Mike Lantry, 1972
Michigan 59 Iowa 52, 2nd Round Big Ten Tournament
Michigan's game-to-game inconsistency has been the story of the season, and we got it gleefully wrapped into one package against Iowa. Of course, to truly represent the 2009-10 Michigan Wolverines it would have ended with a loss, so we're comin' out ahead already, baby. Michigan completely dominated at times, led by DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris. At other times, Cully Payne and Aaron Fuller made Wolverine fans tear their hair out by leading the Hawkeyes on runs to stay in the game. Still, past the first couple minutes, the outcome was rarely in doubt.
Michigan's ability to force turnovers was a big key, though they did get sloppy and commit some turnovers themselves. Giving it up eight times doesn't seem like too much, but considering they didn't turn it over once in the first 14 minutes, and it's clear play got a little sloppy.
Though nobody other than Manny (22 points) and Peedi (14 points) scored in double figures, Michigan got a little scoring from a few other guys, though the shooting woes of Zack Novak and Stu Douglass continued. Douglass and LLP showed a willingness to drive the ball a little bit, and if that had been available all year, this team might have been a little less disappointing. Speaking of disappointing, Darius Morris was practically invisible, and still has work to do before he can put together impressive performances every game.
And with the win, it's on to...
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ohio State|
March 12th 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +9*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Ohio State controlled the game by owning the second half in Value City Arena just a week ago, eventually emerging with a 66-55 victory. No recap since I didn't get a chance to catch the game, but all five of Michigan's starters scored in double figures, and William Buford paced the Buckeyes with 24 points. Michigan won the turnover battle, like usual, but the shooting went cold in the second half, and Ohio State managed to capitalize for the victory.
Previously, Michigan upset the Buckeyes in Crisler Arena to kick off the New Year. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims scored 52 of Michigan's 73 points. The game also brought us the beginning of VOGRIT, as the freshman led the team in offensive rebounding and made a big block in the paint. I'm skirting around a key fact here though, which is that Evan Turner - winner of several player of the year awards - missed the game with broken vertebrae (spinal injuries what what). With Turner in the lineup, Ohio State has been dominant, sharing the Big Ten crown with Purdue and Michigan State.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy. Also, you'd better hide the women and children before they catch a glimpse of this chart.
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Ohio State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||247||88||OO|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||211||4||OOO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||12||78||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||34||31||-|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||290||27||OOO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||270||273||-|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||330||11||OOOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||7||205||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||107||19||O|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||46||12||O|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
So, uh, thanks for the entertaining season, guys. Ohio State is clearly the superior team in nearly every category, and Michigan is going to be hard-pressed to find a way to beat the Buckeyes when they have Evan Turner in the lineup.
Michigan's defensive improvement over the course of the season is something of a silver lining, but this Ohio State team is on track for a 1- or 2-seed in the NCAA tournament for a reason. Michigan also has a bit more to play for, as Ohio State's season will carry into the NCAA tournament regardless of the outcome, and the Wolverines are in a win-or-go-home situation for the rest of the year.
Kenpom likes Ohio State by 8, and Vegas makes the Buckeyes 9-point favorites. I think Michigan's sense of urgency might keep the game a little bit closer than the experts think. Still it's hard to pick against a squad that's rolling like the Buckeyes are.
Programming note. Since the basketball team has definitively disproven the idea that a liveblog around these parts is some kind of curse—the curse obviously exists, mind you, but goes wider than just this here blog—we're going to do one for the Iowa game today. Why? I don't really know.
Weekend note. Michigan State is desperately trying to sell CCHA playoff tickets:
To purchase tickets for groups of 15 or more, click here to receive discount pricing!
Let's help them out!
Deford and the Dream of Horses. Frank Deford sits down to briefly address this Ed O'Bannon thing before dozing off and dreaming of horses…
…and the headline goes for the gusto: "lawsuit threatens NCAA amateurism." That seems akin to those headlines about a 16-team Big Ten with outposts in Nagasaki and Atlantis, but Deford does a pretty good job of justifying it, all things considered:
So here's the nub for the NCAA: Explain the exemption that absolves the organization from compensating players for their labor.
So far, the NCAA, whose office is in Indianapolis, has spent a great deal of pretrial energy trying desperately to get the case shifted from San Francisco to its home court in Indiana. However, its effort did not pay off, as Federal Judge Claudia Wilken denied the request. Now, the discovery phase begins.
The outlook is bleak. The 2009 decision to award retired NFL players compensation for the use of their likeness in video games must surely hang over the NCAA's head. If old pros should be paid for the appropriation of their personages, why shouldn't old collegians?
I'm coming up empty even when I approach the problem from the perspective of a slick-haired guy in a suit attempting to argue an obviously untenable position because that's how daddy gets a luxury car. I'm all for the collegiate spirit, but I'm also all for the vague semblance of fairness.
Remember how I used to rail about the ridiculous increase in head coaches' salaries? Good times. Also outdated times:
The trend of rapidly accelerating pay for major-college head football coaches is being replicated — and then some — for their top assistants.
With many contracts being negotiated or finalized, nearly a dozen schools in the NCAA's 120-school Football Bowl Subdivision have made deals under which they will be spending at least 38% more on their offensive or defensive coordinator in 2010 than they did in 2009.
This, like everything else in college football, is Lane Kiffin's fault.
Even so, every time a coordinator breaks a million dollars it's another blow to the idea that big time college sports programs can't afford to provide something to their players. If a BCS university's athletic department isn't profitable, it's because the university doesn't want it to be profitable. Period. You could hire a high school coach and fly coach and laugh as your terrible team gets a million billion dollars in TV revenue. You could drop the crew teams. You could become Donald Sterling, and laugh all the way to the bank. There is an unbelievable amount of money that could go to the players.
I can understand the point of view that you'd rather give someone else a scholarship and have another team or draw less from the general fund than offer something resembling fair compensation to football and basketball players, but that's not where the extra money goes, does it?
Conference du Gump. The Big Ten, as always, is slowwwww. John Gasaway gets a brief window to promulgate tempo-free whatnot in the Wall Street Journal and supplies a chart (chart):
The Tempo Index
Here are the fastest and slowest major-conference teams, based on their number of possessions per 40 minutes of conference play.
THE TORTOISES THE HARES 1 Wisconsin (57.6) 1 Providence (72.8) 2 Michigan (59.7) 2 Arkansas (72.3) 3 Iowa (61) 3 Texas Tech (72) 4 Penn State (61.3) 4 Villanova (71.6) 5 Northwestern (61.8) 5 Washington (71.4) 6 Pittsburgh (62) 6 Texas (71.4) 7 USC (62.1) 7 Kansas State (71.3)
Holy cold potatoes: Big Ten teams comprise the bottom five and Michigan is second only to Wisconsin.
