Mission accomplished. They spent fifteen frickin' minutes talking about practice (practice!) on Sportscenter.
Michigan's first spring practice is receiving live coverage on SportsCenter. pic.twitter.com/b7LU9uIRHg
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) February 29, 2016
I mean, there are many missions. But this is one mission.
Also, Dick Vitale is there, I guess? He's putting it on periscope? This makes as much sense as anything else Harbaugh-related, which is complete sense and no sense all at once?
Also in brilliant moves that someone will try to ban. Player hours are limited. Coach hours are not. So why not maximize your ability to instruct by taking advantage of the latter:
Practice has two sessions... a maize & blue. Maize began at 8am and is done. One player said they're going to the beach a 1pm
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) February 29, 2016
That is twice the individual attention for each player. That might not be practical for every practice but when they're not in pads it's an obvious win, except I haven't heard of anyone else doing this so it's apparently not that obvious.
Roster items. Blake Bars and Damario Jones are off the roster and have left the program. Per Rivals, Bars is off to law school. Not sure what Jones's next stop is, but he announced he would grad transfer on Twitter. Pretty sure that the only player to leave the program without a degree this offseason is Brian Cole.
With those departures Michigan stands at 86 scholarships accounted for, plus walk-ons-you-really-expect-to-get-scholarships Kenny Allen and Ryan Glasgow. If Dytarious Johnson does end up enrolling they'd be at 87. I think that's pretty unlikely, as I can't remember a player who couldn't sign a letter of intent who managed to get to Michigan without a pit stop at a prep school. So Michigan needs to lose one more guy before fall.
There were a number of position switches and number changes:
- John O'Korn is wearing #8, so he doesn't conflict with Peppers.
- Chase Winovich is now listed as a defensive end(?!) because his career is designed to be that of an itinerant laborer. That may be a misprint or misunderstanding; Sam Webb tweeted that he was playing SAM. More on that in a bit.
- Freddy Canteen spent all his time at WR. This kind of bouncing back and forth without seeing the field is usually not a good sign for a player's future playing time. See: Ross Taylor-Douglas.
- Mason Cole took the first snaps as a center, with Newsome at LT.
- As Harbaugh mentioned earlier, Khalid Hill is playing FB and Zach Gentry is playing TE.
- Ty Wheatley Jr. is still a tight end. He is less enormous.
- Ahmir Mitchell is starting as a WR.
A coach roster item. Harbaugh confirmed the Brian Smith hire and said he'd coach safeties with Zordich remaining with cornerbacks. I was kind of hoping for that Viney dude but you have to let Don Brown make that call.
Cease ringing the Drake Harris injury klaxons. He missed practice today… with norovirus. He should be good to go for the next one. Webb says he's up to 185; was listed at 174 last year. (The roster as a whole has not been updated with new weights, thus the absence of a "phonebooks are here!" post.)
What is a linebacker, anyway? I'll be really interested to see how the defense configures itself during the spring game. Reports that Winovich is playing SAM don't mesh with the expectation that Taco Charlton will play WDE and Peppers will still be a nickel. Or, you know, something else:
Peppers worked a great deal w/ LBs today. If 1 practice is an indicator he'll play in the box even more this year. Time will tell of course
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) February 29, 2016
Those in possession of MGoCookies for remembering stuff will remember that a recent recruiting roundup pointed out that MI LB Antjuan Simmons was told he was being recruited as a SAM and then compared to, yes, Jabrill Peppers.
To me this implies that Michigan will be altering its defense to look more like the OSUs and MSUs and PSUs of the world. Those teams mostly run "quarters", which means they have two deep safeties. Varieties of this defense that roll the safeties close to the line of scrimmage often have a coverage-oriented linebacker called "star" who walks out over the slot. That's usually the strong side, thus he is a SAM linebacker… but not the kind of SAM linebacker Jake Ryan was. Same hybrid space player, different system around him?
O'Korn hype unabated. But first let's just marvel at this:
Ken Mastrole, a quarterback coach who has worked with Rudock and O’Korn, has described O’Korn as having “off-the-chart physical intangibles"
There is a reason the "intangibles" section of every preview is a picture of a cat.
