There’s a recurring gag in American Hustle in which Louis C.K.’s Stoddard Thorsen is trying to tell Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso about a time that Thorsen went ice fishing (in Michigan, no less) and something happened to his brother, but DiMaso cuts the story off. DiMaso thinks he has the ending figured out, that there’s no reason for Thorsen to waste time attempting to explain something that’s so painfully obvious. In actuality DiMaso never gets the end of the story right.
This is the way the season has gone for Michigan hockey. Just when we think we might know what this team is or is not they surprise us. Prior to the season there was a great deal of skepticism surrounding everything because last season didn’t exactly inspire confidence in any area. Then Michigan goes on a run, beats a number of legitimately good teams and ends up ranked #3. Fast forward to the end of December and Michigan is losing in the most unenthusiastic fashion imaginable to the same State team they swept aside this weekend.
The truth about this Michigan team is that we don’t know where they will end up when the season’s over. I think they’ll make the NCAA Tournament, but what happens after that is impossible to discern. I could have barked out disparate conclusions after games in October and December and either of them could still come true. Luckily for us the “good” Michigan, the team that I actually believe could make a run in the Tournament, showed up this weekend.
Michigan State vs. #14 Michigan
Thursday, January 23, 2014
UM 1 MSU 0 11:36 EV
Compher from DeBlois & Guptill
Guptill has the puck behind the net and initially loses it, but he checks hard and twice keeps a State player from clearing the puck out of the zone. On one of the clearing attempts it hits him and stays stationary before being picked up by DeBlois.
DeBlois passes to Compher, who’s open at the side of the net. State’s lone defenseman is watching the play unfold up the boards and doesn’t even think about moving towards Compher until he already has the puck.
Compher sees that Hildebrand has one pad on the ice and is sealing the post well, so he tries to pass across the crease. The puck goes off of the State defenseman’s stick blade and ends up back with Compher.
Hildebrand has moved off the post and tries to shift back across the crease but can’t do so before Compher’s put the puck in the net.
UM 1 MSU 1 6:04 EV
Ferrantino from Cox & Holland
Michigan State wins the faceoff and gets the puck to the point. Holland shoots immediately and Nagelvoort makes the save but gives up a rebound.
Downing sees the rebound and tries to clear it put can’t do so before Cox stabs at the puck.
Ferrantino has good body position on the defender, and the puck is tipped past Nagelvoort off of his stick. Ferrantino is behind Compher the whole (admittedly very short) play, and this leads to a goal against.
UM 2 MSU 1 17:42 EV
Di Giuseppe from Copp & De Jong
This goal doesn’t happen without Andrew Copp. State has a chance to clear picked off their stick when Copp comes in from behind and steals the puck away, passing it to De Jong at the point. De Jong shoots and Hildebrand stops the shot but gives up a rebound.
Copp is in behind his defender and gets a shot on net that Hildebrand once again stops. Another rebound ends up in front of the net that PDG backhands into the half open net, up and over the sprawled Hildebrand
#14 Michigan at Michigan State
Friday, January 24, 2014
MSU 1 UM 0 17:29 PPG
Sorenson from Walsh & Ferranti
Staee (that's not a typo) works the puck up the boards and moves it laterally across the blue line. Michigan’s penalty kill is in a box formation, and at this point I’m thinking that they’re collapsing on net purposefully. This is almost a carbon copy of a goal they gave up against Wisconsin. D-to-D passes are going to be completed without disruption when your strategy is to collapse.
This puck finds the only low part of the net that would allow it to go in. It worked so, uh, good job Staee, I guess?
MSU 1 UM 1 19:54 EV
Compher from Nieves & DeBlois
The Michigan State defenseman circled is late jumping back in to the play, which is why State’s other defender is in the middle of the ice. This leaves room for Compher to carry the puck in down the wing with speed.
Compher switches to the backhand and sees that the defenseman has decided to take away the pass. He has an opportunity to shoot and takes it, beating Hildebrand under his blocker.
