“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
|WHAT||Penn State at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan –25 (Kenpom)|
Right: Yeah, it's been that kind of year.
Last year, Penn State was about as close as it's going to get to a one-man team—point guard Tim Frazier had one of the top ten usage rates in the country and dragged the Nittany Lions to a 12-20 record (4-14 B1G). The good news for PSU was that Frazier would return for his senior season. The bad news was that they were still expected to finish at or near the bottom of the conference.
Then, just four games into this season, Frazier was lost for the year with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Penn State still managed to get by with an 8-4 start fueled by a soft nonconference schedule, but since then they've lost all 12 of their Big Ten games, half of them by double digits.
Two of Penn State's guards will almost never leave the court—both D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall play over 85% of available minutes. Newbill has taken over Frazier's role of primary ballhandler and playmaker, averaging over 16 points and four assists per game, but with poor shooting numbers (45% from two, 20% from three) and a decent number of turnovers. Marshall spends more time on the perimeter but isn't exactly a sharpshooter, hitting 43% from two and 31% from three.
Rounding out the starting backcourt is 6'3" guard Nick Coletta, who joined the team as an open tryout walk-on after spending parts of his first semester on campus as a practice player for the women's team. Coletta is extremely low-usage and barely goes inside the arc, attempting just 11 two-pointers all years (he's made three); he's mostly a spot-up shooter, connecting on 32% of his threes.
6'6" forward Ross Travis is the team's best rebounder on both ends. He's also having a brutal season on offense, hitting just under 40% of his twos while going a Ronnie Johnson-esque 5-for-38 from downtown. He's joined in the frontcourt by 6'9" forward Sasa Borovnjak—the only Nittany Lion with an offensive rating above 100 aside from Frazier—who hits 51% of his shots (all twos) and has remarkably low rebounding numbers for a post player.
You get the picture. There's a reason this team hasn't won a conference game and isn't projected by KenPom to have better than a 14% shot at any of the remaining games on their schedule.
Mostly covered above. Penn State's has just two wins over KP100 opponents, one in overtime at a neutral site against #59 Providence when Frazier was still healthy, the other by three points at home against #64 Bucknell. Their next-best win came against #182 Army, and their last win of any kind came in 2012.
Four factors, conference only.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||39.9 (12)||19.2 (10)||29.1 (10)||31.6 (7)|
|Defense||49.1 (10)||16.9 (9)||30.4 (5)||58.5 (12)|
Those numbers paint a clear enough picture of a terrible team—I'm having a difficult time even fathoming how a team can foul that much on defense—but here are some others:
- Shooting (offense): 40.4 2P%, 25.7 3P%, both dead last in the Big Ten.
- Shooting (defense): 47.9 2P%, 34.4 3P%
- Opponents score 29.2% of their points at the free throw line, far beyond the D-I average of 20.3%. When non-conference games are included, they're third in the country in that stat, and that's not one where you want to be at the top.
As a result, Penn State has an offensive efficiency of 86.9 and a defensive efficiency of 106.3 in conference play. They lost at home to Nebraska. I feel mean just talking about Penn State basketball.
Don't embarrass yourselves. Please.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 25
Losing this game would redefine "debacle" and make Michigan fans pine for the days of getting merely humiliated in East Lansing. This seems very unlikely to happen.
Nobody else has posted a preview yet. Given the opponent and the fact that I'm writing this on a Saturday, that makes a certain amount of sense.
Our podcast this week was actually recorded in the immediate aftermath of the Wisconsin game, but due to technical difficulties I couldn't get my hands on the file for editing until yesterday. So we've dropped the Wisconsin bit—which sucked anyway—and now present the nearly hour-long 2013 recruiting class overview and award presentation, which is something other than Ace and I moaning about how terrible everything is. Except for the intros and outros, which are.
If it sounds different, the audio is lower-fidelity than it usually is, not that this is particularly important for two guys talking to each other.
Offense! Logan Tuley Tillman as Schrodinger's recruit. Sure things don't exist on the OL, but if they did they would be a couple of those guys. Derrick Green and such.
Defense! Taco Charlton as Logan Tuley Tillman. Henry Poggi as Mike Martin if Poggi can also become a slab of muscle more stone than man. Two flavors of cornerback, and Dymonte Thomas as no Michigan safety in memory.
Gettin' my Rob Parker on. Not really, but we finish with some gimmick superlative type stuff.
Music. "The Rat," The Walkmen. "Caring Is Creepy," The Shins. Creepy breakup songs are always best for recruiting. The latter is a shout-out to Black Heart Gold Pants and their much-better-titled version of the Hello post.
