HOEGLAW. Richard Hoeg has many interests. None of them include criminal law or horses, which I have been asked to make explicitly clear for SEO purposes. One of them is talkin' about stuff, including video games and Star Wars; he's put together a Youtube channel for his various and sundry podcast appearances.
The previous post covered the five forwards currently in the 2020 class and highly touted D Owen Power; in addition to those gents Michigan also has four other defensemen currently committed. The most highly touted is NTDP selection Jacob Truscott, who is very much in the mold of the Mel Pearson defenseman:
Jacob Truscott (Little Caesars 15U) – “Highly skilled, puck-moving defenseman. Very good skater with a smooth, effortless stride. Retrieves the puck well and has end to end rushing abilities. Does a very good job of keeping his feet moving and his head up in order to make plays. Sees the ice well and makes good outlets.”
A take from just before the NTDP selection camp:
Truscott has long been hyped as one of the more athletically gifted defensemen in this age group. He makes strong lead passes in transit and can jump into plays offensively.
And the OHL’s scouting report from a couple months ago:
He is a good puck moving defenceman that has the ability to join or lead the offensive rush and then because of how well he skates he can easily recover and get back and play his position. He has a very nice, long stride that looks effortless. His mobility is good and that makes it hard to beat him off the rush. He sees the ice well and makes the simple play the majority of the time which is very effective.
Truscott also went to London, but in flier territory (8th round) and has committed to the NTDP. He doesn’t seem like much of a flight risk:
Port Huron Northern freshman Jacob Truscott didn’t really know how to react when the University of Michigan hockey coaching staff offered him a scholarship. Being a lifelong Wolverines fan, the offer seemed too good to be true.
“I had a loss for words – I was speechless,” Jacob recalled. “I didn’t see it coming.”
After a brief talk with family members that were equally as shocked and honored as he was, Jacob made the commitment to play hockey for U-M.
“We were just speechless and tearing up,” Jacob’s mom, Lori, recalled from last weekend’s visit. “Big brother Kyle and I were probably the most struck by it all emotionally. It’s just an amazing opportunity.”
Expect him to arrive in a couple years.
[After THE JUMP: smallish, skilled defensemen. Everywhere.]
Bakanov is a sniper
2020 and beyond
War. War with the OHL never changes. Michigan has returned to their Berenson heyday ways, picking off super high-end OHL prospects and watching some of them defect. London already signed Antonio Stranges, one of the four(!) five-star types who'd announced commitments to Michigan by the time the OHL draft rolled around. That particularly sucks because he had supposedly already signed with the NTDP, and none of the other three guys are Americans who can shelter under USA Hockey's wing until it's time to matriculate.
The big-timers, in order of likelihood to actually arrive:
Andrei Bakanov. Bakanov moved from Moscow to play AAA in the States a couple years ago and immediately drew notice thanks to his 6'2" frame and skill to pair with it. He didn't go in the OHL draft because he wasn't eligible; he probably wasn't eligible because he didn't bother applying to overturn whatever bylaw kept him out. Another Russian immigrant was technically ineligible but the OHL swiftly repaired that once he indicated he was interested in the league.
Bakanov subsequently signed a USHL tender with Cedar Rapids and will likely play there for two years before matriculating. He is a big, scoring wing.
Andrei Bakanov (02) commits to Michigan. Moskva, RUS native w/ the Oakland Jr Grizzlies 16U. Strong, powerful skill/power FWD, NHL caliber shot already, great skill set. #WhosNext
— Matt Grainda (@graindaiv) March 31, 2018
His 13-10-23 line in 18 games led the HPHL, a six-team league of major AAA teams in the Midwest, in PPG. They play relatively few games because at that age group there's a ton of going around to various showcase events; the league fills downtime between them. His full season stats are eyepopping:
Bakanov, a six-foot-two, 192-pound forward, spent the 2017-18 season with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, totaling an impressive 112 points (57G, 55A) in 77 total games between the program's HPHL schedule and U16 AAA schedule.
You don’t have to watch too long before you see his best trait, a deadly accurate, hard shot that probably gives goalies at this level nightmares. Bakanov has the Russian patience for sure, taking his time to read plays at times and then striking exactly when you least expect it, often drawing peer-to-peer comparisons to famous NHL player Evgeni Malkin. Footwork is a little heavy for Bakanov, but his smooth puck handing and decent smarts help mitigate this issue. … His goal scoring capabilities, his patience with the puck, and his NHL sized frame will be highly coveted.”
Some guy on HF Boards who seems to know what he's talking about:
…really made strides since last year when I saw him. Big kid that gets through the neutral zone with a lot of speed and he has some hands to match. He had a really nice breakaway goal against York Simcoe. Whoever gets him has a player on their hands.
Tenders skip the draft and sign with a USHL program; in exchange the USHL team forfeits their first rounder and commits to playing the tendered player for a majority of the season. The USHL is a brutal league for 16 year olds; most tenders struggle to put up points. If Bakanov can that'll be a great sign for his future.
[After THE JUMP: Swankler.]
Johnny Beecher skates like a guy much smaller
This is the way hockey scouting works:
- There's a flurry of it when kids are high school sophomores, because the CHL and USHL drafts grab those guys and the NTDP is chosen from that age group. There's money there, largely because of the CHL, and a cornucopia of sites have sprouted to provide teams, and the more zealous variety of fan, in-depth scouting.
