World's Greatest/Only Hockey Recruiting Overview: 2017

World's Greatest/Only Hockey Recruiting Overview: 2017

Submitted by Brian on June 29th, 2017 at 11:26 AM

With a renewed sense of hope I decided to check out the incoming class to see what's on deck for Michigan hockey. The answer is surprisingly pleasant given the long period of uncertainty that preceded Mel Pearson's hire. Then I kept going, but that's another post.

2017

There are twin headliners and a third guy to keep an eye on. Josh Norris was the 19th pick in the most recent draft after leading the NTDP U18s in scoring* and crushing the NHL combine. Norris sounds like a Carl Hagelin or JT Compher sort of gent:

… tough competitor that is willing to engage physically to win puck battles…strong skater that isn’t easily pushed off the puck. He doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s a good enough four-direction skater that he’s capable of playing the center position at the next level. … competes hard on the defensive end and plays a responsible game. … lot of his offense comes from driving hard to the net and winning battles for loose pucks, and creating opportunities by chasing the play. …. ability to handle the puck is fine, but it’s not an area of strength.

He'll play both ways and pile up points because of his physical ability, effort, and reasonable skill level. That skill level might be a bit higher than the above take, depending on who you listen to. His NTDP coach:

“He can hammer a puck. He can skate. He’s got a great first step. He competes, and he’s coachable. He’s got a lot going for him. I think he’s got a great deal of God-given talent. He is a heck of a kid and extremely coachable. Those items right there lead up to a player who has some ability and a bright future.”

Given the dearth of center talent on the roster Norris is likely to slot in on the top line from day one; he and Will Lockwood are Compher and Motte in search of Connor. (Connor is not on this roster.)

Side note: Norris's father Dwayne starred for Michigan State back in the day. Completing this odd circle of betrayal: MSU has a commitment from Mike Knuble's kid, Cam Knuble, for 2018.

*[He tied Grant Mismash with 61 points but took four fewer games to get there.]

also: 1 G 2 A vs Finland in this year's Five Nations

Quinn Hughes is the second headliner. He was too young for this year's draft by three months and is being mentioned as a potential first rounder next year… like, a first half of the first round pick. and if "5'9" defenseman who might be a top 15 pick" sounds awesome, you and I have the same taste in hockey players. Hughes put up 10-43-53 in 65 games with the U18s this year, and per Red that's no fluke:

Berenson projected Hughes as an “elite-skating, offensive-minded defenseman” at the college level and also called him one of the “top young defensemen” of his class.

“He’s really a special player, and we’re excited about the fact that he’ll bring an element to our defense that maybe we don’t have right now,” Berenson said. “He could definitely add to our power play. His smarts, his vision and his skating ability really separate him from a lot of players.”

Hughes is highly likely to slot into Michigan's first team power play from the drop and chase Eric Werner for the title of MGoDiminutiveDefensemanFaveRave.

There were some OHL rumors about Hughes that seem to have petered out after his brother also went the NTDP route. More about him in another post; he's a 2019 kid.

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The non-headliner but maybe-guy-to-watch is Mike Pastujov. Back in the day when the Pastujov brothers committed, Nick (who is coming off a freshman year in which he had three points in 28 games) was much more modestly regarded than his younger brother. Fast forward a few years and Nick is one who got drafted, albeit in the seventh round. Mike went from potentially being the #1 pick in the OHL draft to undrafted after a few seasons of injuries and struggle. Scouting from way back when:

1. Michael Pastujov (#11 Black) 6-0/186 Honeybaked U16 (Michigan) - A strong and powerful skater who committed to the Wolverines along with his brother Nick, a '98, less than a week after the camp ended. He's a flight risk to the OHL, but he's a strong skater who drives the net well. He made plays happen from all over the ice, really dishes the puck well to his linemates and he wins one-on-one battles. He's a complete package offensively.

Clearly things have gone awry. The primary issue is his inability to stay on the ice. Injuries cost him almost all of his sophomore and junior years; he also missed about a dozen games with the U18s. He still played in 55 and could only put up a 9-15-24 line. Michigan will hope his indifferent final year with the NTDP is more about the injuries than his talent level. If he can repair this

Slow first step

Pastjuov’s biggest issue this past season was his skating. His first step was really slow, which meant he lost a lot of races to loose pucks, and had trouble creating much when he did have the puck.

…then maybe Michigan will get a third headliner in the class.

Pastujov did get healthy enough to catch the eye again at the World U18s, scoring a PPG over a seven-game span as the US took the tourney title. Various scouting services, including the NHL's CSB, moved him from off their lists into the top 100—usually good enough to get drafted in the fourth or fifth round. He was nonetheless passed over.

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The other three guys in the class are all overagers. All are 97s. Jack Becker was Pearson's first commit; unsurprisingly he was a flip from Tech. He was a Wisconsin commit in the long long ago. He'll be 21 in January and was only even somewhat productive in the USHL in his final season, when he put up a 16-12-28 line. Bizarrely for a guy with his profile, he was a 7th round pick of the Bruins in 2015. Becker is a very large person at 6'4", so he might have a shot to be a Ben Winnett sort.

