Exit Alex Guptill

Exit Alex Guptill

Submitted by Brian on March 26th, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Alex_Guptill

Aaand Alex Guptill took about 30 seconds to follow Phil Di Giuseppe out the door:

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.

A Ticket To Terror

A Ticket To Terror

Submitted by Brian on March 17th, 2014 at 3:01 PM

3/14/2014 – Michigan 2, Minnesota 3 (OT) – 17-12-4, 9-8-2 Big Ten
3/15/2014 – Michigan 6, Minnesota 2 – 18-12-4, 10-8-2 Big Ten

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Michigan is barely ahead of the pack. [Bill Rapai]

Imagine a man tied to a pole with a bungee cord in zero-G. Grip this man with an enormous metal arm and pull him until the bungee cord has no more give. Let go. Watch as the man flies back and forth at maximum amplitude forever, occasionally bonking his head on the pole.

I've just saved you 500 bucks for a hockey season ticket. You are invited to give me a cut with the donate button at right. 

What can Michigan's hockey team do? Anything. They can beat Boston College, they can run out to a 10-2-1 start, they can thoroughly dominate Wisconsin in a weekend series, they can beat Minnesota by sniping the water bottle four times.

What can Michigan's hockey team do? Anything. They can lose to Penn State, lose to Michigan State, lose to Penn State, lose to Michigan State. They can let Western Michigan waltz, or possibly tango, through the slot a dozen times in a single hockey game. They can try some sort of center-ice pinch that was months ago but still remains crystal-clear in my memory as the most insane decision I've seen since Jack Johnson was around, making insane decisions seem like good ideas.

Yeah, actually. This hockey team is Jack Johnson, the hockey team.

------------------------------------------------

But they have just about done it, with an assist from Minnesota's backup goalie. They have waddled their way into the NCAA tournament. Since they're on the bubble, their tournament starts one weekend early and has a very strange structure where one loss is permissible in most situations as long as it doesn't come against Penn State.

You may think this doesn't quite count. I do. I will be turning on a television at three on a Thursday to watch Michigan play a hockey game in front of 14 people as I try not to have a panic attack. If that's not the NCAA hockey tournament it's close enough.

If—if—if—ifffffffffffff Michigan does in fact get past Penn State, a possibility I am absolutely not taking for granted because this would be like taking a spiderweb for granted as you clung to it over the Grand Canyon, they will be in barring specific clusters of results. And that will be fine. Just making the tournament was everybody's first and only goal in a year when the second defenseman on the depth chart was terrifying—let alone the second pairing—and the goaltender situation was a cloud of question marks.

Even when they were rushing out to a blazing start, nobody who was watching them play was harboring delusions of grandeur. They're rickety on the back end and only flash their talent at forward often enough to drive you crazy when they go a month without scoring a goal on purpose. As the man said, they are who they are.

And since they are who they are—a man careening endlessly from one extreme to the other—they've got as much of a shot as anyone does in the barely-weighted plinko that is the worst championship format in sports. Once their spot is secured they could roll out onto the ice against the top two teams in the country and hold their own, as they did against Minnesota and Boston College.

They could implode in a pile of sawdust, yeah. Everyone can implode in a pile of sawdust. One seeds get plunked on the regular by random collections of initials that happen to have a hockey team. We've got one, and you don't want to face us, no way. Unless it's one of those days where you really do. But it might not be one of those days. It might be one of those other days. Nothing is certain, except that after it is over you will sit down and hold your head and wait for the room to come to a full and complete stop.

Pairwise Details

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We're in! Ish! [Rapai]

Despite being a three seed if the season ended today, Michigan is not safe with a win over Penn State. Unfortunately, there are a number of scenarios that leave them the first team out if they go 1-1 at the Big Ten tourney. That's because the margins are tiny this year. The RPI gap from 11th—where Michigan sits—down to 17th is less than a point.

Michigan can't get passed by #17 Northeastern since they're out of the HE tournament, but Minnesota State, North Dakota, Vermont, Cornell, and Colgate are all within striking distance. All save Vermont are active in their conference tourneys. If Michigan beats Penn State they will finish ahead of the Catamounts; the rest is up for grabs.

Teams are so tightly packed that changing a single result has surprising and inexplicable consequences. In one scenario, Minnesota State beating Ferris in the WCHA final is the difference between MSU-Mankato finishing outside of the tourney or getting a three seed. It also knocks Colgate out as Michigan passes them for obscure opponents-opponents-win-percentage reasons.

But here are some things I can tell you:

Michigan is (almost certainly) safe if they reach the Big Ten final. Even in the worst case scenario where somehow they face MSU and lose to them, thus crushing their RPI along with my skull and providing MSU a bid, they sneak in over the line unless there are two additional bid thieves. If it's Ohio State or Minnesota their RPI will land them as a three seed even in the event of a loss.

They could sneak onto the two line by winning the tournament. A low two is their top end.

1-1 is very likely good enough. It would take some seriously bad luck for every bubble team to man up in the fashion necessary to boot M from the tourney.

0-1 is not over. BUT LET'S NOT EXPLORE THAT OKAY.

Teams you hate. Life gets much, much easier for Michigan if Cornell and Colgate lose their ECAC semifinals to Quinnipiac and Union, respectively. Both of those latter teams are already in. The two C outfits are right on Michigan's heels. Their performance is almost more important than Michigan's—they can get in with a Penn State loss as long as the ECAC results fall right.

Bid thieves are always a bubble team's foe. Those are UNH in Hockey East, BGSU and Alaska-Anchorage in the WCHA, Denver, Miami, and WMU in the NCHC, and any Big Ten university with "State" in the name.

Teams you like. Root for North Dakota in the NCHC and Lowell in Hockey East, the former because it's the only current at-large from that league, the latter because every bit of schedule strength is going to count down the stretch here.

Ballpark. Michigan is 99% to make it with a 2-1 record this weekend, 80% to make it with 1-1, and 50% to make it with 0-1.

Bullets

So frustrating. I kind of get why Minnesota may have relaxed on Saturday after securing the conference title, but it's not like they had nothing to play for. The #1 overall seed gets the Atlantic Hockey opponent that is generally far worse than any other in the field (but will still have a goalie who makes 60 saves because goalies are all far too good these days). BC and Minnesota were competing for that.

It in fact turns out that they had nothing to play for because Boston College got knocked out of the Hockey East tournament, guaranteeing Minnesota the top seed in the tournament.

Minnesota didn't know that on Saturday, though and by the time their backup goalie had ceded his first truly bad goal he'd been beaten on a procession of perfect water-bottle pops that comprised the prettiest set of goals seen in Yost Ice Arena in a long time. And the previous night, when Minnesota was going all out for the title, Michigan played them dead even.

So if they'd done what a team that plays Minnesota dead even does against some of the worst guys on their schedule…

And the avatar of that. Alex Guptill came off his healthy scratch in the aftermath of one of those horrible losses and Got The Message for about the fifth time in his career, playing impressive hockey. Some of the stuff he does is NHL-level.

