“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.”
Update 12/20: Added IN DE Jeff Boyd and NC DE Kourtnei Brown, linked to articles on Everson Griffen, SC WR Junior Hemingway, TX CB Troy Woolfolk, and KS LB Austin Panter. Removed AZ OL Jaivorio Burkes, IL RB Robert Hughes, and CA LB Malcolm Smith (dropped us). Added TN WR(!) Rashad Mason and MO OL Donald Stephenson.
Editorial Opinion: Not a whole lot of shock and awe in this edition. Burkes dropping us is disappointing. With Romine seemingly looking elsewhere, Michigan is moving on to plan B. They brought in two-star Tennessee OT Jared McGaha, promised him an offer if Romine went elsewhere, then watched him commit to MSU. Now they're bringing in Donald Stephenson from Missouri, a one-time Kansas commitment who is being recruited by a wide array of middling programs and us. Standard disclaimers about offensive line recruiting apply -- stars matter less there than anywhere else -- but right now Michigan has one undersized guy who can only play center, an in-state sleeper, and almost no shot at a pacifying star. Bleah. NY's John Elliot is still considering us, but we're the location outlier amongst his finalists. We do get the last visit.
Unless we pull Elliot, this is likely to be a sucky OL class, but it shouldn't matter that much. Carr singled out Steve Schilling's loss as a major disappointment this year, which is a remarkable statement when you're talking about a true freshman fresh out of an offense that did nothing but run. Current buzz has him taking over at RT immediately. That means Michigan just has to find one LT out of Zirbel, Ortmann, and Dorrestein to have a tackle combo that will be around for the next three or four years and bridge the gap past this mildly lame class.
The DEs are both committed to SEC schools: Boyd is a tenuous Kentucky commit, Brown a tenuous Alabama commit. Boyd is a teammate of safety commit Jerimy Finch who's been scouting around for an offer from a bigger school. Michigan may provide one, since options on the defensive line are thin. Brown is a three star on the way up, but the general impression is that as soon as Alabama gets a coach he'll firm up that commitment. Insert joke about the distant future here.
Q. Why are we offering an unknown wide receiver if we already have three commitments? A. He's probably an OMG sleeper. Tennessee's Rashad Mason does have a Michigan offer and will visit. He is huge (6'5" or 6'6" depending who you listen to), fast (4.5), and has a good excuse for his ranking (a severe car crash that wiped out his junior season). Now he's getting offers from big time schools:
Although the youngster from Pearl-Cohn High School in Nashville denies a leader, Mason admits favoring Mississippi, UCLA, Michigan, LSU and Florida. He has offers from all of them except LSU and Florida. Mason also has offers from Louisville, Tennessee and Arkansas.
He has a January 19th visit, when hopefully it will be
unseasonably just as warm as all Michigan Januarys:
Mason will be visiting UCLA on January 12 and Michigan on January 19. "Michigan is one of the top programs year after year," Mason said. "Their record and tradition speaks for itself. I'd prefer to be somewhere warm, but it's not a big deal. I'll see what it's like during my visit."
Talking. Myself on Sports Bloggers Live yesterday. Firefox-incompatible.
No mo' Morris. Freshman wing K'len Morris will undergo shoulder surgery, miss the rest of the season, and apply for a medical redshirt. He should get one, as he appeared in only seven games -- NCAA guidelines state a player has to appear in 20% or fewer of his team's games. Michigan should clear its 35th in the Big Ten Tournament.
Bye, bye Kerry. Michigan recruitniks are probably familiar with Cincinnati Colerain, the southern Ohio powerhouse that's given Michigan the services of Cobrani Mixon (redshirted) and Mister Simpson (redshirted, then transferred to Cinci) over the past two years. Their coach, Kerry Coombs, has just been hired by new Bearcats coach Brian Kelly to coach defensive backs. This is good and bad. Coombs brought his entire team to the Michigan camp every year and often gave Michigan a shot at his top players. That's unlikely to continue. But Coombs may prove a thorn in Ohio State's side when it comes to the Cincinnati area. Respected Buckeyeplanet insider Honor & Glory says that he expects top-100 safety recruit Eugene Clifford to follow his coach:
Coombs has not taken the job...yet. If he does, I fully expect Clifford to de-commit and follow his h.s. coach to UC. I also would lay even money that Ben Martin heads to UC...
Martin, also a Cincinnati kid, is a defensive end who the #1 prospect in Ohio. He's reportedly choosing between OSU and ND.
