"It's a lot easier being a drug dealer than an AAU coach" - this guy. Tell me something I don't know. I mean, don't think but have never tried either.
This is the first 5-0 when I've ever felt like "I'm pretty happy hoops/hockey season is starting." Part of that is me being a worry wart about Gardner vs. Road Performances (scroll down). Part of it is the basketball team practice reports are a ticker tape of "youguysyouguysyouguysyouguys!" The last of it is something happened last night that didn't get the proper treatment it deserves. Let me rectify that now.
We Beat Beantown Muppets
And you can't have one without the other...
National title contender Boston College came to Yost last night for the hockey season opener and Michigan beat them 3-1. Washes away last year? Not at all. Changes the likelihood of coming out of a brutal non-conference schedule with enough tournament credentials to make up for a relatively eh Big Ten? Definitely. From people who've gotten to see it I'm hearing Compher is something between a second Copp and a god. Next step is revenge on R.I.T.
HTTVHoops/Hockey contributor MGoBlueline is probably running around in circles after last night. BEFORE last night however they dropped an exhibition 2-1 to Waterloo and that was harrowing.
His response was to experiment with Corsi, a stat named for the guy who came up with it that measures the carry of play by tapping blocked shots and misses as well as shots on goal. It's a think brought up a lot in games Waterloo and every Red Wings loss from 1995-2012, where one team carried the play for two periods and probably earned a draw on the other, but were done in by more than just bad puck. You can make it a % too to come away with an idea of defensive performance:
Theory: fewer pucks end up on goal if the defense is getting in their way.
Weeklies. Best and Worst by bronxblue was effusive in its praise after two weeks and a bye of things to be mad about. At first I didn't get the part about Mitch Leidner being mini-Tebow, but now that I've seen the broadcast oh man: my Sparty brother isn't an RCMB'er but even he was like "wow these announcers just hate your guys." Inside the Box Score by ST3 had about 12 Blues Brothers/Belushi shirts that might have been better than my PSU excuses one. LSAClassOf2000 is just trolling Purdue now. Turnover Analysis says not turning it over=good. Jonvalk went there with the weekly wallpaper, is probably going there for it. Program.
Etc. Bill an I agree: Ohio State and Northwestern only made each other look terrifying.
[Jump: Best of the Board, Zen]
All better. Denard doppleganger détente, dastardly dialogue defused:
That is downright eerie. They are the same person.
Manball cyborg of yore. Have a desire to see Tom Coughlin get his face caved in Gary Moeller? (Very gradually, anyway.) Here you go:
The skill position talent that year was Desmond Howard, Derrick Alexander, Tyrone Wheatley, Ricky Powers, Elvis Grbac, and Dave Diebolt. That's insane, and Michigan played like it when not going up against Steve Emtmann. They put up at least 20 points in every game until losing to #1 Washington in the Rose Bowl, put up 30 eight times (including a 31-3 blowout of OSU), and cracked 40 five times against Big Ten opposition.
Deep as the sea. The Daily's Tim Rohan got Larry Foote and Jarrett Irons on the record about player payments; what they have to say is surprising unless it's completely unsurprising:
“It’s a lot bigger than Tressel,” said Foote, who was the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. “I’ve been telling people that. It’s a lot bigger. College atmospheres, big universities and athletic programs, they’re dirty — a lot of them are dirty. And coaches, they’ve got to take the fall.”
Both Foote and Irons said that in each of their own unique experiences they have come to understand it is common. Yet both denied any wrongdoing happening at Michigan.
“When I was at Michigan,” Foote continued, “that’s one thing I pride myself about Michigan, because the stories I hear about other teams with the money and the alumni and the stuff like that, the stuff I’m hearing — I mean it is brand new.
“And people don’t understand when they ask me, ‘How much money did you get?’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ I’ve never even heard of players at Michigan getting money. Not one story.
Irons is speaking from his experience attempting to recruit players to IMG, so he's a guy who would know. Michigan's compliance program coming down hard on anyone with a new car is recounted (again).
