This list is completely arbitrary and not a genuine analysis of the relative merits of state fossils.
Coyotes second-rounder Chris Brown came in for some goalie-running praise yesterday, and today there's an Arizona Republic article that expands on the Michigan-Phoenix connection. The most newsworthy item comes towards the end, where the 'Yotes GM and Brown discuss their mutual plan for his development:
Maloney admits he would "stunned" if Brown spends four years at the collegiate level. …
"He needs some time, I hope it's sooner rather than later, but I'm hesitant to say because none of us can predict what's going to happen, but I don't see him - his game, his drive, I think is more suited to pro hockey than college hockey.
"But it's certainly not going to hurt to give him the practice time the next couple of years, and at one of the best programs in the nation, which is good."
So… two and out, in Phoenix's estimation. For his part, Brown says he's planning on four years… "right now." His quote doesn't sound like a guy who will be around in 2012, though:
The ultimate goal is obviously to get to the Phoenix Coyotes and the NHL, play year by year, talk to the coaching staff on both sides and see what happens," he said.
We are warned, not that a second-rounder leaving after two years is a surprise.
Elsewhere, Canadiens draftee Mac Bennett impressed:
The biggest surprise of scrimmage day was Mac Bennett. The 17-year-old high school player looked extremely comfortable on the ice, with poise to match his older peers.
"I'm pretty calm with the puck. I wasn't expecting to be as calm with it as I was here," said Bennett.
Timmins agrees, saying "Mac looks like he's been here for a couple of development camps. He has a lot of poise and ability for his young age."
I'm still a little jittery about Bennett and the CHL—not because I have any information or anything, just general paranoia. Feeding the paranoia is this article, which I missed when it came out right after the NHL draft:
If Charlie Henry has his way, Michigan recruit Mac Bennett will never play in Ann Arbor. … Henry feels that the young defencemen will develop faster if he skips college and plays for the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
"He has really good offensive skills, but he needs to improve on defence and he can do it with us," said Henry, who is general manager of the Olympiques.
Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens' director of player personnel, said he wouldn't presume to tell a player where he should go, but he did concede that the talent level in the Quebec league is higher.
At least it's the Q, which is something of a shambles relative to the OHL and doesn't have nearly the level of success at recruiting Americans away from collegiate commitments that a few OHL teams do. But if anyone's going to get behind the highly questionable idea that the overall difficulty of playing in the Q is equivalent to college hockey—where the vast bulk of the players are also undrafted but happen to be three or four years older—it's the Canadiens. I'll breathe easier once Bennett is safely in Cedar Rapids.
(HT: Yost Built.)
Michigan recruits selected:
Chris Brown: Round 2, Pick 6 to Phoenix
Good news here; Phoenix has a history of taking Michigan players and allowing them to develop in Ann Arbor. Both Chad Kolarik and Kevin Porter stayed four years. Brown's a higher pick than either and may get enticed early, but his flight risk dropped today despite going high in the second round.
Kevin Lynch: Round 2, Pick 26 to Columbus
Lynch's (@ right) flight up draft boards concludes with a second-round pick. Columbus doesn't have a history with the Michigan program either way.
Mac Bennett: Round 3, Pick 18 to Montreal
This selection is somewhat frightening. Bennett has another year of prep school before he arrives at Michigan and Montreal is the sort of team that could push him to the QMJHL. The Canadiens have yoinked Mike Komisarek (two years) and Max Pacioretty (one year) before their eligibility was up. Those guys were first-rounders, however, and Bennett's considerably further down the pole.
AJ Treais, Lee Moffie, Derek Deblois: Undrafted.
As expected, though there was a chance one might go late.
lolfans. I don't mean to take a shot at Ohio State fans in this specific instance, but I did find this shocking development in the Jamaal Berry case funny:
Much was also made of the fact that Berry was listed at 5-8 in his arrest report, though Ohio State lists the incoming recruit at 5-11. While it’s true that height numbers are routinely inflated during both recruiting and college ball, it’s worth pointing out that Berry’s height (and weight) information may have came from his (two year-old) driver’s license and he’s grown the two to three inches since then.
