Meram is scoring some sweet-ass goals of late
A disclaimer on the "You May Remember Me From Such Players As": YMRMFSPA is supposed to be a rough estimate of what kind of player the recruit could turn into if he pans out. It is not a projection. The players listed tend to be very good because no one knows what kind of player Doug Dutch is; we just know he can't get on the field. I am not saying that I expect Martavious Odoms to be Devin Hester, the best return man in the history of the NFL. I'm saying that Odoms is sort of like Devin Hester and if we roll a *second* critical hit on our initial critical hit roll he might be half as good.
End disclaimer. On with shew.
Actually, more disclaimer: YMRMFSPAs are really stupid for OL and these should be taken even less seriously than the others.
Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit. The only tackles in the last two recruiting classes are incumbent RT Steve Schilling, three-star Perry Dorrestein, and two-star sleeper (as in "only had offers from MAC schools" sleeper) Mark Huyge. Finding two starting tackles from that group once the Zirbel-Ortmann class graduates in two years was looking very risky.
Enter O'Neill, a player four of five services rank around #50 or #60 in the country and amongst the top dozen or half-dozen OTs in the country. His highlight reel is your standard elite OL reel, where a guy who looks like two kids pulling the old "let's look like an adult by wearing a trenchcoat and standing on each others' shoulders" trick goes "fe fi fo fum" and humiliates the various irritating rodents he finds in his path. Which is to say it's awesome:
O'Neill committed very early and never seriously considered anywhere other than Michigan. (This will be a new experience for Rich Rodriguez going forward: "wait... you just want to come here? Before you've even met me? Uh... okay!")
He then bounced around both sites' top 100 lists, briefly dropping out because he's a committed OL from an unsexy place before putting in an impressive performance at the Under Armor game*. He was one of the best OL there. Rivals moved him up to #49 from outside the top 100; Scout remains relatively skeptical. At 6'8" and around 300 pounds, O'Neill is a prototypical left tackle who spent his high school career blocking in a spread offense similar to Rodriguez's. He's reputed to be a highly advance pass blocker and might end up on the field this fall. Much rides on how he pans out.
*(The Under Armor game is an ESPN-affiliated high school all star game just established; it competes with the Army game for the top high school talent and is another reason Lemming got to jam the Army Bowl with debatably worthy ND commits.)
Guru Reliability: Maximal. They got a good long look at the all-star game.
General Excitement Level: Maximal with standard OL caveat. O'Neill has all the markers.
Projection: Will start at some point, hopefully later (say, as a redshirt sophomore) rather than sooner (say, this fall). Probably the most important recruit in the class after a year with only one OT and that a guy we stole from the MAC.
|Crown Point, Indiana - 6'3" 278
|Scout||4*, #11 OG, #287 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #37 G|
|ESPN||78, #20 OG|
|Other Suitors||Purdue, UCLA, Iowa|
|Kurt Wermers commits.|
|Notes||Will pwn you, n00b. Then will break out in a chorus of "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?" Commit article.|
When Kurt Wermers committed in May, I snarkily justified the lack of information in the his commitment post:
The reader is invited to speculate on how much freely available info there is on moderately to not particularly hyped guards from Indiana. Yep.
Uh... well, over the past nine months that's changed. There's even video! Wermers is the right guard, #70:
If you're like me, this taught you nothing. But there's video, man. For a guard.
Other salutary notes: Wermers was named Indiana's top offensive lineman. Though that may be a modest accomplishment for a guy who plans at playing for Michigan, there was another notable lineman in Indiana this year: Notre Dame commit Braxton Cave. Wermers was also named to the stupidly named "Offense-Defense Bowl" in Miami. The OD bowl appears to be a sort of second-tier all star game. Big whoop, except for the press release announcing the selection:
Wermers, a veritable renaissance man whose hobbies include weightlifting, playing guitar, singing, and reading, also enjoys spending time on the virtual field of battle in the wildly popular massively multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft when not battling in the trenches on the football field.
This dovetails with information from May about Wermer's participation in... an a capella group:
"I love it," Wermers said of singing. "It gives me a chance to get away from big jocky athletic guys and hang out with a different group of people."
I don't think we'll be having any discipline issues with young Mr. Wermers. It's just a feeling.