- Nobody cares much the year after unless you're so high end that you're generating first round NHL draft buzz.
- In your draft year CSB rankings and various other NHL scouting services will provide a final burst of information.
The 2019 class is in the gap year, and doesn't have a lot of high end guys, so there's not a lot to report that hasn't been on the site in some form already. But you probably don't remember that hockey recruiting blast in a UV from six months ago, so here it is anyway.
THE POTENTIALLY DELAYED
One way that hockey recruiting is weird is that guys will somewhat frequently take another year in junior if the program they've committed to doesn't have room. I can only assume that's a somewhat standard thing to say when you take a commitment, because nobody makes a big deal about something that would be a minor scandal in other sports.
Michigan looks set to do this. I missed Michael Spath's report that Michigan was set to bring in 10 freshmen this year, with some surprises amongst the names omitted and one amongst the names included:
With potential for a few more early departures and a few more commitments (keep an eye on Jack Hughes and Oliver Wahlstrom) here is a look at @umichhockey's current roster configure for 2018-19. pic.twitter.com/ssY9fNGWOy
— Michael Spath (@MichaelSpathITH) April 10, 2018
Summers was listed as a 2019 when he committed and is the surprise inclusion. Absences from that list: Jacob Semik, Calen Kiefiuk, Keaton Pehrson, and Nick Granowicz. Most of those surprise me in various ways, except that some guys needed to get put off. Kiefiuk's actually up to 48 points in 60 USHL games to lead his team; Granowicz is 20 and probably on light, if any, money so why not bring him in anyway; Pehrson already delayed a year. Semik's 5-4-9 line and status as an unranked draft eligible might warrant another junior year.
If those guys don't arrive this fall they will be potential 2019 recruits, or potential decommits.
As for Jack Summers—no relation to Chris—your guess is as good as mine. Here is the sum total of scouting I found:
Summers is a bit undersized and not a huge offensive threat yet, but he has incredible footwork and skating that makes him an effective defender and gives him the upside to potentially be a very dynamic player.
Michigan flipped him from Brown. He's got 11 points in 58 USHL games. One thing he's got going for him: Bill Muckalt was his coach last year, when he played a half-season with the Tri-City Storm after coming over from the NAHL. He is from Livonia and can get in-state tuition, so he might be another guy on light money.
In related news, here's an attempted Michigan hockey roster down the road.
[After the JUMP: a fair salvage job]
D Bode Wilde is the headliner
There's no way around the fact that Michigan has too many guys coming in to fit on one hockey roster. I'm not sure if this is in fact oversigning since hockey is not a headcount sport so you can split scholarships. Some incoming commits might be on half or a quarter scholarship; a few are probably pure walk-ons. And it's common to offer guys a "yes, but" in which they might come in in year X or might have to take another year in junior, depending on what ravages your roster sustains.
So: Michigan has six seniors who will definitely exit. Four are forwards; two are defensemen. Two of those forwards (Porikos and Roos) are probably not getting much, if any scholarship money, FWIW. They open up a roster slot but not a scholarship one. Cooper Marody has also left for the NHL.
Nick Boka, Joe Cecconi, and Brendan Warren are all draftees entering their final year of eligibility. NHL teams often try to sign those players since a player who stays four years at college can become a free agent. Warren probably hasn't done enough to warrant a contract; Boka is iffy; Cecconi probably has.
Michigan also has a few underclass departure threats: Luke Martin and Will Lockwood were second round picks and Quinn Hughes is about to go top ten—possibly top five. Lockwood got hurt the second half of the year and Hughes seems unlikely to bolt immediately, if only because he's a wee gent who could use a second year in Ann Arbor before attempting to crack an NHL roster. Martin is tough to tell since he's not much of an offensive threat.
Michigan needs somewhere between seven and ten guys unless this year's Michigan Hockey Summer is especially severe.
Since the last time we looked at the 2018 class, Michigan lost Mattias Samuelsson to WMU, Alec Regula to the OHL, and Gustaf Westlund to Ohio State. They plugged in probable top 15 draft pick Bode Wilde at D so the D losses won't hurt Michigan much. Westlund is a '97 with 34 points in 54 USHL games and is probably not a huge loss.
FWIW, I remain skeptical that Kenny Johnson is actually going to play for Michigan.
The three longstanding commits in the class who are still in it are all midlevel prospects; they're not sure things but they come with some reasons for optimism. None figure to have much immediate impact.
Randl drives action
Jack Randl is in his second year with the USHL's Omaha Lancers. He's got 32 points in 49 games, which is sixth on his team. A couple caveats: he's second in goals and he's the top 2000-born player on the team; only one of the guys in front of him is even a '99. HS-age guys who are close to a PPG in the USHL project as scoring line players, at least down the road. He's a bit borderline in that department. Possibly helpful: a hockey analytics guy named Will Scouch compiles numbers for the draft and Randl leads everyone in the USHL or CHL in % of goals where he either scores or has the primary assist.
