the season has truly begun now
Michigan (25-14, 7-5)
Ohio State(23-13, 7-5)
|Friday 6:35pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|TBA||vs||Alex Wimmers (9-0, 1.61 ERA)|
|Notes: Michigan is 157-89-1 all time, Last year: 1-2 series loss.|
|Saturday, 6pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|TBA||vs||Drew Rucinski (3-2, 4.34 ERA)|
|Notes: Barry Larkin jersey retirement starts at 5:45p|
|Sunday 1:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|TBA||vs||Dean Wolosiansky (3-5, 5.95 ERA)|
The Buckeyes come to Ann Arbor this weekend with the rivals tied for first place in the Big Ten. The stakes are huge. The winner is in the driver's seat for the regular season championship and a number one seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The loser could conceivably fall as far back as a tie for 7th place if the cards fall the wrong way.
As an added bonus, Michigan will be celebrating the career of Barry Larkin. His #16 jersey will be added to the walls of the Fish, where it shall remain forever retired into Michigan lore.
Final notes and thoughts after the jump:
Sophomore Robbie Czarnik, sort of. Czarnik signed with Plymouth approximately a third of the way through the season. In the twelve games he played he had a 3-3-6 and was +1. Michigan was actually just 5-7 with him; they were 21-11-1 without him.
Senior Brian Lebler. Lebler (playing daddy right) was the latest in Michigan's parade of seniors who improved radically in their final year at Michigan, racking up 14-10-24 in 42 games while providing the proverbial physical presence. He combined with freshmen AJ Treais and Chris Brown during the second half of the year on an effective third line.
Senior Anthony Ciraulo. Walk-on Ciraulo skated in seven games, picking up one assist.
Various Flight Risks. Now begins Michigan's annual watch for NHL departures silly or justified. First, allow me to pick up a clover as I pound every bit of furniture in the vicinity. Ah, there. Now: Michigan shouldn't lose anyone this offseason. Kevin Lynch, David Wohlberg, and Ben Winnett haven't played at a level that would see an NHL team jump on them. Chris Brown is a Coyotes draft pick; the 'Yotes have let their last three Michigan prospects play four years. They're also owned by the league and cheap. If they can let Brown develop free of charge, they will.
Then there are the three juniors. Carl Hagelin is an academic All-American from Sweden. He's likely to want his degree. Matt Rust and Louie Caporusso. Louie Caporusso was a third round pick of the Senators and may be a guy an NHL team would look to sign after his blazing finish, but Mike Spath of the Wolverine was asserting that Caporusso was likely to stay even before the Senators swooped in on UNH free agent Bobby Butler, another smallish offensive forward and one the Senators have put directly on their NHL roster. This makes it more unlikely Ottawa will press hard for Caporusso to sign and reduces their ability to sell a potential NHL opening.
All three flight risk juniors have unambiguously stated they will be back, so… yeah. Michigan Hockey Summer happened midseason this year.
Moffatt's rise and fall has been documented on this blog in a series of increasingly puzzled steps as he plummeted from the #2 overall pick in the WHL draft and a certain NHL first-round pick to 95th in the latest CSB rankings. What happened? You've got me. Some hints can be found on this USHL scouting blog:
Behind Zucker, Moffatt was the most visible offensive threat among the 2010 eligibles. Moffatt had the knack of being in the right spots and had several opportunities to create offense. However, once he had the puck, he did not always make the right play. He forced a few bad angle shots from the boards that were easily turned aside and transitioned by Ohio State. On those occasions, Moffatt had more time to survey the play and wait for support. Moffatt is a kid who will benefit from the coaching at Michigan and should play out his eligibility.
Insert Dean Lombardi joke here.
There's not much to say in Moffatt's favor, unfortunately. He's been healthy. He's been heavily scouted. He had a couple of okay years with the NTDP, but did not play anything like the star he was supposed to be. At the latest U18 World Championships, Moffatt finished with one goal and one assist on a USA team that won the title and scored buckets of goals along the way. No one even mentioned him as a disappointment.
All that said, we're talking about a fall from uber-hype to moderate hype. Moffatt is not Tristin Llewellyn, who committed to Michigan incredibly early as a potential first-rounder and didn't even get drafted. He'll go somewhere in the second to fourth rounds of the draft; Michigan's had plenty of stars who have fared worse. Carl Hagelin, for one, was a sixth-rounder. Moffatt will come in battle-tested and should have a shot at earning a spot on a scoring line.
Jacob Fallon, Indiana Ice/USNTDP.
Fallon's also been falling, but for reasons other than his talent level after getting booted from the NTDP midseason for the ever-popular undisclosed violation of team rules. He'd been serving a suspension that almost got him kicked off the team before that—rumored to be a drinking incident, FWIW—and had only six games to his name before he moved to the USHL's Indiana Ice. In 24 games since the move, Fallon has a 1-8-9 line and is minus six. He's done nothing on the ice this year; off the ice he's raised a bunch of questions.
So… yeah, it's a little weird that Fallon was invited to the NHL combine (Moffatt wasn't), was 50th in the Central Scouting midterm ratings (he fell a bit in the final edition, but not much) and is picking up positive scouting reports as recently as April 1st:
First off, Fallon is quick. He can burn defensemen outside, and if he has a teammate with him, the chances are, they're going to score. Fallon has great hands with which he can make crisp, tape-to-tape passes that set up his teammates with great chances to score. His speed, mixed with his ability to make great passes, draws comparisons to Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane. So, he is definitely highly regarded in the NHL community. Fallon doesn't have the best shot, which can bring his value down, and his below average size, 5'10"/180, also brings his draft value down a bit also. But you really can't argue with his raw ability, it's just that he has developing to do as he gets older and plays in college. He will be a great player someday, he just needs to develop his great potential and he'll be in the NHL someday.
