Academic Progress

When Kurt Wermers left town, he tried to take a potshot at the Michigan coaching staff, comparing them unfavorably to Lloyd Carr’s (under whom he never played, for the record). This, of course, has a serious short term effects of making the media insufferable for about a week, and compounding the similar accusations made by Justin Boren on his way out of Ann Arbor. Long term, it may diminish offensive line depth, and even chip away at Michigan’s ability to recruit players (though it flies in the face of, like, everything that anyone else has said about the staff).

Michigan Wolverine Ohio State Buckeye Justin BorenPerhaps the most serious damage Wermers may have inflicted, though, is not in terms of what he did do, but rather what he didn’t: stay eligible. Michigan’s football APR has been declining slightly over the past few years, as the Carr tenure waned and now even more Rich Rodriguez has come into town with his demanding program. Several players – whether they didn’t fit the system, weren’t willing to put in the work, or just wanted to go to Ohio State in the first place but were guilted into Michigan by Bo and used a father’s plow service(!) as an excuse to leave Michigan – have departed since the new sheriff in town took over.

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate is used by The Toothless Organization to determine which schools aren’t taking care of their student-athletes academically. It is calculated by a 4-year average of scores out of 1000, and if said score dips below 925, tTO will write you a strongly worded letter, then give no actual sanctions (though they’ve gained some teeth, and have punished even a couple BCS conference teams). So how has Michigan done over the past couple years? Take a look:

Michigan APR
Year APR Score
2006 958
2007 951
2008 947
2009 ???

These numbers have, as mentioned above, been on the decline for a couple years, and as higher-APR scores from years past move out of the 4-year average, and the more recent years (with worse APR scores) go into the equation, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for Michigan. Each player leaving the Michigan program costs the team 1 point out of 1000 in the APR calculation for that year. If a player leaves while he is ineligible for NCAA competition, it reduces overall score by 2 points. It’s unclear exactly when players count towards the next score: I believe those who left before the 2008 season have already been counted, and no others have.

Michigan Attrition
Player When Left Notes
Ryan Mallett Winter 2008 Arkansas transfer
Chris McLaurin Winter 2008 Medical reasons, unclear whether he’s still in school or will count against APR
Corey Zirbel Spring 2008 Career-ending injury, still in school and won’t harm APR
Justin Boren Spring 2008 OSU transfer
Marques Slocum Summer 2008 Likely ineligble
Marcus Witherspoon Summer 2008 Left after 2 weeks at school (does he even count against APR?), academically ineligible
Tony Clemons Winter 2009 Colorado transfer
Zion Babb Winter 2009
Artis Chambers Winter 2009
Avery Horn Winter 2009
Sam McGuffie Winter 2009 Rice transfer
Steven Threet Spring 2009 Arizona State transfer
Kurt Wermers Spring 2009 Ball State transfer, academically ineligible
Dann O’Neill Spring 2009 Western Michigan transfer

That means 8 players have already left the team since the end of the 2008 season. According to history, more may be on the way. With Michigan’s APR trending downwards, it appears as though the 2010 score will be more of the same. Will the Wolverines dip into the danger zone – below 925? They haven’t come close yet, though they’re certainly heading in the wrong direction. But hey, there’s always applying for waivers.

Posted under Coaching, Football, Misc., Personnel

NCAA Football 2010 Review

I picked this up the afternoon it came out (this past Tuesday for the non obsessed).  I have to admit that I wasn’t as excited for this year’s version as I had been in the past.  I wasn’t even planning on buying it Monday afternoon, but then I hopped online to see what people’s impressions were.

To my surprise, a lot of people seemed to really like the changes. No one even had posted their extended descent into madness and meditated as to why they always drop $60 when nothing ever changes and everything is wrong in the world and what is the point of it all anyway?  Well, considering I’ve been buying this game since 2002 came, it didn’t take too much to convince me to get it.

So I ran out, picked up and threw it in the XBox360 (Paul VBlue is my gamertag in case anyone cares). My friend came over and we did an exhibition on Heisman difficulty between a couple ACC teams (I can’t quite remember at this point).

