Last Hockey Bits

Last Hockey Bits

Submitted by Brian on March 23rd, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Union and Michigan State are underway in a near-empty building, so we're off. Some final items before the madness descends:

HOCKEYBEAR. PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEYBEAR TIME.

HOCKEYBEAR IS GO

Cornell. The preview is here; the Big Red is a tight-checking team with a defensive emphasis and good goaltending. Usually getting an ECAC team in the tournament is a good sign—no team from that league has advanced to the Frozen Four since 2003. You saw the Air Force game, though. This is single elimination playoff hockey.

Line change? Michigan's broken up their top line at an odd time. In practice they've moved Derek Deblois up and Chris Brown down, leaving the lines like so:

  1. Deblois-Wohlberg-Guptill
  2. Glendening-Treais-PDG
  3. Brown-Lynch The Elder-Moffat
  4. Rohrkemper-Lynch The Younger-Hyman

Berenson's explanation of this is grim:

"I just think the lines were getting stale, especially Wohlberg's line," Berenson said. "I thought they lost their work ethic, and they were scoring as individuals but the line wasn't producing. In fact, the line was negative in the last 10 games.

"We can't go into a tournament with a line that is not helping the team, especially one that's supposed to be one of your best."

The top line was still filling up the nets, scoring eight goals in the last nine games, but they're –1 between them. How much is on them and how much is on Michigan's newfound addiction to terrible turnovers from the defense.

Also from that article: Michigan is 13-4-1 since Merrill returned, and he's +12.

Or maybe not? The Daily has another quote from Berenson that suggests Michigan may dump the change if it's not going well:

“When you see the line chart (on Friday) you’ll have a better idea,” Berenson said. “But I like the fact that we’ve got some flexibility. We’ve had different players play with different players during the year, and we’ve even had some guys play different positions. I think when you get to this point of the year, you have to be flexible, as a coach and a player.

“That doesn’t answer (the) question, but that’s my answer.”

It's possible Red is just sending a message.

2002 from darker eyes. Denver reminisces about Yost's apex:

"That was one of the toughest losses I've had in my career," says Kevin Doell, who led that club with 43 points and remains a veteran scorer with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. "When we had a lead going into the third period, we were good at shutting the door. Once they got that first goal and their crowd got into it, it was a huge momentum boost for them. It's still hard to swallow when I think about it."

And thus was born the NCAA's deathly fear of a home crowd for anyone other than Minnesota.

The start of it all. The Daily's Zach Helfland tell the story of Michigan's tourney streak beginning:

It was late Sunday night in March 1990. Bo had just retired, the Fab Five just months away from enrolling at Michigan, and Berenson had just finished a phone call that would decide whether his once-mighty hockey team would be relevant again after so many years.

The 2012 version of the Michigan hockey team encountered some bumps, but it waltzed into the tournament. So did the team before it. In fact, since 1990, only one team, the 2010 squad (which Shawn Hunwick led on its miracle run), was anywhere close to the bubble. But in 1990, it wasn’t that easy.

On one end of the call was Berenson, six fruitless years into his tenure in Ann Arbor. On the other was the NCAA selection committee. Ever since it beat Bowling Green in the CCHA consolation game the day before, Berenson’s team, firmly planted on the NCAA Tournament bubble, had been waiting for this call.

View from Cornell. An email:

Hi, I'm a Cornell fan.  I like your site and wanted to add a thought or two with respect to some of the comments.

About the ECAC's number of national titles: technically it is four, not three. Cornell (1967, 1970), RPI (1985) and Harvard (1989).  RPI also won in 1954, before the league was formed.  And BU walked off with 3 (1971, 1972, 1978) when Hockey East split off from the ECAC.

On the subject of Cornell's mascot/nickname confusion:  The nickname is the Big Red.  Just the color.  We tried to explain this to a Minnesota fan at the 2005 regional when they asked what the mascot is and they thought we were talking down to them.  But usually when we say "Big Red" to someone the next words out of their mouth are "Big Red What?".  In fact, one of the Cornell fan sites is called "the Big Red What?" 

Anyway, the nickname comes from a football song written in 1905 as the team wore red and white, the school colors since its founding.  The bear came along in 1915 when the football team bought a live black bear and kept it on the sidelines during games.  And despite a bear being in the Cornell sports team logos the university website still refers to the mascot as "unofficial".  Not sure what to make of that.  Long story short, nobody calls us "the Bears".

They're like Stanford, okay?

Etc.: Michigan is not exactly paranoid about letting people see their practices. Cornell is of course the team that Michigan emulated during the famous 1991 matchup at Yost that spawned a thousand angry swears. (HT: MHN.)

Puck Preview: Akron State

Puck Preview: Akron State

Submitted by Brian on January 13th, 2012 at 12:41 PM

AKRON STATE IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME

The Essentials  500[1]

WHAT Michigan at North Korea DPR
WHERE Fri: Value City Arena, Columbus
Sun: Baseball Stadium, Outside, Cleveland
WHEN 7:35 PM Friday
5:05 PM Sunday
LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TV Friday: BTN
Sunday: FSD Plus

The Bolivian Air Force

Record. 14-4-3, 10-3-3 CCHA. Ohio State is your surprise conference leader with 34 points in 16 games; Notre Dame and Western are seven points back with two in hand, and then there's the avalanche of .500 teams including M.

Thanks to standing atop a conference that's winning a ton of nonconference games, OSU is #2 in RPI, PWR, and KRACH. Before consecutive ties with terrible Bowling Green last weekend they were #1.

This is pretty weird after OSU graduated a flood of seniors. I should correct myself in re OSU oversigning hypocrisy: it was last year new coach Mark Osiecki ran off a bunch of dudes. This year's attrition was mostly natural.

Previous meetings. Part of Michigan's awful first-half slide was an OSU sweep in Yost. Friday night was an even game in which shots were 33-30 OSU. Michigan failed to convert on a major penalty and OSU won 2-1 when Hunwick let in his worst goal of the season on a shot from almost the goal line along the boards.

Saturday was a wild affair that OSU won 6-5; when Chris Brown was given a major for boarding (but oddly not booted), OSU scored twice in 16 seconds to establish a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish. Michigan was outshot 37-31.

Dangermen. This may be a conference that wins a lot of games but it's not one with a ton of offensive firepower. Even the club at the top of the standings has one PPG scorer, and he's got exactly 1.0. That would be sophomore Chris Crane and his 12-9-21; senior Danny Dries is the other double-digit goalscorer with 11-7-18. Freshman Ryan Dzingel would appear to be their setup man (or passenger) with 5-12-17.

