Obvious but welcome. Brandon Graham is destroying all comers at the Senior Bowl and appears to be the player helping himself the most with his performance. Scout says he's gone from a borderline first rounder to a "lock"($). Another Scout guy says he's the best DL there($), Bruce Feldman tweeted about his ability to get into the backfield, and so on and so forth:
Michigan LB Brandon Graham is just about unblockable with his speed and spin moves. … Michigan DE/OLB Brandon Graham is causing fits for UMass OT/OG Vladimir Ducasse in drills. Graham is the most explosive defender on the field.
Mike Maycock, who previously suggested that Graham might be available for the Lions at the top of the second round because he does not have crazy gorilla arms, now says Graham will be off the board before the first round is over. The Lions would have taken Drew Stanton anyway.
BONUS! Orson on Graham:
Then, there’s Brandon Graham. There he is, saying “Hi, I spent the entire year getting double teamed on a terrible defense and still wrecked shit like my name was Haitian McSichuan Earthquake.”
Another chart. Here are all the teams that returned ten starters on offense since 2006:
Big Red Network is interested in this because their terrible offense returns ten starters. Michigan does better than anyone except Texas A&M's wildly inconsistent bunch, but the those numbers include the game against Baby Seal U and are probably somewhat optimistic. Also, coming up from 290 yards a game is easy. There's nowhere to go but up, really.
Michigan now returns eight or nine starters, depending on how you define things; it's got to be a rare thing to return eight starters a year after returning ten, yes?
So much for that complaint. DeShawn Sims on that jersey tug:
“Yea, a little bit,” Sims said when asked if he was held on the play. “But this is the Big Ten. If I was the other team, I wouldn’t have wanted them to call that.”
That article's headline has a teeny slant: Sims "says he was held on the final play against Michigan State," it reads despite Sims immediately moving on from that and saying he didn't think it was a call and it wasn't the reason he missed the shot.
Redshirt war ammunition. First, let's kick Stewart Mandel since it's been a long time:
Meanwhile, Michigan fans are hopeful Devin Gardner, Rivals' No. 1 dual-threat quarterback, can provide an immediate spark -- but he may be even rawer than one of last year's Michigan freshman quarterbacks, Denard Robinson.
No, he is not. I don't think this is even possible. Denard Robinson wasn't even a quarterback to most schools; Devin Gardner went to the Elite 11, where Rivals guys named him the top quarterback there. Denard Robinson is perhaps the definition of raw.
Anyway, the actual reason to bring up this article:
"After watching him in Orlando [during Under Armour practices], I think he needs a redshirt," said Newberg.
That's a major step back from the aforementioned Elite 11 performance and what we saw from Gardner early in the season; I read it as evidence for my pet theory that Gardner's mechanics degraded severely over the year as he got away from the coaching he had in the summer and slid back into old habits.
Etc.: Hey Jenny Slater kicks off its list of the 50 most loathsome people in college football. Entertaining, but Paul Johnson doesn't come within a half-mile of the list if anyone other than a Georgia fan is compiling it. Also, Mike Patrick is somehow excluded.
1/26/2010 – Michigan 56, Michigan State 57 – 10-10, 3-5 Big Ten
Compelled to chip in on that occurrence. Thunder not meant to spoil. Zack Novak versus Kalin Lucas mandatory representation of last night's game.
I spent like 20 minutes looking for this because South Park Studios doesn't let you start clips at arbitrary points. But it was worth it. I present last night:
It's not like a win would have done much except make it more likely Michigan gets to .500 and therefore snags an NIT bid, but the basketball program fell into the state where Beat Rival is your season long ago. It would have been some vague redemption for this cursed year. It wasn't, obviously, because that's just the way 09-10 works. When it's all over I'll burn something in commemoration. Possibly the world.
Warn't a foul. Or rather it probably was but it was never going to to get called. (See Tim's post for the image getting passed around.) Sims pushed off to get open and fouled the State player about as much as he got fouled anyway. Still almost went down.
