"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
MICHIGAN DROPS THE PUCK on Sunday in an exhibition against Waterloo to kick off their 2013-2014 hockey campaign; things get real serious real fast after that as BC comes in for the season opener proper on Thursday the 10th. While I can't go into as much detail as I do with football, a conveniently-timed bye week provides a window in which to properly preview hockey, something I'm not sure I've ever done.
say hello to your next two-year captain, Andrew Copp
The following is a fanciful line chart that will be wrong from day one in many respects, and even more wrong when Red runs his line through a blender four times. But you've got to try:
|LEFT WING||YR||CENTER||YR||RIGHT WING||YR|
|Alex Guptill||Jr.||Andrew Copp||So.||Boo Nieves||So.|
|Phil Di Giuseppe||Jr.||JT Compher||Fr.||Derek DeBlois||Sr.|
|Tyler Motte||Fr.||Travis Lynch||Jr.||Luke Moffatt||Sr.|
|Evan Allen||Fr.||Justin Selman||So.||Zach Hyman||Jr.|
ALSO: Andrew Sinelli (Jr), Alex Kile (Fr), Max Shuart (Fr)
I call him mini-Copp
CENTER. The theory here is that a year after Michigan struggled with leadership everywhere they will prioritize guys who give maximum effort on every shift and build the team around a core of hard-ass centers. Andrew Copp is obvious. Copp was handed the reins of the top line halfway through the season and almost singlehandedly turned the attitude of the team around. Copp worked his ass off, inspired Alex Guptill to great heights, and finished the year with something of a scoring flourish. He's still developing after a career as a high school quarterback made hockey a part-time pastime, and his freshman year was good enough to draw the attention of the NHL after being passed over a year ago. If Michigan can make good on the promise of their late season run this year and for the next few, Copp will go down like Ortmeyer or Hagelin.
Meanwhile, every scouting report on incoming freshman JT Compher goes out of its way to praise Compher's compete level and two-way play:
Compher's NTDP coach Don Granato summed it up pretty well in Compher's hometown newspaper: ""Anything intangible, as far as an attribute, that I’ve mentioned, he’s a 10."
The phrase "two-way forward" is often the polite cliche for a player with not a lot of offensive talent, but in Compher's case, it's not used in a derogatory fashion. Compher is one of the rare skilled players that exhibits the same effort and enthusiasm without the puck that he does with the puck. He's a tenacious, sometimes nasty, defender that makes life difficult for opponents. His compete level all over the ice is among the best in the draft.
Despite not having awesome size or speed, Compher led the NTDP in PPG last year. He is ready for a lot of responsibility, probably right now. Billy Powers isn't even being coy about it:
J.T. is a guy who really has a lot of tools. He’s being talked about a lot as a defensive, third-line forward type but there’s some offensive potential there as well, and we think that will flourish in college. We see him as a power play, penalty kill player right from the start, and he’ll manage a line as a center in our top six.
If you thought one Copp was rather nice, two Copps will be like heaven after suffering through last year.
[After THE JUMP: actual rather a lot of depth.]
As expected, John Merrill has signed with the Devils:
Junior defenseman Jon Merrill has signed with the New Jersey Devils, voiding his final year of eligibility, TSN.com's Bob McKenzie is reporting this morning, and rookie blue liner Jacob Trouba might be next, though there is reason to believe he could return to Ann Arbor.
After a Lidstrom-like freshman year, Merrill was beset by personal issues and a broken vertebra this year. He never really recaptured the thrilling—subtly, anyway—puck possession game he displayed in year one, but after shaking off the rust this year he was a major part of Michigan's turnaround. His loss is pretty bad. Not that Michigan expected to get four years out of him anyway. If my apartment was on an Indian burial ground I'd probably be out, too.
Meanwhile, some guy on twitter hears Trouba will follow him. Spath is holding to his 60-40 stay prediction. Red's departure rage level remains at zero; he seems to think either guy is capable of playing in the big leagues next year.
