Baseball ties New York Mets

The Michigan Wolverines battled reigning NL East choke artists New York Mets to a 4-4 tie yesterday at the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, FL. The exhibition game may seem like no big deal, considering it was pre-season game, likely against the Mets’ scrubs. However, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Delgado took to the plate for New York’s squad.

Perhaps more damaging for a particular Met was the reputation of pitcher Aaron Heilman. Heilman, a Notre Dame grad, made a bet that he could hold Michigan scoreless for an inning. He failed, and now has to sing “The Victors” in the team’s clubhouse.

Posted under Baseball, Spring Coverage

Recruiting Update 2-26

Update courtesy of an apparent commitment of a key target to a rival school.

PA S E.J. Banks. From Christian Wilson’s high school, he is and Ohio State target.
KY DE Trevor Foy. He attended multiple Michigan games in the fall.
MI LB Chris Norman. No longer including recruits committed elsewhere without promising info.
Edwin Baker if he commits to State.

New Info:
MI RB Edwin Baker is apparently committing to Michigan State tomorrow, depending on how much weight you put in this random blog post. If he does, I’ll drop him without a new post.
PA RB Jordan Hall visited OSU with Terrelle Pryor recently, and it is likely Pryor’s decision could influence Hall’s.
MI OL Zach Matthias was first-team all conference as a Junior.
SC DE Chris Bonds lists Michigan in his top 5.
OH CB Tony Graham plans to camp at Michigan.
OH CB Damien Thigpen actually prefers the RB position, but will play where needed in college.

If the Edwin Baker commitment happens, they will have a hell of a start to their class (for State).

Posted under Recruiting

Tempo Free Investigation

If you really want to know about tempo-free statistics, you should really head over to Basketball Prospectus. Anything and everything you would ever want to know about the statistical analysis of basketball is there. Since the Big Ten Wonk left his blogspot home and moved to BP, there hasn’t really been a focus on the statistics of Big Ten Basketball lately.

I’m just starting to get into this and I haven’t really gone too deep into the statistics. For those of you who like charts (and/or AJAX filled Web2.0 applications) I compiled some basic tempo free stats online. You can see them here. The conference sheet is sorted by Possessions and the U of M sheet is sorted by effective field goal percentage.

If you want a quick crash course on tempo-free statistics, I recommend checking out the tutorial on Big Ten Wonk.

From looking at Michigan’s stats compared to the rest of the conference, I’m cautiously optimistic. One of the biggest complaints I had from the Amaker era was the frequency of turnovers, which killed any chance of Michigan winning. Michigan this year is number 3 in the conference in Turnovers per Possession (TOPP on the chart). Another complaint is that the games were boring. Michigan versus Northwestern did not even pretend to be a basketball game as both teams pointlessly dribbled or passed the ball around the perimeter until the shot clock ran down. Michigan is 3rd in the conference in possessions behind only Purdue and Illinois. This does not mean they are good, but it’s more a matter of personal preference. I like a smooth, flowing game; the change is like going from Mike DeBord to Rich Rodriguez.

Where Michigan is crashing and burning is shooting the ball. They have the worst effective field goal percentage (eFG%) in conference. eFG% even appropriately weights the benefits of 3pt shots and it still doesn’t bring them up. Michigan is shooting about 46% when the median is 50%. There could be a silver lining on this horrible showing. Michigan is 4-1 when their eFG% is greater than 50%. It isn’t ridiculous to think that once Beilein gets his players in and really gets the freshman and sophomore class shooting well this team will contend.

Beilein has stopped a lot of the bad the Amaker left him. He just needs to get his players playing his system and things should look up. If Michigan shoots well, they can beat some good teams (see Ohio State). I think most of the pain from this season is coming from square pegs meeting round holes.

I’ll try to dig a little deeper through the week and look up some defensive numbers. The spreadsheet is saved on GoogleDocs, so if anyone wants to put together the team table for their (or any) team, let me know and you can be added as a collaborator.

Posted under Basketball

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When an Alumnus Has Too Much Money

Once you are heading a corporation that has over $15B in real estate assets as well as serving on the boards of many influential equity groups, you get a lot of coin. But the problem becomes finding stuff to spend it on. There has to be some sort of upper limit on the marginal utility of another solid gold toilet. So what is a loaded alum to do?

So what is left for him to do with all of his money? Buy a majority stake in the Miami Dolphins, I guess. Wayne Huizenga will remain the controlling partner until he decides it’s time for him to step aside or he is asked to step aside. What this means for the Dolphins? Likely nothing. Mr. Ross doesn’t strike me as the Jerry Jones type, but rather he just likes to see his name on buildings.

