“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
The audacity of lacrosse. Run, don't walk, to Patrick Hruby's Page 2 article on Mike Legg's famous lacrosse-style goal. It's as told by the participants, with Hruby mostly staying out of the way and allowing Legg, Morrison, Turco, Victimized Minnesota Goalie, Berenson, and Guy Legg Learned It From tell the story:
LEGG: "We're in the playoffs, so I had been telling myself, 'Don't even think about it. Get that crap out of your head. Don't do anything silly. If there's even a half-open player, try to get the puck to him.'"
MORRISON: "I was sneaking into the point."
LEGG: "I looked around and didn't really see anybody open."
MORRISON: "All of a sudden, Mike leaned down and scooped it."
BERENSON: "I thought, 'Oh my God, he's going to try it.' I saw him shoot it 100 times in practice, just fooling around. I hadn't coached him into it."
It's 5000 words. Turco says "it took a long time for Mike's party to mellow out" at one point. It's epic. I suggest you peruse it, because you will enjoy it or find out you are a robot. (HT: MGoUser Blueintheface.)
While we're on hockey, AnnArbor.com scored an excusive interview with Berenson in anticipation of the Frozen Four (where Miami got what was coming to them, BTW). Let's skip over the "argh we won" bits:
Q: Considering all the disappointment that surrounded Michigan's football and men's basketball teams, do you think your team provided some ray of hope this year?
A: That's what people are telling me and that's what the last month of the season did for Michigan. That helped carry the torch high and gave a lot of Michigan fans pride in Michigan sports. You never know how your season is going to end, but ours ended - up until that last goal - on such an up note. It wasn't just one weekend. It was four weekends and it just kept picking up and people got into it. I think it was great for Michigan.
It sounds like they'll platoon Hunwick and Hogan like they did with Sauer and Hogan a couple years ago.
Further detail. Michigan's made its coordinators available over the past couple weeks and during the brief segments when they aren't admonishing fans not to get caught up in a wholesale scheme change (or "tweak" according to Greg Robinson) they're throwing out a few guys who seem to be developing. Greg Robinson dropped a couple names to Rittenberg yesterday, and not just Cam Gordon:
The competition at middle linebacker is really heating up between Obi Ezeh and Kenny Demens, who has come on strong this spring. "This is a dogfight," Robinson said. "And I like it. It's amazing when you have competition, how much the improvement comes."
The other Gordon, JT Floyd, and Teric Jones also get positive mentions; Justin Turner remains worryingly unmentioned. It's weird that Demens goes from buried behind a walk-on to pushing for a starting job over the course of a couple months, but I'll take it. If Demens can develop into a contributor Michigan's linebacker depth chart looks considerably less frightening.
On the other side of the ball, Calvin Magee's press conference was bulleted in this space a couple days ago. Here's a transcript for the detail oriented. And here's a pull quote:
“Terrence is really playing well this spring … I mean, really well,” said Magee. “Having Jeremy Gallon off his redshirt year, too, we have a number of guys I feel real comfortable about.
“Terrence is interesting, because Year one it was a competition. He just happened to get injured. Year two it was another competition with Tay Odoms, and he got dinged up again and missed some time, allowing Roy Roundtree to show his stuff.”
A lot of people, including yours truly, had written Robinson off after a redshirt freshman year in which he did nothing. Magee repeatedly emphasizing his breakout bodes well. If the guy can catch he's got some crazy moves.
Leverage. When the NHL instituted a salary cap as part of a massive revamp of their collective bargaining agreement, the end result appeared to be very bad for college teams hoping to keep their seniors around. It appeared that the rookie cap and service-time-based arbitration would combine with near-instant free agency for college kids who play out their eligibility to give give both player and team powerful incentive to sign before the prospect's senior year.
It hasn't quite worked out like that. TJ Hensick, Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik, and Chris Summers have all stuck around for four years and it looks like Michigan will retain its 2011 seniors as well (knock on wood). While players still regularly sign early, it's not epidemic.
Why? Oilers draftee Riley Nash, a late first rounder who just finished his junior year at Cornell, provides an interesting case study. One: I didn't know that an entry-level contract is three years if you sign before your senior year but two if you sign after. You have the same opportunity to become an RFA no matter when you sign. Two: a college player has crazy leverage because he can play his final year and become a free agent immediately afterwards.
The end result of this? Mo' money. Mudcrutch has assembled a chart showing the amount of money late first rounders have signed for recently* and color coded it for easy pattern recognition. Orange are kids in college, purple juniors, and blue euros. I make it small in order to hit you over the head with the conclusion:
College kids (and Euros) get better bonuses because they have attractive options other than signing. Junior kids just go back in the draft, where they invariably get taken lower and paid less. The difference even clearer if you remove goalies. Goalies almost never play in the NHL during their initial contract and the top two junior players on the list are goalies.
If you squint hard or click for big you'll note some familiar names: Mitera, Summers, Cogliano, and Pacioretty all appear on the list, with Mitera and Summers—both seniors with the option to become free agents—hovering near the top of the list. Cogliano (sophomore) is a bit farther down and Pacioretty (freshman) is the last blip of orange on the chart. The upshot: unless a college player sticks on an NHL roster they don't lose much if any money by sticking around because their increased bonus leverage makes up for the relatively paltry AHL salaries they'd be pulling down. Instead of being a death knell for college seniors, the CBA actually provides some incentive for collegians to stay in school until they are NHL-ready.
Question: Summers has a two-year deal, but Mitera signed for three. Both waited until after their seniors years to do so. Why are the contracts different lengths?
UPDATE: Contract length is based on age. Mitera signed at 21, Summers at 22. When you're 22 the entry-level contract is two years. Thanks to emailer Brendan Baker.
*(There is a rookie cap that all almost all these contracts reach, but NHL teams can offer a wide array of bonuses if the want that are easily achievable by someone playing in the NHL.)
The final revamp. AnnArbor.com caught a Brandon appearance in which he said a number of interesting things, amongst them some more detail on what they plan to do to Crisler in the relatively near future:
“And then the third phase will be absolutely a complete remodel of the facility where you would potentially bust out the concourses and you would create the bigger circulation space,” Brandon said. “More restrooms, capacity, more amenities, better food service, maybe some kind of club-seating opportunities for those who are interested in that experience. Really making it a modern arena for the purpose of big-time college basketball. And that’s ultimately where we’d love to go with Crisler Arena because the program deserves that.”
This cannot happen fast enough.
Etc.: Big Ten baseball teams are operating a serious disadvantage because of restricted oversigning. This is less "cram the academically questionable in" and more "scramble for leftovers after unexpected signings".
It remains the possibility, albeit unconfirmed, that Demens might have been slower in getting up to speed in 2009 because of his redshirt-mandated injury. Further, if he was still recovering, it would make sense that if GERG knew more of Leach's ability than Demens's going into the season, that GERG would tap Leach as next in line when Ezeh was sent to the bench.
So, I don't really find it that surprising that if Demens is now healthy and being given the chance to compete, that he might now be a viable LB option.
Also, it may well be that GERG simply made a mistake regarding Demens's abilities in 2009. After all, he only showed up a month and a half before spring ball.
When these players emerge from being "buried," sometimes they are buried due to an error by the corches, not always because they aren't worthy of playing. I hope Demens proves the former - it sounds like he is.
You're spot on. Kenny and I have been pretty good friends since we had a project together in class. I usually don't ask him for info about the team, but in addition to what you said, he told me everything is really clicking all of sudden for him. He really likes how GERG coaches the linebackers.
When he said that I had to hold back my incredibly joyous and giddy excitement.
I know from experience dude. If you know what I mean.
the video segment be posted here of the legg goal that includes the simms brothers "celebrating-after-the-goal" crowd shot....although it's not clear to me, men, that the "awkward years" are necessarily over
For those of us who were around during Terrence Robinson's recruitment and remember his hype and videos, it's hard not to be excited about him with the ball in his hands. We all KNEW it would be him, not Odoms, who would take the first slot spot. Now with Odoms, Gallon and TRob, this should be an exciting year at that position.
Maybe even more so, Kenny Demens! If he can be a good MIKE, we are looking good for a few years. That's a bigger deal than almost anyone of the other developments, IMO.
Demens....lets not forget that he was a Rivals 4-star, which means, IIRC, per their own explanations of their stars, that they project him to be an all-conference caliber player as he develops in college.
Not all conference immediately. Not all conference after recovering from injury during a freshmen redshirt year. But all-conference as he develops during his collegiate career.
Sounds like he is making progress towards those bonafides. With three seasons left to play for Michigan, to boot.
Keep in mind how few tackles David Harris during his first two years at Michigan. It takes time to reach your potential.
and i just want to add what was brian thinking with :
"A lot of people, including yours truly, had written Robinson off after a redshirt freshman year in which he did nothing"
not getting production out of a redshirt freshman and writing him off as a bust is premature. if trob works out, he is the paradigm example of why we as fans need to be patient with the younger players.
"Question: Summers has a two-year deal, but Mitera signed for three. Both waited until after their seniors years to do so. Why are the contracts different lengths?"
Brian, it's because Entry Level Contracts are not dependent on what year of college a player leaves, but rather on the actual age of the player. Kids 18-21 are required to sign a 3-year contract, while kids 22-23 are required to sign a 2-year contract.
Mitera was 21 when he signed his deal with Anaheim.
Summers was 22 when he signed his deal with Phoenix.
You can reference this in the NHL CBA, in article 9 (specifically, 9.1(b)).
Ok...sorry this sounds like a Penthouse Forum letter...but this really happened last night, and I am still in shock. I am a 1992 M grad living in Dallas. I support the Stars and Turco, who, sadly, is on his way out of town. (He still has a lot left...he just needs a D in front of him.) I decided to go to the Stars' last home game of the season last night, which was also probably Modano's last home game. My buddy won a prize in a charity poker tournament that allowed us to meet Turco after the game and get a tour of the Stars' locker room. Epic game, if you have not read about it or seen highlights - Modano tied it up late in the third to send it to OT, and then got the game winner in a shootout. Turco played great in the shootout.
Anyway, long story short, we got to meet Turco after the game. He introduced us to a bunch of players, including Modano, gave us sticks and autographs, and we drank a beer with him and chatted with him for about 45 minutes. I wore my Michigan sweatshirt to help break the ice (no pun intended). We talked a lot about Michigan hockey. Super cool guy and very down to earth. First thing I said to him, after introducing myself, was a question about the Mike Legg goal against Minnesota. He said Leggs was ridiculous with that trick in practice. I had not seen the ESPN article yet. I just wanted to pass that on and let you what a genuinely friendly and cool guy Turco is.
P.S. - someone was blaring Iron Maiden Piece of Mind in the locker room. I commented about it to Turco and he said - yeah, that's Lehtinen, he is an old-school Maiden fan. Excellent.
I met Marty at a UM alumni game back in.... 2004 I believe it was. He was sitting out a period so that Shields could play 20 minutes, and just hanging out by the door to the ice surface. I grabbed a puck, asked him to sign it, and then just chatted with him for the period. I agree, nice guy.
Back when Turco played for Michigan, my family had season tickets to M Hockey. After every game we used to eat at the Cottage Inn, and the hockey team also had a postgame buffet in the basement after each game.
Being about 10 years old, I used to wait outside the buffet room and get autographs from the players. I probably have 15-20 pucks with Marty Turco signatures on them(about this many Legg signatures also). Anyways, he would always hang out and chat for a couple minutes with us, and we were just some annoying kids at a restaurant. Not once did he say, "You know, I have given you 10 signatures already, do you really need another?" Really nice guy all-around.
star power of a Graham or Warren but it sounds to be a more even well-balanced defense. With the emergence of Demens, Campbell, Gordon, and hopefully the Freshmen coming in the fall; this years defense can be a good balanced defense. I am not looking for a great dominating defense just one that doesn't make the mistakes that they have seemed to make the past couple years.
TO margin it has endured the last two seasons (-10 in 2008 and -12 in 2009) to something along the lines of a +6 TO margin they should win a MINIMUM of 7 games in 2010. That is without ANY improvement by the offense OR defense.
My half-a**ed Win formula for 2010
Scenario 1: +6 TO margin, no improvement on O or D == 7+ wins
Scenario 2: +6 TOM, improvement on D to "decent" == 8+ wins
Scenario 3: +6 TOM, improved D, improved O (RZE) == 9+ wins
Scenario 4: All of above, Pryor puts his "everybody murders, everybody steals" mantra into practice == 10+ wins
was really good. It makes me even more excited for next season, which I wasn't really sure was too possible. Sounds like he's mostly over the Miami game but still harping on it a little bit to keep the chip on his players' shoulders. Next season's going to be really exciting. Too bad the Miami series is in Oxford this time, I would love to watch that.
Demens is exhibit A for how people give up too early
Up until just a few days ago, it was "common knowledge" among Michigan fans that Demens was a bust. The same assessment was routinely given out to Terrence Robinson. JT Turner is now getting the "bust" treatment. Even Will Campbell has been the subject of a few "he doesn't seem to be progressing" comments here. It seems as though a lot of Michigan fans have formed the opinion that excelling at a high level is the norm for freshmen and sophomores, when the reality is really the opposite—it's very rare. We've just been incredibly blessed with a few high-profile guys over the years who were difference-makers from the get-go.
And the thing that's so crazy about the Legg goal is that, for many of us, we couldn't believe it because we couldn't see it.
See, during this year's tournament, there was much hand-wringing that our games weren't in HD.
We so quickly forget that there was a time when Michigan tournament games weren't even on TV at all. Or, if they were, were broadcast on tape delay.
I am 99.9999% sure the Michigan-Minnesota game in 1996 was one of those games. Because I had to sit there in my living room listening to it on the radio, and Al and Jim on 1050 just went absolutely ballistic about this goal and how it was the best thing they'd ever seen and talking about it like it put the world off its natural axis. And I had to wait until the game was actually shown to see just how absolutely right they were.
The moral of the story is two-fold: 1. I still love technology, always and forever, for bringing me every Michigan NCAA tournament game in some incarnation of live video. 2. Damn, was that 1996 team fun. And not only were they fun, but the 1997 that DIDN'T win was even MORE fun.