...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Via Hail to the Blue in the comments, "The softball team is in action today, tomorrow, and Sunday in Lafayette, LA at the Ragin' Cajun Invitational. Follow @umichsoftball on Twitter for live updates. Couple of tough games against UL-Lafayette today and tomorrow down here."
Pitchers and Catchers! There used to be a day sometime in the late summer every year when I start to get really excited about football. This tingling would progress to a low hum when practices started up, and would be a spinal vibration by the time I'm racing into the stadium for whatever MACrifice we're starting against. I miss that. Last year we were doing the basketball book so August was just a bleary eyed gauntlet, and the year before the season started in Jerryworld. This year I already know that excitement will be damped down by a month's worth of reliving The Horror.
Pitchers and catchers reporting isn't so much an event, or even a day on the calendar, as it is a metaphor: It is the day that winter's back begins to break; a promise that day follows night.
|9||W All Track Combined||$141,452|
You can't dampen pitchers and catchers day, not when Omar Infante is the rookie you're praying will lead the offense, not you're seeing his back plus Prince Fielder's and your 4th best pitcher's because the expense of being so awesome has passed what awesome can net.
Sorry, this is supposed to be about Michigan not the Tigers. Ah but it is, for it's a lead-in to Raoul's comprehensive preview of Michigan's baseball team. It's still tough for a northern team to be more than a good mid-major in this sport, but Bakich seems to have Michigan heading in that direction.
When baseball is really good (e.g. their 2006 run) they're the fourth sport in these parts. Are they Michigan's true #4 sport? There was a interesting thread this week where the question of that sport's identity was posed by Wolverine Devotee. To that discussion I added the list at right from Michigan's Title IX reporting. Some of those teams (like lacrosse) are benefiting more from ticket sales/TV revenue generated by opponents' fans. I tried to compare where each stands among other universities, but many schools lie their asses off in those reports regarding women's sports revenues, for example West Virginia says their W Track & Field team takes in what Michigan's hockey team does. My guess is this gets them around a Title IX provision but I don't know which. Either way it makes the stats useless.
As for Michigan's fourth sport, I still think it's softball.
My bloody valentine. Sunday there will be a whole bunch of recruits who don't have drivers licenses yet watching the Wisconsin game at Crisler. Next week there will be a large and star-heavy group of those who can drive, and who can also say things like "I'm committing to Michigan," say, for example, if they were suddenly taken by a wave of euphoria that might accompany an effective conference title clinch over a rival. This is not crazy; it has happened before. Go make our football team good, basketball.
FWIW HopeInHoke's diary shows winning the conference from here is possible, but nowhere near a certainty. MSU's only road loss in-conference is to Wisconsin; remember when that was a thing we used to just chalk up to "happens to everyone"? LSA's weekly stats report shows Michigan's superior to an average of remaining opponents in everything but rebounding.
[After the jump: things Marcus Ray et al. say about Michigan's 2014 secondary]
Damien Harris Visiting, U-M Still Leader
Next weekend's Michigan State game will double as a de facto Junior Day for the football team, and 247's Steve Lorenz confirmed a big-time visitor will be in attendance—one-time Michigan commit Damien Harris:
It will be Harris's first unofficial visit to Michigan since the Notre Dame game last fall, making it his first appearance since stepping back from his early commitment to the Wolverines. His mother has publicly stated that Michigan is still the top school for her son and that he just wants to re-evaluate his options.
Harris took an unofficial to Ohio State—his first visit anywhere in months—for the Michigan game and tweeted out some support for the home team. His coach, however, said U-M is still the team to beat:
Harris' high school coach at Madison Southern (Ky.), Jon Clark, told Rivals.com earlier this week that the Wolverines are still No. 1 on the list for the top running back in the class of 2015.
"Michigan is still his top school, but he wants to make sure," Clark told the site. "He's open to looking."
While Harris is still picking up offers—Auburn, Miami (YTM), and Wisconsin all entered the post-decommitment fray—this looks to be a classic Michigan-OSU battle with the Wolverines, at least for now, holding the edge.
[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of new offers, weekend visitors, and more.]
