Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
junior vs ncaa: fight!
Elvis says: don't do drugs. Because you'll totally overthrow Desmond Howard if you do.
One offs FTW. That Colorado game has no return date scheduled according to CU's official site:
Colorado and Michigan will renew their short but exciting rivalry with a single game in Ann Arbor on Sept. 17, 2016. While not officially part of the Pac-12/Big Ten schedule series set to commence in 2017, it will mark the fifth time the schools will play, the first since 1997.
And neither does the Oregon State official site mention a return game:
The Oregon State University football team will travel to the University of Michigan to play during the 2015 season, Beaver Director of Athletics Bob De Carolis announced Wednesday. …
“This is an exciting opportunity for our student-athletes, staff and fans to visit not only one of the great venues in college football but all of sports,” De Carolis said. “But make no mistake, we will make this trip with the goal of winning a football game.”
So… that ND gap can be filled by a marquee opponent instead of road games against middling to not so good Pac-12 teams. Take a picture: GOOD JOB DAVE BRANDON WOOO! Also good job Bill Martin for having luxury suites that make it important to not have home schedules like this year.
Now, about canceling the Horror II and pretending that never happened…
Notre Dame hiatus just that. Whenever Michigan and Notre Dame take a break in their series there's a small cadre of folks suspicious that it's a front for an end to the whole thing. This does not appear to be the case, tinfoil hat folk. From the Tribune:
"This was either in place when I got here or it was a request that came shortly after I got here," Swarbrick said in a phone interview Wednesday. "I didn't even know it wasn't known, frankly. It had been cooked into our scheduling model for at least three years.
"I don’t think somehow (Michigan athletic director) Dave (Brandon) had been informed when he came aboard. When he called and we started talking about dates, I said, 'You know Dave, we had this bye built in and I scheduled games.' He was great. We just made it work.
"We're going to keep playing each other. It's important to both schools. This initiated with a request from up there years ago, and we said OK."
Since this is Notre Dame there is the slight but real chance Swarbrick means "heaven" by "up there." In any case, ND is coming back after the break. On the schedule. Not to the realm of teams that win a lot of football games.
And then he gave you the finger guns. Brandon on the ND hole:
But what does Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon intend to do with those two open dates on the schedule?
"Stay tuned," he told AnnArbor.com by phone on Wednesday.
You're too small. This is something that is true about Chris Wormley and Tom Strobel despite being people of this size:
Football is weird.
BONUS: Well done, photobomber who must be Wormley's younger brother or something.
ZomBCS lurches on, makes more sense. There will remain some semblance of the red carpet bowl tier that fans have gotten used to over the past decade or so, as Stewart Mandel reports that the as yet undefined selection committee will also hand-craft the four bowls that are super special but not hosting playoff semifinals. The top twelve get in, no exceptions—you're still not in the top 12, Michigan State, go away—and there will be some restrictions due to Rose/"Champions" bowl business. As a bonus, they've also decided to un-screw the bowl schedule by playing all six of the red carpet bowls on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
That's good. Less good is that the selection committee will start issuing a top 20 at midseason:
"We didn't want the top four teams to just come out of the blue at the end of the season," Swarbrick said.
This is to provide some transparency, I guess, but if they are prioritizing conference champs that's data you don't get until the season's over, making the previous polls a pointless exercise. I'd rather do away with the whole poll mentality in case some of the dumb from previous systems leaks into the new one.
Budget bits. Michigan's released its 2012 athletic department budget, which is the usual: about 10-12 million in the black with 4-5 of that set aside for a capital reinvestment fund. Things that jump out:
- Michigan is budgeting $2.4 million for "hosting, food, and special events" in the 2013 FY, a threefold increase on FY12. Alabama game effect?
- Premium seating is sold out for football and "essentially sold out" for basketball. Someone high five Brady Hoke and John Beilein.
- Despite having two fewer football games, "spectator admissions" are projected to drop only slightly, from 43 million to 39 million. Ticket price increase is a part of that and they must be including their 4.7 million from the Alabama game in that item.
- They made $3.9 million more than they expected last year.
More OHL rumblings. It's the incredibly annoying part of the year where OHL teams try to swoop in on committed players just for the hell of it. Plymouth traded for incoming defenseman Connor Carrick's rights, and then signed him. (Apparently. I can't find anything other than the link-free MHN article.)
Carrick committed to Michigan as a sophomore in high school and as a small defenseman who was a mid-round draft pick he's the archetypical guy who should play in college, so the only way this makes any sense at all is if Carrick was concerned about playing time. Michigan does return six guys who had a regular-ish shift last year and adds Trouba. But this isn't John Gibson bugging out at the idea of backing up Hunwick—Carrick only has to beat out one of Chiasson, Serville, or Clare to get PT. Stupid move for a guy who has about a 12% chance of playing 200 NHL games.
