go go go
The last couple items I covered before heading out into the holiday season hell for leather were Jay Hopson's departure and some happy vibes going down in the recruitment of CA S Sean Parker. I popped by head back up to post a UV last week. Other than that, I've been silent.
So. Things! That are wringing the life out of me!
Hockey is killing me. I was in Chicago for the opening night of the GLI and the thing wasn't on TV and that turned out to be a fantastic thing for yrs truly because Michigan outshot RPI 46-13(!!!) and lost 4-3. If I had actually seen that transpire I would have died. My spleen would have burst out of my stomach and ran for Mexico trailing intestine and whatnot behind it, and I would have looked down in horror at what was going down only to find it considerably more pleasant than the on-ice action. This apparently happened:
With Michigan trailing by only one goal, Hogan looked like he had a routine save to his glove side that most likely would have left the Wolverines down just one heading into the final period.
But when the puck slipped off of Hogan’s glove and into the net, Berenson made the only decision he could to save his team’s chance at a third-straight GLI Championship.
Michigan managed to rebound the next night and beat an atrocious Michigan Tech team to split the weekend but the RPI loss is the just about the last dagger in Michigan's at-large tourney hopes. Losing to a bleah ECAC team is bad enough—it will kill Michigan's record against common opponents, a Pairwise* factor, against good ECAC teams like Yale that play limited nonconference schedules—but as a special bonus Michigan missed the opportunity to play a good Michigan State team and instead got Tech, #49 of 58 in RPI and 3-16 on the season.
Michigan is now 29th in RPI, down a spot from before the GLI. Sioux Sports shows that if Michigan wins 14 of its remaining 17 games they'd end up somewhere around 10th to 13th in RPI. Upshot: if they managed to do that they'd likely be on the good side of the bubble when conference tournaments rolled around and would have a fighting chance at picking up an at-large bid if they make the Joe and split there.
So… no problem. Just win at an 82% clip when you're at 50% on the season, can't score no matter how many shots you take, and just saw your goalie pulled for a smurfy walk-on who gave up a soft game-losing goal in the four shots he faced.
A more realistic goal is to scrape into fourth place in the CCHA to get a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs and hope to win them. Short of a time machine that drops sophomore year Al Montoya, Mike Comrie, and Jack Johnson onto the roster, Michigan can't get to the tournament in any other way.
*(The way the hockey tournament is selected is something else called the Pairwise. It compares the top 25 teams in RPI against each other in various categories—RPI, record against common opponents, record against teams under consideration, and head to head. At this point the PWR is so heavily based on RPI that with a few exceptions teams will be within one or two spots of their RPI rank at season's end.)
Basketball: also killing me. So they actually beat Ohio State the other day in a testament to the power of home court in the Big Ten, but AnnArbor.com theorizes that "a confident Michigan basketball team inspires expectations again" and I think they're nuts.
I might have this conversation on WTKA again this afternoon, but a week in which you split against meh Big Ten teams—and Ohio State is meh without Evan Turner—is not making progress towards your goals. Unlike last year, when a strong nonconference run put M in a spot where all they had to do was hold serve, this team has to cut a fiery swath through the Big Ten if they want a bid. Losing to the second-worst team in the Big Ten according to Kenpom is not exactly doing that.
It is nice to win something against Ohio State, though. Or anyone at all, in anything.
Ekpe Udoh: yes, killing me. Udoh is the Ryan Mallett of Michigan basketball. He's 7th in the nation in blocks and Baylor's most-used player (82% of available minutes) on an 11-1 team that's beaten Xavier, Arizona State, and South Carolina. He transferred because a new coach came in and he didn't like his style, leaving Michigan utterly deficient at something important (passing, interior defense) and being touted as a potential first-round pick.
