“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
Lake City (FL) Columbia offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil may be the most sought-after lineman in the class of 2013; he's already ranked as a five-star to Rivals and 24/7, a four-star to Scout, and he's on the ESPNU 150 Watch List. The 6'6", 275-pound junior holds early offers from Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami (YTM), Notre Dame, Purdue, USF, and USC, while Texas and LSU are keeping a close eye on him. Tunsil has already taken visits to Florida and Georgia, but while it may be difficult to pry him from the grasp of the SEC, Michigan has positioned themselves well in his recruitment. Read on to find out his top five and more:
ACE: How is everything going with your recruitment? Which teams are showing you the most interest?
LAREMY: It's crazy, and a lot of them!
ACE: How do you handle the pressure and attention of being an early five-star recruit?
LAREMY: Take it one day at a time. I just keep working and getting better.
ACE: Who's your recruiting contact at U-M?
LAREMY: Coach Funk and Coach Montgomery.
ACE: Any early favorites right now? If you had to name a top five, who would be in there?
LAREMY: Michigan, LSU, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
ACE: Do you have any visits planned for junior days or camps during the offseason? Any places you'd be interested in checking out?
LAREMY: I'm not sure yet, but I have Michigan in mind!
ACE: What attributes about a school will factor in the most in your decision?
LAREMY: The coaches, academics, and tradition.
ACE: When do you think you'll make your decision?
LAREMY: Signing day. [To be clear, that would be 2013, not 2012. Laremy's got a few offers to sift through first.]
If Strobel/Pipkins/Godin/Wormley/Ojemudia had Mii's
Body Mass Index (metric weight divided by height-squared) isn't supposed to apply to athletes. It's a health heuristic used to calculate obesity, and according to the health professional I asked, it's not really that good at calling you fat because it doesn't say how much of that weight is muscle. It just guesses that your ratio is normal; for athletes that ratio is definitively not normal. Fortunately I'm not interested in whether our extant and incoming defensive linemen are in shape; I care about identifying which DL are what shape, how this applies to what positions the 5-man 2012 DL class* will likely play, and what the success/ failure/ mehness of similar looking players might suggest what we might expect out of next year's linemen.
* There's a chance Ojemudia may move but for now I'm counting him as a WDE.
The data. Thanks to Bentley we have an historical record of player weights: Google doc'ed here for your ease. For our purposes I'm taking the mid-'90s—when player size made its big leap—through the present. Height and weight data are bountiful, but making any use of them has been hard going. However the BMI seems to have one good use in determining who plays what spot in an unbalanced defensive line. Right away there's a noticeable difference among the playing BMIs at the four DL positions:
|Pos||Ht.||Wt.||Fr BMI||Playing BMI|
|1T (Nose Tackle)||6'2 2/3||299.4||35.4||37.7|
|3T (Def. Tackle)||6'4 2/3||291.6||32.1||35.0|
|7T (WDE)||6'3 2/3||260.4||29.4||32.0|
As you go from outside to inside height remains steady as weight goes up. Interestingly NTs are the shortest on the line as well as the largest, speaking to a certain shorter/stouter body type preferred at the position. Reported heights are not always accurate but the listed height on Rivals tends to match the freshman heights in Bentley's database, so I've used those across the board; the DL I expect has the least amount of height gain (most of these guys have more facial hair at 18 than I could produce at 22). It tells the story:
Lots of these guys moved about too, especially between SDE and DT, but you can kind of see why. What I'd like to do from here is take a position-by-position look at the size of all of these guys as freshmen versus the Class of 2012, and their growth over their careers (to test if hanging weight on a large frame can "build" a great DL) and finally put the playing BMIs versus the guys left on the roster to see if the 2012 DL at least looks like defensive lines of yore.
Renes talking down to lil bro | Bowman not being held | Watson being gravitational
Nose Tackle (NT, Nose Guard, 1-Tech) is the guy usually lined up shaded over the center. This job (most recently Mike Martin's) in a 4-3 under and 3-4 is similar in that the lineman must often stand up to double-teams or fight off a single-block lined up playside of him in order to cover two gaps. (Current players in bold, 2012 recruits in italics).
|Name||Class of||Ht.||BMI as Fr.||BMI-Ply||% Change|
Good news: Ondre Pipkins is as large as any NT to come in, in the top group with Watson, Kates and Ash. Watson and Ash both were asked to lose weight (Ash is now being rebuilt) while Kates lost his ability to play after adding another 4.1% to his body weight. The comparable here is something between freshman Gabe Watson (2002) and freshman Terrance Taylor (2005). The recruiting hype is in that range as well, but this is a kind of hard position to rank out of high school because most of these dudes just murder your typical suburban offensive linemen/future economics majors. They also get chopped a lot. Watson's high school career is responsible for at least three later shoulder surgeries I know of.
This is not necessarily such good news. Both Watson and Taylor played as true freshmen which suggests Pipkins's size should make him instantly plug-in-able. However they both had to wait to become starters; Watson was behind Lazarus and then Bowman before playing as a junior, and Taylor sat behind Watson (and Pat Massey at DT) for a year. The other guy with the same BMI as Pipkins—in fact he's almost identical—is current depth guy Richard Ash. But then here's where knowing the background of the players helps because Ash was kind of an out-of-shape flier expected to be Barwicized , while the book on Pipkins, like Watson and Taylor, is that he's carrying a lot college muscle already.
By BMI, Campbell is in the second group because of his height. Like OL/DL/Fck Lion Proprietor Marques Slocum, this method shows BWC's height as a disadvantage, making it harder for him to get his weight under offensive linemen. However his prodigious 5-star strength is still occasionally on display, and he admits part of his thing is effort. Quinton Washington, if he was an NT, would fit in this group.
The shorter guys in this part of the list finds some big successes among people coached by Hoke or Mattison: William Carr, Rob Renes and Mike Martin. But we don't have a guy like that right now.
The ones that had to be built—Bowman, Patterson, Wilson, Lazarus, Miller and Horn, came in about the size of Godin and Wormley and put on a lot of weight to be productive as upperclassmen (or in Patterson's case, a much needed body with functioning circulation and eligibility). Wormley could turn into a Lazarus or Wilson, who like Chris had the proverbial "frames" to put on a lot of muscle, and did so.
Next week: the DTs, the SDEs, and the WDEs.
You can't throw a rock today without hitting a piece on Joe Paterno, and I'll add my bit. I've read a half-dozen of them and feel myself drawn to the portions that focus on his ignoble demise at the hands of a long-overdue grand jury investigation into Jerry Sandusky. The ones that skip it entirely, as many PSU-based POVs do, or attempt to put it "in perspective" seem to be succumbing to the same disease that felled everyone when Nixon died and people scrambled for good things to say about him other than "he's dead."
Paterno is not Nixon, obviously. Nixon is the most obvious public funeral held in which ill things were not spoken of the dead due to social taboo, rather than reason. I dislike that natural impulse to whitewash. When Christopher Hitchens died I spent a lot of time reading his withering obituaries just to watch him stick the knife in and twist. If that makes me ruthless, okay.
I just can't get over how it all came crashing down. Not only did Paterno and the culture he created shelter Sandusky, Paterno did not seem to feel remorse for half a second. Maybe this is just an addled old man speaking but it is appalling that this came out of his mouth at the impromptu pep rally at his home in the immediate aftermath of the grand jury's testimony:
The kids that were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them. Tough life, when people do certain things to you. Anyway, you’ve been great. Everything’s great, all right.
Virtually the entire media edited Paterno's statement into a less awful version because their sense of propriety could not grasp the words that had actually come out of his mouth. This was Joe Paterno. He couldn't have said that. He shouldn't have said anything. He should have been in his house crying to his wife, finally realizing the monstrous consequences of his inaction.