"Oh no! Our star-studded RB recruit might not make it to campus!" was quickly replaced with "oh no! he might be way smaller than reputed!" Which, honestly, would be exactly my reaction if Rodriguez didn't appear to prefer his running backs bite-sized.
Drama. The Big 33 game—an all-star affair between Pennsylvania and Ohio—took place over the weekend, with Ohio winning on a one-yard dive by an offensive lineman. Fitzgerald Toussaint participated and scored twice on a 46 yard swing pass and a six-yard pitch sweep. You can see them for yourself (sort of) at 1:20 and 4:30 in this dramatic highlight video:
Needs more lightning bolts. That first touchdown was impossible to make out, so a couple of descriptions follow. One:
Akron quarterback recruit Patrick Nicely tossed a pass to Toussaint in the left flat where he cut back to the middle and outran the defense for a 46-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 with 5:01 left in the first quarter.
The same kind of thing worked big for Ohio on its next try, three wideouts going deep to clear out the secondary and Nicely finding Fitzgerald Toussaint (Michigan) in the flat and Toussaint making open-field things happen for a 46-yard touchdown.
Fitzgerald Toussaint: where open field things happen.
I forget to spell you again. Every time I go a week or two without spelling "Smotrycz" I forget how to do it and end up typing all sorts of weird stuff in a vain attempt to figure it out, but Smotrycz is endeavoring to come up often enough to forestall this, which I appreciate. The latest events in Smotrycz's slow-motion summer explosion were the Rumble in the Bronx, at which this…
Evan Smotrcyz (6′8″ Jr. SF, Reading (MA) New Hampton Prep) This weekend, he showed again that he’s really come into his own as he continues to play well. He shot the ball well from long range and managed to be aggressive without forcing something that isn’t there. Besides his three-point shots, he scored on jumpers off the dribble and found openings to drive to score as well. The Michigan commit has had a solid spring.
(Note that he's shrunk a couple inches here.) …and the NBAPA, at which this…
The Michigan commit is not that athletic and his game isn’t necessarily aesthetically pleasing. Smotrycz, however, produces. He can score at all three levels and has to the tune of 13 points per game. He can also find the open man and has a penchant for coming up with 50/50 balls. He is not a prospect who everyone is going to love, but it is evident why coach John Beilein thinks highly of him.
…which actually seemed a little negative, as Smotrycz was voted to the camp's 20-man all star team (there were 80 prospects in attendance) and finished around tenth in scoring. It was a busy week for Brandan Kearney and Trey Zeigler, too.
Drafting. The NHL draft approaches and should see as many as six future Wolverines taken, though two of them won't arrive on campus this year. Both future-future Wolverines play on the same team: Rhode Island native Mac Bennett is a member of Michigan's loaded 2010 class, and forward Derek Deblois is currently scheduled to come in for 2011(!), pending early departures. The Providence Journal has an article breaking down their prospects. RLR's Kyle Woodlief on Bennett:
"Someone’s going to like him enough to step up and take him in the second round,'' probably from 45 to 50. Woodlief said that he does not like Bennett’s “lack of discipline in the defensive end. He’s more like a forward playing defense.’’
Bennett is a strong skater –– he has “jets,’’ Woodlief said. “He’s able to create odd-man rushes with his wheels,’’ he said, and “he can handle the puck at high speed.’’
Woodlief suggests, apropos of nothing, that Bennett should go to major junior. Thanks for nothing, Kyle. Deblois, meanwhile, is projected as a sixth or seventh rounder. Woodlief, again, provides the most bluntly interesting assessment:
“He really has soft hands. He knows where the back of the net is. Doesn’t really like to play in traffic, from what I’ve seen. His skating is slightly above average.’’
A Kings scout also chips in:
"He is a very good skater, carries the puck with much jump and deception. Works the boards, corners, goes hard to the net, has real nice hands, puck carrying, puck handling and passing skills, creative offensively, distributes the puck very well. Has to be a little bit more consistent game to game."
The article consists entirely of scouting reports, so there's plenty more at the above link. (HT: Michigan Hockey Net.)