Maybe so? Previous skepticism about Notre Dame setting money on fire to join Hockey East because it has schools people have heard of (and by "schools" we mean "Boston College") is less skeptical now that one Jeff Jackson is on the record about it:
“It’s a possibility,” acknowledged Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. “I know our athletic director and associate athletic director are doing their due diligence in looking at all of the alternatives.” …
Jackson said they will be looking at being in a conference with “like-minded schools” and that pertains to academics and other areas in addition to athletics.
“It’s not just about the hockey end of it,” said Jackson. “And we’re also looking at our access to TV rights.”
There are still a lot of hurdles. Hockey East does not want an odd number of teams so a 12th would have to be added, whether that's CCHA-killing Miami or one of the Atlantic Hockey schools that would like to offer a full complement of scholarships.
I'm not a big fan of the move, which would put the CCHA on precarious footing, but what can you do?
Go on you Tangerines. I linked this series on one Canadian's excellent adventure at the bottom of the Premiership table already but I'll do it again so I can grab a paragraph. Blackpool has just gone from 2-1 up with 33 minutes left to safety to 4-2 down and relegated. The third goal—the crippling one—was an own-goal by Blackpool stalwart Ian Evatt. In the aftermath Evatt is just shattered (example @ right). Cue Blackpool fans:
Marvelously, the Blackpool fans were chanting “ONE IAN EVATT…THERE’S ONLY ONE IAN EVATT.” Evatt, a few yards up the pitch from Holloway, head down and shoulders slumped, turned an acknowledged the support with a wave. I’ve mentioned it before but the relationship between clubs and fans in Europe is so different from the relationships in North America. When Steve Smith scored in 1986 to eliminate the Oilers from the playoffs, he was met with something less than complete support from the fans in Edmonton. As great as the Edmonton fans were in the 2006 playoffs, it was unthinkable that Ty Conklin could take to the ice again after his mistake in Game 1 - he didn’t have the reserve of goodwill to draw on that Evatt did but even if he did, it’s tough to imagine him receiving this sort of support. By turning the sporting experience into the commodity that it’s become in North America, in explicitly turning it into a business from which profits are expected to be generated, the relationship is different. Fans aren’t supporters in North America in the way that they are in Europe - they’re consumers. If the product that the team is offering stinks or the team hits on tough times, they react like consumers who are receiving poor service.
I'd like to think that college sports have some insulation from that but once PSLs come in and uniformz are deployed and it's clear your money teat is being milked not at all gently—80 dollar Eastern Michigan ticket ho—the differences are less than you might like. At least there's a damned war about booing people after things like the Toledo game. That's not a matter up for debate in pro sports.
(As a side note, what a good idea for a vacation: go to England during the final week of the Premier league season and go to as many relegation battles as possible. That's quality sports tourism.)
The court is a lie. Nobody circles the wagons like non-fake Buckeyes, even if they're Penguins. Former YSU quarterback and booster largess recipient Ray Isaac:
Number one, I’m totally responsible for what I did at Youngstown State University. Every year, from the time I was on campus, from ’88 to ’91, Tressel had compliance seminars — not to deal with bookies, not to deal with drugs, not to deal with not buying or selling anything. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I met [booster] Mickey Monus. It is implied that on the first meeting that I had with Mickey Monus that I received $150. That is the biggest lie ever told. … Jim Tressel never ever knew anything about our dealings. I kept it secret. To say Coach Tressel knew about this car, or knew about this money, listen, the only way that anyone knew about the money I received from Youngstown State University was Mickey Monus got indicted on $1.1 million worth of embezzlement and fraud.
