“He was on the other side of the court, screaming: ‘Good shot, Kev!’” Durant said, shaking his head in delight. “I’m thinking, this guy’s an All-American type of teammate right there.”
Baseball. If you've been hovering over mgo.licio.us on the sidebar and feverishly hitting refresh (and who hasn't?) of late you know that the baseball team is Big Ten champs. As a result, they'll host the conference tournament at Ray Fisher starting tonight. The bottom four seeds start play today; Michigan will face the winner with the lowest seed at 7 PM tomorrow. I am planning on attending if anyone wants to wander by and say high.
As far as the importance of the tournament: not much. Though Michigan's late season "slide" -- basically one bad series against Penn State -- has dented their tourney resume, Rivals still has them a three-seed in their latest projected brackets. Clunking out of the double-elimination tourney at 0-2 would probably hurt their positioning but they'd still get in. Winning might bump them up to a two-seed but they'd still be going on the road.
Hey, yeah, that was totally voluntary! A reader passes along this Boston Globe interview with Amaker that has this hilarious softball passage:
You've spent the last 10 years coaching at Seton Hall and Michigan. Why did you accept the head coaching job at Harvard?
Obviously, it's Harvard, first of all. Its brand is as big, or bigger, than any other name or brand in higher education. So my wife and I were very intrigued, very interested, and as we grew to learn more, boy, did it become even that much more attractive.
Let's go ask Chris Shelton why he chose the job at AAA Toledo next, guys.
Skepticism continues. So the Big Ten Network keeps claiming that it's signed up "40 cable providers" in an effort to reassure spooked fans like myself (and, probably, you). But then the loquacious president rolls into town and drops this nugget...
"We've had productive conversations with Comcast and feel they're moving forward in a very productive way," Silverman said. "... The fact that everyone's been really receptive to our meetings and we've gotten 40 deals done in the terms we're looking for are really encouraging."
...and I'm just like "this guy has to be spouting a bunch of crap." How many cable providers are there in the country? And how can you possibly sign "40 deals" without, you know, covering Comcast? Maybe this will all work out, but I wouldn't take the sunny confidence being relentlessly churned out as anything other than PR.
October 11th, 2008 will see the Toledo Rockets visit Michigan Stadium:
"This is a great opportunity for our football program," said UT Athletic Director Mike O'Brien. "Any time you have a chance to play in Michigan Stadium before 110,000 fans, you have to take it. I think it is a game that our fans, as well as our football program, are very excited to have on the schedule. "
This will mark the appearance of planetoid coach Tom Amstutz, who will break the record for most enormous football coach in Michigan Stadium currently held by Charlie Weis, and absolutely nothing else of interest. Hopefully the final '08 opponent is going to be someone half respectable. Schedule as of now:
Aug. 30 open?
Sept. 6 MIAMI (OHIO)
Sept. 13 at Notre Dame
Sept. 20 open?
Sept. 27 WISCONSIN
Oct. 4 ILLINOIS (HC)
Oct. 11 TOLEDO
Oct. 18 at Penn State
Oct. 25 MICHIGAN STATE
Nov. 1 at Purdue
Nov. 8 at Minnesota
Nov. 15 NORTHWESTERN
Nov. 22 at Ohio State
5/22/2007 - Detroit 79-76 Cleveland - Up 1-0, ECF.
Lebron kicked it, and Rasheed was vastly, enormously, unforgivably out of position and Donyell Marshall morphed into Robert Horry for one or three hateful seconds before the ball clanged off the rim and Marshall was lovable, unthreatening Donyell Marshall again. We like Donyell Marshall. We do not like Robert Horry and it has nothing to do with his hipcheck; it has to do with the irritating playoffs-clutch-guy thing.
And so the hot topic appears to be the Pass of Destiny. I, being a Pistons fan, hated the Pass of Destiny; therefore it was probably a really good idea. Math:
- Donyell Marshall is a career 35% three-point shooter and most of his looks haven't been nearly as good as a wide open corner three. A conservative estimate of that shot's chance to go in is around 40%.
Marshall's shot wins the game if it goes in.Update: I remembered the end of the game wrong. There would still have been time for a response from the Pistons.
- Hypothetical Lebron shot ties the game and takes less time, giving the Pistons an opportunity to respond at the other end of the floor. Chances of Cleveland winning are less than 50%. If you conservatively estimate that Detroit's last second shot when they inbound at half-court after a timeout is 20% to go in and that OT is 50-50, Lebron scoring gives the Cavs a 40% chance to win.
- The chance Lebron scores must be 2 times greater than the chance Marshall scores for the kick to be a bad idea (80% chance of win / 40% chance of win = 2).
- 40% * 2 = 80%.
- Lebron didn't have any 80% chance to make his shot.
- He did the right thing. QED, MFer.
