Weekend Open Thread

Not sure I’ve ever tried executing one of these, so let’s give it a try. Potential talking points:

Let’s get it on.

Posted under Basketball, Football

2009 Opponent Preview: Indiana

Like always, please let me know if I have anything wrong. School websites aren’t always up-to-date post-spring, and there’s usually at least one thing I’ve missed.

Indiana Offense


Kellen Lewis, who was without a doubt Indiana’s best quarterback over the past couple years, and probably the best wide receiver and running threat, is gone after several disciplinary issues finally caught up with him. That leaves Ben Chappell, who started at QB much of last year, to take over under center. He’ll likely be backed up by Teddy Schell and an incoming freshman.

Indiana QBs Passing 2008
Name Comp Att % Yds TD Int Yds/Att
Kellen Lewis 110 193 56.99 1131 6 8 5.86
Ben Chappell 80 153 52.29 1001 4 3 6.54
Mitchell Evans (WR) 2 8 25.00 37 1 0 4.63
Teddy Schell 1 4 25.00 6 0 0 1.50
Indiana QBs Rushing 2008
Name Rush Yds TD Yds/Rush
Kellen Lewis 93 500 3 5.38
Ben Chappell 50 72 3 1.44
Teddy Schell 1 -4 0 -4.00


Behind Chappell, depth is scary for the Hoosiers. I’ve personally never been all that impressed with Chappell himself, and though he averaged more yards per attempt than Lewis did, he’ll never be nearlty the rushing threat that a school like Indiana might need from the QB position. Still, if Chappell continues improving (last year was his first with significant starting time), he could be a good passer.


Marcus Thigpen departs after leading the Hoosiers in rushing (at least from the RB position) over the last three years. However, Indiana has done a pretty good job spreading around the ball, and Bryan Payton has plenty of experience by now. Demetrius McCray and Zach Davos-Walker will also get their fair share of carries.

Indiana RBs Rushing 2008
Name Rush Yds TD Yds/Rush
Marcus Thigpen 94 631 7 6.71
Bryan Payton 79 339 2 4.29
Demetrius McCray 59 214 2 3.63
Zach Davis-Walker 23 106 1 4.61
Trea Burgess 17 54 0 3.18
Indiana RBs Receiving 2008
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Marcus Thigpen 13 235 2 18.08
Bryan Payton 2 23 0 11.50
Demetrius McCray 3 -1 0 -0.33


Last year’s backups do have experience, but they also averaged somewhere between 2 and 3 full yards per carry less than Thigpen in the opportunities they got. This RB unit will likely be even more of a platoon than it was in the recent past, since nobody stands out like Thigpen clearly did, and even with a standout the Indiana coaches didn’t give him the ball as much as they should. The departure of Thigpen also means “bye bye, receiving threat from backfield,” so there’s one less weapon on a Hoosier offense that is desperately seeking them.


Best QB? Gone. Best RB? Gone. Why, let’s move our best WR to defensive back! Sounds dumb, but then, this is why your coach is close to getting fired… from Indiana. Ray Fisher will now be a DB, so even though he’s highlighted as a returning player, don’t expect him to get nearly as many receptions as he did last year. Andrew Means, who was by far a better deep threat, will not return, meaning DeMario Belcher and Terrance Turner are the only truly proven players left on the outside for the Hoosiers. Tandon Doss will step up in the slot for IU.

Indiana Receivers Receiving 2008
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Ray Fisher 42 373 5 8.88
Andrew Means 34 450 1 13.24
DeMario Belcher 25 337 2 13.48
Terrance Turner 29 289 0 9.97
Tandon Doss 14 186 1 13.29
Mitchell Evans (DB) 9 129 0 14.33
Brandon Walker-Roby 7 54 0 7.71
Max Dedmond (TE) 6 51 0 8.50
Matt Ernest 3 18 0 6.00
Kellen Lewis (QB) 2 17 0 8.50
Chris Banks 1 8 0 8.00
Brad Martin (TE) 1 6 0 6.00
Collin Taylor 1 3 0 3.00


I still don’t get it. “We lost all of our other offensive weapons, so let’s move the best remaining guy to defense.” If you can explain this line of thought to me, please do. Maybe they’ve given up on offense and are hoping to win games with defense. Anyway, expect Belcher’s YPC numbers to go way down as he’s the main threat that defenses can count on. Considering Terrance Turner didn’t have high YPC numbers even when he wasn’t the #2 receiver, don’t expect great things out of him either. Fisher will likely moonlight on offense, or even switch back full-time, if defensive back depth is any indication.

Offensive Line


This may be the bright spot for the Hoosiers on offense. If I’m reading their depth chart correctly, they didn’t even play a single senior on the line last year. Senior Pete Saxon played in every game, despite injuries, and he’ll be back along the interior in 2009, after seeing time as both center and guard last year. Enormous redshirt junior James Brewer will probably a starter on the interior, which he was before suffering a season-ending injury last year. Senior Rodger Saffold will return at left tackle, and the other book-end is redshirt junior Mike Stark. Redshirt junior Cody Faulkner will return for his second season at right guard. Jarrod Smith started most of last year, but he has moved to DT. Redshirt senior and Junior Mike Reiter and Alex Perry (respectively) will also get time on the OL.


