For the last few years, Michigan has been building a name for themselves in volleyball. It wasn't too long ago that Michigan was always a bottom wrung team. Under the tutelage of Coach Mark Rosen, Michigan has scraped its way to respectful. Friday, it took the next step.
In front of a packed house of 5,772 in Omaha, NE, just an hour away from the University of Nebraska campus in Lincoln, the Wolverines took on the #3 Cornhuskers in the Runza/AVCA Challenge, the top tournament in the college volleyball regular season. This game was going to be tough; Nebraska has dominated Michigan in 3 games, sweeping Michigan in 3 games each time. The Cornhuskers have only lost once ever in the Qwest Center. Nebraska was coming off yet another Final Four appearance, knocking Michigan out in the same stadium during the Sweet 16 round.
But Michigan came out looking to match the effort of the 2007 season opener against Hawaii in Hawaii. They wanted to take out the crowd early. They wanted to get into the heads of the younger Husker lineup. They did just that. Michigan came out strong early. Juliana Paz and Alex Hunt were putting tremendous pressure on the Huskers front line. Megan Bower and Courtney Fletcher, who wasn't even slated to start until the last minute, were strong on the front, affording Michigan plenty of opportunities for easy passes. Everything clicked. [Full recap after the jump]
Before that, I wanted to give a summary of the informal voting that took place in the last thread as it related to the 2002 class (note: it would be helpful if more readers would vote – the number of votes was small, although the justifications were scholarly). Here was the 2002 class career ratings proposed after the McBean Rating definitions were debated:
The following votes were then cast:
Five-Star: Two votes
Four-Star: Three votes
Three-Star: Three votes
Two-Star: Zero votes
Three-Star: Two votes
Two-Star: One vote
Single votes for Bihl as a four-star, Breaston as a four, Tabb as a three and Riley as a three.
All votes are not equal as arguments of varying persuasiveness were offered. In the debate, wolfman81 almost perfectly captured what still remains a point of contention: how to use the NFL draft in our assessment -
Notice that in all of these cases, I consider the college career first. If there is some doubt about what category the player should fit into, only then do I consider the NFL draft. The NFL draft is a tiebreaker, but only when there is a tie to be broken. In my mind, 1st team All-American = 5-star McBean. All-Conference = 4-star McBean. Starter = 3-star McBean. There can be exceptions to this rule (Tom Brady was not All-Conference, but I think he should be 4 star due to his leadership on the field and other intangibles. As he was drafted, the NFL assessment backs this opinion up. The fact that he will likely be a first ballot NFL hall of famer cannot bump him up to the 5-star discussion; at the same time, it does not harm my 4-star rating.) But, I think that this rule sets a minimum standard.
The new 2002 McBean Ratings are as follows with only one change – Harris drops to a four-star. Mark Bihl was pushed hard as a four-star, but his career falls short of making a significant impact, just as Harris clearly falls short of an elite career.
The conclusion one would then draw from this data is that the 2002 class dramatically underperformed. To give you an idea, this would represent a drop in the team rankings (if the rankings were based upon average stars) from 10th to 21st, using an average of the 2002 through 2009 data.
Now, the problems:
- How do we handle the math for players like Dann O’Neill, Quinton McCoy and Taylor Hill? Players who never saw the field and did not stay. My original method counts these players in the Rivals list, but does not count them at all in the McBean list. For example with the 2002 class above, the 21 players in the Rivals list are all counted and the denominator is 21. For the McBean review of their careers, McCoy and Berishaj didn’t have a career at Michigan, so they are not counted and the denominator to determine the average star rating is 19. If we eliminate the two players from the Rivals list, do we fail to take into account the reference point of our evaluation: the quality of the entire incoming class as judged by a recruiting service? Yet, by taking them out of the McBean career list, do we fail to punish the staff for recruiting players who could generally be considered a bust? However, if we rate them a zero or even a two, we ensure that pretty much every class will underperform badly (counting both as a zero, the McBean average would drop to 2.81!). I am both befuddled and in need of a paragraph break.
- Second, the ease with which we rate invisible players as two stars devastates our average rating. We rarely recruit two-star players, yet because every team logically has many anonymous backups (seventeen preliminary McBean two-stars over the first five classes I’ve looked at), we have exceeded a ratings Chandrasekhar Limit and pulling each class down into a black hole of underperformance. Case in point, I offer the 2003 class which, if this class doesn’t qualify as a recruiting success and overperformer, then none will:
EDIT, August 29th, 9:24am: Gentlemen, after reading below and thinking about the problems presented, I feel we made a mistake with the definitions. Any viable Michigan players - this includes backups who do not see the field - should be get three stars. We could use this yardstick: any player who makes the two-deep during his career gets a third star. Also, we should be more generous with four stars for good starters like Bihl and Kraus.
