this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
The basketball camp came and went without the blessed event -- a commit from CA PG Darius Morris -- beleaguered Michigan basketball fans have been pining for. The articles on the premium sites($) remain extremely positive, however, and Morris plans to decide within a month or two. Keep an eye out to see if he takes any more visits. If he doesn't, he will commit.
Meanwhile, freshmen are on campus and working out. The camp was open to the public, so respected internets poster MHoops1 took the opportunity to scout Stu Douglass...
1. Stu Douglass has a lot of tools--more than I thought. He's got a very quick release, range way beyond the NBA 3 point line, moves extremely well without the ball, and uses screens very nicely, passes well, can handle it enough to bring the ball up against pressure from smaller, quicker guards, and, while not a great athlete, was not getting overwhelmed by quickness on the defensive end. The question, quite simply, is shot selection. When he's square, he's a very, very good shooter, and under any circumstances, he spreads the floor--Terry Mills was yelling at the team he was coaching "He can shoot it from there" when Stu came across half court. The problem is that he does shoot it from there sometimes, and he also sometimes shoots it from positions that only a contortionist could love. He HAS to become less of a gunner. If he does, he could be a very good player in the Big Ten. If he doesn't, and guys like Manny, Deshawn and LLP lose good shots because Stu is chucking up bad ones, he'll be a detriment. It's as simple as that.
...and Zach Novak:
2. Zack Novak is a very efficient player. He's a good shooter from range, plays with his head up all the time, which permits him to see the floor and pass extremely well, and can shot fake, take the ball to the hole, and use his body to shield defenders and finish against much bigger, more athletic kids. He's also a pretty good rebounder in traffic, and moves very well without the ball. The biggest problem Zack has, at this time, is not the athleticism thing--he's not fast, but he's not as slow as some have claimed--but rather lack of handling skills. He can put it on the floor to drive off the wing, but is not real good out front if pressured before he's comfortable with the ball and what he's going to do, and you wouldn't really see him as a guy who's going to be an extra handler against pressure. His shot release is decent, but not nearly as quick as Stu's. Simply put, unless/until he gets better handles, he's a slightly undersized 3--really a point forward--with decent, but not great athleticism. I have no doubt that he can play in the conference because he is so fundamentally skilled and savvy, but to reach his potential, his ballhandling needs to improve.
The initial impressions -- MHoops1's scouting report has been echoed by other observers with little dissent -- contradict the months of speculation that had Novak a potential early contributor and Douglass an iffy role player.
Check out the rest of that thread while it still lives for further insight on the team this year. Sounds like the idea is to move Harris to small forward and try to live with Anthony Wright as a backup four, which would free up a lot of time at SG: advantage Douglass. Arizona transfer Laval Lucas-Perry will be eligible midseason; expectations are he will quickly supplant Grady as the starting point guard.
(Link via UMHoops.)
The first bump of a diary post. I cosign on this general approach to tackling the site. As a forinstance: in the post about bug tracking yesterday there were a few folks posting links to SMQB and elsewhere; these should probably go on the message board now.
Okay people, so now that Brian has brought us MGoBlog 3.0 I see that many of us are confused about the difference between Diaries, and the MGoBoard, and comments, and why Ninja quite frequently wanders around pantless in public. I thought I'd make an attempt at clarifying some of the confusion, and throwing a couple of ideas out there and seeing what sticks.
So without further ado, I give you MGoComenting for Ridiculous Idiots Who Waste Too Much Time on This Damn Site Which (Amazingly Enough) Has Not Yet Rendered Us Unemployed.
So, here we are with all these options. Brian Cook, or the MGoMafiaDon as he may be called, has given us an updated site with options galore. What's a kinda sane person with an unhealthy obsession with all things Michigan to do? Here's one humble man's ideas:
- DIARIES: This is your own little area of MGoBlog. It gives you the ability to have your own tangential mini-blog, your own little cubby hole in the MGoUniverse to do with what you will. Want a spot to to display your photoshopped pictures of Charlie Weis making love to a chocolate cake? Go for it. Want a gallery of your favorite in-game pics? Here you go. A list of the recruits you'd most like to see us sign? That can go here too. Personally, I'll be using it as a place to list where Kate Beckinsale and I will register for wedding gifts when she finally leaves her husband and decides to become Ninja's sugar-momma. In related news, people can comment on your diary entries much like we can coment on Brian's posts. So feel free to tear down one man's dream of having a beatiful, intelligent woman support his MGoHabit at the bottom of this one. And I hope you feel good about yourself when I'm crying myslelf to sleep tonight.
