landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
blog policy is to always have a picture
no this is not relevant
Commit watch. Seriously. For what it's worth, David Dawson says [protected] we're on commit watch, and then says "seriously." If that actually transpires it would have to be LaQuon Treadwell—Michigan doesn't have anyone else on the board who has been making noises about committing before official visits happen. Treadwell, meanwhile, flirted with pulling the trigger at the Opening and told various people Michigan had a big edge but also just announced he was going to visit Oklahoma State.
I'm betting false alarm, but hey there you go.
[UPDATE: Ace suggests that it may be a 2014 guy, which makes more sense.]
Zak Irvin exploding. There is some disagreement in the scouting community about just how good Zak Irvin is—Scout has him a three-star outside of their top 100 while the other two services rank him around #60. That gap may be getting wider as Scout has seemingly no inclination to change that opinion and ESPN guys are writing stuff like this($) after catching him at the Adidas Invitational:
He is starting to separate himself from everybody else and may be the best overall player at the adidas Invitational. He is an aggressive scorer with a high skill level and excellent athletic ability. He has terrific size for a small forward and consistently knocked down 3-pointers on the break or coming off screening action in the half-court set. He can also get all the way to rim with his drive or find an open teammate. Overall, Michigan landed itself a player who competes hard and can fill up the stat sheet.
That's high praise at a major event—the next guy that writeup mentions is five-star SG Isaac Hamilton.
On whether he has a top group:
“I don’t have an (order). It’s just all of them.”
On a time table for making a decision:
“I don’t [have a time table]. Me and my dad were thinking about talking about it when the summer’s over and first we’re going to cut down the schools, and see where we go from there.”
Michigan and Missouri are probably his top two with Michigan State lurking—a scheduled visit had to be re-scheduled due to Izzo unavailability.
Nine games again? With the Pac-12 agreement dead everyone's head goes back to what they were going to do in the first place:
"You know, if we hadn’t done the collaboration, we’d do nine," Delany said of the Big Ten's league slate. "If we do the collaboration, we’ll do eight. So, we’re able to attract a higher quality of game. We’re not expanding the number of games, we’ll still play 12.
"The question is, are you gonna play eight quality conference games and assure there’s a ninth quality game in the mix, one way or the other? ... The idea was to upgrade the quality of the schedules, either through nine or through the collaboration.”
I'm guessing everyone outside of the Purdue/Northwestern/Other Teams For Whom Bowl Eligibility Is A Big Deal athletic departments is in favor of expanding the conference schedule again, and even teams who frequently find themselves on the bowl eligibility bubble seem to be less desperate for their minor prestige these days. Unfortunately, I can't find it anymore but there was an article in which Northwestern said they were in favor of moving the bowl eligibility line to 7-5.
If you don't care about getting to your very-likely-unprofitable bowl game when you''re not that good, then it's just a matter of figuring out what's more likely to sell tickets: a Big Ten game or the #3 nonconference game you can scrounge up.
Downing rising. Recently named an "A" prospect by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau, 2013 D commit Michael Downing gets a full profile at College Hockey Perspective:
On his style of play:
”I am an offensive defensmen who loves to rush the puck and create scoring chances. At the same time, I know when to join a play and when not to join a play. My biggest key factor is that I’m very solid defensively and I would dive face first to block a shot because one goal could make a difference in a game. The most important part to my game is keeping the puck out of our net. I play exactly the same as Niklas Krownwall (of the Detroit Red Wings). I love to throw big hits. I’m solid defensively and I am a humble leader.”
Downing is a bit of an oddity in that he does not play for the NTDP team but has participated in a number of international tourneys that the NTDP forms the core of the team for. For what it's worth, OHL piracy seems a distant possibility…
On his commitment to play college hockey at Michigan:
“I committed to Michigan for several reasons. The two main reasons are that it’s every parents’ dream to see their kid play college hockey and, more importantly, in your home state. The other reason is that I’ve been in love with the school since I was four. When you know, you know, and I just fell in love. Playing at Yost (Ice Arena) is just a dream come true because there are so many historic moments there. I honestly just can’t wait to be a Wolverine.
…but I say that about everyone. If Connor Carrick can end up at Plymouth anyone can.
Etc.: TOC starts writing guest columns for the Free Press. I was intrigued to see Piston Powered-authored columns pop up in my news feed at the same thing. Filed under cost-saving measures.
BSD defends Penn State from the torrent of outrage. Trey Burke declares M a national title contender. Erik Bakich adds the state's Mr. Baseball to kick off his recruiting. Economists are bad at statistics, but the Felix Salmon thing doesn't really prove it. Maize and Blue Nation looks back at five years on the internet.
RIP Charles Drake. I was on the road when news of Charles Drake's untimely death hit the internet. Drake was one of a legion of mid-90s players brought in at running back who eventually found their way to the field at another position. If Ian Gold was the most prominent, Drake was second, moving to free safety after finding running back crowded.
