alternate headline: man does job
Another game, another backbreaking loss. (Source)
Your Weekly B1G Hoops Column
Since the B1G typically doesn’t have conference games on Mondays, might as well move this column to Tuesdays for good.
Table of Contents
Week IV Results
Post-Week IV Standings
Team of the Week: Wisconsin
Player of the Week: D’Angelo Russell
Efficiency Scatterplot From Conference Games
Michigan’s Week That Was
Michigan’s Week Ahead
Week V Schedule
1. Week IV Results
Poor Damn Northwestern.
After jumping out to a 21-10 lead at home against Ohio State, they let the Buckeyes take control of the game – Northwestern was able to tie the game with about four minutes left, but D’Angelo Russell was too much to contain and they eventually lost by two. They led for almost the entire contest against Maryland on the road and squandered an 11-point lead with less than four minutes left in the game. This was the final sequence:
The final sequence of Northwestern' s crushing loss at Maryland. https://t.co/8qNDeRSxnO
— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) January 26, 2015
The loss to Ohio State was brutal; the loss to Maryland was absolutely soul-crushing. Northwestern needs an exorcism or something.
Elsewhere – Wisconsin absolutely murdered Iowa, Indiana beat Maryland at home only to turn around and lose to Ohio State on the road; Wisconsin came away with a tough OT win against Michigan; Nebraska held serve at home with two narrow wins over Minnesota and Michigan State.
2. Post-Week IV Standings
Wisconsin’s still the class of the conference (as evidenced by their excellent efficiency margin), but they haven’t managed to distance themselves after four weeks of conference play because of the unfathomable loss to Rutgers.
Maryland and Indiana are the two lurkers – Indiana’s excellent offense is offset by their permissive defense; Maryland is the inverse. Wisconsin only plays each team once: Maryland on the road, Indiana at home. Whether either are legitimate challengers is certainly up for debate (I personally think Wisconsin’s still the overwhelming favorite), but the conference race has been more entertaining than it was supposed to be, at least.
Ohio State and Michigan State have the best efficiency margins behind Wisconsin – and they’re quite a ways behind the Badgers – though both have already gotten three losses in conference play (along with four other teams at either 5-3 or 4-3 overall). With Wisconsin’s likely dominance (they’re projected to get to 15 conference wins by Ken Pomeroy’s algorithm), those two might be out of the race already.
The race for second place should be a dogfight, and there’s little clarity there, as seven teams are within a game and a half of Maryland. All of them – except for Michigan – have an efficiency margin at or above even; none have an efficiency margin better than +0.07.
3. Team of the Week: Wisconsin
This picture is incredible. (Source)
Wisconsin’s offense is nothing short of amazing. Even without senior point guard Traevon Jackson, the Badgers are a ruthless, efficient machine. Bronson Koenig has aptly stepped into the starting role running the show; Frank Kaminsky is perhaps exceeding the lofty expectations that accompanied him into the season; Sam Dekker is showing off his NBA potential (and efficiently, at that); Nigel Hayes, Josh Gasser, and the rest of the Badgers are all playing well.
Here are the most efficient players in the Big Ten during conference play:
Hayes is the most efficient player in the Big Ten with a significant usage – Aaron White, Yogi Ferrell, Rayvonte Rice follow him – and Kaminsky and Dekker are fifth and sixth respectively. Overall, having 5 players in the top 13 is just absurd, and Wisconsin’s methodical offense is as surgical as ever.
Their win over Iowa – a Top 25 contest, nationally televised on ESPN – was a complete ass-whupping; Wisconsin scored an unbelievable 1.52 points per possession, and, if not for their customarily slow pace, it could have been an even worse blowout. It had the fingerprints of classic Wisconsin basketball (turnover avoidance on offense, foul avoidance on defense – which really hurt Iowa), but it’s hard to remember a time that they played a better game than this against fairly quality competition.
The Badgers averted an upset in Ann Arbor – the game was incredibly slow (which benefits the underdog), but after Wisconsin opened up with a quick run to start overtime, Michigan couldn’t claw back again. It was an underwhelming performance against a much lesser opponent, but credit to Wisconsin for holding on in a tough road environment and defeating the reigning conference champions in their only meeting this season.
Previously: Iowa (Week III), Maryland (Week I), Rutgers (Week II)
[Hit the jump for the rest of the article]
Gentry vs Malzone: FIGHT
Quarterback recruiting policies.
I know that Harbaugh has every right to recruit his own personnel, but considering that Malzone is already on campus, did he just get royally screwed? If he never suits up, can he transfer without having to sit out?
The idea that a quarterback would be screwed over by the addition of another guy at his position in the same class is Hoke-era thinking that should be quickly discarded. Wilton Speight doesn't seem to mind:
Boom!! Loading the stable! #goblue
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) January 25, 2015
sent in the immediate aftermath of Gentry's commit
Every other position sees fierce battles; QB should be no different. And even if Malzone is put off by the idea of sharing a spot in the class with Gentry, I think that's more than offset by the idea of getting coached by Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch.
FWIW, Malzone could transfer after his first semester at Michigan. He would have to redshirt and then would be a redshirt freshman wherever he ended up, as Steven Threet was when he fled Paul Johnson's triple option system at Georgia Tech.
The more likely exit scenario for the quarterbacks who find themselves down the depth chart in the midst of cutthroat competition is to get a degree in three years and then transfer with two years to play two. An increasing number of elite QB recruits are throwing themselves in grinders like Michigan's with that idea in their back pocket. If Michigan is going to take two QBs a year that should be part of the pitch: the least you leave here with is a Michigan degree and three years of kickass coaching. Malzone has a head start on that with his early enrollment.
By the way, with reports that elite CA QB KJ Costello is heavily interested in Michigan, this could be the respective first two QB recruiting years of Hoke and Harbaugh:
- Hoke: Russell Bellomy.
- Harbaugh: Malzone, Gentry, DeWeaver, Costello.
That's one three star previously committed to Purdue versus what is probably four four-star recruits. (Hoke did recruit Malzone but Malzone is a block-M true believer who stuck with his plan to enroll early despite Michigan not having a coach at that juncture.) One of the major reasons the Hoke list is so short is that in deference to Shane Morris they didn't take another quarterback in his year… or the year in front of him. That was a disastrous decision. Let's not do that any more.
Harbaugh won't: at Stanford he took an average of two QBs a year.
Two stars bad. More stars good.
@mgoblog with so many high end prospects out there showing interest,why are we pursuing 2 ⭐️players at any position right now?
— Tessmer (@TyTessmer) January 25, 2015
There are only a couple guys on the board who fit that description: recent OH OL commit Nolan Ulizio and as-yet-unoffered FL CB Markel Bush. Everyone else is at least a three star and—unlike many of the transitional Hoke recruits—courted by or committed to high level BCS schools. (Hoke got decommits from Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Minnesota; Harbaugh has flipped guys from Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.) So Harbaugh is already doing well.
As for the two stars, Bush is clearly a backup plan in case they don't get two of the four guys they've offered (Iman Marshall,
Will Lockett, Damon Arnette, and Jarius Adams). Ulizio is an offensive lineman. Offensive linemen are less likely to fulfill recruiting expectations than any other position, and as you say Michigan had opportunities to look at other, more highly-rated guys. They passed. Is that a concern?
…let's cool it on the judgy bits just yet.
[After THE JUMP: Marrow, length of tenure, Dymonte Thomas, sloxen, Gary Danielson email]
Michigan (12-8, 5-3 B1G) vs
Nebraska (12-7, 4-3)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan -3 (KenPom)|
PBP: Mike Tirico
Analyst: Dan Dakich
John Beilein hinted during his Monday presser that we could see a shakeup of the starting lineup:
Playing its second game without LeVert, Michigan used the same starting lineup of Walton, Albrecht, Irvin, Doyle and Aubrey Dawkins that it fielded against Rutgers last week.
That could change against the Huskers. Asked Monday if his shadowy comment about being "pretty banged up right now" could equate to a change in the starting lineup, Beilein responded, "There could be, yes."
Given how little Spike Albrecht played down the stretch against Wisconsin—and how well Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman performed in his stead—it wouldn't be surprising for MAAR to get his second career start.
This is essentially a must-win if Michigan wants to keep their already thin tournament hopes alive. They need to hold serve in their five remaining home games and steal at least one on the road to have a realistic shot of playing their way in during the conference tournament.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||3||Benny Parker||Jr.||5'9, 172||75||10||No|
|Almost nonexistent usage. Solid shooter, knack for getting to line.|
|G||5||Terran Pettaway||Jr.||6'6, 215||87||34||No|
|Extreme high volume shooter, decent passer, makes his share of tough shots.|
|F||31||Shavon Shields||Jr.||6'7, 221||89||29||Yes|
|Also takes a ton of shots. Advanced midrange game, struggling from beyond arc.|
|F||35||Walter Pitchford||Jr.||6'10, 237||68||13||Kinda|
|Stretch four type only shooting 31% from three. Solid defensive rebounder.|
|F||21||Leslee Smith||Sr.||6'8, 255||23||16||Very|
|Working way back from ACL injury. Good rebounder, active defender.|
|G||11||Tarin Smith||Fr.||6'2, 175||47||17||Yes|
|Wing who's much better attacking basket than shooting from outside.|
|G||0||Tai Webster||So.||6'4, 199||25||16||Yes|
|Turnover-prone tall PG. Decent finisher, poor shooter.|
|F||12||Moses Abraham||Sr.||6'9, 252||18||16||Very|
|Good rebounder, decent finisher, quite foul-prone. All-Biblical Name First-Team.|
Nebraksa has a couple quality home wins this year, a double-overtime triumph over #33 Cincinnati and Tuesday's two-point victory over Michigan State—the latter had added difficulty due to Walter Pitchford's early ejection for elbowing Matt Costello in the face. Their only road win on the season, however, came at #134 Florida State; while they took #60 Rhode Island to overtime they were handled easily by Iowa, Wisconsin, and even #155 Hawaii.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Five on five. [Upchurch]
When news broke recently that Jabrill Peppers was moving to safety, Brian threw up a quick explanatory post, Why Peppers Might Be A Safety, talking about how modern spread offenses dictate modern quarters defenses, which in turn dictate that the safety over the slot is the glamour position du jour.
An offensive innovation like the zone read will open up the entire book again as coaches figure out ways of running all the things they already like out of new looks, new play-action, etc. But defensive innovation, with a few notable exceptions, is much more reactive.
Often what we call a "new defense" is just rediscovering an old, unsound thing that takes away the thing offenses are doing these days. The 46 defense was bringing a safety down. The zone blitz was having a defensive end playing coverage. The Tampa 2 had a middle linebacker responsible for deep middle coverage. The 3-4 made three linemen responsible for six gaps. And the hybrid man/zones of today put your deep coverage into the middle of the run-stopping game.
The way a defensive innovation becomes a sustainably great defense is great players. Dantonio's quarters dominated college football with a string of NFL-bound defensive backs. The 3-4's proliferation through the NFL was accompanied by a rush on anything that looked like Vince Wilfork. The Steel Curtain (the first Tampa 2) was built around Jack Lambert. Miami (NFL Miami)'s "No Name" zone blitz defense had a 6'5/248 lb. track star named Bill Stanfill at WDE. And the '80s Bears could pull off this crap:
…because that "46" was the jersey number of one Doug Plank.
You don't need to be a football guru to see what made the 46 defense tough: there are eight dudes in the box, six of whom are just a few steps from the quarterback. Running into a stacked box is futile (DO YOU HEAR ME? DO YOU HEAR ME, AL?!?). You can try to identify who's blitzing and throw to holes in the coverage before they arrive, but you'd better have Dan Marino.
[After the jump: how to 46 a modern offense]
Friday, January 23rd, 2015
UW 1 UM 0 PPG 02:48 LaBate from Dougherty and Schulze
Michigan starts in a box on the penalty kill when Andrew Copp comes up high to attack the puck near the point. Wisconsin passes the puck down the boards and then back up to the blue line, and as Copp turns he runs into what is essentially a pick being set by Grant Besse. When Copp came up high someone else (Tyler Motte) should have moved over to cover the opposite side of the ice. He doesn’t, and Michigan ends up having three of their four defenders smushed together.
The pass gets through because of Motte’s error, but he isn’t the only one who makes a mistake here. Kevin Lohan needs to be lower in order to eliminate the backdoor player and step up and tie up the guy in the center of the crease if need be.
Leave the middle of the ice undefended and it’s not surprising what happens next. Zach Werenski hesitates and it looks like he’s trying to take away both the pass and shot, and the result is that he takes away neither. Dougherty passes to LaBate for an easy tap in.
[After THE JUMP: Michigan scores with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind]
Hatch Gameday. Via MLive:
Positioned on the Crisler court alongside coach John Beilein and ESPN's Rece Davis and Jay Williams, Michigan freshman Austin Hatch looked up at the arena scoreboard as a his tale of loss and triumph played on the video screen.
If, by chance, a pin had hit the hardwood, you'd have heard it.
Beilein brushed a tear from his eye. As images of the 2011 plane crash that claimed Hatch's father and step-mother and left him in an eight-week coma flashed on the screen, Beilein rested his hand on Hatch's leg.
Hatch gave him an "it's OK" glance.
The nonsense of a 14 team conference defined. UNC and Wake are playing nonconference games in 2019 and 2021, because they'd rather do that than wait a zillion years to play each other again. Congratulations, conference commissioners.
This is a bump. Harbaugh was supposedly getting 7-8 million a year; he is not. The gap between his deal and his rumored deal seems to be headed to his assistants:
Michigan's coaching staff will have a fund of $4-5 million for assistant coaches, not including strength staff.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 23, 2015
That bumps at the same rate Harbaugh does. Michigan was at 3.5 last year; the top end of that scale would see them third nationally behind LSU and Alabama, pending everyone else throwing money at their assistants.
Other contract details. Harbaugh's deal is pretty standard. It specifies that he gets a private plane for recruiting, which I think we're all happy with. Saving time as you flit about and not dealing with commercial air travel are things that make sense for the head man. The rest of the terms are as favorable as you think they might be for a guy in that kind of demand: if Michigan fires him they're on the hook for the whole deal anyway; if he leaves his buyout is a pro-rated portion of his two million dollar signing bonus. IE, nothing.
Izzo is really something. Walter Pitchford got tossed three minutes in to the MSU-Nebraska game for throwing an elbow at Matt Costello. Tim Miles:
“I thought Walt deserved to get kicked out, after seeing it,” Miles said. “He made a mistake. I know he’s sorry for that mistake. He’s being held, he looks at the ref, but you don’t do that. That’s uncalled for. That’s not us. Walt will learn from that.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Nebraska indirectly may have benefited from Pitchford’s ejection.
“I thought it energized them,” he said. “Calls went differently after that, like normally they do.”
Izzo could complain about winning the lottery.
Caris evaluated. Draft Express took the opportunity to evaluate Caris LeVert after the information NBA teams will get before next year's draft was abruptly finished by his foot injury. The upshot:
LeVert will need to decide now whether or not to return to Michigan for his senior season. The feedback he gets from NBA teams in the next few months will likely play a large role in that. While this is not considered a weak draft at the moment, it does look fairly shallow at the guard positions, which could help LeVert's stock.
Most places still have him as first round pick, though now he's out of the lottery. As a young junior he still has a lot of upside he could explore in college. Unfortunately, it's often hard for guys to come back when they go into a year expecting it will be their last in college. We saw that with Glenn Robinson III last year. GRIII entered the draft knowing full well he wasn't getting a guaranteed contract because of that momentum.
This is reasonably nasty. Kyle Connor will be a freshman next year.
— USHL (@USHL) January 24, 2015
He's projected as a first round pick.
So this guy exists. Not sure what job this gentleman landed:
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) January 26, 2015
But he landed a job. Hastings played for D-II Washburn University, which I have just learned has one of the best logo/nickname combinations in college sports:
They are the Ichabods.
Anyway, after college Hastings kicked around the 49ers practice squad for a few years, then landed in the Eagles' front office. He's probably getting one of those analyst jobs Michigan was supposed to be adding.
Etc.: ESPN wants to move next year's semifinal playoff games from New Year's Eve because they're afraid of Ryan Seacrest. Seriously. Charles Pierce on deflategate is mandatory. Harbaughtweets power-ranked. Jon Falk on decals.