to play football, not to play trumpet
An informational post about the Rivals 100 players Michigan has recruited since 2002 got me thinking, and in this relatively quiet period, I decided I wanted to dig a bit deeper.
The question I set out to answer: How do these guys turn out? At what rate do top recruits become top players in our program? And how does that compare to other programs?
Given limited time, I compared us to only one other program: Ohio. I used Rivals 100 data for position, stars, and rank. The "Impact" data point is my subjective interpretation of a player's career impact; 3 is a high impact player (Solid starter to All-B1G type), 2 is a role player (contributor to starter), and 1 is a low impact player (did not produce for whatever reason). These ratings are NOT based on talent or careers at other schools--only the player's impact where they signed their LOI. Players who have not yet had the opportunity to demonstrate a rating are designated "n/a". Players with an asterix have not yet signed. And yes, some of you will argue with me, but my overall ratings are close enough to make some good starting points for conversation. Here is the data, followed by conclusions:
|Derrick Green (*)||RB||5||8||2013||VA||n/a|
|Henry Poggi (*)||DT||4||70||2013||MD||n/a|
|Shane Morris (*)||QB||4||81||2013||MI||n/a|
Let's start by looking at Michigan's "gets". There are some definite correlations. A higher national rank does indeed give a player a higher likelihood of making an impact. Of the 36 players who received a rating, nine were 3's (high impact), eight were 2's (role players), and 19 were...not so good. That gives Rivals 100 players during this period a 25% chance of being great, a 22% chance of being okay to good, and about a 53% chance of not being helpful at all. Basically, it's about 50/50 on whether or not these kids make a positive impact at Michigan.
That said, of the nine players who were 3's, 6 were five-star players. Two more five-star players made a 2 rating (Burgess & Campbell), and many would argue Burgess was a 3 (erroneously, but they would argue). That means roughly 80% of your five-star players end-up solidly contributing, and of the two that didn't--Mallet and Grady--only Grady was a complete bust, as Mallet went on to SEC stardom.
Of the 20 players who were 1's, 10 were ranked 80th or lower nationally, and only six were ranked higher than 40th.
I think it's important to consider that this time period includes two tumultuous coaching changes and a year of "lame-duck" coaching from Carr. I do not believe it will be representative of our success going forward, but it's the data we have.
|Theodore Ginn, Jr||DB||5||2||2004||OH||3|
Ohio's data gives us 35 rateable recruits to our 36. They show a similar correlation, with higher rankings and five-star players much more likely to be 3's. Of their 35 rated players, 17 were 3's, 4 were 2's, and 13 were 1's. That means roughly half (49%) of their rated players were 3's, and about 37% were 1's. Interestingly, many of their 1's were players who had trouble with the law--an issue that was much less prevalent with Wolverines.
The comparisons are pretty obvious: Ohio has gotten much more production out of their top recruits. This is, no doubt, partially attributable to mostly consistent coaching through the period by one of the best in the game (even if was a lying cheater). Ohio also had higher-ranked recruits--their average national ranking is 45.9 to Michigan's 55.2--and were much more geographically concentrated in Ohio and the midwest than Michigan's players.
Another interesting bit of data is that position does not seem to make much of a difference. LBs are probably the most successful recruits, but it matters very little. National ranking seems to correlate with impact regardless of position.
Going forward, my expectation is that roughly two-thirds (60-66% would be good) of Rivals 100 recruits end-up as solid contributors or better for Michigan, with about half becoming impact players. Unfortunately, the lower rankings of this year's four Top 100 recruits (Morris is 81 and Kugler 82) would suggest they have a smaller chance of being successful, while Poggi is most likely to be at least a contributor and Green has a 50/50 chance of being great. If Green finishes his career as a 3, and we get two 2's out of the other three, it will have been a very good year. If there are two 3's, it's a great year, and if there are two or three 1's, things didn't go so well.
I do believe our success with top talent will say a lot about or staff and look forward to revisiting this in 2016, when Hoke has had a full five-year cycle to demonstrate how well he can maximize talent.
EDIT: After some honest thought and good criticism, I bumped Will Campbell up to a "2". It's a "meh" difference statistically, but he probably earned it this year.
This second part of a rundown of Michigan baseball’s 2013 recruiting class focuses on those hailing from outside Michigan. The first part covered the seven in-state players reported to have signed LOIs during the early signing period. While some of the in-state signees had been recruited to Michigan by the previous coaching staff, all seven of the 2013 recruits from outside the state committed to the Maize and Blue since Erik Bakich’s hiring. Most are from nearby states, including two from Illinois and one each from Indiana and Kentucky, but two are Californians and the final one was originally from South Dakota before spending three years at a junior college in Illinois.