Free safeties who aren't once-in-a-generation good are kind of like longsnappers in that you're usually not happy when their name is splashed across your television. In the safety's case it means they're chasing someone else. The lack of a visceral "oh, THAT play" emotion when his name comes up speaks well to his play. He was a low-event guy in an era when safeties often weren't. Condolences to his family and teammates.
Holdin' The Rope has a perspective piece worth your time.
In other sunny news. ESPN reports that this consulting firm Penn State has hired is "expected to be tough on" one Joe Paterno:
"Much of the focus will be on the culture of the football program, with findings that go back more than a decade," said a Penn State official briefed on the inquiry, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It's going to be very tough on Joe (Paterno)."
The long-awaited report, compiled by Freeh Group International Solutions, the consulting firm led by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, is the culmination of an eight-month investigation that examined whether university policies and culture were contributing factors to a lack of reports and action about abuse that occurred on campus. Investigators interviewed more than 400 people, including Penn State administrators, faculty members, trustees and former coaches, players and staff from Penn State's football team.
At this point it would be more of a surprise to find out that Paterno would come out of things looking okay. In retrospect that mid-aughts run of arrests that Paterno had little control over and seemed disinclined to care about seems symptomatic of the greater attitude that led to the decade-long Sandusky cover-up. History will not treat the "Grand Experiment" well.
Square hats and blasphemy. Jalen Rose, on the left, in his younger years:
Rose should show up in a Michigan-themed version something similar the next time he's on ESPN. I would pay a dollar for that.
Probably the final number. The number of current or former Michigan athletes who will be competing in the London Olympics: 18. And then there's Michael Phelps, who may not have actually attended Michigan but it something of an Ann Arbor institution if you've ever been in one of the diners he shoveled calories into himself at.
Points for sentiment. Not so much execution. From a reader, here is a tattoo:
This is not quite up to Lamarr Woodley standards.
The new guy. The News interviews Erik Bakich, Michigan's new baseball coach. There's not much that's not boilerplate, but I liked this:
When you're building a program based on pitching you need to have strong frontline pitching.
We'll see how it works out. Bakich has a thin track record but did relatively well at a tough place to win, is young, and has recruited well both as a head coach and an assistant. It's a reality check as to where Michigan's program stands.
Keith Jackson. The 1985 South Carolina game featured Jamie Morris hammering the Gamecocks and SC's "wide open, gambling offense" scoring three points:
Chesson hype: incremented. Sam Webb reports that Jehu Cheson ran a 4.4 40 at Michigan offseason workouts. If fast, will be intimidating.
CEASE PANIC. Our annual Cass Tech Commit Considers Taking Visits But Decides Not To After Panicking The Internet event has transpired:
Michigan football commit David Dawson turned some heads Friday when his plans to camp at Florida were revealed.
A day later, the trip is no more.
After speaking to Michigan coaches, the Detroit Cass Tech offensive lineman -- ranked by ESPN as the country's top guard -- no longer will attend the Gators' Friday Night Lights camp, according to GoBlueWolverine.com's Sam Webb.
Twitter warriors can stand down. Those inspirational quotes about loyalty can be re-directed to your significant others. I've found that condescending public tweets are what make a relationship go in this modern age of ours.
Extremely important abbreviation UPDATE! If you see "FINAO" on a football recruit's twitter, it stands for "failure is not an option." Thus sayeth Heiko in an act of investigative journalism unparalleled in the history of the site. You may all resume your day to day lives.
This is a man to have a drink with. Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson proposed a four-league, 33-team superconference combining CUSA, the Sun Belt, the WAC, and Mountain West. The slide on which this proposal was tendered was labeled "Makes Too Much Sense." Someone should get Karl Benson drunk and have him opine on the other conference commissioners.
Next year's defection worries. A couple of Michigan's 2013 hockey commits made the "A-list" of big time prospects the CSB puts out around this time every year. C JT Compher (expected) and D Michael Downing (maybe a bit of a surprise) are two of the five college-bound guys on that list. That generally means they're expected to go in the first couple rounds.
Big Ten hockey expansion: seeking 100 million or bust. New PSU coach Guy Gadowsky was interviewed by The Pipeline show and PSU hockey blog Thank You Terry transcribed interesting bits. From the non-PSU perspective, this is the most interesting bit:
Speaking of the Big Ten...
"I know for sure there’s been three other Big Ten schools that have contacted our administration and are very curious as to how [the transition to NCAA hockey] happened and what they needed to do. The reality is that the prerequisite to that is that you get a Mr. Pegula or Pegula family that’s going to give 100-odd million dollars. Those guys aren’t hanging off trees. So that’s the prerequisite and that’s hard to find. But I do think there’s a lot of interest – if they can get it done, I know there are Big Ten schools that would love to be a part of it."
Don't expect the Big Ten to get up to eight teams unless magic fairies with money bags descend on the right schools.
