"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
THAT IS ALL
|WHAT||Michigan v. Wisconsin|
6:30 PM EST
February 23rd, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan +4.5.|
|TELEVISION||BTN (No Tim Doyle, Thankfully)|
This is This Most Important Game of the Year Until The Next Game. Tonight's game can give Michigan a top-50 RPI win, which would firmly state their case for an NCAA Tournament bid. Lose, and it's going to be an uphill battle for the next 4+ games. Other teams helped Michigan out over the weekend so the Wolverines control their destiny for now. They shouldn't worry about anyone but themselves.
So. It's a little scary that such an important game comes against this caliber of opponent. The Badgers are hovering in the top tier of the Big Ten along with Ohio State and Purdue, one of the nation's elite teams. They have the most efficient offense in America, though you wouldn't know it just looking at their final scores because they are also the slowest team.
Last time these teams faced off Michigan traveled to the Kohl Center, where the Badgers Just. Don't. Lose. Wisconsin Just. Didn't. Lose. In fact, they won by 16 points, getting 20 from future Big Ten Player of the Year Jordan Taylor and 17 from Jon Leuer.
That loss kicked off a 6-game losing streak in which Michigan's defense was terrible. Those six games straight included five of the worst six performances on that side of the ball for Michigan this season--the only exception was against the country's third-best offense in Kansas (go figure). If Michigan can prove that was just a fluky rough stretch, things should go much better tonight. FWIW, Wisconsin's shooting percentages plummet on the road.
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. Wisconsin: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Wisconsin Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Wisc Def eFG%||62||75||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Wisc eFG%||182||43||WW|
|Mich TO% v. Wisc Def TO%||21||313||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Wisc TO%||228||1||WWW|
|Mich OReb% v. Wisc DReb%||318||29||WWW|
|Mich DReb% v. Wisc OReb%||51||81||M|
|Mich FTR v. Wisc Opp FTR||339||44||WWW|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Wisc FTR||55||332||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. Wisc AdjD||51||51||-|
|Mich AdjD v. Wisc AdjO||62||1||W|
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.
Wisconsin is a team that is good at the basketballs. Having the conference's best point guard (and probably best player) goes a long way toward holding onto the ball. It also helps the Badgers get the ball in good spots to shoot it - and shoot it they do. They're Michigan's mirror when it comes to getting to the foul line (not very much) and preventing the opponent from doing the same.
In areas where the teams aren't in a dead heat, Michigan is at a disadvantage in all of them. Where Michigan is a bad offensive rebounding team, Wisconsin is pretty good. Both are good on the defensive glass. The Badgers make shots better than Michigan and they're better at preventing the opponent from doing the same.
By this point in the season, you should be familiar with Wisconsin's stars: Taylor is excellent at holding onto the ball and assisting his teammates. The 6-10 Leuer has great range offensively, and is one of the best defensive rebounders in the conference. 6-8 Keaton Nankivil is hitting almost half of his three-pointers. And Mike Bruesewitz has Carrot Top-inspired hair.
Dylan interviews Bucky's 5th Quarter about the game. WE HAVE DISCOVERED JORDAN TAYLOR'S WEAKNESS:
By Taylor’s own admission, he waited too long against Purdue to hunt his own shot
Oh, come on. Doesn't shoot enough? At least there's a little more:
Taylor is not the quickest point guard either. We recently saw the relentless Lewis Jackson bother Taylor with his tight defense and quicker feet.
Darius Morris is pretty quick for a point guard, but isn't yet known as a defensive stopper. Stu Douglass isn't as fleet of foot, so Taylor might be able to take advantage of that when Darius is getting a rest.
Phil returns the favor, asking a few questions of UMHoops.
Penn State and Wisconsin are locked in a death battle to see who can have the greatest difference between performances on the road and at home... and Wisconsin might actually be winning it. The Badgers are much better in Kohl than they are outside of Madison - though the last few games in Crisler haven't gone so well for the Wolverines.
I really want to believe that Michigan can win this game, but I'm having a hard time doing it. The Badgers will slow down the game and frustrate a young Michigan squad. Tim Hardaway will lead both teams in scoring, but Darius Morris will lose the statistical battle to Jordan Taylor in a 54-51 Badger victory.
The title says it. Without further ado, the 2012 Michigan Football Recruiting Board v1.0.
It's a little light on features right now, and is hardly more advanced than umhero's offer board (a hearty tip o' the hat to umhero because I definitely used his list to fill in a few gaps in my own), but I plan to add more in the near future. Individual players will have pages of their own with more information, links to posts that mention them, video, and much more.
I'll start rolling out the 2.0 features ASAP. It's a wiki, so users with more than 500 points can edit it.
MORE New Offers
The coaching staff is offering kids left and right, so between the time I publish this and the time it hits your eyeballs, things are subject to change. Bear with me.
CA QB Jake Rodrigues received a Washington offer last week, and within a half hour, Michigan had followed suit ($).
OH RB Bri'onte Dunn is currently an Ohio State commit, but that didn't stop Michigan from offering him last week. The Buckeyes already have another back (Warren Ball) committed in the class, and the Wolverines' coaching staff may try to sell him on being "the guy" in this class.