- MGOBOARD: This is the spot for discussions, basically about anything you'd like. Think McGuffie lacks top-end speed and you'd like to get flamed for it? This is your spot. Interested in talking Tigers? Feel free to make a thread here. Wondering why we don't have a DE recruited yet? Yup, that's here too. I'd also propose a daily open thread in this section for those crack-adled regulars who have the attention span of a ferret on crystal meth. Someone could just start it as "Open thread for July 1st, 2008", etc. first thing in the AM. And luckily for those of you who think we're all nuts, you don't have to wade through it. (And you're right btw- we're all completely bat shit insane. But in a good way.)
- BRIAN'S POSTS: Obviously the reason we're all here, to get a daily and sometimes hourly fix on all things Wolverine. As I understand it the comments section after these posts will most likely be topic based. As Brian has said it's currently open, but the above format would give us the option to self-govern and let him do less babysitting and more digging into the important things in life, like what Mike Barwis had for breakfast today, or what Mike Barwis wore today, or when Mike Barwis will officially turn our 5'6" WRs into laser cannon toting T-Rex's with 4.3 speed and a two story vertical.
So, what think you MGoPeople? Like I said, I'm just throwing it out there to see what sticks.
Full up. The Bama Sports Report says Ivan Matchett has made his grades and will enroll at Alabama shortly. Matchett is the 27th recruit to qualify -- two enrolled early -- and Alabama has now maxed out their freshman class. Three players will have to go by September, and there are still two guys trying to get eligible.
Hello, nurse. Anyone with an interest in viral marketing, branding, or boobs probably knows that JC Penney has been scrambling to control the fallout from a fake teen sex ad that was leaked onto the internet. But everyone's missed the hidden subplot except an alert reader: that chick is a Michigan fan. Check the shirt she's putting on/taking off/putting on:
Thousands of sixteen-year-olds across the country will now find themselves inexplicably fond of winged helmets.
Slightly lame. A large number of departures from the quasi-revenue sports of hockey and baseball:
- 2010 hockey recruit Jared Knight has signed with the OHL. This is not a huge deal since that class is two years from seeing the ice and Michigan will no doubt secure a suitable replacement, but Knight would have been a first-round OHL draft pick without his Michigan commitment and is a disappointing loss.
- 3B Adam Abraham, SS Jason Christian, and top reliever Mike Powers have signed MLB contracts and won't return for their senior years. Putnam is still wavering after being selected surprisingly late, though.
"It was the greatest thing I ever did professionally," said Bob Lipson, who created the show in 1975 and produced it for 33 years. "It's me. That's my identity. I absolutely loved it and worked with three great coaches. Nobody had it better than me. It was a great run."
So what's to become of new coach Rich Rodriguez's show this fall?
One thing is certain: it will not be called "Michigan Replay."
"I own the name," Lipson said. "It's not for sale."
Feed me, multiply. Stadium and Main emerges from a long slumber with some original reporting:
...the most important thing about the BTN is having access to all of its "overflow" feeds, so you can see all of the games (without having to worry about whether you'll receive your team's game). This is especially important for me, since I live in Washington, DC. So if I only get one BTN channel, my "regional coverage" might be the BTN Game of the Week (which may or may not include Michigan), or worse yet, Penn State (since they're the closest geographically). This short blurb from the Baltimore Sun makes it sound like the BTN will be available on Comcast's Sports Entertainment Package in cities like Baltimore (stated), DC, NYC, etc. (inferred), which was expected. But what about those overflow feeds?!
S&M (...errrr) goes on an intrepid journey to get a comment on the matter from Comcast, finally surfacing with:
We plan to review this situation week by week, and hope to bring our customers as many of these extra games as possible, based on level of interest and available channel capacity. BTN has told us that these details of this opportunity will not be available until August, and that they are quite subject to change, week to week, based on the game selections by ESPN, ABC and NBC.
Bleah. Sounds like this remains in question; head over to Stadium and Main for a fuller parsing of the above.
Snippet. Oddly, I'm an Edmonton Oilers fan (long story involving Chris Chelios and Mike Comrie), which sucks when it comes to actual on-ice accomplishments except during the Pronger year but is pretty killer when it comes to blogging. One of the best Oilers blogs out there -- albeit one of the worst named -- is MC79Hockey, and they've just wrapped up the main problem with the "access" frequently trotted out as the reason you shouldn't read the internet. Former Sioux defender Matt Greene just got traded:
Looking at Matt Greene first, he’s a fifth or sixth guy on a bad team. I had to laugh tonight as Jason Gregor was promoting his upcoming LIVE INTERVIEW WITH MATT GREENE and then explaining that he saw his upside as being a number three defenceman, because he can’t play on the PP. It was a stark illustration of the corrosive effect of access on truth telling.
Not everyone goes that route, of course, but the ones who don't tend to be Sharp/Mariotti types who Speak Truth To Power in a super-annoying way. Access is a double-edged sword.