Gasaway, by the way, confirmed for me that my previous instinct about Michigan's conference defense vis a vis its offense was correct. Tempo-free aerials are usually centered on 1.00 point per trip, and Michigan both averaged and provided just about one point per trip during conference play. Average at everything? Not so much. This was a twitter message, in case you're wondering about the terseness:
Assumption confirmed. In-conf defense 0.31 standard deviations better than Big Ten avg. Offense half an sd (.49) worse than avg. Zowie.
That latter won't surprise anyone given the Taj Mahal Michigan shooters have assembled over the past few months. The former, though, is one of the enduring mysteries of the Big Ten season. It may be one of the enduring mysteries of John Beilein's career: Michigan is currently 47th in the adjusted efficiency ratings at Kenpom. Barring John Lickliter going 12/12 from three in a couple hours, this will be the best defense Beilein has ever had according to Kenpom.
How in the hell is a team with basically one player over 6'5" (Sims and Gibson hardly ever play together) actually good at defense? Kenpom says it's a lot of forced turnovers and a Wisconsin-like aversion to giving up free throws making up for bleah eFG% defense and rebounding. That turnovers without fouling thing is a neat trick.
The thing is: that fingerprint is characteristic of the 1-3-1 zone Beilein is known for… and Michigan had to abandon midway through the nonconference schedule because mediocrities like Boston College and Alabama were treating it like a layup line. By the Big Ten portion of the schedule, Michigan had morphed into an almost exclusively man-to-man team.
This isn't like football where a terrible offense can sometimes make that team's defense look better than it is as opponents get their three point lead and play keep-away. The opponent's offense, or lack thereof, is of no relevance once you suck tempo out of the equation. So this appears to be a real positive that could last into next year. If anyone on the team can throw a ball into Lake Michigan, it could be relevant.
Default Big Ten expansion bits. Notre Dame rumbled a couple days ago, spawning panic across the Subway alums. I was doubtful that the "easy to construct" scenario in which Notre Dame is forced into a conference comes to pass—had a hard time constructing one at all—and this makes it even more doubtful:
A source within the Big Ten told the Tribune last month that given what transpired in 2003, when Notre Dame all but accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten before pulling back, "the only way they will be offered is if they first accept. The Big Ten went down that road and got burned. Fool me once, fool me twice."
On the flipside of that, Rutgers fans were almost nonchalant (which, certainly owed much to how frequently the topic has been debated to death on our side in recent years) and completely self-assured about it. ”Of course Rutgers was the most desirable option. How could anyone possibly think otherwise?”
Er… well, you see… it's just… nah. Never mind.
I said another piece on this in a Sporting Blog article yesterday and remain skeptical that Rutgers moves the needle enough in New York for the local cable companies to shell out for the BTN, but on WTKA today Ira made a good point: with a zillion Big Ten alums in the city, their combined might could be Captain Planet to Pollutin' Time Warner. Rutgers gets to be the fey South American kid whose special power is "heart".
Etc.: Jim Mandich has cancer, but it is apparently treatable. TOC puts together Big Ten efficiency graphs that show two things: holy God is the offense bad against teams not named Minnesota, and holy crap are they inconsistent.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Iowa|
|WHEN||2:30 PM EST
March 11th, 2010
|TELEVISION||ESPN2 (O'Brien, Lavin)|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Michigan has defeated Iowa both times they've matched up this year, coming away with a comfortable 14-point win in Crisler Arena, and winning in overtime in Iowa City. Make no mistake: The Hawkeyes are a bad team. However, there are a couple reasons to expect Michigan to face some difficulty in knocking them off this afternoon.
As you'll hear an obnoxious number of times this week, it's difficult to beat one team three times in a single season. Considering that Michigan scraped by Iowa last time they met (after toying with the Hawkeyes in the first contest), that adage likely applies in this situation. Seeing as how both teams are playing to extend their seasons, however briefly that may be, and Iowa just may be able to bring more to the table than Michigan.
This first-round match is a throwback to the last two years, when Michigan has knocked of the Hawkeyes to open the Big Ten Tournament each season.
Michigan has been painfully inconsistent over the course of this season, alternating big wins (or near-misses) with demoralizing losses. At their best, they're probably capable of beating anyone. At their worst, well, you've seen it enough times this season to know. Is it possible for the Good Wolverines to come out and play enough games to make the postseason? Probably not, but it should be likely for them to beat the Hawkeyes.
Michigan has bounced back strong several times this year after suffering big losses, and they'll hope that the same thing happens today. It might be late in the season for this, but I hope that they also learn it's their responsibility to earn the bounceback; it's not just going to happen naturally.
"One game at a time" is a particularly annoying piece of coachspeak, but the way John Beilein describes it, there's no better description of the situation Michigan finds themselves in right now. There's now use in worrying about winning four straight games to keep the season going, because looking past one opponent can mean the untimely end of the season. The team simply has to focus on taking care of the next game (four times in a row), and if they're blessed to make it to the next round, they'll climb that mountain when they come to it.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Iowa: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Iowa Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Iowa Def eFG%||239||304||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Iowa eFG%||221||163||I|
|Mich TO% v. Iowa Def TO%||12||309||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Iowa TO%||39||260||MMM|
|Mich OReb% v. Iowa DReb%||290||61||III|
|Mich DReb% v. Iowa OReb%||265||251||I|
|Mich FTR v. Iowa Opp FTR||334||27||IIII|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Iowa FTR||8||308||MMMM|
|Mich AdjO v. Iowa AdjD||100||182||M|
|Mich AdjD v. Iowa AdjO||47||155||MM|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
Aaron Fuller has been a boss when Michigan has faced Iowa so far this year, and containing him is going to be priority number one. Shortly after that is "not allowing the Hawkeyes to shoot nearly 50% from behind the arc," a goal that goes hand-in-hand with keeping Matt Gatens in check. Michigan is a far superior team outside those two, and controlling the ball will be a major key to the game.
Having beaten Iowa twice this year is bound to give Michigan some confidence, which they've lacked all season. It also means that the Hawkeyes will play with a serious chip on their shoulder. That hopefully won't obscure the fact that MIchigan is a far superior team (underachieving though they've been this season). DeShawn Sims should be able to have a field day, like he has every recent time Michigan has faced Iowa.
Ken Pomeroy predicts a 7-point Michigan victory, but for some reason I'm confident enough to say they'll beat Iowa by (slightly) more than that, emerging 9-10 point winners to take on Ohio State in round 2.
