Unverified Voracity Quicklike

Unverified Voracity Quicklike

Submitted by Brian on November 2nd, 2012 at 3:50 PM

I've got to get on a plane shortly so shortly the links will go.

OOP.

Brief thoughts on the first exhibition:

  • Albrecht is an extremely wise pickup; if he can hit threes and break the press and get M's offense in motion he'll be at least a solid backup for four years. Michigan needed some stability at that PG spot and he looks like he'll provide it.
  • Stauskas is going to be a lights out three point shooter and he has enough other game to contribute to the rest of the offense; D needs work.
  • McGary's FTs will probably be fine, his stroke looks good. Hopefully that leg injury clears up and he gets that extra 10% athleticism that made him a huge prospect after his AAU season.
  • GRIII is Branden Dawson-ish with more shooting and less rebounding but probably not much less rebounding.
  • Hardaway played a much more complete game than we're used to seeing. Thumbs up.

Predictorama.

  • Know Your Foe from the MZone says "must resist making little Brown Jugs" joke at picture of hot woman in brown bikini, predicts 28-10.
  • Who Are You And Why Do We Care exists, predicts on non-football factors, does so 38-13.
  • Maize and Go Blue goes with 37-10.
  • Maize and Blue Nation says 27-2, which I should have thought of.
  • The Daily Gopher can't even find a jug picture where it's being held by a Minnesota player—RVB is the man—and goes with 31-13.
  • I'm In Love With A Fringe Bowl Team has a mathematical model that says 33-23 and a non-gambler guy who picks Michigan to cover: "I would have loved to start this post recalling the last time the Gophers beat Michigan in Minnesota, but I don't remember it at all. This is mostly because it was five years before my birth."

Kovacs is a truthful dude. Post-Nebraska:

"A lot of it is the games we played," Kovacs said. "Air Force didn't necessarily throw the ball on us a lot, and Alabama didn't have to.

"There's some open receivers last game that (quarterback Taylor) Martinez didn't see. There were a couple blitzes we ran, and we had a guy running down the middle of the field wide open. Can't let that happen. We've been fortunate they haven't hit 'em yet."

So that means the secondary is playing at a high level, but maybe not its highest level?

"I don't know," Kovacs said. "I think we're playing all right. I think last game we didn't play well enough at all, specifically the defensive backs."

"I really don't groom that much," Gibbons said, smiling.

Now he's going to bleed on you, Baumgardner. Or more likely whoever wrote this headline:

Michigan's Nik Stauskas and Matt Vogrich could finally give John Beilein a consistent deep threat in Ann Arbor

Zack Novak shot 41% from three last year, and whenever he gets back from wrecking Belgium he's going to be ANGAR. Elsewhere, Spike Albrecht is called "mini Steve Nash," which is definitely not getting ahead of ourselves and headline guy is definitely going to put a "got" in between the first two words of this one after a loss at some point this year:

Youth served: Michigan's talented freshmen five show ability, poise in college debut

Falk on Jug. Not like that.

Whatever that might mean.

Seriously, they can do this? Whenver M plays at Northern I think the exact same thing Yost Built does:

Unlike SOME SCHOOLS THAT I KNOW OF, Northern offers streaming video of their games for $7. You can also buy a season pass for $75, and if you're reading this blog, don't have season tickets, and claim that you wouldn't fork out that much for a Michigan version of the same thing, I will call you a damn liar. It's 2012 and this is Michigan fergodsakes. We shouldn't have less access to video of games than Northern Michigan fans. Just saying.

I've watched three or four games at NMU the past few years, and M hockey fans outside of the local area can't get one.

Meanwhile, MHN highlights the scheduling thing we'll hear all season:

LAST TRIP TO MARQUETTE?
The Mining Journal’s Matt Wellens talked to NMU coach Walt Kyle about scheduling the Wolverines in the future.  Kyle is open to the idea, however it must be on “fair terms.”  By that he means a basic home-and-home series where the Wolverines would travel to NMU one year and NMU would return the favor the next year.  He is not open to two-for-ones and payout deals.

Honestly, good for NMU.

Etc.: Stuffing the Passer. Michigan expects lack of goalie ejections at Northern Michigan. Yost Built previews NMU. NCAA dooms Midwest regional to 20 people in stands for 13th year of 14 by giving it to Cincinnati, which has one program (Miami) within a four hour drive. Leitch should totally ditch the Knicks. Catching up with Hunwick.

Plinko Preview

Plinko Preview

Submitted by Brian on February 20th, 2012 at 4:52 PM

2/17/2012 – Michigan 4, Northern Michigan 1 – 19-10-4, 13-8-4 Gongshow
2/18/2012 – Michigan 3, Northern Michigan 2 (OT) – 20-10-4, 14-8-4 Gongshow

senior-night-hockey

Too many of these flags without a banner
AnnArbor.com

Inevitably, Michigan's come down a bit from its dominating post-Merrill streak. After a month of games rarely competitive enough to require the opposition goalie to be pulled, Michigan's won two of the last four in overtime. A third they lost; the fourth was a one-goal game with five minutes to go before a power play goal gave Michigan room to breathe.

While they remain one of the hottest teams in the country—probably still the hottest team—it's just that… man, they are mortal. Very much so. Saturday confirmed that. Watching Mac Bennett cough up an unbelievable turnover gets that point halfway home; cowering after Jon Freakin' Merrill got ostentatiously walked for a goal drives it the rest of the way. And don't get me started on the third pairing.

It is easy to construct ways in which Michigan gets beaten in the tourney. Maybe it's better to know that going in, to not be regarding the NCAA tournament as anything other than sport's most terrifying random number generator, but dammit I've been watching Michigan play hockey for 13 years and every year my soul has ended up sobbing on the floor of a Steak 'n' Shake bathroom. I don't like reminders of the ways in which these things happen.

I'm getting plenty of those of late. Both overtime winners were plinko specials. A puck slides under a Michigan State defenseman despite that guy dropping to one knee and Michigan's fourth line sweeps one in from point blank range. Northern throws a puck up the boards that just happens to hit Glendening in the tape and he flings it cross-ice to Treais, who does what Treais does and fires a laser-guided missile into the net.

It's great to get wins like that, sure. You are either unfamiliar with college hockey or a great dirty liar if it doesn't make you nervous, though. In April this team is going to be going up against team after team like they have in the second half of the season. They'll never meet last year's North Dakota. There is no last year's North Dakota. This means however they lose, if they lose, will be brutal.

Michigan's looking good for a one seed but we've seen puck after puck that cares nothing for expectation and craves only chaos, and it's getting to be that time of year. Prepare the antacid and whiskey: playoff hockey is around the corner.

-----------------------------

It's impossible to think things like the above and look at Michigan's RPI chart within minutes of each other without saying a little prayer of thanks that this…

image

…was not the season*. But now we're over it and have been talking about what Michigan needs to be a one seed for two months. Michigan has been as close to a dominant team as you can be for a long time now, and instead of being grateful to extend the tourney streak I'm steeling myself for the usual combination of anticipation and dread that accompanies single elimination hockey.