Assistant coach search: not killing me. Stealth mode. I haven't heard or read one word about who Michigan is looking at to replace the departed Hopson, whether it's in the newspaper or a premium message board or my inbox. Michigan might be busy recruiting or, you know, having a "holiday" with the weird people who live with the coaches and insist that something other than football is an "activity" that can be "undertaken." It'll be interesting to see who gets picked up, and it looks like the announcement is going to be of the variety where Some Guy gets picked up and I scramble to google him to find out who he is.
Michigan 73, Ohio State 64. Michigan 7-6 (1-1 Big Ten)
Michigan's schizophrenic season took yet another turn tonight as the Wolverines knocked off the #15 Ohio State Buckeyes in Crisler Arena. The Buckeyes' Jon Diebler started the game hot, and it seemed like we were doomed to watch yet another opponent shoot out the lights. However, it was Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims who stole the show. Michigan's big two scored 52 of their team's 73 points, with Manny adding 5 assists and Peedi pulling down 9 boards. Freshman shooting guard Matt Vogrich also led the team in offensive rebounding(!) and had a key block in the paint(!!).
Michigan isn't in any position to look at this as just another win, but perhaps the upset isn't as big as it seems. Despite Michigan's early-season woes and Ohio State's lofty ranking, the Buckeyes were actually an underdog according to Vegas. Michigan's inconsistencies from game to game have obscured how good the Wolverines actually are, and the low points will have to be smoothed out if there's to be any expectation of a postseason visit.
For now, it's nice to be able to bask in the glow of victory for a change, especially when that victory comes over the Buckeyes.
- Man, Crisler was rocking in the second half. That's easily the loudest I've heard it since the Duke game last year. Me likey. The sound system was busted, however.
- LLP was very quiet. I guess it doesn't matter since Manny and DeShawn were basically all the offense the team needed for a win, but to continue winning games, Laval needs to contribute.
- No sign of Jordan Morgan or Blake McLimans. I guess they'll continue on a redshirt track, despite the losses of Eric Puls and Ben Cronin.
- Manny was much more authoritative on his drives today. He was willing to go to his left, which he hasn't done much this year. He also had a thunderous dunk that brought the house down.
- Vogrich moved positions, he's now backing up Manny Harris at the 3 guard spot.
- To slow down Diebler during his hot start, Beilein had Stu Douglass guard him. I wouldn't have thought of Stu as a big defensive stopper, but that just goes to show what I know.
- Maybe Michigan was hesitant to start their New Year Run before the calendar changed...
"It only takes one game to start your momentum rolling." DeShawn Sims.
"It was just an overall good effort by the whole team. I was the recipient of a lot of passes from a lot of people today, and that's pretty much what got us ahead today." DeShawn Sims, on his offensive output.
"I don't know what it is, we're just getting down to the basics a little bit." Stu Douglas, on the team's overall effort.
"I was just trying to be a spark... It's Ohio State, so it's hard not to bring energy in this game... Everybody probably thinks I'm 7-foot if they just look at my stats in this game." Matt Vogrich, on his surprising performance.
"Coach has really been stressing that to me... that defense is gonna win games. Right now, that's what my focus is." Darius Morris.
"It's Michigan-Ohio State. That's one of the reasons you come to Michigan, to play Ohio State." Zack Novak.
"I wish we'd shown some of that patience at Indiana and Kansas." John Beilein, on the team running its offense.
"Both are terrific basketball players... We weren't able to them at the times that we needed to." Ohio State coach Thad Matta, on Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
"It's Big Ten play. You've got 9 at home, and you've gotta take care of your home court." Thad Matta.
Indiana 71 Michigan 65, Michigan 6-6 (0-1 Big Ten)
The Indiana game was the type of contest that makes me not want to even think about Michigan basketball for a couple days, so I did just that. It happened pretty much the way I expected, except a close game at the end broke the way of the Hoosiers, not in favor of Michigan. The Wolverines have still only won 1 game away from home this season, and the 6-6 record means Michigan is almost certain to miss the NCAA tournament, and will struggle to even make the NIT.
Michigan got in foul trouble too early, and was unable to get into a rhythm. DeShawn Sims and Zack Novak both fouled out, and Manny Harris was limited in the first half with foul trouble (though he did manage 30 total minutes in the game). Indiana was allowed to shot the ball very well, and Michigan's defense seemed to regress since the encouraging contest against Kansas.
On the bright side, Zack Novak was able to knock down a couple threes, as was Stu Douglass. Novak started the game on fire then went 1/6 the rest of the way, but seeing the ball go in the hoop at all will aid his confidence. Other than that, it's probably best to forget about this game.
Part 2: The Essentials
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ohio State|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
January 3rd, 2009
|THE LINE||Michigan -2(!!!!)*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The Buckeyes, like Indiana before them, face Michigan without their best player. Evan Turner is scheduled to return from fractured vertebrae in just a few days, but isn't expected to play tomorrow. The Buckeyes enter this game coming off a shellacking at the hands of Wisconsin on Thursday, only their second loss since Turner went down.
Leading the way in Turner's absence are William Buford, who is the assist leader, David Lighty, who is the best defender, and big outside sniper Jon Diebler, one of the nation's leaders in shooting, with an effective field goal percentage of 66.7%. The Buckeyes don't have one huge guy to scare Michigan fans about size, but they are big at every position. PJ Hill at 6-1 and Jeremie Simmons at 6-2 are the only Buckeyes in heavy rotation under 6-5.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy. Also, you'd better hide the women and children before they catch a glimpse of this chart.
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Ohio State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||226||60||OO|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||216||3||OOO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||4||50||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||56||30||O|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||256||70||OO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||244||259||M|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||321||23||OOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||25||148||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||101||36||O|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||103||30||O|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
HAHA WE WON'T FOUL YOU AND ARE TOTALLY GOING TO WIN. Ohio State has advantages in a vast majority of categories, including the two big boys of overall efficiency. Michigan will have to play well above their season-average level of play in order to get a win. A defensive effort like the one they put in against Kansas will have to be combined with one of the best shooting performances of the year for Michigan to win, unless something bizarre happens.
The Buckeyes can shoot better, defend opponents' shots better, rebound better, and keep opponents of the foul line very well. Unless the Wisconsin game was evidence that they can't compete against similarly-talented competition without Turner (the only teams they beat without him were Presbyterian, Delaware State, and Cleveland State), Michigan is probably in for a tough, tough game.
This looks like one that the Buckeyes lead by single-digit margins almost throughout, and then pull away at the end. If Michigan wants to come away with the victory, keeping the deficit manageable is their best bet.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Indiana|
December 31st, 2009
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The Wolverines took a couple hits yesterday, with Ben Cronin being ruled out at least for the rest of the season, and assistant coach Jerry Dunn taking an indefinite leave of absence from the squad. The Cronin news doesn't have a tangible effect on the team, but both pieces of bad news together can be a downer for the players.
The Wolverines are going to be stuck playing somewhat small for the rest of the year, though that problem can be eased by potentially removing a redshirt from Jordan Morgan or Blake McLimans. It remains to be seen whether either of those will happen.
If the Wolverines are entering this game on a downer, the Hoosiers might not be in a much better emotional situation, losing one of their key players, freshman forward Maurice Creek, for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Taking that news in tandem with an interesting comparison from The Crimson Quarry:
Indiana stands at 5-5 and must win two non-conference home games to enter Big Ten play with a winning record. I hate to mention it, but it was at this point last season where the wheels came off.
Shortly after that post, Indiana feel to Loyola Maryland, a middle-of-the-pack MAAC team. Is it 2009 redux for IU? They'd better hope not, but the trend is downward. Indiana has since beaten down Bryant University, but they lost Creek in that game.
Indiana has a chance to head sharply in one direction or another, and Michigan needs to capitalize and make sure the trend starts going downward.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Indiana: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Indiana Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. IU Def eFG%||227||67||II|
|Mich Def eFG% v. IU eFG%||212||152||I|
|Mich TO% v. IU Def TO%||3||43||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. IU TO%||26||224||MM|
|Mich OReb% v. IU DReb%||257||217||I|
|Mich DReb% v. IU OReb%||276||95||II|
|Mich FTR v. IU Opp FTR||319||257||I|
|Mich Opp FTR v. IU FTR||10||44||M|
|Mich AdjO v. IU AdjD||130||124||-|
|Mich AdjD v. IU AdjO||93||158||M|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
This is one of the closest matchups MIchigan has had all year. The overall advantage in 4 factors goes to Indiana, with 3 more advantage letters, though Michigan is dangerously close to a third letter of advantage in forcing turnovers. In Overall efficiency, it's a dead heat when Michigan has the ball, and they have a slight advantage on defense.
Indiana's gameplan has to completely change without Creek, as he was one of the most important Hoosiers. He led the team in offensive rating and % of shots taken, as well as being the best shooter and ball-handler. Losing him will be bad. Verdell Jones, Jeremiah Rivers, and Christian Watford will have to step up their games.
Michigan has the slight advantage even before removing Creek from the opposing squad, so they should be able to control the game at times. They won't rebound as well as the Hoosiers do, but without Indiana's best player in holding onto the ball, there's a chance it's turnover city. If Michigan can avoid fouling the Hoosiers, they should be able to keep them from scoring too much.
This game looks like one that swings momentum wildly from team to team, but with the early tipoff for a weak IU team, homecourt advantage might not play as big a role as it usually is. Not only is IU losing their best player, but this is also their first game without him, so they'll have to figure out what exactly they're going to do in his absence. This should be a close game down to the end, but Michigan should pull out a single-digit victory on the road.
Dylan previews IU, and has a conversation about the game with Inside the Hall, an IU basketball blog. Mike Rothstein of AnnArbor.com talk about this game being an opportunity for a strong start to Big Ten season.
Michigan fans hoping for the ability to play with more size later this year will have to hold tight for another year, and Ben Cronin fans are out in the cold, as he may never play college ball again:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball coach John Beilein announced today (Tuesday, Dec. 29), redshirt-freshman center Ben Cronin (Syracuse, N.Y./Hemminger HS) will miss the remainder of the 2009-10 season, and more than likely the remainder of his career, as he continues his rehabilitation on his left hip.
"Above all, our chief concern has always been for Ben's current and future health," said Beilein. "Following his hip surgery last season, we were hopeful that Ben would be able to return for this season.
"Unfortunately, there have been complications with this particular injury which have prevented him from progressing like we had hoped. Consequently, Ben will not play the rest of this season, and more than likely for the remainder of his career. This is a very difficult decision that has everything to do with the quality of Ben’s life after basketball.
"Obviously this was not an easy decision to make, but we agree with our doctor's assessment that Ben's chances for a full recovery and to play a full time college basketball schedule are slim. He will remain on scholarship and we will continue to support his rehabilitation and pursuits of becoming a teacher and coach."
"This has been a long process for my family and me, however, after meeting with our doctors I feel it is best for my long term health to focus on my hip rehabilitation and stop playing college basketball,” said Cronin. "I really appreciated basketball and I will miss it like crazy, but my faith will help me get through this. I continue to have wonderful experiences here at the University of Michigan and I am truly grateful for all the guidance and opportunities given to me. I am looking forward to continuing my rehab, having the opportunity to finish my degree and helping this program in any way that I can."
Cronin missed the majority of the 2008-09 season following season-ending surgery on his left hip, Jan. 14, 2009, at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Following his summer rehabilitation and being granted back his freshman eligibility from the NCAA, Cronin returned this season, but has been limited in his playing time due to the hip injury.
Overall, Cronin played in seven career games at U-M averaging 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds.
Career-ending would be very bad news for Cronin, as well as the team. The silver lining is that it would open up an additional scholarship in the 2010 or 2011 class, with which Michigan would most likely offer a big man. Amir Williams out of Country Day is a big prospect in the '11 class, but it remains to be seen if Michigan can even wait that long.
