Recently, Brady Hoke sat down with ESPN and answered questions posed to him about the football team he's in charge of. This business resulted a bunch of personnel questions, and the responses were quite a bit less vague than they might have been.
Offensive line stuffs. The thing that leaps off the page:
Well, I think the interior of both lines, there's going to be a lot of competition. We've got to find a center, and that's between [Jack] Miller and [Graham] Glasgow, and Joey Burzynski will try to figure that out a little bit, too. At the guard positions, Ben Braden is going to move down inside and start out at the left guard, but he'll have a lot of competition because Burzynski is back and so is Blake Bars. Kyle Kalis will move into the right side, and it will be interesting again with [Kyle] Bosch and some of the guys who have been here a little bit. I think it will be a really good competition at all three of those inside positions.
- Kyle Kalis was at left guard and is flipping to the right for some reason.
- He and Ben Braden sound like your tenuous leaders at the guard spots.
- Graham Glasgow is your #2-ish center at this instant.
- Chris Bryant does not get mentioned, probably because he's still recovering from injury.
The Braden move puts him on the same path Michael Schofield took to the starting right tackle job: an apprenticeship at LG and then lockdown at RT. Braden's listed an inch shorter than Schofield on the official site, if you're worried about guys getting under him and blowing him up. FWIW, Hoke also talks up Schofield extensively ("really good winter" … "real bright spots" last year, "special deployed").
I'm not sure why Michigan would flip Kalis, but for whatever reason it seems like they prefer future right tackles getting their first playing time to hang out at left guard instead of right. Maybe it's about spatial orientation: when a left guard pulls he ends up on the right side of the line, and if that pull turns into pass protection it's more natural for Once and Future Right Tackle to execute that. Or maybe it's about having Kalis pull to Lewan's side of the line, a prospect that Hoke must be drooling about after a couple years of having the (relatively) slight and inexperienced (at pulling, anyway) Patrick Omameh as the guard pulling to Lewan on power plays to the left.
Hoke also acknowledges that the three tech and SDE spots are close to interchangeable:
The other Glasgow is thrown in there, yes; Hoke also brings up Strobel and Heitzman separately; Ondre Pipkins is oddly in this heap of guys. Implication: they will give him a shot to win the three-tech job and if it happens they'll find a backup for Quinton Washington somehow (Ash or Henry, probably). If I was betting I'd put my money on Wormley with Pipkins getting extensive time behind Washington or both guys.
norfleet obsession: still poppin' (Melanie Maxwell, MLive)
Keeping Derrick Green's seat warm. Norfleet is at running back, as you know, and Drake Johnson is building on a bit of bowl practice hype. Then there's this telling sentence:
Thomas Rawls is coming back, and I think he learned a lot last year about the vision he needs to play with, and I like how he's competed through the [winter].
He's the third back mentioned, behind Norfleet and the redshirted Johnson. I'd say he'd still have a role as a short-yardage back, but 1) he wasn't any good at that last year and 2) DeVeon Smith and Derrick Green, especially Green.
Exit? At linebacker it's just a bunch of names, but should we read something between the lines when Hoke brings up Kaleb Ringer returning from injury but not Antonio Poole? Michigan is currently at 87 players. Due to Big Ten rules they've already had to explain to the league where those two scholarships are coming from, so it's just a matter of announcing it.
Dollars to donuts we get the announcement of a couple of departures/medical scholarships Thursday, when the Hoke has his first presser. One guy apparently not on that list: fifth-year-to-be Mike Jones, to-date little used and previously seen to be a candidate for a firm handshake. Hoke brought him up in the linebacker procession of names.
Other stuff. Rittenberg asks about the other position groups as well, but nothing there is particularly surprising. I think Hoke mentions literally every scholarship DB on the roster save Delonte Hollowell*; linebacker is obvious to all; Blake Countess will do "some things" this spring, so his injury is still hampering him. The first WRs up after the senior slots are Darboh and Chesson, and then this is a little worrying:
And I think Jeremy Jackson has had a very good winter; we're very excited about some of the progress he's made. Joe Reynolds is a guy who walked on here, and he's done a very nice job. And Bo Dever, his dad played here and he walked on.
