Lax Links: Dec. 10, 2014

Let there be links!

Division-1

Winter is coming. Then it’s spring. Am I recreating Rebecca Black’s “Friday” with seasons? Better stop now.

The season approaches, slowly but surely.

The season approaches, slowly but surely.

Michigan’s third coaching clinic of the offseason is tonight. Head to the Junge Family Champions Center at 6:30.

U-M has added Ben Badalamente to the coaching staff as video coordinator.

Detroit’s Jason Weber makes Inside Lacrosse’s preseason All-America list as an honorable mention selection. That’s not good enough, in personal e-pinion. (That’s a story for another day – but soon).

On the women’s side, Central Michigan will be building a new lacrosse stadium (also: shared with soccer). Very cool to see the growth in the state.

Club, Camps, and More!

Register for the second annual Great Lax Bay Classic. June 27-28 in Saginaw.

Central Michigan has a camp coming up (on the women’s side, run by their D-1 staff). The Fire and

Recruiting

Grand Blanc 2015 LSM Xavier Bender will attend Alma College.

Novi attack…person Gina Salemi committed to La Salle. She’s a 2016 prospect who plays club for the Detroit Coyotes.

Michigan picked up a commitment from 2016 Oyster Bay (N.Y.) midfielder Vanessa Yu.

Central Michigan earned a commitment from 2016 Severn (Md.) Archbishop Spalding attack Emma Hamilton.

Short update today. If you want subsequent ones to be longer, you can always send your news tips, press releases, links, commitment photos, etc. to @GreatLaxState or t.w.sullivan1@gmail.com.

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Lax Links: Dec. 4, 2014

No delays here. Right to the links:

Signing Dayyyyy

Troy Athens midfielder Nick Boynton signed with Detroit (thanks to Daniel Boynton and Jason Switzer Photography for the picture):

Nick Boynton signs with Detroit (Jason Switzer Photography)

Nick Boynton signs with Detroit (Jason Switzer Photography)

Madison Heights Bishop Foley midfielder Reggie Golfin (Go Blue/East Side Lacrosse) signed with Lincoln Memorial (thanks to Chris Southerland for the photo):

Reggie Golfin signs with Lincoln Memorial University (Photo courtesy Chris Southerland)

Reggie Golfin signs with Lincoln Memorial University (Photo courtesy Chris Southerland)

Smithtown (N.Y.) West midfielder Garrett Brunsvold signed with the Titans… while supporting DEEEETROIT BASKETBAAAAAALL.

Manchester (Mo.) Parkway South 2015 midfielder Katie Sharp signed with Central Michigan, as did Upper Arlington (Ohio) defender Mackenzie Baumgartner. A double-dip at Rockford High School with Katie Elwell and Kelly Spehar both signing with the Chips:

Katie Elwell and Kelly Spehar sign with Central Michigan

Katie Elwell and Kelly Spehar sign with Central Michigan

The official press release from CMU can be seen here.

Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard 2015 attack Matt Johnson signed with D-2 Indianapolis.

Grosse Pointe South’s Mac Carroll signed with Manhattan.

The Michigan women’s program announces its signing class.

Other ‘Cruitin’

Okemos 2015 midfielder Cole Jamieson committed to Ohio Wesleyan.

Brighton 2016 attack/midfield Dylan Mercier committed to Detroit.

Allentown (Pa.) Central Catholic 2018 midfielder Luke Summers committed to Michigan. Based on the reaction from Recruiting Rundown’s Ty Xanders, this is a Big Deal:

[T]he left-handed Allentown native is a bonafide force from up top, using his tall 6’2 frame, IQ and off the charts athleticism to beat defenders. His shot on the run looks to be one of the best in the class, putting a ton of snap on his shots from all points on the field… He can play shutdown D and gobble up contested GB’s when the ball is in his stick but just as important, when he has the rock he draws the double and can dish off great looks.

LaxLessons’ Joe Lombardi has an in-depth discussion with Summers about his decision and his game.

Lombardi also reports another 2018 U-M pledge, this coming from Syosset (N.Y.) attackman J.P. Lannig.

Avon (Conn.) Old Farms 2015 (postrgad) midfielder Brent Noseworthy committed to Michigan.

Bethesda (Md.) Landon School 2017 defenseman Will Amoroso committed to Michigan. From IL:

The 6-5, 205-pound Amoroso played defense on varsity as a freshman under Coach Rob Bordley. Also plays club for the Blackwolf 2017 team under Coach Joe Trigiani. Participates in varsity football at Landon at tight end and defensive end. Other schools under consideration included Virginia, Johns Hopkins, Ohio State, Bucknell and Delaware.

That’s not bad competition. Michigan is recruiting at a very high level right now.

College

Lacrosse Magazine previews the Big Ten. Unsurprisingly, the Wolverines get the least ink. In an entirely non-controversial take, Hopkins is tabbed as the league favorite.

Detroit’s annual Lift-a-Thon event was a smashing success. The Titans raised $2000 for the athletic program, and got to show off how scrong they are. BU transfer Greg Marzac (Brother Rice) was the scrongest.

Michigan captain Thomas Orr sits down for a video from the Wolverines’ official site. If I said fellow captain Mack Gembis did the same thing, is that a video you might be interested in?

Photos from Grand Valley State’s fall ball scrimmage with Adrian.

Camps and Club

GP Select tryouts are tomorrow evening in Warren. Visit the site (313lax.com) for registration and more info.

The Midwest Elite Top 80 Showcase in Indiana featured a lone Michigan native among its top uncommitted performers. Ann Arbor Skyline 2017 Ethan Harding carried the torch for the Great Lax State:

An explosive player with a strong shot, it was the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Skyline product’s hustle that stood out, as he played extremely hard every time he was out there on the field. He ran midfield in the All-Star Game and was a force coming down the alley, also making some key plays between the lines.

Detroit Country Day junior Cooper Belanger made the All-Star game at the NXT Philly Showcase.

As always, news tips, press releases, commitments, signing day photos, boxes of donuts, etc. can find their way to the Twitter and e-mail inboxes.

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UDM Improvement ’15: Turnovers

Detroit’s story has been relatively consistent in the time I’ve been covering the team: The Titans have been very good defensively, but subpar on the offensive side of the ball. Bringing that portion of the team (rankings in the past four years: No. 46, 51, 55, 56 nationally from 2011-14) more in line with the other (Nos. 17, 34, 23, and 22 in the same span) can see the team make rapid improvement.

The Problem

Detroit has been, how shall we say, not very careful with the ball. The 2011 Titans turned it over on 61% of possessions. The 2012 team improved to only 58% of possessions ending with a turnover, with incremental improvement to 57.8 and 55.8% of possessions in the past two years.

That’s still not good enough, of course. Even those slow-but-steady improvements (which are natural with a young and improving program), the Titans ranked No. 59 of 66 in terms of turnovers per offensive possession last year – Quinnipiac’s stats are messed up thanks to inaccurate record keeping so I’ve excised them.

Here’s a look at turnovers per offensive possession (y-axis) plotted against team pythagorean win expectation (x-axis). The causal relationship isn’t exactly portrayed in the traditional way, but I’m not an Excel whiz and this made the data easier to digest. Detroit’s point on the chart is highlighted.

Turnovers per possession v. Pythagorean win expectation

Turnovers per possession v. Pythagorean win expectation

As you can see, The Titans were actually more successful than the trendline would otherwise expect them to be based on the number of turnovers they commit (teams above the line). Going to the more direct comparison – offensive efficiency – makes the point just as clearly. Again, the axes themselves are flipped in that the X is not the causal factor, but the trend is clear once again.

Turnovers per possession v. Offensive efficiency

Turnovers per possession v. Offensive efficiency

Again, I’ve highlighted Detroit’s mark, and it’s above the line once more. That means more of their (lack of) offensive success was due to turnovers than the average team. Trimming those up to fall along the trendline – and hopefully move down it to the right – will really help.

With a .261 offensive efficiency and .558 turnover rate, only about 18% of Titan possessions ended with something other than a UDM goal or turnover. Decreasing that 18% is tough – the other teams have defenses and goalies, you know – but chipping away at the 55.8% can lead to rapid improvement.

Very long side note, how about Penn State hanging out as a huge outlier to the bottom in both charts? A ton of their offensive success was due to never turning the ball over. Is that sustainable due to their style of play, or will the Nittany Lions take a slight step back on that side of the ball simply due to regression to the mean (in addition to their personnel losses in Shane Sturgis and Kyle Vanthof, among others)? Could just be some Tambroni magic that keeps up. 

Factors

Now is the portion where blame is assigned. In some cases, that may be unfair (an offensive player who is asked to dominate the ball either offensively or as part of the clear is going to turn it over here and there), but the stats are the stats.

Player Turnovers
Alex Maini 43
Mike Birney 30
Brandon Beauregard 23
Shayne Adams 19
Scott Drummond 19
Tom Masterson 14

Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision

Alex Maini was very turnover-prone (though as mentioned above, there’s some give-and-take – he was the team’s leader in assists, and trying to make plays carries inherent risk). So too was Mike Birney, who was less important as a ball-carrier for the offense, but was involved in the Titans’ clear. That the clear itself was bad is its own issue, but turnovers played directly into it.

Speaking of that clear, 59 of the Titans’ 249 turnovers came on the clear (they had the fifth-worst clearing unit in the country). Those are doubly damaging because they not only rob the offense of a chance to score, but they also put the defense in a tough spot, opening them up to fast-break opportunities from the opponent. As good as the UDM defense was last year, it could have been even better if not for so many rideback opportunities for opponents (I count six direct rideback goals from the boxscores – by a pretty strict standard of a score coming within 15 seconds of the failed clear – including two in a one-goal loss to Quinnipiac).

With another year of experience for some of these guys, their should be more precision with their passing and decision-making, and hopefully stick skills overall. Again, it may be unfair to Maini – since he carried the team’s offense for much of the year – but if he’s simply as turnover-prone as it looks, maybe there’s a chance to replace his scoring and carrying ability with a bit more ball security, losing him may not hurt as much as the scoring totals (he was the team’s assist leader with 26, and second-leading scorer overall by adding 18 goals) would suggest.

Reasonable Expectations

There is something to be said for playing in the same system for two years (though less so in lacrosse, especially when promotions to offensive coordinator come from within the program than football or maybe even basketball). We’ve already seen Graham Adams work wonders with the UDM man-up – setting an NCAA record for success – last year. With more comfort in the way he does things, the Titans should be able to eliminate some of the first-year jitters.

While not directly related to offense, goalie Jason Weber also committed six turnovers last year. That’s not many for a goalie, but he was also a freshman, and one who missed the first three games. Another year of experience should help him clean even those limited mistakes up, or at the very least make it so they hurt both offense and his defense a little less.

As mentioned above, there are some other factors, such as graduating a couple of the more turnover-prone Titans, that could help to a degree. The Titans aren’t ever going to have the greatest sticks in the world, due to reliance on in-state recruiting, but they do have five incoming Canadians (two freshmen and three others coming off redshirts last year), and a hotbed player from DC Gonzaga available this year that they didn’t have last year that could help to a degree. That’s no hard-and-fast comparison – Midwest = good athletes, worse stick skills, Hotbed = better sticks – but as a rough estimation, it’ll do here.

Approaching the national average (.449 turnovers/offensive possession) is a reasonable goal. It probably means struggling mightily against the good teams but doing better in the MAAC. Since winning the league is the path to success for a mid-major team, that’s probably fine. 115 of the Titans’ 248 turnovers were unforced by the opposition, and simply getting that number below 100 would be a marked improvement.

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2015 Detroit Titans Lacrosse Schedule

After periodic checking by yours truly, the official Detroit lacrosse schedule has been posted on the UDM website. Right into the nitty-gritty:

Date Opponent Location
Feb. 7 Ohio State Home (Pontiac)
Feb. 14 Michigan Away (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Feb. 21 Robert Morris Home (Pontiac)
Feb. 27 Marquette Neutral (Louisville, Ky.)
March 1 Bellarmine Away (Louisville, Ky.)
March 10 Mercer Home (Pontiac)
March 14 Air Force Away (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
March 21 Quinnipiac Away (Hamden, Conn.)*
March 28 Manhattan Home*
April 4 Marist Away (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)*
April 11 Monmouth Home*
April 18 Siena Away (Loudonville, N.Y)*
April 25 Canisius Home*
May 1-3 MAAC Tournament Highest Seed*

Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision

Thoughts on thoughts on thoughts:

  • Starting at the end, because it’s not opposite day: Even if the Titans are the top seed in the league the MAAC website says “Highest Seeded Full MAAC Member” which implies that no associate members (Titans are the only non-full member in the league) can host. It makes sense geographically – basically all the other schools are a drive from each other, while UDM is a flight or long-ass bus ride for all – but stinks for the Titans’ purposes.
  • The way the schedule sets up with with six straight league games to end the season, all non-conference home games will be at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, and all MAAC home games will be at Titan Field. It’ll be in interesting transition of sorts, but one the Titans are used to – usually with a bit less defined a line, to be fair.
  • The non-conference slate includes winnable contests (Marquette, though UDM has had fits even in the first few years of the Golden Eagles’ program, Michigan, Robert Morris, Mercer) and some that will be tougher to win. A nice test, though for low-major lacrosse programs in the MAAC, it’s all about setting up for a conference run to get into the NCAA Tournament. This schedule sets the Titans up to do that as well as possible.
  • In the league, the two toughest tests in Siena and Marist are on the road, then the next two, Canisius and Quinnipiac, are a home/road split. Monmouth and Manhattan are both at UDM. Sweep the home games, do what you can on the road, and Detroit should have a good shot to make the MAAC Tournament even if the team isn’t much better than last year’s (another post for another day). In a seven-team league, three outfits will miss the championships, and if Manhattan and Monmouth are probably 6-7, beating out one of the other pair is the path, and Detroit has the schedule to be able to do it.

Going 3-4 in the non-conference and taking care of business in the league (a 4-2 or 3-3 mark) seems most likely at this point. That would be a solid season, and a nice debut for new head coach Chris Kolon. Better than that, and it’s clear that the coaching change on The Mile is one that worked out.

There is some significant unknown with the coaching change. Though there’s stability that comes with promoting from within, a new man in charge is a change nonetheless. The Titans have been building as a mid-major program in the past few seasons with positive blips (taking Notre Dame to the brink after winning the MAAC a couple years ago) and some negative. This schedule provides the opportunity to maintain consistency there, and the Titans have a chance to move up the pecking order a bit, as well.

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Lax Links: Nov. 14, 2014

Straight to the links…

#GrowTheGame

One of the best lacrosse facilities in the state is coming… up north? Boyne Mountain plans to add a nine-field lacrosse complex to its… ski resort? Strange times in the mitten:

Development will occur in stages and several of the new fields will open in 2015. The complex will eventually total nine fields…

Petoskey Lacrosse used the initial field built this summer, according to a release from the resort. The complex will primarily cater to lacrosse events, but Boyne plans to add soccer and other field sports events later.

Boyne hopes the complex will become a training ground for Midwest teams. Kentwood-based True Lacrosse plans to begin hosting events there next year.

It’s notable that lacrosse is the priority for Boyne when it comes to field constructions. That’s certainly something that you wouldn’t have heard even just a few years ago. It’s not exactly in a hotbed for lacrosse – three hours from Grand Rapids – but can certainly be a destination in itself.

I’d love to see training-oriented stuff make its way to Michigan.

Big Ten

The Big Ten has record books for lacrosse. Unsurprisingly, neither the men’s nor women’s edition has a lot of U-M representation, but there is a bit of love for both… as well as some Michigan State action from the ol’ D-1 days.

In 1928 there was a three-way split for the national championship… between Hopkins, Maryland, and Rutgers. B1G!

Michigan has named Mack Gembis, David McCormack, Will Meter, and Thomas Orr team captains for this spring.

If your child wants to meet the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams at Michigan, tomorrow is their opportunity. Since I’ve been derelict in my duty as a blogger, there’s a good chance you’ve missed registration.

Detroit

The Titans are hosting their prospect experience Dec. 6. Cool opportunity for high school players in the 2015-18 classes hoping for some recruiting action.

Recruiting

It’s signing week, so in a yearly tradition, you can shoot your photos of players from Michigan signing (or out-of-state players signing with Michigan schools) to the inbox via e-mail or Twitter.

2015 Clarkston defenseman Dayne Rogers committed to MCLA Michigan State, as did attack teammate Andrew Williamson.

2017 Brighton faceoff specialist Jack Aigner committed to Bryant.

2018 midfielder Luke Summers of Allentown (Pa.) Central Catholic committed to Michigan.

Local press on Forest Hills Northern trio Bobby Pelton, Peter Fisk, and Grant Lardieri picking Marquette, UMass, and UMass-Lowell, respectively.

Uncommitted 2016 Brother Rice faceoff specialist Evan Dennis was King of X at the Can-Am Showcase last weekend at Country Day. Player reaction to the event.

Fall Ball

Michigan coach John Paul fall recap. U-M fogo Brian Archer gives his take on the fall activities (and meals). Junior midfielder Mike Hernandez documents Victors Week on video.

