The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
A few days ago, Chris Brown of Smart Football posted an anonymous high school coach's negative opinion on Charlie Weis's recruiting mojo. It's interesting, if slightly preposterous from the Michigan fan's perspective. Weis spent his first three recruiting classes punching Lloyd Carr in the face, beating Michigan for large sections of his team en route to racking up the highly-rated recruiting classes that had Notre Dame fans making giddy little charts about how much they would own once the stench of Willingham passed.
When Rodriguez came in, Michigan's recruiting moved away from Weis's in geographical, cultural, and tiny-bastard terms, but what head-to-head battles did go down were still slanted in Notre Dame's favor. This year, Michigan lost out on cornerbacks Lo Wood—once a heavy Michigan lean—and Spencer Boyd. There were no other head-to-head battles. Last year Michigan managed to pick up OT Michael Schofield, but a variety of other recruiting battles went Notre Dame's way. Weis consistently recruited out of all proportion to his achievements.
So this seems a little funky…
Notre Dame has officially offered one of my linebackers, but no one from Notre Dame has ever spoken to the kid nor has anyone from Notre Dame ever returned any of my calls. …. Geewhiz Charlie, that’s not exactly the way to get a kid to choose ND over other BCS schools — and then you offer him blind without so much as making contact with any coach? No. That’s not the way to go about the business.
…and then Rich Rodriguez gets thrown in at the end…
Ohio State, Alabama, Virginia Tech, and others all recruit about the same way as Cincinnati. Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Michigan . . . they recruit like Notre Dame.
…and everybody gets ornery.
I don't know about the interpersonal relationships Rich Rodriguez has with every coach from sea to shining sea. I do know that Rodriguez reeled in a class that was nearly top five after his first year at Michigan and a number of parents from that class have taken to the internets to defend the beleaguered coach from accusations that he makes his players work too hard. I also know that Rodriguez and company fired off a thousand "offers" this spring, and those offers may or may not mean anything.
These things are in the eye of the beholder. I'm guessing the coaches at Trotwood-Madison and Chaparral don't share that opinion. And I know "Coach Ox," the Louisiana high school coach who emailed the blog in the aftermath of Carvin Johnson's commitment to tell us that we had a good player on our hands, sent another email about Rodriguez, unprompted. Here it is:
My feelings for RRod are exactly the same as Carvin's coach said on Rivals - if you are a real high school coach (i.e. you know football) from a real program (i.e. you coach players who will go on to college) and you need help or anything, RRod will bend over backwards for you. Not everybody likes HOW he coaches, but he loves coaches who coach HOW he does.
And here's Carvin Johnson's coach from that Rivals thread Ox references:
The thing I like most about him is him as a person. When other coaches and myself made the trips to WVU in the past to see them practice, etc. he treated everyone of us with nothing but respect. This is rare in big time college football.
So… some coaches like other coaches, and some don't. It's about the numbers. I wouldn't take an anecdotal aside too seriously. Michigan pays attention to the players they are seriously interested in, and offers a bunch more beside. The results were fine when Michigan wasn't dealing with the aftermath of a 3-9 season and a whole lot else besides.
|Last week's ballot|
Hastily compiled for the second week in a row, so be constructive with your feedback.
Florida finally beat the hell out of somebody, which had been holding them back with a schedule comparable to the others around them. That (annoyingly) sets up a 1v2 battle in the SEC championship game.
Everything else is pretty straightforward. Penn State and Oklahoma State are basically the same, resume-wise, having lost convincingly to their toughest opposition, but Oklahoma State also dropped a game to Houston, dropping them more.
The end of the poll is muddled as always, so help me out down there.
Marquette 79, Michigan 65
Alabama 68, Michigan 66
Michigan (3-2, 0-0)
Michigan fans hoping to lean on the success of the basketball team to fill the void left by a subpar football season might have to re-think things. The Wolverines, favored to win the Old Spice Classic, went just 1-2 in the event, falling to Marquette and Alabama after beating Creighton in round 1. Time for everyone to adjust some expectations.
When the 3-point shots aren't falling, this team is going to have some difficulty beating teams with comparable talent. Even when Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims both have decent performances, a third player will have to step up with a good game in support. Against Alabama, it looked like Manny was the only one who had any interest in winning the game. Though they may not have the talent of this year's players, CJ Lee and David Merritt were able to pull the team up by its bootstraps and gut out some wins. Somebody needs to step up for this Michigan team and fill a much-needed leadership role.
Of course, this is basketball, not football. Simply losing a couple games isn't going to mean that the Wolverines are removed from national contention. However, it's a pain to see such glaring weaknesses exposed this early in the season. John Beilein is known as one of the best coaches in America for a reason, and he should be able to help the team bounce back. Hopefully, that can come sooner rather than later, since Boston College definitely won't be an easy out on Wednesday.
- Darius Morris really seemed to struggle in the past two games. Hopefully, he can learn quickly how to adapt to the mental requirements of this level of basketball. Playing LLP more at the 1 and easing Morris in a bit might help... except for the fact the 2-guard has no depth. Stu Douglass can shoot the hell out of the ball, but Marquette exposed his lack of quickness on Friday.
- Anthony Wright continued to show why he shouldn't get as much playing time as he does. Every time he gets the ball, he wants to shoot. Most of those times, he misses.
- DeShawn Sims is lacking consistency at this point in the year, but he shows flashes of why he has potential to break out and become a major NBA prospect. I don't think much more needs to be said about what the other superstar, Manny Harris, means to this team.
- The free throw shooting wasn't particularly bad against 'Bama, but it was a horrorshow earlier in the weekend. Michigan was a great free throw shooting team last year, so hopefully this is just a speed bump that the team can get through.
