[note: this post and the BWS post were written before the Northwestern game.]
A hearty thanks to Burgeoning Wolverine Star for showing men of pessimism what pessimism really is in his post on Michigan basketball's immediate future. Whereas I'm content to downplay Michigan's chances at making the tourney this year, BWS wants you to know that Michigan isn't making the tourney next year, the year after, or ever again.
I kid. I think so, anyway. But the thing that struck me as true Keyser Soze-level pessimism was when BWS downplayed the possibility Hardaway will blow up by comparing him to Manny Harris:
Hardaway's measurables and stats are remarkably similar to Harris' throughout his career at Michigan:
PPG RPG APG FG% 3P% Harris 07-08 16.1 4.2 2.7 38.10% 31.80% Harris 08-09 16.9 6.8 4.4 41.50% 32.70% Harris 09-10 18.1 6 4.1 42.10% 30.80% Hardaway 10-11 12 3.8 1.5 37.50% 32.60%
Not that adding Manny Harris to this team wouldn't be beneficial, but Hardaway's production and body type--to say nothing of his predilection to take bad three pointers--are things Beilein has had to play with in the past. With any luck, Hardaway will avoid the general apathy and combativeness with the coaching staff that Harris showed toward the end of his career at Michigan, but regardless, seeing Hardaway turn into an unstoppable force is a little optimistic IMO.
The thing about Harris is that he didn't get much better, as the above chart suggests. None of those percentages have anything to do with frequency. Harris's usage rates as a sophomore and junior were almost identical, he took as many threes, as many twos, etc. The main difference between the two years was a considerable drop in assist rate that the team mirrored, dropping from third to 21st in percentage of shots assisted. Since the only losses from the team were two walk-on guards and the Grady buried behind them you can argue that Harris actually got worse between his sophomore and junior years. Also, Manny collapsed every Big Ten season as defenses collapsed on him.
BWS uses this as a cautionary tale about projecting Hardaway down the road, but I think that's backwards. Players improve as they age and they improve a lot when they are young. Manny not improving at the same time he was getting suspended, sitting on the bench for OT against Iowa, etc., says more about Harris specifically than Beilein's ability to deal with a Harris-type player.
Even if Beilein's inability to cajole Harris into learning how to use his off hand or not jack up strange three-pointers multiple times per game suggests Hardaway's fate, Harris still improved radically after his first season. There will be graphs. Meanwhile, Hardaway has a much better offensive efficiency mark than Harris as a freshman with nearly as much usage. He's almost reached Harris's sophomore and junior marks because of one glaring difference between the two players: turnover rate*. Harris was at 22% as a freshman and only got down to 16.5% as a junior; Hardaway is 14th nationally at 9.3%.
Now, there are lots of reasons for this that have nothing to do with the relative merits of the players. They can be summed up with the words "Darius Morris," who has a Harris-like 18.8 TO rate that no one's complaining about because he's fourth nationally in assist rate. Hardaway does not have to be the primary ballhandler. He doesn't provide the assists Harris did. He has a lower TO rate than anyone on the team, three-point specialists included, despite using more possessions than anyone except Morris. He should learn what shots are good and which are not as his career progresses, something Harris didn't want to or couldn't because he didn't have the butter—[strangling sounds] version of Darius Morris next to him or anyone who could shoot ever.
While I don't think Hardaway is as good as Harris was as a freshman or will be as good as Harris was as a sophomore, he doesn't have to be in the context of this Michigan team to be more efficient than Harris could ever dream of being. Chart? Chart. Chartzzzz.
[These are adapted from the excellent Big Ten Geeks study from a couple years back that showed the general path of improvement as players age. Kenpom has not updated individual numbers from last night yet so these are a tiny bit out of date. Hardaway went 5 of 11—3 of 8 from three—was 4 of 4 from the line, and had four assists to two turnovers, so these are slightly pessimistic.]
Harris maintained an epic usage level his entire career; Hardaway has started off at nearly the same rate.
Due to the high usage both are below average. Harris was less efficient, likely because very few of his buckets were assisted. Hardaway should not expect to improve as much but should at least equal Harris next year; average is within reach.
Harris was slightly above average for the duration of his career but these numbers include a lot of stone-handed post players and are not targeted towards guards; I don't have any data but eyeballing it those numbers seem thoroughly mediocre.
Hardaway's numbers are remarkably good for anyone, even players who believe the ball is radioactive. He's the only freshman on the list until you get to #38, and the first frosh playing outside the Dakotas you find is #44 Jared Sullinger. The guys above him are folks like Wisconsin's Tim Jarmusz (9.5 usage rate), Illinois's Bill Cole(11.5), and… uh… Jordan Taylor (best point guard in the country unless you're an idiot).
His numbers are so good that we can expect him to regress next year, especially if he starts driving more aggressively. They're also too good to be a fluke given his usage.
Since Hardaway doesn't have to be the primary ballhandler he is crushing Harris and the average for freshmen. Improving shot selection, reducing usage, increasing assist rate, and general improvement should send this higher next year—higher than Harris ever achieved.
What would have happened to Manny Harris if he had an awesome point guard next to him? What about awesome point guard + conscience? What about awesome point guard + conscience + actually liking his head coach? These are the questions we're about to find out as we watch Tim Hardaway, Jr., go from maddening but efficient-for-a-freshman to something between a good second banana and a ninja.
SIDE NOTE: These numbers brought home another point: Darius Morris is a better player than Harris ever was, full stop. Literally the only thing Harris has on Morris is a few points of 3PT% and a slight edge in free throw rate**. Morris is shooting far better than Harris ever did from within the arc, assisting on damn near everything he's not scoring, and maintaining an acceptable TO rate.
