there would have to be some to wash away
3/19/2010 – Michigan 5, Miami 2 – 24-17-1
3/20/2010 – Michigan 2, Northern Michigan 1 – 25-17-1, CCHA
One. When I was in high school my AP English research paper was a no doubt ham-fisted comparison between Winesburg, Ohio and Bridge of San Luis Rey. I don't remember the former whatsoever, but the latter is a novel by Thornton Wilder in which a selection of lovelorn 18th century Peruvians pitch headlong to their deaths when the rope bridge they are crossing gives way.
This event fascinates a local monk who sees the tragedy happen. He tracks down the life stories of everyone involved and concludes this was merciful act of God since each victim suffered from a love so powerful and unrequited that the last thoughts of the victims was probably something a long the lines of "yay it's over yay yay yayyyyyyy—."
For the monk's troubles, the Inquisition burns him at the stake. He was looking for proof of a just and loving God, which is heretical when you're supposed to take that on faith.
Two. At some point in a gas station or at Meijer or some other place where bad or obscure movies are put on sale for five dollars, I happened across a movie version of Bridge of San Luis Rey. I still remembered the book. Inexplicably, the movie starred Gabriel Byrne, Kathy Bates, and Robert DeNiro(!). I was obviously compelled to purchase it. This did not extend to actually watching it.
Three. My satellite setup is shared with the landlord and sometimes when we want to watch TV he is instead taping every procedural crime drama or nature documentary set in the Far East on television. Yesterday in the afternoon it was Wild China. So my fiancée put on this movie.
Four. The reason we were stymied by Wild China instead of watching the NCAA tournament in Vegas was because Spirit Airlines, which sucks immensely, oversold our flight to Las Vegas and bumped us. This sent me into a rage, destroyed the cost-benefit ratio of going, saw us cancel the trip entirely, and caused me to spend Thursday sulking like a five year old.
Five. On Friday I went to a hockey game. Saturday, too.
The number of Michigan fans that would gladly have seen their sports fandom pitch headlong to its doom has to be hovering near its all-time high right now. You can't voluntarily abandon it because suicide is a sin but, man, that bridge is looking pretty rickety and maybe if I just take all these things I care about and put them on the bridge and go attend to cargo down by the river I'll come back to find no trace of them and I can go be interested in crochet. There's no such thing as unrequited crochet.
As reactions to this year of Michigan sports go, turning off the hope and settling down into a prolonged malaise is obvious. I was planning some sort of gallows-humor-laden celebration when the three major sports seasons had finally expired and kind of hoping the hockey team would gack it up against Lake State just so it would over sooner. This was always hypothetical. Once the team got on the ice I was pulling for them, but without much fervor and with an eye on the silver lining if they did what they'd been doing all season. I was thinking about a mock funeral.
Then… that happened.
Putting the spurs to Lake Superior State was one thing, as they were a tenth-place team with some fatal flaw that made Michigan's numerous fatal flaws irrelevant. A dominant sweep was a rare occurrence for Michigan this year, but it could be explained away. Following that by stomping Michigan State in a series that redefined both teams' seasons lit a tiny little flame, though. When Tristin Llewellyn (of all people!) blasted a puck past Cody Reichard, it was on: the terror of a high-stakes game you are fully invested in. It had been a long time since one of those went the right way.
Something did flip on this team when Shawn Hunwick was forced into the starting lineup. The relentless defensive intensity from Hunwick's first game, when he saw maybe two shots with any hope of going in, has been a constant feature since his insertion. That's equal parts insult and tribute: the team both needs and wants to protect their miniscule walk-on goaltender. In doing so they've found the formula for success that eluded them so painfully the throughout the season and given Michigan fans reason to believe in heretical things like Benevolent Michigan Walk-On Tolerating God.
I guarantee you this: no group of people has ever been as excited about Fort Wayne, Indiana, as Michigan hockey fans are right now.
Yost Built is doing a round of apologies in the aftermath and I have a couple to offer up of my own:
Tristin Llewellyn not only scored but avoided any penalties that meant something (he took one with a few seconds left in a 5-2 game against Miami) and failed do anything that made me mentally exclaim "Llewellyn!" in the same tone of voice Jerry Seinfeld says "Newman!"
That latter is the way I usually judge individual defense: number of "Newman!" plays where someone's obvious error leads to a scoring chance versus number of anti-Newmans where something that looks threatening is snuffed out by a good play. (I know this is far from a complete evaluation but it's the best I can do live.) Llewellyn had a half Newman early in the Northern game when he came up too aggressively as NMU broke the zone, but he had backcheckers and nothing came of it. He had two or three anti-Newman plays against Miami, which is That Miami. Best weekend of his career? Probably.
