landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
As Michigan moves into the fourth year of the Derrick Walton / Zak Irvin partnership, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the two. They were both high-priority and well-regarded recruits (Irvin was slightly higher in the rankings) and were key rotation pieces as freshmen – Walton started and played more, Irvin was a deadly shooter off the bench – on an elite team. Derrick’s sophomore season was ruined by injury, and Zak eventually recovered from early-season struggles to show signs of a developing all-around game as he became the focal point for Michigan’s offense. Irvin was the injured one during the beginning of his junior year (and it wrecked his jumper for a time) but continued to show the same pick-and-roll gravitas of other former Michigan wings, and Walton improved his offensive rating by 10 from his sophomore to junior years on the same level of usage.
After the LeVert injury, we saw what it was like with Zak and Derrick as 1A and 1B for Michigan, a role that they were always destined to have as upperclassmen at Michigan. Though each player’s development tracks took some sideways turns, they were ready enough, as their 22 games in charge went okay: 12-10, kept their heads above water enough in conference play to get a huge upset over Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament to make it into the NCAA’s by the skin of their teeth after a lackluster non-conference season. Sure, it was a largely disappointing season that was marred by the losses of Caris and Spike (and several home blowout losses), but ultimately Michigan did avoid the dishonor of the NIT.
Walton was critical in making that happen. He’s a unique player, the rare 3-and-D point guard. His two-point shooting has been very poor over the last two seasons, but he makes up for it by shooting well from the free throw line and taking half of his shot attempts from behind the arc, where he hits a very respectable 39%. Derrick’s good in the pick-and-roll, but is best when he’s kicking it to shooters, as he doesn’t have the size to get great angles for dump-offs to the big man or to finish at the rim himself.
Defensively, he’s the best on a bad team – in some games locking up offensively potent guards, in some getting blown by routinely by lesser players. Walton’s steal rate was the best on the team by a sizable margin. His defensive rebounding (a unique skill, the basketball thing he’s probably best at, despite his size) propped up Michigan’s defense in ways poorly understood by the box score, and his defensive impact is probably underrated in that regard.
[More after the JUMP]
Backed up near their end zone after a 4th down stop, with Brandon Peters under center, the white team is looking to catch the defense with some play-action. What they catch is a pretty simple blitz, an iffy matchup in pass pro that goes badly, and a true freshman running for his life in the endzone. Let's dig into it.
THE PLAY: A pretty normal Mike blitz that gets interesting in the details.
The MLB came up trying to time his blitz, then blitzed the frontside A gap. The SAM has the tight end (Y) in man to man, as do the CBs with their respective wide receivers, and the free safety is playing the deep cover. The WLB has a run gap, and the short middle zone (which ends up being the RB). On the other side the Rover (strong safety) is responsible for the fullback.
So this is a variant on the base cover 1 ("City" in Brown's 2013 Boston College playbook).
I think "TILT" means the SAM has the edge if the TE stays in to block, and the TE if he goes out in a pattern. But there was some weirdness here, because the T and A are going to end up in the same lane.
[After the JUMP: freshman going off script, two-gapping, or a DE option?]
A Late Riser Emerges?
The young man you see above displaying a visceral hatred for rims is 2016 Grundy (VA) Mountain Mission SG/SF Harold Baruti, who at the moment looks like the most likely option to fill one of the two open basketball scholarships. Baruti came to Ann Arbor on an official visit last weekend, and it sounds like a scholarship offer is on the way as long as he clears an academic hurdle or two:
Per his HS coach, 2016 wing Harold Baruti has not yet received a scholarship offer from his OV to Michigan. But workout went "very well."
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 5, 2016
Re. Michigan and 2016 wing Harold Baruti: Still no scholarship offer. U-M checking if he'll be cleared academically.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 9, 2016
Baruti, who moved to U.S. from the Democratic Republic of the Congo two years ago, also still needs to pass the TOEFL before U-M will offer.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 9, 2016
At 6'6", ~200 pounds, Baruti could provide much-needed depth on the wing. According to Quinn, Utah and Texas Tech are also showing late interest in Baruti, who holds scholarship offers from SMU, UNC-Wilmington, Utah State, and Tennessee Tech. While he doesn't look like the most polished prospect, he's got plenty of athleticism—he looks like a guy who could eventually fill the GRIII role of cutter/finisher who shoots just well enough on corner threes to keep defenses spaced out.
