Michigan Men's Lacrosse has captured the last thee national titles in the MCLA, the highest level of club lacrosse in the country. They begin their quest to make it an unprecedented 4-peat tonight at 6:00PM in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, with a pre-season scrimmage against Division 1 squad Bellarmine.
Let's look at the personnel.
Key Returners: Mark Stone (HM AA, 2nd Conf), Andrew Fowler
Losses: Conor McGee
Mark Stone and Andrew Folwer split time in net almost equally in 2009, and though Fowler missed some time with a leg injury, he got the start in the MCLA Championship game. Last year, however, Stone took over as the #1 keeper, playing almost twice as many minutes as Fowler, and posting a slightly better save percentage (.609 to .595) overall.
This season, look for Stone to be the starter again - and increased performance out of both main keepers in their senior years. Sophomore Cy Abdelnour is the third option, as Conor McGee has transferred to UVa.
Key Returners: Harry Freid (1st AA, 1st Conf), Austin Swaney (2nd Conf), Justin Burgin (3rd Conf).
Losses: Zach Mueller, Theo Lederfine Paskal, Bob Diehl.
Newcomers: Dakota Sherman, Pat Stansik, Jake Dockser.
Harry Freid enters his senior year after back-to-back First-Team All-American seasons, and he's been named to the MCLA's all-decade team. He's the key player in the Wolverines' defensive corps, and will probably spend next spring playing a year of Division-1 lacrosse.
Austin Swaney is the team's #2 defenseman. His athleticism and instincts are the keys to his success. The starting unit could be rounded out by either Pat Stansik or Justin Burgin, though Burgin is coming off an injury. Stansik is a big, intimidating defenseman, and Burgin excels going up the field in transition.
JD Johnson, Dakota Sherman, and Paul Hegeman should also get some good playing time in a very deep defensive unit.
Key Returners: Matt Asperheim (3rd AA, 1st Conf).
Losses: Anthony Hrusovsky (2nd AA, 1st Conf), Jordan Kirshner (3rd AA, 1st Conf), David Rogers (2nd Conf), Svet Tintchev (2nd Conf), Michael Bartomioli (HM Conf), Jamison Goldberg (HM Conf).
The midfield is the hardest-hit unit by graduation, with only senior Long-Stick Matt Asperheim returning among players who received All-American or All-Conference honors. Asperheim is an important part of the team's defensive play, but also has great stick skills, and can score.
The other starters of Michigan's defensive midfield have graduated, so Jordan Kirshner and Michael Bartomioli (now an assistant at Michigan's Feb. 19th opponent Florida) will need to be replaced. Sean Sutton should be one of the starters, but the other is still up in the air, with Rob Healy a strong contender.
Michigan also lost a lot from their offensive midfield units, with #5 scorer Svet Tintchev out the door, along with #7 Anthony Hrusovsky, #9 Jamison Goldberg, and #10 David Rogers. Young players such as Joey Hrusovsky will have to step up, and don't be surprised if the Wolverines have more 2-way midfielders this season.
Key Returners: Edward Ernst, Harrison Silver
Losses: David Reinhard (1st AA, 1st Conf)
David Reinhard was a huge part of Michigan's success over the past two years, as the diminutive faceoff specialist won nearly 70% of his draws, helping the Wolverines dominate possession against all competition. With Reinhard out the door, it's up to junior Edward Ernst to carry the torch at the faceoff X.
Ernst actually performed better overall (80.6 win percentage), though most of his attempts came late in games, and especially against lesser competition. He'll have to step up his game for Michigan to control possession like they have the past few years.
Key Returners: Trevor Yealy (1st AA, 1st Conf), Thomas Paras (2nd Conf)
Losses: Kevin Zorovich (2nd AA, 1st Conf), Josh Ein (HM Conf), Clark McIntyre (HM Conf)
Though Michigan's #3, 4, and 6 scorers from last year have graduated, the Michigan offense still has its most important piece in Trevor Yealy. The senior captain has been a deadly finisher on the crease the last three years, with a mind-numbing 77 goals last year alone - compared to a grand total of 2 assists. This year, he should play a more versatile role, including out on the wing. Even if his scoring production drops, it will be for the betterment of the team on the whole.
Michigan's #2 scorer from last year, Thomas Paras, should be improved in his second year in the program. Since the Wolverines lost two lefties (Zorovich and Ein), the addition of St. John's transfer Ryan-Dutton O'Hara (HT: UMGoBlog) is important. He's a big attackman with good finishing ability.
The Wolverines may have scoring spread more throughout the roster, so keep an eye on Chad Carroll, who's new to the team after not playing lacrosse the last couple years, and freshman jitterbug Jeff Chu.
Last year's home lineup consisted of a meager four games, but that's paid forward to 2011, with 8 home contests, including 2010 tournament teams Florida, BYU, Boston College, Colorado State, and Arizona State (last year's runner-up). I break it down into about 4 parts:
Jan. 29, 6:00PM
NCAA Division-1, 9-6 in 2010
Feb. 4, 7:30PM
NCAA Division-3, 10-5 in 2010
Feb 12, 7:00PM
NCAA Division-3, 6-8 in 2010
Early Season/Road Trip
Feb. 19, 7:00PM
SELC, 12-4 in 2010 (First Round MCLA Tournament)
Feb. 25, 6:00PM. Los Angeles, CA
PNCLL, 10-5 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)
@ Loyola Marymount
Mar. 2, 3:00 PM. Los Angeles, CA
SLC, 13-5 in 2010
Mar. 5, 1:00 PM. Orange, CA
SLC, 16-3 in 2010 (MCLA Final Four - Lost to Michigan)
Mar. 12, 2:00 PM. Athens, OH
CCLA East, 11-2 NCLL in 2010
The Home Stand
Mar. 18, 7:00 PM
RMLC, 12-6 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament Second Round - Lost to Michigan)
Mar. 19, 7:00 PM
CCLA East, 5-10 in 2010
Mar. 25, 7:00 PM
PCLL, 11-3 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)
Mar. 26, 7:00 PM
SLC, 10-6 in 2010
Apr. 1, 7:00 PM
RMLC, 17-2 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament Second Round)
Apr. 2, 7:00 PM
SLC, 16-4 in 2010 (MCLA Runners-up - Lost to Michigan)
Apr. 9, 7:00 PM
GRLC, 8-7 in 2010
The Home Stretch
Apr. 16, 7:00 PM. Birmingham Seaholm HS
CCLA, 10-6 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)
Apr. 23, 7:00 PM. Toledo, OH
CCLA East, 8-6 NCLL in 2010
May 5-7 Saline, MI
May 17-21 Denver, CO
Michigan's recipe for success over the past few years has been to dominate possession, owning the faceoff X and riding opponents into turnovers to hold on to the ball much more than the opposition.
Michigan's biggest question mark this year, then, will be on faceoffs. In the one-on-one battle at midfield, they need to have Edward Ernst step up to continue the formula that's brought them such success. Ernst has David Reinhard, last year's All-American specialist, teaching and competing with him in practice (just like Reinhard had with Brekan Kohlitz a couple years back), so he should be able to step up.
Other than faceoff, Michigan's top-end talent and depth are both exceptional. Plugging Division-1 transfers into holes created by graduation is not a luxury all club programs have, and the Wolverines have some of the best coaching in the MCLA as well.
It's likely, unless there are some early-season stumbles, that Michigan will be favored - and often heavily so - in every game this year. They've earned it by losing only one game in the past 3 years, and refusing to ever rebuild, but always reload. It doesn't hurt to have the runaway favorites for MCLA Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year on your squad, either.
If you're looking to make it out to just a couple games, I recommend tonight's scrimmage, as Bellarmine is a D-1 opponent, and the back-to-back home games against Colorado State and Arizona State.
The recruiting process has been a long one for 4 Star Illinois OL Chris Bryant, and he's ready for it to be over with. Bryant makes his decision on Friday the 28th at 7:30pm at his high school in Chicago. I caught up with him to talk about the final hours, and what he'll be focusing on while making his decision for tomorrow. Here's a look at his film, then the interview.
TOM: Are you ready for all this to be over with yet?
CHRIS: Yeah, I mean it's stressful. It's been fun, but difficult so I'm almost ready.
TOM: What's it like today and tonight, the day before you make your decision?
CHRIS: Well, Coach Hoke came by the school today and then the Pitt coaches, Coach Graham and Calvin Magee are coming by later tonight. After that I'm just going to check over all the places I've been, the trips I've taken, and sit down and think about it. I want to make sure that I'm comfortable, because I have to live there the next 4 to 5 years. In my mind, I know where I'm leaning, but I want to sleep on it and do my thing tomorrow.
TOM: When the coaches come by this late in the process what are they talking to you about? For instance, what was Coach Hoke saying today?
CHRIS: Going through this process it's just been about building the relationship. That relationship doesn't come over night, and today was just kind of a regular conversation. He was telling me how I fit in, and about their new type of offense. It was just us getting to know each other more.
TOM: You talk about building a relationship. In a short period of time, do you think you've done that with the new Michigan coaches? Do you feel comfortable with them?
CHRIS: Ever since the first day I met them we hit it off. He's a player's coach, and someone you like having a conversation with. I didn't have a hard time bonding with him. I feel comfortable with all these coaches, I wouldn't second guess playing for them.
TOM: What happens after all the coaches leave? Do you and your parents sit down and discuss everything, or are they letting you make the decision?
CHRIS: My parents are a big part of my decision. After the coaches leave we'll sit down and talk through everything, then just get ready for tomorrow.
TOM: How many hats will be on the table?
CHRIS: I'll have four. Arizona, Michigan, Pitt, and Illinois.
Tom is having trouble posting on the site, so follow him on Twitter for the latest updates - Tim
- TX TE Chris Barnett. Arkansas soft commit. Also considering Texas A&M and others.
- MI RB Thomas Rawls. Looking for a Michigan offer (waiting on a qualifying test score). Announcing on Signing Day.
- OH LB Commit Antonio Poole. Committed to Michigan Tuesday.
- MD DT Darian Cooper. Had an in-home with DC Greg Mattison yesterday. Scout's Gene Hankerson is feeling good about the situation there. Iowa and Michigan State are the main competition. Iowa was out in front, who knows if the news that they try to kill their players will affect him.
- OH DE Commit Keith Heitzman. Committed last Saturday.
Arizona OL Ryan Nowicki is not coming. He has been telling me he feels good about being committed to Penn State, so it's not a big surprise. They were in on Ryan late anyway, so it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.
Don't be surprised if some of these guys end up committing to Michigan on Signing Day - or even before that, if the visit weekend goes well. Expect some of Michigan's current commits to unofficially visit as well.
The list is subject to change over the next 24 hours. Stay tuned for updates.
This weekend was a huge success for Michigan, not only with the three commitments from K Matt Wile, DB Raymon Taylor, and DE Keith Heitzman, but with the other visitors as well. Here's what some of them had to say.
5'11", 170 lbs.
The interest from McClure came from his relationship with Brady Hoke at San Diego State. Now that Hoke was at a bigger program like Michigan, McClure was interested.
It was a great time. We met with all the coaches, saw the stadium, and hung out with the players. My host was Denard Robinson, which was pretty cool. He's like a celebrity there. Walking through the Big House was pretty cool, too.
Michigan's new defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, has only been on campus for one weekend, but he's already polished off his recruiting tricks.
I talked with the defensive coordinator quite a bit. We talked scheme, and he knows his x's and o's. It was pretty cool to be able to talk with him. I also talked to coach Hoke about the school, tradition, and the opportunity to play early there.
Stefan has said he will decide and announce sometime this week. I would imagine distance might be a factor with him, and I wouldn't get too excited. While I think he had a good time, it's hard to pull kids out of California. I would guess he'll stay home and go with someone like Cal.
6'2", 240 lbs
Willingham is a four star that had been committed to Texas A&M, and decided recently to take a trip out to Michigan. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, he took a recent visit to Colorado the same weekend as current Michigan commit Kellen Jones. Kellen had an opportunity to tell Leilon why he chose Michigan, and what he liked about it. This weekend he got to see it for himself.
We got a chance to talk to all the coaches, and it was pretty cool to sit down with the defensive coordinator. Ray Lewis is my idol, so that was like a dream. They were just telling me how they would use me up there, ether inside or outside. I really liked it up there. I mean, the Big House speaks for itself, everything was great. We hung out with all the other recruits, and everybody was just having a good time.
Willingham does have one more visit scheduled to UCF, and says that he will announce on signing day.
The (Michigan) coaches know I'm going out to Central Florida, so that's fine. I'm decommitted from Texas A&M, too, so I'm not with them anymore.
However, don't be surprised if he decides to "come public" with his choice earlier than that. This visit put Michigan in the driver's seat, and then some.
6'2", 210 lbs.
Although he's from Glenville, Clark has always maintained that Michigan is high on his list. Before this visit Michigan was in his top three with MSU and UNC. I spoke to him briefly after his visit, and Michigan has definitely helped themselves with Clark.
He described the visit as, "excellent" and said that he will be announcing his decision on Friday the 28th. Clark is in the same category as Willingham right now. He will make his choice public soon, but Michigan has put themselves in the driver's seat with this visit.
- OL Chris Bryant is announcing on Friday. Likely between Michigan, Arizona, and Pitt. I like Michigan's chances.
- TE/LB Frank Clark is announcing Friday. Between Michigan, UNC, and MSU. I like Michigan's chances.
- LB Leilon Willingham may announce this week, but could wait until signing day. I like Michigan's chances.
- 4 Star TE Chris Barnett is visiting this weekend, the 28th.
- 4 Star DB Floyd Raven may visit Alabama this weekend instead of Michigan. We'll see what happens.
- RB Thomas Rawls may visit this weekend, and is announcing on the 31st. If he's qualified, I like Michigan's chances.
- DB Blake Countess may come back up for an unofficial visit to meet the new DC, and potentially the new DB coach if they have one in place.
- OL commit Tony Posada was in Ann Arbor this weekend, and the visit reassured him of his commitment to Michigan. Nothing to worry about there.
- DT Darian Cooper just got done with an official to Iowa. He tweeted that Michigan's new DC Greg Mattison promptly called him, and said he was, "very interesting." That could be something to watch if they go after him hard.
New Michigan commit(s), and this bad boy hits the front page. There's been tooooons of action since last rankings:
1-15-11 Michigan loses commitment from Jake Fisher. Illinois loses commitment from Carl Williams.
1-16-11 Indiana gains commitment from Bernard Taylor. Indiana loses commitment from Shafer Johnson.
1-17-11 Ohio State gains commitment from Ejuan Price. Notre Dame gains commitment from Chase Hounshell. Penn State gains commitment from Bill Belton. Illinois gains commitment from Eaton Spence.
1-18-11 Notre Dame loses commitment from Stephon Tuitt. Minnesota gains commitment from Steven Montgomery.
1-19-11 Notre Dame gains commitment from Stephon Tuitt. Michigan State gains commitment from Matthew Ramondo.
1-20-11 Penn State gains commitment from Deion Barnes. Minnesota loses commitment from Tamani Carter. Michigan gains commitment from Tamani Carter. Minnesota gains commitment from Joe Bjorklund. Nebraska gains commitment from Ameer Abdullah.
1-21-11 Indiana loses commitment from Jalen Schlachter. Michigan State gains commitment from Juwan Caesar.
1-22-11 Michigan gains commitments from Keith Heitzman, Raymon Taylor, and Matt Wile. Purdue gains commitment from Frankie Williams. Northwestern gains commitment from Jordan Perkins.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn 1 star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45, except JuCo players, who aren't included in the average).
Full data after the jump.
I am crazy for the Alaska ice hockey hype video that Brian has re-posted. It's like watching a Kurosawa or a Kubrick film. Or a vintage Chuck Barris game show. You just know you're in the hands of a master. I mean, every time I watch this video-- and I have watched it many, many times-- I have a new question about the ultimate meaning of the piece, or the inspiration for certain radical creative choices. This time I'm wrestling with questions about the bear's motivation.
Obviously I get the motivation behind the inciting incident in the opening sequence. He's pissed about how global warming, caused by western industrialized nations' gluttonous appetite for self-gratification, as represented by the icebreaking Carnival cruise ship, has upended the nature's cycle by disturbing his annual iceberg-encased hibernation. He reacts on instinct, as any giant mutant electro ice bear would: by summoning his lighting stick and wreaking complete destruction upon the ship.
And, though it took me a a couple of repeat viewings, I feel like I get why he takes things to the next level by scrambling his fellow giant mutant electro ice bear wingmen into the giant mutant ice bear sized F-16 fighters. Oh the delicious irony! Man's hubris ("Sure we'll build you some giant mutant ice bear fighter jets! What could go wrong?") returns to deliver a hellfire apocalypse upon those well-established symbols of human excess: the college hockey arena.
And sure, I totally understand why the lead ice bear finds it necessary to nuke Earth in order to save Earth. This is the human condition distilled. Only through death do we truly know life.
But what I simply can't figure out is why he doesn't give his ice bear wingmen a head's up on the forthcoming planetary destruction. What did they do to deserve that? They were his wingmen-bears, man! I know from a whole bunch of Jerry Bruckheimer movies that you don't leave your wingman-bear. And you definitely don't NUKE your wingman-bear. I mean, unless they specifically say: "Forget about me, do you hear? I'm a gonner,bra. You nuke this rock!"
This is not to say that there isn't a very good reason the filmmaker made this choice, because I know there is. I just don't get it.