1-3-1… bzzt. When Beilein went into the 1-3-1 on the last possession I thought that was a mistake. The 1-3-1 is an extremely high pressure defense that offers up a lot of easy two-point looks. You're up one and playing a team that doesn't have a lot of shooters or take a lot of threes. If you're going to go into a zone it should be a post-packing one that tends to allow open looks from three, like the 2-3 Michigan has played infrequently. Also, the last time Michigan went to the 1-3-1 MSU sliced it open for a layup and a foul.
MSU didn't get a great shot but it was an open one from reasonable distance.
Start carrying razors. It's too bad that Laval Lucas-Perry doesn't have enough grit to bleed like a hemophiliac after getting elbowed in the nose, because other than the pool of blood that foul he took was a carbon copy of the one that got Manny Harris ejected last year. It would have been equally outrageous if Kalin Lucas had gotten the boot, of course, but shouldn't it have at least been a flagrant? You can give someone a flagrant without ejecting them and that elbow was face level. LLP did not have his face in the Kramer position where he just begs you to turn his cartilage into soup.
Paging the ghost of Gavin Groninger. It is ugly when you bring in a guy who can do exactly one thing and that guy can't do the thing. This is Stu Douglass, who's got an eFG% of 43.9 with a 15.6 usage rate. He's making 34% of his twos and 31% of his threes. I still think he's the best passer on the team and would be useful if he could hit the broad side of a barn with a nuclear bomb. It doesn't look like he can. Maybe he's just not getting many good looks? Last year he was only 33% from three, though. There's a lot of evidence that he's just not the shooter he needs to be.
Novak's kind of in the same boat—his 3PT% is an ugly 29%—but brings more Eckstein with him. Thanks to his relatively frequent rebounds his 2PT% is a healthy 54%.
Roster management. It's not Beilein's fault that Robin Benzing got stuck in Germany one year before the NCAA passed legislation to make kids like him—amateurs who have played on pro teams—eligible or that Ben Cronin's hip imploded, but not getting a big with any ability to play this year is a major failing. If Jordan Morgan could play at all yet he would be out there, missed practice time from his injury or not. Same with Blake McLimans. Beilein has a lot of guys who develop over the course of their careers; the team really needed someone to contribute right away.
Also, I know Kelvin Grady was not very good defensively, but he did make 36% of his threes last year—second on the team to CJ Lee—and would be useful. Were extreme amounts of pine that influenced him to take up football necessary? Would Grady have stayed if Beilein suggested he stick with it?
Manny. It's annoying but it's accurate to append the "…being Manny," isn't it? He's indisputably the best player on the team. Without him the Purdue game was a writeoff. He scored sixteen points, led the team in assists, and had five steals.
But holy crap: he's a 28% three-point shooter this year. Last year he was a 32% shooter. So why is he taking three contested three-pointers on which he does nothing except hold the ball and jack it up? He did the same thing at the end of the Alabama game this year, too. He just jacks up shots he has no business taking. It's one thing if he gets an open look—he was one of two on those—but to just hold the ball and then launch a bad shot without even attempting to run the offense is supremely lazy. Michigan probably converts at least one of those possessions otherwise, which is slightly important in a one-point game. I find him really frustrating.
Kenpom oddity. Michigan is now 58th in the Kenpom rankings, hardly off their pace from last year when they were 50th.
How this? Well, Kenpom also has a "luck" measure, which is basically the difference between your record and what Kenpom would expect your record to be given your performance. This year Michigan is 337th of 347 in this metric. Last year they were 131st, which is slightly above average. Related UMHoops tweet:
If my calculations are correct. Michigan is 2-6 in games that are within 4 pts in the final 2 minutes.
One more way in which this year is like having tiny gremlins stretch your scrotum across two counties.
Michigan State 57 Michigan 56, Michigan 10-10 (3-5 Big Ten)
So, Michigan has been a pretty good team since the start of conference play. They look like a borderline NCAA squad. Except, uh, the season started in November, not January. Trying to dig out of a 6-5 hole before kicking off a single conference game, then throwing up all over themselves at Indiana, was something this team was never going to be able to do. The MSM articles have been harping on this point for weeks, but we've come to a point where the lack of leadership and the resulting inability to play urgently enough to show that an NCAA bid is something this team really wants, is bringing this team down.
Under different circumstances, a 1-point loss to Michigan State might be something of a moral victory. If Michigan had taken care of the non-conference schedule with only one or two losses like they should have, or not blown games against Indiana and Northwestern, or been able to steal the road win that they probably should have had against Wisconsin, I may be in a better mood. But those things didn't happen, and now this season is lost. An NIT bid is the best-case scenario.
I've gotten this far into the post without even talking about what happened in the game, because it really was that important for this season alone, much less the long-term implications of a Michigan basketball team that might be able to - gasp! - play with the Spartans. The Wolverines needed this game. They probably had this game, and it slipped away. Where last year's team was probably a bit lucky and a lot more grit gritterstein walkon-y, this team seems hollow, and we're beyond the point that the 2009-10 can be fixed.
The Wolverines played their asses off, forced turnovers, even got a few rebounds, and answered MSU runs. The Spartans shots the lights out (when they actually got shots), didn't let Michigan get good shots, and played a physical game. It transpired a lot like you'd expect, and Michigan simply couldn't hold onto a late lead. All credit goes to Kalin Lucas, who has ice flowing through his veins.
- The last actual play Michigan ran was drawn up to get Manny all the way to the hoop. He couldn't get it there (and wasn't going to get a call), so he dished to Stu, who set up DeShawn with a good shot. Can't fault the X-and-O design.
- Similarly, the out of bounds play was drawn up very well, and Michigan had a chance to win the game. I actually didn't think the no-call was egregious, but when I see things like this:
@umhoops Legit complaint -- it's a foul, though one that's hardly ever called in that situation. Truthfully, if I was a M fan, I'd be upset. [from LVS of The Only Colors]
...this morning, it's really frustrating.
- Great work by Michigan's guards holding onto the ball, which they've had a bit of trouble with in the past few games. Only Stu Douglass (3) and Zack Novak (1) had any turnovers.
- The shooting regressed again. Darn. I think a lot of it was good defense by MSU, but there were some open looks that missed, and did so badly. This team needs another confidence booster, and fast.
- Beilein said in the postgame presser that Manny coming off the bench was tactical, not punitive. I sort of liked the way it played out, too. I wouldn't be surprised if you see that type of starting lineup in a couple big games in the future.
- Apparently it didn't come through on the telecast, but the Spartan fans were really damn loud in there. It's the duty of Michigan fans to be louder and not let that happen, and frankly, the M fans embarrassed themselves last night. It was almost as pathetic as the 2007 Ohio State football game. Shame on you.
"Let's just have him come off the bench, and go in and be Manny out there." John Beilein, on Manny Harris not starting the game.
"If I was the other team, I wouldn't have wanted it called." DeShawn Sims, with the night's "duh" moment, on the last play of the game.
"Take a day off tomorrow, clear our mind, and Thursday we'll get ready for Iowa." Zack Novak, on how to shake off this game and move on.
"We've still gotta believe and continue to work hard to get better. At any time, we can make a run." Manny Harris, on the team's mental state.
In these last 10 games, I feel like we should start winning." Darius Morris, on how the tean's improvement will show on the court.
Michigan has a nice 3-day layoff (for the first time in 2 weeks) before inviting the Iowa Hawkeyes into Crisler Arena. Iowa is, like, terrible, so it would be very fitting for Michigan to choke this game away and cause mass suicides in the general Washtenaw County region.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Michigan State|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
January 26th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +4.5*|
|TELEVISION||ESPN (O'Brien, Lavin, Andrews)|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Though Ohio State always has and always will be Michigan's #1 football rival, that isn't the case for the hoops team. It's the in-state Spartans that are the A-1 priority for just about every sport that doesn't take place on the gridiron. I guess that's what makes the Wolverines' futility against Michigan State hurt more than it seems like it should. It's no 0-6 record the last six time against the Buckeyes in football, but losing 16 of the last 19 to MSU on the basketball court isn't a stroll through the roses either. I guess it's appropriate that in the Free Press's photo gallery from the last 24 games, even the most recent Michigan win is represented by a picture that makes their efforts look futile against the Green and White Machine (H/T UMHoops):
So tonight, in front of a Maize-Out crowd that will be populated by more than few Spartan fans, the Wolverines get just their third chance to knock off MSU in the John Beilein era. Michigan is struggling through an all-too-familiar disappointing season, while Michigan State chugs along on their annual track to a top seed in the NCAA tournament.
With Manny back in the fold after his suspension and Kelvin Grady re-joining the scout team to simulate Kalin Lucas in practice (for all of 35 minutes yesterday) team chemistry may be iffy. This is compounded the leadership void all year. It's tough to say what to expect from this Michigan team, though DeShawn Sims said Manny will give one of the best performances of his career. Harris has responded to previous benchings with scoring outbursts, whether it was the Iowa overtime last year or large chunks of the Indiana game this year.
The Spartans are a typical Tom Izzo unit that crashes the boards and running the floor to get much of their offense. They also play stingy defense, which has led to the best efficiency margin in the Big Ten. Michigan is at #5, speaking to their improvement over the year, but still well behind MSU. The Spartans are at +15.5; Michigan is just +3.2.
The Spartans have only lost three games this season, but all have been away from home. They fell to Florida in Atlantic City and lost to North Carolina and Texas on their respective home floors. Michigan is probably as good as those teams, right?
So, yeah, Michigan State is a really tough out. They haven't lost in the Big Ten, though they've yet to play in some of the tougher conference venues (yes, I'm well aware Crisler isn't one, especially for the Spartans).
Junior guard Kalin Lucas was struggling somewhat at the beginning of the year, and even started one game off the bench, but he is back where he was last year, playing the majority of available minutes as he shoots, slashes, and dishes for MSU. 6-6 sophomore forward Draymond Green leads the Spartans in offensive rating and field goal percentage, along with defensive rebounding percentage. Senior forward Raymar Morgan, at 6-8, is MSU's other big rebounder. Senior guards Durrell Summers and Chris Allen also play more than 60% of available minutes for State, and Allen is a big downtown threat.
This is a good team of the basket-ed ball, methinks.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Michigan State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. MSU Def eFG%||177||48||SS|
|Mich Def eFG% v. MSU eFG%||168||43||SS|
|Mich TO% v. MSU Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. MSU TO%||67||187||SS|
|Mich OReb% v. MSU DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. MSU OReb%||225||9||SSS|
|Mich FTR v. MSU Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. MSU FTR
|Mich AdjO v. MSU AdjD||82||26||S|
|Mich AdjD v. MSU AdjO||46||23||S|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
These numbers are ugly for Michigan, with advantages only in holding onto the rock—something that has not been in evidence of late as the team descends into an Amakerian turnover-fest—and not sending the opponent to the foul line. For both teams, eFG% is directly correlated to efficiency on its respective side of the floor, and though Michigan's has been trending upward (along with their overall efficiency on either side of the floor - those season-long numbers may be worth exploring at a later date), Michigan State still has advantages in each of more than 100 places in the national ranks.
For Michigan to have a chance in this game, DeShawn Sims is going to have to perform like a superstar, which, thankfully, he has been doing a lot of late. The story was similar against Purdue, and even without Manny Harris, the Wolverines were able to keep it close. A hot-shooting day by any of Michigan's outside snipers could tilt the tide in favor of the maize-and-blue.
HOWEVA, Ken Pomeroy likes Michigan State by three points, Vegas likes them by four-and-a-half, and I think those numbers are even a little too kind to Michigan. I guess that may be attributable to the Wolverines' basketball team becoming a much better version of the John L. Smith football teams: any individual game can end with a wild swing one way or another, but at the end of the year, you have a good idea what the final record is going to be. Sure, it isn't 5-7 for this hoops squad (they'll probably sneak into the NIT), but it would take one of the surprising upsets of the year to knock of Michigan State. Come in, wear maize, be loud, and hope for the best.
The Only Colors previews the game, and KJ does more hoping for than predicting an MSU win. Official site release on Manny's return to the team. The Big Ten Geeks study how Michigan State ripped Minnesota's heart out. Story behind that awful new logo can be found hyah. Dylan previews at UMHoops.
Around here, the above all-caps exclamation has turned into a sarcastic shorthand for a super blue-chip recruit. Lesser folk are said to be partially shirtless. It's a meme. And it all started in 2005 when Michigan was recruiting Tim Tebow and someone found the site because MGoBlog was the #1 hit for "Tim Tebow shirtless."
At the time Google couldn't provide anything racier than a shot of Tebow in his basketball uniform, but thanks to the Senior Bowl and a crafty, hits-mad editor at al.com, your long wait is ended, anonymous and creepy drive by from about four years ago.
Tim Tebow. OMG. Shirtless.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.
[Warning: Mount Cody also shirtless in that link. Scarring.]
Okay, he's enrolled. Now strike! Devin Gardner finally managing his early enrollment has spurred not one but two columns echoing a theme from this blog. It's "please God, no more freshman quarterbacks." Angelique Chengelis:
So former Inkster star Devin Gardner has enrolled at Michigan, and the potentially next great quarterback will participate in spring practice and compete for the starting job this fall.
Operative word: Compete.
And the Daily's Andy Reid:
So, Devin Gardner is officially on campus — but be careful what you wish for, Wolverine fans. He’s not the answer for next season.
I agree with both takes, as is obvious anyone who's been reading this site's annoyingly persistent demand to redshirt Gardner if at all possible. I've read a couple other evaluations of Gardner's recent play that jive with what I though I saw in the later editions of the MGoCreeperVan's Gardner highlight videos: his throwing motion degraded over the course of the year from the very pro-style delivery I saw in Inkster's opener against Pioneer to the shotput pushing motion that was more prevalent in the state championship game. I don't think Gardner got a lot of dedicated QB coaching at Inkster and will probably need a year of constant correction to get his mechanics back to the point they were at when he was the #1 QB in the country to Rivals.
Is it really not that bad? I basically share the same opinion most people seem to have about this Michigan class: it's short on blue chips and—on paper—the worst recruiting class since Kelly Baraka and Reggie Benton were the highlights of the lame 2001 group. In terms of production on the field, Lloyd Carr's last two classes are probably worse for reasons that aren't anyone's fault, but at least when those kids were in high school people thought they were pretty good.
But actually it might not be that big a deal. This was created by a Rivals poster elegantly named "Stinky P1nky" on the 21st. [Update: FWIW, the poster in question first put this chart on The Mainboard.] It is thus a tiny bit dated but the changes since then are small and the resulting chart is an interesting one:
Michigan's class is #11 nationally if you average out the four major services that do these things, though I'm not that familiar with MaxPreps's rankings. (They're probably a little better than that now since the Black commit temporarily bumped them a spot on Scout and Rivals, but then again they'll probably fall by signing day as they're almost full and other teams have more room to add players.) Notre Dame is just behind M and probably dropped after losing a couple of high profile recruits, one of whom is a four-star defensive end from Indiana who goes to a Catholic high school. Harbaugh can recruit a little bit.
This doesn't take class sizes into account very well and thus probably overstates the class quality, but at the very least it's a lot of solid players who will help Michigan solidify the roster, banish walk-ons to the scout team, and put them on a talent footing at or above the Wisconsin-Iowa range in which it's obviously possible to have an excellent team. If and when Michigan gets back there and the maelstrom of negativity surrounding Rodriguez subsides, a recruiting bounce would have them back at their traditional level. And last year's class, the first that Rodriguez was wholly responsible for, certainly indicates that is where Rodriguez would like to go.
The fudge factor. Now to throw some cold water on the above positivity with a seemingly unrelated Notre Dame commitment. A relatively anonymous TE/OT from Kentucky named Tate Nichols is committed to Stanford, but then backs off and switches to Notre Dame. His rankings then:
Two of the three main recruiting sites considered Nichols a tight end recruit and as such didn't slot him very high. Both Scout and Rivals tabbed Nichols as a 2-star tight end recruit with Scout considering him the 52nd overall TE. ESPN did list him as an offensive lineman, giving him 3-stars, a 75 grade rating, and a ranking as the 101st overall offensive tackle recruit.
His rankings now:
Update: These were his rankings on Saturday when he committed. Today, Tuesday morning, Scout has changed him to a 3-star offensive line prospect and the #71 overall OT recruit.
Would this have happened if Nichols switched his commitment to Kentucky? I seriously doubt it. But when it's Notre Dame or Michigan picking up a who-dat type recruit that guy tends to grab stars almost instantly. This year Michigan saw it with Carvin Johnson, Jake Ryan, and, to a lesser extent since he's still two stars on Rivals, Ray Vinopal. All of those guys were unranked or two stars until their Michigan commit prompted a re-evaluation.
That's not to say that the guys who got bumps didn't deserve them, but it's obvious that committing to a primo school causes the sites to re-evaluate your game. San Diego State commits are not afforded this privilege.
Speaking of Jibreel Black. Useful: Touch the Banner has a scouting report in which Brandon Graham gets name-checked. Useless: remember these guys?
Apparently part of the Rodriguez rebuild is getting a couple of defensive linemen whose names combine in a funny way when they're on the bench: Michigan has just recruited guys named "Black" and "Ash." They should go the whole nine yards and invite Ball State running back Brandon Kish to walk on and then have poker pro Tony Ma hang around on the sidelines.
Kramer was defending on the left wing in front of Michigan's bench when Laval Lucas-Perry swung his elbow high, forcing Kramer to bob out of the way.
Seconds later, Michigan called a timeout and Kramer walked toward Purdue's huddle motioning to his arm and patting his elbow. That was likely directed to the officials.
Apparently, Kramer also told coach Matt Painter. Painter -- spouting mad -- then appeared to go toward Michigan's bench. He was held back by official Steve Olson, who had his hand on Painter's chest. Painter appeared to be jawing at Michigan assistant coach John Mahoney. Mahoney came over to Painter and appeared to pat him on the back and then walk away.
And by "incident" we mean "non-incident." Was this on TV? I don't recall this, though I admit that for a good chunk of the second half I was not paying super-close attention. I imagine a gritty gritadillo like Kramer spends a lot of time dodgy elbows that want to go where his craggy, pore-laden gritface happens to be. A little hissy from your coach about not actually getting hit is a little weird even if he got clocked last year. He's Gritopher Gritmer: he likes elbows in the face. Makes him feel alive.
Side note: Mahoney is the assistant who got T-ed up last year. He's yappy.
It's a matter of national security. The Detroit News reports back on their efforts to FOIA something from MSU about the Posse Roundup & Engineer/Woman Beatdown:
Most details of the altercation at the Rather Hall dormitory, however, were blacked out on the document. Officials cited sections of the FOIA law that protect an individual from unwarranted invasion of privacy and legal proceedings in an ongoing criminal investigation as reasons why most of the information was withheld.
Officials also declined to reveal details of six 911 calls made around the time of the incident, video surveillance footage in the dormitory, results of polygraph tests and taped interviews with players.
This is not surprising given the lengths to which universities go to avoid FOIA compliance, and I said earlier that the four additional departures from Michigan State's team seemed like a stiff price to pay. I do wonder if some of the big names returning to the team (Cunningham and Dell, mostly) might be the beneficiaries of a double standard that Michigan State would not like to see in the public eye.
Also: six 911 calls. !!!
Meanwhile, two more Spartans have been charged. They are DT Oren Wilson and perpetually troubled walk-on Myles White. White 1) was involved in the first PREWB, 2) just plead guilty to public urination, and 3) is now involved in PREWB II. Surely this must be the end for him. He's a walk-on. I track because I fret: Myles White is incoming Michigan tailback Austin White's brother.
Wilson started all last year as the NT, FWIW.
Small disaster apparently averted. Depending on what you believe, 2010 hockey recruit Jacob Fallon either got the boot or voluntarily left the NTDP, thus throwing his immediate future in flux and opening up a possibility he would play in the CHL. That is apparently not going to happen. Fallon has latched on with the Indiana Ice of the USHL and will presumably be in Ann Arbor next year unless Dean Lombardi drafts him and then kidnaps his mom.
Good work, Nike. This kind of stuff is why I'm glad Michigan got away from Nike: