Tom Hammond, Move Over: It's Freekbass Time

Tom Hammond, Move Over: It's Freekbass Time

Submitted by Brian on April 30th, 2010 at 11:17 AM

freekbassNBA on NBC -- NBC Sports -- Pictured: Tom Hammond, Play-by-Play Announcer -- NBC Photo

Excited To See You Tom Hammond is no longer the most terrifying Notre Dame-related thing on the internet. I know this is hard to comprehend.

But never has a school been so ably summarized in four emasculating minutes:

You have to watch it. It will be the most conflicted four minutes of your life. It will be so horrible, but it will be awesome because it will be more horrible for the people this abortion ironically purports to represent. That guy redefining maximum levels of whiteness goes by "Freekbass," by the way, and has won an award. It is a sexy lamp sort of award, but it's an award. Soon he will have another award.

Explains the last 20 years, doesn't it? The people in charge of Notre Dame thought this was a good idea. They  got poor Brian Kelly to show up in this thing. They deployed the school's cheerleaders as a hearty midwestern dance backdrop. They spent a lot of money and time to aim very carefully at their own testicles with a shotgun and pulled the trigger on their official youtube channel.

Of course they hired Bob Davie, George O'Leary, Ty Willingham, and Charlie Weis. Maybe they will end up in the Big Ten after all.

UPDATE: Reader Nick Gorski provides the perfect comparison: this is the exact opposite of Hockeybear blowing up Earth.

Unverified Voracity Scales Mount Indiana

Unverified Voracity Scales Mount Indiana

Submitted by Brian on April 23rd, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Bubbly. AnnArbor.com catches up to a smiling Brandon Graham after his selection by the Eagles:

Rarely have I been so happy for a Michigan player. After the last two years, Graham deserves every good thing that can possibly happen to him. I hope he learns how to fly.

(Also: can I take a moment to tout how useful UFRs have been in tracking Brandon Graham's impact? I was a little worried that BG was outperforming Woodley, but there he is in the top half of the first round after the NFL saw how unblockable he is.)

Denard-o. Gerry DiNardo has lost more football games than you've ever watched, but he's still on the television so people ascend to his yurt high up in the Indiana mountains to beseech him for his wisdom. Last year his wisdom was "Denard Robinson is going to start at quarterback," which is a strong indicator as to why he's lost more football games than you've ever watched. DiNardo single criterion for choosing a starting quarterback is "is it vaguely possible this kid was named after me?" By no other measure was Robinson a plausible starter in 2009.

In 2010 things are different. Denard Robinson is still named after Dinardo, though:

"I think it has to be Denard Robinson," he said. "If you think about the way Rich Rodriguez became so successful at West Virginia it wasn't with a drop-back quarterback that threw 50 times, even though that approached worked for him some as an offensive coordinator. He wants to play the game that Denard plays, with a greater emphasis on the running attack than the passing attack. He wants to have that guy that can tuck the ball and make you miss even when the blocking isn't perfect, that can make you miss even if he misreads the read-option, and from everything I've seen, Denard Robinson is that guy.

"In college football nowadays, defenses, as much as they try to practice this, cannot tackle in space. From the earliest age, you're not coached to tackle one-on-one without help. The instruction is always about rallying to the ball and then for your defensive backs to use the sideline as their friend. But when you're stuck in a one-on-one situation, against an athlete like Denard Robinson, most of the time you're going to be left grasping for air.

"So when I see what he can do, and then I see what Forcier did last year - to me there is no comparison for where this offense wants to go."

