this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Friday, March 6, 2015
Penn State 6 Michigan 4
PSU 1 UM 0 EV 03:13 Scheid from Richard and Conway
Penn State chips the puck in and chases. Zach Werenski loses a battle along the boards behind the net, leaving Scheid with the puck. As he takes off up the boards Kevin Lohan skates behind the net to cover.
Dylan Richard starts skating to the net while Scheid turns behind him. It isn’t quite a pick, but it (apparently) is enough of a diversion to wreak havoc.
Lohan makes an intelligent coverage switch to cover Richard. Scheid shoots, however, and beats Racine five-hole. This kind of goal (read: soft) is the reason no one has been able to win the starting role. It’s the goaltender problem in microcosm.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]
[I hope I get to overuse this screen cap by the time the season ends]
Friday, February 27, 2015
Michigan 3 Wisconsin 0
Michigan 1 Wisconsin 0 PPG 01:35 Hyman (19) from Nieves (17) and Werenski (15)
Boo Nieves sets a screen for Zach Werenski, who is skating toward the blue line. Werenski draws a defender high; Nieves stays stationary. Werenski passes to Nieves before the defender can make a play on the puck, and Nieves takes off for the net unscathed.
Nieves makes a simple pass to Zach Hyman.
Hyman is looking to the opposite faceoff circle, but the puck never gets there. It hits the leg of the netfront defenseman and is deflected into the top corner.
You may remember me from such emoticons as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
[After THE JUMP: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ redux]
Apologies. This posted as a draft yesterday and I didn't notice until late.
2/14/2015 – Michigan 2, Minnesota 6 – 16-9-0, 8-3 Big Ten
2/15/2015 – Michigan 0, Minnesota 2 – 16-10-0, 8-4 Big Ten
There can be no contrast of hockey styles greater than going from playing Michigan State on ice that may as well be gravel to Minnesota's immaculate Olympic sheet. On the Olympic sheet you will play the biggest, fastest, and often finest players the "State of Hockey" has to offer. Also the occasional Austrian. (This year Minnesota State, the school you thought was fictional, has claim.)
Sometimes this goes okay. Sometimes it really does not.
Michigan got bombed out of the building on Friday as Minnesota repaid the favor Michigan did them when they met in Yost; they lost narrowly the next night as Minnesota repaid the favor from the first matchup. It wasn't fun, except it kind of still was even when Michigan was getting their ass handed to it.
I don't know man, it's weird. Multiple times a period teams would make little clever passes to break out of the zone and rush the puck in. Dump and chase, these days the default method of doing anything, was just about unheard of. The Olympic ice has weird effects on visitors, who tend to spread out on both ends. On offense this leaves you taking speculative shots from the outside that don't have a lot of chance to go in; on defense your slot is exposed*.
*(That's not what she said.)
So Minnesota opened the scoring by wiring a puck from the slot to the top corner on a power play and things continued from there. Hockey's weird and I don't think this means Michigan's a thousand times worse than the Gophers any more than the previous series meant the inverse. But sometimes you get Minnesota and you're just like… dude.
You have Hudson Fasching, a guy who I've heard about since he was 15, and he is a boring third-liner. The tic-tac-toe of the puck is mesmerizing, and if they get zeroed in on your breakout, as they did in the second period Friday, you are in deep without a paddle. Friday's game went from a relatively even 3-0 game to a 4-0 blowout over the first ten minutes of the second, if that makes any sense.
The kind of things Michigan does to a lot of star-struck opponents (or did until the last few years) Minnesota does from time to time. Sometimes when they're on, etc. Michigan competed, but they currently do not have the defense to deal with these things. Minnesota erased Zach Hyman with NHL uber-prospect Brady Skjei; Michigan has no equivalent defender. Zach Werenski is real good… and 17. Check back with me when Werenski is a senior to see if he's as good as Skjei, a junior, is now.
So it was over the weekend, as two teams playing with buckets of space made it 120 minutes of 4-on-4. 120 minutes of 4-on-4 is terrific to watch even if you aren't, like, scoring any goals. It restores a faith you didn't know you needed restoring in the wisdom of flinging pucks at a guy in a mask.
Margin for error is gone after losing three of four with weak competition ahead. Michigan is 17th after the sweep, currently on the wrong side of the bubble. They have eight regular season games left against the dregs of the league and Penn State; they have to win a lot of games if they're going to feel good about their at-large chances.
Michigan's schedule strength is languishing at 34th nationally despite nonconference matchups against Lowell, BU, BC, Michigan Tech, and New Hampshire. The league is really dragging them down, and they got unlucky to draw a really bad version of RPI (the university).
