It took that long to regrow 'em
For a moment yesterday everybody ("everybody" meaning the 10 of us who excessively pour over roster data) got really excited that we might have some spring weights, as a spring roster was apparently circulating among reporters down at IMG. Some people even noticed huge weight differentials between the data on MGoBlue.com's official rosters and the numbers on the spring sheet.
That was a false alarm: weights on the official website haven't changed since last spring, while except for Nolan Uluzio going up 4 pounds there's no difference between the 2016 spring roster weights and those listed in Michigan's media guide prior to this year's bowl game.
But it spurred me to finally update all those weight listings on the MGoRoster database. "Wgt" now means the last weight they were listed at on any Michigan roster.
The excel spreadsheet that is based on has all sorts of historical playing weights and start data too. And I realized that means we can actually say, quite accurately, how big a starter was at any given position.
Tall and thin or short and squat? Some positions seem to have preferences.
Methodology: The data are from my heavily edited version of Bentley's database (there are hundreds of errors in there but since they've only ever annoyed myself and Bruce Madej nobody's ever got around to fixing them), and filled in with subsequent roster data from media guides and whatnot. For guys who never enrolled I used their weight as a recruit on Rivals). Snapshots for a year are fall weights.
I also had to go through my starter data and refine it—originally I broke them up into wider position groups but this required some precise definitions. For the years Michigan went to a 3-4 it was at least obvious which DE was basically a 3-tech versus which correlated to SDE, likewise with the WDE/RLB distinctions, and which ILBs were MLBs or WLBs. The hardest part was parsing out hybrid spots versus when Michigan just started in a nickel, but it was quite obvious by which player they used. If Michigan was using the slot positions in a special way (e.g. slot receivers and spurs under RR), I counted them as such. That includes Funchess as a slot receiver and the base nickel with Countess or Leon Hall, but doesn't include Arrington, Manningham and Greg Mathews lining up anywhere (they're all wide receivers).
Ultimately I could say things like freshman Henne was X tall and started Y times, and once I had that I could properly weight that in a calculation of all QBs to determine an average QB starter.
And make charts!
Chart of freshman weight vs starter weight by position:
Starters are bigger than freshmen, duh. But certain positions required more growth than others. I thought the disparities at various positions were interesting. Both defensive end-liked positions demanded the biggest gains (even including some pretty tiny starters at times), with WDE (13%), SDE (12%) and DT (6.9%) the top three in starter/recruit disparity:
|Position (starters)||Avg Freshman
|Running back (1-2)||197||5'11/208||5.1%|
|Wide receiver (2-3)||184||6'2/198||6.7%|
|Tight end (1-3)||231||6'4/247||6.7%|
No, they rarely get taller. But I did find it interesting that the slot positions didn't see a lot of change from when those guys stepped on campus to when they graduated. But then they were rather young.
Chart of Average Starter Age:
If you didn't click for big you probably can't read on the left axis where it says a ONE equals a TRUE FRESHMAN—I figured that is less mathematical but more intuitive because "5th year senior" etc.
On average Michigan was starting a guy at least in his third year in the program. But nickel saw a lot of youth, while MLB (yikes!) and center (that seems obvious) rarely strayed from redshirt juniors and seniors unless they couldn't avoid it, or they had David Molk on hand. WLB was often used for MLBs in training.
I bet quarterback would have been much higher if the last decade's troubles didn't interfere. We can show that.
Wow, Michigan has had effectively older quarterback play EVERY SEASON since Tate and Denard were freshmen. Let's post this. Or one more thing:
Effective STAR (recruiting) Ratings of Starters
Remember all that work I did to create a consensus star rating between the sites, kind of like 247's composite but slightly less useful? Here's how much of it was on the field any given year:
Poor Rich Rod.
X spring tidbit so far that has you unreasonably excited about Y?
Brian: Well obviously I'm going to go with Ian Bunting making waves as an enormous skillet-handed dude. This is true to the spirit of this question because all we have is one tweet. But I like the tweet.