No one paid UC's move to the Big East much mind when it happened, as the new conference looked like Conference USA with a BCS bid, but with the emergence of Louisville and WVU into quasi-national powers, Schiano driving Rutgers to unprecedented heights, and a promising upstart in South Florida, the Big East suddenly looks very legit indeed. For the first time in its history OSU may have to fight an instate school for prestige and recruits, and while this would be a strictly little-brother scenario similar to the Michigan-MSU dynamic, sometimes little brother is annoying. TJ Duckett and Charles Rogers come to mind.
Jimmah! I don't want to pretend this is conclusive, but Clausen's Oaks Christian team won their state championship 27-20 in OT. Jimmah's contribution was three interceptions, 94 passing yards, and some mildly bad behavior:
The only real pregame noise came from Clausen, who ran to midfield and pointed and shouted at the Cardinal Newman kids before the opening kickoff.
The kid has a swagger. The kid also has a quick trigger, throwing a bullet 17-yard pass to Marshall Jones for a touchdown on the game's first possession.
But the kid also is impatient. Cardinal Newman dropped eight guys off the line of scrimmage, and forced him to find an opening, and he couldn't.
And the kid has a temper, as we saw when he scolded receivers for not catching some of his high-and-wide passes.
More fuel for the theory that Clausen is virtually untested heading to Notre Dame and is extremely likely to disappoint. Bullets:
- He plays on an all-star team at a tiny private school; his opponents are likewise tiny.
- He's 19 already.
- His parents are crazy and have raised him to quarterback.
So no one really knows how he'll react under pressure or when there are players within 10 yards of his receivers. As an overage kid who's been coached since six, he's closer to his ceiling than anyone else entering college. All we really know is that Clausen throws a beautiful ball in 7-on-7 passing drills and gets really bad advice about his hair. Powlus redux? (Please remember that Powlus wasn't awful, but he wasn't any better than average, either.)
Etc.:Interesting article on this Chuck Neinas guy, a coaching headhunter. Rakes has some season awards to hand out. You might recognize something. Rose Bowl thing from MSNBC. Apparently our offense is a lot like USC's. You are reading the fourth most important thing in the universe*.
**(college football blogging)
Via Western College Hockey: forward Jason Bailey has left the team for the Ottawa 67s. Normally I don't get on kids for departures, but leaving in the middle of the season when you're seeing consistent ice time is a dick move. Thankfully, Bailey was by far the worst skater in the top nine. This year he has a stellar 0-0-0 in 19 games and has 14 minor penalties -- only Chris Summers has more -- and is -11. If Michigan wasn't already deciding which walkon to play every night, this would be irrelevant.
Unfortunately, it isn't. Bailey's departure further weakens Michigan's already thin bottom two lines, and though he wasn't a threat to do anything except hit someone and take a minor penalty, he's probably vaguely better than Ward or Ciraulo. Michigan may be forced to move a defenseman up (or at least they will when Dest and Kampfer return from injury). I expect Fardig to slide up a line.
The Romer paper is sort of an MGoBlog cause celebre, so it's with great glee that I point out a Michael Lewis article in the most recent ESPN The Magazine($)*. It seems Romer's convincing statistical proof that NFL teams scoff at expectation when making fourth-down decisions has had zero impact. Since its publication NFL teams have actually gone for it less on fourth down (14.5 percent now, 15.1 then). The Sports Economist summarizes Lewis' theory as to why:
Lewis first asks if Romer is simply wrong, but concludes that this is not the case (and I agree). Lewis also wonders if NFL coaches simply can't understand the complexity of Romer's argument. This is a possibility, but Lewis argues the coaches are more than capable of understanding complex arguments. After all, just running an NFL team â€“ as anyone associated with the Detroit Lions has learned in recent years â€“ is quite complex and difficult.
No, Lewis thinks Romer is right and NFL coaches understand his arguments. For Lewis, the reason why coaches fail to heed Romer's wisdom is that coaches do not wish to undermine their reputation in the coaching fraternity. As Lewis puts it "Go for it on fourth down more often than any other coach, and you not only set yourself apart from your peers, but you call into question their intelligence. If your decision doesn't pay off â€“ if you go for it routinely and your team fails â€“ you'll stand accused of malpractice."
Interesting to see this theory in practice on the NCAA level. Two prominent coaches are liable to go for it on any fourth down that looks tempting: USC's Pete Carroll and Notre Dame's Charlie Weis. And you couldn't pick two coaches with more opposite public personas. Carroll, derisively nicknamed "Pom-Pom" by rival fans, shows up dressed like Ricky Bobby, plays practical jokes on his players, and is down with Snoop Dogg. He's the archetypical "players' coach" who is lauded mostly for hiring Norm Chow and his ability to get every OMG shirtless recruit in the country to commit to USC. I don't think it's out of line to suggest that he's regarded more as an organizational figurehead than an Xs-and-Os maven.