In 1988, according to court documents from a jury-tampering trial involving Mickey Monus, a wealthy school trustee and the founder of the Phar-Mor chain of drug stores, Tressel had called Monus about arranging a job for Isaac. The player and the CEO had never met, but Isaac told SI that he had heard of Monus's "philanthropist-type hand" from two basketball players. At his first meeting with Monus, Isaac received $150. According to the court documents, by the time he left Youngstown State, in 1992, Isaac had collected more than $10,000 in cash and checks from Monus and Monus's associates and employees. …
Three years later Monus was on trial for jury tampering in the government's first prosecution of him, which had ended in a hung jury. During this trial (at which Monus was found not guilty) Monus and Isaac, who had pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a juror on Monus's behalf, disclosed their financial dealings while Isaac was a student and alleged that Tressel had set these in motion with that first phone call.
A reporter covering the jury-tampering trial called the school and reported Monus's and Isaac's testimony, prompting an internal investigation. That probe revealed that Isaac's car was the worst-kept secret on campus. According to NCAA documents, all of Isaac's teammates who were interviewed "except one" knew about the car or had suspicions about it. Even people outside the football family knew. Pauline Saternow, then the school's compliance officer, had such misgivings about the car that she recused herself from the investigation committee because, according to Cochran, she did not feel she could be objective. Everyone raised an eyebrow -- except Tressel.
You can believe Ray Isaac, or you can believe Ray Isaac in court and all of Ray Isaac's teammates except the guy who you have to send all the Snopes links to.
Etc.: North Carolina braces for a notice of allegations from the NCAA. It will be a while before any penalties are clear but it sounds like UNC folk are expecting to take a scholarship hit of "minimal" intensity. LeCharles Bentley writes a David Mayo-level column for ESPN Cleveland: "[Denard Robinson, Braxton Miller, and Nathan Scheelhaase] would not have chosen the Big Ten if Pryor had not chosen the Big Ten — except perhaps Robinson. But that goes back to the point: Robinson followed Rich Rodriguez to Michigan in hopes of changing the landscape of the Big Ten."
UMHoops checks up on Robinson, Stauskas and possible (but probably not extant) third 2012 recruit. Greg Schiano wants to replace the punt with a 4th and 15 from the 30. I'm intrigued. We could actually shoot threes last year.
Boston College 62, Michigan 58
Michigan 3-3 (0-0 Big Ten)
Buckle down, Michigan hoops fans; it's going to be a long season in Ann Arbor. Not literally, of course, because this doesn't look like a team that will extend its year into the postseason. But long like painful, you see.
At one point in the second half, I tweeted "Holy crap, this looks like an Amaker team." The unfortunate thing is that I wasn't saying it to be mean-spirited, it was just true. Uninspired defensive play and poor decisions offensively made for a highly unentertaining (and ineffective) brand of basketball. Sure the officiating was pretty bad, but I think if the game had been reffed well, Michigan might have just ended up losing by a much wider margin.
As things stand, the 3-point shooting still isn't there. Stu Douglass seems to have lost all confidence, passing up two open looks with less than a couple minutes left in the game, and Michigan still within striking distance. That lack of confidence is the story of the team right now, and they have to break out of this slump (which included a 64% mark from the free throw line) if they want a chance to play for the tournament.
After the disappointment in Orlando, Boston College appeared to be Michigan's lone chance for a signature out-of-conference win. Now the Wolverines face the daunting task of winning in Salt Lake City against Utah or in Lawrence against Kansas for their resume booster. With the way they've performed over the last week, neither looks likely, and coming down with a single win in those two games is looking less and less possible.
Something has to be said, however, for the Wolverines' refusal to give up. It shouldn't take a 15-point deficit in the second half to light a fire under their asses, but at least when they finally started playing the damn game, it was a flash of brilliance. Now, that just needs to be harnessed, and put on display for more than 5 minutes per game.
- Coming out of Orlando, DeShawn Sims was somebody who needed to step up his game. He finished with as many fouls as points (4).
- A hearty cheer for Zack Gibson is in order. He's really developed into someone who can contribute on both ends of the floor, and he kept this team in the game toward the end.
- Manny went 1-6 from 3-point range, and the only make was banked in. He isn't shooting well early in the year, and the way to solve that problem does not involve jacking up contested shots on every other possession.