Freshman, Minutes, And Improvement
To further dispute BWS, he mentions later that people are pointing towards the extreme youth of the team as a reason they will improve considerably:
The biggest source of hope is that Michigan's team is once again one of the youngest in the country. Much like in 2009, Michigan's team is at a serious disadvantage in terms of college experience. This was one of the biggest points of optimism for the 2010 season that ultimately saw the team flame out spectacularly and lose close games in agonizing fashion.
Even before the season it was clear Michigan was overrated at the #15(!) team in the country after finishing the year 50th in Kenpom. People expected them to get better and got worse, something I'd again argue was a chemistry problem largely brought on by Harris. That problem won't be around next year and even if it did the overall percentage of freshman minutes then was far lower than it is this year. In 2009 freshmen played 31% of Michigan's minutes. This year it's 44%.
What's more, the second and third highest usage guys on the team are freshmen who play at least 60% of minutes. In 2009 Douglass and Novak had low usage and Laval Lucas-Perry was a mid-year transfer who only played 33.% of Michigan's minutes. The percentage of possessions used by freshman this year is vastly higher. Two years ago: 26%. Now: 45%. That plus being on the same page should yield a significant improvement in 2011-12.
Yes, Mr. Gaerig, you are too pessimistic about basketball, but you already came to that conclusion yourself.
*[The percentage of possessions used that end in a turnover.]
**[Harris has an individual edge in rebounding but this year's team is much better in that category than they were the last couple years so how much of that is actually meaningful is in question unless you're David Berri. Also Morris doesn't play the three, Hardaway does.]
The 2011 class is over, so it's time to look ahead to next year. But first...
As you may recall, Michigan signed 19 talented high schoolers last Wednesday, including a signing Day surprise(ish) in TX TE Chris Barnett. Yes, I mostly just wanted an excuse to use this picture again.
Of course, OH S Greg Brown was already enrolled in Ann Arbor, and didn't need to fax his LOI.
As for the other prospects who were still on the table:
- MI OL Jake Fisher signed with Oregon. The former commit switched to the Ducks.
- MD DT Darian Cooper signed with Iowa. He had been favoring the Hawkeyes for some time, and a late push by Michigan (courtesy of defensive coordinator Greg Mattison) couldn't sway him to be blue.
- CO LB Leilon Wilingham signed with UCF. He committed to Texas A&M without ever visiting, and then had reported silent commitments to Colorado and Michigan before switching to the Knights on Signing Day. He's a loss for Michigan's class, but sounds like a kid who can't make up his mind, either.
- For those who can't stop asking about FL WR Prince Holloway despite repeated claims he wouldn't come to Michigan, he signed a letter of intent to a Junior College in Kansas.
On to the Next One
Since I've been actively neglecting the 2012 class in favor of in-depth coverage of 2011 for the past couple weeks, updates from rising seniors should be hectic throughout the month of February. Things should settle down by the end of the month, and look for a recruiting board (with revamped format) by that time.
First, let's look at a list of 2012 recruits with offers:
Michigan offered FL QB Bennie Coney in the fall, and they're currently in his top 6. As I said at the time, he has character question marks, so we'll see if his offer from the Wolverines holds up with the new staff.
KY QB Zeke Pike has a Michigan offer ($). He's one of the top QBs in the country, a mobile pro-style guy.
Michigan - along with the rest of the country - has extended an offer to MO WR Dorial Green-Beckham. He has a good shot at being the #1 overall recruit in the 2012 class, so he's a definite longshot.
OH WR Dwayne Stanford holds a Michigan offer ($), along with Ohio State and a number of other top programs.
MD WR Stefon Diggs - a teammate of 2011 CB signee Blake Countess - has an impressive highlight reel:
He was named MVP of the Army Combine, and has already been invited to next year's Army All-American game. He told Rivals that he wants to hear from Michigan, and though the Wolverines took a while to offer, he sees himself as a "Charles Woodson type" at the next level, which certainly doesn't hurt Michigan in his mind.
Michigan has offered ($, info in header) OH TE Sam Grant. He's a big tight end who could be a devastating blocker at the next level.
FL TE Sean Price also has a Michigan offer.
OL Jordan Diamond - one of 2011 signee Chris Bryant's good friends - may be a package deal with his teammate, QB Robert Gregory (more about him below). Diamond already holds an Ohio State offer, and will be on Michigan's campus next weekend. I don't have confirmation yet, but it's sounding like that may be the Wolverines' first junior day. Diamond will decide early(ish) in the process ($, info in header).
Michigan has an offer out to WA OL Zach Banner, who has already committed to participate in next year's Army All-American Bowl. He's one of the top prospects in the nation, and is probably a longshot for the Wolverines.
Scout's Allen Trieu says it'll probably boil down to Michigan or Tennessee for MI DT Danny O'Brien - whom he thinks is the top prospect in the state at this point. Tennessee has the slight edge at this point.
IL DT Vincent Valentine, who holds a Michigan offer, was recently profiled by STLToday.com.
Jim Stefani gets back on his blogging game, and shared that Michigan has offered OH DT Greg Kuhar.
DC DT Eddie Goldman, one of the nation's top defensive linemen, holds a Michigan offer, but is probably a longshot.
Ohio State-centric recruiting experts are already conceding OH DE Chris Wormley to the Wolverines. His reasoning gets a little muddled, but if Ohio State will give up Wormley in order to land Adolphus Washington and Greg McMullen, more power to them.