Not the most exciting time of year, but lacrosse is lacrosse. Grand Valley 13, Olivet 3. Grand Valley also beat Davenport 11-8. Photos from the latter game. Adrian beat Grand Valley 11-10.

U-M Dearborn had a successful fall session.

I… I don’t know. Detroit’s post-Halloween activities were far less weird, and more community-oriented.

High School/Club/youth/Etc.

Jake Seiler is the new head coach at Forest Hills Central.

The Great Lax Bay Classic will be a qualifying event for the Dicks Tournament of Champions next summer.

Anything I missed? News tips, press releases, etc. can go to my e-mail or Twitter inbox.

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Lax Links: Oct. 25, 2014

Let’s hop into the links…

Recruiting

TopLaxRecruits discusses Central Michigan commit Clare Laughery.

The Chippewas also picked up a pledge from St. Louis (Mo.) Ladue Horton Watkins 2015 midfielder Jane Nelson.

Prior Lake (Minn.) midfielder Ally Barian will play for Grand Valley State (keep in mind that unlike the men, the women field a varsity program in Allendale).

Howell goalie Alex Moyer will play at D-2 Lake Erie College.

2015 Farmington Hills Mercy midfielder Brooke Ottaway committed to Rollins College.

Clarkston 2015 midfielder John McLennan will play at Grand Valley.

Recruiting Rundown ranks the top 75 2015 prospects nationally. Michigan commit Decker Curran at No. 48 is the only prospect of interest to our territory. Two more Wolverines, Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga defenseman Michael Borda and Northport (N.Y.) attack Rocco Sutherland, make the watchlist, which stretched the whole deal to a top-100 list.

The 2016 Top75 list is even more populated with future Wolverines (though still no homegrown products from within our own borders. No. 35 Cali attackman Christian Ford, No. 37 Colorado attack Henry Adams, No. 54 Texas LSM John Michael Priddy, and No. 68 Missouri goalie Matthew Trowbridge, are all Ann Arbor-bound. The watchlist – a bit bigger for this class at 40 prospects – includes future Wolverines Curtis Alexander (a defenseman from Massachusetts) and Avery Myers (a midfielder from DC Gonzaga).

More of the same with the 2017 class, though I’m surprised – after reading how loaded the group sounds in composing last week’s Lax Links post – that U-M is actually only represented by four top-75 players. Manhasset (N.Y.) LSM Ben Cirella is the high man at No. 35, followed by Nevada goalie Zion Dechesere, N.Y. faceoff middie Connor Cronin, and Connecticut attack Alex Buckanavage. Mssr. Xanders conveniently ranks the classes for us, and the Wolverines come in at seventh.

Recruiting Rundown evaluates 2018(!!) Michigan commit John John Lombardi, and talks to him about his pledge.

“He reminds me of when I used to coach against Matt Rambo, a kid who just brings it every game and doesn’t care who we’re playing. You get him angry, you better watch out,” Martin says. “He’s intense and makes sick decisions and is extremely coachable. The bottom line is that he’s going to be a very special player in college.”

Matt Rambo? Is that good? I think it’s good. He was only the eighth-leading goal scorer among freshmen this spring, while playing for a loaded Maryland team.

Project 9 took place last weekend with three future Wolverines in attendance. Pingry (N.J.) 2015 midfielder JC Sorenson, Northport (N.Y.) 2015 A Rocco Sutherland, and Cherry Creek (Colo.) 2016 attack Henry Adams represented the Maize and Blue.

Division-1

Detroit has gained a transfer from Rosemont College midfielder Rasool Smith. Smith was the second-leading scorer for the D-3 program that finished 4-11 and as LaxPower’s No. 183 squad in the division last year.

‘Twas a beautiful day on The Mile when Detroit scrimmaged Adrian Saturday.

Lacrosse Magazine looks at the impact the Big Ten Conference and Big Ten Network can have on the game. The big news out of that is it sounds like BTN is planning to significantly ramp up lacrosse coverage, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Gotta make room for all the Purdue Campus Programming, ya know?

Inside Lacrosse provides (text) highlights of Michigan’s fall ball scrimmages (video highlights for the UMBC/Navy game only) against UMBC and Navy. There’s a little bit of discussion of the Fairfield scrimmage on the LaxPower forum, the only place I’ve seen anything substantive.

The Next (and Next Next) Level

Brother Rice alum and Notre Dame sophomore Sergio Perkovic had a big day against Team USA in the Seatown Classic. Perkovic’s statline – just one goal to go along with six assists – leads 412 Lax to wonder if he can be an elite feeder.