Speaking of wing depth, the just-released senior highlights of 2016 signee Ibi Watson are worth watching. While the highlight video caveat applies, he looks like a strong finisher and impressive passer; if he can hold his own on defense he can see a significant role right away as a backup at the two and the three.
In other hoops recruiting news, Michigan's offer has vaulted them into the top three for in-state 2017 SF Jamal Cain, per TMI's Josh Newkirk:
“(Michigan) is for sure top-three,” Cain said. “My top three, well, the schools that have been in contact the most have been Michigan, Marquette and Xavier.”
Cain mentioned academic support as something that stood out on his visit, and later said that factor is of significant importance in his decision, which should come during or after his senior season.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Gambling in this establishment. There has never been a more slam-dunk bolded header than the one you just read:
"I was shocked like everyone else living it out in real time," Freeze said of Tunsil's draft night comments. "But I'm confident our administration is going to find the facts and then give us a good report on it."
Good luck with that.
War. War never changes. Because one side is Grenada. You may remember NJ.com columnist Steve Politi from such hits as "Kyle Flood is real, man" and "Paramus asking Harbaugh to commencement is disgusting." He is an old-school pugnacious columnist who covers Rutgers. He's trying to build skyscrapers out of mud here.
But these were just warmups before his magnum opus:
Harbaugh's N.J. satellite camps are an act of war on Rutgers
You're probably thinking that authors don't write headlines and this is a junior intern clickbaiting you into a more reasonable article. Nope!
Harbaugh, long ago, stopped caring about any conference ethics about pitching his tent just miles from a Big Ten rival. You wonder: What does a New Jersey high school have to gain from offering its territory to an out-of-state recruiter? A number of state colleges and high schools have said no, in deference to Rutgers, but Harbaugh has found his landing spots.
A lot to unpack there:
- The last time we made up fictional "conference ethics" I think we were talking about Roy Roundtree decommitting from Purdue. That's a blast from the past right there.
- Again with the insane idea that coaches should be more loyal to state borders than their players.
- Rutgers is the 13th Big Ten school to declare itself a rival of Michigan, and the most incorrect about that.
- "In deference to Rutgers" has never, ever happened. Ever.
In response, baseball and softball leveled Piscataway, ending the brief but memorable War On Rutgers.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) May 8, 2016
Speaking of softball. The tournament beckons. Michigan is coming off a ninth straight Big Ten title, and everything is more or less as it's been for a decade:
For those just getting caught up, here's how things look: Hutchins' team is ranked No. 2 in the country and on a 17-game winning streak. It closed the regular season on Sunday with an 8-0 win, improving to 44-4 overall and 21-2 in the Big Ten, and will now head to the Big Ten tournament next weekend at Penn State.
After that, a trip to the NCAA Tournament will feature NCAA Regional and Super Regional games likely hosted in Ann Arbor, as long as U-M keeps winning.
The overriding storyline will, once again, be Michigan's hunt for a second national championship under Hutchins.
If this sounds familiar it's because it is. The Wolverines ended last season with 17 straight wins to cap a 48-6 regular-season record. They sent that above storyline into a frenzy by charging to a national championship showdown against Florida, but lost in a best-of-three matchup.
#1 Florida, which actually run-ruled Michigan in the third game of the season, again looms at the end of the road.
On Paterno stuff. Buried in a legal document created as PSU and its insurer fight over which entity will have to pay for PSU enabling Jerry Sandusky is a bombshell:
Judge Glazer referenced several victims’ depositions, which are sworn testimonies, made out of court, that are recorded and/or transcribed. According to Judge Glazer, those depositions reveal that in 1976, “a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky” and that in 1987 and 1988 an assistant coach witnessed Sandusky committing sexual acts or having inappropriate contact with a child. Judge Glazer reasoned that while Paterno and the unnamed assistant coaches might have known about Sandusky’s acts, available evidence did not indicate that any Penn State officers, trustees or shareholders had such knowledge. As a consequence, Judge Glazer determined that Penn State is eligible to seek certain types of coverage payments from PMA (Judge Glazer also found that Penn State is not eligible for other types of coverage payments).
This is not a thing a court decided. It is a document produced by the insurer arguing its case. Twitter lawyer @Ugarles had a brief and useful explainer of what the court claim in fact was. For those allergic to links, the upshot:
so there's allegation by the insurer that he knew but no examination of the evidence behind that claim because it didn't matter to the court
— Sigh Hersh (parody) (@Ugarles) May 6, 2016
A judge has not declared that Joe Paterno knew. Several people have told the court, under penalty of perjury, that Paterno was repeatedly told Sandusky was molesting boys going back some 40 years. This is in addition to the Mike McQueary incident, for which the best defense mounted was that Paterno was a confused old man. That defense won't fly for incidents from the 70s and 80s, leaving us choosing between two possibilities: several people are lying in depositions or Joe Paterno enabled Sandusky for decades. What's the Vegas line here? I know the latter is a serious underdog.
This isn't actually relevant to sports anymore since Penn State is not going to have their sanctions re-examined, but just wow man. People who run around spouting off about "success with honor" and the like are far more likely to be secret monsters than dudes like John Calipari. Calipari isn't trying to pass himself off as a Leader of Men. He's just a guy who coaches basketball and doesn't care much for NCAA rules. There's a nobility in not pretending to be noble, and a darkness in people who have to signal their virtue. (Anyone on Twitter's run across the latter all day every day.)
Photograph conveniently located. The NYT profiles Jamie Horowitz, the FS1 executive who's importing all the worst people in sports punditry, and this is a serendipitous virtual signaling example right here:
You may know me as a lizard person who offered Stephen A Smith a platform to excuse any and all woman-beating he may come across, but I also have children. It is a mere coincidence that I have framed this picture so that I am literally surrounded by them.
Etc.: "The incident is not the first between the clubs at a wheelchair basketball match." Mitch Leidner projected as first round pick by Todd McShay. McShay roundly mocked by Minnesota fans. Minnesota blog defends Leidner by linking video in which half the throws are wounded ducks and one is the "back-shoulder corner" throw against Jeremy Clark. Urban Meyer doesn't know some of his recruits' names.
so happy we found each other [Joe Dressler for MGoBlog]
SPIKE & CARIS & MAAR & DAWKINS & CALVES (and Colton). Since Beilein’s in the market for a last minute addition or two, Lanknows wrote us a quick look-back at the guys he’s found in a pinch before. I mean, I’m kind of nervous right now—we expected attrition but not that much attrition. But this list would be a ludicrous level of bargain bin success if he had found them all two years before they committed. Even after a disappointing season you have to wonder why nobody else thought Johnny Dawkins’s superbly athletic son was worth a scholarship except Dayton.
IT’S STILL PROBABLY HIS ACCURACY BUT WHOA DADDY. This site is about to be a safe haven for a nation swimming in politics, so I am going to be extra careful about keeping the politics where they belong. But you know who doesn’t think politics are off limits? Connor Cook’s dad.
And here’s some from the xenophobic shelf ….. pic.twitter.com/C77Tt3zjCT
— Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) May 5, 2016
Connor Cook probably slipped in the draft either because his accuracy, while effective enough for college, suggests he’ll be even less effective in the NFL than Dak Prescott (link: Football Outsiders’ QBase draft projections). Or maybe because his shoulder was pretty messed up and early draft contracts are a lot to gamble on an arm that might fall out. But Daddy being a clearly awful at humanity in 80% of his 1800 tweets probably didn’t help.
If you like me can only handle so much Jeff Moss, go use that up now.
HASHTAG NINETY-FOUR. I think retroactively erasing the outcomes of games makes as much sense as vacating the Norman conquest of England because Harold never swore any such thing, and anyway the Godwins were in truth fine patrons of the Church so the Cross of St. George never should have been allowed to play.
But if they did decide to re-vacate every JoePa victory since he discovered Jerry Sandusky’s a sexual predator, according to a court document that now goes back to 1976:
The line in question states that one of Penn State's insurers has claimed "in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU's Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky."
Stuff’s still coming out as the legal ramifications of a long-held campus secret become relevant in criminal proceeding or, in this case, a civil case brought by Penn State’s insurer, who claims they shouldn’t be on the hook for the damages if administrators knew and didn’t tell them. Hard not to agree.
I’ve had my fill of Ha Ha Penn State. It’s more a sobering reminder that betraying morality for what you love is betraying the thing you love. Also a sobering reminder that PSU twitter—aka #409—is awful. So I guess what I’m saying is if they did knock his win total back to every game after he knew and didn’t stop it, Joe has 94 wins. #094.
MITCH LEIDNER CAN THROW SPIRALS YOU GUYS I’M SRLSY. Okay nobody posted (Ace linked it in Slack today) this but it should be a thread since the Daily Gopher is having to explain why Todd McShay put Leidner in his 2017 mock draft.
In the first round. As a quarterback. Of the NFL. The football one!
Then the Daily Gopher goes on to explain that yes Leidner can throw a spiral using a video in which Leidner comically doesn’t throw spirals and wracks up highlights by QB sneaking a half a yard. No idea why Gopher fans think moving the ball half a yard is an accomplishment. I mean it should be automatic.
And yes, chucking it where the only way it’s not intercepted by Jeremy Clark is if Clark can’t believe he’d chuck it there is on the reel. Amazingly his pinpoint slant that beat Jourdan Lewis on 4th down isn’t.
ALL ABOARD BOATY MGOBOATFACE. Rivals shared the list of satellite camps that are back on. Map? Map.
There’s also rumors of camps to be held in the Pacific Islands, at which point the MGoStaff mutinied and demanded Brian add an option to the Kickstarter to send us all to cover it—all hands on deck. And by that we mean rent a yacht to get us all there. And by that we mean we could use your help naming the boat. Leaders so far are Boaty MGoBoatFace and Happy Ever After, No Brandon’s [sic].
So what I’m getting at here is that for a $30,000 contribution to HTTV’s kickstarter you can have two books (one of them signed), the shirt, a sentence on the thank you page, and three co-workers and I will personally travel to Hawaii to deliver a copy to Harbaugh.
Speaking of Michigan’s Hawaiian presence, I just finished prepping Craig Ross’s article researching the first games of football and it is fascinating. Like I am going to bug Craig to make this his next book.
ETC. Professor Needs a Raise got his raise, is now part of the football program. A thread about Cool World apparently. Magnus (and MGoFish and Brandon the new guy at MnB) gets crystal ball. Space Coyote on defending the pull.
Your Moment of Zen:
Upchurch / Upchurch / Sherman
With the news that Kam Chatman is transferring, what was a five-man rising junior class is now just two. Four players (including Spike – who will be playing for Purdue next season) who played last season are leaving with remaining eligibility. Ordinarily, this would be cause for considerable depth concerns, but since Michigan returns all five starters from last season’s tournament team – something that very few teams can say in this day and age – experience is actually an advantage for this team moving forward. Very rarely are teams able to sustain five-man lineups year over year and it’s reasonable to expect that Walton / Rahkman / Robinson / Irvin / Donnal will execute crisp offense together on the floor. If improvement from Wagner vaults him past Donnal (who’s much more of a known quantity) on the depth chart, all the better.
Right now, that depth chart might look like this:
We’ve seen the effect that limited depth can have on players, and it might be a concern again. Walton will have a very capable backup in Xavier Simpson, and fellow freshman Ibi Watson will get a shot behind MAAR, so the guard situation is much better than it was a year ago. There are enough big men: Donnal and Wagner will run into foul trouble, so there’s a need for a third option to emerge, but all in all, there are enough bodies at the five.
The main concern comes on the wing – and that’s why the departures of Dawkins and Chatman might be felt the most. Michigan has two open scholarships for next season and desperately could use a wing with immediate eligibility (either as ideally a grad transfer or a 2016 recruit) to offset those losses: Dawkins was Michigan’s sixth man and played just under 40% of available minutes, while Chatman chipped in 12%. By the postseason, both were essentially used only to rest the starters – Robinson and Irvin each played right around 90% of available minutes in the Wolverines’ five postseason games. As it stands, those two are the only wings left with any experience.
None of the departures – Aubrey Dawkins, Ricky Doyle, and Kam Chatman – are particularly unexpected; Dawkins fell behind Duncan Robinson and saw his dad take a mid-major coaching job; Doyle and Chatman were on the periphery of the rotation and a path to significant minutes for either was hard to find. Still, all three were good enough to play last year, and their minutes will need to be replaced. Doyle’s minutes will be split easily between Donnal, Wagner, and the freshmen bigs; Robinson and Irvin probably can’t handle many more minutes, let alone taking all the minutes vacated by Dawkins and Chatman.
[What will Michigan be losing? Find out after the JUMP]