Peppers at 10, which seems low.
|Last week's ballot|
Hastily compiled for the second week in a row, so be constructive with your feedback.
Florida finally beat the hell out of somebody, which had been holding them back with a schedule comparable to the others around them. That (annoyingly) sets up a 1v2 battle in the SEC championship game.
Everything else is pretty straightforward. Penn State and Oklahoma State are basically the same, resume-wise, having lost convincingly to their toughest opposition, but Oklahoma State also dropped a game to Houston, dropping them more.
The end of the poll is muddled as always, so help me out down there.
Marquette 79, Michigan 65
Alabama 68, Michigan 66
Michigan (3-2, 0-0)
Michigan fans hoping to lean on the success of the basketball team to fill the void left by a subpar football season might have to re-think things. The Wolverines, favored to win the Old Spice Classic, went just 1-2 in the event, falling to Marquette and Alabama after beating Creighton in round 1. Time for everyone to adjust some expectations.
When the 3-point shots aren't falling, this team is going to have some difficulty beating teams with comparable talent. Even when Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims both have decent performances, a third player will have to step up with a good game in support. Against Alabama, it looked like Manny was the only one who had any interest in winning the game. Though they may not have the talent of this year's players, CJ Lee and David Merritt were able to pull the team up by its bootstraps and gut out some wins. Somebody needs to step up for this Michigan team and fill a much-needed leadership role.
Of course, this is basketball, not football. Simply losing a couple games isn't going to mean that the Wolverines are removed from national contention. However, it's a pain to see such glaring weaknesses exposed this early in the season. John Beilein is known as one of the best coaches in America for a reason, and he should be able to help the team bounce back. Hopefully, that can come sooner rather than later, since Boston College definitely won't be an easy out on Wednesday.
- Darius Morris really seemed to struggle in the past two games. Hopefully, he can learn quickly how to adapt to the mental requirements of this level of basketball. Playing LLP more at the 1 and easing Morris in a bit might help... except for the fact the 2-guard has no depth. Stu Douglass can shoot the hell out of the ball, but Marquette exposed his lack of quickness on Friday.
- Anthony Wright continued to show why he shouldn't get as much playing time as he does. Every time he gets the ball, he wants to shoot. Most of those times, he misses.
- DeShawn Sims is lacking consistency at this point in the year, but he shows flashes of why he has potential to break out and become a major NBA prospect. I don't think much more needs to be said about what the other superstar, Manny Harris, means to this team.
- The free throw shooting wasn't particularly bad against 'Bama, but it was a horrorshow earlier in the weekend. Michigan was a great free throw shooting team last year, so hopefully this is just a speed bump that the team can get through.
- Not a ton of bench players, beyond Douglass, Gibson, and Wright (grumble grumble) got much playing time. Even Matt Vogrich only got a few minutes in the last two games. Michigan's bench needs to be able to bring out a couple contributors if this team is going to have any success.
- On that note, Michigan was pretty bad last year coming of short rest. Part of that was likely due to lack of depth. Hopefully, the weak efforts against Marquette and Alabama were partially related to a lack of game shape, with no practice time in between to recover. That would give Michigan much more upside.
Michigan will take on Boston College on Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Previews of the Challenge and the Eagles coming up later this week.
I didn't manage to put up a preview, so we'll liveblog instead. For all your previewing needs, check out UMHoops. Game is on ESPN at noon. Read the Chaos Mitigation Post if you're wondering why your post isn't showing up. Inkster is on FSN Detroit at 1, so we can talk about that during breaks in the game, or if it gets overly frustrating. Other topics are OK, but please try to stay on topic as much as possible, because I'm modding this bad boy solo, and it's really tough to sift through comments.
Michigan 83, Creighton 76. Michigan 3-0
Bullets only, since it's a holiday. Hell, I'll even make them holiday-themed.
I'm Thankful For:
- The win. It seemed like it wasn't going to happen for a while there, as I was tearing my hair out in frustration. It would not have been a happy holiday if Michigan hadn't pulled this one out.
- Manny Harris. Just one rebound away from another triple-double. At the end of the game, I wanted Michigan to chuck up a bad shot, just so he could get the offensive rebound and acheev dream. It looks like he and Evan Turner are going to battle all year to see who can finish with more triple-doubles. At least Harris isn't likely to get the quadruple-double by turning it over all the time.
- Zack Novak. Dude. Novak rules. End of discussion.
- A talented rotation. Michigan only played 6 guys extensively, bringing Stu Douglass off the bench. However, Morris is a talent upgrade over last year's walkons, and it probably helped Michigan win this game.
I'm Not Thankful For:
- The officials. I'm not going to idiotically accuse them of actively conspiring against Michigan, but they missed a ton of calls, and it seemed like most of the big ones went against the Wolverines. If the NCAA wants to hire me as their referee czar, I'm available. Couldn't possibly be any worse than the guy doing it now.
- Creighton's hot shooting. The Blue Jays, despite all their turnovers, managed to stay in the game ecause they shot the ball very well, particularly in the second half. They're a damn good team, and don't be surprised to see them in the NCAA tourney.