Yes, I want Wormley. No, I am not going to lose any sleep over his decision to go to Michigan should be choose to do so. Great kid and I wish him all the best should that be where he chooses to spend the next four or five years of his life.
Wormley is going to be a solid 4-star or borderline 5-star guy, so Michigan's recruiting class should get a great early boost should he decide for the Wolverines.
Looks like the Wolverines are pounding the pavement on defensive ends from Ohio. OH DE Ifeadi Odenigbo recently received a Michigan offer. Ohio State fans don't think he'll receive a Buckeye offer, and they're terrified about the prospect of facing him in coming years. Michigan has offered OH DE Tom Strobel. Another Michigan offer is out, to OH DE Pharoah(!) Brown.
MI LB James Ross wants to play in next year's Under Armour All-American Game with his friend, MI CB Terry Richardson, who's already been invited. Ross is intrigued ($, info in header) by the hiring of Greg Mattison.
There may be a couple more offers out there, but this is (almost) all of them that I'm aware of. A couple guys are already committed to other schools - such as FL WR Avery Johnson to LSU - so I haven't included them.
Before expressing worry about "Hey, this kid loves Michigan and we're slipping because we haven't offered him yet," keep in mind that the Michigan staff wants to evaluate prospects on film before extending an official offer. Some of them may even be close to committing if they held a Michigan offer, and the coaches want to know for sure whether it's a prospect that they really want before the kid potentially joins the Class of 2012. Offers should be coming soon for a lot of these guys, so it's not a huge delay, especially for a new coaching staff. Here are some of the guys for whom that possibly applies:
- MI CB Terry Richardson's favorites list reads like 2010's final top ten list - plus Michigan. Michigan State has offered ($, info in header). TheRinger scouts his game, and he'll be on campus for tonight's basketball game.
- Richardson's teammates, LBs Royce Jenkins-Stone and Laron Taylor, both came home from Iowa with Hawkeye offers ($, info in header). Scout's Allen Trieu says that Michigan's hefty lead for Jenkins-Stone is diminishing as more teams offer, including Michigan State. Terry (and possibly Royce) is expecting to talk to Greg Mattison today, which could mean a Wolverine offer is on the way.
- MI DE Matthew Godin attended several Michigan home games and the Big Chill ($, info in header). If Michigan wants him badly enough, it sounds like they should be able to wrap him up early. Michigan State has offered him, but Michigan may be waiting to evaluate him before offering.
- Michigan is among the favorites for OH RB William Mahone (they'd probably be the favorite if the former coaching staff was still in town), and he impressed at the Under Armour combine ($, info in header).
IL QB Robert Gregory has Michigan near the top of his list. However, they weren't in his top five in mid-January, as Iowa, Notre Dame, Oregon, Miami (YTM), and Northwestern got the honor. Gregory has dual-threat ability, but is looking to play in an offense that's primarily pro-style. Michigan's newfound pro-style offense with room for a dual-threat (hello: Denard Robinson) is a huge benefit there, as is their pursuit of Jordan Diamond.
OH WR Monty Madaris has the Wolverines near the top of his list.
Michigan's coaches have been in to visit CO OL Shane Callahan. Probably convenient as they were heading out to check on 2011 LB Leilon Willingham, though Leilon ended up siging with UCF.
IL DT Tommy Schutt already has a decision timeline in mind ($, info in header). As he's just a junior, "before his senior season" is a good bet.
OH DE teammates LaTroy Lewis and Greg McMullen from Akron Hoban are hearing from Michigan. Lewis's father briefly attended Michigan, but it seems as though Ohio State leads for him.
Michigan has "shown interest" in OH LB Mason Monheim.
NJ LB Elijah Shumate doesn't mention the Wolverines to Palmetto Sports's Eric Guimaraes, and his top five is South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Rutgers, and LSU.
WI LB Vince Biegel plans to visit Michigan.
TheRinger.com profiles OH S Bam Bradley (pictured at right):
A safety with that size and instincts, a sound tackler who is comfortable in both the run and pass is going to be a big time recruit. Should be a prospect that can come in and player earlier than later. The weaknesses we see are nothing that can’t be corrected with solid coaching and a willing learner, which Bradley is.
Bradley's from Trotwood-Madison, one of Michigan's favorite schools of late.
Happy Trails (already!) to AZ QB Connor Brewer. One of the top pro-style QBs in the country committed to Texas.
Offensive and Defensive hotlists from MGoUser JC3, and Tom has a huge list of prospects to keep an eye on in his Weekly Update. We'll look at it in more detail next week, when we're not crunched for space. Scout's Allen Trieu has a preliminary list of top in-state prospects. Some top prospects from Lakewood (OH) St. Edward. Michigan has already offered a couple of them, and OL Kyle Kalis is already committed to Ohio State. On today's Recruiting Roundup, Sam mentioned that Brady Hoke has dropped by the schools of a few top juniors, including Wormley and Diamond.
The 4-3 is back, like it never sort of left and then really really left against Purdue and then came back and then altered into a slightly different version of itself and then mutated into a bizarre thing that was like the thing against Purdue but wasn't really because the person doing the mutating spent all his time watching his "Best of Just For Men Commercials" DVD. It will not suddenly be replaced by things that start with the number 3 and end with razorblades and pain. In the long term, this is delightful.
In the short term… eh… there might be some issues. This series is an attempt to fit Michigan's noses, ends, spurs, bandits, spinners, deathbackers, doombackers, dipbackers and frosting-covered gnomes into their new homes.
We start with the defensive line.
