"This is really important to be here," Lewan said. "I'm here to give back and help out my teammate."
PROTIP: Don't do a google image search for "burst cyst." Here's a kitten instead:
I'll be in therapy the rest of the day.
Uptick. Last weekend was a big one on the AAU circuit, and recent Michigan commitment Evan Smotrycz made a statement at the Pitt Hoop Jam. ESPN's Reggie Rankin highlighted Smotrycz among a number of elite players he scouted, offering praise bordering on the effusive:
This super skilled combination forward has all the tools on the offense end of the floor. He is a perfect fit for the offensive system he will play in at Michigan. Smotrycz is a terrific 3-point shooter with NBA range. He has a quick trigger and the size to shoot over smaller defenders with ease. Smotrycz runs the lane in transition and does a great job of stretching the defense with his ability to make shots. Making plays off the dribble is also strength of Smotrycz’s. He is a very good ball handler and does a great job of creating space with scoring dribble moves that include a step back pull up jumper going to his left. He would be perfect in pick and pop situations as well. His skill set doesn’t stop with his scoring he is also a very good passer. He can drive, draw and kick in transition or in the half court where he has the ability to pass with either hand.
At 6-foot-8, 200-pounds he’s a guy that moves very well, has great touch in the paint, but most importantly is a terrific shooter. His form is flawless and he finishes it off with a high release. The New Hampton (N.H.) School standout, who showed use of both hands around the basket, is capable of putting it on the decks for a few bounces and pulling up for jumpers as well.
NEBRR also quotes Hoopscoop's Clark Francis as "very intruiged" with Smotrycz, saying he projects as "more than just a good role player at the big time level." Everyone does say he needs to add strength, FWIW.
Maybe Beilein got on a player who was just about to blow up, as the kids say. A 6'9" small forward with diverse and sundry offensive skills sounds pretty freakin' good. ESPN's put him on their 150 watch list; it'll be interesting to see if the tourney springs him into Scout and Rivals' lists when they update. Rivals didn't actually have anyone there, BTW, so if Smotrycz ends up lower there than elsewhere that's probably why.
Elsewhere in basketball recruiting, I don't know if this guy knows anything specific about Trey Ziegler, Michigan's #1 remaining target in the 2010 class, but let's hope so:
Trey brings an impressive build to the guard position in which he operates. He might not look the part of a quick, agile guard, but he sure plays it. He had many defenders on their toes trying to cover him, and his ability to pull up for the jumper or drive the lane for the explosive dunk was something that almost seemed impossible to cover. He lacked hustle several times defensively, allowing breakaway layups from the opposition, but in his defense, did play all but two minutes of a 32 minute game Saturday afternoon. Although Michigan is the frontrunner for Zeigler now, he hasn’t yet committed and has left the door open for several Big East schools at this time.
There's also been an uptick in Detroit Country Day point guard Ray McCallum's interest in the Michigan program, though he still seems like a longshot. I'd be delighted to be 100% wrong about Beilein's recruiting chops.
Still 2010, but different. To the hockey class of that year: Jack Campbell is good. The USA U18 team just won the gold medal at the World Championships and Campbell's play is the talk of the tournament (even though the Russian goalie bizarrely made the all-tourney team despite a 5-0 thumping in the final). Western College Hockey:
I think the best thing you can say about a goalie is that his team won, and without him, they would have lost. In the semifinal against Canada, if the US is down by more than 1 goal midway through the third period, there is absolutely no chance they come back to win that game. Campbell made some great saves to keep his team in it long enough for the US powerplay to score a couple goals and steal the win.
Insert fervent prayer that the 2010 hockey class arrives on campus intact here. Campbell is establishing himself as possibly the top goalie in his draft class.
Not so fast on the not so fast. A curious report that included Michigan Stadium as one of a number of potential World Cup host sites was shot down by a second report playing Lee Corso. Now Lee Corso report has been Lee Corsoed:
"Anything we can do to support our region economically, we would very much like to do it," U-M athletic director Bill Martin said. "The timing of the event -- June, July -- would be perfect. But we'd have to build a platform up into the first 10 rows of seats to make the field wide enough."
I'm skeptical they'll actually get to host. There are 70 other potential sites, many of which wouldn't require that level of project. Erasing ten rows of seats might defeat the purpose of having such a huge stadium host, too. But there's a chance, and maybe they'd just do it for the meat-on-the-table aspect of having the biggest stadium in the country involved.
(HT: Michigan Sports Center.)
Forcier Forcier Forcier Forcier—A Snaaaaake! The Forcier "Weapon of Choice" video has been Walkenized. Ace for the win.
Speaking of Forciers, Rittenberg has more on the possible transfer of Jason back to Michigan. Apparently the "repeal" of the Mundy Rule that allowed graduated players to use their fifth year of eligibility somewhere else was something between a repeal and a, you know, non-repeal:
"Obviously, sports is going to end for me," Jason Forcier said. "You've got to accept the facts. But it doesn't change my passion for it. So if I can still be involved with it somehow, I feel like I can still participate.
"With the waiver, it would look good that I got into Michigan when I was an undergrad and I transferred to Stanford and did well there, graduated. They know it wouldn't be for a football issue."
So it appears the NCAA is making its decisions on a case-by-case basis now to prevent things like Florida pirating one of Utah's starting cornerbacks but allow transfers by players who have a legitimate academic reason to move.
Update 4/14: Linked to articles on MI CB Mylan Hicks, MI DE CJ Olaniyan, MN OL Seantrel Henderson, GA RB Mack Brown($), OH WR commit DJ Williamson, CA RB Dietrich Riley, SC RB Marcus Lattimore. Video of OH OL Andrew Donnal, MI QB Devin Gardner. Moved FL S Marvin Robinson to committed.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. FL S Marvin Robinson's commitment came to fruition, but really can we maybe go back to last week? That was a foregone conclusion and two unpleasant developments weren't: Caleb Lavey's commitment to Oklahoma State and Lo Wood coming back from his Notre Dame trip proclaiming M and ND to be tied. On with the show. But first, video fluff about M recruiting Florida:
So the week's big negative was the unexpected commitment of Lavey to Oklahoma State. Lavey's dad was an equipment manager under Bo, of course, and Lavey himself had visited Michigan recently, coming back with nice things to say. One Oklahoma State visit later he ends up committed there, and there goes what seemed like Michigan's best shot at a high-rated MLB. (Of course, that may have been projection based on Oklahoma/M offers, since he's not that highly rated at the moment.) They must have shown him the T. Boone Pickens Explosive Barbecue Circus Fountain.
- Klein Oak—home of Terrance Robinson—LB Luke Muncie committed to LSU as soon as he got an offer; he was just a name on the board.
- IN DE Blake Lueders doesn't have Michigan in his top six.
- No actual event behind this, but there hasn't been any mention of Michigan in the recruitment of PA RB Corey Brown for a while, and the premium sites aren't even tracking him. I've dropped him before he can officially drop us. Let's all storm off in a huff together.
Nothing out there that's free but you can infer from the title and header of this Rivals article ("Big Battle Brewing For Wood?") that I should probably drop the blue smiley from his profile after his Notre Dame visit. Wood maintains M and ND are equal at this point. I still think Michigan is in good shape here, because 1) usually a recruit is most enthusiastic about a school immediately after he visits and there's a fade afterwards, and 2) Miller and Robinson and Gallon and so forth should help push him to the good side.
But, still: before the weekend Wood was in the same category as Robinson; now he's not. Not a good development.
Highlight videos are rarely all that useful, but this latest on Devin Gardner is more interesting than most because all of the clips are from a single game:
That delivery is still funky, but results are results.
Maybe Yes Maybe No
Strange midweek internecine fight over the commitment status of DC LB Javarie Johnson, new to the board this week after he visited Michigan and picked up an offer($). Over the weekend Pitt-area scout guru Bob Lichtenfels was at some camp or combine or another and reported Johnson was a commit($) after talking to his coaches. Problem: Johnson denied it($), and continues denying it($), and will continue denying it until such time as it becomes unnecessary to.
So, what was this? Sometimes kids want to keep commitments under wraps for whatever reason; sometimes recruiting gurus screw up. I don't know 100% but I lean towards the latter in this case. Johnson is likely to have Michigan on his short list whenever he gets around to making one, but I wouldn't consider him a virtual commit a la Marvin Robinson.
Running Back Restack
Michigan has two committed and is looking for a third. It's not likely to be SC RB Marcus Lattimore even if he tentatively planned an official to Michigan. Lattimore came back from his Auburn visit with a glassy look in his eyes and a tendency to say "War Eagle" in response to any external stimulus, which latter I can tell you from personal experience is the true mark of an Auburn fan:
"This whole experience, I just felt it. You can't really explain it. My mom loves it, my stepdad loves it. You really just can't explain the feeling. I really didn't expect this much. I was just coming in to see the offense. They showed me that, and I met all these great people."
I was always skeptical that official visit would come off and am now more skeptical. However, Lattimore wants to announce on signing day or possibly at an All American game, I forget which, so he might remain uncommitted long enough to make it up during the fall. As mentioned: I am dubious.
Okay, probably shift your hopes. To who? Maybe CA RB Dietrich Riley:
Athlete Dietrich Riley (La Canada, Calif./Saint Francis) holds scholarship offers from Southern California, UCLA, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan, Tennessee, Arizona State, Arizona, Washington and others.
The Wolverines could emerge as a major factor, though.
"I am looking forward to getting up there this summer and seeing what they are all about," Riley said. "It is a great program and a place I could see myself playing."
Riley also mentioned that he would like a shot on offense in college. Most programs want him as a defensive player. He worked out as a running back on Sunday.
AFAIK, Michigan regards him as a Minor-like running back. The talent us obviously there with those offers. Riley has been (and is probably still) regarded a USC lean, FWIW, but that's a positive development. Tom did an interview with Riley a couple months back if you'd like to revisit it.
And this is speculative, but to reiterate MGoBlog recruiting heuristic #3: message boards are always excessively positive about their chances with recruits, so a negative take—especially when it goes against the conventional wisdom—means something. So a board full of State fans who think MI RB Austin White, brother of two current Spartans and the son of alums, is headed somewhere other than State [edit: thread disappeared, unfortunately, but I swear it was there!] is worth noting.
Update: This doesn't have the breadth of the earlier thread, but here are a couple pessimistic grumbles about White from Spartan fans.
Things Are Awesome
Here's OH OL Andrew Donnal, who seems like a nice kid, saying various things are awesome:
CJ Olaniyan Is ENTHUSED
Not really. MI DE CJ Olaniyan on his spring game visit:
"It was pretty nice. I was kind of impressed with the freshman quarterback (Tate Forcier). There wasn't too much new, but the team looked better than they did last year."
Of course, he could just be a Michigan fan because you could ask anyone who attended the Spring Game their thoughts; 90% of them would paraphrase Olaniyan and the Wolverine Liberation Army would drunkenly slur something about unicorn bear propaganda.
"Nothing is a given out here on the field," he continued. "A perfect case is the Antonio Bass situation. Here is a kid that physically had everything. They are still ranting and raving about him at the Michigan complex. Unfortunately with no contact, this guy messed his knee up and caused some nerve damage. Well, it's over with. But you know what? I love that kid. I've known him for about five years, and what a standup kid. He dealt with the situation and he has continued to go on. He's going to graduate on time with a great degree from the University of Michigan. What character. What character! Those are the things that I stress with Seantrel, my son, or anybody. "
It's the hard offseason now, with nothing happening outside of recruiting until August. So it's meta time. Apologies to anyone who couldn't care less about this.
A couple weeks ago I was on John Bacon's show talking about the demise of the Ann Arbor News and its effect on me. I think I surprised Bacon and co-host Richard Deitsch (of SI!) by not dancing on its grave. To paraphrase myself, I said that one of my roles on this blog is as an aggregator of content and things that reduced the content I could aggregate were negatives. I am not in competition with the Ann Arbor News.
It's an odd situation. I'm not really in competition with anyone. I very rarely feel threatened by the presence of anyone else's content. Sometimes I feel guilty because I'm not covering basketball like UMHoops or Varsity Blue is pumping out bi-weekly recruiting updates instead of weekly ones. But when Evan Smotrycz commits and I've got to put together a googlestalk and UMHoops already has one up it's just time I can spend on other content. I'm just a guy.
I have the feeling that other people are in competition with me, and with Dylan and Tim (x2) and Paul and various others, that they resent the thriving Michigan blogosphere as a thing that reduces the need for their services. But I don't feel like I'm in competition with them. It's a strangely unbalanced situation. Their content helps me. Their lack of content helps me. Whatever happens, traffic goes up and my mom becomes incrementally less petrified at the career path I've chosen.
So I'm not put out, especially because—at least when it comes to sports—I still think the coming demise of the Ann Arbor News is considerably overplayed. The overlords of the new thing that's not a newspaper, except twice a week when it is, have stated they intend to cover Michigan football and basketball much like the News did, and they're thinking about hockey. Other sports will have to fend for themselves, I guess, but it's not like their existing coverage was extensive. The net change might be a couple fewer people at press conferences and slightly fewer links on mgolicious; it won't be the end of history.
Others disagree. Maize 'n' Brew took the opportunity to pen a dissertation-length post on the chaotic period we're entering. It's really long and thus hard to summarize in a pithy blockquote but let's try:
The current information distribution system (for college football at least) is set up in three tiers: The University (school, coaches and players) possess the information; the credentialed press gets the first crack at it; and the rest of us are left to sort through what reaches us. That credentialed access let the News into the room, to observe first person what was going on. They had the right to pepper Rodriguez, Beilein, Amaker and Carr with questions and receive answers, where bloggers do not. The system is still set up to allow nearly unfettered access to the print media. And in return it bears the responsibility of using that access to relay the information we all crave.
Certainly any person with a notepad or microphone can record the players' and coach's quotes and stick them up on a piece of paper. But the Ann Arbor News didn't do that. They didn't give us the canned quotes we see on the University's websites. They weren't under the employ of the University to give us a happy picture. They gave us perspective on what was said and how questions were answered. They asked tough questions on decisions and results. They could observe the reactions from coaches, gage responses first hand, and had the ability to ask the questions where we do not.
This isn't going to be much of a surprise, but I largely disagree with the above, and with much in the MnB post. A few paragraphs on Dave asserts that you can't find stories along the lines of "Player X was horrid or Coach Y blew his cool at an inopportune time" on Rivals or Scout, but when has a newspaper ever published an honest assessment of a player's performance? I'm not talking single-sentence 600 word columns written by provocateurs here, I'm talking something along the lines of UFR, if less obsessed: Left Guard X struggled in pass protection. Coach Y should have gone for it, here are the numbers that justify it. It's single sentence paragraph time:
This has never happened.
Maybe Scout and Rivals are incrementally more dependent on being in the good graces of the athletic department, but the differences in practice are small. The Ann Arbor News' academics investigation, if you want to consider that a positive and a thing the internet can't do, is a vast outlier in a sea of game recaps and press conference rephrasing. And it's hard to say that sort of thing will go away when the only other entity around that's doing much in the way of investigative work is Yahoo.
The information PLANTS CRAVE either comes directly from press conferences or random people on the internet these days. The press conferences will still exist, and coaches will still be asked about injuries and other tangible things and then blather away minutes of our lives with "We have held practices this spring." And every once in a while someone will provide an unwise snippet of an answer that will blow up into a media firestorm because everyone's gotten so damn boring there's nothing else to talk about.
Heck, Jim Carty's blog is taglined this:
Fulfillment of a legal dream or an overdue realization you can't spend your life asking football players the same questions indefinitely? Definitely a bit of both ...
99% of sports journalism as practiced by newspapers is repetitive, inefficient grunt work. Sports stories come in three flavors, as far as I can tell:
- This game happened in this way.
- This was said at a press conference.
- Player X is a nice young man.
There's a reason everyone wants a column, right?
As for "tough questions," they have little value. This isn't 1930 anymore and you can't hop on a bus with the baseball stars of the day and get unfettered access to their lives. You get packaging. You get this:
BHGP is running a contest to see if anyone can condense these 81 seconds into something more concise than "We have held practices this spring, and players have competed for positions in the offense." Just showing up at a press conference and asking about the head coaches' nepotism doesn't do anything constructive, especially when your tough question is coming from a position of ignorance relative to the person you're asking. Tough questions always boil down to "why did you lose?"
So what are we losing when the Ann Arbor News goes away? I don't think it will be much. Even in the extreme version of newspaper implosion where the Detroit News goes away and the Free Press is piloted by a skeleton crew you're still going to have people at these press conferences from Scout and Rivals and the Daily and at least one Detroit newspaper and AnnArbor.com asking the standard set of questions.
The demand for information about sports isn't going to disappear. If there's a void it'll get filled, possibly by this site if it continues to grow. In that case the only difference is going to be more questions about that damn formation where the slot receiver is covered up.
It's come down to this.
Mingo versus Macadangdang. Barkevious versus Iris. A man who spurned Michigan for LSU versus an actual recent alum. EDSBS vs MGoBlog. For the 2009 Name of the Year. I can't rightly tell you to vote one way or the other, because both are awesome. There are no real losers here, except Orson Swindle if Mingo loses. In that case he has to shave off all his chest hair and send me a parka made from it. (What will he do with the leftovers? Feed Africa.)
Vote. Vote well, and don't vote 7,000 times because that's not cool.