Evan Allen update. Allen is regarded as something of an OHL flight risk after telling some guy on the internet he was keeping his options open earlier in the year. Some twitter chatter suggests he will indeed find his way to Yost:
Wearing #15 at Michigan next year, so excited to start a new chapter in my life in the fall with the maize and blue
Take it FWIW.
If the inevitable WTF departure is not Allen, something comical will befall someone else over the offseason. We should have a pool. I'm taking Zach Hyman, June 18th, vision quest ends with Hyman learning to fly and leaving for Tibet. I'm not good at pools.
Bryson Cianfrone, Max Domi
If you're a Michigan fan, Saturday's OHL draft was the Best OHL Draft Ever. This isn't exactly a high bar to leap, but not only did Michigan commits plummet well into the "what the hell, why not" range* but Bob Miller of The Wolverine reports Michigan may have actually picked up(!) a commitment instead of lost one:
A very valued source reports this morning that Bryson Cianfrone's selection in the third round of yesterday's OHL draft instead of the first round position he should have held may be due to a commitment to the University of Michigan. Cianfrone is smaller in stature and large in talent. Seen by many as a lock for the first round, he fell to hometown (Toronto area) Brampton in the third round.
The third round is not quite what-the-hell territory but that drop is significant. I poked around some OHL mock drafts published before Saturday, and all had him in the top ten because he is "explosive." Yost Built has more details. As a small, skilled Italian center from Toronto the comparisons to Cammalleri are inevitable, but Miller says he's more of a Shouneyia—a playmaker. I'm not sure how reliable this site is but it says Cianfrone will graduate in 2012, which means he could be a very young freshman next year if he so desired.
The other possibility is that Cianfrone really wanted to go to Brampton for some reason and he'll sign. We'll see. If Cianfrone is really ready to go in 2012 that means one fewer year cooling his heels and indicates he's the kind of student who puts a priority on his education.
Meanwhile, while Max Domi did go to Kingston like everyone figured he would, the second thing everyone thought he'd do—reconsider the college thing for the OHL and his dad's old teammates—hasn't happened yet. In fact, the younger Domi tweeted he'd be at Michigan yesterday:
@jjmarks16 naw man im not playing for kingston... heading down to the ushl and playing for inde i think
@jjmarks16 ya man im heading down to michigan u in 2 years
Doug Gilmour also said his first round pick wasn't going to report:
“I spoke to Tie and his ex-wife Leanne (recently) and their decision is to go elsewhere right now,” Gilmour said. “But this is junior hockey and there could be changes. If he wants to play in this league, it's kind of up to us. I'd love to have him.”
If that seems insane to you, remember that the OHL now gives you a compensatory draft pick one slot lower if you don't get your first-rounder signed. They may think it's worth the flier that Max doesn't take to the USHL since the cost isn't that steep.
So is that, like, a commitment? We're past the OHL draft and so there's no reason to say you're going to Michigan unless you're… like… going to Michigan. If so that would put Domi in the 2013 class with Compher, et al. (Note: I had erroneously assumed Domi was a 2012 prospect earlier.) If only hockey had developed an intricate hat dance rite that marked a prospect's passage into commitmenthood. Then we would know and pester Chris Heisenberg to update his spreadsheet.
In any case, the possible additions of Cianfrone and Domi in 2012/2013 would create a huge logjam at forward. Those two would bulge Michigan's forward corps to 17 in 2013, and while you have to expect some attrition there aren't a whole lot of early departure types on that list save Boo Nieves (who would be a sophomore) and maybe Alex Guptill (a junior). Two years is a long time to keep 17 kids in the boat, though, and Domi and Cianfrone are still liable to wriggle out.
Bonus Random Scouting
Since the world gets scouted for the OHL draft it provides an opportunity for Michigan fans to figure out just what kind of player they can expect at Yost in a couple years. A few bits on Evan Allen:
Silverstick MVP. Absolutely punishing hitter that plays with a mean streak. Did a great job of overwhelming the Marlies in their lone meeting this season. Very solid skill set, and obvious point producer. Most likely going to be a part of the USNDP team.
“Speedy forward who competes at a very high level. Possesses a very good shot with a pro-style release.”
“Reads the play in the offensive zone well. Extremely dangerous in the goal scoring area. If my team needed a goal, this is the guy I want with the puck on his stick.”