Anyway: I figured that Michigan had three or four games to give if they wanted to be secure going into the Big Ten tournament. They've just about given all of them. It is go time the next two weekends against Ohio State (who may not be as bad as they seemed the first time around, as they were dealing with a Michigan basketball level of injuries) and dire Wisconsin. Sweeps in both are imperative.
Olympic ice is terrific. I don't see any reason not to adopt it. More ice to cover means long periods like 4-on-4 hockey where the team with the puck can maintain possession and threaten for a 30 or 40 second period, as both Minnesota and Michigan did. I prefer anything that brings the skill of the rush back to prominence, especially a week after MSU's "line four guys up on the blueline and pray" strategy.
If I was the NHL commissioner I'd decree any new building has to have Olympic ice. I'm a fan of weird variations in playing situations, something that gives baseball some of its allure. The time to make that change was probably 20 years ago before the various stadiums went up, but I'd make that change anyway.
Goaltending: insufficient. Nagelvoort got chased on Friday as he let in one very soft goal (the second trickled through him and he was unaware of that fact, leaving a ton of time for a forward to swat at the puck twice) and did not make many of an admittedly very difficult sequence of saves on water-bottle jobs from the Gophers. Still, I don't have much confidence in either guy at this point… and that's coming from a person who was claiming the problem largely rested with the defense corps for the first half of the season.
Which it certainly does, in part. Michigan's slot has been… not well defended dammit that's still a PHRASING. Is there any way to talk about the section of the hockey rink between the circles that now that I'm thinking in this manner really really resemble breasts ARGH I blame twitter for everything.
Nieves is modern day Milan Gajic. Looks like he should be a scorer, isn't a scorer, reinforces this by putting his first two in since November in a situation in which no one will remember because they don't matter.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Minnesota crew. The color guy was a little willing to condone disproportionate reprisals for a bit of Michigan frustration on Friday and the PBP guy was inclined to exclaim "no penalty!" in situations where there wasn't even much complaining from the crowd. Other than that, they were excellent—much better than the anodyne BTN duo, still featuring Fred Pletsch for reasons that escape me.
The PBP guy, who turns out to be named Doug MacLeod, brought up Ufer apropos of nothing other than respect for the fraternity of announcer bros, and that felt appropriate. He has that certain gravitas a Bud Lynch or Carl Grapentine does.
One thing not so much though. The color guy kept knocking Compher for not pulling the trigger on a couple of 2-on-1 opportunities he got. This felt wrong because Compher's last second pass after a shot fake trickled through the crease and Shuart really should have gotten a stick on it. If he did that was a slam dunk into an open net. The other one didn't come off as his attempted saucer pass was flicked into the air by a defenseman's stick, but a super great opportunity for a tap-in in two tries is worth more than any two two-on-one shots are.
Hey. How are you? Been a while, huh? If you’ve never read one of these before, the purpose of this post is to break down every goal of each Wolverine hockey game. Reading left to right, there’s the score followed by whether the goal was at even strength or on the power play. After that there’s the time of the goal and the players awarded points on the play. In parentheses is their season point total.
Michigan swept RPI last weekend, and though they still have a lot of things to work on defensively a number of guys who have offensive upside finally turned upside into production. Long story short: a Michigan team not coached by John Beilein had a good weekend. Let’s enjoy that.
Friday, November 28
UM 1 RPI O EV 15:55 Kile (6) from Larkin (9) and Hyman (8)
Hyman carries the puck up the boards. Kile moves laterally from left to right, and eventually peels off his defender to head toward the net. The defender at the top of the circle does a nice job of taking away the passing lane to Kile, but taking away one passing lane opens up another (highlighted through the faceoff circle).
Being able to draw a line through three of your five defenders means someone is blitheringly wide open. Oh, look. Alex Kile is blitheringly wide open. Larkin has the puck in front of the net thanks to the passing lane created in the first screen shot. All he has to do is find a way to thread it through the mass of defenders to Kile.
Which he does perfectly. You can see that the goalie has to sprawl out to his left to try and get anything on the puck. This is because Larkin was so close to the crease that not only did he have to stay square to him but he had to hit the ice and go into his butterfly to take away the five hole. It takes extra time to move across the crease once you’ve hit the ice, and the goalie can’t recover in time to stop Kile’s shot.