This is probably why I advised everyone to savor the final few games of basketball season. That team can be happy with being there. Hockey can't even if the above stretch threatened the tourney streak. Hockey has become a ghost-ridden thing over the past dozen years. Once recovery is in the rear view the tournament looms ahead, silent, red-haired, and wild-eyed. Loki is coming, and he has been kind recently. Be afraid.

*[How bizarre is that Ferris State sweep in retrospect? Ferris is going to win the league bar a sweep by Western and is in pretty good shape for a one-seed itself. Michigan destroyed them in the midst of their horrendous stretch.]

Highlights

Friday:

Saturday:

The latter does a great job of emphasizing how frequently Pateryn was annihilating various Wildcats.

HT: Michigan Hockey Net.

Pairwise

Michigan moved up to second on the weekend but still loses comparisons with two teams, BC and UMD. Thanks to Michigan's GLI win over the Eagles, passing BC is a simple matter of finishing ahead of them in RPI. Any other scenario that sees Michigan take the comparison also has M ahead in RPI, so that's easy enough.

UMD is a tougher, more annoying matter. They're getting significantly beat in RPI but win both COP (thanks to M's split against Western) and TUC. They're about a game in front there despite the RPI gap. Michigan will need them to limp down the stretch.

UMD is the only comparison it looks like Michigan can lose based on RPI right now thanks to BU's loss to BC in the Beanpot. That evened Michigan's COP with BU and there's nothing the Bulldogs can do about that except make it worse until the playoffs.

Playing BG is good and bad. They should be easy to beat but they provide no upside. A sweep barely budges Michigan's RPI; a split will see them drop.

Upshot for the people who don't care about the details: Michigan should finish at most one spot below their RPI ranking, which is currently second but could drop to fifth or sixth if they don't play well. If they take care of BGSU this weekend they will probably get a one seed as long as they reach and go 1-1 at the Joe. You hate Duluth and want them to die.

BONUS: Remember how I said Northern was on the bubble despite being ninth last week? At 16th they'd be out of the tournament if it started today. Do not look at bracketology columns. They are more pointless than college hockey polls.

Bullets That Could Go Anywhere

glendening-northern-michigan

AnnArbor.com

Revisiting Luke Glendening. After Glendening had a bad weekend in which he seemed at least partially responsible for three separate Notre Dame goals, I pointed out that he'd been dragging in +/- terms and scoring and that he'd have been exiled to the fourth line if he wasn't the captain.

This had the same effect as painting 1,181 across your hairless chest might. Since then he's had points in 5 of 6 games and has a 1-6-7 line as the second line has scored every night. Yeah, he's benefiting from AJ Treais's insane run of top shelf snipes, but he's getting Treais the puck in situations where he can unleash his shot. See: OT winner last night.

I got AJ Treais all wrong. I called him a less dynamic TJ Hensick, but this is not right. Right now he's a less dynamic Mike Cammalleri. Cammalleri is the magic midget with the most lethal shot in MGoMemory, and Treais is a threat to water bottles all over the Gongshow at the moment.

Wait… what? A quick glimpse at Michigan's stats shows Lee Moffie at the top of the scoring charts with 6-23-29. That is a lot of points. He, too, has been on a mighty run the last three weekends, scoring three goals and assisting on six others. I say Michigan shortens its bench considerably in the playoffs and rides their top two pairings extensively.

Speaking of… Michigan tried to mitigate the issues with their third pairing by breaking Merrill and Moffie apart so that there was always at least one guy Red trusts on the ice at all times. This did not go so well. Chiasson had a couple of brutal turnovers, Merrill made some plays in his defensive zone that clearly indicated he had no faith in the freshman, and pairing Moffie with Serville was asking to die along the boards. Michigan eventually went back to their earlier plan and now seem stuck with it.

This seems like a situation where Michigan should go full Krug with their top four guys, no?

This can backfire. I remember a certain game against Maine back in the day—Comrie's last game, so 2000—during which Michigan rode five defenseman until the fifth got injured. They had only four and Bob Gassoff*—and by the end of that game Mike Komisarek could barely move. After Comrie got a half-breakaway and converted five-hole, Maine got Michigan stuck in their own zone and wore them down in the third period. The goals that followed felt inevitable.

So you have to get some shifts for the third pairing guys in, but offensive zone faceoffs only against guh opponents only, please.

*[Bob Gassoff is now a Navy Seal and could probably rip my head off with two fingers. So it is with some trepidation that I reveal that as a student I once cried out "WHY EVEN GIVE HIM A STICK?" when Red iced Gassoff at some point that year. He was a guy with no discernible skill except fighting people, which is discouraged. If you think this year's defense is frighteningly thin you have no idea. Just no idea at all.]

Third line. Still bupkis. They'll get something against BG, right? I mean, they have to one of these days.

Elsewhere

CenterIce breaks down Michigan's goals. The Deblois semi-break:

I predicted that Jon Merrill would have a bounce back series after last weekends MSU fiasco. The thing that has always separated Merrill from others is his hockey I.Q. You either have it or you don't, things like this can't not be taught.

This play starts out as a regular clear for the Wildcats, nothing special just a puck sent out of the zone.

Head up the whole way Merrill gets the puck from Moffie and finds Deblois cutting through the middle.

The Northerners are all kinds of confused, obviously since the blueliner has closed his legs like he's in shot blocking position.

As you can see they are caught way out of position.

The only play left for NMU is to go for the hook, bring him down and try your luck on the PK. Deblois does a great job of keeping the puck and staying on his feet to finish the play off.

Whole thing highly recommended.

AnnArbor.com game recap. Pateryn:

“The way he’s been putting the puck in the net, I kinda was a little premature on my celebration,” Pateryn said. “My gloves weren’t off, but hands went up. ... Thankfully, he put it in.”

Press conference recaps from Friday and Saturday from Michigan Hockey Net. I was surprised that Berenson was so down on the Friday performance; I felt like they were mostly dominant 5x5 and got screwed on penalties. They got caught in their own zone three or four times and gave up scary chances but I don't think that's a matter of toughness; it's just that the third pairing is scary.

Matt Slovin on Hunwick's Hobey hopes. Tiny Jesus reference included. Daily recap.

Everything Muppets!

Everything Muppets!

Submitted by Brian on February 18th, 2012 at 11:34 PM

By the way, Michigan picked up CO OL Chris Fox sometime in the second half of the Ohio State game—he probably felt an impulse to run out on the floor and tackle Ted Valentine and knew his destiny at that point. That makes February 18th, 2012 the Best February Michigan Sports Day In Living Memory.

Events:

  • Football picks up five(!) consensus four-star recruits: IL OL Kyle Bosch, CO OL Chris Fox, MI OL David Dawson, MI CB Jourdan Lewis, and MI RB/H-back/TE/DE Wyatt Shallman. They now have 4 of the top five in Michigan according to Rivals, four top 100 recruits, and 7 consensus four stars.
  • For the second consecutive year, Michigan hockey's senior day ends with an OT winner. They rise to #2 in the PWR, at least at this instant.
  • Basketball beats Big Ten leader OSU 56-51 and now has a real chance at its first Big Ten title since 1986.

Muppets? Damn right muppets.

And you can't have one without the other…

ALL OF THE THINGS.

