This weekend’s basketball game has huge implications in the B1G standings and something like above would be marvelous. Taking advantage of the expectedly electred atmosphere in Crisler Arena, the coaches scheduled a junior day for the big game. A few younger prospects will also be on hand for the biggest recruiting event of the year thus far. I heard back from about 50 prospects and each one will be listed and labeled with information as I dig it up.
CB Shaun Crawford
K Andrew David
S Tyree Kinnel
ATH Brian Cole
CB Ray Buford Jr.
DE Dre’Mont Jones (maybe, basketball schedule may interfere)
LB Tyriq Thompson
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Troy Henderson
LB Asmar Bilal
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
TE Austin Ervin
TE David Edwards
TE/OL Harrison Moon
ATH Daelin Hayes
OL Thiyo Lukusa (commit watch)
RB Kentrail Moran
WR Desmond Fitzpatrick
OL Jon Runyan Jr. (will visit March 8 & 9)
CB Garrett Taylor (will visit for a spring practice)
CB Minkah Fitzpatrick
DE Darian Roseboro
DE Jake Pickard (will visit during the summer)
DE Josh Alabi
DE Jashon Cornell (visiting Ole Miss this weekend, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Josh Barajas (visited for Wisconsin game, may visit again for spring practice)
LB Jerome Baker (will visit for a spring practice)
LB Jake Cooper (has frequent contact with staff, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Justin Hilliard (would like to visit for a spring practice)
OL Drew Richmond (has no plans to visit at this time)
OL Sterling Jenkins (will visit for a spring practice)
OL Gabe Megginson (high interest, would like a Michigan offer)
OL Grant Newsome (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Nick Johns (will visit during his spring break)
QB Brandon Wimbush (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Ryan Willis (focusing more on schools that have offered, waiting on more interest)
QB Alex Malzone (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Riley Neal (not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
QB Jon Wassink (very interested, not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
RB Andrew Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
S Omari Stringer (would like to visit for a spring practice)
TE Chris Clark (will visit March 22)
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Austin Dorris (will visit March 1)
TE CJ Conrad (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Cole Chewins (has no plans to visit at this time)
WR David Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
|WHAT||Michigan (18-7, 10-3 B1G) vs. Michigan State (22-5, 11-3)|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan -4 (KenPom)|
|TV||CBS (PBP: Verne Lundquist; Analyst: Bill Raftery)|
Right: "Hey, Tom, how many healthy players do you have at any given moment?" [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Are huge, obviously. Michigan is a half-game behind MSU in the Big Ten standings. A win gives the Wolverines the conference lead with a favorable schedule over their final four regular-season games. A loss means Michigan would require some help to win the conference. A look at the remaining schedules of the two teams gives hope for this.
Michigan: @Purdue, Minnesota, @Illinois, Indiana
MSU: Illinois, Iowa, @Ohio State
Iowa is also firmly in the picture, just one game back in the loss column, though they still have six games remaining as a result of Assembly Hall's disassembly.
THE HYPE VIDEO
THE PREVIOUS MATCHUP
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||20||Travis Trice||Jr.||6'0, 170||50.2||16.9||Not at all|
|Starter due to Appling's wrist, excellent outside shooter, poor inside finisher|
|G||14||Gary Harris||So.||6'4, 210||72.0||26.5||No|
|High usage and high efficiency, great defender, should match up w/ Stauskas|
|G||45||Denzel Valentine||So.||6'5, 225||71.5||19.0||Kinda|
|Point forward type, solid rebounder, prone to facepalm-inducing mistakes|
|F||10||Matt Costello||So.||6'9, 240||37.1||13.1||Very|
|Most minutes among four-headed rotation w/ Dawson out, good interior D|
|F||5||Adreian Payne||Sr.||6'10, 245||51.7||25.9||Not at all|
|Very effective near basket or outside, decent rebounder and shot-blocker|
|G||11||Keith Appling||Sr.||6'1, 185||70.7||23.4||Kinda|
|Played 19+ mins in each of last two games, but only took 3 combined shots|
|F||30||Kenny Kaminski||Fr.||6'8, 225||25.8||15.2||Not at all|
|Pure stretch four gunner, great shooting numbers, tiny rebounding rates|
|G||3||Alvin Ellis||Fr.||6'4, 195||20.6||15.5||No|
|Role diminishing quickly with Appling back on the floor|
Starting power forward Branden Dawson was scheduled to have the pins removed from his broken hand Thursday night or Friday morning; he's also apparently dealing with the flu. Izzo won't rule him out of the game, though even if he plays it'll likely be in a limited role with a heavily taped hand. If he can't go, foulers par excellence Gavin Schilling and Alex Gauna will pick up minutes in the frontcourt.
