one of the top pass-catchers in attendance and has seemingly developed a real chemistry with Shane Morris.
In case you're wondering what "the other Hill" refers to, Khalid's brother Khalil—I'm sure that never gets confusing—plays cornerback for Crockett. Khalid's highlight tape, which you'll see below, jives with this evaluation; he's very adept at finding space over the middle and displays soft hands for a high school tight end. Rivals.com's Josh Helmholdt was also impressed by Hill at Maximum Exposure, naming him among the top performers of the event ($):
Hill has all the physical tools to be a Division I tight end, he just is a little on the short side at 6-foot-3. We'll see how he grows, but Division I programs are already showing interest.
Magnus has his evaluation of Hill up over at Touch the Banner, and he praises Hill's route-running and hands while having this to say about his future position and blocking ability:
With a short frame, it's likely that he's headed for the U position, which is an H-back type role. His size might be an advantage when playing in space or lead blocking from the move position, but he may struggle to add enough weight and strength to be an every-down tight end. He gets a little bit lackadaisical with his blocking at times, and he's going to have to be more consistent with his effort in the running game. That can be fixed with coaching, though.
Hill has the body to be able to play as a freshman if needed. He's not the most fundamental or explosive player, but he's not wispy like Devin Funchess and might be more college-ready immediately. I expect him to play a role somewhat like that of former Michigan tight end/H-back Aaron Shea.
Hill also took home MVP honors among tight ends at Michigan's summer camp in 2011, so the coaches were able to get an up-close evaluation that surely helped him land an offer. ESPN has yet to write up a scouting report on Hill and a tap-dancer of the same name is making a Google-stalk difficult, so for now the above camp reports are as much as I can find on Michigan's newest commit. Now that he's made his decision, I'm sure we'll read much more on him in the very near future. Since he plays at Detroit Crockett, I'll also likely be checking out at least one of his games in the fall.
Hill held one offer—from Central Michigan—before he pledged to Michigan today. Michigan State also reportedly showed interest. Considering how early in the process it is and the fact that Hill's camp appearances were in-state, the short offer list shouldn't be of much concern. His Michigan camp MVP honor says all you need to know about what the coaches think of his ability.
Hill caught 29 passes for 448 yards and six touchdowns in 2011. He also added 55 tackles, nine TFLs, and six sacks while playing defensive end.
FAKE 40 TIME
Hill posted a 5.11 40-yard dash time at the Nike SPARQ Combine in Massillon (OH) last February, where he also recorded a 4.84-second shuttle and a 28.5" vertical leap. He looks faster than that 5.11 on film, and since that's an electronic time at a combine I'll give it a one FAKE out of five. If anything, he's probably a little faster at this point.
From a quick perusal of the film, Hill impresses with his ability to go over the middle and his soft hands, though he could do a little better at catching the ball away from his body. It's tough to evaluate his blocking from the few highlights available, but he seems pretty powerful while also possessing surprising athleticism for a player of his size.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The evidence at this point is flimsy indeed, but Hill looks like a solid all-around tight end who's a real threat as a receiver. He's a little shorter than ideal for the position, which may limit his effectiveness as a downfield threat. Hill has solid bulk for a junior, however, and he shows no fear in going across the middle and extending to make the tough catch. Michigan will once again be in need of an infusion of depth at tight end after Brandon Moore graduates following the 2012 season, so Hill will have every opportunity to contribute early in his career, especially if A.J. Williams eventually outgrows the position.
Without much to go on beyond one camp appearence and his junior film, I can't say much more about how he projects, though his lack of height will likely limit how high he can go when full class of 2013 rankings are released. That said, this is a nice pickup at a position of need, and Hill fits the mold as a versatile player who can line up along the line, at H-back, or even split wide. Given that he has over a year-and-a-half to add weight before his freshman season, Hill should have the size to be an immediate contributor by the time the 2013 season rolls around—we'll just have to wait and see if he has the ability.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It's still too early in the process to really project the number of open spots, but expect Michigan to end up with around 20-22 scholarships to fill for 2013, and they've now landed three commits. Given the need at tight end, I expect the Wolverines to take one more player at the position, so this commitment doesn't mean that they won't continue pursuing players like Adam Breneman, Jake Matuska, and Jake Butt.
2/5/2012 – Michigan 54, Michigan State 64 – 17-7, 7-4 Big Ten
Playing in Breslin without any tall people was exactly as frustrating as you would expect; Kenpom nailed that particular game down to the point. The way things played out was equally as easy to predict. Michigan struggled immensely to generate shots after Izzo locked down most of Michigan's tricks and niblets. Easy buckets reduced, State annihilated Michigan on the boards, and that was that.