Guru Reliability: Low? I mean, you've got one that says meh, one that's pretty enthusiastic, and one in between.
General Excitement Level: I will ignore the WoW-a capella red flags and say "moderate." But if I hear anything about Wermers joining MUSKET, I'm writing him off.
Projection: 50-50 to be a decent interior line starter after the requisite couple years of bench time.
|Toledo, Ohio - 6'6" 280
|Scout||4*, #28 OT, #267 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #24 OT, #213 overall|
|ESPN||77, #42 OT|
|Other Suitors||MSU, Purdue|
|Brief commit mention.|
A lifelong Ohio State fan, Elliot Mealer had the misfortune to enter his senior year of high school at the same time Mike Adams and highly-touted company did. By summer a number of highly rated recruits had committed and Mealer was informed Ohio State would not offer him. Michigan did, and soon after Mealer undertook an ambitious redecoration project in his bedroom:
With Brutus Buckeye staring down at him from one wall, and "The Ohio State University" emblazoned on another, Mealer was able to sort things out and make a decision he said he feels comfortable with.
After Mealer's early decision, things went silent in his recruitment until the coaching changeover, when he re-affirmed his commitment to Michigan, and the horrific Christmas Eve accident that killed his father and girlfriend and temporarily paralyzed his brother. Which is obviously about the worst thing that could happen to anyone.
If this blog was not a monument to the lack of perspective often brought about by intense sports fandom, the evaluation would stop here. But it is what it is, and on we go.
Though he's universally projected at tackle by both schools and recruiting services, Mealer actually played tight end and defensive end for Wauseon. This didn't work out that well for Tim McAvoy, a high school tight end who came in as part of the 2005 class and is now struggling for playing time along the line's interior, but McAvoy was about 30 pounds lighter than Mealer in high school and was an unregarded three-star. Mealer's in the same star range as Jake Long -- how's that for an unfair comparison?
ESPN's scouting report($) has a lot of technique criticisms but similar praise for his potential, and they're the service most down on him. He'll take some time for a variety of reasons both serious and mundane, but has a high ceiling.
Guru Reliability: Medium. Take OL ratings lightly except for the very top guys.
General Excitement Level: Moderate.
Projection: Definite redshirt and it might take a couple years before he comes around. He'll be starting slowly since he tore his rotator cuff in the accident. He's got to learn a new position and deal with all the trauma on top of that. I would expect the first time he's seriously mentioned for playing time is three years from now, after Schilling graduates.
|Traverse City, Michigan - 6'6" 280
|Scout||3*, #65 OT|
|Rivals||3*, #47 OT|
|ESPN||70, #94 OG|
|YMRMFSPA||Uh, that other un-touted guard person.|
|Hopefully We Can Lock Up Bullwinkle, Too|
|Notes||Also a crappy rapper.|
Khoury was a camp offer who committed about a week later; his only other BCS offer was from Michigan State. Michigan initially planned to redshirt him and move him to guard or center (he was a tackle in high school, as almost all D-I prospects are), but Rodriguez called him a tackle at the signing day press conference, for what that's worth. Probably.
As an early-commit interior lineman from a lightly populated area of the state, that's about all we know about Rocko. Thanks to the intrepid inve
stigatory skills of West Virginia newspapermen we know that Rodriguez called him from the wrong cell phone; the one potentially useful piece of information we have is a 4.16 shuttle time at the Chicago Nike camp. For comparison, electron-sized Martavious Odoms ran a 4.12 at his combine. Like most of the linemen in this class, Khoury is on the (relatively) nimble end of the spectrum; no Alex Mitchell he.
Guru Reliability: Low-ish. Obscure location, early commit, lineman.
General Excitement Level: Meh. Camp offer of a sleeper-ish lineman is a Michigan tradition, and he's this year's version. GBW sums it up:
He has the look of a player who can contribute down the road.