Puck Preview: Northern Michigan

Puck Preview: Northern Michigan

Submitted by Brian on February 17th, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Northern_Michigan_LogoThe Essentials 

WHAT Northern Michigan at Michigan
WHERE Yost Ice Arena
WHEN 7:35 PM Friday

5:05 Saturday(!!!)
5:05. Not 7:35.
5:05.

LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TV Friday: BTN
Saturday: FSD

Northern Michigan

Record. 14-10-6, 9-9-6 CCHA. The Northerns, as Al Randall bizarrely calls them, are yet another basically .500 CCHA team. Even at this late juncture six of the eleven teams are within a game of .500. Northern has the worst goal differential of any of them at –5, FWIW.

NMU has been successful out of conference, going 5-1 against WCHA opponents St. Cloud State, Wisconsin, and Michigan Tech. That has seen them through to the good side of the tournament bubble. Yeah, the bubble: even though Northern is currently tied for ninth in the PWR the margins down there are incredibly slim and a Michigan sweep this weekend could bonk them out of the tourney entirely, if temporarily.

Previous meetings. Remember this?

Hunwick-punch[1]

Yeah… that. Shawn Hunwick got booted from the Friday night game for that. You can see why he was pissed:

This started the year-long Gongshow campaign in Hunwick's crease and as a result Michigan got only a tie out of the weekend, losing 5-3 in the punch game and eking out a 3-3 tie Saturday. On Friday Michigan fell behind 3-1; after Hyman and Travis Lynch tied it up Janecyk let in a soft one to let the game slip away. Shots were 32-27 Northern. Michigan outshot Northern 28-26 the next night.

Dangermen. I'll defer to Marquette native Jason Paul on this one:

Topping my list would be big 6-foot-4 senior forward Justin Florek.  He was a beast last time around against the Wolverines, who struggled to defend him in front of the net, especially on the power play.  Florek has 15 goals and 13 assists in 30 games.  Eight of his goals have come with the man advantage.  He only had one goal against Michigan earlier this season, but he was responsible for a pair of redirects in front of the net on the power play led to rebound goals.  I expect to see U-M defenseman Jon Merrill matched up with his line.  That’ll definitely be the match up to watch on the power play.

Tyler Gron had 14-19-33 as well. Matt Thurber appears to be the other member of that line with an 8-15-23 line; past that there's an NMU version of Treias in sophomore Stephan Vigier (11-9-20) and a couple guys with seven goals before the dropoff into grinder territory.

Defense? I'm splitting defense and goalie because they are different things and putting a question mark after defense because let's be honest: it is impossible to scout college hockey opponents since they're never on television and honestly I don't know if I could figure anything meaningful out from a game or two anyway. Defensemen are especially vulnerable to misrepresentation.

So. Junior Kyle Follmer is the only NMU defenseman to make an impact offensively with 3-19-22. As a team, NMU is 21st in goals allowed per game but the guy in net has a huge impact on that, as we'll see…

Goalie. You may have noticed Jared Coreau's name pop up when this blog discusses how statistically impressive Shawn Hunwick is. That's generally to dismiss his candidacy for big-time awards because he's platooning, but a .935 save percentage is impressive even so. Paul notes that Coreau seems to have asserted himself as the man after starting the last three games. With senior Reid Ellington sporting a .905 and giving up almost an additional goal per game it's not hard to see why. The Wildcats are in crunch time and it's time to ride the hot guy.

This is how big a difference there has been between the two goalies: extrapolate Coreau's 2.03 GAA to a team GAA and NMU would be second nationally in goals allowed. Ellington's 2.92 would be 37th. As always, NCAA goalie sample sizes are extremely small, but they're all we've got.

Expect Coreau.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

  Northerns Michigan
PP For / G 3.6 3.9
PP Ag / G 4.7 4.1

The above table hasn't been much help of late. Gongshow is gonna gongshow and Red has now uncharacteristically complained about the officiating for two straight weeks. But, yeah, Northern takes a ton of penalties and doesn't draw many.

When on special teams, the NMU power play is decent, converting at just under 20% and fielding only one shorthanded goal. Michigan is still languishing just over 15%. Northern is 7th nationally on the kill; while NMU can expect to be shorthanded more often than M they perform better on special teams; this can be considered a wash.

Michigan vs Those Guys

Don't have Hunwick freak out and nail some guy but good. This is self explanatory, but it would be nice if a Gongshow ref actually called contact on Hunwick.

Keep your cool in general. This series was ugly four months ago. The Hunwick thing came paired with a couple of fighting DQs and a Northern guy got a contact-to-the-head DQ Saturday night. Pair that with Michigan's Miami dustup and increasing frustration with Gongshow refereeing you can see the outlines of an ugly, penalty-filled series short on 5-on-5 play.

This would be a bad thing. Not only does NMU play better on special teams than Michigan does but they give up a ton of shots relative to the opponent (they're –202 in CCHA play). The bulk of that disparity is 5x5—1.1 power plays per game does not make that big of a difference. If Michigan can play some of the remarkably penalty-free games they've turned in thus far they'll be in good shape.

Third line: make something pay off. The Sparks-Moffatt-Hyman line seems like it should be putting some pucks in the net but hasn't in a long, long time. AJ Treais can't keep his smoking hot shooting up forever. Unless Travis Lynch is going to start scoring against teams not named Michigan State, at some point Michigan is going to need these guys to step up.

First line: get your mojo back. Sans Brown the top line got smoked on Friday vs State and they didn't score on Saturday, which was the seemingly first time since its invention that it had not. As a huge driver of Michigan's success in the post-swoon era it will be reassuring if they get back on track.

The Big Picture

The CCHA title is likely gone. If Ferris biffs their layup against BGSU this weekend the door cracks open. That's not likely. That out of the way, Michigan can certainly aim for second and will strive to finish in the top four to get the bye and second-round home series. A split would likely assure the latter, again assuming Michigan doesn't totally blow their BGSU layup.

As far as the Pairwise goes, it's like I've been saying for a long time: Michigan can tread water with a split but to make headway they will have to do better than that. Splitting hurts slightly and will see them continue to hang out in the 2-seed band they currently occupy. Sweeping likely takes them past a team or two—they would definitely pass Ferris, for one, by becoming the #1 team in RPI. Probably, anyway. It's hard to predict exactly what will happen.

Elsewhere

Aforementioned Michigan Hockey Net preview.

AP Bio

AP Bio

Submitted by Brian on February 28th, 2011 at 2:07 PM

2/25/2010 – Michigan 3, NMU 2 – 22-9-4, 19-7-1 CCHA
2/26/2010 – Michigan 5, NMU 0 – 23-9-4, 20-7-1 CCHA – Champions

Shawn Hunwick of the Michigan hockey team plays against Windsor in an exhibition match at Yost Ice Arena on Sunday, October 4th 2009(SAID ALSALAH/DAILY)a-bear

My AP Biology teachers were not very good at anticipating how much minutia an average high school student could write down in 54 minutes. They consistently wrote tests that were ten minutes too long. This compounded itself over the course of a day, so when we showed up for the last hour there was always a class full of frantic scribblers occupying our seats forever. Forced to wait, definitely not making any bus, and unbound by anyone showing up after us, my class would dribble out of the room anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes after the official end of the school day.