“Good north/south skating prospect with excellent acceleration. Not afraid to go to the tough areas of the ice to score. Another player that improved his overall game by playing Major Midget this season.”
Miller also reproduced the OHL media guide descriptions of Domi, Compher, Cianfrone, and Guertler. Save Compher, They're all small, skilled, and explosive.
*[Motte, Compher, Allen, and Talcott were all drafted after the tenth round and only Allen went to a team (Windsor) with any rep for picking off Americans with college commitments. Michigan target Gabe Guertler went in the sixth but if Michigan really has commitments from Cianfrone and Domi I can't see how they can cram him onto the roster, too.]
That's right, bombing Braylon Edwards is followed up by hockey recruiting. Projected comments: four. Whateva, I do what I want.
Yeah, Don Cherry hands him stuff, he's good.
I shouldn't do this to myself, but as the title indicates… I'm a sucker. News that the Indiana Ice thought uber-touted Max Domi was likely enough to play NCAA hockey to spend a second-round pick on him in the USHL Futures Draft sent me on yet another Quest For Information on the Hockey's Future message boards. I didn't get much on Domi other than all the OHL partisans claiming him a 100% lock for junior. Google turned up his twitter, though, and, um… I'm all like… maybe this is happening?
Mdomi1616 Max Domi
Men's Ice Hockey Division 1- NCAA Final Four! Notre Dame vs. Minnesota Duluth North Dakota vs. Michigan HERE WE GO MICHIGAN! …
Michigan loses in overtime to UMD in overtime...tough one
Two: a few days ago he tweeted he was in Indiana for the weekend—presumably to visit the Ice—and today he threw up a tweet that said only "Indiana Ice 2011/2012." If this is all a smokescreen to get him to London it's finely wrought.
The OHL draft is on May 7th, so we won't have to wait long. I'm cannot shake my skepticism he's headed to college but now it seems like there's a legit chance.
The even more distant future
Meanwhile, I wandered over to the NTDP tryout thread and found a couple of guys who had seen 2013 commits Tyler Motte and Evan Allen play. A guy who watched the 3-2 Honeybaked win over Shattuck in which Motte and Allen put three up to steal a national title on that decisive third period:
3-2 Honeybaked final!
Great period. Big saves made at both ends, and great pace. Allen tied it up at 1 on a great one timer from the point on the PP. McTavish set up Rodriguez on a 2-on-1 to put SSM ahead 2-1. Motte scored on a nice tip in to square things up at 2. With a minute and change left Motte punced on a loose puck in front to put Honeybaked up 3-2.
Can't say enough about Motte. He's one big time player. Was incredible in the Silverstick final versus the Marlies, and now puts his team on his back and leads them to a national title. Made a huge shot block with about 5 seconds to go while SSM had a 6-on-4.
Congrats to both teams on wonderful seasons. Glad I had the chance to see Honeybaked live on their one trip up to up to the Greater Toronto Area this year. This is one big time team.
One of the regulars says Allen doesn't get enough buzz: "absolutely love his game and hope he accepts a USNDP offer." With classmate JT Compher one of the select few to get NTDP offers before their tryout camp and Alex Talcott another second-round USHL futures draftee, that 2013 recruiting class looks like it will be big-time if it hangs together.
The slightly more immediate future
In news that will be relevant to you in this calendar year, USHR freed up their December stuff. It contains news of Michigan's commitments from John Gibson and Brennan Serville. The Gibson stuff is the usual by now: large, good, calm. Serville:
-- 6’3”, 185 lb. Stouffville Spirit (OPJHL) RD Brennan Serville, a great skating defenseman with size who is good on the breakout, has good hands and sees the ice well. Serville had originally committed to Canisius last winter, but then decommitted this September. …
Serville was on the silver-medal winning Team Canada East at last month’s World Jr. A Challenge in Penticton. Last week, he played for Team East at the 2010 CJHL Prospects Game – games, really (there are two) -- in Dauphin, Manitoba, a CJHL/NHL Central Scouting showcase for the top 40 draft-eligible players across Canada’s ten Jr. A leagues. …
Serville made his final pick from between Michigan, Michigan State, and UNH.