MSU 1 UM 2 5:09 EV
DeBlois from Compher
Michigan dumps the puck in and DeBlois chases it down along the boards. You’ve heard of puck luck? Let’s watch it in stills.
The puck flutters, seems to hit the ice, and takes a jump.
Like a Miguel Cabrera shot to left, it just keeps rising and rising. Sorry, I was following along with Tigerfest on Twitter this weekend.
MSU 2 UM 2 7:19 PPG
Ferrantino from Haag & Sorenson
Michigan is once again set up in a box on the penalty kill. State moves the puck from the blue line down the boards. Michigan’s two netfront defenders take note and see that the skater is going to take the puck to the net.
Nagelvoort stops the shot but gives up a rebound in the slot. Serville picks up Ferrantino after he’s already charged the net, putting his stick in Ferrantino’s midsection. Ferrantino doesn’t hesitate to hack at the puck until it crosses the line.
Here’s the reverse angle.
MSU 2 UM 3 5:23 EV
DeBlois from Serville & Compher
This goal is a result of DeBlois being in exactly the right place at the right time. Michigan enters the zone and moves the puck back to Serville at the blue line. He snaps a shot on net, and it happens to deflect off of DeBlois’ stick and into the net.
“DID YOU GUYS SEE WHAT I-“
MSU 2 UM 4 6:14 EV
Bennett from Selman & Clare
Michigan wins a battle along the boards and chips the puck to the blue line. Bennett and Selman take off, and Bennett works a give-and-go. After passing back to Selman he skates past his defender, bumping him in the process. The defender falls down and ties up another MSU player in the process.
Selman passes under an outstretched stick to Bennett, who is now freed up alone in the slot.
Bennett shows some stickhandling skill here, going forehand-backhand-forehand to beat Hildebrand. I liken this goal to being the shy kid in discussion section who knows they can contribute but is waiting for precisely the right time to do so. One day the GSI throws out a question that you immediately know the answer to, but no one’s answering. Is this it? Seconds pass, no one answers, and this becomes the moment that you seize the opportunity and run with it.
MSU 2 UM 5 13:54 SHG
Compher from Copp & Bennett
Michigan wins another battle behind the net, moves the puck up the middle of the defensive zone, and passes to Copp along the wing. He carries it into the neutral zone and has Compher in the middle of the ice with only one defenseman back to cover.
This is a Mickey Redmond bingo-bango special.
photo via lostlettermen.com
On the heels of BBrown's massive 2015 Prospect Post I thought it might be good to see how the available scholarship slots will be distributed.
2015 Scholarships Available: 11 - 19
Every class should have a QB and 2015 is no different. With decent depth now at the position I doubt Michigan will sign a lower rated 2nd prospect. The only way I see 2 commits is the 2nd prospect is a dual-threat type who could transition to another position.
Depth at the position is fairly thin with 3 true RBs and 2 RB/Slot hybrid types. I would defintely say 2 here but there is a chance that Houma or Shallman become full time RBs and are good enough to stick.
This is a spot that can be filled by a walk-on. Also likely to be marganlized by the new offensive system.
One of the best position groups with regards to depth with 8-11 options (counting Funchess). This is a position where the coaches can be very selective and take elite prospects or sit tight with what they have.
With only 4 players here at least 1 TE is guaranteed . I would say that a 2nd commit is possible but the number crunch probably limits that. Possible position group for attrition could jump this up to 2.
I wanted to seperate this out by position group but its hard to tell right now where the current players will fit in. There is a need for at least 2 OTs and a C. With J. Runyan Jr. already committed I see them taking 3 more OLs with an eye towards OTs. Also a possible position group for attrition.
Depth at NT is fairly thin so I would expect that we'll defintely see 1 NT. Another DT is possible but I don't see how there would be room.
Depth here is fairly thin as well but potential position switches from DT and TE could help fill out this position group.
Depth here is pretty good so the coaches can hopefully reel in an elite level prospect at this position.
This is a young position group and with 2 seniors graduating the staff will take at least 1 prospect here.
Depth here is pretty good for these fairly interchangeable position groups and with limited scholarships I see the coaches holding out for an elite propsect here. Also a possible position group for attrition.