Instead he seemed to think of himself as a victim. A lot of people find ways to blame themselves for massive tragedies they are not responsible for. Paterno was oblivious to his role to the end. Maybe that's forgivable to some people who look at the donations and the football coaching and the Great Experiment. Not me. I have great respect for Chris Grovich of Black Shoe Diaries but I can't read this…
Behind Joe Paterno's Beaver Stadium statue are the words, "Educator, Coach, Humanitarian." They really could have been arranged in any order.
…without inserting "child rape enabler" in any order. That phrase overwhelms the rest. If he did lead a program that strove to prove it was capable of operating at a higher plane that just makes it worse. He was held up—he held himself up—as a man who could achieve success on and off the field in a way that others could not.
Maybe any one of us would have done the same thing if confronted by the terrible truth about a long-time friend. Maybe 90% of people would not have had the courage to blow up a reputation so carefully crafted over such a long period. Maybe Joe Paterno was just being human.
That's not enough when you have a statue. Paterno wasn't supposed to be human, he was supposed to be Joe Paterno. He wasn't and now he never was. He had over a decade to do something about Sandusky and did not. That is no mistake, or misjudgment, or error. It is immensely sad, but in the end Paterno failed his charge more spectacularly than a man who dared less would have. You can call him Icarus if you want; I'm not inclined to give him that benefit of the doubt. The costs were not worth the attempt.
The statue is Joe Paterno now. The man is dead. Hopefully the idea behind the statue can help people be better than the man turned out to be.
[Editor's note: Orson and I both go for the statue conceit. We've seen people crying or overturning news vans in its vicinity it every 30 seconds over the past few months, so maybe not a huge surprise.]
If you wanted to concoct the most painful possible basketball game to watch, at least when it comes to mid-January non-conference road games, Saturday's 66-64 heartbreaker at Arkansas was about as bad as it gets from a fan perspective. We saw:
- The end of the Kentucky game go long, causing most fans—including myself—to miss at least the first few minutes of the game.
- Arkansas hit their first 11 shots from the field en route to opening up a 20-point lead.
- Michigan turn the ball over five times in the first ten minutes as they looked entirely unprepared to handle the Razorbacks's "40 Minutes of Hell" full-court press.
- The Wolverines embark on a lengthy comeback run, only Arkansas kept Michigan at arms-length until Zack Novak cut the deficit to two points with just 3:48 left.
- A four-minute stretch during that span in which neither team scored a point.
- Zack Novak almost kill a guy.
- Trey Burke's final shot go halfway down then cruelly bounce out as the buzzer sounded.
That was not fun. At all. The most joy I got from that game was watching Novak stick it to the Arkansas crowd by sinking clutch three after clutch three, only I felt guilty doing so because I'm pretty sure Novak should've been ejected. Yes, he made an effort to block the shot, but nailing an airborne player in the head with your forearm while running at full speed is pretty damn dangerous.
That's besides the point, though. The point is that Michigan could never quite put it all together, dropping a very winnable game and leaving the Wolverines still lacking a true road win this season. If M lands on the bubble come tournament time, this is going to be the "what if?" game that could come back to haunt them.
The key was that press, spearheaded by a deep Arkansas rotation that kept fresh legs on the floor while Michigan's fairly-thin core group of players tried to keep pace. The Wolverines looked blindsided by the press early on, and instead of slowing the game down and playing at their tempo, they sped up. I don't have video of the opening minutes, but the sequence that led to Novak's flagrant foul is pretty indicative:
I'm pretty sure that play violated Rush the Court's first three rules for breaking the Arkansas press. Even when Michigan was able to get through, settling down into their half-court offense was another issue entirely.
Other than Jordan Morgan, who scored 16 points on 7-11 shooting and had eight straight to key Michigan's second-half surge, no Wolverine had an all-around solid game statistically. Trey Burke dished out six assists to just two turnovers and grabbed seven (!) rebounds, but his 13 points came on 6-19 shooting and he was just 1-6 from deep. Novak led the team with 17 points and connected on 5-7 three-pointers, but he turned the ball over four times and struggled to keep pace defensively. Nobody else cracked double-digits in the scoring column, and it took the still-slumping Tim Hardaway Jr. eight shots to score nine points.
Michigan will look to move on from this game quickly, but the remaining stretch is brutal. The Wolverines head to Purdue tomorrow night (KenPom: 35% win probability), then play at Ohio State (5%), at home vs. Indiana (43%), and at Michigan State (13%) over the next two weeks. In fact, going by KenPom, the Wolverines are projected to win just four of their remaining 11 games. While that would give the team a 20-11 record (10-8 B1G), almost assuredly locking up a spot in the tournament, the team could be looking at another uphill battle to even reach the second day, let alone the Sweet Sixteen.
While that would still satisfy expectations, we all know from experience that life on the bubble is a stressful existence. With Hardaway struggling, Smotrycz disappearing, and the team leaning heavily on a freshman point guard, something is going to have to change—and soon—if Michigan wants to avoid a late-season swoon. I trust John Beilein to make the necessary adjustments, but once again, the burden will be placed on a group of mostly-inexperienced players to pull through.
And yet, Michigan remains tied atop the Big Ten standings. Please don't ask me to explain what's going on this year. It's probably best to strap yourself in, because it's going to be one hell of a ride from this point forward.
pictured: the NCAA's ideal crowd for a regional
College hockey is currently infected with two things that exacerbate the general meaninglessness of the regular season and often make tournament venues sterile, embarrassingly empty events. They are a fetish for neutral sites and a general agreement to ignore the Michigan/Ohio/Indiana nexus of college hockey in favor of putting everything out West. Only the miraculously blinkered Wisconsin athletic department and their press apparatchiks manage to combine both.
Neutral sites are stupid. They lead to things like sixty people in an NHL building in St. Louis hundreds of miles from any college hockey program. They should be viciously abolished wherever they don't obviously work already. This is something we can all agree on. Except Wisconsin. After months of reporting about how Wisconsin was unhappy with the way the Big Ten hockey conference was shaking out, Andy Baggot's back with a helpful suggestion.
Shifting Big Ten hockey to neutral site would eliminate WIAA conflict
Argh. Baggot is under the mistaken impression that anyone outside the state of Wisconsin gives sixth thousandths of a damn about some high school tournaments. This is the enormous problem that must be fixed:
UW officials wisely voted against this format for two reasons: One, it would create the current scheduling problems with the WIAA state tournaments for wrestling and boys' and girls' basketball; and two, there's a more sensible option.
There is not one person associated with the Big Ten who cares about option one. If the state of Wisconsin had a second arena, it wouldn't even be an issue. Hey, wait… THAT'S ANDREW BOGUT'S MUSIC
Milwaukee's Bradley Center
If the Bradley Center's too busy, Milwaukee has a 10,000 seat backup currently occupied by nothing at all. We have saved the children of Wisconsin from having to compete for state championships on Lake Michigan. Time to party.
As for two, the "more sensible option" is <drumroll>…
The Big Ten should revisit the idea of a neutral site tournament, which would bring all six teams to one location in a one-and-done format over three days. There are several possible venues and a future rotation could be devised, but the best for now is the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Not only is it a fantastic NHL facility, it's in the middle of a great hockey culture with a genuine appreciation for the college game. The building also has experience handling such an event given its work with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five.
…blithering idiocy. There are six Big Ten hockey schools. They are:
- Minnesota: zero hours from Minneapolis
- Wisconsin: five hours from Minneapolis
- MSU: 11 hours from Minneapolis
- Michigan: 12 hours from Minneapolis
- Ohio State: 14 hours from Minneapolis
- Penn State: 16 hours from Minneapolis
Only an idiot would suggest the fairest "neutral site" that could be proposed is the home city of the westernmost school in the conference, one that only two of the six schools could reasonably drive to. Arenas in Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Columbus, Toledo and Indianapolis would be better geographically and could probably handle the enormous strain of putting on three games over a weekend. Only an idiot would suggest throwing away the money four to six opening round games would generate*.