There was one particular rush on which he repositioned himself in just the proper way so he could snap a shot past the defender's leg. That shot was whistling towards the top of the net before the goalie managed to snag it. It did not go in, but I muttered "Jesus" under my breath because the move and shot were so nasty.

I just hope he doesn't run out of attention before the end of the season here. If he comes back for his senior year—no idea—with the intention of getting an NHL contract for serious he could be a Hobey finalist. Or he could just be the most frustrating player in the last 15 years of Michigan hockey. Enormous wild card.

Sinelli emerging. The crazy thing about Andrew Sinelli these days is that he couldn't manage to find his way onto the ice as a forward during his first two years. He seems so assured with the puck as a defenseman that it's hard to envision him as a healthy scratch. Now that he's settling into his new role he is activating himself on offense more, not only for his hat trick against MSU but also several times in the Minnesota series he found himself in a dangerous position with the puck after making a nice read as to how the play would develop.

Is he Michigan's #2 defenseman now? With Kevin Clare playing his best hockey, probably not… but it's close.

The Hyman breakout. Happy to be right about this:

Inexplicable player enthusiasm of the year. Always one guy on the team who does nothing statistically but I find a way to advocate anyway, and this year it's Zach Hyman. Hyman's 1-2-3 line is obviously bleah. I still manage to think that he's much better at coming out of the corners with a purpose than anyone else on the team and should be flanked by two skilled players to take advantage of his ability to create offense off the cycle.

He seems like a different player, even if the stats aren't showing it. Remember this if he blows up in the next 20 games. Forget it if he doesn't.

After starting out with that 1-2-3 line in 13 games he put up 7-8-15 in his next 21.

Shuart's potential. Max Shuart has a nice combination of size and speed that hasn't really done much in his limited opportunities, but he seems like an intriguing guy to keep an eye on for next year. Could develop into a third line/PK guy.

Last Year's Nightmares, Briefly

Last Year's Nightmares, Briefly

Submitted by Brian on February 26th, 2014 at 11:45 AM

2/21/2014 – Michigan 4, Penn State 5 (OT)
2/22/2014 – Michigan 5, Penn State 2 – 15-10-3, 7-6-1 Big Ten

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They did call this. [Bill Rapai]

I just don't know, man. Michigan came out on Saturday and did what they should do to a team with six wins on the season—blow 'em out of the water. On Friday they blew a 3-0 lead, re-took the lead with 2 minutes left, and then proceeded to lose in overtime. That was no fluke. Penn State—the team with zero seniors—put up 40 shots on goal.

Michigan announced that wasn't going to happen again by holding PSU to five shots in the first and then put on the gas in the second. That they did this almost entirely without the services of Mac Bennett, who left the game early in the first period with some sort of arm injury, only reinforces the fact that Friday's effort can only be described with terms ranging from "pathetic" to "sad."

Since last year happened, Friday wasn't the ugliest thing I've seen transpire in Yost. Not by a longshot. It was still a disturbing callback to that grim Tuesday against Bowling Green. There are reasons the team isn't competitive with the Minnesotas of the world, but they don't include whatever Alex Guptill was doing on his shorthanded backcheck Friday. He's the last guy back and barely moves his feet; goal; healthy scratch the next night despite potting a goal that coulda/woulda won the game.

Rumors flew about bad apples last year bringing other folks down, and it seems like not all of them were shed in the offseason. It is a frustrating counterpoint to the basketball team when you see zero development from the vast majority of the upperclassmen.

Who's better this year? Hyman. Bennett. And I guess Sinelli, though it's tough to tell since he wasn't playing D before this year. The drafted forwards are all stuck in neutral, occasionally doing something that flashes their talent but failing to pick up on the reasons Compher and Copp are outdistancing them in points. If not bailed out by the goaltending this year, Michigan would be well adrift of even the tenuous tourney spot they claim now.

Before the season I asserted it would be tough for the guys who don't like to skate to maintain that level of laissez faire because Copp and Compher would force them to act right. That has not been accurate. The guys without buckets of talent play hard; the ones with soft hands float around the perimeter of the ice, and always shoot on two-on-ones.

If the team's going to play like they did Friday with Guptill and like they did Saturday without, it might be time to move on. Unfortunately, Michigan cannot scratch everyone except Compher, Motte, Copp, and Hyman—I have worked this out on paper and there are not enough people—so they'll have to skate some frustrating guys. Nailing the king of coasting to the bench at least sends a message about, you know, trying when the puck's not on your stick.

Bullets

Pairwise update, AKA RPI update. Michigan's RPI survived the series at Minnesota because Minnesota's real good at the RPI now downplays road games you lose. It did not do so well after the Penn State split. Michigan is 14th, which is right on the cutline. At the end of the year whoever's in that spot is watching the conference tournament results in a panic.

I know I said they were in good shape, but they blew a rather comfortable margin over their current spot with two losses to a team with four other wins on the year. Given the difficulty of the schedule they're facing, they are probably okay if they go 4-2 down the stretch, but that requires either sweeping the next two weekends (home and homes against Ohio State and Michigan State) or taking something off Minnesota.

Given how they're playing, I bet Michigan goes into that Minnesota series really needing a split. Old Yost would know something like this and be a-rage. New Yost will probably not.

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Hyman's point totals are beginning to match his play. [Bill Rapai]

It's happening. Zach Hyman was out there being impossible to take the puck off of on the boards and generating chances off the cycle for the whole season; he was still stuck on like three points. That has changed as Michigan pairs him with guys like Motte and occasionally Compher. He is on a five game point streak and has a 2-4-6 line over the past three weekends; he's now up to 14 points, nipping on the heels of the guys in the second group of scorers behind Compher and Copp.

The Kile check. It looked bad live but on the GIF you can tell that the contact is not severe and happens at the dot. A two minute penalty to be sure, but didn't rise to the level of (another) five and a game.

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The check on Bennett. A hard check directly to Bennett's chest where the opponent stopped striding well before the hit; clean. No idea why Bennett was not aware of the guy coming in; someone's got to yell at him about it.

Bennett is out this weekend, making it hard for Michigan against a decent OSU team with a somewhat fearsome back line. He may be back the week after.

Hockey Preview 2013: Forwards

Hockey Preview 2013: Forwards

Submitted by Brian on September 30th, 2013 at 3:27 PM

MICHIGAN DROPS THE PUCK on Sunday in an exhibition against Waterloo to kick off their 2013-2014 hockey campaign; things get real serious real fast after that as BC comes in for the season opener proper on Thursday the 10th. While I can't go into as much detail as I do with football, a conveniently-timed bye week provides a window in which to properly preview hockey, something I'm not sure I've ever done.

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say hello to your next two-year captain, Andrew Copp

FORWARDS

The following is a fanciful line chart that will be wrong from day one in many respects, and even more wrong when Red runs his line through a blender four times. But you've got to try:

LEFT WING YR CENTER YR RIGHT WING YR
Alex Guptill Jr. Andrew Copp So. Boo Nieves So.
Phil Di Giuseppe Jr. JT Compher Fr. Derek DeBlois Sr.
Tyler Motte Fr. Travis Lynch Jr. Luke Moffatt Sr.
Evan Allen Fr. Justin Selman So. Zach Hyman Jr.

ALSO: Andrew Sinelli (Jr), Alex Kile (Fr), Max Shuart (Fr)

Ishockey Ice hockey Sweden USA

I call him mini-Copp

CENTER. The theory here is that a year after Michigan struggled with leadership everywhere they will prioritize guys who give maximum effort on every shift and build the team around a core of hard-ass centers. Andrew Copp is obvious. Copp was handed the reins of the top line halfway through the season and almost singlehandedly turned the attitude of the team around. Copp worked his ass off, inspired Alex Guptill to great heights, and finished the year with something of a scoring flourish. He's still developing after a career as a high school quarterback made hockey a part-time pastime, and his freshman year was good enough to draw the attention of the NHL after being passed over a year ago. If Michigan can make good on the promise of their late season run this year and for the next few, Copp will go down like Ortmeyer or Hagelin.

Meanwhile, every scouting report on incoming freshman JT Compher goes out of its way to praise Compher's compete level and two-way play:

Compher's NTDP coach Don Granato summed it up pretty well in Compher's hometown newspaper: ""Anything intangible, as far as an attribute, that I’ve mentioned, he’s a 10."

The phrase "two-way forward" is often the polite cliche for a player with not a lot of offensive talent, but in Compher's case, it's not used in a derogatory fashion. Compher is one of the rare skilled players that exhibits the same effort and enthusiasm without the puck that he does with the puck. He's a tenacious, sometimes nasty, defender that makes life difficult for opponents. His compete level all over the ice is among the best in the draft.

Despite not having awesome size or speed, Compher led the NTDP in PPG last year. He is ready for a lot of responsibility, probably right now. Billy Powers isn't even being coy about it:

J.T. is a guy who really has a lot of tools. He’s being talked about a lot as a defensive, third-line forward type but there’s some offensive potential there as well, and we think that will flourish in college. We see him as a power play, penalty kill player right from the start, and he’ll manage a line as a center in our top six.

If you thought one Copp was rather nice, two Copps will be like heaven after suffering through last year.

[After THE JUMP: actual rather a lot of depth.]

Unverified Voracity Boggles At The Cameron Lazies

Unverified Voracity Boggles At The Cameron Lazies

Submitted by Brian on January 26th, 2012 at 3:31 PM

I still can't believe it's called "The Journey," which should by rights be a Hallmark Channel series about entering puberty. But it's talking Michigan-Michigan State. Cazzie Russell gets his eyebrow on and Novak rains threes in Breslin:

The Aneurysm of Leadership is discussed. 

It's the… uh… economy? This is unbelievable:

Once regularly an asylum for 1,200 Crazies, Section 17 at Cameron Indoor Stadium now rarely plays host to a student-only crowd.

Student attendance at men’s basketball games has fallen consistently over the last five years, even dropping after Duke won its fourth national championship in 2010. This season, approximately 650 undergraduates have attended each game, 150 fewer than during the 2008-09 season. As a result, Duke Athletics has begun to sell an increasing number of general admission tickets in the student section on a regular basis.

“It has nothing to do with the revenue. We just want it to be full,” Director of Marketing and Relations Mike Forman said. “If there were 1,200 students every game we would love it.”

I've given Michigan students crap for late/spotty attendance at football and hockey (basketball seems immune for some reason) but, like… Jebus. If Duke can't sell out their student tickets it is a nationwide epidemic.

The article goes on to describe a couple of reasons for the decline: the prevalence of online streaming (which seems ludicrous since I'm sure all Duke games are televised in Durham) and "the students' misconception of the time commitment involved." Apparently it's first-come, first-serve and you show up for a game sans ticket and hope to get in. That's a little nuts.

Even if Duke is too far at one end of the scale, Michigan could slide closer to them without incurring the same effect. Offer incentives for having your tickets scanned on time or early and revoke student ticket privileges for people who don't bother to show up.

Attacking the symptom. Bowls are out of control but this does not attack the matter at its heart:

There is "growing support" among conference commissioners, athletic directors and bowl officials to increase the difficulty of becoming bowl eligible by requiring teams to have seven victories, or a winning record, when the new BCS cycle begins in 2014, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com. The seven-win requirement would also mean a handful of bowls likely would be discontinued because there would not be enough eligible teams to fill all of the current 70 berths. In the past two years alone, 27 teams with 6-6 records were needed to fill all the bowl slots, meaning nearly 20 percent of the bowl field didn't have a winning record.

That would hack out about seven of the existing bowls, none of which would be missed in the slightest. It would still allow a dozen or more bowls that are net negatives to exist. The way to fix the current system is to get rid of ticket and hotel guarantees and let the bowls, not the schools, assume the risk of a crappy matchup.

Slicing out the bottom of the barrel is better than nothing, I guess. And at least athletic directors and presidents are getting wise to the scam:

"The 7-5 proposal is getting serious support," a non-BCS bowl official said. "They're telling a coach [that] 6-6 doesn't cut it, but then the coach gets a $50,000 or $100,000 bonus for a bowl game that none of the fan base wants to see. Athletic directors feel like they're pouring money down a hole and they're getting frustrated with it. The only people making out on 6-6 bowl games are the coaches."

…and the dudes in blazers, of course.

Burn. The Daily profiles Brian Wiseman by featuring his ridiculous peewee campaign:

You’ve probably heard about Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson’s phenomenal six-goal game with the St. Louis Blues in 1968. But what about the record-breaking season of one of his assistants, who averaged over five goals per game en route to a 413-goal campaign?

“They didn’t even keep those stats when I was a kid,” Berenson said.

Alex Guptill says no sale.

@_BrianWiseman I've seen this guys wrist shot, there is no way he scored 413 goals... #allstar

Wiseman can only say "keep scoring" at the moment, but don't find yourself in a drought, Alex.

I'll take f-bombs for 1000. David Molk is interviewed by Kyle Mienke:

He's certain of one thing, though: He has doubters. And he knows exactly where they can go.

"It's just, stuff like that pisses me off," Molk said, voice rising. "Any scout who denies me pisses me off. 'Oh, this is what you got. You’re not good enough.'

"Well, (to hell with) you, let me show you what I got."

For the record, I have never doubted Molk and move around constantly so my location cannot be pinned down. Also, Molk's Sugar Bowl injury was a severed tendon. Competition for center of the 2010s is now closed.

Surprise unwarranted. After the Purdue game I noted that Michigan's bench was a nonfactor this year. A UMHoops mailbag points out that is no outlier:

Here are the statistics for the percentage of minutes played by the bench (Bench Minutes/Total minutes) under John Beilein since 2005:

Year Bench % Rk
2012 22.3% 327
2011 19.3% 337
2010 22.1% 327
2009 35.6% 66
2008 31.6% 147
2007 24.7% 282
2006 20.0% n/a
2005 31.2% n/a
Average 25.9%  

Beilein has high expectations and he’s going to play who he trusts at any given time.