- As mentioned above, free throw shooting continues to be a problem. At this point in the year "early in the season" can no longer be an excuse. This team has to be better from the stripe. 70% is not good enough, especially for a team that shot over 75% last year.
- Ben Cronin is not ready to contribute against good teams. He made a hustle play, but still doesn't have the athleticism back after his hip surgery.
- Darius Morris had a nightmare game. He turned the ball over more times than he shot it (1 to 0).
- I, too, am shocked that the headline of this post was not used up during the football season.
- The official attendance was over 10,000, but I'll be damned if that's anywhere near accurate. The gold level on both baselines was completely empty.
- Yay for the Big Ten finally winning the ACC Challenge. It's a hollow victory without a Michigan win.
- "This [Boston College] is obviously a pretty good team. Or we're a really bad team." John Beilein, on the team's performance.
- "We're frustrated, but the thing about college basketball is you've got to bounce back." DeShawn Sims, on the three-game losing streak.
- "I think we're losing focus a little bit, and you can't do it. Teams are too good." Zack Novak, on the defensive struggles.
- "Even my first year, I don't think it was this bad shooting-wise." Manny Harris.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff heads to Crisler Arena at 2PM on Saturday. Beat the Golden Lions or whatever.
|WHAT||#36/31 Michigan v. Boston College|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
December 2nd, 2009
|THE LINE||Michigan -5.5*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The travel schedule for the Old Spice Classic makes it difficult for the Wolverines to prepare for a big game the following week, with only Tuesday to practice. That's the way of the Thanksgiving tournaments, however, and it's basically the same for every team. The team's weekend was disappointing, but they are young, especially in the backcourt, according to John Beilein. Darius Morris is still learning about the responsibility of being a D-1 point guard, and will only improve over time.
The team is still figuring out who plays the best in the zone defense, and Alabama did some things that the Wolverines hadn't seen before against the zone defense. There won't be mass personnel changes this week, but playing time will be adjusted for individual players.
The biggest woe for Michigan at this point in the year has been shooting. The Wolverines have a 46.6 eFG% at this point in the year, after reaching 50.3 last year. Part of that is getting Zack Novak more shots, according to Beilein, but a big part of it is the shooters just getting enough good looks, and stroking them with confidence.
Boston College is 4-2 so far this season, with both losses coming in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, to St. Joseph's and Northern Iowa. The Eagles beat South Dakota State in The Jam, and also beat Dartmouth, St. Francis, and Providence, with only the last coming away from home.
Boston College has been snake-bitten so far this year, suffering through numerous injuries. The biggest yet would be Joe Trapani (pictured above), the Eagles' leading scorer who has been suffering from flu-like symptoms this week. He currently leads the team in minutes played and points, and is second in rebounds and blocks. Coach Al Skinner says Trapani will likely be a game-time decision. Dylan of UMHoops adds on Twitter that the Eagles definitely won't have Rakim Sanders, and will probably be without Tyler Roche.
John Beilein wasn't so concerned with personnel losses for Boston College, noting that their team is 10 men deep, before adding, "I'll believe they're not at 100% when I see it."
It's far enough into the year that tempo-free stats might mean something, so here's the first tempo-free breakdown of the season. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Boston College: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Boston College Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. BC Def eFG%||220||165||B|
|Mich Def eFG% v. BC eFG%||226||75||BB|
|Mich TO% v. BC Def TO%||4||330||MMMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. BC TO%||33||66||M|
|Mich OReb% v. BC DReb%||259||68||BB|
|Mich DReb% v. BC OReb%||310||12||BBB|
|Mich FTR v. BC Opp FTR||253||20||BBB|
|Mich Opp FTR v. BC FTR||5||155||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. BC AdjD||137||206||M|
|Mich AdjD v. BC AdjO||133||13||BB|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
It's hard to read into Boston College's numbers as a predictor too much, since they have so many players either out or less than 100%. Still, they look like the slightly better team coming into this contest. I'd imagine Michigan's shooting improves at home, and the home crowd will play a factor as well.
