Coaches' timeouts are worse. Basketball teams should get one, full stop.
Re-recruiting. With Beilein in as coach there are two major items on the Michigan agenda before the season: hiring assistant coaches and trying to keep the recruiting class intact. Beilein has implied in his numerous -- four appearances yesterday, Rome today -- radio appearances and press conferences that while most of his staff would be coming from West Virginia, there was at least one spot he was earmarking for someone with local recruiting ties.
An interesting name that a couple commenters have brought up is former Arkansas assistant Oronde Taliaferro. Taliaferro played at Detroit Mumford and Wayne State, coached Detroit Central for four years, and was hired by Heath, then at Kent State. Heath may want him on his staff at South Florida, but if he wants a more prominent job and a bigger paycheck Michigan could probably tempt him. Nathan Fenno floats Taliaferro and Amaker assistant Mike Jackson, who just took a job at Illinois State, in an Ann Arbor News article today. There's also been purely internet-based speculation about bringing in a Fab Fiver. Jalen Rose is probably not an option just yet, but Jimmy King has been hanging around the program in recent weeks. Maybe he's looking for a job?
On the recruiting front, the News got this quote from Legion's mom:
"Al talked with him (Beilein) for an hour on Wednesday," Williams said. " When you have a ballplayer like Al, it's not about him. What's important are the players you have around him."
I have no idea how to parse that quote or what it means. But there you go. It is good that they talked for "about an hour" yesterday and are meeting in person today. There's been a lot of chatter that Legion isunlikely to stay on board, but at least he's giving Michigan a shot. Meanwhile, a brief, dubiously-sourced panic spread on Michigan message boards about an imminent Manny Harris decommit to Tennessee. That hasn't transpired. Harris took in Michigan's first practice under Beilein and was reportedly going to meet with him again today or tomorrow. Kelvin Grady remains on vacation in Mexico.
Meanwhile, at least three WVU players are getting R-U-N-N-O-F-T by new 'Eer head coach Bob "Satan" Huggins. The Charleston Gazette pulls no punches:
But according to a source at Kansas State Thursday night, Huggins had already contacted one of his other signed recruits, North Carolina shooting guard Dominique Sutton, and told him that three West Virginia players were going to transfer and that there would be room for Sutton, Beasley and perhaps more.
It should be interesting to see not only whom it is that plans to transfer, but also whether they've been told they plan to transfer yet.
Zing! If Legion or another recruit defects and there's a WVU player out there Beilein likes he might end up here. (Sidenote: I was all set to have a lasting fondness for the WVU basketball team and then they had to go and hire the bar-none most loathsome coach in all sports. Yuck.)
About supermega recruits. They're often cited as a reason that the Beilein hire is a bad idea: he's not going to reel in Oden and Conley and etc. But let's compare Team A and Team B side by side. 1-5 is the starting five and 6 and 7 are the first players off the bench.
|Team A||Team B|
|Player 1||4*, #31||4*, #28|
|Player 2||4*, #36||4*, #36|
|Player 3||4*, #75||4*, #71|
|Player 6||4*, #45||4*, #31|
The teams are nearly identical. If you want to give one team a slight edge in recruiting it's team B, which happens to be this year's Michigan team. (Somewhat shocking: Lester Abram was an unranked 3-star.) Team A?
More sale! Note to anyone contemplating a "Jimmy Clausen is an Emu" baseball jersey purchase...
Be advised that entering the code "FASTBALL" in the designated savings field will result in 21% being hacked off its price.
Speaking of Jimmy King and four other guys (warning! dangerously high Stuart Scott levels!)...
For the love of God. Don't click here. I'm mortified.
If you want outrage about this whole Big Lead DDoS thing there are plenty of places to get it. Here we focus on cold, hard revenge. It seems that half of the people who email me are lawyers, so a question:
Is this audio passage from Colin Cowherd's show advocating a distributed denial of service attack grounds for a civil or criminal case?
After Cowherd did this, The Big Lead was indeed subject to a DDoS attack and was down for the entirety of yesterday.
Question 2: If so, anyone feel like suing the WWL?