It's hard to get worked up about that after the fact. It was painful during; after it was obvious. The four factors graph might as well read "chalk":
Michigan lost this game on the boards.
This is the kind of thing I was talking about after the Ohio State game. There's only so much you can do when you're running out one guy taller than 6'5" against very large men in a hostile environment. Michigan is at a severe disadvantage against teams with elite size and athleticism.
That's no shame. It does make games like Sunday's uphill battles dependent on lighting it up from three. If this was part of, say, a decade-long slump with no light at the end of the tunnel it might be an occasion to rend the garments a little further. In the context of the last two years of Michigan basketball it's just another indication that Michigan isn't quite there yet.
Since the direction is clear, patience is easy. Two or three hours after the game, anyway.
Michigan has pulled through their brutal Kenpom stretch 3-3 with only the first ten minutes against Arkansas a real disappointment. At this point a tournament bid is basically in the bag. They need two more wins to hit .500 and have seven opportunities to do so, two of which are against Nebraska and Penn State. After fighting through six games against Kenpom top ten opponents in the first 11 games, they have just one in their final seven. Realistic goals include a 12-6 conference record—Beilein's best ever in a power conference—and a Sweet 16 seed.
I'll take it.
Oh, Hardaway. That game was the tipping point when the internet stopped whispering about what's going on with Tim Hardaway Jr. and started yelling uncomplimentary things. And… after going 1 for 10 and meekly saying "thank you sir" on a first-half MSU layup in the midst of months and months of clanged long shots it's hard to disagree with even the foamiest internet commenters.
Hardaway has been a huge disappointment. Burke is a freshman and not Darius Morris. He can only do so much. He needs help and he's getting more of it from Stu Douglass than Hardaway over the past six or seven games. It would be one thing if Hardaway was just in a shooting slump; add in the bad defense and bad shot selection and it's… well, it's not good.
I'm at a loss as to where to go from here: Hardaway is hugely inefficient and his defense is indifferent at best but the main option off the bench in his stead is a three-point specialist shooting 21%. There's nothing you can do except ride the lightning and hope some of those twos from right inside the three point line go down. Michigan just has to live with it and hope he starts finding a scoring touch.
At least the NBA isn't a threat, amirite?
BONUS disappointment: Michigan really needs Hardaway to rebound in this small lineup since he's the second-biggest and most-athletic guy; he had one offensive and one defensive as MSU grabbed almost half of their misses. On the season he's rebounding almost exactly as well as Trey Burke. I just don't know, man.
Novak and Douglass. Nails in this game just like they've been in virtually every other game. Novak was 5 of 8 for 14 points; Douglass only had five points but put up five assists and no turnovers. That's especially impressive when Michigan only had 19 made field goals.
Novak had a hand in Green's face as he knocked down a ton of tough fallaway jumpers; not much you can do about that.
There is small and there is too small. The Smotrycz at the five thing is maybe something you can get away with for a few minutes per game. It is not suited for all of Evan's minutes. Blake McLimans may not be great but at least putting him out there is less of a hilarious mismatch against whoever the post dude is.
Assuming the OSU game is a longshot this will not be hugely relevant down the stretch except against Illinois, whose best offense is tossing it to seven-footer Myers Leonard in the post and seeing what happens. The rest of their offense is Brandon Paul running around being inefficient. Michigan needs to find a way to neutralize the Leonard matchup, and that's not putting Smotrycz on the block.
Well fine then. Draymond Green backed it up.
It is difficult enough to win on the road, but with the current makeup of this team, we will lose to teams like Michigan State and Ohio and even some lesser teams--like Arkansas--that are able to surgically pinpoint our major weaknesses via their own specific approach to the game of basketball. I realize that is a little bit of an unfair (and crude) point to make, as teams like MSU and Ohio are very good teams; most teams lose to them. That is why they are ranked so highly. With that said, after these sorts of games have ended, I've been fairly at ease. As fun as this season has been, we are not even close to being on the same level as these sorts of opponents. Perhaps that will change next year when talented reinforcements will bring skills sets that Ann Arbor hasn't seen in some time. I guess this is all a roundabout way of saying that the way the Spartans beat us was not at all surprising, and that I guess this isn't so negative after all since I'm not all that upset. If you can't tell, sometimes I devote many more words to a simple concept than are probably necessary; it's a personal flaw of mine.
UMHoops recap. I don't think "chemistry" is the problem with Hardaway's play. It doesn't take chemistry to rebound and play D, or choose good shots. Photos from UMHoops. Baumgardner on how MSU slowed Burke. UMHoops rounds up Big Ten action.