After the top line there's one guy with 11 points, three defensemen who have the usual lines (2-9-11, 0-11-11) for guys who are on the ice when other people score, and then a bunch of Glendening types with 9, 8, 7 points. It's not a team that scares you offensively. Highlights from their most recent game feature just one goal, that scored from about a half-foot out, and a shootout reminiscent of Michigan's most recent adventure in meaningless showpieces:

Firepower is lacking across the league.

Defense and goalie and whatnot. This is where OSU makes its hay. Cal Heeter is having an outstanding year with a .932 save percentage. He stole the Friday night matchup in Yost. Team defense seems to have something to do with this, as backup Brady Hjelle has played four games and sports a .942.

Junior Devon Krogh and senior captain Sean Duddy are the mainstays. I won't attempt to pretend I know anything about them.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

East Anglia Michigan
PP For / G 5.8 5.2
PP Ag / G 5.7 5.2

The expectation is for even penalties for and against.

The expectation is not for those opportunities to come out equal. You know this by now: Michigan's special teams are awful. Michigan is at 15.6 percent, 42nd of 58 teams. OSU's isn't great at 20.6, but when you combine that with the penalty kill it is a significant advantage for OSU. OSU is 8th nationally at 87%; Michigan is 37th at 81%.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Stay out the box. Michigan would prefer a low-penalty affair the likes of which they've been playing recently since OSU's much better at both power play and penalty kill.

Find someone to go with Di Giuseppe. Isolated on a line with guys who aren't scoring chance generators, Di Giuseppe's production has collapsed. Michigan can afford to put together a pure scoring line against an Ohio State team that doesn't have much scoring depth itself; I'd like to see Moffatt out there with PDG; Treais or the perpetually scratched Lindsay Sparks would be a solid third option.

Don't inexplicably scratch Mike Chiasson for a guy you can't put on the ice in the third period. Just sayin'.

Jon Merrill. Extant.

The Big Picture

Michigan is 11 points back of OSU and four back of ND and WMU with both those teams possessing two games in hand, so they've probably blown their shot at a conference title already.

This is still a huge series for Michigan's at-large chances. Playing the #2 team in RPI is an opportunity that will only come around… like four more times this year because of Michigan's brutal schedule. Er.

Anyway. Even a split is a slight positive. It would leave M's RPI static and would help their common opponents comparison*. That is somewhat offset by the 1-1 dragging their TUC record towards .500, though, so it's change on the fringes at best.

Anything better than a split will be a considerable asset; anything worse will be a setback.

*[Nitty-gritty details on that: the COP category has changed from a simple sum of W/L to sums of percentages. Michigan is currently getting 0% of available points against OSU; splitting will get them 25% of available points.]

Elsewhere

I have no tabs, alas.

Dear Diary, Let's Do It Again Sometime

Dear Diary, Let's Do It Again Sometime

Submitted by Seth on December 2nd, 2011 at 11:47 AM

MAGIC

Eric Upchurch (original)

So that's what beating Ohio State feels like, in case you forgot or something. Apparently it involves lots of hugging, and not the cool Ace-meets-Stranger DAP hug kind. I'm talking about the the kind where you grab on like you're sharing a parachute and then hop up and down a few times to simulate a freefall, because you're not entirely sure gravity really applies right now and you should really find that out.

It was the counter clock, but also that they spent the last 10 years spitting in the face of the NCAA (discussion by michelin) and this completely worked for them because in college football winning makes you saints and angels (MGauxBleu) bildeand if you do get caught it's okay because you can just fire accept the resignation of that coach and bring in a savior (SixZero). There was only one thing we could do in return: beat them at football.

That was pretty awesome. Also awesome: Denard Robinson:

So all Denard did was go out and play one of the single greatest games this rivalry has seen. Commanding an offense that heretofore this rivalry had maybe never seen. Beating back the undeservedly arrogant and smug naysayers, who for so long had relished his and his team's failures. This Saturday was not theirs. This Saturday was Denard's.

That's an afterglow diary from My name … is Tim. (Aftergloat from THE_KNOWLEDGE is here).

Airvipermb looked into Robinson's passing stats for this year and found steady improvement. And bwgrudt1484 put Denard's career numbers against M's career leaders. Robinson needs to average about 351 yards and 4 TDs per game the rest of his career to best Henne (unlikely) but 131 yards and 1.5 TDs be our best rusher ever. This is the first time I believe I've seen "Tacopants" referenced as a last name, kind of like how MaGuyver's first name finally came out in his 7th (and final) season. Both of those links are quick reads and worth it.

Not as worth it: the new hockeybear:

In the deep, frozen reaches of space there is a hockey puck. This puck electrifies and floats into the deleted hockey scene from A Scanner Darkly. Meanwhile a polar bear puts on a glove and transforms into a Power Ranger. Summoning his hockey stick from the ice planet of Hoth, Hockeybear stands atop the hockey puck, roars, electrifies, and cuts to a Science Channel special on volcanoes. Its most redeeming feature is the summoned hockey stick destroying the International Space Station while en route to Hockeybear, which (the destroying) is either the sole remaining nod to Hockeybear's ship-, world-, and Michigan's rivals-annihilating ways, or an important public service message about collateral damage when summoning objects through space (Voltron, Silverhawks et al. take heed!).

Michigan makes its final CCHA trip to Alaska-Fairbanks this weekend. Preview? Yesman2221 has you covered.

In etc. Eye of the Tiger examines the SEC Myth for cracks. See if you can guess which two of these three outstanding names are 2013 recruits that Ace interviewed:

Logan Tuley-TillmanLadynasty GaletteJake Butt

And this link is 100% OT but did anyone else with a "Kovacs, Michigan" Google Alert feed accidentally end up reading the most Daily article ever this week?

Jump, weeklies, best of the board.

Puck Preview: North Dakota, Frozen Four

Puck Preview: North Dakota, Frozen Four

Submitted by Brian on April 7th, 2011 at 12:05 PM

PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME

The Essentials  alaska-nanooks

WHAT Thursday: Michigan vs North Dakota
Saturday: Michigan vs Notre Dame, UMD, or grudging acceptance
WHERE XCel Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
WHEN Thu: 8:30 PM.
Sat: hypothetically 9 PM
THE LINE Fear
TELEVISION Thu: ESPN2
Sat: ESPN
 

North Dakota

Record. 32-8-3, 21-6-1 WCHA. Yeeeeaaaargh. NoDak's dominating run through the WCHA ended in regular season and playoff championships and the underlying numbers are almost more impressive. The Sioux had a +50(!) goal differential in 28 conference games and were +86(!) overall.

North Dakota hasn't lost since January 28th and hasn't even tied since February 18th. In their last 15 games they are 14-0-1 and most of those games have been hammerings. A large chunk of that is due to playing Michigan Tech four times (total goals: 28-4) in a weak section of their schedule, but like holy balls. Two weeks ago they were the sole one seed to come out of the regionals and they did it without drama, annihilating RPI 6-0 and Denver 6-1.