Also, their game against NC State in the NIT:
Now would be a good time to mention that I spent a summer in Ireland and one night in some dance club or another -- don't ask, I was in a foreign country -- I heard some sort of vaguely familiar OONTS OONTS OONTS techno beat, then a vaguely familiar verse, and then the entire goddamn place burst out the chorus of "Country Roads," which had unbeknownst to me been repackaged as an ass-shaking dance groove.
I spent the next half hour giggling uncontrollably.
Frank Young, uh, makes it rain on dem hoes.
1. ESTABLISH TERRY FOSTER AS UNRELIABLE.
lament: the Detroit News has fancifully stuffed its entire archives behind a paywall. Anything over seven days old is only available if you decide to pay for it, and the day I pay to access a Terry Foster column is the day Terry Foster is right about anything.
Terry Foster does not care if the things he says are true or even remotely supported by the facts. I don't know if he just makes things up wholesale -- such an act requires creativity -- or just steals them from 16 year old punks posting on a Pistons board. This post from a couple years ago contains a classic example of Foster at his nadir. In brief, it discusses this nugget from Foster's short-lived blogspot enterprise:
Rumors are circulating that the Pistons might break up their starting five by trading Rasheed Wallace to the Chicago Bulls for center Tyson Chandler and forward Andres Nocioni.
This "rumor" circulated primarily on a couple internet message boards because some 16-year old kid threw it up there:
Jayborne23 posted on 8/23/2005 9:53:28 PM
HOLY S***, WAS I RIGHT?
Is Sheed for Chandler and Nocioni a real deal? Cause I sincerely made that s*** up. That hoopsworld article mentioned it. WHAT THE F***?
The whole totally awesome and enlightening series of events was chronicled in the aforementioned post.
B. CURRENT EVENTS
For a more recent example, here are these statements from Foster's Detroit News "blog," which isn't behind a fanciful paywall:
I've got bad news. As it stands now Amaker will return as Michigan coach for the 2007-08 season no matter what. That is the word from the inside. ...
And before you fire arrows at Athletic Director Bill Martin, save it. It is not his call. This is from school president Mary Sue Coleman who loves the Amaker family and what it represents. ...
If he stays it will show once again Michigan is not serious about basketball. [note this for later]
I was listening to one of the talk shows on the way over and they were talking about this being a must-win game for Michigan to make the tournament and for Tommy Amaker to keep his job as head coach.
I'm telling you that this guy is not going to lose his job. It is something I've been screaming from the roof tops for weeks. He is here for at least one more season although I admit he will be on probation next season when he returns
Remember that history has proven that Foster's "insiders" are sometimes kids in My Chemical Romance t-shirts in Wixom. On March 13th, he reiterates:
I believe most people in the Michigan Athletic Department believe Amaker is a bad fit here and would like to move in a different direction. But it is not their decision. I also believe Athletic Director Bill Martin would like to find a new coach.
The problem is Coleman is not convinced, even though folks are trying to convince her Amaker is not the guy. Based on that I believe Amaker is returning next season.
The next post on the situation is an artfully phrased lie about how much Michigan is willing to pay its next basketball coach, citing Amaker's base salary as a mere 165,000 when anyone who spends as much time around sports as he does knows that most contracts are structured like that and a simple check would have revealed that Amaker was making 700k plus a deferred compensation fund of 900k. Note also the baseless assertion the the "university lied to him" about a practice facility:
If youve read this blog you know Ive always believed that Amaker would keep his job. I base that primarily on the fact that Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman does not want to fire Amaker. She believes he is what is right about college basketball. He handles himself well. He cleaned up some messes that Michigan created and he has not made a public stink that the university lied to him.
Here is the issue. If you fire Amaker who can Michigan get who is better? Now there are a number of high profile coaches who are better. But here is the problem. Michigan does not want to pay much more than the $165,000 base salary Amaker is making. So tell me who the Wolverines can lure for that kind of money? Ive always believed Amaker should be fired. But I sat and thought about this. Until Michigan is willing to do the things it takes to become a winner, what is the point?