Here's a February report from a different source:
Fallon seems to play and look bigger than 5’10 180. He’s a powerful skater with good balance and he uses his edges well. He is also very strong on the puck whether he is handling it in traffic or if he needs to make a hard pass or dump-in. Fallon played well without the puck and was a very responsible player in all 3 zones as well as a physical presence. At times, he seemed tentative in getting to open ice in the neutral zone….possibly a result of becoming acclimated to his new team. When he had the puck, Fallon possessed another gear and was able to take the puck hard into the zone while protecting it. Fallon certainly looks like a hockey player and stands out with strong techniques in all facets of his game and a player who does the little things well. Whether or not his offensive skills develop will dictate Fallon’s role as a second liner or third liner in college and beyond.
On the other hand, Fallon falls to 37th on College Hockey 247's top 50 list—not bad, but a big dip from being the 50th best skater in North America to the 36th best* headed to college—and WCH trashed Fallon's midterm CSB ranking, declaring he'd be lucky to get drafted at all.
Fallon did have a productive year with the U17s in 2008-09, scoring 15-23-38 in 55 games. He'll probably kick around the second and third lines as a freshman.
*(One goalie, Cornell-bound Andy Iles, is ranked ahead of Fallon.)
Hypothetical 2011 Accelerant. Michigan has three forwards committed for the class of 2011: Lucas Lessio, Derek Deblois, and Alex Guptill. With Czarnik's departure there is a potential opening for one of those guys to end up in the class of 2010. Given the depth chart it's not a necessity; it is a possibility. If it's anyone it will likely be Guptill. There's no buzz around Deblois leaving early. Cedar Rapids play-by-play guy James Stachowiak provides an inside look:
There has not been any talk around here lately about his plans for next year. The way that he has been used it seems as though he is being groomed as a team leader for Cedar Rapids next year. He and Mac Bennett are the only first year guys that the RoughRiders coach has included on his "leadership group".
He has also spent the majority of the season playing on the Riders top line. This line happens to have the teams two leading scoring forwards and many of Derek's points have come either feeding them or cleaning up rebound goals. Derek has not been used much on the powerplay during the second half of the season but has become a very valuable asset on the penalty kill. He has very good speed as most RoughRider forwards do and plays very smart on the kill.
As I said, there has not been much talk about plans for next year with the team getting ready for the playoffs, one thing that may or may not sway a decision is that DeBlois and Bennett are very good friends and have been for a long time, in fact, i believe they have always been on the same team growing up and now in Cedar Rapids, if there's a chance to do that at Michigan next year, it might be enough to convince Derek to move on, however, that is just speculation. I think that he would benefit from another season in the USHL where he is a top scoring option.
Lessio is a 2011 draftee and seems content at St. Mike's. Guptill, on the other hand, is a guy who will get drafted this year, has good size guy, and is currently toiling in Canadian Junior A. If anyone comes early, it will be him.
The left wing here is a guess. The top line is Hagelin, Rust, random assortment of wingers who will change at Red's whim and possibly stop rotating wildly the second half of the season. If Luke Moffatt had torn up the USHL like his hype suggested he would, I would have guessed he goes here by sheer dint of talent. If it turns out he's Brett Hull with crappy linemates he'll probably end up on Hagelin's wing, cackling.
That does not seem in the cards. The tentative guess here is that Chris Brown improves enough from year one to year two to displace Kevin Lynch from his spot on the top line. Brown didn't actually score much more than Lynch at even strength (six and five goals, respectively) but Brown brings a physical element that should help Rust and Hagelin's dangerous cycling and provide either or both targets for goalmouth passes.
Just like the first line, you can pencil in Caporusso and Wohlberg as inviolable components of the second line and pick a name out of a hat when it comes to the third guy. My tentative guess is that whatever faults exist in Moffatt's game he's still likely to be a decently high pick in this year's NHL draft and that talent will translate quickly enough for him to find a place here.
Or something? The bottom six forwards are up in the air. With the addition of Fallon there will be at least one extra body next year, which will push the 49 total games from Ciraulo, Sparks, and Rohrkemper into the press box. The six players left are:
- AJ Treais, a tiny skilled center who needs more strength and speed to become an impact player.
- Fallon, who was discussed above.
- Kevin Lynch, who spent a large chunk of last year as the other guy on the Hagelin-Rust line and was a second-round pick.
- Luke Glendening, who was the other guy on the Wohlberg-Caporusso line and wore an A as a sophomore.
- Ben Winnett, a senior who was the point guy on the PP last year.
Only Scooter is a lock to be a fourth-liner. He established himself a reliable forechecker and penalty killer but with a 2-4-6 in 35 games and a 4.5% shooting percentage he is unlikely to work his way onto a scoring line. The other guys could end up anywhere from the top line to the fourth. As you can see above, I'm guessing the offensive talent of Fallon and Treais will outweigh the seniority of the fourth line.
Winnett was the fourth-liner who Red had the most faith in. Until Glendening took his spot, he moonlighted on the second and third lines; he also spent most of the year driving me crazy on the point on the power play. Hopefully Michigan manages to find someone else at that spot. Winnett still brings a modicum of skill and size the other guys hovering around the end of the roster don't.
Glendening spent most of last year on the second line after Czarnik left and Winnett failed to make a leap forward; dropping him to the fourth line might be excessively harsh but it's hard to see how he doesn't fall out of the top six with Moffatt and Fallon arriving.
Rotating Cast Of Scratches
There's actually an interesting guy at the tail end of the roster: Lindsay Sparks. Sparks lost his role on the fourth line to Jeff Rohrkemper at the end of the year, but for a brief stretch in the middle of the season when Michigan was really struggling he brought a little pop to the lineup. Once he stopped getting on the scoresheet his deficiencies in size and defense couldn't justify his place in the lineup, but he ended with a 4-4-8 in 23 games without much playing time. During his time on the ice he showed better dangles than anyone else on the roster; he's got way higher upside than any of the other guys around here and will be a guy to watch early next season. He might have the skill to play himself into the lineup.
Rohrkemper didn't do much in his 19 games; he's a guy at the end of the lineup who will draw in when injury or the World Juniors deplete the roster.
