Jaaron Simmons: How Does He Fit?
Simmons gets a lot of tough buckets at the basket.
Michigan added a significant piece to the roster late last night in Ohio grad transfer Jaaron Simmons, who's in line to be the starting point guard provided he doesn't jump to the NBA. While that seems unlikely given his draft stock—he's unranked on DraftExpress and listed as "likely undrafted" on NBADraftNet's rundown of potential early entrants—Simmons told MLive's Brendan Quinn he's discussing that possibility with John Beilein:
In a phone interview with MLive on Tuesday, Simmons said he is indeed transferring to Michigan and has accepted the program's lone available scholarship. However, having previously declared for the NBA Draft, he does not yet know if he will withdraw [and] spend next season in college basketball.
"I haven't decided yet," Jaaron Simmons said (pronounced "Juh-Ron"). "Me and coach (John) have been talking about that, but I haven't decided."
Simmons said he'll continue to talk to his family and Beilein about the choice to stay in the draft or withdraw and "come up with the decision that's best for me."
Simmons said whether he receives an invitation to the Draft Combine or not will not weigh in that decision. He said he does not have a timeline for his final decision, but does not plan on waiting until the NCAA's May 24 withdraw deadline.
Beilein can't comment on Simmons until he's officially added to the roster, but I can't imagine he'd accept a commitment for the last open 2017-18 scholarship without a pretty good idea that Simmons would withdraw from the draft. Unless his projection changes dramatically, it's hard to imagine Simmons would want to stay in the draft anyway.
Brian covered the basics on Simmons when news of his commitment broke last night. He's first and foremost a pick-and-roll creator, and he took on a huge usage load at Ohio, where his efficiency was hurt by having to create the vast majority of his shots. After the jump, I'll explore how he fits into the projected lineup for 2017-18.
[Hit THE JUMP]
When in Rome, kayak as the Romans did. Cesar Ruiz's displacement is an asset on the football field. In a kayak not so much.
Maybe the funniest video of the day. Cesar Ruiz w an assist from Mo Hurst pic.twitter.com/vKEStiPCL1
— angelique (@chengelis) April 25, 2017
This trip is probably the most Summer Of Harbaugh thing that's happened yet. Except for the shirtless touch football game at a camp he participated in. That's permanently #1.
I could use more Gus in my life. ESPN's college football announcing crew was decimated this year so I'm much more into this than I would have been previously:
...this season kicks off Fox Sports' six-year, $1.44 billion deal with the Big Ten Conference. Under the terms of the new pact, not only has Fox wrested the deed to the annual Ohio State-Michigan game from co-rights holder ESPN/ABC, but it will also broadcast the Big Ten football championship game in December. (And no, the change of broadcast venues doesn't suggest that the Buckeyes-Wolverines grudge match is going to move under the lights for a primetime airing any time soon -- tradition still demands a noon game.)
Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt might be the best extant CFB announce team and I'm totally down with those guys calling M-OSU. Hopefully FOX tones down the robots and goes with a more collegiate feel for their Big Ten games.
I am far less enthused about this, however:
“It’s still a concern,” Manuel said. “The only difference is, the Big Ten and television can assign us to a primetime game and it’s not our option. In November, we have the option if we choose to do so. I don’t anticipate that choice being made.” ...
“It comes out in terms of we agreed to it several years ago as a part of negotiating the new Big Ten television contract that we would allow up to two games at night,” Manuel said. “Last year for this (2016) football season, we had the option. Next year and moving forward the Big Ten can assign us and television in the Big Ten. In the month of September and October.” ...
“Jim (Harbaugh) and I have been in lockstep, saying our preference is in the afternoon and not in the evening,” Manuel said. “In this particular case, we have granted the ability for the Big Ten to assign two home games in the evening. That’s where it will go.”
I don't know if that's yet another Dave Brandon ace negotiation or an unfortunate side-effect of being part of the Big Ten during a period when it's being run by someone who cares about nothing other than stacking dollars. It kind of sounds like the former since Manuel says "we have granted the ability" to the Big Ten. Which is another going-away president from the worst AD in history. Also in "Dave Brandon's icy hand reaches out from the grave": he scheduled Air Force again. Never schedule Air Force.
Cord cutting leads to other forms of cutting. ESPN is about to have an on-air bloodletting:
ESPN will part ways with more than 40 people, all of them “talent,” a label that ESPN applies to radio hosts and writers (almost all of whom regularly do video or audio), not just traditional TV personalities. ESPN says it has 1,000 people in the category. Still, you can expect most of the people cut to be faces you’ve seen on TV. In some cases, ESPN may buy people out of existing long-term contracts—as Sports Illustrated points out, that is unusual.
Most of these folks are probably going to be peripheral folks with few names you'd be familiar with, but the story speculates about one potential exit that would be frown-inducing:
The New York Daily News has some speculation, including SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross, whose contract expires on July 1.