While it’s difficult to assess baseball recruiting classes given the limited, non-paywalled information available, it appears that Bakich and company have done quite well given the limited amount of time they had to pull this class together. Two of the recruits from outside Michigan have been highly ranked/rated by the scouting service Perfect Game:
- Ethan Cohen, an outfielder from California, is ranked #448 in the nation and given a grade of 9.5, out of a 10-point scale.
- Trey Miller, a middle infielder out of Kentucky, garnered a grade of 9.
Prep Baseball Report, a scouting service covering eight mainly Midwestern states, has Keith Lehmann, a pitcher/third baseman from Illinois, ranked #5 in that state and #34 in their eight-state region. Along with in-stater Jackson Lamb, that’s at least four highly rated prospects in this class.
- Mac Lozer and Kendall Patrick were late commitments to the class and haven’t been noted on this site before. Patrick’s signing was reported about a week or so ago over at the B1G Baseball blog.
- For a few of the prospects, it wasn’t possible to confirm that they had actually signed an LOI during the early signing period. This is especially the case with Ramsey Romano, who was reported to have been seeking out a football scholarship but who now is apparently sticking with his Michigan commitment. Presumably, he and perhaps one or two of the others will be signing during the regular signing period, which begins on April 17. And there's always the possibility that others will join the class at that time.
Ethan Cohen — OF, Keystone Academy (Thousand Oaks, CA) — 5-11, 180 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: Perfect Game: #80 in California; #448 nationally; #86 at his position nationally (rankings are as of the date of his commitment—they may have since been updated). Perfect Game also gives Cohen a grade of 9.5 (on a 10-point scale); a 9 is a "potential top 10 round pick and/or highest level college prospect,." while a 10 is a "potential very high draft pick and/or elite level college prospect."
Committed: August 2012.
Offers: Not known.
LOI: Unable to confirm.
Latest Scouting Report: His Perfect Game profile includes the following from June 2012:
Ethan Cohen is a 2013 OF with a 5-11 180 lb. frame from Thousand Oaks, CA who attends Keystone Academy. Long lean athletic build, room to get stronger. 6.65 runner, aggressive in the outfield, shows his athleticism, long loose arm action, very good arm strength. Left handed hitter, smooth easy swing, has present bat speed with more to come with added strength, shows gap power, stays inside and drives the ball to left centerfield. Toolsy player with lots of projection, should continue to improve. Good student.
Nick Kowalczuk — 1B, Oak Park-River Forest HS (IL) — 6-3, 210 lbs.
Ranking: PBR: #87 in eight-state coverage area.
Committed: August 5, 2012.
Offers: Reportedly had "his choice of several Big Ten schools, as well as colleges from the Missouri Valley Conference." Michigan State was one of the Big Ten schools to offer him.
LOI: Signed November 14, 2012.
Latest Scouting Report: From PBR profile:
6/14/12 — Kowalczuk is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound first baseman who looks to be one of the premier right-handed bats in the Class of 2013. Kowalczuk starts from an open stance and generates impressive whip through the zone. Kowalczuk showed plus power from the right side, consistently barreling up the baseball to both power alleys. Defensively, Kowalczuk exhibited soft hands and good feet around the bag. He displayed an accurate arm (79 mph) across the diamond as well. Additionally, Kowalczuk ran a 7.42 60.
- OPRF baseball's Kowalczuk picks Michigan (oakpark.com, 8/22/2012)
Kowalczuk, a hard hitting slugger now heading into his senior year, made the announcement last week. As a junior last season, he batted .352 with a team-leading 36 RBIs. The first baseman scattered 32 singles, seven doubles and three triples in 39 games.
"My wife and I are very proud of Nick because of all the hard work that he has put into the game since he was 8 years old," said Peter Kowalczuk, Nick's father. "He could have taken a few other offers that were very tempting, but he decided that he would use the talent he had to maximize the scholastic opportunity that may be available. His choice of Michigan was a direct result of his desire for a great education."
- Oak Park’s Nick Kowalczuk and Lyons’ Keith Lehmann head to Michigan (Franklin Park Herald-Journal, 8/21/2012)
“I like their [Michigan's] whole philosophy,” said Kowalczuk, who hopes to study economics or finance. “It feels good for what I want. I know they want to win, but they are all good guys. The facilities were awesome.”
- Arrogance ‘in a good way’ helps Oak Park win first state baseball title since ’81 (Chicago TribLocal, 6/11/2012)
Notes: Kowalczuk will be participating in PBR's Super 60 Pro Showcase, a professional scouting event being held on February 3, 2013, in McCook, Illinois.
Keith Lehmann — RHP/3B, Lyons Township HS (IL) — 6-1, 170 lbs.
Ranking: PBR: #5 in Illinois; #34 in eight-state coverage area. Perfect Game: one of the top 1,000 prospects to watch.
Committed: August 14, 2012.
Offers: Reportedly had "a lot of offers," including from other Big Ten schools.
LOI: Unable to confirm.
