in town for free camps
mgoblog, hockey edition
Wat. All joke circuits shorted out, man.
Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl is new name of St. Pete Bowl, source told @ESPN
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) June 18, 2014
I just can't, man.
I wish I could disagree. Michigan opens up as big dogs against Michigan State (they are +7.5) and Ohio State (+8). They're only +3 for Notre Dame, so we've got that going for us.
Michigan should be favored in the rest of their games; they're a touchdown favorite against Penn State and –3 against Northwestern.
O'Bannon stuff. The trial has been a bit odd, as scheduling issues have caused plaintiff and defense witnesses to come in a jumbled mess instead of a particular order. I think we can safely call this the low point (read tweets from bottom):
— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) June 13, 2014
Yesterday South Carolina president Harris Pastides had his turn on the stand, where he asserted that if athletes were granted rights to their image that South Carolina would shut everything except football and men's basketball down, because they can't find any more money.
Pastides said only way to raise $ would be get more from state (doubtful), raise from donors, raise tuition or cut sports programs
— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) June 18, 2014
I did not see any tweets to the effect of "plaintiff lawyer ask Pastides how many sports South Carolina had in 1990 and how much revenue they had then," unfortunately, but Kevin Trahan jumped on Pastides's ridiculous assertions anyway.
One dollar says Christine Plonsky sounds like Ben Stein
Meanwhile Texas women's AD Christine Plonsky, who we've pooped on in this space before, turned in the spectacularly tone-deaf performance you'd expect, claiming in a danged courtroom that players asking for a slice of the money they generate is a symptom of "entitlement." Plonsky seems to think everything is entitlement. From last April:
"Who gets a four-year, $120K deal guaranteed at age 17?" Christine A. Plonsky, women's athletic director at the University of Texas, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. "The last thing young people need right now is more entitlement."
From September 2012:
"I view these cases as being the result of the entitlement attitude we've created in our revenue sports," Plonsky wrote. "We now have threatening s-a's -- many of whom, based on grad rates of the '80s and '90s, sucked a whole lot off the college athletics pipe -- and now want to buckle the system at the knees of the expense of today's s-a's."
Plonsky makes 350k a year supervising sports that lose piles and piles of money; a large chunk of her testimony worked its way around to the fact that the NCAA is protecting their athletes from commercial "exploitation."
It's remarkable how insane these arguments are once you put them in a legal setting. In the NCAA's eyes, it's only exploitation if someone gives you money for something. The people with inflated salaries preventing this transaction from happening are the heroes.
I leave the law-talkin' to BISB, but the immense amounts of double-speak being issued here would make me want to swing my gavel into the head of the people presenting them.
And today. Today is Mark Emmert day. He probably won't issue quite as many howlers as Plonsky, who has a real knack for sounding like the worst possible use of 350k. I wouldn't take a bet on that, though.
The latest "people are just in charge of things for no reason." KU's student government took a look at the athletic department's finances and recommended that KU's student athletics fee should be terminated. They ended up not quite doing that but cutting about a quarter of the completely unnecessary subsidy to the AD. The AD responds thusly:
Kansas associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said Thursday that the KU athletic department has decided to re-allocate those seats for boosters, cutting out some of the KU students’ best real estate.
The decision, according to Marchiony, stems from a student government vote earlier this year that aimed to remove a student fee that channeled close to $1.1 million to the athletic department.
Kansas athletics revenues have almost doubled since 2005.
Nope, not yet. Zagsblog momentarily reported that Canadian PG Jamal Murray had gotten a Michigan offer, but corrected itself. Michigan called, but an offer is not on the table at the moment. Murray has been on an unofficial so he could get one at any time, and while he's mostly being recruited as a point guard he is 6'5" so there is some possibility he could coexist with Thornton or Winston.
In other basketball recruiting news:
- Michigan is poking around 2015 NY SG Matt Ryan. Ryan has a Notre Dame offer and is projected to end up there by the 247 Crystal Ball; he might be waiting for bigger offers.
- Another new name($) is 2015 FL combo guard Prince Ali, a former UConn commit who's around 50th most places. His named popped up out of nowhere when Rivals's Eric Bossi reported that Ali's top two are now UCLA and Michigan. Ali is a "hardcore driver and really athletic" who needs to work on his shooting; he'd be a departure from the Beilein mold. He should take an official this fall.
