Saturday night, while we were doing our best to avoid the bros, the volleyball team upset #6 Illinois at Cliff Keen Arena. It was a huge game for the spikers with Lexi Zimmerman posting her second career triple double (43 assists, 13 digs and 13 kills) in an epic performance, even for the best volleyball player in the history of the program. Michigan now sits atop the Big Ten standings at 5-1 along with Illinois and Northwestern.
Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman is a two time All-American. She's got ups.
This year the volleyball team expected a bit of a transition after making the elite eight and then losing outside hitters Juliana Paz and Megan Bower to graduation. However the team is off to a scorching 16-2 start to the season, with a loss coming early on to Toledo and more lately at powerhouse Penn State. How have they done it? It's been an exciting mix of veterans and rookies for the Maize and Blue:
Everyone knows, or should know Lexi Zimmerman - the two time (soon to be three) All-American setter for the Wolverines. Lexi is the floor general and has been doing what she does - DOMINATE - all season for the Wolverines.
Junior Alex Hunt needed to step up big this season for the Wolverines and she has. She led the team with 19 kills against Illinois last Saturday and has shown that she can pick up the slack left by Paz and Bower.
Junior libero Sloane Donhoff anchors the back line for Michigan, routinely leading the team in digs.
Junior middle blocker Courtney Fletcher got off to a solid start early and is well on her way to surpass her kill totals from last season.
Several underclassmen have made a big impact on the team this year early on in their careers. After appearing in only seven sets last season, RS Sophomore Claire McElheny is off to a great start to the 2010 season. She has started 15 matches for the Wolverines and recorded 10 kills in M's upset of the Illini. Her contribution has certainly been a big one and helped in the replacement of Paz and Bower.
True freshmen Molly Toon and Jennifer Cross have come on strong and are showing some promise for Michigan's future. Jennifer Cross, a 6-4 middle blocker, has started 16 times this year for the Wolverines and notched 8 kills and 6 blocks against Illinois. Molly Toon, daughter of the NFL's Al Toon, came up big in the Wolverines' win over Illinois, notching a career high-tying 9 kills.
How They Got Here: 16-2 (5-1)
Michigan opened the season at the Toledo Classic, winning their first two games of the year before falling to the host Rockets in the championship game in five sets. Since then the Wolverines have been on a tear.
M won 12 straight matches including an early season win at Oregon State and sweeps of the Michigan/adidas Invitational and the ASU Sheraton Tournament.
To start Big Ten play, Michigan hosted and defeated Iowa and #15 Minnesota before taking their first conference road trip. On the road M beat OSU in 4 sets before travelling to Penn State. While Penn State isn't the beast that they have been in years past (currently standing at 3-3 in B10 play), the Nittany Lions took care of the Wolverines in straight sets.
The Wolverines returned home this past weekend to defeat Wisconsin and Illinois.
Tonight: MSU at 7pm; Saturday #20 Northwestern at 7pm (Live on BTN)
If you want to feel better about little sister, come to Cliff Keen tonight, where the Wolverines should be able to take care of the Spartans. Alex Hunt currently sits are 989 career kills and the good money says that she will notch kill 1000 against MSU tonight.
As previously mentioned, Northwestern is tied with Michigan atop the Big Ten standings. So Saturday's matchup is a big one with a lot on the line. Michigan will head back out on the road so it's important to get this win to set up what could be a great Big Ten season.
|Wed., Oct. 13||vs. Michigan State *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Oct. 15||vs. No. 20 Northwestern *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Oct. 22||at Indiana *||Bloomington, Ind.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Oct. 23||at Purdue *||West Lafayette, Ind.||6:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Oct. 29||at Illinois *||Champaign, Ill.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Sat., Oct. 30||at Wisconsin *||Madison, Wis.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Fri., Nov. 5||vs. Penn State *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 6||vs. Ohio State *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||6:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Nov. 12||at Minnesota *||Minneapolis, Minn.||6:00 p.m. CT|
|Sat., Nov. 13||at Iowa *||Iowa City, Iowa||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Fri., Nov. 19||vs. Purdue *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 20||vs. Indiana *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Wed., Nov. 24||at Michigan State *||East Lansing, Mich.||6:30 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 27||at Northwestern *||Evanston, Ill.||7:00 p.m. CT|
If Michigan can go to 7-1 in conference play this week, they set themselves up for a legitimate run at a Big Ten Championship. The Big Ten is one of the best volleyball conferences in the nation, though, so they'll need to show up every night. A westernish road trip to Indiana and Purdue should produce two victories, but road games are road games. It'll be the following week at Illinois where we see what this team is made of. In their first true road test they fell hard to the Lions. Can they show up and upset the Illini for the second time on the season?
