Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Once the puck didn’t get dumped into the Duluth zone, you knew. Once you saw Chad Langlais scramble to get back into defensive position to continue what was already almost a three-minute shift, you knew. Once Travis Oleksuk threw a pass across the front of the net to Kyle Schmidt and Shawn Hunwick couldn’t quite get back to the far post you really knew. It was over, a run made as the last effort of an impressive, if slightly underperforming, recruiting class ground to a screeching halt just inches from the their ultimate goal.
In what can only be described as a heart-breaking defeat the University of Michigan Wolverines lost 3-2 in overtime to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to fall just short of the NCAA Championship in Men’s Ice Hockey. We waved goodbye to Langlais, Carl Hagelin, Louie Caporusso, Scooter Vaughn, Matt Rust, Ben Winnett and the too often street-clothed Bryan Hogan. This was a class that could have, and probably should have, produced more than a loss at all four levels of the NCAA Tournament. The early departures of Aaron Palushaj and Max Pacioretty didn’t help and they did manage to lose each of those games in a different fantastic fashion: an OT almost comeback after pulling a starting goalie for a freshman(Hogan) against Notre Dame; one of the more ridiculous goaltending displays against the Air Force’s Andrew Volkening; a game stolen away and again lost in overtime to Miami(OH), and finally the closest they came to the ultimate prize in a contest that provoked even the most mild mannered of coaches to criticize the officiating. Each of these hurt in its own way mixing together shock, anger, and the emptiness that comes with ending a season without a trophy being held overhead. It has been a very unstable time to be a fan of Red Berenson’s program.
But this is a new season and a new team that will once again be setting their sights on not just another NCAA tournament appearance (they have 21 straight), or a Frozen Four trip (24 of those, the most all time) or even another shot at big one (11 title games played). No the Wolverines will accept nothing less than a tenth National Championship as a successful season, as a program with the tradition of U of M should. Whether or not this is a realistic goal for this specific group remains to be seen, but looking at what Coach Berenson is going put out on the ice there is potential for greatness, but there are also a significant amount of question marks.
The front line of the Wolverines consists of a lot of unproven talent and talent that has yet to live up to expectations. This could be one of the strongest offensive forces Michigan has seen in a long time or it could be a complete bust, we know that little about the Wolverine attack. Of the fourteen forwards on the roster only five were guaranteed to be in the lineup when healthy last season. That is not a lot of experience even for a college team – for example last year’s team had nine. There are also five freshman forwards on the roster, at least three of whom are expected to play regularly. This lack of real experience makes it very difficult to predict what kind of offense we will see at Yost this year but the veteran players have a lot on their shoulders. None more than second-year captain Luke Glendening who will most likely anchor Michigan’s top line. Glendening is certainly the most experienced returning forward if not the most prolific. The senior’s talents are more defensive and he will be the team’s best penalty killer and is the unquestioned leader in the locker room. If there is one player that might want to return to the national title game more than any other it has to be senior alternate captain David Wohlberg, who watched from the stands as his teammates fell to Duluth after suffering a broken collar bone against Bowling Green in the second round of the CCHA Tournament last year. Despite missing the last 7 games of the season, he was still second on the team in goals, so the Wolverines will be depending on him to keep putting the puck in the net. A source of goals that hasn’t seemed to ever find its groove is Chris Brown. The junior scored only nine goals last year while taking the third most shots on the team. Brown will hope to see more of the Texas flag flying in the Michigan student section this season. Other than those three players Coach Berenson will be expecting his forwards to start living up to their potential. Kevin Lynch scored eleven goals last year but was in a deep scoring slump for too much of last year. AJ Treais was fantastic at times last year and provides a spark when Michigan gets sluggish but he was still too undisciplined and needs to have more control over his finesse game if he wants to become a top end scorer. Luke Moffat has the potential to fire a lot of pucks home for the Wolverines as well but as a freshman he sometimes looked lost out on the ice and had a problem regaining composure after a couple bad plays. The rest of the bunch has to see more playing time before any real determination can be made, but look out for freshman Zach Hyman to make a big impact. The Panthers draft pick was a dominant force in the Ontario Junior Hockey League on his way to being named the Canadian Junior A player of the year, an honor he shares with Mike Comrie and Jeff Tambellini. That’s some good company.