Here's my reason: we must remain connected to our baseline system, Rivals. It is our point of comparison. Without a close connection, we can make no claims about under and overperformance. We recruit many three-stars, and while individually each kid hopes to be the next Pat White, the 30,000 foot reality is that those three-stars, en masse, are destined to be the backups. They are not underperforming, they are performing as expected.
This pushes some - not many and not enough to unbalance the finite four-star numbers - up a notch, because Mark Bihl and Adam Kraus cannot coexist with a three-star backup.
So, I am thinking we need to predominantly loosen our three-star standards to allow us to recognize backups as meeting expectations.
Three sports are in action this weekend as the volleyball and field hockey teams join the women's soccer in the official season.
Women's soccer will be starting things off with a Friday night visit to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. UW-M is hosting a "Milwaukee Cup" series where Michigan will face off with the home team tonight (Friday, 8p ET) and Marquette on Sunday (2p ET). Rain is in the forecast, but the teams will play through.
UW-M is currently 0-0-2 with two 0-0 ties with Northwestern and Wisconsin. Both of those BigTen teams are picked to finish better than Michigan in the coaches' preseason poll. The historic series between Michigan and UW-M has Michigan ahead with one outright win and a loss by penalty kicks in the 2006 NCAA tournament. UW-M will be tough to beat at home where they haven't lost since 2007, but if Michigan can play solid defense, they could pull the upset.
Marquette should be a more manageable game for the Wolverines as they are not a very high scoring team themselves. Marquette likes to spread the ball around, but none of last years starters managed more than 3 goals over the course of the season.
The ACC/BigTen Challenge starts Saturday at Iowa City, IA as the Wolverines take on #4 North Carolina at 3p ET. The team will also play on Sunday against #2 Wake Forest. Michigan's going to have a heck of a time trying to upset either team. Unlike the basketball version of the challenge, teams aren't necessarily matched up by rank. In this case, Michigan will be lucky to squeak out a win.
For more on the field hockey team, check out the season preview.
Juliana Paz says bring on Nebraska
Volleyball has the national spot light, or at least as national as CBS College Sports. The Wolverines take on Nebraska tonight at 9:30pm ET and Kansas State tomorrow at 7pm ET. This is a big moment for the women's volleyball team as they want to prove themselves out of the gate. MGoBlue's SID will have a CiL liveblog going for both games, and I encourage MGoBloggers with or without access to the game stop in and discuss.
See our Volleyball Season Preview here.
Also, anyone who may be able to get (a) torrent(s) of the game(s), I'd +1 you forever.
Update (Friday 7:50p): While watching the Minnesota/K-State match, I can already see that our game is going to be a VERY pro-Nebraska announcing. I've seen 5 clips of CornHuskers in the stands in the last 20 minutes. But one interesting nugget has also come out during those breaks, Nebraska has 8 players in their lineup that have no college experience. If Michigan can take advantage of that inexperience, it would be huge.
K-State is playing pretty sloppy. Their ball handling is very sporadic. I can't get a good read on Minnesota yet. Their MB is nailing the 0-sets really well, but she hasn't been blocking well at all. Half way through set two, I don't think Minnesota has registered a block. K-State is having trouble with the slide to the right. I don't know if Bower will be able to place as well as this Minnesota RS.
Minnesota just went up 2-0 on them 25-19, 25-16. I'm liking our chances for tomorrow already.
Update II (Friday 9:30p): KSU made me eat my words as the 3rd and 4th they played awesome and even forced a 5th. Their outside hitter really got into a groove at the net and at the serve. Perhaps the first two sets were just nervous energy.
Due to the 5 set game, Michigan's starting time is now looking like 10p ET
Update III (Saturday 3:55p): Soccer was blown out in the 2nd half for a final 0-6 loss. Ouch. Field Hockey just started the 2nd half. It's 0-0 in the 45th minute (out of 70), but Michigan is being outshot 7-1.
Update IV (Saturday 5:25p): Field Hockey jumped ahead 1-0 but gave up 2 goals in the last 15 minutes to drop their first game of the season. Michigan took only 2 shots, both on goal, both by Meridith Way. By contrast, UNC took 21 shots, 12 were on goal, by 9 different TarHeels.
I find it confusing that the changes are meant to improve safety. Having to put up a canopy behind your car takes away 9 feet from both sides of the laneway. If safety was the issue, wouldn't it be wiser to put the canopies besides the car, thus keeping the roadway clear? We have been tailgating on the golf course for almost 20 years. We drive from Toronto to the games and have forged relationships over the years with our neighbours. We know we can't park where pilon lady has laid out her pilons, or where pickup truck guy says "you can't park here, I have parked here for decades", dude your not even thirty? But I digress. That was the way the golf course was and that was how it worked. Let people decide whom they choice to park beside, not some yellow vested guy who wanted to land jets at the airport with his pointer chose for you.