Bunting just snagged a fastball on skinny post with one hand. took it to the house. Drew raves from his teammates. Nice ball from malzone
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 1, 2016
Rivals recently had some team tidbits that oddly and explicitly trashed Bunting's ability. If that's accurate that makes me almost as much of a sad panda as Michigan ditching the spread punt, but it's unclear what that is even based on given the timing. Last year's offseason chatter—Morris is a real contender, watch out for Lawrence Marshall, this time Joe Bolden has put it together—had very little relationship with reality, so I'm hoping that gets put in the Big Bin Of Some Anonymous Guy Is Wrong.
I'm not even expecting Bunting to have a huge impact this year since he's a flex guy and one Jake Butt is still around, but I am hoping that we see him emerge into a clear heir apparent in preparation for a two-year run as an upperclassman. There isn't a tight end on the roster with quite the receiving upside of Bunting. I mean, maybe Gentry. But you know me and Ol' Skillet Hands.
[After the JUMP: more tweets that we treat as confirmation bias of good things]
As time winds down on the regular season, Michigan finds itself squarely on the bubble – the classic meh major-conference team that gets sent to Dayton as an 11-seed. Big Ten play is almost over and we know the Wolverines were a middle-of-the-road team (as of right now: 7th in Sagarin’s and Pomeroy’s ratings, 7th in conference efficiency margin, and are likely to tie Ohio State as the 7th place team in the league). When your best resume asset is that you haven’t lost to any bad teams, it hasn’t been a great season. The very real possibility that Michigan misses the NCAA Tournament would qualify this year as a big disappointment.
Still, even though Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht have combined to play just 48 minutes against Big Ten opponents, Michigan will finish with a winning record in Big Ten play and (probably) a positive efficiency margin in league play. This season’s path was very comparable to last season’s: the teams had uninspiring non-conference performances and Caris was lost near the beginning of league play (and Spike and Derrick Walton were injured this year and last, respectively). A year ago, the Wolverines finished 8-10 in Big Ten play – losing four overtime games and winning one – and this year, 10-8 or 11-7 will be the final result. Since Michigan didn’t drop a stinker like NJIT or Eastern Michigan like last season, we’re going to be nervously watching on Selection Sunday – can 3 good wins and a bunch of chalk get us in?
The reason why Michigan hasn’t been better is fairly obvious.
I don't expect Michigan to be actually good at defense for a lot of different reasons, but there's a difference between Michigan's usual meh and this. The trend is worrying. Defensive efficiency in the Beilein era:
- 2008: 100th
- 2009: 69th
- 2010: 58th
- 2011: 37th
- 2012: 61st
- 2013: 48th
- 2014: 109th
- 2015: 107th
- 2016: 145th
This is the third straight year of a triple-digit ranking. While you may remember things as "not good" even when the larger picture was much prettier, this is a whole new era of ineptness only matched by Beilein's first team of castoffs and runaways. This year's team is in fact considerably worse despite than those guys despite having a reasonable amount of experience. For the first time in a while Michigan doesn't have a freshman playing major minutes; for the first time in a while they've crawled out of the 300s in Kenpom's experience stat. This was the first year in a while you could reasonably expect year to year improvement, and yet.
Big Ten 2-pt defense:
1. MSU (41.4%)
13. Rutgers (52.4%)
14. Michigan (55.3%)
WORSE THAN RUTGERS
— Alex Cook (@_ac616) February 29, 2016
When you’re worse than Rutgers at something as critical as 2-point FG % defense, you have a major problem.
[After the JUMP, a lot of graphs]
Friday, February 26, 2016
#20 Minnesota 3, #6 Michigan 2 (OT)
MARODY GOAL, MICHIGAN
MINN 0 MICH 1 EV 07:18 Assists: Selman
Nieves dumps the puck in so Michigan can change, but Dancs heads in to forecheck. He takes away the passing lane behind the net, so Seeler carries it up the boards and passes across for Glover.
Glover decides he’s going to spring someone with a stretch pass before he looks where he’s passing; he doesn’t see that Selman’s entering the zone through the same lane he plans to use.
Glover digs in to try and start skating backward, and Selman uses that gap to his advantage, passing it through Glover’s legs and giving Marody a one-on-one with Schierhorn.
