News bullets and other items:
Dennis Norfleet will play against Maryland
Derrick Green may or may not be back against Maryland. He, like Devin Gardner and Jake Butt, are getting healthier every day
President Schlissel called Hoke to apologize for his comments regarding academics and athletics. Hoke said that they recruit kids that fit the Michigan blueprint and that it’s not for everyone
Hoke said the Northwestern game was the offensive line’s best of the season
Nussmeier and Fred Jackson make the decision on which RB has the “hot hand,” and the decision can be made as early as the third series
“Thanks for coming out. Number one, yesterday we had a good chance with the players to look at the Northwestern film [and] make the corrections we need to make, but really emphasize the good things because really that's what you want to see are the good things. We've got to keep emphasizing those things. We practiced and it wasn't long but there was a lot of energy and a lot of good timing, and the one thing when you talk about bye weeks a little bit is the timing. You don't want to lose that part of it or if you need to get a little better you need to get a little better, especially in the pass game and all those things, so that was really productive.
“Start a little bit on Maryland today. I think the most exciting part of it is we are going to scrimmage some of the young guys against some who have played a little bit and those who haven't. We'll do about 30 minutes, probably 25 to 28 plays. When we do that we have to make sure it's going to help the team because those are your look teams going into the next week so I think it will be very good for us.
“Bye week again gives us a chance to rest some guys. I think getting Dennis [Norfleet]back will be very good for us. He'll be healthy. I think the health of Devin keeps – Gardner keeps improving and so in a lot of those guys there's a lot of guys who're just beat up a little bit. That's the way it is in football.
“The other thing is the president made some comments and I've talked to him. He called and apologized for his comments and I'm not going to speak for him. He put out whatever statements or interpretations that he needed to. We have always believed that this is truly an academic University. I was here for eight years before, as you all know, and I think the one thing you know being a former player and a coach is you only play so long and that's what this degree, a Michigan degree, is all about. And being the truly academic institution that it is, that degree will last forever so we take it very seriously. We try and recruit the best football players, the best student-athletes, and people that fit the blueprint here at Michigan. It's not for everybody because it is demanding and that's the way it should be.”
You kind of had the incident with Jake Butt. How much is he a work in progress on and off the field in terms of what he can be?
“I think Jake, he – from an athletic standpoint and all those things he continues to get healthier. He's one of those guys who another week, if we continue to do the right things with him… and the double edge sword is the timing of the routes and all that because you do want to rest guys so that they get a little healthier. I think he’s always developing and we are happy with his development.”
Have you seen the jerseys that his family where is when they come to games?
“I have not.”
Papa butt and headbutt and stuff like that. Have you seen him embrace that? He talks about getting teased about his last name.
“Yeah, he gets teased but… he gets teased.”
[After THE JUMP: We are grinders. It is stupid. Also some academic stuff.]
Previously: Gardening Lessons (The Story), Preview Podcast, Preseason All-Big Ten Teams, Point Guards, Wings Part 1 (LeVert, Irvin), Wings Part 2 (Chatman, Wilson, Dawkins, MAAR), Bigs (Donnal, Doyle, Bielfeldt), Media Day Player Interviews, Big Ten Newcomers, Big Ten Outlook Part 1, Big Ten Outlook Part 2, Mailbag Part 1
Who will get the bulk of the minutes at center? The panelists disagree. [Fuller]
The preview is almost done, but first, Alex and I attempt to answer perhaps the longest mailbag question in this blog's history. Without further ado, a five-part query covering everything:
Can you predict the minutes by position for the roster this year given the unique nature of this team compared to the past rosters?
I'm very intrigued to see how Beilein deals with the youngest but probably deepest and most versatile roster he's ever had. For most years we were scrambling to find 8 usable scholarship athletes and this year we have 11 guys who could see meaningful minutes in any given game. How will he handle that? How will he handle the frustrations that come with so many freshmen learning a complex system? How will he handle the unique skills that guys like MAAR or Wilson offer if they aren't quite the fit into his system?