After four on the road, it doesn't get any easier with Penn State coming to town. But with Penn State's losses to graduation this could be the year (last year M took them to 5 sets) that Cliff Keen witnesses a victory over the Nittany Lions.
NEEDS MOAR PAZ
I spoke with Dr. Phillips LB Darryl Monroe today, and he updated me on his status. He's a teammate of recent commit Demetrius Hart, and Michigan recruits S Roderick Ryles, WR Chris Gallon, and 2012 QB Nick Patti.
Monroe is currently committed to Washington State, but as I've said before it's very soft. He has been in contact with the Michigan coaches lately, and will be up soon for a visit.
I just talked to Coach Smith today, and he said he's just waiting to hear back from the defensive coaches. Waiting to hear if they want to offer me. I'll be coming up there probably for the Illinois game. We were all going to come up for the Wisconsin game but Nick told me we might change it, I'm not sure yet.
We'll see when they all decide to come up. It sounds like Michigan has a real shot if they decide to offer. It's hard for Darryl to really analyze anything, and where each school stands.
I want to see what Michigan has to offer from the depth chart, the defensive schemes, the academic side, and the atmosphere. If I go up there and I love it, then it will be on the coaches then. If they offer or not, but we'll see what happens.
He said if he and all his teammates decide Michigan is the best place for all of them, then that would be great. They all need to find the right place for them though. We won't know more until they all take their visit up to Ann Arbor, but it sounds somewhat promising so far.
Avery Walls is a defensive back out of Georgia that Michigan fans are hoping to get. He recently came back from a trip to Cal, and has decided that he's going to take a few more visits before he makes his decision.
I'm going to go to Michigan State, South Carolina, Virginia, and U Conn. Once all my visits are done then I'll decide from there. I don't have a leader right now, because I haven't seen all the schools yet. I'm still evaluating different things about each school.
He recently went out to Oregon and Cal, and said that all the schools he's visited so far have been different in their own right.
They all had a certain mentality about them from the coaches, a certain lifestyle, and a different climates.
I couldn't get a good read from him, so I'm not really sure what to think. We'll have to wait to find out his decision after his visits are up.
Yes, it's that time of year, when baseball rules supreme. The World Series is coming up in short order, and while Michigan doesn't have any horses in the playoffs, that doesn't mean that the Wolverine baseball team isn't making news. That news, at least for today, is the announcement of Michigan's 2011 schedule.
The University of Michigan baseball program and head coach Rich Maloney announced on Tuesday (Oct. 12) the 2011 schedule, which features games against at least four teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, a mid-week home series against Texas Tech, and the full 27-game Big Ten slate.
Looking over the schedule, this year seems a little bit harder than in years past, and that's saying quite a bit. The big weekend series of the non-conference, at Stanford March 18-20, will be a giant test for the Wolverines; we've known about it since last year's season opening podcast.
Michigan did upgrade some of their other series as well, particularly in the mid week. Along with the annual home and home with Notre Dame (May 3-4), the Wolverines will play host to Texas Tech (May 10-11), marking the first time Michigan has hosted a Big XII opponent.
Coach Rich Maloney on bringing on the tougher schedules:
"I think you want to play a challenging schedule so that when you're coming to Big Ten play, you're ready to challenge yourself," Maloney continued. "Hopefully, you have worked on some things that maybe you hadn't worked on as much. But you've had experience against quality teams so you've been challenged. […] We felt it was a benefit to our kids because you learn about your team and yourself when you battle through the rigors of a tough non-conference schedule and this will be no different. We're going to have to play well to win those games early in the schedule, but ultimately it will prepare us for the Big Ten season."
