A man in my position cannot afford to be made to look ridikuhlis.
Ace: Brian and I did a segment on this week's podcast in which we each listed our top five most ridiculous games of the Hoke era. Not only were our bottom three picks entirely different, but between Twitter and the comments at least a dozen games that didn't make the cut were suggested as meriting inclusion, and... it was really hard to argue with a lot of them.
So let's try this again. List and explain your top five, perhaps mention a few dishonorable mentions, and feel free to explain your methodology—I'm intentionally leaving "ridiculous" open to interpretation.
BiSB: I just drew up a quick list of candidates. There are 16 games on that list. I HATE ALL THE THINGS.
Ace: Now remember that the very first game Hoke coached featured two Brandon Herron touchdowns and was called due to a biblical storm before the third quarter ended...
Even the wins, man. Even the wins.
[After the jump: we discuss 60% of the games under Hoke]
Tonight! Or rather this afternoon. Evening? What is 5PM anyway? Ace is stopping by Tisch Hall to talk about his experience as a history major who made his way in the world. He's "ventured into the real world with remarkable success!" in fact.
Free dinner, too. And some other non-Ace persons you've never heard of like… uh… one of the co-founders of Zingerman's. Wow. Should have done history.
Gardner journey'd. It is bleakly appropriate that they took him to his now-closed high school.
The amazing true story of Gene Keady's combover. This is the best work Gregg Doyel has ever done: [UPDATE: now with link even]
"I had extensions," Keady tells me, at which point I put the phone down and started throwing up. OK, not really. But still. Extensions?
"Well sure," he says. "Men were just starting to get extensions, so why not?"
I've never known a man who had hair extensions.
"Now you do," Keady says.
Keady had twice-weekly appointments to keep is his 'do on the cutting edge of late night hair replacement commercials at $300 a pop. He is willing to admit this in a newspaper, so he is a better, more extended man than I.
Also, Keady's shotgun wedding sounds like it claimed all present, including said combover:
"Kelvin Sampson gave the bride away. The best man was Bruce Weber. He was the flower girl, too."
Neither was ever the same.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) November 12, 2014
You can tell it's important because it has a screen-wide picture. Big ol' profile of John Beilein on MLive with most John Beilein thing about a big profile ever:
More than anything, he's one of the best college basketball coaches in America, creating a tug of war between the twilight of his days and the pinnacle of his career.
Here he is.
"So what is the point of all this?" Beilein asks, wondering why anyone would fuss to retrace his steps searching for who he actually is.
"Well, I just don't get it," he says. "I can't imagine why anyone would care."
I don't think we're getting memoir after he's done.
The amazing pfffffffttttt hahahaha. If this was true, Tim Beckman wouldn't have been allowed to coach the Illini at all.
Beckman says academic standards at Illinois are higher than other B1G schools. He says it's the biggest issue in recruiting for Illini.
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) November 11, 2014
"It took me two weeks to figure out how the door to my office works," continued Beckman. "That's how hard the academics are at Illinois."
AN ILLINI FAN VISITS TIM BECKMAN'S OFFICE
a short play in one act
FAN examines DOOR. FAN turns to BECKMAN.
FAN: "This is a normal door."
BECKMAN: "Cleverly disguised as a trick door!"
FAN: "THIS IS A REAL UNIVERSITY. WE INVENTED THE INTERNET BROWSER, YOU KNOW."
BECKMAN: "Real tricky doors, too."
FAN: /burns degree
How you dismantle Michigan State. SBN's Ian Boyd takes a look at a clobberin' MSU hasn't experienced since… well, Oregon. But not for a long time before that. OSU used a similar playbook:
They attacked the Spartan outside linebackers for playing the edge against the run:
The announcers highlighted the route combination but ignored the play action component that made the play a one-on-one matchup, where a missed tackle meant total breakdown. With pop and play-action elements attached to basic run plays, the Buckeyes are able to make the passing game simple for Barrett.
The play of his receivers has been huge as well. He never had to make a read on that throw, staring down his intended target. The sam linebacker is sucked in by the run action, leaving the safety and corner to account for the two receivers without help. The slot receiver runs a post route that the safety follows, which leaves the corner on an island playing press coverage against the outside receiver. Michael Thomas beats the corner with the inside move, and that's all she wrote.
