I know you're all busy sticking needles into your Coach K voodoo dolls—for safety's sake make sure your doll is not actually Coach K before inserting—but about an hour ago Michigan's hockey fate was determined. Drumroll, please:
1. Boston College
4. Colorado College
Michigan plays at 5:30 on Friday on ESPN3, with ESPNU replaying the game at 11:30.
Yeah, so to get to a hypothetical final Michigan probably has to beat Boston College and North Dakota, but that's why you show up on Friday against Western Michigan instead of whatever that was. Michigan split with UNO at Yost earlier this year, losing 4-2 on Friday and winning 6-1 the next night. Shots were 35-25 Michigan on Friday and about even Saturday.
Let me take this opportunity to urge anyone considering going: don't. You'll notice that the CCHA is the only conference not to have a region, you know, within hundreds of miles of it. A couple years ago there were regionals in Wisconsin and Colorado. The CCHA is the only conference to get so regularly screwed. I don't think the committee actually cares—if they did we'd have home regionals for top seeds—but on the off chance a St. Louis regional featuring 50 people in an NHL building is the hockey equivalent of Houston Nutt signing 37 kids you should save your money.
You may resume poking K right in the eye.
So I'm back from my honeymoon in Greece, and rollin' a 101 degree fever (much appreciated Delta passenger in Seat 12A). Getting the bed sentence for an American male this week basically means lots of college basketball that you can't really follow because you keep drifting off then waking up to either a.) Charles Barkley talking, b.) a guy who looks like your ex-girlfriend's father screaming at you to buy $1,000 TVs, or c.) a radically different score.
At one point Friday afternoon, after a close half where Michigan's best two players ate bench for early foul trouble, I drifted off again and had a fever dream in which Beilein went to his backups and found only ghosts. These apparitions, though by rights having no call to be influencing the corporeal plane, floated onto the court and proceeded to shut down Tobias Harris (who in my dream is 8 feet tall and can't spell "cat") and nail 3-pointers; Michigan won by 30.
Somewhere on my DVR remains a record of what really happened but I'm a man in a room full of used kleenex and the last time I looked on the internet it said hockey lost to Western Michigan 5-2, so until someone tells me different I'm going with the fever dream.
If the dream were true Michigan faces Duke this afternoon at 2:30. You'll get a full preview (update: scroll down to Tim's preview below), but the gist is that Michigan is baby Duke. The Devils' point differential scares the living hell out of me. Then again, I literally need to get some living hell out of me so let's ball.
Diaries: Hoops Edition
It was late January and a 10-2 non-conference schedule against nobodies became a brutal 1-7 mark against the league's toughest conference. The turning point came against little brother, who in basketball has spent the bulk of two decades as a national power. That team which aneurism-ed in Breslin wasn't the same that dominated a first-round 8-9 game in the NCAA Tournament. The squad in January was but an upset special, something that might pull off a miracle using guts and bloody white guys. When Michigan faced that same MSU team again – in Ann Arbor – it had become the Tim Hardaway show, and a ho-hum victory for the better team. The Wolverines finished fourth in the Big Ten, behind only the consensus No. 1 team in the nation and two popular Final Four picks.
How did we come so far? Leave it to bronxblue to tell it as it only can be told, with basketball movie posters:
This was still a dangerously-shallow crew, but it played like a team and bought into Beilein’s system in a way no other team had. And nobody grew more as a player than Hardaway, who scored in double figures in every game and was the catalyst for wins over Iowa, Indiana, and Minnesota, playing and being absolutely unconscious at times from beyond the arc.
In a confluence of events that has left dozens of columnists misusing the word "ironic," ESPN aired its Fab Five documentary just as Michigan was sealing its most astounding in-season turnaround in memory. The documentary led to long threads hashing over Michigan basketball's gilded age, but also this fan perspective from Coach Schiano of the '93 Finals run.
The team didn't seem to have their legs that infamous Monday night against UNC. I think Kentucky took a lot out of them. Watching UNC breeze by a lousy Kansas team on Saturday, I was convinced we had the tougher road, and during the last game it showed.
As for the man whose star-birth turned Michigan from plucky guys who might beat the worst MSU team in recent memory to potential bracket busters, Blazefire does a comparison of Tim Hardaway Jr.'s freshman season against his father's four years at UTEP. The younger Hardaway isn't quite the shooter or setup man but otherwise stacks up well against his dad…as a junior.
I also bumped lfj75's Historical Performance of NCAA Seeds to a diary – it basically says 8-seeds don't often win NCAA tourneys. Then again 8-seeds don't usually blow out 9-seeds using spectral bench players.
And though it's now moot, credit jamiemac (of Just Cover Blog) for his Feb 28 bracket matrix, which did a better job explaining which chalk to trust in seeding (and in building a bracket) than about anywhere on the internet.