Latest Scouting Report: From PBR profile:
7.7.12 — The only question surrounding Keith Lehmann is what will the multi-talented junior do for an encore? Already, the two-way standout helped lead Lyons Township to a Class 4A state championship as a sophomore, and nearly propelled the Lions to a repeat this spring, falling in the championship game, 4-3, to Oak Park. Lehmann certainly did everything within his power to get the Lions back to the title game. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder was equally as dominant on the mound as he was at the plate. The right-hander used his 87-90 mph fastball and sharp breaking ball to go 10-2 with a 0.86 ERA. In 80 innings, he struck out 83 and walked 16. Also a standout third baseman, Lehmann led Lyons Township in nearly every offensive category. He finished with 7 home runs, 13 doubles, 37 RBI and a .343 batting average. As a sophomore, Lehmann also hit 7 home runs during the Lions’ championship run.
- Lyons’ Keith Lehmann chooses Michigan (Chicago Sun-Times, 8/15/2012)
Lehmann can play multiple positions, though he has developed into an ace starter with a high-80s fastball. He was a catcher and third baseman for Lyons’ Class 4A state championship team in 2011, but played third base and pitcher for the 2012 state runner-up team, which lost to Oak Park-River Forest on a walk-off RBI single.
- Oak Park’s Nick Kowalczuk and Lyons’ Keith Lehmann head to Michigan (Franklin Park Herald-Journal, 8/21/2012)
Choosing Michigan might have been tougher on Lehmann’s father, Art, a Michigan State graduate.
“I think he’s proud of me,” said Lehmann, a Western Springs resident. “It does not bother him.”
Lehmann visited Michigan with his father two weeks before making a commitment to coach Erik Bakich, who was hired by Wolverines June 27 after coaching at Maryland.
“We checked the campus out. I knew they wanted me,” said Lehmann. “I fell in love with it. With a whole new coaching staff, I liked it. It felt comfortable.”
- Lyons baseball on quite a roll: Lehmann helps lead the Lions to summer state title (Chicago Tribune, 8/2/2012)
Notes: Like Kowalczuk, Lehmann will be participating in PBR's Super 60 Pro Showcase on February 3, 2013.
In a PBR report on "what makes a great breaking ball, and who has the best," Lehmann was among those singled out:
Whatever breaking ball a pitcher throws, it needs to be respected by opposing hitters. So how do you get a hitter to respect your breaking ball? Simple, throw it for strikes. A breaking ball that cannot be thrown for strikes is not a pitch that a polished hitter is going to have to worry about during an at-bat, therefore giving him a better opportunity to sit on one pitch.
However, if you are a guy like Michigan recruit Keith Lehmann (Lyons Township HS, IL, RHP, 2013) then you will always be able to keep hitters off balance. Lehmann has an uncanny knack for throwing his breaking ball for strikes and in any count. Lehmann’s ability to command his breaking ball makes him extremely hard to hit. Command of the breaking ball is something that will always transfer to the next level and will certainly make Lehman a factor next year at the University of Michigan.
Mac Lozer — RHP/SS, North Central HS (Indianapolis, IN) — 6-1, 185 lbs.
Committed: November 11, 2012.
Offers: Lozer (from Q&A linked below): "Other schools I considered were Virginia Tech, Wright State, Miami of Ohio, and Navy."
LOI: November 14, 2012.
- Q&A with University of Michigan Commit Mac Lozer (PBR, 11/12/2012)
PBR: Why did you choose Michigan?
Lozer: I chose the University of Michigan for many reasons. Most importantly is their renowned academic program. The second greatest factor was the baseball program. Coach Erik Bakich and his coaching staff are new to Michigan this year and I am very excited for what they bring to the Michigan baseball program. Other factors, such as distance from home, campus feeling, and becoming an immediate impact player also played a role in my decision.
. . .
PBR: Have you decided on a major, or narrowed it down?
Lozer: I would like to pursue the Ross School of Business at U of M.
Trey Miller — SS/2B, Lexington Catholic HS (Lexington, KY) — 6-0, 170 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: PBR: Unknown. Perfect Game: #14 in Kentucky; top 1,000 nationally. Perfect Game also gives Miller a grade of 9 (on a 10-point scale), meaning they believe he is a "potential top 10 round pick and/or highest level college prospect."
Committed: August 2012.
Offers: Miler (from Q&A linked below): "The other schools I was interested in were Ohio University, University of Louisville, Xavier, Western Kentucky, Ball St., Flagler College (St. Augustine, Fl), and Bellarmine."
LOI: Unable to confirm.
True shortstops seem to get more scarce by the week, but the 6-foot, 170-pound Miller showed that he has the feet and arm strength to do it. Aside from all the actiony things he does with his hands, Miller showcases an unquantifiable energy in his legs and feet as he played through the ball.