Projection: A couple years in the weight room, then he's another bullet in the chamber.
|Lake Gibson, Florida- 6'2" 280
|Scout||3*, #17 OG|
|Rivals||4*, #5 C|
|ESPN||80, #4 OG|
|Other Suitors||Florida, USF, Georgia, GaTech|
|Notes||Don't piss his mom off. Enjoys Barwis, snow.|
Various people are probably irritated with Ricky Barnum: Urban Meyer, for one. Also OH OL Zebrie Sanders, who tried to commit to Florida but was told to talk to the hand because Barnum and another player had filled Florida's OL quotient for the year. Sanders, also rejected by Georgia for the same reason, ended up at Florida State and Urban ended up short one highly recruited interior lineman. Not that anyone will ever shed a tear for Urban Meyer.
Anyway, in Barnum Michigan has a highly rated, highly recruited interior lineman. Though Scout is relatively down on him, Rivals gives him four stars and rates him one of the country's best centers. ESPN is even more enthusiastic, giving him a very strong 80 ranking and placing him just outside their top 150. He had offers commensurate with his ranking: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Georgia Tech, South Florida, and 25 others.
Barnum's strength is his quickness. "He's got great feet and can get to the next level," says his coach. More:
"He finishes blocks better than Jason Watkins ever did. He can really get to the next level. He keeps his feet, engages the linebackers, has great balance and he plays through the whistle. Sometimes his style of playing through the whistle cost us some penalties, but he's got that attitude that you want to see from your offensive linemen. The Gators [sic!] are getting a good one and he's just a good coachable kid."
The Rodriguez system prizes mobility, and Barnum has that.
A caveat: at 6'2" he's an inch or two shorter than your ideal interior lineman. This is usually fine at center but not preferred at guard (and unacceptable at tackle). He's a center, right? Big deal. Well, one of the two offensive linemen Michigan picked up last year is David Molk, who is also an undersized OL most feel is destined for center. Maybe height isn't that big a deal in the Rodriguez offense. If it is, it would be hard for both to win starting jobs simultaneously.
Barnum on his decision process:
Rodriguez, who visited Lake Gibson after Barnum committed to Florida, was a major factor in his decision. Barnum noted that he likely would have gone to West Virginia had Rodriguez stayed there. His visit to Michigan also played a part.
"When I went up to Michigan, everything was nice," he said. "They run the same offense we ran, the spread offense. They graduated three starting offensive lineman and four backups. Where could you go possibly wrong with that one?"
Well, Ricky, ask the quarterback next year.
Guru Reliability: High. Seems about the right spread for a guy recruited by many of the top teams in the SEC who doesn't have ideal size.
General Excitement Level: High. Florida, Georgia, and Alabama all wanted this kid.
Projection: Likely to start after a couple years.
(HT on some of the links above: Conquering Heroes.)
|Columbus(!), Ohio - 6'6" 260
|Scout||3*, #87 OT|
|ESPN||69, #113 OT|
|Other Suitors||MSU, OSU, Cincinnati|
|Pronunciation Check In Aisle OL|
|Notes||Smarter than you.|
Omameh was one of the late decommitments Michigan picked up, choosing Michigan over Cincinnati (his original destination) and Michigan State after a senior-year growth spurt added two inches and 30 pounds to his frame.
He's the lowest ranked player in the class but there are positive indicators for his future, the most prominent being the Ohio State offer he picked up a couple hours after his Michigan commitment. While it was a plan B offer sent after highly touted West Virginian Josh Jenkins decided to stay home, an OSU offer is an OSU offer, especially when the Buckeyes are bringing in three five-star offensive linemen. It indicates talent not reflected in his guru ratings, and maybe just a little bit of a desire to screw Michigan at the last second. Omameh did not bite.
Omameh is smallish and nimble, a good fit for the spread 'n' shred. A BuckeyePlanet scouting report:
Perfect frame for adding weight. Solid center prospect but could eventually project on either side of the ball or at offensive guard. In the DeSales offense he is usually asked to crab block and then get to the second level, which is not necessarily easy to do. Because of that technique he shows good quickness and great flexibility. Not strong enough right now but can work on that during his first few years to help generate better push up front and better drive off the snap. Initial contact is decent but needs to get stronger to push people aorund. Great motor and great hustle. Along with his strength needs to work on his punch in passing situations and needs to work more from the knees rather than the waist.
Also, was a first team all-state pick this past season in DII.
As noted above, quickness and flexibility are at a premium in the Rodriguez offense (and the zone stretch game Michigan ran the last two years with lumberers like Alex Mitchell and Rueben Riley).