As your Spartan friend is sure to remind you, Michigan will face Adreian Payne for the first time this season. The MSU big man has come back like gangbusters from his nagging foot injury, averaging 18 points and seven rebounds in the five games since his return. His post-up ability and 44% three-point shooting provide a major matchup issue for a U-M squad that couldn't handle Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky.
Assuming Dawson can't give it a go, four other big men will see time up front for the Spartans. Matt Costello is the presumed starter at the four; he's hitting 63.6% of his shots, all two-pointers, while providing solid offensive rebound and excellent shot-blocking. Kenny Kaminsky gets out there just to shoot threes, but he's darn good at it, knocking them down at a 47.6% clip. Gavin Schilling and Alex Gauna foul people a lot while playing marginally effective basketball otherwise.
In the backcourt, Keith Appling is back from a wrist injury that supposedly threatened his regular season as of a week ago. He's been distributing the ball well in the two games since his return; however, he doesn't look comfortable shooting just yet, attempting just three combined field goals over those two games. Appling should split minutes pretty evenly with Travis Trice, an outside shooting upgrade who's not the same quality passer or defender as Appling.
Appling's limitations and the absence of Dawson have put more pressure on Denzel Valentine to be a distributor and rebounder; he's done well with the latter and has mixed results on the former thanks to some questionable decision-making. While he's the least threatening shooter on the floor, he's solid in transition and provides good size and versatility.
Gary Harris is Gary Harris. This means lots of points, probably in an efficient manner, and excellent defense on Nik Stauskas. Harris had been mired in an outside shooting slump before hitting 6/9 threes against Purdue on Thursday.
MSU has alternated wins and losses since they last played U-M. Wins came over Iowa, Penn State, Northwestern, and Purdue. Losses came against Georgetown, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. If the pattern holds, Michigan is in line for a win.
MSU is now second in the Big Ten in eFG% behind Michigan after bombarding Purdue; they also rank second in 3P% while taking the fourth-highest percentage of the field goals from beyond the arc. Yes, a Michigan State team could be called perimeter-oriented. It's a weird year.
The Spartan defense is giving up lots of three-point attempts themselves and seeing a solid chunk (35.3%) of those go in. What separates them from Michigan, though, is impressive defense inside the arc, ranking first in the league in both 2P% against and block rate. They are very foul prone, though striking a balance between attacking their bigs and generating two-point looks that don't rely on bailout calls can be difficult.
Keep track of Payne. Should be self-explanatory. If Michigan lets Payne spot up or slice through the defense like Frank Kaminsky, it'll be a long afternoon. Jordan Morgan has to do a better job of keeping track of his man out on the perimeter; losing Payne beyond the arc is likely to result in three points, as Purdue found out OVER and OVER and OVER again on Thursday.
Keep the rebounding close. Michigan managed to win the rebounding battle in the first matchup, which never happens in this rivalry. Even with Dawson likely sidelined, it's unreasonable to expect a repeat, but keeping this close is still a big key to winning. This is all about getting help on the boards from the perimeter players—Caris LeVert's eight defensive rebounds at Breslin made a huge difference.
Find an offense with LeVert. Gary Harris did an excellent job guarding Nik Stauskas in the first game despite Stauskas's eventual 19 points; that took 5/6 shooting from three on looks that weren't easy, as he was limited to 2/6 on two-pointers with no free-throw attempts. If Michigan can't free up Stauskas off the ball, they have to figure out a way to run an offense through Caris LeVert that isn't just LeVert weaving his way towards the basket. Either that or Derrick Walton needs to come up big once again.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 4
A number of role players have gotten some quality playing time with all of Michigan State’s injuries, who is one player that will make a difference either on Sunday or in March?
Kenny Kaminski has been the biggest revelation as the season has gone on. He’s played 15 to 25 minutes per game since Payne and then Dawson went down with injuries. And he keeps knocking it down from deep; he’s still at 48% on three-pointers for the season. He’s also started grabbing a few offensive boards and scoring a bit in the lane. Overall, he’s still a pretty one-dimensional player, but it’s a dimension that can be a major factor in games. With Payne back, Tom Izzo can now put a lineup out there where all five players are threats to shoot the three.