With basketball season fast approaching, let's take a look at Michigan's non-conference schedule, and see what the Wolverines are up against this winter. A more thorough rundown of Saturday's opponent may be coming later this week, but it's pretty difficult to find information on D-2 teams.
November 14: Northern Michigan
Home, Big Ten Network
2009 Record: 11-16, 6-16 GLIAC
2009 Final RPI: N/A (Division 2)
2009 Final Pomeroy: N/A (Division 2)
Key Players: Guards Marc Renelique and Raymont McElroy led the team in scoring last year, with 14.2 and 13.0 points/game, respectively. Both have good size, at 6-2. McElroy is the team's sharpshooter, making 42.2% of his threes last year. Fellow guard Chris Warner was third on the team with 10.4 points/game, and he specialized at getting to the free throw line, with 136 attempts. Unfortunately, he only shot 68.4% from the stripe. He also led the team in rebounds and foul-outs.
Key Losses: Wing Tyler Kazmierkoski was fourth on the team in scoring at 10.4 points/game. He's not listed on the Northern roster, but was only a sophomore last year. 6-6 forward Kyle Greene is also not listed on the roster, and he was second on the team in boards last year. Both players are still on the team, per ESPN, so I don't know what to think.
Notes: If the GLIAC sounds familiar, it's because Michigan's only opponent to date, Wayne State, also hails from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Last year, Wayne finished 10-12 in the GLIAC, though they played in the opposite division. The teams met up twice, with the road team emerging victorious in each contest.
November 20: Houston Baptist
2009 Record: 4-25, Independent
2009 Final RPI: 312
2009 Final Pomeroy: 324
Key Players: Mario Flaherty is a 6-9 white guy with an Italian and Irish name. He played about 50% of the team's minutes last year, which doesn't sound like much. Except it's by far the most of any returning player. He's a banger down low, as the tallest guy on the team last year, he led in blocks and was second in drawing fouls. The only other contributor from last year's team that returns is 6-7 forward Fred Hinnenkamp, who had the worst offensive rating of anyone on the team, at 55.3.
Key Losses: This should be a pretty robust category, considering Baptist played 10 seniors last year, in addition to one sophomore, Jeremy Havard, who is no longer with the team. Just look at what Flaherty and Hinninekamp did last year, and keep in mind that EVERYTHING ELSE has been lost from the team. That includes the top 4 in minutes played, and the team's two most important players, forward Gordon Watt and guard Brandon Sauls.
Notes: This team was bad last year. This team loses almost every single ounce of production, both offensively and defensively from last year's team. It shouldn't be pretty in Crisler Arena come next Friday.
November 26: Creighton
Orlando, FL (Old Spice Classic), ESPN2
2009 Record: 26-7, 15-5 Missouri Valley
2009 Final RPI: 40
2009 Final Pomeroy: 76
Key Players: Junior guard P'Allen Stinnett led the team in minutes played and steals last year, in addition to getting fouled and going to the line frequently. Senior forward Justin Carter was the team's top rebounder both offensively and defensively, despite standing just 6-4. Senior Cavel Witter was the team's second point guard last season.
Key Losses: Creighton actually fielded a fairly young team last year (making them dangerous this season), but they did lose two important contributors. Guards Booker Woodfox(!) and Josh Dotzler were second and fourth, respectively, in minutes played. Dotzler led the team in assists, and was second nationally in steal percentage. Woodfox has an awesome name, and was by far the team's best shooter.
November 27 & 29: TBA
Orlando, FL (Old Spice Classic), ESPN or ESPNU
Notes: Michigan's 2nd and 3rd-round opponents will be determined by the results of Round 1. Possibilities for Round 2 are Marquette and Xavier. A more thorough preview of the Old Spice Classic as it approaches.