I'm not sure he's right that Rodriguez is dedicated to running 75% of the time, but his other points are solid. The bit about defenses being unable to tackle in space could be the operational philosophy of Rodriguez's entire offensive system. Tate missed reads on the option plenty last year—most of the time, it seemed—and while he was slippery enough to evade lumbering defensive ends he wasn't fast enough to turn his frequent missed reads into anything more than a few yards. A prime example from the Illinois game:

It's possible Robinson can turn this into another couple yards, or even break something long (although probably not on this particular play). A quarterback who can get that extra couple yards is an extremely dangerous option. For all Forcier's flaws, he was an effective runner. If you cut out the copious sacks Michigan gave up last year (24 for 184 yards), he averaged 4.7 YPC. (This is slightly optimistic since Robinson probably took a couple sacks, so you may want to mentally adjust that to 4.5 or so.) A version of Denard Robinson that can run the zone read and throw well enough to keep linebackers honest will obliterate that.

Keeping the linebackers honest will take some doing, but the nice thing about being Denard Robinson is that when you go to play action, it's time to cheat like a mother for all but the best defenses. I don't think Ohio State is going to be particularly vulnerable to a raw sophomore like Robinson, but I also don't think Illinois or Purdue has much of a chance to stop him.

Merrill rising, talkin' smack. Incoming defenseman Jon Merrill saw his stock slip slightly over the course of his final year with the NTDP, but a strong U-18 tournament (where the US is obliterating all comers) has seen Merrill's stock pop up into the rarefied air of a potential top ten selection once more:

At the beginning of the tournament Gudbranson had the inside edge as the potential top defender to be selected this year, battling it out with Windsor's Cam Fowler, but the gap is closing.  The play of Merrill, along with the struggles of the Gudbranson-led Canadian team, may have catapulted Merrill into that coveted position and certainly into the overall debate. 

Coming into the tournament many even felt Forbort would likely be ranked and selected ahead of Merrill, and even though Forbort has looked strong, the abilities that Merrill has showcased so far during this tournament have pushed him ahead in the eyes of many scouting circles.  Merrill is a tall and lanky player with a lot of room to build on his frame.  He has tremendous speed and has extremely good intelligence with and around the puck.  Merrill has been the kingpin of the US's powerplay and quarterbacks it tremendously well. 

Merrill will jump into Michigan's top four on day one and I'm betting he'll be on the top powerplay and top pairing by midseason at the latest. He was also interviewed by McKeen's, and because he's going to play in college he was asked to justify his existence. He did so with aplomb:

I think a lot of guys make the argument that the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) is the most similar to the NHL in style of play, and you play a lot of games, and things like that, but you’ve got to look at it from my perspective. I’m 18 years old. If I went and played in the CHL, there’s 15 and 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds, in the league. There’s top-end 18 and 19-year-old guys, too, but if you go to college, everyone’s older than you. I’m a freshman in a bigger, stronger, faster game, and you get up for every game, because you only play 35, 40 games, or whatever it is. Every game is a big game. Whereas in the CHL, you’re playing in Sudbury on a Tuesday night, and how do you get up for that, you know?

Tuesdays in Sudbury is a best-seller by Bizzaro Canadian Mitch Albom, but not a particularly attractive option compared to playing outdoors in front of one million people, give or take nine hundred thousand.

Nothing on Moffatt, unfortunately. He has just one assist for a rampant USA. The U18s are the last opportunity to put it out there for NHL scouts and he's not drawing a whole lot of notice. Hopefully he'll slide in comfortably—a mid-round NHL draft pick is usually a good player—but an instant impact is unlikely.

Side note: please don't read anything about Jack Campbell. It will make you sad.

(Interview HT: Michigan Hockey Net.)

About the one million people. Sales for Cold War II have been ridiculous so far:

General ticket sales began Wednesday, netting 14,700 purchases by 4 p.m., according to an athletic department spokesman. When added to the that seats have already been sold or committed to by season-ticket holders, former players and other groups, officials announced Wednesday that close to 80,000 tickets have already been sold.

"This has just taken off. You knew it would when you have something this special at the Big House - the first time ever, maybe the only time ever," Berenson said in a statement. " Everybody wants to be there. I think we'll be sold out before we know it. It'll be a tough ticket to buy."