Except for me. Pointless memorization was my jam, man. I blew through the tests in a half hour, then waited outside for a friend who would need a ride. I'm sure this privately infuriated my teachers since most of my time in their class was spent asleep. If I'd failed a test or even not done so well they could have swooped in with Life Lessons, maybe even called my mom to describe what a terrible student I was. But as long as I was the only guy finishing their insane tests on time they were powerless.

--------------------------------

Michigan has not been a particularly entertaining hockey team this year. They've been gritty and frustrating and occasionally elegant but only from the back end; Hagelin has been fast and Hunwick surprisingly effective. They split with an awful MSU team and didn't look like they even belonged on the same ice as Miami. They blew leads to tie seemingly all of their nonconference games. They didn't score much in the way they were trying to. It's been jarring.

Even this weekend they spent the first 90 minutes asleep. On Friday, Shawn Hunwick and some emergency defending saw them scrape a win they didn't seem to deserve. On Saturday it was looking like they were going to do the same after the first 26 minutes saw 12 shots total, one of them an attempted pass by Hagelin that a Wildcat deflected into his own net. Since I was watching the internet feed on my computer my melodramatic twitter feed features an existential crisis, incredible frustration, and the phrase "awful, awful, awful."

After the existential crisis the previous class shuffled out and Michigan got down to business. There was a humorous scene in which they wrote so fast smoke rose from the paper. When it cleared no one was even mad two goals had been waved off because four others had stood.

What was that? Was that something that's been there all along but isn't unearthed on the regular, or was it just like Michigan starting the Minnesota basketball game off 6 of 6 from three, a statistical fluke? Should we call Michigan's mother to tell on him?

I'm not sure we can. The test is in and it says "A":

image

No matter how deeply suspicious we are or are not, the test says "A". Michigan may have gotten blown out of Oxford but Miami won four fewer games in the league. On Saturday Notre Dame had three goals disallowed and scored none against Western Michigan. They did not put a knuckling puck through the Bronco goalie with 40 seconds left, then flick one into the top corner with two left. They allowed twelve more goals than Michigan and scored only three more. I'm still not sure how that's true but it is. Last year Michigan finished seventh in the league, and this year they won it.

-----------------

Now we come to the knee-buckling section of the schedule. Last year Michigan reached this point down their starting goalie, playing a first-round series for the first time in forever and staring down the barrel of Michigan State, Miami, and someone else if they were going to extend their tourney streak. They did, and then they were robbed of a Frozen Four bid in one of the program's all-time classic games. They died like Vikings, turning their league D into a B.

This year they've got a much easier road. They've guaranteed themselves an at large and won't face either of the CCHA's other elite teams until the final. Hold serve and you're one game away from a one seed and a friendly bracket.

I don't know what to think. Maybe the subtler qualities really do exist and this series of narrow victories is just what happens when you're a really good defensive team that lacks magic midgets. I've never deeply cared about a team like this. Maybe this is what life is like when you've got six good to great defenders and Scooter Vaughn is vying to be your second-leading scorer. Or maybe the Miami series was a dark preview of what will happen whenever Michigan meets an elite opponent.

I'll know in the next month. They've got an A so far, but the only thing that matters in this class is the final. This is not fair. It is, however, college hockey.

Pairwise

The usual extreme detail from mfan_in_ohio.

Somewhat briefer: for a moment on Friday night Michigan had fallen to tenth despite their win against NMU, but when the dust cleared from the weekend Michigan moved up into a tie for fourth(!) despite losing OSU's record and gaining MSU's in their TUC category. Then a butterfly flapped its wings, sending MSU below .500 RPI. Voila:

image

Bracketology stuff usually has Michigan playing RPI/CC in the first round and getting the winner of Union/UMD in the second if they get there. Stop the season right now. I want to get off.

How did this happen?

Merrimack blew up. The lead people including myself thought was unassailable evaporated in a single weekend as meh Maine (14-10-6 before the weekend) swept. I think we PWR watchers underestimate how quickly teams high up in the RPI can backslide if they get swept. Merrimack has terrible Providence this weekend and can only lose ground—sweeping leaves their RPI basically where it is now.

WCHA teams did too. UMD only got one point out of their weekend with CC, and UNO split with Denver—the exact result Michigan wanted.

CCHA playoffs rooting guide:

  1. In the first round you want Alaska over MSU, NMU over BGSU, and OSU over LSSU. NMU [M: 2-0 against them] can approach the cutoff with a sweep and OSU [3-1] can get over the hump with one.  MSU [2-2] is thousandths away from the cutoff and if they don't lose things could get ugly. OTOH, this might not be so bad. Unless BGSU pulls a massive upset MSU would then play Michigan in the second round. Michigan could put them right back under .500. Even if they didn't the record would then be 4-2, which whatever.
  2. Second round assuming no upsets: Michigan, obvs, over OSU or LSSU. NMU over Miami, as that would make them a TUC. Ferris-WMU doesn't really matter since it appears the Bulldogs are locked in as a TUC, and neither would ND-Alaska.
  3. At the Joe it probably won't matter as long as Michigan wins.

The most important other thing: Die, Denver. You die and go to hell. Also, pull hard for UNH against BC this weekend.

Non-Bullets Of Silverware

Wat. If you were one of the dedicated few ripping the NMU radio guy a new one on twitter as you watched the B2E feed you might have wondered what the hell Michigan players were doing after the game, unless you were also one of the many who played NHL 94 incessantly. Michigan Hockey Net digs up a junior team doing the same thing. I'm impressed guys who were about three when '94 came out have even heard of it.

Feed BTW. It probably wasn't worth seven bucks if we're talking about a random midseason series. With the title on the line, though, I shelled out both nights and was relatively impressed. Negatives: the quality is not super high and you aren't getting replays. Positive: the feed was very smooth. I missed maybe a minute of game time total to internet hiccups.

The quality wasn't good enough for me to be able to say much about specific players, however. It was tough for me to figure out who was who most of the time.

One exception. Hunwick bounced back huge on Friday night after a disappointing series against Western. He stole that game. On Saturday he had very little to do, so points to the team defense there.

Highlights. HT to Michigan Hockey Net for digging up highlights from Friday and Saturday. Friday:

Saturday:

That post from MHN has a bunch of other stuff including Andrew Cogliano fighting someone much bigger than him.

Elsewhere

Locker room Celebration footage from MGoBlue. Daily recap features Burlon's game saving… uh… save:

“You’re instincts take over on a play like that,” Burlon said after Friday’s game. “(Hunwick) was the goalie on that one, but then, I’ve got to play goalie. You do anything for the team to get the win and that was just one of those plays.”

Yost Built hasn't updated. Frowns.

Puck Preview: Northern Michigan

Puck Preview: Northern Michigan

Submitted by Brian on February 25th, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Northern_Michigan_Logo The Essentials 

WHAT Michigan @ NMU
WHERE Berry Events Center
Marquette, MI
WHEN 7:35 PM Fri/Sat
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TELEVISION Online streaming only ($7)

Northern Michigan

Record. 14-15-5, 12-11-3 CCHA. Northern Michigan is miraculously fifth in the league despite having a –20 goal differential. They're +0 (-0?) in their nonconference schedule. Math thus requires a bunch of humiliating blowouts and indeed Northern's schedule features a 9-1 loss to Miami, an 8-1 loss to Notre Dame, a 6-1 loss to Western Michigan, and several other large margins of defeat coupled with narrow victories.

