in town for free camps
Glory, friends, sweet shining glory! Both Michigan tennis teams (men's and women's) have beaten Illinois in convincing fashion. On April 7, 2012, #15 Michigan women defeated #19 Illinois 6-1 at the Varsity Tennis Center. Michigan won the doubles point and all but court 5 of the singles court in a rout of their ranked opponents. 1 court and national #10 Emina Betkas needed three sets to win, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. Michigan courts 2-4 all won in straight sets. With this win in hand Michigan women's tennis has improved to 13-5 on the season including a 6-0 mark in the Big Ten.
Michigan men's tennis played at Illinois' Atkins Tennis Center on April 6, 2012. The match was decided by a 4-3 margin in favor of Michigan. 1 court and national #10 Evan King won the critical fourth point to break a 3-3 dual deadlock over national #4 Dennis Nevolo, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3. 2 court Shaun Bernstein had a tough day, losing to national #31 Roy Kalmanovich 6-1, 6-2. Michael Zhu fared little better on 4 court, falling 6-2, 6-1. Suprisingly in doubles Petrone/Zhu lost their match; usually Franks/Buzzi is the doubles team more likely to drop their game. With the doubles point in hand thanks to the usual diligence of King/Bernstein and victories from Petrone and Franks(!) on 3 and 5 courts Michigan wrapped up another tough road win. Michigan is now 12-5 with a 5-1 Big Ten mark. With some luck in Columbus April 22 against #3 Ohio State (24-2, 6-0 B10) Michigan could win the regular season title.
What if a man suddenly shut down in the line of duty awoke to a world unlike what he had known before? What if a football coach, coming off a great year and intense spring practices suddenly entered a world of true football dead season. Practices? Not allowed. Recruiting class? Done. Can it be true? Has the entire college football world gone dead? Is there any hope or escape from this seemingly endless nightmare?
In the coming months, we shall find out if, for coach Brady Hoke, there is any escape from...
If... you know, I get off my lazy ass and actually do it.
OMG THEY TOTALLY RIPPED OFF BRIAN'S PODCAST THEME!!!
H/T to Karpodiem for uploading the torrent.
THE SPRING LULL
(Click the image to view full size)
For some, it is a glorious time of year, when the flowers bloom, and the
butterflies unfold their beautiful wings, and life begins anew. For others, however,
it is a desolate tundra of sports inactivity, no disrespect for big league baseball
or even the pending playoffs of basketball and hockey.
For a family like THE BLOCKHAMS™, there is no lull. We reflect on the past,
we inspect the current practices, and we drool like drug addicts at the
prospects of next season. And we love every minute of it. Go Blue.
OnThursday we'll address some of the more recent leisure pursuits of some
members of the football team. And no, Kate Upton is in no way involved.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every Tuesday here at MGoBlog, and at least
every Thursday on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out our newest
feature, Friday Roughs, a spontaneous low-end comic based on trending
Michigan events, available on Twitter and Facebook every Friday.
As you most likely know, the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA) awards an annual Director's Cup to the nation's top athletic program, based on a points formula that encompasses all men's and women's varsity sports (more info here). Stanford has won the award for the past 17 years in a row, but Michigan has been among the top performing schools in the annual standings, finishing in the top ten in 14 of the 18 years the rankings have been compiled.
Unfortunately, the past two seasons have been down years, with Michigan placing 25th (2009-2010) and 15th (2010-2011). With some resurgent programs this year, I have been hoping that our maize and blue heroes could return to their rightful place in the top ten. I decided to take a look at MIchigan's current status and forward-looking expectations.
In the last published update (3/22/12), Michigan fell from 5th place to 12th place in the standings. This Thursday, the updated Winter standings will be released, adding results for men's and women's basketball, men's swimming, and fencing. If my figurin' is correct, the updated standings should look something like this:
Michigan should climb barely back into the top ten, while Ohio State shoots up to the number two spot, based not only on basketball success, but also on winning the recent national fencing championships held in Columbus. Unfortunately, the NACDA points accumulated by the Buckeye sabre-rattlers will exceed the total points registered by the combined efforts of Michigan's men's and women's basketball teams plus Ice Hockey team. Curses! Foiled again. Yeah, the scoring system is a little flakey.
Looking ahead to the home stretch, some schools are traditionally stronger in spring sports and are likely to make a late move. If we were to project that each school's spring teams will match their performance from last year and tally up the resulting standings (allowing points for no more than 10 sports in either men's or women's categories), the projected final standings would turn out like this:
Of course, there is likely to be a great deal of variance in actual results, but this should pretty well identify who the top contenders are.
Michigan's spring prospects vary by team. Wolverine men and women gymnasts and tennis racketeers are likely to pile up some points, but it will be a challenge to just match the output of last year's successful teams. Struggling golf teams on both men's and women's side will be hard pressed to make the NCAA's this year (still, we can hope). The inaugural men's lacrosse team will not register any NACDA points this year, but it can only help to have a men's and women's varsity lacrosse program in years to come. Prospects also do not look very promising for the baseball team or either track and field team. Surprise us, please!
On the plus side, there is room for improvement over last year from the young and developing softball team, the women's rowing team, and the women's water polo team. Gals, we're counting on you!
It is all but certain that Stanford will repeat as the trophy winner for the 18th straight year. Ohio State, Florida, and California are likely to battle it out for the runner-up spot.
