PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
HOCKEYBEAR IS GO
|WHAT||BGSU vs Michigan
Miami/WMU vs Michigan
|WHERE||Joe Louis Arena
|WHEN||8:05 PM Fri
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday: FSD Plus
Saturday: FSD (final only)
DeSalvo has been DeMolishing opponent defenses. HA!
When Michigan got only a split from Bowling Green on the final week of the regular season, that was annoying and ominous. The rest of the league didn't think it was ominous for them. They were wrong.
In the first round Bowling Green bussed up to Marquette and probably ended Northern Michigan's season by winning a series against a team that had swept them just three weeks earlier. It was no fluke, either: BG was about on par with Northern in shots in their 5-3 win Saturday and won 4-1 Sunday to clinch the series.
They took on league champ Ferris State the next weekend. Again, their opponent had swept them just three weeks previous. Total goals were 9-2. Again they won the series in three games. This one was a bit of a fluke. Both wins were in OT; on Friday FSU outshot the Falcons 56-34. BGSU fell behind 3-0 on Sunday before launching a stirring comeback. New hero Dan DeSalvo—who didn't even play against Michigan—added his 8th, 9th, and 10th goals of the CCHA playoffs as part of a natural hat trick that took BGSU from 3-1 down to 4-3 up, and through.
Unfortunately I was out of town for the untelevised BG series and can't offer any in-person evaluations to help refine the existing Puck Preview. That post spent a lot of time pointing out that BGSU was the worst team in the league by a good margin and apologizing for any jinxes this might stir up. From reports from people who were there it did seem like Michigan gave the Friday BGSU game away with a series of deflating turnovers late. Saturday Michigan endured nine penalty kills and still outshot BGSU 49-22. They couldn't score until five minutes had elapsed in the third.
That's about right: Michigan should bomb the BGSU net and win; if they get sloppy or enjoy a parade to the box DeSalvo might be able to make them pay.
Czarnik (yes that Czarnik) and Smith are Miami's goal engine
Sniper Reilly Smith (27-16-43) is one of three CCHA Hobey Baker finalists with MSU defenseman Torey Krug and Michigan's Shawn Hunwick. Two of those players were unanimous All-CCHA first team picks. The other is Hunwick. #gongshow
Anyway: Miami took it on the chin from Michigan in early February (Puck Preview), getting swept 4-1, 3-0 at Yost. At that juncture the Redhawks were outside of the NCAA tournament. Eight straight wins later they are playing for a one-seed at the Joe. Miami hasn't given up more than one goal in a game since the Michigan series, and while two of those games were against UAH the other six were against tourney aspirants, ND, OSU, and MSU. They are rolling. In the three series against serious opposition they've outscored their opponents 25-3.
Miami yanked Cody Reichard after the first period of their Friday game in Yost and has rode Connor Knapp since. He's played 8 of the last 9 games; the exception was a gimme against UAH. Knapp will get both games at the Joe unless he implodes. Since he's got a .943 on the year, don't bet on that.
Miami's finally playing like they were expected to at the start of the year; all due respect to Western Michigan but it will be a surprise if the Redhawks aren't in the final.
Michigan edged Western for the #2 seed in the CCHA tourney on a tiebreaker, one that became more important than expected when Ferris got bounced. Over the course of the season, Michigan has proven itself on a slightly higher level than the Broncos. Michigan had a +25 goal differential in CCHA play; Western was +11. WMU made up for it by winning all their league shootouts. Michigan won just one.
Michigan hasn't played Western since their awful November. Michigan got a split at Yost, losing 3-2 on Friday when Dane Walters scored with under a minute left. Michigan outshot WMU 36-25. The next night Michigan went into the third tied again; Bennett and Treais scored to put it away. The shot differential was flipped.
That was WMU's first loss of the year. While they cooled off after their hot start, they still find themselves tenuously in the tournament. They're 15th at the moment and will play themselves in or out over the course of the weekend. Getting swept is probably doom and a split is hair-splitting time.
The Broncos have something of a tough time scoring. Chase Balisy is their leading scorer with 12-22-34 and they've got three more guys with double-digit goals. I really liked senior captain Greg Squires's magic midget game when I saw them live but he's only got 6-11-17 on the year. Sparks-esque, that. Past their top line-ish WMU has guys a lot like Michigan's lower lines. Danny DeKeyser won the defensive defenseman of the year award in the league, FWIW.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Tonight it's simple: keep it five on five, don't throw it up your own middle, and bomb their goalie until something goes in.
Tomorrow Michigan will get a stiff test from whoever comes through. I've tried to write something useful here and keep coming up with "play good at hockey you guys!!!" My brain has started its postseason hockey meltdown. I apologize. You have no idea what I'm talking about because of the same phenomenon.