The last three years Michigan has been incredibly thin. I'm hoping that changes next year. Michigan's not going to shoot up into Arkansas territory but if they can get into the middle of the pack injuries get a lot less frightening and players having off nights can spend more of them on the bench.

Etc.: Martin pwns Brewster at the Senior Bowl. Penn State flips a QB commit from… Rice. Scout folks say Diamond, Grant to M, Garnett to Stanford, Kozan to Iowa, and punt on Reeves.

Breathing Room

Breathing Room

Submitted by Brian on January 16th, 2012 at 2:05 PM

1/13/2011 – Michigan 4, Ohio State 0 – 13-8-4, 7-6-4 CCHA Gongshow
1/15/2011 – Michigan 4, Ohio State 1 – 14-8-4, 8-6-4 CCHA Gongshow*

[sitebulletin: I'm going to be in a car driving for most of the day, unfortunately. I thought I would be able to avoid doing this during the posting day but it turns out I have to get back to town earlier than I thought I would. Apologies. Basketball game column can be ably summarized by searching for "temper tantrum" on youtube.]

*[This is not an endorsement of the CCHA's advertiser. But seriously folks, "CCHA Gongshow" is impossible to pass up now that I know they did it to themselves a year after they unsuccessfully attempted to keep their conference from imploding. We have a new leader in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment-memorial most craven naming-rights sellout competition.]

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head up. you are feeling totally copacetic, man

I'm not saying that Jon Merrill's suspension was a deviously ingenious experiment designed to turn a large group of people into connoisseurs of the little nuances of defensive play. The only reason I'm not is because I can't think of a motive.

Because even if that connoisseurship is a side effect, it is real. In the second period yesterday, Merrill made a clearing attempt, got it blocked, got bashed by a forechecker, and then whipped a hard pass to Alex Guptill's tape in a situation where 90% of college defensemen start breathing into a paper bag or bawling for their mom. Billy Jaffe, one of the the uncommonly useful color guys for Sunday's game, exclaimed "that's the move!" afterwards, and I was like "YES THAT IS THE MOVE." Later they put up a replay of a pass that never got out of the defensive zone.

The thing that Merrill gives Michigan is breathing room. Sure, he's piling up assists at a PPG pace and whipped a breathtaking breakaway pass to Phil Di Giuseppe on Sunday. These are nice things. They are intermittent, though. What's constant is how a game feels when Merrill's on the ice: calm, spacious, steady. Smooth like Billy Dee Williams with his Colt .45.

Jon Merrill is the Billy Dee Williams of hockey. Forecheck hard and Merrill will take the hit with his head up and make the move. Back off and Merrill is capable of going tape to tape in small windows over long distances. Instantly Michigan switches from reacting to a forecheck to forcing the opponent to react to it.

I'm not an expert on hockey. I came to the game when I was ten and haven't put in the UFRing required to get me to the extremely-informed-amateur level I am with football. In hockey, that feel is all I've got. It's done a 180 since Michigan picked itself up after the Alaska series thanks first to the emergence of the Guptill-Wohlberg-Brown line as a true #1 scoring unit and now Merrill's return turning the second (first?) pairing from a third unit trying to cope into a major strength.

On Sunday, Michigan felt elite for the first time this season. They outshot a 14-4-3 team significantly, dominated time on attack, and hardly gave up an even strength scoring chance, let alone a goal. Moffatt and Treais flashed dirty dangles and walked in on Cal Heeter. Heeter got chased halfway through the game.

It was a throwback to times when Michigan won hockey games without requiring nuanced views as to why this might have happened. (See: last year.) They won because they bruised every inch of two different goalies and, with limited exceptions, spent the whole game in the offensive end doing fun things.

This isn't all Merrill—half of Michigan's 6-0-2 run has come with Merrill observing or playing at the WJC—but with him around it seems more plausible that Michigan's recent run is a sustainable one. The GLI was a near thing. Michigan was dominated by BC but snuck a late goal against the run of play, then played dead in the third; they scraped the MSU game in overtime thanks to a goal with under a minute left.

That felt like finding a shiny penny on the street. This weekend Michigan gave up zero even-strength goals en route to sweeping the #2 team in the country. With Merrill around it's possible they've invested in a mint.

Highlights

Highlights.

Also, it's weird hearing Al Randall's voice actually come out of a person. Glendending postgame.

Calm, Easy Breathing Bullets

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About that #1 line.  Yowza. I can't recall a big guy who's come in with a mid-round NHL draft pedigree who's performed at the level Guptill has. Max Pacioretty was a first-rounder, Aaron Palushaj a second-rounder, and both of those guys were only sort of big. Other mid-round power forward types seem drafted on the principle that they won't shrink even if they don't display any NHL level skills.

Not so Guptill. His goal in the first period Sunday was a pure snipe into the upper right corner of the net from a somewhat awkward angle, and his ability to dump and chase into the corner is actually effective because he's got the speed and board play to set up possession in the opponent's zone. Then the rest of the line cycles.

Meanwhile, Brown has suddenly leapt forward to consistent productivity after a couple years of flashes but not much else. This does not appear to be the line carrying him—remember that he spent big chunks of his first two years with Caporusso or Hagelin as his center. He's making nice passes and the availability of pucks in the area where his size matters gives him the opportunity to sweep in (admittedly soft) goals like he opened the scoring with last year.

Wohlberg remains Wohlberg: good shooter, fast guy, decent stickhandler. His goal Sunday was soft but showed off his assets pretty well. As a whole they seem to have an identity they lacked apart. They drive the net, dump unless it's obvious they shouldn't dump, cycle, and score.

Power play. It technically didn't score since Michigan's second on Friday was deposited a couple seconds after the penalty expired, but the spirit of the law declares it did. They have looked intermittently better since the holiday break gave them an opportunity to rejigger what they were doing. They were good against State in the GLI final, pretty awful against LSSU, and back to threatening against OSU.

Over the weekend they were moving the puck and getting shots on net that were not getting blocked above the faceoff circles. I'll take it. Eventually they'll get some puck luck.

Sinelli. Through the mist of hazy Sparks complaints I can see why Sinelli has taken a regular shift over not only Sparks but Rohrkemper, as he's a decently speedy guy who makes effort plays on the regular.

CCHA Gongshow. The league remains an incredibly tight sack of cats. By points Michigan surged into third with its weekend sweep; on winning percentage they are still fifth behind OSU, WMU, ND, and FSU. Notre Dame is third in winning percentage and sixth on points because they have two games in hand on everyone in front of them.

The 9th place team, Northern, is one game below .500 in conference and would easily make the tournament if the season ended today. It is a weird year.