I could have really done without the marching bands at the beginning of the game. I doubt any band is actually going to form the EA Sports logo. Once we got into the game play I started to notice the differences right away.  The movements are all much smoother and more realistic feeling. While there are some animations that don’t always quite work, most of the gameplay looks and feels very good.  A big change is your QB’s throws as he’s being hit. My offense in 2009 involved sitting in the pocket, stepping up and launching a perfect pass 40 yards downfield just before getting leveled. Try to do that in 2010 and it barely gets to the offensive line. More realistic, sure, but a little tough for me to get used to. Another thing is that the CPU defense actually takes rational pursuit angles that you can’t throw off with a wiggle of the control stick. I could shake almost any defender just by running slightly towards the post and then cutting hard to the sideline.

The defenses are pretty similar, but your defensive AI doesn’t seem quite as incompetent as last year and you can even get a bit of a pass rush at times (!). I freely admit that I generally SuperSim (best feature ever) the defense, so I may not be the best judge.

The game was going fairly well until midway through the third quarter. The game just up and froze. Alright, maybe this is a bad sign, but it happens right? It could just be a freak chance.

We restart the XBox and start the Michigan dynasty. I try to download rosters, but unfortunately, EA shipped beta rosters with the retail version of the game, so the standard people who get the game 2 weeks early weren’t able to put together rosters by the release day, and there likely won’t be a complete one for another few weeks or so.  We decided to just with number, since HB #4 seems more like Minor than have him be called Darius Simmons or something.

First thing I saw when we got started was “Add a new pipeline state.” This is new so I click it, and apparently you can now buy “Dynasty Accelerators” which give you benefits in recruiting and whatnot. These cost points/money. Will people actually buy these? I hope none of you do. I mean, really. Just don’t do it.

Anyway, I like the new recruiting lay out (grid vs. list is generally a good UI choice if you have quite a few options). You can also numerically and graphically see how much your pitch is affecting a recruit which is nice. I always got frustrated when it would take 90 minutes to pitch a guy and you really don’t know if it’s doing anything.  Besides that and the new lay out, recruiting seems fairly similar to last year.

The last big, new thing is the inclusion of Erin Andrews.  I started a Road to Glory, but got bored pretty quickly, since it’s just a repackaged Campus Legend mode (which I knew, but was hopeful for something more). The injury reports, which happen with much more frequently*, are a nice break to the standard Nessler, Corso, Herbstreet booth, and aren’t even quite as generic as I would have thought.

Overall, I really enjoy most of the changes made to the game. The more aesthetic things (marching band, 3d “dorm room” in RtG, etc.) I could have lived without, but overall, they fixed a lot of things that were really annoying, and the game play is much, much better.

The bad parts:

  • The menus are slow – I move really quickly in the play selection menu, but  sometimes it doesn’t load a submenu by the time I try to select something.
  • No full rosters – It seems really weird to me that a mistake that huge could make it through, but it is EA. You can get the updated rosters here.
  • The game crashes all the damn time – This is the big one. I tried loading it to my HDD, I’ve wiped the disc, but no matter what I do, it will usually end up freezing before I decide I want to turn it off. This has caused some annoyances and lost data, and I have to assume there’ll be a patch for it, but for right now it just really makes me want to write EA strongly worded letter. They get so much right in the gameplay, but a lot of the time I can’t even get to it.

I’m sure the more I play, I’ll find things that are annoying, but it’s definitely one of the best versions I’ve played in a while. Hopefully, EA will add some patches to make this game as good as it can be. What do you guys think?

*4 games into the 2009 and my QB #5 has been knocked out of the game on 3 separate occasions.

Posted under Media, Misc.

The Great Heisman Campaign: Stonum v. Roundtree

Darryl Stonum is one of the most explosive receivers on Michigan’s roster, though he’s only caught one touchdown in his career, against Purdue (to be fair, the entire team only had 11 TD receptions last year). He’s been cited as someone who has a lot of physical talent, but maybe has a bit of maturing to do before he can live up to his potential. Regardless, Stonum is definitely considered among Michigan’s best deep threats from the split end position in 2009.

Roy Roundtree was one of three Trotwood-Madison commits in Rich Rodriguez’s first recruiting class, and is the player who set of the now-infamous Joe Tiller rant. Roundtree has practiced at both wide receiver and slot in his Michigan career, though he redshirted last year to add some weight for the college game. Thus far, the highlight of Roundtree’s Wolverine career is the 50-yard touchdown bomb he caught from Tate Forcier in the 2009 Sring Game.