In six games against the league's upper tier (Miami and Notre Dame) the Wildcats are 1-5. There were the two massive blowouts plus a 4-0 loss to Miami, 5-2 and 3-1 losses to Notre Dame, and a single 3-2 win against the Irish in which Northern was outshot 53-15(!).

The Wildcats come in hot… sort of. The good: they've gone 3-0-1 in their last four and those were all on the road. The bad: they were against the worst two teams in the league and they come out of their series against awful BGSU with a tie and a 3-2 win. They'd lost their last four before that.

FWIW, it's spring break this weekend so the crowd will be relatively muted.

Dangermen. According to NMU head coach Kyle Walt via some guy on USCHO, NMU leading scorer Tyler Gron will miss his second consecutive weekend. That hurts, as he was on a PPG pace and the next guy is well back of that. In his absence Northern's main threats are juniors Justin Florek (12-14-26) and Andrew Cherniwchan (7-13-20) and seniors Phil Fox (11-7-18) and Greger Hanson (5-15-20).

This is not exactly going up against Miami here. NMU is 46th in scoring even and is missing their top guy. Chances are goals will come off of Michigan mistakes, of which there will be a few.

Defense and goalie and whatnot. Junior Reid Ellingson and freshman Jared Coreau have split time. Ellingson gets about two-thirds of it and has a significantly better GAA and save percentage, so chances are Michigan sees him both nights unless Northern gets bombed Friday.

Northern's defense corps is young. They've got two seniors taking a regular shift and then it's sophomores and freshmen. NMU is better defensively than they are offensively but they're still giving up exactly three goals per game.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

  Alaska Michigan
PP For / G 3.9 4.1
PP Ag / G 5.5 4.4

That's a huge gap for NMU, one that helps explain that goal differential. NMU gets penalties from all over but they're concentrated in the defense: only senior Andrew Fernandez has fewer than 35 PIMs and freshman CJ Ludwig has 78. It may even be worse than the PP numbers suggest since by the looks of it Northern is taking a lot of penalties longer than two minutes.

As to what happens when the specialty units get on the ice, NMU's power play is pretty effective at 18.8 percent (21st), but their penalty kill is very bad: they're 50th of 58th at 78.7 percent. They take a ton of penalties and don't kill them well, which is a recipe for getting bombed by Miami and their #5 PP.

Meanwhile, Michigan is mediocre at both, slightly worse than NMU on the on the power play but better killing penalties and less likely to end up with a deficit in power plays.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Don't give up two pure breakaways against a 5'7" goalie. Just sayin'. More to the point: like Michigan's series against Alaska earlier in the year it looks like this opponent isn't going to generate much you don't give them. No hockey team can go a game without making mistakes that lead to scoring issues but Michigan's had more issues than they're comfortable with lately; reducing those is kind of important.

Get a bounce-back from Hunwick. A rough outing here and there happens to the best; a second consecutive would be an ominous sign as Michigan hits the playoffs.

Demote everyone to fourth-line center. Then they'll be Kevin Lynch and imbued with super powers.

Let the Sparks fly. Hurr durr hurr! But seriously folks, Sparks has verve. He has panache. He has extra savior faire. I know defense and all that but frankly before Lynch blew up that fourth line has been a liability that gets stuck in its zone more often than not.

BONUS: "The Northerns." If you're listening to this on the radio be sure to listen for one of the most bizarre verbal ticks you'll ever hear: PBP guy Al Randall will call Michigan's opponent this weekend "The Northerns." It never fails to amuse and slightly alarm.

The Big Picture

The CCHA is simple. Michigan wins the league if they get one more point than Notre Dame does this weekend. They have a home and home with a reeling Western Michigan team. ND will get the Broncos' best shot: despite their four-game losing streak WMU is still hanging on to the last at-large bid*.

As far as the Pairwise, it is a fickle beast and Michigan will probably lose ground no matter what this weekend. You want the following results:

  • Denver to lose to Nebraska-Omaha
  • Nebraska-Omaha to lose to Denver
  • Minnesota-Duluth to lose to CC
  • Boston College to lose to UMass
  • Ferris State to beat OSU
  • OSU to beat Ferris State

Ferris and OSU skated to 2-2 tie yesterday so you probably want OSU to win the remaining game.

Obviously some of those are direct contradictions; even with a sweep there are several sets of results that will see Michigan give back the ground it somewhat illicitly staked thanks to OSU getting into the TUC category. Looking at the comparisons, it's going to be hard for Michigan to stay in front of UNO if they sweep, so you probably want splits in both the DU/UNO and OSU/Ferris series and now we're proscribing very specific sets of results and you can see why Michigan's probably locked into about where they are now even if they end the year on a ten-game win streak.

Losing is bad for many reasons, one of which is that losing to NMU will give them a good shot at being a TUC at the end of the year with a record Michigan would rather not have featured, but it also doesn't matter a whole lot because Michigan's almost certainly going to be a two or three. What does matter is the conference race—the winner gets to avoid Miami in the league semifinal.

*[assuming that no one outside the top 16 snags an autobid, which is a dodgy assumption.]

Elsewhere

Michigan Hockey Net will be at the games and needs some liveblog help; Yost Built previews the weekend. MHN also talked to Tyler Motte's coach:

On Motte’s character: “He was voted captain by the boys and basically that’s a result of not only his hard work on the ice but off the ice.  He’s just a pure leader.  There’s not much bad I can talk about Tyler.”

Motte will try to make the NTDP team in March.

Bridge Repair

Bridge Repair

Submitted by Brian on March 22nd, 2010 at 1:38 PM

3/19/2010 – Michigan 5, Miami 2 – 24-17-1
3/20/2010 – Michigan 2, Northern Michigan 1 – 25-17-1, CCHA

imageHere's an odd assemblage of autobiographical facts:

One. When I was in high school my AP English research paper was a no doubt ham-fisted comparison between Winesburg, Ohio and Bridge of San Luis Rey. I don't remember the former whatsoever, but the latter is a novel by Thornton Wilder in which a selection of lovelorn 18th century Peruvians pitch headlong to their deaths when the rope bridge they are crossing gives way.

This event fascinates a local monk who sees the tragedy happen. He tracks down the life stories of everyone involved and concludes this was merciful act of God since each victim suffered from a love so powerful and unrequited that the last thoughts of the victims was probably something a long the lines of "yay it's over yay yay yayyyyyyy—."

For the monk's troubles, the Inquisition burns him at the stake. He was looking for proof of a just and loving God, which is heretical when you're supposed to take that on faith.

Two. At some point in a gas station or at Meijer or some other place where bad or obscure movies are put on sale for five dollars, I happened across a movie version of Bridge of San Luis Rey. I still remembered the book. Inexplicably, the movie starred Gabriel Byrne, Kathy Bates, and Robert DeNiro(!). I was obviously compelled to purchase it. This did not extend to actually watching it.

Three. My satellite setup is shared with the landlord and sometimes when we want to watch TV he is instead taping every procedural crime drama or nature documentary set in the Far East on television. Yesterday in the afternoon it was Wild China. So my fiancée put on this movie.