Dakota Raabe could be a little fast dude who ends up on a scoring line or peter out into a checking line guy and penalty killer. He's a few months younger than Becker. While he steadily increased his production in the BCHL, a PPG as an overager in that offense-mad league is not always enough to translate to NCAA productivity. Incredibly, Raabe was only eighth(!) on his team in PPG. (He was 25th in the league.) This is not BCHL slam dunk territory. It's BCHL maybe territory.

FWIW, MSU's Taro Hirose was almost the exact same size and age coming out of the BCHL a year ago; he had a 6-18-24 line as a freshman. That might not sound like much but he was second on his moribund team in scoring and looked like their most dangerous forward when Michigan played them. Unfortunately this isn't a direct comparison; Hirose was a much better BCHL point-acquirer. He had 71 points in 58 games—a cut above Raabe, especially since he was his team's leading scorer by 15 points.

Raabe's head coach says he's got "elite speed," so he's got that going for him. Also his transition from a Southern California major midget team to the BCHL must have been a shock to the system. He does have some late bloomer potential:

“Being on the ice every day has helped me so much,” Raabe said. “My shot has gotten harder and I’ve gotten faster. I’d say my hockey IQ has improved as well because I’m learning how to play the game at a faster level.”

Berenson:

“I’m told Dakota is a high-end skater,” Berenson said. “He’d be one of our fastest skaters. ... It looks like he’s going to be a real good addition to our forward group, and the big thing is because of his speed and work ethic.”

He'll probably have an indifferent freshman year and then his second year will tell the tale. He's a good gamble for a team needing to fill roster spots during a transition period. He is very much a gamble.

Finally, Gustaf Westlund is a Parisian Swede who committed little over a year ago. He had enough about him to warrant an NHL draft profile from SBN:

…intriguing prospect as this was his first season playing in North America. …The left-shot center is a true athlete who oozes potential. .. very good skater. He has a long, smooth stride that appears effortless. He can really get going quickly and seems to have that extra gear. …makes good passes, has above average vision and has a soft touch. … an athletic player with above average tools.

Future Considerations took a look at him about a year ago:

…effortless skater who gets himself to smart areas of the ice to get a shot on net.  …good athletic frame, but is thin and could stand to add some considerable strength to his legs, core and upper body. …handles the puck well with soft hands and creative moves, weaving his way through traffic with a surprisingly long reach. …shot will become a real weapon as he adds strength and puts more velocity behind it. … has much room to develop. 

Berenson:

“We think he’ll add a little bit of everything,” Berenson said. “He’ll be similar to (Adam) Winborg in that he’s good with the puck, good without the puck, he plays physical, he plays hard.”

He put up 8-27-35 in 59 games in the USHL a year ago; not great but he was on a team that struggled to score. He was third on the team in points.

Westlund's move from overseas to prep to the USHL to the NCAA is a challenging route; like Raabe he's a guy who might not show much in year one but has the potential to evolve into a scoring line player over the course of his career. While he's a 97 like the other two guys, he was born in December—he's almost a year younger than Becker.

Upshot

Norris and Hughes are going to be college stars, and Michigan will seek to get two scoring line upperclassmen out of Raabe/Westlund/Pastujov. Becker looks to be a project who will do well to get past the third line. Given the fact that everyone in this class knew they wouldn't be finishing their careers under Red Berenson, it's as good of a group as is reasonable to expect and should patch a couple of last year's biggest holes—a two-way #1 center and a power play quarterback.

Unverified Voracity Mints Three Dollar Coin

Unverified Voracity Mints Three Dollar Coin

Submitted by Brian on May 31st, 2017 at 12:24 PM

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Baseball returns to the tournament. They kick off their tourney run at 1 on Friday against Florida Gulf Coast. Michigan was one of the last four teams in after a bit of a slump to end the season; they've got excellent pitching and questionable bats.

The Zaire holdup. Former ND quarterback Malik Zaire is going to grad transfer somewhere, and reports have suggested that if it can be Florida it will be. This is the holdup on UF's end:

The SEC has always been stricter on graduate transfers than other leagues, largely because some coaches disapproved of Ole Miss getting a waiver to enroll Jeremiah Masoli from Oregon in 2010, especially when he didn’t complete a graduate degree. So it put some rules in place, one of which restricts schools from taking graduates transfers for three years if their previous transfers didn’t work out academically. Well, Florida had two graduate transfers in 2015 that didn't meet academic benchmarks, so technically they shouldn’t be able to take Zaire -- unless the rule changes this week, allowing the SEC to drop all pretense that academics matter in this discussion.