Louie Caporusso came in for repeated criticism this year as he and David Wohlberg failed to even approximate their 2009 production. At a couple points I suggested that this was the real Caporusso, a decent second-liner and nothing more, and that the blazing hot start to his sophomore year was the aberration. Yeah… Caporusso is now two points off a PPG. Yost Built has details:
When Caporusso was a Hobey-finalist a year ago, he had 24-25--49, but scored just six goals after the first of the year--and five of those were against LSSU, WMU, and a dreadful FYS team. This year it's the opposite. After just 7 goals in his first 30 games, Caporusso has now ripped off 13 goals and 20 points in the last 13, which includes five multi-goal games and a playmaker. He also hasn't gone consecutive games without a point this calendar year.
Theory as to what happened: Caporusso's okay but not great at stickhandling, crazy Hensick goal against Michigan State nonwithstanding, and he spent large chunks of the year attempting to do everything himself. This resulted in a lot of lost possession and not much else. When the team picked up its play, Caporusso had more faith in his teammates to get him the puck in dangerous areas, which has shifted the focus of his game from his stickhandling to his lethal wrister and ability to get open in dangerous areas. Both of Caporusso's goals against Northern resulted from that, as did the shot that zinged off the inside of the post immediately before his second.
Shawn Hunwick. By the third period of the Northern game, Shawn Hunwick-specific terror had dissipated and was replaced by a slightly lower-level General Oh My God panic. His team is helping him out immensely, but after eight full games his save percentage is .912. I admit that I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop here, but at this point you have to let it ride.
- At no point have I said anything about Carl Hagelin that would require an apology, but I should probably mention that if either of his linemates takes a step forward or they throw an offensive-minded player on his wing, his points could blow up next year to the point where he's a serious Hobey contender. There are only six players who 1) have more points than Hagelin this year, 2) play in a Big Four conference, and 3) can return next year. A couple of those guys play for RPI and UMass, teams that aren't likely to be good enough to get their guys into the Hobey top three, and none of them can possibly be as spectacular two-way players as Hagelin. The big problem is fellow Swede Gustav Nyquist, a sophomore for Maine who has 61 points.
Hoo boy did I hate a number of calls this weekend. I did not see the Miami guy clock Wohlberg into the boards and can't offer an opinion on whether that was two or five. I did think Glendening was done as soon as that hit was delivered, FWIW.
However, how the hell does a Northern guy plow Michigan's Happy Meal toy of a goalie without so much as a shove and not get a goal interference or charging call? How does the Miami game turn into a throwback where penalties are only called when there's bone showing?
Also, I've seen this call often enough to assume that it's actually the correct call but it's immoral: when a defenseman (Steve Kampfer in this case) lays an open-ice check on a guy who's about to receive a pass and that guy has just whiffed on a puck he could easily have touched, that gets called as interference. That drives me crazy. It should be like the NFL rule. If the defender gets there after the pass has gone through a small area around you it's a good play.
- I still don't understand why Winnett is playing the point on the power play. Michigan has Langlais, Kampfer, Burlon, and either Summers or Moffie available on defense. Three of those guys have more points than Winnett; Burlon is equal with him and Moffie is just two back despite playing only 29 games. Some of those guys aren't spectacular defensively but I'm betting they're all more comfortable there than Winnett. Winnett's a fourth line forward on a team with a ton of offensive defensemen. I don't get his usage there at all. Last weekend he shot numerous pucks into defenders and set up a couple shorthanded chances for the opposition.
- Scooter got pulled up onto the third line when Glendening went out and did well; in the third period I don't think the fourth line got more than a shift. I don't think he'll move up in the pecking order since Michigan is adding at least one more forward than they lose (this perhaps foolishly assumes no NHL departures) but I'd be comfortable with him as an energy guy wherever he ends up.
Daily story and gallery. Also a CHN article, attention from Puck Daddy, AnnArbor.com coverage Rivals promises "Swedish trash talk" in a Hagelin interview. 2011 recruit Lucas Lessio is projected as a first-round NHL draft pick. The Wolverine Blog on the game.
Wow. After years of screwing one and two-seeded Michigan teams, the committee went off the reservation and gave Michigan the kindest possible draw in the history of draws:
1. Miami vs. 4. Alabama-Huntsville
2. Bemidji State vs 3. Michigan
That bracket is crazy better than going to Massachusetts to play WCHA champion North Dakota and facing a probable road game against BC if you survive that. Michigan gets to play virtual home games against Bemidji, the #8 overall seed—North Dakota is #5—and probably Miami, a team they just beat handily. I have no idea why the committee would do this except the big one: attendance. Fort Wayne is now going to be packed and Michigan's chances of making it to Detroit probably just doubled. This is totally unfair for the rest of the field.
UPDATE: Just to emphasize what a favor the committee just did Michigan, everyone thinks KRACH is a much better rating system than the Pairwise. KRACH has North Dakota 4th and Bemidji 13th. In its world, Michigan is 10th and actually a favorite in the first round game. Of course, then Michigan has to take on #2 Miami instead of #5 BC, but I'll take it.
UPDATE II: Tickets here.