Weis, on the other hand, is a supergenius. A tactical master blah blah, you know the drill. He offhandedly implies that other coaches are kinda stupid on a regular basis (and, IMO, is not entirely wrong). He's subject alternately to "he's a genius" swooning and "he ain't no genius" sneering, depending largely on the POV of the author and the results of Notre Dame's most recent game. It's not difficult to imagine a lot of doors closing should he find himself in need of a job at some point in the future.
This is to say that the way a coach acts vastly outweighs what he calls when it comes to media perception. If The Orgeron was to suddenly convert to the Church of Romer (he may have already but hasn't been able to show us since Ole Miss never found itself in fourth and less than 20) and justified it to the media by declaring anyone wanting to question his new strategery would have to defeat him in a shirtless greasy wrestling match, chances are the next day's paper would be conspicuously light on assertions that Orgeron's brain has gotten to big for his, um, brain-britches. Or whatever.
I don't buy it. I don't think fired NFL head coaches panhandling for jobs get turned down because they went for it more often than the league average. So what could possibly explain the gap between Romer game theory and NFL reality? Poker. I've played a lot of it. It's game theory in one of its purest forms, and the lesson it teaches is this: for the vast majority of the population it is hard to play anything other than weakly (ie, betting rarely, raising even more rarely, but calling lots) . Variance is scary. Inexperienced players don't want to risk folding a winner, but neither do they want to risk getting into a big pot with a loser. So they'll call down with third pair or whatever. That's why the most popular games by far are cheap limit games. Most people will take a negative expectation (small limit games have a proportionally huge rake that makes beating the game very difficult) as long as it promises lower variance, because gambling's fun derives largely from fear. People like a little fear. It's rare to run across someone who likes lots of it. This is not a gambling thing, it's a human nature thing. There's a lot of cognitive science behind it. Humans, as a species that relies on the effective application of knowledge to survive as opposed to freakin' huge talons or whatever, are constantly torn between the realms they know, which are safe but boring, and the realms they don't, which expand his knowledge but are dangerous. The end result is a sort of addiction to slightly new experiences and a lot of timid poker.
If coaches are drawn from a fairly typical sample of the population and have a fairly typical amount of risk tolerance (little), then it makes sense that most coaches are tight-weak. The only reason they wouldn't be tight-weak is if it provided some evolutionary advantage -- coaching is nothing if not Darwinistic -- that forced it into the population. Evidence suggests it does: FO found that the most likely to go were Parcells, Belichick (not coincidentally Weis's mentor), Shanahan, Cowher, and Schottenheimer. The Sports Economist extrapolates from Lewis and surmises that crotchety, successful old coaches don't have to care about what their peers think, but maybe you get to be a crotchety, successful old coach because you're more concerned about extending your current job than finding your next one.
So why isn't everyone aggressive by now? Most coaches, Romer-intelligent or not, get fired and replaced with some other guy plucked fresh from the ranks of the coordinators. When you get thrust into the poker of the NFL for the first time, the stakes are high, the depths dizzying, and the consequences of a gamble that backfires severe. The natural inclination of the n00b is to cower and make the safe play. Most of them never live long enough to get out of the kiddie pool and start making moves.
*(I saw an ad for "ESPN the Weekend" something like a month ago. Is anyone reminded of "Spaceballs the Flamethrower?"
- Lone Starr: Yogurt. What is this place? What is it that you do here?
- Yogurt: Merchandising.
- Barf: Merchandising? What's that?
- Yogurt: Merchandising. Come! I'll show you. [to the Dinks] Open up the store
- [Yogurt walks over to a wall filled with Spaceballs merchandise.]
- Yogurt: Merchandising! Merchandising! Where the real money from the movie is made! Spaceballs: the T-shirt, Spaceballs: the Coloring Book, Spaceballs: the Lunchbox, Spaceballs: the Breakfast Cereal. Spaceballs: the Flame Thrower... [fires a short blast from flame thrower]
- Dinks: Oooooohhhh!
- Yogurt: The kids love this one. And last, but not least, Spaceballs: the doll, me.
- [Yogurt squeezes the doll, which says "May the Schwartz be with you!"]
- Yogurt: Adorable.