So he's a nice pickup in December. Unfortunately, the 2012 class doesn't have a guaranteed star on the other end of the ice where Michigan could really use one. All three incoming guys could be scoring line types, though:
- Alex Guptill was a third round pick last year but only put up 13-12-25 in 43 USHL games—he's big, which means his draft status is less exciting than it would be if he was 5'8".
- Phil DiGiuseppe put up a lot of points in the OJHL, but a lot of people put up a lot of points in the OJHL. He did finish the year as the top-scoring '93 in the league; the guy closest to him was nine points back (and is 5'7").
- Travis Lynch was a no-scoring checker destined for the fourth line and PK when he committed, but after scoring eight points in his first 30 games this year he put up 36 in his last 30. That's a hell of a breakout. (Caveat: that may be shooting percentage driven. He went from 7.6% last year to 14.7% this year. Shooting percentage is notoriously variable; one as high as Lynch's can be an indicator of regression.)
no reason at all. also not stupid.
Stupid random statistic. ESPN put together an Outside the Lines piece on whether college athletes should be paid—for some reason the appointment of Mark Emmert to the top job has spurred even more chatter on this topic than there is usually—that revolves around one stupid statistic. The NCAA says this:
That number (14) comes from the NCAA's most recent analysis of athletic department finances at member institutions, based on data supplied by schools for the 2008-09 school year. The NCAA notes that 25 schools in each of the prior two years generated more revenue than expenses, before the nation's economic recession took hold.
ESPN says this:
But the NCAA understates the amount of revenue that flows into athletic departments.
Why do they say this?
The organization arrives at its lower number of 14 schools in the black by not counting what it calls "allocated revenue," which it considers direct and indirect support provided by the university, student fees and direct government support.
Because the NCAA does not count subsidies that keep money-losing programs afloat. This is not exactly "whoops, the Pirates are wildly profitable." The Bylaw Blog's pithy summation: "ESPN shows athletic departments that are making money. NCAA shows university that are making money on athletics."
Why anyone would care about the former is unclear, but ESPN charges off with their revised number of schools breaking even once you count funding grudgingly handed over to make sure they break even. Surprise: it's fairly large.
Stupid Fab Five reacts. They are legion, from complaints that a documentary called Fab Five was almost entirely about the Fab Five to Duke players writing New York Times op-eds that haven't even been published yet [UPDATE: now published.] but seem to confirm everything that was said about them* merely by their existence. Also Whitlock wrote something that no doubt accused people of "bojangling."
There was even a stupid Fab Five pre-act by Ramzy at 11 Warriors, who went out of his way to point out they didn't actually win anything, as if that wasn't possibly the main selling point or something anyone needed to be reminded of. The most compelling part of the entire thing was watching Webber walk down the tunnel after the timeout, then explain to the brutally persistent media that losing the national championship game for a second consecutive year felt "the same… exactly the same." Braves and Birds compares them to teams like Holland's Clockwork Orange two-time-runners up, and that's right—in soccer there's a rich tradition of teams that couldn't quite grasp the brass ring but are remembered for their style, and so the Fab Five.
However, nothing tops this, possibly dating back to cuneiform:
The same folks who are clamoring for a public mea culpa from Webber are the same people who wrote racist letters, calling Webber and teammates the "N" word.
That's the News's Vincent Goodwill successful trolling his way onto the "most read" list. Congratulations, Mr. Goodwill. Unless you actually believe that, in which case I am deeply sorry someone else has to dress you every morning.
Most of the letter-writers are dead now since they were already watching Matlock 20 years ago, but you don't have to be in the KKK to think Webber's actions badly hurt the program. Exploited or not, all Webber had to do was suck it up a little while before he was insanely rich. He didn't and even super-conflicted me would like an explanation, at least, if not an apology.
*[And in any case, when Rose was discussing Grant Hill he was obviously talking about a feeling he'd had in the past. Seventeen-year-old Rose didn't think "I don't like Grant Hill because his athlete father is in his life." He thought "I hate this bitch." Rose's explanation is necessarily him figuring out why he was so pissed off at Hill.
