After dispatching Central Michigan in a rainy midweek game, Michigan resumes conference play in Ann Arbor this weekend against Purdue in the conference home opener. In an effort to get a feel for Purdue, I did a Q&A with Hammer & Rails writer TMill to get a glimpse of how Purdue's season is going.
TMill is just getting into his fledgling baseball coverage over the last week due to some sort of basketball tournament-thing that's been going on, but he's got a better idea of where the baseball team is compared to most outsiders.
No return Q&A will be going on at H&R, so I'll conclude the Purdue preview tomorrow with my series thoughts.
Content after a jump:
Before we get into discussion of the deeper issues facing Michigan lacrosse, Let's take a look at this weekend's opponents. Colorado has been struggling throughout this year, badly enough to change coaches mid-season. Colorado State, on the other hand, has been excellent. They are ranked #2 and are undefeated on the season in the competitive Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference.
Friday, 7pm MDT,
Franklin Field KITTREDGE FIELD, Boulder CO.
Record: 2-5 (0-2 RMLC)
Rankings: Prodigy #22, LaxPower #15, Computer #14
Common Opponents: W 17-7 Simon Fraser
Previous Meetings: 2009 Regular Season (video highlights), 2009 MCLA Playoffs (liveblog).
I've talked a few times about how Colorado is a team in disarray. They fired their first-year head coach just a couple games into the season and have limped to a 2-5 record against MCLA teams this year. Those two wins, however, came against respectable competition (Simon Fraser and Lindenwood), so it's not like the Buffaloes are incapable of beating top teams.
Offensively, junior attack James Blackburn, a 2009 Honorable Mention All-American, leads the team with 2.71 points per game, and freshman Doug Lilburne isn't far behind at 2.29. Those are the only two CU players over two points per game, however, and the offensive production has really struggled, with the Buffs only breaking into double digits in their two victories on the year. sophomore middies Nick Kupcewicz has impressed, but was suspended for last week's game against Colorado State.
On defense, senior Mike Britt was named an MCLA 1st-Team All-American last year, and his classmate Mike Geocaris earned an Honorable Mention distinction. Sophomore defensive mid Ryan Emerson leads the team in ground balls, closely followed by freshman LSM Hap Knowles. In goal, 4th-year sophomore William Brown and freshman Bradley Macnee have gotten the most playing time. Brown has the higher save percentage, but facies more shots, giving up 8.6 goals per game.
Michigan should be able to emerge victorious in this contest. The Buffaloes are talented, but haven't been playing like it yet this year, and are just enter the second week in the system of new head coach Mike Ryder. The Wolverines' ride should be able to prevent an unsettled CU clear from reaching respectable numbers, and Michigan has proven to be able to turn defense into offense, as well as scoring on established possessions. [Ed: CSU and the possibility of a D-I move after the jump.]
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. – Eight University of Michigan football players from the 2009-10 season, one baseball player and one men’s track and field athlete were named All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year Award recipients from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) on March 31.
Former football players Stevie Brown (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East) and Brandon Graham (Detroit, Mich./Crockett Technical) were joined on the list by senior Steve Schilling (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), juniors David Molk (Lemont, Ill./Lemont Township), Brandon Herron (Stafford, Texas/Dulles), Mike Martin (Redford, Mich./Catholic Central), Junior Hemingway (Conway, S.C./Conway), sophomore Mike Cox (Dorchester, Mass./Avon Old Farms), fifth-year senior Nick Urban (Whitehall, Mich./Whitehall) from baseball and junior Frank Shotwell (Medina, Ohio/Medina) from men’s track and field.
“The advantages of strength training and conditioning cannot be denied in collegiate athletics,” said Robert Jursnick, executive director of the NSCA. “These student-athletes attest to this understanding, and are to be applauded for their hard work and dedication.”
The honor recognizes the student-athletes’ dedication to strength training and conditioning. This year, the NSCA awarded 232 collegiate athletes from 106 schools with the honor. The NSCA All-American Athlete of the Year Award program is in its 32nd year.
The NSCA All-American Strength and Conditioning Athletes of the Year program recognizes collegiate athletes whose athletic accomplishments, in the opinion of the strength coach, reflect their dedication to strength training and conditioning. These athletes are also recognized for their academic and personal accomplishments as well as their integrity as student athletes.
This is the first year in which athletes from Michigan have received the award.
Quotes from U-M Strength Coaches on the Student-Athletes
Strength Coach Cassandra Baier on Stevie Brown… “Stevie possesses great physical ability and a very competitive nature, both of which make him a winner and a physical specimen. With this combination, Stevie is due for success.”
Strength Coach Parker Whiteman on Mike Cox… “Mike is an animal in the weight room. He always wants to do more and is consistently looking for ways to make himself better. He enjoys what he does day in and day out.”