OK RB Donovan Roberts picked up a Michigan offer earlier this week. Michigan and Indiana are his only offers, but he has plenty of interest from Big 12 schools as well. His film is impressive:
CA WR Jordan Payton is a USC commit, but Michigan still sent him an offer. Brandon Huffman says he's solid to the Trojans.
GA WR Jaquay Williams has offers from both Michigan and Ohio State ($, info in header).
NC WR Jody Fuller picked up a Michigan offer last week.
The Wolverines sent an offer to NJ WR Leonte Carroo.
Add OH OL Tyler Orlosky to the list of offered prospects ($, info in header).
Decker is the fourth five-star tackle in this class. The sooner he becomes a football player first, the sooner he will become the football player that he can be. I have him as a five-star but that has everything to do with his physical tools. He still has some work to do to catch up with Kalis, Dodson and McGowan as football players.
"Dodson" refers to OH OL Kyle Dodson, who received a Michigan offer of his own.
CA OL Arik Armstead has a Michigan offer, but he's' a USC commit.
The Wolverines offered a pair of defensive tackles yesterday in CA DT Aziz Shittu and MO DT Ondre Pipkins. Pipkins used to live in the Saginaw area, so he's familiar with the stats of Michigan.
Michigan has offered GA DE Jordan Jenkins.
Brian covered a bit of the drama around MI DE Matt Godin last week. TomVH Godin update ...and by the end of the week, he received his offer ($, info in header). Godin was on campus yesterday, and enjoyed it.
TX DE Mario Edwards has picked up a Michigan offer.
TX LB Jeremiah Tshimanga reports a Michigan offer (HT: umhero).
Michigan offered TX LB Peter Jinkens over the weekend.
OH S Jarrod Wilson was offered by Michigan. He's a true free safety, which you may note is an area of weakness on Michigan's roster. He visited Ann Arbor with his teammate, WR Corey Smith, over the weekend ($, info in header). Tom talked to Smith, who will talk to Michigan's coaches about whether he's a better fit on offense or defense before they extend him an offer. Both players plan to wait until the Under Armour game to announce.
NJ CB/S Yuri Wright reports a Michigan offer.
Bush, a rangy safety, measured in at close to 6-foot-1 and 180-pounds and ran a blazing 40 yard dash of 4.44 seconds. He moved quickly and fluidly through the three-cone drill for a taller athlete, bending and getting low out of his cuts. His vertical was a very respectable 34 inches, he hammered out 17 reps on the bench and showed good lower-body explosion with a 10-foot-5 broad jump.
He's got a number of top offers, so expect a fight for this kid.
I missed this in last week's update, but Nike held a SPARQ combine in Cleveland a couple weekends back, and a couple Michigan targets impressed:
Ohio DE Ifeadi Odenigbo finished 5th overall with a Sparq score of 109.02. This was Ifeadi's first combine, and he placed fifth overall out of hundreds and hundreds of kids...
Ifeadi's teammate, OL Benny McGowan (6'4", 300 lbs) was the first offensive lineman to ever score over 100 on the Sparq scale. Ifeadi told me that Benny was injured for most of his season, which is why there aren't more schools after him, but he's a sleeper. Benny also happens to like Michigan, and has them in his top five...
RB Marc Cargle from Pontiac held the top overall score with 111.3. Cargle was hurt for most of his season, which is why there hasn't been much hype around him.
Midwest Showcase fluff on MI TE Ron Thompson.
MI OL DaRon Brown was on campus this weekend.
Recent offeree Matt Godin is friends with MI DT Danny O'Brien, and they rode home from the midwest combine together (although Novi and Flint aren't remotely close to each other if Ann Arbor is the point of departure). Danny still holds Tennessee as his favorite, but says he's interested in playing with Godin in college.
IL OL Jordan Diamond didn't participate in the Best of the Midwest Combine this weekend, but he still traveled to Ann Arbor with 2011 Commit Chris Bryant and 2012 IL QB Robert Gregory. Diamond enjoyed his visit, but isn't any closer to making a decision.
Following a train of thought from above... Ohio State has offered Odenigbo. On his game from the article:
What makes Odenigbo so intriguing is his mixture of size, strength and speed. He was the Elks’ best sprinter last spring, excelling on the 400- to 1,600-meter relays. He also ran away with Centerville’s preseason conditioning test last fall, a combination of strength, agility and speed.
The offer is a bit unexpected, as most thought OSU wouldn't have the spare scholarship to extend him an offer. They become his heavy favorite blah blah blah. This is especially disappointing because now Sam Webb's recruiting column last week is likely for naught:
The Buckeyes extended a scholarship offer Wednesday -- a development that many pundits believe is an ominous sign for all of the other programs giving chase.
Since he's not a Buckeye yet, how about a little talk on his game:
"He has great physical tools," Centerville coach Ron Ullery told Scout.com. "He has a great frame. He's going to grow and have good weight on him. What he has is speed -- speed off the edge and change of direction -- and it's explosive speed. ...he was the only guy I saw on film all year chase down (five-star Ohio State quarterback signee) Braxton Miller, and he did it two, three, maybe four times."
