that is nice bonus change
Ah, the Post. They title Larry Lage's dry AP article thusly:
MICHIGAN HAYMAKER KOS AMAKER
Martin interview. Interesting that the guys with the clutch Martin interview are the AANews guys instead of the Freep/News guys. Maybe it's because they weren't advancing ridiculous theories about the program in the last couple weeks. Sections of note:
Q: What are you going to look for in the next coach?
Martin: We need to win. Part of Michigan's culture is we have had sports programs that have performed at the highest level. We have sustained competitive excellence. We win routinely Big Ten championships and we knock on the national door occasionally.
Q: What if a candidate questions your outdated arena and lack of practice facility?
Martin: I will say we have hired a consultant who is at this moment working on the infrastructure components of Crisler Arena. We will be able to involve that new coach in this process going forward. I will not give a timetable. We do not have a project. But it's a wonderful opportunity to be a part of it. Furthermore, I will say that it's my believe Crisler Arena is not the end all and be all to having a successful program.
Q: What do you want to pay a new coach?
Martin: I haven't even thought about that. I think coaching salaries are driven by the market, and you've got to take a look at the market.
Q: Can you afford top dollar if you decide that's appropriate for a candidate?
Martin: Sure, we're capable. That doesn't mean we will. What do you mean by top dollar? Some current salaries are above what I'd consider responsible in terms of total salary and deferred compensation.
That's some gooooood diggin'. The Free Press managed to unearth the two Michigan fans who didn't want to see a new coach:
Nate Garafi disagreed, saying Amaker was unfairly singled out even though the team finished the season with about the same record as Michigan State.
"We say keep him," the 23-year-old Howell resident said, as another friend nodded agreement. "... They did play good this year."
About as good as your grammar (ZING!). Title of article? "Michigan fans conflicted about Amaker firing."
There is only one possible response to this assertion.
"They (Michigan) better take a look at what they're going to do from the top down because when you fire somebody who's won 20 games, I still say you've got to look at the whole deal," Izzo said. "It's easy to blame one guy."
Lloyd Carr, November 2002:
"I think it's very important that Bobby Williams be given the opportunity to fulfill his requirement at Michigan State University," Carr said. "This game is about the players, trying to get an education and compete in an arena that is very competitive."
Wonk has an issue. This is it:
During the Ohio State-Xavier game I learned that Tommy Amaker had been fired as head coach at Michigan. I reserve the right to say more on this in the coming days but for now let me just remark on one distressing aspect of the first cycle of coverage on this: I'm already hearing references to the "recruiting hotbed" of Detroit and how important it will be for a new coach at Michigan to corner that market.
As we embark on a couple weeks of what promises to be rollicking good coach-hire chat, let us note at the outset that proximity to a recruiting hotbed doesn't correlate real well with success. If it did, the best programs in the country would be St. John's, DePaul, and USC. They're not.
I must dissent mildly. While he's got a good point that proximity to "recruiting hotbeds" does not necessarily correlate with success, the assertion that Michigan needs Detroit to be a power, to borrow a style of emphasis, is absolutely true. The vast majority of Michigan's recent success has been built on the backs of Detroit recruits, and a major reason for their Edvard Munch-level horrific performance (tm) in recent years has been an inability to keep Joe Crawford and Malik Hairston and etc etc around. Detroit has always been Michigan basketball's primary stomping grounds when it has not sucked, and without a strong presence in Detroit -- which still sends kids like Dion Harris, Deshawn Sims, and Manny Harris to Michigan simply because they love the place -- any new coach will be behind the eight ball from day one. Unless the new guy is Mike Montgomery or someone else who could hypothetically recruit nationally, success in Detroit is a prerequisite to success on the court, though it does not guarantee it.
I am tired of Terry Foster's crap. Both he and Drew Sharp stated in no uncertain terms that Amaker was going nowhere before he was fired, citing Mary Sue Coleman's reluctance to fire Amaker because he was very nice and his wife was very good at his job. Despite being proven completely and utterly wrong, Foster refuses to back off this line of reasoning:
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.
(Also, for God's sake, Detroit News: "click here to read the rest of this blog" is the equivalent of "Turn to A11 to read the rest of this newspaper.") Bill Martin directly contradicted this in an interview with the Ann Arbor News:
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.
Foster has absolutely nothing to back up his assertions that there was a power struggle between Martin and Coleman, not even the questionable-at-best retention of Amaker, something he incorr
ectly forecast last week with authority. But yet he throws it out there without any repercussions. Remember this the next time someone decries blogs as unreliable spreaders of rumor. At least when I'm talking out of my ass I let you know, unlike Drew Sharp:
But it's unlikely Amaker is going anywhere.