Fairly stacked position group with freshman who have already played and highly regarded incoming recruits. With S.Crawford already in the fold I don't see how the coaches will go after another pure CB. Likely a position group for attrition which could bump this up.
Defintely a position group in need of players even with T. Kinnel already committed. Only 4 players here and possibly 1-2 more moving over from CB.
Kicker is taken care of with A.David and so is LS. Punter is the only open position which may be filled by a walk-on.
Projected Commits: 13 - 19
Defintely had to fiddle around with my original numbers to make this work but I think the final result is fairly accurate. This exercise has taught my why 85 scholarships seems like such a hinderance. Certain positions like OL and CB seem stacked but we all watched the OL this year...and we all remember the "Never Forget" banner.
My best guess is 15 Member Recrutiing Class after attrition, graduation, and early entrants.
Unlike in football, where you have a game a week and, thus, all carry a pretty high significance, basketball has far more games with varying levels of import. Last year I basically started this column with the tourney run, and so far the season has been just disjointed enough that it was hard to get a bead on what this team was capable of. So it wasn’t until this week’s games against Wiscy, Iowa, and MSU did I feel like I could do justice to a full-fledged Best and Worst on a series of games. Note that while I can at least impersonate someone who knows a couple of things about football, I am an avowed fanboy of basketball who begged his mom for a Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket and Bobby Hurley’s ITZ so that I could ball in the Michigan winters all day long.
Also, there might be wrestling references in here. To paraphrase Mel Gibson to Joaquin Phoenix, “Neg away.”
Best: Wrecking Ball
Even the most optimistic fan looked at this slate of games and said “2-1 would be fantastic, but just get 1 win and survive.” Then came the signature win at the Trohl Center, and everyone rejoiced for a day until the Ent Globtetrotters were seen emerging from a fertile Plains state. Then UM felled it’s second top-10 team of the week and the mood turned pure Lloyd Christmas with the possibility of a sweep at the Breslin, but for most that fantasy was quickly snuffed out by the realties of playing against a third top-10 team, on the road, before a rabid crowd that could easily sway the officials in ways both great and small. And it’s not like MSU is a pushover; led by the lilliputian Tom Izzo, one of the nation’s top coaches and 18-time winner of the Frances Pomeroy Van Gundy award for coaching, he’s the reason Cedar Village’s Google Image Search is virtually indistinguishable from that of London’s during World War 2.
(Click to enlarge. The black & white ones are London)
And yet, it was hard to shake the feeling at halftime that UM was going to sweep the week, or at the very least come damn close. Yes, the shooting has been unsustainably hot, but they were also able to weather some horrible officiating and Gary Harris’s amazing performance to keep the game close, and at some point a short-handed MSU team* wasn’t going to be able to hang with this squad, even if they weren’t at full-strength themselves. And so, like the other two games, UM won a bit going away, hitting their foul shots and playing stout enough defense to salt it. Basically, they followed the same formula MSU and UW have used for years to choke the life out of teams.
So now, midway through a season that started with much uncertainty, pocked with consternation and some despair, UM sits atop the best conference in the country, 7-0 for the first time since before anyone on this team was born. Though this is certainly not the last tough stretch for the team, and you have to expect some type of letdown in the coming weeks, these guys went from safe-if-unspectacular tourney team to one of the most dangerous outs in the country, a designation that seems perfectly appropriate for a Beilein squad. Speaking of which…
* This has been discussed elsewhere, but losing Payne to injury was tough. Losing Dawson to a “Fist Punch of Leadership” is just having an idiot on your team. Everyone loses players throughout the season, and sore wrists and bum shoulders weren’t the reasons UM has won 5 of the last 7 against MSU.
Best: The Beilein Hypothesis…
I’ve always believed that there are two types of successful college coaches: guys who thrive in chaos of new players and transition, and guys who thrive at installing players into a system. The archetypes of the prior are the one-and-done maestros like Calipari, while the patron saint of the latter are guys like Tom Izzo and Bo Ryan. Obviously, most coaches fall somewhere in this spectrum, with guys like Pitino, Krzyzewski, Boeheim, Self, and Williams making do with varying mixtures of near-pros and matriculating talent. But in general, their greatest successes fall into one of these two camps.
