go go go
Pro combat. I have not linked any of the brilliant Pro Combat uniforms being proposed by BHGP yet. Let me correct that error now with the MSU edition:
I'll be on the floor over here trying to breathe for the next twenty minutes. Here's the Michigan edition, which is terrifying in its plausibility.
Down that path we should not tread… RossWB of BHGP takes down the 6-1-1 model currently on offer from the bigger and worser SEC:
There may be reasons to expand -- money, exposure, money, prestige, money -- but short of a radical transformation of college football scheduling (i.e., more conference games, fewer games with money-spinning non-conference patsies) the end result is going to be fewer games against the teams that (for the most part) we've been playing against for a century. Fewer games against the teams that we know, against the teams that we love to hate. The overall advantages of adding Nebraska (probably) outweighed the costs (although I'm still bitter about the damage it's wrought on the Iowa-Wisconsin rivalry), but expanding past 12 teams would effectively be splitting the league in two. We'd be two leagues under one roof, with a rich, intertwined, and shared history... but a future that would share little but revenue statements and logos.
I'm done caring about money. No one gets the money. It does not go to players, it mostly comes from fans who are finding out exactly how much they will spend on this stuff, and it's not helping the league in its effort to compete nationally.
Take your annual story about the 26 million dollars that's being distributed, which is up X percent from Y dollars last year, roll it up, and use it to spank yourself. You've been naughty, droid putting out story about X million dollars. None of that money goes to anything other than an ever-expanding cadre of athletic department marketers and facilities for minor sports I'm indifferent to. I don't care if the TV contract is bigger. I do care that they've taken the OSU game and made it a cross-division game because they think maybe they'll get lucky once a decade and get a little more money. Football programs are not publicly traded corporations.
…but Brady says we will anyway. Hoke's opinion of where it's going:
“I think really in about three years you’ll see four super conferences, and I think the Big East will go away and maybe the ACC. But look, I’m just a coach. I don’t know all of it.”
The Big East has essentially already gone away, but I'm not sure how you get to the superconferences in the west. The Pac-12 would need to add Boise State and… then who? It seems like the best shot was annihilating the Big 12, leaving the SEC to pick up some pieces. Now you're talking about truly ludicrous geographic fits or extreme reaches on the part of the Big 12 and Pac-12.
Organizational side note. In the above post, Ross steals a Dawg Sports idea and suggests the Big Ten toss divisions entirely and instead play a schedule featuring three permanent rivalry opponents (Michigan's are MSU, OSU, and Minnesota) and rotate the other five games annually. The obvious problem with that is the NCAA's purposeless regulation dictating that championship games can only occur when your conference has two divisions in which everyone plays a round-robin.
If the Big Ten can work around that, it's interesting. The permanent opponents are not quite equitable—Minnesota's permanent rivals are Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan; Northwestern's are Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue—but it would mean Michigan would see the other opponents 5/8ths of the time (3/4ths if there was a ninth game) instead of the current system of playing some of the teams all of the time and others 40% of the time.
In the end, you cannot solve the problem without more games, as the SEC is finding out now…
So this is what things have come to.
@schadjoe LSU AD Joe Alleva said if Alabama wants to play Tennessee every year it could schedule a non-conference game
I wonder if Missouri’s AD still has the same rosy thoughts about how everyone in the SEC operates with the mindset of what’s in the best interest of the league.
I can’t speak for him, but if I still give a shit about college football in five years, I’ll be amazed.
…your choices are not playing the games, not playing the cupcakes, or coming up with a weird dynamic scheduling system. The guys in charge are going with door #1 because their brains are wired to believe they've got a quarterly report due Tuesday.
A year later, Jim Tressel has no ill will toward Ohio State
In other news, Mike Leach has no ill will towards bears.
This is not fluff? I really thought this article on Michigan's drop-in with the Navy SEALs was going to be fluffy fluff fluff but it's actually a detailed look at what went on that is worth a read. Example:
"Are you a better leader today than you were a year ago?" Harden asked.
About halfway through the players' answers, Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson offered a surprising response.
"I feel like I haven't grown," Robinson said. "For me to be the quarterback at the University of Michigan, I feel like I have to grow up a lot and be a lot more accountable."