Other non-conference opponents include a three-game series with a Rutgers (February 25-26) team that just missed the NCAA tournament last year, a weekend at Winthrop (2 games vs Winthrop, 2 against Stony Brook), a four-game weekend in at Sam Houston State (March 4-6, which I undoubtedly will be attending at least Saturday and maybe Sunday), and the season-opening Big Ten/Big East Challenge, with matchups yet to be determined. Michigan is also continuing their series with Florida Gulf Coast, who had a great Michigan alumni showing last season.
As for the conference season, Michigan misses Michigan State during the official Big Ten season, but like last year, the two schools have managed to secure a series against each other. Unlike last year, the schools will play a three-game weekend series (March 25-27) in place of the tomato cans both would usually face in their respective home openers. The Wolverines will host Friday and Sunday, with the Saturday game in East Lansing. I love this scheduling tactic as it eliminates the annual RPI vacuum surrounding IPFW, Oakland, or worse.
In the REAL conference season, Michigan does get two of the toughest series at home, with Indiana in week one of conference play (April 1-3) and Minnesota near the end of the season (May 6-8). They will also host Illinois and Penn State. That leaves road series at Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State, and Northwestern. That's a pretty tough road schedule, with Purdue and Iowa returning plenty of talent and Ohio State having a new, aggressive coach.
Unlike last year's schedule, I'm not sure I can even get close to predicting a win goal for Michigan right now. Questions are a plenty in the starting rotation and in the outfield. I want to put out a guess around 36-19 overall and 15-9 in conference, but that's a lot of guessing. If that were to come true, Michigan would almost have to win the Big Ten Tournament to make the NCAA. Right now, until I see our starting rotation prove themselves, I think that's probably a reasonable baseline -- neither too high nor too low, but also not a concrete floor.
UPDATE: According to Chris Webb of Buckeye State Baseball, Michigan's Big East opponents in the challenge are UCONN, St. John's, and Louisville. That's three tournament teams from last year added to the schedule and one tough weekend to open the season.
Last week I looked at UM's 2009 vs 2010 numbers and came up with some numbers that point to a Michigan loss, but I held out hope that the Michigan offense wouldn't suck like they did against Sparty last year - yeah... So this week I'm just sticking to the numbers in hopes of reverse jinxing us into a win :)
This week I took it one step further and looked at all of Iowa's 2010 results, comparing them to their 2009 common opponent results (as best as you can -- PSU is nothing like the PSU from 2009 but it's the best you can do).
UM's numbers took a bit of a dip both offensively and defensively after the MSU debacle and we now have this for the D:
|All Opponents||All DI - Opponents|
And this for the O:
|All Opponents||All DI - Opponents|
Now for some scary numbers: Lets look at Iowa thus far. Their D:
|All Opponents||All DI - Opponents|
And their O:
|All Opponents||All DI - Opponents|
Ok so we already knew that Iowa has an absurd D but what about comparing both UM and IA to this point last year...
|All Opps||2010||2009||% Improvement|
|UM D PPP||2.26||1.39||-63%|
|UM O PPP||3.28||2.99||10%|
|IA D PPP||0.54||0.95||43%|
|IA O PPP||2.75||1.95||41%|
And for D-I Opps only:
|All DI Opps||2010||2009||% Improvement|
|UM D PPP||2.05||1.59||-29%|
|UM O PPP||2.97||2.6||14%|
|IA D PPP||0.5||0.86||42%|
|IA O PPP||2.65||2.12||25%|
So, compared to last year at this point our D is much worse, our O is a bit better and Iowa has made huge strides on both sides of the ball (pick-6's and special teams points aren't counted in this). With that in mind what happened last year against Iowa?
|UM vs IA 2009*||Expected||Result||% Difference|
* means that I used the D-I only numbers
Well, pretty much only the Iowa O met their numbers for the season average while our D, O and Iowa's D took a big hit.
If we only look at UM 2010 vs 2009 we get a predicted score as such:
Based on UM Performance
2010 vs 2009
|vs All||vs DI Only|
Then if we look at only Iowa 2010 vs 2009 we get this:
Based on IA Performance
2010 vs 2009
|vs All||vs DI Only|
Basically everything spells doom. Even if you put in a full 6-pt swing from the change of home venues, we're at best looking at 31-24 Iowa. Sadly, I'm going to go with the average of all four numbers and throw in a 3-point swing for home field advantage (not 6 as we're treating 2010 as a seperate entity) and I end up with UM 19 - IA 32. I'll do a bit of DO NOT PUNT rounding and IA's penchant for FGs for an official prediction of UM 21 - IA 30.