Will a previously obscure player have a Lebler-like breakout? Over the past few years, Michigan's seen a number of players make significant leaps forward after two or three years in the program. Brian Lebler went from 8 to 16 to 24 points. Travis Turnbull went from 17 points as a sophomore to 27 and 28 as a senior. David Rohlfs spent a productive season on TJ Hensick's wing, going from 2-10-12 to 17-17-34. Jed Ortmeyer went from 24 and 21 points as to 38 and 34.
These leaps tend to come from big, grinding forwards who get to hang out on the wing of Michigan Offensive Star Du Jour. (Lebler's advancement is all the more impressive for being almost entirely self-generated.) Michigan doesn't have a Hensick or Cammalleri next year—Caporusso needs more help to generate his offense than any of those guys—but Carl Hagelin threatens to become a Hobey candidate and led the team with 31 assists. Hagelin ended the year on a playmaking tear with 16 assists in his last 18 games, Michigan could decide to lift Kevin Lynch, who had just 6-10-16 as a freshman and endured a 7.6% shooting percentage, for a player more likely to convert the opportunities a rampant Hagelin leaves in his wake.
The two guys who could potentially benefit from this are not exactly obscure. The player on the roster with the closest resemblance to a coke machine is Chris Brown, whose freshman year ended with a 13-15-28 line and seven power play goals, most of them on deflections and dirty crease mucking. If he can improve his skating enough to stay in the same zone as Hagelin and Rust, he could make a PPG-or-better living on tap-ins. The lumbering senior on the roster is Ben Winnett, who came to Michigan as one of those guys who lit up the BCHL but hasn't gotten off checking lines in three years at M. Red likes to put promising kids in high pressure positions, so I'm guessing we'll see Brown get the call on the Wing of Free Points.
Which Caporusso? Louie Caporusso spent the first half of his junior season on a tear. Over the next year he played like a nondescript third-liner, not a upperclass third-round pick. Then he blew up again. Which one is it? If Michigan's going to continue playing like they did during their run to the NCAA tournament Caporusso is going to have to produce. Not at the level he has during either of his tears—Michigan's forward corps should be way better since they only lose Lebler and add two potential top six guys plus a year of experience for everyone on the team—but he can't revert to the form he showed in his lost year.
Will a skilled midget make a leap? No one is going to mistake AJ Treais or Lindsay Sparks for Mike Comrie, but both flea-sized freshmen had their moments last year. As they adjust to bigger, stronger competition one or the other could turn into a solid playmaking center. In Sparks' case that wouldn't have much impact five on five but he showed enough last year to suggest he might be a useful power play specialist.
Treais, on the other hand, is likely to be the third-line center and could have some skilled wingers like Moffatt, Fallon, and possibly Glendening or Lynch. A dropoff from one of the top two lines could be covered by the third line emerging into the sort of unit that obliterates iffy third pairings in the CCHA.
How awesome is Carl Hagelin going to be? So awesome.
[Ed: meant to bump this sooner but there was a lot of stuff yesterday.]
After the disastrous offensive performance of 2008, the 2009 Wolverine offense really had nowhere to go but up. Using my offensive ratings, the 2008 Michigan offense was 7.4 points per game below average, 107th out of 120 FBS teams. 2009 brought another year in the system and real quarterbacks and huge improvements. While far from consistently excellent, Michigan moved up to a modest 1.2 points per game above average, 50th nationally. No one outside of the eternal optimists like Fred Jackson could see another 57 place ranking improvement, but what has happened to teams that have shown big offensive improvements in year in the following year.
Presently my database has the 2007-2009 years completed, just enough for a 3 year case study. From 2007 to 2008 there were 28 teams that improved offensively by at least 5 points per game. I broke those team into three categories, teams that saw a second major (+5) increase in the third year, teams that saw a major (-5) regression back in the third year and teams that were in the middle and didn’t necessarily continue gaining, but didn’t fall back much either.
*Only BCS teams shown
With 14 of the 28 teams in this group, half of the teams that show big gains can expect a return to the mean the next season. In fact, these teams were worse offensively in 2009 than they were in 2007, let alone the beacon season of 2008. The average team in this group was 2.5 points per game worse in 2009 than they were in 2007 before they peaked.
The closest thing to a consistent thread is the quarterback possession as five of the eight, Oklahoma, Baylor, USC, Arizona and Utah, spent most or all of the season with a new quarterback.
In general, the regressers look like a group that is just regressing to the mean and that replacing a quarterback is damaging when your success has not been sustained for longer than a single season.
With the exception of Alabama, these teams were pretty average in returning starts and had no major position group gaps to fill. Alabama had a new quarterback and was 97th in returning offensive starts nationally, the ability to sustain the offensive success is likely attributable to the influx of talent Saban brought into Alabama since he arrived.
*Michigan 2007 results omitted (-1.1)
With a relatively new coach and a total offensive system overhaul, Georgia Tech is clearly the most similar situation to Michigan and their path is one that Michigan would be thrilled to follow. Tech went from –1.1 ppg in 2007 to 7.6 in 2008 to 14.5 and my top rated offense in the country in 2009. Even though Johnson and Rodriguez were hired the same year, the Michigan offense is about 2 years behind Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech went from average to very good to best in the country. Michigan went from average, to very bad and back to average. Even with the offset timeline, Michigan seems comparable to Georgia Tech’s situation and therefore a second year of offensive gain seems very possible under this comparison.
All five of these teams either returned 20+ starts at the quarterback position (except GT who had the same quarterback from the start of the system), although Stanford’s returning quarterback was replaced. The other major similarity between these schools in neither of the last two years did they have stratospheric gains, there is less flukiness to these teams success.
When looking at the progression from very bad to roughly average, there are four BCS level schools who showed that same progression. Three of those (TCU, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh went on to see big gains in year 3 as well, and NC St still saw modest improvement. Teams fitting this profile for a potential second year of strong offensive progress in 2010 along with Michigan include Kentucky, UConn, Wake Forest and Mississippi St.