They are an easy favorite to win the title, but Michigan has weighted plinko on their side this time.

Previous meetings. None. How about…

Common opponents. Chart? Chart.

  North Dakota Michigan
  Wins Losses Ties Wins Losses Ties
Alaska 3-1     2-0, 4-3    
Wisconsin 1-0, 4-2         4-4
Nebraska-Omaha 6-5, 4-2 0-1, 4-8   6-1, 3-2 2-4  
Notre Dame 6-3   2-2 5-3, 4-2 1-3  
Minnesota 4-1 2-3     1-3  
Colorado College 6-0, 4-3 2-4   6-5, 2-1    

That's less alarming than it could have been. UND is 9-4-1 with a +8 GD. Michigan is 8-3-1 with a +9 GD. Schedule strength is crose enough. These are all good opponents (and Minnesota), suggesting that maybe when it comes to the top of the schedule the teams perform similarly. Too bad that suggestion gets way less powerful when you throw in games versus teams like Miami and Denver in.

matt-frattin

Matt Frattin is so tired of having to do this every game

Dangermen. Like UNO, North Dakota has three solid lines of scorers. Like Colorado College, the top line is lethal. This is not a very good combination if you are going up against them. Hobey lock Matt Frattin leads the nation in goals with 36 and added 24 assists. Who's up for queefcore-scored highlights? You are:

Meanwhile, Jason Gregoire missed around a dozen games and still checks in with 25-18-43. Corban Knight, Evan Trupp, Danny Kristo and Brad Malone are all essentially PPG scorers, and then there's Brett Hextall (yes that Hextall) and his 13-16-29. If you ordered the rosters on a PPG basis you'd run through two full lines of Sioux before reaching the second Wolverine*.

These guys come in all shapes and sizes. Malone is a prototypical power forward with 108 penalty minutes who does most of his work in and around the crease; Trupp is one of those little buggers listed at 5'9". Mostly they're big, though. Rare is the North Dakota player under six foot and most are heavy for hockey players. They score lots, too.

*[This is a tiny bit pessimistic since Gregoire and Kristo both missed a big chunk of the season, allowing some of the other guys more time in high leverage situations (read: power play) to put up points. But not very.]

Defense and goalie and whatnot. After a couple of opponents whose goalies were less statistically impressive than Shawn Hunwick they run up against one for whom that is emphatically not the case. Sophomore Aaron Dell is in the top ten in save percentage with a .924. Hunwick's .922 is hot on his heels, FWIW, but it was nice going up against a couple of tourney teams and thinking "it's more likely their guy implodes than ours."

As for the defense, they are Chay Genoway, Jake Marto and huge. Geonway is basically Chad Langlais surrounded by snipers, a 5'9"—four FAKES out of five, there—defenseman able with the puck. He's got 31 assists on the season, good for eighth nationally. Marto is their version of Merrill. He's around 6'0", has 8-11-19 (five of those even strength), and took just three minor penalties the whole year. The other four guys are all at least 6'2" with freshman Derek Forbort topping out a 6'5". They're not offensive threats, but they don't have to be.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

  UND Michigan
PP For / G 5.2 4.2
PP Ag / G 4.7 4.4

Despite a well-deserved rep for being dicks, North Dakota doesn't rack up penalty minutes quite like Red's old teams that had so much talent they didn't have to care. They do take more than their share of minors but kill 86% of them—fifth—and have eleven shorties. Since they've only given up 28 PPGs… yeah, they do not care about going to the box.

That talent allows them to draw a ton of penalties—they are second nationally in opportunities behind only Colorado College. Their power play is very, very good, too. It is just ahead of CC's at 23.3%, so if you thought watching the Schwartzes ping-pong the puck around was terrifying you're in for more of the same when Michigan is shorthanded.

Michigan remains mediocre in both phases but the penalty kill has dragged itself up from the mid-30s to 22nd in recent weeks.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

brandon-burlon

No pressure, and by no pressure we mean turn this coal into a diamond or we kill your dog

Burlon readiness check: harsh. Michigan's main advantage relative to 90% of college hockey is the ability to throw out any defense pairing against a top line and have confidence they will not get bombed. That was not the case last weekend when Kevin Clare was forced into the lineup by Brandon Burlon's allergic reaction; in the two weeks since Burlon has regained most of the weight he dramatically lost* and has been practicing on the regular. Given how leery Red was of putting Clare out even against CC's mediocre-at-best second and third lines, there's no chance he doesn't go with Burlon even if he's not saying so publicly.

So… how are you feeling, Brandon? Strong and good? Yes? Ready to live up to Red's declaration it's like "nothing ever happened"? We ask because there's no shallow end here. If anyone's going to be sheltered it will be Lee Moffie and even he is going to have a hard time escaping some very dangerous players. Burlon is going to have to do heavy lifting right away. If he's trying to check Malone in the crease it might not go so well.

*[80% of that was water but whateva.]

Enjoy your front-row seats, fourth line. I think we might see Moffatt on the power play some and Michigan will throw them out there every once in a while, but the fourth line is going to be vapor.

Scooter! Vaughn's moment of brilliance ended up being decisive and it will take something like it to take what looks like a loss and turn it into a win. Maybe from Scooter, maybe from someone else, but scrappy gritty Novakgoals aren't going to get it done against North Dakota. There might be some, but without someone stepping up and saying "Hobey this, Frattin" the prognosis is grim. Another breakaway that ends without even the threat of a goal would not be so good.

Of course, Michigan could just let Moffie shoot from the point at every opportunity and watch it pinball around, catch the post, and deflect in. That works too.

Carl/Rust. Michigan's other big advantage is they can ice a truly shut-down checking line and back that up with Carl Hagelin. I think they can keep it relatively even when those guys are out there—the problem is going to be the third line—and that should keep it within the range where bouncing pucks matter. Shut North Dakota down as long as possible, put something past Dell, and watch the pressure ratchet up until it shatters glass.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. Stay out of the box. No box. Srs.

Steal it. Hunwick has done it before this year and while my past self is inventing a time machine just so he can show up right after I type this to slap some sense into me, most win scenarios involve Hunwick setting up halfway to the blue line and stopping every first shot and then doing some crazy stuff you can't even believe is happening.

Believe in the plinko. The NCAA tournament is stupid and unfair and a disaster and this year that's the way we like it.

Pray like hell. Seriously, yo.

The Big Picture

Win or die.