Anyway, that's from an Angelique Chengelis article featuring O'Korn's parents:
“He’s been chomping at the bit, there’s no doubt,” his father, Gary O’Korn, said this week. “He had the right attitude coming in — ‘This isn’t taking a year off, this is a year to prepare.’ He’s done well and Michigan demands that. That’s not something you really have a choice, but mentally this was where you decide, ‘Am I going to go through the motions or put myself in position to get serious?’”
By all accounts it is the latter.
Important hair update. Reuben Jones is coming for De'Veon Smith's crown:
Hydration = pic.twitter.com/AG20TMKqjC
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) February 29, 2016
Etc.: Dan Murphy article comes with Nick Baumgardner picture that captures his soul.
Michigan is running out of margin for error. [Patrick Barron]
Michigan's loss at Wisconsin was far from unexpected. Nonetheless, the Wolverines are even closer to the wrong side of the bubble than they were heading into the weekend. The loss to the Badgers didn't help; neither did a couple results that affected opponent RPI rankings.
The resumé as it currently stands:
Record: 20-10 (19-10 vs. D-I), 10-7 Big Ten
RPI Strength of Schedule: 67
KP SOS: 49
RPI Top-50: 3-8
RPI 51-100: 0-2
RPI 101+: 16-0
Two teams that would give Michigan a combined three more RPI top-100 victories sit just on the outside of that cutoff: Penn State (#105) and NC State (#106) both lost over the weekend. The Wolfpack's defeat was doubly disappointing since it came against Syracuse, another bubble team currently ahead of Michigan on most bracket projections.
The updated Bracket Matrix sums up Michigan's position: in the field but on the edge. Despite being included in 72 of the 77 brackets, they're one of the last four at-large teams included in the consensus field; most projections have them on the 10- or 11-seed line. After being a nine-seed to both Yahoo and ESPN heading into the weekend, Michigan is a ten on the former and projected to a play-in game as an 11 on the latter. CBS still projects M as one of the last four teams in the field, playing a ten-seed play-in against St. Bonaventure. The Easy Bubble Solver also has the Wolverines as one of the final at-large squads.
There is, of course, one more chance for Michigan to all but lock up a bid in the regular season. KenPom gives M a 46% chance of beating a reeling Iowa squad on Saturday; it's hard to imagine the Wolverines missing the field with 11 Big Ten wins and a fourth against the RPI top-50.
If Michigan misses that opportunity, they'll at the very least need to win their Big Ten Tournament opener, and they're essentially locked into the eight-seed after the Wisconsin loss, which would set up a second-round matchup against Penn State, Nebraska, or Northwestern, followed by a third-round matchup against the top seed (currently Indiana, with Maryland and MSU still in the running).
Here's your rooting guide for the week. Team you want to win is in bold, fellow bubble teams are in italics, other games included for RPI purposes.
- Syracuse at UNC (tonight, 7 pm, ESPN)
- Kansas at Texas (tonight, 9 pm, ESPN)
- Kentucky at Florida (Tuesday, 7 pm, ESPN)
- Tennessee at Vanderbilt (Tuesday, 7 pm, SEC Network)
- George Mason at George Washington (Tuesday, 8 pm)
- Grand Canyon at St. Mary's (Tuesday, 10 pm)
- Davidson at VCU (Wednesday, 7 pm, CBSSports)
- Seton Hall at Butler (Wednesday, 8:30 pm, FS1)
- Boston College at NC State (Wednesday, 9 pm, ESPN3)
- Creighton at Providence (Wednesday, 9 pm, CBSSports)
- Oregon State at USC (Wednesday, 11 pm, FS1)
- Memphis at Temple (Thursday, 7 pm, ESPNU)
- UConn at SMU (Thursday, 9 pm, ESPN2)
- Cincinnati at Houston (Thursday, 9 pm, CBSSports)
- Northwestern at Penn State (Thursday, 9 pm, ESPNU)
I'll update this heading into the weekend.
2/28/2016 – Michigan 57, Wisconsin 68 – 20-10, 10-7 Big Ten
I try to avoid putting certain thoughts on twitter during basketball games because the replies they draw tend to send me into a "someone is wrong on the internet" pit. This didn't go so well yesterday, in both directions.
I expressed frustration at Michigan's horrendous defense in the first half, when Wisconsin bricked a huge array of wide open threes. I got a couple responses about how it was better to give up wide open threes than to let Nigel Hayes eat in the paint, with one guy offering up Hayes's shot chart as evidence. Evidence of what, though?