"He's a kid with a very high ceiling," said Allen Trieu, Scout.com's Midwest regional manager. "He's a smart, coachable kid who can project into a lot of systems. In the Midwest he's one of the top prospects. I like the film more and more each time I go through it. His lack of size is holding him back some, but I think he's a high four-star type prospect."
On the bright side, this means Chris Wormley probably won't get a committable offer from the Buckeyes, and is pushed toward Michigan.
ESPN talks about recent Michigan offeree Keith Marshall.
"Keith is without a doubt one of best backs in the country," said Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore. "There are not too many better. What separates him from everyone else is his work ethic on the field, in the classroom, and during the offseason. He always wants that edge. Keith has this internal drive and wants to be the best. Keith is just a great competitor that makes others better around him."
Also, mark this down for a FAKE 40 time in case the kid ends up going Blue:
While Marshall was timed at 4.25 in the 40 at UNC's camp, he also runs with power, balance and vision
Michigan offered last week, and AZ OL Andrus Peat admits it's a big deal for him:
The Michigan offer is big, Peat said, mainly because of the program’s tradition and its success of producing offensive linemen over the years. The Wolverines will definitely be considered as his recruitment continues. “It’s definitely a big offer with how much they’ve won over the years and they definitely put out a lot of good offensive linemen so it’s one I’m looking at,” Peat said.
Tom talked to Peat, and says Michigan will have to work hard to land him.
KY QB Zeke Pike spoke with head coach Brady Hoke when he received his Michigan offer:
“I actually talked to the head coach (Brady Hoke) at Michigan and he offered me over the phone. I like how he’s gonna be going back to the traditional Michigan offense.”
Pike wants to decide before his senior season ($, info in header). He plans to make his first round of cuts after some school visits following his basketball season. Pike is good friends with 2011 Michigan commit Chris Barnett (HT: ChrisPerryCarry).
The schools will have, like Michigan does, a good combination of football and academics. It has to be a school that I feel comfortable being at because I will be spending the next four to five years of my life there. Lastly, there has to be a stable coaching staff, that will play a part in it.
Saying "the schools that make my cut will be like Michigan" is certainly a good sign that the Wolverines are in the hunt.
Tom talked to the head coach of CA OL Kyle Murphy, who Michigan offered last week.
He's interested in academics, that's one of the reasons why Michigan appeals to him. He wants to play at the highest level he can, and the Big Ten and Michigan are right up there," said Patton. "The Big Ten is very prestigious, and he wants to go to a place that respects football and a good education. His family is very academically oriented, and they've said they'll move out of state for Kyle"
Sounds like academics are getting more than lip service, which helps Michigan.
MI LB James Ross was offered by Ohio State. Though OLSM has been friendly to the Buckeyes in recent years, I've heard they think Taurian Washington hasn't been treated right in Columbus, so keep an eye on that situation. Ross and his dad both came away impressed with Michigan after an unofficial visit over the weekend. Ross played hockey growing up, which he credits with his growth as a player:
“I actually think hockey is what separates me from most linebackers,” Ross said. “I think it helped me with that first quick step and getting to the ball as fast as you can, because hockey, once you see it you have to go. There is no delayed step into it. That’s definitely something that separates me.”
He says Ohio State and Michigan are certain to make his first cut, so it's safe to say those are an early top 2. He visited Michigan this weekend ($, info in header).
FL QB Bennie Coney grew up loving Florida State, but is keeping his options open ($, info in headers). CA TE Taylor McNamara built a relationship with Michigan's staff when they were at San Diego State, and that could help the Wolverines in his recruitment. MI WR Aaron Burbridge has been offered by Ohio State and Notre Dame. OH DT Jaleel Johnson will be at Michigan's Junior Day, and is looking for a Wolverine offer at that time. GA DE Jordan Watkins wants to hear from Michigan. Michigan is interested in OH RB William Mahone as a defensive player. NY CB Wayne Morgan is in contact with Michigan. It's a great year for talent in Michigan.
You are one of the few people I know who defends RR. I do as well. Do you think RR should have been fired? Do you think, if he should have been fired, that it should have happened after OSU game? Do you agree with me that if he had a vote of confidence before the season that RR would have hauled in a top ten class? Do you think with a new DC they would have been better next year with RR then with BH? Do you think DB treated RR poorly as I do? Seems to me that DB wanted RR out even before the season. I am so tired of hearing about toughness, as if that is something that can be taught and as if RR wouldn't teach it if it could be.
Peter from Horsham, PA
There are half-dozen posts discussing this but to reiterate: I thought Rodriguez had done enough after the regular season to keep his job if he fired Greg Robinson, hired an actual defensive coordinator, and never ran the 3-3-5 again unless that DC was Jeff Casteel, then rumored to be open to a move. It was a close thing.
The bowl debacle moved the needle for me to "should fire," but this was under the assumption that Michigan would introduce Jim Harbaugh at a press conference held thirty seconds after the last shovelful of dirt hit Rodriguez's grave. If Harbaugh didn't exist I probably would have gritted my teeth and said we should give Rodriguez one last chance. As you say, even with everything Rodriguez had locked up two five-star guys and was probably going to bring in a recruiting class on the edge of the top ten. The offense was a yardage/advanced metric juggernaut that seemed likely to start turning that into more points as it aged, cut down on the turnovers, added a five-star at the glaring weak spot, and hopefully got some more help from defense and special teams. The other two units were bound to improve from amazing low points, etc.