Since there's nothing left that could possibly be cursed (if Michigan loses, the season is over. If Michigan wins, it's probably over tomorrow anyway), Liveblogs shall make their triumphant return this afternoon. We'll get started here around 2:15.
Last year you had a post on why Penn State wouldn't go varsity in hockey, and why a Big Ten Hockey conference would not happen. While the economics have gotten harder, one of the central tenets was all the conferences were full - but the CCHA will have an open spot that they didn't want to give to Alabama-Huntsville after UNO's departure. Would the CCHA welcome in Penn State (and why not)? How much does this improve the likelihood that Penn State's hockey program goes varsity?
On a related track, if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, would it spell doom for the CCHA?
The main reason Huntsville was rejected from the CCHA application is that the small schools in the league are already in a financially precarious position and adding a trip to Alabama would have been a net loss. At least, that's my reading of the boilerplate:
“The CCHA will remain focused on maintaining and strengthening our existing members to ensure the conference’s continued success and long-term viability.”
Penn State is closer—about four hours by car for most CCHA sites—but not close enough that anyone is going to drive, so the financial drain is about the same. However, it's bleeding obvious that PSU brings a lot more cachet to the league than UAH. Would Ferris sell out for a game against Penn State even if PSU was terrible, as they likely would be for the first few years? Maybe or maybe not, but they'd probably draw better than any other mediocre-to-bad CCHA team. The Big Ten Network would televise more games and maybe the smaller CCHA schools could extract some money from that in exchange. Financially, it seems feasible for the existing members.
I assume Penn State's varsity hockey outlook is considerably improved by the opening, but that just means it goes from "no way in hell" to "very small chance."
Your Notre Dame question is sort of a question about a Big Ten hockey conference, which I don't think we'll see in the near future even if ND joins. You have to have six schools to call your conference the Big Ten, but you don't have to play in a Big Ten conference once you get to six.
HOWEVA, this offseason is going to be the most interesting one in a long time for college hockey. Some sort of Big Ten quasi-conference has moved past the realm of rumor and into things coaches are talking about directly. The announcement that the College Hockey Showcase was kaput actually came with the notion that Michigan and Michigan State would end up playing their WCHA Big Ten brethren more often, not less:
"We have one more year after this and that's it,'' MSU coach Rick Comley said. "I think it's run it's course. Wisconsin did not want to extend the Showcase. They want to get Ohio State involved and they prefer a Big Ten Conference.'' …
"My preference would be to play (Minnesota and Wisconsin) twice (each season),'' said Comley, who is not in favor of a Big Ten league at this point. "I think we could declare a Big Ten champion. It would require a reduced number of CCHA games, which I'm in favor of.''
Whenever I talk to the Big Ten Network people, which has been a few times now, I ping them about hockey and their response always is "we are interested in televising games between Big Ten schools." The network needs content but doesn't want Lake Superior; the BTN money then gives the big schools a huge incentive to play each other.
With the CCHA headed to 11 teams and the WCHA to 12, both conferences are going to have to adjust their schedules. I don't know how you could possibly make an 11 team conference work with the unbalanced schedule the CCHA has been running since they went to twelve, so a reduction to 22 conference games seems inevitable. If Michigan is going to play Wisconsin twice and Minnesota twice and maintain their four games per year against State, they might as well throw in a bonus series with Ohio State and call that a Big Ten schedule, right? If the WCHA goes down to 24, UW and Minnesota can do this too, but that will eat up every nonconference game in years they don't travel to Alaska or manage an exempt tournament.
How come our band goes to so few road games? It seems like the MMB only goes to MSU, ND, and OSU. The Purdue band and their big drum managed to make it to the big house. It seems like at every SEC game the visiting band is always there. How come our band never travels to non-rivals games?
I pinged someone formerly in the band and they pinged someone closer to the situation and this is what I got back:
More than money, I think it's logistics. It's hard to convince schools to give up 230-280 seats so that Michigan can have more of a presence in their stadium; that was the deal with PSU before. They'll give us like 90 tickets, or enough for a big pep band, but not enough for pregame or a meaningful halftime performance. At the time, the directors decided that it was better not to go than to send a group too small to really represent the MMB, and nothing's changed, more or less.
This seems sort of unlikely to me since Northwestern and Indiana aren't going to sell out when Michigan comes to down, and if opponents were unwilling to fork over seats for the MMB Michigan could retaliate by not allowing opposing bands to come. That's not the case: there might be one home game a year where the opponent band does not show, and that's homecoming. Virtually every band in the Big Ten shows at Michigan Stadium.
I’ll go on the record as being opposed to our new AD making comments that RR will be the coach for this season insomuch as it could be construed that RR could be done if they do not improve this season. With the sharks already circling the program, I see this as an unwise move by Brandon. Why give legs to the notion that RR is on the hot seat? If Brandon does not see the impending doom and downward spiral that awaits us if we push out RR too fast, then shame on him for not learning from the Notre Dames and Nebraskas of the world.
Thoughts? I am really concerned that we’ll jump the shark on this one. I don’t see a scenario out there that does not put us into a tailspin. Hire Les Miles/Harbaugh and you’ve got the revamp the offense to more of a traditional attack and we’re looking at least another year or two of development and recruiting. Yes, a Miles hire would be an uptick on your recruiting trail, but would it be enough to overcome the current perception of the program? Hire another spread guy and you’re limited to a crop of guys who are descendant from the guy who wrote the book and that you just got rid of. Where is the win in that scenario. Our best bet is to go on the offensive in support of our guy. Let’s not lay out there for interpretation anymore lame-ass ambiguous quotes for the Sharp’s, Snyder’s, and Rosenberg’s of the world to run wild with. Let’s go on the offensive with the media and boot the Free Press and their Guerilla journalism tactics out in to the cold and make an example out of them. Let’s go get these supposed Old Guard or Moles or whatever the message boards are calling them today and let it be none that you’re either on-board or off the ship, even if it means returning checks to donors.
I think leadership like that is what we need now and not the comments I read this morning, which are not the comments of someone convinced we’re headed in the right direction.
I mentioned this in UV yesterday about Brandon's stay on message moments in the press conference and with Generic Fox Business Jerko, but to reiterate: I think the explicit "Rich Rodriguez will be our coach next year" is not so much a threat that Rich Rodriguez won't be the coach in 2011 as a way to remove any ambiguity about Rodriguez's job security right this moment.
Unfortunately, Brandon has to live in reality, and in reality there is a chance that Rodriguez doesn't make it to 2011. If Michigan doesn't make a bowl this year it may be impossible to keep him even if you think he is a good coach just because of the brand damage. I sort of kind of felt that way about Tommy Amaker: even if he'd been extremely unlucky to barely whiff on NCAA tourney bids and suffer through that one year where the team was so injury-wracked that Dani Wohl started against Michigan State, after six years you can't really justify keeping him on. I was way less enthused about Amaker in general since his history was one Sweet 16 season followed by an implosion.