The blue line is a little more stable than the front end but still provides a few question marks. At least one freshman will have to play but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we saw three new kids suit up in the same game. In any case the blue line will be built on youth, with only one returning senior and one returning junior. Underclassmen will carry the load on this defensive corps. One of the underclassmen happens to be John Merrill who might have been the best defenseman on this team a year ago and now is unquestionably the top defender the Wolverines have. They were lucky to keep him away from the New Jersey Devils and if not for a poor performance in the national title game last year and a lackluster tournament overall, Merrill probably would have made the jump. He certainly looked like an NHL ready defenseman for the majority of last season next to Chad Langlais but now Langlais is gone and Merrill is the guy. Whether or not he has the ability to lead this group and even the whole team remains to be seen. The leadership load should be shared with senior Greg Pateryn who, despite coming into the team as a freshman having already been drafted, has never been able to establish himself firmly in the lineup. Pateryn played in 40 of the Wolverines’ 44 games last year but still was always teetering on the edge of being dropped. That won’t be a problem this year and the most defensive-minded defenseman on this team will be an integral part of the team on the ice and off. Mac Bennett and Lee Moffie could be two of the most exciting defensemen in the CCHA but last year I never wanted to see them on the ice together. Both are fantastic at moving up into the play offensively and can create problems for opposing defenses but also have the tendency to leave the their partner exposed, creating the potential for odd man rushes the other way. If they can play with more discipline they could be fantastic. The freshman to watch in this group has to be Brennan Serville, the Winnipeg Jets pick. He tallied 30 points in 36 games in the OJHL as a defenseman and with his size could be one of Michigan’s top defenseman right out of the gate.
The goaltending situation will look very familiar to any fans of the Wolverines over the last two years. Shawn Hunwick returns to his place between the pipes as a fifth-year senior and for the first time in his career he should be the unquestionable starter. Having to wait until Bryan Hogan got injured two years ago and then battling again with Hogan for playing time last year until the injury bug struck again has given Hunwick a chip on his shoulder. That coupled with his less than average size for a goalie gives him a “me against the world” type of attitude that can be great for a goalie when he is hot. When he has to compete for time however, like he did for the beginning of last season, that confidence can erode quickly. This is why the most important player to Michigan’s goaltending won’t actually be suiting up for the Wolverines this year, former commit John Gibson. Gibson bolted for the OHL after giving fans another false hope that a top Goalie would join the long line that included Al Montoya, Marty Turco, and Steve Shields. Like Jack Campbell before him Gibson could have come in and gotten solid time as a freshman but decided that college wasn’t for him so Hunwick returns to the crease. It is possible that this is the best thing that could have happened when you take just this year into account because now Hunwick doesn’t have to worry about his job and history tells us that he will play better in that situation. The problem for the future is that Hunwick will not be granted a sixth year of eligibility and backup Adam Janecyk has about as much time in competition at Yost as the people who play score-o in between periods.
So what is a realistic goal for this team? It is very difficult to say but I can’t see this team missing out on the NCAA tournament no matter how inexperienced they are. Another trip to the Frozen Four is a legitimate possibility if the right pieces fall into place. But for Wolverine fans, the wait for that tenth national title will, in all likelihood, last at least one more year.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Now all that's left is to see how the dominoes will fall. Which conferences will become Super Conferences and which will be enveloped in the madness? Below are my personal predictions for how everything will end up, eventually. Some of these changes will be in effect for the 2012 football season, while some likely won't be finalized for another season or two after that. This is especially true in the Big 10, which may wait until its TV deal runs out to expand.
1. Pitt, Syracuse, UConn, and Rutgers leave the Big East, join the ACC.
This move destroys the Big East as a football conference, something that has seemed inevitable ever since Miami, BC, and Va Tech left the conference in 2005 for the ACC. This move would leave the ACC with 16 teams, 2 divisions of 8. I believe these divisions will be as follows:
North: Boston College, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pitt, Syracuse, UConn, Rutgers
South: Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, UNC, NC State, Duke, Georgia Tech
2. Texas A&M and West Virginia leave the Big 12 and Big East, join the SEC.
This move is already in motion, as Texas A&M has already accepted their invitation to join the SEC, while West Virginia is a logical 14th team with the Big East in shambles after Move 1. I see the SEC holding firm with 14 teams rather than moving to 16, as no other teams outside of the ACC make good sense to join the SEC (although I have heard rumbles about some of the Big 12, such as Mizzou). I don't see the SEC divisional alignment changing much, with A&M joining the West division, and West Virginia joining the East division.
3. Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma St leave the Big 12, join the Pac-12
This has been the most heavily publicized and debated move, and with the other pieces in motion, the two big boys in the Big 12 (Texas and Oklahoma) abandon ship and take their little brothers with them to the newly christened Pac-16. This essentially dooms the Big 12, and I see it folding, with the leftovers scrambling to find Major conferences to join. I see the divisions shaping up like this:
Pacific: UCLA, USC, Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon St, Washington, Washington St
Southwest: Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, OK St, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, ASU
Interesting wrinkle here is that the new divisions could be the old Pac-8 teams versus the new additions (the new conference may split up the newcomers for revenue reasons, but this alignment makes the most geographic sense IMO).
4. Missouri and Notre Dame join the Big 10.
Missouri is left on the sinking ship of the Big 12 and is forced into joining the Big 10. Notre Dame finally agrees that it's time to join a conference and picks the obvious choice as well. Here's how I see a 14 team Big 10 looking:
Lakes: Michigan, MSU, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois, Penn State
Plains: OSU, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Wiconsin, Indiana, Purdue
5. Kansas, KSU, Baylor, Iowa St (from Big 12), TCU (from Big East), BYU (Independent), and Nevada, Hawaii, and Fresno State (from WAC) join Mountain West.
