In a universe where Bill Murray actually gets the gopher (source).
1. R. Pitino def. R. Pitino
The best game of college basketball’s opening weekend – one of those now-customary military appreciation contests in a weird venue (a hangar in Puerto Rico this time) – featured Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals and his son, Richard’s Minnesota Golden Gophers. It was a predictably sloppy game, partially because of the heat that required several stoppages in play to wipe perspiration off of the court, partially because it was the season-opener for both teams.
In any case, it was an ugly game. There were a combined 60 fouls in the game, the two teams combined for more made free throws (49) than made field goals (45), and half-court offense for both teams looked like far more difficult than it should have. All of these early-season gimmick locales effectively dilute the quality of play because of the unusual environments and this game fell victim to that also. It wasn’t competitive either: Minnesota held an early 14-10 lead, but Louisville ripped off a 19-2 run. The Gophers didn’t get the deficit to two possessions for the rest of the game.
In the end, Louisville won because Rick was playing with a stacked deck: future lottery pick Montrezl Harrell was outstanding – efficient, with 30 points on 17 shot equivalents – and showcased not only his aggressive and physical interior play, but a good-looking jump shot as well. Minnesota’s backcourt of Deandre Mathieu and Andre Hollins is great in its own right, but they were simply outclassed by Chris Jones and Terry Rozier. Few teams have a guard tandem that can defend like those two and even fewer have a big man who’s comparable to Montrezl Harrell.
2. #lukewarm #gopher #takes
Not a whole lot can be drawn from a game like this – Louisville might be the best team Minnesota faces all year and the game was in a structure built to store helicopters in the Caribbean.
Still, a few observations:
- Mo Walker > Elliott Eliason. Minnesota’s senior center tandem split the minutes evenly, but Walker got the start and outplayed Eliason against the Cardinals. Louisville didn’t bother to double Walker on post-ups, and he took advantage – he also ran the floor well in transition and had a nice drive-and-dish from the perimeter.
- The four spot was a disaster. Understandable, when guarding Harrell, but the Gopher four men struggled on offense (against a zone) as well. Joey King should hold down the position but he didn’t play well and Bakary Konate, Charles Buggs, and Josh Martin didn’t impress in relief.
- Nate Mason should contribute this year. Minnesota’s freshman guard had an unenviable opponent in his first college game, but he held up decently well: 10 points (but four missed free throws), 5 rebounds, 2 assists (and 2 turnovers). Pitino should just rotate Mathieu, Hollins, and Mason at the two guard spots.
- Auto-benching Mathieu was stupid. When Deandre Mathieu picked up his second foul at 9:21 remaining in the first half, Louisville led by just three points – when he got back after halftime, the lead was thirteen. Mathieu didn’t play particularly well but he had just 3 fouls per 40 minutes last season and didn’t foul out anyways. Don’t automatically bench guys.
- Other than that: Andre Hollins looked good and Carlos Morris didn’t; The hyper-aggressive Louisville trapping zones and half-court 2-3 zone gave Minnesota a ton of problems (and it’s easy to foresee the younger Pitino molding the Gophers into a defense like that in time); Minnesota’s jerseys were awful.
[After THE JUMP: In the Navy, where something something weird guys.]
11/15/2014 – Michigan 92, Hillsdale 68, 1-0
AHHHHHHHHHHHH basketball exists [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]
No drama just bullets:
Big three. Big three. Big three. Chances a basketball podcast uses "The Big Three Killed My Baby"—the White Stripes' screechy intro to the world off their self-titled debut—are 99.9%. Outside of the uber-recruit laden one-and-done factories There are few in the country who can match Michigan 1 to 3. The backcourt troika all went over 20 points efficiently, and there is more where that came from.
Yes, just a D-II team, but even so Walton/Irvin/LeVert all cracked 20 points on 13-ish shot equivalents. None of these guys got their points via volume. As a result, they picked up where they left off last year at 1.33 points per possession. Single-game ORTGs for the big three: 170, 166, and 144. That's nuts.
Usage was also in the same range it was last year: the six guys who cracked ten minutes all had their usage fall between 16 (Chatman) and 25 (Albrecht!) percent. Last year's Michigan team was efficient in part because no individual player had a particularly heavy load. Even without Stauskas they look ready to repeat that feat.
- LeVert looks ready to take over the late-shot-clock mantle capably handled by Burke and Stauskas the last couple years. He's a long 6'7" with an excellent ability to get to his spot and get off a clean jumper, and that's a fine option when you have to get a shot off, any shot. Also he had nine assists. And eight rebounds.
- Walton, meanwhile, is also verging on being able to get what he wants when he wants it. He got the the line ten times, had four assist and just one TO. I don't want to talk about a Trey leap yet… but hey man Beilein point guards have gotten really really good in year two. Hell, you could even throw Stauskas in there if you want.
- Irvin didn't fill up the box score like he did against Wayne State; he did show off a couple of drives off of closeouts that were absent from his game last year. He was actually 5/6 from inside the line… which is about a month's worth of games from last year.
In re: Irvin twos: About half of those were THJ-style pull-up jumpers just inside the line. You know me and my hatred of long twos, but even I have to admit those looked like they might go down often enough to be a decent option.
[After THE JUMP: the five spot, defensive issues, calmer than you are.]
Following the release of very disturbing details of Frank Clark's arrest on charges of domestic violence early Sunday morning, Michigan announced today that Clark is no longer a part of the football program. The full statement from Brady Hoke:
“Frank Clark has been dismissed for violating team rules from the Michigan football program. This is a tragic situation. Our student-athletes will be held accountable when their actions fail to meet the standard we have at Michigan. There is a legal process that will occur and we respect that process.”
This was the only acceptable course of action given the situation. Thoughts go out to the alleged victim and her family.
No details yet as this apparently just happened but the Erie County jail's website has a log of all arrests and Frank Clark is on there:
If you are for some reason dubious that this guy who looks just like Frank Clark is Frank Clark, his DOB matches that on Frank Clark's MGoBlue bio.
When it rains it pours.
They stuck to the script.
Michigan raises banners on opening day now. They did so again today, hoisting the 2014 Big Ten title banner to the rafters and handing out rings in a pregame ceremony. Continuing tradition, the biggest names from that championship squad weren't able to attend due to professional obligations; Glenn Robinson III was absent, and the parents of Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas, and Jordan Morgan stood in for their sons who've taken the next step.
After all the hubbub before tipoff, a familiar scene for the returners but not for the squad's six freshmen, the Wolverines came out flat, allowing Hillsdale to ride hot outside shooting to a 15-6 lead. Then Michigan roared back by doing what they do best: shooting the rock. Three consecutive triples tied the score before M took the lead for good with a Kameron Chatman basket with 8:59 to go in the half.
Michigan leaned heavily on their veterans for production, and they came through in a big way. Caris LeVert flirted with a triple-double, posting a 20-8-9 line while hitting 4/6 three-point attempts. Derrick Walton may have been even better, leading the team with 22 points (5/8 FG, 9/10 FT), dishing out four assists, and masterfully running the Michigan fast break. Zak Irvin diversified his shooting a bit, adding several midrange buckets and even a few strong drives to the hoop on his way to 21 points on 8/12 field goals. The three stars lived up to the billing.
The rest, as expected, is a work-in-progress. Hillsdale knocked down 10/23 three-pointers in large part because the new faces in the lineup struggled on defense, especially working through the myriad off-ball screens set by the Chargers.
The freshmen showed their talent and their youth. Mark Donnal earned the start at center, had a couple nifty layups, worked hard on the offensive glass, hit a nice-looking mid-range jumper in the second half, and defended quite well for the most part, but also allowed a couple of easy buckets. Kam Chatman went 1/7 for 4 points in 30 minutes and allowed too many open shots; he also passed the ball well and had a stellar crossover in transition that led to an and-one opportunity.
Aubrey Dawkins sunk a three and seemingly reached into the upper bowl to rip down an offensive board in his limited time on the court. Ricky Doyle scored seven points in eight minutes but didn't look as quick to rotate on defense as Donnal. DJ Wilson played the entirety of his nine minutes at the five and pulled down four boards but didn't make a major impact otherwise. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman missed his pair of shots in four minutes of play, though he did display the ability to blow by defenders.
While the victory was hardly in doubt for most of the game, Michigan wasn't able to truly put it away until around nine minutes remained, and the Wolverines extended a 12-point lead all the way out to 30 over the course of the next several minutes.
In the end, it felt like an early-season cupcake game should for such a young team. The team won comfortably while getting enough of a test to have several areas of improvement to emphasize before Monday night's game against Bucknell, this squad's first against D-I competition. In the meantime, Michigan fans can rest comfortably knowing that this team can still shoot (11/19 from three) and the stars look ready to shine.
1. The Four Factors
|Expected Pts||Conversion Rate||Bonus Yds/Play||Red Zone|
*TD’s are treated as 7 points regardless of PAT outcome
So Michigan had the field position for 35 points…and scored 10. Only 11 times this season has an offense left more than 25 points on the table in a game. With over 6 touchdowns worth of points left on the field, #M00N was the third worst game of the year in terms of points scored versus field position. Clemson-Louisville was slightly ahead and Saturday’s lead-in game of Penn State versus Indiana was the worst of the year at 43.5 points below expected.
|Expected Pts||Conversion Rate||Bonus Yds/Play||Red Zone|
|Offense||26.0 (78/11)||59% (108/12)||2.0 (121/13)||4.7 (91/10)|
|Defense||26.2 (45/5)||63% (18/6)||1.7 (13/3)||4.2 (10/1)|
(National Rank/B1G Rank)
Saturday’s game pushed Michigan to roughly neutral on field position for the year. The 2010 vs 2014 season mirror image continues in earnest. The offense can’t convert 60% of it’s first downs, is bottom ten in explosive plays is an absolutely anemic unit. The defense has struggled against the better teams, but is still top 20 in conversion rate and has done very well in limiting big plays and red zone scoring.
If you are wondering how Michigan isn’t last in Bonus Yards in the Big Ten, despite being in the bottom 8, we have our opponents from Saturday to thank. Northwestern is second worst nationally, behind only Wake Forest which is threatening to set records for their lack of explosiveness.
2. Individual Performances
Devin Gardner: –9.8, –26% on 28 plays
Drake Johnson: –0.8, –2% on 10 plays
De’Veon Smith: +1.2, +13% on 18 plays
Devin Funchess: –3.3, –7% on 7 plays
The –9.8 for Gardner is before the opponent adjustment pushes it down another point. Gardner’s 3 lowest rated games of his career are Northwestern, Utah and Michigan State from this season. It’s like he was on a Saw movie and said if you don’t want to be killed by your offensive line, you have to fight to survive by starting over in a new system in which you will fail miserably. I am thankful Devin has fought to survive, but I can’t believe what he’s become.
In terms of the running backs, I don’t know what to say at this point. The statement from Hoke saying he is going with a hot hand is just silly. Hot hand is a pretty controversial concept to prove over large stretches, to think that one RB is performing better than another based on a handful of carries that are largely dependent on the guys in front is just silliness. This football season, man.
3. Game Chart
6. +12.7% Michigan stuffs Northwestern on second and goal (late Q4)
5. +13.1% Northwestern’s 4th down pass falls incomplete (mid Q3)
4. +14.9% Jehu Chesson recovers the muffed punt (mid Q3)
3. –20.5% Raymon Taylor’s pass interference gives Northwestern a 1st and Goal (late Q4)
2. –21.0% Devin Gardner is intercepted (-5.2%) and returned 79 yards (-15.8%) (late Q3)
1. +40.8% Frank Clark Shuts down the two point conversion (late Q4)
Michigan’s best play on offense was the 16 yard completion to Jake Butt on the final field goal drive, worth about 5.5%. No rush or pass play made the top 6 for anything good that happened to either offense. Raymon Taylor PI was the closest thing.
4. Dumb Punt of the Week
Since I have been slacking the last few weeks we’re going to go back a bit to pick what may be the dumbest punt of all time, at least in the first quarter.
Arkansas has a hard luck season, they are in the loaded SEC West and haven’t won an SEC game in over two years. So far this season they lost then #6 Texas A&M in overtime and then #7 Alabama by 1 after a blocked PAT. So with a shot at the #1 team in the country in Mississippi State, they would pull out all the stops to get the win, right? It was early and Arkansas had a 3-0 lead and was driving. After getting the ball down to the MSU 32 yardline, the Razorbacks faced a 4th and 1. Obviously since this is DPotW, you know what happens next.
Arkansas would go on to lose 17-10; I’m sure they would love to have another possession with less than 40 yards to go to have a shot at OT, but that went out the door with the punt team. Since 2003, the only case I can find of a more egregious punt was in 2009 UConn punted on 4th and 1 from the Ohio 31.
Submissions are no closed, Dumb Punt of the Year voting is now closed.
As you may have heard, Michigan may be looking for a new head coach and there is message board rumblings that it could be Jim Harbaugh. Not that he needs much introduction but I did want to put together a couple of quick graphics on how his Stanford teams performed.
Team Performance: Stanford vs Michigan
Harbaugh years in yellow, y-axis is opponent adjusted points versus average.
You can’t get a much more dramatic change than Stanford experienced in the four years under Harbaugh. They went from the bottom of the Power 5 and nearly 9 points below average prior to him joining to over 15 points above average in his final season, with improvement demonstrated in each and every season. He even left the program in strong hands with Offensive Coordinator David Shaw taking the reigns and keeping results at a still high level. From an on-field perspective, it doesn’t get any better than this. Took a program not doing well, consistently improved them, built up a strong staff that could continue at a high level after he left, but still demonstrating that he added some value while on the sideline.
On a side note, that blue line should silence any remaining voices about the viability of Hoke’s retention, independent of season outcome. That is four consecutive years of production decline, going to take some pretty amazing performances for 2014 to even end close to 2013, which obviously wasn’t great.
Recruiting Performance: Stanford versus Michigan
Stanford is a tough place to recruit at a high level and Michigan has traditionally operated at a different tier than Stanford. Harbaugh wasn’t able to turn around recruiting momentum immediately the way a James Franklin type would, but you can see by the 2009-2010 results that once the wins started coming, Harbaugh was able to raise the Cardinal recruiting profile, which has remained high in his absence. Based on this limited evidence, it would appear that Harbaugh is likely not an elite recruiter, but one more than capable of recruiting at a high level.
Basketball season will be more fun than football!