Elsewhere

Berenson: still not retiring. USCHO article has a bunch of quotes from coaches "scouting" the game. Here's Dean Blais wishing he didn't try to get an NHL job:

“[The Fighting Sioux] roll three pretty strong lines, so I think their depth is their biggest strength,” said Blais, who guided North Dakota to two national championships during his 10-year tenure from 1994 to 2004. “But they might be more talented [than Michigan] because of players like Frattin and Genoway that can make a difference in a game.”

Everything you could want from the North Dakota perspective. Comparison:

They're both good pieces but since the length and care taken in the Daily article is no exception—this happens like all the time—it's a good example of why it seems like the best sports section covering Michigan, period. The students are all trying to get clips that will get them jobs that will probably never let them write anything as good as the thing they did when they were writing to impress potential employers, because who has the money for that? Also the Daily kids obviously care. That's not something you can say about everyone. Or even most people. Also also, the Daily pieces seem specifically written for the web what with their multimedia aspects and newshole-crippling length.

Michigan Hockey Net digs up good old times against the Sioux:

Recent times not so good, but hey, it can happen. The United States of Hockey previews the Sioux (and Michigan, FWIW). Ten Things from Yost Built:

7) They have the #2 offense and the #3 defense in the country. That ranks them second in scoring margin (+2.00 goals per game) behind only Yale, which doesn't really count since we all know the ECAC sucks.

Preview: A Cold, Empty Nothingness In Your Heart

Preview: A Cold, Empty Nothingness In Your Heart

Submitted by Brian on April 1st, 2011 at 12:56 PM

HOCKEYBEAR IS—AW, HAMBURGERS THAT'S NEXT WEEK

wasteland_v2_by_radecke The Essentials 

WHAT You vs A Weekend Without Michigan Sporting Events
WHERE The Depths Of Your Existential Dread, Pancreas, TX
WHEN An irritatingly persistent feeling that serves as a preview for the Long Dark after the Frozen Four
THE LINE Existential Dread -7
TELEVISION Versus (Versus will televise anything)

Flipping Through The Channels, Finding Nothing But Clippers Games

(And the Final Four, I guess)

Record. 10-10, 5-5 in conference. Everything this weekend is a nondescript defensive battle between teams too bad to be exciting and too good to be interesting. Both teams wear grey, and Ricky Davis is nowhere in sight.

Previous meetings. Last summer this was a merciful end. The prospect of being required to watch nothing except half-full NBA arenas that double as Ambien for their attendees was sweet relief after football and basketball imploded and hockey only narrowly avoided doing so.

Dangermen. You're really going to want to watch out for old baseball/football/hockey cards (17-27-44), especially that Tim Cheveldae rookie card you thought was going to be worth thousands by now. They will remind you of a time when even bits of cardboard with pictures of people on them were endlessly fascinating. Remembering this could lead into other reveries, like the first time you saw a boob on pay cable, that can only go downhill from there.

Goalie and defense and whatnot. Alcohol, probably. Hang on to the "previous meetings" factoid. It will help to remember that the alternative to feeling lost and alone after relevant sporting events cease is feeling like that all the time. Wait, that doesn't help at all.

Special teams. Their power play is better than Michigan's, I tell you what!

You Versus The Dread Sports Distracts You From

Good luck with that, buddy. You may even find yourself bowling. You hate bowling.

Scandals are pretty much sports too. Jim Tressel, man.

When in doubt.

HOCKEYBEAR IS GO ANYWAY

The Big Picture

Next Thursday and, God willing, Saturday are the Frozen Four. The methadone of spring practice and the spring game-type-substance will provide a gentle glide path into May, but at that point you're just waiting for September. Prepare.

Puck Preview: Colorado College, Midwest Regional

Puck Preview: Colorado College, Midwest Regional

Submitted by Brian on March 26th, 2011 at 12:59 PM

PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME

The Essentials  alaska-nanooks

WHAT Michigan vs CC
WHERE Hundreds of miles from anywhere reasonable
WHEN 9 PM
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TELEVISION ESPN3/ESPNU
 
Bracket here, FWIW.

Colorado College

UPDATE w/ actual scouting. These are always a bit limited because the college hockey TV situation makes it almost impossible to scout beyond base numbers. Fortunately, Denver Blue has seen plenty of CC this year and provides a more in-depth look in a diary.

Record. 23-18-3, 13-13-2 WCHA. You wouldn't know it from CC's demolition of defending national champs Boston College but… eh… they were pretty mediocre this season. They limped to a .500 conference record and were actually outscored by WCHA opponents (by one, but still). That's why they're a four-seed.

Their nonconference schedule is kind of iffy, too. The good: a three-point weekend against RPI, a win over Air Force, and a sweep of UAH (yay?). The not so good: a loss to Fairbanks, a loss to Yale, and a narrow win over MSU followed up by a loss to Michigan(hey, that's us!) in the GLI.

If that's encouraging, the primary reason they're the opponent instead of favored BC is first-round pick and total ninja Jaden Schwartz, who 1) didn't play in the Michigan game because he was at the World Juniors, and 2) broke his ankle at that tournament and missed a couple months. Schwartz left for the WJC after a 3-0 win over SCSU that took CC to 9-7-1. When he returned against Bemidji on February 18th CC was 17-14-2. Um. With him they're 15-11-3… so yeah, apparently having him around hasn't done that much for their record. Still, that is one scary dude.

As far as recent performance goes, they bizarrely had five straight games against Wisconsin thanks to a first-round playoff matchup; they went 3-2 in those. They then beat UAA before losing to North Dakota in a WCHA semi. Then there was the BC demolition.

Previous meetings. As mentioned, Michigan beat CC 6-5 in a wild GLI final that saw Michigan blow a third period lead by giving up two quick goals, then reclaim it with two quick goals ten minutes later. Michigan outshot CC 39-30; CC scored on four of five power plays and gave up a shorthanded goal. Chris Brown, Jon Merrill, and Schwartz were all out of the lineup at the GLI. CC gets Schwartz back; Michigan's returners are offset by the losses of Brandon Burlon and David Wohlberg to injury.

schwartz_jaden2

Schwartz, Jaden Edition

Dangermen. Schwartz, obviously. He's CC's leading scorer (17-29-46) despite playing in only 29 of CC's 42 games. His brother Rylan is usually his linemate; he's more of an assist guy (9-28-37) for Jaden and second-leading scorer Stephen Schultz (17-28-45).

At first glance it looks like CC has a second line with considerable pop—Tyler Johnson leads the team in goals with 20—but in review the next two leading goal scorers get it done primarily on the power play. Twelve of Johnson's twenty were on the PP, as were 11 of Nick Dineen's 13. At even strength CC's second and third lines are only moderately threatening. On the power play they are demons.

The end result: CC is 21st in goals scored at 3.23, actually well behind #12 Michigan. Control the Schwartzes and stay out of the box and CC doesn't have much left. That's kind of a trick, though, isn't it?