That's a pat conclusion that requires some hypothetical numbers. It also assumes that Lebron is basketball Deep Thought and has this sort of game theory analysis going on constantly; the tipping factor here is the difference in potential Detroit ripostes given the amount of time left on the clock, which would require some preternatural sixth sense to absorb and evaluate. So Lebron might not have known that he was doing the right thing and it might be a symbol of his vexing failure to become the ur-player or even the best player in his draft class.
Because Lebron chews his nails. He misses important free throws. He has not thrown down and roared in a critical situation for all to see. He is not... clutch. So when you kick to a wide open player who has a shot for the win it is read as further evidence of being UnClutch even though you have just set your teammate up with the best possible shot he could have and given your team the best possible avenue to win. That's the job of any player, and sometimes even when you're a superstar the best play is for someone else to shoot.
Now, the ten points and no free throws? Well... that seemed to be an interesting reaction by Mike Brown to the defense the Pistons threw at the Cavs last year, when they essentially played a zone whenever the Cavs tried to iso Lebron and did so to good effect. Last night they displayed a willingness to continue this, switching every screen when Lebron came across the perimeter and having help defenders keep an eye out for any potential drives. They left other players open and for a while Cleveland took advantage of that strategy by getting open looks and using the out-of-position help guys to their advantage and crashing the boards. Lebron had no points in the first quarter and his team led by six. Was that a bad performance? Um... no? The problems came later when the Cavaliers remembered that they were the Cavaliers and therefore sucked. By that time it seemed that Lebron was all too content to remain peripheral, and the few times when he took it upon himself to create something the result was a tough jumper after a double-team. He was damned if he did or did not; those criticizing him today are choosing between two different ways to reach the same end.
- Hated the insertion of Lindsay Hunter. I know the last time I talked Pistons here I declared my abiding hatred for all things Flip Murray, but essentially from that moment on Murray turned his season around and started playing inexplicably well when given a chance. Hunter still has him on ball-hounding and has a place in the lineup, but when the opposing point guard is Eric Snow? Um... what? If the point of putting Hunter out there is to shut down an opposing perimeter player and the person you are shutting down is Eric Snow, there is a problem. Flip Murray is perfectly capable of doing the same. There are probably WNBA players capable of doing the same. Hell, you could send Reed Baker out there to watch Snow launch his jacked up shot with no detrimental effect on your winning percentage. So... what is the purpose of sending Hunter out, especially when your offense is clunking along to 35 first half points?
- OTOH, the Maxiell insertion was very effective late (though there was that ugly, unnecessary goaltending).
- Antonio McDyess lost his jumpshot, found it in a major way in the second half of the season, and then lost it again. It's frustrating to watch him throw up shots that were almost guaranteed in the waning days of the regular season and watch them clang off the rim. An average performance from him and the game is tied at the half and comfortable down the stretch.
- This felt like a game Cleveland had to have if they were going to win the series. Detroit has now survived a game in which Prince was something like 1/11 and Billups not only failed to get his shot but coughed up seven(!!!) turnovers. All told, Detroit had 16 to Cleveland's 7; this will not happen again.
Update 5/21: Linked to article on DC DT Reggie Ellis. Added KS TE Spencer Ladner, AL OL Antoine McClain, GA S Jamoris Slaughter (Scout article), FL OL Matt Patchan. Linked to Rivals roundup article w/ info on Cissoko, Fred Smith, Vaughn Carraway, newspaper article on Butler High in NC. Did some general cleanup with schools of interest and reorganized a couple sets with some new gray icons. Linked to Jonas Gray article. Does he have a frickin' offer or not? Linked to articles on PA WR Vaughn Carraway, NC S Robert Blanton, PA LB Shayne Hale, PA QB Terrelle Pryor, header on PA WR Jonathan Baldwin (no longer considering basketball), pictures of OH TE Kevin Koger. Moved IN OL Kurt Wermers and OH TE Brandon Moore to committed. Added TX CB Adrian Bushell. Downgraded Darrell Scott to red, removed FL DT Marcus Forston (was only on board because of single brief mention, does not appear to have any serious interest). Linked to articles on the commitments of Wermers (second article) and Moore.
Editorial Opinion: A lot of news this week, what with the commits and so forth and so on. Some questions posed by commenters:
Do we take a second tight end?
Very probably. The new offense uses a ton of two tight end sets and with the loss of Butler we'll have a senior Massey, the two '07 recruits, and the unimpressive McLaurin/Criswell combo, if Criswell isn't shifted back to fullback. As long as we stick with the zone game we should consider a second tight end a starter and recruit like it. I would expect Michigan to take either Tyler Hoover or Kevin Koger, possibly both if they think one can play defensive end.
How highly ranked is Wermers going to be?