All the bad stuff is still there but that setup seems more likely to produce wins in 2011 than having Denard Robinson take snaps from under center so he can hand off to someone not named Demetrius Hart.
Does it matter, though? There's a large section of Michigan fandom that would read the above sentence and screech like pterodactyl. The national perception of the program was sinking and while the team figured to get better I'm not sure it was going to get better enough—beat OSU—to make a dent in that. What happens if you go 8-4 next year and lose to OSU by ten? Rodriguez gets pilloried and fired. Hoke gets a bag of popcorn to watch Rodriguez get pilloried. At some point Rodriguez's baggage takes him to the bottom of the sea no matter who tied it to his legs.
[As to the dead man walking meme: I heard it plenty before the bowl game, including from people I know and would have a good read on it, but didn't believe it. Since Michigan got obliterated we don't know. If they'd lost by misfortune or won and Rodriguez still got fired it would be different. IME, Rodriguez was gone. This is just based off Brandon's performance in the press conference.]
I'll admit my knowledge of APR is not very good, but does oversigning not negatively affect a school's APR? If kids are leaving the program/school does that not affect the APR?
So we've overloaded the language here and "oversigning" now stands for two different things:
- signing more kids than you can enroll by going over the 25 cap, and
- signing more kids than you can pay for by going over the 85 cap.
In the former case, signing a kid to a LOI and then shipping him off to JUCO when he doesn't qualify does not affect your APR. Not that it should since you haven't had the chance to educate the player.
In the latter case, the answer is yes… hypothetically. In practice the NCAA has provided boatloads of waivers [scroll down]. They're plentiful enough that Kentucky basketball maintained a 979(!) APR despite having a graduation success rate* of 31%. Hypothetically, a school on the 925 borderline is graduating 60% of its players.
What are these waivers? Well, medical hardships, for one.
Those don't count against you because the player is still in school. It makes sense that they wouldn't… until someone starts beating the rules into profane shapes. There are plenty others that are less obvious but no one really knows what they are.
This invites questions about how the hell Michigan failed to take advantage of any of these when players started leaving the program left and right and Michigan put up an ugly 870-something. I don't know but assume it's a combination of Rodriguez failing to understand the gap between WVU and Michigan academics—though he did seem to emphasize it—and the massive attrition that went so far beyond even Alabama's rampant axe that Michigan couldn't get close to the 85 number. I'm not entirely sure but I don't think walk-ons count, so when Michigan's running around with 70 scholarship players and one of them flunks out that hurts way more than Alabama sending a guy in good-for-Alabama standing to South Georgia.
*[as opposed to the federal rate, the GSR does not count transfers in good standing/early entries against you.]
File under Rich Rodriguez will have a job by then and will pursue this kid with a force unknown to mankind:
The AD at Southfield is one of my closest friends and assures me that he has a freshman football player with what is perhaps the greatest name ever. I give you Lion King Conaway!
And file under testimonial:
I’m a junior in high school, and I recently got my first semester grades. A while back in my Government class, I got an extra point on a study guide because I wrote “which, duh.” In my notes (I was talking about how being liberal/conservative affects voting dem/rep, and I guess my teacher thought it was funny), which is something that I picked up from reading mgoblog. I finished that class with a 93%, which is just barely an A, and I finished the semester with a 4.0. So, reading mgoblog may have been what pushed me from an A- to an A, giving me a 4.0.
Know that if I get into Princeton, I’m giving at least some of the credit to you and mgoblog.
Just don't send a bill.
DE Matt Godin just got back from an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, and I caught up with him to get his reaction. There was no commitment on this trip. Matt will take a little more time with his decision just to make sure it's right.
TOM: How was the trip?
MATT: I loved it. It was probably a 9 out of 10.
TOM: So walk me through what happened, and who you met. What made it a 9?
MATT: I came in and saw Coach Singletary in Schembechler Hall. That was my first time there, so I was blown away by that. It was awesome. Coach Singletary took me in to see Coach Montgomery, and I sat with him for awhile. He told me everything basically, how they would use me, the scheme and where they want me.
TOM: How do they want to use you on the field?
MATT: They said probably in the 5 technique, possibly playing around 290. They said that would let me stop the run, but I could still get some pass rush in too. [Ed.: This would be the strongside DE spot.]
TOM: Did you get a chance to meet with Coach Hoke and Mattison, too?
MATT: Yeah, I talked to Coach Hoke for about 30 minutes in his office. We talked about everything, and you can tell he doesn't take any crap. He's ready to bring Michigan back. He was basically telling me how they need defensive linemen, and they think I can help bring Michigan back. I talked to Coach Mattison before that, and he threw on the Ravens film to go over. It was funny because I brought one of my friends and he joked before hand that Coach Mattison would probably put the Ravens film on.
TOM: It sounds like the trip was a success then?