The Buckeyes ended up getting the ball again before halftime and once again dialed up play action off zone slice.
This time, Ohio State caught the Spartans in a blown coverage. MSU uncharacteristically mixed a single-deep safety coverage on a non-blitz, and free safety Kurtis Drummond failed to get over the top in time to stop the deep post to the speedy Devin Smith.
The result of all this was Ohio State gaining 89% of available yards. Against Michigan State. Without Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, and four of last year's OL.
Some people are so bad at being people. Like Spaghetti O's tweeting about Pearl Harbor, here comes the most generic trophy ever assembled:
There's not actually a gallery. Don't click unless you enjoy useless activities. Wait… you probably do.
Cloak yourselves in that flag, marketing geniuses. Dan Wetzel manages to say the thing about all this military stuff without touching the third rail:
The Freedom Trophy? What is that? Was there ever any doubt in the freedom of Wisconsin or Nebraska? Has anyone tried to invade either place and establish totalitarian rule – we're looking at you Iowa.
Big Ten marketing person No. 1: This is ham-fisted and meaningless. Fans are going to make fun of us.
Big Ten marketing person No. 2: Call it the Freedom Trophy and say it honors veterans. The trophy will consist of two massive football stadiums merged together with an enormous American flag coming out of it. They can't make fun of that.
You don't like freedom? You don't honor veterans? You don't like big stadiums and big flags? You Pac-12 commie.
A lot of the time it feels like Honoring Our Heroes is done to have some of that military mojo rub off on whoever's doing the honoring. It's a way to signify you're a good person in the safest way possible, and is thus the place please-everyone rubes run to when they don't have any ideas. No coincidence that as people started hating on Dave Brandon more and more that the military tributes became a literally every-game occurrence.
Hooray Denard. Denard Robinson is a legit NFL running back after a difficult first year, and he did it in the Denard way:
Early in the offseason, Robinson knocked on the door of head coach Gus Bradley.
"I don't want to go through another season like that one," he told him. "Tell me what I need to do to get on the field."
Bradley laid out a plan for Robinson. The Jaguars believed Robinson, who weighed 194 pounds when he first reported, had the frame to carry considerably more weight. The diet and training program he embraced resulted in him getting up to 215, his current weight.
Next, they wanted to enable him to make his new muscle functional. In the offseason, Richardson worked with Robinson on running violently. Robinson was naturally elusive. Richardson wanted him to be able to combine elusiveness with violence. "We worked on using a stiff arm or shoulder drop in combination with making cuts," Richardson said. "I call it use of weapons."
It helps to be unreasonably humble at all times.
I guess we'll say he's outspoken. The quotable Larry Foote:
Foote said, "They better change up their recruiting. They better get some eyes in there that can find some NFL talent. Michigan better go back to the hood (recruiting). They've got too many trust fund babies and they look like that when they're playing. They've got guys out there – they're just happy. They're happy they're playing at Michigan. But that's not Michigan football; the attitude has to change."
When Stanford, Notre Dame, and even Duke have significantly outperformed Michgian of late I don't buy that argument. It's about what happens after the recruits get to school, not before.
Backlash backlash backlash backlash. It's turtles all the way down in the Penn State case. I remember being uncomfortable at the time with Penn State's punishment, because having the NCAA step in on such a heinous thing was like giving Charles Manson a traffic ticket.
But they did, and then one of the lawsuits still pending against the NCAA showed that officials were uncertain if they had the power to do the thing that they did. A lot of people went LOL NCAA at this, but I'm with John Gasaway:
You’ll also have to forgive me for not being troubled to find that NCAA staffers questioned whether they were doing the right thing. In fact I would feel far better about the process behind the Freeh Report, for example, if emails surfaced wherein investigators were fretting over whether they were really doing justice to Penn State president Graham Spanier. My worry is precisely that there are no such emails because there were no such qualms.
Whether it was a good idea or not, a bluff or not, Penn State signed the consent decree and took its steadily declining lumps. Was it PR to look like the NCAA doesn't accept the idea of harboring a Sandusky? Or was it the NCAA not accepting the idea of a Sandusky? They're the same thing.