John Beilein has always been a system guy. Now, when I hear that term as it relates to college basketball, I think of your defensive taskmasters; your Ryans and Izzos who recruit annoyingly-good offensive rebounders and defense-first guards who want to leave teams looking like Zach Novak and muttering “Jon-a-than!” as they board their bus.
But with Beilein, the focus has always been about his offense, and he’s recruited those players with a very specific set of skills with aplomb since he arrived in Ann Arbor. Sure, he made do with imperfect lineups featuring guys like Morris, Harris, and Sims, talented players who helped carry UM back to respectability even when they weren’t great fits for the system. But you always saw him tinkering at the edges, trying to create the type of team that, well, he’s had for the past 2-3 years (though perhaps still a bit too guard-heavy, with McGary’s injury being a major factor).
Still, it has gotten to the point with Beilein’s team that they can lose one of the best players in the country and another first-round NBA player and really not miss a beat. Sure, Stauskas and Caris have made strides and the Morgan/Horford combo has impressed, but this team is still down 3/5ths of the starting lineup that took them to the championship game last year. And yet, after a couple of early stumbles as the pieces settled into place, the offensive productivity remains elite while the defense remains in line with last year’s acceptable rate. And unlike defense-heavy teams, which seem to be better able to plug in, how do I say this charitably, “high energy” guys with limited offensive games and still come out on top, Beilein’s system requires players to be able to actually score with some consistency, a skill that (I presume) is far less abundant.
It seems that it has gotten to the point with Beilein (and more importantly this team) that players have become largely interchangeable provided they possess certain basic skillsets and a decent level of athleticism. And in some ways, perhaps his best teams are going to be those bereft of a great many “stars” from an NBA perspective. This isn’t meant to invoke the Ewing Theory because losing in the championship game could never be construed as “underachieving”, but I do think that the Burke-Hardaway squad was hurt at times by having two NBA-ready players sometimes vying for the same shots and space; you heard various people complain gently that the “hero ball” at the end of games by Burke and Hardaway felt forced at times. Obviously it didn’t cost them in the end, but his WVU teams weren’t overflowing with NBA talent and yet they held serve in a remarkably tough Big East for years. That doesn’t mean you don’t want to recruit the best kids, but his team seems capable of holding serve without the superstars guys like Calipari need to replenish year-in/year-out.
My only nagging concern is that the defense, perhaps by design or due to the players best suited for this offense, seems to have settled at about average, which puts pressure on the offense to be significantly more efficient than other teams to compensate. It is a relatively minor concern and one that should further shrink as more talent arrives, but it should be noted when discussing Beilein’s successes.
So while I’m not yet ready to consider that any future Beilein team at UM can be penciled in for a certain number of wins and a tourney run, it is safe to say that the era of “fretting” about the state of the program is at an end. Given a reasonable number of healthy bodies and at least some talented offensive players, Beilein’s squads will be highly competitive in the toughest conference in the land, always in the running for conference banners and capable of beating anyone on a given night. That is the best mark of a good system, and given the past two decades of UM basketball, a welcome sign.
[He isn't even close to done with Bests yet. Jump!]
We’re well into basketball season and football season is officially in the books, King KenPom has you covered on the basketball stats so before signing day hits, I wanted to take a quick look into the numbers behind the most watched teams of college football from 2013.
Sports Media Watch published a handy guide the ratings for the last football season. Unfortunately there isn’t good data for the Big Ten Network, The Pac 12 Network and CBS Sports Network, but all of the other major players are there. With nearly 400 games televised I dug into the viewer totals to see which teams had the most eyeballs on them, which weekends had the most viewers and other interesting tidbits.
The 2013 Most Watched Team Was…
Alabama. Not a big surprise. I looked at the numbers three different ways and Alabama came out on top in all three measurements.