- 2016 CA PF TJ Leaf is thinking about moving up his thinking about moving up his timetable to March instead of taking officials next fall.
While Michigan appears to be looking at other options, Jalen Coleman is the top priority in 2015. Given the promising way the class of 2016 is looking Michigan may take a small 2015 class (they have one spot now but will probably get up to three or four) in order to take more of the 2016 guys.
A potentially large blow for Buckeyes. OSU was going to rely on freshman shooting guard D'Angelo Russell heavily, as he can shoot and such. OSU needs someone to do those things. But they may not have him; he still doesn't have the requisite test score:
The eligibility center is awaiting Russell’s score from a standardized test he took earlier this month, the source said. He needs a test score that, combined with his grade-point average in his high-school “core courses,” makes him eligible to play as a freshman.
If he doesn't get the number there he's just about out of chances.
Prepare for hits. USA Hockey has announced the 42 players invited to their WJC evaluation camp, including four Michigan players: D Michael Downing, F JT Compher, F Dylan Larkin, and F Tyler Motte. Recruit(!) Kyle Connor is also invited; he's the second-youngest player there.
Compher made the team last year before a broken foot sent him back to Ann Arbor for the GLI. Compher played anyway, because he is JT Compher, and this is the reason he's a holy lock for the WJC this year:
The group embodies what Johansson hopes to have with the group picked for the 2015 WJC: Strong, skilled and hard to play against.
"J.T. Compher embodies all of that," Johansson said. "We look at a player like that and a coach says I can use him in any and all situations. He's hard to play against."
Motte went last year and should go again this year. Downing probably won't make the team without a big leap from him; the US is stacked on D. I'd bet Larkin goes as well. The hockey roster's enormity will at least give Michigan options for the GLI.
Etc.: I would be super mad about this, but I am not perpetually aggrieved. Tyus Battle visits Louisville and Kentucky, says requisite nice things. David Sills, who committed to Lane Kiffin as an eighth grader, is not going to end up at USC. Surprise.
so so fast
Not so fast. Incoming transfer Ty Isaac wants to play next year, and has at least some sort of case to do so. Is it enough? While we are talking about an insane organization that could do anything, the consensus is probably not.
"(The family health issue) has to be a debilitating injury," said John Infante, a former NCAA compliance officer who operates the popular "Bylaw Blog" for AthNet. "It doesn't have to be life-threatening, necessarily, but it would have to be something that prevented her from working or getting around, if it's a surgery for hearing loss, I'm not sure if that'll qualify, but it might."
And then the 100-mile thing kicks in. If Isaac was 109 miles away, you could probably fudge the difference. Michigan's distance from Peoria might be problematic.
From Michigan's perspective, moving Isaac a year behind Smith and Green is better for roster balance… but not so good for this year, when offensive production is critical for the perception of the program.
O'Bannoning. The O'Bannon trial kicked off yesterday, and there were highlights. The NCAA wanted O'Bannon to know that a man he respected thought college athletes should not be paid.
After establishing that O'Bannon looks up to Bill Walton, attorney pulls up article Walton wrote saying student-athletes shouldn't be paid.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) June 9, 2014
It was determined that Noted Legal Scholar Bill Walton has a legally binding opinion and the case ended 15 minutes later with a comprehensive NCAA victory. : (
In case the previous sentence is not true, you may want to read about the issues addressed on day one of the trial. The NCAA is trying to show that the college experience is worth something, which I guess sure it is. How that relates to publicity rights and the law is… well, there's a reason Bill Walton is getting brought up.
In related news, the NCAA blinks in the Keller case, settling that for 20 million. They have again asserted that current student-athletes who receive a check for their likeness will not have their eligibility compromised, because that's ridiculous. As long as compensation for your likeness is mandated by a court after the fact, you can profit off of it.
"In no event do we consider this settlement pay for athletics performance."
It's just getting paid for something without having to sue they have problems with. Delightfully, the NCAA is going to try to argue that there is no market for college athlete's images after settling two lawsuits in which 60 million dollars have been issued in compensation for those images. Oh, and EA says they would have paid if they could have.
Also a prime NCAA argument: the ban on compensation is required for a level playing f—
“If you’ve got a $6 million athletic budget, you shouldn’t be worrying about what I do,” [Washington president Michael] Young contends. “You’re never going to compete with us. We don’t recruit the same players. We don’t even play on the same field. It just doesn’t matter.”