1) Jack Randl - 82.6%
2) Andrei Svechnikov - 82.1%
3) Tristen Nielsen - 73.9%
4) Serron Noel - 72.2%
5) Ryan O'Reilly - 72.2%
6) Sampo Ranta - 72.2%
7) Blade Jenkins - 70.7%
8) Hunter Holmes - 68.8%
9) Filip Zadina - 67.7%
10) Allan McShane - 67.4%
— Will Scouch (@Scouching) February 25, 2018
This means that he's driving most of the play when he's on the ice. USHR did like him quite a bit in a prospects game where he slotted in just behind a variety of high draft picks:
7. Jack Randl -- Michigan recruit had a goal and two assists, made plays consistently. Strong skater.
Randl got called up to the U18s to play at the Five Nations tourney in February, which is also a pretty good sign. He might go late in the NHL draft. He's ranked 158th by the CSB.
[After the JUMP: a lot more guys. Also a nine year old's absurd shootout goal.]
This was a UV bullet and now it's 900 words, so now it's a post.
Yes, folks, the OHL draft has come and gone, and since Michigan is provisionally recruiting like gangbusters in the 2020 hockey class it once again becomes an event with great import for M hockey fans. Michigan commits:
Perfetti (right) barely fell
Cole Perfetti: 1st round, #5, Saginaw. Perfetti barely fell, which is usually real bad news. In this case there is a glimmer of hope because Saginaw has close to a complete roster for the year and OHL teams get compensatory picks if their first rounder is "defective," the OHL's charming term for a player who doesn't report. Rolling the dice on Perfetti doesn't cost them much; if he doesn't report they get the sixth overall pick in next year's draft, when they need it more. For now the Saginaw GM is playing coy and pretending the USHL doesn't exist:
"He has committed to Michigan, and there is a recruiting process for us. But when you talk about elite skill like this, the risk is worth the reward. And personally, I think he's too good to wait two years to play at this level."
OHL teams can trade defective picks and keep that compensatory pick, so we'll know if this was a flier or a plan in September. If Perfetti's immediately traded for a bushel of picks to another OHL outfit he's gone. This is the most likely outcome.
FWIW, Saginaw took former M commit Blade Jenkins and got him after one NTDP year. That might have been more desperation than anything else as Jenkins struggled immensely in the USHL, scoring 5 points in 34 games, and just 8 in 56 overall. He's up to 44 in 68 in an OHL he's found more tractable and is once again draftable.
— Neutral Zone (@_Neutral_Zone) January 26, 2018
Antonio Stranges: 2nd round, #21, London. Ugh. London has the resources to acquire players not otherwise headed for the OHL. Stranges is talented enough and London has enough players for this to be a flier. Stranges did tweet out something after he got picked—and then deleted that, hopefully once a strong Michigan advocate in his inner circle cocked an eyebrow at him.
Stranges has been invited to the NTDP, which usually announces its new U17 team in late April, so it won't take long to know which way he's going. FWIW, plugged in persons still think NTDP:
The team hasn't been announced yet, but he's widely expected to spend two years with the NTDP. There would be an outside chance of getting him in '19/20, but more likely the recruiting battle will unfold for '20/21.
— Priority Selection (@PrioritySelect) April 7, 2018
It is unusual for an NTDP kid to not follow through on a college commitment, because there's no wait to get into the tougher league and "hockey plus college" is better than "hockey and college later if you don't play 18 months pro."
Owen Power: 2nd round, #22, Flint. On the other hand, Flint is a league-owned mediocrity with little appeal. Power is safe unless and until he gets traded. There are no compensatory picks outside of the first round, so there's no timeline. Power was likely to be a top 5 pick until he committed, so his drop indicates that the OHL took it at least somewhat seriously.
Jacob Truscott: 5th round, London. London again but deep enough in the draft that it's a flier for a guy with Truscott's quality. He's also an NTDP invite.
Mitchell Smith, 5th round, Saginaw. This would be shrug territory except for the article that the local paper put out when Smith committed to Michigan:
"One thing you learn about hockey is that it has a huge network. You have to choose the right people to believe, the right people to trust. To have people like Brendan and Brian [Kischnick] giving advice is invaluable."
And if that means ultimately choosing to play college hockey, Michigan is not a bad destination.
"Michigan presented us with a good situation … basically he would have a chance to play right away," Tim Smith said. "And a Michigan education is pretty nice too."
The Kischnicks mentioned are father and son, the younger is Smith's D-partner. Kischnick committed to the OHL route after being picked in the sixth round and sent back to AAA this year. If that's the advice the Smiths are listening to, he gone. Also Smith is from Saginaw.
Cole McWard: 11th round, Kitchener. Patrick Guzzo: 13th round, Oshawa. Flier territory. Kitchener used to be a London level threat but has dropped off the radar recently.
Andrei Bakanov: N/A. Bakanov was widely expected to be a top ten pick but was not eligible for some reason or another despite having played his most recent two years of junior in OHL territory. The reason is probably "didn't bother to apply":
Game changer for the #OHLDraft is the status of Russian F Andrei Bakanov currently playing for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies.
He remains ineligible for the draft and I'm told it's likely to stay that way as he does not have any desire to come play #OHL hockey.
— OHLInsiders(.com) (@OHLinsiders) March 30, 2018
He's likely be a USHL tender.
Michigan's likely to lose Perfetti and Smith; what's left over is still Michigan's best class in forever as long as Stranges sticks.
If it keeps going like this I'll learn to spell "renaissance" correctly on the first try. Rob Dauster on Michigan's elite... defense? That is what the card says. Defense.
As surprising as that decision was, the dots connected. Yaklich, like Beilein, spent his life as a teacher and a high school coach before breaking into the college ranks. Unlike Beilein, however, Yaklich has prided himself in his ability to get the most out of a team on the defensive end of the floor.