Etc.: Ace will no doubt cover LaQuon Treadwell's not-quite-itchy-enough trigger finger extensively in Tuesday Recruitin', but what you need to know now is he didn't commit and now plans to do so on a "random day($)," probably by rolling a d100 until it comes up 1. Yes, highly touted receivers have d100s. Loads of them.
Alex Anzalone has decided to avoid creeper-associated universities and will go to Notre Dame. Beilein is not calling recruits at midnight. Burke and Hardaway are among the 20 players at the Lebron Skills Academy.
Staying for a while. Helmet numbers are around until someone gets tired of them again if correspondence sent to Shane Morris is any indication:
I like them so much better when they're the same color as the rest of the helmet. Let's work on that, kids. Also someone send one of these to Treadwell with a #1 on it.
Michigan Replay, 1999. Intro not present, unfortunately. Post PSU win. This was smack in the middle of the We Own Penn State period.
Old, old school. Great article by John Kryk as he catches up with 91-year-old Al Wistert to talk about how his brain's doing and various other things. Wistert is hale and hearty, full of stories:
Wistert said he often did take a pounding; speed can help an undersized tackle avoid only so much contact.
"It was always a problem," he said of his size. "Each guy that I played against outweighed me by 40 or 50 pounds, and that was never easy.
"Playing nine years in the NFL would be a long time in any era. I didn't have a lot of injuries, though. I usually played 60 minutes and didn't come out of the game. But I managed to survive it. I guess I was pretty tough."
Wistert said he doesn't recall there being any protocols, or even concerns, back in the '40s about the effects of hits to the head. He doesn't recall having suffered a concussion, and said he doesn't know of any teammates who were ever kept out of a game for having had, in the parlance of the day, his "bell rung."
"No, I don't remember any serious precautions that they would make about that. So I guess there wasn't any concern about it."
Wistert played both ways for nine years in the NFL at 214 pounds. Different era then. Obviously.
NEVER TALK JIM DELANY. Unless you're telling that story about how you fingerbanged Mark Shapiro. All responses to all questions should be colorful anecdotes about turning his outrage into yearning. That's quality stuff.
It's just the everything else that's an issue:
"I don't have a lot of regard for that team," Delany said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
Who is that team?
"I don't have a lot of regard for that team," he said. "I certainly wouldn't have as much regard for that team as I would for someone who played nine conference games in a tough conference and played a couple out-of-conference games on the road against really good opponents. If a poll doesn't honor those teams and they're conference champions, I do.
He didn't say Alabama. Did he have to? Anyone ever heard of a team not winning its division or its conference but going on to win the national championship?
GODDAMMIT JIM DELANY NOW ALABAMA IS GOING TO SHOW UP IN DALLAS AND TRY TO WIN. OUR WHOLE PLAN WAS THIS: DO NOT MAKE ALABAMA FEEL LIKE THEY SHOULD WIN THIS FOOTBALL GAME. OUR WHOLE PLAN IS NOW: AAAAAAAAIIIIEEEEEE. I SHOULD SHAKE YOU, SCREAMING "GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF" AND YES I KNOW THAT'S IRONIC.
Or maybe this doesn't matter and Alabama was already thinking they should win the game. But probably not.
Potentially useful walk-on? Michigan's acquired a preferred walk-on named Chris Maye from Union City, Michigan. He's a defensive back and he seems pretty fast:
Maye had several opportunities; officially visiting U-M and Michigan State for track, as well as making official visits to U-M, MSU and Army for football. He was the No. 1 track recruit at U-M, but Maye set his sights on playing football, actually turning down track scholarships.
With Brink poised to contribute and Kovacs entering his fourth year as a starter, guys like these are worth keeping an eye on in case they turn out a lot better than expected. Or Dantonio offers them. Whichever comes first.
Slash. Slash is old now, and I wonder if he just has a wig with the hat attached that he puts on when he wants to be Slash and takes off when he just wants to be an old guy in leather pants. Maybe he has to take the leather pants off too.
Anyway: Jay Bilas is sick of watching basketball teams beat up on weak sauce that probably shouldn't even be in D-I and has a radical solution($):
The bottom half of Division I is simply not competitive enough on a consistent basis to justify the bloated size of Division I. If Division I is reduced to a more reasonable size, there would be better games, a better distribution of talent across a smaller pool, and a better and more marketable product.
If Division I shrinks to 120 or 150 teams, the cry that Butler and VCU would be left out is the first one hears. Slow down. Look at the 120 FBS teams on the football side, and then look at the top 150 in the BPI. Teams like Butler (which just bolted the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10) and VCU would be among the 120 to 150 teams that are qualified and committed to a better Division I. It would include plenty of committed and competitive teams, and nobody would miss the early-season games against sacrificial lambs.
Most of the competitive programs would make it above that bar, and Bilas further suggests that top D-II teams—where the bottom 200 teams would end up—could get bids to the NCAA tournament to keep the Cinderella factor high. End result would be much better nonconference scheduling. It's a win for fans.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where John Calipari cancels the IU-Kentucky series because he can't get Tom Crean to move it off of home courts. Fans are about #10,000 on the list of stakeholders. As long as the NCAA is a loose confederation people are going to make eyes at status they can't achieve. There's nothing to be done except make sure you avoid the real dregs so your RPI doesn't suffer.