Four. The reason we were stymied by Wild China instead of watching the NCAA tournament in Vegas was because Spirit Airlines, which sucks immensely, oversold our flight to Las Vegas and bumped us. This sent me into a rage, destroyed the cost-benefit ratio of going, saw us cancel the trip entirely, and caused me to spend Thursday sulking like a five year old.

Five. On Friday I went to a hockey game. Saturday, too.

----------------------------------------

The number of Michigan fans that would gladly have seen their sports fandom pitch headlong to its doom has to be hovering near its all-time high right now. You can't voluntarily abandon it because suicide is a sin but, man, that bridge is looking pretty rickety and maybe if I just take all these things I care about and put them on the bridge and go attend to cargo down by the river I'll come back to find no trace of them and I can go be interested in crochet. There's no such thing as unrequited crochet.

As reactions to this year of Michigan sports go, turning off the hope and settling down into a prolonged malaise is obvious. I was planning some sort of gallows-humor-laden celebration when the three major sports seasons had finally expired and kind of hoping the hockey team would gack it up against Lake State just so it would over sooner. This was always hypothetical. Once the team got on the ice I was pulling for them, but without much fervor and with an eye on the silver lining if they did what they'd been doing all season. I was thinking about a mock funeral.

Then… that happened.

Putting the spurs to Lake Superior State was one thing, as they were a tenth-place team with some fatal flaw that made Michigan's numerous fatal flaws irrelevant. A dominant sweep was a rare occurrence for Michigan this year, but it could be explained away. Following that by stomping Michigan State in a series that redefined both teams' seasons lit a tiny little flame, though. When Tristin Llewellyn (of all people!) blasted a puck past Cody Reichard, it was on: the terror of a high-stakes game you are fully invested in. It had been a long time since one of those went the right way.

Something did flip on this team when Shawn Hunwick was forced into the starting lineup. The relentless defensive intensity from Hunwick's first game, when he saw maybe two shots with any hope of going in, has been a constant feature since his insertion. That's equal parts insult and tribute: the team both needs and wants to protect their miniscule walk-on goaltender. In doing so they've found the formula for success that eluded them so painfully the throughout the season and given Michigan fans reason to believe in heretical things like Benevolent Michigan Walk-On Tolerating God.

I guarantee you this: no group of people has ever been as excited about Fort Wayne, Indiana, as Michigan hockey fans are right now.

BULLETS

  • Yost Built is doing a round of apologies in the aftermath and I have a couple to offer up of my own:

    Tristin Llewellyn not only scored but avoided any penalties that meant something (he took one with a few seconds left in a 5-2 game against Miami) and failed do anything that made me mentally exclaim "Llewellyn!" in the same tone of voice Jerry Seinfeld says "Newman!"

    That latter is the way I usually judge individual defense: number of "Newman!" plays where someone's obvious error leads to a scoring chance versus number of anti-Newmans where something that looks threatening is snuffed out by a good play. (I know this is far from a complete evaluation but it's the best I can do live.) Llewellyn had a half Newman early in the Northern game when he came up too aggressively as NMU broke the zone, but he had backcheckers and nothing came of it. He had two or three anti-Newman plays against Miami, which is That Miami. Best weekend of his career? Probably.

    Louie Caporusso came in for repeated criticism this year as he and David Wohlberg failed to even approximate their 2009 production. At a couple points I suggested that this was the real Caporusso, a decent second-liner and nothing more, and that the blazing hot start to his sophomore year was the aberration. Yeah… Caporusso is now two points off a PPG. Yost Built has details:

    When Caporusso was a Hobey-finalist a year ago, he had 24-25--49, but scored just six goals after the first of the year--and five of those were against LSSU, WMU, and a dreadful FYS team. This year it's the opposite. After just 7 goals in his first 30 games, Caporusso has now ripped off 13 goals and 20 points in the last 13, which includes five multi-goal games and a playmaker. He also hasn't gone consecutive games without a point this calendar year.

    Theory as to what happened: Caporusso's okay but not great at stickhandling, crazy Hensick goal against Michigan State nonwithstanding, and he spent large chunks of the year attempting to do everything himself. This resulted in a lot of lost possession and not much else. When the team picked up its play, Caporusso had more faith in his teammates to get him the puck in dangerous areas, which has shifted the focus of his game from his stickhandling to his lethal wrister and ability to get open in dangerous areas. Both of Caporusso's goals against Northern resulted from that, as did the shot that zinged off the inside of the post immediately before his second.

    Shawn Hunwick. By the third period of the Northern game, Shawn Hunwick-specific terror had dissipated and was replaced by a slightly lower-level General Oh My God panic. His team is helping him out immensely, but after eight full games his save percentage is .912. I admit that I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop here, but at this point you have to let it ride.

  • At no point have I said anything about Carl Hagelin that would require an apology, but I should probably mention that if either of his linemates takes a step forward or they throw an offensive-minded player on his wing, his points could blow up next year to the point where he's a serious Hobey contender. There are only six players who 1) have more points than Hagelin this year, 2) play in a Big Four conference, and 3) can return next year. A couple of those guys play for RPI and UMass, teams that aren't likely to be good enough to get their guys into the Hobey top three, and none of them can possibly be as spectacular two-way players as Hagelin. The big problem is fellow Swede Gustav Nyquist, a sophomore for Maine who has 61 points.
  • Hoo boy did I hate a number of calls this weekend. I did not see the Miami guy clock Wohlberg into the boards and can't offer an opinion on whether that was two or five. I did think Glendening was done as soon as that hit was delivered, FWIW.

    However, how the hell does a Northern guy plow Michigan's Happy Meal toy of a goalie without so much as a shove and not get a goal interference or charging call? How does the Miami game turn into a throwback where penalties are only called when there's bone showing?

    Also, I've seen this call often enough to assume that it's actually the correct call but it's immoral: when a defenseman (Steve Kampfer in this case) lays an open-ice check on a guy who's about to receive a pass and that guy has just whiffed on a puck he could easily have touched, that gets called as interference. That drives me crazy. It should be like the NFL rule. If the defender gets there after the pass has gone through a small area around you it's a good play.

  • I still don't understand why Winnett is playing the point on the power play. Michigan has Langlais, Kampfer, Burlon, and either Summers or Moffie available on defense. Three of those guys have more points than Winnett; Burlon is equal with him and Moffie is just two back despite playing only 29 games. Some of those guys aren't spectacular defensively but I'm betting they're all more comfortable there than Winnett. Winnett's a fourth line forward on a team with a ton of offensive defensemen. I don't get his usage there at all. Last weekend he shot numerous pucks into defenders and set up a couple shorthanded chances for the opposition.
  • Scooter got pulled up onto the third line when Glendening went out and did well; in the third period I don't think the fourth line got more than a shift. I don't think he'll move up in the pecking order since Michigan is adding at least one more forward than they lose (this perhaps foolishly assumes no NHL departures) but I'd be comfortable with him as an energy guy wherever he ends up.

Elsewhere

Daily story and gallery. Also a CHN article, attention from Puck Daddy, AnnArbor.com coverage Rivals promises "Swedish trash talk" in a Hagelin interview. 2011 recruit Lucas Lessio is projected as a first-round NHL draft pick. The Wolverine Blog on the game.