What we were forced to watch last year
Michigan stemmed into four man fronts occasionally but spent most of its time with a three man front featuring a traditional nose tackle who lined up directly over the center and two defensive ends. It was unclear to me if these defensive ends were intended to slant one way or the other at the snap—an aggressive "one gap" system—or if they were reading and reacting—a "two gap" system—because of the massive confusion surrounding them. It was hard to tell if Greg Banks was trying to cover two gaps unsuccessfully or just getting single blocked all the time.
They did typically line up slightly outside (lingo: "shaded outside") the tackles, indicating that it was probably the former:
You'd have to be the sort of idiot that would have Craig Roh play linebacker to play Craig Roh as a two-gap DE at 235 pounds, but… yeah.
At other times Michigan would switch to a four-man front in which their linebackers did things that made no goddamn sense at all, like on this soon-to-be 61-yard-touchdown…
…but that's another show. I bring it up to point out that in this situation you see Greg Banks as the weakside(!) defensive end, Craig Roh as the strongside guy, and Ryan Van Bergen folded inside to be the three-tech defensive tackle. This is a shifted line rather than an 'even' line, but more about that later.
What we were forced to watch the year before
Michigan ran mostly four-man lines and while they varied they usually put Brandon Graham on the weakside-ish of the formation. Here Illinois presents a balanced line with two TEs but you can see Martin lined up over the nose tackle and Graham to the bottom of the screen with a big gap between the two. Banks and Roh are to the top of the screen:
The linebacker walks down to the LOS in an effort to prevent Graham and Martin from getting double-teamed. When there is no TE on the weakside teams had a choice between singling Graham or Martin, which is why Graham got to eat the universe so often.
Sometimes they would line up differently. Here's another play on which Graham is on the weakside, well outside of the tackle as Martin lines up directly over the guard:
This is actually an "even" look where Michigan's not shifted. The DTs are over the guards, the ends line up outside the shoulder of the tackles.
They did occasionally stem into 3-3-5-ish looks, but note here that the defensive "ends" are lined up inside the tackles—this defense is designed to push runs to the outside.
Michigan ran this front most of the day against Ohio State and had success against their traditional I-form game, but struggled when the Buckeyes went to unbalanced spread sets. USC ran this quite a bit in the last few years of the Carroll regime; they called it "double eagle".
What can't possibly be quite as bad next year
My assumption is the defense is going to look a lot like the 2009 one did. That was a 4-3 under. I was going to go dig up old Michigan rosters featuring the "rush linebacker" to demonstrate that Michigan's old school defense also tended to have a guy hanging out on the edge made of menace and sacks while the other guy enjoyed fighting off tight ends but then I remembered Hoke obviated the need for circumstantial evidence:
“We’re going to be a four-three defense, either an over or under front.”
Those sound like two totally different things but they're not. This from above is an "over" front:
This is an "under" front:
And you're probably like "that's the same damn thing except Craig Roh is standing up." You're right. The difference in the pictures is the offense. In the MSU still there are more DL to the side with the TE and FB; in the Western still there are more DL away from the side of the formation with more dudes. Both have a one-technique DT and a three-technique DT. Both leave a big gap between the one-tech DT and the DT to his side. They're just mirror images of each other. A couple of helpful graphs from Shakin' The Southland to clarify. Michigan's overshifted line in the State image:
And the undershifted line against WMU:
The only player that ends up aligning differently is the strongside DE; it's really just flipping the tackles over.
That's still a useful distinction Hoke made for us, though, because a team that is under/over is going to have different requirements than a team that aligns even like Michigan did on that Iowa play above. We get to keep our terminology from two years ago when we talked about the three-tech DT and the one-tech DT.
Every team is "multiple" these days and will run under/over/even fronts as changeups. Also, the generally accepted theory is that under is better against pro-style teams that will bang your head and over is better against spread teams that will take your strongside linebacker into the slot. So when Hoke says "under/over" he probably means Michigan is going to run both depending on situation, not that they'll pick one when they figure out their personnel a bit better.
What you need at each spot
From right to left in the second graph above:
- The weakside defensive end is going to get a one-on-one matchup with the tackle most of the time and needs to turn that opportunity into plays. Think Shawn Crable, Pierre Woods, etc.
- The three-tech DT also usually gets a one-on-one matchup with the guard. He should be a penetrator that gets into the backfield with regularity. NFL DTs you've heard of (Warren Sapp is the canonical one) who aren't barely mobile piles of goo are probably three-techs.
- The one-tech DT is going to experience a ton of double teams as the offense attempts to attack the "bubble" in the front the defense leaves but not putting someone over the other guard. You know all those successful zone running plays the site has explained over the years that start with a guard blocking some DT and end with that guard plugging a linebacker as someone else slides over to finish the job on the NT? That's what you don't want your nose tackle giving up.
- The strongside DE should be Brandon Graham. Failing that, he should be a big, strong guy who's good against the run and can add some pass rush here and there.
A post from Battle Red Blog provides more detail on what your 4-3 under requires—at least on an NFL level—if you're interested.
Who goes where
Craig Roh is the weakside defensive end and will be backed up by Herron/Paskorz/Beyer/Heitzman. Attempts to move Roh elsewhere will be thwarted by a plucky band of kids and their dog ripping the Mattison mask off of a dastardly Greg Robinson.
There are two scenarios for the rest of the line. In the happy fairy dance scenario, Mattison, Hoke, and Beyonce are so much better than Bruce Tall and Greg Robinson that they transform the platoon of Will Campbell, Quinton Washington, and Richard Ash into a functional one-tech DT. Here's what happens if they don't and they move Martin:
Yeeargh. I'll believe Will Campbell can play D when I see it but Ash and Washington got some praise last year so you've got three bullets. It's possible this happens, if not probable.