"Going on the offensive" with the media never works out. The hive mind perceives a threat and releases single-sentence pheromones that scurry to their defense. Why do you hate freedom, Mr. University of Michigan? Censorship, Mr. University of Michigan? For shame. Etc. The best thing is to be as explicit and boring as possible. And from what I've seen elsewhere, outside of the shrill yelpers in the local media the end result here is regarded as nothing. Self-imposed sanctions will be announced and then everyone will forget about it unless they're creating a spittle-flecked case to fire Rodriguez.
As far as a hypothetical new coach in 2011 resulting in a tailspin, I actually think there could be something of a Ron English effect going on here. After years of clamoring for Jim Herrmann's head, Michigan fans finally got it in the 2006 offseason. Ron English walked into Lamarr Woodley, Alan Branch, David Harris, Leon Hall, Shawn Crable, Prescott Burgess, Terrance Taylor, and so on and so forth, and promptly went on an all-crushing tear until Ohio State and USC realized that Morgan Trent was Michigan's second-best corner and linebacker Chris Graham was their third-best. English seemed like a frickin' genius… and then promptly went out the next year and got nuked in The Horror and the Post-Apocalyptic Oregon game.
It's evident now that English is not a frickin' genius, but getting back a huge number of excellent players disguised that. Jim Herrmann probably would have had a lights-out year, too.
This is what Hypothetical New Coach is going to walk into in 2011: 20 returning starters (including specialists). Everyone except Steve Schilling, Obi Ezeh, Jonas Mouton, and Troy Woolfolk will be back. If there is a hypothetical new coach, Michigan will probably have had six or fewer wins in 2010. Bouncing up to 9-3 or whatever is going to be child's play, and Hypothetical New Coach will get carried around on a palanquin.
I'd much, much rather Rodriguez stick around because the last thing the program needs is another bowlless season, round of transfers and decommitments, and general inefficiency where square parts meet round holes. Obviously. But the roster agony Michigan suffered through the past two years (Nick Sheridan! Four scholarship defensive backs!) is not coming back in anything approximating that level of pain.
And now some Terry Foster pile-on:
wondering if you had heard this rumor that i just read on terry fosters facebook page:
Terry Foster I heard a rumor Michigan coach John Beilein was looking to leave for Rutgers or North Carolina State. The Michigan mafia swears it is not true. He still has their support.
i wanted to ask you first about this before i even thought about posting it on the site. but i wanted to put it on there before 2pm when his radio show starts and he leads off with it.
one more question, how the hell is this "michigan mafia"??? foster always references them when he talks about michigan.
Everything you need to know about Terry Foster's totally awesome rumor skillz can be found in this old post. Key graph from 16-year-old (who is now 21!):
Jayborne23 posted on 8/23/2005 9:53:28 PM
HOLY S***, WAS I RIGHT?
Is Sheed for Chandler and Nocioni a real deal? Cause I sincerely made that s*** up. That hoopsworld article mentioned it. WHAT THE F***?
After being out of pocket for a week, this should be a massive update. Check out Brian's offensive and defensive recruiting overviews to get the big picture, and don't forget to check out the 2011 Michigan Recruiting Board.
Many Michigan fans were expecting MI DE Brennen Beyer and/or MI OL Anthony Zettel to commit to the Wolverines by now, but it hasn't come to fruition. It's not a huge deal that neither has, as both planned to take in other schools before making any decision. Iowa is gunning for Zettel, and Beyer will visit Notre Dame for a junior day (as will Zettel, if I recall correctly). Both have been to Ann Arbor many times, and are still planning to make early decisions.
In more-ominous news, FL RB Demetrius Hart, long thought to be as close to a lock as possible, will make a decision soon - and the Wolverines are not in the running. He plans to choose between Auburn and Florida ($, info in header). Michigan's Rivals site says the Wolverines "have work to do" with him ($, info in header).
My take on the matter? It sucks, but what do you expect when the team has two consecutive losing seasons, there's a possibility of NCAA sanctions lurking, and the kid hasn't made it up to Michigan for any of his last 3 scheduled visits? If he makes it up for the spring game (now in doubt, obviously), Michigan gives themselves a chance to vault back into the race. Otherwise, Hart will commit to a school much closer to home.
On the other hand, he has longtime friend Ricardo Miller in Ann Arbor, and if his statements on Signing Day are any indication, Ricardo won't let his Wolverines lose a recruit without a fight. Even if Hart selects the Tigers or Gators, it may not signal the end of his recruitment, but there's still plenty of time to see how this will work out - especially if Rich Rodriguez's job security is solidified. Hart plans on taking five official visits even after his pending commitment-type activity, and Michigan will be one.
Sam Webb recaps the Michigan Football Showcase, at which MI WR DeAnthony Arnett and MI WR Commit Shawn Conway were two of the standout performers.
"[Arnett, pictured at right] went out and justified his high national ranking (Scout.com's No. 8 receiver in the country). He's silky smooth and one of the best double-move guys I've seen. He has great body control, fluidity and ball-tracking skills. He still needs to get stronger, but guys who try to press him have difficulties because he's so quick off the line and tough to get hands on."
"[Conway] came a little later in the day, but this Michigan commit made up for lost time," said Trieu. "He's every bit of his listed 6-3. He needs to add some weight but he has great athleticism and ball skills. I think he needs to refine his route running still, but he was more explosive than I was previously led to believe."
Conway pointed out IN CB Kenny Mullen as one of the best defenders in attendance, and Mullen said he hopes to hear more from the Wolverines. IL OL Christian Bryant, one of the more impressive campers at the event, has since publicly stated that he'd like a Michigan offer. A number of 2012 campers impressed as well. 2012 IL OL Jordan Diamond:
That's he already has been on Michigan's campus could provide an additional boost to a Wolverine recruitment that already held a bit of an early advantage. "It's been my favorite school since the sixth grade," Diamond said of Michigan. "I love it."
The impressive 2012 performances continued with a number of in-state guys:
Detroit Cass Tech teammates Terry Richardson and Royce Jenkins-Stone were among the top performers at cornerback and linebacker, respectively. Meanwhile, Detroit King tailback Dennis Northfleet and Orchard Lake St. Mary's linebacker James Ross were similarly impressive with their speed and quickness. Ross is currently commanding massive recruiting attention, and has already received offers from Michigan and Michigan State.
Ross will likely be the prospect we talk about most prior to the conclusion of his junior season. He and Diamond were the only 2012 prospects to make the combine's Top 13 Performers list. Allen Trieu has more on top performers in a free article on Scout. MGOBOARD BONUS: A few videos from the weekend.