Michigan has a very realistic shot at returning to the top ten. We should almost certainly improve over the past two seasons. Sadly, there is very little chance of a top five finish this year or of overtaking that ohio school. Don't taze me bro', I'm just crunching numbers here. I personally have faith in Dave Brandon's determination to continue to elevate the competitive level of all of Michigan's varsity programs and I expect that we will once again become a consistent top finisher in the NACDA standings. Go Blue, one and all!
As Michigan enters year #3 with Denard starting the season at the helm and year #2 under OC Al Borges, I did a deep dive into teams that have made the leap into offensive greatness. A handy guide to going from a good offense to an elite offense in one year.
In making predictions you are always safer predicting things to regress towards the mean. I wanted to look at the teams that have gone from good but not great offensive teams to truly elite teams in one season. There were some surprisingly strong correlations within this group.
1. A quarterback with experience returning.
2. The same offensive coordinator as the previous year
3. Continuity in your receiving core
These three three aren’t sufficient conditions for making the leap, but they are necessary conditions.
From 2004 to 2011 there were 20 teams, including 2010 Michigan, that increased their offensive EV+ rating by at least 4 points per game and ended the year above 10. I wanted to take a look at these 11 teams to figure out what was necessary to make a jump like this, what might seem necessary but wasn’t and how many teams fit this same criteria but couldn’t make the leap.
It’s not rocket science to say that having a returner at quarterback is a good thing, but the exceptions to this rule prove it as much as anything. Of the 20 teams to make the leap, five didn’t technically have a returning starting quarterback. Two, Auburn 2010 and Stanford 2009, did it with future first overall draft picks. Wisconsin 2011 technically counts but Russell Wilson was a three year starter for NC St before arriving in Madison. Tim Tebow got quality field time on a national championship team despite Chris Leak’s position as starter. The final exception was Oregon 2010 when Darron Thomas stepped in to great success.
The returners themselves take all forms. There are runners like Josh Nesbitt from Georgia Tech in 2009, Pat White at West Virginia in 2006. There are pass-first athletes like Robert Griffin on Baylor 2011 and Vince Young on Texas 2005. There are future first round picks like Sam Bradford at Oklahoma in 2008 and Matt Leinart at USC in 2005.
Three times it was done with multiple quarterbacks seeing action. Michigan in 2010 saw returning starter Tate Forcier make regular appearances during the Denard Robinson injury hour every Saturday. Cincinnati didn’t miss a beat in 2009 when Zach Collaros stepped in for injured starter Tony Pike. Arizona State had the same story in 2005 when Rudy Carpenter replaced the injured Sam Keller.
How many years at the helm wasn’t a significant issue. There were as many teams who made the leap with second year starters as third and fourth starters combined. The only team to do it with a non-transfer four year starter was Northwestern in 2005 under Brett Basenez. Zac Robinson did it in his second year at Oklahoma St in 2007, Chase Daniel did it at Missouri in his third year of four running the offense at Missouri.
Not all the QB’s developed within the program, either. Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Mallett all accomplished the task after transferring from a previous school or Junior College.
On average, about 35% of BCS programs turn over their offensive coordinators in a given year. For teams making the offensive leap it drops to 10%. Charlie Weis found his famed “Decided Schematic Advantage” in 2005 (only to lose it thereafter) with Brady Quinn. Arkansas and Ryan Mallett where the only others to accomplish the feat, but the presence of head coach and offensive guru Bobby Petrino indicates the continuity was likely high.
Teams making the leap returned 75% of their value from their receiving core, nearly fifty percent higher than the average team (53%). Only four teams returned less than 60% of their receiving value from the prior, and those teams all managed to make the leap due to ultra efficient passers, Tim Tebow, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Vince Young.
Missing The Cut
Returning Running backs
My crusade to bury the position of the running back continues. Teams making the leap where all over the map on returning RBs. Texas and Northwestern both made the leap in 2005 with virtually no non-QB carries returning from the 2004 season. Baylor, Michigan, Florida and Cal all did with only marginally used carriers returning. On the flip side USC returned Reggie Bush and LenDale White in 2005. Georgia Tech, Oregon, West Virginia and Missouri all returned over 80% of the previous years carries.
It’s not that having a key ball carriers returning is a bad thing, it’s just not necessary to make the leap.
Just like the running back question, the recruiting rankings are mixed bag. Cincinnati, West Virginia, Cal, Northwestern and Baylor all made the leap without the benefit of a roster full of 4 and 5 star recruits. USC, Auburn, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma always enter a season stacked. Better recruits = better results is true but Better Results = Better Recruits is often incorrect.
Odds of Making It
Of teams that meet criteria 1-3 above (with 3 being defined at 60%) and are within 1 standard deviation of +10 EV+ (4.4 or higher) 25% make the leap to +10 or higher. 40% of this group improves but not to an elite level. That leaves 35% of teams to regress under this environment. The worst offender is Michigan State in 2006. Poised to become a potentially great offense under Drew Stanton, Sparty fell apart and dropped from a +7.2 in 2005 to a –2.6 in 2006.
Can Michigan be that team
With the loss of Junior Hemingway, Kevin Koger and Martavious Odoms Michigan falls below the 60% threshold (38%). All of the other criteria fit nicely for Michigan and when it has been done without the aid of returning receivers, its come on the back of a Heisman level quarterback performance. If year 2 of Al Borges Denard Fusion Cuisine comes together, that doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. I won’t be on record predicting a leap like year for the 2012 Michigan offense, but they are one of a handful of schools that I would even consider.