Peoples-Jones sets a date
5* MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones will announce Thursday evening on ESPN. There has been a Rashan Gary-esque recruiting panic... wait just a sec...
There. Anyway, Gary-esque recruiting panic based on a rumor that DPJ was down to OSU and FSU posted literally during his official visit to Michigan. A last-second in-home from OSU only amped up the fainting couch wing of Michigan fandom further.
Nobody seems to buy this. Steve Lorenz, Steve Wiltfong, Allen Trieu, Sam Webb, and Bill Greene all believe it will be Michigan. Even the gentleman who posted the thing didn't believe it, which sort of defeats the purpose of being an information gatekeeper.
It is worth noting that DPJ, like Harris, doesn't talk to people much or at all and thus most of these assertions are less than iron-clad. I mentioned this last week: this is not a recruitment where anyone is sure what will happen because the recruit is so quiet, and in those circumstances you can have the proverbial shocker. It would still be a shock.
Obligatory Najee Harris section
Nobody knows. The end.
[After the JUMP: a real Najee Harris section! That is no more informative than the first one!]
MAAR probably gets a pass for not contesting this one.
I regret responding to this with "that's easy enough":
I went back through the UCLA game and charted each three-point attempt by both teams save for the last couple minutes of garbage time. The no-late-heavy shot contest system is relatively self-explanatory and looks at how well the defender guarded the shot attempt. Heavy contest shots, especially from beyond the arc, are bad ideas; late contest is enough of an opening to get a good look but isn't completely wide open; no contest is wide the hell open.
When breaking it down by halves, the story of the game emerges:
|No Contest||Late Contest||Heavy Contest|
|Michigan (1st Half)||3/4||7/10||2/2|
|Michigan (2nd Half)||0/1||2/6||0/1|
|UCLA (1st Half)||5/6||5/6||0/2|
|UCLA (2nd Half)||3/3||3/4||0/2|
I expected a bit more NBA Jam (i.e. drilling heavily contested shots) in UCLA's first-half results; instead, I saw a series of errors that led to good looks, and those errors got way worse in the second half. Meanwhile, Michigan's offense stopped generating easy looks beyond the arc in the second half at the same time they cooled off on tougher shots.
[Hit THE JUMP for blood, oh god, so much blood.]
Why did Peppers seem to disappoint on offense this season in the big games? Lack of creativity? Poor execution on his part, maybe from limited reps? OL play? Cosmic misfortune?
There are many reasons.
- Defenses tended to absurdly over-focus on him when he entered the game. This resulted in a bunch of plays where his presence as a decoy created huge chunks for guys not named Peppers.
- Michigan's read option package was basic. Teams started scrape exchanging against it and Michigan did not have a response to it. This resulted in a number of plays that looked like bad reads but were in fact RPS minuses. It probably would have been more effective to just single-wing, or use Peppers as a tailback.
- He got some bad edge blocking from tight ends.
- Cosmic misfortune always plays a role.
In retrospect the QB package should have been dumped midseason, probably after Illinois shut it down, and Michigan should have moved on to something else. They've been good at doing this so far under Harbaugh—fullback traps fell out of the offense this year—but not so here.
The Pepcat package featured something every high schooler is relentlessly drilled on these days: defending a crazy athlete QB. Michigan is not a spread option team. They are strictly dilettantes in that department. So you had a primitive attempt at spread option going up against the last ten years of defensive advancements against it. That is ceased working after a shock and awe period isn't a surprise.
Peters chatter, QB competition
daddy needs a new Andrew Luck [Fuller]
There never seemed to be much insider chatter floating around this year about how Peters was performing in practice. Obviously last year the big chatter was that, O'Korn was out performing Rudock. Question 1.) Do we know anything about how he performed this fall in practice?
Secondly, I for one was pleasantly surprised with Speight's performance this year and I believe exceeded what many's expectations were for him.
That being said -
Question 2.) Do you anticipate any serious competition next year between a Redshirt Peters and Speight for the starting gig?
After a productive spring, Peters chatter went to zero in fall camp. You shouldn't read anything into that, though. O'Korn got talked up last year because Rudock was so bad early and there was nobody else to talk about except Shane Morris, who was not a viable target for chatter after last year's Minnesota game.
Michigan had determined it was going to redshirt Peters, he got put on the scout team, and Speight played well enough that backup talk was restricted to a few off weeks. O'Korn's existence, meanwhile, kept what backup chatter existed focused on him until Indiana.
I do expect a serious QB competition this offseason. By "serious" I mean "there is at least a 20% chance someone not named Speight is the starting QB." Brandon Peters is extremely good and should eat up ground quickly since he was not one of those QB guru guys. Speight had a good sophomore season but remains someone else's QB that Harbaugh is making do with, and we saw him switch horses midstream in San Francisco. Speight's weak performance against Iowa and turnovers against OSU leave the door open for a challenger.
I'd be surprised if Peters passed Speight. I would not be shocked.
[After the JUMP: blueshirting, sartorial discussion, why do anything really I mean seriously]
fair enough, Lonzo Ball
Michigan made 12 first-half three-pointers, only five short of the school record for an entire game. The Wolverines rebounded four of their ten missed shots in the half. They held a turbo-charged UCLA squad to two fast-break points.
Lonzo Ball pulled up from just inside the midcourt logo and tied the game at 50 as the half expired. Michigan had played a best-case scenario half and the Bruins matched them shot for shot. UCLA made ten threes themselves in the opening stanza. Only one team was equipped to sustain such a pace.