I'm not actually in Las Vegas. It's a short but spittle-flecked story I'll get into on Monday. But I can tell you that this is the likely bracket Michigan finds itself in:
4. Boston College vs 13. Alaska
5. North Dakota vs 12. Michigan
It's a pretty brutal bracket: ND first and probably BC in Boston next, but Michigan isn't in a position to complain. Confirmation tomorrow, but the final bracket has no conflicts and there's no chance it will be significantly different.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Northern Michigan, CCHA Championship Game|
|WHERE||Joe Louis Arena, Detroit|
|WHEN||Championship @ 7:35 PM.|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
The math is complicated—Michigan actually dropped in the pairwise after beating Miami—but the stakes are simple and immense: win and make the NCAA tournament as the worst matchup ever for some poor one seed. Lose and miss the tournament for the first time in twenty years.
Record. 20-11-8, 13-9-9 CCHA with three shootout wins, good for fourth place. They are locked into an NCAA tourney bid. Northern tied with Michigan for the CCHA's second best goal differential at +14. Their overall differential is +22; Michigan is currently +42 thanks to their tear through the CCHA playoffs, albeit in three extra games.
After scoring the the last first-round bye, Northern swept Alaska 4-3 and 5-1, then squeezed by Ferris in OT at the Joe. Northern's goal came a minute into OT, so it shouldn't affect their legs.
Northern's been on a tear since getting swept at UNO in late January. Since then they're 10-1-2 in a stretch of games that included four against Alaska, three against Ferris state, and two against Michigan. Michigan, FWIW, was Northern's only loss in that stretch.
Previous meetings. The teams split their only series of the year in late February, and that was at Yost. Friday was a 3-1 Northern win with a familiar script: Michigan outshot the Wildcats 39-21 but couldn't get anything except a first period Hagelin goal. Northern scored on two of its first five shots and that was enough.
The Saturday game was wild after a fairly calm first period that saw Greger Hanson score an unassisted goal on a terrible turnover from Kampfer. Michigan took the lead in the second, Northern tied it, and then Michigan took the lead again. In the third, Michigan blew the lead by yielding two goals in little over a minute; four minutes after that they would get goals from Chad Langlais and Greg Pateryn to retake the lead and close the scoring. Pateryn's goal was a JMFJ-esque swoop in from the point and a bizarre way for a stay-at-home defenseman to score the first goal of his career. Michigan outshot Northern 32-27.
FWIW, Michigan had four more power play opportunities over the two games. We will see this was not a coincidence.
First team All-CCHA forward and Hobey finalist Mark Olver (right) is the team's leading scorer with 19-29-48. He plays with a couple of sophomores. Andrew Cherniwchan has an 11-16-27 and Tyler Gron a 10-10-20. This leaves Northern a second dangerous line of double-digit scorers: Greger Hanson (16-22-38), Justin Florek (11-21-32) and Ray Kaunisto (17-14-31). On defense, Erik Gustafsson was the CCHA's best offensive defenseman. He has a 3-28-31 line.
Northern has two extremely strong lines, which will again prevent the Hagelin Solution from working perfectly, but after those two lines the dropoff is steep. There's one guy with 22 points on the season and then it's 12, 11, etc. Michigan can't afford to let the third and fourth lines put anything on the board. You can see the dropoff in the +/- numbers: the top two lines are all at least +8 and most are somewhere in the +12 to +18 range. The third and fourth lines are somewhere between +2 and –9. Michigan has three solid lines and should be able to make hay when Northern's first two units are on the bench.
Northern is just above average offensively despite the strong top two lines: their 3.08 goals per game is 22nd nationally. Michigan is up to 12th at 3.31.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Senior Brian Stewart is NMU's unquestioned starter. His backup has only played about six games worth of hockey. Stewart has a 2.41 GAA and a .926 save percentage that's fourth(!) nationally after Michigan knocked Cody Reichard from a .930 to a .924. Does everyone Michigan play have to have a crazy save percentage?
Defensively, Northern is experienced and boring past Gustafsson. Freshman Kyle Follmer and senior TJ Miller are +16 and +17, respectively; senior Alan Dorich is +7 despite rocking an 0-2-2 line. That's your top four. The third pairing is shaky.
Northern is 12th nationally in scoring defense at 2.51 per game; Michigan is 7th at 2.31. Shawn Hunwick's save percentage is up to .908.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||4.4||5.6|
|PP Ag / G||5.7||5.3|
Northern is a heavily penalized team that spends significantly more time in the box than their opponents do. A repeat of the Yost PP disparity seems likely, though if Shegos and Wilkins call the game like they did yesterday—think NHL circa 1995—there will be a lot of should-calls that get ignored.
However, despite the penalty disparity Northern has scored and yielded an equal number of goal on special teams: 35 for, 35 against. Opponents are shooting just .097 on power plays; Northern is shooting .172. Overall, Northern's kill is 17th nationally at 84.3% and their power play is 10th at 20.5%. Michigan's kill is 9th; their power play is 19th.
Northern actually leads the country in a funky stat College Hockey Stats tracks called "combined special teams" that adds up all your opportunities and counts your successes, but that stat slants heavily towards teams that spend a disproportionate share of their time killing penalties. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say Northern is amongst the worst teams in the country in that ratio.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Do whatever the hell it is you have been doing lately. Against Miami, Michigan did not spend 80% of its time in the opponent's end like they did in the first two rounds of the CCHA playoffs, but they did tilt the ice slightly in their favor against a team that was +61 in the CCHA this year. They deserved to beat Miami.