Options other than those two guys include two walk-ons and Jeremy Jackson. Really could have used an instant impact WR guy in this class. Obvious sentence is obvious.
*[Which you might read something into if you were so inclined. Michigan was clearly petrified of putting either Hollowell or Richardson on the field in the bowl game despite the fact that South Carolina's receivers were the best matchup possible for them (ie, short). Richardson can say he's a true freshman. Hollowell not so much. Greener pastures may beckon.]
Time to win a Big Ten Championship…the other way.
How it works:
- I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of the designated game, and put it in the comments, preferably in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score]. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you guess either game correctly, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
- Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.
About Last Time:
We did both of the Indiana schools in one, but since there were two games to guess, it wasn’t a closest-to-the-pin challenge this time. Nobody got either score correct. I did notice landry2102 and ChicagoGoBlue both posted matching 73-72 scores for the IU game within seconds of each other—if only Morgan’s tip-in had gone in…well if that had happened these guys would have “Hoosier Daddy” t-shirts. So tell you guys what: if Michigan beats Indiana in the BTT you two (and Morgan, and fate) are absolved and get shirts.
This Week's Game:
No more looking past anything. We play Penn State in Chicago to kick off the BTT.
And the Prize:
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (make it easy on me and write your score in digits with a hyphen between them. Deadline for entries is sometime within 24 hours before the start of the game—whenever I can get online in that time and lock the thread. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning because you can change scores. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm is not just a shooter. The algorithm always fouls Cody Zeller. The algorithm can’t explain why Big Ten officials think it’s their duty to help Bo Ryan. The algorithm spent 10 years as the Indiana of basketball, if that makes sense. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
LIKE MAKE YOUR FREE THROWSSSSS
Michigan may have gone 1-1 last week, but it was a good 1-1 compared to results for various other teams like Miami (losers at home to KP#84 Georgia Tech), New Mexico (went down to Air Force), Kansas (annihilated by Baylor), and Florida (at Kentucky is the most understandable loss of this bunch, but it is still a loss). As a result, they have moved up a bit. Crashing The Dance still has them a three; the Bracket Matrix has them as the last #2, in an indistinguishable heap with Michigan State and Miami for two of the three final twos.
Michigan probably cannot salvage a one seed after the Indiana collapse. Even if Michigan ran off four wins in four days to win the BTT they would have a hard time passing the current anointed four of Duke, Indiana, Gonzaga, and Louisville. Duke and Indiana are pretty much out of the question; Gonzaga is extremely unlikely to lose; Louisville's run off seven straight wins after the wacky 5OT game against Notre Dame and was two games better in the BE than Michigan was in the Big Ten. Maybe if the league hadn't consigned the Big Ten championship game to a novelty that can flip seeds within the conference but do little else because it's so late, but… uh… they did.
The conference tournaments will decide whether Michigan's a 2 or 3, it looks like. The best result possible is a strong 2 that avoids Duke. I guess it is possible Michigan would fall to a 4 if they were to gack it up against Penn State again; barring that a 1-1 performance in Chicago will at least lock up a 3.
How much does this matter? Projected 6s according to the Bracket Matrix: UNLV, Butler, UCLA, VCU. Projected 7s: Colorado State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Memphis. Not much.
Projected ones: Duke, Indiana, Gonzaga, Louisville
i changed the pictures. run, BJ, run!
Last win for IUPUI: December 27th. Their season is over at 6-26 after being the third-worst defensive team in the country. Binghamton: January 19th. Season over at 3-27. Fourth-worst offensive team in the land.