The Hoosiers have set school rushing records over the past couple years, so the offensive line is nothing to be trifled with. Especially since no contributors leave, they should be a force to be reckoned with. Of course, the rushing records may have had more to do with Kellen Lewis and Marcus Thigpen than the line itself. Still, they have experience, and you can’t fault them for being up front when the Hoosiers had some great players in the backfield.

Offensive Analysis

So, the pieces up front are certainly in place for Indiana, it’s just a question of how they move the ball with their skill players. The switch from a read-option with Kellen Lewis to a pistol with Ben Chappell is a fairly significant change, and it’s the first year in this system for everyone – coaches included. They should be able to grind out the ball a bit with the downhill rushing attack, but Chappell will need to improve and find some targets to keep defenses honest.

Indiana Defense

Defensive Line

DT Greg Brown was an important part of this defensive line over the past couple years, and he’s certainly not there to plug the middle anymore. Additional pain is caused by the loss of the other tackle, Ryan Marando. Still, Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton are a fairly formidable pair of defensive ends. Deonte Mack and Terrance Thomas will have to step up in the middle.

Name Tack TFL Sack Fum
Jammie Kirlew 74 19.5 10.5 0
Greg Brown 37 4.5 0 0
Ryan Marando 28 6.5 3.5 1
Deonte Mack 21 2.5 2 0
Greg Middleton 18 5 4 0
Keith Burrus 17 1 0 0
Terrance Thomas 6 0 0 0
Fred Jones 4 0 0 0
Kevin Burrus 2 0 0 0
Eric Thomas 1 0 0 0
Jeff Boyd 1 0 0 0


Thomas is slightly undersized for a tackle (265 pounds), so the Hoosiers might not plug the middle much. They may get better penetration from the DTs in years past, though. The big question with Middleton is “what have you done for me lately?” As a sophomore, he had an All-American-caliber year, and was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks award. This is good. Last year, he finished with a third of the tackles and a quarter of the sacks from the previous year. Can he return to sophomore form? IU’s defense may depend on it.


This is a fairly strong linebacking corps for the Hoosiers, returning their top two tacklers, and the player was only 12 tackles behind the departed player. Tyler Replogle, Matt Mayberry, and Will Patterson will carry the load for Indiana. Mayberry is the man in the middle for IU.

Name Tack TFL Sack Int Fum
Matt Mayberry 89 8.5 5 0 0
Will Patterson 55 8.5 1.5 1 0
Geno Johnson 50 4 1 0 0
Tyler Replogle 38 1 1 0 1
Justin Carrington 28 0.5 0.5 0 0
Darius Johnson 13 0 0 0 0
Jerry Williams 5 0 0 0 0
Leon Beckum 2 0 0 0 0


This should be a strength for the Hoosiers, as the linebacker group, while a little light on stats last year, was far from a weakness. They’ll probably have more to deal with in the way of offensive linemen this year, as the young tackles in front of them will struggle to plug the front.

Defensive Backs

Chris Adkins will probably move to safety for his redshirt senior year, as Richard Council is already one of the starting corners, and Ray Fisher has moved over from wide receiver, and I don’t think even the Indiana coaches are dumb enough to move their best wide receiver to backup defensive back. Polk will be the other starter at safety in his redshirt senior year. Jerimy Finch, onetime Michigan commit and erstwhile Florida linebacker, will play a key reserve role for the Hoosiers. Austin Thomas will play a key reserve role as well. In fact, I rescind my previous statement. Adkins will stay at corner, and the IU coaches are indeed stupid enough to move Ray Fisher from starting WR to reserve defensive back.

Name Tack TFL Sack Int
Joe Kleinsmith 56 1 0 0
Chris Adkins 54 2 0 0
Nick Polk 52 1.5 0 1
Richard Council 45 0 0 0
Brandon Mosley 43 0 0 1
Austin Thomas 41 2 0 2
Donnell Jones 20 1 0 1
Chris Phillips 11 1 0 0
Jerimy Finch 6 0 0 0
Adrian Burks 4 0 0 0
Mitchell Evans 2 0 0 0
Jarrell Drane 2 0 0 0
Bruce Hampton 1 0 0 0
Andre LaGrone 1 0 0 0


Despite losing their top tackler, safety Joe Kleinsmith, the Hoosiers return a lot of players with significant time under their belts in the secondary. They have more depth than quality starters, of course, but they won’t struggle as much in the secondary as they do along the defensive line, if they can manage to replace Kleinsmith.

Defensive Analysis

The Hoosiers are going to be weak up front, barring a resurgent year from Greg Middleton in which he simply destroys all comers. However, the linebackers should be better than they were last year, and the defensive secondary has much more depth than 2008, if nothing else. If Joe Kleinsmith’s production at safety can be replaced, the secondary should improve as well. Here come the qualifiers: Rushing defense 2008 was 91st, and pass efficiency was 106th in the nation. Better than “horrible” generally means “pretty bad.”

Special Teams

One of IU’s all-time leading scorers departs in Austin Starr. Nick Ford, a redshirt junior who kicked all of one extra point last year, is the only other guy with some experience. Punter Chris Hagerup returns.

