Thursday, July 7, 2011
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!