Instead, the Big Ten has decided to put the finals at the home rink of the top seed, something that both gives the conference winner a needed edge in the barely-weighted plinko that is single elimination playoff hockey and guarantees attendance between decent and sellout. This is "unwieldy at best and, at worst, irresponsible." No, seriously, dude said it was irresponsible.
This is the rationale:
Regardless of location, you're asking an awful lot of the six teams and their fans in terms of time and travel logistics. That's especially true of the four lowest seeds, which meet the week before the semifinals in a best-of-three series at the home of the higher seed. The survivors advance to the next round.
In a nutshell, the Big Ten is giving its members two weeks to ready an arena, sell tickets, secure hotel space, line up ground and/or air transportation and make sure its teams are ready to play.
Meanwhile, fans of those teams are being asked to be flexible and keep a credit card handy.
This is something literally every hockey arena in the country has to be ready for because they may host a first or second round playoff series. Unless I missed a spate of unprepared zamboni deaths, they've managed. The argument here is a campus site is just impossibly daunting to prepare on short notice, which is why every NCAA sport other than D-I football, basketball, and hockey uses such things for their playoffs.
If there's a cost analysis between the campus site and neutral site, I'll bet the difference is significant and it favors the neutral site.
If you're an idiot who thinks anyone cares about WIAA playoffs and believes that four Big Ten teams are going to vote to have the Big Ten finals at least eleven hours away, next door to Minnesota's campus. How about this: if Wisconsin wins the league they can hire the X. Problem no one cares about solved.
*[The problem with the Big Ten's format is it does not adopt the actually logical playoff structure: three weeks of best-of-three series at the higher-seeded-team's rink. That's more money, more games (always nice when you're competing against OHL teams that point out a relative lack of games in the NCAA), and avoids the strangeness of the current format wherein the second-place team gets no home games.]
1/21/2012 – Michigan 1, Notre Dame 3 – 14-9-4, 8-7-4 CCHA
1/22/2012 – Michigan 2, Notre Dame 1 – 15-9-4, 9-7-4 CCHA
Rudy does not impress Shawn Hunwick
At one point this weekend one of the announcers called Shawn Hunwick "Rudy" and then laughed about how Notre Dame fans would be mad about that comparison. I just don't even know where to start with that. Maybe here:
|Kent Patterson (COL)||Minnesota||SR||1618:54||56||2.08|
|Kevin Kapalka||Lake Superior||SO||1519:14||63||2.49|
|Andrew Hammond||Bowling Green||JR||1507:05||67||2.67|
|Paul Karpowich (STL)||Clarkson||SR||1458:58||51||2.1|
Rudy was an annoying twerp destined for sketchy pump-and-dump stock schemes who got in late in a blowout once. His life story is a tale of how plucky determination can turn you into a successories poster model and scam artist. Rudy's about as real as Notre Dame football's status as a national power.
By contrast, no one in the country is more important to their team than Hunwick. He plays every minute unless he's probably concussed or Michigan is up 10 goals. He is top ten in save percentage despite getting bombed, despite playing behind a poor penalty kill and mostly without Jon Merrill. He's so good not even the CCHA Gongshow can deny him his rightful place as the all-conference goalie this time around. (Surely. Surely?)
Like Jordan Kovacs, Hunwick long ago left walk-on territory. The journey looks like this:
- We're starting a walk-on? Death!
- He's tolerable for a walk-on but this is a signifier of how far we've fallen and we'll never get good until we get some talent in here.
- He's really good for a walk-on. I should probably stop calling him a walk-on.
- He's pretty good. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.
- He is my binky.
For both of those guys the term "walk-on" is no longer a signifier of anything other than an improbable backstory. Rudy they are not because they are actually good at things.
It's time to ask the question: is a five-seven walk-on who came to Michigan never expecting to play a game the best goalie in the history of the program?
Statistically, the answer is yes. Al Montoya put up an .895 as a disinterested junior and is out. Marty Turco's billion wins and tourney heroics obscure the fact he put up sub-.900 save percentages until his senior .907. I can't find full Steve Shields stats; the one year hockeyDB has also shows a .907.
Michigan's record book goes back to 1962 and currently lists Billy Sauer's 2007-2008 season at the top of the heap because it hasn't been updated in a couple years. Hunwick's two seasons as the out-and-out starter be 1-2 if whoever's responsible for the book could be convinced you weren't having them on. It's not even a debate when it comes to save percentage. Unless there's a sumo wrestler from the 1920s everyone's forgotten about, Hunwick is the all-time best.
However, hockey's changed considerably even over the last 15 years. In 1996 and 1998 when Turco was regarded as a god despite having those ugly numbers. That was not all in fans' heads, either. Turco went on to a long, successful, colorful NHL career. His first year in the AHL he put up a .920; two years later he was in the NHL. Clearly there was something about Michigan's mid-to-late 90s firewagon hockey that exposed goalies to a lot of high quality chances.
Save percentage alone is insufficient and if there were sports talk radio dedicated to Michigan hockey, people could rage about their favorites without anyone stepping in to say "you're wrong." Because who knows?
But it's not that we can answer that question definitively. It's that we can ask it at all.
It is a sad but undeniable fact that Sauer will mostly be remembered for tourney meltdowns. Hunwick has last year's North Dakota game to his credit. Montoya had a couple of stolen tourney games on his ledger; those are the only ones I can remember that came anything close to last year's grand theft. How close was that? Not close at all.
In the end answering the unanswerable question is going to come down to a few games in April. At this point there's only two ways the question can be answered: maybe, and yes.
*[Michigan's hockey statistical DB doesn't go very far back.]
A good weekend. Speaking of! Hunwick had a second consecutive monster weekend, giving up three goals on 74 shots. One was a no-chancer on a cross-crease pass, another a slot rebound that is the one consistent weakness of his game, the third a close-in shot it was hypothetically possible to stop but very difficult. Last week Ohio State managed one goal.
Michigan's third pairing got stuck in the zone against ND's hard forecheck, the second line seemed to spend most of its time futilely attempting to get the puck back from the Costello line, and defensive breakdowns put him under duress. He still cracked the top ten in save percentage.
You can argue he's the best in the country. The top four are at Union (ECAC) and three Atlantic Hockey schools; #7 is an ECAC guy; #9 is another AH guy. NMU's Jared Coreau and Miami's Connor Knapp are platooning. That leaves Hunwick, OSU's Cal Heeter, Merrimack's Joe Cannata and Mass-Lowell's Doug Carr at the top of the leaderboard in the Big Three conferences.
No one in that group has a huge lead in save percentage and Hunwick's ominpressence would seem to give him an edge. He's logged more minutes than anyone other than Minnesota's Kent Patterson; he has four full games on Cannata. He gets bombed, too. Michigan is yielding a blizzard of shots. That may hurt him when voters look at goals allowed, but he's got a shot at All-American type things.
A bad weekend. No one player is 100% responsible for any goal but Luke Glendening was the guy trying to check the guy shooting on all three of Notre Dame's goals (ENG ignored). Notre Dame's second on Friday was a backcheck he did not get position on and did not control the opponent's stick; the other two were just derpity doo.
(It's possible Merrill was more at fault on the last one.) Glendening also took two dumb penalties, one boarding, one interference.
So… like… he's the captain and everything but he has nine points in 28 games, three in 20 CCHA games; he's –3 in those 20. PDG is +4; Treais does not have conference stats listed at MGoBlue for some reason. Anyone else with those numbers would be fighting Andrew Sinelli for playing time. I'm just this guy on the internet but it's hard to see what Glendening is bringing to the table in terms of stats or the eye test.
Even if Michigan doesn't have a cornucopia of great options, the lines after the raging goal-fest that is Guptill-Wohlberg-Brown haven't been producing much of anything of late. It's time to throw the bottom nine in the blender and see what comes out.
An ugly weekend. Notre Dame was thugtastic to the point where Berenson's biting his tongue:
“They play an overly — I don’t know if it’s overly physical, but some people would say it’s — you know, there’s — I’m not going to say it. But yeah, it’s physical hockey,” Berenson said.
Guptill did not mince his words, though:
“I think they played a really dirty game, I’m going to be honest,” said freshman forward Alex Guptill on Saturday. “It was dirty; it was a mean series. You had to be playing tough out there to get any kind of ice.”
Hunwick is a hothead who will take retaliation penalties; Notre Dame was clearly trying to get him off his game with constant late chops that never get called and a bunch of stuff that probably should have been, most notably a cross-check to Hunwick's head. Hunwick kept his head for the most part. While he picked up a penalty it was a hockey-ref cop-out special wherein a bunch of guys end up in the box and no one gets a power play.
None of this rises to the level of OUTRAGE, but it's annoying when your goalie is under assault constant enough for announcers to delicately bring it up both nights and the referees won't put someone in the box for a couple minutes to stop it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
Pairwise bits. Michigan stays fifth in RPI and slides a spot in the PWR for reasons I won't bother figuring out until a couple more weeks are gone.
LIES! A quick glance at Michigan's comparisons is encouraging. Duluth and BU are likely out of reach unless those teams fade hard down the stretch. Comparisons lost against CC, Denver, Lowell, and Ohio State are within reach.
Michigan has significant RPI edges on the first two schools but that Union loss kills them in the COP; everyone is two games above .500 against teams under consideration but CC and DU have had fewer TUC games and therefore have a higher winning percentage. Michigan ties Lowell in COP and will remain tied unless Lowell faces BC or Northeastern in the Hockey East playoffs. Lowell has a significant TUC advantage; the teams are virtually tied in RPI. Because RPI is the tiebreaker, whoever wins that will win the comparison.
Ohio State, meanwhile, got just a tie from a series against Ferris State. They're now 0-3-3 in their last six and have finally bled off their huge advantage in PWR. They've dropped to 4th and are also a tiny hair above Michigan in RPI. OSU has slightly more than a one game lead in TUC; they do have a significant common opponents advantage but not one that Michigan can't make up what with OSU being in the same conference at all.
Michigan can of course slide down by losing a bunch of games. The point of this section: a one-seed is very much in play. Michigan has at least six more opportunities against TUCs and the toughest four games of the brutal stretch run are in the books at 3-1. They've got a bye week, Miami, a road-and-Joe with State, Northern, and then @ BGSU.
Weekly "I can't believe all these CCHA teams are in the tourney" update. Still six or seven. OSU-ND-M-FSU comprise a block from 4 to 7, Northern is 10th, and MSU and Miami are tied for 14th.
Weekly CCHA cat-in-sack update. Nothing is resolved. Miami swept WMU, making things even worse. Baseball standings:
Eight of eleven teams are within a weekend of first place; the difference between the conference champion and not even getting a bye is four points.
Steve Mike Chiasson scratch. Saturday. Got away with it. Still don't understand it.
Argh argh argh argh 2 on 0. It is emblematic of Michigan's odd-man-rush struggles that Guptill and Brown—two of the top three scorers—broke in alone on struggling Steve Summerhays and didn't even got a shot off. They had the right idea but Brown's pass was too far in front of Guptill. That would have made the last period a lot more relaxed.
In all other matters, first line uber alles.
On Friday, Notre Dame made it their goal to seemingly hit Shawn Hunwick as much as possible and try to get in his head. They ran into him, slashed him after the whistle, high-sticked him, at least a half-dozen times (many in the first period alone). The first instance led to a power play. Then the incompetent boobs officiating the game, Keith Sergott and Barry Pochmara, decided to basically let ND do whatever they wanted to our goalie. At one point, Hunwick got frustrated enough that he threw his stick to the ice after a scrum. I thought they then called him for unsportsmanlike conduct--that seemed to be the consensus on the telecast as well--but in the box score they've got him down for slashing. I'm guessing the reaction was based on them evening it up after he got slammed into for at least the fifth time.
He mentions how Friday's game was frustrating for the large quantity of chances against an iffy goalie that were spurned; co-signed.
Penn State picks up their first ever NHL draft pick. Max Gardiner was third rounder in 2010. If you're counting on your fingers trying to figure that out, Gardiner spent a year at Minnesota, where he was 1-2-3 in 17 games and then made a dash for the USHL. Michigan will see him when he is an upperclassman.
Cass Tech linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone was just the fourth player to commit to Brady Hoke's class of 2012, doing so last April. The consensus four-star recruit has since won a state championship with the Technicians and played in the Army All-American Game, and he's looking to continue that run of success at Michigan. I got the chance to chat with Royce over the weekend—via text, hence the short-ish answers—and we discussed his goals for his freshman year and career along with a few other topics:
ACE: How was the Army Game for you? It had to be fun being there with James [Ross, Royce's childhood friend] and your future teammates.
ROYCE: Yeah, it was a great experience. Everyone competed and had fun.
ACE: What are your goals for your freshman year?
ROYCE: Get my weight to 235 [Royce is currently listed at 215 on Rivals, though he looked bigger in person this fall], learn the defense, and see if I can at least get in the rotation.
ACE: You and the whole 2012 class come in with some big expectations. Do you ever feel pressure from that, or more just excitement?
ROYCE: Just excitement because everyone in this class is all about getting better and getting on that field.
ACE: What's it like to know you'll be playing for Greg Mattison as your defensive coordinator next year?
ROYCE: It's good to know you have a coach that knows what he's doing and not leaving when you get there.
ACE: When your Michigan career is over, what do you want to look back on and say you've accomplished.
ROYCE: [I want to say I've been an] All-American and All-Big Ten in my sophomore, junior, and senior year.
ACE: Do you expect to go out on top at Michigan like you did at Cass Tech?
ROYCE: Yeah. I plan on getting a national championship when I get there and before I leave.
The recruiting rankings are front-paged this week as we have a change at the top. Unfortunately, you probably know the change, and you're almost certainly not going to like it: Ohio State jumps Michigan after picking up four recruits (and the Wolverines losing Caleb Stacey, though that wouldn't have mattered in terms of the standings). Otherwise, the team rankings hold steady as we near signing day. Action since last rankings:
1-15-12: Taylor Decker changes commitment from Notre Dame to Ohio State. Illinois picks up T.J. Neal.
1-16-12: Penn State picks up Jordan Lucas.
1-17-12: Ohio State picks up Joey O'Connor. Gunner Kiel changes commitment from LSU to Notre Dame. Minnesota picks up Roland Johnson.
1-18-12: Ohio State picks up David Perkins. Minnesota picks up K.J. Maye.
1-20-12: Camren Williams changes commitment from Penn State to Ohio State.
1-21-12: Caleb Stacey changes commitment from Michigan to Cincinnati. Nebraska picks up LeRoy Alexander. Zach Jackson changes commitment from Illinois to TCU. Illinois picks up Justin Hardee. Minnesota picks up Ben Lauer.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg||Avg Avg^|
*ESPN doesn't rate JuCos, so they are counted as unranked recruits for the sake of consistency (trust me, it makes sense when you look at the spreadsheet).
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (aka the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
On to the full data, after the jump.
I'll have more on the ramifications of this during the week, but 2012 OL Caleb Stacey announced on Twitter today—and it has been confirmed by multiple sources—that he has switched his commitment from Michigan to Cincinnati:
Before it gets out from anyone but me I have decided to decommitt from Michigan to stay home and play ball at the University of Cincinnati
— Caleb W. Stacey (@Caleb_Stacey) January 21, 2012
An assistant coach at Cincinnati Oak Hills, Stacey's high school, told The Wolverine that Stacey wanted to stay closer to home ($), and that was the reason for the switch. Michigan now has 23 commits in the current class with room to take up to five more players, and they are among the finalists for three offensive line recruits: Josh Garnett, Jordan Diamond, and Alex Kozan. It's feasible that the coaching staff could take all three, bringing the total to seven offensive linemen in the class, if they desired to do so.