Puck Preview: CCHA Championship

Puck Preview: CCHA Championship

Submitted by Brian on March 20th, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Northern_Michigan_LogoThe Essentials 

WHAT Michigan vs Northern Michigan, CCHA Championship Game
WHERE Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
WHEN Championship @ 7:35 PM.
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TELEVISION FSD

The math is complicated—Michigan actually dropped in the pairwise after beating Miami—but the stakes are simple and immense: win and make the NCAA tournament as the worst matchup ever for some poor one seed. Lose and miss the tournament for the first time in twenty years.

Northern Michigan

Record.  20-11-8, 13-9-9 CCHA with three shootout wins, good for fourth place. They are locked into an NCAA tourney bid. Northern tied with Michigan for the CCHA's second best goal differential at +14. Their overall differential is +22; Michigan is currently +42 thanks to their tear through the CCHA playoffs, albeit in three extra games.

After scoring the the last first-round bye, Northern swept Alaska 4-3 and 5-1, then squeezed by Ferris in OT at the Joe. Northern's goal came a minute into OT, so it shouldn't affect their legs.

Northern's been on a tear since getting swept at UNO in late January. Since then they're 10-1-2 in a stretch of games that included four against Alaska, three against Ferris state, and two against Michigan. Michigan, FWIW, was Northern's only loss in that stretch.

Previous meetings. The teams split their only series of the year in late February, and that was at Yost. Friday was a 3-1 Northern win with a familiar script: Michigan outshot the Wildcats 39-21 but couldn't get anything except a first period Hagelin goal. Northern scored on two of its first five shots and that was enough.

The Saturday game was wild after a fairly calm first period that saw Greger Hanson score an unassisted goal on a terrible turnover from Kampfer. Michigan took the lead in the second, Northern tied it, and then Michigan took the lead again. In the third, Michigan blew the lead by yielding two goals in little over a minute; four minutes after that they would get goals from Chad Langlais and Greg Pateryn to retake the lead and close the scoring. Pateryn's goal was a JMFJ-esque swoop in from the point and a bizarre way for a stay-at-home defenseman to score the first goal of his career. Michigan outshot Northern 32-27.

FWIW, Michigan had four more power play opportunities over the two games. We will see this was not a coincidence.

mark-olver Dangermen. (Imagining all the squiggly red underlines in the following paragraph is an exercise left to the reader.)

First team All-CCHA forward and Hobey finalist Mark Olver (right) is the team's leading scorer with 19-29-48. He plays with a couple of sophomores. Andrew Cherniwchan has an 11-16-27 and Tyler Gron a 10-10-20. This leaves Northern a second dangerous line of double-digit scorers: Greger Hanson (16-22-38), Justin Florek (11-21-32) and Ray Kaunisto (17-14-31). On defense, Erik Gustafsson was the CCHA's best offensive defenseman. He has a 3-28-31 line.

Northern has two extremely strong lines, which will again prevent the Hagelin Solution from working perfectly, but after those two lines the dropoff is steep. There's one guy with 22 points on the season and then it's 12, 11, etc. Michigan can't afford to let the third and fourth lines put anything on the board. You can see the dropoff in the +/- numbers: the top two lines are all at least +8 and most are somewhere in the +12 to +18 range. The third and fourth lines are somewhere between +2 and –9. Michigan has three solid lines and should be able to make hay when Northern's first two units are on the bench.

Northern is just above average offensively despite the strong top two lines: their 3.08 goals per game is 22nd nationally. Michigan is up to 12th at 3.31.

Defense and goalie and whatnot. Senior Brian Stewart is NMU's unquestioned starter. His backup has only played about six games worth of hockey. Stewart has a 2.41 GAA and a .926 save percentage that's fourth(!) nationally after Michigan knocked Cody Reichard from a .930 to a .924. Does everyone Michigan play have to have a crazy save percentage?

Defensively, Northern is experienced and boring past Gustafsson. Freshman Kyle Follmer and senior TJ Miller are +16 and +17, respectively; senior Alan Dorich is +7 despite rocking an 0-2-2 line. That's your top four. The third pairing is shaky.

Northern is 12th nationally in scoring defense at 2.51 per game; Michigan is 7th at 2.31. Shawn Hunwick's save percentage is up to .908.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

  NMU Michigan
PP For / G 4.4 5.6
PP Ag / G 5.7 5.3

Northern is a heavily penalized team that spends significantly more time in the box than their opponents do. A repeat of the Yost PP disparity seems likely, though if Shegos and Wilkins call the game like they did yesterday—think NHL circa 1995—there will be a lot of should-calls that get ignored.

However, despite the penalty disparity Northern has scored and yielded an equal number of goal on special teams: 35 for, 35 against. Opponents are shooting just .097 on power plays; Northern is shooting .172. Overall, Northern's kill is 17th nationally at 84.3% and their power play is 10th at 20.5%.  Michigan's kill is 9th; their power play is 19th.

Northern actually leads the country in a funky stat College Hockey Stats tracks called "combined special teams" that adds up all your opportunities and counts your successes, but that stat slants heavily towards teams that spend a disproportionate share of their time killing penalties. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say Northern is amongst the worst teams in the country in that ratio.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Do whatever the hell it is you have been doing lately. Against Miami, Michigan did not spend 80% of its time in the opponent's end like they did in the first two rounds of the CCHA playoffs, but they did tilt the ice slightly in their favor against a team that was +61 in the CCHA this year. They deserved to beat Miami.

I mean no disrespect to a Northern team that is currently hotter than hell, but if Michigan can do that to a team that is definitely That Miami when it comes to hockey, most of this game will probably be played in the Northern end. Supporting evidence: Northern has been outshot on the year by a margin of about five per game. Michigan is outshooting opponents 34-23. That might not be enough for a win given the shooting/save percentages, but it's better than the alternative.

If Michigan can keep the turnovers down and keep clearing the dozen terrifying pucks that kick out into the slot, they will be in good shape. The overall goal differential here is big: despite the fact that Northern (13th) is only four slots back of Michigan (9th) in scoring margin, Michigan is +1.0 and Northern is +0.56.

Clone Carl Hagelin and put him on three lines. I'm pretty sure they did this after watching Miami turn the puck over in its own end time and again because of heavy Michigan forechecking. Michigan had its share of scary moments against the equally fast Redhawks, but I don't think Northern quite has the skating those guys do. Sans Michigan turnovers, their third and fourth lines are going to be hard pressed to do anything except get off the ice without giving up a goal.

Stay out of the box. Northern takes a lot of penalties and doesn't draw many but that power play is lethal. I think Michigan would prefer most of the game to be played five on five. This would make that 1995 NHL era refereeing a positive for Michigan.

The Big Picture

Win or go home.

Elsewhere

MVictors returns from the Joe with a bevy of pictures and one Awesome Crappy Photoshop. Yost Built recaps the Miami game.

Michigan 97, Northern Michigan 50

Michigan 97, Northern Michigan 50

Submitted by Tim on November 15th, 2009 at 1:04 PM

mannyNMU.JPG

Michigan (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

When a college basketball player scores a triple-double, it's likely his team had a pretty good game. When he does it after 29 minutes of play, and is able to take to the bench for significant garbage time, it's guaranteed. Manny Harris did just that, recording only the second triple-double in Michigan basketball history last night in the Wolverines' 97-50 romp over D-2 Northern Michigan. He finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. Just about the only thing that made Wolverine fans unhappy was Beilein's decision not to go for the century mark in the final minute.