Strength Coach Mike Barwis on Brandon Graham… “Brandon is a born competitor. He comes into the weight room every day with a great attitude and work ethic. This makes him one of the top defensive ends in the country.”
Strength Coach Chris Allen on Junior Hemingway… “Junior is a great kid that works consistently hard and is very disciplined. Every day his attitude is to be better than the day before.”
Strength Coach Jim Plocki on Brandon Herron… “Brandon’s work ethic and determination is hard to match. His speed and strength have not only made him a physical specimen in the weight room, but a force at defensive end.”
Strength Coach Jesse Miller on Mike Martin… “Mike, a freshman All-American, has an incredible work ethic. He sees every day as an opportunity to get better. The way he works influences others around him to reach new heights and set higher goals.”
Strength Coach Kentaro Tamura on David Molk… “David is an extremely hard worker. He sets out everyday to be the best he can be. I am confident that his achievements will continue to grow throughout his career. He was named to the Rimington Award Watch List, which is awarded yearly to the best center in the nation.”
Strength Coach Dennis Murray on Steve Schilling… “Steve Schilling is a tempo-setter. He comes in every day with the mentality to get better. He is the first one in the weight room and the last one to leave. This is why he is such a great leader, not only on the field but in the weight room as well.”
Strength Coach Mike Favre on Frank Shotwell… “Frank’s dedication, consistency and effort have not only raised the level of his own performance, but that of his teammates as well. His leadership has been, and continues to be, an asset to the success of the University of Michigan men’s track and field program.”
Strength Coach Jason Cole on Nick Urban… “Nick is a very diligent worker. He raises the intensity to the benefit of those around him. Nick is a consummate team player.”
This is an early list of who is going to be at the Spring Game this year. This list will continue to grow, since these are only the players I've talked to so far. Some of the visits could change as we get closer, so just remember that.
I'll keep adding to the list as I talk to more people, but here's what I have so far.
WR DeAnthony Arnett
OH LB Percy Johnson
OH DE Bryan Baird - Said he will probably be there, not positive.
OH DB Greg Brown (commit)
MI DE Brennen Beyer
MI CB Delonte Hollowell (commit)
MI OL Anthony Zettel
FL RB Demetrius Hart (Mom coming too.)
FL S Dallas Crawford - Yes. This is a big one for Michigan.
FL WR Sammy Watkins - Yes. Also big.
MD DT Vincent Croce - Yes, as of now.
TX RB Jarrell Oliver (same school as Stonum, Herron, Woolfolk)
NJ LB Antoine Pozniak - He's coming with the "Top Prospects Family." Je'Ron Stokes dad is the founder of Top Prospects Family.
NJ ATH Miles Shuler
PA DE Deion Barnes - 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. Same school as current wolverine Je'Ron Stokes, and his brother Malik Stokes.
NJ LB Andre Hodge - Top Prospects
Other Top Prospects Family - Ronald Butler, Tyron Stevens, Lamar McKnight
IN OL Tony Springmann
GA WR Justin Scott
FL DE Anthony Rabasa
PA DB Kyshoen Jarrett - No, as of now. Family might decide to come, but no for now.
OH S Ron Tanner - He has baseball.
OH DE Robert Mincey - No, he'll be at Toledo. No offer, not sure if he'll get one.
OH DT Kevin Williams - He'll be at Nebraska, for their spring game. He was recently at Michigan for one of the practices. It seems like it's down to Nebraska and Michigan. He'll make his choice shortly after the 17th
NC LB Kris Frost - No. His family waited too long to buy tickets, so they were too expensive when they went to buy them. He's NOT going to Auburn's spring game over Michigan's, he's going to Auburn's because it's only 6 hours away. He figures he might as well go somewhere, if he can't make it to Michigan. They are trying to find another time to make it up.
AR QB Kiehl Frazier (2011) - No for the spring game. I spoke with his father, though, and they're really excited about Michigan. He said they DEFINITELY plan on making a trip to Ann Arbor. They really like Coach Smith, and are excited to see Michigan.
NJ WR Damiere Byrd - Track Meets
MI RB Justice Hayes is going to try to make it. Not positive yet.
OH TE Ray Hamilton - There's a "strong possibility" that he'll be there. Not definite.
OH OL Aundrey Walker - Doesn't know for sure yet. It's still a possibility.
OH WR Shaq Washington - Going to try to make it. He doesn't have an offer, but Michigan is one of the few schools he's hoping to get an offer from. He thinks he fits the offense really well.
OL Matt Frazier - Didn't end up making it to practice the other week. He fell ill, and couldn't make it. He's either coming for the spring game, or one of the early games of the season. Most likely a game, though.
