1/20/2014 – Michigan 54, Rutgers 50 – 12-7, 5-2 Big Ten
BENCH MOB NO MORE [Bryan Fuller]
At one point last night Michigan's lineup consisted of two walkons, two freshmen who had been snatched off the who-dat heap right before the late signing period, and redshirt freshman Mark Donnal. At another point it was Walton, three freshmen, and 6'7" center Max Bielfeldt. To paraphrase the increasingly rat-faced gentleman to the west, Michigan was playing a lot of weird guys. This is how weird: they yoinked a redshirt off a walk-on. It's not going to plan, you guys.
And they won! They won because Rutgers is a basketball team in the same way North Korea is a tourist destination, but Sean Lonergan played 13 more minutes than Caris LeVert did. Michigan is a basketball team in the same way London after the black plague was a city. I'll take it.
In fact Michigan is a zombie in the same way a zombie is a zombie: lurching forward despite taking a staggering amount of damage. They've got their grobbly little teeth into five Big Ten teams already largely because Beilein has deep experience taking the undersized and faintly ridiculous farther than seems possible. I bet a small part of him thinks it's kind of fun he's throwing out a zillion different zones and deploying a rotation that occasionally grabs chemistry students out of Orgo lab. A part much smaller than the eyerolling demon that controls most of his precincts, but an extant one nonetheless.
It is this tiny part of our rage-filled selves we should seek to cultivate.
Against teams that don't yield 25 uncontested threes against a team that barely hints at activity in the paint, the projection is rougher. Michigan's projected to win four of their remaining 11 games on Kenpom and it's hard to dispute that as pessimistic, what with Kenpom unaware that Caris has gone away.
It's going to be ugly. And… I guess, fine, let's just get to it and move on. Michigan saw Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, and Nik Stauskas depart for the NBA. Jon Horford followed his family's insane NBA dream to 18 minutes a game on a 10-8 SEC Team. (Note to Michigan basketball: if Tito Horford shows up with a babe in swaddling clothes, put it in the river and run.) Caris is kaput and there's obviously something bothering Walton when he's not rebounding his ass off. Irvin is not quite in a Hardaway-esque sophomore funk (still 35% from three) but he's rarely able to generate anything that isn't provided.
You can rip that pile of talent away from a Duke or a Kentucky and they will plug it back in because the next wave of seven-footers from the Nike tanks is just around the corner. Michigan, not so much.
It's a minor miracle that they've done what they have over the last few years without recruiting one-and-done types. Michigan effective experience over the last five years, out of about 350: 335, 207, 342, 330, 326. The only team in that bunch to not win an NCAA game was the 207 squad, which went out early against Ohio. They went to a national title game and nearly another final four in there. And the NBA swooped in on guys who nobody had heard of before they put on the block M.
At some point the wrong combination of guys was going to pop out and Michigan would be pretty bleah. That's this.
Thanks to the two horrendous nonconference losses Michigan would probably have to get to 11, maybe 12 conference wins to get a bid. I guess that's not impossible, but neither is it likely. Against the easiest part of their Big Ten schedule Michigan has five wins that were one-basket games sometime in the last five minutes and two decisive losses.
The only reason anyone is holding out a faint modicum of hope is that 1-6 team that wandered into Breslin and sprayed blood all over the place. If that happens, great. I'm resigned to the NIT and looking for blips of improvement whenever Dawkins skies over everyone or Doyle, like, plays. I was throwing things earlier this year when this improbable scaffold collapsed on itself; now I'm trying to have fun watching it go back up.
Oy. I guess it evened out a little by the end but man, the three point shooting was something else. Rutgers somehow conspired to give Michigan open look after open look and Michigan could not convert. Walton hit a couple key late ones to get Michigan to 8 of 26, 31%.
That's much less of a problem than going 39% from within the arc, but if that happens against non-Rutgers teams it's curtains. Most of them aren't going to give up anywhere near as many open looks, though.
Rutgers. Just fire Eddie Jordan now. To be that disorganized with two seniors and two juniors in your starting lineup is a spectacular condemnation of coaching ability even in year two.
Two pointers. There aren't any. Doyle is getting an acceptable number up at a good rate (66%), and that is it. Irvin is at 42%, Chatman a stunning 34%, Walton even worse at 33%… it's night and day from last year when Michigan got a ton of good looks and converted them.
Why that might be. Walton's inability to step forward and become a high-usage, high-efficiency guy is killing the offense. I don't think anyone really expected Irvin to drive a lot of shot-generating, so the burden from the departed Stauskas was bound to fall on LeVert and Walton. LeVert stepped up insofar as he could—big usage, big assist rate, poor efficiency inside the arc. Walton's TO rate is almost as high as his assist rate and he's not effective as a shooter.