I'm going to skip the user-generated content column, since there wasn't very much of it this week, and talk about the position swaps. The top two diaries at right are new this week.
Something completely different. Brady Hoke attended the Detroit alumni association's annual event yesterday and went on WTKA this morning, leaking out some position changes and player updates, as well as explaining the thinking behind the defensive position coach shakeup. News via nickbob:
Jake Ryan moving to MIKE
Chris Bryant to take medical
Magnuson will miss "most" of spring, will do some individual stuff, surgery went well
Tuley-Tillman had hand surgery
Drake Johnson and Darboh are limited and working their way back
Some other odds and ends related to the D coaching moves
Also Taco Charlton will be moving from WDE to SDE. Let's discuss.
|More Ryan is a good thing. [Fuller]|
Moving Ryan. This, like the coaching changes, is a response to college football going mostly spread. Hoke said that Ohio State effectively neutralized Ryan against the run by spreading out, thus moving him out of the box. Here's your matchups for strongside linebackers on Michigan's 2014 schedule:
- Vs tight end/manball: MSU, Minnesota, PSU*
- Vs slot receiver, spread-to-run: App State, Utah, Ohio State
- Vs slot receiver, spread-to-pass: ND, Miami(NTM), Maryland, Indiana, NW'ern
The * for PSU is because Franklin's offense is a bit of a hybrid; when adapted to Penn State's current roster I'm guessing it ends up a zone-blocked, tight-end-heavy passing offense that moves at warp speed. Northwestern will be a lot more passy with Trevor Siemian instead of Colter. Only two games will heavily feature a SAM taking on tight end blocks.
Upside: anyone who's watched Te'o or Bullough against us in recent years can attest how much of a difference a great middle linebacker can make. The downgrade from Demens to last year's linebackers in deep zone coverage was probably the defense's biggest liability, and Ryan to date has been a plus zone defender.
Downsides: SAM just went from Michigan's strongest position on defense to a huge question mark, since Cam Gordon graduated and Beyer was moved to SDE, leaving just unheralded Spur (i.e. safety)-like object Allen Gant and neophytes.
The obvious thing would be for Beyer to switch back, though Hoke told Sam Webb that isn't happening. Rather James Ross may swap to SAM, and Morgan/Bolden/Gedeon will compete/rotate at WILL and backup MIKE. Weight Watch 2014 just became how big will James Ross be watch. If Ross seizes the position this spring I think things will work out fine, though this has to be a comedown from our hype going into last year. McCray or one of the freshmen could factor in.
The other downside is the most consistent generator of pass rush is no longer on the pass rush.
[Jump: moving Taco, OL damage, coach position switches]
As Seth pointed out last week, my weekly columns tend to be written at a 9th or 10th grade level. At first I was surprised that the number was that low, as that is about nine or ten years (and $74 Million of student loans) worth of education less than I currently claim on my resume. But as I started to think about it, I became concerned that the number may be too high. After all, if there are 10th graders in this country who use sentences like “LULZ Indiana is teh suck” or “why doesn’t Indiana shoot good at shooting,” we as a nation are in serious trouble.
So, in light of this fact, we will try to be a little more informative and hifalutin this week. I understand that by doing this, we may put our children at a competitive disadvantage against other countries when it comes to cat meme knowledge and Seinfeld references, but these are the risks one takes when trying to advance knowledge.
RPI Effect Only Teams
UMass-Lowell (8-17) lost to Stony Brook. Given enough time, black holes eventually vanish into dispersed radiation. Houston Baptist (5-21) lost to Oral Roberts, beat Central Arkansas. An electric eel can produce a shock of up to 500 volts. South Carolina State (9-16) lost to North Carolina Central, but beat North Carolina A&T. One third of the MGoEditorial Staff are currently producing human beings. Coppin State (9-16) lost to Florida A&M. The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets. Long Beach State (11-14) lost to UCSB but beat Cal Poly. Quinoa is, scientifically speaking, the best of all the foods. Charlotte (14-10) lost to Marshall. Koalas sleep nearly 22 hours per day.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (20-5, 8-5 Big 12)
This week: Defeated Texas Tech (70-64); Defeated Texas (85-76)
As they say, you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer as long as they remain behind you in the mock brackets. Michigan may need to start cheering against Iowa State, as the Cyclones are right next to Michigan in the Bracket Matrix’s aggregate standings.