MATT: I absolutely loved it, a lot of it was more of what the coaches were saying and how they want to bring Michigan back. Also, at some schools you don't really see the players that much, but I walked in there and all the players were in the locker room joking around. It was a good experience, especially for my dad to be there. He's a season ticket holder for 30 years, and for him to see his son get a scholarship from the university he loves is great.
Not good. The latest update on Vada Murray's condition is not good at all:
Vada was admitted to the hospital early last week, shortly after we learned that the cancer had metastasized to his brain. This, and a number of other complications from his pain meds caused a 5 day hospital stay.
Unfortunately, he was readmitted to the hospital this afternoon. … Because Vada is extremely tired & we are struggling to get his pain under control, we humbly ask you for privacy at this time.
That sounds like he doesn't have much time left. I don't have any personal memories of Murray—too young—but when and if the time comes I'll be looking for some from people who do.
HT: Gustave Ferbert on the board.
Forty gallons in a steady stream. Misopogon bumped UMHero's offer list to a diary and I was all like—dude. So I created a new wiki page for it. You can see it under "Useful Stuff" and people with over 500 points should be able to edit it. You will have to do this every thirty seconds to keep up with Michigan's enormous offer hose.
CEASE PANIC. Yesterday's offhand mention that Darius Morris was "leaning towards entering the draft" from NBADraft.net set the Michigan internets ablaze. Morris immediately appeared on the BTN, endured someone calling him "the butterfly" to his face without threatening to eat someone's pinky finger ("I don't know if it's catchy, but some people like it"), and said things that reassure:
The PANIC-related bits come at the end when Morris is asked about next year:
"We still have a lot of work to do. It's not going to come easy, it's going to take a lot of time in the weight room, a lot of time in the gym. But I definitely think we have the potential to be good down the road, be one of the dominant teams in the Big Ten in the future. I tell everybody 'just keep working hard, no matter what it looks like today.' We're always looking towards our future, and our future does look bright. We're all young, and we're all coming back next year."
Now, in the context of the interview that last statement was not a repudiation of the idea he'd leave. It was more a restatement of the fact that Michigan has no seniors. But even NBADraft.net suggested that Morris leaving would be pretty odd since he has an opportunity to play himself into a first round pick down the road and right now he'd be leaving for the un-guaranteed contracts of the second round. You'd have to be really mad to leave.
I have an email in to the author of the piece—who is not a random crank, BTW, he's making it his job—and will let you know if I get any more details.
On projected improvement. The Only Colors surveys this year's uniquely senior-laden Big Ten, finding that all the really good teams are getting about 50% of their points from old guys save OSU, and OSU is probably going to lose at least one guy in the offseason. You know this but Michigan checks in dead last with 0%. TOC on this:
Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan will basically return every significant contributor next season. Not surprisingly, the youngest teams also find themselves at or near the bottom of the standings.
This was written before the Iowa game when Michigan was hanging out in eighth but even then there's a big difference between where Michigan is and where Iowa and Indiana are. File under yet more reasons for optimism. The big takeaway: Penn State is going to be awful next year.
Also while we're on TOC, there's a diary purveying "enhanced" PORPAG but I'm pretty sure the basketball statistical community isn't a big fan of steals and blocks as a picture of defense, which is usually a team thing stats barely shed light on.
Where Michigan is: the vague bubble. After Michigan completed its nonconference schedule the conventional wisdom was that being vaguely on the bubble was M's best case scenario as the season wound down. The season is winding down and Michigan is indeed vaguely on the bubble. Huzzah for predictions.
The other prediction of late has been that 9-9 and a win in the Big Ten Tourney would be enough. Is that reasonable? I'm not sure—hockey bracketology is my specialty—but Maize and Go Blue has assembled a chart (chart) of various teams that are in the tournament according to Joe Lunardi:
|Team||Record||Conf. Pos.||Conf. Rank||RPI||KenPom||SOS||v. Top 50
||v. Top 100
One of those teams is Michigan. The other eight are in the tourney according to Lunardi. I won't spoil the surprise for people who don't know Michigan's conference record, but the studies of the other teams are pretty interesting. You have to think that going 2-1 against Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan State would be enough if this rabble is in.
More Ward. AP article on the upcoming Willis Ward documentary contains quote on par with O Brother Where Art Thou in old-timey elegance:
"On Monday morning, (Ford) and Bill Borgmann told me that they'd done something during the game for me and I'll never forget it," Ward said. "It seems as though as the game got started, a fellow on the other side of the line made a remark about him loving people like me. And his adjectives, they were 'bleep' adjectives, so I won't use it. Whereupon Jerry and Bill put a block on him that ended that fellow's participation in the game. So they came back that Monday and told me that they dedicated that block to me."
Details as to that game and the rest of the Harry Kipke era can be found at MVictors. Also check out the comments to the AP article for a fun discussion of slavery and racism between morons. Godwin happens in post #5. Amurrica.
"Wurst state ever." What it says on the tin.
Etc.: NCAA baseball clamps down on metal bats to reduce the number of 25-19 games. Michigan folk estimate home runs will be halved; they'd gone up 41 percent(!) just since 2006. Wonk/Gasaway explains his thinking to Sippin' On Purple after the author there went slapfight on him. Man applies to manage Middlesborough FC based on Football Manager experience. Bruce Ciskie on college hockey's upcoming Big Ten realignment.
