"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
Michigan (13-11, 6-6 B1G) vs.
Illinois (16-8, 6-5)
State Farm Center,
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Thursday|
|LINE||Illinois -5 (KenPom)|
PBP: Rich Hollenberg
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: The last time out, Illinois learned they should probably guard Aubrey Dawkins. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
While Derrick Walton won't be in uniform tonight, there's hope he'll get back out there before the season is out:
"We fully expect to have him back," Beilein said. "We just don't know (when). When he can run pain-free, he's going to get back out there. Now obviously there's some rehab involved to just get his cardio back up. He can't do that yet. But when he can, two or three days later we'll put him in a game."
Beilein added that "he's been getting better every day, but certainly not ready yet." Unless he makes a very quick turnaround, it seems like the earliest he'd be available would be for the Feb. 22 game against Ohio State.
THE LAST TIME
Michigan took on Illinois at Crisler in the Big Ten opener, a game that feels like it took place decades ago. A torrent of threes from Aubrey Dawkins and a surprise changeup to the 2-3 zone led to a comeback, overtime victory on the day Jim Harbaugh was introduced as head coach.
The Wolverines need a most unlikely run to have a shot at the NCAA tournament; they'd most likely need to win five of their last six regular season games and take at least one in the B1G tourney to earn an at-large bid. Maize n Brew's Drew Hallett took a look the odds using KenPom:
NIT eligibility is based on the assumption Michigan would need to finish with a winning record to make it—no team with a losing record has qualified even after the NIT eliminated that as a set-in-stone requirement. Per KenPom, this is the second-toughest game remaining on the schedule, so a win tonight would swing those odds more in Michigan's favor.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. 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||1||Jaylon Tate||So.||6'3, 170||64||14||Very|
|High assist and turnover rates. Almost never shoots. Gets to line a ton.|
|G||25||Kendrick Nunn||So.||6'3, 190||84||23||No|
|Very good outside shooter, less efficient inside arc, solid defender|
|G||21||Malcolm Hill||So.||6'6, 230||88||24||No|
|Having a breakout season. Close to the rare 50/40/90 (2P/3P/FT%) club.|
|F||12||Leron Black||Fr.||6'7, 220||40||21||Very|
|Very good rebounder. Not a great finisher. Foul-prone.|
|C||32||Nnanna Egwu||Sr.||6'11, 250||75||14||Not really|
|Good shot-blocker, offensive rebounder. Can score in post or step out.|
|G||3||Ahmad Starks||Sr.||5'9, 170||58||22||Not really|
|Nice assist:turnover, middling shooter, not a threat inside the arc.|
|G||24||Rayvonte Rice*||Sr.||6'4, 230||15||24||No|
|Stocky, high-usage slasher now hits threes. Solid defensive rebounder.|
|G||11||Aaron Cosby*||Jr.||6'3, 205||38||19||Kinda|
|Lost starting job to Nunn with eFG% hanging around 40.|
*Rice and Cosby have been serving an indefinite suspension and it's unclear when they'll return. Both have been practicing with the team. Recent reports say Rice is expected to play while Cosby is not.
Illinois got off to a rocky 2-4 start in Big Ten play, hampered by a road-heavy schedule and Rayvonte Rice suffering a broken hand that's sidelined him since early January. The Illini have bounced back with wins in four of their last five, including Saturday's upset in East Lansing.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
A mea culpa. A couple things on the fight song kerfuffle from yesterday. One: apparently there are people who have escaped Taken memery. (They probably "take walks" and "go outside.") No part of the threat-type substance offered yesterday was serious. I'm not going to poison anyone's search results.
I was just referencing this famous Liam Neeson thing:
As for Weiss, I hopped aboard the outrage express in the manner that the generally loathsome Gawker and Jezebel do for most of their clicks. If I'd thought about this Daily article more I would have realized that this proposal was in no way going anywhere, but I took the cheap, easy route. While the goal of preventing a Michigan version of We Are ND is a laudable one, firing up the internet outragemobile is likely to get out of control and I should know better.
Seriously, though: just stop. Nothing good can come of this quest.
Now, like, call it. One of my top eleven subjects to rant about in recent times has been offenses flinging ineligible guys downfield on pass plays with impunity. Boy does that put a bee up my bonnet. Spielman, too.