So I went to the Northern Illinois basketball game, but about halfway through it I started to get tired of unproductive sarcasm re: the program. Let's pretend there was a lot of hilarious snark, and then here we go:
Sims! Explosivo! Northern Illinois has one really tall guy who's even spindlier than Sims. He was a nice player who came up with a couple blocks, but he was also the kind of defender Sims consumes whole, as he can get set up deep on the block and then use his length, which is lengthy, to finish. He did this a lot, and Michigan fed the post with a skill and intelligence I haven't seen in a while. Sims got the ball in a position to get a shot with one dribble, and when he can do that he does things like score 20 points. His shooting percentage wasn't great but a lot of that had to do with a couple of hilarious sequences that went missed bunny-offensive rebound-missed bunny-offensive rebound-missed bunny-offensive rebound-turnover. Or something like that.
I expect this will go away whenever someone decides it's time to push him away from the basket. The announcers were apparently drooling over a potential Sims-Oden matchup, because thats what ESPN+++ announcers do. Maybe they have a point: I guess it will be interesting to see a 6'11" man attempt to crawl back into his mother's uterus.
Line changes. With Michigan playing kind of stupid in the first couple minutes, Amaker yanked the starters (Sims, Petway, Coleman, Harris, Abram) for, well, the rest of the team (Udoh, D. Sims, Shepherd, Smith, Baker). Oddly, this worked. The scrubs entered with Michigan down four and left with Michigan up around four. There was a brief glimpse of what Amaker's motion offense is supposed to accomplish, as the checking line got D. Sims and Udoh open fifteen-footers, which the freshmen both drained confidently. Courtney Sims would later emphasize this point by taking a shot from just inside the three point line. A "what?" escaped my mouth before the shot ever left Sims' hand; it sailed through the air and smacked down out of bounds having threatened no one except inattentive cheerleaders.
Speaking of cheerleaders, there was one who spent much of the game mournfully watching her compatriots actually, you know, lead cheers. She was suffered to pom-pom away during the game, but whenever the cheerleaders ventured onto the court she was excluded from their reindeer games, hands propping up her chin as she watched the cool kids get on with their cool activities. This might have been understandable if she was new or injured and could not safely participate in any of the various acrobatic stunts cheerleaders do, but she did the mournful puppy-dog thing even when the task at hand was throwing t-shirts into the stands or encouraging the crowd to start the "Go... Blue" call-and-response cheer.
- She had been suspended for conduct detrimental to the squad. What this constitutes I don't know. Probably a refusal to participate in the weekly Sexy Lingerie Pillowfight.
- She has some sort of physical Tourette's syndrome that makes her presence on the floor during cheerleading activities impossibly dangerous. Like, if she gets anywhere near the "GO" sign or the "BLUE" sign the next thirty seconds become one of those cartoon fights where all you see is a hellacious dust cloud of fists and legs and pain-stars and when it's over the rest of the cheerleaders are lying in a moaning heap, clutching their newly-maimed extremities.
- The Michigan cheerleaders really do operate like cheerleaders in movies and Rudolph had displeased the catty leader by wearing the wrong shade of pink.
- Carmelo Anthony was in the arena and may have fled if she approached.
Attendance. I estimate around 400,000.
Reed Baker. I've seen pictures, but it's hard to describe just how hilarious Reed Baker looks on a collegiate basketball court. (This is not a knock on his play. He hit a couple threes and showed that when the other team also sports an elfin player, he can be effective.)
Reed Baker looks like someone who would have this guy very excited:
Attempt at basketball-talkin'. Our inability to get dribble penetration against such a weak team is worrying. I don't know what our offense would have looked like if NIU had the ability to push Sims out from the block, but it probably would have been ugly. That's an issue that's been discussed ad nauseum, but probably the oddest thing about our offense is that we hardly ever screen, instead preferring to use our big men as pressure outlets whenever our passing around the perimeter gets too hectic.
Sometime early in the first half Jevohn Shepherd made that cut where he flashes in front of a guy in the post and presents himself near the elbow, having used the two guys battling for the position as an inadvertent screen. The result was an uncontested layup, and I thought to myself "Richard Hamilton does that all the time," and then my mind wandered to the Pistons offense and the NBA's general obsession with the screen and roll (or pop). Why don't we use our big men to get Abram or Dion Harris either a favorable matchup or a driving lane? This I don't understand, but I also don't pretend to have all the answers here. 1) Is this a figment of my imagination? 2) If not, why don't we do this? 3) With our next two post starters capable shooters might this change in the future?
Friday I posted "Backlash Backlash Backlash," which spawned what I think was the third-dumbest comment thread in the history of MGoBlog. I said a couple things that I shouldn't have: the two assertions that BGS hated black people were, indeed, not cool. By distorting what they were saying because I needed to do so for my post, I committed the same sin I was accusing them of. Consider it retracted.