— Zoltan Mesko (@ZoltanMesko) January 17, 2014
ATTN: New Yorkers. Rather large game approaching on the 23rd. If you seek the camaraderie of your fellow Michigan Man, here is a thing you might do: hang out with Zoltan Mesko and two small dogs at Professor Thom's, with proceeds going to a good cause. Details:
Professor Thom's, February 23rd, Noon.
Happy hour drink specials, complimentary appetizers, door prizes & more!
A $10 donation at the door (or online) to benefit the Zoltan Mesko Foundation will be your ticket to the event. If you can't make it, but would still like to donate please do so at zoltanmeskofoundation.org
Here is the facebook page. No word about speedo availability, ladies.
Just the worst. If you follow me on twitter you already know about this, but since many people don't for excellent reasons like "tends to go on rants about Penn State bench players," let me introduce you to John Johnson, a guy getting ten minutes a game for Penn State who drives me completely insane because:
- His ORTG is 87, which is actually up two points from last night.
- Despite this he takes 23% of PSU's shots when he's on the court.
- He has an assist rate of 4.6 and TO rate of 20.
- His parents named him "John Johnson," which is… wow. Also what happens when he finds out about Major Major Major Major? Exactly.
I have to tell you about this here because BISB stole my platform to lob statistical oddities at you and now I just track Illinois defensive rebounding anomalies in my basement.
Did you know the Big Ten now has TWO guys named Maverick? Or that Purdue has only three guys playing more than half their minutes, and nobody (NOBODY) averaging 30 minutes a game? Or that Northwestern starts a guy, Sanjay Lumpkin, who takes fewer than 10% of available shots? Only me and the basement elves did.
By the way, do we have a Reggie Cleveland All Star team for guys who should be oompa-loompas but are in fact 6'6" half-Indian dudes? Because… well, you see where I'm going with this.
OTHER THING. Rewatching the Ohio State game made one thing clear: Amir Johnson tries to block everything. I mentioned the Morgan basket on a missed Albrecht shot that was functionally equivalent to a pass as Williams came over. That is a canonical example but far from the only one. About ten minutes into the first half it became clear that OSU's defensive rebounding problems were about 80% Williams attempting to swat everything, leaving Michigan bigs all alone on the weakside.
The offensive rebound numbers don't even tell the full story, as there were a number of instances in which Michigan was in position to add to their totals until funny bounces intervened. The numbers back this up, especially if you tick over to the conference only Kenpom stats. Ohio State is 11th in the league at defensive rebounding. And it doesn't even help their defense. In league play OSU is 10th at defending twos.
OTHER OTHER THING. What, you want links to things? Oh fine. Here is your Indiana schadenfreude after they managed to lose to Penn State despite being up 11 with three minutes left.
This is absolutely 100% unacceptable. This team is hot garbage with a bevy of talent. Seriously, I'm not going to talk any crap about youth or inexperience. That had nothing to do with the non-stop disasters that we've witnessed this year. I even want to try and blame this most recent egg on Tom Crean and I can't find where I actually feel he had a problem in this game.
Win chart? Hell yes.
I'd like to thank the Nittany Lions for doing that to someone else this year.
New rules. The NCAA proposes allowing replay booths to not only overturn targeting expulsions but also the targeting penalties, which was always going to happen once it became clear that leaving half of a non-penalty to stand was rage-inducing. So hooray.
The committee also recommended a rules change that will allow defensive units to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half, starting with the 2014 season.
If a team snaps the ball before 29 seconds on the play clock they will be hit with a five yard delay of game penalty.
You try to not be a jerk about everything and this is how they repay you.
More offensive yet is the stated reason for these changes:
“This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute,” said Calhoun.
Nobody buys this. A player who is hurt or in trouble can fall over and the game will stop to accommodate them.
Speedy coaches have texted any reporter they know expressing their skepticism/disgust, and some guys have even taken to twitter to express something than bland positivity. "Think of the children" isn't flying in this case. The pushback here exceeds anything I've seen in the last decade or so. Even the hated clock rules that got rolled back after one season didn't get public heated disagreement from coaches.