Florida should know one way or the other soon, and then Michigan will know if they'll be taking on Zaire or (probably) redshirt freshman Felipe Franks in the opener. Zaire's done pretty well in sparing time over the last three years, completing 59% of his 98 attempts for 8.3 YPA and a 6-0 TD-INT ratio. It would be better for Michigan if the Gators did not have that option, and that's why everyone expects the SEC's grad transfer rule to go by the wayside in the near future.

Spartan blackout nearing its end. After months of nothing, the wheels have started to turn in East Lansing:

Blackwell's contract had been extended by a month twice, which struck me as odd by may have been required for the school's now-concluded Title IX investigation. With that complete a decision from the county prosecutor can't be far behind. Probably.

Meanwhile it was revealed today that former MSU WR Keith Mumphery was expelled last year for sexual misconduct. If the anonymous trio ends up booted, as it appears they will be, that's five in two years. 

Somebody still writes for ESPN! Congratulations to Kevin Pelton, the last man standing. He's got a fascinating piece on the emergence of the pull-up three pointer in the NBA. This is relevant to Michigan's interests since they've seen the same thing happen over the last few years with Nik Stauskas and Derrick Walton. The pull up 3 is a very very average shot even for guys who are the best at it, but the threat of it opens other things up on the pick and roll:

Portland point guard Damian Lillard, whose 445 pull-up 3-pointers since 2013-14 rank him third in the league over that span behind Curry and James Harden of the Houston Rockets, recalls learning the intricacy of pick-and-roll play from a trainer in 10th grade.

"He would always tell me, 'Everything is a setup,' " Lillard said.

The ability to shoot the pull-up 3 changes the way opponents defend pick-and-rolls and isolation plays, forcing them to come out higher to be able to contest a deep shot off the dribble. Lillard says he feels that difference on both ends of the court.

"You just know that you've got to be more in their space," he says of defending a player who can shoot the pull-up 3. "I know when a guy gives me space and I come off the pick-and-roll clean, that's a shot that I'm looking for because people want three points over two points now, especially with so many guys that can take and make that shot. So when I'm guarding a guy like that, I'm aware of it."

Here is a chart of pick and roll efficacy versus pull-up threes attempted for NBA players:

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Michigan fans are nodding at that slope. This is especially relevant to our interests because Michigan was about to find out what happens at the very lower end of that scale when Xavier Simpson stepped into Walton's shoes. Simpson was just 5/19 on threes last year and just about all of those were must-take catch and shoots.

Now they're likely to be on the higher end of the scale. Jaaron Simmons is coming off a season where he took a whopping 104 jumpers off the dribble, per Synergy, and managed exactly 1 PPP on them. That was 87th percentile. He was at 1.16 PPP last year when shooting off the dribble after accepting a pick and roll; that was 88th percentile. His eFG in those situations was 58%—ie, insane.

Amongst D-I players with at least 50 PNR pull-ups last year Simmons was 11th in PPP, and the folks around him are almost exclusively low-low majors. Two notable exceptions were #9 Markelle Fultz, the probable top pick in the NBA draft, and #2 Derrick Walton.

Muckalt more or less done. Also: Flin Flon! George Sipple confirms Tech Hockey Guide's report that Bill Muckalt will be Mel Pearson's second assistant. Tech promoted assistant Joe Shawhan.

In less relevant hockey news, today I learned that Pearson is from a place named "Flin Flon," which is a silly name to give to a place. Pearson is now the only person you know who worked in a zinc plant:

“I did a little bit of everything,” Pearson said. “I worked in the zinc plant one summer. I went underground at North Main for a couple summers, working in the steel shop, straightening steel and sharpening up. I had to fill in at the changehouse one year, too. I enjoyed it. You meet a lot of really neat people there and learn about the industry and the mine itself and how things operate.”

Flin Flon is a remote town of 5k. Very remote:

image

And its name was acquired in the usual way:

The town's name is taken from the lead character in a paperback novel, The Sunless City by J. E. Preston Muddock. Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin piloted a submarine through a bottomless lake where he passed into a strange underground world through a hole lined with gold. A copy of the book was allegedly found and read by prospector Tom Creighton.

When Tom Creighton discovered a high-grade exposure of copper, he thought of the book and called it Flin Flon's mine, and the town that developed around the mine adopted the name. Flin Flon shares with Tarzana, California, the distinction of being named after a character in a science fiction novel.

The character of "Flinty", as he is locally known, is of such importance to the identity of the city that the local Chamber of Commerce commissioned the minting of a $3.00 coin which was considered legal tender amongst locally participating retailers during the year following its issue. A statue representing Flinty was designed by cartoonist Al Capp and is one of the points of interest of the city. In 1978, the National Film Board of Canada produced the short documentary Canada Vignettes: Flin Flon about the origin of the city's name.[4]

This has been today's MGoDiscussionOfCanadianSmallTownNames.

download

Hello: guy. Hockey has added this person:

Becker is an odd duck. He'll be 20 before he arrives this fall; unusually for an overager he was drafted. (In the seventh round, sure. Still: odd.) He was a Wisconsin commit who got thrown back in the pool when Mike Eaves was fired. His second try at a commitment was Tech.