With the original Cold War still the all-time hockey attendance record, the question at this point is not if this December's game will break it, but if the record shatters with enough force to match the destructive power of a bear dropping a bomb into a volcano.

Probably not. But it will be close, yo.

Cancer, again. Chris Perry's arrest was a family thing in which something went down with a cousin, possibly because Perry's mom is terminally ill with the cancer she was battling when Perry played at Michigan. Irene Perry is the main reason Chris didn't transfer a couple years into his career. Best wishes, for whatever that's worth, to the Perry family.

Etc.: Martell Webb and a tiny child.

Unverified Voracity Seeks Bear Revenge

Unverified Voracity Seeks Bear Revenge

Submitted by Brian on February 16th, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Take it easy, man. An announcement: WTKA is moving towards a single drive-time host on the Big Show and it won't be me (obviously—I'm not a radio pro), so the Monday 4-6 window I've been holding down since August is kaput. I'll still be on from 9-10 on Thursdays with Ira and probably do intermittent call-ins when there's something to talk about.

Ira was worried he'd get crucified on the internets for this, so be gentle.

The switch. Cameron Gordon is officially a safety-type player:

“The coaches would always be like, ‘Come to the dark side, come to the dark side,” Gordon said.

A few weeks ago, he did.

Those were the defensive coaches, for what it's worth. Touch The Banner suggests it's not the last move for Gordon in a largely positive take:

I still think he's best suited for linebacker, particularly the weak inside linebacker position held tenuously by Jonas Mouton. Perhaps this is the next step in a slow transition to WILL, because I don't foresee Gordon having the speed to play weak safety, either. There are times in this defense where the strong safety has to roll over to play man coverage on the strong side, meaning the weak safety has to back up to play the deep middle or a deep half.

"Held tenuously" is this defense's equivalent of "magic" in the Winter Olympics. As far as the critique goes: I'm with him. If Gordon is 210 pounds now he'll probably be pushing 220 by fall, which is good for half that position's job but maybe not so good for the deep half bit. Michigan didn't have the ability to have the box safety drop into a deep zone last year and was forced to use Donovan Warren as the second guy in cover two. This exposed Michigan to those wide receiver screens that killed them all year.

I do disagree with TTB's assertion that Rodriguez hasn't shown a propensity for using the middle of the field in the passing game. Who's the number one receiver going into spring? Probably Roy Roundtree, right?

Demon Bear: the interview. Neal Rubin of the News was so moved by Demon Bear destroying everything in sight that he has a newspaper column and bonus Q&A with the developers. Unfortunately, the original video that pwned MSU, OSU, and Notre Dame has been replaced by one that obliterates Miami instead of ND, but that's life.

Anyway, the highlight from Rubin's opus is definitely this:

Jon Dorfman and Szymon Weglarski, partners in a computer animation studio called HiFi 3D, also say they've heard from other universities interested in a similar approach. "Rival mascots," explains Weglarski, "want revenge."

I thought the second bear video would be inevitably disappointing and I was wrong, so maybe Dorfman and Weglarski can continue to raise the bar with bulldog light saber fights and broncos that bore into the earth's core.

Rubin also gets an indirect answer to the question "where's Michigan?"

As a Michiganian, I felt a rush of pride when a polar bear obliterated Spartan Stadium. Any particular reason you chose MSU?

SZYMON: The rival schools were singled out by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Apparently they're a big rival.

I get including MSU, a longtime power, and Miami and Notre Dame, the league's new hotness, but what's the deal with blowing up perpetually mediocre Ohio State? Actually, scratch that. The need to destroy Columbus is self-evident.

Obligatory:

Save (for) us. Bob Miller of the Wolverine is running a new college hockey recruiting site and one of their recent articles is on Omaha Lancers goalie Jeff Teglia, who's currently second in the league in save percentage as a 19 year old and should be on Michigan's radar now:

"Once they landed Campbell, they lost interest, but again that's an awesome school and a great, great hockey program," Teglia said. "I'd love to go somewhere in the Midwest because that's where I'm from, but out east would work also.