Diaries: Football Edition
It's official spring tomorrow but it's been football spring for a few weeks. With two other big money sports to hold blue attentions the football information flow has slowed to a trickle. However, lurking user FlyRy4 managed to get us some inside dope from Mattison while attending the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic, and DamnYankee performed a great service by reposting as a diary. FlyRy has received an admin points bump so he can bring things like this to us again. Bullets:
- 4-3 under defense that will look like a 5-2 to some – similar to what they ran in Baltimore.
- Mike Martin supposedly will get single-teams and chances to disrupt.
- Big Will is is winning the group competitions at 3-tech (over Q-Wash, Talbott, Ash et al.)
- Cam Gordon's an SLB, not a safety.
- "Inability of players to watch film correctly." Don't quite know what this means, but I'm all for proper video watching.
There's more in there from Mattison, so click.
The Rivals 250 is out, and Bodogblog broke them down by regions. Unsurprisingly there's a lot more talent in the SEC footprint than anywhere else. I'd like to see somebody do a comparison by year of Rivals 250 versus who gets drafted by the NFL; I have a feeling you'd find suggestive evidence that players in the South are more likely to get a 4-star.
And that maniacal laughter you hear in the background is THE_KNOWLEDGE, who points out the Tressel thing is something even the trolliest troll wouldn't dare dream up.
Diaries: Hockey Edition
As I'm writing this (11:30 a.m. Sunday) I'm watching the tournament announcement show, but if there's few surprises it's thanks to the excellent work of mfan_in_ohio, who has been keeping us updated with the pairwisii. You can go back to the March 13 and March 6 updates to feel out the whole process. Denver lost a nailbiter last night to North Dakota and ended up the 2 seed in that bracket, but mfan says Miami (NTM)'s CCHA championship will give them the last 1-seed, putting Mich in St. Louis with BC, CC and Nebraska-Omaha. And lo and behold, he's right. Michigan will play Nebraska-Omaha then face the winner of Boston College and Colorado College in St. Louis.
For his tireless effort and The_Knowledge-like prognosticative powers, this is your Diarist of the Week.
Diaries: Wrestling Edition
Enfin, I just wanted to share a little love for the all the Greco-Michigan fans I met. Yes, I can be the kind of tourist douche who wears Michigan gear when in Europe, but apparently there are a lot of Greeks who know the block M. Greek Michigan fans, we salute you, and not just because you built the Parthenon just to rub in a victory over Spartans.
|WHAT||8 Michigan v. 1 Duke|
KenPom: Michigan +11 (13% win)
"More like Puke." "More like White Devils." etc.
Shock the World.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy:
|Michigan v. Duke: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Duke Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Duke Def eFG%||44||7||D|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Duke eFG%||145||18||DD|
|Mich TO% v. Duke Def TO%||16||98||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. Duke TO%||242||30||DDD|
|Mich OReb% v. Duke DReb%||323||192||DD|
|Mich DReb% v. Duke OReb%||62||80||M|
|Mich FTR v. Duke Opp FTR||343||34||DDDD|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Duke FTR||36||195||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. Duke AdjD||37||2||D|
|Mich AdjD v. Duke AdjO||28||4||D|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
Have I made the "hide ya kids, hide ya wife" joke too many times yet? Yes? Darn. Well anyway, Duke is really good at the basket-ed ball.
Guard Nolan Smith has been their most-frequently deployed player this year, but with the return of the nation's #2 freshman (as a recruit) Kyrie Irving, the guard play may be less of a Smith monopoly. He's an efficient shooter and a very good assist man.
In the frontcourt, Kyle Singler and the Plumlees are all over 6-8, and they're the main reason Duke is 6th in the nation in effective height. Despite that height, Duke is a good-not-great rebounding team. Deploy the VOGRIT.
Unlike Tennessee, Duke has no obvious weaknesses. Which, duh, that's why they're a 1-seed instead of the worst 9-seed in history. Michigan is going to have to shoot the lights out, and hope Duke doesn't do a great job of same. Without playing a near-perfect defensive game (and getting a bit of luck), Michigan probably can't win.
Michigan is as hot as any team in the country, but Duke is Duke. As noted above, this is going to require a near-perfect performance or a very healthy dose of luck for the Wolverines to emerge victorious. I think Matt Vogrich plays double-digit minutes and gets a fair number of MANBOUNDs, and that Darius Morris finishes with a more impressive statistical day than either of Duke's star guards. HOWEVA, Michigan's bigs have trouble staying out of foul... uh... trouble, and Duke pulls away late in the game. The Blue Devils win it, 75-62.
Prove me wrong, Blue.
PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
HOCKEYBEAR IS GO
Western vs Michigan
Miami/ND vs Michigan
Joe Louis Arena
8:05 PM Fri
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
Friday: FSD Plus
Not much has changed since Michigan took on Western in the second-to-last weekend of the regular season, so the previous Puck Preview stands. Since Western suffered the wrath of Senior Night Hagelin they split with Notre Dame, for which they get a tip of the hat when Michigan raises its conference championship banner, and won a home series against Ferris in three games.
That's been good enough to raise Western to 12th in the Pairwise, but not good enough to assure them a bid. They will be hair on fire this weekend trying to lock that down. A split should do it.
A brief reminder of Western's strengths: they get fairly diverse scoring and have a PPG-ish star in senior Max Campbell, who has 18-17-35. Freshman Chase Balisy is moving up NHL draft boards and has 12-17-29. Western splits those two up so the checking-plus-Scooter-domination line can't shut down both, and their scoring depth is such that the third line is going to have to play some D if they're going to outscore.
Goalie Jerry Kuhn was awful against Michigan earlier in the year but has a .915 save percentage overall. He's about average.
I don't know what was with the Redhawks earlier in the year but they're a death machine now. They haven't lost since an inexplicable 7-4 defeat to Michigan State on January 21st, and though they have three ties in that stretch they're still 8-0-3 since Enrico Blasi peeled the paint after whatever that was. That includes series against the other three finalists: a two tie split at ND, a home sweep of Michigan that caused me to PANIC, and what used to be a three-point weekend against WMU. In their last five they've outscored opponents 23-5, failing to give up more than one goal in any of those games. Despite coming in a distant third in the CCHA I bet if jamiemac (of Just Cover) was to dig up offshore college hockey lines from Venezuela or whatever they'd be a solid favorite this weekend.
As a result they've moved from the PWR danger zone (they were actually 18th(!) and well out of the tournament before the Michigan series) to the verge of a one-seed—Michigan's one seed. A hypothetical title game matchup will be for that one seed and the right to not play any of the top five teams in the country until hypothetically reaching the Frozen Four, and will be a BFD.
Miami's team was also covered in a Puck Preview that remains largely accurate. Andy Miele is a Hobey Candidate and the country's leading scorer with (sigh) 21-44-65. Carter Camper would be a Hobey Candidate if he wasn't on the same team as Miele—he's fourth nationally with 17-35-42. Sophomore Reilly Smith is also in the top ten in PPG with 26-22-48, and then they've got two more guys with double-digit goals. They score like whoah.
Of late they've also defended like whoah. Alaska managed a total of 31 shots in two games last weekend, and while Lake State wasn't quite as inept when it came to vaguely testing Miami's two-headed goalie they were equally incapable of getting the puck in the net. You're probably remembering that Saturday game in Oxford when Michigan had maybe three crappy scoring chances the entire game. Yeah.
Miami's rotated their goalies all year, including last weekend. They have nearly identical stats so it won't matter much who gets the call. One possible silver lining for Redhawk opponents: both have taken major steps back from last year, when they were amongst the national leaders in save percentage.
The Irish lost the CCHA title in agonizing fashion by losing on the last day thanks to three disallowed goals. They suffered something of a hangover two weeks later as they struggled to put away a pretty bad LSSU team. An OT win Friday was followed by a loss and ND didn't show their quality until the final game when they jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead and almost doubled up LSSU in shots in a comfortable 4-2 win.
Michigan's lone series against ND came during football season, before pucks start getting previewed. It was a split in which the games seemed fairly even. Notre Dame got some bounces Friday and then Michigan's Saturday win was the deflectingest game I ever dang saw, with the primary attraction a goal from Chad Langlais that came when Langlais was literally the only guy on the ice who knew where the puck was.
Since that weekend the two rivals spent the year neck-and-neck at the top of the CCHA standings. ND got there thanks largely to two (sigh) awesome freshmen: TJ Tynan (21-28-49) and Anders Lee (22-21-41) are 1—2 in team scoring. A couple of senior assist machines come next and then there's a smattering of guys with Wohlberg-like statlines and a couple of defensemen with pop in their stick, most prominently sophomore Sam Calabrese (not that Calabrese).
Notre Dame's issue has been iffy goaltending. Backup Steve Summerhays has a .859 in ten games and starter Mike Johnson's .907 is just 41st (of 71 qualifiers) nationally.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Well… no bullet points as I try to find something not tautological to say. Michigan played well last weekend against the hockey equivalent of Hampton and before that did enough to scratch out a CCHA championship despite at no point seeming like the sort of team that would end up winning the league or earning a one-seed.
I wouldn't be surprised with anything this weekend. Michigan could have a couple bounces go against them against Western and then close out a disappointing weekend with a loss to a very good ND or Miami team, or they could deflect their way to glory in a series of tight games featuring lots of offense from the blue line.
There's a lot on the line; let's hope it's the latter.