At another combine of note, this one held by Nike in Massillon, Ohio, MI CB Commit Delonte Hollowell acquitted himself very well:
The ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds, ran the shuttle run in 4.28 seconds, threw the power ball 39.5 feet and had a vertical jump of 33.6 inches. Hollowell also had a SPARQ Rating of 102.18, one of the highest at the combine.
If he continues to impress, it's likely that he'll end up a 4-star prospect. He's openly gunning for a spot in the Army All-American Game, and Rivals picked up a quote from him:
“It feels good to be committed to Michigan,” Hollowell said. “I have never felt better than when I committed to them. That is the best school right now for me. I don’t know about everyone else, but it is the best school for me right now.”
Sounds potentially ominous, though I don't think there's anything to be read into it. OH CB/Ath Doran Grant also did very well in Massillon:
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Watch List prospect ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, ran the shuttle run in 3.97 seconds, threw the power ball 37.5 feet and had a 41-inch vertical jump. Grant's 124.5 SPARQ was the highest of any athlete at any Nike combine this year.
He says Michigan State and Ohio State lead for his services.
A new, recruiting-focused, Michigan blog has come onto the scene lately, interviewing a number of Michigan prospects for the 2011 recruiting class. One such prospect is FL QB Kevin Sousa, who has a lot of positive things to say about the Wolverines:
He said if he were to be offered by Michigan he would "make them my number one choice" and that he "would love to be a Wolverine." He has been receiving mail from the Wolverines staff recently but hopes he or his mentor gets a visit or call from the staff sometime soon.
Don't get tooooo excited, as Sousa has said similar things to school-specific media outlets covering other universities as well, and did not mention Michigan in a video interview with ESPN. If he were to land in Ann Arbor, however, he'd be a valuable addition. He was All-Combine Honorable Mention at the Army Junior Combine, and the 1st-Team choice at quarterback for the Under Armour Combine in Orlando.
He did 20 reps on the bench press, almost unheard of for a quarterback, and his 4.8 laser time in the 40-yard dash was equally impressive considering Sousa's size -- 6-4, 220 -- and the fact that he had stretched his hamstring a bit during the run.
"Big Sousa, man .. I tell ya. He looked like a big stud out there," Waseem said.
As a relative newcomer to the sport of football (he was exclusively a soccer player until age 15), he's got lots of upside, and a bright future ahead of him. Photo courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel.
Michigan Sports Zone also has bunch on NJ Slot/RB/QB Miles Shuler, who holds a Michigan offer. They saw him at the New Jersey Badger Sports combine, where they came away impressed:
He is able to use his elite level speed to create separation from receivers. He is quick and shifty and can pivot without losing his top-end speed. Top corners at the event simply could not keep up with him. At one time he was double-teamed in the end zone and still came down with the TD. Shuler has "sticky hands" he is a consistent catcher with the ability to adjust to the ball and make a play.
That "elite speed" was also on display at a recent track meet, where he won the 55-meter dash with a 6.40-second mark. He's also run a 6.35-second time (best in the nation) this season. They also interviewed him at the event. ESPN was similarly impressed with Shuler's performance, as he owned the day's second-best SPARQ rating at 116.82. Michigan doesn't really need a slot this year but Shuler is a guy you make room for.
Other Creative Headline Involving New Kids On The Radar
Michigan has invited NV RB DaSean Martin to a spring Junior Day, though they haven't yet offered him. However, if he ends up garnering any bigtime offers, don't expect him to land anywhere other than Los Angeles:
"He told Kiffin, 'I'm your man. I will be coming here to play for you,'" said Bonanza coach Shawn Dupris, who accompanied Martin on the trip...
"I like everything there is about USC," Martin said. "It was fun going down there and meeting all of the coaches. It's a special place."
His only offer thus far is from Utah State, but he's bound to get more down the road:
He's regularly clocked at 4.45 in the 40-yard dash and has a vertical leap of 38 inches. Also, he squats a respectable 365 pounds and benches presses 265 pounds.
"DaSean is physically bigger, faster and stronger than other athletes," Dupris said. "He is a physical specimen."
Martin was named the Most Outstanding Athlete at the National Underclassman Combine as a sophomore and will get a chance to prove himself in late April at a Nike combine at USC. The invitation-only event is widely considered the premiere recruiting showcase on the West Coast.
As long as USC doesn't offer him, any big time schools to throw their hats in the ring might have a chance to grab this kid.
Michigan is showing interest in FL RB Chevelle Buie ($, info in header). The diminutive speedster, who could also play slot receiver, is thought to be leaning toward staying in-state.
Michigan is the only offer so far for FL WR Prince Holloway ($, info in header). In a year where they're only likely to take one slot, if any, an offer this early means that the coaches really like him.
Michigan has offered AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi. Hobbi is from Scottsdale, but attends a different high school (Saguaro) than did current Wolverines Craig Roh and Taylor Lewan, along with prospect AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena (Chaparral). Hobbi seems to be one of the hottest prospects in the west, picking up recent offers from UCLA, Notre Dame, and Washington.
According to TBO.com, Michigan has offered FL OL Tony Posada.TomVH says Michigan offered about a month ago, and shares Plant's team highlight video page, in which Posada is #75. Michigan is in Posada's top 3, and he hopes to visit Ann Arbor sometime this spring.
FL OL Zach DeBell plans to take a spring visit to Ann Arbor. He currently holds offers from Minnesota, FIU, and Central Florida.
IL OL Brian Bobek is considering a visit to Ann Arbor sometime this spring. He plans to make a decision before the summer, so Michigan's coaches had better hope he hits campus soon if they want to land him. From the same article, sleeper MI CB Alex Fine may head to Ann Arbor for the Night of Champions Junior Day this weekend.
IN OL Tony Springmann doesn't yet hold an offer, but he lists Michigan among his favorite schools, along with Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Purdue. The last three have offered him.
FL OL Max Lang has been invited to Ann Arbor for a junior day.
I probably should have made this connection earlier, but I just found out that OH OL Chris Boles is the son of former Wolverine Tony Boles. Chris is a hell of a lot bigger than his pops (by about three inches and 120 pounds), but still loves Michigan. Should the Wolverines extend him an offer, it seems very likely he'd end up in blue. Wisconsin has already offered.
MD DT Kevin McReynolds is expecting an offer from Michigan soon, but plans to take his time making a decision:
"... My whole thing is I can only understand a de-commitment from the standpoint of a coach leaving or getting fired. Just to de-commit because you change your feelings, I don't think that's right....