Becker had a 16-12-28 line in 49 games last year. At 19 that's a statline indicative of a bottom six player. He's a big dude at 6'4", 198. More details at Tech Hockey Guide.

Also in hockey recruiting:

I've seen Norris anywhere from late first round to late second in draft projections; Pastujov seems to be moving back up into the third or fourth round range after an injury-plagued year or two. Chris Dilks recently profiled him:

After being considered one of the top prospects in his age group, Pastujov missed all but 5 games of his U16 season, and all but 14 games of his U17 seasons with the NTDP due to injury. He also missed a handful of games this season due to injury. I have no idea on the likelihood of re-occurrence. But even if he remains healthy, he has missed a lot of key development time in the past few years. …

NHL Central Scouting omitted him completely from their mid-term rankings before placing him 80th on their final list, and he followed that up with a point-per-game performance at the World U18s, which probably helps. There’s likely to be an extremely wide range of opinions on Pastujov though, just because there’s a tantalizing ceiling, but so little in terms of track record to go on.

If I were picking, I’d probably start looking at Pastujov as early as the late-second round. I have serious concerns given his injury history, but high-end scoring ability like he potentially has is going to be very hard to come by in this Draft.

Pastujov was a big big deal when he committed to Michigan; with Norris he has the potential to insert some of the top end scoring last year's team so badly missed.

Golazo. Francis Atuahene did this in a US Open Cup match:

Unfortunately for Michigan, Atuahene was about all they had going for them last year as they finished 4-11-4.

Etc.: Ryan Veingrad beats cancer, walks on. Florida opener set for 3:30, which is not at the same time as Bama-FSU. Northwestern scatback Solomon Vault will miss the 2017 season with injury. I am honor bound to link assertions that adding Rutgers and Maryland was a dumb long term move, but Delany's got his 20 mil so he don't care.

Unverified Voracity Is Bringing 'Em In

Unverified Voracity Is Bringing 'Em In

Submitted by Brian on August 5th, 2014 at 12:33 PM

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Josh Langford will someday win a national title by sliding the ball between an opponent's legs

Basketball recruiting stuff. Michigan's packing in a number of visits before their upcoming Italy trip. D-III transfer Duncan Robinson is of course expected on campus this week. Joining him will be 2016 AL SG Josh Langford, who arrives Friday.

Langford is kind of a big deal, a 6'6" athlete who's in the top 20 of the 247 composite. He should get his offer while on campus, and while Michigan hasn't fared particularly well while recruiting against the Dukes and Kansases of the world—both have offered—Langford has been paying attention to what's going on in Ann Arbor($):

"It's an honor to be recruited by Michigan because I've watched Michigan on TV a lot and it was very shocking for me to be able to talk to Coach Beilein on the phone because he is one of the greatest coaches all time and one of the best skill developers in college basketball right now," Langford said. "To have them tell me that they want me to be their next wolf just makes me want to work even harder."

The last "wolf" was Nik Stauskas; like Stauskas, Langford is a 6'6" guy who can function as a quasi-point guard.

2015 MI C Seth Dugan is also scheduled to be on campus in the near future. Dugan is a late-rising seven-footer who's caught the eye of a number of Big Ten teams and just fielded a bunch of quality mid-major offers (Xavier, Davidson, Rhode Island).

Aaand they're also bringing in 2016 MO PF Tyler Cook on Saturday. Cook is also a new name to recruitniks after a strong summer. He's got Kansas, Purdue, and Florida offers, and takes a great picture:

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Pelini level. I am now thinking of an Adidas commercial in which Kanye raps about getting on Pelini level with all the great awkward photo headshot gentlemen being really awkward. I am now sad the World Cup is over. I am now over that.

Meanwhile they just hosted 2016 OH C Jon Teske, who has become a serious priority for that class. He seemed to name Michigan his leader in a group of two:

"Michigan is recruiting me the hardest, probably, and that's why they're on top," he said. "The top two right now are Michigan and Ohio State, and I think it will come down to those two.

FWIW, OSU has center prospects in their 2014 and 2015 classes, neither of whom seems like an early-entry candidate at the moment.

In less immediate news, 2015 SC SG PJ Dozier announced a top five that includes Michigan and will be taking an official visit. Probably, anyway. Michigan may shut down 2015 recruiting after picking up a shooting guard at any time. The other schools on Dozier's list: Louisville, North Carolina, Georgetown, and South Carolina.

Dozier hasn't been on campus yet and thus doesn't have an offer. He's #31 on the composite, and his dad denies reports($) that North Carolina is a "dream school" and likely destination. This makes me believe that is in fact the case, but Michigan's got their shot. Probably, anyway.

Finally, Rivals projects they will move 2016 NJ SG Tyus Battle to five star status.

