if you seek an image of the most Wisconsin OL ever, enter here
3/28/2010 – Michigan 5, Bemidji State 1 – 26-17-1
3/29/2010 – Michigan 2, Miami 3 (2 OT) – 26-18-1, season over
Indiana's state motto is "The Crossroads of America," which promises nothing more than the ability to leave it. As you do so the towns radiating northward from Fort Wayne on I-69 have ill-omened names like Angola and Waterloo and make you wish you had a heinous ex-girlfriend named Ashley or a bone to pick with Auburn, color or university, doesn't matter. There, the flat American expanse of a pitch-black highway makes prime brooding habitat. Nearby zings of color and denuded trees that make their presence known by obscuring something flashing red in the distance provide momentary focal points that slip past, their steady movement drawing the primitive sections of your intelligence and slightly distracting you from the reason you're staring grimly at a Big Lots that closed hours ago. The recent past recedes at 80 miles an hour, except five miles into Michigan where there is a cop. Fragments of your heart throw ropy pseudopods to each other and pull, slower than that. But steady.
Because 1997-98 was the year my teams had fantastic success and I had idiotic ideas, the first two Michigan hockey games I saw were a 4-0 win over New Hampshire in a national semifinal and a national championship game featuring an overtime winner from Josh Langfeld. I thought it was pretty cool, but that was all. I'd meant to get season tickets but it had slipped my mind. That year I also watched the Rose Bowl at my then-girlfriend's house. At one point her mom mentioned a Washington State touchdown would win her a quarter in squares. The GF and a mutual friend sort of tittered in a corner about things unrelated to the game. I was just a freshman. I'd go to a Rose Bowl later.
The next year I took up a residence in the Yost student section that ended only this year, six seasons after I graduated for the second and final time. Every season since there has been that crushing moment when the puck goes in the wrong goal and it's all over. Though it's hard to distinguish between levels of terror emanating from the reptilian sections of your brain, it seems to me these days the most knee-buckling moments of the sporting year come when the hockey team is playing in the NCAA tournament.
There's something different there. Each football season defines itself, and by the end it usually seems you got approximately what you deserve. A single-elimination hockey tournament after 40 games is the closest sports comes to Russian roulette. In hockey, the way you die is always a thunderbolt. And so I think the most painful part of every sports year for me is that horrible instant when the red light goes on and your whole self just deflates. I keep thinking the word "crushing," unrelated to anything else. Just an adjective, floating on the mile markers.
But the alternative to knee-buckling terror was just to not be here at all, for March to be a unbroken expanse of asphalt in the middle of nowhere. To get here is something after a 10-10 start and that ignominious road sweep at UNO that ended any hope of an at-large bid or even a bye in the CCHA tourney. I had been planning a series on what went so horribly wrong with the three major sports and was just waiting for hockey to make an undignified exit, probably at the hands of Michigan State, before embarking on it. They were just another flailing team caught in Michigan's winter of discontent, no different from a football team that can't punch it in from the one against Illinois or a basketball team that can't even turn a top-15 preseason ranking into an NIT bid.
As Michigan walked into Munn three weeks ago all 2009-10 offered was the same thing Indiana does: eventually, it ends. Now, at least, there is some redemption and schadenfreude and plain old inspiring victory, things Michigan fans needed reminding about. When it comes to the history books, this team will be one that picked itself up off the mat without its captain and starting goalie and was a heartbeat away from a Frozen Four. As it is, they picked up a banner and extended Michigan's tournament streak to twenty years.
By the end, they were Michigan hockey again. After fading badly towards the end of the third period they found their legs and terrorized Miami in overtime, launching twenty (official) shots to their six. They were struck down by bloody fortune and did not deserve their fate. They are like their compatriots before them, and will be remembered for a heroic stand. They died like Vikings.
Fifteen minutes past Angola, Indiana keeps its promise and releases you. Here, too, ends this year. Now we bury it and move on with some little hope thanks to a tiny goaltender and some feverish backchecking that point towards better days.
Obviously, this John Gravallese guy robbed Michigan of the game thanks to his galaxy-spanning incompetence. The irony of waving off a Michigan goal because you called a high-sticking penalty when 1) it's overtime and you aren't calling anything short of attempted murder and 2) amongst the zillion calls you missed in regulation were two blindingly obvious high sticking calls perpetrated by Michigan players—we clearly heard both in row 18—is head-exploding. For the wave-off to occur because you "lost sight of the puck" when zero players on the ice are reacting like the goalie has it—the goalie wasn't even down—after you allowed a Miami goal that Hunwick had pinned under his pad for a second or two is just despair inducing. At that moment my righteous anger broke and I awaited the inevitable end.
