[Wheatley sees Ty Isaac on the opposite side of the desk in the lobby/Towsley Museum]
“I’m about to talk about you. You know that, right? Wanna listen to it? Wanna come listen to what I’m about to say about you?”
[Isaac laughs and walks away]
With Chris Evans, he seemed to have the most productive day at Iowa. What were the things that stood out about him that maybe he was doing different than other guys?
“You said it. It was production. Certain games and certain backs—it was a penetrating front and Chris was able to hit some creases and go for it and be productive, so that was pretty much it. With guys we go to who has the hot hand and who’s productive and that was it. Chris was hitting creases.”
Were you guys trying to get him more as the game went on? I think he ended up with eight carries. De’Veon seemed to get carries down the stretch.
“Like I said, at that point whatever play is called and whoever’s doing well at that point in time, that’s who’ll go in.”
With so many guys that can go for you, what’s the room been like from a keeping it light but also keep--
“Chaos, man. They hate each other. [laughs] You see the bags under my eyes? Gray…I look like Barack right now.
“Nah, the room is great. The room, the tone has been set in camp. They understand the task, and the task is to win the Big Ten and then hopefully from that point on, as you know, the little gold trophy. So, the mantra for this university has been ever since the big man was here, ‘the team, the team, the team.’ So, it doesn’t change. You kind of put yourself to the side and put the team in front. The room is great. Guys are absolutely a treasure. I mean, a treat to coach and a treasure for me to have, so the room’s been great.”
[After THE JUMP: how to gain Wheatley’s trust, the secret to the Hammering Panda’s success, not noticing QBs in practice, and a quick injury update]
Michigan (2-0) vs
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
|WHEN||9:30 pm ET, Thursday|
|LINE||Marquette -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Karl Ravech
Analyst: Fran Fraschilla
Right: Derrick Walton expects to be at full strength after rolling his ankle in Friday's win over Howard. [Photo: Marc-Gregor Campredon]
After winning both 2K Classic "regional" games last weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan gets a major step up in competition for this week's championship round at Madison Square Garden.
Tipoff is scheduled for 9:30, but the other semifinal (Pitt/SMU) tips off at 7 in MSG, so there's a good chance this ends up starting later than the listing. Set your DVRs and sleep schedules accordingly.
Derrick Walton didn't look quite right for the second half of Friday's game and all of Sunday's after tweaking an ankle late in the first half against Howard. It apparently bothered him even though he played 35 and 36 minutes in those two games:
“I was coming down on the break and I tried to stop and go into a step-back,” Walton said on Sunday when discussing the Friday night injury. “I kinda jammed it and slightly rolled it. It’s real stiff. I did a couple things after the last game and up until this game. It’s still a little stiff, but my guys carried me (today).”
And though Walton admits he isn’t 100 percent right now, he also said he doesn’t think it’ll take more than a couple of days to get back to full strength, which means he should be good to go against Marquette next Thursday.
Walton playing so many minutes in games Michigan (eventually) won comfortably says something about the trust John Beilein currently has in his freshman guards; at that same link, Beilein acknowledged that the game is still moving too fast for Xavier Simpson and Ibi Watson, which is why they've only played limited minutes so far.
Michigan ranked 31st on KenPom so start the season and Marquette 47th, but the Golden Eagles have surpassed the Wolverines following two blowout wins to open the season, including one against a common opponent. Marquette beat Howard by 32 on Monday; Michigan's margin was "only" 18. That followed an impressive season-opening 95-71 win over #68 Vanderbilt.
Marquette has five players averaging double-digit points through two games, led by senior wing JaJuan Johnson, who's at 17.5 points per game this season after emerging as a top scoring option over the second half of 2015-16. Johnson is an efficient scorer both inside and outside the arc; it's yet to be seen if he's rid himself of his turnover issues of the previous two seasons.
6'5" guard Haanif Cheatham, another effective inside-outside scorer with past turnover problems, has been their best all-around offensive player. He's averaging 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. Cheatham has a nine-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio this season; last year it was 73-to-88. Sophomore point guard Traci Carter is the more trustworthy distributor, but he only shot 37% from two and 31% from three last year. While Carter's backup, freshman Markus Howard, looks to be a better shooter given the limited information available—he's 3-for-4 on threes—he's showing his inexperience; he's committed five fouls and four turnovers in 27 minutes.
Starting four Katin Reinhardt is a 6'6", 210-pound college basketball nomad; the former four-star prospect started his career at UNLV, where he started 34 games as a freshman, then transferred to USC and started 40 games over two seasons there before moving on to Marquette as a grad transfer. He's another sharpshooter from the outside—he's attempted nearly as many threes as twos in his career—but he doesn't have much impact on the boards. His backup, 6'7" freshman Sam Hauser, has been much more productive on the boards, and he's also 7-of-11 threes this season; he's only attempted one two-pointer.
The Golden Eagles have a legit post presence in 6'11", 250-pound former Indiana transfer Luke Fischer, who's shot 61% from the field in each of his last two seasons at Marquette. He's an excellent shot-blocker and offensive rebounder; oddly, he has Nnanna Egwu-like (or last year's Michigan centers-like) low rebounding percentages on the defensive end.
This will be a great test of Michigan's defense. If they're playing sound, aggressive defense on the perimeter, they can turn the tide of the game by converting turnovers into transition opportunties. If they're screwing up rotations and allowing blow-bys by guards, it could be a long night. We've seen both sides of that in the first two games. DJ Wilson continuing his thus-far breakout season would be huge; he can be a mismatch against Marquette's smaller fours as long as he can stay in front of them on defense.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Marquette by 1.
[Hit THE JUMP for previews of Pitt and SMU, Michigan's potential Friday opponents.]
What did you guys learn from last game in your group, specifically?
“In our group specifically, we’ve got to tackle better. Fundamentals of the game, that’s what it comes down to a lot of times in those situations, the fundamentals of the game. You’ve got to be sharp, and that’s something that we definitely have to focus on going forward, as we do every week.”
In terms of the secondary and your position specifically, Delano [Hill] left the game. What’s his status? Has he been practicing fully this week?
“Delano should be fine. He left the game at the end there, but he’s doing well. He should be good to go this week.”
The grind this time of year, can you see guys wearing down a little bit and what’s the message to them?
“The message is just to prepare like we do always. I think we’ve done a good job in preparation throughout the whole season, and we don’t want to lose any of that. Every week, just keep preparing like we’ve been and take it to another level each week.”
Tyree Kinnel’s been getting a lot more action. Can you talk about his progression and what you’re seeing out of him?
“Yeah, Tyree, he’s played well. He’s come a long way. This is only his second year getting in there and getting in the mix, but he’s been doing a good job on special teams and when you do a good job on teams we trust you more to get in there on defense. He’s done a nice job with that.”
[More on Metellus, Hudson, and Indiana’s offense after THE JUMP]
I found this incredibly annoying this weekend:
Michigan has 8 1/2 in the box, and yet Iowa is able to get 8 yards on 1st down. Even more galling is they did it with a nifty trick that hadn’t been seen much of in the Big Ten until Harbaugh brought it back last year. It’s the wham. And it had no right to go this well.
A wham is a first level block by the fullback or TE, freeing up an offensive lineman to release to the next level. It’s a type of Trap, which is a when you leave an interior defensive lineman unblocked before hitting him from another angle. But when you think of a “trap” it’s usually pulling an offensive lineman to blindside the DL you left unblocked to roar into the backfield.
A wham is less about catching the defense overreacting and more about winning a one-on-one matchup they didn’t expect, in this case between a fullback or H-back and an interior DL. The block is a kick-down, and happens within a second of the snap. If executed, you’ve erased the defense’s most important run defender with your fullback’s block, and your center (who’s often your best run blocker) gets a free release into the linebackers.
Wham block in red
Often a wham block starts with that fullback or tight end in motion. This keeps him out of view of the DT he’ll end up blocking until it’s almost too late, and can give him more of a head start, since the fullback is bound to be giving up some weight on the DT, and will have to make up for it with momentum.
BlueGraySky put together a great video compilation of Notre Dame’s wham blocks from a decade ago:
If you’re mad about watching Domers, know that Michigan’s ‘06 defense appears twice and does a pretty good job against it.
[After the JUMP: What they win, what they risk, and how it goes]
DJ Wilson is happening. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
I was in a van traveling through Iowa and Illinois while the Michigan hoops squad defeated IUPUI 77-65. I just finished going over the game, which played out much like last Friday's defeat of Howard. The Wolverines got off to a slow start, trailing 32-30 with 4:18 left in the first half, before closing out the half with a 13-0 run—the margin never got below nine points in the second half.
It's time for some bullets, starting with the story of the season thus far.
DJ Wilson is overtaking Duncan Robinson. We're only two games into the season, but it sure looks like Wilson is going to take Robinson's spot in the starting lineup, or at the very least end up playing more minutes in a super-sub role. The latter is what happened against IUPUI. Robinson started and scored seven points in only 12 minutes, but he's still not a great defender. Wilson played 30 minutes and packed the stat-sheet: seven points, 14(!) rebounds (four offensive), an assist, and five(!!!) blocks. He even hit one of his two three-point attempts and looked comfortable doing so.
[Hit THE JUMP for more DJ Wilson praise and the rest of my notes from IUPUI.]
We’ve got two games left before we’re into the totally murky waters of a possible B1G Championship Game and playoff. Anything after this weekend is bound to be a high get-in price, and I’ve been steadfastly reporting here that the relative scarcity of chances to see this Michigan team before it’s off to the NFL will drive up the price for Senior Day.
But things happen. Thing one: the loss to Iowa will depress that “I gotta see this team before it’s gone” effect somewhat. I believed there was an untapped market hanging around of Michigan fans waiting for the right moment to turn to the spouse, point to the kid who hasn’t taken off her Jumpman hoodie since she got it, and say “We can’t miss this.” Fans overreact to losses, though, and this was an edgy proposition to begin with.
The second thing is the thing that can happen to any game in November:
Grandpa’s gotten away with some shit in his time, but if you return him soaked and frozen because Indiana’s defense turned out to be way more legitimate than those two words have meant in his lifetime, you’re going to be paying more than the price of admission.
Anyway after hitting a peak of $80 prices are back down to $57, particularly in the Lower Endzone. That’s longtime season ticket holders who didn’t fork up when Brandon raised the price of PSDs past their pricepoint. Ralph Garcia of TiqIQ said they’re now relatively on par with the 2013 seat prices for Indiana at this time. That game was the ridiculous “we’re not covering Jeremy Gallon no sir” game where it literally hailed before the band got in the stadium.
GETTING INTO THE SHOE
Ohio State singles are as low as $268 for way top of the upper deck of the endzone, and trading at $400 for places where you can see the game. Lower bowl is $1000.
Those seats were all put on sale by Ohio State fans, who still see this as the biggest game since 2006. Michigan has some stakes still, so a win over Indiana will see some of those tickets moving finally. If Michigan struggles with the Hoosiers, or god forbid loses again, expect those prices to drop by $100 or more. It’s still The Game.
On the other hand, the prices were about the same last year at 11 days out. Ohio State then lost to Michigan State and the prices dropped 40%. I wound up getting a cousin’s ticket for $100. Had the Buckeyes not turtled against MSU I expect they would have remained where they’ve historically been, which is in the $250-$300 range.
Anyway if your plan is to get in the building I’d target $250 and start looking now. Michigan fans who wanted to make sure they get in already jumped on something. The next full-market drop won’t come until late next week, if it does at all. I’m not seeing enough tickets trading to be certain they’ll be available.
If you’re trying to get good seats, definitely wait till Friday, when those holding them give up on getting $1000 for them and they meet the market somewhere around $450. Finding tickets the day of will be hit and miss—you’ll have to hope there are some still close to kickoff, because the scalpers know how to find the Michigan fans who show up hoping to get lucky.
QUICK SHOE GUIDE
This will come in handy if you’re trying to scalp or buy off someone on Craigslist or something:
- Any Section 1 is the middle of the North endzone and section 38 is the South endzone. Section 20 is 50 yard line.
- “A” means lower deck and “AA” means the first few rows. “B” is the middle deck, and “C” is upper deck
- Even sections are on the East side, odd sections are on the West side.
- Seat numbers go up. The upper and lower decks get up to Row 41-ish. The veranda gets to 18. If you get a letter it’s a specialty (wheelchair, etc.) unless you’re in the AA section, which is numbered A-F.
BEST DEAL ON THE SPONSOR’S SITE RIGHT NOW
The corner sections are quite nice if you sit high enough up, though too high is still too high. These are priced to move at $10 under the seats two rows up. I’d prefer these seats to Row 12.