The Michigan Softball and Women's Lacrosse teams played today (well, yesterday technically) and both won in dominating fashion.
The softball team won at CMU 11-0 in five innings. Romero hit a home run on her very first pitch and Sierra Lawrence and Kelly Christner each had home runs. Megan Betsa and Sara Driesenga were both solid on the mound for Michigan's 3rd straight shutout. Michigan has now won 20 straight, the sixth time in program history that has happened. The team has a big weekend against Big Ten #2 Minnesota this weekend. Winning at least one would be big, winning two or three would be huge.
Michigan Women's Lacrosse also won its third game (second straight) of the year against Detroit, 16-6. This is the most goals Michigan has scored this year and the fewest allowed this year. Detroit has had a team for longer than Michigan, so winning 16-6 is certainly a good sign for the future.
Greetings, lacrosse faithful. It's snowing outside and we're much closer to the memory of minus-13 temperatures than the technical start of spring, but it's time for spring sports anyway. (Perhaps this is part of the reason the South is picking up on lacrosse faster than real Big Ten schools.) Since the official season opener is just a week away, and Michigan scrimmaged Marquette just today, here's a look at the opponents Michigan will face this season in stickyball sport. Some are familiar by now, some are not.
A word on the landscape, which changed this year as it does every year in lacrosse. Michigan's conference, the ECAC, lost two of its best teams (Denver and Loyola) and is down to five schools from eight (Hobart left for the NEC) and in its last year of existence. Despite dropping below six members, the ECAC retains its tourney autobid due to a grace-period rule. The tourney has expanded to 18 teams to accommodate the higher number of autobids - the ACC and the newly formed Atlantic Sun now earn them. 10 autobids and 8 at-large spots are at stake. Not that this affects Michigan much, but it has the practical benefit of expanding the at-large field by one since the ACC champ always took an at-large.
So Michigan will play a four-game ECAC schedule and, depending on how things go, could have a shot at actually making the four-team ECAC tourney, since only one team will be left out. Michigan will also play four of their five future Big Ten rivals. Below is a guide to the grid in each team's section:
|Preseason rank||Media poll and USILA coaches poll, respectively|
|2013 computer||LaxPower's computer ranking, out of 63 teams|
|2013 result||What happened when we played them|
|2013 O-rating||see below|
|2013 D-rating||see below|
The O-rating and D-rating are concoctions of my own devising, similar to a KenPom number. They represent goals per game of 100 possessions (50 each.) I threw some tempo-free stats into a formula, adjust for schedule, and come up with a number. The national raw average was 15.33 last year, highest in any of the years I've tracked these stats. Top and bottom quartiles are roughly above 16.5 and below 13.5.
Right then, on with the show.
Penn State - Sat., February 8 - Away
|2013 result||L, 11-5|
|2013 O-rating||15.75 (22nd)|
|2013 D-rating||11.97 (5th)|
Penn State had a really good season last year til it got derailed in the tournaments. They beat Denver, lost in OT to Notre Dame and Ohio State, and ran roughshod over the CAA until being upset in the CAA final by Towson and the NCAA opener by Yale. They relied heavily on a pair of 40-goal scorers, one of which is back this. That's T.J. Sanders, a pure scorer and deadly sniper who scored on over 40% of his shots. Seniors Shane Sturgis and Tom LaCrosse (clearly born for this, although he can probably never visit Quebec) bring very good secondary scoring. PSU also has a top-notch goalie in Austin Kaut.
The defense will be very strong, and the presence of Sanders and Kaut explain why the media thinks they're one of only two teams in the country worthy of being mentioned with the ACC. (In the preseason polls, the six ACC teams are in the top eight and top seven.) Michigan plays this game and the Ohio game for the Creator's Trophy, and PSU looks like the favorite to win it.
Mercer - Fri., February 14 - Home
|2013 O-rating||13.06 (51st)|
|2013 D-rating||19.38 (60th)|
Michigan is dipping heavily into the Atlantic Sun for opponents this year, probably in an effort to find a win or two. Mercer is the first of three teams from this conference we'll face. They've basically been awful since the inauguration of their program, but four wins is three more than they've had in a season in their history, and they're picked third of six in the A-Sun. Dangermen include 30-goal scorers Chris Baxa and Zack Ward at attack, and goalie Mike Nugent came up with a solid .553 save percentage despite an extremely porous defense in front of him. As Michigan was a meager 1-13 last year, this'll be the first decent indicator of how much our team has improved. Astute fans will remember this was the first team we ever beat, back in 2012.