I believe that turf toe is a major problem, but we'd better hope so because any renaissance starts with Walton being an all-conference level player.
Chatman versus Dawkins. If you had no idea who was the touted recruit you would pick Dawkins 100 times out of 100. He can leap out of the building, he's decently efficient shooting, and he does not do the very strange things Chatman does multiple times per game. And yet Dawkins was picking between Michigan and Dayton while Chatman was a top 50 recruit everywhere. Very strange.
We're going to explore the boundaries of what Dawkins can do now over the rest of th season, as he's showing some promise. He even had a take to the basket last game out.
This is how you know it's not your year. Spike's TO rate is over 20, and the second highest on the team. Last year he went through a big chunk of the Big Ten season with an infinite A:TO ratio.
coming to a slot seam matchup near you?
I'm a tiny bit skeptical here since the source right now is recruit Iman Marshall (and Freddy Canteen if Canteen isn't just reacting to that) and Michigan's coaches other than Mattison haven't seen Peppers take a snap, but it's out there:
@JabrillPeppers moving to safety is good, can scrape the field left to right .. And is 2nd to none at it, peppy pep
— OneSeven (@FreddCanteen_) January 21, 2015
Michigan does return Countess and Lewis at corner, plus Channing Stribling, Terry Richardson, and Brandon Watson. If they find a third guy there's enough depth there to make the move. Meanwhile Michigan never settled on a safety opposite Jarrod Wilson last year, rotating through Delano Hill, Jeremy Clark, and Dymonte Thomas with middling success.
"But why?", you ask?
We have seen a lot of defenses move to a quarters system of varying aggressiveness as a response to the spread, and depending on how good and deep your safeties are that's either gone really well (Michigan State two years ago) or gotten you blazed down the slot whenever you run up against a good offense (Michigan State last year). OSU is also playing quarters for the most part, and when they're not they're putting a lot of pressure on a single high safety.
This trend comes from the NFL, where passing offenses were more advanced and you could unearth a freak of nature more often at safety. Chris Brown on quarters:
At first glance, Cover 4 looks like an anti-pass “prevent” formation, with four secondary defenders playing deep. But therein lies its magic. The four defenders are actually playing a matchup zone concept, in which the safety reads the tight end or inside receiver. If an offensive player lined up inside releases on a short pass route or doesn’t release into the route, the safety can help double-team the outside receiver. If the inside receiver breaks straight downfield, it becomes more like man coverage. This variance keeps quarterbacks guessing and prevents defenses from being exploited by common pass plays like four verticals, which killed eight-man fronts. The real key to Cover 4, however, is that against the run both safeties become rush defenders (remember, the outside cornerbacks play deep). This allows defenses to play nine men in the box against the run — a hat-tip to the 46’s overwhelming force.
The problem college teams often face is what happens when that man coverage from a vertical receiver comes from the offense's best WR against your third-best cover guy: the touchdowns linked above.
In a spread-oriented world, a safety has to be a corner and a linebacker at the same time. This is very hard, and modern offenses are targeting them more than anyone else for their big plays. After decades in which cornerbacks were the glamor players in any given secondary, the way many teams are playing and the shortcomings against slot receivers exposed this year demands a new, crazy athlete safety, even at the college level.
That's Peppers. If Michigan is set on quarters coverage, he's a guy who can sit over that "slot" receiver and not give up a major athleticism mismatch.
UPDATE: Peppers seems to confirm on the twitters.
Caris LeVert is out for the year. Several players were sick. Zak Irvin sat most of the first half with foul trouble. Derrick Walton didn't hit a shot until the game's waning minutes.
Sean Lonergan and Andrew Dakich played—at the same time. Aubrey Dawkins led the team in made field goals—with four. The Wolverines were 8/26 from beyond the arc—and 9/23 inside of it.
Michigan beat Rutgers on the road.
It wasn't aesthetically pleasing. It didn't make a whole lot of sense. It was... kinda fun?
The plucky underdog role suits this team, unburdened from expectations. The missteps are much more understandable, while stuff like "WALK-ON LAYUP OUT OF NOWHERE" provides genuine joy. The offense remained disjointed and relatively ineffective, but there's hope to be found in Aubrey Dawkins scoring an efficient 11 points, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman finishing a couple strong drives to the rim, Max Bielfeldt—Max Bielfeldt!—posting 8 and 8. While M didn't shoot the ball well from the outside, they generated a lot of good looks, and the defense—albeit Rutgers-aided tonight—continued to be pleasantly decent.
