the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
wait, what? – Caleb TerBush
Yikes. Michigan is a mere three-point favorite against Purdue this weekend, which seems mighty narrow to me. I may be assuming that Denard Robinson does not turn the ball over five times, which Vegas is not. Boo 2012 Notre Dame game, boo.
Purdue's coming off a not-as-close-as-you-think game against Marshall in which they led 42-14 at halftime before yielding three touchdowns in the first 18 minutes of the second half and allowing the Herd to get within ten points. They traded touchdowns in the final 12 minutes, and that was the final margin. Marshall's lost to Ohio and beat Rice in two OTs; they've got the worst scoring D in the country at the moment, and they outgained Purdue by 91 yards. If Michigan only wins by three I'll be expecting bad things the rest of the season. Purdue QB Caleb TerBush was ineffective against ND (8 of 19, 79 yards, 1 TD/2 INT) and was pulled for a considerably better Robert Marve. Marve won't be available.
So what I'm saying is that at first blush I don't like the spread, which makes me feel both sad and alarmed because it's the best predictor available. I would like to avoid posting this at any point over the weekend:
Beyer's back. The most newsy bit of the press conference:
How’s your team’s health?
“There ya go. You know, I think Beyer will be back. Brandon Moore will be close. He’s getting better.”
“Richard is better. Uh there’s one more, too.”
“Hop’s fine. Devin’s fine. They all practiced last night. Yeah Ricky Barnum was a little -- sore shoulder. He was fine last night. So with the guys who aren’t out for the year, the rest of them are okay.”
“He was better. He ran around last night and he feels much better.”
Beyer was walking around in an air cast after his injury and I was a little worried he might be laid up for a long time, which would have been bad. The options at WDE were a major target for ND and didn't do so well. Beyer at least gives them another option at the spot. Clark makes more plays you notice, but I'll bet a nickel Beyer is less likely to get caved in and give up the edge.
Also, feel free to infer that Brink is out for the year from the above.
Also also, this:
Are you worried that Denard is what he is, i.e. not improving in your system?
“No. Not at all. I mean, he’s our quarterback, and he’s a damned good quarterback. I didn’t say that, so don’t write that. No we’re very comfortable and we’re very confident in him. … I know you’re going to write that.”
“Daggone it. My mom’s going to read that and get mad.”
She doesn’t think you swear?
“Why don’t you just ask a question.”
And you're fired and you're fired and you're fired. Extreme media hostility isn't just for Los Angeles anymore:
Tuesday, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier finally spoke with his media after two days of giving an opening statement and then refusing to field questions.
What has Spurrier so irked? Apparently columnist Ron Morris — again.
Ron Morris is a columnist at The State in South Carolina and has become Spurrier's nemesis. Last October, Spurrier called out Morris for something he wrote in the spring regarding then-basketball player Bruce Ellington and how Spurrier persuaded Ellington to play football.
This time, according to Saturday Down South, Spurrier seems to be mad about a Morris column that questioned playing quarterback Connor Shaw against UAB. Shaw, who has been nursing an injured shoulder he suffered in the season opener against Vanderbilt, injured the shoulder again against the Blazers.
The excerpt from the column that follows is pretty tame (also: dumb). Spurrier is accused of a "poor decision" to play Connor Shaw with a dinged shoulder, which he re-injured in the game. The column is just another tossed-off nothing (Shaw was 20 of 21 against Missouri), but apparently this business goes back a ways. Be chill, OBC.
Meanwhile, a local news station axed the guy's weekly segment, causing free speech rabbling.
Meanwhile in local media situations. Meinke is writing articles based off of his viewing of Inside Michigan Football. Interesting ones, even. Here's Mattison on Morgan defending that goddamned counter draw:
Mattison said he was most impressed by Morgan's discipline, specifically citing one counter draw play on which the sophomore could have pursued the ball, but elected to stay home as he was taught.
The play came back to him, and he made the tackle.