It appears the hue and cry has made it to the lawmakers of our sport:
The ineligible downfield rule was shifted from three yards to one yard past the line of scrimmage. National officiating coordinator Rogers Redding said defenses were beginning to read run more frequently because offensive linemen were 3 yards downfield and then the quarterback would pass. “It's going to be easier to officiate,” he said.
Or, like, six yards downfield blocking the people who were supposed to be covering passes. One or three doesn't help much if you're just forgetting to enforce it either way; hopefully this will come with an increased emphasis on calling illegal men downfield.
(One exception: if you're engaged with a guy and just kicking his ass enough to end up downfield that should be let go. Taylor Lewan got a penalty a couple years ago because his pass blocking was too effective.)
Approximate top eleven rant subjects in recent times. Give or take:
- Dave Brandon
- excessive basketball timeouts
- block/charge calls
- Big Ten expansion
- bubble screens
- "but the spread won't work in the Big Ten"
- piped in music
- ineligible men downfield
- Tom Izzo press conferences
- when my wife puts the cheese grater in with the food manipulation devices (tongs, spoons, spatulas, etc) instead of the food reconfiguration devices (juicers, graters, mallets, zesters, etc)
This is not 'Nam, MGoWife.
Nyet. Roquan Smith will announce his decision on Friday, whereupon he won't sign an letter of intent. He'll just sign scholarship papers. Well done, sir. (It seems like it's a foregone conclusion that it's not Michigan, unfortunately.)
Add another to the list? If Justice Hayes goes and rips off 1,500 yards I'm gonna be all like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sleeper to keep an eye on: #CMU RB Thomas Rawls. Michigan transfer w/ off-field flags. But quick and physical on the field. Mid-round talent
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 10, 2015
I'm looking forward to a running backs coach with aspirations.
We would like less football, I guess. It's time once again for a college football person to mutter about changing clock rules For The Fans. Larry Scott's turn, as he advocate running the clock after first downs:
"You'll always get traditionalists who won't change it," Scott said. "I don't find it concerning or daunting that there are some that would oppose it. I think the job for commissioners is to take a step back and look at it holistically. The health and welfare of student-athletes is first and fans are a close second in terms of keeping games appealing. Three-and-a-half hours, to me, is too long."
There will always be traditionalists who are your core customers who know you're not seeing increased costs but still soaking fans with higher prices and ever-longer commercial breaks.
Why might games be longer?
The high-pressure, commercialized world of FBS is playing a much longer game than other NCAA divisions. While FBS games averaged 3:23 in 2014, the Football Championship Subdivision was 2:55, Division II was 2:45 and Division III was 2:41.
Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson also favors a running clock after first downs, citing declining attendance. FBS home attendance dropped 4 percent in 2014 for the sport's lowest average since 2000.
"I think our fans are expecting shorter games, and I think when you see attendance is down, we need to address it," Benson said.
Changing the ratio of game to red-hat-on-field the wrong way isn't going to help your attendance, but you don't actually care about that anyway. Just be honest about it. At this point it might be worth looking at some soccer models, which have to deal with an un-interruptible flow of gameplay. I'd rather have a logo next to the score chryon instead of ever-expanding ad time.
Early signing is dumb. Andy Staples addresses it:
I don’t mind an early signing period in theory because the vast majority of recruits know where they want to go, are happy with their decisions and shouldn’t have to wait. But cutting a month off of the process isn’t going to change much. It might be nice if the players who make up their minds really early had a chance to sign before their senior seasons begin, but that isn’t going to happen, either. Athletic directors would hate that since it would make it more difficult to fire a coach if he underperformed. The coach would have the leverage of half a signing class in the barn, and the AD might have to wrestle with double-digit players asking to be released from their National Letters of Intent. This happens all the time in basketball, but it’s different when the coach has 15 players signed instead of three.
Staples advocates a change to the LOI that says "the LOI is a bad thing to sign," so that's not… likely. To reiterate my excellent plan:
The MGo Recruitin' Plan
You can sign a pre-NLI any time.
The pre-NLI guarantees you a scholarship at the school you sign with, allows them to contact you whenever and prohibits other coaches from doing so. You can only take an official visit to the school you sign with.
You can withdraw the pre-NLI at any time.
On Signing Day everyone makes it official.
