Let's Have A Hockey Autopsy

Let's Have A Hockey Autopsy Comment Count

Brian March 13th, 2019 at 4:23 PM

Hockey's season went out with a whimper as they were swept at the hands of Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. That's disappointing but not particularly surprising for anyone who watched most of Michigan's season.

What went wrong? Michigan's various problems follow.

Age

Michigan was one of the youngest teams in the country, and the bottom of the age standings are pretty ugly:

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ND and Denver are in the top 16 of the pairwise. Otherwise this is a list of the teams that generally recruit the best across college hockey and are struggling in the new over-30 NCAA. Not one of Minnesota, Michigan, BC, BU, or Wisconsin is in position for an at-large bid. It should be noted that 50-52 are Quinnipiac, Providence, and Harvard, who are all set for at-large bids, but even those teams in close proximity by rank are almost a half-year older than Michigan and the rest of the "we recruit the NTDP" class.

Under Pearson they've moved to taking more overagers, but those guys are all underclassmen. Michigan is in the process of having some 23 and 24 year olds; they are not there yet. At some point Michigan's going to be a mix of older players and high-level NHL prospects. Currently they are young and had 1.5 high-level prospects. Speaking of:

Talent level

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Norris was M's only PPG scorer and missed half the year [Bill Rapai]

As discussed in the previous post about Michigan's gap year, this year's freshman class had zero drafted players for the first time in probably 20 years. Michigan found a good fourth line as Moyle and Van Whye emerged midseason; that line then became their de facto second line because nobody else was doing anything. Compounding matters was the previous class, which was Hughes and Norris (woot woot!) plus Mike Pastujov, whose star fell precipitously after his commitment, and then whatever Mel could scrape up. That turned out to be Becker and Raabe, two guys who have chipped in but aren't scoring line players at this point in their career.

So when Norris goes out midseason, they have zero underclassman forwards capable of playing on a scoring line. This is untenable for a program that is constantly getting raided by the NHL—you aren't getting Cooper Marody back for a senior year.

Michigan did have some guys: Lockwood put up 31 points in 36 games; Slaker and Pastujov put up 25 and 24. It's not a coincidence that two of the three top scorers were older draftees. There just weren't enough of them. Michigan has always been more talented than all of its opponents, which is how they make up the perpetual age gap. This year they weren't. Opposing goaltenders put up a .914; Michigan was 41st in shooting percentage. Even more telling: Michigan's power play conversion rate nearly halved from 19% (average-ish) to 10% (national worst) when Norris went out.

[After THE JUMP: woe! fie and woe!]

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Unverified Voracity Has Many Normal Ones All In A Row

Unverified Voracity Has Many Normal Ones All In A Row Comment Count

Brian February 27th, 2019 at 5:22 PM

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Yikes. Jordan Poole's defensive game against MSU left a lot to be desired:

That reel doesn't include a one-and-one Poole gave up to Henry by playing him too tight, as well.

While that's extremely disappointing Poole shut off Gabe Kalscheur, who was just 1/3 from deep in the prior game. It's not that he can't do it, it's that he's really inconsistent at both ends right now.

Iowa-Northwestern is the Having A Normal One Championship Of The World. Irate man yells thing!

Irate man has been suspended for two games. Both McCaffrey and his son were called for technicals in a short span of time, thus setting the above off. Chris Holtmann got one for OSU as well. Nobody has seen fit to put video of the techs on the internet, which… why are we even here? If we're not going to get Zapruder takes on McCaffrey ejections?

Kind of a big transfer. Alex Hornibrook is gone from Wisconsin.

He entered the transfer portal so this isn't a retirement, but maybe Wisconsin wouldn't clear him after concussion issues? I don't think there's any way they would have processed the guy. Jack Coan averaged 5.5 YPC in about 100 attempts replacing him, and it felt worse than that to watch the guy. Wisconsin is bringing in Graham Mertz, who's about the top QB prospect they've ever recruited, but nobody's chasing off a senior returning starter for a true freshman who's just a real good prospect and not Trevor Lawrence.

[After THE JUMP: the internet is nice to a wide receiver]

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Unverified Voracity Extracts Concessions

Unverified Voracity Extracts Concessions Comment Count

Brian February 19th, 2019 at 12:40 PM

Getting more out of Livers. It's a project that is underway:

“It’s something we’ve been talking with him a lot," said Michigan coach John Beilein. "He leaves a lot on the table. He shoots 3s well, but there’s another element to his game that he’s still developing. We’ve got to encourage it."

Livers has been an excellent complementary player during his first two seasons at Michigan. He won a starting job as a freshman last season as the Wolverines made it to the national title game. This season, though, he has come off the bench. Teammates have referred to him as a "glue guy."

He's already bumped his usage from 12.9 to 15.4; if he's able to do that again next year he'll be at ~18, and at that point he's enough of a contributor that you're not worried that his presence is pushing someone up to usage levels they're not efficient at.

Rebounding is variable. I know this John Gasaway assertion is true after several years in which Michigan took a top-50 DREB rate into conference play only to finish 10th in that department:

Defensive rebound rates can translate a bit better from whole-season to conference (cf. Maryland, Colorado, and Michigan), but even here you can’t just assume you’re hitting statistical bedrock every time. Take Kansas State, No. 17 nationally in defensive rebound percentage, more than 100 spots higher than its nearest in-conference competitor (Oklahoma, No. 132). Actual Big 12 play, however, has swiftly devolved into a vicious egalitarian struggle where every team’s virtually identical on the defensive glass and the Wildcats nominally rank No. 4 in the league in that category.

These numbers are in motion, of course, but this isn’t primarily a sample-size thing. It’s more of a basketball thing, or, better still, one more peculiarity of a mass-audience sport wherein the teams themselves select a sizable portion of their own opponents. There are few bread-and-butter box score numbers that vary as much as rebound percentages due merely to non-conference scheduling philosophies and/or to how certain coaches choose to change their look for conference play.

Those were usually Zack-Novak-at-power-forward teams that suffered when larger people entered the equation. Michigan's maintained much better the last two years. They finished last year 2nd in B10 DREBs and are fourth this year.

Also in that post, a bizarre thing going on at MSU:

Inverse-Michigan Factor (IMF)
Standard deviations above/below conference means
Conference games only

                          OR%     DR%     IMF
Michigan State    2019   1.75   -1.20    2.95
Rutgers           2017   1.62   -0.90    2.52
West Virginia     2019   1.11   -1.35    2.46
Providence        2019   1.07   -1.33    2.40           

These are the largest IMF numbers we’ve seen in the past five years in major-conference play. Purdue 2019 is not far behind.

MSU is the best offensive rebounding team in the conference… and 13th on the other end. MSU's block rate probably has something to do with this. They're #1 in conference play, and that's without anyone particularly large-huge and leapy. Surmise: MSU's trying to block everything and giving up OREBs when those attempts go awry.

[After THE JUMP: Mike Leggin' it]

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