…the big boys and their ESPN propagandists got the results they needed from the land of mid-majors this weekend. Neither Siena nor Utah St. could handle their road trips to angry league rivals who have probably had the date circled on their proverbial calendars for weeks. Creighton didn't get the help they needed from Evansville to declare an outright title in the MoVal. Butler sealed up homecourt throughout the Horizon tourney, making it more likely the HL will stay a one-bid league. More than ever, it looks like it really is the "down year" for mid-major at-larges we've been hearing about since December.
Tentative woo. While it's the rare major-conference result that definitively reduces the number of bids a league will get—thanks, Notre Dame—every failed attempt at a mid-major at-large increases the pool of available slots for Michigan.
They're still not getting in without a win over Minnesota on Saturday, but there was always a chance that an unpleasant assemblage of results outside of Michigan's control could see the "9-9 w/ first round BTT win" scenario fail to yield a bid. That chance is slimming.
Skatin'. Defenseman and member of Michigan's sick 2010 hockey recruiting class Mac Bennett was recently profiled by his local news:
So, good news and bad news in there. Good news: Bennett seems like the kind of kid who will go high-ish in this year's NHL draft—he was rated a third-round pick (-ish) by the CSB. Bad news: his quotes on Michigan don't indicate the sort of kid who's likely to stick around all four years. Eh, that's life as a Michigan hockey fan.
Berenson back. We may be nearing the end of Red Berenson's tenure as Michigan's coach, but it's not quite over. Berenson just agreed to a one-year extension of his contract.
Berenson gives a typically blunt quote about the situation:
"I know that my time is coming," Berenson said. "...I just didn't want to make a five-year commitment and say, 'Geez, I'm gonna be here until I'm 75 or something.' I don't think that's fair to the team, to the program. And recruits might come in and say, '... this guy is gonna be our coach?'
"Right now I'm fine, and I'm good for a year. So we'll go from there."
Oh, no reason. (via Black Heart, Gold Pants)
Berenson did state he wasn't planning on retiring this year even if Michigan wins the national title. As for what happens when Berenson steps down: the chance of an internal promotion is very high. Billy Powers and Mel Pearson already do all of the recruiting and plenty of the coaching; Michigan will promote one and hope to hang on to the other.
Bashin'. An erratic weekend for Michigan baseball saw them lose to Wisconsin-Milwaukee in a game featuring 30 runs, split a doubleheader with Jacksonville by the improbable scores of 21-3 (W) and 10-2 (L), and finally pull another late-innings rabbit out of their hat against Akron. Formerly Anonymous has your recap. Michigan stands at 7-2 on the year and is looking a little wobbly.
A three-game series against Siena is up next, followed by the annual Mets exhibition and then then what's probably the most critical series of the year if Michigan's going to get any at-large consideration at the end of the year: three games at Arizona.
Sign there is something deeply wrong with me #4,540. So I read the epically long Wright Thompson thing about Ole Miss's 1962 integration riots and so on and so forth. As I was doing this, I kept thinking about Derek Pegues and Dennis Thames and Josh Boyd: how the hell can it be hard to get kids out of Mississippi? Argh!
Also, a there is a Michigan tangent. The week after James Meredith enrolls and Oxford turns into Beruit, Ole Miss plays Houston:
Vaught almost never gives pregame speeches, thinks they are silly. But this ... well, he needs to say something. Vaught feels like the entire university is riding on the backs of his team. Vanity? Sure. True? Probably. He needs them to understand, these young guys. He needs them to see. "It is very important that we play this game, boys," Vaught says, "and we have to win it."
The team roars in response and rushes out of the locker room onto the field. Vaught gets chills watching them. The Rebels dominate undefeated Houston 40-7, with Griffing throwing three touchdown passes to Guy. But the most emotional two ovations of the day have nothing to do with the game.
One comes at the beginning, when Barnett enters his box. The other comes when the public address man announces other scores from around the country. Michigan, he tells them, has beaten Army, hated invader of Ole Miss 17-0.
This is so tangential that I don't have anything to say about it other than "funny old world," so: funny old world.
On ignorance. Due to a personal obligation or two I missed most of this weekend's action, and since the only thing I did catch was the Friday night hockey game wherein Michigan was Bowling Green first CCHA win in seven attempts I rather wish I had missed the whole thing.
So I can't offer much other than a "WTF?" about said hockey game, which was just horrible to watch. No matter what happens the rest of the way out, Michigan is going to look back at this game and that 2-1 loss against Western ruefully. Yost Built has a recap of the Saturday game.
Meanwhile, the basketball team had a two point lead when I checked in with the internet and then proceeded to score once more before the game was totally out of hand, dropping M to 3-3 in the league and reviving panicked talk about the NIT. The Ace of Sports and UMHoops have a glimpse at what went down.
Also, I'm about to be in a car for an extended period of time so this and the TomVH interview I'll frontpage shortly are the sum of the day's content. On and popping, as the kids say, tomorrow, with Tuesday Recruitin' and all that jazz.
Return of the mack. The advent of the season had many, many deleterious effects on morale around these parts. One of the more underrated ones the discontinuation of articles about Mike Barwis making you vomit and then turning you into Teen Wolf. I guess the media decided to focus on things like "humiliating losses" and "the second worst season in eighty years" instead, because they hate Michigan.
It's now the offseason, though. What better time for a reprise?
One thing they’re not used to … Barwis Beach, a new sand pit in Oosterbaan Field House. They like it now, said Barwis, adding they won’t when they find out throwing up in sand is just as unpleasant as vomiting on a hard surface.
“It’s utilized for speed and explosive training,” said Barwis. “Forces dissipate more on sand than they do on a hard surface, a rigorous surface, so by doing explosive drills in there with extension we can make sure we really get triple extension from the ankle to the knee and hip to allow for the body to be its most effective running position. Doing acceleration drills in sand will allow them to do more things they can’t do on hard surfaces.”
Vomit, Teen Wolf, extremely reassuring mumbo-jumbo about explosive triple extension acceleration: it's good to have you back, Barwis Porn. I missed you.
Tangentially related. Rodriguez was invited to speak at the high school coaching convention and spent a lot of time attempting to explain that he's not Satan McRecruitsOnlyFlorida. The Battle Creek Enquirer has a brief story on and some video of the event—no embed possible, sorry—if you're interested.
This is the tangent: at the end of it, Rodriguez has finished his speech and is answering a couple questions from a reporter as someone else speaks to the coaches in the background. Someone very loud. Someone very distracting. Someone who sounds like he's gargling gravel. So I'm listening to this and getting sort of annoyed that it's hard to hear Rodriguez when I have an epiphany: holy pants, that's Barwis.
Meetings of doom(!). The NCAA's having one of their many annual meetings in which various ways to shorten football games without enraging the public are discussed. Other topics of interest this year include academics:
Two committees are looking into potentially startling remedies — a fifth year of playing eligibility, a non-playing "year of readiness" for junior college transfers and others with academic deficiencies, scheduling constraints in basketball — and will brief the Division I board of directors during the four-day gathering that ends Saturday.
Another, more radical measure being weighed by the football academic enhancement panel headed by Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione: earmarking a portion of revenues from non-conference "guarantee games" to cover summer school costs, add academic staff or provide other academic support. "We're certainly not trying to make institutional decisions," Castiglione says. "But we think people have to move away from the excuse of not having the necessary academic resources.
…and what to do with the coaches poll, including this horrible idea:
As for possibly going back to having every vote anonymous, Teaff said professional pollsters have told the AFCA there will be a more honest vote if the balloting is done without being attached to a name, as the final December vote is that helps determine the teams who play in the BCS title game. He said coaches might feel pressure to cover themselves with their conference teams.
The only thing worse than having a group of people suffused with naked self-interest vote on who should be in the national championship game is having that group of people do so anonymously. The coaches poll shouldn't be allowed to participate in the selection process unless it's willing to publicize their ballots, period. If that causes coaches to cover themselves with conference mates, the issue is not the open ballot, it's having vast conflicts of interest in your pollsters.
If Mack Brown or any other coach is serious about killing the BCS as quickly as possible he'll take the opportunity provided by the final ballot of the year and, for example, vote Texas #1 and not vote for Oklahoma at all. Coaches poll = dead. BCS = some wack computer rankings and a bunch of ancient men who don't even watch football.
As for the academic stuff: the fifth year of eligibility is academic reform? We have a situation now where a lot of schools are shuffling marginal players onto medical scholarships or encouraging them to transfer or outright cutting them (in Ray Ray McElrathbey's case) so they can cram more guys aboard the SS Sketchy; adding a fifth year of eligibility will only exacerbate this trend.
If you want real academic reform, remove the motivation to ever have a kid leave the program: once a player is signed or enrolled, his scholarship counts against your total for four years even if he fails out or transfers or shoots up a Dairy Queen or is lost to injury. Naturally, you'll have to increase the number of scholarships available to account for average attrition. This will never happen, obviously, but I'd encourage any portion of it: a two or three year commitment from a school for signing a LOI would be a step in the right direction, too.
Missed one. I mentioned the midterm Central Scouting rankings from the NHL last week, hitting on the whole of the 2009 class but missing one of Michigan's 2010 recruits: Mac Bennett. Bennett is a defenseman from Rhode Island ranked #63—third or fourth round—by Central Scouting. Also his hockey coach might have literary ambitions:
"I first saw Mac as an eighth grader competing in a bantam tournament at the Berkshire School and you could tell right away that he was the smartest player on the ice," White told NHL.com. "He had terrific vision, could pass the puck very well and made very good decisions. He's a tough kid in the sense that he never shies away. He's not afraid to go into the corner with anybody; he's comfortable in dark places."
That's part of an extensive article on Bennett from NHL.com. Michigan beat out Boston College for Bennett's services and he should be a fixture on the blueline upon arrival.
Cowherd: still stupid. Not that anyone needed confirmation of this, but to set the record straight on the Great Cowherd Douchebaggery of 2007:
Earlier this week Colin Cowherd was talking about the necessary separation of communication between fans and folks like owners and the media. The ESPN radio host discussed his own experience and loosely mentions the incident years back between he and the now defunct M Zone. He tells his listeners, “that guy, at the M Zone, is the reason you guys can send me emails all day and I can’t send them back.”
This is a warped version of reality. When you are an ESPN "personality" and you respond to a curt but basically correct email with this:
WE WERE SENT IT....WE HAD NO IDEA..BUT THE INCESSANT WHINING...MEANS I WON'T GIVE YOU CREDIT NOW..GET OVER IT
The reason you can't send emails to your readers is because you're a douchebag.
Etc.: This Bill James essay is 20 years old but remarkably prescient about "insiders" and "outsiders." MVictors has an interview with Pete Tiernan of bracketscience.com. Rumeal Robinson is not a fan of Steve Fisher. College hockey realignment seems to be coming, but UNO won't be a part of it.
So, for some reason I started googling Michigan's 2010 hockey recruits. Coverage of junior hockey in the US being what it is,—nonexistent—this is usually a fruitless exercise, but Clare did turn up a couple of interesting items. Like this, for instance:
Clare is in white and the "clear loser" of this fight according to the 1996-vintage website dropyourgloves.com, but, hey, you can fight in college anyway. Meanwhile, I missed this article on Clare published shortly after his late November commitment. He's the captain of the U17 team:
The butterflies vanished when he walked into the locker room before his first game and found a 'C' stitched on his jersey, everyone crowding his locker and pelting him with congratulatory slaps on the back.
If anyone doubted the 'C' belonged on his jersey, he did his best to change their minds on his very first shift.
"We were on the faceoff and a kid was giving me crap about something, and he was like 'What you gonna do about it?' and I said, 'You wanna go?'" the 6-2, 185-pound Clare recalled.
They dropped the gloves. Clare's much more than a punching lunk, though. I get the impression he's on track to be picked in the top three rounds of the NHL draft, though that's a pretty vague impression.
Fellow 2010 D commit Mac Bennett came in from some praise from USHR in September*:
5’11”. 170 lb. Hotchkiss defenseman and Michigan recruit Mac Bennett is a smooth skater who reads plays smartly, and excels in the transition game. He’s going to be an excellent college player. Smallish for a pro defenseman, but rates highly in every other are, so he will be drafted.
I keep saying this, but I like saying it so here goes again: if the 2010 hockey recruiting class hits campus intact it will be ridiculous. Knock on wood.
*(USHR is a subscription service but one that frees its archives after three months.)