Detroit - Wed., February 19 - Neutral
|2013 result||Rained out|
|2013 O-rating||12.37 (54th)|
|2013 D-rating||14.86 (26th)|
The Titans were sort of the anti-Penn State last year - mired in a lousy losing season, they snuck into the MAAC tournament as the 4th seed and then won it by upsetting Marist and then Siena, the latter in overtime. Then they went to the NCAAs and damn near knocked off 2-seed Notre Dame, actually holding a 7-3 lead after three periods.
Last year's game was washed out by a lightning storm, but Michigan was holding their own, down 4-3 in the second when the game was called. UDM will be a relatively tough out this year, though. Their defense was highly respectable for a low-major team and though they lost most of the top names from that unit, the offense is at full strength with their entire scoring core returning. They'll add Shayne Adams to that, who medically redshirted last season after starting with 10 goals in 4 games. The Titans are tied with Siena as favorites to win their conference and have a head start in the battle for state supremacy.
Johns Hopkins - Sat., February 22 - Away
|2013 result||L, 17-8|
|2013 O-rating||16.79 (14th)|
|2013 D-rating||11.17 (1st)|
We used to play this game because John Paul and Dave Pietramala are tight; now it's just as much thanks to future conference affiliation. We'll just have to get used to losing to the Hop for a while. The pollsters don't think they're among the elite teams this year, mainly due to losing their outstanding goalie and most of their scoring, but they're still Hopkins. And they've got Wells Stanwick, the youngest son of a very large and ridiculously lacrosse-blooded family. Wells, and I hate to say this, gives his older brother Steele a run for his money in the talent department, and Steele was a Tewaaraton winner. There might be one in Wells's future, too.
Cornell - Sat., March 1 - Home
|2013 O-rating||20.35 (4th)|
|2013 D-rating||11.94 (4th)|
As with Hopkins, the voters predict a fall; Cornell, too, loses a ton of scoring talent, possibly the most in the country as they'll no longer have Rob Pannell or Steve Mock. They're also finding their way with a new coach, as the fairly successful Ben DeLuca was fired in the fall in the wake of a hazing scandal. (Apparently it's no longer OK to make freshmen drink til they puke.) The Big Red will be the highest-profile visitors to visit Ann Arbor depending on your take on Maryland, and they still have scoring punch in Connor Buczek and Matt Donovan, so despite the predicted precipice and likely bubble-team-at-best status, Michigan will still have all it can handle and more.
High Point - Wed., March 5 - Away
|2013 result||L, 13-10|
|2013 O-rating||12.00 (58th)|
|2013 D-rating||18.91 (58th)|
With two big uglies out of the way, Michigan heads south to once again take on the Atlantic Sun. Quite probably the most disappointing result of last season was a 13-10 loss to brand-new High Point, so this can work as another benchmark game to check improvement. The Panthers have started this season with an uncompetitive loss to lately-disappointing Delaware, so hope exists. The offense is mainly keyed by playmaker Matt Thistle and finisher Dan Lomas, but it's not a high-powered one by any stretch. This is the best chance up to this point in the season for a win.
Furman - Sat., March 8 - Away
A two-game southern swing concludes in South Carolina, where Michigan again takes on a brand-new program. Being brand-new, there's not much to go on in terms of evaluation, but, being brand-new, they probably stink. They're almost entirely freshmen plus a tiny number of juco transfers and one or two D-I transfers. Still, the High Point game last year is a cautionary tale. Michigan should win, but should still be wary because reasons.
Bellarmine - Sat., March 15 - Away
|2013 result||L, 12-6|
|2013 O-rating||12.11 (57th)|
|2013 D-rating||12.12 (7th)|
This could be the most important game of the year. Of the various accomplishments by which a team measures success, the most accessible to Michigan is a berth in the ECAC tournament. It's not much of an accomplishment - five teams for four spots - but the tourney atmosphere and travel (to scenic Columbus) would be good for a growing team.