Losing the lead in the second half felt expected, not disastrous. Then Spike Albrecht scooped in a running layup, Walton drilled back-to-back triples, and Bielfeldt extended the lead with a three moments after he pulled down an offensive rebound. Walton and Irvin iced the game at the line, and just like that, Michigan is 5-2 in the Big Ten.
It's probably not going to last. Wisconsin comes to town on Saturday, and they're easily the best team in the conference. Then again, they lost to Rutgers last week. For tonight, let's celebrate the weird guys, in all their weird glory.
needs updating: "MILK: never heard of it"
I couldn't find the rocket fuel. Add it to the pile:
"This one time I was a kid, we didn't have any milk for cereal," says Jay Harbaugh, 25. "He put Gatorade in the cereal instead of milk. It was the weirdest thing I ever saw.
"I didn't try it. For good reason. That's not where Gatorade goes."
Later that day he poured a Red Bull on his pizza, with powdered sugar donuts for dessert. IF YOU GET MY DRIFT
DO YOU GET IT? I have to explain everything.
ANYWAY. It's not the worst idea in the world.
409? 45. When you absolutely need something burned to the ground, you could do a lot worse than calling on Keith Olbermann:
It'll never happen, but if Michigan hockey all wore "45" stickers on their helmets the next time they played Penn State I'd be real happy. 45? The number of counts Sandusky was convicted on.
Snipe. Michael Hurley is some dude in Boston who's confused why Michigan fans are high-fiving him online today. You do the Lord's Work, Mr. Hurley:
“There are well-founded whispers in the NFL that the underlings who supply towels in the visiting locker room sometimes run back to the home locker room to share what they heard.”
This is stupid. This is lazy. This is irresponsible “journalism” from Sports Illustrated. This should not be published, period.
“The Patriots supposedly stopped videotaping opponents’ defensive signals when they got caught in 2007, but opponents wonder if they are still stealing them.”
I wonder every single day if I’m going to get hit by a comet and wiped off the face of the earth. It does not mean it’s going to come true. “Reporting” on what opponents wonder is pathetic.
That is an on-point fisk of a pile of not-even-Googled Michael Rosenberg assertions about the Patriots in the wake of slightly-less-inflated-ball-gate. Someone send him an "I Oblierated Michael Rosenberg On The Internet And All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt" shirt.
“Maybe some of this is overstated.”
A pattern arises.
JOBS (one of which some of you might be qualified for). A number of jobs have been posted on Michigan's site with which they do that federally-mandated thing, and they're interesting in terms of program direction even if you're not trying to fit in one of the gaps—a number of these are probably already decided upon anyway.
One might not be. There's a "recruiting coordinator" spot that is heavy on the twitter/vine/swipe-right-to-commit end of things:
- Create Highlight Tapes that are used on Unofficial and Official Visits
- Create Highlights of Michigan Football that are used for social media
- Create Highlights from Prospects game tape for the coaches to evaluate.
- Handle the logistics for Video Presentation at the Stadium with prospects.
- Create and Coordinate Michigan Vine Video Account
Good to see that they're going to be more out there on the social medias than Hoke was—not that Hoke was particularly hampered by not doing this until his offense died in a hole.
(Note that Chris Singletary's title is "director of player personnel" and that a bunch of these responsibilities are not currently taken care of. Singletary's staying and this spot likely reports to him.)
There's also an "offensive football analyst" spot that sounds a lot like the video coordinator stuff I know they're already doing with extra snitchin':
7) Monitor team curfew during preseason training camp.
8) Lifestyle monitoring of student-athletes. Monitor off-campus student-athlete housing.
And a "player development" spot which also seems like it will report to Singletary and help him do more.
And even though they didn't get Shannon Turley there's no question that's what Harbaugh wants his S&C program to look like. Michigan's posted a "performance manager" post that sounds like it's at the full Turley/Chip Kelly level of sophistication…
1. Clinical application and administration of comprehensive performance analytics and lifetime wellness services for student-athletes as assigned.
2. Collaborate with Student-Athlete Health and Welfare personnel and coaching personnel to assess training loads, neuromuscular fatigue, athlete readiness, and other performance factors.
3. Collaborate with Student-Athlete Health and Welfare personnel and coaching personnel to develop protocols to monitor and enhance rest, recovery, and regeneration, and athlete readiness.
Say goodbye, kids:
- Ability to work long hours, including early mornings, late nights, weekends, holidays, overtime, non-traditional work hours, extended periods of time without days off, travel, and be on-call as a regular part of the position;
They also posted a "performance nutrition" spot two weeks ago. It sounds like they're fleshing out the support staff—IIRC Harbaugh often makes requests for extra resources in these departments.