Florida State (15-11, 6-8 ACC)
This week: Vanquished Wake Forest (67-60); Succumbed to North Carolina (81-75)
Like Gulliver in a land of angry Lilliputians, these giants have been slowly felled by a series of tiny blows, none of which are fatal by themselves, but when added together leave a team clinging to the underside of the bubble. The latest strike was a squandered 15-point lead against North Carolina. Beating the Tarheels might have been enough to salvage things for the Seminoles, but as it stands it looks as if they might have to take down a Brobdingnagian Syracuse squad or make some serious noise in the ACC tournament to climb back into consideration.
#5 Duke (21-6, 10-4 ACC)
This week: Defeated Maryland (69-67); Defeated Georgia Tech (68-51); Lost to North Carolina (74-66)
For Michigan fans watching Duke take on Maryland, an image may has struck a dissonant chord.
Your eyes do not deceive, dear reader. That is Evan Smotrycz defending Jabari Parker. Less than two years ago it seemed possible that such a matchup may take place in a Michigan/Michigan State game, Parker bested Smotrycz for 23 points and 8 rebounds, though the Terrapins actually had a shot to win this game with under ten seconds left.
Duke then dropped the re-scheduled game to arch-rival North Carolina, and take on Syracuse on Saturday. Quite the stretch for Duke. I know you all shed tears.
#4 Arizona (24-2, 11-2 PAC 12)
This week: Lost to Arizona State (69-66 2OT); Beat Utah (67-63 OT)
Arizona’s offense simply hasn’t been the same without Brandon Ashley. Of the five games they have played without him, four are among their eight worst offensive performances of the year. They’re probably still a 1-seed, but even that isn’t a lock at this point.
Stanford (17-8, 8-5 PAC 12)
This week: Defeated Washington State (69-56)
Some things in life cannot be adequately described on paper. The deeper meaning is lost in translation between deed and word. However, “defeated Washington State” is almost never one of those things.
Name: Garrett Taylor
Ht/Wt: 6'1" / 188 lbs.
Location: St. Christopher’s School – Richmond, VA
Offers: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Nebraska, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Penn State, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Rating: ★★★★ .9566 (247 Composite)
Ranking: #90 NAT/ #9 CB (247 Composite)
From the onset of our conversation it was easy to see that Garrett Taylor was very happy to have received a scholarship offer from Michigan.
I was really pretty surprised. Coach Manning told me a little while back that they had to look at who they took for corners in the 2014 class and that the 2015 class was going to be really small so that’s why things were taking so long. My coach texted me today and said that I needed to call Michigan so I called and Coach Manning said I was offered. I was really excited.
With that offer sheet and a top-100 ranking it's not that shocking. Michigan has routinely spent time recruiting the talent-rich DC-Maryland-Virginia area. Even though he’s in the heart of ACC country he holds Michigan in high regard.
I was born and raised in Virginia but I’d say that Michigan is definitely in the mix. They are a school since the beginning of this recruiting process that I’ve had my eyes on. I wanted them to offer and I was really interested in them. It has taken a little while but they finally did offer and they are still solid with me.
Michigan has a lot to offer in many arenas and Garrett was able to tell me what exactly it was about the Wolverines that grabbed his attention early on.
First with the football program it’s just one of the most historic programs there is. I mean if you ask anyone for a storied college football program they might give you a Notre Dame, maybe an Alabama, and they’ll give you Michigan too. Also what they can offer in terms of academics as well as football is huge. Academics are very important to me and my family so just the fact that they can offer both at a very high level is really important to me. Also when I first started talking to Coach Manning he was just a great guy, he was really down to Earth, really honest. You could tell he wasn’t trying to pull anything, he was just really straight up, so I really like that about him. Coach Hoke too, was just really genuine and just showed me that Michigan has a lot to offer.
Taylor mentioned that he had been eyeing Michigan since the beginning of his recruitment so it was only natural to inquire about who else might be catching his eye.
There are a few schools that I’ve been interested in like Tennessee, South Carolina, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, and Miami. Those are some of the schools that are sticking out to me right now.
With so many offers, Garrett is going to have some tough decisions to make when it comes to narrowing down his list, but he already has a basic timeline and plan in place.