(Also re: Greene: " I’ll always remember him, but mostly because I went to school with the guy who hit him with his truck." ZING!)
- The bug where your username was randomly replaced by someone else's is fixed according to a few readers.
- I am aware that the site gets shoved down the page in IE 6 and am attempting to fix it; give me a week or so.
- I'm also trying to fix the flyout menus showing up under flash content.
- I know the tabs look weird for some, but it's been really hard to track down why because it's been intermittent.
- The recruiting board has been ported over. It now lives under "useful stuff" on the nav menu.
- I am not enthralled with everything yet but I wanted to get the site live so I could spend July working out kinks instead of August or September. If you have suggestions I am open to them.
Update: Forgot one bug in the queue: anonymous comments are apparently getting registered -- they bump up the comment count -- but not displayed.
Update 6/30: Moved IN LB Jordan Barnes and TX WR Dewayne Peace to committed. Linked to articles on FL WR Rantavious Wooten, OK RB David Oku, FL RB Vincent Smith, VA QB Kevin Newsome (second)... and here's a big long one on Newsome.
Added TX CB Demontre Hurst.
I'm not adding this OL yet but he does have offers from Iowa and Rutgers and says a Michigan offer equals a commit; might bear watching.
Editorial Opinion: The big news of the week was covered in a midweek article the daya fter Peace and Barnes committed; what's left over is more Newsome worry:
He talked about his performance. He talked about
his transfer from Western Branch (Chesapeake, Va.) to prep-school
powerhouse Hargrave Military Academy this fall and how it will help him
develop as a quarterback and a man. But the one thing he didn't want to
talk about was his commitment to Michigan.
"No comment," Newsome said when he was asked about that commitment.
"No comment" seems like a hell of a comment in this instance. He bears watching. As mentioned earlier, the Hargrave move should help keep Newsome in the fold, as Hargrave's coach, Robert Prunty, knows where his bread is buttered and prohibits already-committed prospects from dealing with coaches while at school. Thus the steady stream of not-quite-qualfied guys that wander through a postgrad year at Hargrave relatively safe from the predations of other gentlemen.
Prunty's staying out of this one, though:
"The bottom line is, where the kid goes is his family's decision,"
said Prunty, who went to Chatham High School when Newsome's mother was
at Gretna. "I'm here to support the family. All I know is that the kid
is committed to Michigan. I have no part in the recruiting process with
this kid. We have not talked about it."
Developments will be relayed as they, uh, develop.
Don't want him get Forcier rabble rabble?
I copped out in last week's post about the QB situation, claiming that anyone and everyone would be fine, but if I was in a Rich Rodriguez version of Being John Malkovich and had to choose, I'd take Newsome. Former Tennessee QB Tee Martin has him down, IMO:
"When I got to college I learned more about being a total quarterback,
and it worked out for me. I kind of see that situation with [Newsome]
not having a QB coach [in high school]. … He's the kind of kid who will
get to college, gets coached up and gets into a system where he winds
up being really good."
Newsome is a state-champion hurdler and sprinter who started off the year as a top-20 player and five star because of his athleticism. Each rankings revision since has seen him drop as he performs erratically at passing camps and combines, reportedly because he's attempting to change the accurate-but-long release he showed at the Army Combine to a shorter one.
If he's lagging behind some other guys at the moment, there's good reason -- poor or even no coaching thus far. He retains the upside that got him so highly-rated to start and the Hargrave move indicates a seriousness about improving.
Forcier, on the other hand, comes from a wealthy family of quarterbacks and has received intensive QB training for a long time now. It's reasonable to assume he's further along in his potential and would not improve as quickly as Newsome once on campus.
Non-quarterbacks, and by "non-quarterbacks" we mean "5'8" guys":
Pahokee RB Vincent Smith -- from the same high school as Martavious Odoms and, yes, another one of those electron sorts -- says it's "a little devastating" the instate schools have little interest in him and plans a three-school swing pretty soon:
''[When I got] my first offer from Michigan,'' Smith said, ``I knew then I was going to be good.''
good? That's to be determined. Smith said he will visit Michigan,
Tennessee and Minnesota in one swing this summer, the first time he has
been to any of those campuses.
He hopes to pick one of those --
or another school -- soon after. Whichever his running back chooses,
Thompson said, it should be a good fit.
''If somebody puts him in the spread offense,'' Thompson said, ``he'll be successful.''
Smith is listed at 5'9" but that may be a couple inches generous. Michigan is still looking for one more slot/RB type; past that even I'm going to look askance on anyone shorter than 5'9" not named "Boubacar Cissoko."