Although teams that show a big jump like Michigan last year are more likely to fall back than continue the progress, the recruiting profile, experience at quarterback (even if the returner loses his job), progressions comps and system change all point to Michigan as being a good candidate to at least sustain and probably show more improvement next year. Every 3 point gain is worth about one additional win on the season and based on this look I would say that from the offense alone, a 3 point gain seems likely and a 6 point gain entirely possible.
Excited To See You Tom Hammond is no longer the most terrifying Notre Dame-related thing on the internet. I know this is hard to comprehend.
But never has a school been so ably summarized in four emasculating minutes:
You have to watch it. It will be the most conflicted four minutes of your life. It will be so horrible, but it will be awesome because it will be more horrible for the people this abortion ironically purports to represent. That guy redefining maximum levels of whiteness goes by "Freekbass," by the way, and has won an award. It is a sexy lamp sort of award, but it's an award. Soon he will have another award.
Explains the last 20 years, doesn't it? The people in charge of Notre Dame thought this was a good idea. They got poor Brian Kelly to show up in this thing. They deployed the school's cheerleaders as a hearty midwestern dance backdrop. They spent a lot of money and time to aim very carefully at their own testicles with a shotgun and pulled the trigger on their official youtube channel.
Of course they hired Bob Davie, George O'Leary, Ty Willingham, and Charlie Weis. Maybe they will end up in the Big Ten after all.
UPDATE: Reader Nick Gorski provides the perfect comparison: this is the exact opposite of Hockeybear blowing up Earth.
Site updates. I've updated the Depth Chart By Class and added a new angle on the roster: the Unofficial Two-Deep. Folks with more than 500 points—"trusted users"—should be able to edit both these pages to reflect changes in them, though I'm getting the weird caching issues with the DCBC. Working on that.
Please no funny stuff, because then I will be sad.
A pair of items to read. Run, don't walk to USA Today's profile of Deshawn Sims that reads like a Wire script:
DeShawn Sims graduates Saturday from the University of Michigan. His mother, sister, grandmother and aunt will be there to see him get his degree and hear President Obama speak.
His father and brothers will not be there. The men in his family are in prison or dead.
"The men are gone," Sims says. "I'm the last man."
As soon as you are done there stop immediately and run the opposite direction to Maize 'n' Brew's interview with Zoltan Mesko:
MnB: Do they ever stick you on the tackling squads or any other kind of full contact drills for special teams?
Z: You know... I think I've done two tackling drills in my whole career at Michigan. The first made the Carr staff realize this was pointless. The other made the Rodriguez staff realize that was pointless as well.
For extreme Justin Turner worriers, of which I count myself a tentative member, there is also this:
There are a lot of young guys that have the potential to be something unbelievable. Justin Turner, for instance. I only see bits and pieces of practice, because I'll do my own thing indoors with the other special teamers, but when I do watch practices, Justin Turner was like white-on-rice with the receivers. He's still learning, but if he was on the receiver, it was like he knew what the receiver was doing next.
Yes, please, with salsa. The interview continues on at epic length.
I say intent, you say "I'm sorry I didn't hear you come again whoops you're at JUCO." A couple days ago I posted something on the Sporting Blog about high-end college basketball players increasingly forgoing the letter of intent. I think this is a good idea for players, who are giving up all their leverage in exchange for little. I thought "little" was one year of scholarship, but even that morsel turns out to be a wild exaggeration of the benefits:
The problem with the NLI is that even for critics of varying degrees, as all three of these writers are, the benefits to a player of signing an NLI are overstated:
- Signing an NLI does not guarantee a spot on the team. Nothing does. A coach can cut a player at any time.
- Signing an NLI does not guarantee a scholarship for a year. Signing the athletic grant-in-aid agreement (i.e. the scholarship itself) binds the school to the player, without binding the player to the school.
- Signing an NLI does not allow the school to start promoting you. Any written commitment to attend will.
The only benefit to prospects signing an NLI with a school is that it prevents other coaches from harassing the prospect and permits the coaches that signed the prospect to have unlimited contact with them, including by text message.
So there's virtually no reason to ever sign a letter of intent. BHGP argues that the cessation of hostilities from other coaches is a powerful incentive, but I imagine that saying "no, stop contacting me" will shut even the most persistent coach up lest his persistent annoyance damage his rep for little gain. The Bylaw Blog, which is the source of the above clarification, points out that the NLI is essentially never enforced in the event of a coaching change (see: Alex Legion) and that this makes a trend towards signing only the grant-in-aid moot. This is mostly true. The stigma from holding a guy against his will is in most cases not worth the player. But there are instances in which a player is forced into a situation he's not a fan of: Iowa signee Ben Brust has been released from his LOI but as a result of his signing he cannot receive athletic aid from a Big Ten school. Also, it's widely suspected that Michael Beasley was not released when the Hugginsbot bolted for West Virginia—which is probably why Demarcus Cousins wanted that clause in his LOI that allowed him to be released in the event of a coaching change.
We'll see one-and-dones, who are committing to a coach, pull the Knight trick more often than not starting now. You never know when your coach is going to have to get out of Dodge before the law rolls in.
The weirdest draft in the world. …is the OHL draft, where talent often has little to do with how high a player goes because of the omnipresent threat that your draft pick might not report if they've got a college option. It is this week, and with Michigan commits and targets peppering first round mock drafts it promises to be of interest. To pick a couple representative mock drafts at random:
- #3-ish F Matia Marcantuoni. Marcantuoni is supposed to be the top overall pick in the drat but is widely rumored to have a deal with Oshawa under the table. The Wolverine has repeatedly said he will go to Michigan if he goes the college route. That looks doubtful.
- #13-ish F Boo Nieves. (commit) The linked site says he's "likely" to play in the OHL next year but I doubt that intel given the extremely pro-college stance Nieves has maintained (there's "no question" he's going to college). A possible complication: Nieves did not get picked for the NTDP, which surprised many. With the USHL as strong as it is these days that shouldn't matter much, but if Nieves does go in the first round it's time to start fretting. Other sources leave him out as a "wildcard."