Nooooooooooo. Buccigross is probably the network's foremost college hockey proponent and things would not be the same without him. Here's hoping his skillset keeps him on the four-letter.
who are you going to believe, your own lying eyes or this dipshit?
This week in bullshit. Danny Kanell brings his turtleneck to a fact party:
@MoveTheSticks Did you talk to any of his teammates? Did you examine the leg? See an MRI?
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) April 25, 2017
Kanell is way out of line here. Consider the environment he's living in at the time of the FSU game: various players have outright skipped bowl games and gotten praise for it in the media; neither Leonard Fournette nor Christian McCaffrey has seen his draft stock altered one iota by that decision. Even if Peppers wasn't going to play by his choice he could have just said "nope" privately and not dressed, as is common in football.
Instead he dressed and attempted to warm up, whereupon he looked like a guy who'd injured his hamstring. So unless he's a pathological liar who's simultaneously extremely convincing at faking muscle injuries, he was, you know, injured. Kanell is slandering Peppers without proof. Probably because he's dumb as a brick.
These poor exploited Michigan football players. Forced to go on an all expenses paid trip to Italy. Probably had to fly coach too...Sad!
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) April 24, 2017
Here's a guy in need of some firin', ESPN.
When third chances go wrong. If your program has a guy get in trouble, it had a guy get in trouble. It happens. If your program takes a guy with two arrests in his recent past you'd better do your homework, because if he gets in trouble again that is on you. This is on Mark Dantonio:
Michigan State's Auston Robertson has been charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from an April 9 incident.
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) April 21, 2017
Robertson was arrested for criminal mischief* in 2015, then arrested shortly before Signing Day for inappropriately grabbing a female student at his high school. MSU issued a statement about the deep background they did on the guy in an attempt to justify the signing:
“Our decision to accept Auston Robertson’s signed National Letter of Intent and Big Ten Tender has been evaluated over the last three months while utilizing all resources available to us to thoroughly review his situation,” Dantonio said.
“Our relationship with Auston began last summer when he committed to Michigan State. When we accepted his verbal (commitment), we also made a commitment to him and his family. We elected not to sign him in early February, and since then he has been accepted into a pretrial diversionary program and must continue to satisfy those requirements. Given all the information available to us, we believe Auston should be provided with an opportunity to begin his education and playing career at Michigan State.”
He lasted barely a year before getting charged with criminal sexual conduct in East Lansing, a charge that is easily predicted by the nature of the battery he got diverted. The above statement should have read "We know this is a risk for the people who will be around Robertson. Sorry. (Not sorry.)" That risk seems to have resulted in something very bad indeed, given the fact that Robertson went on the lam for two days. Even more ominously, Mark Dantonio saw fit to remove him from MSU's team. Short of failing to meet academic eligibility requirements, when does that happen?
This isn't and shouldn't be a rivalry thing. Hopefully the fact that I bombed Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon for their useless lies about Brendan Gibbons demonstrates that 1) nobody is immune from this sort of thing and 2) I'm not just a message board dude with my rivalry lols. It should be about what looks like an institution that has serious issues with sexual assault, at multiple levels.
*[And "resisting law enforcement," a charge which I'm always extremely dubious about.]
Expected starter confirmation. Chris Evans on his spring game deployment:
"I wanted to play more ... But they said 'nah, nah, nah, you're not going to play, you're not going to play.' I just respected that and just back to the drawing board (for spring practice) on Tuesday."
That is a leader in the clubhouse.
Red encomiums. John Bacon:
Berenson loved the game from the start. When he was a 6-year old kid in Regina, Saskatchewan, for Christmas his parents gave him new skates, new gloves and new shin pads. He was so excited, he called his best friend – at 6 a.m.
When his friend's mom answered, she asked, "Do you know what time it is?"
Berenson replied, "Yes -- but this is important!"
Berenson stepped down Monday after 33 years as Michigan's head coach. He was hired during a tumultuous time in the program's history, May 1984. It was the third time then-athletic director Don Canham had asked him to take over. He was an assistant coach in the NHL at the time. He finally accepted.
"I left a job making $85,000 a year to take a job making $40,000," Berenson said. "I thought, 'Did I get my MBA at Michigan to make a decision like this?' But it was the right thing to do. I loved Michigan and loved the experience I had."