"We gave him that play probably four times in practice, and every time we gave it to him, we said, 'Desmond, you've got to stay home. You can't help on that sprint anyhow,'" Mattison said. "Well that same thing has happened before and he would go running and try to make the play because he's a young guy eager to make plays.
"All of the sudden, in this game, he became more of a veteran."
And Mattison on Raymon Taylor:
"Raymon has really improved," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said this week on the Inside Michigan Football radio show. "He has been thrown in the fire. If someone would have said to me at the beginning of the year, 'Will he be starting against Notre Dame?' I don't know if I would have said yes.
"(But) I was really proud of him how he played. He knows he's got a lot of things he has to get better at, but one thing he didn't do was shy away from anything. He competed."
I'm not sure you can do that. In yet another NHL draft ranking, Chris Peters tackles prospects 26-50. D Michael Downing and F Tyler Motte show up, FWIW, but I'm most intrigued by this construction:
49. Tyler Motte - C - U.S. National Under-18 Team (USHL) - 5-9, 190
When at his best, he's an offensively dynamic talent. Good speed, solid strength despite a smallish frame, and good finish around the net make him an intriguing prospect. Motte has had a problem with consistency, which he has a whole season to prove isn't a problem anymore.
Lloyd Carr feels you, Mr. Peters. Also, yes please 5-9 kid good enough to be a second rounder. Needs moar tiny scoring machines at Yost.
Nice concourse. Wow:
That's quite a difference from last year. Also the zambonis have studded tires now. Yost Built is back to posting, BTW. The Blue/White game scheduled for next Sunday will be a start-studded even thanks to the NHL lockout.
Etc.: UMHoops previews Jordan Morgan and Matt Vogrich. AP Mealer article is everywhere. Trey Burke is a third-team All-American to the Sporting News. Baumgardner on Burke. Weinreb on Holgo and the WVU-Baylor game. Michigan hasn't sucked after byes.
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.)
So there's this.
Screening. Very cool article from Mike Rothstein on the increasing use of ball screens and pick-and-roll in college basketball going all the way back to the days when LaVall Jordan was helping run it at Butler. It comes complete with pithy epigram:
The ball screen forces defenses to choose where they want to recover.
John Beilein has started using it frequently, getting Jordan Morgan a wide array of dunks and others various open shots—I wonder if that's Jordan's influence? Here is where we compare and contrast Beilein's program reboot after last season with Rodriguez's defensive flailing. [comparison] [sadness/frustration] [basketball team swept state] [woo]
Literally less than nothing. I was away when SI came out with a story about college football criminals heavy on the research and light on the context. The blogosphere duly blew it up. I'm with Braves & Birds in that I'd rather have a big media organization doing research instead of, you know, not doing it, but I'm also with Orson when he rips it. Two main takeaways:
- Journalists are terrible with numbers. It's appalling. I bet there isn't a journalism program in the country that requires a statistics course. They are the equivalent of dog groomers once you bring out a decimal point.
- Journalists will not stand for doing a lot of research and declaring "nothing to see here."
SI found nothing but still made the monkey dance:
Of those seven percent, "nearly 60 percent…were guilty or paid some penalty". If we assume "nearly 60 percent" means 57% (shockingly, the actual numbers and survey methods aren’t given), then 4% of players on top 25 football teams have been actually convicted of, or plead guilty to, a crime.
The number of average college students with the same criminal record? According to this article from Corvallis, Oregon’s Daily Barometer, 3.45%. That’s right: Your typical college football player is one-half of one percent more likely to have a criminal conviction. To put that in perspective, a team of 85 players has half a person more convicted criminals on it than a sample of 85 students drawn randomly. Hide yo kids, hide yo wife.
"Nothing" is actually generous. Consider that the kids on college football teams are disproportionately male (duh), black (45% as of 2006), and poor (presumably, right?) and that male, black, and/or poor groups tend to have more criminal activity. SI really discovered that putting someone on a college football team is a good way to keep them out of trouble. Which, duh. You're giving them something to lose.