So what could be next for Stephen M. Ross? This seems like the only logical next step.

Posted under Blog News

Recruiting Update 2-22-08

One last recruiting update before I head off to a land of indeterminate internet access known as “spring break.” Over the next week, I’ll post if I have access, but otherwise I plan on having Paul go back and post the highlights (read: lowlights) from the home basketball games so far.

Anyway, the board. LSU junior day information courtesy of Bayou Bengal Blog.

TX RB Jazsman Mitchell. A little guy who will probably end up a slot WR if he comes to Michigan.
TX RB Hasan Lipscomb. Included because of the impact he may have on Russell Shepard. The two are high school teammates and friends who are both going to LSU’s junior day this weekend. Lipscomb grew up as a fan of the Bayou Bengals.
LA DT Chris Davenport. Top DT who is attending LSU’s junior day this weekend.
SC DE Chris Bonds. Michigan is in his top 5.

TX DE Mike Brockers. Committed to LSU.

New information:
TX QB Russell Shepard. He is attending LSU’s junior day this weekend. His current girlfriend goes to LSU (not sure why he needs to date someone two years older than him, but I digress). They are considered in his top 3 along with Texas and Michigan.
FL QB Eugene Smith. His dad attended Miami of Florida. Various sources have him listed as a pro-style quarterback, despite his 4.65 dash time.
MS QB Clayton Moore. He is a pass-run or pro-style QB rather than run-pass. A second team All-State selection as a junior. He may enroll early at the school of his choice. He is also a baseball propect who may opt to play minor leagues instead.
PA WR Todd Thomas. He now reports a Michigan offer.
MI WR James Jackson. His offer from Lloyd Carr’s staff has been reaffirmed.
MS WR Dennis Thames. First team All-state selection as a junior.
NC OL Xavier Nixon. He is a nimble center for his basketball team. Has relevance to his foot quickness.
MS DT Josh Boyd. 2nd team All-state as a junior.
MS LB David Conner. First team All-state as a junior.
NC S Devonte Holloman. Wants to trim his list to 5 by summer. HS QB.
TX S Craig Loston. Michigan is in his top 5.

Posted under Recruiting

Delusion and Eric Shrive

I have seen a lot of delusional fans in my day, especially when it comes to recruiting. Some people think their school of choice will land every five-star prospect, others foolishly think they have a chance with a given guy (Michigan fans: Pryor isn’t signing with the Wolverines. Give it up). One of the most common brands of craziness comes to comparing the relative merits of certain schools. With that, I present today’s evidence: Syracuse football fans (apparently they exist) who think their school is more prestigious than Michigan (no, seriously).

I stumbled upon this goldmine when scouring the internets for information on recent OL offeree Eric Shrive. It comes from the Scout free board (I know, not the best place to find level-headed, rational people) devoted to Syracuse, and concerns the fact that several board members think Michigan’s offer to Shrive does not mean he is deserving of one from mighty Syracuse.

I don’t know what it is but I’m just not feeling it. I don’t think getting an offer from Michigan anymore to be considered “a BIG offer”. I see Michigan and think West Virginia.

Another goes on to clarify slightly that Michigan is still a big(ish) offer, it’s just not as big now that Rich Rodriguez is the coach.

Hard to explain. It’s not an offer FROM Michigan per say, it’s an offer from Rich Rodriquez. I never viewed West Virginia as being a BIG TIME offer and that’s sort of how I view Michigan now. It’s Rich Rod.

Rich Rodriguez has been one of the most successful coaches in America, at a place not exactly set up for success (unlike Michigan). Also, YOU’RE SYRACUSE.

All-time record:
Michigan 869-288-38 (.747)
West Virginia 664-442-45 (.596)
Syracuse 670-462-49 (.588)

Record Since Rich Rodriguez has been at West Virginia (2001):
Michigan 64-24 (.727)
West Virginia 61-26 (.701)
Syracuse 33-51 (.393)

If Pasqualoni was the head coach of Miami U would you consider that to be a BIG TIME offer or would you sort of view it in a different light?

If Pasqualoni was the coach at Miami U (which I assume is supposed to be UMiami), it would be a big offer if a) Pasqualoni was one game away from playing in the BCS championship game this past year, and his team had won 3 straight bowl games, including BCS games they weren’t supposed to win, and b) Miami had been one play away from being in the BCS Championship game two years ago, and had been to a bowl game for 30 straight years, and hadn’t completely sucked recently. One poster starts to grasp the big picture, realizing that, over time and in recent history,

Syracuse football doesn’t hold a candle to Michigan football.
I would think gameday atmosphere could be a big part of the answer here. I love SU, but it will be tough for them to be considered a big time fb school when there’s 30K, most of which straggles in around game time and sits on their hands (when not booing a third-down draw).