- D Jacob Trouba. Trouba is a high end talent that would go in the first round if he had not committed to the NTDP. Michigan and Notre Dame are leading for him, with Michigan believed to have an edge.
- D Connor Carrick (commit). Carrick was on a bunch of lists as a mid-first rounder earlier but does not appear in the latest mocks because his Michigan commitment is supposed to be solid. He is also committed to the NTDP.
- G Dalton Izyk. Izyk doesn't appear either despite his status as one of the best available 2012 goaltenders; he is a Nieves teammate and someone Michigan will be pursuing heavily. His parents are reportedly adamantly pro-college.
Bonus hockey recruiting: The Hockey News has a profile of Stefan Matteau, the son of Stephane Matteau. Matteau has accepted a spot on the NTDP and is presumed to be on his way to college. There is mutual interest there. Cedar Rapids F and 2011 recruit Derek Deblois gets scouted; I'll have a fuller profile of Deblois and the incoming recruits later in the summer.
Etc.: Some TV station announced that Missouri to the Big Ten was a "done deal." It is not. Ironically, the twit who started the Pitt-to-Big-Ten panic by lending credibility to a Bleacher Report article has the gall to write a sarcastic piece about the "new journalism" of echo-chamber sources. Six Zero has started a series of mgouser profiles with the local recruiting demigod.
John Beilein and his assistants met with press today to give the season a final wrap, introduce Bacari Alexander, and look forward to the future. Notes:
John Beilein on Bacari Alexander & the Staff
- Beilein reached out to a few people regarding the coaching vacancy, but Bacari Alexander was the best fit. He's the total package as a teacher of the game. Whenever there are changes on a staff, it's an opportunity to address issues.
- Since Michigan's big men have no game experience, it's important to have their position coach be a teacher of fundamentals.
- As part of the process of interviewing Bacari Alexander, he worked out with Patrick Beilein while the current assistants watched.
- The coaching staff has good chemistry, with all having a familiarity in the Big Ten footprint for recruiting, but also able to recruit nationally. Alexander brings a strong in-state connection.
- Beilein hasn't made a lot of progress on selecting a new administrative assistant (Jerry Dunn left the coaching staff at the same time as John Mahoney), but it's possible that he could be a former coach. There's also a chance some of the responsibilities change between that role and the video coordinator.
- Bacari will have to get in shape to bang with the big guys in practice. He's going to be a hands-on coach. He can help the team increase their physical play when they need it.
- So far, Alexander hasn't had a chance to get into the groove in Ann Arbor. He's still acclimatizing to the new surroundings. It's "exciting" to be a part of the Michigan program.
- Alexander was coached by fellow assistant Mike Jackson when he played at University of Detroit Mercy. Said Alexander: "We've had a lot of good times together, hopefully a lot more."
- Alexander has always enjoyed sweating with the players in practice. He can demonstrate things, instead of just describing them.
- It is both exciting and challenging to have such a young group of big men to coach. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford were specifically mentioned.
- There is a lot of parity nowadays in Division 1 basketball. The mid-majors have good coaches, and veteran mid-major teams can compete with programs that have one-and-done talent.
- There's a lot more information out there about recruiting than there was in Alexander's day. The internet experts aren't always accurate. With the rise of AAU ball, there's less of an emphasis on educating the players.
Beilein on Other Stuff
- Ground will be broken on the new basketball practice facility May 10th. Within 17 months, that project and Crisler upgrades should be in place.
- As Big Ten expansion goes, Beilein doesn't know much about the finances and marketing, but he trusts the university presidents and Jim Delaney to do the right thing for the current Big Ten schools. "If we expand, it's going to be with the right universities."
- The Ohio State loss in the Big Ten Tournament hurt, but nearly every season ends with a loss. The players and coaches need to get over it and move on.
- Manny and DeShawn are still around campus. Both are training very hard to prepare for the next level.
- DeShawn Sims, Anthony Wright, Zack Gibson, and CJ Lee will be graduating this weekend.
- Beilein's nephew, captain Joseph Ludick, is one of the pilots for Marine One, the presidential helicopter. He'll be in Ann Arbor this weekend to fly President Obama.
[Ed: Also on the site: Barry Larkin's press conference.]
For Ohio State week, We get to have a bit more "vicious" in the vicious electronic questioning. Not only is Chris Webb, of Buckeye State Baseball and the BuckeyeNine, one of the bloggers who has been around for a while, but he's also one who I keep up with on a near daily basis during the season. So the familiarity breeds comfort with making fun of him and the Buckeyes in such a public space.
So without further adieu, let's get to the Q&A:
Describe your season in 3 sentences.
Rocky but expected. It's better to be 3 words than 3 sentences. Was told if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything. Whoops that is 3 sentences after all.
Plead the fifth.
Yeah, I'm sure losing to a pair of teams with a total of ZERO scholarship athletes has to be rough. So glad Ohio State could show us that.
What's the chances of Alex Wimmers making me post pictures of otters on Friday? We're not going to be no-hit again are we? [Ed: con't after the jump.]
|Lexington, Ohio - 5'10" 165
||Scout||3*, #109 CB|
|Rivals||3*, NR, 47th in Ohio|
|ESPN||78, #33 CB|
|Other Suitors||Wisconsin, Michigan State, Cincinnati|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post.|
|Notes||Has a brother Terry. In three days he's gonna marry.|
That's junior year stuff. Senior year footage at Scouting Ohio.
Terrence Talbott's mother had a very busy year in the early 90s during which she gave birth to two brothers nine months and one day apart. Dealing with an infant while pregnant seems like an epic timesink—can't say I've personally experienced it, but I'm harried enough with zero kids, inside or out—so perhaps it's understandable that the Talbott family didn't pore over available baby names. When the time came to name the second child, they stuck with what they knew: Terry, basically.
Both grew up to become Division I-A football prospects, and in late summer last year both committed to Michigan. Thus was created one of the greatest nameplate dilemmas of the century. Will Michigan go with Terry Talbott's entire name? What about Terrance? "Ence"? Will one be T. Talbott and the other Talbott? Will Jon Falk just throw his hands up and forgo any attempt to distinguish between the two, figuring that six inches and 100 pounds is better than a few letters on the back of a jersey anyway?