With the Big 12 and Big East ceasing to exist (at least as football conferences), the leftovers will be left scrambling. I see the Big 12 remainders ending up in a new, super Mountain West, in addition to some teams that were already scheduled to join (WAC teams) and the re-addition of TCU and BYU, who probably should have never left in the first place. That would leave the new Mountain West with 16 teams, two 8-team divisions that would be as follows:
West: Hawaii, Nevada, Fresno St, BYU, Boise St, UNLV, SD St, Wyoming
East: Colorado St, TCU, Air Force, New Mexico, Kansas, KSU, Baylor, Iowa St
6. Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida (from Big East) and Louisiana Tech(from WAC) join Conference USA.
The Big East leftovers join the C-USA, which is a kind of geographic mash-up, and wouldn't mind adding former members such as Louisville to form a 16 team conference with two 8-team divisions, with La Tech and Louisville going West and Cincinnati and USF going East.
7. WAC, Big East, and Big 12 fold as football conferences, remaining WAC teams go down to FCS level or join Sun Belt.
Most of the WAC plays at a D1-AA level anyway, wouldn't be a huge change for the leftovers of that conference (Idaho, Utah State, SJ State, NM State).
The Final Consequences
2 BCS AQ conferences (Big East and Big 12) would be kaput as football conferences, meaning that their auto-bids would have to go elsewhere. I would vote that one become and at-large bid and the other go to the new Mountain West. That would leave the ACC, Big 10, Mountain West, Pac-16, and SEC as the new AQ conferences. A ton of other issues would still need to be resolved, such as conference scheduling (9 in-conference games for sure, more than 2 BCS bids per conference most likely), but this new alignment works for the most part. It isn't as ideal as the old setup maybe, but the times they are a'changing, and we need the best possible solution.
Comments/questions/other plans are welcome.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Fool me once but you won’t fool me twice. Well John, you fooled us twice. The recent de-commitment of incoming freshmen goalie, John Gibson, reminds Michigan fans that an eighteen-year-olds-mind can change in a flash. This is the second straight year Michigan hockey has lost a high profile goalie prospect to the Ontario Hockey League after Jack Campbell went to Windsor last year. Gibson’s de-commitment is even worse because it comes about a month before school starts. When Campbell left to sign elsewhere, it at least left Michigan almost a full season to recruit a new player. Now the coaching staff must scramble if they want to replace Gibson. Most likely Red Berenson will seek a third string goalie (maybe Patrick Summers or someone from the United States Hockey Leagues) then recruit a top prospect for next season. For the time being, Michigan’s NCAA tournament hopes hinge on Hunwick’s health. If that fails, we should hope Adam Janecyk is the second coming of Shawn.
One might (reasonably) ask what is to stop this happening for a third year in a row next year. The reason why is playing time. With Shawn Hunwick graduating at the end of the season, the starting job will be open to any top prospect who wants it. But wouldn’t Gibson get those minutes if he came? Yes, but not until next season. That, and several reasons are why Gibson signed with the Kitchener Rangers. Gibson would have had to fight for playing time with a fifth year senior this year. Kitchener offer more playing time with a better chance of becoming the starter this year. Since being draft by Anaheim in the 2nd round this year’s draft, the NHL dream probably feels closer now. Anaheim probably talked to him about how the OHL has many things to prepare him for the major league: the story of more games, a more NHL-like style of play, more focus on hockey and less on academics, and lastly, he can sign with the Ducks and still play for his junior team, something he couldn’t do in the NCAA.
Gibson should have known all these facts before his commitment to a college program. He knew what Michigan had to offer and what the OHL was all about. He knew he was going to be a high draft choice too. Yes, the USA development program prevents players from signing with an OHL team while they are on the team but his season was over in May. Granted May isn’t much more time to find a replacement but it is better than now. If Gibson thought he wanted to do juniors, he should have de-committed like Campbell back in November before signing day. It is more disheartening that Gibson signed a letter of intent to play for Michigan; a promise to close his recruiting to other colleges and indirectly OHL teams. In the past two weeks 5 players including Gibson have chosen to join OHL teams over their respective college commitments. The alarming part is not the defects; there are a handful of players every year, but the number of top prospects in a short period. It is well over a month past the draft where most de-commitments occur. A player is taken higher than expected, feels the need to fast track to the NHL then jumps to juniors. In all five cases, these players were drafted in their expected range.