Indiana Kicking 2008
Name XPM XPA % FGM FGA % Long
Austin Starr 27 29 93.10 10 17 58.82 46
Nick Ford 1 1 100.00 0 0 0 0
Indiana Punting 2008
Name Punts Yds Avg
Chris Hagerup 61 2586 42.39
Kellen Lewis (QB) 3 92 30.67


Hagerup is a pretty good punter, so as long as his leg doesn’t fall off from fatigue halfway through the year, that should be solid. As far as kicking goes, Starr is going to be tough to replace. However, there is little indication of how good Ford might be, so he’s a complete wildcard. It’s probably safe to assume slightly less good than Starr, despite Starr’s off-year in 2008.

Overall Analysis

I predict pain. No particular reason, other than “You lost basically everyone of note from your mediocre offense, and a couple key pieces on your awful defense.” Kellen Lewis was the engine that made the Indiana train go last year, though the Hoosiers did manage to upset jNWU (just NorthWestern University) without him. Still, uh, they’ve got no playmakers left on offense, and the defense, while deep, doesn’t have the quality to keep opposition from scoring, and lots.

Posted under Football

2009 Schedule: First Glance

With the 2009 football season looming a mere 4+ months away, it’s as good a time as any to take a first look at Michigan’s upcoming schedule, and determine whether the teams the Wolverines will face this year should get better or worse (or remain the same) from last year to this. I also reserve the right to be completely wrong.

Western Michigan
2008 Record: 9-4 (6-2 MAC)
Key losses: S Louis Delmas, LB Austin Pritchard, WR Jamarko Simmons
Key returning players: QB Tim Hiller, RB Brandon West
Projection: Same. Sure, teams lose players to the NFL every year, but it’s not fair to the Broncos (nor would it be to basically any MAC team) to assume they’ll be able to replace a second-round pick in the secondary. However, the offense should really continue trucking behind the QB play of Tim Hiller. The Broncos should be about the same as they were last year, though they’ll rely even more heavily on a high-flying offense to make up for a much weaker defense.

Notre Dame
2008 Record: 7-6 (0-1 Syracuse)
Key losses: WR David Grimes, S David Bruton
Key returning players: QB Jimmy Clausen, RB Armando Allen, WR Golden Tate
Projection: Up. Based on roster composition alone, the Irish should be pretty rockin’ this year. One impoortant caveat: you could say that about the last two years as well, and they were somewhere between terrible and mediocre over each of the previous two seasons. Is Charlie Weis just one big, fat FAIL, or will he start to get the talent he has assembled to perform? There’s no excuse (lol book title/disingenuous motto) for the Irish to not beat up on most of their schedule this year.

Eastern Michigan
2008 Record: 3-9 (2-6 MAC)
Key losses: RB Terrence Blevins, WR Tyler Jones, LB Daniel Holtzclaw, S Jacob Wyatt
Key returning players: QB Andy Schmitt, WR Jacory Stone, LB Andre Hatchett
Projection: Up. The Eagles return some key pieces, though they also lose some important ones, the upgrade at the head coaching position appears to be a substantial one. Eastern was terrible last year, save the upset of Central Michigan in their final game of the year, and even anything approaching competency would be a leap in the right direction.

2008 Record: 3-9 (1-7 Big Ten)
Key losses: RB Marcus Thigpen
Key returning players: QB Ben Chappell, QB/WR/? Kellen Lewis, WR/CB Ray Fisher
Projection: Same. You can tell the Indiana coaching staff is really grasping at straws in an effort to not get fired at the end of this year. They’re moving key players around (2nd-leading receiver Ray Fisher to corner, best offensive weapon Kellen Lewis all over the field, etc.), and completely revamping their schemes (reports say they’ve almost exclusively worked out of the pistol this spring). If it doesn’t work, Bill Lynch and co. are probably going to get the axe.

Michigan State
2008 Record: 9-4 (6-2 Big Ten)
Key losses: QB Brian Hoyer, RB Javon Ringer, S Otis Wiley
Key returning players: LB Greg Jones, WR Mark Dell
Projection: Down. The Spartans were beneficiaries of a bad Big Ten and some good luck last year. They were more like a 7-6 team than the 9-4 that they actually went. Take away 3 of their 4 most important players (the fourth is Jones), and they should be worse. Take away that luck, and they’re just a team. Adam Rittenberg will still predict that they win the National Championship.

2008 Record: 9-4 (5-3 Big Ten)
Key losses: RB Shonn Greene, DTs Mitch King and Matt Kroul,
Key returning players: WR Andy Brodell, LBs Pat Angerer and Jeremiha Hunter, QB Ricky Stanzi
Projection: Same. The Hawkeyes lose arguably their three most important players in Greene (no, Rittenberg, you can’t just baselessly say “I think Jewel Hampton will be at least as good as they guy who won the Doak Walker Award”) and the defensive tackles. However, they upgrade slightly at almost every other position, and assuming they can stay healthier than they have in the past couple years, they should be about as good as they were in ’08. Of course last year, they were something of an anti-MSU, and lost a couple games they shouldn’t have. The Hawkeyes will be about the same quality of team, but the record may improve.