The Big Picture
If you would like to be the committee go ahead: you are the committee. Sioux Sports has added up every single one of the 1.1 million scenarios still on the table and comes away with these facts under the (obviously faulty) assumption that all games are coinflips:
- If Michigan wins the league they have a 75% chance to be the #2 overall seed and a 25% chance to be the #3 overall seed
- If Michigan is swept at the Joe they still have a >50% chance to be the #2 overall seed, a 33% chance to be #3, and an 11% chance to be the 4. In just under 4% of outcomes in this coinflip-based scenario, Michigan loses their one seed.
Sounds good to me. Caveat: since Michigan's bad scenarios are ones in which teams just under them do well in their conference tourneys against lesser opponents, you should be more pessimistic than that… in the event of a sweep, anyway.
In my YATC fiddling I came up with one of the worst-case Michigan scenarios that dropped them to #5. Flipping one game with a worst-case split (beat non-TUC BGSU, lose to TUC) got them back to #3. A win tonight and I think Michigan has #2 or #3 locked down.
The win-all scenario is so clean because only one team matters: Duluth. If UMD wins the WCHA they'll pass Michigan for #2. If they don't, Michigan will hold on to their current spot. Does that matter? Probably not. I assume the committee will send the Bulldogs to Minneapolis despite the presence of the Gophers for attendance purposes, leaving Michigan in a near-empty building in Green Bay. (NCAA Hockey: we hate money, fans, and atmosphere!)
Things get messier in the event Michigan does not win the league, but there's a consolation prize: a lot of YATC brackets with Miami as CCHA champion feature them as the #4 overall seed with WMU and MSU as #4s. This was the scenario that led to Michigan's matchup against the Atlantic Hockey champion a few years back. That is a better draw despite The Hockey Horror making us hold our breath until a point where the game is comfortably in hand (if that ever comes).
CenterIce provides a game preview.
Oh herro prease. I'm back for spring practice. There will be two or three pressers every week leading up to the spring game, and I will be transcribing all of them. Huzzah!
News bullets and other important things:
- Ricky Barnum is practicing at center.
- Rocko Khoury, Terrence Robinson, Mike Cox, and George Morales are all graduating this spring and will not return for the 2012 season
- Justice Hayes is staying at running back but will be considered for kickoff return duties.
- The spring game will be a scrimmage due to lack of bodies on offensive and defensive line.
On wearing pants today: “I put them on just for you guys.”
“First, this is off-topic a little bit, but we had severe weather yesterday and the damage and all that was out there in Dexter, and I don’t know too many other places -- I think that was the worst hit, but our thoughts and prayers are with those folks who went through that. We had our guys here for training table and when the campus alert went out they were all in the locker room and it was one of those situations. Our thoughts and prayers really go out to those people who were affected by it.
“We also yesterday had our pro day, which is a part of your program that the guys who have given so much, the opportunity, the dream they may have about continuing after they get a great degree from Michigan and continuing to play the game of football. I thought they represented Michigan well, and we’re proud of them for that.
“As far as this team, Team 133, I think we have a lot of questions. I know I do from the perspective of who’s going to emerge as the leaders, who’s going to have the toughness to lead and the sacrifice to lead. I think we’ve had a good winter. You can see some guys developing, you can see some guys really working hard, but I think you put the pads on, spring football, those things, you learn a little bit more about your football team. Starting tomorrow morning we get to do that. It’s going to be fun because you get to wear shorts again, get out on the field … it’s going to be good.
"When you look at where we’re at, there’s some obvious holes that we need to fill from the standpoint of our defensive line with the three seniors graduating at the position who played a lot of snaps for us a year ago. When you look at our offensive line there’s some good competition, but at the same time we’ve got to see improvement from young guys like Chris Bryant. He’s done a good job with the weight room and that part of it, but how he continues and matures. And Ricky Barnum, we’re going to play him at center to start with and see where he ends up there. Elliott Mealer getting an opportunity at the guard position, and Schofield will go out to right tackle, and obviously Taylor will obviously be the left tackle. Really for us we were very fortunate from an injury (standpoint) on both sides nad both fronts when you look at the guys up front defensively who stayed relatively healthy until the bowl practices and the six guys who were really responsible for the front. Those were the obvious places. Obviously Junior, Odoms, and Kelvin Grady. There’s a rotation there, and Junior obviously having most [contribution] statistically and all those things. There’s heavy competition and there will be competition.
"That’s probably the longest I’ve ever spoke.”
On your defensive line, how big of a spring is this for Will Campbell?
“I think it’s big, but I think he’s made great progress [in] what he’s done from a physical standpoint how he looks and all those things. I think his leadership and that part of it, with Quinton Washington, Richard Ash, when you start looking at that nose position, the ability for Will to slide from the 3-technique to the nose position is important.”