"It's something you've got to think about every day because it's somewhere where you're going to spend the next four to five years of your life," he said. "Forget the next four, it could affect the next 40 years of my life."
Michigan would join OSU and USC among his biggest offers to date, along with the likes of Maryland, Kansas State, North Carolina, NC State, Illinois, New Mexico, and UTEP. Penn State also seems like a strong contender for McReynolds should they choose to offer. One of the reasons he likes Penn State is that they're a strong academic school, which certainly bodes well for Michigan's chances, especially since he intends to major in business.
Michigan has offered VA DT Corey Marshall.
OH DT/DE Kevin Williams is likely one of Michigan's top targets in the class of 2011, and he comes in for the Sam Webb profile treatment in the Detroit News. His coach certainly thinks he's one hell of a player:
"I knew he was special. I was telling people that he could have started at the University of Toledo as a junior in high school. My buddy (former high school teammate and current Nebraska head coach) Bo Pelini said he reminded him a little bit of Glenn Dorsey, who he coached at LSU. That's what people were kind of comparing this kid to. It's unbelievable when you watch such a good athlete. We also tried him on offense. He had 15 catches, three touchdowns. He's just an athlete."
Like, woah. High praise from a couple guys who might know. He grew up a fan of several schools (most notably Notre Dame, Michigan, and Michigan State), and wants to major in engineering. Williams plans to make a decision early enough to enroll at his school of choice in January.
OH DE Brad Carrico has Michigan among his top four schools, though he doesn't hold an offer from the Wolverines (he does have tenders from Notre Dame and Purdue, who are also on his list of favorites). From the same article, OH WR Devin Smith is favoring Michigan and Michigan State.
He's still only hearing from Michigan, but FL LB Kent Turene has picked up scholarship offers from Minnesota and Texas A&M recently.
Michigan has offered PA LB Ben Kline ($, info in header).
NJ DB Ronald Baines doesn't have any offers, but is hearing from Michigan, and he visited for one of Michigan's Junior Days earlier this spring.
Michigan has offered PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett. He plans to take his time before making any sort of decision.
NC QB Christian LeMay has once again updated his top 10 list, and Michigan is still not on it. He's making an early decision, so I think that's enough evidence to remove him from the recruiting board.
Fellow TX OL Garrett Greenlea, who was holding a Michigan offer, committed to Texas at their second junior day.
MI LB Lawrence Thomas, surprising nobody, committed to Michigan State last week. He was considered a near-lock to the Spartans, and that has come to fruition.
With no true recruiting update last week, MN CB James Farrow didn't even get a proper introduction before he heads somewhere else. He had a strong performance at the Michigan Football Showcase, but returned home and decided he wants to play for the Gophers, as did his father before him.
NJ LB Anthony Sarao committed to Stanford. He wasn't a hot prospect for Michigan.
Scout freebie on OH DE Bryan Baird. He's talking to Michigan, but any potential offer would probably be long down the road, as a backup plan. OH OL Matt Skura plans to visit Michigan a couple times, but doesn't yet have an offer. OH OL/DE Jack Miller visited Ann Arbor for the second junior day. AZ QB Brett Hundley is hearing from Michigan. Scout article on OH S Ronald Tanner tries to use a scare-tactic header that he's bound for Ohio State. He plans to commit early, but doesn't have a leader. No offer, but IL OL Patrick Flavin still has Michigan among his favorites. Michigan has offered 2012 MD RB Deontay McManus (HT: Bleed Scarlet). MD DT Darian Cooper is hearing from Michigan. FL S Steven Montgomery is hearing from Michigan.
Hello: Dave Brandon. Another media flurry with Dave Brandon's official ascension to the top job in the Michigan athletic department. Here's a jerko on Fox business acting all jerky:
I feel like that fat X-Wing pilot… "stay on messsage. Stay on message. Roghbaobahraraha"
Anyway, there were a ton of articles mostly rehashing what we already know about Brandon or reflecting on Bill Martin's tenure. There are a few relevant new quotes. The first is undoubtedly a response to a "what does Rodriguez have to do to not get fired?" question:
“Much like your boss, there’s a lot of different things you look at,” he told AnnArbor.com last month. “Certainly you need to see progress and some of that’s measured by wins and losses, but it’s also measured a lot of other ways. And when I’m in a position where I can evaluate as closely as I need to and I want to, all those metrics and all those measures will be clear between the coach and me.”
Brandon backed his coach then and on Monday reiterated his support for Rodriguez.
"He's our coach for this season," Brandon said. "There's nothing within the framework of the NCAA allegations that led me to believe that it should change his status as our coach."
Some people are making a deal out of Brandon explicitly stating "this season," interpreting it as an implicit threat. FWIW, I interpreted it as a way to avoid questions about Rodriguez getting fired in August or October or whatever. No one can scurry off to write an article about Rodriguez getting canned once Michigan goes in front of the committee.
Birkett asked some excellent questions that got stuck in a sidebar-type object. Advertising in Michigan Stadium? Very likely not:
"When I was a regent and this subject came up, we went out and did pretty qualified, professional, third-party research on the views of our fans, our season-ticket holders, the people who are the most important to us in terms of paying customers of the game-day experience at Michigan Stadium. And the research I saw at that time caused me to conclude that the thing that was the most objectionable, the thing that turned off the fan the most, was the idea that they would come to a football game and they would be blasted with advertising. ... I think it was Sam Walton who said if you don’t know what to do ask your customer. I asked my customers a lot before I make these kinds of decisions, and at least the last time I looked at the data our customers would tell us that they really didn’t want to go there and so I think we should be very, very careful and sensitive to that."
Unfortunately, Brandon is an anti-playoff luddite, but no one's perfect.
The city that time forgot. It's Toledo! I have no idea what the header is supposed to mean. Fearless Leader headed across the border into Toledo to speak at the National Football Foundation dinner, and he brought his zingers. Don't take my word for it, listen to the Blade's Ryan Autullo:
“It's good to be invited anywhere,” Rodriguez said, in the first of several zingers that drew laughter from the crowd.
Zingers. You see, Rudy? Part of that article is an interview with Rodriguez that hints at some maturity issues with Tate Forcier last year:
"I've told Tate as you get older I'm going to expect more out of you. I really think he's done a great job in the weight room the last six or seven weeks, but that's not an issue for him as far as commitment to football. It's everything that's encompasses being a UM athlete. Tate went through some freshmen trials with that and now it's time for him to grow up and go.”
"With that?" I could just be imagining things but that seems to be an indication that Forcier was somewhat less than dedicated at points last year. Supporting evidence: the Facebook explosion that led to the gut-churning week of transfer rumors. There's not a whole lot else that's new, but this is… odd to contemplate:
How would you describe your relationship with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel?