Offensive line is one of the harder positions to recruit because it takes longer to evaluate players who will change vastly in college. In addition, there are different styles of offense that require different types of linemen.
However, every year there are a few standouts in recruiting that everyone wants no matter the offense. This year Illinois offensive tackle Dan Voltz (6'5", 290 lbs) is one of those recruits. With around twenty offers already from some of the biggest programs, Voltz will be one of the more sought-after linemen in this class. I caught up with Dan to ask him about his recruitment, and how Michigan factors in. Here are his highlights, then the interview.
TOM: First, for anyone that has never seen you play, can you describe what kind of football player you are? Maybe what you bring to the table.
DAN: I bring 100% effort all the time. I am an extremely hard worker, and I will do anything to become a better football player. I think I play physical and I play offensive line the way it's supposed to be played. I also think I'm pretty athletic for a big guy.
TOM: With your recruitment, Michigan has offered you already, is that a school that you want to learn more about?
DAN: Yes, I'm really interested in Michigan. They offer a great combination of top notch academics, and a legendary football program. I will definitely be looking at them hard.
TOM: Someone like you who's being recruited by a ton of schools, how do you plan on letting everything play out? Do you have a timeline?
DAN: I am actually making a top five or top six list in the upcoming weeks. I'll let you know which schools are on there when I make it.
TOM: When you go to make that top list, how does a school get in the top group? What are you looking for?
DAN: The schools will have, like Michigan does, a good combination of football and academics. It has to be a school that I feel comfortable being at because I will be spending the next four to five years of my life there. Lastly, there has to be a stable coaching staff, that will play a part in it.
TOM: Once you develop the top list, what comes after that? How will you decide from there?
DAN: I will try to visit those schools as many times as I can before the start of my senior year, and hopefully choose one school to call home. If not, I will push my decision timetable back and possibly take a few official visits.
TOM: So the plan for right now is to commit before the season, but it could go into the season?
DAN: Yes, that's right.
TOM: A lot of times with southern kids they like to stay in the south. Since you're from the Midwest, are you more comfortable staying in the Midwest, or even playing in a Big Ten type offense?
DAN: I would love to stay close to home and play Big Ten football. If there is a school that I visit and like outside of the midwest or Big Ten, then I won't hesitate to seriously consider them.
TOM: Last question, to go back to Michigan specifically, what are you looking to find with Michigan? What are you looking to learn about them?
DAN: Right now I just want to see the campus for myself and talk to the coaches more; gain that comfort level with them.
John Gasaway—AKA Big Ten Wonk—likes crusades. His last one was to obliterate rebound margin and seems to be going well. Not many use plain rebounds as a metric anymore, which is good because it makes no sense at all to do so.
Gasaway's latest horde of European knights with fuzzy ideas about salvation is aimed at the tournament seeding process:
I’m on the record as thinking that the mere distribution of wins — with due consideration for opponent, time, and place — can yield sufficient information to draw a line across the top quintile of D-I and tell the teams above this line, “You’re in!” But trying to do something as precise as sequencing an entire tournament field on an S-curve armed only with wins is a little like playing the piano while wearing oven mitts. It can be done, but the music would sound better if we freed up our fingers.
A few years ago I had a back-and-forth with Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog about something similar: I was purveying a resume-based results-only college football poll at the same time he was publishing a top 25 from Vegas oddsmakers that claimed it was more accurate. Those are two diametrically opposed methods. The BlogPoll is descriptive: We have this data and this is our best guess at which teams have the most impressive resumes. Vegas is predictive: we have this data and this is our best guess as to who the best teams are.
So do you want your national title picked based on an assessment of the season or the team? I had a viscerally negative reaction to seeing things like LSU at #5 six weeks into the 2006 season when they'd lost to Auburn and LSU and beaten ULL, Tulane, Mississippi State, and Arizona. They proceeded to win the rest of their games. So Vegas was right, except if LSU was a little better and options at the top a little worse you can imagine a scenario where Vegas takes a team like LSU over some luckbox like 2002 Ohio State. Right or not, that ain't right.
The Vegas poll is answering a different question than I want the people deciding who should play for the national championship asking. If there are two major conference undefeated teams and a one-loss team that's so clearly better than the two undefeated teams but has an inexplicable turnover-filled loss in a driving sleet-storm that happened because their quarterback got injured, picking the obviously better team obliterates college football. It's not about some ineffable combination of NFL draft picks and victory margin, it's about wins. If that has embarrassingly dumbed down nonconference schedules at least it's provided a reason to play the games, and a reason to have your heart in your throat when the other team is driving for the win no matter what your MOV is.
No one is going to claim that loosening the dominion of wins over a sport that lets various .500 major conference teams compete for its title "obliterates" anything, but I'm still leery of a world where Michigan's overtime against Iowa is mostly important because it can push Michigan's Kenpom rating up a spot. Gasaway explicitly states he's fine with using wins for tourney selection but that only mitigates the problem; any solid at-large team sees that effect since they're just worried about seeding, not getting over the line.