Meanwhile, an OHL source telling Matt Slovin that Jacob Trouba is 50/50 to be in Kitchener this fall is something to mention, but my initial reaction to that is eyerolling given anonymous OHL sources' tendency to play up their chances at everyone. Trouba has been more insistent that he'd be at Michigan than anyone save Jack Johnson. If he backs out that would be an all-timer. I need a sufficiently condescending youtube video to embed in these situations.
As far as Phil Di Giuseppe goes, Rivals' Michael Spath seems to be a little more optimistic as of yesterday's Inside the Fort post.
It doubles as a tombstone. The CCHA's final year will be commemorated by patches.
I'll be vaguely sad about the lost tradition until I see some good old fashioned CCHA reffing in November. Or remember Shawn Hunwick, second-team all-conference.
Mikulak killing it. Michigan's men's gymnastics Olympic hopeful is crushing the trials:
So much for the U.S. men's gymnastics team being a two-man show.
Sam Mikulak was impressive during the first day of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials Thursday, threatening to break up the grip national champion John Orozco and Danell Leyva have on the role of top Americans heading into the London Olympics.
Looking as relaxed as if he was competing in a college dual meet for Michigan, the 2011 NCAA champion posted an all-around score of 91.80, the best on a day many of the other contenders to make the five-man Olympic team faltered.
Leyva moved past Orozco into first place in the overall standings, which combine scores from nationals and trials, but couldn't top Mikulak, at least for a couple of hours. Mikulak remained third in the overall standings but drew closer to the top two heading into the finals Saturday.
Mikulak was also interviewed by espnW. If he makes the team he is a lock to have an NBC equivalent of Tom Rinaldi narrate a sepia-toned profile, what with the broken legs == broken dreams angle.
Etc.: John Bacon on the recently departed Bob Chappius. The Ex-Peach Bowl wants to be the #6 bowl in this new rotation they've got going. Indianapolis, you're our only hope. TOC's Chris Vannini on Detroit FC. Shut up, I like it. UConn joins Hockey East, prompting BC blogs to advocate secession into a new six-team conference styled on the Big Ten. New BHGP podcast intro song.
Lloyd meets the peregrine falcon named after him, asks "why is that one not named Fielding?" He does not actually ask that.
Hey, kids! Death to Comcast! No internet until just now today and my backup plan wasn't working. Apologies. Anyway:
Maybe you can do it after all? Luke Winn is my favorite college basketball writer for pieces like the one he just published on three-point defense. Inspired by Ken Pomeroy's repeated assertions that three-point defense is random* and that you should therefore try to reduce the number of threes opponents get off, Winn looks at the problem in more detail, finding a couple of notable exceptions:
After writing a story on the Pack-Line Defense -- a packed-in, help-oriented man-to-man that Dick Bennett first used at Wisconsin-Green Bay in the mid-1990s -- I couldn't help but notice that three teams running pure Pack-Line this season were among the leaders in three-point field-goal D: Arizona, which ranked third nationally at 28.5 percent; Virginia, which was sixth at 28.9 percent; and Xavier, which was 22nd at 30.5 percent. Meanwhile, two teams that seemed to encourage opponents to take threes, Florida State and Syracuse, also managed to rank in the top 50 in defensive three-point percentage and were top-20 overall defenses in efficiency.
Syracuse in particular demonstrates that three-point defense probably exists in a meaningful way. In the ten years Kenpom has data for Syracuse has finished 8th (out of about 350), 6th, 63rd, 129th, 63rd, 185th, 8th, 22nd, 29th, and 47th in defending three pointers. That's one or two mediocre years, three good years, and five outstanding years. Clearly there's a lot more variance in three pointers**, but you can defend them. There may be a price (Syracuse, unbelievably, was 341 of 345 in defensive rebounding while being 33rd in offensive rebounding), but you can do it.
Also, this is why you are right to pull out your hair at Tim Hardaway long twos:
If you don't think the long twos-vs.-threes argument is important, consider this: While Wisconsin held its opponents to just 0.807 points per possession on three-point attempts -- an amazingly efficient rate -- it allowed just 0.628 PPP on long twos. There's a reason Ryan charts and cherishes the two-point jumpers UW forces outside the paint. The odds on getting beat from that area are miniscule.
Long twos are the worst shot in basketball, and you can get them with 25 seconds on the shot clock because teams don't care if you take them. If there's ten seconds left, sure, go for it. Eschewing the offense in favor of The Worst Shot In Basketball makes Brian crazy.
*[If you look at shooting percentages from the first half to the second half of a season, there is almost no correlation. I think this might be a sample size issue.]
