Playing three different positions in three years isn’t usually the recipe for success, but what about defensive end works for Chase Winovich that you think he’ll fit better there?
“Well, Chase has had a very good spring. We saw that in the bowl practice, and that’s why bowl games are so important. I’ve always felt—I recruited him, and I always felt he had a real high motor, he’s a very, very tough young man, and he can really run. When we got a chance to get him back on defense we just put him in in practices and I would have played him in the game. I would have put him in the bowl game at the end except our offense did such a great job of controlling the ball I didn’t have time to get him in at the end. Then this spring, he’s added some weight. He’s got a lot of learning to do with the technique but he’s willing to, and I think you’re going to be—you know, he’s got a very high ceiling and I’m excited about it.”
How about Bryan Mone? Is he at full health?
“Yeah. Bryan’s, you know, he’s rusty; you don’t take a whole year off [without rust]. But every practice you see it getting more like the guy when he was a freshman but older, and he’s working really hard. I’m very pleased. Obviously he’s very hungry. You know, you take a year away from a young man, it’s hard. And he seems to be really excited about what’s happening, and he’s getting a lot of great reps.”
On the other side of the ball, can you talk about what you see in practice from Chesson and Darboh and Butt in terms of they’re so experienced and so talented that whoever the quarterback is how much they’re going to help that guy?
“Yeah, again, you’re talking about three guys that are veterans now. They’re very talented. I don’t follow our offense. You know, you’ve got so much to do with your own side, but they just have such a great attitude and they seem to be the ones that make the plays. And they’re leaders. They’re leaders by how they play, leaders off the field, leaders in the cafeteria. They’re big-time guys and it’s fun to be on a team with them. I’m really excited about what they’re going to do this next year.”
You’ve talked a lot over the years about how you remember coaching Chris [Wormley] and Hurst when they were really young. Now they’re old. This is the most veteran line you’ve had. Are your expectations, I assume, that much higher?
“Yeah, very high. You know, they know me that if a guy shows that he has talent that I’m going to expect him to get all the way to the top of that talent, and so sometimes things that might be acceptable some places are still not acceptable. I’m always after them for perfection. I want them to be as good as I know they can be, and that’s hard to do in a four-hour practice but they’re being pushed to do that.
“You see those guys, you know, Glasgow, he can’t go right now but he’s doing some things that he wouldn’t get injured with. But all those guys, Taco, it’s four years for them now and you’ve seen them. It’s funny because when you see a Shelton Johnson or a Carlo Kemp or Winovich, you see a young guy and you remember that’s just what they looked like, so you want to get them there faster so they can be up with them. But it’s good. The bar is very, very high for this defensive line.”
[After THE JUMP: If tickets for the Rashan Gary Hype Train weren’t already sold out…]
[Isaiah Hole/ 247]
Just talk about what a day this is for the three of you to be together here at the clinic and then across the street tonight [AA Pioneer Hall of Fame induction ceremony]?
Jim: “It’s just like so many things that we’ve all done together through the years. It’s one more thing to be done, but I mean great memories of all the times we were doing stuff together. The three of us have done a lot together through the years.”
Jim: “We’ve done a lot of things with mom and Joani as well and our wives, but the three of us, we’ve done a lot of cool stuff together. You know, this is certainly one of those shining star days.”
You gave the coaches a lot to chew on. Is there one thing that you hope they take away from it more than anything else?
Jim: “My personal feeling is that during a clinic or even a talk or speech of some kind is try to give something that somebody can use, even if it’s just one or two or three things. And I think we did that. Think there was—they at least got one or two things.”
John: “They had a lot to choose from. They had a lot of options.”
Like a salad buffet, you take what you need and what works for you?
Jack: /laughs “I wish I’d had that line.”
Jim: “Talking to, listening to coach Tim Tyrrell talk, you know, we were all there and I took probably 20 really good coaching points and took furious notes. That’s what you want to get when you’re a listener to somebody at a clinic or a speech, that there’s something you get that you can use and incorporate into your own team and own coaching staff.”
Jack, I think you said something along the lines of you wished you could have coached with your two sons.
Jack: “Yeah, no question.”
What about them would you want to share with them on a staff?
Jack: “Well, as I sit back now without a coaching assignment-- and they are so good with Jackie and I, they bring us into their families’ lives, they bring us into their professional lives—but to just sit back at the back of a room and watch how they address their team or sit into a coaches meeting and watch how they address their coaches, the great trust that they have with their team and their coaches, I marvel. I say, ‘Why wouldn’t the lord put me on the earth earlier in my coaching career?’ Then I could have had an opportunity to experience that. I think I would have been better. I think my record would have been a lot better as a coach.”
Jim, you ever think about hiring him here?
“My dad? Oh yeah. We got him daily. Sometimes he’s over in Baltimore and sometimes he’s in Bloomington, but when we do get him we learn a lot and cherish it. I mean, he’s an honorary member of whatever staff I’ve ever been on. Same with John.”
John: “He’s full time. More than full time. He works for three coaches right now. He’s got three staffs.”
Jack: “It’s a blessing.”
[After THE JUMP: Twisted blue steel, Judge Judy, Mark Emmert, and the Super Bowl]
An official Internet Hero by the name of Sarcastic Prick leaked the news partway through CBS's interminable selection show, but we waited until it was officially official: Michigan will face Tulsa on Wednesday in Dayton in an East region 11-seed play-in game; the winner will play six-seed Notre Dame in Brooklyn on Friday.
Wednesday's game will tip off at around 9:10 pm on TruTV. Friday's game, should Michigan make it, is set for a 9:40-ish start on CBS.
The full bracket [click to embiggen]:
Tulsa, a surprise inclusion in the field, is two spots below Michigan on KenPom at #58. The Golden Hurricane have two common opponents with the Wolverines: they split their season series against both UConn and SMU, two teams that defeated Michigan in non-conference play.
If Michigan advances into the field of 64, they'll take on an exaggerated version of themselves. Notre Dame boasts the tenth-most efficient offense in the country according to KenPom—and the #172 defense.
Much more coverage coming this week, obviously.
Was this enough? We'll find out tonight.
Hold onto your butts.
On Selection Sunday, Michigan is either one of the final at-large squads in the NCAA Tournament field or just on the wrong side of the bubble, depending on where you look. Before we get into the bracket projections and your rooting guide for today, here's a look at Michigan's final tournament resumé:
Record: 22-12 (21-12 vs. D-I), 10-8 Big Ten
RPI Strength of Schedule: 44
KP SOS: 45
RPI 1-25: 3-7
RPI 26-50: 1-4
RPI 51-100: 0-1
RPI 101+: 17-0
The above is why the oft-cited "record vs. RPI top-100" stat can be very frustrating; ten of Michigan's 16 games in that category have come against top-25 teams. Here's hoping the committee makes that distiction instead of oversimplifying.
For the most part, Michigan is projected to make it into the field. ESPN's Joe Lunardi came to that realization in his latest update despite leaving M out of the tourney even after the Indiana win; he now has the Wolverines as the third-to-last team in, playing a First Four game against San Diego State. Yahoo's Brad Evans has Michigan as the second-to-last at-large; SI's Michael Beller has them as the fourth-to-last team to make it. CBS's Jerry Palm is the more bullish, projecting Michigan as an 11-seed that avoids the First Four—and matching them up against Dayton, oddly enough.
So they're in, right? Unfortunately, it's not quite that certain. Two of the most accurate bracket prognosticators in recent years, according to the Bracket Matrix, still have Michigan missing the tournament. The Washington Post's Patrick Stevens places M as the third team out, citing that damned RPI stat:
A really tricky team. The Wolverines bagged a late victory over Indiana in the Big Ten tournament, and they have three top-25 victories. They’re also 4-12 against the top 100, which is even worse than UCLA’s 5-10, which proved good enough, a year ago. Michigan doesn’t have UCLA’s top-60 non-conference schedule strength, either. The inclination is to say the Wolverines are off to the NIT.
Assembly Call's Andy Bottoms also brings up that damned RPI stat in projecting M as the second team out:
Following a loss to Purdue on Saturday, times are tense in Ann Arbor. They have four great wins but are just 4-12 against the Top 100. While they don’t have a bad loss, a low total of quality wins and the fact that 11 of their 12 losses have come by at least nine points with 10 by double digits. The other concern is the non-conference strength of schedule, which ranks around 190th. Outside of a win over Texas, the best non-con victories came against North Carolina State and Elon.
There will be precedent broken no matter what happens with the Wolverines. No Big Ten team to finish with a winning conference record in the last five years has been left out; conversely, no team with as poor a record against the RPI top-100 (I know, I know) has made it.
One thing seems certain: if Michigan doesn't make it, John Beilein's suboptimal non-conference scheduling—at least as it pertains to RPI rankings—will largely be to blame.
Your rooting interest for this afternoon is simple: you want UConn, which has secured an at-large spot with their run through the conference tourney, to beat potential bid-thief Memphis in the American title game (3:15 pm, ESPN). The NCAA selection show begins at 5:30 pm on CBS; if Michigan is left out, the NIT selection show is at 8:30 on ESPNU.
AJ Hammons celebrates Purdue's victory.
Midway through the second half, CBS cut to a shot of John Beilein giving Moe Wagner an on-the-fly lesson on post defense. Wagner had just committed a shooting foul on Purdue center Isaac Haas and was subsequently pulled for Ricky Doyle.
On Purdue's ensuing possession, Haas bullied Doyle down low and drew another shooting foul. Any lessons Beilein gave out this afternoon came far too late to salvage Michigan's chances of reaching the Big Ten final and locking up an at-large bid.
Instead, it'll be a stressful Selection Sunday after the Boilermakers dominated the Wolverines in the paint. Michigan played all four of their centers; none provided resistance to the fearsome duo of Haas and AJ Hammons. Hammons finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks; Haas added 11 points in only nine minutes. Michigan's big men combined for ten points—seven by Mark Donnal, who played only 15 minutes due to foul trouble—and four boards.
Purdue opened each half with a big run—8-0 to start the game, 9-0 to open the second half—and whenever Michigan threatened to close the gap, the Boilermakers beat them back with dominant post play; Purdue scored 44 points in the paint to Michigan's 28. Despite being overwhelmed on the interior, the Wolverines frustratingly declined to double-team Purdue's big men until less than four minutes remained; when they finally did so on Hammons, the double was weak, and a few quick passes around the perimeter resulted in a Rapheal Davis layup.
Derrick Walton (14 points, 5 assists, 4 steals) and Muhammad-Ali Adbur-Rahkman (15 points, 7/11 FG) did their best to overcome Purdue's considerable advantage inside. They got little help. Zak Irvin and Duncan Robinson shot 2/12 combined from three-point range; the Wolverines were 6/25 as a team. The Boilermakers made two fewer three-pointers—on 13 fewer attempts.
Now Michigan, which entered today as the last at-large in the field on the Bracket Matrix, will nervously await their postseason fate.
If you're looking for Ace's Purdue preview, it's right here.
On Thursday morning, a few friends and I woke up early and made the blurry-eyed drive down south to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament. Things looked very bleak for Michigan at the time: Kenpom’s log5 projection gave the Wolverines a 14% chance of reaching the semifinals – and a 14% chance of keeping their dwindling NCAA Tournament hopes alive for Selection Sunday. After Michigan squandered an opportunity to grab a much-needed quality win at home against an Iowa team entering its March meltdown phase, those odds felt even lower.
The Big Ten is still one of the rare college basketball conferences that seems to value its regular season championship more than the conference tournament title – it was one of the last leagues to even adopt the late-season competition. It’s a deeply weird atmosphere: the home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers is a good venue, but seeing so many fans of different programs pack into the arena – seas of Indiana crimson streaked with Illinois orange, flashes of maize in sections of blue, supporters of almost all fourteen programs (no Rutgers, believe it or not) clad in team apparel milling around the concourse – is very disorienting. There are a lot of old people – and many more families with younger kids than college students in attendance. Every team has its band, which fill the stadium with chants, cheers, and energy far better than piped-in music ever could. A lot of Indiana fans show up to Indiana games in Indianapolis, vast hordes of middle-aged men in candy-striped pants.
In the two full days we’ve been here in Indy, we’ve seen six basketball games in person: three blowouts (Michigan State destroyed Ohio State in a classic root-for-the-meteor game in which you’re secretly glad that there probably won’t be a meteor, and two games – Purdue over Illinois and Maryland over Nebraska – pitted weak underdogs that had played 3 games in 3 days run out of gas against fresh teams with much more talent), Illinois’s upset over Iowa, which was somehow extremely baffling and completely predictable at the same time, and, most importantly, two critical Michigan victories. So far, our Big Ten Tournament experience has been a good one. I’m glad we went.
[After the JUMP, thoughts on UM’s Thursday and Friday in Naptown]