"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
A Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure.
It seems just about everyone in the media has a "source" that knows what Darius Morris plans to do this offseason. Such rumored plans include:
- Returning to school for his junior year with 100% certainty.
- Entering his name for the NBA Draft, but not hiring an agent, so he can pull out of it.
- Absolutely, with 100% certainty, entering the NBA Draft - for keepsies.
The correct answer is... none of the above. At John Beilein's meeting with the media today, he went into great detail about Darius's (possible) upcoming decision.
There are effectively three phases for an underclassman who intends to enter the NBA Draft. The first phase, which is what Darius has done, is to submit an application to the NBA Draft Undergraduate Advisory committee. John Beilein recommended to Darius that he apply to this committee: "Within two days after the season was over, I called Darius into the office, and suggested that we go through the Undergraduate Advisory Committee and gather information - and that's all that's happening right now." This is not a decision that blindsided the coaches, and in fact was Beilein's own idea.
Phase two is declaring for the NBA Draft, which Darius has not done. In fact, the application for evaluation explicitly states:
Please note that submission of this application is not a declaration of eligibility for the 2011 NBA Draft. A separate letter must be sent to Commissioner Davis Stern (received by April 24th, 2011) declaring eligibility for the 2011 NBA Draft.
(Emphasis original to the source). The third phase is actually going through with the Draft, which means not withdrawing by June 13th, or hiring an agent, etc.
Beilein declined to discuss specifics of Darius's merit for the NBA Draft, only pointing out that conventional wisdom states that underclassmen who aren't projected to be first-rounders usually stay in school at least one more year. He's not a scout, and hasn't watched film on every player who's a senior or has submitted his name for evaluation, and so did not say whether or not he thought Darius met that standard.
He was adamant in pointing out that Michigan's coaches want nothing more than for their players to have successful careers (emphasis on career, presumably as opposed to a big draft payday) in the NBA. "It's not about getting drafted, it's about having success in the NBA."
"There's a lot involved in this, and you have to think about it; it's a very important decision," Beilein said. Manny Harris has proven in his first NBA season that he made the right decision, as he's a regular in the Cavs' rotation. It remains to be seen what the Committee will tell Darius, and he'll make his decision after that.
Other post-season notes from Beilein's luncheon are less pressing matters, so expect a recap tomorrow.
3/25/2011 – Michigan 3, Nebraska-Omaha 2 (OT) – 27-10-4
3/26/2011 – Michigan 2, Colorado College 1 – 28-10-4, Frozen Four
The course of the season showed that if Michigan was going to make the Frozen Four they were going to do it one way: narrowly. If you need a number, during the course of the UNO broadcast they put up a stat showing Michigan's record in one-goal games was 10-3. That's just how they do.
That record is now up to 12-3 after history's greatest video review and the Joe Howe show (wsgs Joe Howe's Posts) and if there was ever any chance we remembered this hockey team as the weird one that kind of reminded you of Ron Mason that's gone now. This team isn't trying to win games –1 to –2 but you'd be forgiven if sometimes you thought they were.
It's working, though. I spent the second intermission Saturday thinking about Buffalo, when Michigan dominated Minnesota for two periods but didn't put enough of that domination on the scoreboard to prevent Minnesota's rally from tying the game; Michigan lost the game and Al Montoya's brain in overtime on one of those bizarrely frequent OT goals that comes from almost the goal line on the left side of the net*. I spent the third period thinking about how beautifully boring it was until Red channeled into Lloyd Carr by slipping Jeff Rohrkemper out there for a power play shift. He was immediately punished for punting from the 34 by a Rohkemper boarding penalty and nine seconds later CC fumbled a puck into the net. Everyone braced for a storm. That storm was a single pea-sized hailstone. The most nervous moment after that was a bunch of players rooting for the puck on the boards with the goalie out and twenty seconds left.
Michigan had outshot their opponent 43-22, played a game universally acclaimed as their best of the season, and won 2-1 because Scooter is an animal and pucks that come off Lee Moffie's stick will hit the post and go in even if they have to deflect off three guys to do it. There is a natural inertia pulling them towards narrow wins you're uncertain about; even now that they've reached the Frozen Four there's a feeling they don't really match up with a North Dakota.
There's also the feeling they just might, though. Because what the hell, Michigan's 11-1 since the line shakeup after Michigan's dismal 0-3 stretch against MSU and Miami. Season goals slipping away and faced with the question of how to get the most use out of some good forwards who never, ever score Michigan put together a vintage Todd Marchant checking line and let anyone who might put the puck in the net forget about guys like Jaden Schwartz.
This has been remarkably effective. If the announcer didn't bring his name up every time he wasn't making a joke-type assertion about the "hockey hotbeds" of California, Texas, and Arizona, the viewer could have forgotten about Jaden Schwartz. Lingering irritation at Matt Rust's bad OT penalty against UNO evaporated as his line erased Schwartz, Schwartz, and Schultz with a healthy assist from Jon Merill at his most subtly awesome. The Schwartzes got their goal on a four-on-four scramble; everything other than that was frustration. In the second period they started jawing and shoving people because they were getting nothing. This was one day after they turned defending national champs Boston College into a lump of smoking carbon.
I watched North Dakota pummel two teams, one of them not even in the ECAC, this weekend. I remember Michigan's last two not-very-competitive matchups against them. I have considerable doubts that Michigan will beat them since they're by far the best team left standing. Doubts about doubts come when you close your eyes and see Jon Merrill gently shepherding you, the puck, and a hockey team into a deep, peaceful sleep as Matt Rust obscures the face of North Dakota Hobey finalist… oh… you know… what's his name.
*[Almost certainly an artifact of my introduction to college hockey but they seem to happen all the time: Josh Langfeld's championship winner, the Vanek goal (at 1:00) that put Michigan out in Buffalo, and ND's winner against Merrimack were all bizarre nothing shots from the same area of the ice that took the goalie by surprise.]
A Tiny Window Of White Bullets
Also the other two goals but mostly Scooter!
You do not have a twitter account that concerns itself with Michigan hockey if you didn't tweet "Scooter" followed by one to three exclamation points after his goal, which was completely unbelievable even as it was happening. CC does not have the greatest defensemen in the world but holy crap where did that come from?
Monster faceoffs. Michigan both faced and received extended periods of 5-on-3 time in the first period, and during both they got clean, critical faceoff wins. Moffie's goal was a direct result. The lack of a CC goal on their terrifying PP was greatly aided, as well.
Clare escape. To recap the thing I kept talking about during the game: after a tough shift in which Pateryn and Clare got caught in the zone forever, allowing the Schwartz line to get out against them and some other random non-Rust forwards, Red pulled Clare out of the lineup for more than a period. Pateryn took shifts with the second pair D to give guys a break. Clare returned about halfway through the second and actually got some PK time a bit later, which I guess makes sense because your breakout on the PK is slapping the puck down the ice. I saw him out there a couple times in the third, as well, but his minutes were minimized.