MediaHandler[1]

Miss you, Brimley

Anonymous, you are so boring. You hear "anonymous quotes" and you get your interest all piqued but Joe Tiller ain't around no more, so the results are as tepid as if they came from a press conference. Athlon has the dirt-type substance:

“What are they going to do new offensively? They just hired Doug Nussmeier. Where they’ve struggled, they haven’t been what they thought they’d be on the offensive line. They lost both their tackles now.”

Well… yeah.

How about anonymously describing Michigan's CFBStats page?

“I think they were very meager running the football. They struggled protecting the quarterback. The statistical things you evaluate – offensive line, rushing yards, yards per carry, they were pretty poor in those areas.”

Well… yeah.

There is an interesting bit about Michigan's current defense…

“Defensively, I don’t think they were near what they want to be. They have a great defensive coordinator, he’s a very good coach, but as the defense is designed to stop the run it’s become more of a passing league in some ways. Great, you held them to 100 yards rushing but they threw for 350 and you got beat.”

…or at least it would have been interesting if that even vaguely resembled reality. The Big Ten was a passing league in no way whatsoever. Michigan was the top team in YPA by some distance last year and finished in a tie for 23rd nationally. The top teams in passes per game are Indiana, Illinois, and Purdue. Those teams were bad. (Indiana was fun! But not, like, a contender.)

The fourth quote about Michigan

Devin Gardner’s back, so it will be interesting to see, are they building an off for Gardner for one more year or building for the future for Shane Morris or whomever they recruited?

…oh for pants' sake. What about the rest of the teams?

“They [MSU] aren’t going to miss Max Bullough as much as everybody thought. The kid who replaced him in the Rose Bowl was pretty good.”

That kid was a senior who signed a CFL contract. They let these people vote! You probably think that's a shot at the Coaches Poll; it's not. It's a shot at democracy.

Most of the rest of the comments are "this unit was good" and "they have this player" and "they no longer have this player." Whoever did this interview is no Mike Spath.

Hooray for reception. For whatever reason, cell reception took a severe turn for the worse last year. It was middling but generally acceptable for a couple years before that; last year it was impossible to get anything in or out until they installed the wifi, which was pretty iffy but at least vaguely functional.

I know it is possible for things to actually work, since my trip to Penn State featured horrific football but lovely crystal-clear LTE despite the fact that Beaver Stadium on gameday is significantly bigger than the rest of the town.

So Michigan's going to try to fix it:

U-M announced Friday that "upgraded cellular coverage at Michigan Stadium for Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility" is coming to Michigan Stadium. The new system will be tested Saturday during the International Champions Cup soccer match between Manchester United and Real Madrid in Ann Arbor.

A press release from the U-M athletic department states that "a major upgrade to the distributed antenna system (DAS)" has been made at Michigan Stadium," but adds, "It has been very difficult to build adequate capacity into the stadium due to its significant size as well as the open bowl which has limited locations for antennas."

I know that when the NHL came into town to scout for the Winter Classic they were flabbergasted at the lack of reception. Hopefully this gets Michigan up to par.

Problem: what will Brandon blame soft student ticket sales on once they fix it?

But they just gave you free food. Mmm boilerplate.

Michigan reports to fall camp with level of hunger that wasn't there a year ago, players say

I'm in a show-me state. Not Missouri. Just, like, personally.

I'm impressed you didn't shrivel into a ball and die. Brennen Beyer was 14 when The Horror happened, and he witnessed it in person like many of us:

"The field goal at the end … just shaking my head, knowing we lost that game. It was a bad feeling," said Beyer, who watched with dismay as Jason Gingell's 37-yard field goal was blocked as time expired.

I bet he's planning to do whatever he can not to relive that experience.

Might be a bit light for the GLI this year. All five Michigan-affiliated players at the WJC camp made the final cut from 42 to 27. While that's not quite the final team right there, the final roster usually doesn't deviate much. The cuts are usually the young guys they think will be key components of the next couple years. One of those guys is commit Kyle Connor, so that's a good sign for his future.

The rest: Compher, Motte, Larkin, and Downing. Compher is a holy lock after making the team last year only to break a bone in his foot, and I expect the other guys to go as well. This year's roster is deep, at least.

Also in hockey, TheScout.ca did rank Michigan commit Michael Pastujov their top available player for the upcoming OHL draft. Here's why:

With his brother already committed to the NTDP and a spot waiting for him when he reaches the right age, he should fall in the draft. Hopefully it's a long way and to some place like Barrie.

Wait, what? The last place I expected to hear anything about poor student ticket sales:

With less than a month until the season opener, Nebraska still has 1,000 of its 8,500 student football season tickets for sale.

However, athletic department spokeswoman Chris Anderson said Friday the school still expects to sell out all 8,500 student tickets. All remaining tickets are for the south end zone.

That's nuts. Nebraska is the second-smallest school in the league, but they've still got 25k students and nothing else to do in Lincoln. And their head coach may bite the head off one of their players while stroking a cat, Bond villain style. Entertainment, you have.