The frustrating part: how to stop these poachers. Answer: there really isn't a way yet. The NCAA considers the Canadian junior leagues professional leagues. Athletes playing a second in a OHL game are automatically ineligible to play in the NCAA, but Athletes can leave anytime from the NCAA to join the junior ranks. Once a college loses the recruit, he is lost. Michigan can just sell their school in the best possible way and recruit honest and respectful players. One area college hockey can work on is NHL executives. There is this growing impression that if you are a highly drafted American prospect, you have to play juniors to develop quicker. NHL general managers are encouraging these de-commitments late in the off season. Canadian juniors do not fast track one to the NHL. It just gives an earlier time for NHL teams to sign the player for cheaper, and it gives the young star a nice signing bonus. Very few players, even first rounders make it to the NHL at 18 or 19 years. They are usually signed at age 20 and spend a couple of years in the minor league. Many players are 22 or 23 by the time they are in the NHL full time. An age where college players have or are about to graduate. If you google Josh Unice or Brandon Maxwell, you will find two former American goalies who committed to colleges then backed out to sign with Kitchener. They are no closer to the NHL than John Gibson is. On the other hand, John Gibson is no closer to a world class education than Unice and Maxwell.
by John Zaccardelli
Thursday, July 7, 2011
However, the 2011 Gold Cup final turned out to be much closer to a repeat of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup final than a reverse of the 2009 Gold Cup final. Mexico scored the last four goals of the match to win 4-2 and qualify for the 2013 Confederations Cup. In the 2009 Confederations Cup, the U.S. led Brazil 2-0 before losing 3-2.
In this instance against Mexico, a significant substitution that was caused by an injury took place while there was a 1-0 American advantage. Defender Steve Cherundolo's hurt ankle prompted head coach Bob Bradley to substitute Jonathan Bornstein into the match in his place during the 11th minute. As Bornstein entered to play on the left side of the defense, Eric Lichaj moved to the opposite side to take over the right-back position that Cherundolo had been playing very well throughout the Gold Cup. This sequence of moves weakened the U.S. defense prior to the flurry of Mexican goals.
Other players who could have been chosen as the replacement for Cherundolo include Jonathan Spector and Tim Ream. However, either of these changes would have also come with some risk. Spector, like Bornstein, had not previously played in the 2011 Gold Cup at all. Ream entering for the first time since his foul caused a Panamanian penalty kick in the group stage would have involved U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra moving from the center of the defense back to the side of the defense. Taking into account the injury and the choice with which Bradley was faced, it was a problematic situation, and the option to try to repair it that he selected simply did not work out.
Conversely, there were controversial decisions made by Bradley during the tournament that ultimately were enormously successful. Foremost among these is the substitution that brought Freddy Adu into the semifinal match against Panama. Shortly thereafter, Adu made significant progress toward changing the perception of him from someone who had not lived up to a massive amount of hype to someone who might still have a bright future with the national team. 10 minutes after replacing teenage forward Juan Agudelo, Adu made a terrific pass to U.S. star Landon Donovan (another substitute by Bradley in this match), who made one more excellent pass, this one to Clint Dempsey for the only goal of the match that sent the Americans to the final.
So, will we see more of the Bob Bradley who has wonderful strategic judgments or the Bob Bradley who has questionable ones? Moreover, will we see the type of U.S. squad that beat top-ranked and eventual World Cup champion Spain in the Confederations Cup to reach its first-ever final in a FIFA tournament or the type of one that suffered its first-ever Gold Cup group stage loss? Will we see the kind of American team that finished on top of its World Cup group for the first time since 1930 or the kind of one that just surrendered four straight goals to Mexico?
What happens next for the United States men's national soccer team might be shaped by any of these possibilities. Since the U.S. will not be participating in the Confederations Cup for this World Cup cycle, the next big event will be the CONCACAF region's qualification for the 2014 World Cup. For all of the questions surrounding this squad, we do know that the U.S. should be exciting to watch going forward. With a premier goalkeeper like Tim Howard and strong play in the midfield from players such as Dempsey and Donovan, there is reason for optimism. Not consistently defending well is a significant concern. Finally, the development of young forwards Agudelo and Jozy Altidore will affect how formidable the U.S. team is going to be for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
How Your Schedule Can Make You A Better Team
As the summer is rolling along, the Michigan hockey team has released its 2011-2012 schedule. Most of the time, people are thinking o.k. that is nice, I do not care who we play and when, all that matters is that we win. However, if one looks a little closer, there are clues in how the coaches think about their team. This is what the 2011-12 schedule shows for the Michigan Wolverines.
Let us start with the non-conference schedule; usually Michigan has one or two early marquee games to show the NCAA committee and RPI they have a tournament quality team. Michigan will be challenged right out the bat with Niagara, St. Lawrence and wait for it… Bentley. Yes, these are not power conference teams fans nor players get excited about. Even later on Union nor Northeastern perk up your ears. It is not until Boston College in the Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 29th that Michigan plays a legit power house team outside the conference.