Ace: I'm going to start from the end—first of all, Wilson is an ideal fit in the system (more on him later), and second of all, if a player is good enough to get on the court, Beilein is going to adjust his team's approach to fit his personnel, as we've seen time and again.
Also, talk about good problems. There really are 11 players who could see at least a consistent bit role this season, though I highly doubt Beilein is going to go with an 11-man rotation; I think he'll whittle it down closer to eight or nine as the season goes on.
My best guess at how the minutes breakdown will look when this team settles into a rotation—in the early going, I expect some experimenting as Beilein figures out what his freshmen can and can't provide:
1) Walton - 30, Albrecht - 10
2) LeVert - 35, Albrecht - 5
3) Irvin - 30, Dawkins - 10
4) Chatman - 25, Wilson - 15
5) Doyle - 20, Donnal - 10, Wilson - 10
Positions matter less than minutes distribution here—Irvin and Dawkins can both play the two, and LeVert can play the three, for example, and those positions very similar in Beilein's system, anyway.
Of the freshmen, I think Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman is the most likely to fall out of the rotation. Michigan has plenty of guards that can handle the ball, Walton's ability as a spot-up shooter will allow for the Walton/Spike backcourt to get a good amount of run, and Rahk's iffy shooting is going to hold him back, especially once M hits the meat of the schedule—Beilein's system doesn't work nearly as well if defenses don't have to respect the outside shot of one of the guards.
Aubrey Dawkins, meanwhile, has the skill set to be an immediate bench contributor. He can defend multiple positions and he can shoot the three; add in his outstanding athleticism, which should make him a good finisher on the break, and it's easy to see a role for him as a three-and-D guy with some upside.
I'm of the mind that all three freshman centers, including DJ Wilson, will get extensive time, and their minutes will wax and wane depending on the matchup; Wilson should see more time at the five against smaller, athletic teams, while Doyle may be leaned upon heavily against a bigger squad like Iowa. I believe Doyle will end up playing the most minutes at the five; I'm a fan of his combination of size and ability to finish near the basket, and for some reason it doesn't feel like Donnal is currently living up to expectations.
[Hit THE JUMP for Alex's guess at the rotation plus our outlook on DJ Wilson, picks for this year's breakout players, and comparable players to this year's freshmen.]
A man in my position cannot afford to be made to look ridikuhlis.
Ace: Brian and I did a segment on this week's podcast in which we each listed our top five most ridiculous games of the Hoke era. Not only were our bottom three picks entirely different, but between Twitter and the comments at least a dozen games that didn't make the cut were suggested as meriting inclusion, and... it was really hard to argue with a lot of them.
So let's try this again. List and explain your top five, perhaps mention a few dishonorable mentions, and feel free to explain your methodology—I'm intentionally leaving "ridiculous" open to interpretation.
BiSB: I just drew up a quick list of candidates. There are 16 games on that list. I HATE ALL THE THINGS.
Ace: Now remember that the very first game Hoke coached featured two Brandon Herron touchdowns and was called due to a biblical storm before the third quarter ended...
Even the wins, man. Even the wins.
[After the jump: we discuss 60% of the games under Hoke]
Tonight! Or rather this afternoon. Evening? What is 5PM anyway? Ace is stopping by Tisch Hall to talk about his experience as a history major who made his way in the world. He's "ventured into the real world with remarkable success!" in fact.
Free dinner, too. And some other non-Ace persons you've never heard of like… uh… one of the co-founders of Zingerman's. Wow. Should have done history.
Gardner journey'd. It is bleakly appropriate that they took him to his now-closed high school.
The amazing true story of Gene Keady's combover. This is the best work Gregg Doyel has ever done: [UPDATE: now with link even]
"I had extensions," Keady tells me, at which point I put the phone down and started throwing up. OK, not really. But still. Extensions?
"Well sure," he says. "Men were just starting to get extensions, so why not?"