The reaction of a potentially apocryphal HE ref who knows this guy has appeared on the message board: "it happens" To which I say: look at Shawn Hunwick above and say that. "It happens" is the reaction of a failure of a person. As WolverineBoston puts it: "refs aren't humans." During the interminable replay that we knew was pointless, and the interminable (and totally impermissible) replay following that to determine whether a faceoff should be in Miami's zone or the neutral zone, we joked that they were making the refs watch the goal over and over again so they'd feel terrible. But I bet Gravallese doesn't even care.
I mentioned this after the Bemidji game, but it would be one thing if this guy was making a mockery of hockey in a the dispassionate manner of a badly malfunctioning robot. It's entirely another for him to make every call as if he is using the Hammer Of Thor to Dispense Justice To Wrongdoers. His children secretly hate him.
If you need the rule, it's been dug up here. Maybe they should change it to something less ambiguous, like getting the puck out of your zone if the opponent brings it in. No one really cares if a play is accidentally blown dead at center ice, but the ambiguity of what counts for possession is can be disastrous in the attacking zone. Forcing the team that took the penalty to clear the zone is 100% clear.
- Did we miss Ariel Bond taking a season-defining photo of the football team? She nailed the basketball season and that item above just about obviates the need for me to put all these words beneath it.
- I liked Fort Wayne's arena a lot but if they're going to have future NCAA tournaments there they need to make a change. Unlike every arena I've ever been to, at Fort Wayne the benches are on the same side of the red line, which means when one team has a short change the other has a long one. (Michigan State has benches on the opposite sides of the ice but they're also on opposite sides of the red line.) The home team gets two short and one long; the road team two long and one short. Okay, I guess, not really anything you can do about it and the higher seed did earn that privilege. But once you get to overtime you need to start alternating. Michigan was facing a long change for four of five periods in that game.
- It's not like Robbie Czarnik was great or anything while at Michigan, but seeing Jeff Rohrkemper limited to three or four shifts after the first period made me pine for a guy Michigan could throw out there as a functional fourth-line forward. After a couple early shifts from the fourth line that went poorly, Michigan abandoned them entirely in favor of occasional shifts from Scooter to give someone on the top three lines a breather; Winnett saw a shift here and there at even strength and played his usual inexplicable amount on special teams. They would have been better off dressing Moffie if that's as much as they were going to play Rohrkemper. (By the way, Czarnik is currently averaging over a PPG at Plymouth, further evidence that there's a considerable gap between NCAA and CHL hockey. Every Michigan player to leave for the CHL has seen his scoring explode as the competition level deflates. My favorite example is Jason Bailey, who had a 0-0-0 and was -11 in 19 games at M his sophomore year and scored half a PPG in 70 OHL games.)
- Shawn Hunwick finished the year 8-3 with a 1.82 GAA and a .918 save percentage against a tougher than average schedule, and late in his audition that was not an effect of his team shielding him from any and all scoring chances. The goalie competition is on for next year, and I'm guessing they'll add a freshman they can redshirt if they can find a guy they like.
- I actually screamed out "CARL" at one point in the overtime. I never use first names. I think I have a problem.
- The open thread on the game logged 1271 posts and 24k views; I am 100% positive the first is a record for MGoBlog 3.0.
- More on individuals a bit later; I'll take a look at next year soon.
If you're looking for some punishment, the Daily has comprehensive coverage with a game story, column suggesting that the team's late-season run is something to hold on to, a piece on the missed(-ish) opportunities in the first overtime that spelled doom, and a piece on the "questionable, disappointing" no-goal call. Too bad they misspelled "outrageous" and "soul-crushing." Also there is a flickr set.
*(not a typo, and no, I'm not apologizing)
As expected, Michigan basketball guard Manny Harris has elected to forego his senior season with the Wolverines to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft. Press release quotes from Manny Harris and coach John Beilein:
"After long discussions with the U-M staff and my family and friends, I have decided to pursue my dream of professional basketball and leave U-M early for the NBA," said Harris. "It is important for me to thank the University of Michigan, Coach Beilein and his staff, my teammates, my professors, as well as all those in the athletic department who have helped me over the last three years. My growth as a person and player wouldn't have been possible without them.
"I will always appreciate the college game and what it has done for me, but playing professional basketball has always been a goal and I feel it is the best time to pursue that. I will always be a Michigan Wolverine at heart and bleed Maize and Blue forever."
"Manny believes it is his time to move on to the NBA and we fully support him," said U-M coach John Beilein. "It was a tough decision for him and we are prepared to assist him in every way we can as he begins this new chapter in his life. Manny has assured us he plans on successfully finishing this semester, which would put him in a position to graduate from Michigan with just one more academic year."
"In three short years, Manny has compiled outstanding career numbers in points, rebounds, assists and steals -- milestones many very good players do not reach during a four-year career. I have many fond memories of Manny's time at Michigan. He has been clutch in so many big wins we certainly will miss him however we wish him nothing but the best in his professional basketball career and beyond."