Right now my plan is to start narrowing down my list. I know I have a lot of schools on my list and it’s really hard to take a very serious look at all of the schools I might be interested in. When you have all of the coaches coming at you with the same sort of intensity it’s really tough. Right now I’m going to try and narrow my list down to about 10 to 15 schools, hopefully closer to 10 by the end of the spring so I can start to plan some visits out during the summer. After that I’ll narrow it down again so I can get official visits set up during my season, maybe one or two after the season. At that point if I know which school I want to go to I’ll probably commit early to mid-winter. If all else fails and I am having a hard time deciding I would probably just wait until National Signing Day, but hopefully I can get it done at the early part of winter.
I always ask recruits if there is anything unique or interesting about themselves they’d like me to include because a lot of these Q&A’s start to sound alike; most of them kindly decline. Garrett chose to finish our conversation by telling me about his passion for literature.
I really like English. I’m in an AP English class so I can earn an AP credit. It’s a really cool class. I’ve always liked reading so I guess that’s something a little different. It can be hard to balance academics and football, especially with the school I’m at, St. Christopher’s, but I feel like I do a pretty good job. I’ve been there since like 1st grade so it’s always been normal for me to balance school and athletics.
[Lloyd Carr nods in solemn approval.]
I fully expect Michigan to make the cut/multiple cuts with Garrett and believe that they’ll have a chance to land him for a while. He looks great on film, was a joy to talk to, and seems to have his priorities in order. Whether he picks Michigan or not I will be a fan of Garrett Taylor.
Yup, Still Want
Damien Harris headlined last weekend's Best of the Midwest combine, and for good reason—no matter where you look, he leads off the list of top performers. Scout's Allen Trieu broke down his overall combine MVP performance:
One of the headliners was Madison Southern (Ky.) running back Damien Harris, a four-star junior who will challenge to be the top running back in the country on Scout. We all know Harris is fast and he proved that again by clocking in the 4.3s in his 40 yard dash. But he also showed grit, toughness and great technique when it came to the pass blocking drills. He took on some of the camp's most physical linebackers and won his reps. We also had a chance to see him catch the ball a little bit, something we had already known he could do from past events. He has shown time and time again that he is a complete all around back and did nothing to diminish his standing as our top prospect in the Midwest.
247's Barton Simmons called Harris "dominant" and stated Michigan and Ohio State are on top in Harris's recruitment right now. Another program recently entered the picture, however. Harris is slated to visit this weekend for Michigan's Junior Day; his other planned trip is to the latest school to enter the picture, Alabama, per Trieu ($):
The Wolverines are one of the schools he will visit in the near future. The other school is Alabama, his most recent offer.
"I'm going up to Michigan on the 23rd of this month then I'm taking a visit to Alabama on March 1st but after that I don't really know. I haven't made any plans for spring or who I'm going to check out for spring ball. I'll probably do that soon."
With Harris planning to extend his recruitment until Signing Day, the Tide have plenty of time to work their way towards the top of his list. Based on the quotes Harris has given since his decommitment, however, including this one to Land Grant Holy Land (SBNation's OSU outlet), Michigan will still be the team to beat going forward:
"Like I said earlier, my interest in [Michigan] hasn't gone down. I don't not like them as much as I did before, there's really nowhere I like more than that. But with coach Borges being gone, it's hard going somewhere with someone who didn't recruit you."
The latter part is why Harris took a step back; if he develops the a similar comfort level with Doug Nussmeier as he had with Al Borges and sees improvement in Michigan's offense, he should end up back in the fold.
Meanwhile, Michigan is making a strong push for 2015 Cass Tech RB Mike Weber, who visited campus last weekend. He said as much to 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
"Yeah," Weber said on Wednesday when asked if the Wolverines are trending with him. "They are on me hard."
The Wolverines looked to be the clear leader early in Weber's recruitment before Harris committed and interest between both parties seemingly waned, allowing Michigan State to become Weber's leader; he even considered committing to MSU back in November. With Michigan redoubling their efforts to land Weber, however, the battle between the two in-state powers is pretty even at this point.
One 2015 running back you can cross off your wish list is recently offered TX four-star Ronald Jones II, who gave this refreshingly honest quote to Scout's new Midwest intern, Eric Rutter ($):
“[Michigan] probably won’t [be visited] to be honest,” said Jones. “If there is a great opportunity away from home then I would take it, but I would say location would be a factor.”
[Hit THE JUMP for new offers, visit reactions from last weekend, Shaun Crawford runnin' real fast, and more.]