I've never known a man who had hair extensions.
"Now you do," Keady says.
Keady had twice-weekly appointments to keep is his 'do on the cutting edge of late night hair replacement commercials at $300 a pop. He is willing to admit this in a newspaper, so he is a better, more extended man than I.
Also, Keady's shotgun wedding sounds like it claimed all present, including said combover:
"Kelvin Sampson gave the bride away. The best man was Bruce Weber. He was the flower girl, too."
Neither was ever the same.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) November 12, 2014
You can tell it's important because it has a screen-wide picture. Big ol' profile of John Beilein on MLive with most John Beilein thing about a big profile ever:
More than anything, he's one of the best college basketball coaches in America, creating a tug of war between the twilight of his days and the pinnacle of his career.
Here he is.
"So what is the point of all this?" Beilein asks, wondering why anyone would fuss to retrace his steps searching for who he actually is.
"Well, I just don't get it," he says. "I can't imagine why anyone would care."
I don't think we're getting memoir after he's done.
The amazing pfffffffttttt hahahaha. If this was true, Tim Beckman wouldn't have been allowed to coach the Illini at all.
Beckman says academic standards at Illinois are higher than other B1G schools. He says it's the biggest issue in recruiting for Illini.
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) November 11, 2014
"It took me two weeks to figure out how the door to my office works," continued Beckman. "That's how hard the academics are at Illinois."
AN ILLINI FAN VISITS TIM BECKMAN'S OFFICE
a short play in one act
FAN examines DOOR. FAN turns to BECKMAN.
FAN: "This is a normal door."
BECKMAN: "Cleverly disguised as a trick door!"
FAN: "THIS IS A REAL UNIVERSITY. WE INVENTED THE INTERNET BROWSER, YOU KNOW."
BECKMAN: "Real tricky doors, too."
FAN: /burns degree
How you dismantle Michigan State. SBN's Ian Boyd takes a look at a clobberin' MSU hasn't experienced since… well, Oregon. But not for a long time before that. OSU used a similar playbook:
They attacked the Spartan outside linebackers for playing the edge against the run:
The announcers highlighted the route combination but ignored the play action component that made the play a one-on-one matchup, where a missed tackle meant total breakdown. With pop and play-action elements attached to basic run plays, the Buckeyes are able to make the passing game simple for Barrett.
The play of his receivers has been huge as well. He never had to make a read on that throw, staring down his intended target. The sam linebacker is sucked in by the run action, leaving the safety and corner to account for the two receivers without help. The slot receiver runs a post route that the safety follows, which leaves the corner on an island playing press coverage against the outside receiver. Michael Thomas beats the corner with the inside move, and that's all she wrote.
The Buckeyes ended up getting the ball again before halftime and once again dialed up play action off zone slice.
This time, Ohio State caught the Spartans in a blown coverage. MSU uncharacteristically mixed a single-deep safety coverage on a non-blitz, and free safety Kurtis Drummond failed to get over the top in time to stop the deep post to the speedy Devin Smith.
The result of all this was Ohio State gaining 89% of available yards. Against Michigan State. Without Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, and four of last year's OL.
Some people are so bad at being people. Like Spaghetti O's tweeting about Pearl Harbor, here comes the most generic trophy ever assembled:
There's not actually a gallery. Don't click unless you enjoy useless activities. Wait… you probably do.
Cloak yourselves in that flag, marketing geniuses. Dan Wetzel manages to say the thing about all this military stuff without touching the third rail:
The Freedom Trophy? What is that? Was there ever any doubt in the freedom of Wisconsin or Nebraska? Has anyone tried to invade either place and establish totalitarian rule – we're looking at you Iowa.
Big Ten marketing person No. 1: This is ham-fisted and meaningless. Fans are going to make fun of us.
Big Ten marketing person No. 2: Call it the Freedom Trophy and say it honors veterans. The trophy will consist of two massive football stadiums merged together with an enormous American flag coming out of it. They can't make fun of that.