It would be pretty dumb to have some guy from Wisconsin at the line shooting two to win against Ohio State and have those free throws hardly matter at all. Would it be fair? Yes. Would it result in better seedings for the occasional very good minor conference team that gets thrust into a tough first round matchup and can't show their stuff? Yes. But I think it would make the season much less vital. Sometimes a little unfairness is the lesser evil.
Now, if Gasaway's just talking about alerting the committee to performance-aware metrics when they attempt to evaluate the case of Utah State, a team that's obliterating the WAC but has only played three games against teams with a Kenpom rating higher than 90(!)* and gone 1-2 against them, sure. The way in which the Aggies have acquired their record should be able to influence the committee to bump them a little bit. His endorsement of Bilas's tweet calling RPI a "joke" suggests he's more militant than that.
Once you start talking about tossing a 17-7, 7-7 Big Ten team probably headed for 19-9 and 9-9 (this is Illinois—their finish: @OSU, Iowa, @Purdue, Indiana) onto a line where a Sweet Sixteen bid would only be a mild surprise you lose me**. The Illini's strong nonconference performance should easily see them into the tournament but while I love Kenpom I'd take eighteen games of .500 basketball over his rating when evaluating seeds.
Maybe I've read him wrong.
*[Iowa, the worst team in the Big Ten, is 82nd.]
**[To be clear, I'm not picking on Illinois because Gasaway is an Illinois grad. It's just that they're the Big Ten team with the goofiest-looking Kenpom rating given their record. Playing Texas, UNC, Maryland, Missouri, and Gonzaga in the nonconference will do that.]
[Also, think of the advantage lost in NCAA pools if people were fairly seeded based on Kenpom type metrics. Horror!]
Novak fouled out on three obvious charges (2, 3, 5), a blocking foul (1), and one that could go either way(4). The ones where Novak was in position but only got a glancing blow should probably be no-calls, actually. This is why John Beilein—John Beilein!—got a technical foul in Iowa City. In other news, I hate college basketball refereeing.
Also Michigan won in OT against Iowa. The hockey kind of sucked up my attention. Tim Hardaway Jr… dude. This is my analysis. Dude.
2/18/2011 – Michigan 6, Western Michigan 3 – 20-9-4, 17-7-1 CCHA
2/21/2011 – Michigan 5, Western Michigan 4 (OT) – 21-9-4, 18-7-1 CCHA
Sometimes being at a hockey game is an exercise in wishing you were watching the thing on TV where the camera angle is consistent and the replays are repeated ad nauseum. This is especially true at Yost, where events just happen and evaporate without the benefit of video replay.
An example: at the end of the first period the puck was behind the net and suddenly the ref was feverishly pointing at the puck in the net without the thing seemingly ever reaching a spot where that was physically possible. The ref went to check it out. A few moments later the part of Yost directly behind the penalty boxes stood up and craned their collective neck to see the review as I plotted to relocate there next year, and a few moments after that he waved the thing off.
Last year I would have had to trudge through the deep, useless recesses of the USCHO board to find out what happened. Five years ago a Saturday game against Western probably wasn't televised at all and no one would really ever know. Since it's 2011 I just pulled out my phone, tweeted at the Daily's hockey beat writer*, and found out within ten minutes that the puck had indeed gone into the net from behind the goal.
I didn't see it, though, and that's kind of the point of being a spectator.
Sometimes hockey collapses itself into a universe just for you. You have to be sitting along the sideline between the blue lines for this to happen. If you are, at certain points you can draw a perfectly straight line from you to the guy shooting the puck to the goal.
An example: when Michigan came back against Denver in the NCAA tournament I sat right behind the Michigan bench and watched Eric Werner plunge into the slot to flick a puck over Wade Dubielewicz** to tie the game. I saw it the whole way and my mind blew up.
I shelled out for old fogey seats this year so when Lee Moffie entered the zone I saw Hagelin behind him and thought Moffie should drop it, and he did, and there were two seconds left so there's only one thing for Hagelin to do, and as he let the shot go and I drew a straight line from me to him to the net as the puck slid past the defenseman clean and rose. I could see where it was heading, see the goalie throw his glove at it but not get there in time, see the puck ricochet the right way as the great clank filled the building. It was one of those moments where the angel comes down from heaven and says "you there—God has selected you to have the deep-seated, socially awkward fandom of the concealed lunatic." It was pure.
And while I've been craving video boards at Yost for years there's something beautiful about not having the thing you just experienced altered by someone else's perspective. Since the Werner goal isn't on youtube no one can tell me he wasn't wielding a scimitar, wearing an eyepatch, and screaming "hhhhhyarrrrr" as he swashbuckled towards the net. I'm pretty sure the unicorn he was riding was named Steve.
Those days are over—see the youtube clip above—but thanks to Carl Hagelin Yost got one last opportunity to walk out of the building buzzing about the thing that just happened in your head, and only your head.
*[Michael Florek was beaten to the punch by the Hoover Street Rag.]
**[Google's spellchecking was heroic here: I typed "wade dublevicz."]
mfan_in_ohio has again broken down the pairwise so I'll just point you to his analysis. Michigan flew up to sixth after the sweep, but it is a tenuous, tenuous sixth. Here's why:
That's Ohio State barely nosing above .500 in RPI after taking a win and a tie from LSSU. Michigan's 3-1 record against the Buckeyes thus counts in the TUC category. This tiny difference in the season of a single opponent swings comparisons against Boston College and UNO. If OSU had split over the weekend Michigan would be eighth and we'd be wondering what a man has to do to get some respect around here.