Delaware State
2008 Record: 5-6 (5-3 MEAC)
Key losses: QB Vashon Winton, RBs Chris Strother and Kareem Jones, LB Kevin Conner
Key returning players: DB Avery Grant, WR Laronne Moore
Projection: Down, down down. For a team that wasn’t even good to begin with, losing 3 of your top 5 tacklers, your 4-year starter at QB, and your top 3 running backs can be little other than a recipe for disaster. Delaware State is a true 1-AA cupcake, and will be even worse this year than they were in 2008.

Penn State
2008 Record: 11-2 (7-1 Big Ten)
Key losses: WRs Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood, 3 offensive linemen
Key returning players: QB Daryll Clark, RBs Evan Royster and Stephfon Green, LB Sean Lee
Projection: Down. The Spread HD worked in 2008 because Clark was on-point all year, and the Lions had the skill position talent on the outside to force defenses to spread the whole field. With Clark tailing off in the last few games (albeit due to injury, perhaps), and the OL and wideouts gone, PSU won’t be the offensive force that they were last year. Defensively, the return of Sean Lee should help in the middle. However, the top 3 defensive ends left, and #4 is out for the season with a torn ACL.

2008 Record: 5-7 (3-5 Big Ten)
Key losses: LB Brit Miller, CB Vontae Davis, WR Will Judson
Key returning players: QB Juice Williams, WR Arrelious Benn, LB Martez Wilson
Projection: Same. Like Iowa, the record might improve, but the team will be about as good in 2009. The offense should really click with a senior Juice Williams and junior Arrelious Benn, though you could have said the same last year (and the Illini were awesome at times, just horrifically inconsistent). The defense should take major steps back with its best two players, LB Brit Miller and Vontae Davis, gone and the third best player, LB Martez Wilson, doing things like getting stabbed in a bar during the offseason.

2008 Record: 4-8 (2-6 Big Ten)
Key losses: QBs Curtis Painter and Justin Siller, RB Kory Sheets, WRs Greg Orton and Desmond Tardy, LB Anthony Heygood, S Torri Williams
Key returning players: S Joe Holland, QB Joey Elliott
Projection: Down. Purdue sucked last year, and nearly all of their best players are leaving town because their eligibility has expired (everyone but Siller) or because they cheat on exams (Siller). Couple all that with a transition to a new offensive scheme and a plan to rely on several true freshmen despite their lack of guru approval, and Danny Hope’s first year in West Lafayette may be a difficult one. There could be a coaching upgrade as Wilford Brimley had been mailing it in the past couple years, but there is basically no talent for the Boilers to work with.

2008 Record: 7-6 (3-5 Big Ten)
Key losses: RB PJ Hill, TEs Garrett Graham and Travis Beckum, LB DeAndre Levy, LB Jonathan Casillas
Key returning players: QB Dustin Sherer, WRs David Gilreath and Nick Toon, LB Jaevery McFadden
Projection: Up. The Badgers were a team that lost plenty of games they shouldn’t have, and the important question for tham is whether that was bad luck or the horrifically bad coaching ability of Bret Bielema. The early appearances are a bit of both, so the Badgers should be a bit better, but not by leaps and bounds. Hill wasn’t even Wisconsin’s best RB for much of the year, and Sherer was the better QB, despite Allan Evridge starting the year under center. Simply getting the right pieces the ball more often should help. I think Bielema has a definite ceiling, especially with players he has recruited and coached for four year.

Ohio State
2008 Record: 10-3 (7-1 Big Ten)
Key losses: RB Beanie Wells, LBs James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman, CB Malcolm Jenkins, WRs Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline
Key returning players: QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan Herron, CB Chimdi Chekwa
Projection: Down. The Buckeyes really should have been awesome last year, and might have been if Terrelle Pryor had started the whole year, and not been a true freshman. Alas, this was the case, and OSU’s last best chance at a national title for the next couple years leaves town with Beanie Wells and James Laurinaitis. Regardless, the Buckeyes are never going to fall completely off the map as long as Jim Tressel is the coach, so there’s a definite floor for their team. either way, they’ll take a significant step back in 2009.

Posted under Analysis, Football

Michigan v. IU Photo Gallery

From Sunday’s game. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this slideshow is worth about half a normal Formerly Anonymous post.

Posted under Baseball, Other Sports, Photo Album

Preview: Indiana

vs. Indiana

from indiana.edu

6:35pm Friday, 1:05pm Saturday, 1:05pm Sunday
Ray Fisher Stadium
Ann Arbor, MI

Media Game 1: Live Stats and Audio (WBCN)
Probable Starters Game 1: Chris Fetter (5-1) vs. TBA
Media Game 2: Live Stats and Audio (WBCN)
Probable Starters Game 2:  Eric Katzman (6-3) vs TBA
Media Game 3: Live Stats and Audio (WBCN)
Probable Starters Game 3: TBA vs TBA

Series: Michigan leads 123-54
Last Meeting: Michigan UM split the season series @Bloomington last year, but won the rubber match in the BigTen Tournament in Ann Arbor
Last Michigan Loss: 4-11, (April 2008 @ IU), Mike Wilson gave up 4 runs in .1 innings to start the game, Jenzen gave up 2 in 1.1 of relief.  Burgoon pitched 5.1 innings giving up 5 runs.


Indiana enters this series with a less than sterling 18-20 record, but don’t let that fool you.  This team is very good and is picked by many to be the team to beat out ranked Ohio State for the conference crown.  They currently are 8-3 in BigTen play, good for second and only .5 games behind Ohio State.  They are batting .327 as a team, also second to Ohio State.  Two of their three weekend starters claim conference ERAs under 3.00.  Eric Arnett is the leader for BigTen pitcher of the year (BT stats – 34 innings, 5 R, 5 ER, 34 K, 9 BB)  His 1.94 ERA leads the conference.  Matt Bashore was their ace last year, and has been pretty good in conference play himself.  His BigTen ERA is 2.82 over 22.1 innings with 7 ER and 22 K.

For player overviews, check out the Q&A with IUBaseballFan and his Q&A with me @ Behind the Plate.

The Weather

Weather looks perfect the next few days.


Winds are blowing straight in from center; they’re hard enough I don’t expect too many balls carrying out.


Bring a phonebook to be recycled and get into Friday’s game for $1.  Also on Friday, the team appears to be giving away free trees.  They call it grow your own baseball on MGoBlue, but I think they meant baseball bat?

Saturday is Daddy/Daughter day through Heart of Michigan Council Girl Scouts.  Scouts and their dad’s get in for $5 a person and receive a food voucher.  Saturday also features a guest appearance by an ambulance and fire truck for kids to look at and hear safety tips from paramedics.  WOO FIRE TRUCKS!

Sunday is an extravaganza.  We start with a kiddie carnival with inflatables, face painting, “and much more!”  Little League and high school players receive free admission to the game.  Trading cards go to the first 500 fans.  AND after the game,” the ENTIRE Michigan baseball team will be signing autographs for fans!”

Awesome.  Get out to the games.

For the full list of promotions, go here.


I’m not overly confident about this series.  I think Michigan can take one, probably tonight’s game.  I’m guessing the Indiana starter will be Blake Monar, who hasn’t been that spectacular.  He’s been their regular Friday guy though.  It’s unclear if IU coach Tracy Smith will move around his starting rotation in order to get his ace against Fetter.

The other thing going for Michigan is their luck against really good pitching.  Outside of Stoffel at Arizona, Michigan has been lucky to knock the aces around for most teams, or at least get an early exit (Reeser at Illinois).  The problem for the Wolverines has been the meh pitchers – like Monar.

At this point, I think we take game, two if we get really lucky and play solid defense.

Posted under Baseball

Q&A With IUBaseball Fan

Preface: Posting will be light today and tomorrow. Football is slow. Basketball is slow. No LAX report until Monday.  This will also act as most of my preview.  So savor what content you get. – FA

This weekend of the baseball schedule features a home series with the Indiana Hoosiers.  In order to give you a little bit of a preview of their team, I exchanged some Q&A with IUBaseball of Behind the Plate.  Behind the Plate is slowly becoming one of the top school specific baseball sites in the BigTen (yes, there are more than one, there are five that are baseball exclusive as compared to me leeching from Tim and Paul).  My answers to his questions can be found here.

Alex Dickerson was definitely a huge get for Head Coach Tracy Smith. “Skip,” as the players like to call him, has made considerable headways out on the West Coast the last couple years. Obviously Dickerson is the biggest and most notable signee to this point, but it is interesting to note that there are currently 7 players on IU’s roster from California, all of which are either freshmen or sophomores. As to how IU actually landed him, I would imagine the fact that fellow Hoosier freshman Drew Leininger was a high school teammate of his certainly helped the cause. In addition, sophomore 1B Jerrud Sabourin, who had a very successful freshman campaign, is also from San Diego and played in the same high school conference as Dickerson.

Although there wasn’t a ton of hoopla surrounding Dickerson’s signing, there were no doubts about his hitting prowess. He was drafted out of high school in the 48th round by the Washington Nationals, and he was an all-state selection by two different publications in a state that is very rich in baseball talent. All that being said, his success so far is actually not all that surprising. IU was just very fortunate to land such an impressive talent. I don’t know about “hiding the women and children,” but Dickerson indeed does not appear to have many weaknesses at the plate. In reality, his biggest weakness is actually his defense, and that is why he has yet to see an inning of action in the field in Big Ten play. The word is that he can’t field a lick, but fortunately that is a weakness Michigan’s pitchers won’t be able to expose.

Swinging from the left side, Dickerson really likes to go the other way and hasn’t really shown the ability to pull the ball. Last weekend, however, I did see him pull a ball off Penn State’s T.J. Macy (who hadn’t given up a homer all year) over the right field fence, so I don’t know how big of a weakness this truly is. Other than that, I would say Michigan’s best bet may be to just pitch around him this weekend.