But… Matt Hinton does point out that very few snaps would have much chance of running afoul of the rule. Oregon averaged 20 seconds per snap, so how many would actually be under ten? Not many.
I went back to the the canonical example of lightspeed, Indiana, to find out. Specifically, I wondered if that play on which Indiana's tempo burned Ray Taylor for a touchdown would have been affected. You know, this one:
That play was snapped exactly eleven seconds after the previous one ended. IE, it would have been legal, probably. Indiana may have had to wait a beat if the play clock took a second to reset.
Ten seconds is not many seconds. It may not even be enough to substitute confidently. If the rule does get passed it's probably not going to have the huge impact people fear it will.
It goes without saying that getting the rule change passed would be good for Michigan, which regards speed as a distasteful attempt to gain advantage.
It sucks you have to say this, but yeah you have to say this. Welp:
Goal No. 1 for Doug Nussmeier at Michigan? 'We're not going to go backwards'
May you succeed in this task, for all of our sanities. I'm encouraged by what this quote implies about Nussmeier's approach to data:
"There's a number of different things, you wish you can pinpoint one thing, but we need to get our players to understand how their success rate decreases with loss yardage plays," he said. "You look at statistical football, it doesn't add up. We've got to stay on schedule, within the sticks. We'll talk about that and it'll be a big part of the spring.
"We'll talk about our goals with down and distance, what we're looking for from each play yardage-wise. And what a negative play does to you as far as your percent chances to score and how our negative plays hurt our chances to score last year."
That sounds like a guy who's willing to look at stats to see if there's anything he can learn from them, which is a change of pace from the fancy-stats-are-for-losers approach of his predecessor.
Spartan health update. Izzo had the "feeling" Keith Appling was out a couple weeks as of February 9th, which would make his return for the Michigan game in some doubt. I mean, no doubt, really. But he might not be full go. Well, of course he won't be full go. No Michigan State player will be. For one, they'll be trying to cope with the emotional havoc associated with having a 14 year old call you names on twitter*.
I've had grown men (my players) in my office in tears because of what's being written.
The things these guys play through are insane. It's Iwo Jima out there.
Meanwhile, the Fist of Stupidity gets its pins removed on the 20th, which makes fist owner Branden Dawson hypothetically but not necessarily available for Michigan. Anyone ever had pins taken out of their hand? Would you be ready to play basketball three days after? Seems unlikely to me, but maybe they're really tiny or something.
*[First sentence of first comment: "Social Media is bringging this Country to its Knees."]
Etc.: Wildcats make preliminary argument to local labor relations board. Induction Burner! (It's not happening, Brian, stop trying to make it happen, Brian.) Andrew Sinelli, suddenly key defenseman. We may not have Oompa Loompa Reggie Cleveland, but we do now have the Basil Smotherman All Stars, which are comprised of the guys who sound the most like peers of the realm.
Somewhere there should be
for all the world to see
a statue of a fool made of stone.
An image of a man
who let love slip through his hands
and left him to stand here all alone.
I found your statue, Mr. Ruffin.
It depicts Dan Dakich watching Aaron Craft attempt this shot.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the GIFs, including lots of Derrick Walton, "Plastic Man," John Beilein giving dap in the run of play, sad Ohio fans, and more.]
RPI Effect Only Teams
Last night Seth and Ace embarked upon a great adventure to find a player on Kenpom whose % of minutes played is greater than his ORtg. This is incredibly hard to do since an ORtg under 90 is a black hole of offensive efficiency that a coach won't play unless he's forced to. They found one, and almost a second on Bowling Green, which is MAC-ese for "Northwestern". The next-closest: UMass-Lowell (8-15)'s D.J. Mlachnik. This is beautiful in its horror:
Michigan did their part for the Mlachnik Project: he played 32 minutes in which he was 0-5 from the field with 2 turnovers, but 6/6 from the line. %Min: 80, ORtg: 69.
UML is projected to finish at .500 in the fifth-worst of the 32 conferences, the America East. Last night they were creamed by AmEast leader Vermont. Houston Baptist (4-20) has lost eight straight games in the sixth worst conference, the Southland. South Carolina State (8-15) is below .500 in the second worst conference, the MEAC. Coppin State (7-13) is 6-5 in the second worst conference. I’m running out of ways to describe the badness of these four teams.