I hope you all will join me in wishing Caleb the best of luck at Cincinnati.
Ahhhhh. Thank you,
Matt Austin Thornton, for your steadfast belief in running the play even if it means passing up a wide-open three to give it to your heavily-guarded big man:
"I was extremely wide open," Thornton said of the final sequence. "We wanted to get the ball inside. I think everyone was surprised by how open it actually was. Play it over again, I'd probably do the exact same thing. Get the ball to our star and hopefully he goes up and gets fouled or makes a shot."
Also, thank you, Jordan Morgan, for stepping up beautifully to block Keith Appling's shot, forcing State to scramble for that final, desperation look by Green. My body is still in the process of uncurling from the fetal position, but I swear I'll jump up and down in celebration as soon as that is physically possible.
You know what happened. I know what happened. It's Friday afternoon. Let's just jump right into the big chart:
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|State gets the ball to Adreian Payne in the post, and while he's established great position on Jordan Morgan (-0.5), Zack Novak (+1) is right on time with a double, forcing Payne to kick it out to Brandon Dawson. Dawson is briefly unguarded, as Tim Hardaway was forced to rotate down to Draymond Green in the post, but Dawson drives and tries to shoot a floater. Hardaway (+2) steps up and gets a hand on the shot, and the ball falls harmlessly into Morgan's hands (2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|MSU pushes the pace after Novak sinks a three, and as they're setting up Morgan (-1, I guess) trips and falls in the post. Appling immediately passes to Payne, Hardaway (+0.5) rotates to force the pass, but Payne makes the right play in passing to Dawson, left alone by THJ, who drives and hits a layup (dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|Payne gets a pass on the wing, about 15 feet from the hoop, and decides to attempt a quick shot. Morgan doesn't respect Payne's jumper, nor should he, and the shot bricks off the far side of the rim (2-pt, no contest, miss). Novak chases down the rebound.|
|Appling gets a pick from Green, but Burke (+0.5) stays right with him and Novak (+0.5) takes away any drive with a good hedge. Appling gives it off to Wood, who tries an entry pass to Payne in the post, but Morgan (+1) bats it away, unfortunately right to Dawson. Dawson tries to drive on Hardaway, but Douglass (+2) sags off of Wood and strips the ball away, coming up with the steal.|
|Appling gets both an off-ball screen and the a high side pick early in the play, but Burke (+1) is right with him through both. He eventually gets the ball back up top and takes another pick, and Burke has no help as Novak and Hardaway are in the middle of a switch. Appling sees this and crosses over, running Burke into Payne, but Novak (+1.5) slides over to stop the drive, and Appling travels.|
|Green comes out and sets a very high screen for Appling on the edge of the Block 'M', and Burke (-1) goes under the pick. This gives Appling just enough space to utilize his speed and get to the basket, and he hits a driving floater over Burke (2-pt, late contest, make). Burke recovered decently on this play, but he can't let Appling get a running start like that.|
|Wood gets a pick up top from Nix that stalls Douglass, but Morgan (+0.5) steps out and Wood picks up his dribble and makes a jump-pass back up top to Green as Novak (+0.5) rotates nicely. Green swings it to Thornton in the corner, but Hardaway (+1) closes well and gets a hand right in his face - the shot misses (3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Burke (+1) jumps over Appling and Nix to grab the rebound.|
|Appling rushes the ball upcourt after an ill-advised Hardaway three was off the mark. State doesn't have numbers, but Nix goes barrelling down the middle in front of Appling and Burke (-0.5) gets caught behind him. Appling pulls up just inside the arc and shoots, but can't knock it down (2-pt, no contest, miss). This was almost a moving screen by Nix, but Burke still has to do a better job of getting out to Appling.|
|Green starts with the ball up top and drives hard to his right against Novak, then spins into the lane, getting by Novak (-1) and forcing Morgan to slide over. Morgan (-0.5) is a split-second late to take the charge, and he hits the deck as Green slips a pass to Nix, who has an open lane for a layup (dunk/layup, no contest, make). Hardaway (-1) is also culpable, as he doesn't recognize the need to rotate onto Nix and is far too late getting over.|
|13:46||15-6||HC||Man||Hardaway||2-pt Miss/OR/Layup Make|
|Wood curl-cuts at the baseline, getting a screen in the process, but Douglass (+0.5) stays right with him. Wood gets a pass on the wing and dumps it to Nix in the post. Morgan (+0.5) is right on him and Novak (+0.5) comes over to help. Nix has an opportunity to hit Green wide open in the post as Hardaway (-1) doesn't rotate, but he instead dribbles into the lane, puts up a heavily-contested shot that misses (2-pt, heavy contest, miss), and is fortunate to have the ball bounce right back to him for a tip-in (dunk/layup, heavy contest, make).|
|Appling again rushes upcourt after a missed three, giving to Wood on the wing, where he's guarded by Douglass. Wood fakes and is able to get past Douglass (-1) on the baseline, but Novak (+2) is in perfect position just outside the charge circle. Wood is forced to double-clutch as he avoids barreling over Novak, and his layup attempt misses (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). Great job by Novak to get to the right spot, put his hands straight up, and avoid committing a foul.|
|12:15||15-8||FB||FB||Douglass||3-pt Miss/OR/Layup Make|
|Again, Appling breaks out after a missed Michigan shot. He flips a short pass to Wood, who jacks up a deep three and misses (3-pt, late contest, miss). Draymond Green is late coming up the court and Douglass (-2), who's responsible for the weak side, doesn't pick him up and box out. Green gets to the basket unimpeded and tips in the missed shot (dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Novak, McLimans|
|Appling gets a pick from Green up top that Douglass goes under. Novak steps out and switches to prevent Appling from driving. Payne then sets another pick for Appling coming back the other way, and this time Novak (-0.5) has to go under while McLimans hedges. Douglass (-1.5) fails to switch onto Payne even though Burke has sunk down, ready to take Green, and by the time McLimans gets back on Payne he has great post position. Appling gives to Green, who has a better angle to pass into the post. He does, and Payne takes a couple dribbles and sinks a baby hook over McLimans (2-pt, heavy contest, make). McLimans actually gets a +1 for defending this as well as he could, but he didn't have much of a chance to make a play.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Smotrycz, McLimans|
|Wood gets a high-side screen from Green, takes it, and immediately gives to Green as he pops out to the corner. McLimans (-1) looks very confused in the post and is way late getting over after Smotrycz (+0.5) correctly hedged, and Green has space for an open three, but misses (3-pt, no contest, miss).|
|Price sprints up the court after a miss, but Burke stays with him and Smotrycz (+0.5) comes over to stop the drive on the baseline. Price gives to Wood and gets it right back, and Burke (+2) turns up the heat, pinning Price against the sideline and forcing him to take a timeout.|
|Lineup: Burke, Vogrich, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|Price gets the sideline inbounds and tries to drive right against Vogrich (+0.5), but can't find room, so he tries an ill-advised jump pass to Wood on the opposite wing. The pass nearly goes out of bounds, but Wood chases it down just as Hardaway gets there. Wood takes a bump from Hardaway and stumbles backwards, drawing a dubiously-late foul call. If the ref calls this when contact is made, fine, but he blows his whistle only after Wood travels. Refs -1. On the subsequent inbounds, M shows a 1-3-1, then moves into man. Wood gets it on the wing and Hardaway (-1) overplays the drive to his right, allowing Wood space to shoot a three, which he misses (3-pt, late contest, miss).|
|I think this is a 2-3, though the video doesn't show the initial setup and it could be a rotated 1-3-1 (picture here). Appling drives sideline around Hardaway and passes in the corner to Green, who shoots over Burke. Burke (+0.5) gets up and provides a great contest, but Green has enough size to still get a good look and knock down the shot (3-pt, heavy contest, make).|
|Appling gets the ball after an MSU steal and charges down the court on the right as Green accompanies him on the left. Burke and Hardaway both attend to Appling while Vogrich (+0.5) gets back on Green. Appling is able to cross over inside of Burke, and Hardaway, who didn't hustle into postion, can't contest and ducks away from contact as Appling hits a layup (-3 Hardaway, dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|Lineup: Douglass, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|Appling drives to the left against Douglass and passes to Green, now guarded by Smotrycz, in the post. Morgan (+1) jumps over for a quick double, and Green throws up what appears to be an alley-oop attempt to Nix that ricochets off the rim and into Novak's hands.|