(Optional but highly desirable) NCAA does away with 85-player cap and allows everyone to sign up to 22-25 players a year, no exceptions. Transfers and JUCOs count.
Changing the cap from a roster limit to a yearly limit instantly does away with any oversigning mutterings since your motivation is to keep players instead of cut them.
(Via Get The Picture.)
Karan Higdon will help you with your homework. Unless you're a fellow athlete, I think that's a violation. Randos welcome though:
"Football comes second to academics and my future after it."
Higdon's a 4.0 student at Riverview. He wants to be an occupational therapist. He's involved in several academic leadership groups at his school, and has been invited to various academic summits, from Washington D.C. to Paris.
If Higdon couldn't run, catch, block or score a touchdown, he'd probably still be headed to college next year with a scholarship in tow.
Academics aren't just part of the deal for Higdon. They're the deal.
I guess he doesn't want an MFA, or he'd be at Iowa. If Fred Jackson was still here he could be a grad transfer and get drafted, maybe.
Etc.: Orson is so fascinated with Tom Crean that he wrote about him. Michigan was the 12th most-watched team in college football last year, which really says something since… uh… you know. NTDP camp thoughts featuring comments on a few Michigan recruits. SBNation has a "Jim Harbaugh is weird" page. Tom Leyden on Bo's passing.
So, I guess at this point we can admit that Michigan isn’t very good this year. And that’s okay! We can’t be super awesome and really good every year, after all.
I figured that my writing’s been too obsessed with numbers and data lately – and to be perfectly honest, it bores me after a while too – and I thought I’d do something different from what I normally do with the conference weekly recaps, because why the hell not?
After a while, I decided to focus on ten of the most intriguing, good, talented, enigmatic, compelling, or otherwise notable players in the Big Ten and write about, well, what I think of them, what I think when I watch them play, and (to a certain extent) what they mean to me and the conference at-large. Basketball can be boiled down to numbers, but it should be an affective experience as well. So here’s that side of things. Don’t read it if you’re blinded by hatred for the enemy; don’t read it if you’re just gonna skim for Michigan players because there aren’t any (though Caris would be on here if he wasn’t hurt and oh, the sadness, it’s back).
Anyways, here we go. In no particular order (five today, five tomorrow):
The discourse surrounding Tom Izzo’s Michigan State is easily definable: national broadcasters and pundits wax poetically about the – for lack of a better term – blue-collar identity of the program; State has fully actualized this aesthetic in a way that plays to the mythology of their nickname’s namesake.
With most narratives, there’s a kernel of truth to this characterization of State basketball – Spartan teams are characteristically strong on the boards, content to try pounding the ball inside with strong big men, and generally physical defensively. Though State has strayed away from this style somewhat this year (with a backcourt of Travis Trice and Bryn Forbes for most of the game, it’s hard for MSU to play their preferred bully-ball), there’s still an artifact of that idealized version of Big Ten basketball: senior forward Branden Dawson, out of Gary, Indiana.*
A former five star, Dawson is probably not destined for the NBA. His game is still often maddeningly simple – he doesn’t have any range on his jumper; he can’t create from the perimeter (and, in general, can’t dribble productively in the half-court much at all). Between those two things and his lack of size at the four spot, he’d have to reinvent himself as a defensive stopper to even have an outside chance at the next level.
But man, Dawson stays in his lane and he does what he does as well as anyone. Even at 6’6, he’s the best rebounder in the conference, capable of cleaning the defensive glass and attacking missed MSU shots with reckless abandon. He can protect the rim from the weak-side; he jumps passing lanes seemingly out of nowhere (to trigger one-man fast-breaks, which he enjoys finishing with thunderous windmill dunks); and, though he lacks the lateral quickness to be a true lockdown perimeter defender, he’s as much of a menace on that end as anyone in the conference. In my opinion, he’s the easy choice for the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He has a rudimentary post game – not that college players need much more than that – and often scores at the rim off of basket cuts or offensive boards. Aside from the highlight-reel dunks, he’s as workmanlike as they come.
East Lansing’s Sparta was built on the cornerstones of defense, rebounding, and tough interior play – over the past several years, it has been the most “Big Ten” program in the Big Ten, more or less. Branden Dawson won’t go down as one of the best players to suit up in the green and white during Izzo’s tenure, but there’s perhaps no better archetype for the ethos surrounding Izzo’s program.
*Of course Dawson is from a famously hardscrabble Rust Belt town. It fits his game perfectly.
Mini-Harden, The New Boss
Behold: Maryland’s first Big Ten star, freshman point guard Melo Trimble.
He might not be a star quite yet, but based off of his promising sample of games thus far – plus the expected improvement that he’ll experience over the course of his college career, Melo Trimble will – in all likelihood – be the first face of Maryland Hoops in the new era. Right now, he might not even be the best player on his own team (that could be senior combo guard Dez Wells), but he’s probably been the second-best freshman in the Big Ten behind Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell.
Here’s a brief primer on Melo’s game, from Trimble himself:
“It’s just something I’ve been practicing, knowing how to draw the contact. I’ve just been learning since I’ve been watching NBA players like James Harden. When he gets to the basket, he knows how to draw the foul,” Trimble said. “I watch how he does it, and I put it into my game.”
Trimble’s game is positively Hardenesque, though he’s probably a four-year player and will never draw qualitative comparisons to one of the NBA’s MVP frontrunners. Still, stylistically, there are several points where Trimble’s film study pays dividends: like Harden, he gets to the free throw line at an absurd rate (and converts from the line); he attacks the rim well for a smaller player, though he’s not a great finisher yet; he eschews low-value mid-range shots; he can shoot well from behind the arc, off the dribble or off the catch; and, most of all, he can create for himself and others – a true combo guard, equal parts distributor and scorer.
My fear is that, like many other players who rely on drawing contact and heading to the free throw line, Trimble will develop a reputation – fair or unfair – for flopping. Harden’s flops are well-chronicled, and I’m hoping that Trimble doesn’t head in that direction – or worse, face criticism for imagined dives. He’ll be around for a while, so the Big Ten will have to get used to it.
The Terrapins are – and will be – the new guys for quite a while (though they do benefit from the conference-wide disdain of fellow newcomer Rutgers) and though they’ve had an illustrious basketball history with successes on par with many of their new conference rivals, they have to forge a new identity in the Big Ten. Melo Trimble will lead the charge, two free throws at a time.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Three more guys]
I changed up the format this week since the question was a seven-parter. A reminder of who everyone is:
- Brian: Blogger of mighty repute.
- Ace: Lead reporter, recruiting/basketball guy.
- Seth: Associate editor/site business guy
- BiSB: A funny person.
- Adam Schnepp: Press correspondent (Heiko's old job) and hockey guy.
- Alex Cook: Basketball correspondent
- Dave Nasternak: J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Lead Backend Logistics Strategist and Associate Vice President of Name Day Nittany Lion Taunting and Corporate Titlery (i.e. a responsible adult)
The Question Seven Questions:
Brian: Best recruit? Most important? Most likely to outperform ranking? Best name (nationally)? Guy who got away who will haunt you? Guy you are most irrationally enthusiastic about? Overall class hot take? Harbaugh?
BiSB: Brian Cole. He's a fantastic athlete, but more importantly Cole is a guy with speed in a position where, despite the assertions of some, SPEED IS A GOOD THING THAT CANNOT BE TAUGHT AND IS A GOOD THING. One caveat: Roquan Smith takes this category if he picks Michigan.
|Five votes for the superlative in-stater. [Allen Trieu/Scout]|
Seth: Brian Cole. In a terribly weak in-state class, this player this year was the perfect opportunity for Dantonio to flip the in-state script—no weird families or MSU connections or coaches who lock players in their cars during their Michigan visits or questionable transcripts.
AND he's a great player at two positions of need. Other than Borgesian leapers at receiver there's Canteen and Drake Harris's un-Dude hamstrings. Safety is an even greater need; if by some holy luck Peppers stays through 2018, Michigan would have two safeties in 2018. I'd gladly take Cole and four more just like him.
Adam Schnepp: Zach Gentry. I am an unabashed fan of gun-slinging giants who causes Physics and Anatomy to get into a fight over who left THAT loophole open. I think about fitting him into a Harbaugh-ffense and find myself chortling under my breath. If you're a commit who makes me chortle when thinking about your fit with Michigan's system then you too could be a contender for next year's Best Recruit.