This was his biggest week at Michigan, and although there's genuine disappointment at what likely will be another NCAA tournament shutout, the program wasn't humiliated against Michigan State or the Buckeyes.
Choking is one thing. But quitting is another, and the Wolverines fought hard.
But fueling the coach's job security most is that he's the second-most-popular Amaker on campus. His wife, Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, is an associate dean of students who co-chaired a large university fund-raising initiative. She's a rising star in the academic community, something that's not lost on university president Mary Sue Coleman, who remains an advocate of diversity despite recent legal challenges.
Do you think she'll risk losing a highly qualified African-American female educator because her basketball-coaching husband hasn't fulfilled expectations?
Yes. Yes, I do.
So it's with a mine of salt that you should take Foster's ludicrous assertion today that "the buzz around the University of Michigan is that Marquette's Tom Crean is a guy they would love to have coaching the Wolverines." Crean won't even schedule Michigan State -- a team he just got blown out by, by the way -- because it would be too painful to go up against Tom Izzo. (Evidently all MSU-affiliated coaches have a special relationship with the God Emperor of East Lansing.) And he's supposed to come coach MSU's biggest rival? And would Michigan even be interested in a vastly overcompensated coach -- he makes more than all but four coaches according to a recent USA Today article -- who has found distinctly mediocre success when not blessed with Dwyane Wade? Crean makes no sense for Michigan in any way, but Foster spins his disproportionate compensation as a reason Michigan will have to shell out way more money than they're willing to if they want to find a capable coach.
This is an egregious misrepresentation of the situtaion: Foster throws Crean's 1.5 million out as the only benchmark for a successful coach and underestimates Amaker's salary by 200k in pursuit of his erroneous thesis.* This '01 Daily article says Amaker was making at least 600k even if he didn't get a bump on later contracts, and Rosenberg's column cites his salary as 700k. The bulk of the coaches on the USA today list are within 200-300k of that. If Amaker had been successful, he would now be making the same amount of money as Bruce Weber at Illinois: 900k. Michigan will pay its next head coach a competitive salary, it won't be Tom Crean, and Terry Foster knows nothing.
*(For an even more dishonest take, check out this "blog" from earlier:
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?
Sure, that less than a quarter of what he's actually making but let's just throw it out there. Foster lies for his own aggrandizement and no one calls him on it.)
Better stuff: Wojo and Rosenberg's takes are similar: Amaker had to go, new coach not a panacea, facilities, etc. I find slight irritation at Wojo referencing Amaker's salary being one of the lowest in the Big Ten, since... um... Amaker's salary should have been one of the lowest in the Big Ten: he was one of the worst coaches in it. His contract was competitive when he signed his but he never got to renegotiate terms because he never got to the tournament. By the end six years of rapid salary growth -- as noted earlier in this space, over a six-year span from 1997 to 2003 average coaching compensation shot up 89 percent -- of course Amaker's contract is going to look paltry in comparison to those with actual accomplishments. This isn't parsimony, it's common sense.
Other than that, both columns are worth a look.
Grady "devastated" according to the AANews, who seems to be ahead of the game in this whole business. (They got the Martin interview, too, though it was Eric Lacy at the News who got in touch with Legion first .) The Gradys say they'll wait to see who the new coach is before deciding anything. Interesting possibility:
Kevin Grady Sr. said that it's possible his son could play football in college, perhaps even at Michigan. Kelvin Grady's brother, Kevin, is a backup tailback for the Wolverines.
Kelvin had a hell of a playoff run, IIRC.
National reaction. The Amaker firing is big news, getting prominent placement on ESPN.com on an enormously busy sports day yesterday for a large part of the day and spurring notes from various analysts during a full day of March Madness action. Andy Katz called Michigan the premiere job of the offseason on ESPN Radio. The New York Times:
Publicly, Big Ten coaches will say that the firing of Amaker is unfortunate, but privately they are concerned about the reawakening of a power that won a national championship in 1989 and made the title game in 1992 and 1993 behind the famed Fab Five.
Robert Parrish at CBS Sportsline:
Now you know why people weren't jumping all over the Minnesota job. It's because few wanted to get too involved with that gig until they were certain Michigan wouldn't open considering everybody assumed Michigan would open eventually.
On Saturday, eventually arrived. And if Michigan is willing to throw around big money and invest in facilities then it will lure a high-profile coach from somewhere and again become a basketball power now that the uninspired Tommy Amaker era is complete.