A bonus: Omameh has a 4.0 GPA, so should pick up the offense quickly and maybe tutor his teammates in biology. There are conflicting reports as to whether Omameh was recruited as a center (where his intelligence would help with the line calls) or tackle; that will get sorted out somewhere down the line.
Guru Reliability: Very low. Omameh is a true sleeper.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Though he's got the proverbial upside, he remains a project.
Projection: Will need a year or more likely two before he's even in the conversation for a starting job, but has as much of a chance to contribute as anyone in the class other than O'Neill.
Grading The Class
Forgot to do this for receiver and TE; will make it up in a general roundup post later.
B+. Picking up a premiere left tackle prospect was a necessity after a couple years of questionable depth and sleeper recruits, and Michigan did that by locking down O'Neill. Numbers were also at a premium with only two kids in the last class, and Michigan got numbers; the late pickup of a top-five-ish interior lineman committed to Florida was a major boon and the guy at the tail end of the class had an Ohio State offer.
In two years this class of linemen will be redshirt sophomores and there will be four upperclass OL on the roster, three of whom are tackles. At least two members of this class will be starting by then and, since O'Neill is a tackle, probably three. That's a recipe for disaster if we're talking about four recruits; with six it's just uncomfortable.
A possible downer: a number of the offensive linemen in this class were wrested from the likes of Michigan State and Purdue, not Ohio State and Notre Dame. I'm too concerned about O'Neill (obviously) or Mealer, who would have ended up with an Ohio State offer 8 of 10 times but had the misfortune to be in the same class as Adams and Brewster and Shugarts. Wermers, though, had interest from ND but no offer and Khoury was one of those camp guys that doesn't generate much interest outside of the state. That's not to say either of those guys is destined for failure -- as always, we remind you that OL is the biggest crapshoot in recruiting.
Kolarik. It's not a groin, it's a hamstring, and it will keep Kolarik out 4-5 weeks if all goes according to plan. We won't see him until at least the Joe and maybe not even then, as these sorts of injuries have a tendency to linger. I am mildly encouraged that it's not Kolarik's groin -- groin injuries are about the nastiest ones you can get in hockey.
The weekend. Michigan held serve with a pair of 4-2 victories over Lake State and Miami did us the great favor of getting inexplicably swept by Ferris State, staking Michigan to a five point lead in the CCHA. Michigan can go 2-2 in the final two weekends of the regular season and still win the league; sweep Michigan State and Michigan locks the title up.
HOWEVA, the Kolarik injury and Michigan's recent struggles against tight-checking teams makes that latter scenario doubtful. Michigan won both nights against the Lakers but in terms of overall level of play this weekend was actually a step down from the two ties against Northern. In that series, Michigan significantly outshot and outchanced a mediocre CCHA team only to be undone by bad luck and a couple of horrific goals yielded by Brian Hogan on Saturday; this weekend one of the worst teams in the league was close to even in shots and chances but for a two-minute five on three Friday.
The upcoming pair against MSU will help clarify whether Michigan's difficulties against defensive-minded, neutral-zone-clogging opponents are a burgeoning trend or just a couple bad weekends. Another poo weekend against MSU and I'm officially concerned-ish.
Yost Built has its take, too.
Hokay. It's like this. By virtue of Michigan's performance to date they have locked up a tournament bid and will be no worse than a two seed no matter what happens from here on out. Michigan could go 0-6 the rest of the way and be a two seed.
Full PWR here.
There are six teams out there that can wrest their comparisons from Michigan:
Real Moonbat Stuff
Miami: Miami's really hurt by their closing schedule. Wins against OSU and WMU aren't likely to count at all in their RPI and will not help them with common opponents, which is currently favoring Miami because Michigan hasn't played Ferris State yet. As long as M wins the conference they'll win COP and RPI. If Michigan somehow blows it, Miami will have an opportunity to wrest the comparison away from M by outperforming them in the playoffs.
Denver: Michigan would have to really implode and DU would have to win out in the regular season or, failing that, win the WCHA playoffs. And that's just to get past Michigan in RPI; even then Michigan might win the comparison.
UNH: Loses COP (barely and unfairly... 6-0-1 for them to our 4-0) and that won't change, but is close in TUC. Way back in RPI, though, and would need a really poor performance from M coupled with a win in the HE playoffs.