From a coach’s perceptive, it is smart scheduling. With the graduation of Carl Hagelin and Matt Rust, this team will be young and unproven. The trio of A.J. Treais, Chris Brown, and Kevin Lynch will need to break out and become scoring leaders on this team. The seemingly soft early schedule will give confidence to these juniors and incoming freshmen Zach Hyman, Alex Guptill, and Brennan Serville in the scoring department. The team will only leave Yost ice arena twice in the first two months. The toughest match up in the first half will be going down to Oxford to play a pair with Miami in early November. Michigan could build up enough wins in the first half to roll into January and still be in good position even with tough games against Notre Dame and Miami in back to back weekends. Michigan closes the regular season with a pair against Northern Michigan at home and a pair on the road against lowly Bowling Green. When it comes to selection Sunday, the NCAA committee will be looking for marquee wins outside the conference as well as total wins, play down the stretch, and recent tournament history to determine Michigan's destiny. This schedule, combined with Michigan's tournament hisotory (21 straight tournament appearances) will hopefully put Michigan in a favorable light. Clearly, that is Red's and the rest of the coaching staff's plans. Hey, even if you are not satisfied with Michigan’s opponents, at least you will enjoy Yost’s brand new scoreboard!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
With these problems in mind, let's look at 3 possible plans for baseball realignment:
Plan A: Keep It Simple
Change: Houston Astros move from the NL Central to the AL West, where they would join the only other Texan team in baseball, the Rangers.
Scheduling: Unbalanced as it is now, with each team playing their division opponents 19 times each (76 total), inter-division opponents 6 or 7 times each (68 total), and 6 series versus inter-league opponents (18 total). For teams with inter-league geographical rivals: (Mets-Yankees, Dodgers-Angels, A's-Giants, Orioles-Nats, Cubs-White Sox, Marlins-Rays, Cardinals-Royals, Indians-Reds), they are guaranteed to play each other 2 series per year (home and home), which will leave them their rivals + 4 other inter-league opponents. For teams without inter-league rivals, they will play 6 different inter-league opponents. There would always have to be one inter-league series happening, meaning that the 6 series for each team would be spread out, averaging about one per month for the entire season.
Playoffs: 5 per league, with each division winner earning a bye and the two wild-card teams playing a best-of-3 series.
Plan B: Balanced Schedule
Change: Houston Astros move from NL Central to AL West.
Scheduling: Balanced (at least more so) . 12 games against division opponents (48 total), 9 or 10 games against inter-division opponents (99 total), 5 series against inter-league opponents (15 games total). For the inter-league scheduling, no rivalries will be taken into account. Each team will play 5 inter-league teams spread out among the 3 divisions, with each team playing a different set of 5 teams each year for a 3 year rotation, so that each team will have played all 15 inter-league opponents over the course of 3 seasons.
Playoffs: Same as A. One variation that could be applied to the plan though would be to play the best-of-3 series entirely at the higher seeded wild-card team's park, giving a bigger advantage for finishing 4th rather than 5th.
Plan C: Party Like It's 1968
Changes: Eliminate divisions. Move Arizona Diamondbacks from National League to American League.
Scheduling: Balanced. For the 14 league opponents, play half of them 12 games each and the other half 9 games each (147 games total). This would rotate, so that over 2 years each team would play all of their league rivals 21 times total and over 4 years have 21 home games against each team. For inter-league opponents, play five teams one series each (15 games total), with each team playing all15 inter-league opponents at least once over the course of 3 seasons.
Playoffs: Top 5 teams in each league qualify, with the top 3 getting a first-round bye and the bottom two qualifiers facing off in a best-of-3 play-in series.
So there we have it, 3 ideas for how to change baseball for next season (and beyond!). Note that I included 5 playoff teams in all 3 plans as baseball seems set on it, but any of the three would work just as well with the current 4-team per league format. My personal favorite is plan B, although I think that people may gripe about losing their inter-league rivalry home and home every year.
I'd love to hear other suggestions or thoughts on these three plans.
Change is definitely coming to baseball, and I'm excited to see what form it takes.
Monday, May 30, 2011
It's official. On this Memorial day morning, Jim Tressel handed in his letter of resignation to school President E. Gordon Gee. This is a complete reversal from March 8, when Tressel said he never considered resigning. However, it had to happen. Tressel knew of his players selling memorabilia and autographs for tattoos before the 2010-11 season. Yet he allowed them to play the whole season, even though he knew their eligibility had been compromised. Then, when asked about it by the NCAA in December whether he knew of these actions, he lied and said no. The cover-up was the final nail in the coffin. How does this impact Michigan? Well, obviously Tressel meant a lot to the Buckeyes, as he was 9-1 against the Wolverines in "The Game." It will be interesting to see where OSU goes from here. They've already said that they will search for a new replacement after the upcoming 2011-12 season, where current assistant coach Luke Fickell will lead the program. No one knows what this season will bring for the Buckeyes, as they will be without their starting QB and RB, as well as some others, for the first five games of the season (admittedly, the very weak non-conference slate. They return when the Big Ten season begins). Will there be players who transfer? Will any other revelations come out? And what will the NCAA meeting in August do to OSU? OSU could very well have wins vacated, be put on probation, and lose scholarships. Or, none of that could happen. But either way, an era has ended in Columbus, and now no one knows what will happen next.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Look, we were all disappointed when Darius Morris decided to venture forth into the NBA. We all knew what a great team we would've had last year. However, this is not like Manny Harris' decision to leave early. Everyone predicted Manny to be a second rounder at best, and then he ended up undrafted. However, Morris has clearly received different information. Sporting News and nbadraft.net each have Morris all the way up to the seventeenth pick of the draft, to the New York Knicks. Meanwhile, the Hoops Report has Morris going 21st to the Trailblazers. While there are still some big mock drafts leaving Morris out of the first round (Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick for example) but the general consensus is that Morris is a first-round pick. There's still a lot of time for his stock to rise or fall, but based on the information he had come deadline time (to stay in the draft or pull out) he made the right decision based on the information available to him.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