[After THE JUMP: We got moooooooore goals]
Practice video. From Maize and Blue News:
Jane previews Michigan! Oh man this is just so dead on:
We long for a past that we hated while it was happening, in which Michigan would go 9-3 or 10-2 and people would complain like Michigan was a waiter who we couldn't find when we just wanted the goddamn check. If a Michigan fan tells you that they liked Tom Brady when he was playing at Michigan, they are lying because no Michigan fan ever liked whomever was starting at quarterback until Denard Robinson. We hated Elvis Grbac. We hated Brian Griese. We hated John Navarre. We hated Drew Henson. We hated - HATED - sad robot Chad Henne*.
I tended to like Michigan's quarterbacks who were not underclassman Drew Henson, and I knew the one guy who really really liked John Navarre. Like, he was super-enthused about John Navarre. And eventually correct!
More insider business. A gentleman who is probably too identifiable for his own good comes back with a very legit-seeming practice report that he's posted on a couple of different boards. The 247 version, all errors sic:
DL looked great, really great. all the hype is backed up. Pipkins looks the part, even coming off the injury. on friday he was easily the most impressive NT that they had, that by no means is discounting mone, hurst, or henry. Their depth and talent at the position although young, is very, very good. Even pallante looked good!! yes, he is small, but ive spoken to a few players who say he is as strong as a senior and one of the quickest most technically sound players there.
I imagine that if that's true we'll see at least one of those four guys (Pipkins, Mone, Hurst, Henry) at three-tech, which currently has Wormley and no one else who's gotten much hype.
That's not good. Nebraska lost three defenders for the season a couple days back, including two starters: Michael Rose and LeRoy Alexander. That'll help when Michigan… uh… we don't play them this year, or until all those guys graduate. CARRY ON.
That's not… uh… relevant. Reporting from media day!
“The job that he does and the job that he’s done since the day he got here, has been unbelievable,” Mattison said with a sweaty upper lip. “Me personally, there is no way I would have come here if it wasn’t for Brady Hoke.”
That typed itself, I bet. I bet Brendan F Quinn was mesmerized by the lip and when it came time to write the article that phrase slipped itself in there and if you ask Brendan F Quinn about that passage he will be shocked that it exists. You see, I've been there, down on ol' Lip Mesmerization Farm. It's a strange, sweaty place, but you get used to it.
No age gap now. Another article on how the offensive line is going to be better because they all like each other:
"There was an age gap last year, and it was just there," Bosch said. "It was just something that was obviously noticeable. You could tell 'these were the seniors, you were a freshmen.' That's how it was."
No chance of that this year, because there are no seniors. For the record I think the line will be better this year because they will be trying to do one thing instead of all things and not necessarily because they are more together. Or that they are Galvanized By Criticism:
Those stats and the barrage of negative press regarding Michigan’s offensive line have helped galvanize the linemen. Jack Miller, a redshirt junior who started the first four games at center last season, said they are more than aware of the doubters.
No doubt they will Shock The World and Not Listen To The Haters. I mean, Miller's following quote is twisted pretty hard to get into that narrative:
“Between last year and this offseason, you’d be hard-pressed to miss that if you pay attention to anything,” Miller said. “You run into fans who say stuff — ‘What’s going on with that offensive line?’ But that’s the way it goes with any program of this caliber. We know that. We know that’s part of the gig here, and that’s OK. Some of it is rightly so. We need to live up the expectations that people have here.”
A good rule of thumb: when someone cites chemistry as a reason for something it's because they don't know. Chalking it up to the undefinable cannot be disproved or really even argued.
Getting on the the WJC team. College Hockey News profiles Downing and Motte as they try to avoid being late cuts this time around. USA coach mark Osiecki on Downing:
“We’re still trying to identify what (Downing’s) strengths and weaknesses will be,” Osiecki said. “He has a bomb from the blue line, that’s for sure, there’s no doubt about that. His awareness from the red line back has continued to show improvement. It’s hard for a defenseman to jump into summer hockey. You haven’t done much defending at all, and he likes to get into the offense when he can, but he’s getting back to it on the defensive side of things.”
Downing says he's put on 25 pounds; hopefully he'll be more of a physical presence than he was last year, when he was more lanky than intimidating. Motte dumped in a hat trick in the USA's 9-1 thumping of Finland, playing with uber-prospect Jack Eichel.
For his part, JT Compher is not so much fighting to make the team as fighting to be named king:
While a few players have stepped up, it's obvious Compher has emerged as the frontrunner to be captain of the team.
"He's done a really nice job," Osiecki said. "There's a group of those kids that are similar, but you talk to any of the support staff, the trainers, the equipment personnel, and they say he's very vocal and takes charge of the group. We have to start that now and develop that relationship between him and the coaching staff."