Midterm CSBs out. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau provides an official-ish draft ranking around this time of year, and this one features a particularly prominent set of Michigan-affiliated players. (A reminder: the CSB separates Euro and North American skaters, so multiply a player's ranking by about 1.3 to get an approximate draft position.) They are:
- #6 Zach Werenski, D, already enrolled
- #14 Kyle Connor, F, Youngstown (USHL)
- #34 Brendan Warren, F, USA U18 (USHL)
- #70 Joe Cecconi, D, Muskegon (USHL)
- #176 Nick Boka, D, USA U18 (USHL)
That's two likely first round picks, a second-rounder, a mid-round guy, and a guy who might go late. Goalie Hayden Lavigne and forward Connor Murphy are the only incoming players not ranked. Murphy was ranked last year whilst tearing up Ontario Junior B, but after a move to the USHL's Chicago Steel sees him with a 10-10-20 line in 33 games he's dropped off the radar—as 5'9" kids who aren't murdering the competition tend to do.
FWIW, if Michigan doesn't add anyone before the summer that might be an indication they expect to return just about everyone they are able to next year. The three incoming F and two outgoing D match Michigan's departures (At F: Hyman, Lynch, Sinelli; on D: Serville, Chiasson) precisely.
Michigan is carrying a longer roster than they usually do, but right now I don't think anyone is going to be in a spot where their NHL team would be encouraging a quick signing. Maybe Larkin, if Larkin wasn't a draftee of the very patient Red Wings. Maybe Werenski if he gets picked by an exceptionally jumpy team.
But it's Michigan hockey so don't believe they're there until three weeks into the season.
UPDATE: I didn't look at recruits scheduled to come in for 2016, so I missed #63 Cooper Marody and #192 Sam Miletic, both USHL forwards.
Jedd Fisch background. He's completely out of nowhere:
While most of the members of Harbaugh's staff have an immediate connection to the head coach, Fisch doesn't.
He met Harbaugh for the first time when he got off the plane in Ann Arbor. However, he does have a long-standing coaching relationship with Vic Fangio, Harbaugh's defensive coordinator for four years with the San Francisco 49ers and one year with Stanford.
Fisch does have a knack for getting good jobs, and Harbaugh's hiring history is impeccable. Hopefully that's a bright young mind in a bad situation kind of thing instead of Kiffin 2.0; I'm guessing it's the former until evidence says otherwise.
While we're on the topic, here's MGoVideo has some Jedd Fisch miked up stuff, including a moment where he yells at Denard. Not, like, Rodriguez-yells. He's much more laid back. So are coked-up hyenas. Why am I talking about this?
Etc.: Soccer alum Justin Meram got a start for Iraq at the Asian Championships. Nine caps and counting. You'll never guess where Pat Forde slots Michigan on his list of winners and losers in the coaching carousel. (If you are deliberately obtuse.)
When it rains, it pours (Upchurch / MGoBlog)
Your Weekly B1G Hoops Column
Table of Contents:
Week III Results
Post-Week III Standings
Team of the Week: Iowa
Player of the Week: D’Angelo Russell
Stat of the Week: Youth and Success
Various B1G Thoughts
Michigan’s Week That Was
IT’S TIME TO PANIC
Week IV Schedule
Some Personal News
1. Week III Results
There weren’t any true upsets this week, as the conference race is starting to take shape. Indiana staved off a challenge from Penn State and notched a nice road win against Illinois (without Rayvonte Rice); Illinois defeated Northwestern in Evanston, Purdue had a miraculous sequence at the end of regulation to win against PSU in Happy Valley, and Iowa failed to choke away a game against rival Minnesota in the Barn – those were the only road wins, none of which could really be considered upsets.
Maryland and Ohio State each had impressive home blowouts, over Michigan St. and Michigan, respectively. Other than that, there wasn’t much of note in terms of on-court results – everything more or less went as expected, to a large extent.
2. Post-Week III Big Ten Standings
Even though Maryland has one more win than Wisconsin (due to scheduling), the Badgers are still the class of the conference from an efficiency standpoint, even though they haven’t faced any legitimate challengers yet. The Terps are a weird team – they have the 9th-best offensive efficiency and best defensive efficiency in conference play.
From there, the race is still indistinct. Iowa finally shook off their late-game demons after squandering a lead at Minnesota, only to win on a late Jarrod Uthoff jumper, and held off Ohio State at home; Indiana still has a negative efficiency margin, remarkably – that blowout loss in East Lansing has overshadowed an otherwise decent start to Big Ten play; Michigan State’s schedule will start to get easier from here on out; Michigan is assuredly out of the race after Caris LeVert’s injury.