His Perfect Game profile offers this:
Medium athletic frame. Solid runner 6.64 in the 60. As an infielder, short arm action, smooth fielding actions, good transfer and release, ball comes out clean, can throw from all angles. Right handed hitter, slightly open stance, high hand set, pull approach, patient at the plate, short compact swing with good bat speed, line drive swing plane. Good Student.
- Q&A with University of Michigan Commit Trey Miller (PBR, 8/28/2012)
PBR: Why did you choose the University of Michigan?
Miller: I chose the University of Michigan because I felt great chemistry with the coaching staff there and I believe they can provide me the best future possible as a young student - athlete and a community leader.
. . .
PBR: What role do the coaches expect you to play throughout your first year?
Miller: The coaches expect me to come in as a freshman and compete for a middle infield spot, where I believe I can come in early and fit great.
PBR: What would you consider your biggest strength as a player?
Miller: I believe my biggest strength is my foot-work and the range I have at shortstop or second base. Also, I believe I'm a great team motivator, while making my teammates better everyday.
Kendall Patrick — C/1B, Black Hawk College (Moline, IL) / Mitchell HS (Mitchell, SD) — 6-3, 208 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: N/A—junior college signee.
Committed: November 2012.
Offers: The article linked below from May 2012 included this: "Both player and coach said there are roughly 10 DI schools interested. His home-state South Dakota is showing the most interest, but so are Virginia Tech, Missouri, Illinois State and a number of Big Ten schools." These were possible offers for the fall of 2012, but Patrick elected to stay at Black Hawk for a third season, having received a medical redshirt for his sophomore year.
LOI: Apparently signed during the early signing period, according to this paywalled article, published on January 8, 2013, in the Mitchell Daily Republic.
- Injury-prone Patrick seeks more from BHC baseball program (Quad-Cities Online, 5/12/2012)
Notes: The Black Hawk baseball team announced in October that Patrick would to play for the Ozark Generals of the MINK summer collegiate league in 2013.
Ramsey Romano — SS, Valhalla HS (El Cajon, CA) — 6-3, 185 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: Perfect Game: given a grade of 7.5 (on a 10-point scale) in June 2011; a 7 is a "college prospect, possible future draft pick with development," while an 8 is a "potential draft pick and/or excellent college prospect."
Committed: mid-August 2012.
Offers: Not known.
LOI: Unable to confirm. It seems unlikely that Romano signed during the early signing period as he was reportedly seeking a scholarship to play football, as was noted in this article from mid-December on his winning a local football award called the Heisboy. But the latest word, found in this article, indicates he's sticking with his commitment to Michigan:
Valhalla High QB Ramsey Romano played in an all-star football game last weekend in San Antonio and after the game tweeted, “Probably the last time I ever dress for a football game :( feels like a part of my life just ended.”
Romano threw for 3,415 yards and 30 TDs last season, but in part because he only started one year, has not drawn scholarship offers from Division I schools. He has accepted a baseball scholarship from Michigan.
Latest Scouting Report: His Perfect Game profile includes the following, although it's from June 2011:
Ramsey Romano is a 2013 SS/OF, RHP, C with a 6-1 165 lb. frame from El Cajon, CA who attends Valhalla. Medium sized frame, slender build, good hands defensively, some arm strength, quick arm, carry, good actions, square stance at plate, rotational swing, good extension, line drive path, simple swing, some bat speed, 3/4 arm slot, arm works, 11/5 CB, nice spin, very good student.
- Wolverines sign Romano (East County Sports, 8/17/2012)
“They recruited me as a shortstop,” Romano said. “This is going to be a great experience. There is no University of Michigan on the West Coast. That’s what makes me proud to be a kid from Southern California getting a chance like this.”
Bottom line is few athletes from SoCal get a crack at Big 12 competition in any sport.
“ Ann Arbor is a college town for a big school which is what I’ve always been looking for,” Romano said. “I want to play in the big time... where sports is of major importance.”
And so he will.
As any chess master will tell you, allowing one’s pieces to languish on the back rank is a certain invitation to humiliating defeat. Or, as anyone who has ever played Axis & Allies well knows, a general who hordes his Industrial Production Certificates will quickly fall to the opponent who transforms hers into military units and strategically deploys them as rapidly as possible. So I was quite surprised the other day when several posters suggested that Michigan ought to “bank” its last remaining scholarship for the 2013 class, rather than sign a player who might not arrive in Ann Arbor with the highest of expectations. Like chessmen or IPCs, I have always felt that a football coach must aggressively leverage production from his full complement of 85 scholarships—or as many of that number as possible—if he hopes to outcompete the other 120 programs in the country.
Scholarships are not chessmen, of course, nor are they IPCs—and the calculus that goes into offering and signing a collegiate student-athlete is quite a bit different than the evaluation of choices in a board game. So, although the idea of purposefully letting a scholarship go unfilled struck me as intuitively unwise, the suggestion did not seem entirely without merit. After all—if by passing on a probable depth player in 2013, Michigan could sign a likely frontline contributor in 2014, then the payoff might be worth the investment. The overarching strategic principles remain sound and generally applicable, I felt, but is this case the exception? I decided to take a closer look.