I am looking forward to the Copp/Compher axis truly owning the team this year. Jack Eichel:
"He does everything on the ice so well," Eichel, a teammate on the USNTDP U-18 team in 2012-13. "He's a guy that you can just try to model your game after. He just so good wherever he is, in the faceoff circle, in the [defensive] zone, he's great killing penalties, great on the power play. He's a role model to me and I really look up to him. He's a great kid and a great leader. He works so hard everywhere. Everyone else tries to match him. A guy like that on your team, it's really good. Everyone tries to work as hard as him, and if everyone works as hard as J.T., you know you have a good team."
How do two stars get drafted? By adding half a person.
Ra'Shede Hageman, No. 35 overall, gained 60 pounds
Hageman was a well-regarded but raw tight end recruit who grew from a listed 6'6, 250 to 310 pounds while at Minnesota, moving to defensive tackle. He's expected to make an instant impact for the Atlanta Falcons.
Jimmy Staten, No. 172 overall, gained 86
Staten was a 6'3, 217-pound two-star defensive end in high school when he signed with Middle Tennessee State. The Seahawks drafted him at 6'4, 303.
At least nine other drafted two-stars increased their body weight by 20 percent between high school and the Combine.
You really shouldn't criticize recruiting services for missing on guys like Staten or Buffalo first-rounder Khalil Mack—everyone else did. There are always going to be guys who blow up in college.
Etc.: In news that you take for granted these days, all of Michigan's freshmen are enrolled and full go. A look at what Loeffler wants to do at VT. Autonomy details. Annual Michigan drill thingy. Gasaway on the O'Bannon ruling.
— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) August 1, 2014
This is what is called a face turn. Pelini should start entering stadiums with his own corn-oriented theme music.
Reduced price. Michigan has cut the waiting list fee from 500 dollars to 150 for the 2015 season. That's the one with OSU and MSU games on it. I think we've officially hit the limit of what people will pay. Also, this… this is not a good thing to title your page about buying season tickets.
Watching football is not supposed to make you feel like you're going through twoadays and want to die.
Our lack of post depth and experience: slightly less exploitable. A couple of Big Ten big guys will not take on Doyle/Donnal and company, for reasons pedestrian and mysterious. The pedestrian one: VT transfer Trevor Thompson did not get a waiver at Ohio State and will redshirt. OSU does still get fifth-year Temple transfer Anthony Lee, so not a huge blow.
The mysterious and potentially more important: MSU stretch four Kenny Kaminski has been booted permanently. The crack MSU beat will no doubt have full details on the reason for his dismissal sometime after the sun turns the Earth into a smoking cinder bereft of life, so look out for that, Titan News Network.
Kaminski got only ten minutes a game last year, but he shot 50% on threes. This is Not Bad. Izzo kind of had a conniption fit about everything else about his game, because Izzo. Without any post types in the incoming class, MSU now will rely on Branden Dawson even more than they would have normally and lack the ability to insert a defense-stretching option for times when that would be good.
Now that I put it ion paper, this is less important from a Michigan perspective. Kaminski was a changeup option that a game against Michigan does not invite.
This is an interesting thing. I can't embed this at all, but here's a fascinating graph of the evolution of NFL players' height and weight over time. As you might expect, things get larger and heavier. The interesting bit is the split.
Increasing specialization has seen a class of OL/DL types that have totally separated from people who weigh 270 pounds. 280? 290? Do not apply.
Yea, and thine bagels shall be coated in whatever toppings you desire. Michigan's compliance twitter feed is slowly morphing into Leviticus, and I'm okay with that.
Football preseason practice shall begin with a five-day acclimatization period.
— Michigan Compliance (@umichcompliance) August 4, 2014
During the first two days of the acclimatization period, helmets shall be the only piece of protective equipment student-athletes may wear.
— Michigan Compliance (@umichcompliance) August 4, 2014
ON THE THIRD DAY OF THE ACCLIMATIZATION PERIOD, YEA, THE DOLOMITES DID DON PADS AND VENTURE FORTH INTO THE FIELD OF PLAY.
Happy! Sad. Mitch McGary is doing stupid dunks on Vine.
There's another one where he flips it up to a teammate with his feet. #McGaryForUSMNT
Unfortunately, I am totally not over this. File me under sad bastard mooning at the record store in a Nick Hornby novel in re: reaction to any and all McGary things. Oh yeah I'm really happy for him it sounds like he's doing great oh I'm doing fine you know just buying these records and so sad that I feel like I'm dissolving every day no no man I'm fine.
/plays The Cure for 12 hours straight
Is there an It Gets Better for Mitch McGary withdrawal?
It's called the Big Ten for a reason. That reason is "we don't even know anymore." But we can have a reason again! Kirk Ferentz said that this could happen:
Kirk Ferentz said he could see the Big Ten going to 10 conference games. "If we're going to nine, I don't see why not," he said.