The Big Picture
If you would like to be the committee go ahead: you are the committee. I was wrong on one important point earlier: Michigan's destiny is not entirely in its own hands. If Merrimack wins HE they will take their comparison against Michigan and slip into the last #1 seed. That requires them to beat New Hampshire and presumably BC back-to-back and seems pretty unlikely, but it is a possibility.
I've fiddled with YATC a bit and can't find any other scenario that doesn't result in a #1 for Michigan if they win the CCHA. I do find things like a hypothetical Western-ND consolation game being the difference between the Broncos finishing 17th in the PWR—well out of the tourney—and tied with ND for tenth.
Michigan can still get the last #1 if they lose to ND instead of Miami and favorites win other conference tourneys but that's a 50-50 shot that relies on the hottest team in the country going down against ND in a couple hours. Win and very likely a #1, lose and very likely a #2.
Root against Denver, Miami, and Merrimack this weekend.
Michigan Hockey Net catches up with the Honeybaked coach. He makes latest commit Evan Allen sound like Andy Hilbert, but compares him to Kevin Porter.
I probably could have posted this with eight minutes left but I didn't want to tempt the jinx gods. That was awesome from the instant Michigan started going zone. Big ups to Matt Vogrich—the Vogrinch saved Christmas—CAM TATUM(!!!), Zack Novak, and… uh… everyone. Even Blake McLimans played well.
And you can't have one without the other…
We just threw a team into a volcano in the NCAA tournament. A volcano is what Tennessee is in.
|WHAT||8 Michigan v. 9 Tennessee|
KenPom: Michigan -2 (57% win)
Do I need to explain the stakes? The winner gets to continue working toward a national championship (probably against Duke), while the loser fires Bruce Pearl.
Let's get it.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy:
|Michigan v. Tennessee: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Tennessee Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. UT Def eFG%||56||100||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. UT eFG%||158||226||M|
|Mich TO% v. UT Def TO%||14||116||MM|
|Mich Def TO% v. UT TO%||255||131||TT|
|Mich OReb% v. UT DReb%||327||128||TT|
|Mich DReb% v. UT OReb%||67||12||T|
|Mich FTR v. UT Opp FTR||327||193||TT|
|Mich Opp FTR v. UT FTR||34||118||M|
|Mich AdjO v. UT AdjD||46||49||-|
|Mich AdjD v. UT AdjO||48||71||M|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
This is by FAR the least skewed matchup against Michigan in a long time. Considering Michigan has won most of those games despite their faults, that is a good thing, and the upward trend Michigan has been showing late in the season is no reason to doubt it. That said, there are still some areas in which Tennessee has a serious advantage.
I think of most SEC basketball teams as horrifically unskilled but very athletic squads. This means bad at shooting, but great at both types of rebounding. Tennessee fits the stereotype to a T. They are a great offensive rebounding team, a decent defensive team, but awful, awful, awful at shooting the ball (and not great at defending shots). Michigan must take advantage of this while simultaneously preventing Tennessee from capitalizing on their rebounding advantage. Fortunately rebounding can be improved with effort, whereas a team does or does not have good shooters.
Considering most of Tennessee's success was against the poor SEC (Michigan would be the second best defensive rebounding team in the conference!), maybe the Volunteers are good-not-great even in their strongest categories.
Keys for Michigan will include good defense on Scotty Hopson all over the court, and crashing the defensive boards to neutralize a lot of the Volunteers' other opportunities. Of course the age-old "big men stay out of foul trouble" rule applies.
All sorts of stuff for NCAA Tournament game #1, most of it from UMHoops. Tennessee's players react to finding out Michigan is the opponent. Scouting report of the Volunteers, and Dylan's preview of the game.
Barring crazy circumstances, this doesn't seem like a bad matchup for Michigan. The Volunteers are like a version of Michigan State or Minnesota that absolutely can't shoot the ball, which tips the court heavily in Michigan's favor. Darius Morris recordss a double-double as Tim Hardaway scores more than 25 points in a 68-61 Michigan win.
Though Michigan opened the season at home with a resounding win over Florida, the true home season starts this weekend, as the Wolverines start a string of seven consecutive home games over four weeks. Before getting into those details, let's pick up where last we left the team.
Going undefeated over Spring Break is more the norm than the exception for the Michigan Lacrosse team, but that doesn't mean this year's trip out West was without drama.
Road Trip Recap
Though the University of Oregon has started the season a very disappointing 2-5, they managed to give Michigan a run for their money in Los Angeles a couple weeks back. The Wolverines trailed throughout most of regulation, but managed to stage a comeback to force overtime. In the second OT session, senior Chad Carroll scored the golden goal for Michigan to wrap up a 9-8 win.
The Wolverines atoned for the close call against UO by easily dispatching an overmatched Loyola Marymount squad 12-2 in a true road game. In a low-scoring game, there weren't many offensive standouts, but sophomore Thomas Paras finished with two goals and an assist. This game could have been a much bigger blowout, but the teams were playing slowly on a beaten-up field.