Michigan State: State is way far back and normally would not be within striking distance, but they have two, maybe three games coming up against Michigan and could take the comparison if they win two more games than Michigan does against them. MSU would have to sweep next weekend or take three points and beat Michigan in the CCHA playoffs.
North Dakota: The streaking Sioux have a COP edge on Michigan they'll keep unless they manage to lose to Wisconsin or Minnesota in the WCHA tourney -- doubtful. Michigan will hold their RPI edge into the conference playoffs unless UND wins at least five of six and Michigan splits down the stretch -- UND has to win three more games than Michigan does, basically -- but if it's close by the time the league playoffs roll around M could get passed.
Colorado College: CC also holds COP and is about two games back in RPI.
Note that CC and DU finish the regular season with a series, so both passing Michigan is virtually impossible.
The upshot: Root against all these teams, very little else matters. Michigan will be in danger of losing its top two seed if they get swept by State this weekend, giving them that comparison.
Michigan State on the road and then the annual game at the Joe. Last time the two teams met, Michigan lost 1-0 in a nearly unwatchable game and tied 2-2 in a nearly unwatchable game. No even strength goals were scored the entire weekend except for Matt Schepke's "Sparty, no!" own goal with two minutes left in Saturday's third period.
Since then, MSU has split against UNO, been swept by Northern, and swept Western... not particularly inspiring. But they know how to frustrate Michigan and Kolarik is out.
A split is okay, and is what I expect.
I doubt most of this blog's readership gives a crap, and so this will be the last word. And that word is... basically, Alabama fans don't care.
If you get a scholarship offer to play football, you damn well better produce or someone else is going to take your place. Is that mean? Maybe, but I don't see you bitching about kids on academic scholarships that lose theirs because they don't keep their grades up. Produce and contribute, you'll be fine. Screw around and don't live up to your end of the bargain, tough, deal with it.
The fucking point is the NCAA allows non-renewal of grants-in-aid. There are specific rules for that. And you don't really know how many student athletes will be back next year. Additionally, your point the NCAA doesn't want you kicking kids off the team is a very large assumption. If that were so, the scholarships would be for longer than one academic year.
Pete Holiday on the Fanhouse, listing options when Alabama has 86 kids in August:
A non-contributing scholarship player who is not putting in the effort to become a contributing player turns into a walk-on. Scholarships are year-to-year. Nobody is guaranteed four or five years of scholarship. Cook draws an arbitrary line at fourth year juniors to try to advance his argument, but even he concedes that revoking scholarships is within the rules of the game.
They know. They don't care. This is the fundamental disagreement. These Alabama bloggers universally declare that "THERE IS NO PROBLEM!" but if there is a problem, then well that's just life isn't it? They've given up on arguing against the idea that the Alabama roster is going to be a precarious place because of Alabama's massive oversigning and are now arguing that cutting a kid halfway through his collegiate career is okay. The rest of it... ad hominem of truly impressive length that doesn't address the fundamental point. It's telling that so many of 'Bama fans words on this topic have been about me and a couple of throwaway lines, and not about the actual matter at hand.
The best argument Alabama fans have is that there's a chance the roster crunch resolves itself without anything untoward happening to anyone on the current roster and that we should wait to see what happens before declaring Saban in the wrong. If you think having a chance at not doing something untoward is sufficient... well. Suffice it to say I don't.
A line at fourth year juniors is not "arbitrary." College degrees are designed to be acquired in four years. There is a major difference between cutting a kid who is about to get his degree and forcing a kid who is in the middle of his college career off of scholarship and possibly to another school.
'Bama either has a scam going or Michigan should institute the "Everyone Scholarship." The 'Bama bloggers are making much of this hypothetical "Bear Bryant scholarship" and how it will allow one of the incoming players in the class to not count against the 85 limit. If that's true it's a scam the NCAA should shut down. Think about it: it's a scholarship for walk-ons. Uh... remind me of the definition of a walk-on again?
In order for a National Letter of Intent it be considered valid, it must be accompanied by an athletics financial aid award letter, which lists the terms and conditions of the award, including the amount and duration of the financial aid. The athletics financial aid offer must be signed by both the student and his or her parent or legal guardian. Simply put, there must be an athletics scholarship for a National Letter of Intent to be valid.
