this may be of some local interest
The Michigan offer blitz is in full effect with over 100 offers already extended by the coaching staff. The 2012 offer list is here and for the most part accurate. There have been a lot of questions asked about the number of offers being thrown out. It's probably not going to be a normal thing in the future. These coaches are new to the neighborhood so they're trying to make their presence known.
Giving out offers to high profile kids does a few things for the coaches. It shows everyone that they're serious about recruiting high talent kids to Michigan, that they think they can land some of them, and that they want to build relationships for the future. In year one, this is probably a decent strategy. Here's a look at some of the recent happenings.
6'0", 185 lbs.
Old Tappan, New Jersey
Fuller is an outstanding athlete that brings a lot to the table at many positions. He has made a name for himself in his area, and his film is really impressive. He was recently extended a Michigan offer and very excited about that.
It's a huge [offer] for me and my family. I know they have great tradition over there, and they all know how to win. Plus the academics are great as well. I don't have a top list yet, but Michigan was a big one, I must say. The coaches see me at quarterback, but they will give me a chance at any other positions. I'm probably looking to make my decision in the summer time so I can get it over with.
As Devin said the Michigan coaches have told him he can try quarterback. He's an all round athlete so it wouldn't be wasting a scholarship if that didn't work out.
6'6", 260 lbs.
Williams is a big tight end prospect who has been offered by Michigan, Boston College, Illinois, NC State, and Toledo among others. He's a little raw, but obviously has the size.
It means a lot that [Michigan] offered. I love the way the staff is honest and I love how it's a big powerhouse. It means a lot that they were recruiting me from the beginning too. Kind of like a friend that was with you since childhood, if someone else comes a long you still like the childhood friend better. I'm going to try to make it up there after basketball season, and really get everything going then.
Williams sounds very interested in Michigan and is also hearing from Iowa, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. The coaching staff has already made AJ feel comfortable, as he mentioned about honesty. They told him they would be recruiting him, that they would offer, and everything they've said to him that would happen has happened. That's made an impact on him.
6'1", 182 lbs.
Gant was talked about a lot before the 2012 recruiting class started, and has seen his recruitment consistently gain profile. He doesn't have a top list yet, but still sees Michigan as one of his top schools.
I talked to Coach Funk and Coach Mattison sent me something last week. I don't have the exact date set up, but I will be visiting there soon. I think they might offer me either after they see my film, or after I go to camp. I'm just focusing on a place where I know I can be happy, and I can contribute right away.
Grant's play speaks for itself, and he should be in the top 20 players in Ohio. Considering the amount of talent in their state this year, that's pretty impressive. Although I'm sure he'd like to make a name for himself, Michigan fans probably know him best for being related to Charles Woodson and being the son of a former Michigan football player.
Names to Keep An Eye On:
DE Javonte Magee (6'5", 262 lbs) Texas: big time defensive end from Texas is close to an offer. Will probably be hard to pull from Texas, though.
OL Prince Eshan (6'3", 295 lbs) Texas: teammate of Javonte Magee says that he hopes to get a Michigan offer. He likes the snow, and wants to check out some teams to the north.
DT Jonathan Taylor (6'4", 315 lbs) Georgia: Huge defensive tackle with a very impressive offer list could be hearing from Michigan soon.
- Illinois OL Dan Voltz says that Michigan will be one of his top teams.
- Michigan DT Matt Godin talked to me about his offer and Michigan.
- A look at some of the running backs Michigan is after so far. That list has gone up since RB Vonte Jackson was offered.
- Georgia DT Jordan Watkins talks about Michigan, and the fact that he could be closing in on an offer.
- Ohio State commit OL Kyle Kalis was offered by Michigan. Three of his teammates also hold Michigan offers, and could affect where he goes.
This is the conclusion to Carving Up Ohio Part I from last week.
As a refresher, I split up Ohio into 7 regions, then went over the 4- and 5-stars since 2002 (based on Rivals.com) to see if there's a regional difference in how Michigan recruits, and also if there are any opportunities I can see where the Wolverines could do better. Ultimately, my hope is that this could serve as reference for future discussions of Michigan's Ohio recruiting. Last week was Toledo, Dayton, Cincy and the Columbus regions. This week I finish up with Cleveland, Eastern Ohio, and conclusions. Also remember by "2012 Prospects" I mean "mentioned on main page of MGoBlog this month." There have been a few more added from the offer cannon since then, thanks to umhero's Offer List, and Tim's just-released 2012 Recruiting Board. Also, I went back and found a lot more former Wolverines (going back to 1991 grads), which I have added to the Spreadsheet. That Spreadsheet lives here.