Michigan closed out their spring break trip with a visit to Chapman, one of their biggest rivals in recent years. Though Michigan struggled mightily on faceoffs (which had been a strength through the previous three years of dominance), they were able to make up for it by playing mistake-free ball. The Panthers couldn't reciprocate, and the Wolverines emerged with an 11-8 victory.
After a week back in school, the team traveled to Athens, Ohio on Saturday to open up conference play against Ohio University. The Bobcats are new to the MCLA, but sloppy play from the Wolverines prevented them from getting a blowout victory. Trevor Yealy did manage to score 6 goals in the 15-5 win.
Michigan's home slate gets off to a very tough start as traditional rival BYU will try their luck in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse (Friday at 7PM). The Cougars have started the season 7-0, including an impressive 11-7 win over #6 Colorado this weekend.
Many of the familiar faces from BYU over the past couple years are no longer around. Midfielder Elliott Grow and LSM Britton Cone (1st-Team All-Americans last year) have graduated, leaving junior midfielder Andrew Harding (3rd-Team) to be the face of the Cougars.
A much more in-depth preview of BYU can be found here.
The Panthers started their season by playing several non-MCLA-D1 teams, but have started getting into a more traditional schedule. They kicked off the conference slate with an 11-1 victory over fellow CCLA East squad Toledo to take the early lead for the Division title (Michigan caught up with the victory over Ohio). They traveled to Florida a couple weekends ago, falling 9-22 to Central Florida before rebounding with a 10-8 victory over South Florida.
Pitt is led offensively by sophomore attack Tyler Novotny, who is averaging 4 points per game (almost exclusively with goals, not assists). Pitt's Matthew Pham has fared well on faceoffs, winning nearly 66% of them so far this season, so it could be interesting to see how Michigan's relatively-inexperienced players fare against him.
Again, a more detailed preview can be found here.
Merry Christmas. We get presents this year. I'm an American so my productivity collapses like everyone else's during these couple days—content will be a bit light. Expect Tennessee/CCHA finals previews at least. A game column immediately afterwards is up in the air since I might be in Detroit rooting for Notre Dame. We'll play it by ear.
He's so articulate*. Man… I suggested the Grant Hill NYT op-ed would just confirm the Fab Five's 20-year-old opinions but I had no idea he'd actually drop Latin into it and call Duke a "special family," then tweet that his interminable diploma-waving had been edited for length and that you could find the whole thing on his website. I can't believe we actually hired one of these dips to coach our basketball team, and by "can't believe" I mean "can totally believe."
WLA truth bombs!
“was”. “hated”. “hated”. “felt”. “hated”. “was”. “came”. “went”. “played”. “was”. “had to”. “was”. “resented”. “looked”.
These are the verbs that the four members of the Fab Five use during their description of their feelings towards Duke. What do all these verbs have in common? They are in the past tense. This is an elementary fact of grammar of which you would expect one who mentions his place in the “special” brotherhood of Duke graduates to be aware. Apparently, he is not.
Rose has since clarified to foreigners, people with learning disabilities that prevent them from understanding verb conjugations, and Duke graduates that when he used verbs in the past tense he was talking about the past.
No one thought Grant Hill was a bitch, even the guys who said they thought he was when they were 19, until he wrote his response. Now everyone thinks he's a bitch. Can we get a Grant Hill Effect wikipedia page?
*[514 hits for "grant hill articulate" in the last 24 hours by people who don't know what articulate means but do know he's black. Hill's clunky constructions are reminiscent of a high school term paper even after going through a battery of NYT editors. Look at this:
It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a bitch and worse, calling all black players at Duke “Uncle Toms” and, to some degree, disparaging my parents for their education, work ethic and commitment to each other and to me.
Too many commas. Pointless use of "interesting"—95% of the time a filler word. Awful finger-wagging intro. Too many goddamn commas. This sentence could have been half as long and communicated the same thing**. If this is articulate to you, you need to read more.]
**[That thing, of course: "The Fab Five was right."]
Dead coach walking. Bruce Pearl's athletic director said his status was undecided yesterday and it took all of two hours for this to morph into a "he's fired" news-type substance propagated by local radio. This is a perfect opportunity for hindpsychology no matter what happens tomorrow: if Tennessee loses, they have been distracted. If they win, they were motivated to protect their embattled coach.
Since Pearl's job status isn't likely to affect Hopson's jumper his wavering status is more interesting as a window into Tatgate. Tennessee is trying to hang on to Pearl, something that hardly any team facing a serious ethical violation has done before. If they can't do that it could bode poorly for Tressel, who'll get the same charge on his docket of major violations. The NCAA typically levies show-cause penalties when you break bylaw 10.1 ("don't be a liar, coach"), and those are basically a death-knell.