Ann Arbor Golf Course, come clean, the issue isn't about safety. It is about cramming as many cars as possible into the place as you can. I can see them measuring the distance between doors, and telling people you need to be closer. Eventually they will have everyone park so close together that you won't even be able to get out of your car.
Solution? Charge the people who have canopies a little extra ($10) and give them the freedom to put them beside the car. That way you increased revenues, improved safety and made your customer happy. Remember we are your customer.
This is the final voting portion of the 2009 MGoShirt Alert, a design project that will enable MgoBlog readers to vote for an upcoming design in the new MGoBlogStore.
Throughout the course of mankind, there have been days where the choices of men alter the course of destiny forever. Today, gentlemen, is one of those days. After weeks of preparation and voting, success and failure, flotsam and jetsam, we have come to this day. Today we'll vote on the winner of the 2009 MGoShirt Alert.
I will once again go over the scoring that was used to determine the four finalists. As you all know, each of the fifteen entries were open to voting by the MGoCommunity to determine its success, rated on a scale of five stars to one star, with five being the most successful and one being the least. With that being said, each five-star vote was awarded five points, four-stars were given four points, three stars got three points, etc. All points for each shirt were then added up to a grand total, and that total was divided by the number of voters for each particular poll to determine the shirt's final average score. Obviously, a perfect average score would have been 5.00, with the lowest possible score being 0.00. No design received either.
Yesterday I did a final count on all shirts and re-did the math for one last consideration, and then ranked all fifteen designs according to their overall average score. It is, then, with great pride that I reveal the finalists:
Final Score: 4.31.
To my disbelief, yesterday's shirt recieved the highest overall score. There was legimitate concern about possible legality issues, and although we may have to make some minor tweaks to the design should it prove the winner, I am proud to say that I think we're okay on that front. I will admit that I did not expect the reception it received yesterday, but am nonetheless grateful.
2. THE DESMOND
Final Score: 4.03
Ah yes, our good friend Mr. Howard, the first Heisman trophy in Ann Arbor since the legend of Tom Harmon. There were many debates about tweaking this shirt, the text, the typeface, the foot, etc... but all in all this was our first consensus 'winner' of the entire contest. Certainly wearable by the exclusive MGoBlogger or the broad UM fan base, it's got undeniable mass appeal.
3. BRIAN'S AVATAR
Final Score: 4.02
Another late addition to the contest, this was the last design I did, after someone suggested it on an earlier entry. Modeled directly from Brian's own screen icon on the Blog, this shirt also raised suspicions of possible Imperial entanglements, and in fact WAS red-flagged and pulled for use of the Block M. You can't blame us here-- it's a Michigan web site and we're smart enough not to bite that hand. You'll notice the design has been tweaked from its original, now using a sans-serif and less exclusive "M" in the background of the design. We're officially good to go.
4. THE WOODSON
Final Score: 3.50
Charles Woodson, the man who put the swagger back into Michigan. I really enjoyed creating this shirt as well, and tried to let the design speak for itself. There were debates about this one as well, concerning the off-center alignment, the shadow of the Heisman, the silhouette of Woodson, etc. But make no mistake-- people were talking, and the shirt was well-received. (Dude, you really can't see the Heisman here??)
So we've made it to the Downtown Athetlic Club and we have our final contest finalists. Voting will start now and will remain open for the entire weekend, with a final post announcing the winner on Monday. Gentlemen, it's time to vote:
|pollcode.com free polls|
|WHAT DESIGN SHOULD WIN THE 2009 MGOSHIRT ALERT?|
|"MASCOTS" "THE DESMOND" "BRIAN'S AVATAR" "THE WOODSON"|
For the sake of authenticity, I thought you all might enjoy seeing how the rest of the shirts stacked up. Final scoring beneath the four finalists, ranked from highest to lowest, are as follows:
SCORE, followed by DESIGN
3.47 - SHIRT 11 – THE RETRO (Great news, sis!)
3.20 - SHIRT 01 – THE FORCIER
3.08 - SHIRT 05 – OL’ 98
2.84 - SHIRT 10 – THE NEW NEW MATH
2.82 - SHIRT 02 – SLOT NINJA
2.82 - SHIRT 04 – FAT CHARLIE
2.72 - SHIRT 09 – FORCIER/TACOPANTS
2.67 - SHIRT 13 – CHE ROD
2.20 - SHIRT 06 – QUIERO TACOPANTS
2.05 - SHIRT 08 – BARWIS HELL
2.01 - SHIRT 03 – THE PACK/THE WOLF
There you have it, people. I would like to again thank everyone for taking part, for sharing their thoughts and reactions, for the kind words and appreciation, and for just helping build up anticipation day in and day out. And I'll see you Monday when we unveil the final winner of-- THE 2009 MGOSHIRT ALERT!
A prediction on the 2009 season using a solid and proven mathematical model*
I believe that the two things in college football that will most dictate how many games you win are your quarterback and your schedule. There has been much written about the quarterback situation and I can’t add anything to that. I have seen little if anything, however, that focuses on the schedule.
Considering that Michigan plays 8 of 12 games, including the first four, at home, the schedule is as bad as it can be. If you break the games into three categories, likely win, tossup, and likely loss - 3 of the four tossup games are on the road where a team with a freshman quarterback is not as likely to do as well.
I grabbed as many polls as I could find (the ones that rank all 120 teams)**, recorded the rankings for Michigan and their opponents, dropped the high and low ranks, and averaged them.
There are several truisms concerning forecasts. One is that they are always wrong and the other is that when you aggregate forecasts the result is more accurate than the individual ones. Ask 100 people to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar and the average of all the guesses will be better than 90% of the individual guesses. Consolidate a bunch of moronic preseason college football polls and just maybe the result is something approximating intelligence.
Only the Sagarin poll ranked Delaware and he had them at 116 so I just used that as it seemed about right. I figured they wouldn’t be the worst team in division 1 but probably close to it.
I then created a simple model, starting every game as a 55-45 proposition in favor of the home team. I added/subtracted a point based on the difference in ranking, so a home team ranked #20 would be given a 75% chance of beating a team ranked #40 (55 + (40-20)). Given upsets in recent years, I topped it out at a 95% chance of winning or losing.
In the polls i used Michigan was ranked as follows; 35, 38, 41, 46, 47, 53, 55, 63, 77. Dropping the high and low the average is 49. The opponents average rankings are***:
WMU 73, ND 28, EMU 113, IU 91, MSU 29, Iowa 23
Del 116, PSU 11, Illinois 39, Purdue 76, Wisconsin 42, OSU 8
Based on those numbers here is a breakdown of what my simple model produces as an estimate of Michigan’s chances to win each of the games on their schedule.
WMU .79 likely win
ND .34 tossup
EMU .95 likely win
IU .95 likely win
MSU .25 tossup
Iowa .19 likely loss
Del .95 likely win
PSU .17 likely loss
Illiinois .34 tossup
Purduw .82 likely win
Wisc .38 tossup
OSU .14 likely loss
Total expected wins = 6.28 (sum of all percentages)
For this exercise I consider a likely win one of 75% or greater, tossup 25-75%, and likely loss less than 25%.
There are five likely wins (all at home), three likely losses (two at home), and four tossups (one at home). I would feel much better if the Big Ten Schedule was reversed, giving Michigan their road games at home and their home games on the road. Michigan would still likely win at PU and IU. Still likely lose at PSU and OSU, but have a better chance of splitting ILL/Iowa/Wis/MSU and ending with 7 or 8 wins. Michigan has to win one of the tossup games to get to the 6 wins my model predicts, and they will likely be the underdog in all of them.
The first two games should tell us everything we need to know. If M starts out 2-0 then an 8 or 9 win season becomes possible as the Illinois and Wisconsin games would look much more favorable. A 1-1 start points to 5 or 6 wins as it means we have lost our first tossup game and our ranking around 50 is probably correct. 0-2 means a season of 3 or 4 wins is coming as we have dropped one of our 5 likely wins and all the tossups start looking like losses.
The silver lining? Next year our quarterbacks will have a year of experience, and the Big Ten schedule is reversed, giving Michigan 2 winnable road games at Purdue and IU and 7 very winnable home games, leading to hopefully a 9+ win season. If Michigan can go from 3 to 9 wins over RRs first 3 seasons I would be pretty happy. Of course having lived through a two year quarterback battle between Demetrius Brown**** and Michael Taylor my happiness level may differ from your own.
Fast forward to 2012 when our quarterbacks are seniors and every player on the team is a RR recruit and…well…let’s not go there just yet. Last time I did that was in 2004. Looking ahead to 2007 when Henne and Hart would be seniors and Michigan would be in the BCS Championship Game….
*Model used was neither solid nor proven.
**the usual suspects, SI, Athlon, Sagarin, Rivals, Lindy’s, Sporting news, etc.
***If you are interested OSU (ranking range #5-#10) and PSU (range of #7-#15) had the closest consensus across the polls. The widest range of rankings fell to Illinois (ranked as high as #17 and as low as #63) and WMU (#34-#89).
****Demetrius Brown is awesome