1. How did Rich Rodriguez completely ignore Tony Anderson for 3 years?
- I don't know what everybody else saw, but I saw somebody who (based on admittedly flimsy evidence) should have at least been given a chance last year.
2. Is the underwhelming performance by Devin Gardner a good thing?
- I don't doubt DG's ability, but one of our monster quarterback recruits watching on TV might...which could be a good thing?
3. Had the spring game referees ever seen Denard Robinson run?
- I know they're trying to protect the quarterback, but some of the times that they blew plays dead I am certain that Denard had at least 5 yards left in him.
4. It's nice to see Mattison mix up packages and move around his best player.
- Mike Martin rushing off the outside like a linebacker and forcing running backs to try to pick him up on their own was refreshing to see.
5. More Mike Cox please.
- Give that MAN the damn ball.
6. No wide receiver deserves the #1 jersey.
- Too many drops yesterday and in years past.
7. It was nice to see the shotgun.
- Yes, Michigan liked to run a lot of sets out of the Power-I on offense, but every once in a while coach Hoke catered to the talents of Denard (such as the first play of the practice) and I appreciated that.
8. Should we be worried about the fact that the first team offense looked pretty lackluster as a unit?
- I don't think so. My mathematical reasoning:
Offense that ranks 9th in yards- Steve Schilling+ new system = Probably still pretty good
9. Was the defense that good, or was the offense that bad?
- There was compromise on behalf of both parties, but I do think that this defense looked worlds better than last year.
10. Is the spring game really an accurate way to determine anything?
- No, but it sure is fun to watch.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Ok here we go, Michigan hockey is moving on to their version of the big dance and from this point on it’s win or go home. So as I’m sure you all are way past tearing up your NCAA hoops brackets, lets see if we can’t do a little better out on the ice.
East Regional – Bridgeport, CT
Yale (1) vs. Air Force (4) – Yale managed to grab the number one overall seed, which is a little bit ridiculous to me. They dominated the ECAC this season and ran through their conference tournament outscoring opponents 22-6 and 10-0 in the ECAC final four, but the ECAC is nowhere near as deep, or maybe even as strong at the top, as the other four major conferences in college hockey and Miami, BC, and North Dakota probably would have had an even better conference record. That being said, Yale is a very good hockey team. They score over four goals per game and give up less than two. Air Force looks to be yet again overmatched, as they seem to be every time they enter the tournament, but that doesn’t necessarily count them out (see Air Force 2 Michigan 0, March 27, 2009). While Air Force has given teams some good games in the past, I don’t see it this year. Prediction: Yale 5-1
Union (2) vs. Minnesota-Duluth (3) – Union also has played very good hockey out in the ECAC, which doesn’t impress me as much as it did the committee, but they did ride an 11 game unbeaten streak to the end of the regular season and only lost twice in 2011, until Colgate. Union managed to drop the Saturday and Sunday games in their ECAC quarterfinal series to the Raiders who went 11-28-3 this year. That would have been the equivalent of Michigan losing to BGSU in our CCHA quarters. Union is still a good team but a lapse like that does not bode well having to face an opponent like Duluth. These Bulldogs have had a heart-stopping season in the WCHA going to overtime 14 times overall, 13 in conference including their last loss in the WCHA tournament to Bemidji State. The NCAA tournament fosters close games and in those that required extra time UMD went 6-2-6, a pretty good OT record. I think the experience will help them in a big game situation and that will give them the edge over Union. Prediction: UMD 4-3 in OT of course
Northeast Regional – Manchester, NH
Miami (1) vs. New Hampshire (4) – Miami is on fire. They are unbeaten since January 21 and have won their last 6 by 3 goals or more. Andy Meile is playing like a man possessed and only will lose the Hobey Baker if the college hockey conspiracy the always seems to benefit the eastern half of the sport gives it to Boston College’s Cam Atkinson, or Barry Melrose gets to pick and North Dakota’s Matt Frattin steals it. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a one man show, Carter Camper is another Hobey Baker finalist, Riley Smith was all CCHA and the depth through the forward lines can provide scoring from everywhere. Miami is also a very physical team and at this point in the year, when players are on their last legs, the physical battle becomes a bigger factor. UNH is not necessarily a bad team either, they went 21-10-6 including a 17-6-4 mark in Hockey East and split an early season series with the Redhawks. But that was before Miami had their goaltending situation figured out. The only advantage UNH has in this game is that it is being played in their back yard. Prediction: Miami 5-1