Bolden wavering. Robert Bolden is in at Penn State… for now:
"Nothing is official," he said [Wednesday]. "I'm just here for the spring. I decided to come back. I'm just here. I'm going to work hard and we'll see what happens from there."
That's a sticky spot for PSU. If he sticks around because he "won" the job in spring—for whatever that's worth—his threat to transfer hangs over that decision and a fall benching for McGloin or redshirt freshman Paul Jones seems likely to cause instant hissyfit + transfer. If he doesn't win the job he's out, leaving PSU with walk-on Favre and a guy who wasn't as good as Bolden last year.
Not far enough. Gasaway's annual rule-fixing column is up, and as per usual he is mincingly weak on the tyranny of basketball timeouts:
3. Reduce the number of timeouts. Here's a tip. If the coaches in your sport can call timeout, send their players into action, see what defense the opponent is using, and then call another timeout before anything has even happened, your sport gives its coaches too many timeouts. Let's make a start here by taking away one timeout per game from each team. The earth will continue to spin, I promise, and TV networks fretting about lost commercial time can be accommodated via slightly extended breaks in the action during the remaining timeouts.
Take away one timeout per team? Teams should only have one timeout. Make it count, yo, like they do in hockey, and stop turning the last two minutes of a basketball game into the Odyssey.
Big Ten hockey en route. Rumor has it a Big Ten Hockey conference, already a fait accompli—SUCK ON THAT GRANT HILL—could be announced as early as Monday. Big Ten play would start in 2013 when Penn State moves into its new building. They'd spend a year getting their feet as an independent.
Small schools will complain but Big Ten Hockey is great for the sport. Reasons:
- It opens up spots for expansion that don't exist right now. A variety of schools have come and gone over the past ten years, unable to stick because their only conference option was the constantly shifting, constantly almost evaporating CHA. Creating a Big Ten creates 12 slots in stable conferences for new programs, although half of those would have to be Big Ten schools.
- Twelve schools is too much for a hockey conference anyway. Nonconference schedules are preposterously small when 28 of your 34 games are ticketed for your conference. Getting the Western conferences down to 6, 8, and 10 teams greatly increases available nonconference games, making schedules more varied and ranking systems more reliable.
- Big Ten hockey will increase the profile of college hockey as a whole, helping it as it battles with the OHL for players.
A lot of small school fans are horrified at the prospect but it's not like North Dakota, Denver, and CC are going away. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota would be hard pressed to recruit any better even with the promise of gorgeous Big Ten Network HD. Big Ten hockey will help the sports profile but not so much that it turns everyone else into mid-majors.
Fears that some of the smaller CCHA programs could be threatened by loss of revenue are more worrying. BG considered dropping its program a couple years back and hockey is an expensive sport. Ferris and Lake State and other places where it's the flagship are probably going to suck it up, but that's not the case everywhere. I certainly hope the Big Ten schools create scheduling agreements that see them regularly visit former conference opponents, and hate the idea of Miami and Notre Dame moving to the WCHA. That would see two perfectly viable conferences turn into one very good conference and CHA 2.0, and we know how CHA 1.0 ended.
Losing schools is bad for everyone since college is in a perpetual war against major junior; college hockey needs to work together to make this transition one that everyone can live with.
Etc.: Michigan has an 0.9 percent chance to make the Final Four. Zack Novak is short. Wojo column on Beilein. Hardaway fluff comes with another spectacularrrrrr Emotions of Tim Hardaway photo. Hockey fluff. Caporusso returns this weekend to the place where he scores.
So this has been floating out there for a few days, hanging out in the area of my tabs where stuff I mean to get to but don't lives. It's about Chris Barnett, the Texan tight end who decommitted from Arkansas and signed with Michigan on Signing Day. It's also about one of the guys Oregon is in hot water over.
This is our concern, Dude:
But while Flenory refused to reveal that advice [about where to go to school], Barnett has transferred high schools five times, attended four different high schools and twice broke commitments to colleges. The bizarre recruiting odyssey of the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder is a window into Flenory’s influence among top recruits whom he befriended while working as a Dallas-based recruiting analyst for Scout.com.
“It all makes sense if you understand how dysfunctional (expletive) is,” [father] Elzie Barnett said of his son’s recruitment. “But it doesn’t make sense to a layman. He’d be like, ‘What the hell?’”
What the hell, indeed. Thayer Evans, who you might remember from such stories as "Ladies Romancing Each Other" and such titles as Most Hated Man In Austin, posted an investigative piece on what happened with Chris Barnett's recruitment. As per usual with Evans pieces it's overheated—these days decommiting twice is unusual but hardly unprecedented, especially when the Oklahoma commitment may have been to an offer-type substance, not an actual we-want-you-here offer. Despite that it provides some insight into how love gets made on the recruiting trail, and maybe causes you to place a finger under your collar and tug nervously.