Most estimates place the expected size of Michigan’s 2014 class at around 17 scholarships. This projection appears based on fifteen players exhausting their eligibility in 2013, and two redshirt juniors not being offered fifth years. With usual attrition, UM would more realistically expect to have about 20 scholarships available. But for purposes of this analysis, I will presume the 17 figure holds true.
Banking a 2013 scholarship would enable UM to sign an 18th player in the 2014 class. Therefore one part of the “to-bank-or-not-to-bank” equation seems to be the reasonably anticipated quality of the eighteenth recruit in UM’s 2014 class.
In 2012, Michigan had twelve recruits who received four or five stars on Rivals; the 18th-highest recruit would have been a 3-star with a 5.7 grade (Ben Braden, Jeremy Clark, Devin Funchess, Matt Godin, Mario Ojemudia, Kaleb Ringer, AJ Williams, and Chris Wormley fit that description, according to Rivals). In 2013, Michigan has seventeen recruits with at least four stars and a 5.8 grade, though the 18th-best recruit again checks in with 3 stars and a 5.7 grade. Therefore, Michigan’s performance in the last two recruiting cycles would seem to suggest that banking a 2013 scholarship would most likely produce a high (5.7) 3-star recruit to Rivals.
A slightly improved performance in 2014 could realistically land a low (5.8) 4-star recruit. However, between 2005 and 2012 only twelve recruiting classes have featured at least 18 players rated four stars or higher on Rivals. And, of those twelve classes, all but two (2006 FSU and 2008 ND) belonged to teams that had won (mythical) national titles within the preceding decade. Michigan, which hasn’t won the MNC since 1997 and hasn’t seriously contended for one since 2006, and which doesn’t happen to be in a talent-abundant state like Florida or have a Catholic pipeline like ND, would not seem especially well-positioned to defy this pattern. On the other hand, Scout.com (which is a bit more generous with their star rankings) lists fifteen classes with eighteen or more 4+stars from 2005-12, and is already projecting two more for 2013: one of which belongs to Michigan.
We can thus assume that a hypothetical 18th recruit for 2014 would likely be a player on the 3-4 star borderline, with a Rivals grade of 5.7 or 5.8. Maybe not a heavy bomber, but still a pretty high-quality recruit either way. The drawback, of course, is that player would not join the team until the 2014 season.
While landing eighteen or more 4-stars is uncommon—and almost unheard-of for non-MNC contenders—landing twenty-seven or more 3-stars ain’t no thang. Between 2005 and 2012, there were 32 recruiting classes of 27 or more players that finished with a top-15 ranking on Rivals. Of those classes, 18 (or 56.25%) had at least 27 players rated 3-stars or higher. Now, if we were at the beginning of the 2013 recruiting cycle and were trying to predict Michigan’s chances of signing at least 27 three-stars, this percentage would already suggest Michigan has pretty good odds of pulling it off. But with UM having already obtained verbals from 27 players, of whom 26 are rated 3+ stars (the 27th recruit is LS Scott Sypniewski)—and needing only to fill the one remaining spot, the chances of Michigan being able to find one more 3-star recruit for that final spot would appear to approach 100%.
So, let’s assume for purposes of the remaining discussion that the final spot would to go a (mid) three-star player with a Rivals grade of 5.6. This player would be a tad less talented than the hypothetical 2014 signee, but would have one more year of experience in the program. Assuming one year of collegiate coaching and strength & conditioning is equal to or greater than the value of a .15 upgrade on the Rivals grading scale, recruiting a slightly less-talented player in 2013 is at worst equivalent to signing a more talented player in 2014 (as the 2013 player’s redshirt season cancels out the banked-scholarship season for a recruit who plays as a true freshman). But, assuming both players would redshirt their first years in the program, UM would sacrifice an entire season of production from one scholarship position. It is doubtful that the slightly greater overall production one might expect from a 2014 player over the course of his career would sufficiently off-set this high immediate cost.
Player #28 of 2013 Class
Player #18 of 2014 Class
Redshirt (no production) or 5.6
X – No Production
5.6 + 1 year
Redshirt (no production) or 5.7
5.6 + 2 years
5.75 + 1 year
5.6 + 3 years
5.75 + 2 years
5.6 + 4 years or new recruit
5.75 + 3 years
5.75 + 4 years or new recruit
In the end, while there appears to be a stronger case for banking the last scholarship than I expected, I still think UM ought to take another player if they can find a Willie Henry or Dennis Norfleet type of player to come on board. The potential benefits of saving the scholarship for 2014 are tenuous and distant, while the costs are immediate and certain. Moreover, any attrition that occurs between now and 2014 will further diminish the expected returns from the hypothetical 2014 player, as a 19th recruit taken in 2014 is presumably less likely to be of four-star quality than the 18th, a 20th player even less, and so on. Then, of course, some of the most likely targets for that final spot are defensive tackles, who would become subject to the Heininger Certainty Principle (which, frankly, is better than super submarines, long-range aircraft, or even V-2 rockets!).