A potential factor. The student section is collapsing this year, and MLive has a potential reason why. Prices:
Ohio State -- $252 for 7 games
Penn State -- $218 for 7 games
Wisconsin -- $188 for 7 games
Iowa -- $175 for 7 games, $165 with future alumni group discount
Michigan State -- $175 for 7 games
Nebraska -- $166 for 7 games
Purdue -- $119 for 7 games
Illinois -- $99 for 7 games
Rutgers -- $99 for 6 games
Minnesota -- $90 for 7 games
Indiana -- $60 for 6 games
Maryland and Northwestern -- tickets free with full tuition and student fee payment
Michigan's is 50 bucks more than Ohio State; unlike Ohio State, Michigan is barely above .500 since 2007. And Ohio State has a big game or two on the schedule. Once again, Michael Proppe sounds like the adult:
"We did a survey for students while we were researching the general admission policy, we told them 'assume the price stayed the same, here's the schedule for next year, even if we went back to reserved seating, how many would renew their tickets?' I think it was about 68 percent who said they'd renew.
"(The drop) was pretty predictable, actually, even with going back to a more attractive ticket policy that a lot of people would drop their seats."
And about 68% renewed. It's kind of amazing that it's the student government that had to survey the students.
"What we want is the students who buy tickets to show up," Brandon said. "If what we've done is lost some of the students that really weren't interested in attending, if you're looking at the projected reduction in tickets, that's almost the equivalent of the no-show average we had (last year)."
The no-show rate is not going to go down much, as the kind of people who no-show games aren't the ones for whom three hundred bucks is kind of a big deal. Michael Proppe for athletic director.
Everybody into the pile. I thought Michigan's hockey roster was going to be crowded this fall. Now it's going to be jammed. Michigan picked up a commitment from Ann Arbor native Niko Porikos a couple days back. Porikos is a '93, which means he'll arrive at 21. Generally this is a sign of a gentleman who is destined to be a healthy scratch for most of his career, and… well, yeah, probably.
In Porikos's favor, defensemen do take time to develop, and given the state of the roster it's not like they need a guy to be a practice body.
Michigan has seven defensemen on the roster, plus incoming freshmen Sam Piazza and Cutler Martin. Porikos is number ten…
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
Zach Werenski and what appears to be a Swedish ten-year old
Michigan has not quite acquired a commitment from U17 defenseman Zach Werenski. Poke a guy on twitter, or especially Mike Spath—who was way out ahead of the story but has to be careful for the same reasons Sam Webb does—and he'll say Werenski is going to be in Ann Arbor. They'll generally do this with an "ugh" because Werenski is kind of a big deal, a potential top ten draft pick, and they are Boston College fans who thought they were going to get him.
The thing is: he's a potential top ten draft pick in 2015, and Werenski is probably going to be playing for Michigan this fall. IE: dude is skipping his senior year of high school. Thus the "eh, maybe" aspect of this whole thing, where Spath drops hints for months and all the news comes from the BC side of things.
Adding Werenski would put Michigan at a whopping 11 defensemen, and while a few of them are not real threats to play (Spencer Hyman redshirted last year; Mike Szuma didn't get a game after playing most of his freshman year), I thought there was some Title IX-related reason that Michigan couldn't have a really big roster. Maybe not? Title IX compliance comes down to a court saying you are or are not, because the law is written pretty vaguely.
While we're on next year's hockey team, Dylan Larkin is ranked ninth by HockeyProspect.com. That's the highest I've seen, and while he's more likely to go in the 20s than the top ten it does seem at this point that he's likely to go in the first round unlike some of Michigan's recent projected first rounders (Compher, Merrill).
So it's come to this. I assume that Erin Lennon of the Daily has not been around too long, so let me gently suggest that this…
…expect Porikos and Michigan’s underclassmen to play key roles in coach Red Berenson’s defensive-minded system.
…is more a product of sad circumstance than intent, and that if you insist on claiming that Red Berenson is some sort of trap aficionado I will become desolately sad.
It was football. Someone remind me next year when the European American Football Championships are on, because when Germany and Austria face off you get reverse passes and squat kickers doing the Manziel:
So Austria's kicker just made the Manziel $$$ sign after nailing a field goal. You should be watching this. pic.twitter.com/zBdMYL5GTK
— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) June 7, 2014
Turns out the Germans and the Austrians have some bad blood here, and that's all you really need.
