All things considered, this game didn’t go that poorly. Michigan got absolutely crushed in the possession game, and still kept things closer than you’d expect them to against a top-5 team nationally.
Of course, there’s the small factor that Dave Pietramala is hesitant to run things up on a friend, especially one at the helm of a new program. Still, I think coming into this game many might not have expected U-M to come within 10 goals even if Hopkins was trying to let them. Chalk it up a moral victory.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Johns Hopkins 2013|
|Faceoff Wins||4||Faceoff Wins||29|
|Offensive Efficiency||.276||Offensive Efficiency||.327|
Boy, that faceoff number. Brad Lott was ineffective through the first quarter, after which time Michigan went with Charlie Keady to muck things up and play defense. That didn’t go a whole lot better, and more than anything drove home the point that Michigan’s inability to pick up a contested ground ball was the issue more than anything. As was the case in the Bellarmine game, most of the faceoffs were 50/50 balls or better, and the Wolverines just couldn’t scoop ’em up.
Last year, these were the best two riding teams in the country. That’s right, Michigan was second-best nationally (to JHU) at something, even in the epic struggle that was Year One. In this game… Michigan got the better of Hopkins in that metric. This team’s improvement in the clear – while there’s still work to be done – has been night-and-day.
As for the efficiency margin… sometimes you just play Johns Hopkins and you’re Michigan. Even if the 81 possessions in this game had been distributed dead evenly, Michigan would have lost about 13-11. That’s life.
I might as well change the name of the site from “Great Lax State” to “The Gerald Logan Fanboi Outlet,” but that dude can play. He was in obvious pain due to the shoulder injury suffered against Bellarmine, but committed zero turnovers in the clear, and saved .414 of shots faced. Given that two or three (at least) of those goals were softies that you wouldn’t expect him to give up if healthy and/or not getting shelled, and that’s a pretty good outing.
Hopkins had such a balanced output that it’s tough to pick out any real stars. Obviously Unstoppable Faceoff God Mike Poppleton (17/18) is one of them. The six offensive starters for Hopkins each had at least two points, and between them they had 20 of Hopkins’ 30 points, and 11 of the 17 goals. While “but they played their depth” is true to an extent, Hopkins didn’t call off the dogs until later than many seem to believe.
The offense really wasn’t bad, especially given the lack of time that they had with the ball to develop any sort of rhythm. Thomas Paras went down early in the game with a hamstring injury (no word on severity), so Michigan wasn’t operating at full strength and still did OK, given that they were playing Hopkins. In the first half (when you could contend JHU hadn’t let off the gas yet), the efficiency number was still an OK .250.
Kyle Jackson is still a bit limited in terms of making the right play every time (and though he scored one righty in this game, he’s clearly more comfortable sticking with his left), but is developing into a great offensive option. He had two goals, as did Peter Kraus. David Joseph was U-M’s other multi-point scorer with one and one.
Defensively, Michigan just didn’t have the horses to run with Hopkins. It’s going to happen. A lot of the plays weren’t one-on-one battles won with an easy finish, and at least required a pass after drawing a slide (a small leap forward when a team as skilled as Hopkins is the opposition, but a leap forward nonetheless), resulting in 13 Hopkins assists on 17 goals.
Can Michigan actually take a bit of confidence from this game? Even though they were more than doubled up, I say yes. There were some very good moments, and they aren’t playing Hopkins again for the rest of the year (though the Denver and Loyola games, at the very least, could be some ugly ones). I would have liked to see Dylan Westerhold get some time between the pipes with Logan clearly favoring that right shoulder, but it is what it is. He didn’t get any more hurt than he already was, though the risk was there.
Michigan takes a trip down to sunny Miami for the first game in a spring break road trip. Army is a formidable opponent, but the Wolverines can, at the very least, look at every opponent from here on out and say, “but they’re not Hopkins.” That may not lead to a lot of wins, but certainly increased confidence as this young team grows up.
It’s the first game in a really heavy stretch. U-M has a Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Thursday-Sunday-Saturday stretch coming up. While the club players may be familiar with that heavy a workload, it’s a little different when basically all of the teams are better (other than likely High Point).