As it is, OSU's nose getting over the line combined with a couple of wins over a WMU team that did well in its nonconference schedule gets you halfway to a one seed in one weekend. That and a lot of help elsewhere—Dartmouth, RPI, UMD, UNO, and Denver all lost over the weekend. Denver lost to Michigan Tech(!), which is huge because that's a common opponent and a terrible team.
While this is almost Michigan's ceiling, the stumbles of Denver and UMD have opened the door to the last one seed. Michigan easily beats Denver in COP now and is within striking distance in both TUC and RPI—outperforming them by a game down the stretch will do it. UMD, meanwhile, is close enough in RPI to drop if they lose and the six remaining regular season games between the two teams are all common opponents—NMU for Michigan, CC and UNO for UMD. If they take those two comparisons and Ohio State and Ferris can walk the tripwire so that both of them finish the season under consideration, they can slide up to fourth. This will take some luck but if Michigan sweeps Northern and wins the CCHA playoffs I think they'll be 50-50 for the one-seed.
- OSU plays Ferris this weekend and can remain in the TUC zone by splitting. However, sweeping will actually put Ferris about where OSU is now, leaving them vulnerable to dropping out in the CCHA playoffs. You probably want a split here but root for OSU on Friday because they're more vulnerable. You want both of these teams to do well in the playoffs.
- You hate Denver and Minnesota-Duluth with the burning fiery passion of a thousand suns.
- Also Boston College and UNO.
Everything else is up to Michigan.
It's Michigan and Notre Dame with ND maintaining a one-point lead. They have a home-and-home with this Western team; Michigan goes to Northern. Agonizingly, neither game in Marquette is televised. Michigan will win the tiebreaker if the teams end up even in points.
Non-bullets of !!!
Kind of mad, kind of awesome. Shawn Hunwick was not so good this weekend. On Friday it didn't result in much damage because the team had already gotten the other guy's goalie pulled but on Saturday he was off on both of the breakaways. They were breakaways so it's hard to be too mad but he gave up a weak five hole goal on the first and was way too deep in his net on the other. On the other hand, this is what he tweeted immediately afterwards:
Thank you Carl Hagelin for saving my ass. Great senior class. We had a phenomenal four years.
It wasn't that bad. We still love you and the fact that on shots from the point you end up halfway to the blue line.
Also, Hunwick made three clutch, clutch stops in the third period Saturday.
Need moar Swede. There needs to be another Swedish guy on the team ASAP. We've got the flag, we're very enthusiastic about the word "Bork"—let's make this happen.
Muppets. I totally should have muppetsed. Sorry. I had some people over afterwards and it slipped my mind.
With an assist to Lee Moffie. Moffie's fought for playing time most of the year despite having quite a knack for scoring because he's not that great defensively. Late in the third period as Michigan was trying to tie, however, he was ridiculously good. He's at his best when it's desperate and he can pinch and use his skill and wheel around the zone.
Other defensemen. It was a weekend full of defenseman thoughts:
- Greg Pateryn had a goal and three first assists on Friday. He essentially beat WMU by himself. As a bonus he would have had a fourth assist if you could assist on your own goals—he made an excellent play to control the puck and make a cross-ice pass in to the zone to set up the scoring chance. He still gets too aggressive at the blue line.
- Jon Merrill was really really good Friday—my friend just kept saying "he's really really good"—and then had probably his worst game as a Wolverine Saturday. It wasn't just the breakaway; he probably had more turnovers Saturday than in any two games he'd played this year.
- Mac Bennett is now leading the rush like 25% of the time there is one when he's on the ice.
What does he have to do? Lindsay Sparks was fast out there and looked as dangerous as he usually does. He hasn't put up much in the way of points but I'm continually surprised he can't get in the lineup regularly.
Exploding Lynch. Two on Friday, then two very fancy moves to get to his forehand Saturday. After the first I thought "that's the most dangerous thing he's done as a Wolverine" even though the shot was stopped; he did the same thing a period later and scored. Let's throw everyone down on the fourth line.
BONUS. Googling for Denver goals did turn this one up:
I'm hoping Hagelin channels Ortmeyer in his final games at Michigan.
As the crowd honored the seniors after the game, the Swedish flag that has flown at Yost for three seasons was tossed over the glass to Hagelin. The students had passed it around throughout the game, autographing it and writing thank yous and words of encouragement to our Super Swede.
I wondered what all the stuff on it was. Also: this is a bonus from having Senior Night on a weekend where the students aren't on break.
On what Berenson said to Carl when he gave him a hug after the game… Well, I just told him “Aren’t you glad you came to Michigan? And aren’t we glad that you came?” And good for him. He set a standard here. He’s been a terrific kid, student, player, teammate—you know, just a terrific kid. It’s the first Swedish player we’ve had and we’ll always remember him.
2013 commit JT Compher will join the NTDP, which should lock him up for college—it also suggests he's a high-end guy.