In summary: Barnett is an itinerant high school player who lives with various relatives for short durations and starts listing Baron Flenory—apropos name, that—as his role model instead of his father at some point midway through his career. He commits to Oklahoma briefly, then decommits for Arkansas. Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee flirts with the head coaching job at Tulsa, causing Barnett to look around. This is where Michigan enters the story:
Flenory said he told Barnett that he didn’t know about those schools [Barnett was interested in after he decided to look around], but did know that Michigan was looking for a tight end. He said he asked Barnett if he wanted to look at the Wolverines.
Once Barnett told him yes, Flenory said he called a Michigan coach, whom he declined to identify. “That’s irrelevant,” Flenory said.
Michigan visits Barnett and his uncle but never touches base with his father, which pisses the father off. For his part, Barnett says he wasn't unhappy with Arkansas at all:
Although Flenory said he talked to Barnett about Michigan, Barnett said he was never unhappy about his commitment to Arkansas and doesn’t know what prompted the Wolverines to start recruiting him. “I really don’t,” Barnett said. “I guess they heard that I was being able to take visits.”
(Barnett hopped on Facebook a couple days ago to issue an all-caps apology, FWIW.) There's more about his dad being pissed and how he thinks he should have gone to Arkansas so he can play in the SEC and in a pro-style offense, but the core of the unease is above.
- This Flenory guy runs camps and has many close relationships with high school kids.
- He is part of the reason the NCAA is squinting in Oregon's general direction.
- He apparently called Michigan out of the blue to push Barnett on Michigan's new, tight-end-needy regime.
- He won't say who he called.
- One of Flenory's Badger Sports camps is at Michigan this year so there's kind of an obvious quid pro quo available.
This is classic Evans; the piece has just the barest suggestion that funny business must have occurred but is constructed to invite the reader to connect those dots. There is a lot of sea to part before we can walk from the above to the NCAA squinting at Michigan again, especially if there's no Oregon-esque money trail. Since there basically can't be since Michigan's new staff was in place for like a week, I'd file this under how the sausage gets made until someone other than Evans picks it up—about as likely as Texas getting in trouble for ladies romancing each other.
That said, the piece does paint a picture of the increasing influence of summer camps as people like Flenory take advantage of NCAA restrictions to act as middle-men between player and coach. This is a problem partially of the NCAA's own making.
[insert item about what people would say if Rodriguez acquired this Barnett kid here.]
no reason at all. also not stupid.
Stupid random statistic. ESPN put together an Outside the Lines piece on whether college athletes should be paid—for some reason the appointment of Mark Emmert to the top job has spurred even more chatter on this topic than there is usually—that revolves around one stupid statistic. The NCAA says this:
That number (14) comes from the NCAA's most recent analysis of athletic department finances at member institutions, based on data supplied by schools for the 2008-09 school year. The NCAA notes that 25 schools in each of the prior two years generated more revenue than expenses, before the nation's economic recession took hold.
ESPN says this:
But the NCAA understates the amount of revenue that flows into athletic departments.
Why do they say this?
The organization arrives at its lower number of 14 schools in the black by not counting what it calls "allocated revenue," which it considers direct and indirect support provided by the university, student fees and direct government support.
Because the NCAA does not count subsidies that keep money-losing programs afloat. This is not exactly "whoops, the Pirates are wildly profitable." The Bylaw Blog's pithy summation: "ESPN shows athletic departments that are making money. NCAA shows university that are making money on athletics."
Why anyone would care about the former is unclear, but ESPN charges off with their revised number of schools breaking even once you count funding grudgingly handed over to make sure they break even. Surprise: it's fairly large.
Stupid Fab Five reacts. They are legion, from complaints that a documentary called Fab Five was almost entirely about the Fab Five to Duke players writing New York Times op-eds that haven't even been published yet [UPDATE: now published.] but seem to confirm everything that was said about them* merely by their existence. Also Whitlock wrote something that no doubt accused people of "bojangling."
There was even a stupid Fab Five pre-act by Ramzy at 11 Warriors, who went out of his way to point out they didn't actually win anything, as if that wasn't possibly the main selling point or something anyone needed to be reminded of. The most compelling part of the entire thing was watching Webber walk down the tunnel after the timeout, then explain to the brutally persistent media that losing the national championship game for a second consecutive year felt "the same… exactly the same." Braves and Birds compares them to teams like Holland's Clockwork Orange two-time-runners up, and that's right—in soccer there's a rich tradition of teams that couldn't quite grasp the brass ring but are remembered for their style, and so the Fab Five.
However, nothing tops this, possibly dating back to cuneiform:
The same folks who are clamoring for a public mea culpa from Webber are the same people who wrote racist letters, calling Webber and teammates the "N" word.