MGoBlue has a thing that's more of a pretty-design item than a story but here is a picture:
And Hoover Street Rag:
Red Berenson did not invent Michigan hockey, that's Vic Heyliger and Al Renfrew. But Red did save Michigan hockey, first with the Regina Regiment, then by coming home to Ann Arbor in 1984. He was hired by Don Canham, and he, slowly but surely, brought Michigan back from the abyss. He won 848 games in the NCAA, fourth most in college hockey, and starting in 1990-91 when Michigan posted a 34-win season and its made first trip to the NCAAs in 14 years, an event they would not miss for the next 22 seasons, Michigan began a streak of 8 straight 30-win seasons, with 6 Frozen Fours and 2 national titles, Michigan's eighth and ninth all time. And in all of this, in the down seasons, after the Hunwick fueled miracle run in 2011, after Mel left, and we wondered when would this moment come. Then came last year, when Michigan hockey was fun again and four NHL-caliber players were lighting the lamp and Michigan won the conference tournament, there was the notion of maybe the old magic had been recaptured, let Red have one more run this year and then hand the reins off after one more season. But, wishing doesn't make it so, and Michigan Hockey Summer took its toll, as it is wont to do.
Woke Harbaugh continues. Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick in Time:
Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests last year when he boldly and courageously confronted perceived inequalities in our social-justice system by refusing to stand for the national anthem. At times in our nation's history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust.
Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or—most important—harming our own personal interests.
That writing style is familiar from the opening video at home games. Feels like every word is capitalized, which is very Harbaugh.
Odd time for this to break but it has indeed broken:
— Jason Arkley (@JasonAmessenger) April 25, 2017
Simmons has an indifferent Kenpom profile and a remarkable Hoop Math profile. His sub-100 ORTG features 72/46/35 percent shooting on 28% usage, a ton of assists—21st in the country—and a post-like 22 TO rate. He was a bit more efficient as a sophomore, with 78/48/42 splits on 27% usage. His assist rate was sixth nationally, and he got to the line a lot more often.
At first blush that's not great but things get a lot more intriguing when you check out his Hoop Math peripherals. To wit, I have never seen a guy get less help from his teammates. Last year approximately 3% of Simmons's buckets from inside the arc were assisted, and just 35% of his threes. That is insane. To put that in perspective: Ohio had 772 made shots last year that were not putbacks. Simmons created 361 of those shots either by making an unassisted bucket or assisting a teammate. 47%. One guy.
this video does not end well for Ohio's coach
If Simmons can successfully downshift from "literally half his team's offense" to interchangeable Beilein component there's an efficient offensive player somewhere in there. Even money the first time Beilein's offense gets him a wide open three he breaks down in tears. A couple of twitter takes:
Wolverines get a tough, ball-in-hand PG that can really get downhill. Better shooter than given credit for. Bobcats get a hole in the lineup
— Jason Arkley (@JasonAmessenger) April 25, 2017
@guestavoo Simmons - great use of head/fake shots, arsenal of floaters, shoots of the bounce, the worst 3pt shooter and the best PnR handler
— guestavo (@guestavoo) April 14, 2017
If three point shooting is the drawback for a guy who shot 35% when two thirds of his makes were jacks, eh, I'll take it. UMHoops put together scouting video for Simmons so you can judge for yourself:
If you're like me, about 60% of those shots from the first section gave you hives. Stepback long twos and whatnot. Simmons very much looks like a guy burdened with more responsibility than any one basketball player should be forced to shoulder. Given the context his 43% 2-point jumper shooting is truly impressive; the question is whether he'll be able to restrict those shots to late-clock situations now that he's going to be a third banana instead of bananas 1-3 and sometimes 4.
DTR to LAX
Four-star NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Michigan's longtime top target at quarterback, took to Twitter last night to announce his commitment to UCLA.
The coaches already have two potential replacements lined up, and in fact have been telling quarterback prospects that they plan to take two in this cycle despite a relatively small projected class. Steve Lorenz says he's "as close as you can get" to putting in a crystal ball pick for four-star FL QB Joe Milton, who visited for the spring game.
The other option is three-star AZ QB Tyler Shough, who 247's Isaiah Hole reports received a visit from Pep Hamilton before Michigan took off for Italy. Shough has a visit to Ann Arbor set for mid-May and all of his crystal ball picks, including one from Steve Wiltfong, are for the Wolverines, though he recently picked up an Alabama offer. While Michigan missed out on DTR, they look set to land a quarterback in the relatively near future.
A similar situation is playing out at tight end. Four-star FL TE Will Mallory, a legacy prospect, chose Miami (YTM) over Michigan and several other blue-blood programs on Friday. Lorenz says Michigan remains in "excellent position" with four-star TX TE Mustapha Muhammad, a spring game visitor, and it looks like a M-OSU race for four-star NY TE Jeremy Ruckert; if the Wolverines can land both, they won't try to pick things back up with Mallory.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Mel Pearson is Michigan's hockey coach now, and that's fine. Your author started stumping for Pearson shortly after he arrived at Michigan Tech and their program took off. This was year one, pre-realignment WCHA:
Pearson won 16 games with a Tech team that won 4 games the previous year, got them within a goal of a WCHA semifinal in 2012.
— Joe Meloni (@JoeMeloni) April 24, 2017
Tech won 13 games the next year and 14 in 2013-14, the first year of college hockey's new landscape. This alone is impressive in the modern context of Tech hockey; that's the first time Tech had won double-digit games since Bob Mancini did it from 1993 to 1996.
That alone would not be impressive enough to grab the Michigan job, but then Pearson had the following three seasons:
- 29-10-2, at-large bid to tourney as #2 seed, #5 ES Corsi*
- 23-9-5, WCHA regular season champs, #3 ES Corsi
- 23-15-7, WCHA playoff champs, NCAA bid, #3 ES Corsi
It's likely that 2016-17 Tech would have had close to the same winning percentage Pearson's previous two teams did except for the fact that they spent about 8 games playing two goalies with .883 and .857 save percentages before freshman Angus Redmond emerged as the clear starter.
Schedule strength is a concern for WCHA schools so Dave broke down Pearson's "relevant" Corsi outings from the last three years. We defined relevant teams as Big Ten, NCHC, and HE schools plus Yale, an at-large bid from the ECAC in 2016. Red are clear Corsi losses, yellow tie-ish games, and green are clear wins. Keep in mind that some of these MSU and Wisconsin teams are very bad teams, as is this year's Michigan outfit. Nonetheless this is very impressive for a guy working at a severe talent disadvantage to most of these schools:
Dave helpfully exclaimed about the 72-29 and 63-33 hamblastings of your Michigan Wolverines this year.
The modern WCHA is a mid-major conference but given what Tech was before Pearson arrived this is very close to hiring Lavall Jordan if he has a six-year tenure at Wisconsin-Milwaukee that includes two tourney bids and a regular season title. IE, the kind of hire major schools make all the time. Mel's deep roots with the program are certainly a bonus, but if Pearson's name was Neverheardof Annarbor he would still be a strong candidate.
There is an undercurrent of discontent from Demand Excellence sorts. I do know that Michigan reached out to both Jeff Blashill and Mike Babcock at various points over the last few years and was unsurprisingly turned down by a pair of sitting NHL coaches. I have not heard that Michigan made overtures to any of the three slam-dunk college coaches (Nate Leaman, Norm Bazin, and Jim Montgomery) but I would not be surprised if anyone contacted offered a polite thanks-but-no-thanks. All three of those guys have essentially infinite job security at programs that are competing at a national title level. Taking over for a legend who left behind a very bad team is a recipe for a quick exit, pursued by a mob. Rich Rodriguez is nodding vigorously for reasons that are mysterious to him at this very moment. Michigan could have come in with a big offer and it might not do much other than get the coach in question a nice bump.
Mel's only a fallback because there's an unprecedented number of college hockey coaches who kind of look like Urban Meyer at Utah. In most circumstances the guy who took Tech to the tourney for the first time in 34 years—as an at large—would be one of or the top guy on the market.
Pearson's age is a downside. Michigan just experienced a long slide into darkness because of a not-uncommon phenomenon where legends go very, very gradually and then suddenly. But Pearson's status as an obviously very good coach right now should make for some productive years as he inherits Michigan's still-top-five recruiting and pairs him with whatever crazy Corsi mojo he's got. Pearson is the best clearly-available coach right now, and this is a team with ten NHL draft picks and a first-rounder inbound. Right now is good enough.
*["ES Corsi" == your percentage of all shot attempts at even strength. Not SOS adjusted, admittedly. There is also a "Fenwick" which is your percentage of all unblocked shot attempts; Tech was #2, #3 and #2 in that stat. Here is a helpful intro to these kind of stats:
Unadjusted college Corsi is a very rough measure but as a teamwide stat over three seasons it strongly implies that Pearson's teams are excellent at puck possession. This is something my eyes have confirmed over the last few years of Michigan-Tech matchups, FWIW.]
Mel Pearson has been officially announced as Michigan's hockey coach:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Mel Pearson has been named the University of Michigan's head coach of ice hockey, as announced today (Monday, April 24) by Warde Manuel, the Charles F-ing Woodson Director of Athletics. Pearson, who becomes the ninth head coach in program history, returns to Ann Arbor after previously serving 23 seasons as an assistant coach for the Wolverines.
In addition, Detroit News hockey writer George Sipple asserted this on WTKA this morning:
From George Sipple on WTKA: "I think the only way Bill Muckalt is not on the staff is if he's the Tech coach."
— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) April 24, 2017
That would be bad news for one of Billy Powers and Brian Wiseman, the current assistants.
UPDATE: it sounds like John Madden, currently head coach of the AHL's Cleveland Monsters, will not be the second assistant.
Spath (I'm paraphrasing): John Madden has been told to keep running his own program and he'll have a shot at the M job down the road.
— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) April 24, 2017