Money, probably. I am beginning to wonder about the relative value of a home and home versus two bodybag games; surely the increased interest from scheduling, say, Iowa, is now just about enough to offset the fact that you're playing a road game once TV factors in.
Rittenberg's take is cynical, but probably accurate:
How many Big Ten teams would get into the playoff with a 10-game league schedule if the higher-regarded SEC plays only eight conference contests? It's all about the playoff and it doesn't matter how you get there as long as you get there. That's how the Big Ten must approach scheduling.
I find it hard to believe that a committee is going to pick a team with an extra loss, even if it had a tougher schedule. And it's debatable whether the committee will even see it as a tougher schedule given the recent direction of the league.
If adding a tenth game induces Big Ten teams to strip out some of the very few comparison points we get before bowl season, all the committee will have to go on is reputation. That would be bad.
I am getting excited about hockey. The prospect of Copp/Compher/Larkin down the middle and the big hole on the blueline that Zach Werenski just filled combine to get me hype about what will go down at Yost this fall. Compher is tearing up the USA WJC camp going on right now:
Compher, who centered Team White’s top line between Fasching and 2015 draft prospect Kyle Connor, was arguably his side’s top player all the way through. He used his feet to take away time and space, and drew the ire of Team Blue with a hit in the corner right at the halftime horn. In the second half, the reigning B1G Freshman of the Year made a smart zone entry and executed a give-and-go with Will Butcher (COL) before finding Fasching at the doorstep for White’s second marker. …
Compher was a key cog at both ends of the rink all game long, applying pressure without the puck while showing his playmaking eyes en route to picking up two assists on the day. He worked hard behind the net for his first assist, and kicked back to the point for a secondary helper on the third White goal. The University of Michigan standout rounded out his effort with some excellent work at the left point on the power play. He nearly added a goal to his weekend resume with a shot that just missed high over the crossbar in the final minutes.
Meanwhile, Motte and Larkin combined to score a late winner against Finland.
The soccer game happened. I did not go, if you're curious. 55 bucks was about 40 too many for a friendly between a couple of teams I don't really care about. 109,000 people disagreed with that, so you got a packed Michigan Stadium and the tangible and intangible benefits of that. The broadcast must have said the words "Big House" a dozen times every 15 minutes; also the department made some money.
Hopefully that'll become something of an annual event. The cachet of having the largest stadium in the country is a natural draw for teams that can fill it. Hopefully they can figure out the turf issues.
Unfortunately the size of the playing surface is short of regulations for a real game, as was extensively discussed when Michigan Stadium was on a list of potential hosting venues for the USA's failed World Cup bid. Any real game would have to be played on a platform that sat above the actual playing field and wiped out viewing angles for big chunks of the stadium. I don't think Michigan Stadium will ever get serious consideration for a USA game because of that.
Oh man, lawyers. I mean that in a good way this time. Andy Schwarz, who was a plaintiff's witness in the O'Bannon case, has been writing big lawyerly pieces for Deadspin about the case. His latest is more of an overview of the two sides struggling to "fix" the NCAA. One, dubbed "Team Reform," thinks that the whole problem with the system is that the universities aren't funneling the profits back into the academic side. The other, dubbed "Team Market" is just like dude this is a joke now just let them get what they can.
I bring it up because Schwarz has a couple of places in the piece that sum up a ton of things I've been thinking:
I personally question the undertones of complaints that athletes may blow their payments on bling and tattoos, when we applaud college students for spending money on ephemeral activities like traveling to Florence for a semester of wine and museums, but as a member of Team Market, I am willing to entertain the possibility that deferred payments will bridge the gap between paying suppliers and pleasing consumers and result in the most popular market-produced product. …"Fear of a Black Wallet" need not rule the country forever.
Fear of a Black Wallet! The paternalistic overtones of the arguments that start and end with "but then they'll have money" summed up in five words. They might waste their money, sure. It's being wasted now on compliance.
His sarcastic survey questions are also amazing:
This may also explain some of the surveys that we see from time to time, including even the one the NCAA presented in the recent O'Bannon litigation. The question wasn't framed as "Do you prefer watching undercompensated athletes play if it means you can rationalize your love of sports as somehow more noble than you secretly know it is?" or "Does your interest in college sports increase as more value is taken from the athletes and then ostensibly used to further more noble goals?"
I'm noticing this guy writes really long sentences now that I'm quoting him. Anyway, hardcore fans are an interesting exception to the survey trend wherein people say they'll like college sports less if it's less amateur. Guilty as charged.