Etc.: Graham Glasgow was driving a merry car indeed. The NCAA hasn't even bothered to investigate North Carolina. The NCAA would probably prefer it if Washington's president would stop saying things. Mathlete's Lego stadiums make Yahoo.
I think it's really happening. Mike Babcock-to-Michigan rumors have just been turned up to 11:
Mike Babcock says not worried about negotiating for extension, will either remain coach of Red Wings or be assistant at U of M/ Berenson
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) April 29, 2014
That is quite a statement: "eh, if I don't continue to coach one of the most storied franchises in the NHL I'll just go be Red's assistant." If Michigan sticks to the plan that would be a one-year apprenticeship before the job came open.
Oh really. Paging Captain Renault: Mitch McGary's drug test won't impact his draft stock.
"No, not really, because you know what, probably 70 percent of the league does that (smokes marijuana)," the scout told MLive, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
But what about the spirit of sport, NBA? What about the spirit of sport?
"Appropriate." Matt Hayes walks up to the unionization issue on a tee and takes a Casey-like swing:
So if we’re going to do this; if we’re going to call athletes employees (or whatever you want to call them) and expand benefits and increase their ability to market and make money off themselves, the consequences for violating rules must be swift and appropriate.
Gone are the days where Troy Smith can take $500 from a booster, sit out a bowl game, get reinstated and two years later finish his career by winning the Heisman Trophy.
If you take $500 from a booster now, you lose eligibility. Permanently.
Hayes, prone on the ground, cartoon birds circling his head. The tee, untouched.
The average Troy Smith is still going to get the money, but will not be punished. Ramping up penalties for infractions that 99% of offenders will not get caught for is like throwing people in jail for speeding.
I mean, who cares? Who cares that Troy Smith now has 500 dollars? Level playing field, you say?
Gone are the days of second, third and fourth chances as it relates to— take your pick— arrests (and convictions), academic failure, failed drug tests (performance enhancing or recreational), or any behavior that harms a university’s reputation.
Let me just direct you to the quote above about Mitch McGary. Or, you know, society. The society in which those first time arrests and convictions generally result in probation or diversion so that people can have a second chance. If people were held to the standards Matt Hayes is advocating for newly professional-ish college athletes, unemployment would run around 50% and include Matt Hayes.
Let's goooooo. The News profiles now-critical Mark Donnal, collecting the various encouraging quotes about him that have been dropping in the past couple months:
“He’s definitely displayed a couple of specific skill sets,” Alexander said. “Mark is a tremendous passer, both in traffic and on the perimeter. His shooting range makes him a capable and reliable pick-and-pop jump shooter on the perimeter.
“He has a great face-up game in the post. The thing he discovered through added strength is the ability to rebound the ball in traffic.”
With sufficient three-point range to drag posts out to the perimeter, Michigan's post guys are liable to find shotblockers absent when they get by their guys. It'll be interesting to see what happens Walton and LeVert's shooting percentage at the rim when Donnal is out there providing Beilein his first shooting five since his arrival in Ann Arbor. I'm more concerned about his defense and rebounding—by the end there, Jordan Morgan was in beast mode.
Bacari is at least making the right noises about where he's headed:
“The thing that really excites me as his position coach is that nasty edge that he brings to the table, as well.”
He also has an interesting quote about how at Michigan "you are who you can guard," and the offense takes care of itself. Donnal will start at the five—out of necessity now—and has some ability to move out to the four as he "continues to improve his conditioning and lateral quickness." Given the composition of Michigan's roster the next couple years it doesn't seem like he'll be spending much, if any, time at the 4.
How much thing X irritates coaches, officially. Michigan's defensive grading system seems a little out of whack to me:
Like… forcing a fumble—hit the ballcarrier with enough force to make him drop the ball—is way harder than recovering one—get lucky, fall down. And what counts as a "missed tackle"? Missed tackles come in all shapes and sizes: you can let someone outside of you for a huge gain, which is super super bad, or you can not quite get a guy down but delay him enough that the cavalry rallies to stop him a yard after you would have. I'm guessing that latter probably counts as a tackle and the former gets a CRITICAL ERROR added to it.
Even so, it seems like "missed assignment" is the worst of all possible things. Missed assignments are touchdowns waiting to happen. When I do the UFRs some guy doing something that doesn't make any sense gets a serious downgrade and most of the coach types who have commented seem to agree with that assessment.