Long Beach State (10-13), on the other hand, is right in the thick of the Big West Conference race along with UC Irvine and UCSB, and Charlotte (12-7) is in the middle of the pack in Conference USA.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (18-5, 6-5 Big 12)
This week: Beat TCU (84-69); Lost @ West Virginia (102-77)
Iowa State… well, they had themselves a week. On Saturday, Melvin Ejim dropped 48 points (on 24 shots) and 18 boards on TCU, and the Cyclones beat up on the not-very-good Horned Frogs. They then proceeded to get absolutely musket-whipped by West Virginia.
Toward the end of the game in Morgantown, things got interesting. ISU center Dustin Hogue, perhaps fooled by Ejim’s one-guy-scores-all-the-points thing into believing they were now playing by NBA Jam rules, grabbed the rare offensive rebound/ribcage kick combo. The refs didn’t blow the whistle on the Cobra Kai, so West Virginia responded with a more traditional head-smash. The referees only called a goaltend, because as we all know that is the only illegal activity that can be whistled in NBA Jam.
Florida State (14-10, 5-7 ACC)
This week: Lost @ Maryland (83-71), Lost to Miami (YTM) (77-73)
The luster has fully worn off of Michigan’s win over FSU. The Seminoles are very much in danger of missing the NCAA tournament after a home loss to Miami. And this isn’t the Kenny Kadji/Shane “Barry Larkin’s Kid” Larkin/ Durand Scott Miami team. This is the don’t-have-a-single-starter-shooting-over-50.5 eFG% Miami. If FSU doesn’t sweep Wake and UNC this week, they are in much trouble.
Dook (19-5, 8-3 ACC)
This week: Won @ Boston College (89-78), Lost to Ice.
Duke’s offense has gone to plaid. Their current KenPom offensive efficiency of 128.6 would shatter the current record of 124.0. Two other teams remain within striking distance of that number: Creighton at 123.6 and Michigan at 123.7.
|You’re not actually supposed to smoke Tobacco Road.|
Their rivalry game with North Carolina was postponed last night because of the South's continuing adventures with ice and snow. The problem for Duke is that the game was moved back to February 20th, which means they will have a game at Georgia Tech on Tuesday, at UNC on Thursday, and against Syracuse on Saturday. Syracuse, on the other hand, has a cupcake home game on Wednesday, so they might be much fresher for the big showdown in Durham.
#1 Arizona (23-1, 10-1 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Oregon 67-65, Beat Oregon State 76-54
Arizona is adapting to life without Brandon Ashley, and they are decided favorites in every remaining game in the regular season. This is both a blessing and a curse, as they should cruise to a 1-seed, but they possibly won’t get many stern tests of their new rotation until the postseason.
Stanford (15-8, 6-5 PAC 12)
This week: Lost @ Washington (64-60)
That one hurts Stanford’s tournament resume. They’re probably still in, but they’re sliding toward true bubble territory.
[in which a jump takes to you to the Big Ten stuff]
Per UM's Twitter:
Jake Butt Out Indefinitely with Torn ACL: http://t.co/p2yRL0eLOZ
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) February 13, 2014
Butt was Michigan's best option to be a catchy-blocky tight end so this is Not Good.
I wouldn't automatically count him as a redshirt; recovery from ACL tears these days is really fast, though not guaranteed to be. FWIW Jake Ryan tore his on March 20 last year and made it back in late October. If Butt can recover at Ryan speed he'll be back for the conference games.
Either way the intervening months were going to be especially important for Butt to get comfortable in the offense and gain the requisite weight to get beyond the largely Just a Receiver™ role he played last year. Likelihood of Ian Bunting's shirt being burned just shot through the stratosphere, since extant options are A.J. Williams and Khalil Hill.
Silver lining: MORfleet? Fortunately Nussmeier seems to be much less reliant on TEs, going 3- and 4-wide quite often at Washington, so this can be mitigated somewhat by more slot receiver sets.