“As a high school coach, I focused entirely on defense,” Yaklich said. At the high school level, coaching offense is more about skill development, about making your players better shooters, better ball-handlers, better scorers. Figure out a handful of things that you can have success with and trust your players to make plays. “My high school coaches instilled that in me. When I went to Illinois State, I naturally grew into that role. We didn’t have a defensive coordinator, but my voice, that’s what I took pride in.”
At Michigan, that is, quite literally, Yaklich’s role. He was hired to coach Michigan’s defense, to be their defensive coordinator, and the success that the Wolverines have had on that end cannot be overlooked. Prior to this season, Beilein never had a team finish higher than 37th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings. In the last four seasons, the Wolverines never finished higher than 69th.
“The smartest thing is I stopped coaching it so much,” Beilein said of his team’s defensive improvement. “I let other people become the voice of it. I wanted one guy, that’s all he thinks about all day long.”
I'm not taking credit for suggesting that Beilein needs a defensive coordinator. But I'm not not taking credit. I will be ambiguously pleased.
Similar resumes. I should have posted this a couple days ago when it was slightly different, with the Stauskas Elite Eight team at the top of the list. But anyway here's Bart Torvik's list of resumes most similar to Michigan's in recent committee history:
Nik and company are still #3. These are all at least three seeds and 40% of them are twos. I haven't seen anything else suggesting Michigan can get to a two, but hopefully that indicates Jerry Palm's (and 30% of the matrix's) 4-seed is off.
There is exactly one bracket that puts Michigan on the five line, but it's KPI. For some reason KPI is on the teamsheets, so hooray for that.
One of many maximum Beilein moments. A man who recognizes his own limitations.
— max (@maxaiden) March 5, 2018
Unbalanced schedule FTL. This year was an excellent example of how the Big Ten's schedule cheapens the regular season title. A gent calling himself "Wicked_UMD"—must be a St. Cloud State fan—analyzed how the schedule rotation affected expected wins in league play:
|Team||Exp Win Delta|
That half-win edge over Purdue had a fairly good shot at costing the Boilers a share of the title, and Michigan is almost two wins back of MSU—flip that first Purdue game and that is also a title-altering schedule gap.
The net result is a cheapening of the regular season title. Adding two conference games will help somewhat, but only somewhat: each team still misses almost half the conference for a second game annually. There is a way to create a maximally meaningful and fair conference race with just one extra game:
Alternative: 19 game conference schedule.
PHASE 1: round robin.
PHASE 2: line is drawn between 7th and 8th teams in the league. Mini-leagues subsequently play round-robin. Rutgers is relegated to the Big East every year.
PROS: Absolutely fair. Winner is undisputed. Makes Big Ten title a huge important deal. Final six games for teams that make upper half would be knock-down drag out brutal free-for-all for league title. Would give top teams impregnable schedule strength. You could televise the schedule draw with Ronaldo and Messi in suits.
CONS: May cost league NCAA bids if the best team in the bottom half can't get any marquee wins in the last six games or the worst team in the top half just gets blitzed. Bottom half is just kind of sadly playing out the string. Uncertainty about final three home games may impact ticket sales negatively. Extremely distant possibility that the 8th best team 13 games in can climb all the way to the top.
This will never happen because the folks in charge are more interested in milking as much money out of college basketball than making a drastic and potentially awesome change. But seriously you guys.
Mo draft stock. The Draft Express gents on Michigan's center:
Despite his limitations, and the diminishing market for players his size, there's still a role in today's NBA for a highly skilled big man who can space the floor and plays with a competitive spirit. Wagner is young for a junior, not turning 21 until the end of April, so he has time to continue to improve considering he was already a late bloomer to begin with. He'd likely get picked somewhere in the second round if he decided to keep his name in the draft but also could benefit from coming back for his senior year and continuing to work on his weaknesses, namely his defense, passing and overall feel for the game.
They rank him 55th, so not even towards the top of the second round. SI has an extensive Big Ten Tournament scouting article that comes to a similar conclusion:
Draft Projection: Second Round
After testing and staying in school last year, Wagner has definitely improved, although he’s still a bit of an acquired taste among scouts. It depends on what you value in your bigs, and his considerable offensive skills will be worth the risk to some teams despite his lackluster defense and physical limitations in that area. Wagner excels as a screener and post-up option and has a good feel for finding pockets in the defense. He’s heavy-footed and looks a bit clumsy at times, but his skill level facing up, attacking closeouts and keeping defenders honest gets the job done in college. He gets some credit for helping lift Michigan to the title (and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player) but the Wolverines won more by playing great team basketball than relying on Wagner to carry them.
It'll be up to Wagner's whim. He's not in the range where he's going to get a guaranteed contract and may end up in the G-League. The money there isn't great so he might decide he'd rather play under the bright lights of the NCAA than for the Fort Wayne Mad Antz even if he delays his earnings a year. If the consensus is that he'll stick on a roster that's a totally different matter.
FWIW, SI on Matthews:
Draft Projection: 2019
The former Kentucky transfer has been plagued by consistency issues throughout his career but has an outside chance at the league depending on how much he can improve over the course of the next year. “I can’t put my finger on what he does well,” says one scout, the sentiment being that Matthews is best suited as a 3-and-D wing given the heavy demand for such players. He has the right type of body to fit in the league, but struggles to create his own offense and has to simplify his approach. He did hit a pair of threes against Michigan State, but must improve his shot selection and become a consistently impactful defender to succeed in the NBA.