Etc.: Reviewing Bo's final year. The company that puts on the soccer friendlies is called "Relevent Sports," which just goes to show you that even people who intentionally name their thing something that looks like a typo every time you see it can have success. What a country.

BIG HOUSE WRESTLEMANIAAAAAA and several bad ideas. Autonomy primer.

UNVERIFIED VORACITY IS ALL CAPS

UNVERIFIED VORACITY IS ALL CAPS

Submitted by Brian on July 28th, 2014 at 11:05 AM

FIRE EVERYONE! Naw man this ain't relevant to your interests. I but I mean cumong man.

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Cumong woman, I guess. Either way, y'all shouldn't have laid off the common sense editor a couple years back. "Picks Barbour" instead of "Selects Woman" would have fit and passed the "will people be irate on twitter about this?" test.

I WILL LAY A PATH OF DESTRUCTION ACROSS THE LAND. CBS Sports scouts Michigan's upcoming team for the next NFL draft, starting with one Devin Funchess:

He has excellent initial burst off the line to get vertical in a hurry with long, full strides, flashing flexible and easy movement skills rare for a player his size. Funchess tracks well with smooth body control to make natural adjustments on the ball, but has WAY too many drops on his resume and needs to improve his reliability and finishing ability through the catch point. The effort is there for him as a blocker, but his technique needs work as he's often caught off guard with his blocking assignments. Funchess is a mismatch nightmare against linebackers and smaller defensive backs and with improved consistency, he has all the makings of a future first round pick, reminiscent of a younger Jermichael Finley at Texas.

I'm not entirely sure the effort is there as a blocker after watching him opposite Jeremy Gallon, but he should be at least adequate as a wide option. The drops were a bit unfortunate but he's not in the Braylon category, at least not yet, and his ability to reach up and pluck things out of the air with one hand gives him a circus catch upside that few players have.

Also featured are Ryan ("possible top-50 draft pick"), Clark ("One of the more underrated pass rushers for the 2015 class"), Gardner("upper and lower body mechanics are a mess and he often releases while off-balance," thanks Mr. Borges and your hatred of QB coaches), and various others. Special nod to Raymon Taylor for being average at everything:

His size, speed and strength are all considered average, but he has the competitive mentality and awareness needed for the position.

The center of the bell curve, that Raymon Taylor.

OKAY YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION. Patrick Beilein is doing something his old man never did: becoming an assistant coach.

Patrick Beilein is leaving West Virginia Wesleyan to take a job on coach Quin Snyder's staff with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

That is a 29-year-old NBA assistant coach whose dad is John Beilein, just kinda hanging out. At this point it would be an upset if LaVall Jordan didn't get the job when it is time for Beilein to hang it up, but things change and it's nice to have attractive options.

Meanwhile: wait, Quin Snyder is now an NBA coach? Specifically Trey Burke's NBA coach? When do I get a job?

WELL THAT SEEMS REASONABLE. THIS PROBABLY SHOULDN'T BE ALL CAPS. Michigan picked third the East in a poll of 29 media voters that somehow came up with 33 first place votes:

Big Ten East

1. Ohio State, 195 points (23 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State, 180 points (10)
3. Michigan, 136 points
4. Penn State, 105.5 points
5. Maryland, 84 points
6. Indiana, 78.5 points
7. Rutgers, 33 points

That is zero votes that have anything other than Rutgers dead last.

I AM TERRIBLY OLD AND HAVE CHOSEN POORLY. Defensman Kenny Johnson, who I remember wandering around Yost as, like, a zero-year-old, has committed to Michigan. Kenny is of course Jack Johnson's little brother. 

“It wasn’t very hard to make a choice, I’ve always wanted to go there since I was a little kid,” the ’98 birth-year defenseman said. “I went to every game of my brother’s, I was always running around the rink. I guess the hardest part was making the call and going to do it because I couldn’t believe it was real.”

I in fact remember a nine-or-ten year old Kenny wearing a "JMFJ" shirt at the Joe during Jack's sophomore year. I hoped he had no idea why he was wearing that shirt. Now he's KMFJ, which is an amazing abbreviation right there.

Kenny isn't the incredible prospect his brother was—he's more of a stay-at-home guy—but he's no slouch.

While we're talking about hockey recruiting, further evidence that recent commit Mike Pastujov is currently a big deal comes from the recent U15 select camp at which he was named the best forward:

1. Michael Pastujov (#11 Black) 6-0/186 Honeybaked U16 (Michigan) - A strong and powerful skater who committed to the Wolverines along with his brother Nick, a '98, less than a week after the camp ended. He's a flight risk to the OHL, but he's a strong skater who drives the net well. He made plays happen from all over the ice, really dishes the puck well to his linemates and he wins one-on-one battles. He's a complete package offensively.

When you're so far away from matriculating these evaluations are shaky, but there's no better place to start than from the top.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE A TRIP TO BIG RAPIDS. Hockey's released their schedule and it is bizarre. They go to Ferris State to open the season—like before the Canadian exhibition game—and then they have a brutal nonconference road schedule after that test: Lowell, BU, BC, two against Tech. They do get UNH at Yost for what should be an entertaining series.

Unfortunately they again do that bit where they have a ton of home games during the meat of the football schedule and then a massive gap when people really want to go to hockey games. Michigan will go 41 days between home games after a home series against Minnesota on January 10th. The TBA MSU games will be at Munn and the Joe, so the next time you'll have a ticket at Yost is February 21st.

Meanwhile four straight weeks from Friday November 14th to December 5th feature Michigan hockey, and that's after another month-long break, one that features a bye week November 6th and 7th. The planning is not so good. This is the second straight year the second half of the home schedule has been really sparse.

The other thing of note is that there's a bunch of games with "possible" next to them as the Big Ten moves towards Sunday games in an effort to get more of them on the BTN. Hopefully they get that settled before tickets are issued. Moving a game time is one thing; moving entire days is not reasonable.

ENGULFED BY BLACKNESS. A sixth grade girl was at Michigan's football camp, which I guess is cute.

The Detroit News:

Ann Arbor hasn’t seen a burst of speed like this since Denard Robinson wore the Maize and Blue

Ha ha! That's not true.

[reminds self of last year's running game]

Blackness is everything.

[exits slowly]

[fades to nothing made of sadness]

[Death Cab For Cutie writes song about this experience]

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ENTER THE LUMBERG. Man Dave Brandon I really don't want to talk about you constantly but then you're just like

Organizations that have a strong and healthy culture make sure the guiding principles and aspirational vision are integrated into everything that is done -- hiring decisions, communication, recognition, celebration, and the way they create positive energy.

and I'm just like why don't you speak English like a human does and then you're just like

To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work," an important -- and descriptive -- Smile Committee was created. The committee's job is to draw on the skills and interests of a broad cross-section of the U-M Athletic Department to create activities of fun and importance.

and I'm just like oh that's because you ceased being a part of our species some time ago and you're now homo executivus. Which is fine and all that but I'm just saying that I would go watch RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE EXECUTIVES in a hot second.

"War or war-related activities integral to our aspirational vision… has or have, depending on which antecedent you prefer in the previous phrase, and by "has or have" I mean 'is occurring in a timeframe consistent with that commonly referred to as "now"'… been initiated after consulting with a diverse array of focus groups, consultants, and best-in-class operational specialists including but not limited to—"

/executive shot in face

That's Oscar stuff right there. Hollywood, get on it.

I mean.

To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work"

I'M ON THE COMMITTEE FORMING COMMITTEE. Instead of just working with the student government, which did great work surveying students and getting the athletic department to change their seating policy to something they would actually enjoy—#MikeProppeforAD—the athletic department is assembling a student advisory committee. We'll see how that works out; I am skeptical it'll be anything nearly as useful as what the unconnected student government managed last year.

Michigan is also confident they'll get past the 100k attendance number, because they just make those up anyway.

"(Some numbers may) potentially be lower than normal in the past, sure," Lochmann said. "I know there's a lot of eyeballs talking about the 100,000 -- we're not going to go below 100,000."

There could be no one in the stadium except the teams and they would announce 102,309. Ask anyone who was at the '95 Purdue doom-weather game if there were 100k in attendance.

Etc.: Stephen A Smith is just in charge of saying things for no reason. Ray Rice's suspension is ridiculous. Terrell Pryor got five games for tatgate! Rice got two for knocking his wife unconscious. Okay.

In lighter news, Detnews really excited about Alex Cook's tweetin'. Bacon on fireworks fireworks. It's probably not a coincidence that right after fireworks fireworks, Brandon gave an interview to Wojo.

ATTENTION TENNESSEE BIGS: stay away from Rome.

Unverified Voracity Is Coming To Your City

Unverified Voracity Is Coming To Your City

Submitted by Brian on July 24th, 2014 at 12:02 PM

RIP. Condolences to the friends and family of the deceased Jim Schneider. Madej has a great story:

"I remember (we had a student assistant) doing a press release one year on women’s gymnastics, and he knew nothing about women’s gymnastics, so (he asked) how (should he) write the release,” said former Michigan media relations director Bruce Madej on Tuesday. “And Schneids says to him, very nicely, ‘Don’t worry about it, the people reading it will know less than you do.’"

Words to live by.

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pretty sure the building is somewhere in this photo

Hey guys, I'm going to be in Chicago. If you're in town and like terrible terrible powerpoint slides, boy do I have an event for you.