But being a coach is always a compromise between what you actually think in your head and what you think is the best way to get 85 guys doing a complicated thing well. See: the entire concept of "coachspeak." Or "Devin Gardner might start."
Just don't advertise it during games. Michigan Stadium is now open for prom:
Michigan Stadium is getting ready for prom season as part of a push to use the home of Wolverines football for more events during the offseason.
About 230 students from Durand High School, about 45 miles northwest of Ann Arbor, will take the field May 10 — the first time the Big House has hosted a prom, The Ann Arbor News reported (http://bit.ly/1mQvHXn ). And Dexter High School's prom is there May 17.
Hooray incremental revenue, as long as incremental revenue is not flogged at my ears during the games. See also: weddings, facebook, twitter, nonrevenue sports.
Everywhere, all the time. Ramzy on Ohio State's version of creating the future is worth your time:
Ohio State does not belong to you. You just happen to work there at this moment - you're stewards for a rich inheritance you're passing along to someone else that no one will ever cash. That's what Ohio State is. You did not build this brand. You can only damage or improve it.
And you should find as many ways as possible to give it away for free. Businesses do this all the time because it gives them a great return and it's terrific exposure for future buyers. Future buyers. This is where we talk about the children who don't have wealthy parents or opportunities to embark on a wallet-crushing fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
Also in this genre is a post from Get The Picture, a Georgia blog:
It’s not like money is a problem in Athens. It’s just that there seems to be little thought to spending it in a way that makes the fan base content. I think back to the shameful way North Campus was treated before Michael Adams had his hissy fit and essentially shut down the tailgate experience; much of that could have been resolved with better security, more restroom facilities and a reasonable amount of attention paid to trash removal. None of that is exactly back-breaking from a financial standpoint for a school with Georgia’s resources. It’s just that no one in a position to improve things could be bothered with it. And that’s a story you could repeat in many other ways.
Instead, we’re offered enhanced wi-fi, ever more intrusive piped in music and goofy sideshows like yesterday’s mascot abomination as a solution. But I don’t weigh the prospect of live attendance on the basis of my short-term attention span. The home experience is about greater comfort and convenience. I don’t wait to go to the kitchen for a drink, my bathroom smells nice and I can always find a place to park. This is the lesson I’m afraid McGarity and his AD peers are missing. I want what I got yesterday – a feeling that the money I’m shelling out is somehow being spent to benefit my experience in a way that gives me what I have at home, while making me feel glad I came.
I also recommend the comments, this one in particular:
UGA AA for so long thought that buying a ticket was the only way to gt a good view. Then 27 inch crt color television gave ay to 60′ HD home theaters and the Butts-Mehre suits haven’t yet figured out how to compete without creating something to sell.
Georgia fans are basically the Michigan fans of the SEC and they're experiencing the same things, albeit with less of a swoon with their football program. The comparison they're making here is to the Masters, which is a fantastic example of an organization successfully creating a culture of otherness that makes it in fact special. While that comes with costs—see women and minority membership—they're holding onto their fanbase because they make it feel good to be a fan. I can't say I remember the last thing Michigan did that was a step in that direction.
That reminds me of a thing I think I failed to relate when it happened: before the Nebraska game this year I was walking to my family's tailgate. As I neared the stadium the jumbotron was showing me the previous week's game… against Michigan State. Devin Gardner got annihilated and intercepted and I was like "feels bad, man."
It was the previous week's Not Michigan Replay, it turned out, and I just thought to myself "is there literally no one in the athletic department with the common sense to not show Michigan fans highlights of a game in which they rushed for –48 yards?" People are just in charge of things for no reason.
The ultimate Pandora's Box question. Oh, man. As scaremongering anti-union/reform questions go, this is the best/worst:
Could boosters treat recruiting like the Wild West?
oh no what would that look like
Etc.: Why the O'Bannon case is a duel to the death. At least everyone hates the way the McGary thing went down. More evidence that Michigan's upper reaches are inappropriately secretive. Jordan Morgan report card. Talking with Ricky Doyle. The Big Ten basketball powerhouse.
3/20/2014 – Michigan 1, Penn State 2 (2OT) – 18-13-4, season over
I already wrote up what this hockey team was before the Penn State game: chaos. February it had become clear that Michigan was a hockey equivalent of Indiana's football outfit, a team capable of doing literally anything on any given night. Beat BC? Ok. Lose to Penn State? Ok ok ok.