Amaker's fired the next damn day, but does this dissuade Foster from his crackpot theories about the power struggle going on within the department? No. He also throws out three names for the coaching search, only of whom (Todd Lickliter) was a reasonable candidate. The others are Tom Crean, who showed up in Foster's Sunday column (dissected here) as an example of how Michigan wasn't going to get a coach because they only want to pay 200k and Crean cost 1.5 million -- Beilein's contract is for a whopping 200k less than that -- and Bruce Pearl, neither of whom was ever mentioned again by anyone remotely connected to the search:
President Mary Sue Coleman did not want to fire Tommy Amaker as basketball coach. Athletic Director Bill Martin did. But Martin gave Coleman an ultimatum. Martin told Coleman that if she would not allow him to fire Amaker that he wanted to walk. Coleman felt pressure from Martin, but in the past week she began feeling pressure from the public too and it caused her to buckle and go against her initial instinct.
Michigan also wants to talk to Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl and Marquette's Tom Crean. The problem is they are out of Michigan's price range. To get these men Michigan must make a huge commitment on salary and promise them a practice facility and upgrades to Crisler. They made the same promise to Amaker. But he did not get it in writing and the school never delivered.
For the record, Bill Martin on the coaching search:
Q: What this your call?
Martin: It was entirely my call.
Q: Did other people at the university offer input?
Martin: Only if I sought input and I sought very little.
Is it possible Martin is lying? Yes, though I think he'd have little reason to. Far more probable is that Foster ran across an extremely convincing high school freshman from Warren.
2. THE NIMROD AND THE DAMAGE DONE
A. Establish the source of the racially-tinged accusation that Beilein will not recruit inner city kids.
On March 28th, a full week after Chris Balas at the Wolverine -- who kicked everyone's ass on the search by the way, the Ann Arbor News was the only group even close -- had disclosed Michigan's pursuit of Beilein to Rivals subscribers and via diffusion the entire Michigan internet, Foster finally wakes up. Even though he's breaking nothing, he manages to puff himself up like he's the real inside guy:
I'm telling you WVA coach John Beilein is the guy University of Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin has on the top of his list. Beilein is a Michigan man. More importantly Beilein is a Martin man. This is exactly the type of coach Martin wants. He is a good on court coach, has a nice personality and will embrace our community which is very important. He'd promote the program and make sure Michigan's block M is out in the community way more than it is now in high school basketball gyms.
Here is what Martin is banking on. He is banking on Beilein's X's and O's being far superior than those of fired coach Tommy Amaker although his recruiting won't measure up. He is sacrificing players for strategy. It might work in Michigan will be a threat more days than not. I am not quite sure it makes the Wolverines perennial threats to win the Big Ten. However, that is not the issue here. The main issue is simply to make Michigan a threat and that is what Beilein can do.
A whopping three days later he's got his pet theory about Detroit and Flint.
One is the $2.5 million buy out West Virginia insists on taking and the second is Beilein won't be interested in recruiting Detroit and Flint heavily. He wants his own players and is willing to get lesser and coach them up. That means the big-name talent for the most part will continue to go elsewhere.
Please note the distinction between "he won't be able to" and "won't be interested in" recruiting Detroit and Flint. He repeats this assertion on his radio show over and over again, once claiming that one of his assistants told one of "his guys" -- probably the My Chemical Romance one, that guy knows his shit --at the Final Four. This leaks into a sort of conventional stupidity amongst the media. People like Pat Caputo, who are very, very stupid and unattractive and hate Michigan, lap it up. Media members who don't push it to the limit bring it up during his first press conference in order for him to dispel it, thus lending the accusation a patina of credibility when he has to address it like this is a real concern and not the cracked-out speculation of an idiot looking for attention.
And for the record, Beilein on the specific charge:
Condescending laughter and then "that's ludicrous." Because it is ludicrous... but somehow because a guy who has proven time and again he has no idea what he's talking about brings it up on the media platform Satan -- it can only be Satan -- has seen fit to offer him, he's forced to answer these ridiculous questions. And like it or not, every time Beilein misses out on a kid from Detroit or Flint or Saginaw (and he's going to miss on basically all of them next year since he probably only has one or two scholarships available) this refrain will pop up. It's a meme now and it has a life of its own that will serve to damage Michigan basketball until Beilein proves himself beyond the shadow of a doubt. It's a drag on the program that the media is so outright negative about it.
B. WE DON'T HAVE TO TAKE IT
It would be one thing if this was a supportable claim, but it is not. Foster's pattern is to grandly state that the "word from the inside" is one thing and then have that word turn out to be totally wrong. He has a track record of throwing things out without support that turn out to be wrong. Most likely he is just making stuff up or pulling rumors from the internet or contacting his dubious sources after they get out of trigonometry. In any case, the is a harm to the Michigan program and should not be tolerated by the university.
C. BRIEF CLARIFICATION.
If Foster was an actual journalist who dug up some NCAA violations that harmed the Michigan program and Michigan retaliated, that would be wrong. Uncovering the truth, even hard truths, is what journalism is supposed to be. But Foster is the farthest thing from a journalist. He uncovers nothing, supports nothing, and provides nothing other than stupidity. This isn't about journalism. It's about assholes.
3. ENCOURAGE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT TO SHOW SOME COJONES
A major problem with Michigan's relationship with the Detroit media can be traced back to Bo and his Fort Knox philosophy about access. Michigan is widely regarded as one of the toughest athletic departments anywhere to get access to -- poor Johnny at RBUAS couldn't even get a Hart interview for an upcoming Michigan annual I'm editing -- and so there's little harm in ripping away at it, because it's not like they're going to give you less access. There has to be some carrot here -- more open practices, more player access -- in exchange for the stick: refusing any and all media credentials to any outlet that gives Foster so much as a dime. The Michigan athletic department should not stand for irresponsible, negative rumormongers who seek to profit by damaging its programs. (I, on the other hand, am a rumormonger who seeks only to huggle the Michigan athletic department in all its huggly snuggly places, and I don't get any access anyway.)
At the same time, they should create some compelling opportunities for access at other places: The Wolverine, the Free Press, etc., and then just wait. Is one man who can barely write the language worth it? Probably not. There was a time when Michigan needed the local media for attention as much as the local media needed them, but that time has passed. Then when Foster is gone, sculpt a bust of his head and stick it on a pike in front of Schembechler Hall.
Update 4/5: Linked to article on PA WR Vaughn Carraway. Black Shoe Diaries now has a recruiting board of his own; it thinks we lead for him. Bumped MI WR Fred Smith to green. Linked to article on PA LB Shane Hayle; not in top six but he hasn't really narrowed it. Added CA QB Dayne Crist. Downgraded WA DE Kavario Middleton to red; nasty Scout article. Added TX DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, MI TE Tyler Hoover, OH TE Kevin Koger, AZ RB Covaughn Deboskie. Removed MN LB Sam Maresh (Minnesota), PA RB Cameron Saddler (lack of mutual interest).
Editorial Opinion: Vaughn Carraway had an interesting offer list until recently: Michigan and UConn. Penn State joining that group makes it less weird and provides Michigan with some actual competition for Carraway's services. We must like him quite a bit to send him an offer with a number of other guys saying all the right things about Michigan, Texas' Darryl Stonum most prominently.
Carson Butler's dismissal makes tight end a high priority for this class; new to the board are a couple prospects who seem like good bets to end up at Michigan when it's all said and done. Hoover's an instate guy from Novi who has Michigan, Michigan State, and Northwestern-Duke-Vandy type offers; Koger's from Ohio, yes, but Toledo, Ohio, where Michigan fans are common. OSU and Michigan have offered.
Shayne Hale looks like another linebacker who's looking elsewhere and Kavario Middleton is a Washington defensive end who was tenuously listing us but now looks like he's going to stay on the West Coast. I haven't dropped them off the board yet but sooner or later they figure to.
...unlike Michigan's other internet offerings, M's Quicktime stream works. John Beilein's first PC as Michigan head coach is ongoing. I'll liveblog it.
Update: Impressed with the caliber of kid already on the team -- good sign for his offense getting ramped up to speed?
Has called everyone on the team to date, couldn't get ahold of Ron Coleman because he was STUDYING HIS ASS OFF. Got in contact with Manny's mom, Kelvin's dad, left a couple messages for Legion's mom.
II: "I love Princeton, it's a great university... [but] that's like saying you understand Japanese if you understand Chinese."
"There's been years we threw it inside and threw it inside because that was the best way to win. There's been years we jack up threes because it's the best way to win. When you come from my background, you have to be versatile."
III: "We want a family situation, unselfish players who love to play together." Wants a team integrated with the student body, more praise for Tommy's ability to get really nice guys.
How important is recruiting the state of Michigan? "It's going to be huge. ... You'll find I'm very hands-on with that. I want kids to grow up here in the state of Michigan dreaming of wearing the Maize and Blue." Blah MSU... "We'll be recruiting Michigan very hard as long as I'm the coach."
Has recruited a number of Michigan kids over the course of his career.
PSL? Has recruited there at Cansisus but hasn't had any recent ties in the state.
Facilities? Beautiful locker room, beautiful film room... wouldn't want to walk in to Crisler and try to win. Maize Rage noted as a distinctive feature.
Practice facility? General mutterings about the future, didn't offer anything concrete.
[I hate the way these questions go. Where is the "do you plan to continue with the 1-3-1 if you get the sort of athletes who can play tough man-to-man?"]
More facilities follow up, no concrete plan.
Some media twat asks about "two big shadows": Michigan football and MSU basketball. Beilein dismisses media twat, notes national championship, academics, recruiting grounds, praises Izzo and the football program, etc.
Recruiting questions? "I recruit great players. ...This is a hotbed for recruiting, I don't expect it to be a problem."
Conversations with recruits? Dodges it, basically. Manny Harris is one of ten(!) kids; Beilein one of nine(!!!).
Timeline for a tournament appearance or Big Ten championship? Beilein declines to hang himself on his first day on the job, thank you very much.
Buyout? "The University of Michigan has nothing to do with my buyout. My lawyers and WVU are working on it." !!!
IV: Not talking about the system yet, just doing shooting and ballhandling and passing. Only has four hours with these guys before the summer. Has to have self-motivated teams. Threatens that guys who slack off will become "very familiar with the track." Says will teach kids to fish.
Bringing his assistants? Maybe maybe not. Up in the air. Seems like he's leaving the door open for a Detroit recruiting guy.
Last stop? "I hope so... after what we've just gone through, I hope so."
V: WTF? Some guy tries to spin his postseason success at WVA as "pressure to make the national tournament." Beilein says "with how much I'm getting paid, there should be pressure." Nice. Says he's confident and isn't bothered by pressure after 32 years coaching. Thought it was 29?
Next question along the same lines, answer another re-iteration of Michigan's awesomeness. Again brings up recruiting Michigan.
Says Martin waited until after the season ended to contact him, good.
[OMG stop asking about "buzz" and garbage like that. Ask about how he gets guys so wide open from three. Ask about the 1-3-1. Ask about something not retarded.]
Does some media sucking-up after a kind of an irrelevant question. Good? Kowtow? Dunno.
Part of his job to go out and get the money, Lebowski, for a practice facility. "It's not just about what out of bounds play we're going to run." (Although when it is? Wide open, baby!)
What was your career goal, your life goal? "To have a team in the top 20 traditionally, pretty much what we've done in the past years at West Virginia. I've coached my son, I've been to the elite eight... you think 'is this it'? ...And I've never been so charged up."
"In '75 I thought to myself 'I can't do this for a living'. I was physically sick at a JV basketball game."
Talks about his "two guard" set where he puts out two point guards. "Necessity is the mother of invention ... it's an old saying, but it's the truth."
Were you bothered by this process? The whole thing is very difficult. Surprisingly heartfelt response. Then he gets off a Dana Altman zinger: "I will not be returning to Morgantown this afternoon and saying 'I'm going back.'"