2014 Michigan Football Season Preview with Brian Cook (MGoBlog) and Chris Balas (TheWolverine/Rivals.com)- NEW

When: Tuesday, July 29th, 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Where: McGuireWoods LLP, 77 West Wacker Dr, Suite 4100, (map)

Cost: $20 for Alumni Association members; $30 for non-members. Pay at the door for $30 with Cash or Credit Card

Details: Join fellow alumni and several special guest speakers as we preview the 2014 Michigan Football season. During the evening, alums will be joined by Chris Balas from TheWolverine/Rivals.com, Brian Cook from MGoBlog.com and others to be confirmed. You'll get insights on the upcoming season and an opportunity to ask your questions. There will be appetizers and complimentary beer & wine available for those in attendance.
Walk-ups will be available for cash or credit card of $30 day of the event.

Register/Contact: To buy a ticket, click here.  If you have any questions, email David Ingmire at [email protected]

I realize that terrible terrible powerpoint slides are not a great and superior attraction, but in my defense they are snappy and brief. Also, complimentary beer and wine. Last year they flagged down Gerry DiNardo and they may also get a BTN Personality again this year.

Pastujov[1]Michael_Pastujov_large[1]

Nick left, Mike right, please try not to think about how old you are vis a vis those guys, the answer is "old."

Hello, nurses. Hockey picked up a couple of massive commitments yesterday. As per hockey recruiting's wont, their commitment is the first time I'd ever heard of them. They're brothers separated by one year, both forwards. Nick Pastujov, the older, is (probably) class of 2016. He's committed to the NTDP program for next year after tearing it up with Belle Tire's U16 team, and was seriously high profile:

His younger brother Mike may be an even bigger prospect.

The usual OHL disclaimer applies. In this case, Nick's NTDP commitment and the obvious appeal of playing together will hopefully mean defection chances are low. Will be interesting to see if either tries to accelerate a la Werenski.

FWIW, Michigan's 2016 class is looking pretty badass right now with Pastujov, Luce, Sanchez, and a couple more potential NHL draft picks.

Meanwhile. Red on Werenski:

“The most difficult thing for younger players is the maturity level and social change going from high school to college, but Zach is mature beyond his years,” Berenson said. “He's like (former Michigan forward) Jason Botterill in that sense. I think he'll fit in really easily.”

I do not make fun of typos and errors, because we all make them. So I… I'm just going to… I'm just going to…

JnMjOF8[1]

Cumong man. I know I called Geoff Cameron "Jeff" and Axel Witsel "Alex" during World Cup preview bits but that's a whole additional level there. For one, there are approximately 12 words in this entire image. For two, CUMONG MAN.

(Via mgouser MiGit)

Big Ten media day, circa the paleolithic. Lee Corso was a game show host, Hayden Fry spontaneously impregnated your mom, Bo was just chillin', thinking about your mortgage, Denny Green wasn't angry yet, and everyone else was quickly and gratefully forgotten by history:

large[3]

Man that back row aside from Hayden is something.

Well, okay. Patrick Omameh is listed as a potential breakout player by ESPN. He's 25th on a list of 25, but that's not bad at all for a guy who went undrafted a year ago. Even if the article comes with one of those "are you sure you're talking about the right player" scouting reports:

Tampa Bay plucked him from there in mid-October, and while he never appeared in a game, the Bucs clearly had plans for him. He goes into training camp in the lead for the right guard position. The scouting reports on Omameh a year ago dinged him for sometimes being unable to finish blocks or move properly to the second level, but he's a consistent and powerful drive-blocker. His greatest attribute, however, is his intelligence. He was offered scholarships at MIT and Princeton before heading to Michigan, where he made academic All-Big Ten.

Um… what? Not to overrate one play or anything but the Te'obliteration is actually a pretty good representation of his career. Omameh was terrific when he was asked to move to the second level and not so good when a burly defensive tackle was put right over him:

Also I just like posting that.

If Patrick Omameh is a year two NFL starter that says something about something, there. Like maybe Michigan should have tried to keep doing the zone stuff they were good at.

NFL draft changes. The NFL is making an effort to tone down the number of underclassmen leaving college despite dubious prospects, at least according to one Nick Saban:

Now, teams can only submit five players for grades from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Last year, Saban said Alabama submitted 11 names.

Also, the NFL will give just three grades of feedback: first-round grade, second-round grade or a "stay-in-school grade." The NFL previously had five grades: first round, second round, third round, fourth through seventh and not draftable.

If the NFL approves extra draft grade requests you can get them, FWIW. John Infante keeps banging the MLS drum here and he's probably right: MLS hand-selects a number of players who sign "Generation Adidas" contracts and makes them available in the draft; anyone not explicitly approved has to go to college. Or overseas or whatever, but they're not available. If the NFL only wants underclassmen who will probably go in the first two rounds, just make that explicit. They'll have to negotiate that into a CBA but current players are always happy to negotiate away stuff from future ones.

Funchessssss.

Etc.: Tiny Basque club manages to raise enough money to play in La Liga. EA settlement wrangling. Say no to fall weddings. "Embracing debate" is tolerating all sorts of things you shouldn't. The NCAA is Marxist. Michigan participates in Make A Wish. Get The Picture demolishes things better than just about anybody.