Braves & Birds criticizes a lack of "solutions" in the SI problem, but how do you solve the opposite of a problem? (Other than hire Greg Robinson.)
BONUS: Remember the Free Press going ape that Michigan didn't do a juvenile background check on Demar Dorsey? Yeah…
…when the nut graf of the piece mentions that only two out of 25 programs conduct background checks on their incoming recruits, there's two instances of serious slippage here. First, programs probably don't do them out of negligence and cost, not because they know that juvenile records searches are sketchy business at best. Second, they assume this means anything when they also write this in the middle of the piece:
Nor did SI and CBS News have access to juvenile arrest records for roughly 80 percent of the players in the study.
The issue of background checks for most recruits in most states is dead before you finish the first page of the article.
BTW, Feldman's latest features a bunch of quotes($) from coaches and administrators citing the same problems bloggers did.
The way it had to end. MSU's hockey team did get swept in Fairbanks, ending Rick Comley's career, but it wasn't easy. Both games went to overtime. On Friday Michigan State had a potential game-winner ruled out and suffered a seemingly controversial UAs game winner. This caused an epic fit of bitching on MSU player twitter feeds—Derek Grant hashtagged "awful," "embarrassing," and "disgraceful" in a single tweet—that suggested Comley had complained to his players about the call in the locker room. The disgraceful event: the MSU net lifted up momentarily but was settled on its moorings before the shot was taken.
MSU's season ended the next night with another overtime goal, and thus ends Rick Comley's career. That's karma. This is something beyond it:
Michigan State hockey head coach Rick Comley reportedly was involved in a physical confrontation Friday night in the Carlson Center with Alaska Nanooks fans Robert Downes, a Fairbanks Superior Court judge, and his daughter, attorney Amy Tallerico. …
Downes, during a telephone interview Saturday, said he talked to Comley after the game. “It was a comment on his complaining about every goal that was scored,” Downes said.
The confrontation reportedly turned physical and Tallerico allegedly was struck. Speaking Saturday night, Tallerico said they exchanged shoves. Her father said she filed a complaint with the CCHA.
I'm not inclined to believe a random fan who dispenses frontier justice over Comley—never been anything but stonefaced in my experience—but for Comley to get into a confrontation with a fan in the last weekend of his career is a weird echo of the Kampfer incident that was the beginning of his end. May it haunt his dreams.
Meanwhile. Other than State getting swept it was a bad week for Michigan on the TUC cliff. OSU and NMU both lost, ending their seasons. Michigan's 5-1 record against them is now gone. Compounding matters, NMU's loss against BGSU sends the Falcons to Yost for a second-round series that can't do much to help Michigan. Sweeping gets them .001 for their RPI.
mfan_in_ohio broke down the comparisons in a diary bumped yesterday, but a brief recap:
- Michigan is still the last one-seed but lost a comparison against UNO. That will be tough to get back unless Bemidji State starts winning games.
- Denver lost over the weekend, keeping them behind M. Michigan can probably stay in front of them by doing at least as well as they do but pulling BGSU complicates things. Denver has a much better opponent this weekend and could pass Michigan in RPI if they win the WCHA.
- Any chance of stealing the BC comparison is gone after the Eagles swept UNH.
- Miami will be dangerously close to passing M if they sweep this weekend but since one or the other will have to lose it's kind of a moot point.
- Ferris is safe as a TUC.
- Lake State can become a TUC by beating ND.
In simple terms, if Michigan wins the CCHA they will very probably be the last one-seed. If they don't they'll be a two.
More dudes. A local newspaper article on 2013 commit Tyler Motte lists offer-type substances:
Motte committed recently to the University of Michigan, choosing the Wolverines over Miami (Ohio), Ferris State, Western Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State.
It's even more difficult to sort fiction from reality when it comes to college hockey offers since their recruiting cycle is so accelerated, but Miami was Motte's "second choice" so that's probably legit. They're a good team to snatch a recruit from. Knock on wood, but Motte does not sound like he'll give the OHL half a thought. Backing that up: his older brother is ticketed for Ferris.