That's mostly boilerplate, obviously. A few notes from the press conference, with bonus DeShawn Sims material as well:
- Regarding his draft stock: "I believe the work you put in is what you get out." He's not worried about his projections for the draft, and will simply work hard to achieve his dream of playing in the NBA. If that means he has to play in Europe or the D-League first, he's willing to do so.
- Harris plans to hire an agent, and will not be able to return to Michigan next season. He will keep working out with Michigan's coaches and strength staff to prepare for the NBA.
- Manny said it's very hard to leave Michigan, but at the end of the day you've got to make a decision. He consulted AAU coaches, old high school coaches, and family and friends.
- Manny stressed that his relationship with Coach Beilein is good (despite butting heads with him a few times this year), and he will always support the program and Michigan. Playing the 3 position at Michigan is "a great experience," and he would encourage any talented guard to come play at Michigan. Beilein's probably happy about that, as he said, "If there's a kid out there who will help us replace Manny, we'll recruit him."
- For all Manny did for this team, Beilein pointed out that it's his clutch free throw shooting that the team might miss the most.
- DeShawn Sims said that Manny feels like he's been around longer than his three years, because he's had to bear so much responsibility from the beginning.
- DeShawn will definitely attend the Portsmouth Invitational. He's working out in Ann Arbor with Michigan's coaches and Manny to prepare for the NBA.
- Sims said that next year's team will be improved because the players will understand the system, and chemistry will be improved. He noted that poor chemistry might have been the source of some of Michigan's troubles this season.
Bork. Daily photostream.
Currently in Fort Wayne and about to go explore the wonders of central Indiana—as indicated by my mysterious tweet, the War Memorial Coliseum is hosting the Indiana Alpaca Invitational next weekend, which I would totally go to if it was in Jackson.
Bork! Good thing the enormous Swedish flag made it out here. It would have been a shame not to have it during the few minutes in the third when Hagelin took over and turned the game from terror incarnate into a pleasant victory. It was retroactively weird to watch Hagelin wind up on his own blue line and think "this can be a breakaway" when two Beaver defensemen were a good twenty feet in front of him, but that's exactly what happened. There were a couple other shifts when he was just flying all over the ice. He's equaled Ortmeyer in my book.
Apparently he's a lock to come back next year, which is good. Not getting a senior year out of him would be heartbreaking.
Ice conditions: wack. Apparently the Miami players laid into the ice quality at their postgame press conference and in the stands you could tell something was wrong by the number of people plain falling over. At first these were mostly UAH players and given the rest of their play it was within the realm of possibility that their skating just included a lot of falling over, but when a bunch of Miami players got in on it that was proof enough. In the second game it seemed a little better but not much.
Refereeing: thoroughly wack. My favorite was the crosschecking call when a BSU guy was on a partial break and no one on Michigan could have cross-checked the guy if they had go go gadget arms, but the chintzy roughing penalties paired with an uncalled boarding on BSU that could have been five were second. Third was Hagelin getting two for getting hit after the whistle. He's Swedish, man.
This John Gravallese guy is one of those refs who makes his calls like he's bringing Truth and Justice to hockey. Just make the calls like a robot, thanks. This goes double when the calls in question are questionable to outrageous.
Hunwick: !!!. I thought "that's a goal" like four times in that game and Hunwick made three saves (the other whistled over the net), most of them impressively agile reactions to rebounds or passes. That was an excellent game, and not "for a walk-on." There was even a significant reduction in the number of shots kicked into the slot to linger and terrify.
Turnovers: guh. I didn't really mind Llewellyn's penalty since it seemed to be one of those that get called for hitting a guy too hard, but he was the culprit on a couple of late-game turnovers that would be considerably worse if they happened against Carter Camper. Burlon was the other guy who seemed to struggle. He let a BSU guy wide on their first real scoring chance and Hunwick had to make two quick saves in succession. No one should ever get around a guy who skates like Burlon.
Miami: flat? I don't know. They dominated according to shots and play but they didn't score an even-strength goal against a bad team, only got their second PP goal because of some hilariously bad play from the UAH goalie, and didn't seem to have a huge territorial advantage at 5x5 after the first ten minutes. Miami resistance in the neutral zone was minimal in the second and third during the brief stretches UAH wasn't killing a stupid penalty. Maybe that was a strategic move… but their performance didn't make me think the CCHA semi was a fluke.
Not that I expect 5-1, Temporarily Benevolent Michigan Walk-on Tolerating God. I'm just saying that I don't expect the ice to be slanted much either way and this is way more of a coinflip than you'd think given the season-long metrics on both teams.
NCAA: lol. There are video boards at the arena. They never show replays of anything.
Fitness? The Miami game was at least close enough that the Redhawks couldn't take the third period off, but I'm slightly worried that all those penalty kills will take their toll. At points late in the second Michigan looked really tired and the fourth line took considerably more shifts than I expected in a game with an extra 2:30 of commercials every period. A lot of people were complaining about fourth lines being nonexistent with the extensive TV timeouts, but Michigan's took a regular shift. Diabolical plot to be fresher today or penalty-kill-induced damage mitigation?
