Various Things That Are Killing Me

Submitted by Brian on January 4th, 2010 at 12:33 PM

The last couple items I covered before heading out into the holiday season hell for leather were Jay Hopson's departure and some happy vibes going down in the recruitment of CA S Sean Parker. I popped by head back up to post a UV last week. Other than that, I've been silent.

So. Things! That are wringing the life out of me!

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DEATHHHHHHHHHHH 

Hockey is killing me. I was in Chicago for the opening night of the GLI and the thing wasn't on TV and that turned out to be a fantastic thing for yrs truly because Michigan outshot RPI 46-13(!!!) and lost 4-3. If I had actually seen that transpire I would have died. My spleen would have burst out of my stomach and ran for Mexico trailing intestine and whatnot behind it, and I would have looked down in horror at what was going down only to find it considerably more pleasant than the on-ice action. This apparently happened:

With Michigan trailing by only one goal, Hogan looked like he had a routine save to his glove side that most likely would have left the Wolverines down just one heading into the final period.

But when the puck slipped off of Hogan’s glove and into the net, Berenson made the only decision he could to save his team’s chance at a third-straight GLI Championship.

Yeeergh.

Michigan managed to rebound the next night and beat an atrocious Michigan Tech team to split the weekend but the RPI loss is the just about the last dagger in Michigan's at-large tourney hopes. Losing to a bleah ECAC team is bad enough—it will kill Michigan's record against common opponents, a Pairwise* factor, against good ECAC teams like Yale that play limited nonconference schedules—but as a special bonus Michigan missed the opportunity to play a good Michigan State team and instead got Tech, #49 of 58 in RPI and 3-16 on the season.

Michigan is now 29th in RPI, down a spot from before the GLI. Sioux Sports shows that if Michigan wins 14 of its remaining 17 games they'd end up somewhere around 10th to 13th in RPI.  Upshot: if they managed to do that they'd likely be on the good side of the bubble when conference tournaments rolled around and would have a fighting chance at picking up an at-large bid if they make the Joe and split there. 

So… no problem. Just win at an 82% clip when you're at 50% on the season, can't score no matter how many shots you take, and just saw your goalie pulled for a smurfy walk-on who gave up a soft game-losing goal in the four shots he faced.

A more realistic goal is to scrape into fourth place in the CCHA to get a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs and hope to win them. Short of a time machine that drops sophomore year Al Montoya, Mike Comrie, and Jack Johnson onto the roster, Michigan can't get to the tournament in any other way.

*(The way the hockey tournament is selected is something else called the Pairwise. It compares the top 25 teams in RPI against each other in various categories—RPI, record against common opponents, record against teams under consideration, and head to head. At this point the PWR is so heavily based on RPI that with a few exceptions teams will be within one or two spots of their RPI rank at season's end.)

Basketball: also killing me. So they actually beat Ohio State the other day in a testament to the power of home court in the Big Ten, but AnnArbor.com theorizes that "a confident Michigan basketball team inspires expectations again" and I think they're nuts.

I might have this conversation on WTKA again this afternoon, but a week in which you split against meh Big Ten teams—and Ohio State is meh without Evan Turner—is not making progress towards your goals. Unlike last year, when a strong nonconference run put M in a spot where all they had to do was hold serve, this team has to cut a fiery swath through the Big Ten if they want a bid. Losing to the second-worst team in the Big Ten according to Kenpom is not exactly doing that.

It is nice to win something against Ohio State, though. Or anyone at all, in anything.

Ekpe Udoh: yes, killing me. Udoh is the Ryan Mallett of Michigan basketball. He's 7th in the nation in blocks and Baylor's most-used player (82% of available minutes) on an 11-1 team that's beaten Xavier, Arizona State, and South Carolina. He transferred because a new coach came in and he didn't like his style, leaving Michigan utterly deficient at something important (passing, interior defense) and being touted as a potential first-round pick.

Assistant coach search: not killing me. Stealth mode. I haven't heard or read one word about who Michigan is looking at to replace the departed Hopson, whether it's in the newspaper or a premium message board or my inbox. Michigan might be busy recruiting or, you know, having a "holiday" with the weird people who live with the coaches and insist that something other than football is an "activity" that can be "undertaken." It'll be interesting to see who gets picked up, and it looks like the announcement is going to be of the variety where Some Guy gets picked up and I scramble to google him to find out who he is.

Comments

StephenRKass

January 4th, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

Love one of your closing statements, regarding recruiting a LB coach and the current coaching staff:

Michigan might be busy recruiting or, you know, having a "holiday" with the weird people who live with the coaches and insist that something other than football is an "activity" that can be "undertaken."