Defense and goalie and whatnot. Sophomore Joe Howe got most of the work this year and was not good. His .901 save percentage is 57th amongst 71 qualifying goalies, and the guys below him are almost all on terrible teams that allow scads of quality shots. Either Howe is not good or the CC defense allows scads of quality shots. CC is 33rd in scoring D, allowing almost three goals per game.

Judging from last night's game it's a combination. Howe robbed Boston College on a half-dozen grade A opportunities and still let in four goals; the first one was a comedy of errors from Howe. It's entirely possible Michigan doesn't get the scoring chances BC did, but that GLI game argues otherwise.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

  CC Michigan
PP For / G 5.6 4.2
PP Ag / G 4.3 4.4

CC goes on a hell of a lot of power plays. They've drawn 26 more than the #2 team in that category, North Dakota, and 59 more than Michigan. In the GLI game Michigan actually got six to CC's five, FWIW, but CC converted at an 80% clip.

Continuing with our theme of AWEFENSE coupled with horrible defense, CC is tied with BC for sixth on the PP, converting at 23.4% rate. They also lead the nation with 11 shorthanded goals conceded. (Michigan Tech is tied with them.) Michigan's PK remains mediocre.

Flip the units and it's a mediocre PP against a mediocre PK. In fact, CC and Michigan have identical numbers on the PK: both have killed 151 of 182. Michigan does have more shorthanded goals to their credit.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Neutralize the Schwartz: how? Michigan has last change so I imagine we'll see Merrill out there against that top line, but when it comes to forwards this seems like a situation where you'd put Hagelin out there with Rust and Scooter/Glendening/Lynch as you go all out to take that line out of the equation 5x5. That would bust up Michigan's lines, though, and you might not want to do that with zero practice days to get used to it.

Your other option is to stick with what you've got going, at which point you're probably throwing Rust/Glendening/Winnett out there, which is… like… not fast enough. It's either that or putting Brown and Caporusso out there with the Schwartzes, and who hates that idea? Everyone!

I think I'd re-form Rust, Hagelin, and Lynch but I'm just a guy, not Red. It'll be interesting to see what he goes with.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. Tiny goalie plus snipers makes for a bad time.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I'm srs.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I'm srs!!!

The Big Picture

Win or die.

Elsewhere

Excellent Daily story on the Zapruder goal:

“There was a kid behind the penalty box saying it was a goal,” senior forward Louie Caporusso said. “He just kept saying, ‘It’s a goal.’ ”

Yost Built screencapped the kid, too:

Goal 2

Michigan athletics loves pointing at things right now. FWIW, I disagree with his take on the Rust OT penalty. That was dangerous and deserved the call. Also, if you were wondering if CC's dominant performance meant the wrong team won last night from a Michigan perspective, don't be:

Boston College was 22-2-1 in their last 25 games. John Muse was 8-0 in the NCAA Tournament and something absurd like 22-1 in tournament play (NCAA and Hockey East, not sure if it counted the Beanpot).

Daily gallery and game story. Torrent. If you're wondering why we all act like scalded dogs this time of year:

Michigan had lost its last five NCAA Tournament overtime affairs, including 3-2 in double OT to Miami in the final of last year’s Midwest Regional.

Puck Preview: UNO, Midwest Regional

Puck Preview: UNO, Midwest Regional

Submitted by Brian on March 25th, 2011 at 12:54 PM

PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME

The Essentials  alaska-nanooks

WHAT Friday: Michigan vs UNO
Saturday: Michigan vs BC, CC, or tears
WHERE Hundreds of miles from anywhere reasonable
WHEN Fri: 5:30 PM.
Sat: hypothetically 9 PM
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TELEVISION Friday: ESPN3, Comcast Local, Altitude
Saturday: ESPN3/ESPNU
 
Bracket here, FWIW. Second round opponent preview tomorrow afternoon in the event of the win.

Nebraska-Omaha

Record. 21-15-2, 17-9-2 WCHA. The Mavericks' debut season in the WCHA was a successful one. A very successful one: the finished third and their +35 goal differential was second only to North Dakota's terrifying +50.

Their performance outside of the conference was not so good. They swept an early-season tournament against Clarkson and RIT and split with Michigan (hey, that's us!) but were swept themselves by eh Quinnipiac and somehow managed to lose to UAH at home. That one seems like a slight fluke since shots were 59-19 UNO.

Also not so good has been recent performance. UNO split its last three series of the regular season and was swept out of the playoffs by Bemidji in the first round; they've lost four of their last five.

Previous meetings. Michigan and UNO split a lopsided pair at Yost earlier in the year. UNO took the Friday game, leaping out to a 4-0 lead before a couple of consolation goals with less than ten minutes left made the final score respectable. The next night it was Michigan leaping out to the 4-0 lead; they fished that game 6-1. Michigan had ten more shots Friday; they were essentially even on Saturday.

I remember having a conversation with Guy Who Would Be JBug If I Was Bill Simmons to the effect of "I thought Saturday's game was exactly like Friday's but both nights the bounces went entirely one team's way" that we both agreed on. This one will be tight. Or it won't, I guess.

ambroz2

Matt Ambroz

Dangermen. The Mavs get goals from everywhere. A whopping eight players hit double digit goals this year and the spectacularly-named Johnny Searfoss just missed with nine, giving UNO three almost utterly balanced scoring lines. The guy to look out for slightly more than the others is senior Matt Ambroz (17-17-34).

UNO has a couple of D with a ton of assists but no one like Michigan's goal machine defensemen.

Defense and goalie and whatnot. Sophomore John Faulker has played in every game this year with mediocre results. His .908 save percentage is slightly below average nationally; Michigan has a big edge in net with Shawn Hunwick's .921.

UNO's D doesn't have any stars outside of guy who gets all the power play assists; Bryce Aneloski is the only NHL draftee and that's as a seventh rounder on his third trip through. What you will see is plenty of overage guys—Aneloski, for example, is a 21-year-old sophomore. UNO has a grand total of two teenagers, one a backup goalie, and five 24-year-olds.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

  UNO Michigan
PP For / G 4.2 4.2
PP Ag / G 4.6 4.4

Both teams are slightly more likely to suffer a penalty kill than acquire a power play, but UNO is slightly more so. UNO's power play is mediocre at 17.6%, probably because they have a lot of pretty good offensive players but no lights-out stars. Michigan's kill is slightly better than average at 82.4%. The flipside is similar—both the UNO kill and Michigan PP are slightly above average.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Goalie Hyde, please. The last month has been a little bit of a rollercoaster for Michigan's goaltending. Shawn Hunwick was extremely shaky against WMU, then awesome against NMU. The team had a bye, then he had a virtual bye against BGSU. At the Joe he was extremely shaky against WMU again, then stole the game against ND, Montoya-vs-Maine style. I think we're more likely to get Dr. Hyde, but if things start going badly they might keep going badly.