Darryl Stonum v. Roy Roundtree

  • 3 Darryl Stonum (57%, 363 Votes)
  • 6 Roy Roundtree (43%, 272 Votes)

Total Voters: 635

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The poll will remain open for 7 days, closing at 5PM next Thursday. Have your heart set on a particular candidate? Try to sway others in the comments. The full bracket is visible here.

Other Open Polls:
Gibbons v. Van Bergen.
Warren v. Stokes.
Schilling v. Emilien.
Mesko v. Ortmann.
Cissoko v. Toussaint.
Forcier v. Patterson.

Completed 1st Round Poll:
Minor defeats Sheridan, appx. 947-53 (numbers not final).

Posted under Coaching, Football, Misc., Personnel

Basketball UFR Wrap, Part 1

With the Upon Further Review series, I attempted to dissect the performance of individuals and lineups throughout Michigan’s basketball season. Though I didn’t start until halfway through the year (and didn’t UFR the last couple games), the aggregation of all the data may help us learn a bit more about the Michigan basketball team this season. Once football spring practice is over, I may go back to all the games I didn’t UFR, and get the plus/minus data for every game, which could certainly teach us something about the effectiveness of different combinations. For now, however, I’ll just add up the shooting data for each player over the course of the games UFRed.

Games included: Iowa III, Purdue II, Iowa II, Minnesota I, Northwestern II, Michigan State, UConn, Purdue I, Minnesota II, Wisconsin II, Ohio State II, Northwestern I, Ohio State I, Penn State I, Illinois II, Iowa I, Indiana, Illinois I, Oakland, Wisconsin I, NC Central

Individual Players

Stu Douglass
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 2 0/1 1/4 5/7 0/4
Midrange 0/3 3/4 1/2
3-pt 3/16 19/51 16/31 0/1

The overwhelming majority of Stu’s shots came from the outside (which is not surprising at all). What is somewhat surprising is how infrequently he jacked up bad looks. Expect his chart to look pretty different next year, as the departure of every point guard currently on the roster will force Stu to play a little more point.

Zack Gibson
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 1 0/7 7/9 12/13 1/5
Midrange 2 2/4 2/4 3/5
3-pt 1 0/1 3/11 6/12

The casual Michigan Basketball fan can’t hate Zack Gibson enough (and there are a few legitimate reasons to not like his game), but he is actually a pretty darned good player at times. He can be a defensive liability, which obviously isn’t indicated on this chart, and he’s never going to dominate anyone offensively, but he is the quintessential role player.

Manny Harris
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 10 7/41 17/33 27/29 9/37
Midrange 3 0/20 11/25 2/5 5/15
3-pt 1 7/43 18/42 5/8

The striking thing about Manny’s chart, especially in relation to everyone else on the team, is his shot selection. He shots a whole hell of a lot of bad looks. The reasons for this are multiple, and some are Manny’s fault, whereas others aren’t. Things that are his fault? Obviously, he needs to improve his recognition of what he’s getting himself into as he drives the lane, and not go for it, or dish after driving. Even when he gets up in the air, he can get enough hangtime to hopefully pass out. He also shoots a lot of poor 3-pointers, though he seemed to develop a touch for making them towards the end of the year (sadly, not encapsulated in this chart). Things that aren’t his fault include having to carry the load on offense, getting stuck with the vast majority of the team’s last-second chucks to beat the shot clock, not being able to draw a foul call to save his life (those are in the chart as “1” attempts, even though many of them were definitely deserving of a call). With a hopefully improved roster next year, some of the external factors will go away completely or be reduced, and Manny could really improve his offensive efficiency.

CJ Lee
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 2 1/1 1/3 5/6 0/1
Midrange 0/1 1/2 0/2
3-pt 0/2 3/20 3/12

He was never meant to be an offensive player, and his (in)ability to consistently shoot bears out why.

Laval Lucas-Perry
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 3 0/8 2/3 5/8 1/18
Midrange 0/3 2/7 3/7 0/1
3-pt 2 3/9 17/40 11/29

After a blazing start to the season, he hit something of a wall (as did the other two freshmen), shooting more and more poorly over the course of the season, with a few excellent games mixed in. Next year, he’ll probably have to play more of a slashing PG-type role, which he actually did very well at times this year, to the point where I was begging for it in certain games toward the end of the year.