What’s the biggest issue with moving a guy like Ricky from guard to center?
“I think number one, snapping the football is always a little different. Now we did quite a bit with Rick when he got back healthy last year, playing both. I think Darrell and Al both had that mindset, if we did get beat up somewhere else where we had to rotate those guys -- at the end of the day the best five guys have to play, however that rotation works out. But I think snapping the ball, the shot gun snaps, you’d like to see centers be able to snap and step at the same time.”
Is the reason you’re moving Ricky to center because you’re not confident in guys like Rocko Khoury or Jack Miller?
“Well …” (ominous pause) “… I think there’s some unknowns there. I think that’s the best way to put it.”
How has Craig Roh embraced the move to strongside and Jibreel Black with the move inside?
“I think they’ve really embraced it. I know when we had the conversation and Greg met with Craig after we discussed it staff-wise. It was like, okay. I get to eat a little more. If someone said that to me I’d be happy. He really has embraced it. They’ve done some senior drill work and all that where all those guys -- him and Jibreel both are really excited about it.”
Do you expect there to be greater competition on the offensive and defensive lines since a lot of positions are up for grabs?
“I think so. I think these guys have learned to compete more and more as far as what our perception of competition is and our expectation of competition. I think they understand what’s at stake and I think they also understand that September 1st is going to be here before we know it.”
Borges said on the radio that he wished he would have spent more time using the spread early on in the season before transitioning to the pro-style. Is there an opportunity to spend more time in the spread now?
“I think the more we get comfortable in this scheme, you may see a little more, but for us, I think Al when he’s talking about that, [he meant] maybe we could have had a little more success, but we were pretty good early. I think you could because of some things that we’ve looked at.”
How have the three early enrollees progressed through the winter?
“I think they’ve had a really great winter. The first thing you always look at is how they adjust from being away from home, mom not cooking, mom not doing your laundry. I think classes, and that responsibility -- I think Joe and Kaleb and Jarrod have all really done a good job. Talking to coach Wellman in the weight room and how their work ethic is, I think all three of them have done a tremendous job.
Have any of the three stood out in any way?
“I think they all have maybe not exceeded but have adjusted well.”
“Yeah, we’ve got some guys … George Morales is going to graduate. Rocko’s going to graduate. Terrence Robinson will graduate, and Mike Cox is graduating. I think that’s it.”
Is that this spring?
“Yeah. A couple of them have like six hours in the summer, because this is the winter quarter.”
So they will not be back in 2012?
“Hmm mm. (No.)”
Ws that their decision?
“I think it’s their decision.”
Could they take advantage of the post graduation transfer rule?
“Mm hmm. (Yes.)”
What do you expect out of Roy this season? Who do you have hope for at the receiver position to step up?
“I think the first guy you look at is always Roy. I think that Jeremy Gallon is a guy who has shown tremendous ability. You look at his year and he was pretty successful. You look at Jeremy Jackson and his development and his growth. Dileo is a really valuable guy to our team. Jerald Robinson is a guy -- he was down most of the year with us. He can be pretty productive. Joe Reynolds is a guy who’s worked awfully hard.”
What’s different going into the second spring here vs. a year ago?
“For us, I don’t know if you look at it a whole lot differently. I mean you’re always trying to meet expectations of competitiveness, toughness, leadership, development, discipline, and all those things. At the same time it’s probably a little -- I never want to say the word easier -- but they do know what certain terms mean now from an offensive schematic or defensive schematic in how we coach or how we call things.”
What’s the next step in leadership that you want to see Denard take?
“He’s done a really good job of leading this winter. He’s done a good job when you look at -- he’s always been an unselfish player, so that’s always something that his teammates have seen. But he’s always taken it and been a little more … you hear him a little more I guess. Holding guys accountable a little more.”
From a passing standpoint, how big is going back to the fundamentals and footwork?
“There’s no question. That’s an everyday thing, and that’s an everyday thing for every position. The fundamentals and techniques. Our guys do a lot of seven-on-seven in the offseason. Continually they work drills at every position, so that’s huge.”
Last year the defensive line set the tone for the defense. Do you set that kind of expectations for this group?
“No question about it. Your expectations don’t go down. They better increase because the bar is always going to be set high here at Michigan and should be. Those expectations are for the position, not the person who plays the position.”
How does their lack of experience change the way you approach that this season?
“It doesn’t. Maybe you are a little more patient when they don’t do it exactly like we want them to, so that might be part of it, but it really doesn’t.”
Do you anticipate growing pains with that group? What’s the kind of thing that will drive you crazy during spring practice?
“A guy not playing with toughness and a guy not running to the football. That will drive me crazy.”
How good do you feel about your back seven? All of them are returning.