Goodbye midget scoring line. I'm not super happy about Michigan abandoning the Sparks-Treais-Anchor setup on the third line but after looking at UNO's scoring it's clear this is not a team that has a third line that's just trying to keep the puck out of its own net. The results:

This week, Winnett stayed put, joining senior center Matt Rust and junior right wing Luke Glendening, while Vaughan is now on the third line with sophomore center Kevin Lynch and sophomore right wing A.J. Treais (previously at center).

This setup leaves sophomore Jeff Rohrkemper as the fourth-line center with sophomore Lindsay Sparks and freshmen Luke Moffatt and Derek DeBlois fighting for two wing positions.

The nominally top line—defined as whichever one Hagelin's on—remains Brown-Hagelin-Caporusso. Also I am not trying to hear that Vaughn and Treais are on the third line. That's #2, yo.

That setup on the fourth line means we can kiss it goodbye, IME. Not exactly what I wanted but anything that results in moar Hagelin increases your chances.

Pray like hell. This is actually left over from the CCHA finals last year when Michigan was staring down a juggernaut Miami team with a 19-year tourney streak on the line. It is the best advice for a one-and-done hockey tournament, so here it stays.

The Big Picture

Win or die.

Elsewhere

HSR previews the Mavs:

Blais has garnered UNO's second trip to the NCAA tournament, and as one of my friends put it to my bluntly, "I am loathe to bet against Blais in a tournament setting."  He has a point.  Blais resume includes 5 30+ win seasons at North Dakota and two national championships for the Fighting [NICKNAME] and he lead the USA Hockey World Junior team to the gold medal in Saskatoon in 2009-2010.  He is a coach who gets the most out of his talent and whose team will play hard every shift.

Yost Built does the same:

Faulkner was a microcosm of Nebraska-Omaha's inconsistency. He was 6-6-0 against tournament teams, splitting series against Michigan, North Dakota, CC, North Dakota again, DU, and Minnesota-Duluth. He gave up 35 goals in those 12 games. Minnesota-State, Michigan Tech, and Alabama-Huntsville were the only series all season where he gave up 2-or-fewer goals in both games. He had shutouts against North Dakota and Colorado College, but gave up 6 and 5 goals in the other game of the weekend. He's very capable of being great, and he's very capable of being chased. We saw both ends of the spectrum earlier in the year. Friday night, he stopped 34 of 36 shots. The next night, he lasted just over 23 minutes before getting the hook.

WCH points out a one-and-done hockey tournament is a random number generator:

I think the ideal NCAA tournament preview would chronicle what each team ate for breakfast the morning of their game, since that would seem to be a lot more important than any sort of statistics accrued over the course of the season. Brad Schlossman posted the statistic last night that in the past four years, #1 seeds are just 9-7 against #4 seeds in the first round of the tournament. Some may that call that exciting, but it's almost random to the point of being meaningless.

I've got a pretty good way to address this in a mailbag coming up.

Berenson returns to his second hockey home. 2013 recruit Tyler Motte made the NTDP. Michigan Hockey Net deploys a live blog for the game. I'd participate but I'd just type "FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU" the entire game unless we got up five goals.

Finally… um… can someone who goes to the official WCHA site more often than I do tell me how long this tagline has been up?

image

Consult the flowchart? Consult the flowchart. Oh, snap.

Puck Preview: CCHA Finals

Puck Preview: CCHA Finals

Submitted by Brian on March 18th, 2011 at 4:21 PM
 

PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME

HOCKEYBEAR IS GO

The Essentials 

WHAT Western vs Michigan
Miami/ND vs Michigan
WHERE Joe Louis Arena
Detroit, MI
WHEN 8:05 PM Fri
TBD Sat
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TELEVISION Friday: FSD Plus
Saturday: FSD

Western

max-campbellNot much has changed since Michigan took on Western in the second-to-last weekend of the regular season, so the previous Puck Preview stands. Since Western suffered the wrath of Senior Night Hagelin they split with Notre Dame, for which they get a tip of the hat when Michigan raises its conference championship banner, and won a home series against Ferris in three games.

That's been good enough to raise Western to 12th in the Pairwise, but not good enough to assure them a bid. They will be hair on fire this weekend trying to lock that down. A split should do it.

A brief reminder of Western's strengths: they get fairly diverse scoring and have a PPG-ish star in senior Max Campbell, who has 18-17-35. Freshman Chase Balisy is moving up NHL draft boards and has 12-17-29. Western splits those two up so the checking-plus-Scooter-domination line can't shut down both, and their scoring depth is such that the third line is going to have to play some D if they're going to outscore.

Goalie Jerry Kuhn was awful against Michigan earlier in the year but has a .915 save percentage overall. He's about average.

Miami

andy-miele

I don't know what was with the Redhawks earlier in the year but they're a death machine now. They haven't lost since an inexplicable 7-4 defeat to Michigan State on January 21st, and though they have three ties in that stretch they're still 8-0-3 since Enrico Blasi peeled the paint after whatever that was. That includes series against the other three finalists: a two tie split at ND, a home sweep of Michigan that caused me to PANIC, and what used to be a three-point weekend against WMU. In their last five they've outscored opponents 23-5, failing to give up more than one goal in any of those games. Despite coming in a distant third in the CCHA I bet if jamiemac (of Just Cover) was to dig up offshore college hockey lines from Venezuela or whatever they'd be a solid favorite this weekend.

As a result they've moved from the PWR danger zone (they were actually 18th(!) and well out of the tournament before the Michigan series) to the verge of a one-seed—Michigan's one seed. A hypothetical title game matchup will be for that one seed and the right to not play any of the top five teams in the country until hypothetically reaching the Frozen Four, and will be a BFD.

Miami's team was also covered in a Puck Preview that remains largely accurate. Andy Miele is a Hobey Candidate and the country's leading scorer with (sigh) 21-44-65. Carter Camper would be a Hobey Candidate if he wasn't on the same team as Miele—he's fourth nationally with 17-35-42. Sophomore Reilly Smith is also in the top ten in PPG with 26-22-48, and then they've got two more guys with double-digit goals. They score like whoah.

Of late they've also defended like whoah. Alaska managed a total of 31 shots in two games last weekend, and while Lake State wasn't quite as inept when it came to vaguely testing Miami's two-headed goalie they were equally incapable of getting the puck in the net. You're probably remembering that Saturday game in Oxford when Michigan had maybe three crappy scoring chances the entire game. Yeah.

Miami's rotated their goalies all year, including last weekend. They have nearly identical stats so it won't matter much who gets the call. One possible silver lining for Redhawk opponents: both have taken major steps back from last year, when they were amongst the national leaders in save percentage.