Answering rhetorical questions. It's my hobby. Here are three masquerading as one:
Zack Novak: The world's smallest, toughest and most self-deprecating power forward?
Smallest: at a major college level, yes. Not for all of D-I thanks to the problem above. Toughest: um… probably not. Most self-deprecating: hell yes. Should have asked "most likely to have a rage fit" as well:
“A great all-around athlete,” Beilein later added, gesturing along the table of 10 honorees at Barton Hills Country Club. “If he had chose wrestling, he’d be sitting next to (wrestling assistant) Sean (Bormet). If he had chosen hockey, a great defenseman, he would have been. (Hockey coach) Red (Berenson), don’t you think so? Knock some people around. (Football coach) Brady (Hoke), a cornerback? One of those other things -- a safety?
“(Golf coach) Chris (Whitten), that’s the one thing I know, he would not be sitting next to you -- unless Happy Gilmore can make a comeback, because every club would be broken by the end of the first round.”
I find it odd that Beilein knows who Happy Gilmore is. This is probably unfair.
It's like Japan, except flat and slippery and less irradiated. That would be Michigan hockey practices this fall. The addition of Andrew Copp, an end-of-the-bench NTDP player who is likely to be Danny Fardig 2.0, gives Michigan 15(!) forwards, 9(!) defensemen, and 4(!) goalies this fall. Some of these guys are deep roster players who aren't getting scholarship money and don't expect to play, but the defense corps is especially jammed now that it appears everyone's back next year.
Michigan brings in two NTDPers who will be drafted, one very high, and these guys who played frequently last year:
Two of those guys are probably going to get scratched every weekend unless Connor Carrick is also in the scratch mixture.
Scoring is the main issue. The cavalry there arrives in 2013. A senior-year blowup from AJ Treais would be most welcome.
Etc.: BYB's Kurt Mensching gets a Detroit News columnist gig. May they replace Rosenberg as effectively. Kyle Bosch will enroll early. The Hoover Street Rag posts its version of Special K for a day. These posts are tempting me to put together a list of the worst possible stadium anthems. Sigur Ros: untoppable?
Gorilla smash. This blog's readership annihilated the annual EDSBS charity fundraiser last year, bringing hope to refugees and a Bo-themed skin to EDSBS. Michigan coasted past #2 Auburn by a full two grand, and lo, we were amply rewarded.
You can take the opportunity to defend your crown by hitting up the 2012 version; this year the winning team also gets an episode of Shutdown Fullback devoted to it ("in a good way!" Orson says) and a "custom essay focused on doing nothing but denigrating the things the winning school finds deplorable."
Just going to leave this screenshot here now.
Yes, that's real. Or at least it is for me. /shakes fist at google personalization
Unfortunately, only round dollar amounts are available this year so you can't punch in your favorite score from a rivalry game unless you want to go big baller… or commemorate the Yakety Sax game with your 38.00.
Note: make sure to leave the school name in the DESIGNATION line, lest your donation not be credited to the glorious university you owe your lives, fortune, and honor to. If you need further hate to motivate you, that guy whose operative theory about why Brady Hoke will fail is "recruits too many NFL-sized offensive linemen who remind me of a guy who didn't work out for OSU" is suggesting that OSU fans should donate to "embarrass Michigan." Also he has not read the instructions closely enough, the bastard.
The last tie. 1992 OSU:
Reinstated. Josh Furman is back and ready to go. Given the way this worked out, couldn't he have been practicing? He and the team would have benefited and… like… it doesn't sound like anything happened except some yelling into a dorm room (and, of course, the heinous crime against Furman's locks).
Somehow this sums up everything perfectly. SBN headline:
College Football Playoffs: Which 2 Bowls Should Be Added To The BCS?
College football? College football.
The plan. Two and out for Trey Burke is the plan:
Dime: Do you plan on leaving school for the NBA if you have another good year next season?
TB: If I have a great season, and we go far, I probably will lean towards coming out. I can’t really speak on that right now, it’s too early. But I definitely will look into it and my coaches will help me look into it because they understand the type of situation I’m in.
It would be nice to get Michigan's hyped freshman point guard a little time to get his feet wet but I'll take it. Derrick Walton's happy about his choice right now.
The limit. It turns out I've got one when it comes to recruiting, and it's one the premium sites, Tremendous and UMHoops are now exploring on a daily basis. If I see a "2014" or even "2015" in front of a kid's name, I am unmoved unless they seem extremely good and likely to end up at M.
A comprehensive list of 2014 football recruits I am interested in hearing about at this juncture: Malik McDowell. Since some of them are ending up at M it is also interesting to figure out how good the next crop of Cass Tech kids is. IL CB Parrker Westphal just got offers from half the Big Ten and is coached by Todd Howard (yes that Todd Howard), so he's getting there. I may be interested in 2014 Mississippi SG Devin Booker, but am not sure yet.
This will change after football players' junior seasons; in basketball it will change when Beilein can fire out offers in June. Right now it's just all so futuristic, man. Like finding an NCAA tournament loss to a major underdog hits only a pile of scar tissue where your heart used to be, I assume this is an effect of being a hockey fan. When Tristin Llewellyn committed he was supposed to be amazing. This did not happen. Need more data before emotions get all emotional.
Under that limit. I am interested to hear how Michigan's 2013 basketball commits are doing during their AAU season. Zak Irvin's play continues to improve:
Zak Irvin (2013, Wing, Eric Gordon All-Stars – Commit)
Zak Irvin is without a doubt one of the better players in his class. His jumpshot is water and when he gets it going from beyond the arc it’s almost impossible to stop him. His long arms make him a terror at the top of the zone on defense. In man-to-man sets, he was easily the best on-ball defender on his team. Irvin’s team is loaded, with two players headed to Indiana, one to Notre Dame and another to Purdue, but when the Eric Gordon All-Stars needed buckets it seemed like Irvin was the primary option. Irvin’s handle is solid and he looked okay running point guard sporadically, though he had a few turnovers. Two areas of his game to watch are his passing ability and rebounding. He made a concerted effort to rebound all weekend and wound up with 12 in the final game of the day on Saturday. He was also able to find his teammates for easy buckets in the post after using his quickness to get by his defender.
Love the idea that Irvin can be a 6'5" shutdown perimeter defender in the mold of a Bernard Robinson Jr. Michigan hasn't had an elite defender since. Also in that post, Mark Donnal gets in a bunch of foul trouble. UMHoops also has an article on Donnal featuring his relationship with Dan Dakich, who happens to be his AAU coach.
You realize this makes you Mubarak, right? Jim Delany:
Delany defended the Rose Bowl and compared the coming changes in college football to the Arab Spring, the revolts that erupted across the Middle East and North Africa last year.
“Not all change is manageable,” Delany said. “You want to control change. You want evolution, not revolution, because you don’t know what the unintended consequences will be.”
As always, Jim Delany should not say things.
Incoming defenders. The United States of Hockey also scouted the USA U18's defense corps, with all three of Michigan's commits turning in good performances. Trouba:
Jacob Trouba — It is plainly clear why Trouba is getting a lot of Top-10 buzz. He can do a little bit of everything. His pro-ready size and strength are going to be attractive to a lot of teams. He also plays with an edge and had several bone-crushing hits in the tournament. What people often forget is that Trouba is a tremendous skater. He has speed, sure, but there’s more to it than that. He’s able to find seems and turn it up ice quickly. Then there’s his cannon from the point. Trouba’s one goal at the tournament came off a stunning one-timer that required video review because it came right off the back bar in the net so quickly. He posted three points total. Knocks on his offensive upside are overblown, I feel. There are clearly many tools at this defenseman’s disposal. He should go early on Day 1. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Connor Carrick — Playing a strong game at both ends of the ice allowed Carrick to have a lot of success. The offensive-minded defenseman posted four points including a pair of goals. Carrick has good speed and some creativity with the puck. He also has pretty good strength along the walls, which makes up for his lack of height. Carrick also has a good feel for when to jump into plays and often makes good decisions when pinching. If Carrick ever got into trouble, he was able to recover with his feet. There should be a few teams that will be looking to pick up Carrick in the later rounds of the Draft. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Continues to sound like a bigger version of Langlais. Carrick's going to be important next year as Michigan tries to get that third pairing solidified, but if Michigan does hold on to all of their incoming defensemen they'll be in good shape.
Rutledge only got one start, a shutout—all games not against Canada were shutouts—in which he "bailed out" his team more than once. Click through for that report.
Etc.: The Solid Verbal features Dan, Ty, and Andy Staples talkin' playoffs. More Staples on playoffs. MVictors has audio of Willie Heston. If Dave Brandon was at FSU. Jerald Robinson's violence against a parking lot gate gets Michigan one point the Fulmer Cup. A second is added for "admiration."
2/10/2012 – Michigan 2, Michigan State 3 – 17-10-4, 11-8-4 Gongshow
2/11/2012 – Michigan 3, Michigan State 2 (OT) – 18-10-4, 12-8-4 Gongshow
Jake Chelios is actually older than his dad. LSJ
Sometime over the weekend one of the announcers mentioned that David Wohlberg and Torey Krug were teammates back when they were little kids and that struck me as odd because Wohlberg is a senior and Krug is a junior. However, a quick birthdate check shows that Krug is only a few months younger than Wohlberg and they could have been on the same teams.
Then you check Chris Heisenberg because one of your buddies asks you if State has anyone coming in next year worth noting and the birthdates leap off the page:
- Michigan: '94, '94, '94, '94, '94, '93, '91
- State: '94, '93, '93, '93, '93, '93, '92, '92, '91 (soph transfer), '90 (almost certainly a walk-on, also a junior transfer)
Michigan's always had a few overage kids scattered around the roster—Langlais and Chiasson are the most recent. Often they're depth guys picked up late when Michigan has a roster hole to fill. That '91 above is goalie Steve Racine, who's being brought in to back up NTDP goalie Jared Rutledge. That's inevitable when the NHL is signing guys every summer and every quality NHL-draft eligible player has been committed to a school for two years.
Michigan State has made them the rule rather than the exception, though. Two of eight underclassmen are the proper year for their class. Two of six juniors are as well. The seniors are the only class that looks vaguely like a team that recruits at a high level: five guys who came to college immediately after receiving a high school degree, four who didn't. The creeping Comleyization is clear.
And yet every game Michigan plays against them is a narrow, stomach-churning affair. This made all the sense in the world when they were coming off a November from hell. It makes less after they've gone on a run that sees them leap to second in the PWR.
Rivalry? I guess. After the Lee/Merritt defections blew up a basketball team it's hard to scoff at all clichés.
The thing about it is: while MSU has played Michigan relatively even this year, that talent distribution has lead to years in which the Spartans are awful alternating with ones in which they're decent. When they're decent they finish a few games back of the champion, make the Joe sometimes, and limp into the tournament as a three seed. Once they managed to spin this into a national title but no one thinks that was anything more than a few near-random games.
So unless there's a galvanizing event like Corey Tropp using Steve Kampfer's head for driving practice, games against State have to compete with those of ten years ago on their own terms. They come up flat most of the time. The best days of this rivalry are so long ago that Michigan State's players can remember them.
I couldn't have done it without your hatred of scoring chances, fun, and America
I miss the days when I loathed Mason's brand of suffocating anti-hockey. It's just not the same when you're beating Torey Krug and a bunch of guys who fondly remember Charles In Charge. When the Big Ten fires up I'll probably switch maximum hatred to Minnesota (because obviously).
The good news is that Heisenberg's page shows Tom Anastos's philosophy. State's got one 2013 commit, an NTDPer, and five 2014 guys. Four of them are '96es. Who knows if they're any good yet, but at least Michigan State is back to recruiting like a team that expects to be elite instead of Southern Northern Michigan.
It will take some time for the Comley geezers to clear the roster, though. We're looking at another five years of Michigan-Michigan State hockey being a cute regional showcase before there's any hope of violent, bowel-shaking clashes. And we're relying on a guy whose first year of coaching is this one. Ask again later.
Bullets that don't understand this newfangled grunge stuff
League status. Ferris State's resounding sweep of Notre Dame (ND's only goal on the weekend came after Ferris took a 5-0 lead Saturday) makes them a heavy favorite. Baseball standings are not super useful anymore but here they are anyway:
|2||Western Michigan||12||9||3||42||63-56||24||1 2/3|
|6||Ohio State||11||10||5||39||73-71||26||3 2/3|
|Northern Michigan||9||9||6||36||62-67||24||3 2/3|
|Notre Dame||11||10||3||36||60-62||24||3 2/3|
|11||Bowling Green||4||16||4||19||34-73||24||9 1/3|
If the Bulldogs take care of BGSU next weekend they've got it in the bag unless Western takes all six points in the final league series. Michigan is fairly secure for a first round bye and a second round home series, but the parity of the league is such that Michigan could play damn near anyone in the second round.
Aside: Ferris is now 20-8-4 and #2 in the PWR rankings. They are in position to turn in the best year in program history, and good for them. Bob Daniels's teams have always played an interesting up-tempo style of hockey and if they had a bastard or two along the way at least they were bastards who scored a ton of goals. (Chris Kunitz most prominently.)
I hope they can find their footing in the rapidly approaching new world order. If Michigan isn't going to continue "so-called rivalries" (Berenson's words) against Miami and Notre Dame they'd better be filling their nonconference schedule with Michigan teams. I'm not up for 14 Atlantic Hockey opponents every year.
Pairwise status. Michigan's weekend was as close to a nonentity as is possible: their RPI hardly budged and their record against teams under consideration got slightly worse. Teams move around them, however, and Michigan slipped. That's because Ferris surged forward after a sweep of a strong opponent and BC won the Beanpot.
The ballpark estimate from a couple weeks ago—that Michigan needed to go 6-2 down the stretch to have a one-seed when the playoffs start—is looking a little shaky at the moment after Denver swept Minnesota. That plus some dumb COP stuff gives them the comparison against Michigan despite a yawning RPI gap; you want them to lose a bunch down the stretch.
Teams you want to lose:
- Ferris State. Comparison is based entirely on RPI and Michigan will win if Ferris slips up down the stretch.
- Denver. Michigan can't do anything but hope Denver loses games against TUCs.
- Alaska. Michigan's only opponent near the TUC cliff. M's 1-1 record against them means they would like to see them drop out.
- Northeastern. See Alaska except M is 0-1 against them.
- BC. Michigan has that comparison at the moment but it's narrow and they'll lose it if BC beats them in RPI.
- Lowell. See BC.
It is still status quo: it will be hard to take comparisons against UMD and BU; everything else is fair game.
Treais. All of the secondary scoring is coming from AJ Treais, and he's doing most of it himself. There was a good cycle to get him a scoring opportunity on Saturday but the rest of it is just Treais taking shots from decent or bad angles and sniping it. Hope he can keep it up.
Lynches. Kevin got two this weekend but I was not surprised when Red said this postgame:
“I can tell you, there were times in the third period I thought about not putting him out in the overtime,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “That line got caught in their own zone and they got in trouble. And I thought, I don’t know if I can trust them in the overtime.
“I know that Kevin’s had a good record against Michigan State. I know he’s had a good record at Joe Louis. They got one shift in overtime, and bingo. So you never know.”
That's officially the fourth line, and it's scary when they get caught out there with the bottom pairing and can't clear the zone. Michigan seemed to carry play when that wasn't happening; that was happening far too often.
At least they scored, something you can't say for…
Nominal third line. I don't get it. They look somewhere from pretty to very dangerous when they're out on the ice but the Hyman-Moffatt-Sparks combo cannot put a puck in the net. Hyman has two goals on the year; Sparks hasn't gotten a point since he returned from the land of healthy scratches, and Moffatt has done a little bit of damage but on the power play IIRC.
But it looks like they will score at some point. Sparks is shoveling passes across the crease with regularity; someone is going to get a stick on one of them and put it into the net. Sparks also rang a post last weekend. It'll come. Maybe.
Rolling lines versus riding your horse. It seemed like Krug and Shelgren got literally every other shift both nights, didn't it? It was certainly a different approach than Red's determination to roll his lines and pairings pretty much evenly even when the back end isn't holding up their part of the bargain. Red has occasionally taken a sixth defenseman out of the equation but it seems like M would benefit from putting the big line out there more frequently.
Site note. Had some issues getting and converting the game this week—my UFR process is byzantine—so UFR will be delayed until Thursday/Friday. It's a bye week, be chill.
Reminder. This is what Michigan wore on Saturday:
I hadn't seen a good shot of the sleeves, which miraculously manage to make the whole ensemble seem even dumber-looking. If you run across a picture from this game in five years you are going to laugh at the clown uniforms like people laugh at that one year a bunch of teams wore stormtrooper shoulders.
The MZone points at a prescient slippery slope prediction and says get used to it. Michigan's the first team to get their Arena League on twice in one year—even the pro combat victims only have to put up with it once.
How does this happen again? There will be a fuller discussion in the UFR of this, but it is absolutely maddening to see MSU time those double-A-gap blitzes with Molk's head going down and never get a check or read in their face. Molk on this:
"They did jump our snap count," Molk said. "They knew us, they knew how we played and how our plays were going to start."
Michigan State's Trenton Robinson originally told The Wolverine on Saturday his team could anticipate Molk's snaps because he bobbed his head down, then back up before he hiked the ball. …
Molk said Michigan recognized this during the game, but could not adjust because of the crowd at Spartan Stadium.
"Making an adjustment came down to our ability to communicate, and with the crowd noise, it sort of covered that," he said. "It puts us into a tough situation, and something we have to react to, and we weren't ready to react. They got us, no doubt."
During the game? They've done this the last three years! For Michigan to have no answer to the instant A-gap blitz into the fourth quarter is a massive, inexplicable coaching failure. Not once did Michigan block that, not once did they bring Molk's head up to reveal the blitz and then check into another play. There was no one in the center of the field for a dozen snaps and Michigan didn't use this at all.
Upside: At least this blows up the halftime adjustments meme. Downside: it's been replaced with the "Michigan State was tougher" meme, which even Molk is repeating. I guess that's the effect of an offseason in which every other word out of Hoke's mouth was "toughness." I'm not seeing it. I'm seeing MSU outcoach Michigan for the fourth straight year. It's not toughness when no one has an angle to block the same linebacker five times.
Boo-boo, line edition. Via a pouty-looking WCBN sports director hanging out in Sweden:
Taylor Lewan limping around campus with a giant boot on his left foot/ankle. Looks uncomfortable.
Somewhere on the coaching film there is evidence Gholston swept the leg. Of this there can be no doubt.
Obligatory Gholston-Dantonio statement. Anyone who's surprised that MSU is ham-fistedly taking a page from the Gene Smith playbook by declaring Saturday's events an "isolated incident" in an attempt to keep a starter on the field hasn't been paying attention. Dantonio's established a pattern. Ending a kid's hockey career with a sucker punch doesn't get you kicked off the team, every year there's a posse of 20 guys getting together to beat up some engineers, etc. etc. etc. This is the way he wants his program. End of story.
Bielema don't care. I've been annoyed with the program's public reaction to the above, possibly because it seems like they're lying through their teeth for better PR. This doesn't make me right, it just makes me annoyed. In contrast, Bret Bielema is a guy who gets his digs in:
"We'll do our talking with our pads and we'll do it between the whistles."
This is the only guy in the league who was able to call Tressel the asshat he was instead of going with that tragic hero/tragedy business that Carr and Dantonio did or refusing comment like everyone else. He also runs up scores like there's no tomorrow—it's clear he's something of an asshat himself, but these days I'll take any public figure who says what he thinks instead of what someone says he should think because it looks prettier in the paper.
Ain't hearing you about a deranged prosecutor. In the aftermath of the personal-foul-fest over the weeked the WSJ assembled their number-crunching team and came up with a list of the dirtiest rivalries in college football as measured by personal fouls of a late/unnecessary hit variety. A number are expected. One in particular is not:
|RIVALRY||PER GAME||BIGGER OFFENDER|
|Duke-North Carolina||5.2||N. Carolina 69%|
|UCLA-Southern California||4.8||UCLA 54%|
|N. Mexico-N.Mexico St.||4.6||N. Mexico 65%|
|Michigan-Michigan St.||4.0||Michigan St 80%|
|C. Michigan-W. Michigan||3.8||Western 58%|
|Brigham Young-Utah||3.6||Utah 61%|
|NC State-North Carolina||3.4||N. Carolina 59%|
All of those are competitive series save North Carolina bludgeoning Duke annually. Maybe they're just mean dudes at UNC—they're the only team to show up twice.
Of course, this pretends the personal foul stuff is a two way street, which it isn't in certain cases. On a per team basis your winners are:
- UNC (vs Duke)
So… yeah, UNC hates Duke a lot. Either that or it's impossible to not get personal fouls for unnecessary roughness when you've got a lot of illegally acquired future NFL players and they've got eleven mewling kittens.
The fresh take NOTline*. Magazine writer Chris Jones came up with a fresh take that really adds to the sporting zeitgeist: you shouldn't say "we" when you are identifying the team you root for because you are not on the team. Awesome, dude. Thanks. For your troubles SBN's Andrew Sharp effectively compares you to Whitney.
Sharp has ten reasons a fan might break out the we but doesn't hit the reason I do it periodically: it is a convenient linguistic trick. If I am discussing the Michigan-Michigan State game and wish to refer to the teams by words shorter to read and type, I can either continually re-introduce the team names and briefly refer to whichever one is the most recent antecedent as "they." That's potentially annoying and confusing. The other option is to dump them entirely in favor of "we" and "they," which clearly indicate who is who while preventing constant repetition of already established facts—that we are indeed talking about Michigan and Michigan State.
It would take a fun-hating mutant whose super power is pedantry to object to this, which is why someone who works for a newspaper or magazine writes this column every three months.
Trouba: pretty good. Hockey 2012 D commit Jacob Trouba is good, first round good. As of late he's pushing his way into the top half of the first round:
Defenseman Jacob Trouba (U-18 U.S. national team development program): He is most likely to land in the top 10 picks and could crack the top five if he keeps progressing. He's 6-1 and 170 pounds, and he can skate well, fire the puck with authority and show a physical presence.
Boo Nieves, LW, Kent HS
Nieves has rocketed up the charts after showing off his stuff with USA at the Ivan Hlinka on top of several favorable viewings last season. Nieves is a skilled, offensively productive center who has the potential to grow into his body. He has great hands and displays a real high level of skill. He also has better then average skating, utilizing a smooth stride that provides him with a top gear when required.
He's still not in ISS's top 30.
Comment truth. Let me pull this out from the depths of the game column comment thread:
With our personnel, I think most people would want Rodriguez running the offense. They would just want him to stay far, far away from the defense.
The dirty little secret is this: This game was the cost of doing business, by deciding for a full scale switch from the head coach - who didn't earn himself a 4th year based on results, everyone settle down - on down, rather than just going after the massive problem that was the defensive coordinator and staff. Now, in the long term it was probably the right decision, but in the short term, we have set ourselves up for frustration. …
[discussion of last year's game vs this year's game with focus on field position and yardage]
So reality is this: Because Rodriguez was defensively incapable, he lost his job. In turn, Hoke was hired and he brought in Mattison, a guy who has proven - along with having a more experienced secondary - to be one of the best hires in college football. He also brought in Borges, who isn't the proper fit for our offensive talent. It's not his fault and as has been stated, won't be a problem in 2 years time. But this year, we're going to have to suffer through another flawed season, which to me is incredibly frustrating given that a spot in the Big Ten title game is there for the taking.
That is exactly where I'm at. We had to deep-six Rodriguez and the coaching hire appears to be working out about as well as anyone could have hoped, but burning Denard's career in an offense he's not suited for is killing me. Shades of gray exist.
Etc.: Basketball ranked 20th by Rivals. Smart Football on combining quick passes with runs and screens—this is like extending the zone read concept to linebackers downfield. Michigan Monday in case anyone thinks the Sparty == Dirty meme is restricted to homers. Lake the Posts also jumps in with outrage(!).