[Edit: Nerd that I am, I suppose I subconsciously view Axis & Allies as essentially a gen-X Monopoly or Clue—that is, a board game title with which anyone within, say, ten years of my (37 year-old) vintage ought to be reasonably familiar. Thus, as I was trying to finish this diary in the wee hours last night, I evidently didn’t think it necessary to include a brief primer on what A&A actually is, or the basic strategy underlying the game-play. Having thought better of the matter this morning, I offer the following supplement.
A&A is a famously-imbalanced, turn-based World War II strategy game that involves five players on two de facto teams: the Axis (with one player controlling Germany and the other Japan) and the Allies (comprised of players for the USA, UK, and Russia). Each turn follows a pre-set sequence: Russia plays first, followed by Germany, then UK, then Japan, then USA. Within each turn, a player first “purchases” military units using the currency of the game, Industrial Production Certificates (or “IPCs”). A player receives IPCs by controlling territories on the game board (generally speaking, the more heavily industrialized the territory is, the more IPCs it is worth). Once the units are purchased, however, they may not be deployed until the end of the player’s turn. In the meantime, the player may maneuver his units and attack opponents—but only using his or her pre-existing units.
Industrial Production Certificates are collected at the very end of a player’s turn, after all movement and combat has taken place. And the amount of IPCs a player has to spend at the beginning of his or her next turn may be reduced through bombing raids or rocket attacks that other players launch in the meantime. Furthermore, new units may only be deployed in spaces where a player has an “industrial complex”—often the only such space is a player’s home country—so it may take one or more future turns for a newly-deployed unit to travel to a forward area of the board where it can make a meaningful contribution to the game. Therefore, it behooves any player to spend his or her entire allotment of IPCs at every opportunity—thus converting them into actual units that can occupy, defend, or invade territories (thus preserving or increasing a player’s future IPC stream).]
“BEHAVIOR AT THE POLLS”
Last week, fellow MGoBlogger Mmmm Hmmm posted a diary which discussed the behavior of the polls with relation to teams in the Big Ten, and reading it opened the door to an intriguing possibility. As there are sites now which in fact capture the voting patterns of the polls down to the individual voter, such as Pollspeak.com, it is possible to create a visual representation of how the polls react to a team on a weekly basis. Naturally, the team I chose as a test case for this was Michigan.
The AP poll is the most readily available when it comes to individual voter data, so that’s the one I chose for this exercise. I used Pollspeak.com to generate the team reports for each week from the preseason until the most recent data available and then downloaded the information for each week (it is available in CSV format from the site) into Excel. For our purposes, we shall leave individual names off the ballots and focus on how the rankings themselves behave.
I created two tables – one for the raw voter data, and another which counts by ranking how many voters placed us at a given position on their ballot. It was not until this point that I realized how convenient the COUNTIF function on Excel can be, incidentally. The resulting graphs for each week come out of the second table and allow for week-over-week comparison of the behavior of Michigan’s ranking per the opinion of the AP voters.
For the weekly data, the horizontal axis is the particular ranking, and the vertical axis is how many votes were cast at that ranking for Michigan.
On each graph, as the week’s progress, if you follow the mode (the highest bar) and look in either direction, it is clear that consensus was beginning to build regarding Michigan’s ranking at different points. From Weeks 3 through 6, for example, we attained more third place votes than anything else, and with each week, more voters began to agree with the third place ranking. From weeks 7 through 10, you can see a similar trend for our second place ranking. At Week 11, you see the poll which was submitted the day after our loss to Ohio State, and with that game, the mode fell to fourth place and the general agreement among voters vanished. Week 12 shows the poll as of January 21st, coming off the win against Minnesota, and you will note that many forgave us – in a way – for the Ohio State loss in this poll as the mode is once again building around a second place ranking.
Now that the general format is laid out for tracking these (at least on this strange-looking Excel Workbook that I have created), it will be possible (and convenient) in the future to do comparisons between teams as well in addition to tracking individual teams, at least within the confines of the AP data.
(15-5, 2-4 Big Ten)
Wins vs Top 100 Opponents
|Wins (RPI 1-50)|
|8||Dec. 8||@ Gonzaga||85-74|
|21||Jan. 5||Ohio State||74-55|
|Wins (RPI 51-100)|
|76||Dec. 16||Eastern Kentucky||66-53|
|67||Jan. 22||@ Nebraska||71-51|
|Losses (RPI 1-50)|
|41||Jan. 12||@ Wisconsin||51-74|
|Losses (RPI 51-100)|
|Losses (RPI 101-150)|
|112||Jan. 2||@ Purdue||61-68|
SO. Tracy Abrams. G .6'1" 185 lbs.