All this invites questions about Burlon's availability. He's got two weeks to recover from his strep and penicillin reaction, so I imagine he'll be in the lineup. Losing 15 pounds is kind of a lot, though, and I wonder how effective he'll be.
RNG in full effect. Hockey's vaguely weighted plinko system was a little more random than normal this time around: FF participants are two three-seeds, a two, and a one. One seeds went 2-2 in the first round, bringing their record against fours to 11-9 the last five years. That goes beyond "anything can happen" into "your excellent season gets you nothing."
What's wrong? I don't think you can blame the Pairwise. The "better"* ranking system, KRACH, already updated for the weekend's results and still has Yale a #1. The only difference between KRACH's top seeds and the PWRs is putting Denver above Miami, and there's a fair chance that wasn't the case before the events of the weekend.
You can blame insular schedules. Yale's nonconference schedule consisted of single games against CC, Air Force, Cornell, and Vermont and an "Ivy Shootout" against other ECAC members. The only evidence we had that Yale was a top seed other than their ECAC schedule was a 5-1 win over a .500 WCHA team and a 2-1 record against Atlantic Hockey—yeah, they'd already lost to first-round opponent Air Force.
This vapor-thin trail coupled with some other ECAC nonconference games convinced the ranking systems the conference didn't suck despite years of evidence to the contrary. The last ECAC team to make the Frozen Four was Cornell in 2003 and that last to win a title was Harvard in 1989.
That only explains perpetually disappointing ECAC #1s, which are rare. The rest of it is on a tournament format which has #1 Miami play #4 UNH in New Hampshire in a single-elimination game.
*[FWIW, KRACH is mathematically pure but has a tendency to go nuts about nonconference results. In certain years it would put up to eight WCHA teams, some well below .500, into the field.]
Abandabuildings. It was no surprise to see literally every seat in the upper bowl in St. Louis empty. We wondered if a couple of friends had actually made the trip despite stern clucking about teaching the NCAA a lesson, and I said "if they did they'll be on TV because they'll be the only people there," and midway through the second there they were. Even the NCAA's comically generous numbers only show 55% capacity.
Every year we get sterile half-full buildings as teams get shipped halfway across the country and fans have to deal with the possibility they'll get on a plane to see their team play once, or if they're lucky play twice and make the Frozen Four and then you've blown your budget on regionals already. Insert usual rant about using home sites here.
The good news is the NCAA has not selected regional sites past next year. In the past sites have been selected three to four years out, so that's a clear sign this failed format is on its last legs. Last year there was a report out of Grand Forks that change was coming, with home sites and "super regionals" of an undetermined nature.
The bad news is that once again the CCHA has no regionals within hundreds of miles of it—the closest is in Green Bay as the St. Louis regional moves to St. Paul. At least Michigan's getting out of that rinky-dink operation, and as a bonus the failures of its commissioner* now directly benefit it.
*[Seriously, what has Anastos done since 1998 that a lump of quartz couldn't? The CCHA has gone nowhere, and has clearly become the region of the country that either gets screwed over by the committee or can't scrape together a bid that makes any more sense than having a regional in St. Louis.]
I am Jack's total lack of surprise. The crew doing the Yale-UMD game that chucked Yale's best player out of the game for a clean open-ice hit were from the CCHA. Yale's coach was infuriated enough afterwards to lead his presser with "the game was taken away from us." Yet more reason to be happy we're getting away from the league—hopefully most of the refs don't follow.
Via Boyz in the Pahokee as per usual.
Daily game story and gallery featuring a great shot of the Scooter(!!!) goal:
Everyone in the shot including Scooter is thinking "WTF?"
“I think they did have a few pretty good shots early on,” Hunwick said. “But this is an opportunity to play for the Frozen Four. I think I made a couple good saves. It’s pretty easy to stay in the game when you’re playing to go to the Frozen Four. They didn’t really get anything going too much until they got into the power play. Once they got into the power play, I really had to be sharp.”
Seriously, that power play was terrifying. That first period five on three was awful.
Torrent of the CC game.
This past weekend was Michigan's junior day and by all accounts was a success. There were a ton of prospects in to watch practice and take part in a few tours. Here's a look at how a few of those recruits felt about the trip.
6'4", 255 lbs.
Wormley is one of the top ranked prospects in Ohio for 2012 and is also one of the main targets for the Michigan staff. He's been on campus before, but this was his first chance to see the new coaches in action.
My mom and dad were up there with me. We watched practice first, went to lunch, and then they took us on a tour of the locker room and everything. I noticed in practice that the coaches are real patient and there's not a lot of yelling. It definitely helped me get a better understanding of how they coach and how they work. This visit definitely helped Michigan.
Chris also got a chance to get some one on one time with Coach Montgomery and Mattison.
We were just talking about general stuff, just chit chat. They talked about the defense and that I would most likely be playing what they call the rusher position on the outside.
While Chris has been on campus before, this visit gave him a little bit of a better understanding for the program in general. He talked about the academics and when he wants to make his decision.
I think what stood out to me the most was how seriously they take the academics up there. The academics are first and football's second; I like that. My parents were having some good conversations too, so it was good. I either want to make my decision before the season starts or after. It will be too big of a distraction during the season. If I'm not 100% comfortable then I'll do it after the season.
Michigan has been high on Wormley's list for some time and the new coaching staff has made a definite impression on him and his family. It's a race now between Michigan and Ohio State for Wormley.
6'0", 220 lbs.
Ringer decided to make another trip up to Ann Arbor, and he has also decided on a date to make his final announcement.
I'll be making my announcement on April 15th at 6:00 [EST]. But yeah I was up there for a photo shoot with Tom Lemming and then I stayed for practice. When I got there Coach Hoke came up to me and hugged me. It was cool, but I didn't stay for the junior day. I just wanted to make sure I spoke with the staff before I left.
I then asked Kaleb if this visit let him see anything new or different from what he had already seen from the coaches and the University.
No, they have been real with me from day one. I was mostly checking out the linebackers to see how they play. They really stress physicality and I like that.
While he didn't necessarily see anything new while watching practice there was an aspect that he saw that stood out to him.
I saw a family on the football field, not just a team. You couldn't tell who the stars were on the team, everyone blended. I think they have accepted Coach Hoke's vision and bought into it, and so have I.
Ringer currently has offers from Michigan, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, and Toledo. Like he said, he will be making his announcement on April 15th. It's an announcement to tune in to.
6'3", 220 lbs.
Farmington Hills, Michigan
Mario made it up to Ann Arbor with his teammate TE Devin Funchess. They both took in practice as well.
We went to practice and talked to Coach Jackson and saw all the coaches. I had a long talk with Coach Hoke, too. He basically talked about what Michigan has to offer and the tradition there. I liked the visit more than I thought I would. I liked it more because of the coaches, they're just really easy to talk and get a long with. I didn't expect all that. We were all just talking about life a lot, especially with Coach Jackson.
The visit seemed to make an impression on Mario, and practice gave him a better view of how the Michigan coaches operate.