I initially projected a standard three-star rating, but there have been some rumblings recently that he might end up a solid 4*, top 250 sort. Evidently he was impressive at a recent combine. I still think he gets only three. We'll see.
How many more OL?
Lots. I bet we take a full line and maybe a sixth player. At this point we're at 17 scholarships and there are some obvious candidates to not return for potential fifth years; this small class is now going to end up around 21 or 22 players, most likely. With only two recruits in last year's class and three in the class before it -- one of whom did not redshirt -- linemen are a huge priority. I would expect another tackle and one or two more interior linemen. There aren't any names that jump out at the moment, but I kind of hope enormous Oregon lineman Matt Lipski, who plans on camping, shows well enough to get an offer. He'd be a project but Michigan would have the time to develop him with Ortmann and Schilling looking likely to start over the next three years. Also, instater Rocko Koury has an awesome name and is beginning to build himself some buzz.
On to other stuff...
Gray! McGuffie! Running back controversy! So this Scout article claims an offer for Jonas Gray.
I think it is wrong. This continues to be the recruiting year's most puzzling subplot: like... WTF? An instate back with no apparent character or academic issues is universally acclaimed a top-100 player and Michigan refuses to offer at a position of need. Freaky, especially because Michigan only has three confirmed offers out, all to players extremely far away. Californian Darrell Scott is a longshot, and though Covaughn Deboskie seems interested he's being heavily pursued by a lot of schools and it would be foolish to put all our eggs in his basket.
That leaves McGuffie. All the circumstantial evidence points to promises being made by a Michigan coaching staff extremely confident in landing a promise-worthy back. The only guy that could possibly be is McGuffie. So I'm inclined to take this BP post kind of seriously:
Is a Wolverine, and has been for sometime.
I grab some videos and slap 'em up on the Fanhouse, because, dude. Seriously. A comment shows up like so:
Ok, here's the deal. I was on the same team with him this past year when he rushed for his 3,121 yards and 43 TD's. Im a Michigan fan so of corse Im trying to get him to wear the maize and blue, and sometime in November I think it was Michigan offerd him a full ride.
Later on in the season when I walked in to watch film of our previous game, our head coach saw my shirt (the day of the Indiana game) and we were talking about Michigan, and Sam looked at me and kept stating he's going to Michigan. Over time, he's repeated the same statements to me. And just last week he got my attention to let me know he's visiting Michigan in February.
(Comment sic.) Intriguing! But probably internets FUD. I follow up with the guy. I get a name and number that check out. I think it's legit, and I think in February we're likely to get a commit from McGuffie.
So... February didn't happen. But this is all playing out like Michigan has McGuffie on lockdown. This is the long way of explaining that I'm very confident on McGuffie. As always, FWIW. This might be a good time to point out this old Houston Chronicle article on him.
Wideouts! PA WR Vaughn Carraway still maintains us as a leader and is now beginning to pick up some impressive offers -- Tennessee the latest. Interesting note on his recruitment from Scout:
"Michigan is still at the top," Carraway said. "I've kept in contact with Coach (Steve) Szabo mostly. He said they haven't decided if they want me for offense or defense yet. I really like their coaching staff and the way they practice.
"I've been there a couple of times," he added. "I want to visit one time again before the season and then go again for a game. That will probably be my official visit."
Intriguing. With things seemingly goin
g very well for instater Fred Smith, Woolfolk/Herron teammate Daryl Stonum, and Ty Law-cousin Jonathan Baldwin, Carraway might fit into this class in the defensive backfield. He's 6'2" but only 170 according to that Scout article... a big corner? That would go some distance to explaining the paucity of corner offers out at the moment. Carraway wants to commit before the fall.
Scouting stuff. Rivals has a free article on MSNBC with a report on the recent PSU Nike combine that has a couple scouting reports for those looking for a clearer picture of a couple of our recruits. First, CB commit Boubacar Cissoko:
The best player in the bunch was cornerback Boubacar Cissoko of Detroit Cass Tech. The recognition as the top defensive back in the camp really came as no surprise. Many believed he was the top cornerback at last year's NIKE Camp in Columbus.
Cissoko, who is a Michigan commitment, was amazing in the one-on-one drills last weekend.
While many other cornerbacks in the camp played off the line, Cissoko got right up in the faces of the receivers and locked them up with press coverage. Some questioned how he would handle going up against taller receivers. He's only 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds, but Cissoko had no trouble handling bigger guys. His technique and physical nature allows him to play much bigger than his size.
Reminds me of Arkansas CB Chris Houston, who was a delight to watch against Gamecock WR Sidney Rice during their matchup last fall. Houston's small but will line up right over your grill and fight you everywhere.
WR target Fred Smith:
Smith, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver, had a very good camp and performed well in the one-on-ones. He made one amazing catch on an out route where grabbed the ball and kept both feet in bounds, despite being tackled by the defender.