Notre Dame is Teglia's "dream school," but we'll forgive him for that. ND doesn't have room for a scholarship goalie, FWIW.

Oh… right… the weekend. I didn't do a usual recap post for the petulant reason. Yost Built has one. The weekend was incredibly sloppy, with UNO provided a ton of scoring opportunities because Michigan players got excessively aggressive. My favorite was the goal Saturday night where two Michigan players checked a guy at center ice, creating one of UNO's many, many two-on-ones. Or the one on which Llewellyn turned a routine rush into a two-on-one by aggressively moving to check a guy on his partner's side of the ice and then shot the resulting cross-ice pass into his own goal.  I'll just say I'm surprised Lee Moffie was a healthy scratch the last couple weekends. He drew into the lineup when Summers got knocked out for the Saturday game.

Michigan's done unless they win the CCHA tournament, which at this point means trudging through two best-of-three series, one on the road, and then beating Miami and someone else at the Joe. Chances of that: low. At least I won't spend a bunch of time figuring out all the crazy vagaries of the PWR this year.

Anyway, Yost Built mostly excuses Hogan for the eight goals on the weekend and I am inclined to agree but one guy is not:

"He made good saves, and he gave up goals he should’ve saved, simple as that," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “There were times when he saved us, and there were times where he cost us. Four goals against is not good enough. And that’s a team thing too, but Hogie is the last line of defense." …

“There were times when he had no support and times he didn’t read the support,” Berenson said. “Like, if I know this guy (to my side) is wide open, and I’m focused on (the guy with the puck), and I’m convinced he’s going to shoot. And he passes it. I’m toast. I didn’t read it. Every time they got a two-on-one, they scored.”

That is blunt even for Red, and though I've repeatedly expressed the opinion that Hogan's save percentage is 1) bad and 2) deserved I'm surprised given the kinds of goals UNO scored, which were mostly off terrible defensive play.

Etc.: Charlie Davies is going to France to train. PSU basketball blog—good lord—Battle Does It Again has a UFR-type object for Penn State's game against the Spartans. Slate is tracking Olympic sap. I miss CBC's coverage so hard. Curling starts today, though. Michigan ice dancers go on the 19th.

Demon Bear Exorcised, Mostly

Demon Bear Exorcised, Mostly

Submitted by Brian on January 18th, 2010 at 12:59 PM

1/16/2010 – Michigan 6, Alaska 0 – 13-10, 8-7 CCHA
1/17/2010 – Michigan 3, Alaska 3 (Alaska 1-0 shootout), 13-10-1, 8-7-0-1 CCHA

image

Hockey doesn't have grand narrative arc of a 12-game football season so usually I'm at a loss when trying to come up with a column-type substance. Instead, this is mostly items.

With about five minutes left in Saturday's third period I was stewing. After two periods of near-total domination interspersed with a terrible turnover from Chad Langlais, a terrible penalty from Tristin Llewellyn, and the goals that resulted from them, Michigan trailed 3-2 but looked like they'd come storming back in the third. Instead, Alaska kept them penned in their own end with help from a series of dumb or questionable penalties. Michigan had one scoring chance.

It was the exact same script they'd followed all year: own territorially, fail to generate goals off that dominance, make enough undisciplined plays to get behind. It was the same script they'd kicked the year off with in a 2-0 loss against the Nanooks in which they outshot the opponent by more than two to one. It threatened to undo the good from the Friday night shellacking. It was very annoying.

Then Langlais dashed into the slot to pick up a loose puck and fired it through the goaltender and outshot Alaska 6-1 in OT—though the Nanooks didn't get credit for a shot that zinged off the inside of the post—and everything seemed okay. Michigan is 3-0-1 after the break and moving towards the NCAA bubble. They're showing some fight, at least, and it seems plausible that they do something this weekend against tourney-bound Ferris.