TJ Leaf, the former Michigan recruit, gave the Bruins the lead on the first possession of the second half, and they never lost it. This spectacular sequence from Ball and center Ike Onigbonu, who filled in more than capably for injured starter Thomas Welsh, stretched the lead to eight:
Alford and Leaf would push it to double digits with back-to-back buckets. Michigan made a couple mini-runs to get as close as five but they never had a shot to tie the game over the last 17:58. As the Wolverines offense sputtered, UCLA's continued to roar; the Bruins connected on 20-for-29 from the field in the second half while Michigan only went 10-for-29.
An impressive performance by Zak Irvin—who had 18 points, five rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and only one turnover—went for naught. Derrick Walton had another quiet performance, going 2-for-7 from the field for nine points with two assists and two turnovers, and if Michigan hoped to keep pace, they needed both their senior leaders to be lights-out tonight. One was, one wasn't. That isn't exactly a surprise to anyone who's followed their careers.
Michigan wasn't good enough to beat UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. That they hung with them for a half was impressive in and of itself, even if the second half left a feeling of demoralization. The Wolverines aren't an elite team this year; we knew that. The Bruins may be one; they've certainly looked the part. If Beilein's squad can keep up their early-season defense—judging that based on tonight is harsh, to say the least—and sprinkle in a little more of tonight's first-half shooting, they just might be a pretty good team themselves. Getting good performances from both their seniors at once would help; thus far, those games have been few and far between.
|WHAT||#27 Michigan (7-2) at #12 UCLA (9-0)|
Los Angeles, California
|WHEN||8 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||UCLA -7 (KenPom)|
PBP: Dave Flemming
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball can and will score from just about anywhere on the court.
While pulling out a last-minute win against Texas on Tuesday night provided a nice morale boost, it may not do a whole lot for Michigan's tournament resume. The Longhorns, at 4-4, are currently the only Big 12 team without a winning record, and KenPom projects them to finish last in the conference.
A victory at UCLA, on the other hand, would almost assuredly hold up as a signature win. This is Michigan's last chance to tally one more of those in non-conference play; they finish out with Central Arkansas, Maryland Eastern Shore, and Furman before tipping off Big Ten play on New Year's Day at Iowa.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||2||Lonzo Ball||Fr.||6'6, 190||86||21||134||Not At All|
|Probable top-5 NBA pick next year. Deadeye shooter, excellent finisher and passer.|
|G||20||Bryce Alford||Sr.||6'3, 185||84||17||127||Not At All|
|Very efficient low-usage shooter: 50/42/90 splits this season with a good FT rate.|
|G||10||Isaac Hamilton||Sr.||6'5, 195||77||23||117||Not At All|
|Takes 26% of UCLA's shots when on the floor with 59/45/80 splits. Dang.|
|F||22||TJ Leaf||Fr.||6'10, 225||72||21||135||Not At All|
|Former M recruit is 55-for-77 on twos, 9-for-18 on threes. Decent rebounder and shot-blocker.|
|C||40||Thomas Welsh||Jr.||7'0, 245||64||16||127||Very|
|True seven-footer is top 100 in def. rebound and block rates, makes 57% of FGs.|
|G||3||Aaron Holiday||So.||6'1, 185||64||22||118||No|
|Backup point is a little turnover-prone, but posting 52/53/73 shooting splits with high FT rate.|
|F||14||Gyorgy Goloman||Jr.||6'11, 215||27||20||106||Very|
|Foul-prone backup big rebounds and protects the rim well, 16-for-26 on twos.|
|C||13||Ike Anigbogu||Fr.||6'10, 250||13||20||99||Very|
|Impressive rebound and block rates in very limited minutes, sky-high foul rate.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Moe Wagner is earning John Beilein's trust on defense. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
The Block Is Hot
I wasn't planning to do another Basketbullets before the UCLA game until I sat through John Beilein's presser after Tuesday night's win over Texas. Beilein is coming around to the idea that Moe Wagner is, in fact, his best all-around big man, and a big reason for that showed itself on the game's deciding play:
We got done what we had to get done. Moe’s block at the end was big. Moe’s blocking shots really for the first time in his life. His first blocked shots last year I think were in the Tulsa game. He’s learning when he should leave his feet, when he shouldn’t, to be a bigger presence at the rim. Really pleased with his development, as with DJ.
Beilein's memory is pretty good: Wagner had two blocks in last season's late-November win over Charlotte, then didn't record another before his four-block breakout against Tulsa in the NCAA tournament. Wagner has always possessed the requisite length and athleticism to be a good rim protector; now he's developing the necessary timing to challenge and alter shots without picking up fouls. That was on full display with Wagner's game-sealing block, which came after he and DJ Wilson seamlessly executed a switch. Wagner stayed vertical and waited until the last moment before swatting the ball away:
After recording blocks in two of his 29 appearances last year, Wagner has six in nine games. DJ Wilson has 14. Those two almost entirely account for Michigan's team block rate rising from 6.1% (308th nationally) last season to 8.4% (189th) this year, the team's highest mark since Beilein's first season, when Ekpe Udoh had 92 of the team's 160 blocks. Incidentally, that's the last time Michigan started two bigs. While there's still plenty of room to improve, those two have added a new dimension to the defense.
[Hit THE JUMP for Billy Donlon's clutch veto, a look at the game-winning bucket, and more.]