Beating just one conference team would probably do it, as anyone you beat would have to win twice to pass you, and this is the most likely spot for it. It's not easy - Bellarmine has a well-deserved reputation as a strong defensive squad. Neither is it insurmountable. The Knights lose an outstanding goalie and most of their already-anemic scoring to graduation. This is the first conference game of the year and the last time facing them as a conference foe - although, since the Knights are off to the A-Sun next year (which by then will be the SoCon) and we seem to like that conference, and furthermore as Louisville is relatively convenient to Ann Arbor, I would bet it's not the last we'll see of them.
Maryland - Tue., March 18 - Home
|2013 O-rating||18.36 (9th)|
|2013 D-rating||12.26 (8th)|
Without looking at sports I don't pay attention to (so there's a fair chance I'm off my rocker here) this is the first time Michigan will face Maryland in anything since the announcement of their move to the B1G. I guess we'll have to get used to seeing them around. I don't have to like it.
Because the B1G chose to start lacrosse by inviting two powerhouses rather than wait until more schools (MSU, Northwestern, whoever) started up their programs, Michigan will probably find itself fighting with Rutgers to stay out of the basement for the foreseeable future. But that will be then. This is now. Maryland will bring a team that'll be very tough to score on, with a standout netminder in Niko Amato behind a veteran defense. Typically the Terps have relied on balanced scoring rather than a big superstar for their offense, but most of their depth graduated, leaving Mike Chanenchuk and Jay Carlson as the only double-digit goal-scorers from last year. There's still a formidable talent gap, though, and I expect Maryland's defense to be among the very best nationally, if not tops.
St. Joseph's - Sat., March 22 - Home
|2013 result||W, 11-8|
|2013 O-rating||10.95 (61st)|
|2013 D-rating||18.53 (54th)|
St. Joe's is not a fully-funded team, so this year they've moved out of the CAA into a conference more their speed. This was Michigan's only win of last season; the Hawks are historically awful, though improving somewhat under a new coach the past two years. They had one of the nation's worst offenses last year and only four players with double-digit goals, but at least all of those players are back. Still, they'll likely be as usual, which is to say, a threat to lose to an A-Sun team.
Air Force - Sat., March 29 - Away
|2013 result||L, 10-6|
|2013 O-rating||15.55 (26th)|
|2013 D-rating||14.45 (21st)|
The Falcons have just about been the picture of average lately, with a 7-7 record last year, 6-7 the year before that, and sitting right near the top of the bell curve in O- and D-ratings. This year, with Denver and Loyola out of the picture, they're a decent possibility as a contender for the ECAC title, with all major scoring contributors returning. Mike Crampton is the top player with 34 goals and 19 assists, and Tommy McKee is an excellent finisher as well while Keith Dreyer performs well as a setup man.
Air Force, somewhat interestingly, is the only ECAC team left without a landing spot after the conference's dissolution, but rumor has it they'll follow Bellarmine into the A-Sun/SoCon. As for this year's game, though, they're a likely bet to knock off Michigan, especially in the altitude.
Fairfield - Sat., April 5 - Home
|2013 result||L, 10-8|
|2013 O-rating||14.98 (34th)|
|2013 D-rating||15.69 (31st)|
The ECAC coaches figured Fairfield as the team most likely to challenge Ohio for the conference title, but it's really very close between them and Air Force. There's not a lot of difference between the two teams. Goaltending is about the same, and Fairfield only loses one of their offensive core. The top returning scorer is Jordan Greenfield with 34 goals.
In fact, if forced at gunpoint, I'd give the slight nod to Air Force, not Fairfield, which fared slightly worse in all the metrics and was Michigan's closest loss last season. With the game at home, this should be the conference game in which the Wolverines have the second-best chance, after Bellarmine. It's probably not close to a 50/50 chance, but maybe 25/75?
Ohio State - Sat., April 12 - Away
|2013 result||L, 17-8|
|2013 O-rating||17.65 (11th)|
|2013 D-rating||13.80 (19th)|
Ohio was the bloody obvious pick for the final ECAC championship; last year, they played their way to a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament. The spirited, close game that Michigan played against them in 2012 gave way to a blowout loss last season, and Ohio even shed some of its snail's reputation and played at a tempo just slightly below average.