“I think as a whole, as a unit, I feel good -- I feel good about the kids themselves. As a unit that’s going to play at the level we need to play, I don’t feel very good because we didn’t play as well as we needed to a year ago. I’m not a huge statistic guy, but you go in and you look at opportunities that we missed either in passes broken up or interceptions on that end or supporting the end, getting off a block and doing that, and you’re looking at your linebackers a little bit -- your inside guys, are they missing tackles or making tackles? I’ve always been from the school that we’re going to be really critical, so I like the guys who we have. I like the guys who are coming in. I think we’ll have great competition by the time September 1st gets here. That part of it’s good, and I like that. I like having guys how have had some experience. Now where can they take the next step with the fundamentals and schematically of what we’re trying to do so that we don’t get beaten by Michigan State or we don’t get beaten by Iowa or we don’t give up this many points against somebody.”
With the attrition, you seem to be pretty low in terms of numbers.
“Well we’ve been low in numbers for a while, especially at the offensive line position from a scholarship standpoint. I think last year we had eight guys. Usuaully that number is 14 to 16. From a defensive line standpoint, if you’re going to have a four-man front, you better have 14 to 16 scholarship guys. We weren’t even close.”
Are you happy about how 2013 recruiting is going?
“Well number one, this is not an exact science and you don’t really know what you get until they get here because this is a hard game to play and hard to be championship teams and play. I think our coaches have worked extremely hard. I think they do a tremendous job evaluating and we’ll see. That’s why there’s a signing date. First Wednesday in February. But we’ll see. We have a long way to go.”
Punting struggles with Will Hagerup?
“The punting situation is one that will be competitive. I think both guys are very capable. I think the consistency we need to have by whoever that guy is is going to be an important part.”
How do you see the running back situation shaping up since Fitz locked down the starting position last season?
“Well he’s going to compete. He’s going to compete there. I think I’ve said this since day one. There’s nothing sacred. There’s no position that’s given an entitlement. He ended the year doing a nice job for us. You have to love the kid -- I do -- because of his competitiveness. I think he grew up a lot during the course of the year with whatthe expectiations are for a Michigan back. But Thomas Rawls and Vince Smith and Hayes, you know, there’s guys there. He can’t have a bad day.”
You mentioned Justice Hayes. Are you keeping him at running back or moving him to another position?
“No, he’s a back. We’ll see how he transpires. The good thing about him, he does have that talent where he can go out and catch the ball and he’s got great explosion. Kickoff returns -- he’d be a guy we want to look at because he’s got a gear to him that’s a little different.”
Spring game format?
“It’ll probably be a lot like last year. We’d love to have a true spring game, there’s no doubt about it. I said some numbers earlier about your most physical two positions on your team, and our numbers aren’t where they need to be.”
Are you taking walk-ons this spring?
“We’ll wait more until the fall.”
Today's recruiting roundup is short and sweet, because I feel like, well, another 's' word.
Weekend Visitors and O'Daniel/Fuller Update
A refreshing concept: a recruiting site releasing a free list of the weekend's unofficial visitors. Tip o' the cap, Wolverine247. Six 2013 prospects will be in Ann Arbor, and a couple could be nearing decisions:
- Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith, who told Sam Webb that while classes filling up isn't going to factor into his decision, the promise of getting a shot to see the field as a freshman would potentially put Michigan over the top.
- Pittsburgh (PA) Seton LaSalle TE Scott Orndoff, a Wisconsin decommit who mentioned earlier this week that he's very aware of Michigan's rapidly-dwindling scholarship situation and that could affect his timeline.
- Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green, the four-star running back who's been lost in the shuffle in discussions about Smith and Ty Isaac. Green has maintained that a decision won't come from him until signing day, however, which makes it unlikely at this juncture that he'd be a part of the class.
- Baltimore (MD) Gilman DT Henry Poggi, who will be making his third trip to campus. Poggi recently shot down rumors that he was planning to commit this weekend, but he's one of the top targets on the board for Michigan.
- Detroit Cass Tech S Delano Hill and DT Kenton Gibbs, the only unoffered '13 prospects on campus this weekend. Hill coming to campus in the hopes that Michigan will reciprocate his high interest. He currently holds offers from Illinois, Iowa, and Syracuse. Gibbs, who also has an Illinois offer, also has high praise for the Wolverines but no offer as of yet ($).
Four 2014 prospects from Cass Tech will also visit this weekend, including their entire linebacker corps of William White, Gary Hosey, and Deon Drake. Cass Tech WR Damon Webb and '14 Hinsdale (IL) Central OL Brian Allen round out the visitor list.