Where are they now: Dave Brandon edition. A Domino's in Saginaw saw a tense standoff between a pissed-off customer and the manager devolve into a shouting match featuring these words from the manager:
Apparently a manager at the helm of this Saginaw, Michigan, Domino'scursed out a customer who confronted him over hanging up on her son. The kid reportedly complained after getting a lightly sauced pie instead of one with "white" sauce. Hence this exchange: "Did you come in for your money back? Because I really don't care about your opinion," the manager says.
I appreciate the fact that Brandon was trying to lessen the financial blow of his buyout by getting outside work, but maybe next time get a job that doesn't involve customer service.
Etc.: Saturday doesn't look any prettier in advanced stats. Jack Kennedy talks to the Big House Report about Saturday and Hoke's status. Sounds reasonable. Les Miles on… economics! Fired Domino's manager says some bad stuff at customer including "I really don't care about your opinion."
MVictors on Willie Heston.
Save Us, Basketball
The football recruiting news is as expected; later in this post you'll read about Michigan's latest decommitment and multiple commits visiting other schools. Recruiting news on the basketball front has an outside shot of being much, much better in the very near future, so let's begin with that.
Perry "PJ" Dozier Jr., a five-star in the 2015 class, is a 6'6" true point guard in the Darius Morris mold. The South Carolina native will announce his decision tomorrow at 12:30 pm between five schools: Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Despite a very good official visit to Ann Arbor back in September, it looks unlikely Dozier will choose Michigan, unfortunately; basketball recruitniks expect it to come down to Louisville and South Carolina, with the Cardinals seemingly having the edge. So I guess this isn't great news, barring a huge surprise. But it's not bad news, at least?
Anyway, I'll have a much more complete outlook on M's basketball recruiting in the near future. In the meantime, the bad news...
[Hit THE JUMP if you want to, I guess.]
Previously: Gardening Lessons (The Story), Preview Podcast, Preseason All-Big Ten Teams, Point Guards, Wings Part 1 (LeVert, Irvin), Wings Part 2 (Chatman, Wilson, Dawkins, MAAR), Bigs (Donnal, Doyle, Bielfeldt), Media Day Player Interviews, Big Ten Newcomers, Big Ten Outlook Part 1, Big Ten Outlook Part 2
Improvement from the rest of the squad should help M's young centers get acclimated. [Fuller]
Michigan had their first and only exhibition of the 2014-15 season last night, and on Saturday the games start counting for real. Even by John Beilein Michigan squad standards, this is a young group facing a lot of pressing questions, and the answers will determine if the Wolverines continue the remarkable success of recent seasons or fall back to the pack a bit.
There are so many, in fact, that the preseason mailbag will be a two-parter. Today, Alex and I address your questions about the young group of centers, the possibility of more zone defense this season, and proper expectations for Zak Irvin's sophomore season.
The latest mailbag said you're looking for basketball questions, so here's my biggest wonder heading into the season: What should my expectations be for the production from the center position, a position that seems to be a weakness on an otherwise strong team?
Beilein said he wants Mark [Donnal] or Ricky [Doyle] to eventually emerge as The Guy, but if we consider them to be a platoon (can we call it Donnoyle?), what output should we be happy with and what should concern us? Will Mark Donnal be the perfect fit everyone's been talking about (I won't make the age-old comparison), or will he be overpowered by mean scary Big Ten centers? Will Ricky Doyle be a calming presence on the defense or will we see that classic freshman deer-in-the-headlights look too often?
This message got a lot longer than I planned, but it's just something that I've been discussing at length with the basketball beat writers, and I think it's something that a lot of the fan base is wondering. Let me know what you think!
Ace: Let's start with a point of reference. Last season in Big Ten play—which removes Mitch McGary's scattered nonconference minutes from the equation—the combination of Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford averaged 11.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.4 turnovers, and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 70.7% from the field.
A few of those numbers are unlikely to be replicated by a trio of freshman centers—while he'll see plenty of time at the four and maybe even the three, DJ Wilson will get a lot of run at the five—and Max Bielfeldt. Morgan and Horford were both very efficient finishers who didn't take jumpers; that's not the case for any of M's current centers—even Doyle is comfortable shooting from mid-range—and just by virtue of them taking more jumpers, that shooting percentage is going to dip. Replacing seniors with freshmen usually means rebounding will go down and turnovers up, too.