If you can assemble a frankentackle in the middle then you can slide Mike Martin out to the three-tech spot he doesn't know he's been coveting for years. Imagine senior Martin getting single blocked on most plays. Tingling is normal when contemplating this scenario.
As a bonus, successfully moving Martin to the three tech allows you to leave Ryan Van Bergen at DE, where he is the kind of solid run defender you need on the strongside. He'll chip in a half-dozen sacks and be the B+ version of a strongside defensive end and that will be fine.
The realistic-thing-that-will-be-called-pessimistic-in-the-comments scenario is that Campbell/Washington/Ash produce a guy or two worth platooning but actually running those guys out as starters is asking to be smashed. This strands Mike Martin at the one-tech and essentially forces them to move Van Bergen back to the three-tech spot he occupied in 2009. Redshirt freshman Terrance Talbott is the only other three-tech on the roster until fall. Neither of these things are necessarily bad. RVB graded out decently in UFRs a couple years ago and picked up six sacks; Martin is good enough to play either spot.
What is bad is what that does to the strongside defensive end spot, where Jibreel Black would be an all-but-certain starter as a true sophomore. Black had some promising moments last year… as a pass rusher. He had many more in which his terrible run defense hurt Michigan, and while he'll get better it seems doubtful he'll get better fast enough to be an asset. The only other option at SDE is redshirt freshman Ken Wilkins.
It is possible that in this scenario they put Roh on the strongside since he'll be a junior and he's been less prone to crippling mistakes against the run. His main problem has been a lack of size that the offseason should come close to erasing. That would take a guy who's presumably going to be Michigan's best pass rusher and put him in a position to get doubled lots, though.
Awkwardness Rating On A One To Rodriguez-Interviews-Hoke Scale
Depends on scenario but this shouldn't be too bad. In the happy fairy scenario Michigan's personnel fits a shifted line like a glove. You've got three battleship type NTs, two guys on the weakside who will wreak havoc, a solid guy at SDE, and a scattering of decent backups.
Even in the regular non-fairy scenario you've got good personnel at three spots. SDE would probably be an issue. Either way it's way better than trying to use Craig Roh as a LB or three-man-line DE.
The must-get. I mentioned this on twitter yesterday but in case you don't follow me and my pork-induced time travel, this man exists:
This man exists and is an in-state defensive back who already claims an Iowa offer. I promise to refer to him as LEVITICUS PAYNE, in full, in caps, for the duration of his career if he ends up at Michigan. Unless that is an illegal inducement. Which it totally isn't.
Love expert. So… yeah… this…
…is the best thing ever produced by a university athletic department. Fact. It also produced a sad zinger, if you're a masochist. (Quick masochist test follows. Q: Are you a Michigan fan?)
Pipped. Sticking with hockey, Bryan Hogan is healthy. Unfortunately for him, Shawn Hunwick's been playing as well as he possibly can and Hogan's had nine games over the past year. Result:
Hunwick has been solid since then, and remains the Wolverines' No. 1 goalie. But if necessary, Berenson said Hogan could be inserted into the lineup. Berenson said he never considered making a change in Saturday's 3-0 loss to Miami after Hunwick gave up three goals in the first 40 minutes.
Not sure why he'd pull Hunwick after he gave up some goals where 1) he fell victim to a wraparound because he's short and has to come way out of the net, 2) got sold out on a breakaway, which he stopped, only to get sold out on the guy following up the play, and 3) gave up a 5x3 goal on a cross-ice bomb to one of the nation's best power plays.
Also, Red fired up the line blender and came up with this:
Carl Hagelin Louie Caporusso Chris Brown
Scooter Vaughan Matt Rust Luke Glendening
David Wohlberg A.J. Treais Luke Moffatt
Ben Winnett Kevin Lynch Derek DeBlois
Based on recent performance I think AnnArbor.com has the second and third lines flipped there. Will it matter? Eh… maybe. I still think you have to put Lindsey Sparks in just to see what happens when a little guy with some skill gets on the ice.
Basketball follow-up. When I went back to assess NCAA tournament chances it struck me how close this team was to pulling off two or three wins that would have them not on the bubble but solidly in the tourney, and I thought about the 2009 team that got those wins against UCLA and Duke.
So is it good or bad that right now Michigan is the #55 team in Kenpom? Two years ago the Michigan team that made the second round of the tourney finished the year 50th. This team is nearly their equal. Look:
This year's team is slightly worse at both O and D but the differences are small and Michigan is so young you can argue they'd play better down the stretch than older teams closer to the top of the learning curve. That year's team was also so young—289th nationally—and improved at the tail end to squeeze its way in. If this edition of Michigan basketball can do that against a reasonable closing stretch the sole difference between this year and the tourney year will be a few points here and there against UCLA, Duke, Syracuse, OSU, and Kansas.
Possible addition. Chris Pool tweeted something about a Graham Glasgow visiting Michigan this weekend. [update: and as I write this I see Tom's all-seeing eye has confirmed it.] Glasgow is a 2011 OL from Illinois with no ranking anywhere. After reading the stuff available on Rivals it seems he's a preferred walk-on sort. He had an Eastern Michigan offer but Minnesota was talking to him about walking on. Also he just visited Ohio State(!), and I'm pretty sure they're full since OL Chris Carter ended up not getting charged* in his Hand That Rocks The Cradle case. If he's looking for a walk-on spot Michigan can accommodate that, and possibly sell him on the idea he's got a better shot at PT at M.