Also it seems like Michigan is taking advantage of a soon-to-be-closed loophole here, as Schlabach adds in a sidebar that…
Michigan football officials told ESPN.com that Big Ten Conference compliance officials cleared their football team's recent senior trip to California because it involved leadership and life skills, which is permissible under NCAA rules. The Wolverines paid for the trip through a special fund in the athletics department's operating budget.
…so okay at least some of the money is going towards life skilling the players.
BONUS! The ND series has taken a turn, hasn't it?
Crane, who is from Arizona and served three deployments to Iraq, admitted to the Wolverines that he's a Notre Dame fan.
"Unfortunately, my team is Notre Dame," Crane said. "You guys have hammered them over the years. I'll try not to take it out on you on Friday morning."
should have sent… a poet
You 14-year-olds have no idea how good you have it in re: ND. Not so much with the MSU. There's going to be a point four or five years in the future when the student body has an inexplicably strong hatred of MSU.
UPDATE! I still don't care about 2014 football recruiting.
Wat. Via Midnight Maize, you can own this:
Whatever it is.
Chesson! I'm totally spoiling the surprise on the MGoSleeper of the year by constantly talking about Jehu Chesson, but oh well. Meinke follows up with Chesson in the aftermath of his impressive track performances and gets this quote out of him:
"It could just be a placebo effect, but I feel I can break tackles better because I have a stronger core," he said.
This is an impressive level of introspection from a high school kid, one the other quotes reinforce. Fast, tall, smart, and wears cool shades: good package.
Etc.: The USA took it on the chin from Brazil last night but at least Clint Dempsey's bitch please face is operating at full capacity. A national treasure, Clint Dempsey. Buckeye fan tweets at LTT collected. Nick Saban gets snippy. Graham Watson wonders if bidding out the title game is a bad idea because it's tradition to get ripped off by useless dudes. Les Miles rages against the LSU-Florida crossover game.
Where have you gone, Zach Putnam? [Via Roar of the Tigers.]
Michigan fired baseball coach Rich Maloney yesterday, a precipitous fall for a guy who was being heavily courted by SEC schools a couple years ago. Tennessee interviewed him five years back, whereupon Maloney signed the contract that just expired. Back then there were a number of future major-leaguers on the roster. Now not so much.
What happened? I have a little inside baseball (HAIKM) on this one: when his assistant Jake Boss was hired at Eastern Michigan this crippled his recruiting. Reports from guys being recruited at the time say it was Boss who was the face of the program and that Maloney did not have a boots-on-the-ground approach to recruiting. It's kind of like what would happen to Red if he lost both of his assistants, played in a mid-major league, and was not Red Berenson.
Boss was boss enough for Michigan State to pick him up after just one year and the turnaround in their fortunes has been obvious:
|2005||42-19, NCAA bid||22-31|
|2006||43-21, Big Ten double, NCAA bid||24-29|
|2007||42-19, Big Ten title, reach super-regionals||25-26|
|Boss leaves for EMU|
|2008||46-14, Big Ten tourney title, NCAA bid||26-30|
|Boss joins MSU|
|2011||17-37||36-21, Big Ten champs|
MSU's coach before Boss left to be the pitching coach at LSU. They weren't going to get rid of the guy just for going .500. They loved that. The year before he arrived they were ninth in the league. That's the kind of program we're dealing with. Boss's title year was the sixth-most wins in the history of the program. Their 2011 title was their first since 1979. This is not quite as impressive as Purdue breaking its streak of not winning since 1909(!!!), but it's still pretty impressive.
Meanwhile Michigan cratered a year after Boss left, finishing tenth in the league the last two years. Wisconsin doesn't have a program, so that's last and second from last. It was time to let the guy go.
I won't pretend to have my pulse on the beating heart of college baseball, but it's doubtful Michigan can recapture the magic they had in the middle of the last decade when a couple of local stars who both pitched and hit (Putnam, Abraham) decided to stay local. Their impact on the program was huge, especially Putnam. Unless the balance of college baseball recruiting changes drastically for no good reason, that's the kind of thing that has to happen for Michigan to be the kind of team that can host the charity northern regional.
Failing that, being one of the two or three or four (now that Nebraska is around) Big Ten teams in contention for the league's autobid year-in and year-out is something to shoot for. I doubt they'll make a run at Boss—that might ruin Brandon and Hollis's golf outing—but they probably should.