Merrimack (2) vs. Notre Dame (3) – This is a very tough one to call. Before last weekend when Notre Dame showed its youth against Miami and looked frustrated in the third place game against the Wolverines, Merrimack looked like a great matchup for the Irish. Then at the same time Notre Dame was having an off weekend Merrimack beat UNH and made it to the Hockey East final only losing to Boston College by two and sticking with them for the whole game. Notre Dame has a lot of potential and Jeff Jackson is a fantastic hockey coach but there are a few too many kids who don’t have enough big game experience for me to trust them once they get to this point. Merrimack is in the tournament for the first time since 1988 and they will certainly be motivated to avoid the upset to the lower seeded Irish. They have shown that they can play well in the big games and won’t be going into the matchup doubting themselves after two poor performances in a conference final four. It will be a close one but I don’t think Notre Dame has it this year. Prediction: Merrimack 4-2
West Regional – St. Louis
Boston College (1) vs. Colorado College (4) – So the Eagles lost a fair bit of firepower from last year’s national championship squad but they still boast one of the best offensive records in the country at just under four goals per game. Hobey Baker candidate Cam Atkinson and his assist machine partner in crime Brian Gibbons are a one-two punch bested only by Miele and Camper. BC, as always, is all about speed. They are almost surely the fastest team in the tournament and will create so many mismatches in the offensive zone that teams will be forced to take penalties. And once you have to start trying to keep up with this team they will destroy you. CC on the other side of the ice has been up and down against high quality opponents this year, losing to Denver 4-1 before crushing them 9-2 and beating number 1 seed North Dakota 4-2 before going down 6-0 the next night to the Sioux. The Tigers are also a very big team, which does not bode well for trying to chase the Eagles up and down the ice. In short CC is just overmatched. Prediction: Boston College 5-0
Michigan (2) vs. Nebraska-Omaha (3) – The one that we all care about. Michigan is coming off a disappointing weekend at the Joe that saw them play what had to be their worst hockey of the season in a 5-2 loss at the hands of tournament bound Western Michigan, and a comforting but not overly impressive 4-2 win over Notre Dame. Shawn Hunwick didn’t play terribly in the loss but could certainly have been better and really seemed to lose his composure towards the end. It was reassuring to see him bounce back and make 42 saves against the Irish, which is his second most ever and his most in a game that didn’t go to overtime. The other major positive that the Wolverines got out of the Notre Dame game was that Louie Caporusso and Carl Hagelin each scored only 15 seconds apart; if those two players can get hot and work together well they become a scoring threat whenever they are on the ice. UNO spent a successful first season in the WCHA after leaving the CCHA last year at 21-15-2 including going 2-2 against one-seed North Dakota. Michigan split a series with the Mavericks early in the season and the two teams are within a tenth of a goal of each other in both goals against and goals for. However if you look at recent play Michigan only has one loss, albeit a bad one, in their last 10 whereas UNO are 5-5 in the same span including a sweep at the hands of Bemidji State in their first WCHA tournament series. Unless Michigan plays as poorly as they did against the Broncos, they are still the more talented team by a long shot. Prediction: Michigan 3-1
Midwest Regional – Green Bay
North Dakota (1) vs. Rensselaer (4) - In my opinion North Dakota deserved the number one overall seed in this tournament but Yale got that honor and the Sioux will have to deal with ECAC foe Rensselaer who only finished 5th in one of the weaker conferences in college hockey and were only 2-3-2 against other tournament teams, in fact the U.S. Junior team took the Engineers (yes, the Engineers) to a shootout which RPI won. North Dakota, on the other hand, did nothing but win the WCHA regular season and tournament on the back of the leading goal scorer in the NCAA, Matt Frattin. UND has the second most prolific offense in the country at 4.05 goals per game and when Frattin is on the ice there will be no one on the Rensselaer team who will be able to handle him. This should be a breeze for the Fighting Sioux. Prediction: North Dakota 5-0
Denver (2) vs. Western Michigan (3) – The most cut and dried of the 2-3 games, Western played incredibly well against Michigan and not terribly against Miami but to be honest, they benefited from a horrible Michigan performance and Miami falling asleep for a few minutes before Andy Meile felt like winning. The Broncos also had to go to a third game against Ferris State and only won that one in overtime to even get to the Joe. Denver, on the other hand, ran through their conference tournament until they ran into UND and took them to overtime in a tough loss so close to the WCHA title. How Western managed a 3 seed over New Hampshire is a little baffling to me. Prediction: Denver 4-1
So that does it for the first round, the last eight match up like this:
East Final – Yale vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Northeast Final – Miami vs. Merrimack
West Final – Boston College vs. Michigan
Midwest Final – North Dakota vs. Denver
Yale (1) vs. Minnesota-Duluth (3) – This ECAC team will be a bit of a different animal for UMD. The battle of the Bulldogs favors Yale who lead the NCAA in goals for and goals against, and Duluth will most likely not get to take advantage of their wealth of close game experience. As much as I think ECAC teams are overrated, Yale will be just too strong for UMD. Prediction: Yale 4-1
Miami (1) vs. Merrimack (2) – Miami has been in the last two Frozen Fours for a reason, and when push comes to shove they know how to get it done in the big games. As long as Goalie Cody Reichard doesn’t have a major meltdown, the offensive firepower that Miami can put out will be too much for Merrimack who will be playing in their second NCAA game since the first Bush Administration. At a certain point Merrimack just won’t have it. Prediction: Miami 4-2
Boston College (1) vs. Michigan (2) – The speed of BC is what gives them an advantage over almost every team in the country, almost. Michigan’s defensive corps is probably the fastest the Eagles will have encountered and Chad Langlais, Lee Moffie, and hopefully a healthy Brandon Burlon will have to be at the top of their games; but if they are Michigan will be able to neutralize, for the most part, the BC offense. On the other half of the ice, the Wolverines will need to take advantage of the size of Chris Brown and Kevin Lynch who should be able to win any physical battle they get into. Call me a homer but for some reason I see some stellar play by Shawn Hunwick stealing this one. Prediction: Michigan 3-2
North Dakota (1) vs. Denver (2) – This is a rematch of the WCHA final which UND managed to take in double overtime on a goal from who else but Matt Frattin. That game ended 3-2, which was probably caused by both teams playing conservatively. I don’t see the tournament game going the same way. North Dakota has a very high-powered offense but Denver has already showed that they can stay with the Fighting Sioux and in this case I think it will be a race to the last goal which will be scored, once again, by Matt Frattin. Prediction: North Dakota 6-5 in OT
That gives us a Frozen Four of:
Yale vs. Miami
North Dakota vs. Michigan
Yale (1) vs. Miami (1) – This is where we find out how sub-par the ECAC really is, Yale will come into this game without having faced a real challenge in the tournament which can sometimes lead a team to come out flat in the early parts of a game, Miami won’t need anything else. That’s not to say this will be an easy win for the Redhawks, no Frozen Four games are, but if they get a lead early in this game Yale will be chasing them around the ice for the rest of the night. Camper and Miele will have been scoring all tournament, but this is when players like Pat Cannone, Alden Hirschfeld, and Justin Vaive will come up huge. Two straight Frozen Fours for these guys will give them yet another edge over the Yale squad and Miami will battle one out into the title game. Prediction: Miami 5-3
North Dakota (1) vs. Michigan (2) – Is just getting to the Frozen Four good enough for either of these teams? No. Do both teams have enough depth and leadership to handle the pressure that college hockey’s biggest stage brings? Yes. So who has the advantage? Games like this are often decided by an amazing individual effort, but in this case I think it will be decided by a lack of one. North Dakota is a very good hockey team that puts an incredible amount of emphasis on a single player in Frattin, and up until this point he has always stepped up and delivered performances that have earned him a shot at the Hobey Baker. But at some point it wears out. Coach Berenson will have a game plan ready that will totally shut down the nation’s leading goal scorer and force the Sioux to beat Michigan from other spots. I don’t think they can do it. I will admit that there is an overwhelming bias towards Michigan in these predictions but this team has a senior class that has put together a career deserving of a shot at the national title. Prediction: Michigan 2-1
So here it is, the national title coming down to two CCHA rivals that have been battling for supremacy in the Midwest for years.
Miami (1) vs. Michigan (2) – Last year’s heartbreaking loss to the Redhawks in the regional final has left a bad taste in the mouths of Michigan hockey fans for almost a year, and whether or not the Wolverines were wronged in that game is irrelevant at this point. We just want another shot at them. But take a step back and try to look at this situation through lenses that aren’t tinted with maize and blue. Two years ago Miami fans watched as one of the most epic collapses in college hockey was capped off by a shot from the point deflecting off of one of their own players pants and fluttering like a chip-shot over then-freshman Cody Reichard. The loss, in overtime, snatched away what would have been the school’s first national title. In anything. If that wasn’t enough, look at last year, when the Redhawks made an emotional run to the Frozen four yet again, fueled by the passing of their student manager Brendan Burke, only to get hit by the unstoppable force that was the BC Eagles. Now the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul is not Goggin in Oxford and Michigan fans would certainly equal the Miami faithful at the very least. And the Wolverines would certainly put up a much better performance then either of the two that they produced when being swept earlier this year. But at what point do we finally admit that as much as we hate Miami, as much as we want to hang another national title banner up at Yost, Carter Camper, Andy Miele, and Miami have earned the right to have one. It will be close, nationally title games always, but in the end Michigan will leave the ice with another year to try to get rid of a bad taste and karma will finally swing Miami’s way. Prediction: Miami 4-3 in OT
And I get to hear about it all summer from my Redhawk brother.