Michigan continued its run of getting commits from kids who will hit campus after the Mayan apocalypse with 2013's Alex Talcott, a teammate of Alex Kile on Honeybaked's U18 midget major team. He had an 0-10-10 line at the recent Select 15 camp and was the seventh-best forward there according to USHR. All they said was "good hands," though. Michigan Hockey Net has a full googlestalk of Talcott waiting for you; FWIW, The Scouting News claims he's an NTDP "cinch."
This is a bit convoluted. But Simmons's latest column on the NFL is a compelling takedown of the sort of shortsighted thinking that plagues NFL owners specifically and, more generally, anyone who is obsessed with getting the highest Financial Oligarch Pacman score at the expense of the future. That people like Daniel Snyder and Dan Gilbert can own incredibly expensive sports franchises is a condemnation of the whole system. If those comic-sans-deploying, Mark-Shapiro-hiring idiots can make billions of dollars just so they can prove their ineptness in games with a score the idea this is a meritocracy is fanciful, isn't it?
Etc.: Yost introduces $38 "all you can eat" seats. Seriously. Red Berenson will be honored by the Blues today. All Big Ten teams from UMHoops; Morris second, Hardaway third, Morgan and Hardaway all-frosh. Kellen Russell wins a Big Ten championship in wrestling. Even tackles can be too tall.
So yesterday I wandered over to USHR, which is pretty much the only reliable source of information on college hockey recruits aside from some regular posters on Hockey's Future, and wandered around a bit. They're a subscription service that frees up their content after a while and I ran across some newly interesting assessments from this summer's "Select" camps, which are nationwide things that attempt to collect the nation's best talent. The 17s don't have NTDP kids and a lot of OHL kids either don't show or apparently embarrass themselves doing so—Max Iafrate was a fighting, dumb-penalty taking machine—so this is not a comprehensive ranking. It's not far off for college-bound kids at the 15 and 16 levels, though.
Anyway, persons of interest from the Select 15s:
4. J.T. Compher (#10 Red) 6-0/160 - 2-5-7 -- From Team Illinois Midget Minor. Aggressive and good-sized, with a sense of the game and anticipation. Competitive, too. Blocks shots. Plans to play in USHL for Waterloo this season. [Ed: Compher ended up sticking with midget minor.]
27. Tyler Motte (#18 Kelly Green) 5-10/165 - 3-2-5 -- From Honeybaked. Started slowly, but picked up the pace.
Compher's Team Illinois teammate Gabe Guertler was ranked #2 because of he's "a dynamic offensive player who made things happen every shift," FWIW. If Michigan can swing a package deal there that would be nice.
The Select 16s just had one player listed but it was a big one:
1. Boo Nieves (#12 Forest Green) 6-3/185 -- 1-1-2 -- Fascinating player. Has size and explosive speed. His ability to turn a d-man - to just blow past guys -- is breathtaking. Some people, notably the NTDP, have criticized Nieves' lack of engagement, which was actually not bad in Rochester. But consider the context: a 6'3" kid who can absolutely fly and is playing midget minor is expected to do one thing -- get the puck from one end to the other, and fast. And, man, can he ever do that. That said, several times we saw Nieves fly down the wing, turn the D, cut in -- and suddenly find himself in so tight that his options had dwindled severely. It's like the rink is too small for those strides of his. When Nieves gets to Kent, and plays with older kids for the first time, and works with Matt Herr, he will learn to use his speed to maximum advantage, to curl back and find space, etc., the way a pitcher uses his off-speed stuff to set up his fastball (sorry, it's July and 95 degrees). At the end of the day, Nieves has all the tools - size, big-time speed, nice hands, and a ridiculously high level of athleticism. Sometimes, though, the perfect is the enemy of the good, and Nieves needs to realize that it's OK to make mistakes, that it's through mistakes that you discover what you can become. We thought Nieves, and his highly talented linemates (Quentin Shore and Zach Stepan) were much too fine here, almost paralyzingly so - and they couldn't buy a goal. Nieves has high first round potential for the 2012 draft and, over the next two years, will, à la Chris Kreider, have every single game of his dissected. He's an exciting talent. It will be fun to see how good he can become. (Named to team going to Switzerland.)
Apparently Nieves's stock has not fallen much in the aftermath of his controversial omission from the NTDP. He's playing at a prep school under that Matt Herr so I imagine he's not an OHL threat, either—will be nice to actually get one of these top end guys on campus.
And the Select 17s:
8. Justin Selman (#18 Gold) 6-0/192 - 2-3-5 -- From NJ Avalanche; going to Des Moines. Really made a statement. Physical, hard-working two-way forward. A late '93. Not a natural scorer but does everything else.
Sounds like an Eric Nystrom, though undoubtedly with less hype—Nystrom was a surprising top-ten pick.
The other takeaway: be deathly afraid of Boston College. I checked out Chris Heisenberg in the aftermath of reading all these reports to see if various big names were available and it was all BC, BC, BC. Michigan is probably looking for another forward in the 2011 class, and I wonder if they'll try to pick off one of Michigan State's fairly good recruits now that Comley is out the door and no one knows who will replace him. They've got a little overage guy who is putting up a lot of points in the USHL (Matt Berry) and Shattuck C Tanner Sorenson got a good review from USHR—fourth in the Select 17s group. Either might be put off to 2012 at MSU; Michigan has room now. Could pull the reverse Lerg.
BONUS POSSIBLE SKETCH ALERT: Wisconsin's been the SEC of college hockey for a while with their controversial oversigning tactics and now Ohio State has hired a branch off that coaching tree. Mark Osiecki flat-out cut three players before the season, suggesting they weren't putting in sufficient work. Okay, maybe so. But while Ohio State graduates ten skaters and a goalie they're bringing in fifteen freshman, which would bulge the roster to 31 players. Watch to see if anyone gets cut over the summer.
|WHAT||Michigan @ NMU|
|WHERE||Berry Events Center
|WHEN||7:35 PM Fri/Sat|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Online streaming only ($7)|
Record. 14-15-5, 12-11-3 CCHA. Northern Michigan is miraculously fifth in the league despite having a –20 goal differential. They're +0 (-0?) in their nonconference schedule. Math thus requires a bunch of humiliating blowouts and indeed Northern's schedule features a 9-1 loss to Miami, an 8-1 loss to Notre Dame, a 6-1 loss to Western Michigan, and several other large margins of defeat coupled with narrow victories.
In six games against the league's upper tier (Miami and Notre Dame) the Wildcats are 1-5. There were the two massive blowouts plus a 4-0 loss to Miami, 5-2 and 3-1 losses to Notre Dame, and a single 3-2 win against the Irish in which Northern was outshot 53-15(!).
The Wildcats come in hot… sort of. The good: they've gone 3-0-1 in their last four and those were all on the road. The bad: they were against the worst two teams in the league and they come out of their series against awful BGSU with a tie and a 3-2 win. They'd lost their last four before that.
FWIW, it's spring break this weekend so the crowd will be relatively muted.
Dangermen. According to NMU head coach Kyle Walt via some guy on USCHO, NMU leading scorer Tyler Gron will miss his second consecutive weekend. That hurts, as he was on a PPG pace and the next guy is well back of that. In his absence Northern's main threats are juniors Justin Florek (12-14-26) and Andrew Cherniwchan (7-13-20) and seniors Phil Fox (11-7-18) and Greger Hanson (5-15-20).
This is not exactly going up against Miami here. NMU is 46th in scoring even and is missing their top guy. Chances are goals will come off of Michigan mistakes, of which there will be a few.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Junior Reid Ellingson and freshman Jared Coreau have split time. Ellingson gets about two-thirds of it and has a significantly better GAA and save percentage, so chances are Michigan sees him both nights unless Northern gets bombed Friday.