You don't like freedom? You don't honor veterans? You don't like big stadiums and big flags? You Pac-12 commie.
A lot of the time it feels like Honoring Our Heroes is done to have some of that military mojo rub off on whoever's doing the honoring. It's a way to signify you're a good person in the safest way possible, and is thus the place please-everyone rubes run to when they don't have any ideas. No coincidence that as people started hating on Dave Brandon more and more that the military tributes became a literally every-game occurrence.
Hooray Denard. Denard Robinson is a legit NFL running back after a difficult first year, and he did it in the Denard way:
Early in the offseason, Robinson knocked on the door of head coach Gus Bradley.
"I don't want to go through another season like that one," he told him. "Tell me what I need to do to get on the field."
Bradley laid out a plan for Robinson. The Jaguars believed Robinson, who weighed 194 pounds when he first reported, had the frame to carry considerably more weight. The diet and training program he embraced resulted in him getting up to 215, his current weight.
Next, they wanted to enable him to make his new muscle functional. In the offseason, Richardson worked with Robinson on running violently. Robinson was naturally elusive. Richardson wanted him to be able to combine elusiveness with violence. "We worked on using a stiff arm or shoulder drop in combination with making cuts," Richardson said. "I call it use of weapons."
It helps to be unreasonably humble at all times.
I guess we'll say he's outspoken. The quotable Larry Foote:
Foote said, "They better change up their recruiting. They better get some eyes in there that can find some NFL talent. Michigan better go back to the hood (recruiting). They've got too many trust fund babies and they look like that when they're playing. They've got guys out there – they're just happy. They're happy they're playing at Michigan. But that's not Michigan football; the attitude has to change."
When Stanford, Notre Dame, and even Duke have significantly outperformed Michgian of late I don't buy that argument. It's about what happens after the recruits get to school, not before.
Backlash backlash backlash backlash. It's turtles all the way down in the Penn State case. I remember being uncomfortable at the time with Penn State's punishment, because having the NCAA step in on such a heinous thing was like giving Charles Manson a traffic ticket.
But they did, and then one of the lawsuits still pending against the NCAA showed that officials were uncertain if they had the power to do the thing that they did. A lot of people went LOL NCAA at this, but I'm with John Gasaway:
You’ll also have to forgive me for not being troubled to find that NCAA staffers questioned whether they were doing the right thing. In fact I would feel far better about the process behind the Freeh Report, for example, if emails surfaced wherein investigators were fretting over whether they were really doing justice to Penn State president Graham Spanier. My worry is precisely that there are no such emails because there were no such qualms.
Whether it was a good idea or not, a bluff or not, Penn State signed the consent decree and took its steadily declining lumps. Was it PR to look like the NCAA doesn't accept the idea of harboring a Sandusky? Or was it the NCAA not accepting the idea of a Sandusky? They're the same thing.
Where are they now: Dave Brandon edition. A Domino's in Saginaw saw a tense standoff between a pissed-off customer and the manager devolve into a shouting match featuring these words from the manager:
Apparently a manager at the helm of this Saginaw, Michigan, Domino'scursed out a customer who confronted him over hanging up on her son. The kid reportedly complained after getting a lightly sauced pie instead of one with "white" sauce. Hence this exchange: "Did you come in for your money back? Because I really don't care about your opinion," the manager says.
I appreciate the fact that Brandon was trying to lessen the financial blow of his buyout by getting outside work, but maybe next time get a job that doesn't involve customer service.
Etc.: Saturday doesn't look any prettier in advanced stats. Jack Kennedy talks to the Big House Report about Saturday and Hoke's status. Sounds reasonable. Les Miles on… economics! Fired Domino's manager says some bad stuff at customer including "I really don't care about your opinion."
MVictors on Willie Heston.