Central won a couple games late but finished 4-12 in the MAC and went out in the first round of their conference tourney; done at 11-20. Bradley fulfilled its destiny to be .500 at something by losing their last three games to finish 16-16. Cleveland State is also done after getting blown out by Loyola Chicago and Illinois Chicago—be nice, Chicago—at 14-18.
Still alive: Eastern Michigan, which had a rematch against Northern Illinois in the MAC tourney opener that they won 45-44. They play Miami (not that Miami) tomorrow. Western won their division and plays the winner of that game for the right to play OHIO in the semi.
Big sorts of teams
@ DePaul: W 81-66.
DePaul never had a chance, because they are DePaul. They finish the regular season Kenpom's #6 team and will be a team highlighted in every tempo-free-aware bracket preview because they'll have one of the biggest gaps between Kenpom projected ability and seed in the field. I'm with the skeptical committee: Pitt built their KP profile against nobody in the nonconference—other than Michigan their only KP100 opponents were #99 Lehigh and #75 Detroit—and anyone who can keep them from destroying the offensive boards will put their offense in considerable difficulty.
Pitt enters the last Big East tournament the four-seed. They've acquired the last double bye and will take on either Syracuse or someone real bad at basketball on Thursday during Michigan's game against Penn State.
SEEDWATCH: Up one to a five on BM; they're well ahead of the top 6, UNLV. CTD has them a seven still. They're actually below Minnesota(!) over there.
Kansas State (25-6)
TCU: W 79-68. @ Okie State: L 76-70
Elsewhere in painful ways to blow a share of a conference title, K-State took on Okie State with a shot at going 15-3 in the Big 12 and tying Kansas. They led by four with five minutes left, whereupon OSU went on an 8-0 run before free throw time. Sad pandas. Let's be sad pandas together, eating bamboo and watching the Lifetime Movie Network.
K-State saw the Cowboys put up 63% from two, which was enough despite having a major possession advantage.
SEEDWATCH: Drops to a 4 on BM; a five on CTD.
North Carolina State (22-9)
Wake Forest: W 81-66. @ Florida State: L 71-67
You might have this image in your head of Florida State as a typical Leonard Hamilton outfit that grinds all up on you like a guy wearing Axe at the club and makes life extremely difficult for everyone. This would not be correct. They are 10th in the ACC in defense, yielding almost 38% of defensive rebounds to the opponent amongst other deficiencies. They are barely above .500 and lost to Mercer, South Alabama, and Auburn earlier this year.
NC State losing to them is not understandable except insofar as NC State is not actually all that good at basketball. All the stats are basically even; NC State was undone again by M-versus-Indiana level defensive rebounding (lost 55% of DREBs to FSU) and allowing 56% on twos.
MCHOBBIT UPDATE: 11 minutes but not active against FSU, though he did have a block(!). 12 minutes against Wake.
SEEDWATCH: Still an 8 on BM; CTD now agrees. As mentioned, this team is probably the least fun potential matchup amongst all the 8-9 seeds for a one. If they, like, are trying they're good. I would hate Mark Gotfried if I was an NC State fan though.
@ Missouri: L 93-63. Texas A&M: W 73-62.
Arkansas's massive home-road disparity ended their faint bubble hopes before their game against Missouri even got started. 9-9 in this SEC with one decent nonconference win against Oklahokma (that at home) isn't going to get it done.
But seriously though, I would like you to find a team with a crazier home/road split in conference play than the Razorbacks:
- HOME: 9-0, double digit wins over Florida and Kentucky. Beat Missouri.
- AWAY: 1-8, lone win against horrible Auburn. Annihilated by mediocre to terrible teams like A&M (69-51), South Carolina (75-54), and Vandy (67-49).
At home, Arkansas can play with anyone—beat anyone. On the road, they lose to SEC Penn State by 21. The Razorbacks get Vandy again to start the SEC tourney. Kenpom labels the location "semi-away." Semi-hide the semi-children, Arkansas is going to get semi-blown out.
SEEDWATCH: Thanks for playing. Enjoy your NIT home games.
West Virginia (13-18)
@ Oklahoma: L 83-70. Iowa State: L 83-74
Still not good at basketball.
Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes. Bolded teams are suggested teams to root for, calibrated for …
1) helping M win conference title
2) best chance for quality-win pile-up to help M seeding
3) greatest number of tourney teams from league
4) eff Michigan State
5) also Wisconsin
Yesterday; no games.
Pitt versus Probably Syracuse, 2PM, ESPN
MICHIGAN versus Penn State, 2:30 PM, BTN
K-State versus Texas/TCU, 6PM, not televised
NC State versus Virginia Tech, 2:30PM, ESPNU
Maybe Pitt versus Probably Georgetown, 7PM, ESPN
Hopefully MICHIGAN versus Wisconsin, 1:30 PM, ESPN
Probably K-State vs Okie State/Baylor, 8:30PM, ESPNU
Probably NC State vs Virginia, 2:30PM, ESPN2
Probably Not Pitt versus Probably Louisville Or Marquette, 8:30PM, ESPN
Hopefully MICHIGAN versus Probably Indiana, 12:40 PM, CBS
Maybe K-State versus Probably Kansas, 5PM, ESPN
Possibly NC State versus Probably Miami, 1PM, ESPN
Hopefully MICHIGAN versus Probably OSU or MSU, 2:30PM, CBS
Probably Not NC State versus Probably Duke, 1PM, ESPN
Michigan received their first commitment to the basketball class of 2014 yesterday in Fort Meyers (FL) Bishop Verot forward Ricky Doyle, who received a scholarship offer while visiting for the Indiana game. It was Doyle's first visit outside the state of Florida, but he told UMHoops's Joe Stapleton that he saw everything he needed to make a decision:
What made you choose Michigan without going on all your other visits?
“When I was visiting the campus, I couldn’t think of anything wrong about it. Like, I was in the training room thinking wow, this is awesome. The coaching staff was awesome. They’re a great group of guys and I can’t wait to work with them. The staff, the gym, they had everything. Why wait when it’s right in front of you?”
While Doyle is the first prospect to commit to the 2014 class, one-time 2013 commit Austin Hatch has reclassified to 2014 after he was involved in a tragic plane crash in 2011. Doyle's pledge means the Wolverines are committed to the max 13 scholarships for the 2014-15 season, but that assumes zero attrition from the current roster, and raise your hand if you expect Trey Burke to play his senior season at Michigan. Thought so.
|3*, NR PF||NR PF||3*, 78, #29 PF||NR PF|
As you can see, Doyle isn't a high-profile recruit; he decided not to play AAU basketball, which goes a long way towards explaining his lack of exposure. Three of the four sites list him at 6'9" (Scout says 6'7") and all have him in the neighborhood of 230 pounds. Given that his game isn't perimeter-oriented, he should be a five (center) in John Beilein's system.
With the lack of AAU exposure, there isn't a ton in the way of scouting out there on Doyle. ESPN's evaluation discusses his potential as a post scorer, pegging him as a mid-major prospect with room to develop into a high-major option ($):
He's got a history of basketball in the family. His father had a cup of coffee with the Detroit Pistons before playing overseas. He's receiving good coaching in high school and improved from his freshman to sophomore season. Could be a kid who plays pick and pop to mid-range. Runs well and changes ends with decent touch in the lane. Like that already owns a hook shot and has ways to score in the lane.
Not a bad athlete but not an exceptional one either. Still needs to continue to cultivate his interior post moves and work in the weight room to gain a measure of explosion to help versus size.
A good student, Doyle is a legit mid-major prospect and because of all the history and improvements, he could wind up at a high level as a second post option.
Scout's Andre Barthwell caught up with Doyle's high school coach, whose evaluation largely mirrors the above—Doyle isn't an exceptional athlete but has good potential as a post scorer—and includes quite the NBA comparison ($) [emphasis mine]:
“Ricky has a great feel for the game,” said Herting. “He is really good with his back to the basket. Down low he can score with either hand and he is a very good three point shooter. He just doesn’t shoot it because that is not what we need from him on this team. He is very a fundamentally sound rebounder in terms of boxing out. He is working on his face up game and his foot work for more quickness. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have quickness he is working on it to get better at. With what he can do out on the floor his upside is huge can only get better that’s what you like about him and the direction his game is going in."
“He is a versatile player who can post up and pop out and hit the 10-12 foot shot,” Mr. Doyle added. ["]Ricky can handle out on the perimeter as well. Coach Jim Larranaga from Miami says he seen Dirk Nowitski when he was young, and that’s who Ricky reminds him of. Ricky has a seven-foot two-inch wing span with a size 18 shoe, and his doctor said that his growth plates have not closed so he is still growing."
If Doyle can develop that three-point shot he could be an option as a stretch four, though Beilein would probably prefer a little more athleticism at the position.
UMHoops had freelance writer Carl Bleich scout Doyle last November, and Bleich came away very impressed with Doyle's post game:
Doyle’s back-to-the-basket skills are second to none for a player his age. He is proficient finishing with both hands and has an array of post moves to choose from. He can also catch the ball in the post, face up and score consistently coming across the lane as well as showed on multiple occasions against LaBelle. He took just one shot outside of the paint in Thursday’s game but has showcased a smooth mid-range jump shot in the past that indicates that he is comfortable offensively outside of the paint.
Bleich also praised Doyle's defensive instincts and ability to box out, which should be welcome news to Michigan fans after watching the Wolverines for the last month.
Per UMHoops, Doyle held offers from Boston College, Stanford, Virginia, Purdue, Penn State, and Miami (YTM). He also had significant interest from Kansas State, Washington, and USC. That's a pretty solid offer list for a three-star/unranked recruit that didn't play AAU ball during a critical evaluation period.
According to MaxPreps, Doyle averaged 21.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 71% from the field and 67% from the line this season, though he only played nine games due to a foot injury. As a sophomore, he averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, shooting 66% from the field and 65% from the line.
Camp highlights from last summer:
UMHoops also has sophomore highlights and single-game film on their commitment post.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Doyle doesn't come off as a player who's going to rise to the top of the rankings or be a star in college, but you can bet John Beilein sees something in him that the recruiting services haven't—his track record with early commits (see: Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III) speaks for itself.
As said above, Doyle projects to the five in Beilein's system; when he hits campus, the returning post players will be redshirt senior Jon Horford, junior Mitch McGary, redshirt junior Max Bielfeldt, and sophomore (2013 commit) Mark Donnal. Only McGary and Horford seem guaranteed anything beyond role player status at that point, but it'll also be hard for Doyle to crack the rotation right away, especially if he's got work to do in the weight room before he's ready to hold up against Big Ten big men.
If Doyle lives up to his reputation as a skilled post scorer, he should have little trouble carving out a role down the road for a program that's lacked an interior scoring threat for quite some time. Continuing to develop a mid-range game should further improve Doyle's chances of seeing significant time; from there, how he develops physically and athletically will determine how big an impact he has at Michigan.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
UMHoops has the full scholarship breakdown—while Michigan appears full right now, expect at least two more spots to open up with the inevitable departure of Trey Burke and near-certain attrition that comes with any college program.
Michigan hosted their three top remaining targets last weekend along with Doyle: five-star MS SG Devin Booker, four-star IN SF Trevon Bluiett, and four-star OH SF Vincent Edwards. All three have outstanding offers and the Wolverines are very much in the mix for each of them.
Left: Walsh. Right: Wormley by Upchurch
A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a 1997 article by Bill Walsh where he explained how he evaluates talent at each position. I then applied those evaluations to Michigan’s offensive personnel, because Borges is supposedly transitioning us to Walsh’s WCO. People requested a defensive version so here you go.
It’s probably not as useful because the closest NFL comparison to the Mattison ideal is the Greg Mattison Ravens. But then when you read about the history of Mattison’s 4-3 under defense, you find (49ers DC under Walsh) George Seifert’s ideas peppered all over. And there’s a reason for that:
Offensive evolution doesn’t matter so much when you’re talking about going back to the offense that dominated 1997. The 4-3 under defense—or whatever you call what Michigan does by shifting the line toward the nearest sideline—is more akin to a 3-4 than the 46 defense Walsh used to deploy against the run-heavy offenses of his day, or the Tampa 2 stuff that owned the period which that article was written.
Walsh’s defensive opinions are geared toward a 3-4, and that’s perfect for our purposes, since the 4-3 under is similar in personnel. When you see it you can see why:
So in we go again. I'm moving right now so I can't do it all in one again. Here's the interior DL and I'll cover linebackers and defensive backs in later weeks.
Dana Stubblefield / Rob Renes / Pipkins via Upchurch
Walsh Says: 6’2, 290. As discussed in the article when I made all the DL recruits into Wii avatars, the NT should have his mass low; a pyramid is more difficult to move than a cube. Like Mattison, Walsh puts the hands at the very top:
Quick, strong hands to grab and pull are critical. This is common with the great tackles. The hands, the arms, the upper body strength and then the quick feet to take advantage of a moving man, just getting him off balance.
The Walsh ideal doesn’t necessarily have to take on doubles. What he looks for is the strength to not get knocked backwards, and the ability to move laterally without giving ground. The best can burrow forward and push a guard into the pocket.
Note that Walsh is inadvertently describing a 4-3 DT more than a 3-4 NT—he’s not asking for a two-gapper who sucks up doubles but a one-gapper who can’t be budged. However the first step to beating spread teams is an NT who requires doubles, since the spread 'n shred's base dive play is most dangerous when an interior OL is releasing into the linebackers.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Rob Renes. NFL scouts want everyone to be Wilfork, but active, stout, and sound come first.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: "Crab person" a la Mike Martin, i.e. he plays low and with great leverage. Strength—opponents can't move him. “Has excellent hands.” Athleticism: Walsh didn’t mention this but guys who are ranked basketball recruits as well seem to have a high success rate; that's obviously a mark of quickness/agility being important.
What you can learn on film: Nose tackle recruits are often so much bigger than the competition that they can terrify offenses without technique. You can learn more from the plays where he flows down the line of scrimmage then makes the play. Leverage. Hands maybe but this seems to be something most will learn in college. It's paywalled (and there's a lot that's 3-techy about him) but if you have a Rivals account go watch Ndamukong Suh's high school film and how he uses his arms to dominate guys off the ball.
What could signal bust potential: We’ve seen our share of planetary objects who get lots of hype because they’re 320-pound creatures who pop average teen OL like so many zits. This is an effort position that scales dramatically with the transition from high school to Big Ten. An athletic man-child has a massive ceiling but is as likely to follow the career path of Richard Ash as that of Johnathan Hankins.
How our guys compare: The expectation here is for Quinton Washington (above-right/Upchurch) to reprise his role at Nose with Ondre Pipkins figuring in as a rotation starter and making appearances at the 3-tech spot as well. Q came to Michigan as a spread-style offensive guard highly sought after by all the right people. His switch to the defensive line was initially a swap with Will Campbell, except Washington stuck with it. It was a painful year and change waiting for him to catch up, made worth it last year when he was a pleasant surprise at nose. Listed at 6'4-300 he's on the plus side of the size curve but not to the degree Campbell was (Suh as a senior was listed at the same size). Where this project is concerned, Hoke seems to have had success in every facet except his stated goal of making Quinton two inches shorter; I like to mention that one of my favorite DTs to watch is Kawaan Short, who was listed at 6'5 as a recruit and 6'3 as a draft prospect. That upper body strength that Walsh covets in his NTs is what made Washington stand out as a recruit and contributes to the success he's had across the line.
left: Q.Wash's UFR totals for 2012. right: Pipkins's. Clicking bigs them.
Ondre Pipkins arrived looking pretty much exactly like an NFL nose tackle—6'3-340—and played pretty much exactly like a true freshman, as you can make out from the UFR chart above. That's technique (i.e. hands) talking—he got minuses for getting scooped and buried and eating doubles, and plus'ed for flashes of mobility.
Richard Ash has two years of eligibility left so you can't write him off yet but he came in a non-mobile planet and had to lose a lot of weight to uncover his playing body. The Walsh measureables are not favorable, at least not yet. The freshman pegged for NT (though either could play either) is probably Maurice Hurst, since he checks nearly every one of Bill's boxes, right down to a listed height-weight of 6'2-290. Mike Farrell on Hurst:
"He has a nice frame that can still add weight but what really stands out about him is his quickness off the ball and his light feet. Hurst beat most of his opponents with his first step and he was able to win the leverage game most of the time as well."
Watching his film you can see the hands (start at 0:48). The knocks are he needs to get lower (on film you immediately see that butt sticking out) and I don't see strength mentioned much. He played running back for his high school and wasn't so big that he could get by on size so Hurst probably appreciates technique. I would guess he needs some time to put on muscle before he can contribute.
[After the jump, moving down the line]
"When you are winning a war almost everything that happens can be claimed to be right and wise."
~ Winston Churchill
Trey Burke works the ball up the court, and crosses mid-court with just under nine seconds left. Jordan Morgan sets a high screen on Oladipo, and in an instant the much ballyhooed pre-game narrative is wiped out of the picture. This will no longer be a symbolic battle for the Big Ten Player of the Year. Indiana's best defender is a bystander. Instead it is Cody Zeller on Burke 30 feet from the basket.
History may be written by the winners, but in sports the winners rarely read the history they write. For the victor, the simple fact of the victory can obscure whatever came before. The foibles and missteps were merely a part of the rich tapestry that was their inevitable triumph. It is the character-building fire that forges their mettle. It is for the loser, rather, to lament the components of their fate. Almost exactly a week before Jordan Morgan set his screen, Keith Appling was dribbling the ball up that same court, in a tie game, with the shot clock off, when Trey Burke stole the ball and turned the tables on all the percentages. And when a second Burke steal sealed the game, no one cared that Michigan had frittered away a ten point lead in the last four minutes, or that they had missed the front end of a one-and-one to give Michigan State one last chance. It was Sparty, rather, who spoke with the bitter tinge of "what if" of their blown opportunity to win on what should have been a final possession.
Burke gains the corner on Zeller, but only by a bit. Yogi Ferrell starts to sag off of Stauskas, but thinks better of it. Ferrell knows full well that Burke is taking this one to the rack, but Stauskas is not to be left. Christian Watford is under no such restriction on the far side against Glenn Robinson III, and he helps down. Burke isn't going to leave this one in the hands of a jump shot from a freshman, no matter how talented that freshman may be. Zeller extends an impossibly long arm over Burke, who responds in kind with a fully extended flip of the ball. Jordan Morgan has reached the free throw line.
If you are anything like me, dear Michigan fan, then there is a part of you that is relieved that it got this far. The recent history of Michigan basketball is one of repeated crashes to reality. A first NCAA berth in a decade is followed by a 15-17 season. A first Big Ten title in centuries and a four-seed leads to an early exit against Ohio (YTO). So when Michigan came out of the gates this year as an unstoppable hell-beast, there remained a little voice in your head that urged caution. Like the slave used by Julius Caesar to ride on his chariot to remind him of his mortality, the little voice kept whispering in your ear, "they are not Gods. They are merely human." When Ben Brust hit a half-court heave and Michigan was run out of the Breslin Center and utterly collapsed in Happy Valley, those whispers became screams that could not be ignored. And when Michigan went down 10-3 early, there was a part of you that said, "please not this again."
[After the jump, not this again]