**[Variance for the statistically disinclined: imagine the difference in variability in 50-point 30-foot Rock 'n' Jock baskets versus dunks.]
Feel the love for the system. The Insight Bowl is no longer going to be named after some sort of computer company I think or an abstract concept. They made the mistake of asking the twitter what the twitter thought they might rename it to. If this feels like a softball covered in butter, yeah:
The Tempe Municipal Government Cheddar's Casual Cafe' Quality Food & Service Bowl, at Sun Devil Stadium #NameTheGame
i want a bowl game called the Horrybowl. someone ask Robert Horry if he's interested in starting a liability-only car insurance company.
Jason Kirk's list of suggestions has some excellent candidates:
Molybdenum Ore Bowl
Insane Maricopa County Sheriff Bowl
P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Bowl
Erosion of public support due to shameless profit-seeking, etc etc etc. This is definitely a meaningful indicator of bowls' public face and not just the internet snarking on stuff.
Basically. Via Ira at WTKA, former Alaska-Anchorage player Justin Bourne responds to a piece on the superiority of the major junior route:
As someone quickly approaching their 30th birthday thinking about what I’d do if I were a young player now deciding between the two, I can’t help but think: I’d have to be awfully damn good to choose major junior hockey over college. It’s not taking anything away from those who choose to go the CHL route, it’s just that one way seems a little more all-or-nothing than the other. Both seem like flying down the highway on a motorcycle, but one affords you a helmet. …
Nobody can say for certain what’s the best route – each player has a different set of developmental needs, and each league fulfills those differently.
But for those who could use a little more time to develop and miiiigghht just want to hedge their bets on the future with an education, college hockey is the way to go.
That's about right. If you're not going to be in the top two rounds, junior is a gamble on a longshot when there's a less risky route that doesn't require you to give up the gamble, or even seem to hurt your chances much. Given the NHL hit rate of secound-rounders, you could argue that even those folks would be making a better decision to go to college.
Unless you just don't want even the tenuous amount of schooling you have to go through to be in college these days, the best argument in favor of the CHL is usually "they offered me money." If so, fair enough.
I would like to see the man behind the curtain, because there is only one. Michigan is investing a cool half-million into a giant curtain they can put in Crisler when it hosts women's basketball and gymnastics events so that the place feels less abandoned. Michigan averaged about 1700 fans per game at basketball last year.
It's probably the right thing to do, but putting up a curtain so attendance at certain sports is less embarrassing is… well, it kind of sums up the whole NCAA thing. The football players make a bunch of money, which is then spent on the strangest things.
Demar lands somewhere nice. Demar Dorsey will play his college ball at Hawaii, so at least he got an adventure out of everything. No, he's not coming here. I just told you he's going to play at Hawaii. No, still not coming. I am beginning to think you have the brain damage.
Etc.: Big Ten hockey hires Steve Piotrowski as its head of officials, which is a good move. Better move would be to clone him and put him on the ice for all games. Piotrowski #1 would be a super Piotrowksi. Dennis Norfleet gets really excited when he blocks a shot, understandably. SBN is making the case for relegation.
NO DEMAR DORSEY IS NOT COMING TO MICHIGAN
Half-shields look cooler. End of story.
Shields. College hockey's been moving towards the use of partial shields for a couple years now and it sounds like in the next couple years we could see that come to fruition. The hockey community is for it, but they have to convince the NCAA they're not going to cause a murder spree. Their attempt:
"When we first raised the issue with the Health and Safety Committee, they were very negative," Kelly said. "By the end of the meeting in November, the pendulum had swung significantly and they are far more open minded on the idea."
"Give credit, the folks in the room definitely listened," rules committee chair Ed McLaughlin, the athletic director at Niagara, said. "They said, 'Tell us why you believe this.' It was a huge hurdle we got over. Going in I thought, if it's not 'no' it's a major accomplishment."
Boston University's Parker has long been an outspoken critic of the NCAA's policy, even moreso since his player, Travis Roy, was paralyzed in an on-ice accident during the first shift of his college career, in 1995.
"Jack Parker was very effective," Kelly said.
"Jack was fantastic," McLaughlin said. "He had a real impact with the group that was there."
They have no data, but assert that going away from full masks can't make things worse for anything except your lips—mouthguards would be required—and that's less of a big deal than getting hit in the head. At least they don't have, like, anti-data:
"(Data) doesn't show substantially less concussions," McLaughlin said, "but you can't prove more either. There's more facial lacerations, but not exponentially. The USHL hasn't had any catastrophic eye injuries or neck injuries, and we've had some in college hockey."
I've always thought the argument that the full shields in college hockey made the game more violent was ridiculous. The things you can't do in the pros are still penalties in college. Maybe the (usual) lack of fighting does make people bolder, but I'm dubious about that as well. Violent acts like the Tropp incident are met with stiff suspensions. Hockey's violent. This doesn't do anything to help player safety. If you want to make an impact on that, you have to improve the refereeing.