In the aftermath of a third loss to one of the worst teams in the country and the subsequent failure to reach the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year, Michigan's season went from just good enough to absolutely not good enough. If they had beaten Notre Dame in the CCHA final last year, their season would have been just good enough instead of absolutely not good enough. If Michigan gets one more game this year they have an opportunity to do something of note.
Instead they're just a 10-8-2 Big Ten mediocrity that went out in the first round of the tournament. If that seems harsh, it's probably not harsh enough if you ask Red:
“Not yet, but I’m getting closer [to retiring]. I can’t handle losing. I can’t handle a team underachieving -- that’s the most disappointing part, and this team definitely underachieved during the second half of the season.
“But, yes I’ll be back.”
The last two years are wearing on Red Berenson, the rock of Saskatchewan. Red told the NHL to wait until he had his degree, leapt directly there, played for 16 years, scored 6 goals in a game, was the NHL coach of the year, and revived a moribund Michigan program. He's almost more crag than man these days, a living monument, and this is eroding him.
I'm not sure he can get it back before the timer goes off. More distressingly, it kind of sounds like he's not sure either. I look down the roster, though, and Copp and Compher and Motte and Hyman seem like they are the kind of guys to pull where others need to be pushed. I hope to God they get it together this offseason and say there's no way the old man is going out like that.
[After THE JUMP: a look at the recruits coming in versus what Michigan lost and a wild-ass guess at what the future holds.]
Center Ice has a good take on what happened:
At forward the team lacked consistency, falling into familiar patterns that heavily favored transition hockey and at times looked unmotivated. For large stretches of the game the unit would settle for wide drives on the rush without any net presence, before going into panic mode with the game on the line. A group that should have easily scored 3 goals a game routinely came out flat, at times fighting to score 2.
Michigan was able to overcome their mistakes early on but over the course of a season the law of averages evened out. The Wolverines were able to survive against teams such as Michigan Tech, Ohio State, Niagara and Boston University; as competition increased and our tendencies made it to the film room it wasn't enough anymore.
Michigan loses seniors Mac Bennett, Kevin Clare, Luke Moffat, and Derek DeBlois. Phil Di Giuseppe and Alex Guptill have already departed for NHL contracts. Further departures would be a shock… if we weren't talking about Michigan hockey. Still, it doesn't seem like anyone else is much of a threat, knock on wood.
This puts Michigan in a slightly awkward spot since the recent addition of defenseman Sam Piazza gives Michigan a seven-man recruiting class against six departures and an already large roster. Hockey is an "equivalency" sport— which means you can divide up your scholarships however you want—so you don't have to make pure one-for-one replacements. It is possible that, say, Bennett was on a full scholarship and Piazza is being given a smaller chunk of money. Michigan can carry all these guys based on whatever agreements they have with them.
But the roster is about to be even longer than it was last year. Michigan will carry ten D (counting Sinelli as a defenseman now) for the second consecutive year. Forwards will go from 14 to 15. They've also got goalie Hayden Lavigne committed, though he may defer or defect given Michigan's freshman/sophomore goalie duo.
Long story short, Michigan anticipated departures. The surprise flip of incoming freshman Tony Calderone in January implies that they flat-out knew a couple were coming. They are still looking at a lot of players on the roster.
The Recruits: Forwards
Larkin may be Copp 3.0
NTDP forward Dylan Larkin is the headliner. Larkin is projected as a late first round pick in the draft and is #17 on the CSB's list of North American skaters. This has generally meant a second-round selection in recent years, as guys in that range slip whenever an organization goes off the board for a surprise. Larkin is the #4 scorer on the NTDP this year with a 28-20-48 line and comes with a reputation in the Motte/Compher mold:
Dylan Larkin just looks like a pro. He has that north/south style which would scream “power forward” if only he were just a little bit bigger. Add to that a pro defensive game and a high level of determination and intensity and you know you are making a safe draft choice with this guy.
Yes, more of that, all of that. Just clone Copp every year and put him on the NTDP and have that guy go to Michigan. Year two was a rousing success in that department. Let's hear it for year three.
Two other guys are on the midterm CSB list. Canadian Connor Murphy comes in at 174. Irritatingly hard to google since there's a Phoenix Coyotes defenseman with the same name, Murphy plays in the relatively obscure GOJHL. That league which last hosted an NHL draft pick when MSU's Daultan Leveille was hanging around. Leveille was a huge bust, which has negatively impacted Murphy's stock; he's also a bit small.