The big news so far this week, however, came down yesterday, when linebacker Dorian O'Daniel tweeted that his planned spring game visit to Michigan was cancelled. Subsequent tweets indicated that O'Daniel had been told Michigan is full at linebacker, and this was confirmed by Mike Farrell of Rivals ($). All indications point to the Wolverines landing Ben Gedeon sooner or later, and saving an extra spot in the class for E.J. Levenberry. Farrell also noted that O'Daniel's Good Counsel teammate, five-star corner Kendall Fuller, plans on visiting Ann Arbor for the spring game at least for now, but that situation could easily change ($).
Running Backs, Future Visitors, Etc.
Webb's DetNews feature on DeVeon Smith also included quotes from his older brother Lance, a former Warren Howland standout himself before playing college ball at Wisconsin and Memphis:
"When I was in high school I believe I was 5-10, 190 pounds, and I was running about a 4.5," Lance recalled. "I worked hard in the weight room. I was doing 225 pounds probably about 20 times in high school. I could have been physical if I wanted to, but that's not the style I attacked with. What's different about me and Deveon is I've never ever, including the college level, seen a person run so hard. He doesn't have the moves I had, but I didn't have the power he has."
Michigan fans are obviously keeping a close eye on DeVeon to see what happens with Ty Isaac. Webb talked to Isaac this week to dispel some rumors surrounding his recruitment [emphasis mine] ($):
“I tell people all of the time that I don’t care (about how many backs my suitors recruit),” the five-star runner insisted. “If that was the case I might as well be going [to] play somewhere that’s really small, that’s not bringing in a lot of players. If I’m afraid to compete with someone in my class, how am I going to compete with someone older or younger than me?”
“Competition makes you better. If you don’t have someone behind you pushing you to be better, you might get sloppy. If I’m the only back in the class, yeah that’s cool with me… but if I’m not, it’s not a turnoff and I’m not scared of it. I would expect people to be disappointed in me if I was talking like that. As a coach if I heard somebody say that, I’d understand. But at the same time, to me that sounds like you’re scared of competition.”
It's worth noting that Isaac has split time in the backfield with D-I tailbacks as both a sophomore and junior, so he's very much used to competition. This statement would suggest that Michigan could take both Smith and Isaac if they wanted to commit, though a source tells me the plan is for Michigan to take just two running backs, and that's including Wyatt Shallman. Isaac, as he has maintained, will fly out to USC next Thursday for a weekend visit.
A quick happy trails to WR James Onwualu, who followed in the path of former Cretin-Derham star and family friend Michael Floyd by committing to Notre Dame on Wednesday.
Quickly: Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler will visit March 24th ($, info in header). NJ DE Dajuan Drennon is setting up a visit for the spring game ($, info in header). Tremendous catches up with MA WR Zach Bradshaw after last weekend's visit, and Bradshaw reveals that the coaches are looking to take three WRs in this class. Michigan made an early impression on '14 QB Chandler Kincade after he visited a few weeks ago ($, info in header). The Wolverines are one of several big-name schools currently showing interest in Plainfield (IL) South LB Clifton Garrett, one of the top sophomores in the region ($, info in header). TomVH goes over the top wideout targets in the '13 class ($). LOLMSU.
no more really good runs at the end of MAC blowouts
Brady Hoke's kicking off spring practice with a press conference and has announced the following players are departing:
- RB Mike Cox: we'll always have you dancing on the internet.
- C Rocko Khoury: we'll always have that Iowa game you played decently well in last year.
WR Terrence Robinson: we'll always have Dream Shake and your sexy cocked eyebrow.
I look forward to your Old Spice commercial.
- LS George Morales: we'll always have mortified punter gif even if you had no involvement with it.
Cox never played and was never going to play even if Michigan was down to Paki O'Meara as an alternative; Khoury was the backup center you may remember not snapping it to Denard on the first drive against Virginia Tech; teeny tiny Robinson found a role as a punt gunner last but will will not reprise it. Morales is only notable as the walking embodiment of Late Carr Era recruiting failures; he was never actually on scholarship after the first year, IIRC.
Zero of these guys had eligibility for 2013, so this frees up no scholarships for that class. Hoke said all are graduating, so no need to fret about APR issues. As far as team issues: I'd rather have Khoury and Robinson around to contribute, even if slightly. Chopping down the center race from three guys to two is worrying, and we don't even get to expand our 2013 class projections. Boo to that.
User 'jonvalk's tribute to the seniors. Anime Novak needs moar blood. And blue hair. Gotta have blue hair.
First to anyone in Ann Arbor, I hope you're safe from the heavy stuff last night, when mother nature decided to go all Notre Dame on State Street while drafting Haylie Wagner to hail softballs upon ye. That thread also has a video of people watching a tornado from the disc golf course at Hudson Mills. I'm sure the bathroom's safe guys.