Northern's defense corps is young. They've got two seniors taking a regular shift and then it's sophomores and freshmen. NMU is better defensively than they are offensively but they're still giving up exactly three goals per game.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||3.9||4.1|
|PP Ag / G||5.5||4.4|
That's a huge gap for NMU, one that helps explain that goal differential. NMU gets penalties from all over but they're concentrated in the defense: only senior Andrew Fernandez has fewer than 35 PIMs and freshman CJ Ludwig has 78. It may even be worse than the PP numbers suggest since by the looks of it Northern is taking a lot of penalties longer than two minutes.
As to what happens when the specialty units get on the ice, NMU's power play is pretty effective at 18.8 percent (21st), but their penalty kill is very bad: they're 50th of 58th at 78.7 percent. They take a ton of penalties and don't kill them well, which is a recipe for getting bombed by Miami and their #5 PP.
Meanwhile, Michigan is mediocre at both, slightly worse than NMU on the on the power play but better killing penalties and less likely to end up with a deficit in power plays.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Don't give up two pure breakaways against a 5'7" goalie. Just sayin'. More to the point: like Michigan's series against Alaska earlier in the year it looks like this opponent isn't going to generate much you don't give them. No hockey team can go a game without making mistakes that lead to scoring issues but Michigan's had more issues than they're comfortable with lately; reducing those is kind of important.
Get a bounce-back from Hunwick. A rough outing here and there happens to the best; a second consecutive would be an ominous sign as Michigan hits the playoffs.
Demote everyone to fourth-line center. Then they'll be Kevin Lynch and imbued with super powers.
Let the Sparks fly. Hurr durr hurr! But seriously folks, Sparks has verve. He has panache. He has extra savior faire. I know defense and all that but frankly before Lynch blew up that fourth line has been a liability that gets stuck in its zone more often than not.
BONUS: "The Northerns." If you're listening to this on the radio be sure to listen for one of the most bizarre verbal ticks you'll ever hear: PBP guy Al Randall will call Michigan's opponent this weekend "The Northerns." It never fails to amuse and slightly alarm.
The Big Picture
The CCHA is simple. Michigan wins the league if they get one more point than Notre Dame does this weekend. They have a home and home with a reeling Western Michigan team. ND will get the Broncos' best shot: despite their four-game losing streak WMU is still hanging on to the last at-large bid*.
As far as the Pairwise, it is a fickle beast and Michigan will probably lose ground no matter what this weekend. You want the following results:
- Denver to lose to Nebraska-Omaha
- Nebraska-Omaha to lose to Denver
- Minnesota-Duluth to lose to CC
- Boston College to lose to UMass
- Ferris State to beat OSU
- OSU to beat Ferris State
Ferris and OSU skated to 2-2 tie yesterday so you probably want OSU to win the remaining game.
Obviously some of those are direct contradictions; even with a sweep there are several sets of results that will see Michigan give back the ground it somewhat illicitly staked thanks to OSU getting into the TUC category. Looking at the comparisons, it's going to be hard for Michigan to stay in front of UNO if they sweep, so you probably want splits in both the DU/UNO and OSU/Ferris series and now we're proscribing very specific sets of results and you can see why Michigan's probably locked into about where they are now even if they end the year on a ten-game win streak.
Losing is bad for many reasons, one of which is that losing to NMU will give them a good shot at being a TUC at the end of the year with a record Michigan would rather not have featured, but it also doesn't matter a whole lot because Michigan's almost certainly going to be a two or three. What does matter is the conference race—the winner gets to avoid Miami in the league semifinal.
*[assuming that no one outside the top 16 snags an autobid, which is a dodgy assumption.]
On Motte’s character: “He was voted captain by the boys and basically that’s a result of not only his hard work on the ice but off the ice. He’s just a pure leader. There’s not much bad I can talk about Tyler.”
Motte will try to make the NTDP team in March.