|Broken record alert: Appling leads a fast break after a missed shot. He charges unimpeded up the middle of the court, and Hardaway is there to stop him at the 3-pt line, except Hardaway (-3) continues backpedaling and tries to steal instead of taking a charge or steering Appling away from the basket. Appling goes right by him and tries a Gervin-style finger roll, but it luckily rims out (dunk/layup, no contest, miss). Hardaway's lack of effort on the defensive end is troubling, to say the least. Mike Tirico and Dan Dakich both rip into him for not stopping the ball, and they're justified in doing so.|
|After Smotrycz misses a layup, Appling—yes—pushes the pace. He gets to the top of the key and sees Trice all alone on the wing as Novak (-1) is late getting out there. Trice gets the pass and sinks a three despite a strong effort from Novak to recover and contest (3-pt, late contest, make).|
|Yeesh, Hardaway. He starts the possession by picking up Nix after State rushes the ball upcourt, but drifts to the perimeter, forcing Novak (+0.5) and Smotrycz (+0.5) to sink into the post to pick him up. Green drives into the lane and passes to Wood in the corner, and Hardaway (-2) is late getting there, but the shot rims out (3-pt, late contest, miss). You could pin some of the blame on either Novak or Smotrycz, but I think both were right there in scrambling to defend the unguarded player in the lane, especially since it doesn't look like Hardaway communicated at all that he was switching men on the play.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Nix gets the ball on the baseline against Morgan and Novak slides off of Green to provide help. Nix passes out top to Wood, who drives into Hardaway and Novak (+1), but Burke (-1) is late rotating onto Green and Wood slips him a pass under the basket. Hardaway (+2) makes a fantastic recovery and cleanly blocks Green's shot (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Thanks for playing defense, THJ.|
|ESPN doesn't show the play, but Burke (+2) steals Green's inbounds pass after a made basket and immediately drives for a layup. I think this kid is going to be good, you guys.|
|5:23||30-20||HC||Man||Morgan||Foul/3-pt Miss/OR/2-pt Miss/OR/2-pt Make|
|Novak is called for a foul after executing a nice switch with Douglass—he didn't quite move his feet fast enough to avoid tripping up Appling. ESPN doesn't show the subsequent inbounds, but Nix gets it in the corner and hands off to Green while effectively screening off Novak. Morgan (-1) doesn't jump out and Novak gets a late contest as Green misses (3-pt, late contest, miss), but Hardaway (-1) bats the ball into the air instead of grabbing it and Brandon Kearney gets an offensive rebound. Kearney gives to Trice, who immediately passes to Nix in the post. Nix's first shot is off the mark (2-pt, heavy contest, miss), but he's able to bat the ball off the backboard, grab it, and go up again, this time finishing (2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Novak, Morgan|
|Michigan appears to start the possession in man, but when Appling gets the ball on the wing, Burke (+0.5) and Vogrich (+0.5) execute a nice trap, forcing him back well beyond the arc, and M falls back into a 2-3 zone. Trice calls for two separate screens from Payne, and both times Douglass (+1) hands with him; on the second pick Trice drives and Stu forces him to attempt a running jumper that doesn't fall as Morgan (+0.5) gets a hand up to contest (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Interesting defensive look here from Beilein.|
|Appling once again charges up the court after a miss, and he's able to blow by Burke (-2), get to the right side of the lane, and hit a driving layup as Morgan is picked off by Payne near the basket (dunk/layup, no contest, make). Burke has to do a better job of stopping the ball in transition on this play.|
|Michigan turns it over, so Appling leads the break again. This time, Michigan is prepared, as Vogrich (+0.5) and Novak (+0.5) stop Appling's drive in the lane and Douglass (+1) tips Appling's pass out of bounds as he tried to hit Trice in the corner. Timeout.|
|Green gets the ball in the post and quickly whips it to Kearney in the opposite corner. Kearney swings it to Appling on the high side and gets it right back, then feeds Payne in the post. Morgan (-2) tried fronting Payne but gave up the pass along the baseline, allowing Payne to turn into the lane, back down Vogrich, who has no hope of defending the much-larger player, and hit a short jumper (2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Michigan switches mid-play from man to 2-3, and the timing is very poor, as the switch is made right as Wood gets the ball in the corner and beats Hardaway (-1) along the baseline. Morgan steps up to stop the drive, but Novak is stuck on Green in the post and nobody is guarding Kearney in the far corner. Wood jumps and passes to Kearney, who drains the open three (3-pt, no contest, make). Hardaway can't give up the baseline that easily, but this also seems like a bad choice to change defenses mid-play. It doesn't look like the call came from the bench, but I'm not sure who made it on the floor; I think it was Douglass, but I'm not positive.|
|Appling gets the ball on the wing with 12 seconds on the shot clock and tries to get into the lane, but Douglass (+1) sticks with him while Morgan steps up to force a pass. Burke (+0.5) gets out quickly onto Trice, who drives baseline, and Morgan (+1.5) again steps up to force a pass. This time, the pass zips by Payne and Hardaway is there to steal and head the other way.|
|Trice runs the clock down to 10 seconds, then drives left and gives to Thornton, who has lost Hardaway (-2) on a screen. Morgan steps out to take Thornton, but Hardaway doesn't switch, instead playing just a couple feet behind Morgan. Payne and Green set a double screen for Wood on the weak side, and Green pops out to the arc, where he's unguarded as Novak and Douglass must choose to take two of the three players on their side of the floor. Thornton passes to Green, who misses a wide open look (3-pt, no contest, miss). Terrible first half on both ends for Hardaway.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Draymond Green gets the ball as State comes upcourt and dribbles to the left elbow, where Morgan (+1) steps up, stops the drive, and nearly knocks the ball away. Hardaway (-2) gets distracted as he stands next to Green but doesn't fully commit to a double-team, allowing Wood to get open in the corner. Douglass (+0.5) rotates out to get a decent contest, and Wood's shot hits the side of the backboard (3-pt, late contest, miss). Hardaway either has to double hard on Green or stay with his man. He did neither.|
|Dawson gets the ball on the baseline to the right of the hoop, and Hardaway (+1) pressures him well while Douglass (+0.5) nearly steals the ball on a good double. Dawson kicks it out top to Appling, who gives to Nix on the block. Nix backs down Morgan (+0.5), pivots, hesitates, and then rattles in a short hook (2-pt, heavy contest, make). Decent defense from Morgan here, and Nix nearly picked up a three-second call.|
|Appling gets a good screen from Nix and gets a step on Burke (-1), but Morgan (+1) hedges and does a solid job of staying step-for-step with Appling. Still, Appling is quick enough to get to the left side of the hoop, but he runs right over Hardaway (+2), who establishes position just outside the circle and draws the charge.|
|Wood catches a long rebound on the run and is one-on-one with a backpedaling Burke. Burke (-1) can't get set to take a charge or block the shot, but he doesn't get out of the way and picks up a ticky-tack foul as Wood misses the lay-in (dunk/layup, no contest, foul). Questionable call, but if Burke doesn't have a play, he either needs to foul hard to prevent the layup or clear out—he's lucky Wood doesn't have an and-one opportunity.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Nix gets the ball a few feet outside the lane against Smotrycz, and Hardaway (+0.5) comes over to cut off the baseline. Nix tries to drive into the middle of the lane, but Smotrycz (+2) easily takes the ball away as Nix turns right into him.|
|16:32||40-32||FB/HC||FB/Man||Smotrycz||Layup Miss/OR/Layup Make|
|Smotrycz turns the ball over at halfcourt and Wood charges back the other way as State has a four-on-one. Somehow, Douglass (+2) is able to position himself under the basket and force a miss when Wood gives to Dawson for a layup (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss), but Wood is able to bring in the rebound and bring it out top to reset. Wood passes to Dawson on the high side and gets it right back as Nix sets a downscreen for Dawson, who cuts to the basket as Smotrycz (-2) misses a switch, and Wood throws a lob that Dawson lays in for two despite a great effort from Novak (+1) to recover (dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|State with a nice play in the corner to set up a bucket. Green sets an off-ball screen for Dawson, who pops out to the corner and gets the ball as Douglass (-1) is late getting out and overcommits, allowing Dawson to get a step, drive to the lane, and kick out to Green for a 12-footer (2-pt, late contest, make) as the defense collapses on Dawson. Douglass actually gets a hand in Green's face late, but that's a pretty short shot for a good shooter.|
