"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
Swish. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
In the last three games, Michigan earned their status as the team to beat in the Big Ten by sandwiching road wins at Wisconsin and Michigan State around a home victory over Iowa; all three teams ranked in the AP top ten when they played the Wolverines and sit at #6 (Iowa), #8 (MSU), and #14 (Wisconsin) in the latest KenPom rankings. Michigan ranks #7 on KemPom themselves after entering the Kohl Center at #19.
This brilliant three-game stretch also vaulted Nik Stauskas up the NBA Draft boards (from unranked to #14 in Chad Ford's latest rankings[$]), gave him the inside track for Big Ten MVP, and landed him the #8 spot in the KenPom POY standings. Before I get to the video breakdown, here are Stauskas' numbers from the last three games:
- 68 total points (22.7/game) on 10/19 2-pt, 12/24 3-pt, 12/13 FT shooting
- 13 assists to five turnovers, 11 rebounds (one off.), three blocks, three steals
- 28 points generated by assists (includes FTM)
- 96 points generated on 74 possessions used* for a mark of 1.30 points per possession
- Let me state that again: 1.30 POINTS PER POSSESSION
Keep in mind that, while Wisconsin is struggling defensively (#10 in B1G defensive efficiency), Michigan State and Iowa rank first and third in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency. Those numbers are patently ridiculous; just as impressive is the variety of ways Stauskas generated those points. I compiled a video of every point Stauskas produced in the last three games, broken down by how the shot originated. It is highly recommended viewing:
Apologies for the slight audio issues in the Iowa clips.
Stauskas scored in just about every fashion imaginable, regardless of how opponents tried to defend him, and created most of his points himself—only six of his points and two of his assists came off non-transition spot-up opportunities. The "Not Just A Shooter™" meme is a tired one at this point; that doesn't mean it's not fitting.
For further examination of how Stauskas is this outrageously productive, hit the jump.
[JUMP, AS IS TRADITION.]
We've reached a crossroads. Northwestern has had just about their entire football program sign on to an attempt to get themselves recognized as a union by the National Labor Relations Board. This is a crossroads for the NCAA for obvious reasons.
It is also one for this here blog because it is explicitly a no-politics zone. Whenever the word "union" comes up your bitter uncle who watches Sean Hannity on a loop waddles in from email@example.com to talk about how unions are the doom of America and gets in an argument with your aunt with a dozen cats who sounds like that one lady on NPR. This argument is why the hopefully-soon-to-be-fired dude in charge of NCAA PR framed his response like so:
This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education.
The unions! They're destroying education.
I don't care about any of that; I only want to look at an interesting tactic to force schools to bargain with their athletes.
Can this work?
Former UNC center John Henson
The NCAA says student-athletes are not employees, because student-athletes are student-athletes, who are not employees. This came about in the 1950s when the widow of a player who had died tried to get workmen's comp. The Colorado Supreme Court eventually found that Fort Lewis College was "not in the football business," which was probably accurate in that time and place.
More recently, a paralyzed TCU player had a long-running court battle that ended in 2000 with the NCAA winning on what seems like a hell of a technicality:
The appeals court finally rejected Waldrep’s claim in June of 2000, ruling that he was not an employee because he had not paid taxes on financial aid that he could have kept even if he quit football.
Along with a weaving series of decisions by the NLRB that erratically but generally side with universities when students who happen to also be workers ask for bargaining rights, this is what the NCAA will hang its hat on.
On the other side, a 2006 paper by a couple of Michigan State law professors (one of whom is a Michigan law alum) entitled
THE MYTH OF THE STUDENT-ATHLETE: THE COLLEGE ATHLETE AS EMPLOYEE
The article is a lot more fun than it sounds.
Why, a half century after adopting this term, should the NCAA
unceasingly intone to millions of viewers that these young men and
women are “student-athletes”? The NCAA’s purpose in this message is
to shore up a crumbling façade, a myth in America, that these young
athletes in NCAA-member sports programs are properly characterized
only as “student-athletes.” This characterization—that athletes at
NCAA-member schools are student-athletes—is essential to the NCAA
because it obscures the legal reality that some of these athletes, in fact,
are also employees.
About halfway through the authors start using the term "employee-athletes" in a delightful fashion. And I'm pretty sure that this paper is the underpinning of the case Northwestern will take to the board, because it lays out its argument specifically for D-I football and basketball players. The new College Athletics Players Association is currently restricting itself to the same players:
Huma told Farrey that only NCAA Division I FBS football players and men’s basketball players will be eligible to join CAPA — not because non-revenue sports athletes don’t deserve a voice and workplace protections, but because revenue sports athletes are in the best position to make a legal case that they should be treated as employees.
The upshot of their argument is that the most recent edict set down by the NLRB declares that students working in some capacity for the university are not actually employees as long as their work is primarily educational (ie, research assistants getting credit for their work) and if their relationship with the university is "not an economic one."
Scholarship athletes are being compensated for activities that have nothing to do with their academic goals and if they're at a number of D-I basketball and football schools they are raking in millions of dollars for their university. Therefore, they are employees*. It's hard to envision a court claiming with a straight face that Michigan is "not in the football business" these days. That they are using their football business money in bizarre ways is not the NLRB's problem.
The weakest part of the argument here comes from the fact that employee-athletes are all given the same amount of compensation. The decision this paper is basing their argument off cited the uniformity of compensation of GAs at Brown, and the fact that some Brown students got the same compensation without having to do work-like activities. The paper convincingly argues that this fourth test is nonsensical in multiple ways, but that is still a sticking point upon which the whole enterprise might founder.
I'm no law-talking guy, but I'd say there's a decent chance Northwestern gets certified.
*[As long as you accept the premise that athletes submit to a high level of control of their activities in exchange for compensation, which is entirely obvious and will be fought against tooth and nail by the NCAA.]
Well, then Northwestern and Northwestern only would have a player union. They would have the legal right to collectively bargain with Northwestern for impermissible benefits that would give the NCAA cause to annihilate Northwestern.
States across the country with laws on the books that are friendlier to student-employee rights would see local CAPA chapters mushroom. As anyone who's dealt with a GEO strike knows, Michigan is one of these.
At this point, the entire system has to either collapse or be forcibly restructured. What the NCAA looks like in the aftermath is completely unpredictable, at least for schools in major conferences. The one thing that is clear: the firmament will be shaken as employee/student/athletes go from people watching the NCAA to half of the decision-making process.
My fellow Americans, the state of the union is lol. Abroad we have seen the greatest extension of three-point hegemony in our history. We have looked unto the face of Bo Ryan and lol'ed. Our troops deployed to the darkest reaches of Breslin, where the favored Izzo complained about every which thing, and we lol'ed. At home we have faced adversity and Hawkeyes, and won a great battle, and afterwards we lol'ed.
So I ask you, fellow Americans: how do we ensure the security of these lol's that we cherish?
- How long will Michigan remain atop the Big Ten standings?
- How long will the Big Ten remain the nation's best basketball conference?
- How long will the basketball team remain superior to the football and hockey teams?
Mathlete: With Michigan State's win at Iowa, this year has all the makings of a two horse race with Michigan State. In Big Ten play, anything is possible, but at least a share of the title is highly likely at this point. With McGary, Robinson and maybe Stauskas leaving early, next year could be a tough hill to climb, but Beilein has done more with less. Even though Michigan has been recruiting at a higher level, they've missed on several of their top targets and that will likely keep them from being a perennial elite, first tier team. But based on the track record of Beilein, this team isn't going to be far from the top of the conference any time soon.
|What's wrong, kitty cat? [Fuller]|
Last year's conference lineup was incredible, this year's may still be the best, but the teams do seem to be down a bit from last year. Last season the Big Ten had 7 of the KenPom top 26 and 8 of the top 40. This year the eighth best team is Nebraska at #74. Indiana is in the process of rebuilding, Illinois is wandering in the desert, Purdue has turned into a football sch-can't even finish typing that joke. The top of the Big Ten is outstanding but there is a little more breathing room in the mid and lower tiers than last season.
The ACC has 5 of KenPom's top 22 right now and next year they swap out Louisville for Maryland. Once North Carolina finds their way again, they might be good enough to keep Dicky V at home and out of Michigan. Even if the Atlantic Coast steps up their game, no sport is more dependent on coaching and the B1G's best aren't going anywhere. Izzo, Matta, Beilein, Ryan and Crean are all firmly established winners with no indication of jumping ship. Over the next five years, I would be shocked if any other conferences were close to as good as the Big Ten and ACC.
Now this is the tricky question. Football has the capacity to narrow the gap, possibly as soon as this year. The roster is finally in place, all signs point to a good defense getting better in 2014 and the offense has been written about enough at this point. I'm not going to go picking a Rose Bowl or anything, but this season is the first that's 100% on Hoke. The pieces will be there and the excuses will be gone. If the football team can't get to 9 wins this season, that's probably another 3-5 years of basketball superiority as Michigan would be facing another football coaching spiral. I'm not even qualified to write about random number generating playoff hockey, but my guess is that its going to be easier for Michigan to sustain the basketball success under Beilein than re-establish the elite level at hockey. So I guess the 2014 football season will write the story on whether or not we've become a #basketballschool.
[Jump: more answers, and then Ace and I argue for like 6,000 words]
The university and athletic department handled Gibbons about as well as he handled this field goal. [Eric Upchurch]
The Daily has revealed that the sketchy way Brendan Gibbons exited the program—a "tweak" before the OSU game followed by barely-credible claims of "family issues"—was in fact a result of the university expelling him for the 2009 rape allegations that were exhumed earlier this year:
“You will be permanently separated from the University of Michigan effective December 20, 2013,” reads a Dec. 19, 2013 letter addressed to Gibbons at his Florida residence from the University’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution, which facilitates disciplinary proceedings against students. The Michigan Daily did not obtain these documents from the University.
In human language, "permanently separated" is expulsion. The OSCR took that action based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Why it took almost five years to reach this conclusion is unknown. The Daily suggests that revised policies from 2011 may have forced the University to re-evaluate, but policies from 2011 do not result in December 2013 expulsions. Given the timing here it's clear that the guy who dumped various court documents on the internet was the proximate cause. That is of course terribly embarrassing for the university, which was apparently fine with having a student they eventually concluded they were at least 50.1% sure raped a girl as long as no one was complaining about it.
Meanwhile, the athletic department's optics here are horrible. Having him on the team is not the issue, or if it is it's on Rodriguez's head. The incident was a year old and seemingly dead when Hoke came in; without the OSCR or other university body stepping in there would be no reason to reconsider Gibbons's status.
But once they knew things were coming to a head they could not have been dumber about this. Not content with offering up the generic and 100% true "violation of team rules" explanation—being enrolled at the university is kind of important if you're going to be on the team—they chose to cloak Gibbons's departure in a thin veneer of sympathy by claiming "family issues." That is a lie. Now they look horrible, and for something a bit more serious than having a noodle in the stadium.
Meanwhile, Hoke's explanation for Gibbons's unavailability for Ohio State is questionable at best. Was this "tweak" legitimate? Is it at all plausible that Gibbons was "iffy" for the bowl game on December 16th, three days before the very last gear of ponderous university justice ground to a halt?
"He's a little iffy," Hoke said. "He's kicking a little bit. But I don't want to over-kick him (in practice).
"I've never been a kicker, so I can't imagine that (muscle pull) problem. So, he's a little iffy."
There is absolutely no chance that Brady Hoke was not fully informed of the status of his kicker by this point. Dave Brandon did not call Brady up on the 19th and say "you're never going to believe this, but…" That's also a lie, and in the service of what cause again?
UPDATE: A user who used to work at the OSCR provides details on the process:
Having worked at the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (the "disciplinary" office that administered the expulsion proceedings against Gibbons) for two years in undergrad, I thought maybe I could offer some insight / clear up some confusion about the OSCR process in this thread.
OSCR is not, in any appreciable sense, an investigatory body. It is a passive office that acts only after receiving a complaint from some member of the University community. While any individual student, faculty, or staff member can file a complaint, the most common OSCR complainants by far are Residence Education (Housing) and DPS. In order to pursue a complaint with OSCR, the Complainant has to provide all the necessary evidentiary backing; again, OSCR does not investigate events on its own.
The process for initiating and pursuing a complaint with OSCR goes as follows:
- An OSCR staff member conducts an intake meeting with the Complainant to discuss the nature of his/her/its complaint and inform the Complainant of the various resolution pathways available (in addition to formal arbitration, OSCR offers a number of alternative dispute resolution pathways that do not result in disciplinary action).
- An OSCR staff member will then conduct an intake meeting with the Respondent to notify him of the complaint and inform him of his rights/options in the process.
- At that point, the Respondent can either accept responsibility for the complaint or indicate that he's willing to proceed to a formal arbitration.
- Assuming that the Complainant is also interested in pursuing a formal arbitration, OSCR will either appoint a trained member of the University staff to serve as the formal arbiter, or it will select a panel of student arbiters.
- After hearing from both the Complainant and the Respondent, the arbiter or the student panel will reach a finding of "responsible" or "not responsible," and will then proceed to make a sanction recommendation.
- Any recommendations for expulsion have to be approved by a member of the University administration. When I was there, I believe this was the responsibility of the VP for Student Affairs, E. Royster Harper.
As you can see, this is a multi-step process that requires several meetings and often many different witnesses, advisors, and arbiters. With that said, it is emphatically NOT a three- or four-year process. Given that all of the investigatory work is already completed before a complaint is filed, the formal arbitration process does not take very long at all. In my time at OSCR, I can't remember a single arbitration - including those involving sexual assault allegations - lasting more than a single semester, from initial complaint to final sanction.
Hooray threes, hooray Stauskas. GRIII rather absent. LOTS OF REF BITCHING. Lots of yummy Izzo tears of unfathomable sadness. Lots of open threes. Clutch execution down the stretch.
Michigan played their game. Hooray Stauskas. Hooray Spike. Anger. The tiny West Virginian implanted in John Beilein's brain. Seriously.
TALKING BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC
We were in a weird studio that was not the other studio so it sounded a little odd. Northwestern is fascinating! Seriously. The league's down relative to last year. The Bryce-Jordan Center is so, so depressing.
"Across 110th Street."
"Why Would You Not Want To Go There?," Hoots And Hellmouth
"Time Bomb," The Dismemberment Plan
The usual links:
John Beilein, with 4:01 left, more enraged than he's been since Costco raised the price of tube socks:
John Beilein, 1:33 of game time later:
John Beilein is Walter White if Walter White is also Benjamin Button and boy did this sentence get convoluted in a hurry.
Also, note Michigan's 8-0 run over that span. Coaches, if you have the self-control to not lose your mind at every opportunity, the moments when you completely lose your mind have a much greater impact. This is the Law of Beilein, and I'm totally not basing it on one piece of circumstantial evidence. Nope.
[Hit THE JUMP for Nik Stauskas, more Nik Stauskas, various reactions to Nik Stauskas, and a whole lot more from the last two games.]