They said I would be a hybrid type. I could put my hand in the dirt or drop back into coverage. Watching practice I liked how it was ran. Everyone was hustling and it was 100%. I was basically trying to watch the ends and outside linebackers. After that Coach Singletary took me around by myself and gave me a tour. He was just telling me how Michigan is different.
Ojemudia is hoping to make his final decision before the season starts. He's going to wait until the summer to narrow down his list. He also told me that this visit definitely helped Michigan in his mind.
5'11", 188 lbs.
Brooklyn, New York
Morgan is a prospect who hasn't been talked about too much yet. He already has offers from Alabama, Boston College, UConn, Maryland, Miami, Penn State, and now Michigan.
I sat down with Coach Hoke and he asked me if I think I have a scholarship from Michigan. I said no, and he said well you do.
Rutgers has a slight edge right now because of familiarity and how much he knows about their program. This visit was big for Michigan in that regard, and it gave him a better feel for what Michigan has to offer.
We went around the stadium, the weight room, and the academic center. Coach Mattison was showing me coverages that they run. I saw a lot and all my questions were answered. I basically wanted to know about academics and how I would stand in a school like that. The visit got me closer to the coaches, so that helped.
Besides the coaches, the Big House was an exciting part of the visit for Wayne.
Practice was good, it showed me how they coached. But it was great to be in the Big House. I've never been inside something like that, it just blows your mind to be in the Big House.
Morgan will take more visits and try to gain more comfortability with some of the other programs that have offered. He could end up being a key recruit because of his versatility. He could potentially try out at the corner or safety spot at the next level.
Michigan TE Ron Thompson (6'4", 210 lbs) might be announcing his decision this week. Michigan is in good position with Thompson.
If you missed it, here are the reactions from Michigan's first commitment Ben Braden, and another visitor in LB Joe Bolden.
Instate DE Matt Godin decided to head over to Michigan's practice after the Tom Lemming photo shoot as well. He told me that Michigan keeps moving up every time he goes there. He's still not sure when he wants to decide, but I have a feeling he's getting closer. He's likely to take a few more visits though.
Massachusetts LB Camren Williams committed to Penn State while on his visit. His teammate ATH Armani Reeves was also on the visit with him, but won't be making his decision until December. Michigan still has a chance with Reeves despite his teammate committing to PSU.
The Spring Roster has been updated again. It still doesn't list new weights so I'm not going to bother with Weight Gain 2011 for now, but it's excuse enough for me to do a little delving. First, a couple of tidbits:
- Jihad Rasheed!
- Ricardo Miller is listed as a TE (and 6'4, 215). As with all things Ricardo-related, please mentally insert "Ninja." Too early for YMRMFSPA Tim Massaquoi? Yes.
- There are still 12 scholarship players still listed at receiver.
- Mike Williams is no longer on the roster. As expected, the concussion last year ended a disappointing career for a by accounts good guy. I hope he finds success in life after football, and that his dreams aren't too haunted by visions of 11 foot tall robot Juice Williams.
- Safety watch: M-Rob, Furman, Hawthorne, Carvin, Prison Abs, and Kovacs are your scholarship players listed as "S."
- Heininger back on the 2-Deep: It's a good thing we're recruiting defensive ends. RVB and Roh are the only scholarship upperclassmen on the roster; Jibreel Black is the only other schollied-player listed. Wilkins, Talbott the Elder, and Ash are listed as DTs; Jake Ryan and Paskorz are LBs. Since Steve Watson is back at TE, at least one and most likely two of the freshmen Beyer, Rock or Heitzman will need to play this year. If Roh or RVB miss any extended time, file the transfer of Anthony LaLota as a greater-than-zero bad thing.
- Marell Evans is officially back and wearing his old No. 9. Evans was a 2- or 3-star linebacker recruit in Lloyd's "oh god we need LBs and DBs" class of 2007, and started a few games as a redshirt freshman in '08 in a Ray Vinopal-is-your-starting-FS kind of way before falling behind Thompson, Ezeh and Mouton. He transferred the summer before the 2009 season on "good terms" but left pointing out he had three DCs from '07-'09 and didn't fit with GERG's system. Marell rather quietly returned to the program this winter (not because Rich Rod's gone) and is listed as a 5th year senior.
- Nobody minded the decision at the time, but in retrospect the decision to make Shafer the goat after '08 rather than butt out of the defense may have been the crucible of the RR era.
- Evans:In/Vinopal:Out could be a microcosm of the dichotomy between the RR and Hoke/Lloyd regimes: one early playing 2-star is a tiny speed bug; the other is a 6'3 sure tackler who can't move laterally. This would be a good lead for a "Hoke = Return to Pre-Rod" column…if you're Lynn Henning.
- Attrition on the defensive side is still going to be hurting M's defense this year.
- Did someone say "defensive attrition?"
- Here we go again…
The Decimated Defense Revisited
Yes, I'm going there again. We have two more years of data to see how things have progressed, for one. We have a wide disparity in expectations for next year's defense, for two. And three: I now know how to use pivot tables on Excel – that would have been really helpful last time. This week I'm going to go through Michigan's 2007-2011 classses to re-establish our baseline. I'll also link you to my full list of attrition and retention in case you can add any thoughts before next week.
The Expectation Tracker is an estimate of how much the class is contributing compared to the average of five other schools for which I tracked attrition: Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Alabama. The baseline is the average number of defensive players left from that class between those five schools.
Class of 2007 (5th Year Seniors)
Attrition: 4/9 recruits remaining (Avg. retention = 4/10)
Position Breakdown (DL-LBs-DBs): 2-3-4 recruited / 1-2-1 remaining (Avg. = 1-1-2) So running count, we're up a linebacker and down a DB.
Star Breakdown: 4-3-3-2 remaining (Avg. = 4-4-4-2)
Gone: Donovan Warren (Early NFL after '09), Michael Williams (bust, injury, unrenewed 5th), Artis Chambers (transfer in '08), Renaldo Sagesse (Graduated after '10), Austin Panter (JUCO, Graduated after '08).
Walk-On: Kevin Leach (backup MLB)
Discussion: I think you would expect the 5th year class to leave a few B+ guys with a few years of starting experience. The trueborn talent probably found their ways to the NFL, either through early entry or contributing since their true freshman seasons. The 2007 class, recruited from the tail end of the "Year of Infinite Pain" and through the undefeated-till-OSU 2006 season, leaves two such players on defense: Woolfolk and Van Bergen.
Warren was the surprise "horray" commit of the year. Van Bergen was a Zettel, i.e. a 4-star who would be the highest rated player of a typical State of Michigan crop. Michigan whiffed on a lot of top players, and the fallbacks were uninspiring or worse: UCLA and Oregon had backed off from Michael Williams, so there were some red flags around him long before Juice Williams shattered him. Chambers was a 2-star early enrollee who transferred Ball State and couldn’t crack the two-deep.
Panter was a stop-gap JUCO for a scary-thin depth chart, Evans a low 3-star from Brandon Minor’s school who saw the field a few times before losing his job to Mouton in 2008; he transferred to Hampton (FCS) and was eh before returning this year. Herron was a 3-star boom-or-bust from the Shawn Crable school of athletic DEs too small to play DE. Renaldo Sagesse was a 20-year-old Canadian. Troy Woolfolk was a legacy whom the big local Texas schools didn't offer.
So if you'd asked me to predict in 2007 what that class would leave for 2011, a B+ defensive back and a B+ lineman plus some depth guys would be on the low end but still within expectations. On the other hand, for a class recruited after an 11-2 Rose Bowl season, you would expect a bit more.
Expectation Meter: 3. Baseline 4. +1 for Woolfolk, –1 for Williams, –1 for recruiting whiffs at LB and not getting some backup CBs.
Class of 2008 (Seniors, RS Juniors)
Attrition: 4/8 recruits remaining (Avg. retention = 9/12) (!)
Position Breakdown (DL-LBs-DBs): 1-4-3 recruited / 1-2-1 remaining (Avg. = 3-3-3). Running: –2 DL, +0 LB, –3 DB
Star Breakdown: 4-4-4-3 (Avg. = 4-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-2)
Remaining: J.T. Floyd (Starting CB), Mike Martin (Starting DT/NT), J.B. Fitzgerald (Backup SLB, possible starter), Kenny Demens (Starting MLB)
Walk-On: Jordan Kovacs (Starting SS)
Discussion: The meat of a starting group ideally comes from the 4th and 3rd year ranks. To compete for a Big Ten title in '11, the '08 class would preferably contribute at least four starters, one or two of them NFL-bound stars. The hybrid Lloyd/RR class was mostly Carr’s on defense; RR recruited Taylor Hill, who stepped on campus, presumably met the coeds, and took the first bus out of town. The rest were players recruited primarily by the old staff, even if some signed after an heir was announced. Bloggers clamored for more cornerbacks (and got the first wave of slot ninjas).
At points during the ensuing three years this class looked more and more like Mike Martin and disaster. The late emergence of Demens last year means we got at least one Big Ten player out of the four linebackers. Martin is fantastic, even when playing a position that doesn't best take advantage of his talents. Floyd seemed to regress before his injury in 2011, but at his best (see Ohio State 2009) he's a not-fast cornerback who survives on brains, effort and grit. When he's not his best, he misses open field tackles and gives up huge plays. Fitz will have the inside shot at the SAM linebacker position but was so bad at it last year he ended up rotating with Obi Ezeh. Cissoko's story is of the Kelly Baraka variety (kid with no prior problems who develops lots on campus) that nails any school every decade or so. Smith hung around then departed when it was clear the defense was going to be terrible until he was a senior (at which point he would have probably been really useful at the Will spot).
Expectation Meter: 3 - Guh. Baseline 9. –5 for attrition. +1 because Martin is a beast, –1 J.B. Fitz is underwhelming so far, –1 hey, while you're out there trying to convince Pryor that winning the Heisman is better than a free Corvette, could you maybe try and get us another cornerback?
Class of 2009 (Juniors, RS Sophomores)
Attrition: 6/10 recruits remaining + 2 pos. switches, so 8/10 (Avg. retention = 9/10)
Position Breakdown (DL-LBs-DBs): 3-3-4 recruited / 3-4-1 retained (Avg. = 3-3-3) Running: –2 DL, +1 LB, –5 DB (!) and (!) again!
Star Breakdown: 5-4-4-4-3-3-3-3 (Avg. = 5-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-2)
Gone: Justin Turner (transferred before '10), Vlad Emilien (transferred before '10), Anthony LaLota (transferred before '10), Adrian Witty (did not qualify)
Remaining: Will Campbell (Starting DT?), Craig Roh (Starting WDE), Mike Jones (Starting WLB?), Brandin Hawthorne (backup WLB), Isaiah Bell (backup SLB), Thomas Gordon (Backup S)
Moved from Offense: Cam Gordon (Starting WLB?), Quinton Washington (backup DT)
Discussion: The juniors are the guys expected to make the big leap close to their ultimate effectiveness. The class was kind of weak against previous Michigan classes, and really strong for teams that finish 3-9. Given this class was entirely recruited by Rodriguez's staff, the high attrition (40%) due to playing time (!), is really irksome. Two 4-star position switches add depth in the box, but three defensive back losses were not replaced. So the Class of '09 held serve on the d-line and got some linebackers, but ultimately contributed only "Prison Abs" to the secondary. Here you see the genesis of Secondary Disaster 2009-'10.
Turner, if you believe unsubstantiated rumor, turned out to be the cautionary tale of the kid who wanted to be Woodson, but without all that effort. Emilien had an injury that scared away Ohio State and made him look awful in two Spring Games, but board insiders claimed his speed was back. I have no idea if he would have helped; his own assessment was that Cam Gordon would hold down free safety for his entire Michigan career. LaLota was a project recruit who also looked bad in Spring. Witty was the DeVito twin to the Denard's Schwarzenegger, but raise your hand if you'd have taken a 2-star junior cornerback on this depth chart?
Among positives, position switcher (WR) Cam Gordon was epic bad at free safety but has the knack for hitting that could see him turn into a mean Will linebacker, which is where everyone expected him to end up, even during his recruitment. Q has come in for practice hype and wasn't awful at NT after a mid-season position switch from offensive guard. Roh is the kind of high-motor end that has been Iowa's secret weapon for years. Mike Jones was a 3-star S/OLB who generated some practice hype as an outside linebacker before losing the 2010 season to injury.
The 5-star is Big Will Campbell, who looked ineffective at NT, got moved to guard last year, and now is back to the DL as 3-tech. In a spring of precious little breakout player hype, Campbell probably leads the team in positive mentions (and leads the 3-tech battle), but that's also probably because Hoke is most often asked about the defense's lone blue chip in his break-or-bust offseason.
Thomas Gordon was somewhat effective though small at Spur, and is in the mix for free safety or backing up Kovacs. Isaiah Bell was a talented/raw DB in high school but outgrew safety and is rumored to have a bit of the Turner syndrome. Hawthorne is the opposite: his talent level is meh but he's a good roster guy and special teamer. If you think Campbell and Turner were overrated coming out of high school, there's a recruiting/scouting problem with this class; if you think it's due to bad luck or bad coaching there's plenty of that to go around. Anyway, unless maybe Roh pops this year there doesn't seem to be a star in the group. If you're looking for unsubstantiated hope for 2011, it's probably one of the low 4-star guys making that big leap, plus the standard "THIS time the new DC is going to fix all!" that we seem to get every year since Jim Hermann.
Expectation Meter: 3 - Double-Guh. Baseline 9: –1 for attrition. –4 because there are no starting DBs left. –2 Big Will disappointment thus far, +1 Roh=Crab People,*
* Giving a +1 Roh's dad is disingenuous to the mission of this exercise but don't think I didn't think of it.
Class of 2010 (Sophomores, RS Freshmen)
Attrition: 12/16 remaining (Avg. retention = 9/10)
Position Breakdown: 6-3-7 recruited / 4-2-6 retained (Avg. = 3-3-3) Running: –1 DL, +0 LB, –2 DB
Star Breakdwon: 4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3 (Avg. = 5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-3)
Remaining: Cullen Christian (nickel CB), Marvin Robinson (Starting FS?), Ken Wilkens (Backup DT), Richard Ash (Backup DT), Carvin Johnson (Starting FS?), Jibreel Black (Backup SDE), Terry Talbott (Backup DT), Josh Furman (Backup S/Starting FS?), Courtney Avery (Starting CB?), Jordan Paskorz (Backup LB), Jake Ryan (LB), Terrence Talbott (Backup CB)
Discussion: By 2010 it was finally obvious to the coaching staff that warm bodies were needed at defensive back, and warm bodies were attained. This is consequently the first class where Michigan didn't match its rivals in recruiting quality; the result going into their sophomore season is two more 3-stars on the roster instead of a 5-star. The desperate staff, which by this point was recruiting with a few clouds overhead, also perhaps relaxed academic expectations, resulting in three DNQs.
The players still around are too young to grade: you'd expect a typical 4-star who eventually ends-up-being-RVB kind of guy to get some rotational playing time, but you wouldn't expect that guy to be a starter without some growing pains along way. Because of the Decimated Defense (TM) that went before them, a lot of this class got playing time when by all rights they should have been redshirting, giving us a peek at their respective abilities. However, I'm wary of judging too harshly for play by true freshmen thrown into a bad situation. Of those who changed opinions, I think M-Rob downgraded a bit from high expectations, Cullen was much worse than a 4-star cornerback should be even as a freshman, Black flashed ability as a pass rusher (caveat: major liability size-wise vs. run) and Avery didn't look like the next Leon Hall but sure looked a lot better than you'd expect of a 3-star fall arrival who was a high school QB. Conversely, Terrence Talbott looked exactly like a 3-star true freshman cornerback should look.
Expectation Meter: 11! Baseline 9: +3 for Dudes! –2 for low-rated recruits. –1 M-Rob did not play like a guy with 5-star offers, +1 Carvin Johnson showed promise, +1 Jibreel Black too, +1 Courtney Avery, –1 Cullen.
Class of 2011 (True Freshmen)
Position Breakdown: 3-4-5 / 3-4-5 (Avg. 5-3-3) Running: –3 DL, +0 LB, –1 DB
Star Breakdown: 4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3 (Avg. = 5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-3)
Gone: Nobody – it's been two months; what do you think this is, 2008 through 2010?
Remaining: Greg Brown (CB), Raymon Taylor (CB), Blake Countess (CB), Delonte Hollowell (CB), Tamani Carter (S), Brennan Beyer (DE), Chris Rock (DE), Keith Heitzman (DE), Kellen Jones (LB), Antonio Poole (LB), Frank Clark (LB), Desmond Morgan (LB)
Discussion: With the world waiting for the axe to fall on RR, and no coach until mid-January, this class was a sunk cost. There's a few low 4-stars but if any of them end up contributing this year, that guy was either very underrated (YAY!) or something has gone horribly, Cone-is-your-starting-QB wrong (again). Since only Brown is on campus so far, there's zero rating. Michigan made up some ground on personnel with this class, but it's even less highly rated than 2010, on par with a good year for Michigan State and an NCAA infraction at other schools. This is the direct result of "The Process," specifically the part about waiting until Winter Semester of their senior years to tell prospective recruits who their coaches will be. No 5-stars, and short a 4-star as well next to comparable teams, but that's somewhat made up for by four more 3-stars than normal.
Defensive line and defensive back are still priorities to recruit beyond normal this year (if you're a DE in Ohio and you haven't received your Michigan offer yet, please contact us). The next step is lots of quality, since the last two classes really should only be expected to do a good job of producing depth and a few upperclassmen starters.
Expectation Meter: 8 Baseline 11: +1 for Dudes!, –4 for low-rated recruits.
Need the dudes: Scout via Maize&Blog
Attrition Total: 40/57 = 70.17% of D recruits still here
I mean: Horray, we're over 10 clicks higher than the Alabama-like losses that haunted 2009 and 2010. Then again, what did we lose?
Star Breakdown Total:
- 5 Stars: 1/2
- 4 Stars: 14/23
- 3 Stars: 24/29
- 2 Stars: 2/3
Gawddammit! M retention versus the field:
- 5 Stars: 1/2
- 4 Stars: 14/17
- 3 Stars: 24/20
- 2 Stars: 2/2
The damage doesn't look as bad from out here.
Position Breakdown Total: 14 DL, 12 LB, 14 DB (Avg. = 17-12-13)
Why more DL and DB? The way I handled transitions to offense is to simply pull guys out (so you don't gain or lose from it) and more DLs ended up as offensive players. Converse: more are recruited. At defensive back, there seems to be, in general, a greater attrition rate for DBs across schools. No idea why this is.
Next week I'll get into the direct comparisons and play the blame game. For now, feel free to check my work.
Diaries of Darius and Decimation
It's Darius Morris week in the diaries while Darius decides whether he's worthy of this year's NBA draft. While Morris explores, let's talk about how much better he makes Michigan.
Raoul has been active in threads discussion DM and decided to try using a simple WSJ formula to show that Morris is actually the key to Michigan's offense:
His 201 field goals and 235 assists mean Morris was involved in 436 of the team's field goals--or 51.5% of the 847 total.
- [Rumeal] Robinson in 88-89 was involved in 432 of his team's field goals (199 FGs + 233 assists), or 32.6% of the team total
- [Gary] Grant in 87-88 was involved in 503 of his team's field goals (269 FGs + 234 assists), or 42% of the team total
This stat raises the Morris quotient in my hoops heart to 31.4% It's low, but I've got a Hardaway man-crush, and gotta save some for the bench.
Say Soyonara to Da U.P. eh
Meanwhile mfan_in_ohio scooped all of us in Michigan media by breaking the news that U.P. may be sayin' ya to da Cheese State eh?
Upper Peninsula can’t be sure it’s staying in Michigan
BY MARK SNYDER
DETROIT FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
The Upper Peninsula said all the right things.
It said it would “definitely” be back next year. After all, it is geologically attached where it is, and already has the Mackinac Bridge connecting it to the rest of Michigan.
But the UP will investigate other options.
The piece, which I bumped from the boards took a shot at the Freep's Mark Snyder for (at the time) jumping the gun with Morris-to-NBA speculation minus, you know, evidence.
The Schwartz is With Him
In Things Not Morris, denverblue put together an extensive (and mostly correct) puck preview of Colorado College, right before Michigan beat the Tigers to advance to the Frozen Four. Since I can't tell the difference between Denver and North Dakota (they've played each other tight all season), I'm down for rooting for Denver if it means I get another write-up like this Diary of the Week.
Complete domination obscured by thousands of horrible pinging sounds and late-game terror until the world's dumbest penalty, and then more late game semi-terror, resulting in awe at a guy who doesn't show up on the scoresheet at all. JMFM. Definitely best freshman defenseman I've ever seen. Possible additional superlatives might be warranted. Muppets.
And you can't have one without the other…
Quick, everyone look up transport to St. Paul.
Michigan has commitment number 2, and it's another offensive lineman. Cincinnati OL Caleb Stacey has pulled the trigger and committed to Brady Hoke and the Wolverines. Here's what he had to say to Tom:
"I just got back from a visit to West Virginia, me and my parents sat down and talked about everything. We just decided that Michigan was the right place for me. It was just the place I felt best and I felt comfortable."
Informative update coming later.
|NR OG||NR OL||NR OL|
We shall start, as we (almost) always do, with size. The three sites are mostly in agreement on his size, with Scout and Rivals crediting him at 6-4, while ESPN docks him an extra inch, saying Caleb is merely 6-3. The consensus weight is 280 (although Rivals says he's only 275).
As a slightly shorter guy, it's almost certain he's an interior player. Since it's early in the process, there's not a whole lot of info on Caleb out there as it relates to his ability.
Since I'm posting this from my phone at the lacrosse game, a more in-depth breakdown based on his video (and a more thorough search for articles on his play) will have to wait until Wednesday Recruitin' - for now, check out a couple useful comments on this post.
Caleb had a wider range of offers than Ben Braden, though not necessarily quite as high-profile. Rivals gives him BC, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Miami (NTM), NC State, Ohio, Toledo, Wake, and West Virginia offers. Scout adds South Florida.
Despite the lack of information on Caleb out there, this is no under-the-radar kid. Encouraging? Yes.
Caleb is an offensive linemen, and one who doesn't get a lot of press, at that. No stats available.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the premium site have a listed 40-yard dash time for Caleb, but Rivals does list a GPA of 3.2. I'll pretend like that's a 40 time, and give it seven FAKEs out of five.
Ask, and ScoutingOhio shall provide:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Very early in the process, Caleb has the sort of offers that indicate he would be a bigtime prospect following the summer. However, an early commitment probably means he won't spend a lot of time at camps, and his profile will stay a little lower. High 3-star to mid 4-star is probably his (slightly unfair) ceiling.
In college, a redshirt is near-automatic for young linemen. Caleb is no exception, and he'll sit a year on the bench before working into the 2-deep. The interior line depth chart is not quite as dire as the tackles, and so he's likely to sit another year as a redshirt freshman.
After that, however, it's way to early to tell. Will there be attrition from the current roster? Will more-recognized linemen commit (not that they're necessarily better for their recruiting profile, but who knows)? We'll wait and see for now.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
MOAR LINEMEN. That's two out of four to six spots filled. With a number of commits expected to reach the high teens, that should have no other effect on the class.
Hopefully, in fact, it gets a commitment train rolling through the end of spring.
PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
|WHAT||Michigan vs CC|
|WHERE||Hundreds of miles from anywhere reasonable|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
UPDATE w/ actual scouting. These are always a bit limited because the college hockey TV situation makes it almost impossible to scout beyond base numbers. Fortunately, Denver Blue has seen plenty of CC this year and provides a more in-depth look in a diary.
Record. 23-18-3, 13-13-2 WCHA. You wouldn't know it from CC's demolition of defending national champs Boston College but… eh… they were pretty mediocre this season. They limped to a .500 conference record and were actually outscored by WCHA opponents (by one, but still). That's why they're a four-seed.
Their nonconference schedule is kind of iffy, too. The good: a three-point weekend against RPI, a win over Air Force, and a sweep of UAH (yay?). The not so good: a loss to Fairbanks, a loss to Yale, and a narrow win over MSU followed up by a loss to Michigan(hey, that's us!) in the GLI.
If that's encouraging, the primary reason they're the opponent instead of favored BC is first-round pick and total ninja Jaden Schwartz, who 1) didn't play in the Michigan game because he was at the World Juniors, and 2) broke his ankle at that tournament and missed a couple months. Schwartz left for the WJC after a 3-0 win over SCSU that took CC to 9-7-1. When he returned against Bemidji on February 18th CC was 17-14-2. Um. With him they're 15-11-3… so yeah, apparently having him around hasn't done that much for their record. Still, that is one scary dude.
As far as recent performance goes, they bizarrely had five straight games against Wisconsin thanks to a first-round playoff matchup; they went 3-2 in those. They then beat UAA before losing to North Dakota in a WCHA semi. Then there was the BC demolition.
Previous meetings. As mentioned, Michigan beat CC 6-5 in a wild GLI final that saw Michigan blow a third period lead by giving up two quick goals, then reclaim it with two quick goals ten minutes later. Michigan outshot CC 39-30; CC scored on four of five power plays and gave up a shorthanded goal. Chris Brown, Jon Merrill, and Schwartz were all out of the lineup at the GLI. CC gets Schwartz back; Michigan's returners are offset by the losses of Brandon Burlon and David Wohlberg to injury.
Schwartz, Jaden Edition
Dangermen. Schwartz, obviously. He's CC's leading scorer (17-29-46) despite playing in only 29 of CC's 42 games. His brother Rylan is usually his linemate; he's more of an assist guy (9-28-37) for Jaden and second-leading scorer Stephen Schultz (17-28-45).
At first glance it looks like CC has a second line with considerable pop—Tyler Johnson leads the team in goals with 20—but in review the next two leading goal scorers get it done primarily on the power play. Twelve of Johnson's twenty were on the PP, as were 11 of Nick Dineen's 13. At even strength CC's second and third lines are only moderately threatening. On the power play they are demons.
The end result: CC is 21st in goals scored at 3.23, actually well behind #12 Michigan. Control the Schwartzes and stay out of the box and CC doesn't have much left. That's kind of a trick, though, isn't it?
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Sophomore Joe Howe got most of the work this year and was not good. His .901 save percentage is 57th amongst 71 qualifying goalies, and the guys below him are almost all on terrible teams that allow scads of quality shots. Either Howe is not good or the CC defense allows scads of quality shots. CC is 33rd in scoring D, allowing almost three goals per game.
Judging from last night's game it's a combination. Howe robbed Boston College on a half-dozen grade A opportunities and still let in four goals; the first one was a comedy of errors from Howe. It's entirely possible Michigan doesn't get the scoring chances BC did, but that GLI game argues otherwise.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.6||4.2|
|PP Ag / G||4.3||4.4|
CC goes on a hell of a lot of power plays. They've drawn 26 more than the #2 team in that category, North Dakota, and 59 more than Michigan. In the GLI game Michigan actually got six to CC's five, FWIW, but CC converted at an 80% clip.
Continuing with our theme of AWEFENSE coupled with horrible defense, CC is tied with BC for sixth on the PP, converting at 23.4% rate. They also lead the nation with 11 shorthanded goals conceded. (Michigan Tech is tied with them.) Michigan's PK remains mediocre.
Flip the units and it's a mediocre PP against a mediocre PK. In fact, CC and Michigan have identical numbers on the PK: both have killed 151 of 182. Michigan does have more shorthanded goals to their credit.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Neutralize the Schwartz: how? Michigan has last change so I imagine we'll see Merrill out there against that top line, but when it comes to forwards this seems like a situation where you'd put Hagelin out there with Rust and Scooter/Glendening/Lynch as you go all out to take that line out of the equation 5x5. That would bust up Michigan's lines, though, and you might not want to do that with zero practice days to get used to it.
Your other option is to stick with what you've got going, at which point you're probably throwing Rust/Glendening/Winnett out there, which is… like… not fast enough. It's either that or putting Brown and Caporusso out there with the Schwartzes, and who hates that idea? Everyone!
I think I'd re-form Rust, Hagelin, and Lynch but I'm just a guy, not Red. It'll be interesting to see what he goes with.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX. Tiny goalie plus snipers makes for a bad time.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I'm srs.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I'm srs!!!
The Big Picture
Win or die.
Excellent Daily story on the Zapruder goal:
“There was a kid behind the penalty box saying it was a goal,” senior forward Louie Caporusso said. “He just kept saying, ‘It’s a goal.’ ”
Yost Built screencapped the kid, too:
Michigan athletics loves pointing at things right now. FWIW, I disagree with his take on the Rust OT penalty. That was dangerous and deserved the call. Also, if you were wondering if CC's dominant performance meant the wrong team won last night from a Michigan perspective, don't be:
Boston College was 22-2-1 in their last 25 games. John Muse was 8-0 in the NCAA Tournament and something absurd like 22-1 in tournament play (NCAA and Hockey East, not sure if it counted the Beanpot).
Michigan had lost its last five NCAA Tournament overtime affairs, including 3-2 in double OT to Miami in the final of last year’s Midwest Regional.
So Michigan won a hockey game last night after a ten minute review that contained more back-and-to-the-left moments than JFK.
At first ESPN put on the overhead cam and that was inconclusive, but my instant reaction when I saw the far endzone cam was "that's in the net." The guy doing the actual game then ran the overhead cam on a loop, and once he did it became clear that a portion of Faulkner's skate well in the net was actually the puck. I was convinced, and eventually so were the refs.
The college hockey internets duly blew up. I kind of figured this would happen. There was no "ah-ha" frame. Everything put together made it incredibly unlikely the puck wasn't in the net, and it's always easier in that situation to just say "sorry, inconclusive."
Complainers are wrong.
And the refs were right. More stills.
If you want to argue that the refs shouldn't have called a goal because you couldn't figure out it was a goal and they could and they were later proven right, you are insane. This is a group that appears to include EJ Hradek and ESPNU's studio talking head, who complained that the spot shadow showing the puck well in the net wasn't available to the refs, thus inflaming the already pretty inflamed college hockey internet.
Why people suddenly want it to be harder to prove a puck was in the net than get convicted for murder in Mississippi I don't know, but I think it has something to do with the wings on the helmets.
UPDATE: Josh Houchin has a video look at it:
That's in the net.
Live streaming goes just far enough. There is a live stream of IL PF Max Bielfeldt's announcement, which is going to happen in about ten minutes here. Michigan and Illinois are the contenders with most signs pointing to Michigan despite Bielfeldt's last name being on more than one building in Champaign. Bielfeldt compares himself to Luke Harangody and put up monster numbers as a senior, but recruiting sites say he's an "average at best" athlete. Think Graham Brown, I guess, except apparently he's got a decent shooting stroke that extends to the three point line.
I hope this is one game. Trey Burke highlight reel ahoy:
Probably one game, right? I bet they cut out a couple misses but probably one game.
Even in the unlikely event this is a season's worth of highlights, that's still pretty encouraging. Burke shows a three-point stroke, crossovers, spin moves, a nice pull-up jumper, and a floater in the lane. The diversity of his offensive game is impressive, and if these stats are right…
Burke is averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 steals. He is shooting 58.7 percent from the field, 46.6 percent from three-point range (54 of 116) and 73.3 percent at the free-throw line (88 of 120).
…dang, we may have just ganked* the next Talor Battle away from Penn State. (I only doubt because a separate article has even more ludicrous shooting percentages, FWIW. I believe the very slightly more pessimistic version but there's some wobble that makes me think they may have overlooked some attempts.)
48% from three plus that highlight video plus winning Mr. Basketball over a bunch of other D-I commits including a guy headed to Michigan State equals one extremely underrated recruit—Burke is a three star on Rivals. ESPN does have him a bit higher as a four star ranked #85, and boy were they right about Tim Hardaway Jr. Let's hope their streak continues.
In other basketball recruiting news, Carlton Brundidge just saw his high school career end in painful fashion. He tied Southfield's state semifinal against Kalamazoo Central with a 17-foot pull up, missed a backdoor layup on the ensuing possession, made both halves of a 1-and-1 to re-tie the game, then saw Central get a putback off an airball for the win. Burke plays his semifinal tonight at 8:30.
*["Ganked" should have made the transition from thing you say in sixth grade to critical part of the language by now.]
Frank Beckmann thinks this is racist
The tipping point. I've read Ramzy Nasrallah's stuff on and off for a very long time now and while some of his opinions make me roll my eyes I'm sure that's mutual. It's a natural consequence of being on opposite sides of the rivalry. That said, he's always been worth reading even when we disagree, and when he posts something titled The Case For Regicide that signals a huge shift in the portion of the Ohio State fanbase that doesn't have neckbeards. That shift is from "this shall pass" to "this seems too dumb to tolerate; we're screwed, at least insofar as a football program with OSU's natural advantages can be, which isn't that much."
I've been pretty strident in my opinion that Tressel should be fired and now it seems fairly likely he will. He's already been tried, compared to Nixon, and executed in the media. In that event the big questions lie in the eventual results of what seems like it will be a labyrinthine NCAA investigation and whether or not Tressel will axe Gordon Gee on his way out. I'm guessing "disappointing" and "yes."
More pads. More pads:
At the 35 second mark Denard runs a zone read for many yards, and then a power play gets destroyed. I'm just sayin'…
Seriously though, seeing a zone read makes me happy even if they hardly ran it last year. Tough talk and an open-minded offensive coordinator are where it's at.
Fort? No fort. Last year Michigan had an open practice in Michigan Stadium that you could buy your way into by shelling out for the big baller seats or donating to Mott at the Spring Game. Rodriguez hated it and I had to wait until the rest of the internet had responded to round up third-party impressions because I'd been asked not to relate anything I saw myself. So that was a one-off, right? Hoke's back and so is The Fort and that'll never happen again:
Fans attending the game will be asked to make any donation the hospital. Donations at the following levels will come with a correlating gift:
• $5: A 5”x7” Fathead Trading Card of either Charles Woodson or Desmond Howard.