*[Which seriously people, when you complain about Ohio State being "at it again" you sound ridiculous. Fulmer Cup standings do not lie unless we're talking about Michigan State. Feel free to hammer OSU for its regular scandals involving their players having contact with boosters and Kiffin-esque secondary violation collection, but as far as behavior goes people who live in fairly sturdy brick houses shouldn't throw rocks at others in fairly sturdy brick houses. It's pointless and you look silly.]
Exactly wrong. Excellent The Only Colors post on the effect losing Korey Lucious has had on the Spartan basketball team stands in magnificent contrast to the News's take: "Deflating loss exposes Spartans' lack of grit, heart." This is exactly wrong. MSU is playing an elf who bakes cookies. He is backing up another goofy walk-on. This is the corrected version of that headline:
Deflating loss exposes Spartans' excess of grit, heart
Deflating loss exposes Spartans' lack of persons to put balls through hoop
Not that this will stop anyone's stupid meme. Some poll found that 81 percent of the state didn't go to either Michigan or Michigan State. A third of these people said they weren't fans of either. A third said they were MSU fans, a third said they were Michigan fans.
Graph. Here's a graph of Michigan's offerees and where they went from Touch The Banner:
It'll be interesting to see how this graph shifts under Hoke. Guessing the overall numbers get smaller and the SEC's share shrinks drastically.
Etc.: Kansas ditched the students who follow players around to make sure they're in class and is now going with senior citizens. About half of I-A has gotten nailed for major violations, but major ain't what it used to be. Michigan gets to be on a list of a dozen schools that got hit twice YAYAYAYAYAY. Bob Wojonowski being Radley Balko back in the day. Previous article about Rodriguez dissing former players disputed by Woodley, Orr, Runyan. Stewart Mandel obliterates Saban's attempt to defend himself from negative PR about oversigning.
This is the continuation of my offensive post from yesterday. Michigan obviously addressed the defensive side of the ball in 2011, and luckily for Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison the Midwest is loaded with some great defensive talent for an even better haul.
I’d go far enough to say that a top-10 class is possible, and that’s not even considering states like Texas or California, which we know this staff can recruit.
I’m going to start off with the defensive backs and linebackers, since I know many of you want to know about all the tackle prospects! Patience.
CB Terry Richardson – 5'9, 160 lbs, Detroit, Michigan.
Richardson is the next great cornerback in the proverbial line of smallish Cass Tech cornerbacks. Terry is more similar to BooBoo as a faster prospect with good hips, though he will need to add some weight and be more physical at the next level. There is some worry amongst Michigan fans that Richardson is not being offered fast enough, but that offer will come soon.
Other offers: Iowa, Alabama, LSU, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Michigan State
Safety Bam Bradley – 6'2, 200 lbs, Trotwood, Ohio.
Bam is a great talent to go along with a great name. A player similar to current Wolverine Marvin Robinson, Bradley has the potential to be a safety or grow into linebacker at the next level. Bradley suffered through a hamstring injury his junior year, so his stats weren’t very good. Obviously Michigan has the Trotwood trio on their current roster, but Bradley is being watched by Ohio State and will likely be offered.
Other offers: Michigan State, Northwestern
Safety Deshaun Hall – 6'1, 205 lbs, Canton, Ohio.
Many think of Bradley as one of the top safeties in the state, but Deshaun Hall is quietly becoming one of the best safeties in the state of Ohio and the Midwest as well. He’s got very good size, and is a great free safety prospect in college. Unfortunately, Ohio State has been through his school a number of times and he’s visited them as well.
Other offers/interest: No offers, but Oregon, Pitt, Wisconsin, and others are interested.
CB Cody Quinn – 5'10, 165 lbs, Middletown, Ohio.
Quinn is a smooth cornerback with great hips and he has good speed to match as well. Helped his team go 10 in their regular season and is one of the top cornerbacks in Ohio. Cincinnati was the first to offer, but it’s a pretty down year in Ohio, so don’t be surprised to see Quinn get a lot of looks.
Other interest: Notre Dame, Michigan State
LB James Ross – 6'1 210 lbs, Orchard Lake, Michigan
One of the top players in Michigan, Ross struggled last season due to a number of injuries. Michigan has been in on him since his late sophomore year, and that interest is continuing. Ross was very happy with the hiring of Greg Mattison, and he will visit Michigan, along with Ohio State, and Notre Dame among others.
Other Offers: Michigan State, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati
LB Royce Jenkins-Stone – 6’2, 215 lbs, Detroit Michigan.
Where Ross is a much more polished product, Royce is still tapping into his potential. A great physical athlete who can move sideline to sideline, Stone has turned into one of the top linebackers in the state and the midwest as well. One of Brady Hoke’s first stops once he arrived at Michigan was to see Coach Wilcher and his players at Cass, so you won’t need to worry about Royce getting an offer or not.
Other Offers: Iowa, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Michigan State
LB Laron Taylor – 6'0, 205 lbs, Detroit Michigan.
While Jenkins-Stone is the more recognizable name at Cass Tech, an evolving star is Laron Taylor, who plays alongside Royce. Taylor is a bit undersized as a linebacker, but I had the chance to see him play in person once and he’s a terrific athlete who will be able to play linebacker at the next level. Iowa was the first to offer Taylor, but there is serious interest from a lot of schools after Taylor put out his junior film.