Of the century all time recently. The storm of the century is the worst segue ever into the last
week's two weeks' three weeks' (sorry: vacation) discussions of all-century things that took place in the last 30 years or so. The all-times are collected by 'justingoblue', who went around the internet to collect a comprehensive list of Michigan championships in all sports. Brian's query on an MGoBlog Hall of Fame led to a diary by 'Tom from AA' with year by year nominees. And 'saveferris' took us back to the year Ferris Bueller came out (1986) to relive the Super Bowl Shuffle, Never-Nervous Purvis, and one of Bo's best teams, featuring Harbaugh and Morris and Rivers and Elliot. I've got three Diarists of the Week(s) to give out, and one goes to saveferris to encourage him to keep doing these.
The basketballs. Hoops nerdery these days seems to revolve around two questions: can I write the definitive piece on Rasheed Wallace, and three-pointers. On the second we've got you covered by ehatch who absolutely drained a Diarist of the Week(s) by parsing through available data to find out if more than 20 treys starts to negatively affect your offensive efficiency. Conclusion:
So as we go into the post season:
- Cackle with knowing glee if Michigan is driving the basket
- Worry if we draw a zone team that forces us to shoot a lot of 3 pointers.
There was also a temporally useful rooting guide for selection sunday 'mistersuits' deserves some credit for. OHIO, or THE University of OHIO, or whatever you know the green one, was one of the cackle with glee draws.
All the recruits.
It is a period of in-state war.
Michigan staffers, striking from an arboreal
hidden base, have won their first victory against
the evil empire of Port-a-Cool defecators. During the
battle, Rebel spies managed to steal highly rated recruits
from the heart of the Empire with enough talent to destroy
the entire Big~Ten Conference.
Pursued by the Empire's sinister lackey, Darthtonio, King Hoke races home
aboard his starship (hey we have to spend the budget on something), custodian
of the stolen talent that can save the Wolverines and restore freedom to the galaxy…
Let's let 'maizedandconfused' tell you what happens next. I promise no gungans or Jake Lloyd.
Michigan has locked up what's already an end game Top 5 class (Ace's conf update) almost a year before NSD. I'm at a loss for appropriate metaphors and thus devolving into a puddle of ectoplasm that relates everything to Star Wars. This is eee-cause if you put the last year in recruiting against your expectations, the only thing comparable is Memorial Day Weekend of '77. At least there's 'turd ferguson' to provide composite rankings from the sites that have bothered to even rank guys this early.
At this rate we're going to have to put up the 2014 Offer Board pretty soo…what? 'Bluestreak' already did that.
The hockeys. There's four great articles, all by the last Diarist of the Week(s), CenterIce, most linked to and discussed already by Brian in his hockey columns or bumped by me. But here they are again in case you missed them.
: A look at the line combinations and whether they're working.
: A recap of each player's performance during the regular season.
: Notre Dame Picture Pages
: A preview of that game.
The LAX. Here's 'MaizeAndBlueWahoo' with Michigan Lacrosse at the half-way point of its inaugural varsity season. He has efficiency stats. Efficiency stats? Srsly? Siri: set reminder, watch a friggin' lacrosse game already.
Etc. At first 'BlueDragon' was like "tennis?" and then he was like "tennis!!!" If you can Google things, please help The Mathlete. We will all benefit. Blockhams can't tell the difference between Ohio and OHIO; Blockhams get romantic after B1G titles, Blockhams rock the RVB flow. Silly Blockhams.
Best of the Board
ALL THE BANNERS (ALL THE BANNERS!)
'Wolverine Devotee' is trying to redesign Crisler's banners to go with the new digs. I like the idea of offsetting Cazzie (the only retired number) and putting Sweet 16 and Elite 8 appearances on collective banners. These were emailed to Dave Brandon who promptly wrote back "NEEDS MOAR Ms!!!!"
WD also stumbled upon the '98 Big Ten championship banner that upperclassmen held over my head for matriculating after the year of money sport awesome. Since basketball was wiped from the books* the search is on for the best year ever. 'AC1997' is defining this as football/basketball, so I guess the standard is '88-'89: 9-2-1 with close shouldn't-a-been losses to #1 and #2, and won the Rose Bowl, plus the hoops NC.
YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG
The limits of my computer skills are I subscribe to the NewEgg newsletter and once installed Ubuntu: not high. But even I got this xkcd:
… so it's scaring the hell out of me that the people who are actually in charge of machines that everyone in the world wants to break into are all like "dude, Microsoft Security Essentials—it's free!" Fortunately for democracy the University of Michigan is here to hack through the hack software they put in e-voting machines. I'll let 'DubbaEwwTeeEff' take it from here:
The news articles at the time reported that they had hacked the system to play "The Victors" after a vote was cast - but that was only the first sign of infiltration. They also managed to add an "OWNED" picture to the logout page, discover the authentication codes for every DC voter, and modify every ballot to be write-ins for fictional computers and robots. (Bender beat Skynet for head of the school board.)
Several other schools were trying but were fended off by the Michigan students, proving once again that the best way to protect the sanctity of our republican system is to have Wolverines protecting the voting machines. I've been saying this a long time.
A BETTER SON OR DAUGHTER TO A BETTER SON OR DAUGHTER
Sometimes when you're on, you're copying When You're On:
PAIRWISE PAIRWISE PAIRWISE AHHAHAHAHAHAH
If you're obsessive over figuring out scenarios for College Hockey Plinko Tournament 2012, or you just get perverse joy from having Michigan come up a 1 seed all the time, USCHO has the pairwise predictor up. User 'goblue7612' puts up a worst case scenario and challenges you to see if you can knock us from the 1 seed. User 'turd ferguson' could drop us as low as 6th in a world where Miami beats Bowling Green in the CCHA championship Saturday. I'm planning on being at the Joe tomorrow night so please let's not (Michigan plays BG in the semifinal at 8:00 tonight).
STILL ADDICTED TO SOFTBALL LINES
Our ridiculous (read: awesome) pitchers are ridiculous (read: awesome):
I didn't update after the Oklahoma game last night but these stats are good through the 2-1 victory over Notre Dame in Game 1 of the Judi Garman Classic. (Update: they lost to Okla, but the stats are hardly different). They need the bats (including Wagner's) to give them some support. Next week the gals come home to start Big Ten play.
ETC. Check in with your football background on this thread by 'jasputan.' Sparty copped "Facepalm" guy with "Owmyoccipital" guy; he gets photoshopped. People with umich.edu accounts spent a night ignoring Reply-All email etiquette to pass around MGoMemes. Kids these days—I went to school before people respected the awesome power of reply-all. And we used PINE.
* In light of UNC and Ohio State recently joining the ranks of teams which O'Brien is helping me remember anew, it's as good a time as any to remark again that I hate this particular form of "punishment." I get that it's shaming for the ineligible player and the program but in essence it's a group of America's best academic institutions rewriting history.
New Weekly Feature: Your moment of zen:
UMHoops got its hands on a torrent of the MAC championship game and chopped it into scouting reports on a majority of OHIO's players. Read it. The following post consists of assorted things I'll be looking to as keys to not blowing it.
Chuck, And Ye Shall Receive (Sometimes)
The lion's share of Ohio usage goes to diminutive, ball-domineering DJ Cooper. UMHoops compares him to Tim Frazier, and that's about right. You could also call him MAC Iverson if you want:
read the rest of this post. it is excellent.
That, my friends, is a chucker. I knew it in my bones the moment I looked at the Kenpom profile but there it is in the flesh. Fadeaway threes? Check. Shots from a distance freshman Stu Douglass thinks is outlandish? Check. Wild drives into tons of traffic with resulting chaotic results? Check. Way too many of those shots going down? Check.
Opposing a chucker is equal parts smug haterdom and fist-shaking frustration. If Cooper goes NBA Jam on us there's not much anyone can do. If he hews to his season percentages or is off, Michigan feels comfortable unless there's an equal and opposite force preventing it.
Given the chuckerdom and OHIO's generally poor three-point shooting, there is an obvious way to defend them. I'll let two more MAC Q&A answering expert-type guys execute the reveal:
Fitzwater: Teams that play a lot of zone have given Ohio problems. Teams with strong, tall forwards can also force a lot of fouls and dominate the paint. But nobody blew OU out this season; they were in a position to win every game and were up two possessions late at Louisville. The Bobcats thrive against teams that don’t take care of the ball, don’t deal well with high ball screens, give up offensive rebounds, or depend on the three.
Hmmm. Michigan takes care of the ball, does well against high ball screens only when Morgan is in the game, has had problems with rebounding, and takes a lot of threes. But they also can play zone.
Arkley: Typically teams that slow it down (lower possessions) give Ohio more trouble. Slower paced teams that play a lot of zone even more so. The Bobcats have been inconsistent at best from three and can have problems generating points if not getting any full-court opportunities
Ohio has played well against teams that don’t have good inside-out balance offensively. The Bobcats have been good enough defensively this season to take away opponents top option or two on the offensive end. Ohio wants to run as well, so they haven’t had many problems with high-pace teams.
Also zone. Zone zone zone. Michigan's gone away from the 1-3-1 and has mostly used the 2-3 this year; it will be an option if Michigan can't contain Cooper early.
Despite the above I assume man to man is going to be plan A. Once you go to a zone it gets harder to deal with specific three-point threats like Nick Kellogg, who's hitting 42%. Also, OHIO's four is a smooth-shooting 6'8" guy with range to exploit the gaps in a 2-3 around the free throw line. If Michigan can hedge and recover on the lighting quick Cooper they'll stick with man to man. Morgan's very good at that… when he's not picking up silly fouls on the perimeter. Smotrycz is crap at hedging and a zone will be preferable when he's in the game.
The other thing the Cooper tape shows is that he doesn't need a ball screen to get penetration. Most of Ohio's sets above are 1-4s where Cooper's isoed at the top on a single defender. He gets penetration and either shoots or finds an open guy. Stu Douglass is going to have his hands full.
Rebounding: Can We Do It?
Yeah, even against a MAC team. Michigan is tiny* and the combination of Cooper and a couple of 6'8" bigs with OREB rates over 12% could lead to issues. Cooper poses a couple problems: 1) as mentioned above, late or poor hedges are likely to lead to perimeter fouls and a lack of Morgan, and 2) since it's impossible to stay in front of him one on one he forces bigs over to help. Even if the resulting shot is wild, now you've got an uncovered big on the weakside. I'm watching Louisville-Davidson as I write this and Peyton Siva missed shots are all but assists as he pulls Wildcat defenders to him and leaves his center wide open.
The good news is that it doesn't look like anyone on the roster other than the center is much of a threat. Even if Ivo Baltic is a lot bigger than Zack Novak he's a stretch four whose bread and butter is pick and pop stuff or long twos off kickouts—he has the offensive game of an unathletic NBA power forward. Think late-stage Antonio McDyess. This means he's not often around the bucket to snatch up loose balls. His OREB rate is only incrementally better than Zack Novak. The difference doesn't seem likely to manifest.
On the other end, OHIO is a relatively poor defensive rebounding team (245th, about 70 spots below average but not awful). Michigan all but abandons offensive rebounding save for its center; it does seem like Morgan will be able to do some work.
This looks like a push. If it's not it's probably because Morgan's in foul trouble and Michigan is struggling to cope.
*[For the last time. Michigan loses a 6'2" guy and a 6'4" guy after this year and adds Mitch McGary, Jon Horford, Max Bielfeldt, Glenn Robinson III, and Nick Stauskas to the roster. All five of those guys are 6'5" or bigger. Prepare for vertigo when Michigan takes the court next year a huge, athletic outfit.
I wonder if this will alter Michigan's approach to offensive rebounds. Sending Novak to or Douglass to the glass is obviously less of a good idea than sending Smotrycz—soon to be liberated to the four again—and GRIII.]
Three Point Defense: A Real Thing?
I remember talking about this a long time ago with Big Ten Wonk when he was just some guy in his basement littering the internet with bolded, exclamation-point-laden sentences. At the time Michigan was enduring a rain of threes from opponents that seemed incredible. I took the position this was luck; Mr. Gasaway said the percentages were unsustainable but evidence of a real skill, or lack thereof, possessed by Michigan.
Gasaway moved on to ESPN, where the power of the WWL has made him not only wrong about all current things ("Michigan's 1-3-1 is difficult to prepare for!" —Digger Phelps literally every time he is asked to say anything about Michigan) but also all things he has said in the past. Kenpom has set out to make this true. You've probably seen this graph before:
That's how well your three point defense in the first half of your conference season correlates with three point D in the second half. The answer is "not well." The R-squared is zero. The graph is the classic blob you'd get if you compared two totally unrelated variables like the number of letters in someone's first name and his height.
I've been reading too much Phil Birnbaum to take the above absence of evidence as evidence of absence, but it is suggestive that the graph for attempts allowed is well correlated. Statheads correct me if I'm wrong, but those are the same data sizes and for one to correlate pretty well suggests that it's not a sample size issue when the other doesn't.
If it's just dumb luck that OHIO is a really good three point defense, Michigan will play its game and get its requisite number of open looks and either hit some or miss some. If they really do stick to shooters hard, Michigan has options with backdoor plays and screen and rolls. You'll be able to tell this is happening when Burke or Hardaway or someone gets the ball to the post on a pick and roll. Is it an uncontested thunder dunk? They're sticking to shooters.
That's probably not the case. Akron hit 9 of 12 threes in the MAC championship game, and they were often like this:
A nap and a double feature of Ishtar and Dances With Wolves later, that guy knocked it down. Michigan will get their looks.
Open court turnovers. Burke's coming off a terrible performance in which he got Craft'd. Ohio forces a lot of turnovers and tries to transition that into offense so they don't have to stand around waiting for Cooper to do something. Limiting Michigan's turnovers not only helps the offense but the defense, then, and it's much worse to get your pocket picked than to chuck a ball into the stands. Michigan's fantastic at the latter but only pretty good at the former.
They'll get a test in that department tomorrow. If we're sitting around muttering on Saturday the reason will probably be double-digit transition points.