Weapon of choice. Ace Anbender assembled a highlight video of Tate Forcier's spring game exploits:
Needs more Christopher Walken; otherwise excellent work. Most impressive to me was Forcier's little sling to Moundros in the flat. He's got a guy in his face and needs to put the ball on the money for Moundros to get anything out of it; he puts it right where it needs to be and Moundros can rumble for eight or so yards. That sort of short-range precision will help the offense immensely; too many times last year simple short passes turned into disaster. See: backwards lateral against Notre Dame, etc etc etc.
(Headline reference for the sadly deprived.)
The evidence lies in piles all around us. One has merely to pick it up and provide a cursory examination. I'm calling fair use on this because it is awesome and unbelievable. Ohio State's scrimmaging and the offense has just driven for a score that brings them within one. And then($):
Then, on the final series of the scrimmage, Pryor was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while jawing with defensive lineman Cameron Heyward with the offense poised to tie the game pending a point-after attempt. The penalty knocked the kick back to the 25-yard line, and Aaron Pettrey’s attempt sailed wide right to hand the defense a 56-55 victory.
So far in the brief, eventful career of Terrelle Pryor he's gotten in postgame near-riots after two high school basketball games, pioneered the drama-queen recruiting extension game, trash-talked Illinois fans, cried on the bench after blowing the Penn State game, and now he's taking unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for jawing at his own teammates in a scrimmage. Wheee!
Someone should start a Terrelle Pryor AK-47/Lint Roller Rampage Threat Level. You know, just in case.
DUDE: And you know Pryor has emotional problems!
WALTER: You mean, other than being a Buckeye?
DUDE: He's fragile, man! He's very fragile!
Lax bloggin'. It appears that Michigan swimming blog MGoSwim is no more; the registrations lapsed and domain tasters have replaced it with an ad-laced landing page featuring hotttt chicks…
…but there is another niche sport blog out there named in the classic "take MGoBlue and change it slightly" style: M Flow Blue, a blog dedicated to the very successful club lacrosse team. They're just getting ramped up; if you're interested in throwing little balls at high speeds I suggest you check them out.
Who is Jack Kennedy? One of the more mysterious mysteries of the spring game was the guy wearing 18 and playing quarterback. Despite being in a live-fire cannon fodder jersey, Jack Kennedy looked significantly better than nominal scholarship quarterback (and possessor of mad flow) David Cone. Surely this man must have a background? Eh… not so much.
Kennedy is apparently a 6 foot, 170 lb. freshman walk-on from Walled Lake Central H.S.. Kennedy is not listed on the spring roster on the team's website nor was a bio included in the Spring Football Media Guide.
Is it bad that our walk-on with no past is bigger than our anointed savior? Eh… maybe.
This story is some sort of weird karma on a thousand different levels:
Illinois basketball player Alex Legion was arrested Monday night for driving on a suspended license.
An Illinois Department of Intercollegiate Athletics official said Legion’s license was suspended because of an unpaid moving violation ticket in Michigan. Legion is a native of Detroit.
You're probably well aware that Legion was Tommy Amaker's on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again final recruit, directed by God to go to Kentucky for a single semester and now a conscience-free midrange jumper specialist with the Illini.
But do you remember what happened a few years back after Illinois coach Bruce Weber was taking heat for the existence of Jamar Smith, Illini basketball player? Smith had nearly killed a teammate in a drunk-driving accident but remained on the Illinois team, prompting reporters to ask about it and Weber to act like a fool:
Weber also pointed out that “a kid in a program got arrested a couple weeks ago and he played in the next game.” Without naming him, Weber was referring to Michigan’s Lester Abram, who was stopped for speeding, then arrested for an outstanding warrant. That happened two days before Abram played for the Wolverines at Illinois.
“I don’t know if anything was talked about with him,” Weber said, his voice rising. “I don’t think so because I get a lot of feedback. You’re going to hold us to high standards but that kid got arrested and he played.”
Jamar Smith was the guy who drove his car into a tree, injuring teammate Brian Carlwell, who was a passenger. Oh, and Smith was drunk. Oh, and Smith believed that Carlwell was dead (he had a severe concussion), yet drove the car ... with Carlwell in it ... back home. Oh, and Smith went into his apartment, leaving Carlwell unconscious in his car.
Bound by infallible Logic, Weber has no choice but to do to Legion what he did to Smith: suspend him for the year and ship him to a directional Illinois school. Fret not, Alex Legion. God, unlike the Battlestar Galatica writers, has a plan. It involves the Missouri Valley Conference.