Speaking of diminutive running backs, it appears OK RB David Oku's top five may be more of a top three with chasers:
Oku planning officials: After previously saying he would likely take unofficial visits to Michigan, Illinois and several other schools this summer, Carl Albert running back David Oku has decided to skip the unofficials and take official visits this fall.
Oku said he will definitely take official visits to Tennessee, Florida State and Michigan during football season.
Oku was a childhood fan of Florida State and has repeatedly said that depth charts matter quite a bit to him; they are probably your tentative favorite.
Aaand how about one more? FL WR Rantavious Wooten has an awesome name and some impressive offers:
Michigan gets some mention after LSU and Miami; an official visit seems likely.
Brief notes: as suspected, the Michigan "lead" for PA CB Corey Brown was totally hypothetical: he committed to Ohio State. IL OL Chris Watt dropped Michigan, which is disappointing. FL S Mike Jones($, info in header) is visiting ND and M, his leaders, as we speak; AZ DE Craig Roh($, you know the drill) just got done visiting.
HELLO! New digs over here, but why do you care? This thing now runs on Drupal, a content management system that's designed to facilitate multi-user sites. It has many, many features, like:
Comment improvements. No more 300-comment threads full of drive-bys, first posters, and several people talking back and forth at each other without any guidance as to just what the hell is going on.
The new comments:
- Can be restricted to registered users. I'm going to leave it open for a while to see how it goes, but if things get too annoying I'll lock out unregistered comments.
- Prohibit handle-jacking. All unregistered commenters post as 'Anonymous Coward.'
- Are more fuctional. A WYSIWIG editor allows you to bold, italicize, link, bullet, and indent without having to know any HTML.
- Are local. This should allow them to be searched for in the future, and you can always find a user's entire comment ouevre on his user page.
- Can be threaded or collapsed as you please.
Diaries. There is a species of Michigan blog akin to the mayfly. Inspired by this, that, or the other, a reader gets the idea he'll add his voice to the Michigan blogosphere, puts up a couple good posts, and then disappears once the overwhelming feeling of talking to himself is just too much.
These are invariably sad occurrences. Other times people just email me cool stuff, or leave excellent comments that really deserve a wider audience. When I miss these, they die on the vine.
Now registered users can maintain their own section of the site, where they can post whatever they want. SBNation calls these "FanPosts" and they're usually sparse and a little sad; DailyKos calls them "diaries" and there are frickin' millions of them. In any case, the idea is the same: post what you want. The tabbed section at the top of the right sidebar will track and link to various posts that are either new, popular, or "hot" -- commented on lots. If something is really good I might bump it to the front page, and if there's enough quality in that section there will be a regular (weekly? biweekly?) roundup.
Better organization. The old site's sidebar creaked ominously under the extreme pressure of thousands upon thousands of sidebar sections, links, and other cruft. Here, the really important site-usability stuff has migrated up into the navigation bar you see right below the banner, and the piles of links have migrated into flyout menus so that they don't take up too much screenspace when you're not looking for a Purdue blog.
A message board. Drupal comes with out-of-the-box message board software. It kind of sucks, but it works. I plan on doing something about it later, but for now there is a board, and it won't have any porn spam. Probably. It will remain a single board until such time as excessive off topic traffic drives people nuts, at which point there will be a schism.
The message board should be the place all OT talk goes. At some point the comments section exploded into an unmanageable mess and I stopped reading it because there were 500-800 comments every day, many of them about Gary Sheffield. I want to read the comments as long as they're relevant, and they will be relevant henceforth: offtopic posts are strongly discouraged and are subject to capricious deletion.
But that's not all, folks. Drupal is like a camel: if you beat it enough, it will take you anywhere. When I can find time (read: in January at the earliest), I plan on undertaking various other projects:
A recruiting wiki. Scouring the earth for every piece of information available on the dozens of kids Michigan recruits every year is a task that one man will necessarily leave incomplete. You can see evidence for yourself whenever Varsity Blue updates its recruiting board with 50% stuff I've never seen.
User-submitted photo galleries. Like diaries.
A Bittorrent tracker. Maybe. MGoVideo is up and has a good community around it, but I can't help but think it could be significantly larger and more comprehensive if it was part of this site.
Subscriptions. MGoBlog is and will always be totally free, but some people have expressed such enormous irritation with the banner ads -- though I do try to keep them under control -- that they'd prefer to buy their way out of them. I would love to provide this capability, and once certain add-ons provide versions for Drupal 6, I'll try to get it going.
User points. A big part of organizing a lot of information is providing ways for users to self-moderate the site; I hope to provide incentives for that.
Anything you can think of. I am open to suggestions.
One final item.
I've just hurled together an enormous amount of stuff labeled "beta" or even "alpha" and tested it... somewhat. There will no doubt be bugs. If there are, please email me and I'll get on it. Email me about bugs. Email about bugs.