Notes before you start: Figures given are for 4- and 5-star recruits from 2002 through 2011, based on Rivals. "5-Star Recruits" are those given 6.1 on Rivals Scale, if available. Current and former Wolverines include all recruits I could remember or find because a good way to get the blue chips interested in your school is to have their old teammates come and have a good experience there. Conferences without a percentage in the Conf. Breakdown got one guy.
Notes so you don't complain about arbitrary regional divisions: Where the "Steel Corridor" is separated is up for debate: I put Cleveland and Akron together as I might include Ann Arbor as part of Detroit, and made a separate region for Wayne County, Canton, Warren and Youngstown. In the southwest, Cincy (with its own cultural image) is separated from Dayton.
Cleveland/NE Erie: 37 players, 70.3% Ohio State
And you wonder why they say God hates Cleveland? By far the largest football factory in the state, The Mistake by the Lake allows less than 30% of its high-profile recruits to take their talents somewhere other than the big black eye of the Big Ten.
That's mostly thanks to the Glenville Academic Campus, a powerhouse program run by Ted Ginn Sr. that pumps blue chips directly to Columbus on an annual basis. Of the 14 Glenville 5.8+ products since '02, 10 were Buckeyes, including standouts Ted Ginn, Donte Whitner, Jamario O'Neal, and Troy Smith. The last 4-star or higher to come out of Glenville and go blue was Pierre Woods in 2001. Cleveland's big Jesuit school St. Ignatius gave us the Massey brothers and Jake Ryan, and sent as many 4-stars to Pitt (Mark Myers) or Notre Dame (Dan Fox) as Ohio State (Tony Gonzalez). St. Ed's in Lakewood is a power program (2010 D-I State Champs), that takes in players from all over the state (e.g. DT prospect Greg Kuhar is from Concord Twp., between Akron and Columbus), and ships out at least one good Big Ten player a year. No past Wolverines – Alex Boone was the last big pursuit - but Hoke has offers to four of their 2011 seniors.
You really can't separate Cleveland recruiting from Ginn, who has made a life's work out of taking in at-risk inner city youth, and bussing them around to Ohio campuses. Michigan fans tend to wonder if Ginn Sr. steps over the line from educator to active OSU recruiter (recruiting fans will remember the unpredictable, visit-canceling decision processes of safety prospect Latwan Anderson (Miami-YTM), and OL Aundrey Walker (USC)). On the other hand, Pierre Woods was sleeping in a car when Ginn found him, and even the most jaded among us would still rather have Troy Smith win a Heisman for Tressel than seen him continue on the path he was on: one more gangbanger on the Cleveland streets. Still, until Ann Arbor becomes a bus stop on the Tour de Ginn and the Wolverines burst the Glenville pipeline, the Cleveland pickins will remain slim and scattered.
Any positives? Well Desmond Howard was born and raised in Cleveland. And a guy named Glenn from the Akron suburb of Baberton became the most quintessential "Michigan Man" since Yost. The area was once a major pipeline for Bo and Mo. More recently, Brady Hoke secured a commitment this month from tight end Frank Clark, a Glenville product who has vowed to redirect that notorious Cleveland pipeline northward.