Save Us, Basketball
The football recruiting news is as expected; later in this post you'll read about Michigan's latest decommitment and multiple commits visiting other schools. Recruiting news on the basketball front has an outside shot of being much, much better in the very near future, so let's begin with that.
Perry "PJ" Dozier Jr., a five-star in the 2015 class, is a 6'6" true point guard in the Darius Morris mold. The South Carolina native will announce his decision tomorrow at 12:30 pm between five schools: Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Despite a very good official visit to Ann Arbor back in September, it looks unlikely Dozier will choose Michigan, unfortunately; basketball recruitniks expect it to come down to Louisville and South Carolina, with the Cardinals seemingly having the edge. So I guess this isn't great news, barring a huge surprise. But it's not bad news, at least?
Anyway, I'll have a much more complete outlook on M's basketball recruiting in the near future. In the meantime, the bad news...
[Hit THE JUMP if you want to, I guess.]
Previously: Gardening Lessons (The Story), Preview Podcast, Preseason All-Big Ten Teams, Point Guards, Wings Part 1 (LeVert, Irvin), Wings Part 2 (Chatman, Wilson, Dawkins, MAAR), Bigs (Donnal, Doyle, Bielfeldt), Media Day Player Interviews, Big Ten Newcomers, Big Ten Outlook Part 1, Big Ten Outlook Part 2
Improvement from the rest of the squad should help M's young centers get acclimated. [Fuller]
Michigan had their first and only exhibition of the 2014-15 season last night, and on Saturday the games start counting for real. Even by John Beilein Michigan squad standards, this is a young group facing a lot of pressing questions, and the answers will determine if the Wolverines continue the remarkable success of recent seasons or fall back to the pack a bit.
There are so many, in fact, that the preseason mailbag will be a two-parter. Today, Alex and I address your questions about the young group of centers, the possibility of more zone defense this season, and proper expectations for Zak Irvin's sophomore season.
The latest mailbag said you're looking for basketball questions, so here's my biggest wonder heading into the season: What should my expectations be for the production from the center position, a position that seems to be a weakness on an otherwise strong team?
Beilein said he wants Mark [Donnal] or Ricky [Doyle] to eventually emerge as The Guy, but if we consider them to be a platoon (can we call it Donnoyle?), what output should we be happy with and what should concern us? Will Mark Donnal be the perfect fit everyone's been talking about (I won't make the age-old comparison), or will he be overpowered by mean scary Big Ten centers? Will Ricky Doyle be a calming presence on the defense or will we see that classic freshman deer-in-the-headlights look too often?
This message got a lot longer than I planned, but it's just something that I've been discussing at length with the basketball beat writers, and I think it's something that a lot of the fan base is wondering. Let me know what you think!
Ace: Let's start with a point of reference. Last season in Big Ten play—which removes Mitch McGary's scattered nonconference minutes from the equation—the combination of Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford averaged 11.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.4 turnovers, and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 70.7% from the field.
A few of those numbers are unlikely to be replicated by a trio of freshman centers—while he'll see plenty of time at the four and maybe even the three, DJ Wilson will get a lot of run at the five—and Max Bielfeldt. Morgan and Horford were both very efficient finishers who didn't take jumpers; that's not the case for any of M's current centers—even Doyle is comfortable shooting from mid-range—and just by virtue of them taking more jumpers, that shooting percentage is going to dip. Replacing seniors with freshmen usually means rebounding will go down and turnovers up, too.
All three main center options have scoring potential, though. Donnal missed his only three-point attempt last night and wasn't a major factor on offense, but if he can consistently stretch the defense he should stick as the starter. Ricky Doyle could easily surpass him, however, and even provide the type of scoring that Morgan/Horford did. Doyle is the bigger guy and looks to have more potential as a rebounder—he had an impressive putback last night—and his tape from high school and the Italy trip shows he's adept at finishing near the basket with either hand. Wilson, when he's at the five, will really spread the floor, and he's easily the best passer and ballhandler of these three; he may also be the best outside shooter.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of this excessively long answer and much more.]