The usual links:
Within minutes of posting the Rapture Guy gif last week, a friend alerted me that she did, in fact, know Rapture Guy, and could set me up with an interview—that is, as soon as Rapture Guy returned from Mardi Gras. Clearly, this would be an interesting interview, and on Wednesday evening I got the chance to sit down and chat with the star of the latest MGoMeme.
Rapture Guy has chosen to remain anonymous, and given whose opinion he sought on the matter, I think we can all respect that decision.
"Lloyd Brady is actually a friend of mine, so I know his real name," Rapture Guy told me. "When someone posted on my Facebook wall, 'you’re the new Lloyd Brady,' I was like, ohhhhhh god. I said to him, 'you did it right. I’m going to follow that idea. I don’t want my name out there.'"
He was kind enough to give us a few background details anyway. The man you see above is a junior at the Ford School of Public Policy, as well as a Chinese minor, and he hails from New Jersey—that's where the instinctive fist-pumping comes from, he says.
After the jump, you can find the entire transcript of our interview—in it, he finds a higher power, compares the Ohio State game to Mardi Gras, explains the magical qualities of his banana suit, and by chance runs into his counter-MGoMeme in New Orleans.
[ASSOC. EDITOR'S NOTE: After discussion with the author, this article has been edited materially from its original form in order to remove parts that could have been damaging to someone's reputation based only on hearsay and a grainy gif, and which took attention away from rapture guy. I want to thank the readers who argued with me and turned me around on this--Ace asked both Brian and me to approve the original--and I apologize for having to kill off their comments in order to follow their wisdom.]
[HIT THE JUMP]
Why yes there is a story behind this photo:
"I took this picture at the pre-Super Bowl NFL Tailgate Party last week of my brother and Urban Meyer. My brother's hat was backwards but he twisted it around as I set up for the pic. Thought you might enjoy."
--Jared of Sports Power Weekends
As you may have heard on National Signing Day Urban Meyer inked a lot of five-stars (and poached as many three-stars from his conference rivals), then rounded on the rest of the B1G for not faring so well. MaizeNBlueInDC took to the Scout rankings to confirm, compiling the recruits by state to demonstrate how each conference was doing versus its footprint. He starts with a chart that seems to suggest the Big Ten recruited just like every other major conference except the SEC which I graph:
The parts I faded are the top two teams from each conference according to Scout's team rankings, respectively Bama/Texas A&M, UCLA/Wash(!), Mich/OSU, Okla/Texas, Clemson/FSU, and Rutgers/Cincy. That's what Urbz is whining about; he and we finished with the 1 and 2 teams to Scout, and the fourth Big Ten team doesn't appear until two spots above Kentucky. Course I'm not sure what Meyer expects to say at the coaches meeting except "Stop being MAC coaches promoted to your Peter Principle limit." For QED purposes, a reminder of Big Ten coaching hires since 2007:
- 2007: Saban/Tressel acolyte who turned Cincy into a BCS team, LSU's DC, Mack Brown's recruiting guy, Indiana's OC who coached Ball State before Hoke.
- 2008: WVU's head coach who invented the spread 'n shred
- 2009: Eastern Kentucky's head coach (hired in '08 under grooming plan)
- 2010: Bob Stoop's longtime OC
- 2011: SDSU's head coach, NIU's head coach
- 2012: Two-time national championship winner at Florida, Toledo's head coach (CBs under Tressel), a Belichick assistant
- 2013: Utah State's head coach, Kent State's head coach (WRs under Tressel)
Recently the SEC has taken to hiring rising star high school coaches who spend a year at Arkansas State, but they've also pilfered Bielema and hired a string of successful coordinators and guys who turned mid-majors into Top 10 teams, and, you know, former national championship winners who tried the NFL because their NCAA dynasties were no longer challenging.
Returning to the Diary of the Week at hand, the rest of the charts use the state data to show things like the SEC has a third of the nation's talent while Big Ten states accounted for a sixth—every other conference is less than us. In the comments turd furguson charted where the schools line up in ranking vs avg prospect rank to see if they're just hauling in more kids period. That also makes for easy graphing and general usefulness so:
In other takes on meeting Meyer's standards, here's EGD with a list of Urban-approved, non-"Don't be a Peters'd MAC coach" tips for Big Ten coaches heading out on the recruiting trail.
Basketball, the What's Leftening: Two of the three remaining tough games for basketball were just played. Our Big Ten opponents all have enough rough stuff still to play that everyone's expected to end up 14-4.