Silver lining from his collapse midseason is that Michigan doesn't have to worry about his departure after just one year.
The hopes are dangerously up. George Sipple of the Free Press checks in with Quinn and Jack Hughes, who's currently the projected #1 pick in the 2019 draft. In addition to various items about how he is a generational hockey player is this tantalizing possibility:
Two Hughes at U-M in 2019?
There’s a chance Jack could join his older brother at Michigan next season. The middle Hughes has not committed anywhere, and Ellen and Jim acknowledge U-M is one possibility.
Michigan has had players accelerate to play college hockey early. Jack is currently in his junior year of high school, but, through online courses, he could go on an accelerated academic track, and graduate early to be able to play collegiality next year.
Jack sought exceptional status to play in the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old, but was denied. Among the short list of players who have been granted that status to play a year early are John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid, who are now in the NHL. …
“It could be a perfect scenario,” Jim said of Jack going to U-M. “But they’re not there yet. The beauty is Jack is in a really great spot right now. He values the development he’s getting with Seth and Wrobo.”
For perspective, Hughes is playing up with the U18s as a U17:
Two more points tonight for 2019 top prospect Jack Hughes. His next point will tie him with Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel for most points by an NTDP player in his U17 season. Kessel 82 in 62 GP (1.32 pts/gp), Keller 82 in 61 GP (1.34), Hughes 81 in 44 GP (1.84).
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) March 3, 2018
Adding Hughes—and presumably keeping Quinn—would radically change next year's outlook.
Brandon Johns highlights. He is up for Mr. Basketball and looks like a perfect fit as a Beilein 4:
His main competition is David DeJulius, it appears.
One and done done? The NBA's one and done rule was always more about the NBA than college basketball, and now that they've got Lebron and a former president criticizing it publicly it may not be long for this world. The proposal is wrought with frippery that attempts to make it seem like one-and-done wasn't a selfish act from the drop:
Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver and several of his top advisers have been engaged in listening tours and information-gathering missions with an array of stakeholders for months. That has included formal meetings with the National Basketball Players Association about adjusting the so-called "one-and-done" age-limit rule. But Silver's aim is much more comprehensive than simply re-opening the door for 18-year-olds to play in the NBA, sources said.
A plan is expected to include the NBA starting relationships with elite teenagers while they are in high school, providing skills to help them develop both on and off the court. It would ultimately open an alternate path to the NBA besides playing in college and a way 18-year-olds could earn a meaningful salary either from NBA teams or as part of an enhanced option in the developmental G League, sources said.
The NCAA is either going to work with the NBA to keep a healthy number of future stars in college basketball or lose them all because of their archaic rules. Survey says it'll be the former because the people in charge care about money.
there's an onion article about this [Patrick Barron]
Funny how that works. Brandon Peters, rumored to be aloof and disconnected, is now a Cool, Even-Keeled Leader:
"Brandon's kind of always been the same, sort of even-keeled," senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst said after Saturday's game.
"It's just Brandon. I don't think he gets too high or too low, and I think that's a good thing to have when you're a quarterback."
He is also studious and paying attention.
"He's been preparing since camp," Gary said. "I walk by the quarterback room, I peep in just to mess with him. He's in his books and he's paying attention.
"Just how he prepared, I knew when he got his chance he was going to do what he did (Saturday)."
After he throws an interception he will return to being aloof and disconnected, and then he will throw a touchdown with a steely nervelessness, and then he will take a sack because of the crushing ennui he endures in his day to day life, and then he'll have a third down conversion that shows mankind is doomed because robotkind is superior. Looking forward to it. Except for the part with the interception.
Congratulations to men's soccer. They're the Big Ten champs after a barn-burning final day that saw Michigan pass three other teams, including their opponent Maryland, with this double OT(!) Francis Atuahene goal:
— MSN (@michsoccernow) October 29, 2017
They had four wins last year. Quite a turnaround for Chaka Daley. Michigan is 12th in the NCAA's version of RPI for soccer and might be in line for a first-round bye in the 48-team College Cup, depending on how the Big Ten Tournament goes. They will host Northwestern or Rutgers in a first-round game Sunday at 1 PM.
Billy Stevens still hadn’t let go of the trophy.
Not when he got on the bus to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Not when he landed in Detroit. Not for the bus ride back to Ann Arbor, either. He said he couldn’t let it out of his sight.
And really, can you blame him?
A steady, sustainable uptick. BISB's been unable to Opponent Watch because sometimes his job strangles him by the throat but he did put together this little, encouraging graph of Michigan's line yards this year:
At this point it's more about maintaining that number than continuing to improve it. Last year's #1 team in line yards was somehow UNLV with 3.8. Michigan is approaching an effective maximum. Michigan's surge has taken their rushing game up to 21st in S&P+, so Michigan now has three good to very good aspects (rush offense, rush and pass defense) and one terrible one (pass offense). The PSU game knocked Michigan's defense out of the top ten; they're now 15th.
Is there a Haters Gonna Hate ladder? This guy is in strong contention for greatest hater in the world:
— Michael E. Hayden (@MichaelEHayden) October 28, 2017
"I tolerate everything except racists and Tom Brady" is strong work.
Exit Jim McElwain. I have never had a better take than "Jim McElwain's response to the shark thing proves he's going to fail." That is right up at the top of the Takes Nobody Talks About Because They Are Correct Board for one Brian Cook. McElwain failed and is now fired. Spencer:
Categorically, the best McElwain seemed capable of was mediocrity. That mediocrity came at a time when his competition locally was as weak as it could be, and when the University was more willing than ever to spend on facilities, brand-building, and all the other accessories needed to keep a program competitive and happy. Unlike his predecessor Will Muschamp, he got free rein in hiring the staff he wanted to hire. Unlike his predecessor, he had actual head coaching experience coming into the job. Unlike Muschamp, McElwain won the SEC East, and did it two years in a row despite losing a starting quarterback to injury in both seasons.
May the football gods be kind to Spencer and bestow him with Jeff Brohm.
The Purdue situation. You've probably already seen this but in case you haven't, Angelique Chengelis talked with Wilton Speight's father about what happened after Speight's frightening injury against Purdue:
“What an absolute train wreck,” Bobby Speight said of the experience. ...
“We take off with no escort,” Bobby Speight said. “We can’t get through because there are barricades up and (the van driver is) directing people to move them.”
They reached the Purdue University Student Health Center and headed downstairs.
“They take us in the basement,” Bobby Speight said. “It’s very dimly lit. Halfway down the hall, there’s a (radiology) technician. Wilton is in (partial) uniform and still wearing cleats, and she asks Wilton his name. The (van driver) says he needs an X-ray. (The technician) looks at me and says, ‘I need your insurance card.’”
Harbaugh's been to Purdue before. He couldn't have been surprised by what he found, probably because it was exactly what he saw back in the 1980s. He was clearly cheesed by the ham-handed response to the Speight injury, and used that as a platform to talk about the beyond-gamesmanship visiting locker rooms in West Lafayette.
Hockey continues recruiting. Three recent commitments of note. One is 1997 Jimmy Lambert, who will arrive in Michigan at 21. Usually this means a guy heading for the checking line but one of the scouting services thinks otherwise:
4.25⭐️ prospect is one of the top '97 prospects in US & CAN. The creative forward has dynamic hands & hockey sense. A at BCHL Showcase. https://t.co/4vToa7sB0q
— Neutral Zone (@_Neutral_Zone) October 25, 2017
Lambert was supposed to head to Alaska Fairbanks this fall but changed direction after a coaching change. He had a PPG in the offense-mad BCHL as an overager last year and usually that means bottom six—Dakota Raabe is the same age and had a PPG last year—but I guess maybe not? I don't know.
On the other end of the spectrum, 2002 Cole Perfetti is a 15-year-old currently projected in the 2020 class who just committed. One OHL scouting service has him the #6 guy available for this year's edition of the OHL draft because he's a "shifty skater with extraordinary playmaking vision." (Commit Antonio Stranges, an "electric skater with game breaking one-on-one play" is #4, FWIW.) Also:
Great gain for Michigan and a tough loss for the OHL if Cole Perfetti indeed chooses to play at Michigan. An absolute wizard of a playmaker
— TheScout.ca (@TheScoutDotCa) October 27, 2017
The "if" there is real, as any Michigan hockey fan knows.
Finally, Michigan picked up Jeff Cox's #1 uncommitted guy from one of the various youth tourneys he attends:
1. Joshua Groll
#52 Anaheim Jr. Ducks, 8/9/01, Shoots Left, 5-9/155
Groll was the best forward here. He has good speed, but he plays a smart and complete game. He has a sneaky release and is able to get a lot of shots off by being around and possessing the puck a lot. His puck support is strong and he makes plays.
Michigan now has a whopping 25 commits across four recruiting classes, 16 of them in the four months since Mel was hire. Eleven of them are tentatively slated to enter next year. Michigan loses six seniors, and probably only four guys pulling significant scholarship money (Niko Porikos and Alex Roos probably aren't getting much.) Attrition is always looming, and I'm sure Michigan has an understanding with a couple of kids who might get pushed out a year. That's still a lot of guys to cram in.
Trying to optimize a hockey roster without screwing someone over seems like the most difficult logistical challenge in the world today. Good luck.
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Oh. Barstool. Barstool is trash and it's no surprise that it's Barstool that has again found the trashiest sign on Penn State's campus and been like "oh sick burn, bro," because Barstool just hires whatever local Chad they can find and Chad does Chad things. The latest:
Set aside the potential odiousness of the joke. It's not even a good joke. The University of Michigan did not decide to change the source of Flint's water, or attempt to cover up the humanitarian disaster that was unfolding. This is equivalent to burning PSU for the actions of Philadelphia's mayor. Nobody does this, because nobody has to when trying to burn Penn State.
Anyway, Barstool's second-biggest problem is that they think "edgy" is funny by itself. Andrew-Dice-Clay-ass website.
The decline of home court advantage. Home court means less these days:
This validates Craig Ross's frequently-expressed opinion that in the dingy arenas of the 1970s refs would bone you without repercussion. A couple other items from that piece:
- home court is a stronger effect the farther you travel
- it's a stronger effect in bigger conferences, probably because of crowd size
- all your conspiracy theories about referees are correct
All of 'em. Pick one. Yes, you're correct.
Half the defense. It was a good day for Michigan's defense:
PFF Week 7 - B1G Team of the Week - Defense pic.twitter.com/cNhuRecirM
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 17, 2017
Kinnel kind of surprises me, if only because I'm having a hard time thinking much of anything either way about the safeties. They are off screen for the large majority of this game, and Indiana's offense prohibits replays.
Mike Onwenu and Karan Higdon both made the offensive team. Also in "what were you doing with your offensive line recruiting two years ago": Maryland sophomore OG Terrance Davis makes the team. IIRC Michigan straight up passed on that guy.
20 games. Big Ten basketball head coaches have voted in favor of a 20-game conference schedule. Jon Rothstein reports that the change will happen next year. That'll take the schedule to 7 teams you play twice and 6 you play once, and a that point you might as well implement the Scottish Premiere League approach, which only takes 19 games and is awesome.
Harbaugh interacts with son. Via Outsports:
It’s only been in the last year that he came out to his dad. Dismayed by election results last November, he told his father that he was scared for himself and other people like him. When dad wrote back a vague message of support, James went all in.
“I just it blurted out –– and told him for the first time verbatim –– 'Dad, I'm gay. Do you know that? And because of that, this is why X,Y, Z. I'm scared because of this, that and the other.'
“And he just said something else back, it was an encouraging and uplifting response about how you just need to keep your head up. 'As long as you do what you feel is right in your mind, you live your truth. Everything will end up being OK.'"
James does not like his dad's sartorial choices, which makes him like every son in the history of the universe.
Jack Summers-Victory Honda U16-Summers is a bit undersized and not a huge offensive threat yet, but he has incredible footwork and skating that makes him an effective defender and gives him the upside to potentially be a very dynamic player.
Summers played under Bill Muckalt last year, so he's a guy the coaching staff knows very well. Heisenberg has him listed as a 2019 kid. Michigan's also added 2019 F Cassidy Bowes, who's a bit of an odd duck. He spent last year playing in a western Canadian prep school league, putting up 49 points in 30 games. He's joined the BCHL and has 6 points in nine games in the early going.
Both Summers and Bowes will arrive in 2019 as 20-year-olds, so they're fleshing out the class. They're the 12th and 13th kids across four different recruiting classes Pearson has recruited since he was hired four months ago. He's added four guys to an already five-strong 2017 class, six 2019 kids to Mike Vukojevic, two 2020 kids to a Little Caesar's trio, and 2021 Dylan Duke.
I'm not sure all these guys are getting to campus or guaranteed full rides, particularly the older gents. This is a more aggressive style of recruiting than Michigan is used to; Pearson seems dead set on not having big roster holes from the inevitable departures.
Etc.: M settles FOIA lawsuit and must reform their terrible, terrible FOIA department. Hooray. Scooter Vaughn is a 28-year-old AHL veteran now, and he's also a cool skateboarder. Hurst still drives for Uber. How Bryce Love is... doing all that. Holding The Rope on IU. Urban Meyer's wife: thinks whatever has a hypen, can't spell, kinda racist. Harmon intercepts Kinnick.
A challenger appears. LSU's Joe Alleva offered this contract to an interim coach nobody else would hire who was 10-25 at Ole Miss in his first tenure as a head coach:
If Orgeron is fired “without cause” (namely for losing too much rather than NCAA violations or legal issues) prior to Nov. 28 of each year, then he is owed $12 million this year, $8.5 million next, $6 million in 2019, $4.5 million in 2020 and $1 million in 2021. Those numbers are “minus compensation paid during the terminating year.” So subtract $3.5 million pro-rated at however many months he’s worked that year.
This is worse than Brady Hoke's contract, which started off with an 8 million dollar buyout despite the fact that he, too, had zero other suitors. And despite his many, many flaws it should be apparent that Brady Hoke is a better coach than Ed Orgeron.
Also I don't know how you don't walk away from the deal as soon as you see the name of this LLC:
LSU’s contract is actually with “O” The Rosy Finch Boyz, LLC, which was incorporated last January when he got the job.
You gave a five year, eight figure deal to a guy who put an unironic Z in his LLC, which sounds a gang comprised of private-school sixth-graders. Coulda had Jeff Brohm, but no, had to go with the carnival barker. People are just in charge of things for no reason, man.
Reasons that Cajun Brady Hoke is losing games. Yahoo has an article with some Tiller-level anonymous quotes on LSU:
“It wasn’t what you expect,” said one assistant coach. “You expect guys ready to kick your ass. There wasn’t any fire. Genetically they weren’t as good. On film, they weren’t as good. But these guys, I don’t know. These guys, I don’t even know what to say. I can’t believe they play the way they do. They’re soft. Soft. It doesn’t make sense.”
Added another personnel executive: “When everything got super tough against Mississippi State, they tapped out. State was giving it to them and they didn’t want any piece of it. They were tapping out the entire game.”
We've seen what happens when you believe your coach is incompetent first hand. I'm sure people called Devin Funchess soft after his indifferent final year in Ann Arbor; he doesn't seem soft in the NFL. When your leadership sucks you don't give it your best, because what does it matter?
Speaking of Tiller level. RIP to former Purdue coach Joe Tiller, who still defines Purdue football to this day. Tiller brought basketball on grass to the Big Ten, won a bunch of games, and was probably the source of a bunch of harsh-but-true things in those anonymous coach quote articles. Their spiciness level dropped off a cliff after Tiller retired.
Tiller's mustache game was fierce and he made the Big Ten a more interesting place. RIP. SBNation has assembled a collection of remembrances for those so inclined.
FBI fallout of the week. Many articles saying "pay the players" have come out, because obviously. If the NCAA can't touch 90% of the malfeasance going on without the involvement of the FBI—which can hardly be counted on going forward—you have a choice between the current system, where shady characters run riot and you've got a choice between your eligibility and reporting your income, and something that makes any sense.
We'll see if any of that sticks. This guy in the WaPo doesn't think so and he's got history on his side:
In 1915, the University of Chicago Daily Maroon upended the college football community by pushing the matter further. Given that the editor of the college newspaper and the tuba player in the marching band received compensation from the university, the Maroon argued, why not the college athletes? “They work hard for the university organization known as the football team, which is a money making enterprise, the receipts from football being something like $20,000 [roughly $478,000 today] more than expenditures for the sport. Why not give the players a share of the profits accruing from their hard and faithful labors?”
The University of Chicago was only one year removed from a national championship in football; its voice on the subject mattered.
102 years later we're still all like "man... these dudes have accrued with hard and faithful labors."
Hockey recruiting item. SBN's Jeff Cox had one main takeaway from the USHL Fall Classic camp:
Green Bay Gamblers left defenseman Michael Vukojevic was the best pro prospect on the ice Wednesday, but the ‘01 isn’t eligible until the 2019 NHL Draft. The Oakville, Ontario native was selected by Green Bay in the first round, eighth overall, of the 2017 USHL Phase I Draft.
A Michigan commit, Vukojevic has the size and skating ability to be an elite defenseman. He plays older, communicates well and makes plays in both ends. He’s still adjusting to junior hockey and rushed a couple of breakout passes, but he’s a big time prospect. Kitchener holds his OHL rights.
Kitchener is one of the OHL teams with the resources to woo committed prospects but at the moment Vukojevic seems committed to the college route. For one, he's at USHL camps. If Michigan does manage to get all their committed defensemen to campus they are going to be more loaded on D than they have been since I've been paying attention. Vukojevic, Quinn Hughes, Bode Wilde, and Mattias Sameulsson aren't just potential first round picks but potential top ten picks.
Chances are at least one gets picked off or leaves in a flash, but even so Michigan's blue line is going to be stacked.
On Hughes. Adam Herman breaks down what makes Quinn Hughes an elite prospect:
He has immaculate skating ability, both in terms of straight-line speed as well as agility. Furthermore, he reads plays from the back-end similarly to how an elite football quarterback might survey the field.
In the age of analytics, the ability to make clean entries into the offensive zone with possession has been highlighted as an effective first step towards creating threatening shifts. Hughes’ previously highlighted abilities plus his fearlessness when dealing with the opposition’s forecheck make him elite in creating these types of shifts. ...
He is adept at walking the blue line and creating time and space for himself to set up a play. He takes on defenders, makes crisp passes to open players in dangerous spots, and can get the puck off his stick quickly to surprise goaltenders with a hard shot.
Hughes's PPG pace in 26 USHL games with the U18s is unprecedented for a player two years away from the draft, although in Hughes's case he only missed this year's edition by three weeks—he's several months older than Werenski was when he accelerated and joined Michigan a year early.
Those who exited. Michigan's transfers are surveyed at MLive. Still sucks that Keith Washington bolted; he's got 2 INTs and 4 PBUs already for his JUCO. Also of note: Ross Douglas, RB/CB at Michigan, is starting for Rutgers. At linebacker. Spacebacker, to be sure, but yikes. Rutgers might not be good.
THE FOUG CONSPIRACY. Bruce Feldman collects some data on James "Doug" Foug:
Jim Harbaugh has quite a weapon in kickoff man James Foug. Purdue special teams coordinator Tony Levine told me that in 15 years as a coach he’s never seen a kickoff guy get the kind of hang time Foug gets. Most of his kickoffs end up as touchbacks. The ones that are returned end up with the opponent’s average starting field position at their 17.
Levine says anything over four seconds of hang time on a kickoff is exceptional; Foug’s kicks consistently come in around 4.5. Usually when the returner catches the kick, you want the coverage guys to be inside the 35-yard line; Levine says that by the time Michigan’s opponents receive the ball, the Wolverines’ coverage team is typically inside the 25.
Michigan is definitely trying to keep the ball just short of the endzone so they can pick up that 5-10 yards of field position. Weird that Harbaugh told the media that Seychel would kick off when they've got this dude hammering them.
Also, Troy Calhoun on what he faced down:
Two weeks ago, the Wolverines held Air Force to 232 yards of total offense, its lowest output since 2012. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun told me this was one of the best defenses he’s ever faced. The guy who really caught his eye was linebacker Devin Bush Jr. “He doesn’t look like much, he’s maybe 5'10", but he’s so quick and tough. He just unloads and knocks the heck out of people.”
Whenever people talk about Bush I'm reminded of this Ringer article about the evolution of the NFL linebacker. He's a modern linebacker all the way.
Etc.: Some good news, at least. Contains this quote: "“We can get them dead, but they’ve got to go someplace." Hidden gems of Washtenaw County foods. Talkin' Ben Mason. Harbaugh on kneeling. Gasaway on FBI. Drum major Kevin Zhang profiled.