What he has done is trash his league two years running with 71 points in 51 games as a 16 year old and 96 in 49 games this year. He's got 14 more in nine playoff games to date. Unlike Zach Hyman (who is rounding into a good player as an upperclassman), Murphy is not an overager. His production should project better to college. The OHL was interested enough to spend a seventh-rounder on him despite his clear preference for college. Owen Sound's GM:
“He’s a very smart player. He has a high hockey IQ, high skill, very good skater. There’s not a whole lot not to like,” said DeGray adding his only concern was his small size at 16-years-old.
You never know with guys from the smaller circuits. The leap in competition is large, and some just fade away.
Dancs is emerging into a power forward who goes to the net—rejoice
Fellow Canadian Dexter Dancs is 154th CSB list but has had a breakout year in the BCHL after a rough 2012-2013 that featured a trade. His stock is rising. He's put up 26-41-67 in 56 games and drew the attention of Red Line Report in December:
…Dancs ended up getting dealt to Vernon midway through the season and to the delight of scouts everywhere, took his game to another level and grew into a healthy 6-2/205-pound power forward.
Dancs is now a wide-bodied winger who is very tough to knock off the puck. He has good hands around the net and excellent skating ability for such a big kid. He also plays up to his size, throwing the body and mucking it up in the corners, and will drop the gloves when needed. He takes the puck hard to net and plays all over the ice on the PK & PP. With his combination of size/strength and outstanding mobility, along with the late progression in his offensive game, our BCHL talent hound thinks he could be a hidden gem who goes as high as the third to fourth round.
Those three guys are likely to fill the spots created by the Moffatt, PDG, and Guptill departures. The grit spot opened by DeBlois's graduation is wide open.
Michigan also brings in over-agers Tony Calderone and Alex Talcott. Talcott committed a while back and has seen his scoring just about halt in the USHL. He gets mentioned in articles about muckers. Muckers at the USHL level are muckers at the college level.
Calderone is a bit more interesting. For one, he decommited from Princeton in January. For two, he is scoring in the USHL, with 44 points a year ago and 39 so far this year. He was actually the first overall pick in the 2012 USHL draft, for whatever that means. (Not much. Those drafts are fraught with considerations other than pure talent level.) He was a "C" level prospect in the CSB's players to watch list. And it sounds like he's got some skill:
“He’s an absolute sniper,” teammate Conner Valesano says. “He makes things happen, he’s good in the defensive zone [and] he’s not afraid to block shots.
Mitigating factors: his numbers aren't incredible, especially for an overager. Most of his highly-rated compatriots from that USHL draft have just finished up their freshman years. Don't expect immediate fireworks; Calderone is a guy who could end up being one of those breakout upperclassmen.
The Recruits: Defense
Michigan did not do well here by their standards and for their needs. While both guys look like potential rotation pieces, both are over-agers with little profile. There is not a Trouba instant-impact type here. Michigan could really use one with Bennett out the door.
East Lansing native Cutler Martin spent a large chunk of this season on injured reserve; before that he had 6 points in 21 games. He sounds like a Kevin Clare type:
“I think he’s a strong, steady and powerful defenseman,” Hauge said. “He can move pucks and keep the game simple, but at the same time he’s got nastiness to him and can be really hard to play against in front of the net.”
He'll be a stay-at-home gentleman.
Piazza's star has fallen thanks to concussion issues but he is very skilled.
Former Boston College commit Sam Piazza saw his career disrupted by severe concussion issues and the two eventually parted ways, but after 46 games without incident in the NAHL this year Michigan took a look and decided they'd roll the dice on him. He retains the skill that had a power program like BC interested in the first place:
“Sam is a powerful skater with great on-ice vision and stick skills. In the years I have been coaching junior hockey, I have not seen anyone with his vision on defense. When you couple that vision with his high-end stick skills, that is a tremendous combination for a hockey player,” Baxter said.
Both guys will be 20 or thereabouts by the time they arrive, so they should be more physically ready than guys who didn't take overage years. Mentally maybe not so much given the injury issues both have faced.