Marody pulls the puck to his backhand and leaves it there long enough to get Schierhorn to hit the ice. He doesn’t seal the ice, but there’s not enough of a gap to entice Marody to shoot.
Marody instead pulls the puck around Schierhorn, who makes a valiant effort to poke-check the puck away that barely misses.
[After THE JUMP: Tyler Motte’s signature shot, deflections, disappointment]
A big thanks to our sponsors. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's. Shopping with them helps us and supports good dudes. Check out 100years.moe for the rich history of Michigan's oldest apparel store.
Woof. Defense: what? Walton's two point shooting: what? I mean, let's not go overboard into fire everybody here but all of a sudden this is a crossroads kind of situation.
Ace's Hockey Podcast
starts at 19:31
I loooove playing at Minnesota. Do not love goals outside the blue line so much. Do love the CCM line lots, plus New and Not Insane Michael Downing. Michigan has more or less secured a bid, so that's nice.
starts at 31:10
Rishi Narayan joins us to talk about the Coaches' Challenge, which John Beilein is a finalist in, and urges you to participate. They've got prizes on offer for participating. Click the sponsor ribbon RIGHT ABOVE THIS POST to participate or email [email protected] with proof of your vote.
Gimmicky Top Five: Surprising Baby Things
starts at 34:07
No, YOU stick to sports. Ace and I list the top five or six most surprising things about extremely young babies. Ace does not have the benefit of actually having an extremely young baby, but has something like common sense ever stopped us? Absolutely not.
Spring Football Stuff
Starts at 46:41
The Gentry move and the implications thereof. Khalid Hill as Phillip Lutzenkirchen. Jabrill Peppers, SAM linebacker? It could happen.
THE USUAL LINKS
While this news was beginning to feel inevitable, it is no less depressing: after missing 15 of the last 16 games with what's only been described as a lower leg injury, Caris LeVert has been shut down for the season, ending his college career. From the official release:
University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Tuesday, March 1) senior co-captain Caris LeVert will sit out the remainder of the season to concentrate on his continued recovery after suffering a lower left leg injury at the end of December.
"After some prayer and talking it over with my family, Coach Beilein and the medical staff, we all feel it is best for me to concentrate on getting fully healthy," said LeVert. "There is still some discomfort that does not allow me to help this team the way I want."
"I am so thankful for what Coach Beilein, the assistants and the medical staff have done for me during my collegiate career and in particular while I have dealt with these injuries.
"U-M has provided me the chance to live my dream of playing college basketball and to earn a Michigan degree. There are really no words to express my gratitude for that as well as my love for all my teammates. I am so blessed to be part of this wonderful university and will forever represent the Maize and Blue."
"This has been a tough two months for Caris," said Beilein. "He has worked so hard to get back to this point, and Caris' long-term health is what is most important.
"Caris has been a pleasure to coach; he is a wonderful young man with a brilliant future. I am confident he will have a very successful professional career because his talent, attitude, quickness and versatility make every team better.
"He has always carried himself and handled these situations with such class and a level of maturity that is unmatched. This is not how he wanted to finish his career here; however, we know he can hold his head high for how he has represented this great university and our basketball program."
An unheralded recruit Beilein plucked from Ohio University, LeVert shed his redshirt to contribute to the 2013 Final Four squad and played an integral role in the 2014 Elite Eight team. After injuries cut short a disappointing junior year, LeVert began this season playing like a Wooden Award candidate, only for injury to strike again when he rolled his ankle in the waning moments of the Big Ten opener against Illinois. When LeVert briefly returned to the court against Purdue, he clearly wasn't close to 100%.
The program ran out of time to get LeVert healthy and incorporated back into the rotation while they fight for a tournament bid. While we won't see LeVert in a Michigan uniform again, he can now focus on getting back to 100% in time to convince the NBA that a lanky, athletic, sharpshooting wing is well worth the risk of a first-round pick.
Even though LeVert's college career ended far too soon, he left an indelible mark on the program. Here's hoping we see him fully healthy and reaching his prodigious potential in the NBA before too long.