All three main center options have scoring potential, though. Donnal missed his only three-point attempt last night and wasn't a major factor on offense, but if he can consistently stretch the defense he should stick as the starter. Ricky Doyle could easily surpass him, however, and even provide the type of scoring that Morgan/Horford did. Doyle is the bigger guy and looks to have more potential as a rebounder—he had an impressive putback last night—and his tape from high school and the Italy trip shows he's adept at finishing near the basket with either hand. Wilson, when he's at the five, will really spread the floor, and he's easily the best passer and ballhandler of these three; he may also be the best outside shooter.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of this excessively long answer and much more.]
11/10/2014 – Michigan 86, Wayne State 43 – 0-0
Hey: basketball. I took in the exhibition, which exhibited various things I'll now detail.
I hope this was just nerves. Freshmen had a rough shooting night with the limited exceptions of Doyle and Dawkins, none more so than Chatman. He airballed his first two threes, took a bad, contested long two, and bricked a THJ-style pull-up long two; he did hit a three late.
On the good side, his other bucket was an impressive drive to the basket with a finish that made a lot of people look at their buddy so they could do this:
He also added four assists and led the team in rebounding with six; he also looked capable of switching on the perimeter at least as effectively as GRIII.
Shooting was never a strength for Robinson—he developed an elbow jumper he was proficient at but hovered around 30% from three—so even if Chatman isn't a great threat from deep Michigan won't be backsliding too much. And Beilein believes he can coach up anyone's three point stroke.
DJ Wilson. Wilson's going to be an interesting case this year. He's skinny as all git out but with his size and hops he's going to be much better at altering shots than anyone on last year's team other than Horford. Michigan has been playing him mostly at the 5 with occasional forays at the 4, and while Doyle's lingering ankle thing has something to do with that you get the feeling that when opponents have a lanky dude in there Michigan is going to counter with Wilson.
I could have sworn Wilson hit two late threes but the box score only gives him credit for one. Foot on the line? Either way he mitigated some of the freshman shooting questions by hitting those late.
Aubrey Dawkins. Skinnier version of GRIII. Can shoot some, 6'6", athletic, not going to create much. Had some issues dribbling.
MAAR. Or "Rahk." Rahk appears to be Beilein's favorite way of saying Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman without taking up nine syllables, and it has its appeal.
Anyway, MAAR has a much better handle than the rest of the freshman and is your third point guard. He had a nice take to the hoop that he followed with a layup that was way too hard; he had a second drive on which he'd gotten an angle to the bucket when his handle betrayed him and the ball looped out of bounds.
He ended up not hitting a shot; early yet.
Center fight. There are four options: Mark Donnal, Ricky Doyle, DJ Wilson, and Max Bielfeldt. I expect Doyle to emerge into a clear starter, with Donnal giving him a breather. The lack of pick and pop game with Donnal on the court says somethin' about somethin'.
Doyle is both one inch taller and somehow way bigger than Donnal. He seems to have considerably more defensive upside. He's also finished much better around the basket in the two glimpses we've seen of him this fall. Donnal has been a below the rim Morgan type without Morgan's crazy efficiency; Doyle is finishing with both hands easily because he's got those super-huge hands and long arms that allow him to gently deposit the ball on the glass from whatever angle is called for.
This person looks like a person who will finish around the rim. [Fuller]
Wilson will rotate in at the 4 and the 5 depending on matchups and how Chatman's seemingly mercurial shooting stroke is going.
The returning folks. All looked pretty good minus some uncharacteristic three-point foibles (Irvin, Walton, Albrecht, and LeVert combined to go 3 for 12) that we can ignore because we have full-season samples for all those guys in which they hit 40% from deep.
I got this [Fuller]
LeVert looked ready to take on the alpha dog mantle passed down from Burke to Stauskas and now to him. He's taking the late clock shots; his length and ability to get to good spots on the floor mean these are usually okay shots.
Irvin was much more active on the boards, hauling in five rebounds in 29 minutes, and even had shots from within the arc(!). On the podcast we discussed how Irvin needs to be a "three AND" guy this year, whether that's perimeter defense or rebounding or sometimes venturing inside the line. So far so good.
Walton was hampered by a scary-looking injury that turned out to be a cramp; he was very assured on the ball and got to the line seven times—would have been eight if not for the injury.
The rotation. Until such time as one of the freshmen gains enough trust to be put out there in pressure situations, expect the main backcourt sub to be Spike. Beilein's always kept a short bench and Albrecht's utterly reliable with the ball in his hands. This is Beilein's favorite thing. He'll spot Walton for eight minutes a game and then Michigan will have ten or so minutes with both points on the floor, leaving 5-10 minutes for MAAR and Dawkins to scrap over.
A lack of flow. You know it's early and you've got a bunch of freshmen when your guards have to keep yelling at the posts to screen for them. Michigan used its time on offense inefficiently, with several incidents where plays had to be reset because of poor spacing and miscommunication.
In particular, there was one play featuring DJ Wilson where Wilson had two obvious opportunities to drift to the three point line in the corner and either force someone out of the middle or get a good shot. Instead he hung out 15 feet from the basket and neither option opened up. He was far from the only culprit, but that stood out as a moment where I may have been more familiar with Beilein's system than freshman X—I blinked a couple times because I couldn't understand what Wilson was doing.
Beilein seems pretty frustrated right now:
"We don’t have a very good package in, and I’m trying to figure out how that’s happened,” Beilein said. “We held things back today so it’s not on film, but it’s not very far right now. We’re creeping along. We’re moving in the right direction, but it’s really slow.”
He added, “It’s my biggest quandary every day, is whether we can move forward faster. We spend so much time on defense, because we realize that shots aren’t (always) going to drop. It’s hard to believe that we went to Europe and we aren’t further along and we’re not moving as quickly as I would have in past years.”
This team isn't appreciably younger than either of his previous two, which were amongst the youngest in the country. Hopefully they get it figured out before the preseason tourney rolls around.
How to stay good
Michigan endured yet another talent exodus this offseason and has to regress from last year's all-time Kenpom offensive efficiency record. To maintain their elite level they're going to have to make it up in other places. Here are a few candidates.
Rebound some low-hanging fruit. Michigan's rebounding production out of the 3 and 4 spots last year was not impressive. 6'6" PF Glenn Robinson had a 6% OREB rate and an 11.5 DREB rate; 6'6" SF Zak Irvin had a 3.3% OREB rate and a 7.7 DREB rate. Irvin was in fact the least likely guy on the team to get a defensive rebound—even Spike Albrecht beat him out.
A selection of 6'7"-ish forwards in the Big Ten last year:
- Troy Williams, IU: 8 OREB and 15 DREB
- LaQuinton Ross, OSU: 7.5 and 17
- Terran Petteway, NEB: 3 and 15
- Shavon Shields, NEB: 5 and 16
- Jon Ekey, ILL: 8 and 15
- Aaron White, Iowa: 7 and 19
- Melsahn Basabe, Iowa: 12 and 23
- Branden Dawson, MSU: 13 and 21
- Denzel Valentine, MSU: 5 and 18
(Should be noted that the Nebraska guys' OREB rates are a reflection of a team-wide allergy.) It isn't too hard to find guys with much better production. While Dawson and White are rebounding specialists who find a lot of their value as players in what happens when a shot caroms off the rim, no one is going to mistake Williams, Petteway, Valentine, or Ross for D-oriented role players.
Michigan can seriously beef up production here, and so far so good. Chatman led the team with six rebounds; Irvin had five.
Block some dang shots. Michigan had vanishingly little shotblocking on the team last year. Michigan was 308th nationally, and this contributed to their very bad two-point D.
The freshmen promise to change that. Wilson is long and bouncy and once Doyle settles in it's easy to see him getting his share of swats. His arms are oversized. Michigan had six blocks in this game, albeit against a highly undersized opponent. If Doyle and Wilson can block some shots, alter others, and convince drivers to pull up because of the first two items, that goes some distance towards repairing last year's conference-worst two point D.
Get some steals. Steals are great. Open-court turnovers lead to transition opportunities on which Michigan is deadly. Michigan had eight, with the sneaky Spike Albrecht picking up three.
Stay in front. We all love Nik Stauskas but his defense was never a strong suit; meanwhile Robinson was not awesome laterally and gave up some inches to most of the guys he was checking. Replacing Stauskas with Irvin could be a major upgrade—too early to tell yet—and having athletes like Chatman and Wilson who are close to GRIII's level while also being significantly longer should help the D recover from its swoon into the triple digits on Kenpom.
Hooray basketball. Hooray not being scoreless 30 minutes into the game.