For much of the game, it seemed like the offense wasn't running that smoothly, and the majority of Michigan's points were coming in fast break situations (or only shortly thereafter). There are a number of things that probably factor into this: freshmen getting used to the pace of an actual game in college, including one at point guard; overmatched opponent didn't require running too much of the offense; early season jitters. I think the jitters may have played a role, as the team started sketchy from the line, with Manny Harris missing one, and LLP and Anthony Wright each having a bad miss. They settled down from the stripe as the game went on, and the team missed just one freebie in the second half.

vogrichNMU.JPG

Freshman Matt Vogrich showed he can shoot the hell out of the ball, making all 5 of his shot attempts, each of them from behind the arc. Zack Novak, on the other hand, was unable to continue his hot streak from the last game, missing on both of his 3-balls. DeShawn Sims led all scorers with 22 points. Zack Gibson is still good for a couple really athletic plays per game and a couple awkward ones, including having a guard rip a rebound out of his hands. I still don't like Anthony Wright as a useful piece of this team. He misses 100% of the shots he doesn't take... and nearly all the ones that he does take. Sure, he can get hot at times (see: NCAA Tournament game against Oklahoma), but that's the exception, not the rule.

Other personnel notes: Laval Lucas-Perry didn't score a lot, but did a pretty good job running the point when he was asked to do so. A host of walkons got in at the end of the game (Akunne, Bartelstein, Puls, and Person), and they played with Ben Cronin. After the game, Beilein said that he would have liked Cronin to get a bit more time, but he has a hand injury (his right hand was heavily taped during the game) that limits him from shooting or catching the ball. That injury should be fine by Friday.

The defensive intensity looked really good to start the game, and the players were being really aggressive in the zone. I can see why it's so helpful to have a 6-4 guy at the top of the zone, rather than somebody who's generously listed at 6-0. There were instances where the team was able to trap Northern's players, but they didn't actually record too many turnovers. As the game wore on and it became apparent that the Wildcats wouldn't be posing a serious threat, the intensity cooled off a bit, and I think there might have even been more reliance on man defenses, though I haven't re-watched the game to confirm.

Postgame Quotes:

  • "They told me I had three assists to get [the triple double] and that's when I knew and I kinda counted from there." Manny Harris, on whether he knew he was approaching the triple-double.
  • "I think anybody could get 10 assists, because we shoot the ball so well." Manny Harris.
  • "He'll probably miss one or two [in practice], but we know he can shoot." Manny Harris on Matt Vogrich's shooting performance. "Class of 2013 right there. I was real happy for him. He's a shooter and I think he proved that out there today. I think you guys will be seeing a lot more of that from him." Darius Morris on Vogrich's performance.
  • "For Manny to go out there and make plays, that's what he does: he's a playmaker." Darius Morris on Manny Harris's triple-double.
  • "He trusts these shooters, and he relishes the assists as much as he does the points." John Beilein on Manny Harris's performance.
  • "I like Stu coming in at that 13-minutes mark, because he's got that arm warmed up and ready to roll." John Beilein on bringing Stu Douglass off the bench.
  • "I think he'll be fine by next weekend but he can't shoot right now and catch right now because his right hand still bothers him." John Beilein on Ben Cronin's injury.
  • "Our defense has to improve, and I thought this was a good start today. Tomorrow when we watch film, there will be 50 or 60 cuts, and we'll spend an hour in there telling them what we gotta do better." John Beilein on the team's defense.

Up Next:

Hbaptist.gif

Michigan takes on Houston Baptist (0-2) Friday at 7 in Crisler Arena, available online at BigTenNetwork.com. The Huskies have another game before they head to Ann Arbor, taking on Rice tonight. Full preview of the game as it approaches.

Preview: Northern Michigan

Preview: Northern Michigan

Submitted by Tim on November 13th, 2009 at 3:01 PM

wisconsin-logoThe Essentials

WHAT Michigan v. Northern Michigan
WHERE Crisler Arena
WHEN 7:00 EST

November 13th, 2009
THE LINE No line, junkie
TELEVISION Big Ten Network

Michigan

Year 3 of the John Beilein era gets off to its official start Saturday at 7 as Michigan takes on the Wildcats of Northern Michigan in Crisler Arena. Though he's been a coach for over three decades, Beilein still feels butterflies heading into the year. "My gut feels the same... You're excited about it, and at the same time there's nervous energy."

If everything goes according to plan, the Wildcats will provide little competition. Instead, it should be an opportunity to get the kinks worked out, and a rotation established, before Houston Baptist comes to town next Friday—and hopefully even that is just a tune-up for the Old Spice Classic. The game against Northern will count as a win in the record books, but doesn't have an effect on Michigan's final RPI.

Manny Harris is still not 100%, though he's finally practicing in full with the team. Jordan Morgan has yet to hit the court with his teammates, though it should come soon. He and Blake McLimans will be kept on a redshirt track until the team absolutely needs them, in hopes that it never does.

A number of players are looking to improve their versatility. "I'm here to do what Coach Beilein needs me to do," says Laval Lucas-Perry, "I think I'm a little bit of both: point guard and a shooting guard." Darius Morris needs to learn when to simply go to the bucket, instead of setting up an offensive play (he also needs a winter coat). "As a point guard, you have to know when it's your opportunity to go out there and be a scorer... when you have to make that extra pass or go straight to the basket," Morris said. Stu Douglass is learning that sometimes it's OK to just trust his shot, even when running the point.

The rebounding and three-point defense continue to be issues, as they probably will be throughout the John Beilein era, though not to the extent they were last year. "The zone, at times, will give up a higher percentage than we'd like to, but it also creates turnovers," says Beilein. The team size will improve over last year, hopefully fixing some of those issues.

This team is still very much a work in progress. But isn't it fun to be able to enjoy the process?

Northern Michigan

As discussed in yesterday's non-conference roundup, Northern is, like, not very good. Against D-2 competition, they were below .500. They split the season series with Wayne State, a team that gave Michigan a comfortable victory in their exhibition last week. This is the Wildcats' first game of the season, in the largest arena they'll visit all year. They placed nobody on the pre-season all-conference squads.

Their players to watch are guards Marc Renelique and Raymont McElroy. They were atop last year's squad in scoring, and McElroy is the three-point shooter. The Northern Michigan roster from their website has some differences from ESPN's website, so take any personnel notes with a grain of salt. Hopefully, it shouldn't be too relevant for this game.

No tempo-free breakdown for this game, as it's the first game of the year against a D-2 opponent. We'll see about Houston Baptist getting the statistical preview, but it should make its permanent debut for the Old Spice Classic.

Elsewhere

UMHoops has a little more on the Wildcats and six questions going into the season, which makes Rothstein's five questions seem very sad and small and alone. AnnArbor.com has plenty of coverage; Morris and LLP are the point guards with Douglass a third option. Jay Bilas has gone from emotional problems to crazy Michigan homer. Also Dick Vitale said something I'm betting was annoying.