Notre Dame

tj-tynan

The Irish lost the CCHA title in agonizing fashion by losing on the last day thanks to three disallowed goals. They suffered something of a hangover two weeks later as they struggled to put away a pretty bad LSSU team. An OT win Friday was followed by a loss and ND didn't show their quality until the final game when they jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead and almost doubled up LSSU in shots in a comfortable 4-2 win.

Michigan's lone series against ND came during football season, before pucks start getting previewed. It was a split in which the games seemed fairly even. Notre Dame got some bounces Friday and then Michigan's Saturday win was the deflectingest game I ever dang saw, with the primary attraction a goal from Chad Langlais that came when Langlais was literally the only guy on the ice who knew where the puck was.

Since that weekend the two rivals spent the year neck-and-neck at the top of the CCHA standings. ND got there thanks largely to two (sigh) awesome freshmen: TJ Tynan (21-28-49) and Anders Lee (22-21-41) are 1—2 in team scoring. A couple of senior assist machines come next and then there's a smattering of guys with Wohlberg-like statlines and a couple of defensemen with pop in their stick, most prominently sophomore Sam Calabrese (not that Calabrese).

Notre Dame's issue has been iffy goaltending. Backup Steve Summerhays has a .859 in ten games and starter Mike Johnson's .907 is just 41st (of 71 qualifiers) nationally.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Well… no bullet points as I try to find something not tautological to say. Michigan played well last weekend against the hockey equivalent of Hampton and before that did enough to scratch out a CCHA championship despite at no point seeming like the sort of team that would end up winning the league or earning a one-seed.

I wouldn't be surprised with anything this weekend. Michigan could have a couple bounces go against them against Western and then close out a disappointing weekend with a loss to a very good ND or Miami team, or they could deflect their way to glory in a series of tight games featuring lots of offense from the blue line.

There's a lot on the line; let's hope it's the latter.

The Big Picture

If you would like to be the committee go ahead: you are the committee. I was wrong on one important point earlier: Michigan's destiny is not entirely in its own hands. If Merrimack wins HE they will take their comparison against Michigan and slip into the last #1 seed. That requires them to beat New Hampshire and presumably BC back-to-back and seems pretty unlikely, but it is a possibility.

I've fiddled with YATC a bit and can't find any other scenario that doesn't result in a #1 for Michigan if they win the CCHA. I do find things like a hypothetical Western-ND consolation game being the difference between the Broncos finishing 17th in the PWR—well out of the tourney—and tied with ND for tenth.

Michigan can still get the last #1 if they lose to ND instead of Miami and favorites win other conference tourneys but that's a 50-50 shot that relies on the hottest team in the country going down against ND in a couple hours. Win and very likely a #1, lose and very likely a #2.

Root against Denver, Miami, and Merrimack this weekend.

Elsewhere

Michigan Hockey Net catches up with the Honeybaked coach. He makes latest commit Evan Allen sound like Andy Hilbert, but compares him to Kevin Porter.

Puck Preview: Alaska

Puck Preview: Alaska

Submitted by Brian on January 21st, 2011 at 2:55 PM

HOCKEYBEAR IS GO

alaska-nanooksThe Essentials 

WHAT Alaska @ Michigan
WHERE Yost Ice Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN 7:35 PM Fri/Sat
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TELEVISION Friday: FSD Plus
Saturday: BTN.com
(ie, not TV)

Alaska

Record. 10-8-4, 7-7-4 CCHA. The Nanooks have won two of their four shootouts and are one of a remarkable four teams sitting on a .500 conference record, give or take some shootout points. They're tied for fifth in the league with those teams, a tiny bit behind WMU.

In terms of goal differential, Alaska is +4 on the season and +1 against their CCHA schedule.

Previous meetings. Michigan split a pair in Fairbanks, losing 3-0 on Friday before rebounding with a 5-2 win on Saturday.

Dangermen. Goals have been hard to come by for Alaska. They're languishing at 50th (of 58) in scoring.

Andy Taranto, last year's CCHA freshman of the year, leads the team with seven goals. Four others follow with six. Freshman forward Cody Kunyk and junior defenseman Joe Sova lead the team with 16 points—0.72 per game. No one puts the fear of God into you, but a half-dozen players are at least okay at putting the puck into the net.

Defense and goalie and whatnot. The only entity to have seen time other than junior Scott Greenham has been Open Net. In 22 games Greenham's racked up a .926 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA—he, and the Nanook defense, are your answers to the question "how can a team scoring two goals a game be .500?"

Alaska is fifth in scoring defense at 2.14 goals allowed per game. Possibly heartening item: Ferris State was second before last weekend's series and Michigan doubled up their averages. They're now sixth.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

  Alaska Michigan
PP For / G 4.6 4.5
PP Ag / G 4.6 4.7

Michigan lags ever so slightly. As to what happens when the specialty units get on the ice, Michigan's power play is mediocre (19.6%, 20th) but Alaska's is worse (15.8%, 38th). Michigan's penalty kill has been terrible (80.3%, 41st) and Alaska's mediocre (84%, 18th). This is a push.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Scoring first highly recommended. It is always highly recommended but is even more so when you're playing a team with the profile of Alaska. This is also an opportunity for Michigan to jump on an opponent on Friday night—Alaska has traditionally been jet-lagged and horrible on Fridays, but much more competitive the next night.

Don't give up anything cheap. A team with issues scoring like Alaska is going to have a tough time against Michigan's deep and solid D corps/Hagelin unless there's a parade to the box or some of the guys in the bottom six/third pairing are turnover machines. Issue: turnover machines exist on those lines. Lee Moffie's +/- will be a bellwether.

Fire them from many places. Open shots from the point should come paired with traffic and should just be taken. Alaska's good defensively and any opportunity to chuck it at the net is a good one, especially when you've got the shooters at the point Michigan does.

The Big Picture

It's still too early to start poking the PWR in earnest, but that didn't stop the NCAA committee from making it slightly worse by going back to an old definition of what a "team under consideration" is. A few years ago it was anyone with an RPI of .500 or better. It was changed to the top 25 in RPI for a few years and now it's suddenly back to the old style, for whatever reason.

This ups the number of TUCs from 25 to 34 and slightly increases the stupidity of that category since now games against #1 are equivalent to games against #34. Before you had to be 25th to get that equality. Also it's ridiculous that six teams with an under .500 record are "under consideration" when the NCAA banned under .500 teams from getting at-large bids after Wisconsin managed that trick one year.