This is an apt description of many mgoaddicts. Myself included. Hope you enjoyed your holidays.

Tacopants

January 4th, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

You aren't roommates with an RPI alum who thinks his school is much better than Michigan at both hockey and engineering. Which, before all of this went down, was just flat out wrong.

At least I still have engineering.

Don

January 4th, 2010 at 1:08 PM ^

Just my epinion.

Anyone find it just a tiny wee bit ironic that the year when Hopson finally starts to show some potential at getting some significant signees, he leaves? Is this the first dong punch of Twenty-Ten?

dtdanUM

January 4th, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

"So… no problem. Just win at an 82% clip when you're at 50% on the season, can't score no matter how many..." Hey, it worked for the Minnesota Twins this year.

zlionsfan

January 4th, 2010 at 7:09 PM ^

keep the dong punches to college sports?

Baseball: dong punch in the Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! fashion, with the first 162 games counting as the windup
Football: when improvement is not improvement
Hockey: approximately 500 players on the injured list
Basketball: I would rather watch the Shock. except they moved. (Yes, I know it's the offseason.)

Even with just college sports, my genitals would not have survived if not for my split allegiance, and I've been conditioned by watching so many Gene Keady teams that Purdue could be 37-0 and playing in Indianapolis in the national semifinals and I would still expect them to lose. (Exhibit A: 22 years ago, the Silverdome Nut Punch ... but at least that prevented Purdue from being eliminated by Cheating Larry Brown, Version 2. We didn't stick around for the regional finals.)

weasel3216

January 4th, 2010 at 8:14 PM ^

I know it would be highly unlikely since we .500 on the season but a quick look at the remaining schedule, it is pretty weak.

The only team that i would consider to be "good" would be MSU, damn i hate saying that. Ferris State has not played anyone yet, should lose their next four. Western and BG are both really bad, Alaska may be a little bit better than average, and then ND, Nebraska-Omaha, and NMU are all average. We also have the game at Camp Randall as well (not sure if that counts in standings).

If Michigan plays smarter and doesn't waste shots like they did at the GLI, we could win around 80% of these games, or 14 games. This might be a long shot, but i could potentially see it happening.

IMO, i see us winning around 10-12 of these games, losing two or three that we shouldn't lose.

WanderingWolve

January 4th, 2010 at 1:15 PM ^

From what I hear, the AFCA, which starts the 10th, is a great place for networking. I'm sure RR is going to meet with guys down there. Why rush? Let's get a good hire so that our LB play is much improved. What's the new LB coach gonna do now anyway? It's the dead period and the players are just now getting back to school.

jmacdon

January 4th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

I was at the GLI, right behind the goal on the 'home' side of the Joe, so I saw three of the four goals go in from about 5 feet away.

The first one is on the PK. They let an RPI guy sit down low behind the goal, so all they had to do was pass it to him and he tapped it in (first shot on goal, btw).

The second goal came from the point. Hogan was probably screened because he didn't even flinch until after it was in the net. He had pretty good positioning, the puck just seemed to have eyes. This was I believe the third shot on goal for RPI.

The third goal was the only soft goal of the night. The shot came from the top of the circle and Hogan barely got his glove on it and it dribbled into the goal.

The fourth goal isn't on Hunwick. The RPI guy roofed it glove side through an impossibly small window. It was a really good shot, and 9 times out of 10 would have hit the glass right in front of me instead of going in, so don't blame the smurf.

As for our shots on goal, yeah there were a lot of them, but pretty much everybody knows how to play us. We always rush up the outside and try to pass it to the trailing forward coming up the middle. All they had to do was block the passing lane and we were left with these crap bad angle shots that technically were on goal, but were really easy for the RPI goalie to handle.

The RPI goalie York was pretty good, and moved really well for a 6'4" dude, but the main problem IMO is that we don't generate the good shots that we have had in the past. In fact, FYS absolutely handled York the next night, but somehow Comley has got them playing really well (having Tropp back helps lots).

GoBlueKC

January 4th, 2010 at 1:27 PM ^

I agree with your assessment of the goals that RPI scored. I was there with my Dad and telling him about how short Hunwick is; he responded with 'how does height affect a goalie'. Approximately .3 seconds later the guy roofed it. Whether or not a taller goalie would have made the save, it certainly would have made the window to shoot through much smaller.