It may help with the constant war with junior in a tiny way, and that's probably why this is going forward.
Good hands. When is the last time anyone could have made a list of best Big Ten assistants and grabbed both of Michigan's coordinators?
Offensive coordinator: Al Borges, Michigan. What more can be said about Borges? The guy has an unmatched resume that includes stops as coordinator at Indiana, Auburn, UCLA, Oregon, Cal and Boise State, among others. Borges has shown an ability to adapt his West Coast attack at Michigan to conform to the skills of quarterback Denard Robinson. Smart man. The result, an 11-2 season in 2011, as the Wolverines also produced two 1,000-yard rushers for the first time since 1975. Why isn’t this guy a head coach?
Others: Matt Canada, Wisconsin; Greg Davis, Iowa; Tom Herman, Ohio State; Matt Limegrover, Minnesota; Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Defensive coordinator: Greg Mattison, Michigan. The numbers speak for themselves. After spending three years in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, Mattison returned to Michigan. And his impact was deep and immediate. His unit ranked second in the Big Ten and sixth in nation in scoring defense (17.4 ppg). Remarkable numbers when you consider where the defense was before he arrived. Mattison has coached 18 NFL players and had seven of his protégés taken in the first three rounds of the draft and two first-round selections.
Others: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State; Ted Roof, Penn State; Everett Withers, Ohio State.
When's the last time Michigan would have gotten even one on the list? 1997? Yeah. Probably 1997. Even if Borges probably would have finished second to Paul Chryst if he hadn't taken the Pitt job, it's been a long time since it seems like both sides of the ball were in good hands.
It's, like, interrelated, man, like the cosmos. The Only Colors discovers that the generally-applicable fact that passing efficiency is the stat best correlated with winning applies to the Big Ten, too:
Yeah, but that's all NFL stuff. And besides, the NFL formula is different than the NCAA formula. How do I know that those insights carry over, especially to the Big Ten?
Cause I got some mighty fine data. Spreadsheet time:
2011 Big Ten Season Teams Off PR Def PR Net Wins Wisconsin 186.2 120.45 65.75 11 Michigan State 144.29 113.24 31.05 11 Michigan 139.18 120.48 18.7 11 Northwestern 155.88 139.99 15.89 6 Illinois 123.52 117.91 5.61 7 Nebraska 125.78 120.42 5.36 9 Iowa 136.62 132.87 3.75 7 Ohio State 127.8 126.75 1.05 6 Purdue 122.81 126.05 -3.24 7 Penn State 101.95 107.2 -5.25 9 Minnesota 108.97 148.81 -39.84 3 Indiana 111.91 156.79 -44.88 1
-In the top tier, you have three teams who clearly separated themselves from the pack with their net ratings at 1, 2, and 3 (including the BTCCG participants at a clear 1-2), as well as an outlier at 4, Northwestern, who let several games slip away late.
-in the middle tier, you have the middle class of the Big Ten in 2011, plus Nebraska, all clumped within 4 net points of each other, very far away from the best and worst teams in the conference.
-then in the bottom tier, you have the only four teams with negative Passer Rating Differentials, with Purdue and Penn State (the other outlier) chilling a handful of points below zero, and the two obvious worst teams in the Big Ten, Minnesota and Indiana, both sporting truly terrible PRDs.
In all, in 2011, there was a very strong .85 correlation between a teams PRD and its total wins. Correlation is not causation and all that but still, .85 yo.
This is all true, but I don't think that tells you that passing is more important than running. Take last year's Michigan offense for an example of a team where running drives the bus to the point where it makes the passing offense look better than it really is. An even rawer Denard Robinson put up the 20th-best passer rating in the country, one ten points better than his 2011. But Michigan ran 60% of the time and put up 5.6 YPC. When Michigan lost some of that mojo last year, Robinson's efficiency dropped correspondingly.
The biggest advantage passer rating has in these correlations between various traditional stats and wins is the fact that it's an efficiency measure. Yards gained in X fashion is a measure of both how much you did something and how good you were at it. Efficiency measures suck the "how much" out of the equation.
Side note: Good Lord has Penn State been hosed the last few years by their QB situation. If they can keep that defense operating at its previous efficiency level and have an offense run by grown-ups, they will be in business.
Hunwick. Got in. Faced zero shots. But got in!
If that's it for Hunwick in the show at least he got his cup of coffee. Couldn't happen to a better guy. Speaking of…
College hockey on the upswing. This is a remarkable graph, albeit one that is a little deceptive in its axes:
In ten years the percentage of NHL players from college has jumped 50%. Euros made up 23% of the league a year ago, leaving 47% of the NHL from the traditional major junior route. Since there are only 40-some college hockey teams that produce NHL talent* versus 60 CHL teams, the NHL talent per capita between NCAA and junior is now almost a dead heat. The CHL continues to have a lion's share of the top, top guys but college competition is a lot older.
*[Atlantic Hockey excluded.]
Final rankings. The CSB has published final rankings for the various eligible Michigan guys. Results:
- Jacob Trouba: 9th
- PDG: 22nd
- Boo Nievies: 29th
- Connor Carrick: 124th
Milne and Selman are not ranked. Neither is Rutledge. As always, remember that the CSB splits these guys into North American and European categories and ranks goalies separately so add 20-30% to draft rankings to get approximate positions. Trouba should go around #12, PDG and Nieves sometime in the second, and Carrick in the fifth or sixth.
Oddity: The IIHF yanks Q-bound NTDPer Stefan Matteau from its U18 roster after stating that he hasn't played two consecutive years in the US since he turned ten. His spot goes to Anthony Louis, a diminutive Miami commit who is amongst the NTDP U17 leaders in scoring.
Basketball recruiting: now what (again)? Michigan has one open slot for 2012 and a second they could use on a grad-year guy if they want. With Burke's return and Albrecht's commitment the urgency to fill that latter spot—and the attractiveness of it—gets drastically lower. I doubt they add a 13th guy now, graduate or not.
The 12th spot is another matter. UMHoops reports that Arizona picked up a commitment from Matt Korcheck, a 6'9" power forward. While Korcheck doesn't directly conflict with Amedeo Della Valle, he's no longer visiting Arizona this weekend. The Wildcats are likely out of spots. Point Guard U says his Michigan visit is still on and "likely Ohio State" after that. Texas A&M and Gonzaga are the other suitors; it probably comes down to the Big Ten teams now.
Should Michigan take Della Valle now that Albrecht is in and Burke is back? I'm not sure. It was hard to get any sort of read on his game from the Findlay Prep games I watched. If he's really a 50%+ three-point shooter, obviously you take him. That's doubtful, though. He is a 6'6" wing/SG/PG who would be useful to have on the roster if GRIII or Hardaway leaves early and he does have a number of other offers from majors. Michigan would be filling their roster for 2013 by taking him only if everyone sticks around, and how likely is that? Not likely. I'd take him if he wants to come and continue going after a fourth guy in the class of 2013.
McGary continues to slide. I don't think this will affect any recruiting rankings but reports on him from the Hoop Summit were not positive, particularly this bombing by NBA Draft.net:
Mitch McGary, C: The big lefty who burst onto the 2012 recruiting scene this past summer showed he is definitely far from a finished product. After going from relative unknown to garnering comparisons of Tyler Hansbrough, McGary came back down to earth once he got to the more organized play of his Brewster Academy prep school. Mitch’s motor was advertised as being non-stop, but have yet to see that and have yet to see anything close to the ability of Psycho T. Mitch is a decent athlete and has good size, but he went with the trend of staying more out on the perimeter.
FWIW, another observer noted that McGary spent the week icing his feet and legs due to a presumed injury. He weighed in at 6'10", 265 and looked a lot more sluggish than he did over the AAU season. He'll have to recapture the passion that drove him to the top of rankings boards and get in shape to have the sort of impact Michigan fans are hoping for.
Brock walks. Brock Mealer update video from Barwis Methods:
Keith Jackson, Ufer, Bo, and Anthony Carter, 1979. If you need more than this, I cannot help you.
It kills me not to be able to see what Jackson's wearing.
Fun fun fun. I may have more on this later but for right now know that Matt Hayes just bombed Urban Meyer in a Sporting News article:
Multiple sources told Sporting News that Meyer—who won two national championships in six years at Florida and cemented his legacy as one of the game’s greatest coaches—told the Diggs family that he wouldn’t let his son go to Florida because of significant character issues in the locker room.
Character issues that we now know were fueled by a culture Meyer created. Character issues that gutted what was four years earlier the most powerful program in college football.
I haven't had time to read it yet but am preparing bib and knife to do so.
UPDATE ON FURMAN: Better Call Saul disclaimers apply but this is the picture painted by his potty-mouthed lawyer:
"Joshua didn't do anything," Mason said. "He's got one guy sending him threatening text messages, and then when he gets upset about the nasty text messages, somebody else pulls his hair out, and then the poor bastard gets arrested.
"My suspicion is (the women) will show up in court and make a record in court and say, 'Hey look, this guy didn't hit us, he didn't punch us, he didn't do anything,' and at that time the judge will have a little trial or entertain a motion to dismiss it.
"We're working through the case and hope the charges disappear, once cooler heads prevail."
If that turns out to be true then Furman will get restored to active status in a couple weeks.
I think this means we win. Kate Upton is a Michigan fan. She is also a moderately attractive young lady!
High fives for everyone!
[Pay no attention to the following SEO-oriented paragraph:
So I heard you like Kate Upton in your Upton so I put Kate in your Upton and Uptoned your Kate so you can Kate while you Kate and Upton while you Upton. Sex tape.
The Ten Year War ends. WH compiles the 1978 Michigan-OSU game:
A few weeks later Woody Hayes would bonk a Clemson linebacker and that was that.
Ref bump noted. Kyle Kalis's epic ref bump…
…is something OL coach Darrell Funk also picked up on:
"He just wants to tear your head off," Funk said. "He plays like that all the time and practices like that all the time, and we need that. You can Xs and Os all you want, and that’s important, but at the end of the day, it starts up front." …
Funk laughed when he described one sequence of film in which Kalis knocks over an umpire “when he was throwing someone around” and couldn’t decide whether to help the guy up or find someone else to hit.
The ref was shaken but not badly hurt. This is because Kalis was hurting someone else.
Funk also notes that none of the four guys currently in the class projects to center; that will be a priority in 2013.
The old mean guy. Meanwhile, David Molk adds to his Scrooge-McDuck level quote vault:
“The awards were never anything that I strived to get,” Molk said, before correcting himself.
“I take that back,” he said, laughing. “The only award I wanted was the Rimington mostly because a guy who worked with us, (Michigan assistant strength coach) Dan Mozes, was a Rimington winner at West Virginia. I’d say something, and he’d say, ‘Hey, Molk, shut up. I’ve got an 80-pound trophy and you don’t.’"
He's being told he could go anywhere from the bottom of the first(!) to the third round.
Three point defense: random. This Kenpom post at ESPN($) caught my eye after I previewed a Nebraska team that is thoroughly awful at all basketball activities except opponent three-point shooting. Here are the year-to-year correlations between various defensive stats:
Opponents' 3-point percentage: .204
Opponents' free throw percentage: .266
Opponents' 2-point percentage: .558
Opponents' 3-point attempt percentage: .575
There are just four numbers here, but they provide a very powerful context. What stands out is that opponents' free throw percentage correlates more strongly from season to season than opponents' 3-point percentage. In other words, we can predict a team's "free throw defense" in the future based on current stats better than we could predict its 3-point defense. And I think everyone understands that a team has little control over its opponents' free throw percentage.
IE, the percentage of threes your opponents hit is not a particularly useful thing to look at, but the number of threes they get off is. Wisconsin is a particularly excellent example of this phenomenon. Last year their opponents hit 37% of their threes, good for only 299th nationally. This year that's dipped 10 percentage points and they skyrocket to first.
What does this mean for Michigan? Not a whole lot. Their three-point D is a little below average; so is their ability to prevent opponents from launching. It will be interesting to watch how that latter number changes next year as Michigan adds a ton of height.
No elite teams, continued. Following up on Monday's assertion that there don't seem to be many elite teams in college hockey this year: KRACH provides strong evidence of that. KRACH is a ranking system that's more pleasant to statistically minded folk for reasons I won't get into in case some of you are operating heavy machinery. For purposes of this argument it's useful because it not only provides a ranking but also has a strength rating.
KRACH tends to get enthusiastic about strong leagues and teams; it has a tendency to proclaim certain teams nigh invulnerable. Here's last year's version:
Note the huge jumps in rating as you climb. There's a pretty tight bunch until you hit BC and North Dakota; there's also a cliff after #7. This year there is no such gap:
KRACH ratings add to the same number every year and so provide a baseline: this year's most dominant team would be… eh… fourth last year, and the gaps between the top teams and the bottom of the top ten are significantly smaller than they usually are.
This promises to be the most wide open NCAA tournament since… well, not very long ago. Single-elimination playoff hockey remains an exercise in blind terror and weird bounces. A couple years ago three of the four one seeds crashed and burned before the Frozen Four. But if you like your barely-weighted plinko to be really hardly weighted at all this is your year. Anyone who makes it in will be eyeing the Frozen Four.
Strengths: A mobile defenceman with length, strength and range. Plays a physical game and not afraid to take a run at an opponent. Has some offensive skills, is a good passer with vision and a hard point shot. Weaknesses: there are some questions about his overall hockey sense, needs to learn to rein in the physical play at times and play with composure.
Strengths: Very quick skater with soft hands, a sneaky release and he competes. Good offensive instincts, good size, tough to contain along the boards on the cycle. Weaknesses: Needs to keep working on his defensive duties and could play with a bit more edge more consistently. He will likely require more time in college to round out his game but has been rumoured to be leaning towards playing all four seasons in Michigan. His production has waned in second half of season.