We'll have to wait until at least the UConn game to find out, and unless you can peer at the players stuck deep on the bench from your seat the wait could be considerably longer. Terrence Talbott, the younger defensive back discussed here, has suffered an array of injuries during his high school career. That combined with a general lack of size and recruiting hype suggests a redshirt beckons.
In fact, Talbott has a recruiting profile almost identical to Courtney Avery: one site sees him a borderline four star. The others are unimpressed. Here, though, Scout is the skeptic and ESPN, which gave Avery a MAC-like 73, rates Talbott a 78. That's the same grade given MSU four-star Mylan Hicks (amongst a host of other four-star-ish recruits the average reader is less familiar with) and solidly within the top 20 the state of Ohio. That's a considerable difference from Rivals (#47) or JJ Huddle (#96!).
Here are ESPN's reasons for optimism($):
Talbott is an explosive, well-rounded corner who is active around the ball in both run and pass support. Lacks great size but masks it well with his hard playing style. Has good defensive back savvy, instincts and ball skills. Displays good footwork and sharp stop-start skill mirroring receivers tightly off the line and out of their breaks. We like his zone scheme skill-set and understanding of the concept. Expertly reads the quarterback, soundly anticipates the pass and times his break precisely. Closes on the ball fast and shows good short-area burst jumping and often undercutting perimeter routes. Sharp out of his underneath breaks with good plant and drive skill and explosion out of his pedal. Demonstrates good leaping skills and athleticism defending the deep ball.
In sum, Talbott is "undersized, yet athletic" and ESPN figures he can be a "solid underneath corner" in college.
Despite the vast difference in their ranking of Talbott, Scout's scouting report is nearly identical:
Talbott is a true cover corner with great hips and the willingness to come up and hit against top competition level. While some question his height, his ability to go up against taller receivers have never been a problem as Talbott has a great vertical leap and is fluid in going from coverage to battle a receiver for the ball. …
Great cover corner prospect who could be one of the best in Ohio for the Class of 2010. Must show he can stay in good health but the sky is the limit.
They follow that by naming him the #109 corner in the country. If you're seeing the three stars next to his name and asking yourself "just how many corners did Scout give three stars?" the answer is a whopping 122, not counting JUCOs. Sucks to be #123 (Middle Tennessee commit Chris Sharpe).
And here's his coach providing a similar assessment:
"He's a true cover guy. He's a great open field tackler with an unbelievable amount of athletic ability. He has a 38-39 inch vertical. He has a lot of great things going for him."
The book on Talbott: short, smart, agile, excellent in coverage but needs a year or two to bulk up for college. A couple of impressive combines echo the agility bit. This one was from before his junior year:
“Terrence ran a 4.47 forty and a 4.08 shuttle at Ohio State last weekend,” said Jay Hooten of Fast Twitch Performance who trains the Huber Heights Wayne cornerback. “Let’s just say he turned some heads with his times and I feel he’ll continue to do well as he’s worked hard and is 100-percent healthy. …
Hooten, who was an assistant strength coach at Ohio State for five years, feels Talbott’s future is bright and one of the best athletes he’s worked with. Often he compares Talbott’s physical tools to that of former Buckeye Chris Gamble.
That's a bizarre comparison since Gamble is a huge cornerback at 6'1" and 200 pounds, but if he's got the same sort of mobility as Gamble that would be excellent.
Depending on how you look at it, Talbott's propensity to get injured is either a reason he might be underrated or a worrying flaw. After losing much of his sophomore year to injury, Talbott missed the first couple games of his senior year—including, unfortunately, the one Tim made it to—with an ankle injury that lingered through much of the season. I tend towards the former since cornerback is not a position that requires a ton of pounding and none of Talbott's injuries were the variety that tend to recur.
As for Talbott's recruitment, he picked up early offers from Michigan State and Wisconsin and by the time he committed he'd added a few additional BCS offers—Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, UConn, and Purdue along with Michigan. That's a solid list notably devoid of heavyweights. He and his brother picked Michigan in mid-August; Terrence was adamant he was going to Michigan even as his brother flirted with North Carolina late in the recruiting year.
Why Todd Howard? Not a strong comparison here since Michigan hasn't had a whole lot of diminutive corners over the past decade. Howard is about as close as it gets to the same physical stature. He was also excellent in coverage until the instant he was supposed to make a play on the ball; hopefully Talbott will be able to get his head around more than twice in his career.
Early in the third quarter Wayne defensive back Terrence Talbott intercepted West quarterback John Peters and returned it to the Firebirds’ 32-yardline. That set up Miller’s 6-yard TD run and a 14-10 Wayne lead with 9:37 left in the third quarter. Talbott added a second interception late in the period.
"(Talbott) works real hard at the weight room and in practice,” Miller said. “He stays after practice and works by himself on the Jugs machine. He’s going to be a good player.”
Guru Reliability: Low. Big spread, lots of injuries.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-ish. A smattering of good offers, with Wisconsin being the most encouraging, and the ESPN ranking are positives. Size and general "eh" from the recruiting sites bring down the excitement level.
Projection: Redshirt if Dorsey makes it in. If Dorsey doesn't, Talbott is more likely to see the field than Avery since he's spent more time at his college position and is praised for his understanding of the position in scouting reports. Will be thrown into the corner melee after the graduation of Woolfolk. Hopefully a guy you don't rely on until he's an upperclassman, at which point he may or may not develop into a starter.
Yesss. Ace's burgeoning tradition of releasing exciting Spring Game footage of a hot new quarterback comes in two steps. Step 1: video. Step 2: video with Christopher Walken. This one even has the 97-yard touchdown inexplicably omitted from the first video:
The new Shazor. So… yeah, Donovan Warren did not get picked in the NFL draft this year, causing Maize 'n' Brew to dissect his decision. I'm all like "what the hell?" I don't think anyone thought Warren was going in the first round, but to fall out of the draft entirely is a Shazor-like collapse. It's actually worse. Shazor's fall was obvious in retrospect: the guy imploded over the second half of his junior season, failed drug tests, and got tagged with major character issues. All Warren did was run a couple of crappy 40s on gimpy ankles. I'm not sure if you can blame Warren when he was told he'd be a mid-round pick at worst. The advisory board did both Warren and Michigan a major disservice here.
BONUS: Donovan Warren tweets like… um… like there's a cat on his keyboard.
(Side note: Greg Easterbrook fulminating about the advisory board:
This year, the advisory board told Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren he'd be a first-round choice, and told Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead he'd be no lower than a third.
Warren said in announcing his decision to turn pro Sunday that the committee gave him "a broad range, rounds 1 to 3."
"Rounds one to three" is way different than round one. Don't let those facts prevent you from getting your furrow on, yo. The actual facts are pretty damning in this case… why exaggerate?)
Exeunt Morris. Jamie Morris's departure from the athletic department hit the papers yesterday, drawing terse statements from the athletic department and no comment from the people who knew about this a week ago but decided not to tell you.
I don't want to air dirty laundry without cause, but Morris is being tossed around as THE MOLE or held up as a representation of Dave Brandon cleaning house against the Rodriguez resistance. So: Morris was dismissed as a result of some bad decisions about use of an athletic department car and a subsequent attempt to conceal those bad decisions. It doesn't have anything to do with Rodriguez.
If you think it's possible that someone could have skated for a similar offense under Martin (maybe) or Goss (definitely), this is an improvement. Personally, I'm waiting to hear exactly what happened with Michigan's CARA forms—and what happens to the people who failed to file them—before proclaiming the New Era of Accountability nigh.
Morris still plans to be on WTKA this fall with John U Bacon; his takes promise to get more interesting now that he's not employed by the AD.
Auburntron will be ours. Michigan's scoreboards are increasingly outdated in a world of advertising-plastered Godzilla-trons. I would like one Tron, sans advertising, please. Dave Brandon, what say you?
"The reality is those scoreboards are old. They're old technology and they're old."
This is a man who will bring crazy HD replay boards to Michigan stadium, all the better to see Armando Allen stepping out of bounds. The last thing on the hit list: video replay at Yost.
(Catch from mgouser Rush N Attack.)
Somewhat thunderous. We have a final number on the effect of Michigan's boxes on the noise level. Somewhat oddly, it comes from an article on the noise level at Beaver Stadium:
A similar reflected-sound effect was measured at the University of Michigan stadium by architecture professor Mojtaba Navvab. He found that the recent addition of skyboxes there created a wall that reflected sound from lower seats onto the field. That meant an increase of 4 to 5 decibels in on-field noise.
DBs are logarithmic (and base ten) so a 4-5 decibel increase is actually something close to triple(!) the volume. Sort of. A fruitless journey through wikipedia indicates that loudness is a fuzzy concept and an increase in sound pressure does not have a one to one correspondence with the perceived loudness. Until such point as we can blow out the opposing quarterback's eardrums on a critical third down, perception is where it's at. As best I can figure, the luxury box-spurred increase is significant but not game-changing.
Implosion continues apace. Both Detroit papers got hammered over the past six months, with the News falling 10.1 percent and the Free Press 13.3, both considerably in excess of national averages. The web numbers are even more slanted towards the News:
Web traffic has been strong as well. Unique traffic to detnews.com increased 26.4 percent to 4.3 million readers in March compared with a year earlier. Unique visitors to freep.com increased 2.2 percent to 4.7 million, Harshbarger said.
Losing 13 percent of your circulation and gaining two percent on the web is a nasty blow. Extracting a moral from the story is an exercise left to the reader.
(Side note for Mitch Albom: "Uniques" are a wildly varying metric, but in case you're curious Quantcast's guesstimate as to the number of people who visit the Free Press monthly is about 1.3 million. This blog is currently at 10% of that.)
Etc.: Michigan had 23 players in the NHL this year, more than any other college hockey team. College hockey players comprise a third of the league. (HT: Michigan Hockey Net.) Marques Slocum takes his Sprint/Nextel fandom to the Redskins. Fake John Calipari is very convincing. Space Emperor (of Space) gets some pub in Boston.
The 2011 Recruiting Board lives here.
Assume The Position: Tight End
It's been an eventful week for Michigan tight end recruiting with a couple recruits going off the board and a couple new offers going out. It's unclear how important a tight end will be to this recruiting class, but it seems like the coaching staff wants one.
FL TE Jeff Heuerman received a Michigan offer last week on an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, and he came away impressed with the school and Rich Rodriguez ($, info in header). Though he's a Michigan legacy (his father, Paul, played basketball for Michigan in the 80s), he committed to Ohio State on a visit to their campus shortly after.
MA TE Brian Miller also comes off the board, as he committed to Boston College.
The only remaining prospect who already had a Michigan offer and had shown serious interest in the Wolverines is OH TE Ray Hamilton (pictured at right), a junior day visitor that we haven't heard from in a while. With Heuerman and Miller off the board, he might be the #1 choice at the position.
According to recruiting guru Jim Stefani, NJ TE/DE Taques Franklin has received a Michigan offer. Rutgers also offered, and Jim notes that he is a 6-5, 220lb high school running back, which I didn't believe until I checked it out. That's a serious load to tackle.
Michigan has offered NJ QB/Ath Tanner McEvoy ($, info in header). He's a 6-5 white guy with a 4.7-second 40-yard dash time: not exactly your prototypical Rich Rodriguez quarterback. Rivals lists him as an athlete, so it's possible they could be looking at him for another position. The measurables say "Tight End" to me, so I stuck him in this section.
Other New Offers
He's been on the radar for a long time, and Michigan has finally offered WI RB Melvin Gordon.
The trio of schools join Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington State, Indiana, Michigan State and Cincinnati in extending scholarship offers to the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder...
Gordon is either a four- or five-star prospect (out of five stars) on most recruiting Web sites.
I hadn't realized he was that highly-regarded, and, uh, neither have the recruiting sites. Scout currently has him at three stars (#67 RB in the country), and the other two sites have him off their respective watchlists.
OH WR AJ Jordan, from the school that produced Roundtree, Shaw, and Moore, has a Michigan offer headed his way, according to Tom. He's a good-sized speedster, with a 14.3-second time in the 110m hurdles this track season. He's also expressed strong interest in a Michigan offer. Here's his highlight video:
Unfortunately, this new offer might have something to do with the fact that MI WR DeAnthony Arnett is now favoring Michigan State. It will be interesting to see how recruiting at the position plays out, since Arnett seems to be the #1 target (and still interested in Michigan, as long as they get the ball to the wideouts and win).
Also receiving an offer was FL DE Aaron Lynch. Lynch has offers from the likes of Alabama and Ohio State, according to Rivals, so he's probably a bigtime prospect.
Visits Past, Visits Future
A couple more wraps from the Spring Game visit weekend a little while back. First up, Sam Webb talks to FL WR Sammy Watkins (pictured at right) and FL Ath/CB Dallas Crawford in the Detroit News. Both seemed to enjoy the visit:
"They definitely moved up," said Crawford, the No. 29 cornerback in the country according to Scout.com. "When it comes to academics, there is none better than Michigan. They did not sell me a dream. They just said if you want to play, you have to come in and work. That's all I'm asking for is a chance. It was way better than I expected. I expected it to be a little plain up north, but it was pretty fun."
"I like (Michigan) a lot," added Watkins, Scout.com's No. 3 wideout. "I knew two or three (Michigan players) that we kicked it with at the dorms. They were pretty cool. And the team looked pretty good (during the spring game). They impressed me. The offensive lineman blocked well and they had all day to throw. They're young still, so it looks pretty good out there. "
Both are top prospects, with a great deal of success on the high school level:
Crawford was the Broxson Award winner as the Daily News' Player of the Year last year, and Watkins was the Offensive Player of the Year.
Watkins is higher rated prospect than Crawford, but both have a number of top offers. They are considering a return visit to Ann Arbor this fall. They are interested (but not committed) to attending the same school.
PA DE Deion Barnes, who was offered at the Spring Game, talked to Michigan Sports Zone about the visit.
He may not have a clear leader but there are some variables that are playing into Michigan’s favor, “The tradition, the support they give and all the past players who have gone into the draft and have been successful” are all some factors that are helping Michigan’s case according to Barnes.
Barnes will take his time with recruiting, and is more worried right now about improving his own game. If Michigan's season goes well, the Wolverines will have a good chance with him.
The next big visit weekend doesn't come until the BBQ at the Big House in May. We'll build up a more complete list as the date approaches, but there are a few tentative confirmations.
Of course, FL RB Demetrius Hart will return to Michigan for the event. Those who have been playing close attention know that there's a chance he'll commit at that time.
NC LB/WR Kris Frost, who wanted to go to the Spring Game but couldn't get plane tickets, will try to make up for missing that visit by attending the BBQ at the Big House.
The recent Nike Football Training Camp hosted a number of the South's best prospects last weekend, including brief reports on some fringe Michigan targets, like including FL CB Nick Waisome, FL S Wayne Lyons, and others. More prominent Michigan targets are also included, starting with a not-so-positive report on FL WR Ja'Juan Story:
Ja'Juan Story (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast Tech) may have built up the most hype out of any receiver in attendance, but he was inconsistent in his play and reps. During drills it was hard not to come away impressed with his long frame and great speed. He displayed his impressive wingspan and great hands, including making some nice grabs away from his frame. However, he was not the jump-ball mismatch we were expecting to see during one-on-ones and looked a bit rigid out of his breaks at times.
That hasn't stopped Story from earning and accepting an offer to the Under Armour All-American Game. And now for a more-glowing report on FL QB Kevin Sousa (pictured at right):
Kevin Sousa (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) also stood out in what was an impressive group of QBs at the camp. His underneath passes had good zip and the ball really came off his hand with some good RPMs at times. He fit several passes into tight spots and had nice rotation on his intermediate-to-deep throws. Sousa has raw arm strength and his mechanics can be shaky at times, but we like his upside when projecting for the college level.
Sousa also comes in for some fluff from the Orlando Sentinel.
Sousa found out Tuesday that he has been selected as one of the Top 100 QBs who are invited to take part in the Dreammaker Tour Finale, slated for Memorial Day weekend at Santa Barbara, Calif. The Top 7 QBs from this event will be selected to move on to the Super 7 Steve Clarkson retreat in Hawaii on the island of Maui.
Dream big, kid. For all we hear about his football prowess, there's precious little said about his recruiting. He plans to attend a Junior Day at Ohio State this week, and recently visited Florida.
Tom published an excellent diary on offensive line recruiting yesterday. I'll break it down in a bit more detail in the next Wednesday Recruitin', but for now, a couple notes on the position:
Though Ohio State already has commitments from four offensive linemen, they still want at least one more, and are considered the leader for OH OL Aundrey Walker. Though Walker attends known OSU pipeline Cleveland Glenville, he attended a Junior Day at Michigan earlier this year, and is teammates with OH QB Cardale Jones, who the Buckeyes aren't showing any love.
LA OL Trai Turner is open to playing either offensive line or defensive tackle. Michigan has needs at both, so that should help with his recruitment. He also wants to make an early decision sometime this summer ($, info in header). Though he's spoken positively about Michigan in the past (the Wolverines were among his first offers), getting him on campus for a camp or visit is important. His offer list keeps expanding ($, info in header), so there's also a chance he delays a choice.
AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi, who holds a Michigan offer, "likes the South," which could be a bad sign for Michigan's chances to land him. Texas A&M is his latest offer.
Tom reports that Troy Polamalu's cousin, PA S Maika Polamalu, is interested in Michigan, and will camp this summer. FL OL Max Lang wants to stay close to home ($, info in header), not a good sign for Michigan. UMGoBlog's Jon Jennings looks at Michigan's Florida recruiting for the 2011 class.
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