• $20: A Fathead Teammate Block M (roughly 12”x7”).
• $100: A Fathead Junior Big House Mural (17”x30”).
• $250: Four passes to a pre-season scrimmage
• $500: Two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to one of the following four games: Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State or Minnesota.
• $750: Two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to the Nebraska game.
Except apparently it will. Never underestimate the power of club seating. I went last year with Greg of MVictors and FOB Craig Ross. It was rainy and strange but I thought it was worth it because I'm insane.
PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
Friday: Michigan vs UNO
Saturday: Michigan vs BC, CC, or tears
|WHERE||Hundreds of miles from anywhere reasonable|
Fri: 5:30 PM.
Sat: hypothetically 9 PM
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
Friday: ESPN3, Comcast Local, Altitude
Record. 21-15-2, 17-9-2 WCHA. The Mavericks' debut season in the WCHA was a successful one. A very successful one: the finished third and their +35 goal differential was second only to North Dakota's terrifying +50.
Their performance outside of the conference was not so good. They swept an early-season tournament against Clarkson and RIT and split with Michigan (hey, that's us!) but were swept themselves by eh Quinnipiac and somehow managed to lose to UAH at home. That one seems like a slight fluke since shots were 59-19 UNO.
Also not so good has been recent performance. UNO split its last three series of the regular season and was swept out of the playoffs by Bemidji in the first round; they've lost four of their last five.
Previous meetings. Michigan and UNO split a lopsided pair at Yost earlier in the year. UNO took the Friday game, leaping out to a 4-0 lead before a couple of consolation goals with less than ten minutes left made the final score respectable. The next night it was Michigan leaping out to the 4-0 lead; they fished that game 6-1. Michigan had ten more shots Friday; they were essentially even on Saturday.
I remember having a conversation with Guy Who Would Be JBug If I Was Bill Simmons to the effect of "I thought Saturday's game was exactly like Friday's but both nights the bounces went entirely one team's way" that we both agreed on. This one will be tight. Or it won't, I guess.
Dangermen. The Mavs get goals from everywhere. A whopping eight players hit double digit goals this year and the spectacularly-named Johnny Searfoss just missed with nine, giving UNO three almost utterly balanced scoring lines. The guy to look out for slightly more than the others is senior Matt Ambroz (17-17-34).
UNO has a couple of D with a ton of assists but no one like Michigan's goal machine defensemen.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Sophomore John Faulker has played in every game this year with mediocre results. His .908 save percentage is slightly below average nationally; Michigan has a big edge in net with Shawn Hunwick's .921.
UNO's D doesn't have any stars outside of guy who gets all the power play assists; Bryce Aneloski is the only NHL draftee and that's as a seventh rounder on his third trip through. What you will see is plenty of overage guys—Aneloski, for example, is a 21-year-old sophomore. UNO has a grand total of two teenagers, one a backup goalie, and five 24-year-olds.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||4.2||4.2|
|PP Ag / G||4.6||4.4|
Both teams are slightly more likely to suffer a penalty kill than acquire a power play, but UNO is slightly more so. UNO's power play is mediocre at 17.6%, probably because they have a lot of pretty good offensive players but no lights-out stars. Michigan's kill is slightly better than average at 82.4%. The flipside is similar—both the UNO kill and Michigan PP are slightly above average.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Goalie Hyde, please. The last month has been a little bit of a rollercoaster for Michigan's goaltending. Shawn Hunwick was extremely shaky against WMU, then awesome against NMU. The team had a bye, then he had a virtual bye against BGSU. At the Joe he was extremely shaky against WMU again, then stole the game against ND, Montoya-vs-Maine style. I think we're more likely to get Dr. Hyde, but if things start going badly they might keep going badly.
Goodbye midget scoring line. I'm not super happy about Michigan abandoning the Sparks-Treais-Anchor setup on the third line but after looking at UNO's scoring it's clear this is not a team that has a third line that's just trying to keep the puck out of its own net. The results:
This week, Winnett stayed put, joining senior center Matt Rust and junior right wing Luke Glendening, while Vaughan is now on the third line with sophomore center Kevin Lynch and sophomore right wing A.J. Treais (previously at center).
This setup leaves sophomore Jeff Rohrkemper as the fourth-line center with sophomore Lindsay Sparks and freshmen Luke Moffatt and Derek DeBlois fighting for two wing positions.
The nominally top line—defined as whichever one Hagelin's on—remains Brown-Hagelin-Caporusso. Also I am not trying to hear that Vaughn and Treais are on the third line. That's #2, yo.
That setup on the fourth line means we can kiss it goodbye, IME. Not exactly what I wanted but anything that results in moar Hagelin increases your chances.
Pray like hell. This is actually left over from the CCHA finals last year when Michigan was staring down a juggernaut Miami team with a 19-year tourney streak on the line. It is the best advice for a one-and-done hockey tournament, so here it stays.
The Big Picture
Win or die.
HSR previews the Mavs:
Blais has garnered UNO's second trip to the NCAA tournament, and as one of my friends put it to my bluntly, "I am loathe to bet against Blais in a tournament setting." He has a point. Blais resume includes 5 30+ win seasons at North Dakota and two national championships for the Fighting [NICKNAME] and he lead the USA Hockey World Junior team to the gold medal in Saskatoon in 2009-2010. He is a coach who gets the most out of his talent and whose team will play hard every shift.
Yost Built does the same:
Faulkner was a microcosm of Nebraska-Omaha's inconsistency. He was 6-6-0 against tournament teams, splitting series against Michigan, North Dakota, CC, North Dakota again, DU, and Minnesota-Duluth. He gave up 35 goals in those 12 games. Minnesota-State, Michigan Tech, and Alabama-Huntsville were the only series all season where he gave up 2-or-fewer goals in both games. He had shutouts against North Dakota and Colorado College, but gave up 6 and 5 goals in the other game of the weekend. He's very capable of being great, and he's very capable of being chased. We saw both ends of the spectrum earlier in the year. Friday night, he stopped 34 of 36 shots. The next night, he lasted just over 23 minutes before getting the hook.
WCH points out a one-and-done hockey tournament is a random number generator:
I think the ideal NCAA tournament preview would chronicle what each team ate for breakfast the morning of their game, since that would seem to be a lot more important than any sort of statistics accrued over the course of the season. Brad Schlossman posted the statistic last night that in the past four years, #1 seeds are just 9-7 against #4 seeds in the first round of the tournament. Some may that call that exciting, but it's almost random to the point of being meaningless.
I've got a pretty good way to address this in a mailbag coming up.
Berenson returns to his second hockey home. 2013 recruit Tyler Motte made the NTDP. Michigan Hockey Net deploys a live blog for the game. I'd participate but I'd just type "FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU" the entire game unless we got up five goals.
Finally… um… can someone who goes to the official WCHA site more often than I do tell me how long this tagline has been up?
Consult the flowchart? Consult the flowchart. Oh, snap.