11.4 PTS. 3.8 REB. 3.0 3PA. 28% 3PT.
SR. D.J. Richardson. G. 6'3" 195 lbs.
11.8 PTS. 4.5 REB. 7.1 3PA. 33% 3PT.
SR. Brandon Paul. G. 6'4" 200 lbs.
18.0 PTS. 4.8 REB. 6.6 3PA. 34% 3PT.
SR. Sam McLaurin. F. 6'8" 220 lbs.
3.9 PTS. 3.6 REB. 3,2 FGA, 44% FG.
SO. Nnanna Egwu. C. 6'11" 235 lbs.
6.3 PTS. 4.6 REB. 1.5 BLK.
Key Bench Players
JR. Joseph Bertrand. G. 6'6" 195 lbs.
22.9 MIN. 8.7 PTS. 4.7 REB.
SR. Tyler Griffey. F. 6'9" 220 lbs.
22.8 MIN. 7.5 PTS. 3.4 REB.
Key Team Stats (Big Ten Rankings)
11th. AST/TO. (.89)
10th. Rebounds per game. (35.4)
10th. Assists per game. (10.9)
8th. FG %. (43%)
2nd. FT %. (71%)
2nd. Blocks per game. (4.8)
6th. PTS per game. (72.8)
6th. OFF Rebounds per game. (12.0)
What I make out of all of this
This is a team that lives and dies by the three. When they were making them early in the year, they were a top ten team nationally. They have attempted almost 100 more threes than Michigan, but have only made 4 more (they've played 20 games, we've played 19). It is going to be very important that we don't give them any open looks on the outside. They get a decent amount of Off Rebounds, but they also have the most FGA in the conference.
Spread Mich -6
Michigan 68, Illinois 61
I think Illinois is going to start off hot, similar to Purdue, and build a decent first half lead on us. After an inspirational Bacari Alexander half time speech, the defense will shut down Illinois from the perimeter in the second half and Michigan will go on a run. Illinois won't be able to continue their 3pt shooting success and Michigan will take over the game.
As you are probably aware, it's custom around these parts to pre-write Hello posts when there's a certain expectation that a player will commit. A trip through the mgoarchives reveals some examples of this going, well, poorly:
Sorry for the bad memories, but at least you didn't have to write these.
One of these times was in July, when rumor spread that Derrick Green was on the verge of a commitment after the BBQ at the Big House. I thought you'd like to see what I wrote about Michigan's latest commitment the first time around, so here's the post I wrote back on July 29th, in full—back when Michigan was the odds-on favorite for Laquon Treadwell, there were concerns Fitz Toussaint would leave early for the NFL, and Dennis Norfleet was a running back:
The BBQ at the Big House has delivered in a big way, as VA RB Derrick Green has committed to Michigan while attending the event. Green becomes the 24th commit in the class of 2013, joining DeVeon Smith and Wyatt Shallman at running back; he's also the 20th Wolverine commit to earn four stars or more on at least two of the four recruiting services.
Michigan now has one spot remaining in the class and their sights firmly set on IL WR Laquon Treadwell to fill it. Signing day is still a full six months away. NOT BAD, GUYS.
4*, #7 RB,
5*, #1 RB,
4*, 86, #6 RB,
4*, 94, #10 RB,
Green is regarded as a top ten running back across the board, with Rivals going so far as to name him the best in the country at the position and a five-star prospect. Scout and ESPN both have him in top 50 range, and while 247 is the least bullish they still place him easily within the top 150 overall. Rivals, ESPN, and 247 list Green at 6'0" and right around 215 pounds, while Scout has him at 5'11", 220. Recent reports describe him as a tank-like object, so the latter weight is likely closer to where he is right now.
If you're looking for a prospect in the mold of a classic Michigan tailback, Derrick Green is it. Scout lists his strengths as Power, Size, and Tackle-Breaking Ability, with Breakaway Speed, Elusiveness, and Hands as areas for improvement, and offers this scouting report [emphasis mine]:
A powerful running back who can blow through arm tackles and typically takes more than one defender to bring him down, Green has surprisingly quick feet for his size. He can clear traffic between the tackles, not getting tripped up because of his good balance. Not a conventional breakaway threat because of raw speed, but gets his share of long runs after breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage. Needs to catch more consistently - Scott Kennedy
Can you envision the MANBALL yet? Here's ESPN's evaluation:
One of the better power-backs this class has to offer. Green is a load and a strong, physically imposing runner ready to make the college jump. Well-built muscular frame with very good upper and lower body strength. Has thick legs and strong power base. Quick to get downhill and attack the hole. Gains momentum fast. Follows blocks well and cuts tightly off through the hole but is not a real patient runner and can struggle to get thin through smaller seams. Lacks fluidity through the hips as a lateral runner but shows sharp, subtle cutbacks and deceptive pick and slide ability at times. While he can sidestep and avoid he is at his best when squared up and given a heavy dose of Iso and Power plays. ... Not a lot of wasted cuts with this guy. Flashes the burst to get through tight in-line seams and into the second level quickly. Displays very good power to break tackles. He is an aggressive runner who drags tacklers and finishes runs falling forward. Will get the extra yards while wearing down a defense. A durable tough guy that likes contact. Not going to tackle him high when he breaks free into open field but does have a tendency to get chopped down low and lose balance. Would like to see him run more behind his pads with better lean and knee pump. Has the burst of speed to get outside but could struggle to the get to the edge clean at the next level. Has good speed for his size but not a homerun threat in college or a guy who is going to make you miss with elusiveness. Does shows more than adequate hands as an outlet receiver and has the size to pick up the blitz. Green projects to produce highly in a downhill, heavy power-running offense at the next level that can feed this North/South workhorse the ball.