- Not a ton of bench players, beyond Douglass, Gibson, and Wright (grumble grumble) got much playing time. Even Matt Vogrich only got a few minutes in the last two games. Michigan's bench needs to be able to bring out a couple contributors if this team is going to have any success.
- On that note, Michigan was pretty bad last year coming of short rest. Part of that was likely due to lack of depth. Hopefully, the weak efforts against Marquette and Alabama were partially related to a lack of game shape, with no practice time in between to recover. That would give Michigan much more upside.
Michigan will take on Boston College on Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Previews of the Challenge and the Eagles coming up later this week.
I didn't manage to put up a preview, so we'll liveblog instead. For all your previewing needs, check out UMHoops. Game is on ESPN at noon. Read the Chaos Mitigation Post if you're wondering why your post isn't showing up. Inkster is on FSN Detroit at 1, so we can talk about that during breaks in the game, or if it gets overly frustrating. Other topics are OK, but please try to stay on topic as much as possible, because I'm modding this bad boy solo, and it's really tough to sift through comments.
Michigan 83, Creighton 76. Michigan 3-0
Bullets only, since it's a holiday. Hell, I'll even make them holiday-themed.
I'm Thankful For:
- The win. It seemed like it wasn't going to happen for a while there, as I was tearing my hair out in frustration. It would not have been a happy holiday if Michigan hadn't pulled this one out.
- Manny Harris. Just one rebound away from another triple-double. At the end of the game, I wanted Michigan to chuck up a bad shot, just so he could get the offensive rebound and acheev dream. It looks like he and Evan Turner are going to battle all year to see who can finish with more triple-doubles. At least Harris isn't likely to get the quadruple-double by turning it over all the time.
- Zack Novak. Dude. Novak rules. End of discussion.
- A talented rotation. Michigan only played 6 guys extensively, bringing Stu Douglass off the bench. However, Morris is a talent upgrade over last year's walkons, and it probably helped Michigan win this game.
I'm Not Thankful For:
- The officials. I'm not going to idiotically accuse them of actively conspiring against Michigan, but they missed a ton of calls, and it seemed like most of the big ones went against the Wolverines. If the NCAA wants to hire me as their referee czar, I'm available. Couldn't possibly be any worse than the guy doing it now.
- Creighton's hot shooting. The Blue Jays, despite all their turnovers, managed to stay in the game ecause they shot the ball very well, particularly in the second half. They're a damn good team, and don't be surprised to see them in the NCAA tourney.
- Lack of substitution. After the 6-man rotation, there was very little playing time for backups. That won't fly later in the year, and Michigan needs to get some of these guys game-ready.
- Zack Gibson. He made his requisite gumpy plays, but didn't play enough to have the opportunity for his requisite awesomely athletic play to make you forgive him.
- Free throw shooting. What the hell? Michigan was awesome at the line last year. Hopefully most of the struggles can be attributed to not getting a lot of games in early in the year. If not, expect free throws to cost the Wolverines at least one game this year.
- Away-game atmosphere. AnnArbor.com's Michael Rothstein told me that there were approximately equal numbers of Michigan and Creighton fans in The Milk House, but it definitely sounded like Creighton was the home team. Michigan fans at the next two games (and in general, but that's a story for another day) need to step up the intensity and support their team.
The winner of the Marquette-Xavier game will face our Wolverines tomorrow at noon. Preview upcoming when we know who the winner is (at the time of publishing, Marquette leads Xavier in the first half).
|WHAT||#15 Michigan v. Creighton|
November 26th, 2009
|THE LINE||Michigan –5*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The Wolverines venture outside the friendly confines of Crisler Arena for the first time this year, as they take on the Creighton Blue Jays in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
The Wolverines have been tested far less than their opponents (and most teams in Division 1 ball), playing only two games on the year so far, and one of those coming against Division II Northern Michigan. Neither team came within 20 points of Michigan.
Manny Harris is still fighting his hamstring issue. He will play against Creighton, but is not 100%. Since playing is a good way to prevent that hamstring from becoming stiff, I would expect him to play extensively unless the game reaches a garbage-time situation. Morris-LLP-Harris-Novak-Sims will likely be your starters until further notice.
Creighton will be the first big challenge that Michigan has faced this season, according to John Beilein. Coach Beilein is good friends with Creighton coach Dana Altman, so he's familiar with the Bluejays, and what they try to do on both ends of the floor. As the head coach at West Virginia, Beilein faced Altman and Creighton in the 2005 NCAA tournament, emerging with a 63-61 victory.
Creighton has a deep roster, with 10 guys getting extensive playing time so far this season. Four players have started every game for Creighton: wing Darryl Ashford, center Kenny Lawson Jr., and guards P'Allen Stinnett and Kaleb Korver. Korver (the younger brother of Creighton alum Kyle, currently with the Utah Jazz) is a sharpshooter, and Beilein noted that he has an excellent presence on the court.
They have two offensive styles that they can playing, with a passing-oriented offensive set, as well as a Memphis-style dribble-drive offense. The diversity in Creighton's playbook makes them a difficult team to prepare for. Through 3 games, they have been good at shooting the ball and not having it taken away by the opposition, and have been bad at getting to the line and rebounding on defense. They shoot a bunch of threes, and are a similar team to Michigan, perhaps with a little less size in the reserves.
UMHoops talks to Creighton blog The White and Blue Review. Sounds like the Bluejays are pretty banged up already this year. While you're at it, check out WaBR for the latest on Creighton. Check out my Old Spice Classic overview. Special thanks goes to PaulVB, who was the MGoPresence at Beilein's press conference yesterday.
I'm going back-and-forth on whether I'm willing to have a CiL chat during the game tomorrow. Cast your votes in the comments, I guess.