If they don't latch on to Boss they should hire someone who can make it warm in February. Nothing else is going to help the Big Ten other than leaving the NCAA entirely.
Out: Matt Roth, Tom Pritchard, Verdell Jones, maybe Christian Watford, probably not Cody Zeller.
In: Yogi Ferrell (5*), Hanner Perea(5*), Jeremy Hollowell(4*), Peter Jurkin (3*), Ron Patterson(3*).
Status: A chic pick for big things next year, the Hoosiers lose only a few seniors who didn't contribute much. Roth and Pritchard saw about 25% of Indiana's minutes, and while Roth hit a spectacular 55% of his threes he only took five twos. His 82 shots will go to good homes. Pritchard was terrible at everything. Oft-injured Verdell Jones provided some assists, but had an ugly turnover rate and poor ORtg. No one will be pined for next year.
Meanwhile, the incoming class is loaded. Yogi Ferrell was a McDonald's All-American and seems a lot like Trey Burke except with bunches of extra hype; Hanner Perea and Jeremy Hollowell played on a virtual Big Ten All Star team in that game GRIII got the MVP in and impressed. Add those guys to a virtually intact roster that sees its best player go from freshman to sophomore and you can see the outlines of a very, very good team.
Question in need of resolving: Can they play defense?
The Big Ten featured three of the top five defenses in the country, all of whom received Sweet Sixteen seeds. The other two B10 outfits to do so were Michigan (60th defensively) and Indiana (64th). Michigan's problems were obvious: they played Zack Novak at the four most of the year and had one legit post defender after Jon Horford was sidelined with a foot injury early in the year. They'll fix those issues with an influx of size and athleticism.
Indiana's defense has fewer easy solutions. They'll probably start the same guys they did this year, and that means a lot of Jordan Hulls blowbys. That's something you can live with when a guy is shooting 49% from three. It's also the thing that may keep Indiana from being as lights out as people expect.
Out: Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Evan Smotrycz, Carlton Brundidge, Colton Christian, maybe Trey Burke.
In: Mitch McGary(5*), Glenn Robinson III (4.5*, right), Nick Stauskas (4*), maybe Amedeo Della Valle (3*) or other late pick-up.
Status: The departure of Smotrycz, the only guy to hit some shots in Michigan's first-round tourney flameout, puts a damper on expectations that had begun to tower relative to the program's recent success. Before that Michigan's departures were seniors who built the program despite talent deficiencies; their recruits were versions of their current players after a power mushroom.
Now… well, they're probably still fine. It was a struggle to find minutes for the two incoming five stars and Smotrycz since Michigan has two upperclassmen at the five and Tim Hardaway at the three. Jamming everyone into the four left me projecting Mitch McGary would manage 15 minutes a game next year.
It's actually the least-heralded recruit who may be the most important: Nick Stauskas figures to step right into the starting lineup at shooting guard and is the most plausible guy on the roster to give Burke a little bit of rest here and there. If he's truly the deadeye shooter he's reputed to be, Michigan's three-heavy offense could finally reach the heights of efficiency last year's Indiana team scraped.
Michigan is boned if Trey Burke leaves. They'd probably hobble into the tournament still, if only just.
Question in need of resolving: Is Tim Hardaway an elite talent or not?
Hardaway entered his sophomore year a potential All-American and exited it the Big Ten's leading bomb-chucker despite shooting 28% from three. He picked up little of the shot-creation slack in the aftermath of Darius Morris's departure and played indifferent defense. Flashes here and there and a relatively efficient end to the season could not obscure the massive disappointment.
Now entering his junior year it's time for everyone to find out whether Hardaway is truly an NBA talent or a guy headed to Europe for the standard Quality Big Ten Player 15-Year Career.
Out: Draymond Green, Brandon Wood, Austin Thornton, maybe Branden Dawson if he can't recover from his ACL tear fast enough
In: Gary Harris (5*), Matt Costello (4*), Kenny Kaminksi (3.5*), Denzel Valentine (3.5*)
Status: Losing Green will force a massive restructuring of the program. Green was an All-American who finished as the Kenpom POY, which means he's a high-usage player with a good assist to turnover rate and buckets of rebounds. Those are rare. Wood was also a major piece of the MSU renaissance; while Thornton had no usage he finished fifth in ORtg thanks to 48% shooting from three and 87% from the line on an inexplicably high number of free throw attempts.
Branden Dawson's ACL throws a wrench into this transformation. Mostly a three last year, Green's exit seemingly opened the door for him to move to the four, where his lack of shooting would be less of an issue and his rebounding could become even more pestilential to defenses. Now he's going to spend the summer rehabbing instead of adjusting, and while an ACL is generally regarded as a six-month injury these days that still puts him behind the curve when the season kicks off.
If Dawson doesn't move to the four Izzo will either have to field both of his posts at the same time—a dodgy proposition what with their conditioning issues—or go to a Beilein-esque lineup featuring freshman stretch four Matt Costello. Which might not be a bad idea. Kid is 6'10", can shoot threes—something MSU's offense has gotten used to lately—and poured in points en route to Mr. Basketball.
/shakes fist at Izzo recruiting all of Beilein's perfect power forwards
Question in need of resolving: This will become a theme, but do they have a point guard?
While Keith Appling managed the position decently this year, he's more of a natural two-guard. Without Green taking a near-equal share of the shot-generation duties he may find there's too much on his plate to be an effective distributor, scorer, and defender. He seemed to suffer late this year when an outside shooting slump saw his three-point shooting dip to 25%. MSU will be better off if they can move some of Appling's duties to other players.
This is where Harris comes in. He's got the rep and the skill; if he steps into the lineup at the one immediately and performs MSU will maintain their high level of performance from a year ago.
Out: Jordan Taylor, Rob Wilson
In: Sam Dekker (5*, right)
Status: Remember when we were getting all defensive about Wisconsin's Kenpom ranking? Point Kenpom. The Badgers recovered from a 1-3 Big Ten start to finish 12-6 in the league, get a four seed, and come within one point of Syracuse in the Sweet 16.
Next year is anyone's guess. They're replacing their version of Draymond Green: Jordan Taylor sucked up 25% of Wisconsin possession in his 36 minutes a game, had a massive assist rate, never turned the ball over, and shot… well, not well. But pretty well for a guy who seemed to get the ball 30 feet from the basket with five on the shot clock ten times a game. Unlike Michigan State they do not have anyone remotely plausible to plug in the large shoes of the departed.
They do have Sam Dekker, though, and Sam Dekker is the truth. A 6'8" small forward with range and burst, you can add Dekker to the long list of Wisconsin players John Beilein has naughty dreams about. They also return every player of note other than Taylor. If the swing offense can sustain itself in an environment where there is not a primary shot generator, the Badgers can expect similar success next year.
Question in need of resolving: Does Wisconsin need a point guard? Because they don't have one.
Right now their players under 6'6" are Ben Brust and Josh Gasser, guys with assist rates of 7.9 and 11.3, respectively. Gasser's going to have to be the guy, I guess. How do you feel about heaping Jordan Taylor's job on a guy who used 13% of Wisconsin's possessions despite being on the floor 85% of the time?
You might feel fine about this. You might not. Either Gasser is on everyone's lips as the most improved player in the conference or we're going to find out what happens when Bo Ryan doesn't have even the vaguest semblance of a point guard.
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.
So this is both late and half-assed. Apologies. Probably worth it, though: the Brian things done today included a minimal amount of driving around listening to the Smiths but were mostly attending the Novi Glazier clinic to hear Greg Mattison talk about the Michigan defense and Darrell Funk talk over my head about inside zone minutiae. Then I got home and crashed to sleep because getting up at 7 AM is not part of the regular routine.
MSU IS HOCKEYBEAR TIME
|WHAT||Michigan at Michigan State|
|WHERE||Fri: Munn Ice Arena
Sat: Joe Louis Arena
|WHEN||7:35 PM Friday/Saturday|
|LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
Record. 15-11-4, 10-9-3 CCHA. State is one of the cast of a thousand CCHA teams hovering around the middle of the CCHA pack and solidly on the NCAA tournament bubble. They are tied for 13th with Northern Michigan (who Michigan will face next weekend) and will either play themselves in or out over the last few weeks of the season. Get ready for another super-motivated team. Oh, and they're also Michigan State.
Thanks to Michigan's demolition job on Miami last weekend and MSU's sweep of imploding OSU, it's now the Spartans who have the second-best goal differential in the league at +8. Michigan is +19 and has an easier closing schedule than the Spartans, who must travel to ND to finish the regular season.
Previous meetings. Michigan pulled out of its November tailspin with a four-point weekend against MSU in early December. The games were close: Michigan won 4-3 on Friday and a 3-3 tie followed. State won the shootout, something that seemed pointless then but may end up costing Michigan the CCHA title.
In the Friday night game shots favored MSU 34-27 largely thanks to a 14-3 blitz in the third period as MSU narrowed a 4-1 game to one goal. MSU was 2/3 on the PP. Shots were almost even in the Saturday game; MSU again scored on the PP. In general penalties were few and far between, with just eight on the weekend.
Michigan continued its renaissance at the GLI when Luke Moffatt tossed a puck in front of the net on a 6x4 power play with 50 seconds left. Kevin Lynch deflected it in and nine minutes into overtime Lee Moffie and Kevin Clare combined for a beauty OT winner.
Dangermen. Considering the position he plays, defenseman Torey Krug is far and away MSU's best offensive player and has a case for the best one in the league. His 8-16-24 is not quite a PPG and he is the primary weapon on MSU's power play with five goals.
Forwards Lee Reimer, Brett Perlini, and Greg Wolfe are also in the 27-23 point range.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. State is platooning senior Drew Palmisano and sophomore Will Yanakeff. Yanakeff has the better save percentage (.927 vs .914) and GAA (2.37 vs 2.77). The gap is not so large that it would be a Blasi-level error to continue splitting starts.
The aforementioned Krug is MSU's top defenseman; the rest of the guys are stay at home types with little profile. No MSU defenseman has been drafted. (Side note: only three(!) MSU players have been drafted, period, and two of them are former first rounder Daultan Leveille and Trevor Nill, who have 14 points between them. Thank you Comley clap clap clap.)
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||3.8||3.9|
|PP Ag / G||4.0||4.1|
Two mediocre power plays face off; State's penalty kill is significantly better than Michigan's and one of the top ones in the country. Given the shocking lack of penalties so far when these teams go head to head it might not matter much… unless State goes 3/5 on the PP over the weekend.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
I'm going to skip this section since it is of debatable utility and the game is in like an hour.
This is where I note that Chris Brown is out on Friday thanks to the fight-type substance at the end of Saturday's Miami game, which will draw Luke Moffatt up to the first line and (presumably) Andrew Sinelli onto the fourth line. Which Lynch pops up on the third line is an open question. Obviously, breaking up the rampant first line is suboptimal.
Also, CenterIce's preview includes some revealing +/- numbers: MSU has very little depth. On D Krug and Shelgren are +17 and +11, respectively; everyone else is treading water at best. Reimer and Wolfe are the only MSU forwards with double digit +/- in the right direction. Michigan will have a big advantage when one of their top two pairings is on the ice opposite someone other than Krug and Shelgren.
The Big Picture
With the Miami sweep Michigan hops up to an extremely precarious second in the RPI and Pairwise; they can solidify that spot (or at least a one seed) by doing better than split. MSU's got a nice enough RPI that a split will actually improve Michigan's, albeit barely. Going 1-1 against a TUC is a negative… in all it's a push. Michigan would likely slide behind someone behind them who sweeps. At the top of the mountain you can't tread water.
Anything better than a split and Michigan is cooking. Getting swept would be bad but far from fatal on the quest for a one-seed.
As far as the conference goes, Michigan would really like to gain points on Ferris this weekend; the Bulldogs take on Notre Dame before finishing with BGSU and WMU. If Ferris pushes their edge out any further than the one game it's already at it will be hard for Michigan to pass them on the final weekend.
2/5/2012 – Michigan 54, Michigan State 64 – 17-7, 7-4 Big Ten
Playing in Breslin without any tall people was exactly as frustrating as you would expect; Kenpom nailed that particular game down to the point. The way things played out was equally as easy to predict. Michigan struggled immensely to generate shots after Izzo locked down most of Michigan's tricks and niblets. Easy buckets reduced, State annihilated Michigan on the boards, and that was that.
It's hard to get worked up about that after the fact. It was painful during; after it was obvious. The four factors graph might as well read "chalk":
Michigan lost this game on the boards.
This is the kind of thing I was talking about after the Ohio State game. There's only so much you can do when you're running out one guy taller than 6'5" against very large men in a hostile environment. Michigan is at a severe disadvantage against teams with elite size and athleticism.
That's no shame. It does make games like Sunday's uphill battles dependent on lighting it up from three. If this was part of, say, a decade-long slump with no light at the end of the tunnel it might be an occasion to rend the garments a little further. In the context of the last two years of Michigan basketball it's just another indication that Michigan isn't quite there yet.
Since the direction is clear, patience is easy. Two or three hours after the game, anyway.
Michigan has pulled through their brutal Kenpom stretch 3-3 with only the first ten minutes against Arkansas a real disappointment. At this point a tournament bid is basically in the bag. They need two more wins to hit .500 and have seven opportunities to do so, two of which are against Nebraska and Penn State. After fighting through six games against Kenpom top ten opponents in the first 11 games, they have just one in their final seven. Realistic goals include a 12-6 conference record—Beilein's best ever in a power conference—and a Sweet 16 seed.
I'll take it.
Oh, Hardaway. That game was the tipping point when the internet stopped whispering about what's going on with Tim Hardaway Jr. and started yelling uncomplimentary things. And… after going 1 for 10 and meekly saying "thank you sir" on a first-half MSU layup in the midst of months and months of clanged long shots it's hard to disagree with even the foamiest internet commenters.
Hardaway has been a huge disappointment. Burke is a freshman and not Darius Morris. He can only do so much. He needs help and he's getting more of it from Stu Douglass than Hardaway over the past six or seven games. It would be one thing if Hardaway was just in a shooting slump; add in the bad defense and bad shot selection and it's… well, it's not good.
I'm at a loss as to where to go from here: Hardaway is hugely inefficient and his defense is indifferent at best but the main option off the bench in his stead is a three-point specialist shooting 21%. There's nothing you can do except ride the lightning and hope some of those twos from right inside the three point line go down. Michigan just has to live with it and hope he starts finding a scoring touch.
At least the NBA isn't a threat, amirite?
BONUS disappointment: Michigan really needs Hardaway to rebound in this small lineup since he's the second-biggest and most-athletic guy; he had one offensive and one defensive as MSU grabbed almost half of their misses. On the season he's rebounding almost exactly as well as Trey Burke. I just don't know, man.
Novak and Douglass. Nails in this game just like they've been in virtually every other game. Novak was 5 of 8 for 14 points; Douglass only had five points but put up five assists and no turnovers. That's especially impressive when Michigan only had 19 made field goals.
Novak had a hand in Green's face as he knocked down a ton of tough fallaway jumpers; not much you can do about that.
There is small and there is too small. The Smotrycz at the five thing is maybe something you can get away with for a few minutes per game. It is not suited for all of Evan's minutes. Blake McLimans may not be great but at least putting him out there is less of a hilarious mismatch against whoever the post dude is.
Assuming the OSU game is a longshot this will not be hugely relevant down the stretch except against Illinois, whose best offense is tossing it to seven-footer Myers Leonard in the post and seeing what happens. The rest of their offense is Brandon Paul running around being inefficient. Michigan needs to find a way to neutralize the Leonard matchup, and that's not putting Smotrycz on the block.
Well fine then. Draymond Green backed it up.
It is difficult enough to win on the road, but with the current makeup of this team, we will lose to teams like Michigan State and Ohio and even some lesser teams--like Arkansas--that are able to surgically pinpoint our major weaknesses via their own specific approach to the game of basketball. I realize that is a little bit of an unfair (and crude) point to make, as teams like MSU and Ohio are very good teams; most teams lose to them. That is why they are ranked so highly. With that said, after these sorts of games have ended, I've been fairly at ease. As fun as this season has been, we are not even close to being on the same level as these sorts of opponents. Perhaps that will change next year when talented reinforcements will bring skills sets that Ann Arbor hasn't seen in some time. I guess this is all a roundabout way of saying that the way the Spartans beat us was not at all surprising, and that I guess this isn't so negative after all since I'm not all that upset. If you can't tell, sometimes I devote many more words to a simple concept than are probably necessary; it's a personal flaw of mine.
UMHoops recap. I don't think "chemistry" is the problem with Hardaway's play. It doesn't take chemistry to rebound and play D, or choose good shots. Photos from UMHoops. Baumgardner on how MSU slowed Burke. UMHoops rounds up Big Ten action.