“We've got a great relationship. We got to know each other a few years back at various functions. Apparel companies will send you on a little week's vacation — the coaches and their spouses — so we got to know each other there."
Also, Orson responds to a Rodriguez quote on the media coverage of his program. First, Rodriguez being diplomatic:
The media coverage of your program has been tough. In your opinion, has it been fair?
"That's an interesting question. I've never really thought about it much. You understand it's part of the job. A lot of people say there's so much more media coverage [at UM] but really, at West Virginia, we had quite a bit of media coverage, and good media coverage.
Orson then brings down the thunder:
"Did RichRod just not grant us superiority over the West Virginia media?" Ann Arbor Media Scrutiny Force, assemble and strike for the Fourth Estate! <---most inflated sense of self-importance in any small media market ever and that includes Alabama football media oh yeah bitch you read that right. Rich Rodriguez has been appropriating office supplies at a breakneck, reckless pace AND WE HAVE FILM!
Final aerial. I really think these tempo-free aerials should be centered on the league average instead of 1.00, because this sort of looks like Michigan is totally average at everything:
They're not. Remarkably, Michigan's actually much better on defense than offense in the Kenpom numbers and I assume that a conference-only Kenpom would be even better since Michigan's early attempts to roll out the 1-3-1 were totally disastrous and the thing was scrapped entirely by the time conference play rolled around. The offense did not undergo any similar improvement, though Minnesota fans will be forgiven for thinking otherwise. I bet a dollar Michigan's two inexplicable outbursts against the Gophers are a major reason they're underwater defensively, and headed for the NIT despite checking in at a strong-for-the-bubble 35 in the Kenpom rankings. I'd feel bad for them except that "eeeeeh Gophers" cheer is irritating.
The next 2010, for now. Yost Built summarizes some recent recruiting news. The biggest item is news that spectacularly-named Ontario forward Matia Marcantuoni will definitely end up at Michigan if he heads to college. Marcantuoni is a potential #1 OHL draft pick and would team with Boo Nieves to make Michigan' early 2012 recruting class a spectacular one both on the ice and the back of the jersey. That goes double since Michigan is apparently hot after goalie Dalton Izyk in the same class. Izyk is a Nieves teammate and was the #1 goalie at the Select 15 camp this fall.
In re: Izyk and a couple other goalie names for down the road, Yost Built asks this question:
Izyk is an early-94 as well. Assuming he'd be scheduled to come in in 2012, that brings up an interesting issue: Would you go for a goalie for 2010, have him compete with Hogan as a freshman, start as a sophomore, and then compete with your youngster as a junior and senior, or would you roll with what we've got again next year and hope to get the kid to accelerate and come in as the starter in 2011?
That answer seems totally obvious to me: get a goalie this year and leave Hypothetical 2012 Goalie in the class of 2012. Goalies are erratic, tough to predict, and develop slowly. The last guy Michigan brought in early was Billy Sauer, who was flat bad his first two years (.898 and .896) before dropping a damn good junior year (.924) that ended with Nickelback and Creed in the Frozen Four. Hogan won the job as a sophomore, but even so Sauer's save percentage in 13 games as a senior was 0.921. Hogan had a .914.
Instead of going the Sauer route again, I'd much rather bring in a guy right now and have two viable goalies on the roster next year in case Hogan does not rebound from his poor play, have a sophomore in 2011, and then real competition past that. There are two good to excellent prospects out there in Jeff Teglia, the save percentage leader in the USHL, and probable mid-round NHL draft pick Joel Vienneau of the OPJHL. Neither is Jack Campbell but both have better pedigrees than Hogan, who had a save percentage of .889 on a good USHL team (they were 27-13-3 with Hogan in net and only gave up 25 shots per game; Teglia's team gives up 29) and did not get drafted. If Michigan can get either one of them, they definitely should.
Oy. Really? We divert you from your regularly-scheduled Free Press bashing for this from the News's Terry Foster:
Wolverine fans were thrilled that Beilein finally got Michigan into the tournament and acted like that was some major accomplishment. It isn't. If you are in the Big Ten you should have at least a 50 percent chance of making the tournament.
Meanwhile Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Oakland University and of course Michigan State have all played in NCAA tournament games since Michigan last did.
That's true for one of those schools, actually, and is something you mentioned in the previous paragraph. But thanks for playing. BONUS:
Sims will probably leave after this season and it will be interested to see what a frustrated Harris does.
What say you, page 25 of a Google image search for "fail"?
There's tossed off nonsense and there's a total ignorance of many things, including Michigan basketball and time.
(HT: Maize n Brew.)
The Postseason Before The Postseason
The Big Ten Tournament walks a weird line between being the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason. It also happens to be Michigan's only chance to, like, make the postseason (they do not plan to accept a CBI bid if they don't make the NIT). In Round 1, Michigan faces off against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 8/9 game, with a rubber match against Ohio State lurking if they should advance. Your full bracket, from the Big Ten:
To make the NCAA Tournament, the tall order of defeating Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Purdue or Michigan State seems to be necessary. Basically what I'm saying is that there are only a couple basketball games left this season, so try to enjoy them.
Lists: We Is On Them
"We" being only DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris, of course. The Official Big Ten All-Conference honorees include DeShawn Sims as a Second-Team selection and Manny Harris as a Third-Team nod. Manny was named to the official First-Team squad in the preseason. Ohio State's Evan Turner was named the conference POTY.
Other outlets making lists include the Big Ten Network's Big Ten Geeks, whose squad (first team only, plus freshman of the year) includes no Wolverines (HT: UMHoops). The outstanding Michigan State (durr: oxymoron, durr) blog The Only Colors determines the Big Ten players who are most valuable based on PORPAG, whatever that means. Points Over Replacement Player Per Adjusted Game decrees that DeShawn Sims is worthy of his Second-Team consideration, and Manny Harris was one of the great disappointments in the Big Ten this year. Players of note:
|Big Ten PORPAG|
|1||John Shurna (NU)||4.41|
|2||Jason Bohannon (UW)||3.96|
|3||Robbie Hummel (Pur)||3.75|
|4||Evan Turner (OSU)||3.59|
|5||Demetri McCamey (Ill)||3.23|
The stat is imperfect - it only covers offense, and defensive rebounding is one of Manny's great strengths - but it indicates that he has a lot of offensive work to do, and would probably be better-served by staying in college for his final season.
You'll notice that the search box has migrated down from the header to the right sidebar, where it slightly displaces the diaries and board. I've moved the site over to a Google-powered search that is a thousand times more useful than Drupal's defaults.