- Current Wolverines: Christian Pace (Avon Lake), Frank Clark (Glenville), Jake Ryan (St. Ignatius)
- 2012 Prospects: DEs Greg McMullen and LaTroy Lews (Hoban), DE Pharaoh Brown (Lyndhurst Brush), DE Tom Strobel (Mentor), DT Greg Kuhar, OLs Kyle Kalis and Tyler Orlosky, and TE Sam Grant (St. Edward-Lakewood), Kyle Dodson (Cleveland Heights)
- Former Wolverines: Desmond Howard and Elvis Grbac (St. Joseph), Scott Loeffler and Joe Ries (Baberton), Ricky Powers and Eric Graves (Akron-Buchtel), Jason Foster (Medina), Dave Henkel (Cleveland Heights), Ray Edmonds (Hoban), Randy Stark (Mentor), Dave Petruziello (Lake Catholic in Mentor), Dennis Washington (Lorain), Brian Wallace (Padua Franciscan-Parma), Michael and Patrick Massey, John Jaeckin, Trent Zenkewicz, Jason Brooks and Pat Kratus (St. Ignatius), Caleb White (Akron-Washington), and Zoltan the Inconceivable (Romania, Space, Twinsburg)
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Cleveland (Glenville, St. Ignatius, Cleveland Heights), Akron (Hoban), Twinsburg, Lakewood (Lakewood H.S., St. Ed's)
- FBS Schools in Region: Kent State (MAC), Akron (MAC)
- Other FBS Schools Nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Pittsburgh (Big East), Toledo (MAC), Bowling Green (MAC), Buffalo (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Latwan Anderson (Mimai-FL), Beanie Wells, Robert Rose, Ted Ginn Jr., Alex Boone and Mike D'Andrea (Ohio State)
- Conference Breakdown: 86.5% Big Ten, 5.4% Big East, (ACC, Pac Ten, MAC)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 26, Michigan 1, Notre Dame 1
Eastern Ohio: 24 Players, 37.5% Ohio State
If there's a football capital of the world, this region would have a strong claim to it; the predecessor to the NFL was established in a 1920 meeting at a Canton car dealership. Penn State has a lot of natural fans out here, as does Pitt. Notre Dame has recruited here for a century. Contrasting sharply with the nearby Cleveland area, Eastern Ohio sends more high-profile kids to other Big Ten schools than it does Ohio State. Tressel, who came up through the area's FCS power YSU, still has enough connections in the region that Ohio State fares well at the smaller programs. The big ones, on the other hand, have been relatively unkind to the Buckeyes, at least as compared to the rest of the state.
Here Michigan has had success, mostly from a connection to Warren G. Harding H.S. (Burgess, Manningham, D.J. Williamson, Davion Rogers) in Warren. That school has sent a fair amount of 3-stars to Michigan State, so some defense is necessary. Harding's responsible for two Buckeye RBs, Maurice Clarett (you remember him) and Dan Herron. In Youngstown, Cardinal Mooney is kind to Penn State, but Rodriguez recruited Taylor Hill out of there (to both West Virginia and Michigan), and more recently Ray Vinopal. Across town is confirmed Michigan pipeline Liberty; all three of its FBS commits since '02 (Isaiah Bell, Antonio Kinard, Fitz Toussaint) have chosen Michigan. Ursuline (Penn State's Daryll Clark) is a very successful Div V Catholic program called "The Irish," yet strangely sends few players to Notre Dame.
Wayne County is a football-mad region southwest of Akron. The Wooster-Orrville rivalry in Wayne is famous in the state, but doesn't produce as many top NCAA prospects as neighboring Stark County, i.e. Canton. The Canton area includes Washington HS in Massillon and their archrivals at Canton McKinley. The former has produced a few Wolverines (Crable, Turner), the latter a few Buckeyes (Mike Doss, Tyler Everett). GlenOak [sic] is a suburban school in Plains Twp. that is basically the north side of Canton. On the opposite side of the city is Canton South, a separate district that includes Pike Twp. and produces more than its fair share of FBS talent.
- Current Wolverines: Fitzgerald Toussaint and Isaiah Bell (Youngstown Liberty), Jerald Robinson, (Canton South), D.J. Williamson (Warren Harding), Ray Vinopal (Cardinal Mooney)
- 2012 Prospects: S Deshaun Hall (Canton-GlenOak), DE Se'Von Pittman (McKinley), LB Mason Monheim (Orrville), RB William Mahone (Austintown Finch)
- Former Wolverines: Ben Mast, Shawn Crable, John Woodlock and Justin Turner (Massillon), Mario Manningham, Prescott Burgess, Davion Rogers and Carl Diggs (Warren Harding), Alfie Burch (Warren West Reserve), Bryan Wright (Salem), Taylor Hill (Cardinal Mooney), Antonio Kinard (Youngstown Liberty), Buster Stanley (Youngstown East), Deollo Anderson (Youngstown Ursuline), James Otis Williams (Canton-GlenOak), Shawn Lazarus (Canal Fulton)
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Massillon, Youngstown (Ursuline, Cardinal Mooney, Liberty, Austintown), Canton (GlenOak, South, McKinley), Warren (Harding), Coshocton, Carrolltown
- FBS Schools in Region: (none)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Penn State (Big Ten), Pitt (Big East), West Va. (Big East), Ohio (MAC), Akron (MAC), Kent St (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Prescott Burgess (Michigan), Maurice Clarett (Ohio State)
- Conference Breakdown: 91.7% Big Ten, Big East, Big XII
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 9, Michigan 6, Notre Dame 1
Southeastern Ohio: (0 Players rated 4-stars+)
The area has produced very little in the way of top talent. Driving through here you'll see a lot of Ohio State stickers on mailboxes sticking out from the (beyond knee-high by the Fourth of July) tasseled corn stalks. That which isn't farmland is forested. Much of the population lives in Appalachian-influenced rust belt towns like Portsmouth and Ironton (a big rivalry) along the Ohio River. West Virginia and Marshall are not that far away, and many Ohio-side towns from Rome to Bellaire are either tributary towns, or small Windsor-like reflections of larger West Virginian population centers.
Current Wolverines: (none)
2012 Prospects: (none)
Former Wolverines: (none)
Notable Recruiting Sites: Portsmouth, Ironton/South Point, Athens, Marietta
FBS Schools in Region: Ohio University
Other FBS Schools nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Penn State (Big Ten), Cincinnatti (Big East), Pitt (Big East), West Va. (Big East), Marshall (C-USA), Ohio (MAC), Akron (MAC)
5-Star Recruits: (none)
Conference Breakdown: N/A
School Breakdown: N/A
Totals & Conclusions
I was writing this before blublooded put together a shorter, similar thing on Michigan in-state recruiting. As he notes in that article, which used the same metrics, 76 4- and 5-stars were produced in Michigan. For comparison, in the same timeframe, Ohio produced 136.
This is why Ohio recruiting is important for the University of Michigan: our biggest rival has a state that produces almost twice as many top prospects as ours. An whereas we share the mitten with an in-conference rival, OSU is situated smack dab in the middle of this bucket of NCAA talent, with only a Big East commuter school and a bunch of MACrifices around its edges to compete with. Remaining a player for talent across the state keeps that talent away from the one rival who can make or break our season, and establishes pipelines within our region's biggest talent centers. When Michigan is a national title contender, we're winning with Ohians.
|Region||Big Ten||SEC||ACC||Big East||Big XII||Pac Ten||MAC|
You'll note not a lot of talent escapes the conference. Only Cincinnati, which has the state's only other BCS tie and is situated across the river from the SEC, had a significant amount of talent going elsewhere (Toledo's 28% departure rate is due to one USC guy and one player who went to Wake Forest).
Consistent with what you'd expect from a big state with one major program in the middle of it, about half of the 4- and 5-stars from Ohio go to Ohio State, while a third go somewhere else in conference. Among other Big Ten schools who got more than 1 blue chip Ohioan since '02, Michigan State was the only one to leave the major highways in the north of the state. Notre Dame got half of its haul out of the Cincy Catholic schools, but like MSU got another four from various places. Penn State's three were all from near the Pennsylvania border.
Ohio State showed its strongest presence in Dayton and Cleveland, but the Canton-Youngstown region, Cincy, and Toledo were dramatically more open, even showing pipelines to other schools. It's a daunting task, but it seems the best thing Michigan could do would be to focus on competing with Ohio State for kids near the hometowns of Bo Schembechler and Brady Hoke. Goal 1 would be to crack Glenville in Cleveland, and hit Western Ohio hard, thus tapping two excellent recruiting pipelines while simultaneously cutting directly into Jim Tressel's most consistent resource.
Michigan's better years in recent memory coincided with strong success in Ohio recruiting, but this should be obvious if looking at any out-of-state recruiting: more wins = more national interest in the program. However I do think I've gotten to the bottom of how this whole "Must Own Ohio" meme got stuck in our brains in the first place:
The chart shows Michigan's roster for each year using stats from Bentley. That big blotch of yellow from 1969 to 1989 peaking in the middle of the Ten Year War was Bo Schembechler building his program by stealing tools out of Woody's garage then using them to beat his old sensei senseless. After four or five years of this, Bo actually had more Ohioans playing for Michigan than Michiganders. (Aside: the thing also shows Rich Rod inheriting the smallest roster since World War II).
|1891||Murphy & Crawford||11.11%||63.89%|
|1901-'26||Fielding Yost & George Little||7.41%||37.89%|
Versus those who came before, Bo dramatically increased out-of-state recruiting, first in Ohio and then all over the country. Versus those who came after, Bo was doing more than twice the going rate. My point: Recruiting the shit out of Ohio is a diademed Schembechlerian value. 'Course once Hayes retired Bo noticeably shifted toward national recruiting, a direction which his heirs maintained. As for Hoke, it's really hard to glean much from an offer list since S.O.P. for out-of-state offers is to give 'em out like candy, but of the 100 on umhero's list, here's a statewise Top 5:
|3(t)||Florida & Michigan||9|
|5(t)||Maryland & Texas||6|
Hoke uber Bo alleles!