At this instant the change is a slight help to Michigan since it includes Michigan's 5-1-1 record against Ferris and MSU; they move up one slot to fifth in the revised rankings. Unfortunately, a quick glance at the individual comparisons suggests this is about as far as Michigan can move up. The PWR has morphed into a system that slightly alters RPI. Michigan is sixth but manages to make up a big difference in RPI with BC for stupid reasons; those may correct. Meanwhile, the top four all have massive advantages in that category that will be tough to overcome unless Michigan tears through the back half of its schedule. Even then it may take a collapse from teams at the top to snag a top seed.

It's much easier to envision a scenario where Michigan falls down the rankings; they're at the top of a tightly packed bunch. The difference between Michigan and #4 Denver is equal to the difference between Michigan and #16 RPI. Stumbles will see them give ground quickly.

Elsewhere

Yost Built has ten things for you.

Bonus: Michigan picked up another 2011 commit, a Travis Lynch from the USHL. He's got 13 points in 33 games and sounds like he's going to be a checker and penalty killer a la Scooter. If they can find one more scoring line type that would just about finish the class.

Unverified Voracity Blitzes The A Gap

Unverified Voracity Blitzes The A Gap

Submitted by Brian on November 1st, 2010 at 5:51 PM

Schadenfreuede starring you. You may be featured in TWIS…

It's time to play "MGoBlog Content Or Smiths Song?"

  1. "Embarrassing really doesn’t cover what this is"
  2. "If you have a pitchfork I want to talk"
  3. "That joke isn't funny anymore"
  4. "I've got nothing left"
  5. "I started something that I couldn't finish"
  6. "Searching for something to hold on to"

…but so am I so it's only fair. Also the first one isn't actually MGoBlog content, it's from MGoFootball, but it was too perfect.

What happened when that other thing was happening. If you weren't one of the sixteen people at Yost on Saturday this is what happened:

That completed a four point weekend after Michigan's last-ditch tying goal led to a shootout loss in Big Rapids. The NCAA does not use shootouts as part of the PWR formula so to them it's just 1-0-1, which is a decent enough weekend against an opponent that traditionally plays Michigan very tough at home.

Michigan heads up to Fairbanks this weekend for a tough series against Alaska (That Alaska):

The Nanooks are 5-2-1 on the year and have a win over Colorado College; they've beaten some weak teams and lost to North Dakota at home and had a 0-1-1 trip at Munn in their first and only weekend outside of Alaska. After that Michigan gets a rejuvenated Notre Dame program at Yost; the next two weeks will go a long way towards establishing just what Michigan is this year after a slightly shaky start.

Brian Kelly terror level: reduced. I'm on record saying that in Brian Kelly Notre Dame had found a real coach who was likely to whip the talented but lost Weis leftovers into a formidable team sooner or later, likely sooner. Eh… not so much. The decision to have your freshman backup toss a fade to Michael Floyd when you need a field goal to win and a Groza candidate at kicker is Weis-level outsmarting yourself. Also it was against Tulsa.

So that's one thing. More damning still was what happened in the Navy game. At halftime Brian Kelly mumbled something incoherent about the "veer" to the sideline reporter, implying that the Mids had brought out the fireworks for their big game against Notre Dame:

If you saw the game you might have thought this was weird since the Navy offense looked pretty much like the Navy offense always does except the fullback wasn't getting tackled until he was 20 yards downfield. Navy blog The Birddog, which breaks down Navy games in detail equivalent to UFR, explains what the fancy new scheme was:

Kelly and Diaco just have absolutely no clue how the Navy offense works.

Navy started the game in the heavy formation, with two tackles lined up on one side and a wide receiver in the tackle position on the other side. Contrary to Kelly’s comments, this isn’t unusual at all for the Navy offense. Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper frequently uses the heavy formation when the defense has an inside linebacker with exceptional playmaking ability; in Notre Dame’s case, that would be Manti Te’o. … The first down lineman on or outside the B gap is still unblocked as the quarterback’s first key, and the next player out is still #2 in the count. Since it is the lineman in the B gap that is left unblocked, that’s the path that the fullback takes on his run. If that lineman steps upfield and takes the quarterback, that’s where the running lane will be.

That isn’t something new that the Navy coaches saved for Notre Dame. That is Navy Offense 101. It’s the absolute basics; the bread and butter play run in every game out of every formation. If Diaco and Kelly hadn’t seen it before, then I have no idea what film they’ve been watching, or if they even watched any at all. That isn’t even hyperbole; they thought that Navy’s fullback ran through the A gap. And that was their plan– to send the inside linebackers crashing into the A gap that nobody was running through.

The Birddog explains Kelly's odd veer comment as a fundamental misunderstanding of the Navy offense based on the idea they run the midline a ton (they did run it against ND, but only twice). Which fine he's an offensive guy but that's got to be the explanation he got from DC Bob Diaco, then, so you're just devolving the gaping incompetence to the coordinator level. (This does not sound familiar at all.) So Notre Dame goes in at halftime aware they've made a fundamental mistake when it comes to the Navy offense and they change their scheme up like so:

Those ILBs kept running into the A gap for the entire game. Once or twice Te’o scraped outside to make a play in the backfield, and I’d think,”OK, now we’ll see something else.” But we didn’t. Notre Dame would go right back to the same old thing on the next play, and the Mids would pick up a big gain.

That's how you lose 35-17 to Navy. Navy then went out and lost to Duke, rushing for 148 yards at 4.0 a pop. So… yeah. As long as Diaco's around I'm not going to be that terrified of Brian Kelly. (This is not a criticism you can level at Michigan.)

Give me back mah bukkit. Elsewhere in Charlie Weis comparisons, Danny Hope is one easily-peeved walrus:

After Purdue cut its deficit to 37-10, Illinois threw three passes on a 57-yard scoring drive, including a 15-yard scoring strike from Scheelhaase to Chris James with 1:36 left.

"I probably would not have done that but I’m not going to cry about it," Hope told reporters after the game. "That's their choice, their call. I would not have done it. He’s the coach. If it makes him feel better about him and his team, call it, chuck it and run it up."

Unlike former Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, who had a heated postgame exchange with Wisconsin's Bret Bielema after an Oct. 9 game in Madison, Hope doesn't intend to confront Zook.

"Why would I say something about that?" Hope said. "Game's over. It's his call. It’s done. I'm not going to cry about it."

Charlie Weis press conferences were laden with statements like "I'm not going to blame Jimmy Clausen for overthrowing Golden Tate, I take that responsibility myself. Another thing I'm taking responsibility for: our defensive line being comprised of mewling kittens. That's on me, and does not reflect poorly on the character of Ian Williams." Here Hope repeatedly states he's not going to cry about the thing he is crying about.

Etc.: 2011 PG commit Trey Burke continues to play well in local tournaments, going head to head with a top-50 player and coming out almost even in points (33 to 34) and seeing his team pick up the W.