Don't let the Amaker party line about facilities and Izzo and the like dissuade you. Michigan is a top 20 program historically and has the one thing you can't buy with money: sex appeal. Like Oklahoma or USC in football, once a historical power comes back to life it usually does so with a roar.
9 Michigan State
2 Notre Dame
15 Air Force
10 North Dakota
5 Boston College
12 St. Lawrence
First Round Adjustments
Michigan can't play MSU and Maine can't play UNH in the first round. Usually the way this goes is the committee will swap lower seeds in an attempt to give the 1 seed the easier draw -- and they display such charming faith in the exactitude of the PWR when they do so. So MSU will probably get swapped with North Dakota and Maine with Miami. We'll do this and use the actual seeds:
3 North Dakota
1 Notre Dame
4 Air Force
3 Michigan State
3 St. Lawrence
UNH is hosting so that bracket is in Manchester. The Clarkson bracket is a natural fit in Rochester. Now we're weighing Minnesota, UND, and Michigan versus ND and MSU for Grand Rapids. With Air Force providing a bit of a natural draw for the Colorado region and ND and MSU's proven ability to draw beans the last time they shared a GR regional, chances are we at least get to stay local for our zero percent chance of making the Frozen Four.
UPDATE: There's some odd sentiment in the Bracketology thread at USCHO. Some scenarios have us switching with BU instead of State with UND -- the upshot is that the GR regional is then 1 ND - 2 Mi - 3 NoDak - 4 Air Force, though I bet Air Force is the #4 in Denver no matter what -- for attendance purposes at both regionals. While we were just outplayed by Notre Dame, it wasn't a horror show like the Minnesota game and that would be much preferable.
Update 3/15: Downgraded PA LB Andrew Sweat to yellow. Downgraded OH TE Brandon Moore to red; bet you a dollar he's SEC. Added OH OL Matt Grieser, IN OL Kurt Wermers, FL DT Marcus Forston, NJ WR Dejuan Miller, OH LB Justin Staples, OR OL Matt Lipski, IL DE Darius Fleming, NY RB Latavius Murray, NV(!) TE Cody Aughney, PA WR Vaughn Carraway, and NJ DE Jack Crawford.
Linked to article on TX WR Daryl Stonum (down to Michigan & Florida), update on TX RB Sam McGuffie's track exploits. (Second McGuffie track update.) CA OL Khaled Holmes likes Borat. Linked to articles on MN WR Michael Floyd and IL DE Darius Fleming. Downgraded Zebrie Sanders to red -- we're not in his top five.
Removed OH OL Mike Adams (OSU).
Editorial Opinion: Many new names, though most seem marginal or unenthusiastic. IN OL Kurt Wermers has an offer and lists a bunch of Big Ten schools and ND, as does IL DE Darius Fleming. Those two recruitments will be worth watchin. The rest: who knows? I expect a number of those names will still be up there in a couple months with nothing other than a name.
Khaled Holmes likes Borat. You commit here? Is nice.
Mike Adams commits to OSU. Not a surprise.
Please do not call him "Dean". Aforementioned IN OL Kurt Wermers has 1) an offer and 2) a top three of M, Purdue, and Northwestern. So that's probably your first OL commit of the year. Seems a three-star type at 6-5, 260.
Zebrie Sanders does not seemed awed and thrilled. He's listing a top five of ND, OSU, Clemson, Southern Cal, and UGA. He has a Michigan offer but not one from ND or OSU. Downgraded to red.
Stonum. We've been his leader since Woolfolk committed, apparently. GBW picked up some quotes from him at a track meet (McGuffie also attended, winning the hurdles):
But when we were speaking with Darrell and Sam McGuffie together, Stonum told McGuffie that he is down to: "Michigan and Florida, Michigan and Florida" and that he will go to each place in the summer, then decide.
Notorious homewrecker Urban Meyer is the last person I want Stonum interacting with, but given his previous assertions about Michigan's status and his connection with Woolfolk and Herron I feel more confident about him than any other uncommitted recruit other than MI OT Dann O'Neill.
McGuffie. A local-irritating Wolverine summarizes recent paysite articles at Buckeye Planet:
McGuffie says that Michigan is his leader.
McGuffie asked for the #2 and Michigan agreed. McGuffie says Michigan has moved upto the top of his list.
[sic] Hooray beer. I, of course, am thrilled by this. He's guaranteed to be overhyped because of the whole Matrix thing but, as this other Youtube extravaganza shows...
...he's no one-run wonder. McGuffie has Mike Hart numbers playing in either Texas' toughest or second-toughest class -- I don't recall exactly -- and that's a six minute video of ridiculous hurdles, Playstation jukes, and more explosion than Bikini Atoll. I know he's kind of small and kind of pale, but I'm sold. His internet video exploits remind one of another smallish RB:
(Who betta den #20?)