Since football's hibernating and playoff season is near for the other two revenue sports, the diarists have been mostly focusing on these other things, as we try to figure out what various postseasons will resemble.
Hockeywise, mfan_in_ohio has been keeping up with pairwise. As of last week, Hagelin et al. were about as high in the PW as we could go (emphasis mine):
"It’s almost impossible to flip two of these comparisons. The best we are likely to do, if we win out, is a tie for fourth and winning the RPI tiebreaker to get the top seed in a regional. Of course, none of the regionals are particularly close (the closest are St. Louis and Green Bay), but the top seed means not having get by an east coast team on the east coast to get to the Frozen Four. This, however, is about as likely as the basketball team making the NCAAs. The most likely scenario now is a 2-seed."
Then something magic happened:
Meanwhile, around college hockey, Merrimack got swept (crushed, really) by Maine, allowing Michigan to flip its comparison with Merrimack and move up to a solo fourth in the Pairwise rankings … Michigan is in the driver’s seat for the fourth spot in the Pairwise and the #1 seed hat goes along with it.
Precarious things including Ohio State winning (they're back below the Maginot line but if they can climb back into the Top 50 our 5-1 record counts). But they no longer seem as far fetched as M basketball in the NCAA Tournament.
Speaking of hoops hopes, Michigan was seconds away from finally getting that signature win that makes the difference between feasible and pipe dream, when…
I wasn't there to see it. But one man in Row 42 poetically captured the feel of it:
Backs to the wall, battled the Maize and Blue.
Though they may fall, they fought to find their way through.
They'll stand, and fight those who stand in their way.
They'll stand, and with all their hearts they will play.
Blazefire's point is that this team is the kind that's really easy to root for. Like remember the first time Hart got the ball instead of Underwood or Jackson or ol' what's his name who was the same year as Hart and higher rated out of high school, and you weren't expecting much but then the little fella was still going forward long after three Big Ten linebackers did the thing that would normally bring down even a Perry or Thomas, and you were like…this basketball team is kind of like that.
Not all hopes died that day. For one, there's still the possibility of a Big Ten Tourney run. As we try to puzzle out what such a run might look like, AC1997 started with the edges and then worked in:
Right now we know who the top three teams are (OSU, Purdue, Wisconsin). We also know who the bottom four teams are (Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa, Indiana). At this point those seven spots aren’t really likely to change barring some upsets in the final week. But the middle four spots are totally up for grabs among Michigan, MSU, Illinois, and Penn State.
He then breaks down those four and concludes a scenario where we beat State in the finale then Illinois in the first game of the playoffs could be enough to beat the bubble field.
Speaking of the bubble, mfan_in_ohio (apparently buried under the snow this week with only an internet connection and NCAA comparison charts) has been making the M case against the field this week. Part I compares us to Butler. Then in an epic Part II is Gonzaga, Alabama, and UAB. These, plus the pairwises above – apropos given the header topic – make this Maize and Blue Ohioan the Diarist of the Week.
Elsewhere, Michigan Wrestling finished the season last week by pinning Little Brother and giving him a noogie (no word yet on whether we did that thing where you let your spit hang over his face before you suck it back up again). The Big Ten tournament is up next.
And finally a Magic Muppet Mazel Tov to the Michigan Men's Swimming team, i.e. your BIG TEN CHAMPION Men's Swimming Team.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Minnesota|
4:30 PM EST (3:30 Local)
February 26th, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan +5.5.|
This is The Most Important Game of the Year
Until the Next Game. They're all equally important now. Unable to get the wins in excruciatingly close games against Illinois and Wisconsin, the Wolverines must sweep their final two regular-season games for a realistic shot at an at-large bid. A loss in either of the final two regular season games likely means no NCAA Tournament, barring an epic run through the Big Ten Tournament.
Fortunately for the Wolverines, the two games are winnable - though that doesn't mean they're sure things. The Wolverines have already beaten Michigan State in the Breslin Center, and the Gophers are very vulnerable right now. How vulnerable? Since Al Nolen went out of the Gophers' lineup (in the first game against Michigan), they're without a true point guard, and only have wins against Northwestern and at Iowa.
Minnesota has gone to a 4-big lineup, though it hasn't been all that successful, seeing losses to Purdue, Ohio State, and Illinois on the obvious end of the spectrum, but also road losses to Indiana and Penn State, and allowing Michigan State to control the final 5 minutes of the game in The Barn for a comeback Spartan win.
With a few games under each team's belt, it's finally reasonable to look at the stats. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Minnesota: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Minnesota Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Minn Def eFG%||57||73||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Minn eFG%||167||108||G|
|Mich TO% v. Minn Def TO%||22||282||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Minn TO%||244||217||G|
|Mich OReb% v. Minn DReb%||321||138||GG|
|Mich DReb% v. Minn OReb%||49||13||G|
|Mich FTR v. Minn Opp FTR||340||28||GGGG|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Minn FTR||40||31||-|
|Mich AdjO v. Minn AdjD||64||53||G|
|Mich AdjD v. Minn AdjO||54||48||-|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
Minnesota's numbers are mostly OK, but keep in mind that these include the entire time that Al Nolen was in the lineup - they're trending downward since he broke his foot. That's most evident in Turnover Rate, where the Gophers are bad an getting worse offensively. The Wolverines haven't been a machine forcing opponents into mistakes, but they have a chance to make a big dent there.
On the other end of the spectrum, playing with 4 bigs has been a huge benefit in the rebounding game. The Wolverines were killed on the defensive glass in the first half against Wisconsin, and Minnesota is an even better rebounding team. Michigan will have to pound the glass and eliminate second-chance opportunities for the Gopher bigs.
Michigan is also going to have trouble getting to the line (no surprise there) against a tall Minnesota lineup. Forcing Minnesota to extend their defense all the way out the arc is going to be important, both for getting offense on the perimeter and opening lanes for cutting. I think - even though it will be a defensive liability - Michigan might go with more Smotrycz at the 5, in order to have serious shooting threats at all positions.
Dylan previews on UMHoops.
The Wisconsin loss was a gut-punch of epic proportions, but this Wolverine team is as hungry as can be after that. Minnesota is reeling, and if Michigan wants to make the NCAA Tournament, they need to prove it by taking advantage of the Gophers' poor form of late. It's going to be a shooting type of night with Minnesota short on guards, and I think Michigan shoots more than 25 3-pointers, making about 40%. Darius Morris gets a points-assists double-double, and Michigan gets the 69-62 victory in The Barn.
So yesterday I wandered over to USHR, which is pretty much the only reliable source of information on college hockey recruits aside from some regular posters on Hockey's Future, and wandered around a bit. They're a subscription service that frees up their content after a while and I ran across some newly interesting assessments from this summer's "Select" camps, which are nationwide things that attempt to collect the nation's best talent. The 17s don't have NTDP kids and a lot of OHL kids either don't show or apparently embarrass themselves doing so—Max Iafrate was a fighting, dumb-penalty taking machine—so this is not a comprehensive ranking. It's not far off for college-bound kids at the 15 and 16 levels, though.
Anyway, persons of interest from the Select 15s:
4. J.T. Compher (#10 Red) 6-0/160 - 2-5-7 -- From Team Illinois Midget Minor. Aggressive and good-sized, with a sense of the game and anticipation. Competitive, too. Blocks shots. Plans to play in USHL for Waterloo this season. [Ed: Compher ended up sticking with midget minor.]
27. Tyler Motte (#18 Kelly Green) 5-10/165 - 3-2-5 -- From Honeybaked. Started slowly, but picked up the pace.
Compher's Team Illinois teammate Gabe Guertler was ranked #2 because of he's "a dynamic offensive player who made things happen every shift," FWIW. If Michigan can swing a package deal there that would be nice.
The Select 16s just had one player listed but it was a big one:
1. Boo Nieves (#12 Forest Green) 6-3/185 -- 1-1-2 -- Fascinating player. Has size and explosive speed. His ability to turn a d-man - to just blow past guys -- is breathtaking. Some people, notably the NTDP, have criticized Nieves' lack of engagement, which was actually not bad in Rochester. But consider the context: a 6'3" kid who can absolutely fly and is playing midget minor is expected to do one thing -- get the puck from one end to the other, and fast. And, man, can he ever do that. That said, several times we saw Nieves fly down the wing, turn the D, cut in -- and suddenly find himself in so tight that his options had dwindled severely. It's like the rink is too small for those strides of his. When Nieves gets to Kent, and plays with older kids for the first time, and works with Matt Herr, he will learn to use his speed to maximum advantage, to curl back and find space, etc., the way a pitcher uses his off-speed stuff to set up his fastball (sorry, it's July and 95 degrees). At the end of the day, Nieves has all the tools - size, big-time speed, nice hands, and a ridiculously high level of athleticism. Sometimes, though, the perfect is the enemy of the good, and Nieves needs to realize that it's OK to make mistakes, that it's through mistakes that you discover what you can become. We thought Nieves, and his highly talented linemates (Quentin Shore and Zach Stepan) were much too fine here, almost paralyzingly so - and they couldn't buy a goal. Nieves has high first round potential for the 2012 draft and, over the next two years, will, à la Chris Kreider, have every single game of his dissected. He's an exciting talent. It will be fun to see how good he can become. (Named to team going to Switzerland.)
Apparently Nieves's stock has not fallen much in the aftermath of his controversial omission from the NTDP. He's playing at a prep school under that Matt Herr so I imagine he's not an OHL threat, either—will be nice to actually get one of these top end guys on campus.
And the Select 17s:
8. Justin Selman (#18 Gold) 6-0/192 - 2-3-5 -- From NJ Avalanche; going to Des Moines. Really made a statement. Physical, hard-working two-way forward. A late '93. Not a natural scorer but does everything else.
Sounds like an Eric Nystrom, though undoubtedly with less hype—Nystrom was a surprising top-ten pick.
The other takeaway: be deathly afraid of Boston College. I checked out Chris Heisenberg in the aftermath of reading all these reports to see if various big names were available and it was all BC, BC, BC. Michigan is probably looking for another forward in the 2011 class, and I wonder if they'll try to pick off one of Michigan State's fairly good recruits now that Comley is out the door and no one knows who will replace him. They've got a little overage guy who is putting up a lot of points in the USHL (Matt Berry) and Shattuck C Tanner Sorenson got a good review from USHR—fourth in the Select 17s group. Either might be put off to 2012 at MSU; Michigan has room now. Could pull the reverse Lerg.
BONUS POSSIBLE SKETCH ALERT: Wisconsin's been the SEC of college hockey for a while with their controversial oversigning tactics and now Ohio State has hired a branch off that coaching tree. Mark Osiecki flat-out cut three players before the season, suggesting they weren't putting in sufficient work. Okay, maybe so. But while Ohio State graduates ten skaters and a goalie they're bringing in fifteen freshman, which would bulge the roster to 31 players. Watch to see if anyone gets cut over the summer.
|WHAT||Michigan @ NMU|
|WHERE||Berry Events Center
|WHEN||7:35 PM Fri/Sat|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Online streaming only ($7)|
Record. 14-15-5, 12-11-3 CCHA. Northern Michigan is miraculously fifth in the league despite having a –20 goal differential. They're +0 (-0?) in their nonconference schedule. Math thus requires a bunch of humiliating blowouts and indeed Northern's schedule features a 9-1 loss to Miami, an 8-1 loss to Notre Dame, a 6-1 loss to Western Michigan, and several other large margins of defeat coupled with narrow victories.
In six games against the league's upper tier (Miami and Notre Dame) the Wildcats are 1-5. There were the two massive blowouts plus a 4-0 loss to Miami, 5-2 and 3-1 losses to Notre Dame, and a single 3-2 win against the Irish in which Northern was outshot 53-15(!).
The Wildcats come in hot… sort of. The good: they've gone 3-0-1 in their last four and those were all on the road. The bad: they were against the worst two teams in the league and they come out of their series against awful BGSU with a tie and a 3-2 win. They'd lost their last four before that.
FWIW, it's spring break this weekend so the crowd will be relatively muted.
Dangermen. According to NMU head coach Kyle Walt via some guy on USCHO, NMU leading scorer Tyler Gron will miss his second consecutive weekend. That hurts, as he was on a PPG pace and the next guy is well back of that. In his absence Northern's main threats are juniors Justin Florek (12-14-26) and Andrew Cherniwchan (7-13-20) and seniors Phil Fox (11-7-18) and Greger Hanson (5-15-20).
This is not exactly going up against Miami here. NMU is 46th in scoring even and is missing their top guy. Chances are goals will come off of Michigan mistakes, of which there will be a few.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Junior Reid Ellingson and freshman Jared Coreau have split time. Ellingson gets about two-thirds of it and has a significantly better GAA and save percentage, so chances are Michigan sees him both nights unless Northern gets bombed Friday.
Northern's defense corps is young. They've got two seniors taking a regular shift and then it's sophomores and freshmen. NMU is better defensively than they are offensively but they're still giving up exactly three goals per game.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||3.9||4.1|
|PP Ag / G||5.5||4.4|
That's a huge gap for NMU, one that helps explain that goal differential. NMU gets penalties from all over but they're concentrated in the defense: only senior Andrew Fernandez has fewer than 35 PIMs and freshman CJ Ludwig has 78. It may even be worse than the PP numbers suggest since by the looks of it Northern is taking a lot of penalties longer than two minutes.
As to what happens when the specialty units get on the ice, NMU's power play is pretty effective at 18.8 percent (21st), but their penalty kill is very bad: they're 50th of 58th at 78.7 percent. They take a ton of penalties and don't kill them well, which is a recipe for getting bombed by Miami and their #5 PP.
Meanwhile, Michigan is mediocre at both, slightly worse than NMU on the on the power play but better killing penalties and less likely to end up with a deficit in power plays.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Don't give up two pure breakaways against a 5'7" goalie. Just sayin'. More to the point: like Michigan's series against Alaska earlier in the year it looks like this opponent isn't going to generate much you don't give them. No hockey team can go a game without making mistakes that lead to scoring issues but Michigan's had more issues than they're comfortable with lately; reducing those is kind of important.
Get a bounce-back from Hunwick. A rough outing here and there happens to the best; a second consecutive would be an ominous sign as Michigan hits the playoffs.
Demote everyone to fourth-line center. Then they'll be Kevin Lynch and imbued with super powers.
Let the Sparks fly. Hurr durr hurr! But seriously folks, Sparks has verve. He has panache. He has extra savior faire. I know defense and all that but frankly before Lynch blew up that fourth line has been a liability that gets stuck in its zone more often than not.
BONUS: "The Northerns." If you're listening to this on the radio be sure to listen for one of the most bizarre verbal ticks you'll ever hear: PBP guy Al Randall will call Michigan's opponent this weekend "The Northerns." It never fails to amuse and slightly alarm.
The Big Picture
The CCHA is simple. Michigan wins the league if they get one more point than Notre Dame does this weekend. They have a home and home with a reeling Western Michigan team. ND will get the Broncos' best shot: despite their four-game losing streak WMU is still hanging on to the last at-large bid*.
As far as the Pairwise, it is a fickle beast and Michigan will probably lose ground no matter what this weekend. You want the following results:
- Denver to lose to Nebraska-Omaha
- Nebraska-Omaha to lose to Denver
- Minnesota-Duluth to lose to CC
- Boston College to lose to UMass
- Ferris State to beat OSU
- OSU to beat Ferris State
Ferris and OSU skated to 2-2 tie yesterday so you probably want OSU to win the remaining game.
Obviously some of those are direct contradictions; even with a sweep there are several sets of results that will see Michigan give back the ground it somewhat illicitly staked thanks to OSU getting into the TUC category. Looking at the comparisons, it's going to be hard for Michigan to stay in front of UNO if they sweep, so you probably want splits in both the DU/UNO and OSU/Ferris series and now we're proscribing very specific sets of results and you can see why Michigan's probably locked into about where they are now even if they end the year on a ten-game win streak.
Losing is bad for many reasons, one of which is that losing to NMU will give them a good shot at being a TUC at the end of the year with a record Michigan would rather not have featured, but it also doesn't matter a whole lot because Michigan's almost certainly going to be a two or three. What does matter is the conference race—the winner gets to avoid Miami in the league semifinal.
*[assuming that no one outside the top 16 snags an autobid, which is a dodgy assumption.]
On Motte’s character: “He was voted captain by the boys and basically that’s a result of not only his hard work on the ice but off the ice. He’s just a pure leader. There’s not much bad I can talk about Tyler.”
Motte will try to make the NTDP team in March.