|Wood comes off a screen and dumps it in to Green in the post when Douglass (+0.5) sticks right with him. Novak holds his ground and Green passes to Nix just outside the charge circle, but Smotrycz (+2) comes over after taking a step towards Green, gets his hands up, takes a bump, and then strips the ball away as Nix starts to bring it up for a shot. Nice play.|
|After a missed three, State runs the break, but Wood trips over himself and travels as he starts to drive. Derp.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Novak (+0.5) and Douglass (+0.5) make a timely switch as Green runs a pick-and-pop with Appling. Appling gives off to Green, who lobs it towards Payne in the post. Morgan (-1) was fronting and grabs Payne to prevent him from catching the pass, which would've led to a layup, and he's called for a foul. On the inbounds, Green gets it in the corner and goes baseline against Novak, but Hardaway (+2) steps up and takes a charge. Credit to Hardaway for doing that a couple times this half, as I'm sure he got chewed out at the break.|
|Green tries to lob a pass to Payne in the post, but Morgan (+2) is fronting Payne and this time easily steals the pass.|
|Appling pushes the pace after a Michigan miss and Green—who runs upcourt and notices Morgan (-2) is heading back to the post instead of guarding him, as Novak has taken Payne—turns around and sets a crushing pick on Burke, who had no chance on this play. Somebody needs to call that out, as well as pick up Appling on a switch, and I think it's Morgan. Appling gets a wide-open look from a couple feet inside the arc, but misses|
|Appling gets a high side screen from Payne and gets a step on Douglass (-0.5), who has to go under the pick, and Morgan (-1) doesn't slide over to stop the ball. Hardaway (+1) is forced to abandon the weak side and does a good job of setting his feet, but Appling passes to Thornton, who's now all alone in the corner. Thornton sinks the three (3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Nix sets another high side screen for Appling with 11 seconds on the shot clock, but this time Morgan cuts off the drive and forces a pass into the corner as Douglass (+1) trails. Morgan (+2) then sinks back onto Nix, who had posted up Burke, cutting off any chance of a pass and forcing Thornton to make a skip pass to Wood. Wood tries to drive on Burke (+1), who recovered well and cuts off the lane and Novak(+1) tips Wood's desperation jump-pass. Douglass is there to intercept before the shot clock expires.|
|Appling gets another high ball screen, but Morgan (+1) hedges well again. Appling loops around and can't get by Morgan, but he throws up a teardrop from outside the lane that somehow falls through (2-pt, heavy contest, make). Ridiculous shot is ridiculous.|
|Burke has a three-pointer partially blocked and Appling runs again. Michigan does a good job getting back and Novak (+1) gets right out onto Wood as Appling feeds him in the corner, but Wood sinks a three anyway (3-pt, heavy contest, make). C'est la vie.|
|Lineup: Burke, Vogrich, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Vogrich stops an entry pass into the post with his foot, so State inbounds the ball with 15 seconds on the shot clock. Appling gets it up top and drives quickly, before Nix can get over to set a pick, and Burke (+2) plays him tight, times his jump perfectly, and blocks a pullup J right into Vogrich's hands (2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Lineup: Douglass, Vogrich, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|7:54||49-44||HC||Man||Douglass||2-pt Miss/Foul/Layup Make + Foul|
|Appling gets a pick up top from Nix, Douglass (+1) goes over and hangs with him, and when Appling doubles back over another Nix pick Morgan (+1) is there to hedge, forcing Appling nearly out to the edge of the midcourt circle. State quickly swings the ball down to Nix in the post, but Novak (+1) holds his own as Nix bricks a hook from outside the lane (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Morgan (-1) is caught shoving Green under the basket on the rebound, an unnecessary foul given where the ball was headed. On the ensuing inbounds, State whips the ball around the perimeter as Novak, Douglass, and Vogrich (+0.5) all do a fantastic job of rotating and switching, but great ball movement gets it into the post for Nix against Douglass, and Nix hits a lefty layup and gets the foul (dunk/layup, heavy contest, make + foul). Great defense, better offense.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Hardaway, Morgan|
|Appling pushes the pace after Vogrich bricks a three, and while Burke (+0.5) and Morgan (+0.5) pick up Appling and Nix, Douglass (-2) stays near the lane instead of getting out to Kearney in the far corner. Appling makes a quick pass to Kearney, who drains a three over a late-arriving Douglass (3-pt, late contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Burke (-1) doesn't anticipate a pick by Nix, but Morgan hedges nicely on Appling to force him towards the sideline, and Appling gives the ball up. He gets it up top again with 8 seconds on the clock, again gets a screen that picks off Burke, and while Novak (-0.5) picks him up, he's able to turn the corner and get up a shot before Morgan can rotate over. The floater falls (2-pt, late contest, make). Morgan comes out even after the nice hedge but a late rotation.|
|Green gets the ball on the block against Novak and Morgan comes out to double. Green is able to throw a skip pass to Kearney in the opposite corner, and Morgan (-2) never gets back onto Nix, instead staying with Green along with Novak. Kearney gives to Nix, who has to be picked up by Hardaway, and Thornton, Hardaway's man, runs out to the corner. Nobody's there to pick Thornton up, and he hits a three over Hardaway (+1), who made a great effort to guard two players but didn't have much of a chance (3-pt, late contest, make).|
|Green takes a pass from Appling at the top of the key and gets a pick from Nix. Morgan (-1) is late with the double, and Green is able to lob a pass to Nix in the post. Hardaway (+0.5) is there on the rotation, but there's little he can do as Nix goes right over him to lay it in (dunk/layup, heavy contest, make). Morgan has to get there earlier so Green can't get space to make the entry pass or he's got to stay on Nix.|
|MSU can't find an opening as Michigan throws out the 1-3-1, and Appling eventually drives wildly into the paint, charging over Morgan (+2) as he tries to pass and picking up, well, a charge.|
|3:24||56-57||HC||Man||Burke||Foul/2-pt Miss/Foul (2/2)|
|Douglass (+0.5) stays right with Wood as he comes around a double screen off the ball and gets it on the wing. Wood dumps it in to Green, who spins baseline against Novak (-1) and passes to Payne before Morgan (-1) rotates. Hardaway (+1) does a good job just to foul Payne on the floor before he can dunk. Trice gets the ball on the wing, calls for a pick from Green, and drives to the right, but Novak (+0.5) picks him up and when Trice pulls up for a jumper, Burke (+1.5) blocks it (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). The ball goes right to Thornton, however, and he's able to pick up a shooting foul as he slashes into the paint. Unlucky break, that.|
|Green gets the ball up top and holds until 10 seconds remains on the shot clock, then calls a timeout. Thornton inbounds it to Appling a couple feet inside the half-court line, and Burke (+2) hounds him, forcing Appling to dribble off his foot. The ball goes over half-court, and Appling gets a backcourt violation as Izzo screams in protest about... good defense? [Ed-S: +1 Izzo for gif-friendly chewing of playbook)|
|1:36||58-59||HC||Man||Burke||3-pt Miss/OR/2-pt Miss|
|Appling drives and gets caught in the air due to great defense again from Burke, just chucking the ball near the perimeter, where he's fortunate that Wood gets to the ball first. Appling gets the ball again in the corner, takes a couple dribbles towards the top of the key, and pulls up from beyond the arc, but Burke (+3) nearly blocks the shot and it's off the mark (3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Douglass (-2) can't locate the ball even as it bounces off the floor three feet away, and Wood grabs the rebound. State resets. Appling gets a screen from Green and drives, but Morgan (+1) steps up nicely and Appling can't sink a floater as Hardaway (+1) helps out with the contest (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Hardaway taps the rebound out to Burke.|
|0:36||60-59||HC||Man||Morgan||2-pt Miss/OR/2-pt Miss/OR/2-pt Miss/VICTORY|
|Thornton gets a pick under the basket from Green and pops out wide open to the three-point line, where he gets the ball from Appling. Novak doesn't run out when Hardaway is caught on the screen, but Thornton immediately passes to Green a couple feet outside the lane. Normally I'd ding Novak for this, but it's clear his instructions were to not leave Green—State's #1 option—at all. Green is forced to pass out top by Novak (+0.5) and Hardaway (+0.5), Nix gets it on the block and passes out to Appling, who drives wildly and has his pullup J blocked by Morgan (+2, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Wood gets the ball, nearly loses it, and fights a pass through to Green, who drives to the lane and misses a runner over Burke, who smartly decides not to put his hands up and risk a foul (2-pt, no contest, miss). Green's tip-in attempt, at least according to the play-by-play, comes after the final horn. Exhale.|
Want to talk about it?