I'd do a full review of the MSU numbers but it's painful so the quick and dirty is the O took a 56% decrease in PPP (3.5 season avg vs 1.55 actual) and the D took a 69% decrease (1.84 season average vs 3.10 actual).
P.S. Dear Denard - please just run once your internal timer has gone off and prove the numbers horribly wrong!! :)
Here's the list of recruits I have confirmed coming in for the Iowa game. As always, this list will have names added and dropped as it gets closer to game day. I'm going out of town from Thursday until Monday though, so there won't be much if anything from me until Monday. Please refrain from making the, "Yeah, but what about defensive recruits?!" comments. Just because there aren't many visiting for this game doesn't mean Michigan isn't recruiting them; they are.
- DT Timmy Jernigan - 6'2", 275 lbs, 4 Star, Lake City, Florida
- TE Drew Owens - 6'5", 225 lbs, 3 Star, Charlotte, North Carolina
- DB Dallas Crawford - 5'10", 185 lbs, 3 Star, Fort Myers, Florida
- WR Sammy Watkins - 6'1", 180 lbs, 4 Star, Fort Myers, Florida
- WR Hakeem Flowers - 6'2", 175 lbs, 3 Star, Greenville, South Carolina
- WR Quinta Funderburk - 6'5", 204 lbs, 3 Star, Chesapeake, Virginia
- QB Kevin Sousa - 6'3", 210 lbs, 3 Star, Lake Nona, Florida (Commit)
- DE Chris Wormley - 6'4", 255 lbs, Toledo, Ohio
- RB Will Mahone - 5'11", 205 lbs, Austintown, Ohio (He confirmed he will be there)
- DB Luc Haupt - 6'0", 180 lbs, Austintown, Ohio
- DB Chris Davis - 5'10", 183 lbs, Austintown, Ohio
- QB Demitrious Davis - 5'10", 183 lbs, Austintown, Ohio
There will be more 2012 kids added to the list soon. I'm still trying to confirm some, so keep checking back later tonight and tomorrow.
Warning: Week 7 is boring. Pretty much everybody is playing in-conference, so the cupcake games are few and far between. Also, the usual suspects for minor league ineffectiveness are playing middling games as well.
Last week's recap
FIU and WKY faced off for a chance at a first win of the season. It went about like you'd expect. Florida International went 12-19 passing, 3-9 on third down, and had 16 penalties for 135 yards. And won by a TD. How? Western Kentucky rushed 41 times for 106 yards, and was 14-31 passing.
In the Granddaddy Toilet Bowl, New Mexico State squeaked out a win against New Mexico. New Mexico State debuted their new "throw a screen, fall down" offense apparently, since one of their QBs was 5-10 for 6(!) yards. The whole team was 7-12 for 38 yards through the air. And this is the team that won. New Mexico fumbled 4 times and threw a pick for good measure. This game also featured a dazzling 14 punts, for a combined 543 yards.
Les Miles and undefeated LSU will have room to ply all sorts of kooky game management theory against McNeese State. McNeese has already been pummeled by Missouri 50-6, so the nefarious brain of Les Miles will have to come up with something pretty incredible to break these hearts -- we're with you big guy! This game is a virtual bye-week for LSU, as they have Auburn and Alabama back-to-back coming up, and finish the regular season against Arkansas.
San Jose State is this year's memorial 2nd grader who goes around picking fights with every 5th grader on the playground, with expected results. The kid who can already show bruises from Alabama, Wisconsin, Utah, and Nevada will play Boise State this weekend. With SJ providing a common opponent link for late-November BCS Kevin Bacon gaming, Boise gets the "Prove It On the Field" award for the week. Bama won by 45; can Boise go bigger?
The "Manic Depressive Paranoid Schizophrenic" game of the week is Georgia versus Vanderbilt. Georgia handled Tennessee last week, but is still 2-4 on the season. Vandy has a loss to UConn, and a win against Ole Miss. Both teams have far better defenses than offenses, so this game may be a punt-fest as well. Or, someone else may get kicked off Georgia for stealing a chalkboard eraser, and then who knows?