He seems to have more -- much more -- raw speed but lacks Hart's miraculous ability to grind forward with four guys draped all over him. (On that one inexplicable 90-yarder the guy never really got ahold of him.) The vision, instincts, and cuts, OTOH, are Hart-esque.
First in this year's occasional digressions into NBA blogging. Complaints about topic choice will be considered and then dismissed.
When the Bulls decided to spend every last bit of their cap space on an older version of Tyson Chandler, the Pistons were declared dead. And at first blush, the departure of Ben Wallace has hurt the Pistons severely. The Pistons are on pace for 11 fewer wins this year than they had last year. Opponents average 92.2 points per game, up from 90.2 -- a major leap when the Pistons' overall point differential is just +4.1. But how much of the fall is due to the loss of Wallace? And was resigning him worth it?
Lindsay Hunter and part of Flip Murray have picked up Arroyo's minutes. Delfino and the rest of Murray pick up Evans' minutes. Four post guys receive more time: Webber, Mohammed, Maxiell, and Davis. For convenience's sake we'll apply Davis's minutes to the deficit in Rasheed and McDyess' minutes; Wallace's replacement is the three-headed Webbmomax. Webbmomax plays 74% of the Pistons minutes; Wallace played 73% a year ago.
So what do the Webbmomax Pistons do worse than the Wallace Pistons?
Rebounding? No. Despite losing a man widely regarded as the league's premiere rebounder, Detroit still gathers 69% of its opponents' misses and 30% of its own misses.
Blocks? No. Last year Detroit blocked 7.6% of its opponent's shots. This year it's 7.5%.
Causing turnovers? Last year opponents turned it over on 15% of possessions; this year 16%.
Maybe Wallace had some sort of weird anti-shooting mojo that didn't show up in the blocks? No. Detroit's FG% and eFG% defense percentages are actually better this year (44.3%, 47.6%) than they were last year (45.2%, 47.8%). It should be noted that approximately 1% of opponent's field goals have migrated from jumpers to post moves and dunks, though strangely enough opponents are doing worse at them.
The only thing that jumps out as any different is opposition free throw attempts. This year opponents get 25.3 per game; last year they got only 20.5. That huge discrepancy, plus that extra possession per game, is the only reason the Pistons' D is any worse this year than it was a year ago.
The next question: is that because of Wallace's departure? Survey says yes. Last year Wallace played 73% of the time and picked up 164 fouls, only two per game. The three headed monster that replaces Ben's production is on pace to finish this year with 354 fouls between them. 96% of the excess fouls this year's Pistons are piling up are from Webbmomax.
How many points is this worth per game? If you accept the standard 0.44 multiplier when converting FTAs to FGAs -- and-ones, techs, and the like make it a bit lower than the 0.5 you might expect -- this year Detroit is converting 2.1 FGAs per game into free throws. The free throws are worth 3.55 points; the hypothetical FGAs they replace would be worth 2.01. Wallace's marginal contribution appears to be 1.54 points per game, though it does appear that the more aggressive post defense has created a few more missed shots and a few more turnovers.
Perhaps the revelation that losing Ben Wallace is a detriment to the Piston defense is not Nobel-prize worthy, but what is interesting is where the dropoff is. Rebounding: useless. Blocks: useless (with the stipulation that this is the 05-06 Wallace we're talking about. Previous editions averaged over 3 blocks per game). Contribution to FG defense and opponent turnovers? Negligible or negative. Ben Wallace's main marketable skill is the ability to keep opposing shooters off the foul line.
Let's go back to Rodman. A key question that, as far as I can tell, is not answered by the WOW authors is this: what is the difference between the number of rebounds the Bulls would have secured with a replacement for Rodman compared to the number they did secure with Rodman? The answer, I am sure is "fewer." But, how many fewer? If a Rodman replacement snared seven rebounds a game, instead of 15, can we really say that the switch cost the team eight rebounds a game. I don't think so, and neither, I suspect, do the authors. ...
I agree that rebounds contribute to winning, but to know how much Rodman contributed to winning, we need to know more than how many rebounds he got and we need to know more than how many rebounds he got relative to players on other teams.. What we really need to know is how many rebounds his own team got that it would not otherwise have gotten if he weren't there. Do I have a clue how to figure that out? Absolutely not. But, I am convinced that that is the key question and that it has not been answered by WOW (and, in fairness, other similar systems).
So how many rebounds did Ben Wallace get that a mediocre version of himself, an undersized version of himself, and a crippled 33 year old power forward could not? This analysis implies, shockingly, that the answer is "none at all." And yet WOW treats each rebound like it's a diamond. As Dan Rosenbaum points out, the whole thing would be wildly off if not for an enormous team defense fudge factor.)
So... is Ben Wallace worth it?
Absolutely not. His yearly numbers are in steady decline and he's in the first year of a four year contract as a 32 year old. And his offensive deficiencies are severe enough that his net contribution is minimal. Webbmomax has hit 178 of 289 free throws this year; Ben Wallace and his 0.407 FT% would have hit 55 fewer and the Pistons would be scoring 0.9 fewer points a game. That's most of his measurable defensive contribution without even considering the rest of his limited offensive game.
At this point in his career, Wallace is an average-at-best starting center who is paid like Kevin Garnett.
So why are the Pistons losing so much more than they did a year ago?
- Injuries to Billups and Rashee
d. The Billups injury especially, as it ushered in the horrifying Flip Murray Era. The plus-minus numbers for the Pistons' two backup guards are atrocious. It's Billups who's irreplaceable, and it's Billups who Dumars will break the bank for this offseason. If I could put in a request for an MLE point guard, perhaps in exchange for Nazr Mohammed?
- Average luck. I don't have any numbers on this, but when you go 64-18 you're a lucky team. I'd be willing to wager that the Pistons' record in close and OT games is markedly worse than it was a year ago.
- Familiarity. There was disconnect between the Pistons' regular-season performance and their playoff struggles, but the return to earth started before that. Excluding the four year-end games after the Pistons secured the best record in the league, the team started 37-5 and finished 26-10. Then came the playoffs... ugly. What happened? No one can really be sure, but my belief is the Pistons blitzkrieg caught the league off guard. When Flip Saunders replaced cranky old Larry Brown the Pistons underwent and instant transformation from a pack of ugly grinders into a gorgeous, efficient offensive basketball team. By the time anyone knew what was happening, Chauncey Billups was at Moscow's doorstep. Now that teams have the Pistons scouted, the going is tougher.
- Flip Murray is awful at everything.
Arrrrgh. Carr did address the widespread rumors that three Michigan players were in trouble. The PC's first question was about the eligibility status of Adrian Arrington; Carr danced around it, but when pressed...
Will he [Arrington] participate in spring practice?
Will any other players miss spring practice?
If you have any names, you feel free to ask.
Do you expect that those three players will meet your requirements to rejoin thet team?
Um... that is possible... maybe not probable.
Score another one for the unreliable internets, I guess. Horrible news. Butler and Arrington were both breakout players poised for big 2007s. Hopefully the situation isn't as grim as Carr made it sound, but it sounded awful.
Later, when asked about guys coming back from this suspension:
Well... I think the number one thing when you reach a certain stage is... a guy has to prove that he really wants to be here, and that he's willing to do what he's asked to do.
Other guys out for more benign reasons: Mike Hart's going to be out for spring, Forcier limited. Mallett will get a lot of work. Englemon, Taylor, and Schilling are going to practice but might be dinged up. Mario also limited. Kraus, McKinney, and Massey are out with injuries.
The Bass situation remains tragic. He won't be back for spring. He's still trying, but a return looks increasingly unlikely. Carr said "I'm not optimistic" when asked about a potential August return.
Position switches: Carlos Brown and Doug Dutch are now cornerbacks. Andre Criswell will practice at tight end with both Massey and Butler sidelined, might be a permanent move. Brett Gallimore is giving the defensive line a shot. The widely assumed Charles Stewart-to-safety move is official. And we already knew this, but Jonas Mouton is at WLB.
And now the grand poobah weirdness: Brandon Graham "will probably play inside," and the same with Adam Patterson(!!!). This means our DE depth chart reads:
- Tim Jamison
Position battles: Boren and Moosman going at it for the center spot; Kraus apparently to remain at guard if at all possible. Steve Brown and Greg Mathews called out as potential up-and-comers. Gingell, KC Lopata, and scholarship redshirt freshman Bryan Wright at kicker. Obi Ezeh called out as a potential contributor at linebacker much like, yes, David Harris. I'll take two. Panter also amongst the first mentioned, Graham and Thompson something of an afterthought. Lloyd "excited" about Mouton.
ZOLTAN: "I think Zoltan Mesko displayed the ability to be a great punter. A great athlete."
Spring actual game thing? Carr claimed that he wanted to play an actual spring game this year but cited the extensive injuries and suspensions as a reason not to have one. Usually that rings a little hollow, but this year it seems legit.
Update: forgot the audio link.