Hayes isn't actually an efficient offensive player this year in any way except one: he gets to the line a lot. He's suffered with the extra usage heaped on him in the absence of Dekker and Kaminsky; Wisconsin has a lot of bad possessions and Hayes ends up taking a lot of 15-footers as a result. He's good at those, which is like being good at writing about Rutgers sports.
As a whole, Wisconsin is decent at threes (4th in the league) and mediocre at twos (7th). They are not a team that you should be constantly doubling until they get a launch off. This is what Michigan did in the first half; they got lucky. So I got into a fight about that despite the fact that Hayes wasn't even taking the open threes.
Later, I expressed further frustration at Michigan's defense and got an array of FIRE HIS ASS and PATHETIC replies. I have only myself to blame.
But it's true, and playing Wisconsin is designed to highlight everyone's frustration with this year's basketball team. At halftime I predicted a ten point Wisconsin win in our slack channel, and there was grunting agreement. UMHoops felt the same way:
Michigan is hanging around in Madison, but a Wisconsin run almost feels inevitable. pic.twitter.com/mQRJmD60DQ
— Dylan Burkhardt (@umhoops) February 29, 2016
It was, with Wisconsin staking itself to a seven point lead by hitting six straight shots. The threes versus twos discussion became moot as Michigan failed to defend either well. Then you look over at Wisconsin's collection of athletes. Wisconsin features a guy Mark Donnal wrecked in high school and a variety of gentlemen who seem like ringers grabbed from the Plattville YMCA. Their main post is a freshman. They are 18th in defensive efficiency.
It's pretty tough not to be sour at Beilein after watching a bunch of try-hard types with excellent organization stifle Michigan. It's pretty tough not to be sour when Vitto Brown, the guy that Donnal worked in high school, goes 4/6 from three on six uncontested looks.
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.
The reason that the world expected Wisconsin to pull away in the second half is because they had a guy where Michigan was when their shots went up and Michigan did not do this. There is no reason for this based on the guys on the court. That is what's scary about this team and those down the road: something appears to have left the program over the last three years. The 2014 team managed to paper over it with Nik Stauskas and his merry band; Michigan outfits that do not have the ability to finish #1 in offensive efficiency have not found a plan B.
This is in no way a plea to fire anybody. Michigan has lost an NBA first round pick to injury each of the last three years, along with their starting PG last year and backup PG this year. If a Tom Izzo player gets a hangnail it gets a special edition of SportsCenter on which Izzo weeps and quavers; Michigan has suffered the insult of injury stoically.
But there's no reason that losing Caris Levert would send the defense into a tailspin. There's no reason that Ricky Doyle should go from promising freshman to afterthought in a year. There's no reason that Michigan should find itself 11th in defense in a league featuring luminaries like Penn State, Rutgers, Northwestern, and Illinois. This is our concern, dude.
I mean like whatever. I am super not into this basketball team for the reasons detailed above, which I why I haven't written about it much. Whatever motive force was behind the back to back elite eight teams left the building with Stauskas and has not given a hint of a return.
I would not be surprised to see a coaching shakeup after the year. Beilein did it once before, and since he's clearly not going to be the guy who fixes the defense he's got to get someone in who can give it a shot.
Bright spots? Michigan had a bunch of tight curl screen action that we hadn't seen much of before that was effective; they also made a number of interior passes to their bigs in situations they had not attempted much previously. Those resulted in a few turnovers but also a number of shots at the rim that were generally effective.
I wonder how much of the problem with the offense is that there aren't many good passers on the team. MAAR and Irvin are getting better but had to come up from absolutely zero assists; Walton is so bad inside the arc that there's not much reason to overplay him. This is no longer a bright spot. Sorry.
I'm shocked. Jon Crispin does not like dabbing.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
#20 Minnesota 2, #6 Michigan 6
KILE GOAL, MICHIGAN
MINN 0 MICH 1 EV 11:19 Assists: Unassisted
Cecconi picks up a loose puck in Michigan’s defensive zone and passes to Motte near center ice. Motte flips the puck to the opposite corner while Michigan changes. Collins picks it up and skates to the faceoff circle when he sees two Michigan forecheckers on their way. He puts on the brakes, takes a step back, and looks to make the outlet pass. He accomplishes the looking part but not so much the passing part; much like my golf swing, he picks his head up early and swings over it.
Kile picks up the loose puck and pulls it to his backhand. This forces the goaltender to hit the ice, and he does a nice job squaring to a backhander, should that be what Kile does (and, to be fair, it certainly looks like that’s what he’s going to do). Kile, though, somehow pulls the puck on a string back to his forehand, which leaves the goaltender flopping.
Kile’s able to slide the puck around Schierhorn’s pad, but it requires a deflection off of Collins’ stick to hit the net instead of going wide.
[After THE JUMP: a newfound appreciation for the overhead goal cam, and your weekly dose of mind-boggling CCM things]
Michigan went 0-for-2 on these shots. [Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]
For the first 30 minutes or so, Michigan engaged in a back-and-forth battle against Wisconsin. When all-too-familiar issues plagued the Wolverines late, however, the Badgers pulled away, and Michigan's NCAA Tournament fate remains in serious question.
Zak Irvin tallied 14 points and eight rebounds to lead Michigan in both categories. He did the bulk of his damage in the first half, however, and his missed transition layup—on the heels of Derrick Walton leaving a fast break lay-in achingly short—was a lowlight among a series of backbreaking errors by the Wolverines down the stretch.
Irvin also got bullied by Nigel Hayes down the stretch, but he was far from alone in his struggles on that end. Duncan Robinson and Aubrey Dawkins were each victimized way too easily off the dribble. Mark Donnal couldn't avoid foul trouble for the second straight game. Half-hearted doubling in the post opened up the perimeter for a parade of threes by Bronson Koenig (19 points, 3/6 3P) and Vitto Brown (14, 4/6) and didn't do much to slow Wisconsin's bigs; Hayes and Ethan Happ combined for 28 points and made 10/18 two-pointers.
When Michigan's defensive shortcomings caught up to them, the offense faded, too. Irvin had just four points and two turnovers in the second half. Walton went 3/13 from the field, 0/6 in the second half. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, the team's most reliable player of late, had only two points on 1/5 shooting. Robinson and Dawkins made 3/6 three-pointers but struggled to find open looks. Only Ricky Doyle, who made all five of his field goal attempts for ten points, had a notably good offensive performance.
The Wolverines played like a bubble team facing a clear-cut tourney team. They've got a week to practice before welcoming an Iowa squad to the Crisler Center on Saturday that's lost four of their last five and must face Indiana on Tuesday. With a victory, Michigan can still feel confident about their tourney chances. A loss would make for a stressful Big Ten Tournament.
Title Reference. Kinda miss Bo Ryan, kinda think I won't after Sunday.
So I keep having this problem where I run a guess the score and Michigan gets crushed, and of course nobody guessed that Michigan would get pulverized AND lose to the hockey version of the Rigelian bug people.
Since that totally happened, TiqIQ felt bad and wanted to try it again, this time with free tickets to the Iowa game, i.e., Michigan's last home game of the season, provided by TiqIQ.
TiqIQ who, by the way, wants you to try their mobile app which they just revamped.
SO: this time if you guess the score, you win the tickets. If nobody gets it, we'll pick randomly again from WHOEVER DOWNLOADED THE APP (including if you did it last time) and give them the tickets.
By the way the app is at http://tiqiq.us/MGoTiqIQ. Winner will be contacted Monday, or Tuesday if I am running behind on Monday. But surely by Wednesday.
How this works again:
- Readers predict the final score of a designated game by placing a guess in the comments, preferably in the format of [M score][hyphen][Opp score], for example "41-0" or "35-0 Michigan", or "28-0 Go Blue", or "42-0 Harbaugh!" etc.
- The three guys who read this part holler at people who post in a different format
- First person (by timestamp) to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, I contact you for an address by your MGoBlog account email, and you give me some time to get that to you.
- If nobody got it right or I don't hear from the winner(s) we randomly draw from whoever downloaded the TiqIQ app.
About Last Time:
Nope. Nope nuh uh not talking about it.
This Week's Game:
Michigan at the Trohl Center.
And on the Line
You're going to the game next week.
So to recap:
- Guess a basketball score.
- Download the TiqIQ app in case nobody guesses the basketball score.
One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. The algorithm owns Jersey. The algorithm is self-correcting. The algorithm thinks of the children! The algorithm doesn't steal lollipops or spring breaks from the children. This is not the algorithm. But it has a visit set.