A Guess At What It Looks Like
If Michigan gets through the rest of the offseason intact, one man's completely useless line guess:
- Shuart-Lynch-Kile (Selman, Calderone, Talcott)
Yes, I'm banking on Hyman having a Rohlfs-like senior year. Would be nice to get that annual tradition back. Red's no stranger to putting freshmen in the deep end, so Larkin will be given a shot to shine right away. Motte and Compher occasionally display a telepathic connection and Nieves will be given every opportunity to break out of a miserable season-long scoring slump before he is finally relegated to the back of the depth chart.
Kile and Calderone have the best shot at moving upwards on the line chart; Allen and Larkin the best shot at moving down, and of course Red will deploy his blender liberally.
Unlike last year there seems to be a pretty clear delineation between the top two lines, a third that will try to chip in more scoring than it gives up, and the fourth line.
- De Jong-Serville
- Martin-Sinelli (Chiasson, Hyman, Szuma, Piazza)
This year should see a more balanced setup of left-handers and right-handers. The three returning freshmen all need to take a step forward if Michigan's going to be comfortable. Finding a sixth guy from the large pile of available defenders will be doable; the real issue is finding a top pairing that can be reliable. Downing needs to improve his decision-making extensively for that to happen.
So Is Red Going Out Like That?
Oh man I can't tell you yes or no after Michigan managed to turn a 10-2-1 start into a no-bid season. The defensive corps remains frightening. They should have more depth next year with five okay guys. Serville made a leap about midway through the season that I only realized had occurred after about six games in which I had not gone "dammit, Serville!" more than once. Sinelli was a relevation and moved towards being an active, effective offensive defenseman late in the year, and all the freshmen should make a move forward.
That said, there's no Bennett to throw out there against top lines, let alone a Merrill or Trouba. The top end will be lacking without a Stauskas-like leap from Downing.
That's the bad news. The good news is a goalie situation that looked terrifying going into last year is now one of the better ones in the country and the forwards are stocked with the usual amount of talent. This talent is now headlined by guys who try really hard every shift. While there probably isn't a Hobey finalist in the bunch, they'll have a lot of depth and an effort anchor on most lines.
I think they'll improve, and that should be enough to get them in. How much depends on the defense's improvement and the leadership factor.
Aaand Alex Guptill took about 30 seconds to follow Phil Di Giuseppe out the door:
— Mark Edwards (@MarkEdwardsHP) March 26, 2014
Guptill was the bar-none most frustrating player I can remember in 15 years of Michigan hockey. Talent coming out his ears that he displayed on nearly every shot; a useless slug without the puck. The former saw him score about a PPG for his career. The latter made Red scratch him on the regular despite the PPG thing. I thought that having Copp as his center would force him into something approximating defensive responsibility. This was not the case.
You can directly trace this season's failure to reach the tournament to Guptill cluelessly poking his stick in the general direction of a Penn State player he had every opportunity to stop from having a breakaway and did not. One Penn State goal later they were back in a game they would later win in OT. That specifically prevented Michigan from reaching the tournament and emblematically represented the lack of give-a-shit that characterized Guptill's career, an attitude that bled over into various other players on the team.
I'll miss that guy's hands. Not so much the rest of his game. Next year will be a fascinating test to see how extreme the anti-leadership emanating from the two departures was.
Winger Phil Di Giuseppe has signed with Carolina:
Michigan's Phil Di Giuseppe has signed with the Carolina Hurricanes, voiding his final year of eligibility.
— Michael Spath (@Spath_Wolverine) March 26, 2014
It's something of a blow to lose a senior-to-be who had a 13-11-24 line and some talent, but I'm putting together a post on the hockey team that inevitably looks at what they should have next year and it's obvious that Michigan was anticipating some attrition. PDG in particular was the subject of OHL rumors after his first year and never really seemed that into the whole Michigan thing.
Ah, hell. Might as well say it: whatever problems Michigan had that caused Red to say that this team had underachieved and it drove him nuts fall squarely on the scoring-line type wingers who were outpaced by Copp, Motte, and Compher not only in the scoring department but the defensive responsibility one. Unfortunately, Michigan doesn't have a Corsi stat or anything like that so your one potential indicator of defensive GAF is blocked shots. And that's pretty stark. Compher + Copp: 56. Moffatt + Guptill + PDG: 32.
Attempts at stats fail. The eyeball test had me groaning about giving a crap for large sections of the year. Whatever culture issues the team has seem centered in an older cohort, and I'm not sure losing them is much of a blow. And now I don't have to figure out how to spell his name 50 times a year.
Michigan is still waiting on a decision from Guptill; no one else seems like a likely departure.