December 2: Boston College
Home (ACC/Big Ten Challenge), ESPN2
2009 Record: 22-11, 10-8 ACC
2009 Final RPI: 60
2009 Final Pomeroy: 69
Key Players: The Eagles only played one senior last year, so they return lots and lots of depth, particularly in their 6-man junior class. Forwards Joe Trapani and Corey Raji and wing Rakim Sanders are the most important returners form last year's team. The 6-6 Raji led the 2008-09 Eagles in offensive rating, rebounding, and HOLDING ON TO THE DAMN BALL. Trapani, at 6-9, was the best blocker and defensive rebounder. Sanders took the most shots on the team, on with good reason - he was the best shooter for BC. However, like junior center Josh Southern, he was known to get in a bit of foul trouble.
Key Losses: Tyrese Rice was the only Eagle who graduated this offseason. He played the most minutes on the team by a healthy margin, and racked up a good number of assists. He was also the only BC player who could consistently get to the free throw line.
Notes: Rice is a big loss, but Boston College should be able to absorb the departure of just one player. This should be the first really good test for the Wolverines. A home win here would also give the Big Ten a chance to (finally) win the BigTen/ACC Challenge. More on that as the event approaches.
December 5: Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Home, BigTenNetwork.com or ESPNU
2009 Record: 13-18, 12-8 SWAC
2009 Final RPI: 250
2009 Final Pomeroy: 311
Key Players: Senior guard Terrance Calvin was the team's leader last year, playing the most minutes, dishing out the most assists, and consistently drawing fouls. 6-7 forward Tyree Glass, a senior, took up the most possessions for the Golden Lions, while pulling down the most offensive rebounds and drawing the most fouls. Sophomore guard Savalance Townshend has an awesome name, and played the second-most minutes on the team, while committing the fewest fouls. Senior forward Tavaris Washington was the team's best shooter, and he was also second in both block percentage and steal percentage. He got to the foul line more than any other player for Pine Bluff.
Key Losses: Arkansas-Pine Bluff didn't have any seniors last year, but forward Ricky Parks and guard Eric Brooks are not on this year's roster. Parks got limited playing time and didn't accrue any meaningful stats, but Brooks played 41% of available minutes, and was the team's steals leader.
Notes: Pine Bluff will be Michigan's second experienced opponent in a row, though they don't have nearly the talent that Boston College does. They were a poor team last year, but should be improved. Off three days' rest, this could be a tough turnaround for Michigan, but both games are at home, and it's difficult (though not impossible) to see an upset in the making.
December 9: Utah
Away, CBS College Sports
2009 Record: 24-8, 15-4 Mountain West
2009 Final RPI: 9
2009 Final Pomeroy: 30
Key Players: Utah was a very experienced team last year, and they lost a lot of talent. The key returners for the Utes are junior guard Carlon Brown, who was a liability shooting the ball, but assisted others at a good clip, while pulling down a ton of rebounds, and Luka Drca, another big guard (both are 6-5) who led the team in assists and was a good shooter. 6-11 Frenchman Kim Tillie will likely occupy the middle in his senior season, and sophomore wing Jace Tavita will hope to get more playing time than he did last year. Redshirt sophomore David Foster hasn't played for Utah yet, but he is an enormous center at 7-3.
Key Losses: Center Luke Nevill played the most minutes on the team, absorbed the most possessions, and led the team in rebounding, blocks, and drawing fouls. He is a big loss, both literally and figuratively. Wing Lawrence Borha and guard Tyler Kepkay played the second- and third-most minutes on the team, respectively. Forward Shaun Green had the team's best offensive rating, as he led in shooting and turnover percentage, and was third in assists.
Notes: Though Utah lost a ton of talent from last year's team, this is still Michigan's first true road game, which should be a good test. The Utes have lots of size, and that could cause matchup problems for Michigan's slightly-smaller team.