BONUS: Michigan's goal differential is now the best in the league at +14. They've scored five more goals than their nearest competitor, OSU, and not even the relentlessly excellent defense of… wait for it… Western Michigan can get them past M. They're +13. Yes, I just said excellent defense and Western Michigan in the same sentence. No, I don't know why they held on to Jim Culhane for a decade. FWIW, OSU would still be tops in the league if they hadn't given up two empty-netters on Friday.

Pairwise. This is faintly ridiculous: after we spent most of the first half kissing our tourney streak goodbye, Michigan is now on the cusp of a one seed. They rank 5th. I can't give you the nitty gritty details because my favorite Pairwise site hasn't updated for yesterday's game yet. CHN's has and has Michigan fifth. This is not a fluke based on TUC or COP records that are liable to change with the win: Michigan's RPI is also fifth.

It's also not something liable to persist unless Michigan keeps winning. Michigan's flown up from out of the tourney to nearly a one seed in three weekends. They can drop back down just as fast.

There are still seven-ish CCHA teams in the tourney with MSU, Miami, and Denver tying for 15th. More realistically it would be six.

Have fun storming the castle. This looks less daunting what with the winning and all, but yeesh the final five weekends:

  • @ Notre Dame
  • Miami
  • @ MSU, MSU @ JLA
  • NMU
  • @ BGSU

BGSU is not good; everyone else will be fighting tooth and nail for tourney positioning or a bid, period. ND is the toughest team statistically, FWIW. They have a +5 GD in conference; MSU is +4, Miami +1, and NMU –2. Sack of cats, I tell you.

Anything I can do you can do dumber. It's hard to see in this shot but lord, OSU's jerseys were goofy:

UMHKC_FrozenDiamond_AP4_fullsize-thumb-590x420-100392[1]

The zillion oversized Buckeye leaves were reminiscent of Ghost of Bo's legendary parody(?) football unis. Clean, simple lines are preferable. Even Michigan's jerseys could use a little cleaning up. OSU's were reminiscent of…

jennifer-aniston-as-hostess-in-office-space-pieces-of-flair[1]

…yeah, you know it.

Elsewhere

Official site recap has pictures and whatnot. Michigan Hockey Net describes the game as a "clinic." A few AP photos. Daily article quotes Wohlberg sounding somewhat badly translated from the Japanese:

“You saw after they scored their first goal, it was a big uprising for them. Then when we go out and we score two real quick, it’s a big push for us, and I think it emptied their spirits.”

Oddly Timed Hockey Update

Oddly Timed Hockey Update

Submitted by Brian on October 28th, 2011 at 3:38 PM

jed.HKC_.vsOIT_.10-1-11.0021[1]4260778193_ceb3c692d0_b-thumb-525x557-22909[1]568304_1[1]

DiGuiseppe, Sparks, Hunwick laying down the thunder. Via Daily, Daily, Mining Journal

Sometimes you start typing up a UV bit and then you hit 600 words and break it out into a post you had not intended to write.

So: hockey. It's been playing. They spent the first couple weeks wandering about looking pretty bad, then annihilated St. Lawrence to be an incredibly underserving #1. One Hunwick game misconduct later they came back from Northern with just two points in their CCHA opener and that ranking was gone.

Ferris rolled into town last night with a 6-0 record and sweep of Miami to their credit; Michigan came away with a validating 5-2 win. I have a habit of watching Ferris early in the year, thinking they're really good, and then watching them go .500, but I mean it this time: I think this is a really good Ferris team. This time I'm on steadier ground what with their record.

I'm still getting a handle on the team since it is hugely different than last year's outfit, but I think it's going to be more fun to watch than last year's edition. That's not to say it will be better—they won the league and got to overtime in the national title game—but they've already scored more pretty goals than they did all of last year.

That's thanks in part to Lindsay Sparks going from oft-scratched to the team's leading scorer. I won't question Red Berenson in case he decides to look at me with disappointment, thereby turning me into dust, but… I don't get it, man. The last couple years it seemed clear he was more of a threat than several second-liners, let alone the Rohrkempers of the world. This year he's looking like an all-conference player. He's already got 11 points, many of them featuring top-level skill.

Freshman takes in order of eeee:

  1. Phil DiGuiseppe. As I tweeted yesterday, guy can play. Slick passer, good jump, good size, good hands. Sometimes you pull these guys out of Junior A (not B, as I erroneously tweeted) and it turns out they can't make the transition. No such problems for DiGuiseppe, and he just turned 18. Star potential.
  2. Zach Hyman. Hyman hasn't leapt off the page as much as DiGuiseppe but he'll get there. He's good good balance and hands and he's been an effective part of the Sparks line.
  3. Mike Chiasson. Steady, conservative defensive defenseman. Will be a four year player; should quietly hold down a second pairing for most of his career.
  4. Brennan Serville. Has not been as noticeable but seems to have a regular spot. Don't know much about his game yet.
  5. Travis Lynch. Slotted into a spot with Wohlberg and Glendening and has 3-3-6 already. Had a sweet deflection last night on a Bennett point shot. Not sure if he can keep this up but he's been on a tear since about two seconds after he committed.
  6. Alex Guptill. Getting a generic-big-guy vibe from him. He'll slouch around the third line most of his career before suddenly getting really good as a senior, like Rohlfs or Lebler.

Szuma and Sinelli got in one game; they get incompletes. They are the new generation of healthy scratches.

Random other items:

  • Greg Pateryn is a long-limbed rock. Tough to get enough space to get a good chance when he's on the ice. He will screw up too often to be truly great but if they come through this period without Merrill okay it will be because he held down the fort against top lines.
  • Kevin Clare is unbelievably slow. I think he's the guy who sees his playing time decline when Merrill gets back.
  • Derek Deblois looks like he's taken a step forward this year. Ditto Brown.
  • I guess I can't complain when David Wohlberg is above a PPG but I don't like having him on the same line as Lynch (freshman edition) and Glendening. I'd like to see what a Sparks-DiGuiseppe-Wohlberg line could accomplish, and let the Lynches and Glendening anchor a checking line.
  • The official scorer at Yost is padding opponent shot totals like a mother. Anything that gently rolls to a stop two feet in front of the goal is counted. I'm of a mind to look at Hunwick's home/away splits last year to see if there's a big difference in save percentage.

Recruiting

Michigan's streak of picking up an NTDP goalie has hit a third straight year with the commitment of 2012 G Jared Rutledge. Hurray. You're worried.

You're right to be, but Michigan's streak of having that goalie blanch at the prospect of competing with Shawn Hunwick and bolt to the OHL should end at two since Hunwick will be gone after this year. Rutledge, like Trouba, waited a long time to figure out what he was going to do so he wouldn't end up breaking his word:

"I told Red I didn't want to be their hat trick," Rutledge said with a smile. "I told them all along that when I made my decision, I was going to be 100% sure I was coming there. I couldn't be happier and I'm really excited."

Tell us what we've won, me.