Green attended the NFTC Baltimore camp this spring, and I'll spare bolding the entire paragraph from Scout's Bob Lichtenfels ($):
Richmond (Va.) Hermitage prospect Derrick Green is a tank. You can see with a build like Green that he would likely rather run through you than around you. Very powerfully built lower trunk and you can tell he does not shy away from the weight room.
ESPN's Dave Hooker profiled Green in May, discussing his transformation from a 268-pound offensive lineman into a 215-pound battering ram, and regarding that weight room...
Green's dedication to diet and training hasn't just moved the scale. It has moved massive amounts of weight. Green bench presses 330 pounds, squats 600 pounds and dead-lifts 615.
"Everybody says that's not legit, but we have a legit trainer that came from UVa," he said. "He makes sure you get low [on squats] and all that."
...nope, not shying away in the slightest.
Mike Farrell handed out awards after this summer's Rivals/VTO Virginia camp, and you'll never guess who won "Physical Specimen" ($):
Derrick Green from Richmond (Va.) Hermitage looks like a man-child. If you put him in a Wisconsin uniform and helmet, you'd think he was a college senior coming off a 2,000-yard season. His legs are beyond strong and thick and he looks like a human bowling ball, ready to knock down pin after pin heading to the end zone.
Farrell also raved about Green's frame when Rivals bumped him up to five stars, also noting that he's a more well-rounded back than previously thought:
"Green looks physically like a college junior," Farrell said. "If you put him in any college uniform right now and told someone who had never seen him that he was a 1,500-yard rusher, they wouldn't blink an eye. Plus he's shown the ability to block and catch passes now, so he's gone from a two-down back to an every-down guy. He's the most physically impressive running back we've seen in awhile."
You get the gist: Derrick Green is a tank/bowling ball/Mack truck/beast/freight train/specimen/man-child who will run POWER, take it north-south, and attempt to imprint the nearest defender's ribs with the wings on his helmet. He's also got a little wiggle for a guy his size, decent speed, and the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, but first and foremost this is a guy you hand the ball off to out of the I-form until the defense cries uncle.
Green chose Michigan over offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami (YTM), Ole Miss, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Tennessee, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and several others.
Green rushed for 1,493 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior and was named to the 2011 All-Metro first-team. As a sophomore he ran for 800 yards and ten touchdowns.
FAKE 40 TIME
Green is listed on ESPN with a 4.31 40 time, which gets ALL OF THE FAKES. 247 lists a far more reasonable 4.58 while Rivals goes with a 4.4.
Scouts aren't kidding when they say Green runs north-south; he's heading upfield as soon as he gets a crease. He displays solid quickness and subtle-but-effective cuts, though there aren't as many long runs or brutal truckings of tiny high school safeties as one might hope. Overall, however, he's still quite impressive on film.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If Green lives up to the reports of solid pass-catching and blocking, he's the type of back that eliminates any need for a rotation; just trot him out there and hand him the rock 20-25 times a game. After Fitz Toussaint, who will be a senior (let's hope) when Green is a freshman, it's uncertain if there's another back on the roster you could say that about. When Toussaint is gone in 2014, Green should compete with a senior Thomas Rawls and 2013 classmate DeVeon Smith for the role of every-down back, with Dennis Northfleet (quarkback) and Wyatt Shallman (short-yardage back) filling specialized roles.
Green has by far the highest recruiting profile of any Wolverine running back; despite the experience advantage for Rawls, he should be the odds-on favorite to succeed Toussaint. If Michigan's offense is moving in the direction of Wisconsin, Green will fit the role of typical Badger workhorse like a glove.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Green's commitment gives Michigan 24 in the class, and Sam Webb has recently suggested that the Wolverines have one spot remaining. While the coaches will likely continue to pursue a few backup options, such as AZ speedster Devon Allen, that spot will basically be held for Laquon Treadwell; a blue-chip receiver is the only need that hasn't been covered in the class.
From there, the focus fully turns over to the 2014 class. Again, it's July.