This Wesley Neighbors guy signed a letter of intent with Alabama over offers from Georgia Tech and Vandy, so he should count against the 85 limit from the day he steps on campus.
This so peripheral to the argument at hand, though: even if the NCAA lets an actual football prospect with other SEC and ACC offers spend two years at Alabama without counting against the 85 limit, Alabama's still 5 scholarships over without a reasonable way to remove any more than one or two more players from the team legitimately.
Nick Saban isn't alone in this. You might be able to make a case that Saban has even less time for NCAA regulations, ethics, and the like than most coaches if you were really trying hard or an Auburn fan. Personally, I don't care and believe that even if Saban is the winner it's by a nose over everyone except Jim Grobe. I only wrote the thing on Saban because of the Gayle article that drew a picture of severe oversigning even when you take most of the reasonable departures into account. This is a general hobby-horse of mine.
Any anger you've seen about this thing is a reaction to the ludicrous excess and, frankly, overwhelming stupidity of most of the responses. I apologize that my temper has obscured my point if you really get worked up about the rhetorical deployment of profanity.
There should probably be some sort of Baby Godwin Award. IE: the instant you put up a picture of a crying baby, you lose the argument.
Put your face where your mouth is. Lord knows this blog isn't above calling someone "horseface." A well-executed ad hominem is funny. But it's poor form to taunt someone's appearance without providing the target an opportunity to respond in kind.
One down! At this rate they'll be done by April:
Alabama freshman defensive lineman Jeremy Elder has been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree robbery.
Elder was arrested Sunday and remained jailed Monday morning on $120,000 bond.
RBR says that "this is one of the reasons you oversign in the first place"; not even I think Nick Saban plans for six kids to commit armed robbery by fall.
The final point in a pithy a form as I can muster: Schools should never put themselves in a position where they are actively hoping to remove someone from the roster.
There is also an interview of me over at Alabama Gameday for those wishing for even more kerfuffle; I don't remember some of those commas and believe they were erroneously inserted in the editing process but the gist of the thing is correct. Also, MATW has my back.
Fin. No more.
Pryor. Nevermind. A Mike Farrell article on Pryor:
Pryor admits he was set to sign with Ohio State the day before Feb. 6, but a conversation with his father, Craig, made him think twice. His father wanted him to take another look at Penn State and take an official visit.
The previous optimism-like substance in this space was based on the idea that Michigan was the surprise choice on Signing Day. That was not the case, so that optimism gets a stake in the face. Pryor still maintains that Michigan is part of his decision process, but... uh... no. Michigan was not the choice on signing day and Pryor will not be visiting. One phone call a week from Rodriguez isn't going to change anything. He's going elsewhere, hopefully in someone's Corvette with NCAA investigators in tow.
Eeee? Barwis? John Ferrara:
"We're all going to be in really good shape, and definitely there's a change with his program," defensive tackle John Ferrara said, patting his chest. "I can already see it on myself. In four weeks, the change my body's gone through is amazing. It's a credit to this new workout system he has, a couple new things we had never done before."
2/17/2008 - Michigan 80, Ohio State 70 - NCAA bound, baby!
...is that we go like 4-1 the rest of the season, then sweep through Illinois, Michigan State, Indiana, and Purdue to grab a shock NCAA tournament bid. Being a sub-.500 team that actually kind of sucks, we're sent to the play-in game in Dayton. Seventeen thousand Michigan fans pack the arena to 150% of capacity as the Wolverines blow out Monmouth.
From there, it's pretty rote: one ho-hum victory after another and a second national championship banner. Michigan basketball fans go from abused to jaded and irritating faster than Bill Simmons. The end.
Or maybe not, but it's amazing what three consecutive wins will do for one's psyche, even if they're against utterly dire, mostly dire, and kind-of-dire competition. The last time we checked in on the basketball team around these parts the results ("I want to die," or words to that effect) fully warranted this blog's "emo" tag; nowadays you can visit your Michigan message board of choice and find multiple threads on how this team is so going to the tourney next year, which it almost definitely isn't.