Etc. A better-late-than-never wrap-up of things Brian said on the D.C. trip—if you ask your local alumni chapter nicely (and you don't live in a crappy, unvisitable place like Dallas) you too can get a visit. The weekly LSAClassof2000 stats thing is a Geographic survey of freshmen in the Bentley database that's mostly useless if you don't take out the walk-ons—I had a hell of a time with that same problem when I did the historical team makeup from Ohio (the yellow part) graph for 2011 HTTV. Free throw attempts = EFFORT (and refs but mostly EFFORT!) A made-up backstory for rapture guy (the guy who reached ecstasy in that one gif); the real story will be on these pages soon courtesy of Ace. Lacrosse opponents primer. Please give details. Blockhams was pretty funny.
Requested: A diary on Michigan's ski team, which is club but I'm told is pretty good this year and has Bob Thomas's son on it (and competes in a division called "Michigan Men").
[After the jump: the winner of last week's "Find me a Game…Stauskus lookalike from the Fab Five" contest, and some stuff from the board.]
Reasonable Responses to Disappointing Events
Last Wednesday was National Signing Day, which is a big day for unbalanced Twitter users everywhere. I had originally planned to dedicate this week’s entire TWIT to the scores of unstable fans who didn’t get what they wanted from Recruiting Claus. But after sifting through the charred remnants of the interweb, I opted to just share with you a small share of this Cornucopia of Derp. I’d like to leave you with at least SOME hope that the world is a fine place and worth fighting for.
Exhibit A: Vonn Bell
Bell was a five-star safety who had narrowed down his choices to Ohio State and Tennessee. Reports started filtering out on Wednesday morning that Bell would be attending Tennessee, which made it even more awkward for Vols fans when Bell subsequently chose the Buckeyes. Hilarity did NOT ensue in Knoxville.
Exhibit B: Robert Nkemdiche
Nkemdiche’s recruitment was both wild and well documented. However, by signing day most observers expected him to choose Ole Miss. So you’d think that when he DID choose Ole Miss, people would take it in stride, right? Please? Just this once?
Yeah, that wasn’t a high-probability event.
Seriously though… who are these sick people? Someone actually typed the words “Nkemdiche moms a fat walrus,” without a) noticing the glaring grammatical errors, and b) thinking “I am terrible at not being a terrible person.” We’ve all run across some players we’ve disliked on an unreasonably personal level, but for most of us spines and knees are off-limits even in the deepest recesses of our collective lizard brains. SEC, SEC, SEC.
I Believe The Children Are Our Future
We're only about six weeks into 2013, but the Creepy Tweet of the Year competition may be over before it really even began.
If you don't recognize the recipient, good for you (having a mental list of recruits' Twitter handles is one of the signs that you have a problem). It's Malik McDowell, all-everything DE from Detroit, who is rumored to be favoring Michigan and Notre Dame. The sender is a Notre Dame blogger. Remember a few months ago when Brian was complaining that there really aren't any good Notre Dame blogs? Yeah, this. It's this guy and Damefan1.
Dealer's choice as to where to focus your horrified bemusement: a blogger actively courting a recruit for a school, someone trying to get a minor to attend a certain school by promising him sex, or the rather obvious (given the language and the overwhelming whiteness of the ND student body) racial implications. I mean, I suppose there is a chance that this guy is telling McDowell that Notre Dame needs a saxophone player to back up Randy Watson. After all, what was the name of the fast-food joint in Coming to America? That's right. McDowell's:
Their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds.
Whew. Glad there's a reasonable and NOT COMPLETELY DEPLORABLE explanation for this message.
Michigan played some basketball this week. It did not go well. PROOF:
This was just a small sampling of the responses to the Wisconsin and MSU games. Among the ideas that I saw floated were:
- Fire Beilein
- Bench Trey Burke
- Bench everyone but Trey Burke
- NO, FOR SRS, FIRE BELEIEIN
- Deport Nik Stauskas
- Sacrifice Vogrich to the Flying Spaghetti Monster
- File war crime charges against Hardaway
- Cut GRIII
- Cut RGIII (not sure how this would help, but I suppose it’s worth a shot)
- Forfeit the season and go caddy for the Dalai Lama
There were more, but these were the most reasonable.