- Lack of substitution. After the 6-man rotation, there was very little playing time for backups. That won't fly later in the year, and Michigan needs to get some of these guys game-ready.
- Zack Gibson. He made his requisite gumpy plays, but didn't play enough to have the opportunity for his requisite awesomely athletic play to make you forgive him.
- Free throw shooting. What the hell? Michigan was awesome at the line last year. Hopefully most of the struggles can be attributed to not getting a lot of games in early in the year. If not, expect free throws to cost the Wolverines at least one game this year.
- Away-game atmosphere. AnnArbor.com's Michael Rothstein told me that there were approximately equal numbers of Michigan and Creighton fans in The Milk House, but it definitely sounded like Creighton was the home team. Michigan fans at the next two games (and in general, but that's a story for another day) need to step up the intensity and support their team.
The winner of the Marquette-Xavier game will face our Wolverines tomorrow at noon. Preview upcoming when we know who the winner is (at the time of publishing, Marquette leads Xavier in the first half).
|WHAT||#15 Michigan v. Creighton|
November 26th, 2009
|THE LINE||Michigan –5*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The Wolverines venture outside the friendly confines of Crisler Arena for the first time this year, as they take on the Creighton Blue Jays in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
The Wolverines have been tested far less than their opponents (and most teams in Division 1 ball), playing only two games on the year so far, and one of those coming against Division II Northern Michigan. Neither team came within 20 points of Michigan.
Manny Harris is still fighting his hamstring issue. He will play against Creighton, but is not 100%. Since playing is a good way to prevent that hamstring from becoming stiff, I would expect him to play extensively unless the game reaches a garbage-time situation. Morris-LLP-Harris-Novak-Sims will likely be your starters until further notice.
Creighton will be the first big challenge that Michigan has faced this season, according to John Beilein. Coach Beilein is good friends with Creighton coach Dana Altman, so he's familiar with the Bluejays, and what they try to do on both ends of the floor. As the head coach at West Virginia, Beilein faced Altman and Creighton in the 2005 NCAA tournament, emerging with a 63-61 victory.
Creighton has a deep roster, with 10 guys getting extensive playing time so far this season. Four players have started every game for Creighton: wing Darryl Ashford, center Kenny Lawson Jr., and guards P'Allen Stinnett and Kaleb Korver. Korver (the younger brother of Creighton alum Kyle, currently with the Utah Jazz) is a sharpshooter, and Beilein noted that he has an excellent presence on the court.
They have two offensive styles that they can playing, with a passing-oriented offensive set, as well as a Memphis-style dribble-drive offense. The diversity in Creighton's playbook makes them a difficult team to prepare for. Through 3 games, they have been good at shooting the ball and not having it taken away by the opposition, and have been bad at getting to the line and rebounding on defense. They shoot a bunch of threes, and are a similar team to Michigan, perhaps with a little less size in the reserves.
UMHoops talks to Creighton blog The White and Blue Review. Sounds like the Bluejays are pretty banged up already this year. While you're at it, check out WaBR for the latest on Creighton. Check out my Old Spice Classic overview. Special thanks goes to PaulVB, who was the MGoPresence at Beilein's press conference yesterday.
I'm going back-and-forth on whether I'm willing to have a CiL chat during the game tomorrow. Cast your votes in the comments, I guess.
Cullen Christian Goes Blue
As everyone has been expecting for some time now, PA CB Cullen Christian picked the Wolverines yesterday, adding a much-needed defensive back to the class of 2010. The announcement itself had been planned for weeks, and although it took a little longer than expected, the result is unsurprising. Local article. (Christian image via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
For the record, The US Army All-American Bowl will select a player from Penn Hills next week. Christian and WR/S Brandon Ifill have both been nominated, and I'd imagine Christian is the choice as he is rated better by every recruiting service. And since there wasn't room for it yesterday, here's part 2 of Cullen's junior highlight video:
Who Will Fill the Class?
With Christian's commitment and the news that 2009 FL CB Adrian Witty will join the team this winter, there are only a few more spots available in the 2010 recruiting class. Next week's recruitin' update will be an overview-type post, but for now, let's look at a few of the guys who are still possibilities.
FL WR Kenny Shaw has narrowed his list to Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, and Florida State, with Georgia having an outside shot at him. He will announce his decision on Signing Day. [Source: ESPN, though they've apparently made it their corporate mission to not get a single inbound link, so whatever]. Florida State is still on top, but Michigan may have moved into second after an enjoyable visit ($, info in header/speculation).
CA WR Kenny Stills, one of the many visitors to the M/OSU game, will announce his final decision on December 1st. Michigan is probably on the outside in this one, but at least we'll know soon, right?
TX DT Jatashun Beachum enjoyed his Michigan visit, but it sounds as though he's unlikely to decommit from Arkansas. This is a disappointment, since it sounded before the Michigan visit like a decommitment from the Hogs was basically just a formality. Further updates coming as that situation develops.