Dave Nasternak: Probably Brian Cole. I can see arguments for Gentry, but I think that Cole is the best overall player, right now. And I think (hope?) he is the only member from this class who will not see a 2015 redshirt...if for no other reason than they just will not be able to keep him off of the field. There are a handful of places that he should be able to contribute early -WR, Returner, ST coverage, etc.
Ace: Another vote for Cole. He's such a good athlete that it's hard to imagine he won't end up contributing somewhere, and he's especially impactful with the ball in his hands.
Alex Cook: Brian Cole. The whole "the best players from Michigan go to Michigan" thing is, um, patently false, but there's a good chance that Cole will be the best homegrown recruit in this cycle. Oh, and he was a presumed State lean before committing to Michigan - and he stuck through the coaching change? Great. I'm sold.
Brian: I'm going with Zach Gentry. You do not get guys flying past safeties 50 yards downfield at 6'8" anywhere, and Gentry improved considerably over the course of his career. John Navarre running Buffalo 100 Meter Dash? I'll take it. Gentry has higher bust potential, yeah, but that upside. Yooooooo.
[Hit the jump for most important, sleeper, best names, the one that got away, and bloggers going squeeee]
So a business school student and his LSA buddy had a spectacularly bad idea. No, we don't need a new fight song to pair with The Victors, the best fight song in the long and storied history of fight songs. That suggestion alone is enough to make an idea very bad indeed, but what sets this bad idea apart is the details. Lord almighty, is this just the worst of ideas. Why?
WE ALREADY DID THIS. Remember "In The Big House"? Dave Brandon already tried this. When Dave Brandon tries something, it means you should never, ever try to do that thing again.
WHY IS THIS EVEN A GOAL?
“This project is meant to be, number one, extremely unique,” Weiss said. “The goal of this song is to get a lot of big names that are associated with the University.”
I'll try to ignore that the kid called his unoriginal and terrible idea "extremely unique" and address the idea that the University of Michigan needs "big names" associated with it.
I think we're good, thanks.
FINE, LET'S HEAR YOUR BIG NAMES.
While the song’s lyrics and tune are still undetermined, Weiss said it is the organization’s aim to involve big names in the music business and University alumni to contribute to the song. For example, he said Weinberg wants to get Eminem involved.
Weiss also said that David Banner, a rapper and music producer, has already agreed to produce the final product.
I'd laugh if not for the overwhelming feeling this guy is serious, which makes me quite sad. Let's start with Eminem.
- Not an alum! You probably knew that.
- In fact, his daughter goes to Michigan State.
- Peaked in 1999, hasn't made good music since 2002. His new music is basically the old music with more yelling, less novelty, worse production, and an unfortunate amount of auto-tune.
- Is gleefully misogynistic and homophobic in his music, which probably isn't the ideal way to represent the University.
- Charges in the neighborhood of $30-40K per verse, so not only is he a bad idea, he's an expensive bad idea.
In the other corner, we've got David Banner, who's from Jackson, Mississippi, and is inextricably associated with Southern rap. His solo career peaked in 2005 with the club single "Play" and he hasn't released a major label album since 2008. It's a little shocking that a current college student would suggest David Banner, because I feel old playing "Cadillac on 22's" in my car. I can't imagine most students associate the name David Banner with anything outside of the Incredible Hulk.
HERE'S WHAT AN EMINEM/DAVID BANNER COLLABORATION WOULD PROBABLY SOUND LIKE IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 2015.
“The Victors” could soon have a modernistic younger sibling.
If a resolution presented to the Central Student Government on Tuesday night passes, the body will provide funding to a group of students looking to develop an additional thematic song to play at University athletics events.
Central Student Government.
I don't know who you are. If you're looking for jobs I can tell you I don't have any. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired from the internet. Skills that make me a nightmare for people who will be in job interviews with people who have googled you. If you vote this down unanimously, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for your facebook photos. I will not scour your instagram. But if you vote for this, I will find your linkedin. I will find your whole internet. And I will kill your search results.
dude annihilated his twitter page two seconds after I found it
The patient zeroes:
Business sophomore Adam Weiss, a representative on the CSG Assembly, spoke on behalf of the song campaign, which he called “Hail and Unite.” He said his friend, LSA senior Mike Weinberg, conceptualized the project.
“This project is meant to be, number one, extremely unique,” Weiss said. “The goal of this song is to get a lot of big names that are associated with the University.”
"Extremely unique." #expelAdamWeiss