Rutledge is a smallish goalie reputed to have excellent anticipation, rebound control, and positioning:

Rutledge is technically and positionally very sound, is excellent at controlling rebounds, handles the puck well, competes hard, has a good glove, doesn’t get phased on the rare occasion he does let in a bad goal, and is extremely good at anticipating the play. Though he isn’t overly big, he challenges exceptionally well, and makes life miserable for shooters. If you don’t beat him on the first shot, chances are you won’t get another opportunity.

Sounds like a less-tiny Hunwick who isn't constantly kicking pucks out into the slot. (No offense intended to Tiny Jesus.) He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 OHL draft by Saginaw and is kicking around draft lists as a "B"—mid-round—prospect. His stats are pretty solid—he's averaged between .910 and .920 save percentage splitting time between the U17 and U18 teams, generally outperforming his competition in the same situation.

Hockey recruiting class: complete? Michigan might add a walk-on piece here and there, but this looks like it's about it for next year (question marks denote kids Heisenberg has listed as 2012 or 2013:

  • Forwards: Boo Nieves, Daniel Milne, Justin Selman, Max Shuart(?)
  • Defensemen: Jacob Trouba, Connor Carrick, Spencer Hyman(?)
  • Goalie: Rutledge

If Merrill makes it through his current suspension I'm guessing he will be around next year as well. It seems like someone who was going to leave after this year anyway would book it given the severity of the punishment. If so they may or may not add Hyman. Right now they're scheduled to bring back everyone save Pateryn and I'm not seeing a ton of departure threats. Maybe Bennett. Hyman would be the seventh defenseman at best in that situation because Michigan would be insanely loaded on D: Merrill, Bennett, Trouba, Moffie, Carrick, Chiasson, Serville, and Clare plus Szuma and possibly Hyman. If Merrill and Bennett both take off then there'd obviously be room.

I wish there was a little more depth in the forward corps—I haven't seen any buzz about Milne and Selman being draftable—but a quality goalie plus two first-round types is a big haul to go with what's looking like a promising freshman class.

Environment

The scoreboard is hypothetically awesome but they're still trying to figure out how to use it. Goal replays are erratic; highlight packages sometimes don't appear at all in intermissions, and penalties never get replays. If they're willing to put the Wohlberg goal up last night as it was being reviewed I don't think that's a controversy thing. I get that there's only one camera but at least some of the penalties are on the puck.

As for Yost… man, it has been off. I think moving the seniors close to the band was a mistake. When they were in the middle of the ice the chants had a smaller maximum distance; now the two sections furthest away from the band are mostly empty and totally lame. Are ticket prices too high? Michigan ran that Groupon special and packed the empty endzone seats; once that stopped we were again treated to nearly-empty sections in both endzones. I sit amongst the old fuddies now and they're not around either.

Another possibility: odd starting times have thrown people off after decades of Friday, Saturday, 7:30, see you in two weeks.

Whatever the explanation, I'm not feeling the same sort of excitement in the building that there was even a couple years ago. We're seeing the same sort of apathy infect the student section at football games. I think it's time to start taking attendance and offering people nice perks for showing up on time, like better seats next year. The AD's solitary focus on money is making the product worse.

All Right, Max Domi, I'm A Sucker

All Right, Max Domi, I'm A Sucker

Submitted by Brian on April 19th, 2011 at 3:33 PM

That's right, bombing Braylon Edwards is followed up by hockey recruiting. Projected comments: four. Whateva, I do what I want.

maxdomi

Yeah, Don Cherry hands him stuff, he's good.

I shouldn't do this to myself, but as the title indicates… I'm a sucker. News that the Indiana Ice thought uber-touted Max Domi was likely enough to play NCAA hockey to spend a second-round pick on him in the USHL Futures Draft sent me on yet another Quest For Information on the Hockey's Future message boards. I didn't get much on Domi other than all the OHL partisans claiming him a 100% lock for junior. Google turned up his twitter, though, and, um… I'm all like… maybe this is happening?

One:

Max DomiMdomi1616 Max Domi

Men's Ice Hockey Division 1- NCAA Final Four! Notre Dame vs. Minnesota Duluth North Dakota vs. Michigan HERE WE GO MICHIGAN! …

Michigan loses in overtime to UMD in overtime...tough one

Two: a few days ago he tweeted he was in Indiana for the weekend—presumably to visit the Ice—and today he threw up a tweet that said only "Indiana Ice 2011/2012." If this is all a smokescreen to get him to London it's finely wrought.

The OHL draft is on May 7th, so we won't have to wait long. I'm cannot shake my skepticism he's headed to college but now it seems like there's a legit chance.

The even more distant future

Meanwhile, I wandered over to the NTDP tryout thread and found a couple of guys who had seen 2013 commits Tyler Motte and Evan Allen play. A guy who watched the 3-2 Honeybaked win over Shattuck in which Motte and Allen put three up to steal a national title on that decisive third period:

3-2 Honeybaked final!

Great period. Big saves made at both ends, and great pace. Allen tied it up at 1 on a great one timer from the point on the PP. McTavish set up Rodriguez on a 2-on-1 to put SSM ahead 2-1. Motte scored on a nice tip in to square things up at 2. With a minute and change left Motte punced on a loose puck in front to put Honeybaked up 3-2.

Can't say enough about Motte. He's one big time player. Was incredible in the Silverstick final versus the Marlies, and now puts his team on his back and leads them to a national title. Made a huge shot block with about 5 seconds to go while SSM had a 6-on-4.

Congrats to both teams on wonderful seasons. Glad I had the chance to see Honeybaked live on their one trip up to up to the Greater Toronto Area this year. This is one big time team.

One of the regulars says Allen doesn't get enough buzz: "absolutely love his game and hope he accepts a USNDP offer." With classmate JT Compher one of the select few to get NTDP offers before their tryout camp and Alex Talcott another second-round USHL futures draftee, that 2013 recruiting class looks like it will be big-time if it hangs together.

The slightly more immediate future

In news that will be relevant to you in this calendar year, USHR freed up their December stuff. It contains news of Michigan's commitments from John Gibson and Brennan Serville. The Gibson stuff is the usual by now: large, good, calm. Serville:

-- 6’3”, 185 lb. Stouffville Spirit (OPJHL) RD Brennan Serville, a great skating defenseman with size who is good on the breakout, has good hands and sees the ice well. Serville had originally committed to Canisius last winter, but then decommitted this September. …

Serville was on the silver-medal winning Team Canada East at last month’s World Jr. A Challenge in Penticton. Last week, he played for Team East at the 2010 CJHL Prospects Game – games, really (there are two) -- in Dauphin, Manitoba, a CJHL/NHL Central Scouting showcase for the top 40 draft-eligible players across Canada’s ten Jr. A leagues. …

Serville made his final pick from between Michigan, Michigan State, and UNH.