All-American attackman Logan Schuss is gone, but midfielder Jesse King has a chance to be just as good, posting a 32-goal, 23-assist season in 2013. He's joined in the midfield by Turner Evans (26 goals) and playmaking attackman Carter Brown (27 goals, 16 assists) should be able to step into Schuss's shoes somewhat. Goalie Greg Dutton regressed somewhat last year after a very good 2012 season, but he's a four-year starter all the same.
It'll probably be a while before Michigan is ready to challenge the Buckeyes. Whether they can stay among the country's best teams remains to be seen (the pollsters are fairly divided on their quality), but coach Nick Myers has them in good position to do so. These guys are a symbol of the spreading-out of the power in lacrosse that's been going on the past few years.
Yale - Sat., April 19 - Home
|2013 O-rating||16.47 (17th)|
|2013 D-rating||11.98 (6th)|
The Elis have been on a slow and steady rise, and they've placed themselves this year as one of the Ivy's top contenders. Princeton is back on top in the polls after a longish (for them) absence, but Yale is the reigning champs; they then knocked off Penn State in the NCAAs and came within a whisker of doing the same to Syracuse.
So Cornell has the bigger name, but Yale is likely to be the best Ivy League team Michigan faces. They had a trio of 30-goal scorers last year, and two - attackmen Brandon Mangan and Conrad Oberbeck - are back this season. FOGO Dylan Levings won almost 60% of his faceoffs last year. Yale also had an excellent defense last year. In recent years, they've occupied a rung in the Ivy League one notch below Cornell and Princeton, but they're going to make some national noise and could be perhaps the 2nd or 3rd-toughest opponent we see this year.
Robert Morris - Sat., April 26 - Home
|2013 O-rating||15.43 (28th)|
|2013 D-rating||16.09 (37th)|
Unless Michigan reaches the ECAC tourney, we've reached the end of the journey. RMU was known for a powerful, up-tempo offense a couple years ago, but that reputation has eroded away somewhat. They're still up-tempo, and they had five 20-goal scorers last year (fairly rare for a low-major team) but only two of those players remain. Obviously, by the time we get to this game we'll have a much better idea of this matchup, but from here it looks at least passably winnable.
Here's a quick-reference table of the schedule's O- and D-ratings. Michigan is at the bottom.
For Michigan's part, that's a step back on offense but a slight improvement on defense.
However, I think there are more winnable games on this schedule than last year, if only because Denver and Loyola are gone and the A-Sun features so heavily. Other people smarter than me can probably preview the team itself, but let's just assume a reasonable amount of improvement and then divide the schedule like so:
Doom: Penn State, Hopkins, Cornell, Maryland, Ohio State, Yale
Not real likely: Air Force
OKish chance: Fairfield
Fair chance (but don't get your hopes too high yet): Detroit, Bellarmine, Robert Morris
Possibly favored: Mercer, High Point, Furman, St. Joseph's
Last year I predicted reasonable improvement, too, and called for three wins, and that worked out not very well. This year the schedule looks more like an hourglass. Six games against top national teams, and seven against teams potentially within striking distance. Not having goalie Gerald Logan is gonna suck, but even so, let's put on the optimism hat and call it a four-win season. Even if it has to come by feasting on the southern schools, it'd be a step in the right direction.
Congratulations to Michigan Men's Lacrosse which was one of six D1 Lax teams to record a perfect 1000 in the Academic Progress Rate. Great accomplishment for the STUDENT-athletes.
Also congrats to Villanova, Notre Dame, Dartmouth, Colgate and Bucknell who also scored a 1000. And Duke and Yale who came in at 997.