Sure. Michigan got brutalized on the boards, still had problems properly defending the fast break, and had a couple major breakdowns in communication. Despite all that, they held MSU to just under 50% shooting from the field, allowed just five (!) free-throw attempts, and forced turnovers on 24.6% of Spartan possessions. I really don't know what to make of this game, except that I'm giddily happy that Michigan pulled out a victory.
Did I really see a 2-3, or was that a hallucination?
Fear not, self, for you aren't trippin'. Check out this little trick:
Michigan starts out in man-to-man, but after an early trap they fall back into a 2-3 zone. This curveball appeared to catch State off guard, as they tried a pair of fruitless pick-and-rolls that resulted in a tough shot from within the teeth of the defense. I don't remember Michigan doing this before and I like the wrinkle so long as they know when to break it out. Michigan was later burned on a mid-play switch to the 2-3 that was poorly timed, so this must be handled with caution.
You're getting a little ahead of yourself. How about a...
|Defensive Shot Prevention|
|Burke||18||7.5||10.5||Tasked with staying with Keith Appling, who was the focal point of both State's half-court offense and their fast break, and he did an admirable job. Burke is getting better at playing defense with his feet instead of reaching for the ball, and for the most part he kept Appling in front of him despite being run through myriad screens. Forcing the late halfcourt violation was the cherry on top of a strong defensive performance. Also: two blocks!|
|Hardaway||16||17||-1||It was a tale of two halves for Hardaway. In the first, he looked generally disinterested in playing defense, loafing back on a couple fast breaks and getting caught out of position several times. THJ refocused in the second half and took a couple charges while doing a much better job of staying in position. Still, much of what he did in the first half was inexcusable from an effort standpoint.|
|Novak||13.5||4||9.5||Not sure what Chris Mackinder saw to grade Novak so poorly, as I thought he did a great job shutting down Draymond Green (7 points, 3-8 shooting, 2 offensive rebounds). While Novak didn't have a direct hand in many turnovers, he played great help defense and was rarely in the wrong spot. All that was missing were a couple of Novakian drawn charges.|
|Smotrycz||5.5||2||3.5||Only played 10 minutes. Missed a switch that led to a basket. Had a couple of nice steals. Generally solid in limited playing time.|
|Morgan||19||14||5||Had one of the tougher jobs of the night, as he spent much of his time on defense trying to run with Keith Appling after hedging on screens. He was inconsistent with his positional play, missing a couple switches, and pulled in only two rebounds. That block in the waning seconds was huge, though, and he defended the pick-and-roll quite well.|
|Douglass||12||10||2||Not one of Stu's better games as he uncharacteristically got caught drifting away from his assignment on a few plays and gave up some open looks. Still, Douglass came through with a nice steal, disrupted a few passes, and did a solid job on Appling when Burke needed a breather. Needs to do a better job of boxing out.|
|Vogrich||2.5||0||2.5||Picked up some half-points for rotating well. He really is a mini-Novak, hustling all over the court and even pulling down a pair of rebounds.|
|McLimans||1||1||0||Two minutes, one good play, one bad play.|
|TOTAL||87.5||55.5||32||Not bad. Not as good as the 2:1 +/- ratio from the Wisconsin game, but overall a pretty solid effort.|
So, um, Hardaway.
Yeah. This is pretty unacceptable defense:
Hardaway doesn't hustle into position and Appling gets an easy two points as a result. This happened twice in the first half to go along with a few instances where he either didn't make a switch or failed to communicate that he was abandoning his man. That's not so good. On the other hand, he had a much better second half and took those two charges. He needs to make that level of effort throughout the game, though, and not after Beilein is forced to pull him multiple times in order to chew him out.
Pretty, pretty good. Hardaway was the only player to finish in the negative, Morgan worked his tail off, Burke hung with Appling, and Novak shut down Green. Douglass had his ups and downs but was still decent on the perimeter. I think the strength of Michigan's overall team performance is reflected in the...
Yes. Shot chart.
|Man||1/1||2/2||3/3 (1F)||0/2||5/5 (1F)||3/12||1/3||1/5||0/2||2/6||8/12 (1F)||6/17 (1F)||16/35 (2F)|
|Fast Break||3/4 (1F)||-||0/2||0/2||-||-||-||2/3||1/1||3/6 (1F)||2/3||1/3||6/12 (1F)|
|TOTAL||4/5 (1F)||2/2||3/5 (1F)||0/4||5/5 (1F)||3/13||2/4||3/8||2/4||6/13 (1F)||10/15 (1F)||8/22 (1F)||24/50 (2F)|
State certainly helped Michigan out by missing four uncontested two-pointers (including Green's last shot, as Burke decided—smartly, in my opinion—not to put his hands up and risk a foul), but they couldn't generate many open looks down low out of their half-court offense and were forced to settle for a whole lot of contested mid-range shots.
That's nice. How did Michigan force so many turnovers?
Tight defense and timely swipes at the ball, for the most part. Here's some of Douglass's finer work, as he recognizes that Brandon Dawson is going to drive to the middle, sags off his man—who's hanging out harmlessly beyond the arc—and comes away with a steal:
Smotrycz also came away with a pair of strips just from playing solid man defense and waiting for his man to bring the ball down and in front of him. He's shown a propensity for doing that and he's beginning to cut down on the reach-in fouls that usually accompany such plays.
Even when State did get a bucket, they usually had to work for it. Watch how well Novak, Douglass, and Vogrich rotate and switch on this play, despite in ending in a Spartan and-one after some fantastic passing:
Just like in football, good offense beats good defense (hence all the scoring). There's not much more you can do on the above play, especially along the perimeter.
Once again, Burke stood out to me as the team's best defender—watch your back, Stu. Novak deserves major credit for the job he did against Green, and I thought Morgan did well in every area save rebounding.
First-half Hardaway. Let's hope we don't see that again.
(via Lost Lettermen)
That is all.