Atmosphere: meh. I really like the War Memorial Coliseum, as it's one of those buildings where the seats go straight up and the sight lines are great, but announced attendance yesterday was 4k. I can't wait to see the dozens of people who make the trek out to St. Louis next year.
It's time to go to home sites for top seeds. As I was flicking through the channels on Friday to see what ESPN2 was televising instead of NMU-SCSU in overtime, I struck upon a Division II women's basketball game between Emporia State and Fort Lewis. It was packed out. It was in a 2,300 seat arena. It had way better atmosphere than frickin' Albany. The Frozen Four can fill an NHL building. The regionals obviously can't.
The NCAA should got to a system where schools submit bids at whatever arenas they want as long as they meet certain standards and the top seed in each regional to submit a bid that meets approval gets it. This avoids the "what if Huntsville gets a one-seed" problem.
Please win tonight. K thx.
A home game is now in the books as Michigan downed the IPFW Mastodons for a three game series sweep. Michigan brought the offense, collecting 47 hits for 30 runs. IPFW was the bad team that was expected, and our players didn't disappoint, at least on offense. Pitching had some less than stellar moments, but in the end, the guys that got into trouble kept the losses to a minimum.
Game by game review, series thoughts, and a look at Tuesday's Eastern Michigan game follow:
Rumors flying, with an official decision Monday:
"I'm going to make my decision on Monday," Harris told The Daily this afternoon in a phone interview.
He declined to comment further.
General feel is that this presages a departure, possibly an irrevocable one. I'd think Manny would at least leave the door open for a return based on the returns from predraft camps. If he doesn't, that says a lot about his relationship with Beilein, IME.
At least there's that. Darren Everson has a great piece on Michigan's recent malaise and the hockey team's bounce-back that won't have much news for anyone who's lived through this year but is a great summary if you need to explain why you're sitting in the bathtub clutching yourself to someone who's not a Michigan fan.
Mary Sue Coleman shows up at the end to provide a throwaway quote, prompting a complaint from Dave Birkett about her tendency to show up in the WSJ but turn down local requests. This is probably because the WSJ asks her questions like "Do you like to win?" and local papers are more likely to ask eleven questions in a row about the threat Demar Dorsey poses to local schoolchildren. You must lie in the bed you have made.
Give me back that filet of goalie. Give me that goalie. If you've been watching the NCAA tournament you, like me, must have the bizarre Filet o' Fish jingle stuck in your head. There is but one thing as persistent this day:
Shawn Hunwick had a decision to make:
Go to Albion and become the school's first goaltender, or ...
Walk-on at Michigan. [ed: this story manages to spread one sentence over three(!) paragraphs, which must be a record.]
For the few moments the blinding television lights remained locked in on him, Shawn Hunwick played it cool.
In almost three years at Michigan, Hunwick played exactly 18 minutes of college hockey. But he never complained, never skipped, and never asked for playing time. He just kept his mouth shut, and did his job.
There is also an article from [NEWSPAPER REDACTED]. It covers exactly the same ground as the 37 other articles about Shawn Hunwick. Give me that fish.
Berenson's locked Hunwick in an electrical closet since the CCHA finals in a desperate attempt to keep his head on straight. We'll see if it works. Hunwick finds the electrical closet roomy, by the way, and thinks it's an honor to be in an electrical closet at Michigan.
Meanwhile, Louie Caporusso on avoiding that Air Force thing again:
But according to Caporusso, the formula for avoiding an early exit like last year is simply “shooting the puck on net with a purpose.”
“If we give him a lot of confidence and start building him up in our head, then it’s only going to make it harder on us,” Caporusso said. “I find if you brainwash yourself to believe that they don’t have a good goalie, you’re better off putting the puck in the net.”
The final countdown. Center Jon Horford just signed on, replacing Ben Cronin's wonky hip with a rail-thin post with some touch near the basket and good passing skills.
I don't want to steal too much of UMHoops's thunder as Michigan approaches what will be a critical couple weeks for the basketball program, but a high level overview: Michigan has two scholarships open and they may fill both of those slots despite the jam that would cause in the class of 2011. The candidates:
- Mount Pleasant SF Trey Zeigler. Ziegler is similar to Manny Harris, but higher rated on average. He is down to a top five of Michigan, Central, State, Arizona State, and UCLA. Complicating factor: his father is the head coach at Central Michigan. Zeigler could sign up to help his dad, whose job security is shaky.
- Detroit Denby SF Isaiah Sykes. Sykes can't shoot but he can get to the rack at will and is in the 6'5" range with long arms and a feverish desire to rebound. He has no offers after a high school career that saw three transfers; he didn't even play the first half of this season.