Items? Items.

The shootout doesn't really matter. It matters a little for CCHA standings but in the eyes of the NCAA it's a tie. For the PWR, Michigan picked up a three-point weekend against a pretty good opponent.

As far as the CCHA goes, Michigan is now within striking distance of that fourth place spot that gets the last first-round bye. They're tied for sixth with Notre Dame, four back of fifth place Alaska, and five back of fourth place Lake State, but they've got two games in hand on all those teams. If you believe in goal differential, Michigan should be able to distance themselves from those two teams over the final stretch: Michigan is +11 in conference while Alaska is –4 and Lake State is +1.

Bork! You know a player has developed into a star when your reaction to his line hitting the ice is "oh thank God," and Carl Hagelin has officially reached this level with me. I've been touting him for a while now but never had that visceral relief until this weekend. He's like a version of Jed Ortmeyer with little rockets in his skates.

Depending on what happens the rest of this season and next, he'll challenge Ortmeyer for champion of my personal Michigan hockey Valhalla. I fully approve of some intrepid students deploying a Swedish flag big enough to use on a battleship this weekend:

imageNo, I'm not the guy who looks like Chewbacca in this picture. I'm the guy who looks like Chewbacca who sits in the endzone. Also: Windows Live Writer has Chewbacca in its dictionary.

Speaking of students. Giant Swedish flag plus responsible vuvuzela guys* plus far more newspapers than usual plus  general liveliness equals one of—if not the—best student sections I've seen at Yost. They've even added a few things to the rich panoply of things people say at Yost. "Moose, sieve" is a fantastic addition to the selection of "noun, sieve" chants and this is the year the bizarre muppet-esque hooting that goes on when an opponent is trying to break out of its zone on the power play went from fringe weirdness to actual thing. I'm impressed given the crappy year and the crappy football year that preceded it.

HOWEVA, it is extremely bad form to give the opponent a "warm up the bus/sled/sorority" chant on Friday. One, it doesn't make any sense since they're not going anywhere. Two, it is jinxtastic. Also, a request: someone needs to have their cell phone ring be an incredibly loud plain ringtone as if from a, you know, landline, and they need to have their buddies call four or five times a game so the "Hey, [goalie], it's your mom" cheer can continue.

That is all. Carry on with all other things.

*(Another friend suggested everyone get them because they were "awesome" and I was all "with great power to annoy comes great responsibility." The current amount of crazy plastic horn noise is excellent; more would probably be a disaster.)

So to belabor a point. I don't want to be a creepy mean guy about a kid playing hockey but I do think this sequence was sort of amazing: someone with a 4 as the second number on their jersey runs in for a check on an Alaska player and gets an extremely dubious elbowing call. I turn to my friend and say "I give Llewellyn a lot of crap but that was a terrible call," and then it turns out the guy heading to the box is Brian Lebler. Seven seconds—seven seconds!—later, Llewellyn blatantly grabs a guy to prevent him from getting to a Michigan forward attempting to clear the puck and Michigan goes down two guys for almost the full two. Alaska scores twice. Argh.

Elsewhere in guys who I think had bad weekends: Langlais did score the game-tying goal Saturday but before that he was having a really rough weekend. Alaska's first goal on Saturday was the direct result of a Langlais turnover and he made a series of other mistakes, none of which remain so clear in my mind, before the great redemption. 

Lebler, meanwhile, had a really weird weekend. On Saturday he scored on two absolute lasers Brett Hull would have been proud of and zinged a potential hat trick off the post. I've never seen Lebler do anything of the sort before. Then on Saturday he picked up four minors, one of them the aforementioned weak elbowing call but the others were dumb stuff that you have to call.