You barely touch on on it in your response, but I think the crux of our scoring problem is related to our shot selection. We probably would have had 60+ shots if RPI hadn't blocked so many. It seems like we always took an extra touch or made an extra pass instead of shooting. That gave RPI the chance to get their sticks or bodies in our shooting lanes. This was particularly evident on the PP; a bunch of passes around the outside and then a slap shot right into a group of 4 players.

bcsblue

January 4th, 2010 at 1:25 PM ^

Someone at rivals was saying that the hire will be a 100% Grob decision. That is great news, imho, with all the talk of staff friction on the D side of the ball.

jamiemac

January 4th, 2010 at 1:36 PM ^

While I share your frustration in seeing Udoh devleop into a good player for a good team, I am not as dour as you are about the general state of the hoops program.

1....losing in Bloomington is not bad. The Hoosiers smoked Pitt, a team that just gave Syracuse a resounding first loss of the season. They have more firepower and are deeper than Michigan. I thought UM played well enough to win, considering their stars under performed. They are much better than last year and almost beat UM. We're surprised that a significantly more talented IU outfit this year won in a close game? I'm not.

2......beating OSU is ALWAYS a good thing, which you noted. But, the Bucks still had more pure talent on the floor than Michigan has. I thought it was an excellent win, that showed this team isnt quite done yet. Its never a bad thing to notch your biggest win of the season. Now, the team needs to go out and top this a few times in league play.

3.......having studied the tournament for years, Michigan can get into the Dance with 10 or 11 Big 10 wins, even with a 'meh' looking record. They need wins. Yesterday was a good start. They have to keep it up. But, their tourney hopes are not resting with them cutting a fiery swath during league play. I think a 17-13 final regular season record will put them right in the thick of things going into conference tournament week.

Its still a long season and there are plenty of big scalps out there for Michigan to get. Yesterday finally gave us an indication that they might be ready to wear after all.

We'll see.

Yinka Double Dare

January 4th, 2010 at 2:18 PM ^

IU was down their leading scorer and had lost at home to something called Loyola (MD) a week-ish before when they still had their leading scorer, and likewise went 0-fer in their holiday tourney (including two mid-major losses). The Pitt win was a total outlier. It's still a bad team and a bad loss, albeit a team that should get better over the course of the Big Ten schedule given their youth.

jamiemac

January 4th, 2010 at 2:46 PM ^

I assume you mean the one in puerto rico almost 6 weeks ago?

They lost to Mason and BU, but even without Creek, they are a better now than then.

I guess we'll have to play the season, but Michigan will not be the only Big 10 bubble/tourney team IU beats at home this season.

They are sooooooo much better than last year. They actually have firepower and talent.

We'll revisit this issue later, but I dont think this loss is any worse than losing at PSU last season when its all said and done.

UMQuadz05

January 4th, 2010 at 1:52 PM ^

Last month, I wrote Brian to ask him why he didn't have a tag for "I am trying to break your heart." This really needs to happen, as these dong punches are getting more and more common and spiteful.

markusr2007

January 4th, 2010 at 2:00 PM ^

Sometimes I want to have my team run this play against all of those "weird people" chairing the meeting in our company board room. No, actually check that. I want to run a 41 buck sweep out of the Wing-T formation and blast our "so-called" quality control manager off his feet with a bone crushing truck block from the pulling guard. Yeah, that would be sweet.

Spending the holiday with "weird people" that aren't equally obsessed with college football? Humbug!

lhglrkwg

January 4th, 2010 at 2:01 PM ^

i got up and turned on BTN and thought our bball game was live but then saw you saying we had won. i thought i was reading the internet in the future

um09inohio

January 4th, 2010 at 6:32 PM ^

I wonder if RR would be interested in hiring Bill Sheridan, father of Nick Sheridan. Bill was just fired as New York Giants D-Coordinator and coached at Michigan from 2002-2004. He has more experience coaching linebackers than any other position. It seems like a natural choice if RR wants him.

Blue Balls

January 5th, 2010 at 10:22 AM ^

future may very well be in the hands of Michigan's defense. While I have little to no doubt that Coach Rod's offense is on the verge of becoming "a machine", Michigan's anemic defense needs a transfusion. With Gerd providing stability, the defense must be over-hauled. With Gerd getting the DC job, I wonder if Hopson was just alittle pissed he got passed over? Whatever the case maybe, the play of Michigan's linebackers has to improve. The secondary also must improve and many bloggers have stated we need a secondary coach more than a linebacker coach. So while you may have google the new coach to find out more about him, this hire may be critical for Michigan's success and Coach Rod's future.