Two lady Titans are on the shortlist for Team Canada’s U-19 team heading into next summer’s FIL World Championships in the UK.

High school, Club, Clinics, etc.

313 Lax’s fall and winter training sessions are starting up soon. For more info and to register, visit the website.

Registration is open for the 2015 Great Lax Bay classic.

Less than a week to register for the winter session(s) at All-American Lacrosse.

Blue Crew Lacrosse director and Friend of the Blog Ty McGuire is the new varsity coach at Dexter High School.

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2015 Michigan Wolverines Lacrosse Schedule

Michigan’s spring schedule is here! With a few dates filled in thanks to our ability to assume things using our deductive reasoning:

Date Opponent Location
Jan. 31 Marquette, Denison (Exh.) Home (Oosterbaan)
Feb. 7 Bellarmine Home (Oosterbaan)
Feb. 14 Detroit Home (Oosterbaan)
Feb. 21 Notre Dame Home (Oosterbaan)
Feb. 28 Canisius Home (Oosterbaan)
March 3 Jacksonville Away (Jacksonville, Fla.)
March 8 Brown Home
March 14 St. Joseph’s Away (Philadelphia)
March 21 Drexel Home
March 26-29 Maryland Away (College Park, Md.)*
April 2-5 Ohio State Home*
April 9-12 Rutgers Home*
April 16-19 Johns Hopkins Away (Baltimore)*
April 23-26 Penn State Home*
April 30-May 2 B1G Tournament College Park, Md.*

Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision

Thoughts on thoughts on thoughts:

  • It’s a lot of home games on the docket. Only four away games (two of them conference games), and a whopping four regular season games in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse – as best as I can recall, U-M has not played more than one per year in the first three seasons of the program. Oosterbaan was considered a big advantage during the club days, and although the varsity squad plays on a regulation-width field rather than the narrower football lines of the old days, it’s still an environment that not a lot of opposing teams are used to. That Bellarmine, Detroit, and Canisius are potentially winnable games, and will be played with a U-M advantage, that’s a boost to start the season.
  • I included the Big Ten Tournament at the end there, but let’s be honest with ourselves here: a six-team conference means Michigan almost certainly has to win two games to make a four-team field (or win a nice little tiebreaker), and they’re probably another year from pulling that one off.
  • Speaking of the conference schedule, the dates are still in flux (though the weekends appear to be set), thanks to – hopefully – the Big Ten Network’s ramping up of the sport’s coverage. According to Lacrosse Magazine, primetime Sunday games on BTN are in play… which means not a whole lot of Michigan action on Sundays, most likely (the Hopkins game should be on ESPNU, per the Blue Jays’ existing contract with that network). Either the Ohio State or Rutgers game should be prior to Michigan’s football spring game – more likely the latter contest, if my football spidey sense is accurate. In other things falling into the “hopeful, but unrealistic” category, maybe the U-M administration will finally realize it only makes sense to play the lacrosse game before the football practice, not after it.
  • Michigan will play back-to-back Philly teams, one away and one at home. The Drexel matchup is particularly interesting, because U-M swiped Dragons offensive coordinator Conor Ford in the offseason. Drexel may be familiar with his schemes, but he’ll also be familiar with theirs – and their personnel. Nice little intrigue to the coaching chess match.
  • The spring break trip is interesting in that it’s not as comprehensive as previous years, when two or three games would happen over the break. There’s no midweek game (there aren’t any on the schedule at all, actually), and even the start of spring break sees the Wolverines playing a home contest against Canisius, rather than getting their travel on.

I see about 6-ish winnable games (counting, say, Rutgers and Drexel for about half apiece), so this is a schedule at least as difficult as last year’s at the top. There’s not as much pulpy bottom to exploit, either. Michigan will have to take strides as a program to put together a record that looks like progress. Given the tough nature of Big Ten play, Michigan will take its lumps this year. They’ll also take some lumps in the non-conference (welcome home, Sergio Perkovic, please don’t score eight goals on us), but they should be able to win some games.

With Michigan moreso than other programs, it’s tough to know how much improvement to expect year-to-year, because the roster is still in the middle of transforming from a fully MCLA club talent base to a fully NCAA varsity recruited talent base. The third year of that transition (Team One wasn’t a transition at all) – but with yet another new offensive coordinator – should be the best yet.

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