Good things. Lee Moffie has established himself as an up-and-comer. He's not very physical but is steady, doesn't make a lot of mistakes—though he did fall down and create a two-on-one—and has an excellent shot. It's not heavy but it's seriously accurate; when he dove in from the point to pick up a great Hagelin centering pass it went top shelf, no mistake.

Lindsay Sparks, meanwhile, has gone from healthy scratch to third (second?) liner and kept up his hot recent play with a sweet powerplay goal on which he walked out of the corner and slid it five-hole. Sparks is sixth on the team in PPG and has as many points as Kevin Lynch and one more than AJ Treais despite the latter two having played twice as many games.

Michigan is moving on up. The last two weekends have had a huge positive effect on Michigan's numbers. They're currently 19th in RPI. Two weeks ago they were 29th, not even a Team Under Consideration (TUC). Caveat: it's a lot easier to move from mediocre to pretty decent than to move from pretty decent to tourney bubble. When you're 29th in RPI, the teams around you will go about .500. When you're 19th, they'll be doing better than that.

Even so, that's a big leap in just two weekends; if Michigan continues playing well they have time to break into the top 14 in PWR. Right now Michigan is 19th, exactly what their RPI rank is. Despite Michigan's ugly overall record, their peripherals aren't that terrible. They're 6-6-1 against other TUCs, though that's shaky since they've played three of the last six teams in and are 3-1-1 against them.

Root for Alaska and Minnesota the rest of the way out (not that it's a revelation that you'd like Michigan's nonconference opponents to play well). The other team on the TUC bubble is Notre Dame. Michigan split with them earlier in the year and plays them again the final weekend of the regular season; the desirability of the Irish as a TUC is yet to be determined.

Demon bear. Mandatory. We're using this one from now on because the Demon Bear superfluously blows up Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan State before annihilating the planet.

Alaska Fairbanks Demon Bear Is Back

Alaska Fairbanks Demon Bear Is Back

Submitted by Brian on January 15th, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Um, so Little Bro posted it in the Alaska preview comments. It has fewer than a thousand views on the Youtube so it must be under the radar still. This lack of aggression will not stand.

So… yeah… the bear video came into our lives and was fantastic. There is another. I know what you're thinking: this can only be a disappointment. That's what I thought. I was so very wrong.

Here's a youtube comment:

Is this plot line taken from Scientology scripture?

Now you watch.

Wasn't this the plot of Battlestar Galactica, except awesome?

Preview: Nuclear Space Bears Of UAF

Preview: Nuclear Space Bears Of UAF

Submitted by Brian on January 15th, 2010 at 12:22 PM

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

THEY'RE COMING. ACTUALLY THEY'RE PROBABLY ALREADY HERE.

Alaska_Fairbanks_NanooksThe Essentials

WHAT Michigan v. Alaska
WHERE Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN 7:35PM EST
January 15/16th, 2010
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TELEVISION Friday on FSN Plus
No TV Saturday

What's this then?

It's a hockey weekend preview. Am I doing this solely because of the bear video? No. Ten percent of the desire to do this results from Yost Built's lamentable "job" that prevents him from posting as fully as he usually does. [Update: so of course he posts a ten things.]

Alaska Fairbanks

Record. 10-6-4, 7-6-3-3 CCHA. Currently 4th place with 27 points. Michigan is tied for seventh but has two games in hand.

After a hot start during which the Nanooks picked up wins over Michigan and Ferris (twice), Alaska has cooled off significantly. They split with UNO last weekend and split with UNO the last week before the Christmas break. Before that, they got one point out of Western Michigan and tied Northern twice. Before that they had three splits, two of them against Lake State and Bowling Green. They, like Michigan, have been an almost perfectly .500 hockey club since about mid-November.

Road/home splits don't mean much in hockey, IME, but I make an exception when you're coming from Alaska and spend weeks at a time on the road and I've seen you wander into Yost to get hammered 8-0 on Friday only to win the next night. So: Alaska is 7-2-3 in Alaska* and 3-4-1 outside of it.