Michigan will obviously take Zeigler if they can get him. Sykes is the wildcard. Beilein's been to a number of his games recently, spurring both UMHoops and AnnArbor.com to get video and scouting reports on the guy. If Zeigler ends up going elsewhere—the tenuous conventional wisdom is that it's probably CMU or M—I can't imagine Beilein won't offer Sykes and end up with him.
Would Michigan take Sykes if it got Zeigler, though? Maybe. Michigan could free up another scholarship in 2011 for a post if they did not offer Laval Lucas-Perry a fifth year, and it's possible they wouldn't have to do that if someone transferred because of a lack of playing time in the aftermath of Zeigler, Sykes, Hardaway, and Smotrycz (who will push Novak from the four to the two and three) arriving. If I was Beilein I'd make my decision on Sykes independent of Zeigler.
The spring signing period starts in two weeks.
And fin. There was some hubbub in the comments when Michigan State reinstated a number of players who participated in the PREWB. Included were BJ Cunningham and Mark Dell, the highest profile participants not immediately booted. This set Dantonio up for a buffeting.
Why I can't figure. State has lost eight(!) players as a result of the PREWB, and six of them hadn't had previous run-ins with the law. This is not like Glenn Winston's reinstatement. None of the guys who are back on the team got any jail time; just about every program in the country would have done the same thing.
You can hammer Dantonio for two things here: letting Winston back on the team after months in jail after an unprovoked attack on a pair of innocent bystanders, lying about Roderick Jenrette's freshman year suspension. The actual handling of the aftermath here seems appropriate. Both guys who played in the Alamo Bowl, by the way, are gone. That wasn't on Dantonio.
While we're on Michigan State: they've got a goofily named quasi linebacker on their depth chart too. They've got a "STAR" listed and might be moving to a 3-4, or some other defense with three dedicated down lineman and an array of hybrids.
Happy trails. The Blue Gray Sky is packing it in. This site's relationship with those guys fell off a cliff after we did an article exchange before the '05 M-ND game. Mine was a description of my experience after the painful 2002 loss, after which a young child came up to me and literally said "good game, mister" as if I had fallen into Pleasantville. I added in some stuff about Notre Dame's program not being very good, which was basically true, and how this made Michigan's rivalry with them frustrating because they did things like lose two of three to Ty Willingham.
Theirs deployed "Skunkbears" and actually featured these two sentences:
Yost was but the first in a litany of men of low character to hold the reins at UM. ... Gary Moeller was frustrated that he couldn't pick Notre Dame up, drink it, and then drive into a ditch.
It was kind of like punching your brother in the arm and getting a baseball bat to the head in return. Suffice it to say there were no more article exchanges.
Even so, BGS was one of the first blogs to materialize out of the ether and when they weren't dredging up apocryphal stories about people who have been dead for 70 years, they were drafting incredibly research-heavy pieces I was jealous of. It must have been nice to have a blog with eight or so contributors; one of them could just hole up for months and come out with a precise breakdown of formations organized by down and distance. I can't find that in particular, but I did find their "Four Plays" series, which was a 2006 version of Picture Pages on steroids. They were good. They were Notre Dame fans who posted on ND Nation, but they were also good.
Etc.: Dennis Dodd says "if there were ever a coach to root for, it's Rich Rod." Is that a good thing?
Michigan has gained a basketball commitment from MI PF Jon Horford. He's a 2010 prospect, and the younger brother of erstwhile Michigan commit, former Florida Gator, and current Atlanta Hawk Al Horford.
|3*, #42 PF||3*, NR PF||88, #76 PF|
ESPN has two evaluations of him, just over two years apart:
December, 2007: He's a good low post scorer that really works the glass. He has great hands and keeps working hard to improve. He's a good, but not great athlete that seems to grow an inch every 4-5 months. He has a long wing span which helps him be a very good shot blocker. His range extends to 15 feet at this point, but he has a thin frame and he must add strength. His brother Al was solid at the same stage and with hard work, ended up a two-time National Champ and NBA Lottery pick. Jon is on the same path.
The note that Al Horford was similarly limited in high school is very encouraging. And...
February, 2010: Jon is a multi dimensional power forward. He can operate in the paint or score from the high post. That is probably one of his best attributes, his versatility. Inside Jon is solid on the block. He has decent post moves and is a good rebounder inside due to his solid basketball IQ. He understands blocking out and using his body inside. He scores mostly off garbage inside (dump offs and put backs) he is best facing the basket. He can shoot with range out to 16 or 17 feet. He is a solid defender inside though not an avid shot blocker. He is not quite the athlete that his brother was at the same stage. He will be a very solid player at the collegiate level.
The more recent evaluation is significantly less "OMG HE RULZ" than the first, but it is still highly positive. That doesn't jibe with various reports that Horford's something of a project. Another recurring theme in Horford evaluations: he's thin:
Jon Horford. He definitely looked like a player -- and the Gators were all over him. He's about 6-9, but thinner than his older brother.