So he's a nice pickup in December. Unfortunately, the 2012 class doesn't have a guaranteed star on the other end of the ice where Michigan could really use one. All three incoming guys could be scoring line types, though:

  • Alex Guptill was a third round pick last year but only put up 13-12-25 in 43 USHL games—he's big, which means his draft status is less exciting than it would be if he was 5'8".
  • Phil DiGiuseppe put up a lot of points in the OJHL, but a lot of people put up a lot of points in the OJHL. He did finish the year as the top-scoring '93 in the league; the guy closest to him was nine points back (and is 5'7").
  • Travis Lynch was a no-scoring checker destined for the fourth line and PK when he committed, but after scoring eight points in his first 30 games this year he put up 36 in his last 30. That's a hell of a breakout. (Caveat: that may be shooting percentage driven. He went from 7.6% last year to 14.7% this year. Shooting percentage is notoriously variable; one as high as Lynch's can be an indicator of regression.)

Unverified Voracity No Longer The Size Of Sixth-Graders

Unverified Voracity No Longer The Size Of Sixth-Graders

Submitted by Brian on July 2nd, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Bigger, grungier, made of scraped anger. I've been guessing somewhat wildly that Mike Martin will move away from the nose tackle spot he gamely tackled a year ago. It makes sense in a ton of different ways; Adam Patterson's weird move inside also provides circumstantial evidence. If that guess is correct, there's good* news about the defense's stoutness. FSU blog Tomahawk Nation took a look at the general relationship between enormous angry men close to the opponent quarterback an defensive success, finding quite a bit of it. They then draw an arbitrary line at 1780 pounds (which they say 'one' might argue is arbitrary, so chalk me up as one of the ones) and suggest that being below that line is bad.

They then commit a superior act of link-baiting by relating this post directly to the readers here:

I broke down the Wolverines separately.  Michigan comes in at 1828 lbs, which really bodes well for their defense performance this season.  Last year they had a front 7 of 1720 lbs.  Extremely impressive improvement and the second largest we have seen (Mississippi State +120).  Even more so considering the move to a 3-3-5 hybrid.

Best,
Bud Elliott

That does assume that Brandon Graham is getting replaced by Will Campbell. (The three returning starters adding about twenty pounds each seems assured.) If that's the case, Michigan's front 3.5 can hang with anyone on a pure beef level; with Barwis's emphasis on good weight they should be even better on the BEEFCAKE level.

The secondary? Ask again later. Maybe Tomahawk Nation will come up with a way to make me feel better about that other than closing my eyes and hoping really hard.

*(Correlation does not equal causation but after the last two years give me a break here.)

Tom Crean: anti-Brewster. Brewster's twitter machinations establish the TRY FIGHT WIN endpoint of the CFB head coach twitter continuum. And while Crean isn't quite at the Weis point that marks the other end (Went to Bon Jovi concert with son/full stop/advised offensive linemen on awesomest Baskin Robbins flavors/full stop/story continues in next thirty-six tweets/full stop), he's not far off. Watch him bash anonymous opponent skeeze-merchant assistants, then entirely fail to repent and hit up the head men:

“Frankly some of the assistants we go against I wouldnt let valet my car. They either would lose the keys or drive away with it.” – June 29, 3:18 PM

“In all honesty there are some Head coaches that would be the same way. The ones that wake up on 3rd base and think they hit a triple kill me.” – June 29, 3:20 PM

There's no way Crean's talking about anyone related to the Michigan program, which is good and bad.

Broken resistance. Dennis Dodd is already on the list of people who I try not to talk about on the blog because I've already called them horrible names for writing dumb things, but come on:

Given certain NCAA limitations -- talking to you, Trojans -- we're more likely to see a Big 12 North rivalry in Pasadena in the near term (Colorado-Nebraska) than Michigan-USC.

Even if USC is be facing down a two-year bowl ban, they're more likely to to end up in the Rose Bowl than a team that lost to Toledo by 16 and couldn't fire their coach because they didn't have enough money. That's only part of an extended section about how the Rose Bowl is just horrified that Utah might end up in it when the new Rose Bowl contract already all but guaranteed that a mid-major would be selected for the game sometime before 2014.

Dodd then goes on to wildly praise Larry Scott for adding Colorado and Utah to his conference, a move that is extremely debatable financially and athletically, because he had big ideas, and caps that by proposing Big Ten divisions that split Michigan and Ohio State. These are dubbed "lessons."

Skinflint. These numbers on football spending rounded up by Fanhouse and broken down into a convenient Big Ten list by Fight For Iowa…

  1. Ohio State - $32.30 million
  2. Iowa - $26.90 million
  3. Wisconsin - $22.71 million
  4. Penn State - $19.13 million
  5. Michigan - $18.03 million

…are so crazy as to be suspicious. Michigan's enormous renovation of Michigan Stadium was in its first year. They'd just hired Rich Rodriguez , paid most of his buyout, and were still on the hook for the Carr assistants who did not take other jobs. Despite all this, Michigan checks in fifth in Big Ten spending and barely manages half of Ohio State's outlay. Clearly, these numbers all come from a big database and have not been sanity checked. I wouldn't put much faith in them.

Irony ironically un-ironic. This is not ironic:

The major sticking point everyone points to is the quarterback situation. In fact, some people are calling it a disaster. Once you get past the irony of a Michigan blogger calling the Penn State quarterback situation a "disaster", step back and ask yourself, "Is it really that bad?" Yeah, ok, we have to break in a new quarterback this year. Welcome to college football where you have to break in a new quarterback every other year. Lots of teams plug in a new quarterback and have very successful seasons.

Irony is a fanbase that roars when Beaver Stadium's chintzy pregame hype-up declares "WE ARE PENN STATE… AND THEY'RE NOT" perpetually accusing another fanbase of arrogance. (Will Michigan EVER make a bowl again, BSD asks, totally oblivious.) Someone with grand recent experience when it comes to disastrous quarterback situations declaring a setup with a walk-on, a couple true freshmen, and Kevin Newsome—who even BSD admits "looked terrible" in the spring game—is not.

100% committed until tomorrow. An update on the status of 2011 hockey commit Alex Guptill from the man himself:

For the time being, Alex is committed to play for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League next season before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall of 2011. However, that may or may not change, following his meeting with Stars management in Texas today (June 30).

“Right now, I’m committed 100 per cent to the Waterloo Blackhawks,” Alex said. “I’m looking forward to stepping up in a little bit higher of a league and improving my game.”

Maybe "100 per cent" is not the best thing to immediately follow "right now," but it sounds like Guptill's strong preference is to play for Michigan next year. If the Kings had drafted him, that quote would be reason to worry. Dallas less so. Haven't had an update since, so we'll see.

Slightly good news? I'm not sure how much this helps but it certainly doesn't help. SEMO, one of the schools that's recently run into trouble for violating NCAA practice guidelines in a similar fashion to Michigan, saw an appeal shot down. But in the midst of saying nein they did also say this:

The presence of a coach before or after an otherwise voluntary workout may be inadvertent, or occur with no intent by the coach to confirm the student-athletes’ attendance or to otherwise engage the student- athlete in countable athletically related activities. Thus, while this committee does not set aside this finding, we note that this general statement in the report should not be construed as the mandatory interpretation of the relevant NCAA legislation without reference to coaches’ intent and other pertinent facts in a given case.3

The Bylaw Blog suggests that Michigan may argue that some of the impermissible events were still voluntary, though they'd obviously have to show that the presence of coaching-type folk had a legitimate purpose. Since they've already responded to the NCAA, that's not likely. It may be a further indication that Michigan won't get anything tacked on in August, not that Michigan seems to expect any additions.

Etc.: Six Zero interrogates MGoShoe, the poster with the highest signal to noise ratio in the history of MGoBlog. (SERIOUSLY)

Unverified Voracity With Actual Number

Unverified Voracity With Actual Number

Submitted by Brian on June 9th, 2010 at 2:05 PM

The view from admissions. There is virtually nothing that can convince me that not taking Demar Dorsey is a good idea as long as the university makes a good-faith effort to educate him once he arrives. What you do with the poor black kid after he shows up is what reflects the character of the institution. Admissions obviously feels differently, and the feeling that Michigan is about to embark on a Notre Dame-like wander in the wilderness only gets stronger today.

Our Helmets Have Wings, a recruiting-focused M blog, snagged an interview with a former admissions employee. Unless something has changed, this is purely about academics:

Q: Did the Admissions Office examine potential students who had legal troubles differently than other students?

A: Like all applicants, potential incoming athletes with legal troubles are required to disclose most types of possible run-ins with the law.  This is not only for the purposes of safety on campus, but also to help the university maintain its tradition of selecting students of a particular academic AND moral caliber for admission.  That being said, varsity athletes, ESPECIALLY potential scholarship recipients present special cases that are most definitely looked at differently than normal applicants, but in this realm and in regards to academics.  Again, the behavioral issues tend to fall to the discretion of the athletic department.  If they say the athlete is a good ship, or at least one that can be and will be during his time at UM, the admissions office will defer to that decision regarding said athletic applicant. I do not know, personally, of any decision that was contested by the admissions office when the athletic dept. approved.

If this is about "LifeSkills," the AD should have known about it since Dorsey enrolled there in October. I'm not entirely sure but I don't think that means he stopped going to Boyd Anderson; he probably did the LifeSkills curriculum in addition to his senior year classes at Boyd, using the alternative school credits to replace poor grades from his sophomore and junior years.

Given the nature of the problem here the university can stonewall any FOIA requests by referencing FERPA, a federal student privacy law. We will never know exactly what went down, but if Dorsey ends up at Tennessee or USC or another BCS school we'll have plain evidence that Michigan's is operating with a self-inflicted disadvantage, and negative recruiters will have a field day. There is literally no way the recruitment of a kid who never even enrolled at Michigan could have been more damaging. Now any happy ending to the media firestorm has to happen somewhere else. Thanks, admissions.

Bills update. Poster Raback Omaba reports that Jon Bills's surgery to repair broken vertebrae went well and the "prognosis for a full recovery remains high." He can move his extremities. Bills is obviously done with football, but hopefully he'll make a full recovery.

Hello: Nebraska? Multiple Big 12 ADs suggest Nebraska will be in the Big Ten by Friday. I would care a lot more about this if this Dorsey thing hadn't happened. At least their basketball team will suck.

Ethics follow-up. I posted a transcript of the tense interaction at the end of the ethics panel a couple days ago, and yesterday appeared on Dan Levy's On The DL podcast to elaborate on the opinion I'd shouted in the middle of everything. Again, totally meta, but something that's important.

World Cup content. If you're one of the many people who's been frustrated with the lack of a quality USMNT blog, I think you (and I) may have a new favorite place for the next month. It's Stars and Gripes, a just-launched Nats blog with an inclination towards strategy and a soccer version of Picture Pages:

Rooney makes his run, Johnson puts in a perfect ball, and Rooney puts in his second.

The constant switching from side to side often leaves the middle of the pitch exposed, where Lampard and Barry can move from the back and put themselves in dangerous spots just outside the box. 

Anyone willing to draw a big circle with an arrow on a still of the England-Andorra game is a champion. Read it all.

If you're the sort of soccer fan who doesn't know why everyone wants to drop Jonathan Bornstein out of the team plane (with a parachute; we're not monsters), War Blog Eagle has an excellent primer for you.

An actual number. Almost a month ago, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch deployed the FOIA to finally provide the real hard numbers on how much Big Ten schools are pulling in from TV. Somehow, no one noticed. Here's an attempt to do so. The numbers:

School year BTN Other TV Total TV Total*
2007-08: $6.1 million $7.7 $13.8 $18.8
2008-09: $6.4 $8.0 $14.4 $19.2
2009-10 (projected): $6.5 $8.4 $14.9 $19.9

* Includes money from TV, bowl games, NCAA Tournament.

These are less extraordinary than the rapturous articles about Super Genius/Villain Jim Delany have claimed, but they still greatly outstrip everyone save the SEC, which they meaningfully outstrip. Meanwhile, the SEC is locked into an ESPN contract worth 12.5 million per team per year for 15 years and the Big Ten will see BTN revenue grow yearly.

Another note: SNL Kagan analyst Derek Baine says the BTN is getting 88 cents per subscriber in the footprint, which is about a dime short of what they were asking for and more than triple what the Comcast guy told me they valued the BTN at during the year-long standoff between the two. Cable companies did not win.

(Apologies to whoever linked this; unfortunately I've lost it. If you think it's you ask me for a HT.)

Mmmm. Wavery. Michigan's 2011 class is a bit thin so far, with just two forwards coming in in a year when Michigan willl require at least another player at F, D, and G. Lucas Lessio made an appearance at the Oshawa Generals' camp, but is expected to keep his commitment to Michigan. And now the other guy in the class, Ontario forward Alex Guptill, sounds like he's not a lock either:

Already committed to play for the University of Michigan in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) either this year or in 2011, Guptill said his immediate future, including where he might play come winter, will become more clear at the end of June.

“It is all up to — if a (NHL) team takes me — what their stance is and then Michigan’s,” Guptill said. “It will go from there.”

IE: hope the Kings stay away. Guptill and Lessio were both drafted by the USHL's Waterloo Blackhawks and the Blackhawks believe they'll have them next year.

There is some good news: Guptill was the recipient of the Ontario Hockey Association's "Top Prospect Award," something that's been bestowed on former Wolverines Mike Cammalleri and Andrew Cogliano plus an array of other NHL players like Jeff Carter and Rob Schremp. The OHA covers Ontario's Junior A and B leagues.

Etc.: The Daily puts out another huge article, this on the evolution of Yost from an empty, silent place to the raucous place it is today. I'm pretty sure this "shimmy down" tackling technique is the same that GERG is employing in practice. The idea is to focus on the approach more than anything else because most players can get a guy down if they're in the right spot. This may sound boring, but the words "they want to get pecker to pecker with the guy" appear.