…and does not rank Nieves in their top 45.
Bad incentives. The United States of Hockey takes on UND coach Dave Hakstol's assertion that playing in the CHL shouldn't hurt your NCAA eligibility:
First off, allowing CHL players to retain college eligibility could have a gigantic impact on the USHL. More top-end players would go to the CHL fully knowing that they’ll have a fall-back plan. So they can go up and get added exposure, get in front of more scouts on a nightly basis. The top end in the USHL could be significantly diminished in such a scenario.
While this move would help the NCAA’s depth, it would most likely eliminate many of the top-end players from ever making it to the NCAA. By the time a player’s Junior career is over at age 20, most would go to the NHL or AHL. Only the guys that would have otherwise played lower-level minor-league hockey would end up in college. The quality of play gets dragged down in the college ranks. While the NCAA would remain a developmental option, it also becomes a safety net for CHL players similar to what the Canadian Interuniversity Sport is right now. That’s an ugly scenario for American college hockey, which has produced NHL talent as long as it’s been in existence.
The USHL is a hugely important part of the route to college hockey and should be protected at all costs. Allowing players to go to the CHL and maintain collegiate eligibility cuts the decade-long rise of the league off at the knees. It's a nonstarter.
The only way I could see this happening is if the NCAA restricted post-CHL eligibility to just Canadians. That wouldn't hurt the USHL. Because of the double standard in place between USA Hockey and their Canadian counterpart Canadians wanting to play college hockey have to cool their heels in Junior A leagues far inferior to the USHL. If the NCAA opened the door for Canadians coming over immediately after high school, I could see it working…
…except the CHL would immediately make it not work by finding sufficient NCAA regulations to violate so that any kid in junior would never make it to campus without an inquisition. Saban teaches that it is not a good idea to give people in charge of high school/college kids incentive to not have their charges graduate. So nevermind.
Etc.: GLI outdoors officially. Seniors on next year's team will have played outdoors all four years.. Michigan gets three million for renting out Michigan Stadium. Boo Nieves will make a move to the USHL after his prep season ends.
I talk with Lake the Posts about the Mattison transition and why Northwestern shouldn't expect the same miracle with a new coordinator. The Bylaw Blog on revamping transfer restrictions. Mock Rock recap. Ace on the GBMW podcast.
Hockeybear searches for the best place for a Big Ten tournament
I guess it's college hockey so I shouldn't be surprised. Apparently the ludicrous worst-case scenario for a Big Ten playoff is maybe possibly happening:
Andy Baggott is reporting that a majority of athletic directors from the future Big Ten hockey schools are in favor of moving their postseason tournament to a neutral location, rather than having home sites host tournament games. The tournament would take place over three days, with all six teams from the league involved, meaning the top two seeds would receive byes into the semifinal round. Baggott also reports that the league is close to finalizing a deal with the XCel Center in St. Paul, Minnesota to host the tournament.
Why on earth anyone other than UW and Minnesota would agree to this, let alone have it at the X, escapes me. Before you, Minnesota fan, go "durr durr money" consider three weeks of home series: 10-15 games averaging between 6 and 15 thousand people sold at full price. This alternative is five games, only two or three of them anywhere near a sellout because they'll feature Minnesota. It would be marginally worse at the Joe (fewer fans per local attraction but more of them plus more OSU/PSU fans).
This setup is throwing away tens of thousands of dollars, cheapening the regular season, and giving Minnesota an unearned home-field advantage because a couple schools want to use their buildings for high schools. It's almost as ridiculous as not having a regional closer to the CCHA than Green Bay this year and St. Louis(!) last year.
Red isn't having it, at least, and at least provides the hope the dumb single-weekend system won't necessarily be the worst possible one:
Berenson: I'd prefer to see early rounds of Big Ten tournament played at teams who earn home ice, semis and finals at a neutral site. … Berenson also said he hasn't heard Minneapolis as the front runner, but certainly in consideration. Thinks Detroit should be as well.
It never made sense that Michigan, MSU, Penn State would ever agree to the XCel bit. All have (or will have, in PSU's case) dedicated hockey facilities. Even if OSU wants a one-weekend system that's still 3 vs 3 and it appears that we're talking a rotation between the XCel and the Joe.
Neutral sites… guh. Why does college hockey hate atmosphere and money?
Speaking of atmosphere. Hey, this sounds cool:
The Big Ten is not only ready to listen to proposals regarding a national four-team football playoff, league and school officials are kicking around an intriguing idea.
Sources told the Tribune that a Big Ten plan would remove the top four teams from the BCS bowl pool and have semifinal games played on the college campus of the higher seed. That would do away with the facade of “neutral” sites such as New Orleans, Miami and Pasadena, Calif., and ease travel concern for fans.
The championship game then could be bid out, like the Super Bowl.
Two more games and making the Rose Bowl the permanent location for the title game and we're talkin' MGoPlayoff. I'll take an 80% solution. Everyone and their uncle has cannily pointed out that Jim Delany's suggestion benefits the Big Ten(!) since it wouldn't require two rounds of distant travel for teams that are remote from bowl games. This is true. It also helps cut out the thieving middlemen, raises the importance of the regular season, and would be awesome. In this instance, naked self-interest benefits everyone not wearing a yellow jacket.
More importantly: that's it, there's going to be a four-team playoff. Delany is publicly negotiating terms of surrender. He knows he's lost the war and is trying to get the best deal possible for the Big Ten. Since it's the thing that actually makes the most competitive and financial sense, let's hope he wins out.
Alabama game setup: banned on the West Coast. Interesting change to the Pac-12's bylaws:
No member institution shall enter into an agreement to play a neutral-site football game (except in circumstances where such neutral-site game is the away leg of a home-and-home series) unless such agreement provides the Conference with the exclusive broadcast rights and digital rights in all media, and copyright to such neutral-site game.
IE, no more Washington State-Notre Dame in Texas. Previously the Pac-10 banned these sort of things within their footprint; now it's everywhere. This is a clear shot at Jerryworld-type games.
Q: Why are Jerryworld-type games becoming vogue? A:
- The Big Ten shares all television revenue*, even that acquired from nonconference games. Michigan makes no profit relative to the rest of the league for playing Notre Dame instead of East Nowhere State, because all that money goes into the kitty that's distributed evenly at the end of the year.
- Independent skylarker in Texas figures out he's not a part of the Big Ten footprint and can make an end-around on this agreement by paying two teams to show up and selling the television rights himself.
- Teams get home game money—possibly more than home-game money—plus big national attention and sign up.
- Conference loses revenue from big team home game.
- Conference bans these sorts of things.
I would not be surprised to see the Big Ten follow suit shortly.
I have mixed feelings about this. While Jerryworld-type games are a trend I'm not a fan of, I'm even less of a fan of meaningless cupcakery and this is a move clearly designed to keep the Indianas and Purdues of the world hooked into a revenue stream they have nothing to do with. That wouldn't be a disaster except for the fact that removing 11/12ths of the financial incentive to schedule a real opponent has seen college football nonconference scheduling devolve significantly. If teams were free to cut their own deals on nonconference games we'd see a lot more competitive matchups.
At least the BTN gives the conference at large a similar incentive: the desire to improve nonconference inventory is the impetus behind the Big Ten-Pac 12 scheduling agreement that will at least slightly increase the number of real games going on in September.
*[This was true as of a few years ago at least. I was having a discussion with someone in the AD about the sorry state of college football scheduling and this was brought up as a major reason.]
This is never going to happen, but if it does… If College Hockey Inc can actually pull this off, Paul Kelly is a genius:
College Hockey Inc., is working to enact legislation — either with the oversight of the NHL or through the transfer agreement between USA Hockey and Hockey Canada — to bar Canadian major junior teams from stealing a player who has signed a letter of intent until after the player’s freshman year.
IE, Michigan has John Gibson and a letter of intent actually means there is a 100% chance that player shows up on campus for a whole year.
The only problem is there is no incentive for the CHL to go for this. USA Hockey does have a potential saber to rattle: right now USA kids can go play in major junior at any age. As we learned during the Max Domi head fake, Canadians who want to play in the USHL must have their families move to the United States. That's a clear double standard, one that USA hockey could threaten to go both ways. That would get the CHL's attention.
UND's Dave Hakstol also wants to give CHL players NCAA eligibility, which sounds good in theory but would not work in practice. A kid who has spent his junior and senior years of high school in the CHL would have a zero percent chance of being academically eligible for NCAA play—major junior franchises will see to that. Hypothetically opening the door back to the NCAA will just give the CHL a marketing bullet point with little basis in reality.
And now the glidepath. If you're wondering just how tough basketball's last stretch was, they currently sit #1 nationally in Kenpom's Pythagorean strength of schedule($):
They've faced the most imposing opponent offenses and the tenth-most imposing defenses. It eases significantly from here.
Geediot. Stop talking!
"We hired the best coach and we went out and got the best kids so get a life," Gee said of Bielema's criticisms.
Stop dressing like a five-year-old, as well. Actually continue these things.
Etc.: The Daily successfully trolled me with this Jon Merrill article. Yeah, Denard is everywhere. So is Roundtree. Can we get some Roundtree love? Michigan's RPI is 15. I looked up their nitty gritty stats on ESPN and, man: 3-3 against the RPI top 25. They've really been playing some tough opponents. Yesman breaks down Michigan's special teams goals against Miami.