11 of Alabama’s 13 games made it to a network or an ESPN. Overall, nearly 81 MM people watched those 11 games. On a per game basis, Alabama’s 7.4 MM viewers topped the country, as well.
|Total Viewers||Average Viewers||Included Games|
|#3||Ohio State||77.1||Ohio State||6.4||12|
|#5||Texas A&M||60.8||Michigan State||5.7||10|
Iron Bowl champion Auburn was a close second in both measures, with Ohio State rounding out the top three. Florida State just missed the top five average, as did Texas A&M. Michigan State cracked the top five with a strong finish. The Big Ten Championship was the fifth most watched game overall and the Rose Bowl was second only to the Title game. The most surprising entry in the list turns out to be our very own Michigan Wolverines. There were 37 other teams that were on the included channels more than Michigan, but with 6 million viewers per showing, a lackluster season didn’t affect the interest in the team.
As anyone who has followed TV ratings knows, when and where you’re on can be as important as who is on. Here is a look at the average viewers by time and channel type:
*Games on Holidays (Sun/Mon of Labor day, Th/Fr of Thanksgiving), Bowl Games and Conference Championship games excluded.
**Mirrored games are the combined totals between ABC and ESPN2
Unsurprisingly the networks draw better crowds, whether it is the networks or the games themselves is tough to parse out, but there is a clear pecking order as you move down the ladder.
So with a slot average, you can begin to look at which teams do well versus their time slot.
|Team||Variance vs Slot|
|#1||Alabama||+2.8 MM viewers per game|
Michigan jumps even higher on the list once you factor in the real estate it was given. Michigan did a full 50% higher than an average matchup for the six non-BTN slots it was given (Minnesota was excluded as a mirrored game and no Bowl games were included). Despite a lackluster season, Michigan’s ratings continued to be some of the best in the country.
Looking at the worst performers there are surprising names. No one was interested in the Kiffin drama as USC was over half a million viewers below their slot expectation. Notre Dame was burdened by high expectations, falling 750,000 viewers per game below their slot average. Notre Dame had the best real estate in the country, with 12 games broadcast and a sky-high 4.7 MM viewers per game expected.
The Most Popular Weeks of College Football
With weekly peeks and valleys, the numbers of people watching college football on Saturdays increased as the season progressed in 2013.
Total Saturday viewers increases by about 250,000 viewers per week until Thanksgiving and conference championship weekend when the ratings jump 35%
The bowls continue to be huge draws, with nearly 3.8 million viewers per non-BCS bowls, which is roughly equal to an ESPN night game but with twice as many instances (30 versus 14 regular season). The bowls aren’t going away, folks.
The BCS bowls and the national title game drew an average of 17 MM viewers.
Oklahoma versus Alabama and the Rose Bowl were both right around the average while UCF/Baylor and OSU/Clemson balanced out the national title game. Based on this, I would estimate a national semi-final could draw somewhere close to 20 million viewers.
Dave Brandon Must Be Proud
The brand is strong. Despite a disappointing season on the field, viewers turned out to watch Michigan games at level on par with national title contenders and controversial Heisman trophy winners. If the data continues to be readily available, it will be interesting to see how a more successful season (hopefully 2014) impacts Michigan’s overall ratings.
FIVE GAMES DOWN, SOME HARD GAMES TO GO
We’ve experienced just short of a third of the conference schedule now, and in a trend that I know we would love to see extended, so far we’ve come out unscathed. The highlight so far, at least in my opinion, is a very nice win against Palpatine and his Badgers in a place where we have not won since the days of Brian Ellerbe coaching and LaVell Blanchard MVP-ing, if you will.
Here are the summary averages for the last five games:
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
Off. Rebound %
Def. Rebound %
Assist / Turnover Ratio
True Shooting %
Free Throw Rate
Points / Possession
There are only so many conclusions you can draw based on five conference games, but the trend in a lot of areas so far has been up or steady against the conference when compared to non-conference average.