Smith might not be the fastest receiver around â€“ he's probably a guy that runs in the 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash â€“ but he runs great routes. If you get the ball in his vicinity, he'll catch it.
Smith also has a great college-ready frame that allows him to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage.
Jason Avant? I call everyone Jason Avant these days. But great routes and hands, big college-ready frame, not the fastest? Could it be anyone else?
Sargent! Interesting name at safety: Georgian Jamoris Slaughter. Slaughter on Michigan:
"I want to go where they'll help me with my future," he said. "I want to play in the NFL after college, so it would be great if they had a history of that."
Slaughter says that growing up, Michigan was his favorite team. "I guess I always liked their style," Slaughter said. "I always picked them when I played Madden. They have a great defense and I like how they blitz and zone a lot. You can really show your skills there."
Odd spate of Georgians with an abiding fondness for Michigan this year; Omar Hunter also counts himself a longtime fan. Normally I would be skeptical of his desire to come north, but he counts Notre Dame and Ohio State amongst his top five so he seems less bound to the south than most. We'll have some competition but it sounds like we've got a legit shot.
Similar story with TX CB Adrian Bushell, who has offers from Michigan, Florida (offering everyone), and Texas Tech and claims those three plus West Virginia as a top four.
Also there is this. Jim Stefani has an enormous post recapping Michigan's offensive recruiting to date and doing some projecting in the future. If you've got the time...
Yost Built has a scoop on the Michigan goalie situation:
Steve Jakiel has left school and won't be coming back next year. Hunwick is in, and it's reportedly not a one year thing. In addition, from what I've heard, Bryan Hogan will be coming this year, with the intention of winning the starting job.
Something had to be up once Hunwick was announced as incoming, and this is probably the best possible way for it to work out. Jakiel got a couple games when Sauer was really struggling earlier in the season and was awful. Hogan had his own struggles last year but had a nice season the year before that, actually forcing his way past Jakiel into the starting lineup; Jakiel was later traded.
So, yeah, Scout and Rivals are both reporting that Ohio tight end Brandon Moore has picked Michigan. Which is like, yow, man. Moore is a top 100 kid to both sites who started picking up major offers last summer, when Georgia dropped one on him. By November -- three months before the previous class' Signing Day -- he had picked up a Nebraska offer:
For much of the game, that player was 6-foot-6, 235-pound hybrid tight end Brandon Moore.
Thomas may not have known that Moore, a junior, has already received scholarship offers to play at schools like Georgia and Nebraska. But on the field, Thomas, 6-0, 175 pounds, cared little for Moore's credentials.
(Moore would be held to two catches for nine yards in that game. Frowns.) On or around Signing Day Moore's list would look like so:
Stanford, Nebraska, Georgia, Mississippi, Illinois, LSU and Clemson have already previously offered the Southwest Ohio standout, but he netted two more major offers on Wednesday.
That is a hell of a lot of attention. By the time of his commitment he had thirty-some offers, including Florida, Miami and Notre Dame. Kid is unmistakably big time.
One school who didn't offer, puzzlingly: Ohio State. They are having to pick recruits very carefully in a year of limited scholarships and a great deal of instate talent, but, um, Moore would appear to be one of the most highly coveted tight ends in the country. He's certainly got a higher profile than Toledo TE Kevin Koger, who Michigan and Ohio State are fighting over. The Buckeye Planet thread on Moore reads precisely like any internet discussion of Jonas Gray amongst Michigan fans: confusion, anger, rationalization, and overriding faith in the wise decisions of the God Emperor. (Except for that last one.)
So what do we have in Moore? A 6'6", 243 pound tight end -- he's definitely a tight end -- with "hands the size of tennis rackets" according to Jeremy Crabtree($) at Rivals. As a junior he wasn't targeted much, with only twenty catches (or 25, depending on the articles you read), but the vagaries of high school quarterbacking make evaluating receivers based on stats a dodgy proposition. ESPN has filed a suprisingly negative scouting report($) given the accolades and offers he's collected:
Moore is an impressive physical specimen and looks the part of a big- time college prospect. However, he is currently caught in the middle and a bit one-dimensional -- does not have the speed and elusiveness of a wide receiver and we have yet to see the in-line blocking skill of a dominate [sic] tight end. ... He is missing an explosive release, sharp route running (most are rounded) and the ability to create separation on cornerbacks. Although he is very athletic, he does not show the deceptive ability to slip by linebackers and settle in open space.
It does go on to say he's "dripping with potential" (so that's what that is -- phew) and has "some of the highest upside in the class," so there's that. You can see some highlights for yourself at Scouting Ohio, though they're unnecessarily small.
Update: Moore video now on Youtube so that it can be perused full-size: