I did not make this headline up
Update 3/15: Downgraded PA LB Andrew Sweat to yellow. Downgraded OH TE Brandon Moore to red; bet you a dollar he's SEC. Added OH OL Matt Grieser, IN OL Kurt Wermers, FL DT Marcus Forston, NJ WR Dejuan Miller, OH LB Justin Staples, OR OL Matt Lipski, IL DE Darius Fleming, NY RB Latavius Murray, NV(!) TE Cody Aughney, PA WR Vaughn Carraway, and NJ DE Jack Crawford.
Linked to article on TX WR Daryl Stonum (down to Michigan & Florida), update on TX RB Sam McGuffie's track exploits. (Second McGuffie track update.) CA OL Khaled Holmes likes Borat. Linked to articles on MN WR Michael Floyd and IL DE Darius Fleming. Downgraded Zebrie Sanders to red -- we're not in his top five.
Removed OH OL Mike Adams (OSU).
Editorial Opinion: Many new names, though most seem marginal or unenthusiastic. IN OL Kurt Wermers has an offer and lists a bunch of Big Ten schools and ND, as does IL DE Darius Fleming. Those two recruitments will be worth watchin. The rest: who knows? I expect a number of those names will still be up there in a couple months with nothing other than a name.
Khaled Holmes likes Borat. You commit here? Is nice.
Mike Adams commits to OSU. Not a surprise.
Please do not call him "Dean". Aforementioned IN OL Kurt Wermers has 1) an offer and 2) a top three of M, Purdue, and Northwestern. So that's probably your first OL commit of the year. Seems a three-star type at 6-5, 260.
Zebrie Sanders does not seemed awed and thrilled. He's listing a top five of ND, OSU, Clemson, Southern Cal, and UGA. He has a Michigan offer but not one from ND or OSU. Downgraded to red.
Stonum. We've been his leader since Woolfolk committed, apparently. GBW picked up some quotes from him at a track meet (McGuffie also attended, winning the hurdles):
But when we were speaking with Darrell and Sam McGuffie together, Stonum told McGuffie that he is down to: "Michigan and Florida, Michigan and Florida" and that he will go to each place in the summer, then decide.
Notorious homewrecker Urban Meyer is the last person I want Stonum interacting with, but given his previous assertions about Michigan's status and his connection with Woolfolk and Herron I feel more confident about him than any other uncommitted recruit other than MI OT Dann O'Neill.
McGuffie. A local-irritating Wolverine summarizes recent paysite articles at Buckeye Planet:
McGuffie says that Michigan is his leader.
McGuffie asked for the #2 and Michigan agreed. McGuffie says Michigan has moved upto the top of his list.
[sic] Hooray beer. I, of course, am thrilled by this. He's guaranteed to be overhyped because of the whole Matrix thing but, as this other Youtube extravaganza shows...
...he's no one-run wonder. McGuffie has Mike Hart numbers playing in either Texas' toughest or second-toughest class -- I don't recall exactly -- and that's a six minute video of ridiculous hurdles, Playstation jukes, and more explosion than Bikini Atoll. I know he's kind of small and kind of pale, but I'm sold. His internet video exploits remind one of another smallish RB:
(Who betta den #20?)
He seems to have more -- much more -- raw speed but lacks Hart's miraculous ability to grind forward with four guys draped all over him. (On that one inexplicable 90-yarder the guy never really got ahold of him.) The vision, instincts, and cuts, OTOH, are Hart-esque.
First in this year's occasional digressions into NBA blogging. Complaints about topic choice will be considered and then dismissed.
When the Bulls decided to spend every last bit of their cap space on an older version of Tyson Chandler, the Pistons were declared dead. And at first blush, the departure of Ben Wallace has hurt the Pistons severely. The Pistons are on pace for 11 fewer wins this year than they had last year. Opponents average 92.2 points per game, up from 90.2 -- a major leap when the Pistons' overall point differential is just +4.1. But how much of the fall is due to the loss of Wallace? And was resigning him worth it?
Lindsay Hunter and part of Flip Murray have picked up Arroyo's minutes. Delfino and the rest of Murray pick up Evans' minutes. Four post guys receive more time: Webber, Mohammed, Maxiell, and Davis. For convenience's sake we'll apply Davis's minutes to the deficit in Rasheed and McDyess' minutes; Wallace's replacement is the three-headed Webbmomax. Webbmomax plays 74% of the Pistons minutes; Wallace played 73% a year ago.
So what do the Webbmomax Pistons do worse than the Wallace Pistons?
Rebounding? No. Despite losing a man widely regarded as the league's premiere rebounder, Detroit still gathers 69% of its opponents' misses and 30% of its own misses.
Blocks? No. Last year Detroit blocked 7.6% of its opponent's shots. This year it's 7.5%.
Causing turnovers? Last year opponents turned it over on 15% of possessions; this year 16%.
Maybe Wallace had some sort of weird anti-shooting mojo that didn't show up in the blocks? No. Detroit's FG% and eFG% defense percentages are actually better this year (44.3%, 47.6%) than they were last year (45.2%, 47.8%). It should be noted that approximately 1% of opponent's field goals have migrated from jumpers to post moves and dunks, though strangely enough opponents are doing worse at them.
The only thing that jumps out as any different is opposition free throw attempts. This year opponents get 25.3 per game; last year they got only 20.5. That huge discrepancy, plus that extra possession per game, is the only reason the Pistons' D is any worse this year than it was a year ago.
The next question: is that because of Wallace's departure? Survey says yes. Last year Wallace played 73% of the time and picked up 164 fouls, only two per game. The three headed monster that replaces Ben's production is on pace to finish this year with 354 fouls between them. 96% of the excess fouls this year's Pistons are piling up are from Webbmomax.
How many points is this worth per game? If you accept the standard 0.44 multiplier when converting FTAs to FGAs -- and-ones, techs, and the like make it a bit lower than the 0.5 you might expect -- this year Detroit is converting 2.1 FGAs per game into free throws. The free throws are worth 3.55 points; the hypothetical FGAs they replace would be worth 2.01. Wallace's marginal contribution appears to be 1.54 points per game, though it does appear that the more aggressive post defense has created a few more missed shots and a few more turnovers.
Perhaps the revelation that losing Ben Wallace is a detriment to the Piston defense is not Nobel-prize worthy, but what is interesting is where the dropoff is. Rebounding: useless. Blocks: useless (with the stipulation that this is the 05-06 Wallace we're talking about. Previous editions averaged over 3 blocks per game). Contribution to FG defense and opponent turnovers? Negligible or negative. Ben Wallace's main marketable skill is the ability to keep opposing shooters off the foul line.
Let's go back to Rodman. A key question that, as far as I can tell, is not answered by the WOW authors is this: what is the difference between the number of rebounds the Bulls would have secured with a replacement for Rodman compared to the number they did secure with Rodman? The answer, I am sure is "fewer." But, how many fewer? If a Rodman replacement snared seven rebounds a game, instead of 15, can we really say that the switch cost the team eight rebounds a game. I don't think so, and neither, I suspect, do the authors. ...
I agree that rebounds contribute to winning, but to know how much Rodman contributed to winning, we need to know more than how many rebounds he got and we need to know more than how many rebounds he got relative to players on other teams.. What we really need to know is how many rebounds his own team got that it would not otherwise have gotten if he weren't there. Do I have a clue how to figure that out? Absolutely not. But, I am convinced that that is the key question and that it has not been answered by WOW (and, in fairness, other similar systems).
So how many rebounds did Ben Wallace get that a mediocre version of himself, an undersized version of himself, and a crippled 33 year old power forward could not? This analysis implies, shockingly, that the answer is "none at all." And yet WOW treats each rebound like it's a diamond. As Dan Rosenbaum points out, the whole thing would be wildly off if not for an enormous team defense fudge factor.)
So... is Ben Wallace worth it?
Absolutely not. His yearly numbers are in steady decline and he's in the first year of a four year contract as a 32 year old. And his offensive deficiencies are severe enough that his net contribution is minimal. Webbmomax has hit 178 of 289 free throws this year; Ben Wallace and his 0.407 FT% would have hit 55 fewer and the Pistons would be scoring 0.9 fewer points a game. That's most of his measurable defensive contribution without even considering the rest of his limited offensive game.
At this point in his career, Wallace is an average-at-best starting center who is paid like Kevin Garnett.
So why are the Pistons losing so much more than they did a year ago?
- Injuries to Billups and Rashee
d. The Billups injury especially, as it ushered in the horrifying Flip Murray Era. The plus-minus numbers for the Pistons' two backup guards are atrocious. It's Billups who's irreplaceable, and it's Billups who Dumars will break the bank for this offseason. If I could put in a request for an MLE point guard, perhaps in exchange for Nazr Mohammed?
- Average luck. I don't have any numbers on this, but when you go 64-18 you're a lucky team. I'd be willing to wager that the Pistons' record in close and OT games is markedly worse than it was a year ago.
- Familiarity. There was disconnect between the Pistons' regular-season performance and their playoff struggles, but the return to earth started before that. Excluding the four year-end games after the Pistons secured the best record in the league, the team started 37-5 and finished 26-10. Then came the playoffs... ugly. What happened? No one can really be sure, but my belief is the Pistons blitzkrieg caught the league off guard. When Flip Saunders replaced cranky old Larry Brown the Pistons underwent and instant transformation from a pack of ugly grinders into a gorgeous, efficient offensive basketball team. By the time anyone knew what was happening, Chauncey Billups was at Moscow's doorstep. Now that teams have the Pistons scouted, the going is tougher.
- Flip Murray is awful at everything.
Arrrrgh. Carr did address the widespread rumors that three Michigan players were in trouble. The PC's first question was about the eligibility status of Adrian Arrington; Carr danced around it, but when pressed...
Will he [Arrington] participate in spring practice?
Will any other players miss spring practice?
If you have any names, you feel free to ask.
Do you expect that those three players will meet your requirements to rejoin thet team?
Um... that is possible... maybe not probable.
Score another one for the unreliable internets, I guess. Horrible news. Butler and Arrington were both breakout players poised for big 2007s. Hopefully the situation isn't as grim as Carr made it sound, but it sounded awful.
Later, when asked about guys coming back from this suspension:
Well... I think the number one thing when you reach a certain stage is... a guy has to prove that he really wants to be here, and that he's willing to do what he's asked to do.
Other guys out for more benign reasons: Mike Hart's going to be out for spring, Forcier limited. Mallett will get a lot of work. Englemon, Taylor, and Schilling are going to practice but might be dinged up. Mario also limited. Kraus, McKinney, and Massey are out with injuries.
The Bass situation remains tragic. He won't be back for spring. He's still trying, but a return looks increasingly unlikely. Carr said "I'm not optimistic" when asked about a potential August return.
Position switches: Carlos Brown and Doug Dutch are now cornerbacks. Andre Criswell will practice at tight end with both Massey and Butler sidelined, might be a permanent move. Brett Gallimore is giving the defensive line a shot. The widely assumed Charles Stewart-to-safety move is official. And we already knew this, but Jonas Mouton is at WLB.
And now the grand poobah weirdness: Brandon Graham "will probably play inside," and the same with Adam Patterson(!!!). This means our DE depth chart reads:
- Tim Jamison
Position battles: Boren and Moosman going at it for the center spot; Kraus apparently to remain at guard if at all possible. Steve Brown and Greg Mathews called out as potential up-and-comers. Gingell, KC Lopata, and scholarship redshirt freshman Bryan Wright at kicker. Obi Ezeh called out as a potential contributor at linebacker much like, yes, David Harris. I'll take two. Panter also amongst the first mentioned, Graham and Thompson something of an afterthought. Lloyd "excited" about Mouton.
ZOLTAN: "I think Zoltan Mesko displayed the ability to be a great punter. A great athlete."
Spring actual game thing? Carr claimed that he wanted to play an actual spring game this year but cited the extensive injuries and suspensions as a reason not to have one. Usually that rings a little hollow, but this year it seems legit.
Update: forgot the audio link.
I happened to go to an Ann Arbor bar last night. Readers may recall that Ann Arbor is where the University of Michigan -- often the focus of this blog's analytical endeavors -- is located. The basketball team of said University had a game last night against Utah State in the NIT, and there was indeed a basketball game on the various televisions scattered around the bar: Niagara-Florida A&M. At some point during the night a man in a Michigan hat approached the bartender, who nodded and went to the box-and-wire filled cabinet all bars that have televisions also have and fiddled with some stuff. Channels were being changed. The Niagara game blipped out of existence. In its stead was the Red Wings game.
If there had been no Wings game, the man would have asked for the Pistons game. If there had been no Pistons game, the man would have asked for NASCAR. If there had been no Wings game or Pistons game or NASCAR the man would have asked for the World's Strongest Man or bass fishing or possibly The View. At no point would the NIT flit across his neurons -- or those anyone with any sanity at all, really -- even to be dismissed with a short sharp burst of self-mocking laughter. The NIT does not exist. There is no NIT.
It's with some concern, then, that our athletic director hasn't announced anything in re: Amaker having honey smeared on his chest, a box taped above the sweetened area, and a rat placed in said box until he agrees to resign except "I won't announce anything until after the season." Does Michigan's performance in something that doesn't exist have an impact on Amaker's future? The implication is that it does, and therefore the implication is that a good performance can help Amaker's case. Furthermore, it implies that there is an Amaker case at all. There is no case. Michigan can win the entire freakin' Not Extant Tournament and it will matter not one bit. He should still have the rat thing happen to him, and if he's still recalcitrant we will connect small rocks to him with rubber bands and then hire dutch children to run away from him holding the rocks with predictable results.
This is the worst of all possible basketball worlds. If we had blown it against Minnesota earlier in the year or gotten swept by State or gone down to Six Guys With One Arm Between Them in the nonconference slate and finished the year a striking 12-20 and 6-10 in the league, at this very moment we would be doing the rat thing and the dutch children thing and if he still doesn't break we would be forcing him to drink just epic amounts of water and then providing only one possible outlet for the ensuing torrent, one that has a piece of paper on it that says "urination upon this contract constitutes a resignation from the Michigan Men's basketball head coaching job."
Instead, we wait. And if we can't find timbersports or the WNBA or Mind of Mencia, we might watch. But probably not.
7:06 PM. Yep... this paint is totally getting dry. Awesome.