Game ... blouses
Derrick Walton capped the victory in appropriate fashion, drilling a long three as the shot clock expired on Michigan's final possession.
After a poor shooting night nearly cost the Wolverines what should've been an easy win over Minnesota, a 10/21 performance from beyond the arc keyed a hard-fought road triumph over a hot Nebraska squad. In a game of runs, Michigan's significant advantage in outside shooting—especially to open each half—ultimately made the difference, even when they tried to hand that edge right back with ill-advised turnovers.
Walton had arguably his best game of the season running the offense with Caris LeVert still sidelined, posting a 19-12-6 line and making 4/6 three-pointers. His ability to dart into the lane and work off the high screen opened up opportunities for Michigan's two other leading scorers on the day; Mark Donnal (14 points, 4/8 FG) benefited when Walton looked to the paint, while Duncan Robinson (21, 6/12) found more room than usual on the perimeter, especially in transition.
Walton had a hand in eight of Michigan's first 12 points as they ran out to an early eight-point lead, then the Huskers clawed their way back, taking advantage of a defensive lapse by Walton to cut the halftime lead to three with a buzzer-beating triple by Glynn Watson. The second half played out in much the same fashion; M quickly pushed the lead up to 18 points, but turnovers and shoddy zone defense allowed Nebraska to get as close as two points with 3:11 left.
This time, however, Michigan closed the half strong. Walton knocked down a pair of free throws, then Muhammad-Ali Adbur-Rahkman found Robinson on a backcut with a beautiful no-look pass for an authoritative finish to get the lead back to six. Shavon Shields, who was hounded into a 4/11 shooting night by Zak Irvin, responded with a layup, but Michigan made a comeback impossible by subsequently knocking down eight straight free throws.
It certainly wasn't a pretty win. Michigan coughed up the rock 14 times, including several skip passes that didn't have a prayer of reaching their intended target; on the other end, the non-Irvin defenders had trouble keeping Nebraska's drivers in front of them, even while mostly playing zone. Road wins should never be discounted, however, and by the power of the three, Michigan emerged victorious in a difficult place to play.
Sorry this is late. I've been really busy. Actually no I've been kind of busy and wasting time following recruiting and watching the Citrus Bowl again and again.
/watches Citrus Bowl again.
Ahhhh. Man having that game recorded is like when my family got a VCR and they put the whole original Star Wars trilogy on TV like right after. That was followed by weeks of the most beautiful weather in Michigan history that I didn't go outside for, by the end of which I could pull everything about Star Wars from memory for the rest of my life, and I STILL wasn't sick of it.
Bronx made the obvious analogy:
To say Dave Brandon is reminiscent of George Lucas is not fair to either man, but the worst characteristics of both mirror each other quite well; both Lucas and Brandon truly loved the worlds they held dominion over, but were so tone-deaf, so blind to the realities of how those worlds were perceived under their stewardships that they threatened to irreparably sully their images.
I'd extend the analogy to say Hackett was the J.J. Abrams we brought in to rescue the franchise, and 2015 was his Force Awakens. IE a lot of it was simply a renunciation of the crap that immediately preceded it, and banging the audience over the head with the things we loved about the originals.
But in light of where we were, that was refreshing. Yes I did see (SPOILER) Jim Harbaugh pilot an X-wing down a trench to destroy a planet-sized world-destroying base of faceless bad guys again. The thing is that hasn't gotten old. We needed a reset, and got one, and should be totally satisfied. As for whoever follows JJ and JH, yeah man, take it in your own direction.
The next movie has a lot to live up to. Expectations are high, but so is that schedule. Alum96 went through the thing and decided that Michigan doesn't have a Big Two-Little Eight schedule anymore, but it's a standard Power 5 trip. How MSU and OSU rebuild will matter much.
Crutin needs updating. Incredibly useful Alum96 also is due for another 2016 class projection since this series has been fairly accurate at predicting things so far. He got Terrance Davis wrong, but had Dylan Crawford and David Long in the highest category of guys who as of last December seemed to favor someone else.
Squinting at his info and that provided by the board in the weeks hence you can kind of piece together a class that would take Gary, LaVert, Raulerson, Hudson and Nordin as long as they are amenable, plus a tight end (Allen or Asiasi), one or two DTs (Elliott, Tagaloa, Dwumfour, …?), another LB (Mbem-Bosse?) and 2-3 WRs (McDoom/N. Johnson/Donald Stewart/Pie). Call a guy not taking officials and a guy who is taking officials to Temple gone and Metellus a Jeremy Clark* grayshirt and that's what: 28? WRITE ANOTHER ONE ALUM WE HAVE TO KNOW!
Did you miss these gifs? Red_Lee is Michiganfreek. IE he makes awesome gifs like LSUfreek does for college football in general. For example:
Opponents Watch needs updating. Now more than a week old, Hail_Yes wrote about the teams M basketball has played, and what they've been up to this year since we formed opinions on them on the court. I'd like to see objects in the future, e.g. Michigan State. What's been going on with MSU hoops lately? They're just pounding everybody because Valentine's back now right? I haven't looked.
Etc. This is OT but it's a wonderful story about MLK visiting Grosse Pointe in 1968. The Maizer followed up on my bowl eligibility proposal with his own, which is a ranking system. M baseball preview. No, Dakich=/=Spike, they're not even like-sized. This month in MGoBlog 10 years ago history was all about Lloyd shuffling coordinators to set up his retirement.
Best of the Board
OMIGOD NCAA FOOTBALL 2025 for the 2017 season with 2013 rosters?
The night of the Nat Championship EA put an EKG on NCAA2014's Facebook page. The world took this to mean that we might…just might finally go back to having new covers every year for the NCAA game. I guess it would mean a playoff is finally possible. I also probably shouldn't rip on them since I'm on year 2041 of a four-player dynasty* I have thoroughly enjoyed. Please leave Denard on the cover and tweak the game.
*We all got to pick each others' starting teams and one guy turned UMass into a national power that's still ripping off our recruits.
PRESENTING: THE IRON D
Ladies and gentlemen, the trophy you've all been waiting for, the Michigan vs Michigan State in Joe Louis Arena game that used to replace the best home game of your ticket package and now does that and isn't much of a rivalry anymore to be honest, the one, the only, here it is…
It is an iron d.
WHO SAID THIS IN THE MOVIES YOU ARE EMBARRSSED TO ADMIT YOU LOVE THREAD?
People listed some classic films—Wet Hot and A League of Their Own are consensus good—but this one…oh man this one:
It wasn't hated Sockface. While it was indeed "ambitious" (read: up its own ass) it also gave off a very George Lucas "I don't have to listen to anyone anymore because I made the Dark Knight" vibe. Not a bad movie, and at times it was stunning, but if it's the start of a Nolan trajectory into Jar Jar, well, this is our concern man.
Also put me among the Titanic crowd; the ship looks great.
ETC. Guy on board taking photoshop requests. Someone told me last night that Heiko got one of the top placements in the country for his field and I am zero surprised because that guy is a genius for whom "I got Michigan's cranky offensive coordinator to like me" has already been shoved to a footnote on his resume. Tom Harmon vs. porn? Jim Hackett is awesome.
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN:
Michigan (14-5, 4-2 B1G) at
Nebraska (12-8, 4-3)
Pinnacle Bank Arena
|WHEN||2 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Nebraska -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Dave Lamont
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: The last time these two teams met, Andrew Dakich was all smiles. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
LeVertWatch continues. John Beilein said today that he's "doubtful" for tomorrow's game. While Beilein still won't reveal the specific nature of the injury, he said it wasn't related to the stress fracture that cost LeVert most of 2014-15 (it's "just an injury"), and he still expects him to be back this year. I have no idea how comforting that is supposed to be, but with Rutgers next on the docket, I'd be surprised if we see LeVert on the court for another week at the earliest.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. 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||32||Benny Parker||Sr.||5'9, 175||63||12||No|
|Short, low-usage, decent outside shooter, mediocre assist:turnover ratio.|
|G||5||Glynn Watson Jr.||Fr.||6'0, 160||55||22||Kinda|
|Iffy shooter, team's most efficient distrubutor, top-100 steal rate.|
|F||3||Andrew White III||Jr.||6'7, 216||70||24||No|
|Impressive 61/43/79 shooting splits on high usage. Good def. rebounder.|
|F||31||Shavon Shields||Sr.||6'7, 225||76||28||Kinda|
|Dominates ball, excellent mid-range shooter, decent finisher.|
|F||12||Michael Jacobson||Fr.||6'8, 222||38||15||Very|
|Solid offensive rebounder, decent shot-blocker, finishing needs work.|
|G||0||Tai Webster||Jr.||6'4, 196||66||20||No|
|51/41/77 shooting splits. Turnover-prone but much-improved.|
|F||10||Jack McVeigh||Fr.||6'8, 210||42||17||No|
|Just A Shooter™ type making 35% of his threes.|
|F||30||Ed Morrow||Fr.||6'7, 225||35||16||Very|
|Undersized post shooting 62% but high turnover rate ruining efficiency.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Greenstein could have just gone quiet, or could have recrafted his article as a more general statement on the woes of modern recruiting. But instead, he doubled down.
As you probably know, I am not an insider, and to the extent I have information that is not already in the public domain, I do not plan to share. But in the interest of poking bad writing and logic with a stick, I thought I would share my thoughts on Mr. Greenstein's thoughts.
1. Much of the response was along the lines of: Hey, other coaches also dump verbal commitments. Why single out Harbaugh?
My response to that: I’m among the scores of college football columnists who have ripped SEC coaches for oversigning. What Harbaugh is doing, on this scale, is unprecedented among Big Ten coaches. And I cover the Big Ten.
First of all, what “scale” is this, and exactly what part is unprecedented? I’m guessing Teddy will fill us in on these things soon.*
*SPOILER: he doesn’t.
He began the practice at Stanford, using the shield of academics and the admissions office. Quarterback Kain Colter, who carried a 4.2 grade-point average and later led the fight to unionize college football at Northwestern, was dumped after he injured his throwing shoulder.
Does Greenstein have a problem with a team “dumping” a player for injury reasons? I can’t wait to find out.
Harbaugh is now dropping verbal commits when he thinks he can upgrade to a better player. Or a healthier one.
The circumstances of the departures vary widely, and the latest insisted his scholarship offer had not been pulled. But we’re talking about eight players. Eight. More info here in Mark Snyder’s Detroit Free Press piece.
Got it. So when a recruit (in this case Enis) comes out and explicitly says “my scholarship wasn’t pulled,” and no one contradicts that statement, he still gets the “the kid insists his scholarship wasn’t pulled” treatment, with the implication being “but we should be suspicious and can’t just take him on his word.” But when a kid comes out and says his scholarship WAS pulled suddenly, even when it is contradicted by other sources, we’re required to take it at face value.
Moreover, the suggestion that Michigan has pulled eight scholarships is just weird. He’s lumping the likes of Antwain Richardson (who from all indications the Michigan staff wanted), Vic Viramontes (who Michigan wanted, and who the MGoStaff REALLY wanted), and Matt Falcon (whose knee asploded several times), as well as situations where, to be tactful, qualification was an issue.
In one instance, a player coming off multiple knee injuries was told he could either retain his scholarship as a student or go elsewhere to play football. Some people have a problem with that. I don’t.
But wait, you just lumped him in with the eight. EIGHT, I say. Also, what about Harbaugh casting Kain Colter adrift in a life boat with a tiger because of a bum shoulder?
Harbaugh declined to comment Friday. A university spokesman emailed the Tribune to say "we won't be commenting at this time due to NCAA rules."
Couple of things here. First, this line was not in the original article that ran. It was added to subsequent versions, with no mention of a correction. Second, you'll note this was Friday, while the original article ran Thursday. Did Greenstein even ask for Michigan's side of the original story? There's no mention of it if he did. Also, keep that "NCAA rules" part in mind for later.
2: As I wrote, Harbaugh is taking advantage of a flawed system. For years players have decommited before signing day, “upgrading” and reneging on commitments. If you’re a Michigan fan, you might use that to justify Harbaugh’s methods.
But if Erik Swenson (much more on him below) was your son, would still feel that way?
If I’m Swen Swenson, (a) I have an awesome name, and would monogram everything I own, and (b) I would want my son to have the absolute best in everything. That’s how parenthood works. I’d bet my late father would have wanted me to receive multiple D1 offers. But I was 5’9” coming out of high school, and the world is a tough place.
You can argue about the relative merits of the current recruiting system all you want (and it’s a valid and important conversation), but when you write two articles using the word “Harbaugh” a total of 30 times, make no suggestion of any other coaches doing anything similar, use words like “mockery,” “greedy,” and “Nixonian,” and make a reference to Deflategate (which, still? Really? Do they not teach the Ideal Gas Law at Northwestern?), you have to say something that is specific to Harbaugh.
3: The most honest response to all this came from the Twitter feed @cubbygeorge: “GO BLUE whatever the costs!!!”
This is some next-level ad hominem shit right here. You don’t just attack the person rather than the position, you attack the person defending that person. One random person. With 33 followers. Who voluntarily roots for the Cubs.
4: The most interesting response came from Harbaugh’s Twitter feed, his only tweet since Sunday: “‘They said’ artificial sweeteners were safe, WMDs were in Iraq and Anna Nicole married for love ‘... ‘They said’”
So apparently we should not believe “they” … whoever they is.
That… that’s not even an argument. That’s just the weirdest retweet ever.
5: Let’s review what Swenson, an offensive lineman from the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, told the Tribune’s Bob Narang....”
In the interest of space, I'll just sumarize. You have all heard Swenson’s position; that he had NO indication that anything was amiss until a couple of days before the proverbial hammer dropped. Let’s remember that for a bit.
Also: “I was kind of taken back in the beginning, but that’s how those coaches are. There’s nothing you can change about them. They believe that’s how you should run the university and what’s best for the team. I was taken back. I fully intended to play there. I was nothing but loyal and was committed over two years. I helped them recruit several guys that are still there. I just felt used.”
This is where I am reminded how much this whole thing sucks. It has played out really poorly, and it left a kid who by all accounts LOVED Michigan without the opportunity he dreamed of. I feel bad for Erik Swenson. I just don’t know if he’s doing himself a service here.
6: A story that ran Friday on Michigan’s Rivals.com site, The Wolverine, included this:
"We have also been told by multiple sources (though admittedly one of those sources on the Michigan side) that the Swensons were told back in November that he no longer held a committable offer.
We were also told by a source out of Downers Grove that the Michigan coaches asked Swenson to camp at U-M over the summer so the staff could properly evaluate him (he refused) and we were told that it was understood that Swenson’s senior year would serve as an evaluation period because this coaching staff had never seen him in-person and wanted to know if he was a good fit for the program."
[ED: omitted additional unflattering comments from area coaches, for space and relevance]
So we have unnamed sources bashing Swenson OFF THE RECORD. ("Off the record," by the way, means not to be published. "On background" means you can use the information as long as it’s unattributed.)
This is where Teddy just loses me. There are very specific claims from Rivals, who is unquestionably a legitimate outfit with legitimate sources. Those claims are as follows:
- Swenson was told back in November that he no longer held a committable offer.
- Swenson was asked to camp at Michigan and refused.
- The same Free Press article Greenstein links above contains a quote from Swenson’s OWN COACH who said, “we got some red flags three weeks ago, just comments made from coach encouraging Erik to make all five official visits (to other schools). That was the first indication it wasn’t heading in the direction we thought it was going.”
Greenstein’s entire rebuttal to this argument is that these sources are off the record. Not that they are wrong, or biased, or drunk. He doesn’t seem to recall that, as he mentioned like 500 words ago, Michigan *cannot* comment about him on the record. It’s an NCAA violation. Besides, not everyone is
off the record on background (ed: sorry, I did not go to Medill). Swenson’s own high school coach contradicts his story that Michigan lurched from the shadows like Brutus attacking Julius Caesar and metaphorically stabbed him in the back.
And Greenstein doesn’t want to believe this. Which, okay, I guess. There are two sides, and you can choose to believe whomever you want. But if Rivals’ sources say Michigan told Swenson months ago (and, FWIW, they are NOT the only ones saying so), and it is empirically true that rumors have floated on insider boards for weeks, and Swenson’s coach claims he knew something was up weeks ago, you have to at least TRY to explain why you reject all of that information in favor of the story of the recruiting equivalent of a jilted ex. Everyone knew but him, and none of these other conversations ever happened. His high school coach never mentioned it. None of his classmates or teammates or fellow recruits saw this information and passed it along so Erik could ask Drevno what was up. Occam, noted non-Medill graduate, is confused.
7: What’s interesting about The Wolverine piece is that it ignores stories that ran on its own website. From September to December, it ran two stories on Swenson.
Oct. 16: “Swenson is a Staple” … 743 words without a hint of any negative vibes from the coaching staff...
Nov. 13: “Swenson with the Scoop” … 401 words, again without a hint of any negative vibes from the coaching staff...
Does this sound like a player who was informed by coaches over the summer that his offer was conditional, that he was subject to an “evaluation period?”
Behold, the bait and switch. Rivals didn’t know in mid-November that Swenson’s situation had changed, therefore there was no way Swenson knew it had changed. And if you think about that for more than two seconds, it doesn’t pass the smell test. If you get a questionable performance review at work, that doesn’t get published in the company newsletter. If you’re failing, say, Journalism 100, no one issues a press release. For the kids who Michigan loses because they don’t qualify, Rivals didn’t run weekly updates on their Algebra scores.
The fact that Michigan didn’t bash Swenson publically is both logical and “ethical,” if we want to use that word. Teddy, you asked before how you would feel if you were Swen Swenson, to which I reply (a) monograms, and (b) I’d rather not see a Rivals headline saying “Michigan Questioning Whether Swenson Can Cut It,” both because it would be cruel and because it would taint him for other schools.
8: If Michigan was souring on Swenson in the fall, Harbaugh should have sat him down, looked him in the eye and told him exactly how he felt.
Dear reader, I ask you to go re-read point #6. The same point #6 that Greenstein brushed off, and made NO effort to contradict. According to Spath’s sources, Michigan sat Swenson down in the fall, looked him in the eye, and told him exactly how they felt.
9: I hope Harbaugh remains at Michigan for another 20 years because college football is way more interesting with him around. I also hope he realizes that the way he’s acting is unseemly. A great school deserves better.
One could say the same of a great publication. But sometimes people end up places above the level at which they can reasonably compete.
We can debate the merits of how Jim Harbaugh, or Michigan, or any school handles recruiting. But You have to start with the facts.
Photo via Scout.
Three-star Baltimore (MD) Gilman OT Stephen Spanellis had made a habit of catching people off guard. First, he picked up a Michigan offer, and the news flew so far under the radar that I can't find a story reporting it on any of the four recruiting sites. Then his official visit last weekend went down in similar fashion. Last night, he flipped his commitment from Virginia to Michigan, and as you can tell from the timing of this post, he wasn't expected to announce so soon. For that, we can thank the snowpocalypse:
"I felt like I was leaning towards Michigan," he said. "I was going to take the official visit [to Virginia] this weekend if it wasn't for the snow, but then I felt like I didn't want to wait until next weekend to take the visit because I was ready to be done with the recruiting process. I was sure that Michigan was the place for me.
"It's a great academic school and the tradition there speaks for itself," he added. "[Head] Coach [Jim] Harbaugh I would consider him one of the five best football coaches in the world period. Any time you can be part of something that is excellent, it is something you need to think about doing."
Spanellis is the 22nd commit in the 2016 class and the fourth on the offensive line, joining Ben Bredeson, Michael Onwenu, and Gilman teammate Devery Hamilton.
|3*, #100 OT||3*, #36 OT||3*, 75, #60 OG||
3*, 86, #92 OG,
3*, #61 OG,
The recruiting sites are split on whether Spanellis is a guard or a tackle; all have him as various levels of three-star, with Rivals easily the most bullish—in their position rankings he's ten spots away from four-star status, while he's well off that mark everywhere else.
Spanellis has plenty of size. Scout and Rivals both list him at 6'6", 290 pounds; ESPN at 6'5", 313; and 247 at 6'5", 330. He's got the look of a right tackle or guard, depending on his ability to protect the edge.
[Hit THE JUMP for the informative portion.]
— Allen Gant (@allengant_93) January 22, 2016
Tony Gant’s son is moving on. With all the various configurations of Michigan’s defense requiring a lot of range from safeties, and with Peppers (in their standard 4-2-5) and James Ross (in the rare 4-3) taking nickel and SAM duties, Gant had a tough path to playing time throughout his career. With Ross’s graduation Michigan seemed content to let him try out in spring for a senior Cam Gordon role. But with a degree in hand and plenty of younger competition—including Peppers—ahead of him, it was obvious that Gant’s best chance of seeing the field regularly will be somewhere else. As a grad transfer, he’ll be able to play immediately wherever he lands.
Despite being the last listed “SAM” on the roster, his departure won’t affect Michigan too badly. Michigan now has 22 open spots, and further attrition is still expected to get that to 28-30.