To be honest, I would say that Phegley’s reputation is what keeps runners honest in many cases. 6 for 31 is obviously not a great percentage, but it is still important to note that only 31 runners have even attempted a stolen base against him. I think the fact that IU starts 2 left-handers and a very hard-throwing right-hander also works in the Hoosiers’ favor as far as steals are concerned. Michigan is 3rd in the Big Ten in stolen base attempts with 69 on the year (as of Tuesday), so all things considered, I think it would be safe to assume that Michigan will be aggressive on the basepaths this weekend in an effort to manufacture runs against a strong crop of starters. [manufacture runs, what is this you speak of? – FA]

Without a doubt, the biggest threat on the basepaths for the Hoosiers is junior Evan Crawford, who is currently 2nd in the Big Ten with 18 steals. The speedy CF has only been caught stealing twice this year (both in the same game, one of which was on a failed squeeze play attempt and the other on a pitchout), and MLB scouts rave about his speed. He is definitely the one the Wolverines will want to pay the most attention to on the basepaths. Outside of Crawford, only 2B Tyler Rogers (7 steals in 8 attempts) has stolen more than 5 bases. IU began the season with a more passive approach on the basepaths, but they have been more aggressive of late with 19 steals in conference play. Besides #9 hitter Vince Gonzalez (who I can guarantee will not be stealing any bases anytime soon), any other Hoosier is a threat to run as all other starters have recorded at least 1 stolen base on the year.

Yes, Eric Arnett is undoubtedly among the front runners for Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. He leads the Big Ten in wins, ERA and innings pitched, is second in opposing batting average and fourth in strikeouts. There are definitely a number of worthy candidates at this point (including Michigan’s own Chris Fetter), but I think Arnett stands as good a chance as any pitcher in the conference at taking home that piece of hardware. Consequently, Arnett will be a very tough match-up for the Wolverines. After throwing 3 straight complete games to open conference play, he is coming off his shortest Big Ten outing (97 pitches in 6.2 innings in a 15-1 romp over Penn State) and should be well rested for Saturday’s contest. While Michigan sports several dangerous hitters and can score a lot of runs, given Arnett’s track record this season, I just don’t see the Wolverines experiencing much success against the big right-hander on Saturday.

Blake Monar is scheduled to get the ball for the Hoosiers on Friday, and while Chris Fetter is undoubtedly one of the toughest (if not the toughest) match-up in the Big Ten, I am confident he can toe the rubber at Michigan and give the Hoosiers a solid outing against Fetter and the Wolverines. While it is likely the runs will be few and far between for IU on Friday, Monar has demonstrated that he is more than capable of handling the #1 spot this season. In 8 starts, the left-hander (who was drafted in the 26th round out of high school last year by the New York Yankees) is 4-2 with a 5.02 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 52 innings of work. He is coming off a rough outing last weekend against Penn State, but prior to that he had impressive starts at Illinois and Iowa and had only given up 4 extra base hits all season (all doubles). In fact, if you take away the 2 starts against Penn State and Minnesota, Monar would be holding opponents to a .226 batting average and have a 3.27 ERA. He also threw 7 strong innings and gave up only a single earned run in a tough-luck loss against Ohio State and Big Ten Pitcher of the Year candidate Alex Wimmers down in Florida over spring break. Coach Tracy Smith loves the young freshman’s approach: “What really acts as a strength is his [Monar’s] mentality” he recently said an interview. Monar has proven himself to be a gamer, and I think he will rebound with a solid effort against Fetter on Friday.

Although Hervey is hitting .272 after hitting .373 in 54 starts last season, the senior outfielder has actually started in 10 of IU’s 11 Big Ten games, including the last 9 in a row, and seen action in all 11 games. Early in the season he was pushed for playing time by a number of his teammates (including T.C. Knipp, Michael Earley and Brian Lambert), but he ultimately established himself as an everyday player again and has been a formidable lead off batter with a .406 on-base percentage. He is one of two Hoosier seniors and has proven himself to be one of the top clutch hitters on the team despite not hitting as well overall as he did last year. We all know what Hervey is capable of, and it appears that IU’s coaching staff is opting to let him work his way out of this slump on the field. The Hoosier faithful are certainly keeping their fingers crossed that he returns to last season’s form sooner rather than later.

I think IU will take 2 of 3 from the Wolverines. The match-up between Monar and Fetter will be an excellent one on Friday, but it’s just too hard to pick against Fetter right now. As such, I see Michigan taking Game 1 with Arnett and Bashore pitching the Hoosiers to wins in Games 2 and 3. Although this will likely be a close series, I ultimately think the Hoosiers’ combination of quality starting pitching and strong hitting will be too much for the Wolverines.

Thanks to IUBaseball for instigating this and his responses.  Remember catch mine at his site, Behind the Plate.

Posted under Baseball

Upon Further Review: Indiana

In my infinite hubris, I thought “ain’t no way this game is going to overtime,” and only set the DVR for 2 hours. The shot charting, therefore, only includes regulation. The differentials do include overtime, however. The raw data is available in .xls format here. Newly added: shot clock info for each shot.

NOTE: The total differentials don’t quite add up correctly. If you want to go through and check all my work, please feel free (I’m coming up with Michigan as having 3 points to many, and Indiana having 3 points too few).

Half 1

1st half differential
Lineup Time on Floor Score Differential
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Sims 6:50 8-17 -9
Grady, Douglass, Harris, Novak, Gibson 1:59 0-4 -4
Merritt, Douglass, Harris, Gibson, Sims 1:37 0-2 -2
Douglass, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Gibson, Sims 1:14 1-0 +1
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Gibson, Sims :10 0-0 0
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Lee, Gibson, Sims :22 0-0 0
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Lee, Novak, Sims 1:46 2-2 0
Grady, Douglass, Harris, Novak, Sims 1:04 3-4 -1
Douglass, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Sims 1:56 4-3 +1
Douglass, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Gibson 2:17 7-4 +3
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Gibson :45 0-0 0
Total 20:00 22-39 -17

Half 2

2nd half differential
Lineup Time on Floor Score Differential
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Sims 6:29 13-9 +4
Grady, Douglass, Harris, Novak, Sims 4:29 6-5 +1
Douglass, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Sims :28 0-0 0
Douglass, Lucas-Perry, Lee, Novak, Sims 2:36 5-2 +3
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Lee, Novak, Sims 4:21 5-2 +3
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Sims :15 2-0 +2
Grady, Lee, Harris, Novak, Sims 1:15 6-2 +4
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Sims :07 0-0 0
Total 20:00 37-20 +17


Overtime differential
Lineup Time on Floor Score Differential
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Sims 4:19 8-4 +4
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Gibson :01 2-0 +2
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Lee, Novak, Gibson :07 0-0 0
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Gibson :05 1-0 +1
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Douglass :14 0-3 -3
Grady, Douglass, Harris, Novak, Gibson :07 2-0 +2
Lucas-Perry, Lee, Harris, Novak, Wright :07 0-0 0
Total 5:00 13-7 +6

Game totals

Lineup Totals
Lineup Time on Floor Score Differential
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Sims 18:00 31-30 +1
Grady, Douglass, Harris, Novak, Gibson 2:06 2-4 -2
Merritt, Douglass, Harris, Gibson, Sims 1:37 0-2 -2
Douglass, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Gibson, Sims 1:14 1-0 +1
Douglass, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Sims 2:24 4-3 +1
Douglass, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Gibson 2:17 7-4 +3
Douglass, Lucas-Perry, Lee, Novak, Sims 2:36 5-2 +3
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Gibson, Sims :10 0-0 0
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Lee, Gibson, Sims :22 0-0 0
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Lee, Novak, Sims 6:07 7-4 +3
Grady, Douglass, Harris, Novak, Sims 5:33 9-9 0
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Gibson :51 3-0 +3
Grady, Lee, Harris, Novak, Sims 1:15 6-2 +4
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Lee, Novak, Gibson :07 0-0 0
Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Novak, Douglass :14 0-3 -3
Lucas-Perry, Lee, Harris, Novak, Wright :07 0-0 0
Total 60:00 72-66 +6

Individual players:

Manny Harris
Location 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 1 1/1 1/1 1
Midrange 0/1
3-point 0/4 2/4

Way too many inadvisable shots (especially from three) early in the shot clock. Manny wasn’t making a huge effort to slice into the lane.

Laval Lucas-Perry
Location 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 0/1 2/2 1
3-point 0/3 2/4

LLP was inconsistent from 3, and took nary a midrange jumper.

Zack Novak
Location 0 1 2 3 F
3-point 2/5 0/2

It seemed like Novak was doing a hell of a lot more than it looks like he did just by checking his shot chart. He made a ton of hustle plays (including getting a key deflection leading to a steal and fast-break bucket late in regulation, in addition to a whiteboy block) that really helped Michigan win.

DeShawn Sims
Location 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 2/3 0/1
Midrange 5/7
3-point 0/3

DeShawn was money from midrange in the second half, when the team really needed something from inside to steady them.

Kelvin Grady
Location 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 0/1 1
3-point 0/1 1/3

Grady got much more time than he did in the previous game, and though he took a couple ill-advised shots, he was a catalyst for the rest of the offense (4 assists, 2 more assist opportunities missed). He also made the lane shot on which he was fouled.

Zack Gibson
Location 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 1/1
3-point 0/1

Zack was pretty quiet, especially considering Indiana’s defense was locking down on the three-pointers. you’d think he would get some more looks inside.

David Merritt
Location 0 1 2 3 F
3-point 0/1

Quiet day for Merritt. More on how I think he should be used is below.

Stu Douglass
Location 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 0/1 1
3-point 0/1 1/3

Stu had a crappy day, but he did nail one big shot. I still think he’s the far inferior of the freshmen.

CJ Lee
Location 0 1 2 3 F
Lane 0/1 1
3-point 0/1 1/3

The timing of Lee’s shots means more than the shots themselves. He also came up with key defensive plays (including a steal with 40 seconds in regulation and Indiana up 3) and rebounds.

What This Says…

I re-watched the game (the first half, particularly) with a keen eye on how Indiana shot the lights out. In all honesty, I can’t figure it out. Offensive rebounding has something to do with it, and maybe momentum plays a role (though some might question that, I think in college basketball momentum is at least something of a factor). Maybe Michigan, frustrated on the offensive end, was letting their effort on the other end of the court suffer. However, looking at the actual shots themselves, rather than just the final number, there was no explanation for Devan Dumes and this Roth fella in particular having the first half that he did. He would airball a wide open three (which may something negative about Michigan’s defensive effort overall, but doesn’t explain the final stats), and then turn right around and nail one from 5 feet behind the line with Novak right in his face. It appears to me that the hot shooting (in this game, at least; I didn’t UFR the Savannah State or Eastern Michigan games) may be, in large part (or at least SOME part) a ridiculously unlikely statistical anomaly.