Zack Novak
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 5 3/3 3/3 1/6
Midrange 0/1 1/3 1/2 0/2
3-pt 4 8/21 15/41 10/25 0/2

I will repeat again that all three freshmen had their hot games and slumps. Novak is probably the most prone to this, because he was playing a position in which he was a physical underdog in every game, and was getting the hell beaten out of him on a regular basis. Next year, hopefully Cronin, Morgan, and McLimans will be able to give the team a little more size on a consistent basis, and Zack will be able to move to a more natural position.

Jevohn Shepherd
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 4 2/2 1/3 1/1 2/9
Midrange 0/1 1/2
3-pt 1/7 1/2

I don’t think I went an entire UFR of a game Shepherd played in one time this year without making the following statement: “Quintessential Jevohn Shepherd. He shows off his great athleticism and stunning lack of basketball ability all at once.”

DeShawn Sims
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 8 7/22 26/49 41/44 8/24
Midrange 4/17 26/57 9/11 1/3
3-pt 1 3/7 8/35 4/9

Among shots that fans can reasonably expect him to make (that is, those graded “2” or “3”), he shoots ridiculously well. He also did a much better job than the team’s other star, Manny, of choosing his shots wisely. He would take big post defenders out toward the perimeter, or post up smaller mismatches. Sims has one more year to get even better, and with more big men on next year’s team, hopefully be entirely dominant next year.

David Merritt
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 1/1 1/2
Midrange 0/2 0/1 1/1
3-pt 1 4/10 1/5

At one point late in the season, he was actually leading the team in 3-point percentage. Like Lee, this sort of analysis isn’t going to make him look like a great player, because he does so little on offense.

Kelvin Grady
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 2 4/7 0/2 0/2
Midrange 1/2 0/1
3-pt 1/6 10/32 4/16

This graph surprises me, because Kelvin was one of the few players on this team that I was absolutely convinced would make the shot any time I saw him shoot an open 3. His loss will be lamented, because it hurts Michigan in terms of PG depth (currently: none).

Anthony Wright
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 1
3-pt 1/2 1/5 2/4

Man, I’m so over talking shit about Anthony Wright. His awesome performance in the Oklahoma game is not charted here, but he actually wasn’t as much of a “see the ball, shoot the ball” player as I’ve criticized him for (at least not in the second half of the season, when his minutes dropped off, which is what I’ve charted here).

Eric Puls
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Midrange 1/1 0/1
3-pt 2/3

One hundred million dollars of awesome. Puls made his first like 5 three-pointers, which also happened to be his first 5 field goal attempts. If he can get Barwisized in the off-season (seriously: have him work out with the football team), he could contribute down the road, because dude can certainly shoot.

Posted under Analysis, Baseball, Basketball, Misc.

UFR: Iowa II

The shooting data can be founf in .xls format here, and the differential data can be found in the multi-game UFR post from earlier this week.

Individual Players

Stu Douglass 31min -19
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
3-pt 4/7

Not a bad shooting game, but holy hell look at that terrible differential number.

Zack Gibson 4min -3
Quality 0 1 2 3 F

Didn’t get very much run at all. Had 1 legit and 1 crap moving screen go against him in the first half, and I think the foul trouble and the shaken confidence it gave him combined to keep him from playing too much.

Manny Harris 38min -1
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 0/2 0/2 2/2 0/1
Midrange 0/3 0/1
3-pt 0/2 1/1

His shooting wasn’t particularly bad, especially considering many of those misses in the paint should have been called fouls, but he made some really bad decisions. Way too many “1”s.

CJ Lee 36min -20
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 1
3-pt 0/3

grumble grumble running set plays for CJ to shoot 3s grumble grumble. Also, the shifts in which he didn’t play were ALL positive except for one.

Laval Lucas-Perry 17min +6
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 0/1 0/1
Midrange 0/1
3-pt 1/3 0/1

Had a pretty good differential, but missed a few shots that he had absolutely no business missing. I’m coming to realize that he should be utilized more as a slasher in addition to a shooter (a role in which he’s recently struggled). And no, I’m not kidding.

Zack Novak 41min -13
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Midrange 1/1
3-pt 1/1 1/2 1/4

Man, if this guy could just shoot as well every game as he did against Minnesota.

Jevohn Shepherd 3min +3
Quality 0 1 2 3 F

Surprisingly, he was one of the few people not in on a negative shift. Of course, that is largely because he barely played at al..