DT Vincent Valentine – 6'3, 300 lbs, Edwardsville, Illinois
Aside from having a cool name Valentine is a big talent who’s mostly upside at this point in time. He’s already visited Missouri and Kansas State, but Valentine is very open at this point and would be great to get on campus.
Other offers: Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas State, Tennessee, Wisconsin
DT Danny O’Brien – 6'3, 280 lbs, Flint, Michigan
A top-10 player in the state and premium talent. One of O’Brien’s “heroes” happens to be Mike Martin, and he’s visited Michigan a few times. However, Tennessee has been showing him serious interest as well, and they may lead. Hoke and Mattison really need to do work on this kid.
DT Matthew Godin – 6'5, 260 lbs, Deroit, Michigan.
Godin is another player who’s really come on strong since last year. He will probably end up as a three-technique in college, as he is more of a end right now. Buffalo and Cincinnati were the first to come through with offers, and Michigan State offered Godin recently on his visit to their junior day as well. Has strong family ties to Michigan.
DE Evan Winston – 6'4, 260 lbs, Muskegon, Michigan
A name you might not have heard much but will hear more of, Winston travelled all around the country last year camping, and he had a really strong showing on the field as well. He’s been collecting offers like crazy; Michigan State has been talking to him, and I expect Michigan will show interest as well. Brother plays at CMU.
Other offers: Ball State, Bowling Green, Toledo, Syracuse, Eastern Michigan
DE Tom Strobel – 6'6, 240 lbs, Mentor, Ohio
Ohio is absolutely loaded at defensive end in 2012.. which is why I think this guy may slip through the cracks. Strobel is a big body that moves well and plays for a very good Mentor program. He has visited Ohio State but I don’t think they’re heavily interested in him. High-academic kid too
Other offers: Cincinatti, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Purdue
DE Chris Wormley – 6'4, 255, Whitmer, Ohio
A consensus top-10 (rated #3 by rivals) player in Ohio next year, Wormley is a big body who excels in pass rushing. He’s got all the physical tools, and simply needs solid coaching and a high motor to put it all together. The consensus from people in Ohio is that Wormley will go to Michigan. He’s visited there a few times and though he may not say it, is leaning that way. Still, a long way to go in the recruiting process.
Other offers: Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Toledo, Cincinnati
You’ll notice I did not include some of the Ohio “Super” defensive ends. I did not include Washington, McMullen, Pittman, or Lewis (All top-10 players in Ohio). Frankly, I do not think Michigan will be able to pull any of them. Unless Ohio State takes 3, it will be incredibly difficult for the new staff to get in on these players. Most of them have been talking to Ohio State for 2 years and visited numerous times.
With that being said anything can happen.
Feel free to shoot me for the headline.
2/6/2011 – Michigan 65, Penn State 62 – 14-10, 4-7 Big Ten
Michigan played well for about ten minutes yesterday but in those ten minutes they poured in three pointers from all over, drove to the basket with abandon, and twice turned double-digit Penn State leads into deficits. Since Darius Morris kept Michigan in contact during the other thirty and six of the ten minutes came at the end of the game that meant Michigan won.
That isn't a small feat. Penn State spent the past month cannibalizing seeds across the Big Ten by defending their home court. They beat Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan State at the Bryce-Jordan Center. On the road they were this close to enormous upsets of Ohio State (L 69-66) and Purdue (L 63-62). In a not-very-alternate universe they were cruising towards a tourney bid even if they did get crushed by Maine.
So that was a good, weird win. If you want it in a chart (chart):
The point on the graph where it drops like a stone until the end should be labeled "Hardaway kill switch engaged." Down ten and aimless with nine minutes left is when the fan packs it in and starts grumbling. In this game it's also when Tim Hardaway goes from Freshman Liability, Jr., to Just Tim Hardaway, Thanks.
In the two minutes of video above a possible future of Michigan basketball reveals itself. When UMHoops describes the Hardaway sequence above as a "coming of age" Dylan's talking about Hardaway himself, but it could be one for the team as a whole. Those things don't seem that different right now.
Everyone comes back next year, so the various bits of basketball that depend on cohesion (rotation on D, cuts and passing on O, etc.) should improve. Everyone should get incrementally better, which gets you an increment. Michigan's hopes to go from an NIT hopeful to a solid NCAA team rely on at least one guy getting so much better that twitter threatens to kill Tim Doyle again, and the erratic freshman leading Michigan in shots is the obvious candidate.
In the clips above it's not the three-pointers that set hopes to tingle. We've seen Hardaway shoot a ton of threes this year and while he's adding a couple points of shooting percentage to them is encouraging, Michigan has plenty of guys who can take shots from outside the arc. It's the two different drives to the hoop where he glides into the lane and elevates to finish. Yes, you are 6'5". Yes, you are Tim Hardaway's son. Yes, you can turn into the kind of player who's an all-around nightmare. Yes, please, by next year.
This year we expected and got that graph above, struggles punctuated by tantalizing flashes. So far we've gotten slightly more of the latter than we were banking on. Maintain that, reach the NIT, and get one guy—one guy—to make a Morris-like leap and next year Beilein's program can establish itself for real.
Let's get ahead of ourselves bullets
Let's not get ahead of ourselves. File this under general fan overreaction as well:
After PSU Win, Can U-M Make a Tourney Run?
That's The Wolverine Blog laying out Michigan's stretch run and saying "well?" Said run, home games in bold:
Feb. 9 — vs. Northwestern — 14-8 overall (4-7 Big Ten, 3-4 road), No. 53 Sagarin, No. 76 RPI
Feb. 12 — vs. Indiana — 12-12 overall (3-8 Big Ten, 0-7 road), No. 89 Sagarin, No. 148 RPI
Feb. 16 — at Illinois — 15-8 overall (5-5 Big Ten, 11-1 home), No. 27 Sagarin, No. 37 RPI
Feb. 19 — at Iowa — 10-13 overall (3-8 Big Ten, 7-5 home), No. 103 Sagarin, No. 130 RPI
Feb. 23 — vs. Wisconsin — 17-5 overall (7-3 Big Ten, 2-4 road), No. 14 Sagarin, No. 20 RPI
Feb. 26 — at Minnesota — 16-7 overall (5-6 Big Ten, 11-2 home), No. 32 Sagarin, No. 24 RPI
Mar. 5 — vs. Michigan State — 13-10 overall (5-6 Big Ten, 3-6 road), No. 43 Sagarin, No. 49 RPI
Opposite the hockey devil sitting on my shoulder there's a basketball angel screaming "THIS IS TOTALLY DOABLE." There are four games on the schedule (the home games that aren't Wisconsin and @ Iowa) that look like should-wins, which gets Michigan to eight wins, and then if you squint real hard you can see Michigan picking off one of the others to get to 9-9 in the nation's toughest conference. That plus 19-12 overall could get into the new, pointlessly larger field.
There's a problem with the mind's definition of "should," though. Accrording to Kenpom Michigan's easiest game left is against Indiana. Michigan has a 69% shot to win that. Even if Kenpom is wildly pessimistic and Michigan has a 70% shot at all four of its "should-wins" that means they have just a 24% shot to win all four, and even then they'd have to pick off one of the other three, and in reality Kenpom has Michigan a slight underdog @ Iowa. Add it all up and a pretty accurate mathematical model says Michigan has a 10% chance to get to 9-9. Not so good.
Michigan really needed to pull out that Kansas game or the Ohio State game that immediately followed. Even without making the small positive adjustment in expectations that would give them a 35% chance to finish 9-9 or better and a marquee win to thrill the committee with. And at that point 8-10 might be feasible since they'd still be 19-12 overall in that scenario. If that was in play they'd have a 60-70% shot at the tourney.
As it stands they'll have to play perfectly to make it, and with all these freshmen the chances of that are slim. If I had to guess it'd say 17 or 18 wins and an NIT bid, which would be fine by me.
More evidence about the getting ahead of yourself. Michigan's still tenth in the league in efficiency margin, though said margins aren't huge and Michigan's finishing stretch is probably easier than average:
W-L Pace PPP Opp. PPP EM
1. Wisconsin 7-3 56.1 1.19 1.03 +0.16
2. Ohio St. 11-0 63.0 1.14 1.00 +0.14
3. Purdue 7-3 64.0 1.14 1.04 +0.10
4. Illinois 5-5 62.7 1.10 1.03 +0.07
5. Penn St. 5-6 58.6 1.07 1.09 -0.02
6. Minnesota 5-6 61.7 1.07 1.10 -0.03
7. Northwestern 4-7 63.2 1.08 1.14 -0.06
8. Indiana 3-8 63.0 1.06 1.13 -0.07
9. Michigan St. 5-6 61.6 1.03 1.10 -0.07
10. Michigan 4-7 59.7 1.07 1.15 -0.08
11. Iowa 3-8 65.9 1.00 1.11 -0.11
AVG. 61.8 1.09
Big Ten Wonk (aka John Gasaway) dubs this "The Year Nobody Sucked" because the league's worst team is way better than LSU or DePaul or Wake Forest, all of whom are just getting hammered. So… on paper we're filing three teams with better conference efficiency margins as should-wins when we're constructing our tourney fantasies.
Also of note in the above numbers: Michigan's defense is the worst in the league. It's close; the number is still the number. This isn't hugely surprising given the fleet of underclassmen and Zach Novak's persistent inability to escape the 4, but it's a comedown from earlier in the season when the Michigan D was shockingly proficient. I think we've got an obvious route for Michigan's offense to improve, but the defense is murkier. Michigan needs Smotrycz and Hardaway to get a lot better, I think, but without numbers that's just one guy's opinion.
Very aggressive. Earlier in the year I mentioned that Morris should have more of a nose for the basket when Michigan ran the shot clock under ten and in this game he went nuts with an array of floaters in the lane, layups he'd fought for tooth and nail, and various other shots where the viewer was like "bad idea bad idea bad idea actually that looks like he got a decent shot off it went in yay."
Part of this was Penn State adopting OSU's defensive approach—stick to the shooters and force shots from the lane. It worked for OSU because they have athletic shotblockers in the post and Michigan missed a lot of short-range shots. Penn State just gave up a lot of points in the lane.
Torrent. The rest of UMHoops' five key plays. Game recap. AnnArbor.com scouts Trey Burke against Brookhaven; UMHoops catches him going for 35 in a narrow loss to St. Edward. Mets Maize also chips in recap bits. Since I neglected to mention him:
Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any dumber, Stu Douglass, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself! Consitent with Michigan's inconsistent season, Stu, who probably had his worst game of the year against Ohio State a few days ago, had his best game yet: 14 points, including 4/5 from behind the arc, 4 boards and 3 assists off the bench. I still think Stu needs to have more shot clock awareness at the 1, but he made timely 3's all game. One 3 came mid-way through the 2nd half to cut Penn States's lead from 10 to 7 when Michigan JUST started to look as if they were ready to give up. STUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.
MGoUser 2012 also assesses Michigan's chances at a tourney bid and comes to the same conclusion—wait 'til next year.