*(UAF opened up the season with a preseason "tournament"—there were no brackets—in Anchorage where they played Michigan and Mercyhurst, winning both.)

Dangermen. Freshman winger Andy Taranto is Alaska's top scorer with a 9-15-24 line, good enough for 29th nationally. (And better than any Michigan player. Carl "Bork" Hagelin is Michigan's top scorer with 12-13-25 in two more games. When was the last time Michigan's top scorer was outside the top ten in PPG, let along the top… uh… 38?) Taranto is second in freshman scoring; Alaska appears to have picked up a diamond in the rough.

Dion Knelsen is the other big(-ish) gun with 10-9-19; no other Nanook has more than five goals.

As a team, Alaska has a little more pop than usual. They check in slightly below average in scoring at 2.90 goals per game.

Defense and goalie and whatnot. Alaska usually substitutes grit, hard work, and caution for scoring prowess and this year is not much of an exception. After losing Wylie Rogers and his .922 save percentage, in comes sophomore Scott Greenham and his respectable .914. That's 23rd nationally. Bryan Hogan is 54th of 75 eligible at .900.

Alaska is 11th in scoring defense at 2.40 goals per game.

Special teams. As is almost always the case, Michigan goes into this series expecting to take more penalties than the opponent. But it's not usually this stark. Michigan is 9th nationally with 17.3 penalties per game; Alaska is dead last with a measly 172 minutes—8.6 per game—on the season so far. That's somewhat misleading, though. I prefer power play opportunities since that measure washes out things like misconducts and coincidental minors. It allso gives you a sense for how good a team is at forcing penalties out of the opponent:

  Alaska Michigan
PP For / G 5.1 5.6
PP Ag / G 4 5.4

The difference isn't nearly as stark from that perspective, but Alaska does have an advantage.

This is where Alaska makes its hay. They're 22/102 on the power play so far this year and haven't given up a shorthanded goal. They're scoring at a 21.6 percent rate, better than Michigan—though not much better. (Given how much I dislike Michigan's power play I'm surprised it's converting at a respectable 20.2 percent rate.) The penalty kill is just okay at 83.8 percent and zero shorthanded goals. But, again, they don't end up in the box much.

Michigan's Hagelin-led penalty kill (third nationally at 89%) is the best aspect of the team, FWIW.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Obvious: keep out of the box. Alaska has scored 36 even-strength goals in 20 games and will be on the road, where they are vulnerable. Michigan has 43 goals in 22 games at even strength, and while that doesn't seem like a big gap it does get bigger when you account for the two extra power plays that occur in an average Michigan game.

Match Hagelin on Taranto and Knelsen. Alaska's a team that has one main line and Michigan's got the best defensive forward in the CCHA.

Equally obvious: freakin' score. Michigan started the year off in Alaska with a game that foretold this year's incredible frustrations, outshooting the opponent 2-to-1 but failing to put a puck in the net and losing 2-0; Bryan Hogan gave up a soft goal from just inside the blue line.

Michigan had a huge territorial edge in that game and figures to have more of the same this weekend, but the story all year has been failing to make that edge count.

Jump on them early Friday. I've been watching UAF wander into Yost for a decade now and I don't think I've seen them not get bombed in the first period of the Friday game. If Michigan doesn't come out of tonight's first period with a lead that's a major missed opportunity.

The Big Picture

If Michigan sweeps Alaska we can prepare for a critical Ferris series with hope in our hearts, but it just about has to be a sweep. I guess a three-point weekend is theoretically helpful but Michigan hasn't tied a game in almost two years* and at this point Michigan is so far behind the eight-ball that they can't give away home games against average hockey teams.

Can they? It is obviously within the realm of possibility, but it's hard to go back any farther than the sweep against a terrible Western team and have faith in this team's ability to turn its huge advantage in shots and chances into wins. I lean towards a split, but hockey games are even dumber things to predict than football games so will forgo anything on the record.