DeShawn Sims 32min +3
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 0/1 0/1 2/2 1/1
Midrange 0/2 1/3 0/1
3-pt 1/3

Was a victim of the poor officiating (though not nearly as much as Manny), but other than that, had a lackluster day.

David Merritt 14min +3
Quality 0 1 2 3 F
3-pt 1/2 0/1

grumble don’t shoot grumble. Played decently enough.

Kelvin Grady 0min
Quality 0 1 2 3 F

DNP – coach’s decision.

On the Officiating

After people’s reactions in the comments, I thought I might have been a bit harsh in my criticism of the officiating in this game. Upon further Review, I’m even madder than before. Of course, bad calls went both ways, but Michigan by far got the shorter end of the stick. I don’t want to become a boy who cried wolf, so I’m going to refrain from mntioning officiating in the future unless it’s particularly egregious (as it was in this game), but I stand by my previous comments that this game was one of the most poorly reffed I’ve seen all year – and that’s saying something.

Posted under Analysis, Basketball, Hockey, Misc.

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Matchups that Could Have Been

If teams didn’t play 1-AA schools, here are some intriguing matchups (or not-so-intriguing, but certainly better than Alcorn State) that could have been. I only matched teams that played on the same day, so with some restructuring (pairing a Thursday 1-AA game with a Saturday 1-AA game), the schedule could have been even better. Also, the matchups I picked were mostly aribtrary, though often I tried to get the #1 v. #2 out of the teams from different conferences, and worked my way down.

August 28
Iowa State-Ball State
Central Michigan-UConn
Eastern Michigan-Georgia Tech
Miami (FL)-Cincinnati

August 30
Ohio State-BYU
Penn State-Texas Tech
Iowa-Central Florida
Georgia-West Virginia
Air Force-Boise State
South Florida-Arizona State
Houston-San Jose State
Nevada-San Diego State

September 6
Army-Florida State
Virginia Tech-Mississippi State
Louisville-Colorado State
Kentucky-Indiana (Why the hell didn’t they play this year?)
NC State-Baylor
Arkansas State
TCU-Kansas State
Western Kentucky

*Idaho and Western Kentucky were left out because they played presumed rivals Idaho State and Eastern Kentucky, respectively.

September 13
Minnesota-Ole Miss
Oklahoma State-Florida State
Kent State-Troy
Miami (OH)

September 20
Northern Illinois-UAB
Texas Tech-Washington State
Kansas-South Carolina
Western Kentucky-Western Michigan
Louisiana Tech

September 27
Boston College-Utah

October 4
New Mexico State

October 11
Georgia Tech

November 8

November 22

What should the NCAA do to encourage (or force) better matchups? Allow 1-A teams to play against lower-division squads, but not count it toward bowl eligibility.

Posted under Misc.

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I Love the Big Ten Network

As a college football junkie, nothing is more pleasing to me than being able to watch the game every day of the week as I await the upcoming season. Yes, this even includes the 2002 Purdue-Iowa game that I am watching at 2:00 in the morning. Of course, there is also a lot of crap, and they have no idea how to run an internship program, but being able to watch college football right now is a godesend.

Screw you, Comcast, for robbing me of this experience for a year. And screw you even more for acting sanctimonious about carrying the network now. everyone knows you’re full of crap, why try to lie about it more?

Posted under Misc.

Quick Links

Practice notes from MGoBlue, including KC Lopata nailing a 56-yard field goal in scrimmage.

Grady pleads guilty to DUI.

The position previews are coming along nicely, and when they’re all done, we can start worrying about Utah.

Posted under Misc.

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A Couple Things

Michigan team preview starts tomorrow. while you wait, peruse these links:

  • In case you live under a rock, MGoBlue is going to have a new video up each day until kickoff. See the archive here.
  • Hoover Street Rag fills us in on the selections for MMB halftime shows this year. If the Team America song is not included in the “America Rocks” show, I will be sorely disappointed.
  • FoxSports has published their “Toughest Places to Play” list. Michigan Stadium ranks #10. I still maintain that there should be two separate lists for home team winning percentage and for fan rabidity during games. (TFJ: Big House Blog).

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Blogging the Big Ten with ESPN

I may be the last Big Ten Blogger to mention this, but ESPN has established a new Big Ten blog, primarily written by Adam Rittenberg.

So why do I mention it now? A wealth of information from today’s first practice of the fall. Enjoy.

Posted under Misc.

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