MD LB Josh Furman has narrowed his list to two, with a decision date set ($, info in header). The narrowing is news, but he's been planning to announce at the Maryland Crab Bowl for some time, and there's been no indication of a change there. No word on the final two, but Michigan and Virginia Tech were announced as his leaders last week, so it's probably them... and Scout confirms all the information in one convenient header.
CA S Sean Parker told MGoBlog's own Tom VanHaaren that he plans to officially visit Michigan. Rivals confirms. Parker was supposed to be a heavy Notre Dame lean, but recent events are obviously concerning.
CA S/LB Tony Jefferson enjoyed his Michigan visit, but not even the afterglow is enough to move the Wolverines into his top 2. UCLA and Oklahoma are still on top for him, and he's going to "consider [Michigan] the rest of the way." Not the most promising update in the world. (Jefferson pictured at right via the Detroit News).
[Update: News article does say that "ESPN speculates he will choose the Wolverines," but that's contradicted by the direct quotes linked above and should be taken with a grain of salt.]
FL CB Tony Grimes and DE Clarence Murphy both enjoyed their visit to Ann Arbor, and I think the headline "Michigan on Top in Hollywood Hills" ($, info in header) is a pretty good indication of where the Wolverines stand with both prospects. Rivals confirms ($, info in header) for Murphy.
[your editor dips in for a moment…]
For what it's worth, on Monday's WTKA recruiting roundup, Sam Webb said he had a "gut feeling" on four players: Christian, Grimes, Murphy and Furman. For those unfamiliar, Webb's gut is the place he puts information about silent commitments. Christian has already dropped and Grimes and Murphy are a formality; if Webb is right about Furman and that potential rule change those four guys would close out the class.
Snake-Oiling The Irish?
The last time Notre Dame switched coaches, Michigan pirated away DE Jeremy Van Alstyne and CB/S Brandon Harrison from Ty Willingham's last class. Weis has been crushing Michigan's head in recruiting since he was hired. So can Michigan repeat the feat when Weis is fired two seconds after this weekend's game against Stanford ends?
Probably not. There are two kids in the class that Michigan finished second for, but FL CBs Lo Wood and Spencer Boyd are generic three-star sorts and Michigan isn't going to throw one of their generic three-star cornerbacks overboard, or pass up on Grimes, for them. Notre Dame's got a couple of good linebacker commits but they're both from North Carolina and had no interest in Michigan before they committed. Five-star CO DE Chris Martin has been a soft commitment for a while but he's had no interest in Michigan and Weis's firing isn't likely to sprout any. Michigan didn't make IN DE Blake Lueders's top five the first time he cut it down.
The only other player in Notre Dame's class who seems like even a slight possibility is IL OL Christian Lombard, but Lombard committed to Notre Dame at the Army Junior Combine and is likely a true believer who isn't even going to look around. (Side note: Lombard was a consensus five-star at that combine and Rivals now has him a meh three star. Ricardo Miller should have a "what happened to our recruiting rankings" pity party with him.)
In sum: Michigan and Notre Dame did not got head-to-head much this year and Michigan has better options at the spot where they did and ND won, so Weis's axing isn't going to be fruitful for the already-crammed recruiting class.
OH TE Alex Smith officially decommitted from Cincinnati last week, and Michigan was in the small group of schools he was still considering. Alas, he chose North Carolina yesterday, meaning his tenure on the recruiting board is over once and for all.
SC WR Nick Jones, who Michigan had offered, committed to South Carolina. Michigan was never hot on him, and I imagine he was mostly offered for leverage on Marcus Lattimore.
FL RB Demetrius Hart missed his playoff game last week because there was a controversy over whether he lived in the appropriate school district to attend Dr. Phillips.
John Magrino, Dr. Phillips athletic director, said OCPS determined Hart should sit until administrators can study allegations brought by Olympia that he lives in Pine Hills, not the DP school zone.
"He was assigned to our school from day one as a ninth grader and we’ve never had any reason to question that until today,” Magrino said.
Dr. Phillips managed to squeak out a 23-22 victory over Olympia without him, and he was cleared to hit the field against Apopka this weekend. Apparently, the mere challenge by Olympia's principal has been seen as a bush-league move. Hart is considered a heavy Michigan lean, although he wasn't able to make it to Ann Arbor for a visit last weekend.
ESPN's On The Trail (no link) reports that FL DT Tim Jernigan, who holds a Michigan offer, is only likely to consider Florida and Florida State.
Michigan has their eye on AZ QB/P Jordan Morgan. He's been invited to the Army All-American Combine in San Antonio.
Etc.: MI CB Dior Mathis is an Army All-American, along with MSU Commit Joe Boisture (which is odd, because he was so awful this year that his high school team benched him). That's an Army player each of the past four years for Cass Tech, with two picking the Wolverines (though Boubacar Cissoko didn't exactly turn out as expected). Fluff on the high school coach of GA DT Michael Thornton and LB Tyrone Cornileus. Michigan pipeline Pahokee faces an unceremonious exit from the state playoffs.