Michigan plays in front of 100K at the big house, has a huge athletic budget, the most wins in NCAA history (unless ND has more, but I think it’s Michigan), plays in a bigger football conference (even if it’s mostly perception) and always seems to appear in the top 25 at some point.

Then others come to drag it back down.

If I were a recruit, I would perceive Michigan to be a great offer for those reasons you listed. That being said, I am not in favor of writers who are supposed to be objective, singling out one offer as being better than another. This is not meant to slam Matt, as I think he does a great job (based on reading the few articles of his Scout provides as free, basically about fringe recruits) .

Sorry, guy. Michigan is a better offer than Syracuse, in much the same way that USC is a better offer than (insert school name here). Now, is it the best choice of schools for a particular recruit? Maybe not. But a bigger offer, it definitely is.


Posted under Recruiting

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People Are Still Writing About This?

While perusing the opinion section of the Michigan Daily, which I do as some sort of masochistic act, I stumbled on yet another letter to the editor saying that Coach Rod should pay up. It’s the third and final letter. I posted my response in the comments there, but I thought I’d repost it over here as it kind of summarizes my opinion on the buy-out kerfuffle.

Mr. Pence:

I believe at this point Coach Rodriguez isn’t fighting to reduce his buyout as purely financial matter. If he was worried about paying, the university has some wealthy alums that could easily write a check for the $4M.

At this point, Coach Rodriguez is, most likely, continuing this fight out of principle. When he signed his extension there were promises made to him by Mr. Pastilong some as small as allowing his student athletes to keep their textbooks or an additional graduate assistant. Mr. Pastilong did not come through on his promises and, additionally, siphoned money away from a fund that was supposed to be exclusively for football and put it in the general fund.

Coach Rodriguez did not feel he was getting the respect or the gratitude or the support due to a coach who took middle-of-the-road team and turned them into a national championship contending money maker. Add into that the smear campaign propagated by the WVU administration and the unreasonable threats to his and his family’s safety by West Virginia “Fans,” it does not appear surprising at all that he wouldn’t want to just pay them.

Coach Rodriguez gave WVU seven years and a top tier football team. He changed jobs after they reneged on promises and suffered through death threats and you want him to pay $4M? He has an axe to grind, and it seems to be the American way to grind your axe in court.

If Coach Rod wanted it to be easy and get it done, he would have had it paid for already. He just doesn’t want to give his crazy ex-girlfriend a really nice break-up gift after she went through his phone and txted “u whore!!” to all the girls in his contact list.

Posted under Coaching

Recruiting Update 2-21-08

The Board. Also, if you’re worried about Michigan not getting any new commits, while schools like Texas (7), Ohio State (7), and USC (9) are reeling them in, fear not. Michigan should start getting commits around junior day, which will likely happen in mid-to-late March. Due to the transition of the coaching staff, it is happening a little later than usual. Juniors will take in a spring practice rather than a men’s hoops game.

MS WR Dennis Thames. His uncle is Detroit Tiger Marcus Thames, and Clayton Moore is his HS teammate.
MS DT Josh Boyd. He reports an offer from Michigan.
TX DE Jamarcus McFarland. If Michigan is serious about recruiting Texas, he would be a great prospect to nab.
AL CB Dre Kirkpatrick. Scout’s #1 CB early in the game. Still scrambling to fill more DB target spots.
OH CB DJ Hunter. Claims offers from every Big Ten school except Ohio State.

TX WR Greg Timmons. Committed to Texas.

New Information:
CA QB Tate Forcier. Maryland may have him as their #1 QB target. He will start considering Michigan once the Pryor situation is resolved.
PA OT Eric Shrive. He now reports a Michigan offer.
MI RB Hersey Jackson. After a dispute over a 40 time listed on GoSpartans.net, I asked Allen Trieu of MichiganVarsity.com. He said Jackson ran a 4.6 at a camp last summer. Updated accordingly.
TX WR Josh Gordon. Added a 4.5 40-yard dash time.
NJ OL Khalil Wilkes. His dad played for Rutgers.
NY DE Andre Civil. He wants to stay in the northeast for his college ball. Unless he develops into a four or five star prospect, he is on the verge of being dropped.

Posted under Recruiting

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Mailbag! Quarterbacks Edition

Reader Adam writes:

If Feagin is not ready to start next season, what will RR do with the offense? I know he likes to have the QB run, but Steven Threet and David Cone are slow.

While Rich Rodriguez does indeed like to have a quarterback who can both pass and run the ball, he is too good a coach to suddenly become a failure if the talent on the team doesn’t sync with his mission. In 2005, West Virginia started Adam Bednarik at QB, and Pat White didn’t take over until Bednarik went down with injury (Bednarik now chills out with a headset on).

In 1999 and 2000, Rich was the offensive coordinator at Clemson. (This is prior to his years with Shaun King at Tulane, when King set an NCAA record for passing efficiency, the most commonly cited evidence that Rodriguez can run an offense with a dropback QB). In 2000, Woody Dantzler started at the quarterback position. In the NFL, Dantzler was most known for a Hesterian kickoff return touchdown while playing for the Dallas Cowboys. He was a run-pass talent, and the Clemson offense in 2000 looked a lot like West Virginia’s in 2007.

In 1999, however, Clemson had an incumbent starter by the name of Brandon Streeter. Streeter was not the athlete that Dantzler was, but went into the season expecting to start. As it turned out, the two quarterbacks ended up sharing time under center (or in the shotgun, as it were). Streeter was the starter, but Dantzler played as well, and the two had a similar number of passing attempts. I believe (but am not sure) that Streeter was injured at various points during the year. Danztler played in 10 games, starting 6, and Streeter played in 8, starting 7.

1999 Clemson QB
Player Games-Starts Rushes Net Yards Average TD
Dantzler 10-6 146 588 4.0 4
Streeter 8-7 42 37 0.9 2

1999 Clemson QB
Player Comp-Att-INT Yards TD Comp% Efficiency
Dantzler 112-201-6 1506 9 55.7 127.9
Streeter 135-214-9 1466 4 63.1 118.4

When Dantzler was in, he was able to run. When Streeter was in, he was not forced to run all that often. So, if you’re curious as to what a Rich Rodriguez offense with a less mobile quarterback might look like, take a gander at Streeter highlights from 1999.

Of course, Streeter was a fifth-year senior and Dantzler a junior. For Michigan in 2008, redshirt and true freshmen are expected to carry the load. If Threet starts, the schemes might be 1999 Clemson, but the execution will probably be much worse.

Jared asks:

When Pat White went down, West Virginia was screwed. It happened against South Florida and Pitt. Can Rodriguez not use a backup quarterback effectively?

I think the issue is not that Rodriguez can’t use a backup quarterback, but rather that West Virginia’s backup quarterback, Jarrett Brown, was not ready to carry the team offensively. In the long run, I think this won’t be a huge issue for Michigan, as the name itself should help draw more talent at the QB position beyond one starter-level talent and a bunch of crappy career backups. Evidence of this is available in Michigan’s 2007 season, where Ryan Mallett may not have been completely prepared to handle the load, but at least the Wolverines had a talented player to step in when Chad Henne went down.

For the immediate time frame, this is far more of a potential problem. Michigan has 2 current scholarship quarterbacks in Steven Threet and David Cone. Incoming freshman Justin Feagin will enroll in the fall. Depth in general (much less quality depth) will be a big issue for Michigan this season. Expect current players like Carlos Brown and/or Brandon Minor to get practice reps, if only for emergency game situations.

Thanks to Clemson site Tiger Memories for the source files of those videos, and my apologies for the watermarks on them.

p.s.: jim tressel plz dont punch our playerz

Posted under Coaching, Video

Kolarik out 4 weeks

The injury Chad Kolarik sustained in the third period against Lake State on Saturday is hamstring-related, according to Antoine Pitts of the Ann Arbor News.

Kolarik is expected to be out until the final round of the CCHA playoffs, assuming his rehab moves along according to schedule. Kolarik is certainly going to be scratched in Michigan’s next two series, against Michigan State and Ferris State.

Last time against State, Kolarik had an assist and was +1 on Saturday. He didn’t take a penalty either night. According to the stats, he was not a huge factor in either game, but he is certainly an important player for the Wolverines. He is tied for 2nd on the team in +/- (with Mark Mitera), and is second in points with 43.

Will Kolarik’s absence hurt the Wolverines? Michigan would like to sweep State, though his absence will probably be one of the factors that prevents that from happening. Ferris, despite being a lower-tier CCHA team, managed to sweep Miami this weekend.

Even without Kolarik, Michigan should lock up the #1 seed in the CCHA tournament. The first-round bye will give Michigan a chance to get some rest, and Kolarik should be able to return by the Championship round.

Even without Kolarik, Michigan should be able to have enough success to lock up a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and are still likely to get the overall #1.

Posted under Hockey

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