For example, we are actually shooting better in the conference so far, averaging 60.71% for an effective field goal percentage, up almost 6% from what we were averaging in the first 12 games of the season. We’re also getting more efficient in conference play, it seems. We maintain a 1.22 points per possession average for the conference games and for the non-conference, but we’re maintaining it with fewer possessions in conference play so far (averaging about 60, as you see above, down from 65 in the non-conference schedule). To date, you will also note that we’ve gotten by on some nice ball handling as well with the assist-to-turnover ratio for Michigan average nearly double that of our conference opponents so far.
I would expect all these numbers to moderate going into the next five or six games too, but so far what we have seen has been pretty good, I would think.
This time, we’ll focus on the so-called Four Factors, or stats which have been shown to be pretty indicative of winning (or losing) in basketball. Here they are in convenient graph form - as with the last diary, blue is us, red is not:
If these tell a story of conference play so far, then what they tell us is that we’re getting by on being a very accurate shooting team. We’ve also been very disciplined with the ball, only exceeding our opponent’s turnover percentage once (Wisconsin), and we’ve gotten to the line a little more than our opponents as well, only losing this battle once as well (Nebraska). Offensive rebounding has been a little more inconsistent, and I suspect it is a battle we will definitely need to win in some of the upcoming games.
SOME OTHER DATA:
Here are a few other metrics (again, we're in blue, of course) –
Here again, disciplined ball handling, accurate shooting and as you can see simply being efficient have been the main drivers behind the success so far, and hopefully the momentum continues.
Also: sorry, but this Nuss-at-Washington post is going to have to be delayed since the video conversion failed the first time I tried it.]
If you’re a frequent visitor of this site then you’re familiar with the 2014 meme. Unfortunately it seems that the gilded griffin who’s been sprinkling magic dust on all of the arenas and administrative buildings across the athletic campus couldn’t make the road trip to Wisconsin. I heard it was icy, maybe that was an issue for the griffin. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is how frustrating this weekend was to watch. Even Michigan’s human embodiment of the 2014 meme, Andrew Copp, couldn’t turn this series around.
#8 Michigan v. #14 Wisconsin
Friday, January 10, 2014
Wisconsin 1 UM 0 4:16 EV
Mersch from Schulze & Dahl
Wisconsin dances around Michigan in the neutral zone to gain the offensive zone with little pushback from the Wolverines. Instead of driving the net Schulze leaves a drop pass for Mersch, who has no one defending him. You’ve heard of gap control? Here’s an example of what not to do.
Mersch takes what appears to be a harmless shot. Nagelvoort has a good read on the puck and isn’t screened, but the puck hits the outside of his glove and deflects in. Nagelvoort was phenomenal most of the night, and this is just a tough break for the freshman netminder.
YOU MAY REMEMBER ME FROM SUCH FILMS AS:
Wisconsin 2 UM 0 11:47 EV
Besse from Schulze & LaBate
Wisconsin shoots the puck from near the blueline into a crowd, where it hits someone and deflects to the side of the net. There just so happens to be a Wisconsin player in the vicinity, who grabs the puck and heads behind the net.
Besse skates out from behind the net and centers the puck to the slot. It hits the back of De Jong’s skate (who actually has his man well defended in front of the net) and deflects in between Nagelvoort’s legs. Two flukes, two times the puck finds the back of the net for Wisconsin. At this point it appears that Michigan’s just not going to have fortune smile upon them. Rarely does one bizarre goal happen in a game, but to have two happen in the same period puts a team so far behind the eight ball that they aren’t even playing pool anymore.
Wisconsin 3 UM 0 11:47 EV
Dahl from Mersch & McCabe
How does a shot get through from the blueline to the front of the net? One way is for there to be a big defensive miscue, such as sticking with the wrong man when the other team is moving laterally. That’s exactly what happens here. This is especially unfortunate because Motte played an otherwise good game defensively
To his credit, Motte closes the gap fairly well even though the shot gets through. Nagelvoort stops the initial shot but gives up a juicy, grade-A rebound.
Dahl is right in front but can’t get his stick on the puck. The puck actually bounces in off of his skate, going through Nagelvoort’s legs in the process. Credit to Dahl for not kicking the puck.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Michigan's response, and sad happenings the next night.]