December 13: Detroit
Home, Big Ten Network
2009 Record: 6-23, 2-17 Horizon
2009 Final RPI: 281
2009 Final Pomeroy: 279
Key Players: 6-7 forward Thomas Kennedy, a senior, used the most possessions (and took the most shots) of any Titan last year. Alas, he wasn't particularly good at shooting, which is pretty much the same story for the rest of the team. 6-7 forward Xavier Keeling returns after missing most of last year with a foot injury. Senior guard Woody Payne played the most minutes on the team, leading in assists, steals, and free throw rate. Fellow senior guard Eulis Stephens has better size at 6-5, but took a lot of shots and didn't make very many of them.
Key Losses: Forwards Nemanja Jokic and Michael Harrington are no longer with the team, and Harrington was a key part of the Titans' effort last year. He led in rebounding on both ends of the floor, and also drew a bunch of fouls from the opposition.
Notes: Detroit was a bad team last year, and there's no reason to expect any thing other than that for this year as well. Having Keeling all season might help, as he played one season for Indiana back before the Hoosiers were a laughingstock. Still, he's not a can't-miss prospect, on a team that direly needs one.
December 19: Kansas
2009 Record: 25-7, 14-3 Big 12
2009 Final RPI: 11
2009 Final Pomeroy: 10
Key Players: Oh god, just take your pick. Point guard Sherron Collins is on the (very) short list of Naismith candidates, Center Cole Aldrich is a terror in the paint, guard Tyshawn Taylor is exceptional at getting to the basket (or getting fouled on the way there), and guard Brady Morningstar is not only Lucifer, but a deadly 3-point shooter. This team is frickin' loaded.
Key Losses: Nobody. The Jayhawks didn't lose a single important contributor.
Notes: Oh, so that's why they're the consensus number one team in the country, huh? If there's one thing the Jayhawks don't have, it's a ton of size. Still. Kansas is freakin' loaded, and Michigan's goal will probably be not getting blown out.
December 22: Coppin State
2009 Record: 12-19, 10-8 MEAC
2009 Final RPI: 221
2009 Final Pomeroy: 266
Key Players: Sophomore wing guard Michael Harper was Coppin State's most effective offensive player last year, and also the team's best shooter. He'll probably lead Coppin this year. Guard Vince Goldsberry will play a bigger role, and senior Sam Coleman will hold down the middle after leading the team in rebounding and blocks last year.
Key Losses: Guard Tywain McKee did everything for Coppin State last year, playing nearly every available minute, taking up a ton of possessions, leading in assists, stealing the ball a bunch, and drawing fouls. Yeah, he's gone, as is Chuka Iloegbu, a 6-3 forward who played about half of the team's minutes.
Notes: One really interesting thing pops out about Coppin State - they don't foul a whole lot, with 4 players from last years roster coming in ranked for fewest fouls committed per 40 minutes. They're also a pretty small team, and MIchigan should be able to take care of them pretty easily.
January 17: Connecticut
2009 Record: 27-4, 15-4 Big East
2009 Final RPI: 8
2009 Final Pomeroy: 3
Key Players: Senior guard Jerome Dyson led the team in steals last year, and was pretty good at drawing fouls. He was pretty good (though not great) in a number of other categories as well, though he missed 12 games for the Huskies. Sophomore guard Kemba Walker was a good assist man, and got to the line at a decent clip. Senior forward Stanley Robinson has been a good offensive rebounder and blocker.
Key Losses: You may have heard of this Hasheem Thabeet fellow, who went #2 overall in the NBA draft. Guard AJ Price was also drafted, though in the second round. Other losses include forward Jeff Adrien, who actually played the most minutes of anyone on the team, and guard Craig Austrie, who took very good care of the ball last year.
Notes: Michigan fans may remember that, despite Thabeet getting the full Blake Griffin treatment from the officials, the Wolverines lost by just 8 at UConn this year. The 2009-10 Huskies are not nearly as good (though they still do have a couple projected draft picks on their team), and MIchigan has them at home. This should be a tough battle, and it's too bad it has to come in the middle of a tough conference stretch with Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan State.