Dylan checked him out in person:
He moves well for a big man and looks very comfortable in the post. Despite being double teamed he had a couple nice spin moves when he got the ball cleanly on the box. He also showed very nice touch finishing around the hoop. He also did a very good job passing out of double teams and finding open shooters (even if they weren’t making shots)...
But at the end of the day he just doesn’t “wow” you like you would expect a high-major big man to. He got ripped of several rebounds and doesn’t appear to be a tremendous shot blocker, despite being the tallest player on the court. He is very slender from the mid-section down and had to pull up his shorts after about every play. Horford’s shooting form is also screwy and will certainly get some attention once he is playing for a division 1 coach.
So did Calvin, also of UMHoops:
The first thing you have to say about Horford, and something Dylan mentioned, is that there isn’t much of a “wow” factor. He’s extremely skinny (think a taller Manny Harris, but with slimmer shoulders), which means there aren’t any points in the game when he can just move somebody out of his way. Every offensive move is a finesse move–which isn’t to say they’re bad moves, that’s just the kind of player he is. He has a nice quick drop step and he knows how to use his pivot foot in that way that seems like it should be traveling but definitely isn’t and it’s just a good move. He has great touch around the basket and is an exceptional finisher given his frame. He is also a very, very good passer. Horford was double-teamed almost every time he touched the ball, and he almost always found the open man. Very good instincts on offense.
Rivals evaluated him:
Horford is long (a legit 6-8 plus) but skinny, and will need some hours in the weight room before he moves on to the next level. He's got great hands, however, a nice touch around the basket and outstanding work ethic on both ends of the floor. Henton took advantage of Horford's lack of strength to bully his way to the rim a few times, getting Horford into early foul trouble (two fouls in the first half).
He went to his right hand on all three occasions - twice he'd have had it easier if he could have used his left, and probably would have finished despite being fouled.
Where he was most impressive was passing out of the post... He runs the floor well... Horford's young supporting cast isn't all that talented, making him the obvious focus of defenses, but he's supportive and doesn't try to force it...
I've heard his height is a little overstated, and he might be closer to 6-7 than 6-9. He's just a high schooler though, so he might still be growing (especially with his NBA bloodlines). The positives: he's skilled, an exceptional passer, and assuming he can put on some weight, a legit post prospect.
As recently as last summer, he wasn't really on Michigan's radar, but he got an offer around December ($), and named Michigan his leader shortly thereafter. But then, like, actually got offered at the beginning of this month (made official when he visited this week). At that time, it was "almost sure" he would pick the Wolverines ($, info in header). He picked the Wolverines over Cal and Providence. Alabama showed some interest, but no word on if they offered. Michigan State showed some interest, especially late, but I'm not sure if they ever offered.
So what do the offers mean? He's certainly not a top-top prospect (which the recruiting rankings show as well), nor is he an instant-impact type. The Kentuckys of the world were coming a-callin'.
As mentioned above, Horford was by far the best player on Grand Ledge, which meant that he got the ball a lot, but also drew the attention of opposing defenses.
He averaged about 21 points and 13 rebounds per game, according to umgoblog.com.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Though he's not an instant-impact player, Horford may be forced into a bit of action as a true freshman, since he, Jordan Morgan, Blake McLimans, and fellow freshman Evan "Metrics" Smotrycz will be the only Wolverines taller than 6-4. With Morgan coming off yet another injury and surgery, Horford might have to be ready to go. With his noted lack of strength, that doesn't bode well for a big freshman season. He'll likely get spot minutes to give a rest to Michigan's other options in the post (of which Blake McLimans might be the only healthy bigman - and eve he is more of a power forward), if he plays at all.
Assuming he's able to put his body together in the weight room, he'll be able to contribute in subsequent years. If he grows a little more (his dad, Tito, is 7-1, and brother Al is 6-10), that goes double. He's a skilled big man who just needs to develop a bit before he can be a major contributor to a Big Ten squad. Unless he makes huge strides, he probably is a 4-5 year player.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Scholarship breakdown time:
|2010-11 Michigan Roster|
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||1-2|
** Cronin's basketball career is likely over. I've included him on the chart in the event of a miracle recovery.
That's 12 guys, which means if Cronin gets healthy and Manny stays, Michigan has room for one more prospect, and would have one scholarship to give out for the 2011 recruiting class. That scholarship would go to Trey Zeigler, or if Michigan can't reel him in, Isaiah Sykes.
More likely, Cronin is no longer a factor, opening up an additional scholarship, and pushing the number to two. Would Michigan take both Zeigler and Sykes, or bank on of the spots for next year's class? I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan took both, assuming they could land them.