Former Michigan Athletes Engage in Twitter Battles
This was a big week for former Michigan athletes in social media. Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) kicked things off with a spat with Chadd Scott (@ChaddScott), a radio host from Jacksonville. The website Awful Announcing put together a comprehensive recap of the confrontation, but it boiled down to this:
Mr. Scott is arguing that Desmond got his spot on Gameday because of his Heisman, which is probably partly true. But was that really the "easy path"? Winning a Heisman is only an easier path when the other options are “Earn Congressional Medal of Honor,” “Win Nobel Prize,” and “defeat Contra after 11 beers.” But beyond that, how many Heisman winners have been able to parlay their win into a successful announcing career? Doug Flutie and Eddie George do some college football analysis, and Tim Brown pops up here and there, but that's about it. Besides, it’s tough to argue that ESPN doles out Gameday jobs based solely on previous success in athletics; Lee Corso was 41–68–2 as a coach at Indiana, and Kirk Herbstreit wasn’t exactly a beacon of glory at OSU.
Speaking of untenable arguments, O HAI THERE Braylon Edwards:
Braylon’s brother, Berkley Edwards, is a speedy little running back who could be described as a poor man’s Dennis Norfleet. But Michigan just moved their ACTUAL Dennis Norfleet to cornerback [/pours a little out for Brian]. So being all “OMG Michigan needed this guy” is a tough sell. Besides, Minnesota was (probably) Edwards’ only committable BCS offer. He had an offer from Iowa pulled, and his Cal offer was on hiatus because of a coaching change. So it wasn’t as if Michigan was the only guy not courting this kid. We’ll always have Michigan State ‘04, Braylon. Now please sit down.
Finally, Wednesday brought us a less-than-civil war between Anthony Wright (@ItsAntWright) and ESPN commentator and professional quasi-troll Dan Dakich (@DanDakich). Wright started things, sort of, by tweeting “Shut up Dakich” during the Game That Never Happened But Nevertheless Pains My Soul. The next day, Dakich unleashed the fury:
There are a couple of things to notice here. First, Wright didn’t use Dakich’s Twitter handle in his tweet, and Dakich doesn’t follow Wright. So to see that tweet, Dakich had to search for his own name, which is indicative of a combination of narcissism and confrontationalism (IT’S A WORD). Second, and more interestingly, is how quickly and personally Dakich struck back. Calling someone “the biggest underachiever n the history of Michigan hoops” who “dog[ged] it thru games” is pretty harsh. But then, after some back and forth, things got downright bitchy.
Yeppers, that’s an ESPN analyst calling a former player and current high school coach fat, lazy, and illiterate. Dakich is usually pretty curt on Twitter (he tends to call people dumb), but this is a different level even for him. He’s one step away going full-on Dean Wormer. I personally think that Dakich is among the better pure analysts in college basketball 85% of the time, but he spends 10% of his time trolling as hard as one can troll. The other 5% is largely unintelligible, but seems to be about a lighthouse.
Les and Bo standing around, 1989. I'm just posting this for the shorts, really. Seriously, it's almost entirely guys just standing around. In shorts. From 1989.
This thing I am the foremost practitioner of is banned! Of all people, it fell to Barry Alvarez—he of the cancelled Virginia Tech game nigh on the eve of the season—to reveal that the Big Ten is going to dump I-AA opponents posthaste:
“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Alvarez said on WIBA-AM. “It’s not very appealing…
“So we’ve made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”
I… actually, I don't care. It does restrict the availability of cupcake games, thereby driving up the costs to schedule MAC folks and the like, but not significantly. If you want to have a walkover, Eastern Michigan's just as piteous as Northern Iowa—significantly moreso, in fact.
This man either gets it or does not get it depending on whether you get it or do not get it. Indiana's athletic director:
“What they like to do is make opportunities available to wear different kinds of uniforms,” Glass told Inside the Hall, “and we’ve had multiple opportunities to wear alternative uniforms, and we’ve respectfully passed on that. … I would never say never, but I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be doing that.”
A number of college and pro teams are trying the new jerseys out. We’ve seen schools such as Michigan State and Ohio State wear alternate uniforms in recent weeks.
So why not Indiana?
“The IU men’s basketball uniform is iconic,” Glass said. “I have a poster on my wall that is kind of like a fake group photo of all the All Americans that we’ve had in basketball, and the jerseys, whether its from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or 2000s, pretty much look the same.”
Indiana fans say "thank God" in the comments, because they either get it or do not get it. Kids hate it and Indiana's program will crater on Wednesday as the Hoosiers mass defect to Bill Walton's new Hypercolor State team.
Even more rules changes, these of the on-field variety. It's February, which means something something flowers and the NCAA's annual set of rules changes. These are just proposals at the moment, so don't write your congressman yet.
The flashiest is jacking up the targeting flag. Now it comes with a free ejection, and if it's after halftime a suspension for next week. Also a free review:
To balance out the incidents where a player is unfairly penalized, officiating crews would be allowed to review the hit through video replay. Said the committee, the replay official "must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field."
Sounds a lot like the interminable and pointless elbowing reviews from basketball, except people do get hit with targeting flags at the moment. This will either lead to those calls disappearing again, or a parade of defensive backs making a split-second decision wrong heading to the locker room.
Others are minor cleanups aimed at giving referees an easier time:
- all blocks below the waist are legal if they're in front of a defender, illegal otherwise
- you can't spike the ball with one or two seconds left (presumably an attempt to prevent games where one coach disposes of his headset instantly and the other stages a hunger strike for his last second on the sideline)
- an extra official for Big 12 conference games
- Lane Kiffin and Boise State can't jerk people around by switching numbers or wearing blue on a blue field.
Nothing in those is going to have an impact on your viewing. I thought we'd hear something about repealing the helmet rule, too—seems like forcing a player without a helmet to stop playing is punishment enough. No dice on that one.
Good lord. Northwestern makes the case that their basketball outfit is cursed with low-effort sketchy photoshops and lots and lots of evidence:
Look, I'd do more unfortunate things for Northwestern basketball, butmore freakish unfortunate things happened to Northwestern basketball than happened to the players in that episode of the Simpsons where all the players get into freakish unfortunate accidents.
The Wildcats are now down JerShonn Cobb, Drew Crawford, Sanjay Lumpkin, Chier Ajou, Aaron Liberman, Alex Olah, and Jared Swopshire. A few of those guys are on redshirts and may be in the lineup if Carmody was inclined to waste their final year of eligibility on a team nowhere near the NCAA tourney; even so, that's Angry Blank Hating God territory and some.
This is Darren Rovell's fault, of course.
Bring on the bee people or whatever. Gerry DiNardo might know something about something. Not football, but moving because of football:
I don't think we'll ever play with a 14 team team conference, I think it'll be 16 (by 2014, when Maryland and Rutgers join). And I don't think they're going to go through all this conversation and all this realignment and do it again for just two more schools. Where are they going to come from? Hard to say, but I would guess the footprint would continue to grow southeast, so that would leave me to believe that would be the ACC. When you look at schools institutionally, they'll be schools similar to Maryland and Rutgers. They'll be an academic fit, which I think is important, and appear to be in areas where there's population, and I think those are the similar things that has driven expansion
The Big Ten Too is totally happening you guys. This is why the league is already talking about a ten-game conference schedule.
Nebraska hockey: not happening. Their athletic director just said "nope":
On his monthly appearance on the Husker Sports Network, Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst threw cold water on the idea of the athletic department starting up a division 1 ice hockey program. The only sport Nebraska has any intention of starting is the new sand volleyball program. That's cold water, not the ice that a hockey program would need. A lot of people had hopes that with Eichorst's background at Wisconsin and the Big Ten's expansion into hockey that the Huskers might join the ranks of the division 1 schools with hockey programs. But that doesn't appear to be in the cards at this time.
The vast deserts of Nebraska have long teemed with moppets who have done nothing but play volleyball, so they should be an instant national power in that. If Nebraska isn't inclined to add hockey, I'm not sure who would. I bet it would be a success at Iowa—triangle of hate, good USHL base—but it's tough to find the money, somehow.
Zone read: not dead yet. Michigan will keep it around next year:
"Are we just getting rid of all the zone-reading? No, we're not," Borges said. "We're going to keep some of that stuff in our offense because we have a mobile quarterback, and as long as we have a quarterback that can threaten the defense as a runner, we're going to have bits and pieces of that that we're going to keep.
"Are we going to run him 25 times? That's over. We're not doing that anymore. That was logical, with what we had (in Denard Robinson). but now we want the quarterback to be more of a passer-runner, than a runner-passer."
I hope the end point is somewhere between 25 times and Gardner's ground efforts last year, where on-purpose runs were limited to some goal line rollouts and the occasional draw. I'd like to see Gardner get 6-8 called runs a game to go with whatever he gets on scrambles.
Etc.: Jeff Bridges has a go-to shirt. I'm fine with Michigan not having a member of Andy Staples's all two-star team this time around. It might be a problem that the Big Ten has eight kids on the team. Brief preview of Michigan's 2013 by me at The Saturday Edge. Goodbye, Matt Painter. Kenpom profiled.