Also, Christian Laettner was relatively sanguine about everything, so there's that.]
Stupid apology. Tressel says "I'm sorry," then starts repeating things he heard from his robot-in-a-suit:
I apologize for the fact I wasn’t able to find the ones to partner with to handle our difficult and complex situation.
I agree. Ohio State should have synergized its core competencies and then attacked the Asian market. Or they could have difficultly and complexly asked the players involved if they had exchanged memorabilia for goods and services. However, this would have involved talking to them in some sort of office setting and was clearly impossible. The Asian market is where it's at.
Stupid bracket react. It never fails: whenever a major conference team is left out of the field of 60-something, people complain. This year there were actual complaints that small conference teams were somehow gaming the system. Joe Sheehan blows this up:
Maybe the biggest problem in college basketball is that teams in the mid-tier conferences can't get games against the ones in the top six, and they absolutely can't get home games. Mid-majors have been screaming at the top of their lungs for years about wanting to play up, and the better those teams have gotten, the less access to games they've been able to get. Teams in the BCS leagues refuse, out-and-out refuse to play road games at teams in the #7-#18 conferences.
In fact, the RPI gimmickry cited by Phelps and Davis is actually the purview of the power leagues, who have taken to playing road games against bottom-100 teams in an effort to gain "road win" points in the new version of the RPI. (They understand that there's a concept in play, but don't quite grok the details.) The ACC played as many road games at Elon (2) and UNC-Greensboro (4) as they did against mid-major schools in the top 200 (6), and one of the latter games was in an exempt event hosted by one. Miami played at Florida Gulf Coast. Florida State played at FIU. Wake played at UNC Wilmington. You think Conference USA is trying to game the system? Really?
I'm actually happy with the way this year's play-in games fell out: both feature a major-conference team against a mid-major. If you look at the two at-large play-ins as the committee throwing its hands up and saying "I don't know, play for it" this makes perfect sense. We don't have much information about how the good teams in small leagues compare with meh teams in big leagues so you can just have 'em settle it on the court. I'm sure that's just a coincidence but I wouldn't mind that being a yearly occurrence.
Another '95. Michigan has picked up another 2013 hockey commit. Evan Allen is also playing for Honeybaked and is their leading scorer with one point more than fellow commit Tyler Motte. There's not much out there other than a couple of Select 14/15 reports from USHR and the usual hyperventilating from sketchy pay sites, but Yost Built rounds it up all the same. Allen, like Motte and JT Compher, is competing for a spot on the NTDP right now.
Michigan now has something like five or six forwards in the 2013 class already (depending on whether Max Shuart is 2012 or 2013), all of them from the midget circuit centered around Michigan that is a heavy feeder to the NTDP and USHL, four of them Honeybaked teammates. They'll be replacing kids who are currently sophomores, of which there are six (Brown, Lynch, Treais, Sparks, Moffie and Rohrkemper). Unfortunately, one is a defenseman and two are probably not on scholarship.
They must be anticipating some of these kids ending up in major junior or having to fill holes when players leave early/don't show up at all. That's veering close to Wisconsin/SEC territory, but 1) having to take an extra year of junior is just something that happens in hockey and 2) Michigan cannot sign any of these players to LOIs they can't fulfill—remember when Brandon Burlon couldn't sign until Kevin Quick got booted?—so anyone who is discontent with that arrangement can just go elsewhere.
Chances are the winnowing will be on the players', not the program's, end.
Dense bones. Jon Horford's been conspicuously absent of late without anyone really knowing why. Injury was suspected and is the case, but this bit from Rothstein's latest notes column makes the ears perk up:
Beilein spent 30 minutes with him Monday to help develop him further for next year. The Grand Ledge native, Beilein said, is already much stronger than when he started and is up to 242 pounds — the same weight as starting forward Jordan Morgan.
“There’s not any extra fat in there,” Beilein said. “Really, his body is developing.”
Really? Horford weighs as much as Morgan now? This is stunning.
He's healthy, BTW, and we could see him in the tourney.