That's the News's Vincent Goodwill successful trolling his way onto the "most read" list. Congratulations, Mr. Goodwill. Unless you actually believe that, in which case I am deeply sorry someone else has to dress you every morning.
Most of the letter-writers are dead now since they were already watching Matlock 20 years ago, but you don't have to be in the KKK to think Webber's actions badly hurt the program. Exploited or not, all Webber had to do was suck it up a little while before he was insanely rich. He didn't and even super-conflicted me would like an explanation, at least, if not an apology.
*[And in any case, when Rose was discussing Grant Hill he was obviously talking about a feeling he'd had in the past. Seventeen-year-old Rose didn't think "I don't like Grant Hill because his athlete father is in his life." He thought "I hate this bitch." Rose's explanation is necessarily him figuring out why he was so pissed off at Hill.
Also, Christian Laettner was relatively sanguine about everything, so there's that.]
Stupid apology. Tressel says "I'm sorry," then starts repeating things he heard from his robot-in-a-suit:
I apologize for the fact I wasn’t able to find the ones to partner with to handle our difficult and complex situation.
I agree. Ohio State should have synergized its core competencies and then attacked the Asian market. Or they could have difficultly and complexly asked the players involved if they had exchanged memorabilia for goods and services. However, this would have involved talking to them in some sort of office setting and was clearly impossible. The Asian market is where it's at.
Stupid bracket react. It never fails: whenever a major conference team is left out of the field of 60-something, people complain. This year there were actual complaints that small conference teams were somehow gaming the system. Joe Sheehan blows this up:
Maybe the biggest problem in college basketball is that teams in the mid-tier conferences can't get games against the ones in the top six, and they absolutely can't get home games. Mid-majors have been screaming at the top of their lungs for years about wanting to play up, and the better those teams have gotten, the less access to games they've been able to get. Teams in the BCS leagues refuse, out-and-out refuse to play road games at teams in the #7-#18 conferences.
In fact, the RPI gimmickry cited by Phelps and Davis is actually the purview of the power leagues, who have taken to playing road games against bottom-100 teams in an effort to gain "road win" points in the new version of the RPI. (They understand that there's a concept in play, but don't quite grok the details.) The ACC played as many road games at Elon (2) and UNC-Greensboro (4) as they did against mid-major schools in the top 200 (6), and one of the latter games was in an exempt event hosted by one. Miami played at Florida Gulf Coast. Florida State played at FIU. Wake played at UNC Wilmington. You think Conference USA is trying to game the system? Really?
I'm actually happy with the way this year's play-in games fell out: both feature a major-conference team against a mid-major. If you look at the two at-large play-ins as the committee throwing its hands up and saying "I don't know, play for it" this makes perfect sense. We don't have much information about how the good teams in small leagues compare with meh teams in big leagues so you can just have 'em settle it on the court. I'm sure that's just a coincidence but I wouldn't mind that being a yearly occurrence.
Another '95. Michigan has picked up another 2013 hockey commit. Evan Allen is also playing for Honeybaked and is their leading scorer with one point more than fellow commit Tyler Motte. There's not much out there other than a couple of Select 14/15 reports from USHR and the usual hyperventilating from sketchy pay sites, but Yost Built rounds it up all the same. Allen, like Motte and JT Compher, is competing for a spot on the NTDP right now.
Michigan now has something like five or six forwards in the 2013 class already (depending on whether Max Shuart is 2012 or 2013), all of them from the midget circuit centered around Michigan that is a heavy feeder to the NTDP and USHL, four of them Honeybaked teammates. They'll be replacing kids who are currently sophomores, of which there are six (Brown, Lynch, Treais, Sparks, Moffie and Rohrkemper). Unfortunately, one is a defenseman and two are probably not on scholarship.
They must be anticipating some of these kids ending up in major junior or having to fill holes when players leave early/don't show up at all. That's veering close to Wisconsin/SEC territory, but 1) having to take an extra year of junior is just something that happens in hockey and 2) Michigan cannot sign any of these players to LOIs they can't fulfill—remember when Brandon Burlon couldn't sign until Kevin Quick got booted?—so anyone who is discontent with that arrangement can just go elsewhere.
Chances are the winnowing will be on the players', not the program's, end.
Dense bones. Jon Horford's been conspicuously absent of late without anyone really knowing why. Injury was suspected and is the case, but this bit from Rothstein's latest notes column makes the ears perk up:
Beilein spent 30 minutes with him Monday to help develop him further for next year. The Grand Ledge native, Beilein said, is already much stronger than when he started and is up to 242 pounds — the same weight as starting forward Jordan Morgan.
“There’s not any extra fat in there,” Beilein said. “Really, his body is developing.”
Really? Horford weighs as much as Morgan now? This is stunning.
He's healthy, BTW, and we could see him in the tourney.