You'll also note a "Refine" section right under your results. Right now there's just one option that will provide you only message board posts. If anyone has suggestions for other potentially useful refinements, let me know and I'll try to implement them.
Previously: S Carvin Johnson.
|Youngstown, Ohio - 5'10" 178
|Scout||3*, #103 S|
|ESPN||2*, 68, #270 ATH|
|Other Suitors||Wisconsin, Kent State, Bowling Green, Air Force|
|Commitment post. Brief interview with Tom.|
|Notes||Cardinal Mooney puts out a lot of talent every year.|
Ray Vinopal is the second member of Michigan's Rodney Dangerfield duo at safety, a two-star who was a surprise commitment at a time when Michigan had considerably higher-rated prospects on the board. Rich Rodriguez took some time to defend his new deep safety on signing day:
I hope people don't get too hung up in stars. I don't know what Ray's star rating was. Ray Vinopal I think is -- you know, valuable a recruit as anybody we have, because of what we've seen and what we think he's going to bring to the table. And I'm very excited about Ray. He's a guy, again, that kind of came out of nowhere in some people's minds, but not in ours. Tony Gibson did an outstanding job of reciting Ray.
It's more of the same when it comes to gurus and the players and the quotes and the laven:
Vinopal said he doesn’t put much stock in Internet evaluations of his play, either.
“I use it as motivation,” he said. “I know what I can do, the coaches obviously know what I can do, that’s why they offered me. I mean, it’s Michigan and the Big Ten, they’re not throwing out offers because they want to be nice. There’s a reason behind it.”
There is also a reason that the internet folks are down on Johnson. The common thread running through Vinopal's evaluations is a lack of athleticism. ESPN's mostly negative take:
Lacks desired length and height as a high-point safety as well. He is an active run defender who will come down and fill hard; provides good secondary support. Shows adequate closing burst and makes solid contact as a tackler with better-than-adequate pop. Overall underneath range and speed is good but he does not fill with great downhill burst and sharp angles; loses outside leverage on the ball at times. … Lacks quick diagnosing and reaction skills which is a concern. Not a guy who projects well playing down over the top of slots in man coverage schemes and feel he could struggle mirroring/breaking down on quicker skill players in space.
At the time of his commitment I compared him to Jordan Kovacs; Touch The Banner also referenced Kovacs in its scouting report. Again with the small/slow bits:
And that's the problem I have with the Vinopal offer and commitment. When I watch him, I don't see a whole lot to fix. He's pretty technically sound. He reads plays well, he accelerates well, and you can see that he goes full-speed. He goes all out . . . and I'm still not impressed. He's not a great tackler. He's not extremely fast. He's going to get overpowered in the run game, outrun in open space, and outjumped in the passing game. When he gets to full speed, his running form goes completely out of whack, although that's something that may be able to be fixed.
Even folks who are trying to talk up Vinopal's potential tend to mention his general failure to be Adrian Peterson:
"Ray's a kid that when you look at him, he's always going to be underestimated because he's not as athletic as most of the Division I safeties probably are. But Cardinal Mooney guys are pretty darn successful. If you look at a guy like Kyle McCarthy at Notre Dame, he's probably not as big, as fast or as athletic as any other defensive back there [at ND] but he led them in tackles each of the past two seasons.
"Ray Vinopal could be similarly productive, and he has more speed than McCarthy."
I'm on the record as a big Kyle McCarthy fan—he and David Bruton were everything Michigan safeties were not the last couple years—but while McCarthy just put up a 4.65 at the NFL combine he also finished second amongst safeties in the bench press, three-cone drill, and shuttle. McCarthy is a big, athletic guy who happens to be a little slow. Vinopal is a considerably smaller player who many people knock for his lack of athleticism.
On the other hand, there are some indicators that Vinopal is actually pretty fast. He is a member of Mooney's state championship 4x100m relay that has won back-to-back state titles and will go for a third this spring. As a freshman in a (no doubt hand-timed and still probably FAKE) 4.5 40 at an underclass camp. He claimed a 4.41 electronic time to Sam Webb on signing day.
Afterwards, Vinopal was getting a ton of letters from all over, but none of them materialized into offers save for scattered MAC teams and service academies until Michigan stepped in. Wisconsin said he was "definitely an offer guy" after he hit their summer camp, and on Signing Day Vinopal did claim a late Badger offer. Other than that, the BCS was indifferent. Notre Dame brought him in for a visit and was considering an offer, as were BC and Pitt, but Michigan short-circuited that by picking up his commitment.
So. Previously I explained my bullishness on Carvin Johnson despite his who-dat status. Vinopal doesn't have any of those same indicators except maybe the late offers, and Vinopal's only got the one from Wisconsin. That doesn't match Johnson's three or four from programs like Tennessee. Vinopal got a small bump from Scout after committing to Michigan but actually lost ground at Scout. Rivals was unmoved. And there's no one out there other than Vinopal's coach…
“He is extremely physical, extremely explosive,” Fecko said. “He did some things where there were some balls, fades thrown up along the sideline, and it looked like they were going to be a completion and he was coming across just smacking people, dislodging footballs. A great run-stopper that was a sure tackler, and when he had his chance to lay a lick on you he definitely did.”
…saying the kid is someone who should have grabbed more attention.
Now… I feel bad, right? I read articles in which Vinopal or Johnson says stuff about people not liking them or needing to prove people wrong and I think that I am a person who they believe needs to be proven wrong—needed to, in Johnson's case. But the goal of this series is to assemble information and guess, and the information assembled doesn't paint a picture of a major contributor.
However, it is just a guess, and Michigan's long, inglorious history at safety is significantly crappier than, say, Wisconsin's. Or Iowa's. Or a whole section of Big Ten teams that put out good defenses with guys you've never even heard of. So maybe Rodriguez and company found a guy who can be Tyler jimmer-jammin' Sash. It's possible. McCarthy, an extremely successful college safety from Mooney, was a meh 5.5 three star to Rivals. These things are not stone.
Why Brandent Englemon? Small two-star safety who had poor other offers and average athleticism. Englemon is sort of a default comparison. And it should be noted that Englemon's presence in the program was a positive. He was an off-and-on starter.
Guru Reliability: High. Cardinal Mooney never lacks for attention and this year they had a big time running back in Braylon Heard, who ended up going to Nebraska, so Vinopal was thoroughly scouted. He was healthy throughout high school, too.
General Excitement Level: Low. If there's ever going to be a low, it's got to be a guy with Vinopal's offers and rankings.
Projection: Well. If Vinopal is ready he will play from day one. I don't think anyone expects that to happen since everyone on the roster will have more experience or better rankings. A redshirt seems likely and then a couple years of special teams time, at which point he'll have an opportunity to start as an upperclassman if he develops.