Might we see the redshirts of Blake McLimans and/or Jordan Morgan be burned later in the year?
Apologies for the lack of posts over the weekend. My internet situation was... non-existent. There should be a good number of posts this week, and Brian returns tomorrow.
The Michigan men's hoops team has struggled to start the 2009-10 season; that's no secret. Entering conference play at 6-5 is no way to ensure an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. While some analysts, including ESPN's Jay Bilas, have said that the Wolverines still have a chance at the tourney, they have a long and tough road ahead of them. The Wolverines will have to have a good season in the Big Ten in order to land a second-straight bid to the Big Dance.
A strong start to 2010 would certainly help grease the wheels for a Wolverine run to the top half of the Big Ten Conference. Fortunately, it looks like such a run may be in the cards, as Michigan gets a relatively soft slate to start the new year.
Dec. 31 @Indiana
The first year of the Tom Crean era in Bloomington was a horrorshow for the Hoosiers, as they easily finished in last place in the Big Ten. Year 2 was supposed to go much better, as Crean picked up such novelties as "scholarship players" for his squad. However, after a decent start, the Hoosiers have struggled, dropping a game to Loyola Maryland last week. Michigan needs to steal a couple road games in the Big Ten, and heading on the road to play one of the worst teams in the conference can spark a run.
January 3 Ohio State
The Buckeyes started the year as one of the favorites to take home the Big Ten crown. They've still had some success in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but going may be a bit tougher in the league - especially since they'll be without their star player, Evan Turner, for the first few games. Michigan is lucky to get the Buckeyes before Turner returns from some fractured vertebrae. Stealing one from a team that should still make the NCAA tournament would be a huge resume-booster.
January 7 @Penn State
The Nittany Lions were a bubble team last year, and although they just missed out on the NCAA tournament, they still did the conference proud by winning the NIT (We are! Number sixty-five!). This year, they're struggling without the likes of Stanley Pringle and Jamele Cornley. Talor Battle is still capable of winning games all by himself, but if the Michigan defense is as improved as it looked against Kansas, Michigan may just be able to steal a second road game to start conference play.
January 10 Northwestern
Northwestern came into the season looking to clinch their first ever(!) NCAA tournament berth. Things looked grim when their best player, Kevin Coble, was ruled out for the season, along with fellow star Jeff Ryan. The Wildcats were not deterred, however, starting their season 10-1, determined to make the tournament despite the personnel losses. Although they've run out to one of the best starts in Northwestern hoops history, they haven't done it against the toughest of schedules, and Michigan should be able to slow down the Wildcats in Crisler.
January 14 Indiana
The Wolverines face off against Indiana for the second time in 15 days as Martin Luther King weekend kicks off. The game in Bloomington should tell us a lot about how this one will go. Without looking up the evidence, MIchigan seemed to play much better against teams when facing them for the second time last season, a testament to John Beilein's coaching ability. As long as the Wolverines come to play, this game should result in a 2-0 mark against the Hoosiers on the year.
Non-conference Interlude: January 17 Connecticut
After the chance to (hopefully) build up some confidence, Michigan hosts the always-tough UConn Huskies. The Wolverines hung with Jim Calhoun's squad last year, and Hasheem Thabeet ain't walkin' through that door this time. This will be Michigan's final chance to make a statement in the non-conference schedule, so don't expect them to sleepwalk through the first 30 minutes like they did against Boston College. UConn will be a tough test, but a winnable game.
After UConn, the slate gets considerably tougher for Michigan. back-to-back road trips to Madison and West Lafayette will force Michigan to get right back into the mindset of winning tough non-conference games. These aren't impossible games, either, but they're much tougher than the start to conference play. Building up a 5-0 cushion will not only guarantee a better conference record, but hopefully also build the confidence necessary to pull a road upset.