*(The last one was a 5-5 tie with Miami on February 9th of 2008 that finished a stretch of four ties in five games. Michigan hasn't gone to overtime since the CCHA implemented the shootout.)

Finally

YESSSSSSSSSSS

Unverified Voracity, Quickly

Unverified Voracity, Quickly

Submitted by Brian on October 9th, 2009 at 4:00 PM

I'm headed out to Iowa City soon, so somewhat abbreviated today.

Get a bracelet. Phil Brabbs has just started his chemotherapy, which you can read about on his blog, and he's also offering up these stylish "cancer kicker" bracelets for the impossibly low suggested donation of $2:

cancer-kicker You can get them by donating the funds (and possibly, you know, another five bucks or so to defray the costs of freakin' cancer) to [email protected], or you can just click the donation button to the right. It should donate to the right place and either ask for or confirm your shipping address with PayPal. Consume! I will repost this Monday!

Elsewhere, MGoTalk has posted an interview with Brabbs.

Hey, wow, this might be a good idea. Jay Bilas says the NCAA basketball committee is thinking of getting rid of limits on phone calls:

The NCAA is on the way to getting something right through a proposal to allow unlimited phone calls to recruits during contact periods. I have long been a vocal opponent of the phone call restrictions on college coaches in recruiting.

While well-intentioned, the rule prohibits coaches from normal contact with recruits while the rest of the free world gets unfettered access to them. The unintended consequences from the rule swamped its good intentions, by making those outside of the NCAA's reach more powerful and criminalizing normal communication.

As per usual when Jay Bilas is not talking about Tommy Amaker, I agree. They'd have to get rid of the limitations for all sports, right? And then texting limitations seem archaic and silly. Ron Zook is walking around looking like that creepy Enzyte guy and has no idea why. On the other hand, Kelvin Sampson knows exactly why he wants to punch a baby seal.

Yuck. This quote from Trevor Anderson is decidedly Carr-esque:

"They did everything that we practiced this week,” Anderson said. “When they decided to put in (Denard Robinson), we knew they were going to run the ball. They couldn’t throw it with him. As far as Forcier, we knew about his little stutter step, he’s going to jab to the outside and come back in. Everything that they practiced, we did."

Evidence for the mania. The point on Robinson is very duh, but the rest of it suggests Michigan did not pull new stuff out against State. Also—and this is a point Tim made on the podcast—with Forcier limited in practice on Monday and Tuesday, Michigan probably couldn't get confident enough in fancy new stuff that might, say, require option pitches and whatnot, to run it. It's probably hard as hell to install a new package when your freshman quarterback has his arm in a sling. That's probably not great for this weekend since Forcier was apparently limited early this week as well.

Next year, I expect Rodriguez will have a bunch of new stuff for MSU; if he doesn't I'll be disappointed.

Hockey weekend. Yost Built has your ten things for Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage this weekend. Here's my one thing:

YEAH!!!

White pants? You know, I did ask Bruce Madej if he could confirm or deny that Michigan would wear white pants this weekend. He said he could not confirm or deny, which seemed like sort of a confirmation. Mark Ortmann hopes it isn't:

Against Iowa, the Wolverines may complement their white away jerseys with white pants, but an Athletic Department spokesman told The Michigan Daily last night he had “no definitive answer.” The uniform change would include everyone, even the 300-pound linemen.

“I can’t imagine,” left tackle Mark Ortmann said with a laugh. “We already have some pretty self-conscious offensive linemen. I don’t know if that will help out."

The strangest thing about all this is that no one will say yes or no about it, as if it's a state secret. The pants! They are white! We all must die!

Etc.: Chris Brown describes how the wildcat works. Tate Forcier just MAKES PLAYS—this is literally the headline. Rumeal Robinson… facepalm. Spongebob and Da U.

I'm out. Wish me luck.