I mean no disrespect to a Northern team that is currently hotter than hell, but if Michigan can do that to a team that is definitely That Miami when it comes to hockey, most of this game will probably be played in the Northern end. Supporting evidence: Northern has been outshot on the year by a margin of about five per game. Michigan is outshooting opponents 34-23. That might not be enough for a win given the shooting/save percentages, but it's better than the alternative.
If Michigan can keep the turnovers down and keep clearing the dozen terrifying pucks that kick out into the slot, they will be in good shape. The overall goal differential here is big: despite the fact that Northern (13th) is only four slots back of Michigan (9th) in scoring margin, Michigan is +1.0 and Northern is +0.56.
Clone Carl Hagelin and put him on three lines. I'm pretty sure they did this after watching Miami turn the puck over in its own end time and again because of heavy Michigan forechecking. Michigan had its share of scary moments against the equally fast Redhawks, but I don't think Northern quite has the skating those guys do. Sans Michigan turnovers, their third and fourth lines are going to be hard pressed to do anything except get off the ice without giving up a goal.
Stay out of the box. Northern takes a lot of penalties and doesn't draw many but that power play is lethal. I think Michigan would prefer most of the game to be played five on five. This would make that 1995 NHL era refereeing a positive for Michigan.
The Big Picture
Win or go home.
MVictors returns from the Joe with a bevy of pictures and one Awesome Crappy Photoshop. Yost Built recaps the Miami game.
|Friday 2:30pm, Mets Spring Training Complex #7, Port St. Lucie, FL|
|Matt Miller (0-2, 4.58 ERA)||vs||J.P. Mack (0-2, 9.58ERA)|
|Notes: This is on field #7, and the first meeting between the programs|
|Saturday 11am, Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie, FL|
|Alan Oaks (1-3, 2.73ERA)||vs||Max Krakowiak (0-2, 4.64ERA)|
|Following Game One, Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie, FL|
|Bobby Brosnahan (0-2, 7.71ERA)||vs||Rich Anastasi (0-1, 3.07ERA)|
|Notes: Second game of a double header.|
|Sunday 11am, Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie, FL|
Notes: Michigan trails 0-1-1 in the all time exhibition history. This game
I'm still swamped with real life – hence the lack of a Coastal review- so shortened version of the Fordham preview after the jump. No Mets as this game means nothing.
|WHAT||Friday: Michigan vs Miami
Saturday: Michigan vs Ferris State/Northern Michigan
|WHERE||Joe Louis Arena, Detroit|
|WHEN||Friday: 8:05 PM.
Saturday: Championship @ 7:35 PM. Third place game @ 4:35.
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday: BTN HD
Record. Yeeergh. 26-6-7 overall. 21-2-7 (with two shootout wins) in the CCHA. The ferocity with which Miami pwned the CCHA has to be approaching record territory. They had 70 points, 20 more than second-place Michigan State. Their conference goal differential was +61. Michigan and Northern tied for second in that category at +14. This may be the best CCHA team since Brendan Morrison and company.
However, Miami did look somewhat mortal last weekend. 6-2 over Ohio State on Friday was not a surprise, but they lost 5-4 in overtime the next night and squeezed out a 2-1 series clincher in game three. Look a little deeper, though:
- Friday shots: 42-28, Miami
- Saturday: 46-21, Miami
- Sunday: 24-23, Miami
It's a miracle it even got to Sunday.
It was weird at the time and it's weirder now: the most bizarre series of the season in college hockey is Miami getting swept by the CHA's Robert Morris in a home and home. Miami is Miami. Robert Morris went 6-9-3 in the CHA. Against teams not named Miami, Robert Morris was 8-19-6. WTF?
Previous meetings. The only two meetings of the year started Michigan's November tailspin. Game one was a penalty-laden, frustrating affair that may stand the test of time as the game most emblematic of Michigan's 2009-10 season. Michigan outshot the Redhawks 28-13 and lost 3-1. Along the way they failed to convert on a penalty shot, put a number of shots off the post, and missed wide open nets. They found a way to lose that game.
The next night was totally different. Miami had the advantage in shots and walked away with the game early in the third, causing Michigan to melt down and take 19 penalties. Berenson called them out for it in the aftermath, and they responded by getting swept by Michigan State.
Dangermen. Might be quicker to pick the kids who don't seem particularly threatening. Junior forward Justin Vaive only has eight points. Freshman Steve Mason has played all of five games. Backup goalie Connor Knapp has two assists.
Aaand we're running out of names. Miami has four(!) players currently at or above a PPG: senior Jared Palmer and juniors Tommy Wingels (right, via cnati.com), Andy Miele, and Carter Camper are all in a tight cluster of 39-44 points. All have at least fifteen goals. This means Michigan cannot throw Hagelin and company at the opponent's top line and turn them into spectators. (It also means that you can expect Miami to be this good again next year: they have two seniors who play regularly.)
There's a dropoff after those guys but it's a dropoff to junior Pat Cannone, who has a 12-16-28 line. So… right. Miami has almost two lines of double-digit goalscorers.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Cody Reichard and Conor Knapp are still rotating even this deep into the season. Reichard has played more than Knapp so far this year and got the first two games in the OSU series, but was pulled in favor of Knapp after he gave up five goals on 21 shots in Ohio State's OT win. As of Wednesday, Miami had not named a starter.
This is not like Michigan's choice between Hogan and Hunwick. Reichard and Knapp are #3 and #9 nationally in save percentage with a .930 and .920, respectively. Either one is a far better option than Michigan's goalies.
As far as those go, it will be Hunwick this weekend:
"It's a pretty easy decision," Berenson said before practice Tuesday afternoon. "I have to play Hunwick. He got us there. (Bryan) Hogan's skated at practice. He'll take shots today. He'll be our backup if he's ready to go."
He is Red Berenson and can shoot lasers from his eyes at anyone with temerity to question his judgment, but man I disagree with that. Though Hunwick's save percentage is holding up pretty well so far, there have been a ton of soft goals and even more fat rebounds that opponents have not been able to capitalize on. Maybe Hogan's still feeling the effects of his groin injury and Berenson is phrasing it this way for motivational/confidence purposes.
Miami has been as good on defense as they are on offense, shielding the goalies—when you've got two guys in the top ten in save percentage chances are your defensive corps has an awful lot to say about that. Here Miami is also poised to bring back virtually everyone. USCHO lists senior Brendan Smith as a defenseman, but he's actually been bumped to forward this year to make room for a collection of sophomores and freshmen. Vincent LoVerde is the only upperclassman; he and Cameron Schilling are the top pair.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.3||5.6|
|PP Ag / G||5.4||5.3|
Surprisingly for such a talented team, Miami kills more power plays than it draws. This seems to be wholly the responsibility of freshman forward Curtis McKenzie, who has a spectacular 43 minor penalties this year.
Does this matter much? Eh… not really. Miami's kill is fourth nationally at 87.3% and has seven shorthanded goals. Michigan dropped a little bit after that first period outburst by Michigan State but is still seventh at 86.3%. Also a surprise: for a team that scores as many goals as Miami does, their power play is kind of lame. They're 33rd at 18.4%. Michigan is slightly better at 19.2%.
Neither team was particularly successful in the earlier series, with Michigan going 1 for 14 and Miami going 2 for 15. Two of those goals were five on three, the third four on three. This is a series that's going to be decided at even strength.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Do whatever the hell it is you have been doing lately. Michigan can play with Miami. We saw that in the first matchup of the season between the two teams, where an epic ton of bad luck and iffy goaltending sent Michigan down to defeat. And we've seen it in the CCHA playoffs to date. Michigan's opponent has been run out of the building four straight times.
Sure, post-human Miami wouldn't even comprehend Lake State as a hockey team, but humiliating Michigan State in the fashion Michigan did has to count for something.
Clone Carl Hagelin and put him on three lines. They might have done this, actually. Do it again. I have something in my head where after a game the Michigan hockey team gathers in a circle and removes their helmets and they're all Carl Hagelin and they all go "bork"… is it a dream or a nightmare?
Pray like hell. Even if Michigan plays at the level they have been of late, I can't see Miami going as quietly as Michigan's first two playoff opponents. Hunwick is going to face his share of grade A chances. I worry about that. It will take a superhuman defensive effort to win.
The Big Picture
No matter how you thwack the Pairwise predictors there is no way to get Michigan into the tournament without an autobid. It's all on the line.
If Michigan wins Friday I'll hop in with a conference championship preview.
Now pretend it's a lot darker
It's been rumored over the past couple days that the Michigan v. Notre Dame game in Ann Arbor on September 10, 2011 would take place under lights in the Big House, but the real serious smoke came this afternoon from the official Athletic Department twitter account:
HUGE Michigan football scheduling announcement today at 2:30pm. Check MGoBlue.com for details later this afternoon.
So, now we know: there will be a night game in The Big House within the next two years. Here's how Michigan has fared in night games, including those against the Irish:
- Michigan is 22-11 all-time in night games. They are 19-5 in away night games, 3-6 in neutral site night games. This will be the first home night game in Michigan history.
- The Wolverines are 0-3 in night games against Notre Dame. They lost 17-23 in 1982, 17-19 in 1988, and 24-28 in 1990. All three games took place in South Bend.
- The first Michigan night game took part in was a 14-0 victory over MArquette on September 23, 1944.
Notes from the announcement press conference:
Coach Rich Rodriguez
Prepared Statement: "Our players have always enjoyed playing night games, and I think it's something that our fans will truly enjoy and embrace. I expect the atmosphere will be electric for this match-up at the Big House."
Night games provide great exposure for the players and the program. Players really like night games. Playing in front of a lot of people both in person and on television is exciting. National TV is great for the University, since games are like a 3.5-hour commercial for the school.
AD David Brandon
Prepared Statement: "This will be an unprecedented game day atmosphere that ours fans have not experienced at Michigan Stadium. It's a great opportunity to showcase out program, University, and Ann Arbor to a primetime viewing audience. This also adds a new chapter to the storied rivalry between our two great programs."
Brandon has been working on logistics for a couple weeks. We know how to string lights, work traffic, etc. The operations team has over a year to prepare to do this at night.Brandon didn't have to touch base with the city.
Michigan is familiar with the concept of playing under the lights (for 3:30 starts, and they've seen how other schools have handled night games. If this goes well, there will probably be one night game per year at Michigan Stadium.
Night games are part of what create a big exciting atmosphere in college football. Of the night game, Bo would say "That Brandon guy believes that change is good and I'm gonna support him."
Another big update following the Junior Day over the weekend. All-time updates can be found on the Recruiting Board. Hopefully things will return to a normal pace next week.
Night Of Champions
Michigan's Night of Champions Junior Day last weekend brough in a ton of prospects, and most of them had only good things to say.
TX RB Jarrell Oliver had a "top notch" experience ($, info in header).
IN RB Remound Wright made it to town ($, info in header). His recruitment is starting to pick up pace with some new offers, but he still hasn't received one from Michigan.
IL OL Jordan Walsh was there and sounds like a pretty good prospect:
Walsh is arguably the best offensive line prospect in Illinois in what is turning out to be a very strong year for the position in the Land of Lincoln. Walsh, 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, will have to be an inside guy at the next level and he's strong enough and athletic enough to play guard or center.
"Duke, Northwestern, Illinois, Arizona, Indiana, Purdue, Boston College, Michigan State and Iowa have all offered me a scholarship," Walsh said. "I can't even begin to name a leader right now or even a few schools that stick out. I'm open to everything and anything right now. I've visited a lot of schools mostly in the Big Ten."
Walsh, who has been compared to his former teammate, Notre Dame OL Chris Watt, wants to major in business or engineering, both very strong programs for Michigan. With Duke and Northwestern involved, he's likely a top student.
OH OL Matt Skura attended the Junior Day, and may make it back to Ann Arbor sometime this spring:
"I plan to go to Toledo and Michigan State spring practices," Skura said. "I plan to go to Michigan State's spring game April 24. I'll go to Ohio State's spring game for sure. I might go to Michigan's spring game."
He doesn't sound the most enthused about Ann Arbor, but that interview was conducted before his visit, so maybe he likes Michigan a little more now.
OH DT Kevin Williams enjoyed his visit for the Night of Champions ($, info in header), and has a new top two. It's no surprise then, that Michigan is one of the schools in his small group of favorites ($, info in header).
mgoblog's own TomVH talked to OH DE Chris Rock following his visit, which he seemed to enjoy:
Before my parents left, coach Rodriguez talked to us for a while. He was just talking about how good of a school Michigan is, and where they’re at with the football program. My parents were previously Ohio State fans, but they were very impressed with everything. They came away the same way I did, and really liked everything they saw.
He also filled Tom in on his schedule for the remainder of the spring:
I’m going to Notre Dame’s junior day next weekend, and I might go to some other spring practices. I haven’t really planned a lot out yet. I don’t have a time line, it’s just going to be when I feel it’s right. I haven’t come up with a top list, because I haven’t seen enough schools, but my interest in Michigan is very high. I really like what they have to offer.
Rock is friends (and teammates) with OL Brad Carrico, who is heavily favoring Notre Dame at this time. Rock top two is widely assumed to consist of the Wolverines and Irish.
OMG So Many Offensive Linemen
IL OL Patrick Flavin has been invited to Michigan's summer camp ($, info in header), at which time he'd be able to impress and earn an offer. He also says that Notre Dame is his slight favorite over UCLA, Illinois, Northwestern, and the Wolverines. His older brother is on the Notre Dame roster, and that's likely his dream school.
LA OL Trai Turner told TomVH that he has a Michigan offer, and his good friend Carvin Johnson will be a draw for him when it comes to the Wolverines.
OH OL Michael Bennett has received an offer from Michigan ($, info in header), and according to eFilmRoom, Ohio State, Alabama, Nebraska, and Notre Dame are also involved. He should be a pretty bigtime prospect based on that offer list aone. Video highlights from ScoutingOhio:
Michigan is in on an oddly high number of offensive linemen from Arizona this recruiting cycle. A few of Michigan's targets have come in for some fluff lately:
ESPN fluff on AZ OL Christian Westerman:
Westerman showed tremendous feet, balance, quickness and strength, probably due in part to his training in boxing and lots of basketball when he was young. Those skill sets have helped him be an important part of back-to-back state championship teams at Hamilton High School, and that has dozens of high-level programs salivating at the thought of him becoming part of their program.
There's a mention of his Michigan offer, but he doesn't give a top group (outside of "I like Lane Kiffin, Mack Brown, and Urban Meyer"-type stuff) or say whether he plans to visit Ann Arbor.
Rivals also brings a bit of fluff on Michigan targets Cyrus Hobbi and Andre Yruretagoyena.
The Sun Devils verbally offered Hobbi in May of his sophomore year but then nothing happened for months until Washington and Michigan got involved in the last few weeks. Since then, all the other schools popped and Hobbi is happy with his position heading into the spring and summer camp schedule.
Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Oregon State and UCLA are some others involved with Yruretagoyena, who has family in the Pacific Northwest and has lots of interest in Oregon.
“I don’t really think of it too much,” Yruretagoyena said. “I want to get ready for next season, get bigger and make sure my team is doing work just as much as I am. It’s really good to know I won’t have to pay for college if my grades are good enough to qualify for the school.
Not terribly informative, but Michigan is on both their minds.
And Those Other Positions
The Great Demetrius Hart Internet Meltdown of 2010 can continue, now that FL RB Hart has told ThaRinger.com that he has already made up his mind, with a final three of Alabama, Auburn, and Florida. Howeva, he told TomVH that he will be visiting Ann Arbor for the spring game (April 17th, 1PM). It seems as though Michigan is still right at the top of his list, but his mom has concerns about Rich Rodriguez's job security.
Rivals briefly chats with NJ Ath Miles Shuler, who recently received a Michigan offer. National interest in the athlete is growing, especially after he impressed at a recent BadgerSport combine. He's talking with Florida, Ohio State, and Penn State, but doesn't mention any favorites. He did say he's "excited" about the recruiting process, so I wonder whether that might result in a drawn out recruitment.
Ohio State commit OH DE Steve Miller plans to look around a bit ($, info in header), and is not solidly committed to the Buckeyes. Obviously, it would be very nice if Michigan's coaches could get him on campus and try to sway him to the good guys. However, he's already missed a few good Junior Day opportunities, and they'll have to act quickly and forcefully if they want a chance.
A couple updates on some South Carolina prospects: DE JaDaveon Clowney, who holds a Michigan offer (along with Florida, Alabama, USC, and basically everyone else) still has no favorites. DE Gerald Dixon has apparently been offered by the Wolverines, as has OL Brandon Shell. Shell's offers come mostly from the Southeast, and it seems like he'll probably stay around there.
Though IL DT Mason Fuller impressed at the Michigan Football Showcase, this fluff piece has no Michigan mention.
"He's very athletic for his size. He's an athletic, strong kid," Griffin said. "He has a knack of just understanding what's going on down there. It's not about making every play but just doing the job that he has to do, so he does a good job of that. But he also has some pretty good pass rush skills as a defensive lineman, and we're thinking about playing him at a little defensive end this year as well."
Fuller also has put Urban Prep on the map for college coaches. The standout defensive tackle already has earned recruiting interest from Illinois, Kansas, Notre Dame, Stanford and South Carolina, and Griffin expects more programs to become involved soon.
Fuller may find interest in Michigan later down the road.
NC LB Kris Frost, who has previously named Michigan his favorite, is holding to that position, according to TomVH.
The Distant Future. The Year 2012
MI LB James Ross comes in for the now-standard Detroit News profile by Sam Webb. A few money quotes:
In his first year of high school football after starring for the Detroit Police Athletic League's Westside Cubs, Ross emerged as a standout performer for George Porritt's St. Mary's Eaglets. The 6-foot, 210-pounder had 103 tackles, five sacks, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and an interception while keying the defense for a team that went all the way to the state title game.
(Webb diplomatically leaves "after underachieving horribly all year" from that last sentence). Michigan has already offered, and though Ross didn't grow up a fan of the Wolverines, they've made quite an impression on him:
"It was real exciting," Ross Jr. said [of his Michigan visit]. "They took me through a tour of the facility. I was seeing all stuff the linebackers had accomplished -- all the special awards trophies. It seemed like every linebacker that went through there got something."
Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State seem to be the early competition for his services.
MD DT Kevin McReynolds has been selected to next year's UnderArmour game. OH Hoopster Markus Crider has been offered by John Beilein. He's a high school teammate of OH QB Braxton Miller (and schoolmate of the Talbott brothers). PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett is considering early enrollment at his school of choice ($, info in header). Per TomVH, Michigan has offered FL CB/Ath Nick Waisome. According to Michigan Sports Zone, NJ Slot/Ath Bill Belton has a Michigan offer on the table. MI RB Justice Hayes will take his time ($, info in header) trimming to a top 8.OH WR Shaq Washington shared his thoughts on the Michigan Football Showcase a couple weekends ago in his Cleveland Plain Dealer blog.
Programming note. I am out of heeeere, en route to Las Vegas to hang out with my friend who runs around like one of those tiny dogs whose blood is 90% cocaine during the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Tim is spending today enjoying Irish culture—I think this means he's going to a museum or eating some cabbage—so the recruitin' post will be Thursday. I have a hockey preview in the can. There might be some other sporadic content, but I'm looking at Thursday, Friday, and possibly Monday as vacation days. Our flight gets in at 5 AM. I will be super excited about that.
Q for people more experienced than me: I'm sure sportsbooks will have the BTN, but does anyone know how likely it is I can get a TV tuned to the Miami-Michigan game and hypothetical championship game? Please advise. Also if you have other advice, I am listening.
Surprise! Oh, actually not a surprise in any way at all. Grad assistant Alex Herron is being dumped overboard:
The graduate assistant accused of lying to NCAA investigators is no longer part of Michigan's football program.
Alex Herron, who was named in a Notice of Allegations the NCAA sent to Michigan last month, does not appear on Michigan's spring list of administrative personnel.
This is an obvious consequence of being personally named in a major violation because you lied to the NCAA.
Walk-ons for water. Michigan has its own version of Paki O'Meara, the Iowa walk-on tailback who was occasionally thrust onto the field because the only petty deity more wroth than Angry Michigan BLANK Hating God is Angry Iowa Tailback Hating God, in the form of freshman O'Neil Swanson. His name fascinates. Now he pitches Vitamin Water to you:
I'm not sure if he's really O'Neil Swanson III, which would make his name worthy to bask in the radiance of Barkevious Mingo, or if he's just screwing around for the Youtubes. Obviously, I hope it's the latter.
Okay then. After some initial futzing by Birkett on his twitter, AnnArbor.com posts an apology sort of thing for the crowbar comment. Fine, hatchet buried and all that.
Elsewhere, there are two reactions to that apology from people who are bad at having opinions. Site the first is College Football Talk: "for a website to force its writers to pretend that an athlete wasn't arrested multiple times for burglary is plain ridiculous." The Big Lead: "Even if Dorsey deserves a second chance, he in no way deserves a clean slate or media sheltering."
Yes, Demar Dorsey has been a sheltered little bunny in his little bunny cage. Drew Sharp feeds him a carrot cut into the shape of a heart every day. No one has heard ten thousand things about Michigan recruiting this character when kids with Dorsey's background enter schools across the country without so much as a peep.
Michigan fans have a right to expect a lack of unsolicited cheap shots. Birkett doesn't know anything about this kid except his high school record and what's been in the paper. He posted something that wouldn't be out of place on an Ohio State or Michigan State message board, and it's his job to interact with the kids on the team on a daily basis. That's totally unprofessional and Birkett deserves all the crap he gets for it. It's not about sticking your head in the sand, it's about having the tiniest modicum of respect for the program you're supposed to cover.
Meanwhile, a poster around these parts put together a diary in response that's longer and better written than the initial, pointless Big Lead post, and Duffy responds about the declining standards around here… in the user-generated area of the site. As someone who writes for the Big Lead. Quick, what are Kim Kardishan's boobs looking like today? Are they still enormous and airbrushed? Lawya, please.
Buzz after-effects. I went on a little torrent of hockey recruit googlestalking in the aftermath of the Michigan State series, partially because of general enthusiasm and partially because Michigan picked up its second commit of the 2012 class in Chicago defenseman Connor Carrick. The Wolverine's Bob Miller describes him as a bigger, quicker, better version of Langlais—yes please. I didn't find anything else on him other than a teaser from the perpetually sketchy "Scouting News" that suggested he blew up at a recent tourney and is now being mentioned at the very head of the upcoming OHL draft. In my experience those guys are used car salesmen; I wouldn't put too much emphasis on that.
While searching around I ran across some random guy's late January listing of the top 100 guys for the upcoming OHL draft and found some familiar names:
1. F Matia Marcantuoni (if he chooses college it will apparently be M, but that's a big if)
8. D Jacob Trouba (choosing between M and ND, OHL a possibility)
10. F Boo Nieves (commit)
17. D Connor Carrick (commit)
24. G Dalton Izyk (Nieves's teammate)
Who knows if this guy actually knows anything but when it comes to 15-year old hockey players there's not much else to go on. Not that there necessarily should be, or I should be looking for it.
Also from the potentially dubious depths of the Hockey's Future message boards is this report on Nieves:
I've seen Nieves play numerous times in different tournaments, and he's solidified himself as a top 10 talent, but is not likely to come to the OHL. He's a massive body, that has great acceleration, a pass first centre, and rarely if ever loses faceoffs. Would like to see him use the body more often, as he has a massive frame to grow into. He's a guy I'd keep an eye on, as he'll most likely get drafted in the later rounds, but is a real talent for the next level.
That is all sorts of things I like to hear.
The CHL has your education foremost in its mind. Lethbridge is losing its goalie this year after five years. Let's hear about the rigorous education he received:
"I guess real life is around the corner," [Linden] Rowat said with a smile. "I have to get a job and go to school. You kind of take it for granted playing in the Western League for five years, getting up at 11 o'clock, playing video games, going to practice. Now it's going to be a lifestyle change. A complete 180."
Etc.: MVictors has its own version of everyone else's twelve minutes of spring practice. There is a second mgotourney bracket. This one will not have prizes, unfortunately. More on Sheridan and Wright moseying off.