Manny is on the fence about his senior year, and most reports have him likely leaving. The Wolverines probably don't have three more prospects on the table that they'd want to take in this class, so they would bank Manny's scholarship for the 2011 class. If they filled all three hypothetical slots in this scenario, they would have a grand total of zero scholarships for 2011.
Most likely scenario: Cronin and Manny are both gone, Michigan takes however many of Zeigler and Sykes they can land, and has two scholarships available for 2011. For next season, those scholarships will go to a couple walkons.
Hockey bits. Whatever doubt there was about Summers returning this weekend is just about evaporated. Berenson is "over 80 percent confident" he will be back:
"I thought he looked pretty good again [on Wednesday]," Berenson said. "He's such a free skater, and that's an advantage he has. And he's a senior. He's fit. He's worked hard in this whole rehab. If he gets through the next few days, he'll play."
As mentioned in the preview, I assume this means Lee Moffie gets sent to the press box. Hogan is still out.
I updated the preview with some extra television information, but if you missed it Saturday's game is now on Comcast so everyone should get it. Channels:
- Comcast: 900
- Dish: 432 and 436.
- DirecTV: 640 and 668.
The game is also on ESPN360 and will be on ESPNU on tape delay. Hypothetical Sunday game would be on ESPNU.
Rothstein has a piece on Fort Wayne's preparations for the NCAA tourney—he used to work at the paper there—and asks whether neutral sites really work for the NCAA hockey tournament. In my opinion, not really. It's goofy to have the most important games of the season played in sterile, largely empty buildings, and moving to home ice for top seeds would help make the tourney less of a random number generator. Playoffs should strive for a balance between unpredictability and a satisfactory champion. The NBA has too little unpredictability, MLB too much. College basketball is just right. Single-elimination hockey is on the MLB side of the scale.
Comley says MSU was the last team out of the NCAA tournament and if Michigan had not beaten Miami, then MSU would have replaced the Wolverines in the 16-team field. He is not for expanding the current 16-team format, although I am in favor of expanding it to 24 because a couple of teams with automatic bids, like Alabama Huntsville, are in the field with a losing record.
As Western College hockey points out, 24 teams would be 40% of college hockey. It would be all but one TUC. The tourney is more likely to contract back to twelve than expand further. Hockey is already over the 25% mark, the maximum amount of tournament participation advised by the NCAA. Also, Comley's wrong. Ferris State is the first team out of the tourney.
BONUS: Junior defenseman Jeff Petry is a holy lock to sign with Edmonton. I'm hoping Tropp heads out the door, too, so that karma delivering a fatality to him is the last thing that happens to him in college hockey, but it sounds like he's leaning towards a return.
So how's that working out for you, being ornery? Ever since the Free Press Jihad started there has been a wing of Michigan's internet fandom dedicated to the proposition that Michigan should pursue a scorched-earth policy with the paper. They imagine David Brandon revoking press passes and locking anyone from the paper with temerity to show up on campus in stocks on the Diag.
A popular sentiment amongst these folks in the aftermath of Urban Meyer going all no-you-di'in't…
…at the reporter who quoted Deonte Thompson saying he was glad to have a "real quarterback" was "that's how you handle the media."
This, of course, releases the hounds. (There's plenty more if you want it.) Two of those are from Bruce Feldman and Tony Barnhardt, adults capable of stringing together paragraphs. But the latter is from Mike Bianchi and is closer to certain local folks' speed. Prepare for the one-sentencing:
First Urban Meyer quits.
Then he comes back.
Then he takes a leave of absence.
Then he doesn’t take a leave of absence.
Now, incredibly, he is threatening reporters because one of his players was quoted … correctly?
Can you say Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?
Good grief, that Florida coaching job really is a pressure-cooker, isn’t it?
Urban Meyer has to care zero percent because he has a two-deep at crystal football, but it's an illustration of the cliche about not getting in arguments with people who buy ink by the barrel. It doesn't matter that according to people on the same beat think Urban was basically right about this guy…
other Florida beat reporters contend Thompson's quote was merely a poor, vastly overblown choice of words by a 21-year-old who will never be mistaken for Barack Obama as a public speaker, and I can tell you some of them think Fowler has had it coming for a long time.
…any time a reporter takes a shot from a coach, rightly or wrongly, it's time to close ranks and howl at the moon. Meyer didn't even raise his voice here; his "threat of violence" was phrased as a hypothetical from the start. And this reporter basically deserves his chewing out. But get pissed off at a guy and you'll never hear the end of it, no matter how righteous your wrath is.
So… yeah, Michigan's doing the right thing by sucking it up and smiling nice for the cameras. Sadly.
How's that working out for you, being a hypocritical weasel? Win at all costs is apparently a totally awesome strategy for John Calipari:
REFUSE TO LOSE. It sounds like such a simple, inspirational phrase for a team -- and it can be. But it also describes the man. He's a scrapper, and will weigh all of his options besides losing.