Michigan handily took care of Central Michigan on a fairly wet day in Ann Arbor by a score of 13-7 in front of 880 fans braving the weather. Matt Gerbe took the win in his first career start, moving to 1-0 on the season. He went only 3.2 innings giving up 4 hits, 3 runs (all unearned), and 2 walks whiles not recording a strikeout. Behind him, Travis Smith, Ben Ballantine, Kolby Wood, Matt Miller, and Matt Broder combined to finish the game and give up on 4 runs (3 earned). Decent day against a decent hitting team.
The offense was clicking in full, recording 18 hits, including a multi-hit game by Biondi (3), Toth (2), Berset (2), Crank (2), Dufek (2), Urban (2), and Dennis (2). Every starter had a hit in this game, and the only batter with a plate appearance without one was John Lorenz, who went 0-for-1 after entering the game as a defensive replacement. No real stars here, as everyone hit well and was timely about it.
It is worth noting that Ryan LaMarre made his first start since breaking his thumb, playing left field instead of center as he started in the season opener. LaMarre went 1-for-3 on the day with a hit by pitch and a strikeout. He also unlaced a screamer up the middle, seen in the video highlights almost hitting Berset as he lead off second. That's encouraging to see him hit the ball hard and up the middle.
The other major lineup change was moving senior Mike Kittle to third base for the start. I'm not sure this is a permanent move, but Kittle has had a hot bat of late and it appears Rich Maloney wants to try and keep that bat in the lineup. That could be a tough break for sophomore John Lorenz who has really picked up his game play of late. He had raised is average to nearly .280, which isn't bad for a 8-hole hitter in the Big Ten, but he hasn't been that consistent at the plate.
What will keep Lorenz in the mix at third is, surprisingly, his defense. Kittle had a diving play that he reacted too slow on early in the game. Lorenz faced an identical play late in the game, and he was able to move in front of the ball and make the easy throw to first. I'm not sure who to expect to start at the hot corner on Friday, but I think we see Lorenz. I somewhat think this was just a trial to see how Kittle would perform defensively. It's not that he failed that test, I'm just not sure that switch is warranted yet. Should be interesting to see come Friday.
Michigan takes on Purdue this weekend. I'll have some Q&A with a Purdue baseball blogger tomorrow and a couple series thoughts out Friday. Friday's first pitch is currently slated for 7:05pm at Ray Fisher Stadium and televised on the BTN (the television channel, not the internet stream).
PNC Bank Signs on as Presenting Sponsor of U-M’s Spring Football Game
Bank Makes Donation to Mott, Sponsors Locker Room Tours and Kick for Cash Promotion
ANN ARBOR –The University of Michigan Athletic Department and IMG College-Michigan Sports Marketing announced Wednesday (April 7) that PNC Bank, a member of The PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE: PNC), has signed on as the presenting sponsor of the University of Michigan football spring game on Saturday, April 17, at 1 p.m. EDT from Michigan Stadium. PNC Bank is converting the former National City bank branches in Ann Arbor and throughout the state of Michigan to PNC on April 12.
PNC Bank and IMG College-Michigan Sports Marketing will donate a portion of the sponsorship to the Michigan football interactive play area at the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. A major component of the annual spring game is a fund-raising campaign that will assist the construction of the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
Admission to the spring game is free but fans can make a donation of choice to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital upon entering the gates of Michigan Stadium.
PNC Bank will sponsor two of the largest spring football game activities, the Michigan team locker room tour and the Kick for Cash promotion. Fans can tour and take photos in the Michigan team locker room from 6:30-8 p.m. on Friday (April 16) and from 7-9:30 a.m. on Saturday (April 17). Each locker will be set up with player uniforms and will look exactly the way that it does on game day. Fans will exit the locker room at the top of the tunnel at the ‘Go Blue’ sign.
“At PNC, we are committed to the communities we serve, and building upon our long legacy of supporting community organizations and schools, including the University of Michigan spring football game,” said David Boyle, PNC Bank regional president for Michigan.
For the PNC Kick for Cash promotion, the athletic department will randomly select one fan to attempt field goals with the chance to win a PNC gift card up to $300. They will have the opportunity to kick from three different spots, the 10-, 15- or 20-yard lines, with varying prizes for each of the three distances.
The parking lots surrounding Michigan Stadium will be available to accommodate fans that wish to tailgate for the spring game. Gates 2, 4, 8 and 10 will open at 10 a.m. Certain restrooms and concessions will be open to the public but a final determination will be made at a later date based on the stadium construction schedule.
The Michigan Marching Band, the cheerleaders and the dance team will participate in the spring game.
Check MGoBlue.com for announcements on the alumni flag football game roster and additional promotions involving the spring football game.