Was curious about NCAA attendance records for all sports so I did a little digging and found this from the NCAA official website-
|Football||Michigan vs Notre Dame||9/10/2011||114,804||Michigan Stadium||Ann Arbor, MI|
|(M) Basketball||Kentucky vs Michigan State||12/13/2003||78,129||Ford Field||Detroit, MI|
|(W) Basketball||UConn vs Oklahoma||3/29/2002||29,619||Alamodome||San Antonio, TX|
|Hockey||Michigan vs Michigan State||12/11/2010||113,411||Michigan Stadium||Ann Arbor, MI|
|Baseball||San Diego State vs Houston||3/11/2004||40,106||PETCO Park||San Diego, CA|
|Softball||Fresno State vs Arizona||3/14/2000||5,724||Bulldog Diamond||Fresno, CA|
|(M) Lacrosse||Syracuse vs Johns Hopkins||5/26/2008||48,970||Gillette Stadium||Foxborough, MA|
|(W) Lacrosse||Maryland vs Northwestern||5/30/2010||9,782||Unitas Stadium||Towson, MD|
|(M) Soccer||St. Louis vs SIU-Edwardsville||10/30/1980||22,512(!)||Busch Stadium||St. Louis, MO|
|(W) Soccer||North Carolina vs Notre Dame||12/5/1999||14,410(!?)||Spartan Stadium||San Jose, CA|
|Field Hockey||Maryland vs North Carolina||11/21/2010||2,381||Byrd Stadium||College Park, MD|
|(W) Volleyball||Stanford vs Texas||12/18/2008||17,430(!?)||CenturyLink Cen.||Omaha, NE|
Underline indicates game at pro/neutral site venue off campus
Italics indicate game was an NCAA Tournament event
Michigan owns two NCAA attendance records that most likely will never be touched by anyone other than Michigan in Football and Hockey. I would like to see more and I believe that they can get more. They can smash some of these records in fact.-
Men's and Women's Basketball- Option 1: Host an outdoor doubleheader of Michigan Basketball at Michigan Stadium. Has to be against a big time opponent or rival like ohio or state. Must have a doubleheader to break the women's record.
Option 2: Have an indoor showdown with both Men's and Women's teams of Michigan and state at Ford Field. Will most likely shatter the records and is a safer bet in terms of weather.
Baseball & Softball- There isn't any way ol' Fish is gonna even sniff that record. Can't have it at The Big House, no way in hell. Huge risks of a home run smashing the luxury box windows. Have a doubleheader of Baseball and Softball at Comerica Park. Softball is a huge stretch and most likely wouldn't happen since the dimensions of fields are way different. Have the game feature the heated Michigan vs state baseball rivalry. state's program is at a high it hasn't seen in years and Coach Bakich will have this Michigan program up and running pretty soon and back to splittin' heads.
Men's and Women's Lacrosse- Four things must happen for these records to even come close to being broken. 1) The weather has to cooperate 2) Michigan must sell tickets to keep count of the attendance. 3) MUST MUST MUST be held after or before the Football Spring Game or there is no chance of this. 4) Big-name schools and rivals must be the opponents. Men's team should play either their Creators Trophy rivals in ohio or penn state. And of course the traditional rival of notre dame who is a powerhouse nationally. The Women's program isn't officially starting varsity competition until the 2013-14 athletic season so it will take awhile for them to get the program off the ground. They are having success as of late at the club level. I would say bring in national powerhouse and dynasty that is well-documented, northwestern.
Men's and Women's Soccer- This one is a no-brainer where to have it (Michigan Stadium). But this one could really tough to break since Soccer is near the bottom of the totem poll here in the US. However, Michigan Soccer has their own student section and is really getting support. The Men's program had a magical run in 2010 to the College Cup but took a step back last year while the Women's program is looking to have a historic season this year with players returning who are currently in the U-20 World Cup in Japan. I would say these games would have to be doubleheader, held before a 3:30 football game. Maybe even have a triple header against state. Men's soccer plays them for the Big Bear Trophy, Women's team just mops the floor with them every year and then at 3:30 you would have the Football game.
Field Hockey- This one is more difficult for me to think about because I'm all that sure about the field requirements for Field Hockey. If it has to be astroturf-like which they have a Ocker Field, than I have no clue what they could do. IF that isn't an issue, probably have it at The Big House and invite every former player and their family and they can and have it against rival ohio. While I'm not sure the requirements, I know that this record is beatable because of the large support this program has in the city, with former players and alumni.
Women's Volleyball- This one, IMO could be the most difficult of all. Crisler isn't big enough at 12,721. I would say make the proposed Basketball games at Ford Field I mentioned above a triple header with state and have a Volleyball game before it.
The penultimate game of Team One's season (unless we make the playoffs, of course) is tonight at 7 at Rutgers, and it seems that there will be a free live stream provided by the Scarlet Knights. Let's hope the Wolverines give a good showing, and possibly even get the elusive second win.
Also, I think the final game vs. UNC will be on ESPN3.com.
Does anyone know of any?