fair point that
A sign of things to come?
In Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, and Jon Horford, Michigan had the good fortune of rolling with a deep and productive group of big men for a couple years. Last year's trio of Ricky Doyle, Mark Donnal, and Max Bielfeldt lacked the experience, skill, and physicality of that group, and there was a noticeable effect on Michigan's performance at both ends of the court.
While Bielfeldt was allowed to move on to a big-desperate Indiana squad for his graduate year, Doyle and Donnal should be better players as sophomores, and DJ Wilson provides hope that Michigan will get more from its bench up front this season. If there's a hole in this lineup, it's at center, but Doyle displayed enough potential last year that this position can quickly turn into a strength if a viable backup emerges.
Measurables: 6'9", 250
Base Stats: 18.2 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 61/0/59 2P/3P/FT%, 3.2 RPG, 12 blocks
Key Advanced Metrics: 17.9% usage, 117.4 ORating, 10.4 OReb%, 11.9 DReb%, 55.5 FT Rate, 2.6 block %
If you listened to the season preview podcast or the recent hoops-centric MGoRadio, you know the writers of this blog are very excited about Doyle. A series of unforeseen events—Mitch McGary's suspension and subsequent departure, Jon Horford's transfer, Mark Donnal looking overwhelmed—caused him to go from unheralded recruit to starting center for a Big Ten title hopeful, and while Michigan's season didn't go as planned, Doyle rose to the challenge better than anyone could've expected.
[Hit THE JUMP.]
Assorted thoughts about the demise of the best thing. This was going to be a UV and then it got out of control.
The bad thing was handled well
Before we talk about Grantland at its best, let's talk about it at its worst. In January of 2014, Grantland published a story about a transgender golf-club purveyor. The story made a convincing case that this person was a fabulist and crackpot, and then at the end threw in an "oh by the way" that this person had killed themselves. It was clear the reason was at least indirectly this very article that you are reading right now. It was breathtakingly tasteless.
The internet noticed, eventually. The backlash to this story was proof that a lot of people will share a longread™ without actually reading it, so twitter was filled with a series of people saying "what a great story" while their mentions filled up with "did you actually READ this?!?!" over the course of the next few days.
Grantland—and by "Grantland" we are talking about Bill Simmons and whatever inner circle told Bill Simmons to hire all the people he hired—took stock. A few days later they responded in two parts. One was an essay by Christinia Kahrl, a transgender baseball writer for Regular ESPN, that detailed the various ways in which everyone had fucked up. The second was an essay from Simmons himself that detailed exactly what happened and how they had fucked up. While Simmons put his name on it because that was what the situation demanded, it's better—more accurate—to read the thing as a collective document from the inner circle that brought Grantland to life. To my eyes it is appropriately contrite, honest, and forthcoming about things.
There are a ton of media companies that will ignore criticism of their work no matter how clearly shoddy it is in retrospect. Not to invoke the dread specter of politics, but a recent three-part NYT series on immigrant-owned nail salons turns out to be about 110% bullshit; the Times issued some blather about how they stand by the story and moved on. Grantland seemed to take their problems seriously:
Caleb’s biggest mistake? Outing Dr. V to one of her investors while she was still alive. I don’t think he understood the moral consequences of that decision, and frankly, neither did anyone working for Grantland. That misstep never occurred to me until I discussed it with Christina Kahrl yesterday. But that speaks to our collective ignorance about the issues facing the transgender community in general, as well as our biggest mistake: not educating ourselves on that front before seriously considering whether to run the piece.
When confronted with a major issue the impulse at Grantland was to tell everybody exactly what happened and adapt so it doesn't happen again, something that is a distinct late-Gen-X shift in approaches to these things. That'll be the standard way to handle these events in 30 years. Not so much now.
My wife literally wailed about where Brian Phillips was going to go when I told her that the jig was up, and I still think that Grantland at its worst was kind of Grantland at its best.
[After THE JUMP: hiring strikes, it's not about the money, snobbery, and a third way]
Let’s go through the last two plays. I know that’s probably what you’ve been doing [He just finished a lengthy phone interview –A.], but what I really want to talk about isn’t the last play but the second to last. When they motioned what were you thinking, and did you expect that to happen?
“I mean, you can kind of tell by an offensive lineman’s demeanor what kind of play to expect, and they were all in loaded stances the whole game when they were coming off a run and they were sitting back. I was kind of confused at first when they were in their tight bunch set and everyone’s like really close splits but didn’t look like they were ready to fire out.
“So the center I was going against was a pretty big guy so I could barely see the quarterback. So I hear him say something and he moves back and I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ so I’m trying to peek around and see what set he’s in. Was he in empty? I believe he was in- was he in an empty set?”
“Yeah, yeah. Eventually, yeah.”
He starts with a back in the backfield and then motions him out.
“So then we’re like- my thought process was this is either going to be a QB power, a QB draw, or a QB run of some sort or it’s going to be a pass because I know they like to sprint out. I decided to come off the ball as hard as I could when I saw the ball snapped and Mo Hurst, being as quick as he is, shot right in the backfield on their sprint-out play, and Willie [Henry] discarded his guy pretty quick, too, and he decided it wasn’t a good idea to hold onto the ball much longer.”
“James [Ross] was glued to his guy, the guy he was trying to throw back to, the tight end, which we had prepared for that all week. So yeah, Mo basically made that play and Willie and James, and I was really confused on the empty spread thing. I could barely see where the quarterback was so yeah, that’s about the second to last play.”
[After THE JUMP: Breaking down the goal-line stand]
What this is: A best of the Big Ten rundown with a draft gimmick that some people like and some people hate and which happens anyway because the internet cannot win.
Everyone drafts a team of 8 Big Ten basketball players. Standard serpentine draft. As determined by RANDOM.org the order is:
1. Ace, 2. Alex, 3. Brian, 4. Seth
|Now sans Dekker/Kaminsky [M.P. King/Madison State Journal]|
ACE: Round 1, Pick 1: Nigel Hayes, F, Wisconsin
I really didn't want the first pick, but since I have it, I'll go with the NBA prospect who'll step up to lead Wisconsin this season. I nearly chose a point guard but the league is so deep at that spot that I couldn't pass up Hayes, who's a matchup nightmare at the four. At 6'8", 235 lbs., he's got great size at the college level, and he's impressively athletic—he can hold up in the post or on the perimeter on defense. He continues to add to his skill level on offense; he averaged over a point per possession on post-ups last year and shot 40% from three after not attempting a single three-pointer as a freshman.
While there are several point guards who could play at an all-conference level this year, Hayes is a potential All-American, and the drop-off between him and the next comparable player—Maryland stretch four Jake Layman—is sizable. Hayes is a plus in just about every aspect: shooting, rebounding, passing, defending, and drawing fouls. It won't be hard to build a team around him.
[After the JUMP we take bench players in the 2nd round. Seriously!]
1 hour 57 minutes
A big thanks to our sponsors. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's and frankly would not be happening without them; Rishi and company have been on board here from almost the beginning. Shopping with them helps us and supports good dudes. Check out 100years.moe for the rich history of Michigan's oldest apparel store.
Our other sponsors are also key in the expanding empire: thanks to Homesure Lending, Ann Arbor Elder Law, Liz Crowe, Tailgaterconcierge.com, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, and Draft Kings.
Don't do that.
Also: defensive holes poked but also just fluky flukes. Rudock status, Speight chatter, Drake Johnson for feature back. Peppers for all the things.
Gimmicky Top Five: Most Improbable Things
Good or bad, and about evenly split between the two. Extensive Mike Hart discussion. Ace accuses me of recency bias, which I strenuously dispute.
Steve Lorenz of 247
Michigan's battles with Texas and Georgia discussed: some of Isaac Nauta, Mecole Hardman, Jean Delance, Jordan Elliott, and Dontavious Jackson could come Michigan's way as those two programs get a little wobbly. Donnie Corley spitballin'; David Reese possibly departing.
Ace's Hockey Podcast
My opinion is exactly the same after a wobbly weekend against Robert Morris.
Catch us Mondays 5-7 on 1050 WTKA.
THE USUAL LINKS
Ryan Glasgow and James Ross
James, coach Harbaugh mentioned the second to last play when they shifted and you had to stick with the tight end. What were you looking at on that play and take us through that.
“There’s a lot of plays Minnesota did with the tight end whether he’s releasing late or things like that and I just wanted to keep my eyes on him, and it just so happened that he did try to release late.”
James, when did you start taking practice reps at the BUCK linebacker position and can you just talk about that transition this week?
“I started transitioning to BUCK as soon as Mario [Ojemudia] went down, that week after. Just consistently getting reps and trying to find ways to get on the field.”
This is the first time that you’ve played it in a game, right?
“No, I actually played it last week versus State- or the week prior to this week. But yeah, against State.”
Ryan, talk about the job you guys all did getting underneath the blockers on that last play. You seemed to get off the ball pretty well.
“Yeah. I mean, Willie [Henry] and Mo [Hurst] did a great job on that play, and the linebackers got a great push. We’ve never really practiced that live; it’s all stepping through. You don’t want to hurt anyone in practice, but I thought we did a good job executing on the field. That was probably our first live rep of that type of sneak play this season and I thought we did a good job of executing it.”
Did you know he was short?
“Uh, I had a feeling he was short. I mean, I was on the ground, not really looking at it, but I knew the guys around me were pushing back.”
[After THE JUMP: Erik Magnuson, Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt, and animal analogies for the offensive and defensive line]