Calipari has done the most remarkable coaching job of this season, and nobody is close. Think about it: He convinced John Wall, Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins to come to Memphis, inserted clauses into their letters of intent so they could go somewhere else if Calipari left, convinced Memphis to keep its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA quiet for three months, took the Kentucky job before anybody knew about that notice, then convinced Wall and Cousins to join him in Lexington. That is refusing to lose.
Can you guess who wrote that? It's freakin' Mike Rosenberg, the guy who's spent the last two years ripping Rodriguez for recruiting one kid who got in trouble, slightly exceeding allotted NCAA practice time, and a bunch of other inconsequential or totally imaginary crap. I'm too busy slamming my head into the desk to analyze this, so I beg you to head over to Braves and Birds for righteous indignation.
Etc.: I really wanted the Tebow Wonderlic prayer thing to be true because I thought it was hilarious. Football players pray all the time. They pray before games. They pray during games. They pray when they score touchdowns. They pray when someone's injured. They pray all the time. So Tebow wandering in and saying "HAI GUYS LET'S PRAY" so often that football players were getting exasperated at him was an awesome mental lollercoaster yesterday. So of course it is 0% true.
Kenpom's doing very well through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, but don't tell my bracket that. [shakes fist at Kansas] [feels douchey for bringing up his bracket]. Wisconsin fans want to demand more out of Bo Ryan. This is because they are insane.
It's home-opener week, which seems like a great time to start looking at cumulative stats. This will be one of a few of these I do over the rest of the season.
Baseball has a long lived on the forefront of statistics in sports. From the heavy emphasis on batting over .300 or advanced sabermetrics, baseball's history is forever linked with teaching kids that not all math is useless. In honor of that longstanding tradition, today we look at some stats from our baseball team and then wonder what the hell they might mean. College baseball stats are not just loosely kept, but they fluctuate wildly over periods of time.
First, because of the nature of college baseball's shortened season (compared to major leagues), pitching statistics don't really offer enough data until very late in the season, if at all. There's just not enough to say about 17 innings of work for a starter or 8 innings, if that, for a reliever. So we're going to focus on just batting statistics in this and most future posts of this type.
Second, college baseball stats are very basic. There is no way to track pitches accurately without either a dedicated sports information director or someone at games. It's painstakingly, eye-gouging-ly monotonous to calculate batting averages with runners in scoring position. You have to hope your team has play-by-play on the bottom of their box score, and then you have to read through each at-bat, and all surrounding at-bats in order to come up with the raw data. Just to come up with the data that I have, I had to go through each box score and type in each statistic to have a game log for each player.
This is just the way things are.
The first thing I always like to post is a track on how our team batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage have progressed over the season.
This year I've tried to add a fourth line to represent the quality of competition Michigan has faced. The purple line represents RPI, with a team registering a 1.000 as the #1 team in the nation, a team at .500 being the 151th team in the nation, and a team scoring zero as the 302nd team in the nation, with the RPI coming from Boyd's World (in this case, the data was taken on Sunday 3/21). I felt this would help identify certain peaks and valleys as a reference.
Other than the realization that we've played a tough schedule this year, what jumps out to me is the lower slugging percentage. Last year, Michigan regularly slugged around .475. The last graphic I made last year was this one, 37 games through the season:
We're slugging just over .440 this season, where last season was spent hovering around .475. Sure, the competition has gotten a bit tougher, but something else seems spotty here. We'll look at the slugging percentage and other non-Excel visualizations after the jump…
I’ve talked to a few people about spring practice and some of the early enrollees' progress. There’s nothing earth shattering, since we’re basically only 5 practices in, but here’s what I’ve been hearing so far.
- Stephen Hopkins has actually lost 15 pounds; he’s at about 228 now.
- Christian Pace has already gained 15 pounds.
- Jerald Robinson has gained somewhere between 10-15 pounds, and has been mentioned quite a bit. A lot of buzz around him, and the catches he’s made.
- Anthony LaLota is up around 260 pounds now. Unfortunately, he has an elbow injury.
- Cameron Gordon is the most surprising for everyone. His name keeps coming up. I’ve heard that he tackles well and has really good coverage skills. The people I’ve talked to say he’s just a natural ball hawk. Good decision to move him to safety.
- The offense looks more in sync than last year, despite Molk being out. It’s practice, though, so everyone looks good. It feels like there’s a lot of competition out there.
- A lot of the early enrollees have a chip on their shoulder. They want to play early.
- Pat Omameh has impressed everybody. Everyone has described him as “huge.”
- Justin Turner is progressing as well as everyone has hoped. There is no reason for concern
with him. I think everyone had high expectations for him, and he seems to be meeting those.
- Jeremy Gallon has been practicing really well. The person I spoke with about him said he’s really fast, and coming along nicely.
- JT Floyd has been working really hard to see the field. He’s a case where he has more confidence this year, which will help. He understands more of what he’s doing this year.