While the bipolarity of fandom is a well-established phenomenon, bipolarity of basketball teams isn't. The last time Michigan played OSU they hung tough for most of the game until a crippling stretch late wherein they couldn't find a shot even close to "good"; the resulting drought lasted for a good chunk of the game's closing ten minutes and turned a narrow Michigan lead into yet another dispiriting loss. This time they continued scoring via turnover and steal and even the occasional drive to the hoop. A month ago against Minnesota they were so depressing it seemed Michigan would never, ever have a good team again; they have now won three straight.
Hell, midway through the first half against Iowa I got an IM from Black Heart Gold Pants impresario Oops Pow Surprise to the effect of "you have the worst basketball team in the known universe," which was true at that moment in time when the score was 22-7 and Michigan had 7 FGAs. I did not receive the corresponding "AAAAARGH AAAAAARGH AAAAAARGH" note during the 18-2 second half run that erased Michigan's deficit and staked them to a lead they would maintain for the rest of the game, but I sensed it in the cosmos so that was all right.
What happened to the clueless team from earlier in the year? Well, with Harvard spiraling its way towards last place in the Ivy League we can safely assert that it takes more than a couple months to organize a system at maximum entropy, and it takes more than a couple months to turn the smartest basketball team in the land into a confused gooey mess. The progress Michigan was decidedly not making from the Amaker era -- at points during the first Ohio State game the offense was indistinguishable from the random, purposeless ball movement of yore -- has all come in a rush.
So for now the future is bright. Check back in two weeks.
- Rushing the court? Seriously? Whoever started that should be given a swift kick in the appropriate place. I realize this is a beaten-down program, but Ohio State isn't ranked and is (now) likely headed for the NIT. It would have been much better to stay in place and deliver a "drive home safely" chant at the OSU retards occupying the upper reaches of Crisler.
- Speaking of, there was again an organized opponent student section, which, like... WTF. The athletic department has got to put a limit on the number of seats anyone can buy and spread these people out. They did provide a moment of terrific irony by chanting "asshole" at Rich Rodriguez during halftime. Buckeye fans will never change. I have a feeling we're on the downswing of the Well Behaved Buckeye Fan pendulum after the relentless focus OSU had on not being cavemen last year. As soon at that relaxes the slide begins; their pathological antipathy for Michigan is so deep-rooted it can go no other way.
- I say this every time I mention Thad Matta, but I don't think much of his ability to do anything except recruit. What was that 2-2-1 press? Kelvin Grady can't do that much yet but his handle has always been the best part of his game; OSU didn't execute a single effective trap off the 2-2-1 and gave up a lot of open looks because of it. And it was immediately apparent that the only Wolverine with even the vaguest hope of checking Koufous was Udoh, so why did OSU settle for a bevy of perimeter shots during the three-or-four minute window in the second half in which Udoh was on the bench? Zach Gibson comes in the game and Koufous sets up for a three-pointer. Uh... okay.
- Since 75% of college basketball is recruiting, it doesn't really matter.
- The Gibson conundrum -- he can't defend anyone and is the only backup post -- means that incoming C Ben Cronin is going to be key next year. He's 7'1" and ponderous, according to the gurus, but it's hard to ignore a stat line with 17 blocks on it even if this team photo indicates this isn't exactly downtown Philadelphia:
There's one guy on the team Cronin isn't a foot taller than. (Picture during Cronin's sophomore year, so he's probably less spindly now.)
- Michigan had four turnovers at halftime and nine for the game. I... uh. Is that legal? I don't remember.
- Eleven Warriors recap.
- Anthony Wright's emergence into a guy who can shoot and maybe be useful for 20 minutes a game is a huge boost to the program going forward. I don't think anyone was counting on him to do anything except be mini-Ba; now he's obviously the best SF on the roster. Faint praise, perhaps, but since the State game he's shooting 39.3% from three. Though can't really do much else at this point -- in that stretch of six games he has 28 three-point attempts and eight two-pointers, though he's made six of them -- no other SF on the team can do anything. Wright turning into a useful piece is like adding another Stuart Douglass to the recruiting class.
- Anyone looking for more extensive basketball coverage should check out UMHoops.com, a promising new blog with a self-explanatory name.
THE RESSONS AR MENY This provides conclusive evidence that State does rule all:
Stumble. I was looking for stuff on Darryl Stonum when I stumbled across this video of Sam McGuffie going for 6 TDs in his first-round playoff game:
None of those looked particularly difficult or anything, but FWIW. McGuffie's HS career would end the next week.
Draft Bits. Wolverines appear to be moving up the board: on ESPN Todd McShay mentioned Jake Long as the leading candidate to go #1 overall once the Dolphins decide Matt Ryan sucks, though not exactly in those words. Chad Henne's also supposed to be moving up into a solid second round pick; given the way these things work out I wouldn't be surprised if he snuck into the late first. Accursed shoulder injury.
He ran a what? I told you that guy was a 160-pound economics major. Yeah, so the football team held open tryouts yesterday. How did they go? Check the background of this picture from the Daily:
Add in one inexplicably hot chick and an international student that speaks no English and this looks like my EECS 380 class from back in the day. The Daily has a couple articles, one from an... er... "hopeful":
"We're just looking for athleticism," Hopson said. "We wanted to see how they moved their feet, their hips, and you can just put in the paper that you did fantastic."
I wouldn't have a shred of journalistic integrity if I omitted the fact that Hopson burst into a deep belly laugh after that sarcasm-laced response.
There's also a straight news story for your perusal with this awesome passage:
Some of Thornbladh's former teammates, including wide receiver Greg Mathews, quarterback Steve Threet and punter Zoltan Mesko, lounged on the pads behind one of the fieldhouse endzones and kept a running commentary on the performance of the walk-on candidates.
"Probably fun to see somebody else get pain delivered to them," Rodriguez said. "They got pain delivered this morning at 6 (at the team's workout). It's probably human nature to watch someone else suffer, especially when they were running gassers there at the end. That's probably the most enjoyable."
A reader who participated sent in this report:
Rich Rod held universal undergrad tryouts for walk-ons. It wasn't well publicized, but it happened today at Schembechler Hall. Don't know whether you care or not, but a lot of our coaches (ALL of whom were present) were fantastic guys. Rod congratulated all of us at the end even though most of us blew - it was an amazing gesture that I will never forget.
What I can vouch for is that Barwis is amazing. His presence is absolutely terrifying, he's so incredibly motivating that even in the brief time I was there I would have done absolutely any drill he made me do as hard as I could. He's a very, very special coach - you want to do exactly as he says because you're so very sure that it'll make you better. During the suicides that we did at the end, he singled me out because I was lagging and screamed at me; I've never willed my body to go faster ever in my life. Awesome.
Also got to meet a couple players that I think could contribute - there's a kid whose name I think was Caleb that I feel very certain may get at least a spring training spot - he was from Ohio and was trying out at RB.
It was an opportunity that I will NEVER forget.
Andrew C. (LSA Junior)
The net impact of the walk-on program is likely to be zero unless we have an Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God string of injuries at one position, but it's another symbol of change at Schembechler Hall. Rodriguez is open with information about the team, is expanding Michigan's presence with clinics and camps, holds open tryouts to laugh at undergrads, and wants to have a spring game somewhere or other for the publicity. The program seems fun and young again.
Hello, old friend. A brief bit of Weis-bashing for old times' sake:
Weis also plans to meet with various alumni groups he has cheesed off with his arrogance. Weis attributed the face-time plan to a new
NCAArule barring head coaches from evaluating prospects from April 15-May 31.
So he'll use the extra time to make nice with Notre Dame's grumbling alums. I've seen Weis walk away from conversations with people in mid-sentence. Harder to do that when you're the first Irish coach since Hugh Devore to lose to Navy.
Weis has resigned from playcalling duties with his typical humility, which was the entire reason
he was hired in the first place. I got some concerned emails about the Tenuta hire that I might address in an upcoming mailbag, but I'm not too concerned. Charlie Weis has proven a couple things so far: 1) he can recruit and 2) he's around the tenth percentile in terms of interacting with people in a productive way. Nothing's going to fix #2 unless Weis gets his brain trans-reversed by aliens, Steve Dallas-style.
Notre Dame is never going to be as entertainingly awful again as they were last season -- that was a once in a lifetime opportunity for schadenfreude -- but there's no way a good coach's team is that bad in his third season on the job.
Etc.: Rodriguez is studying up.