Even if you concede the defense was bad, which it may have been at some times, though not all, it was the offense that would have done the Wolverines in. If you allow the other team to score, the offensive output for your own team can’t absolutely sputter. That is what leads to huge runs like Indiana so frequently had in this game. Michigan can play poorly on one end of the court, but this team certainly isn’t good enough to struggle offensively AND defensively if they want to win games. To Indiana’s credit, they were at least playing very well on defense, and deserve some credit for Michigan’s players feeling they had to force things.

That said, I really like Kelvin Grady as a player. However, I think I’d prefer to see Merritt get the start over him, if only to be a calming force should a shellacking at the hands of the worst team in the conference just so happen to break out. Grady is a better player, Merritt is a better leader. Bringing Grady off the bench also can help spark the team with another offensive option (certainly in terms of drawing the defense and dishing it out). I prefer Merritt preventing damage with his leadership in the first place, rather than coming in as damage control later, when the momentum is out of reach. It just seems like those two roles should be reversed, no?

Gibson’s travel midway through the first half was a terrible call. His left foot is anchored, he pivots, pivots again, and suddenly a travel is called. This sounds like a ridiculously small refereeing point to get worked up over, but it happened to occur right at the moment Indiana really started taking off with all their momentum.

My apologies if you happened to see the draft of this that I accidentally published earlier today. It should be done now, sans the issue with the differentials.

Posted under Analysis, Basketball

Michigan 72, Indiana 66 (OT)

Wow. The only thing I want to do after that game is let out a sigh of relief. Michigan was down by 20 points early in the second half, but fought back against the Hoosiers for an overtime win, their first victory in Bloomington since 1995.

This game (along with Eastern Michigan and Savannah State wins) shows that, with poor enough shooting, Michigan can lose to anybody. Of course, the corollary to that is that Michigan can also beat anybody if the shots are falling (wins over UCLA and Duke). Of course, there is also a disturbing trend of letting bad teams play with them, and opposing offenses consistently shooting the lights out.

The shooting woes were attributable to several factors. Michigan hasn’t played away from home since December 20th, and haven’t played a true road game since the loss to Maryland in College Park. Several players, Manny Harris chief among them, were also settling for terrible looks early in the shot clock (I’m sure UFR will bear that out).

As far as the defense, I really don’t know enough about basketball to say “this is the reason opposing offenses can’t miss when they play Michigan.” I’m sure John Beilein does, and now it’s up to him to see if he can get that figured out and solved before it really bites this team. One of the few things I can really point to is the inability to corral defensive rebounds, which gives oponents way too many second looks.

In the end, though, it’s wins and losses that matter. Michigan was able to squeak one out today, and the NCAA tournament dream can live on.

Posted under Basketball

Preview: Indiana

Or: Tim’s foray into tempo-free statistics.

Michigan takes on conference foe Indiana tonight at 6:30 in Bloomington. The game can be seen on Big Ten Network.

Tempo-Free and efficiency comparison (if you need an explanation of what any of these things mean, head to KenPom’s website):

Michigan v. Indiana: National Ranks
Category Michigan Indiana Advantage
Mich eFG% v. IU eFG% D 75 263 MM
Mich eFG% D v. IU eFG% 100 240 MM
Mich TO% v. IU Def TO% 4(!) 33 M
Mich Def TO% v. IU TO% 186 341 MM
Mich OReb% v. IU DReb% 246 228 I
Mich DReb% v. IU OReb% 202 191 I
Mich FTR v. IU Opp FTR 166 116 I
Mich Opp FTR v. IU FTR 10 121 MM
Mich AdjO v. IU AdjD 13 98 M
Mich AdjD v. IU AdjO 185 290 MM

Differences of more than 100 places in the rankings garner two-letter advantages, differences of more than 200 get a third.

Indiana is really, really bad this year. I’ll allow Spartans Weblog to bring the visual aid:Tempo-Free Aerial

IU’s defensive efficiency is near the bottom of the conference, but the story for the Hoosiers this year has been their utter ineptitude on offense. This is understandable when you have no players, and that is certainly the case for Indiana. In this particular game, Michigan has 100+ ranking-place advantages in 5 categories, and Indiana only leads the Wolverines in those areas you’d expect Michigan, and perimeter-oriented team, to be weak. Each team’s effective field goal percentage should play a significant role in determining who wins this game. The Wolverines hold huge advantages in this area on each end of the floor. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 72-62 Michigan victory, with the Hoosiers only given a 17% chance to steal a win.

There is no way to spin this game as anything other than a must-win for Michigan. Indiana is a sorry squad this year, and Tom Crean has some major rebuilding to do inside Assembly Hall. One key factor to keep in mind is the home-court advantage. The Wolverines have played only one true road game this year, a 5-point loss to Maryland. That was over a month ago, and Beilein’s crew will have to adjust to playing away from Crisler.

Posted under Analysis, Basketball