One other thing: Poor Damn Minnesota. They have a very disappointing 1-5 record, but the Gophers are only four points worse than their opponents over 100 possessions. I’m not sure if I’m crazy for thinking this, but I don’t think it’s over for them quite yet.
Click on image to enlarge. Data’s starting to fill in a little bit.
3. Team of the Week: Iowa
The moment when Iowa purged its late-game demons (source)
Though Maryland is currently atop the standings and Wisconsin – the clear frontrunner for the conference title – has an excellent efficiency margin, it might be time to seriously consider Iowa as a potential challenger. They’ve rightfully received plenty of attention for their chronic propensity to blow leads in the second half; they’re still one of the better teams in the country, when they’re at their best.
Minnesota erased a 17-point second-half deficit and took a two possession lead late in the game, only for some unfortunate missed front-ends and clutch baskets from Jarrod Uthoff to enable Iowa to steal the game late. It’s hard to assess whether Iowa’s late-game struggles over the past two seasons are an inherent problem – the analytically-inclined would be more likely to ascribe simple bad luck as the root cause, but at a certain point, it’s harder to explain away. Regardless, the win over Minnesota is a nice sign. Iowa’s still not exactly a team that exudes reliability, but a 4-1 start is undoubtedly positive.
After this week, they’ve swept Ohio State – remarkably, the Buckeyes are now two games out of first place after three weeks of conference play. Iowa’s win this past weekend showed off their capabilities when they’re playing particularly well: they attacked the basket well and got to the free throw line a lot (and converted there); they forced the Buckeyes into an uncharacteristic 16-42 (38%) from two-point range; they managed to overcome a herculean performance for D’Angelo Russell and a mini-run early in the second half that could have led to another backbreaking comeback against the Hawkeyes.
It’s still a little tough to trust Iowa, but the Hawkeyes have generally been playing good basketball this season – an insane barrage of threes from Michigan State notwithstanding. The Hawkeyes might be a step below Maryland and Wisconsin, but they should receive plenty of attention – they might be the best team behind those two.
Previously – Maryland (Week I), Rutgers (Week II)
[HIT THE JUMP for the rest of the article / lamentations on our bad luck]
Michigan (11-7, 4-2 B1G) at
Rutgers (10-9, 2-4)
Louis Brown Athletic Center,
Piscataway, New Jersey
|WHEN||6:30 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Rutgers -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Joe Davis
Analyst: Dan Bonner
Right: Look up Rutgers mascot images, get free nightmares for life. (Source)
The injury situation went from limiting to dire in a hurry, with the worst of it being Caris LeVert's season-ending foot fracture suffered on the final play of Saturday's Northwestern game.
It doesn't end there. Spike Albrecht and Ricky Doyle are both questionable due to illness; after Albrecht missed the whole game and Doyle the second half on Saturday, neither practiced Sunday. The same bug has limited Zak Irvin, though he's been able to play and practice through it. Kameron Chatman is questionable due to swelling in his knee.
Even the scout team has been hit hard. DJ Wilson still isn't cleared for full-court practice, so he's not (yet) a candidate to have his redshirt lifted. Transfer Duncan Robinson, who isn't even eligible to play, has sat out the last few weeks with a sprained ankle. Things got so bad this week that David Merritt, the former walk-on point guard, suited up for practice alongside coaches and team managers. No, he doesn't have any more eligibility.
If the questionable players can't go, Michigan will have a very short bench. The presumed starting lineup would be Walton-MAAR-Irvin-Dawkins-Donnal, leaving Max Bielfeldt as the only scholarship player off the bench. Walk-on Sean Lonergan practiced with the first team Monday in anticipation of getting serious minutes.
Not losing to Rutgers would be nice.
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||4||Myles Mack||Sr.||5'10, 175||90||24||Kinda|
|Scoring and assist leader is RU's only player with ORtg above 100.|
|G||2||Bishop Daniels||Jr.||6'3, 185||43||26||Kinda|
|Not very efficient but draws a lot of fouls. Very turnover-prone.|
|F||10||Junior Etou||So.||6'7, 230||76||16||Kinda|
|Team's best defensive rebounder. Iffy shooter.|
|F||11||Kadeem Jack||Sr.||6'9, 235||70||27||Yes|
|43% on twos and 29% on threes, so naturally takes a crapton of shots.|
|C||35||Greg Lewis||Jr.||6'9, 245||63||15||Very|
|Good rim protector, mediocre rebounder and finisher.|
|G||6||Mike Williams||Fr.||6'2, 190||60||19||Yes|
|Spot-up shooter who can't knock down shots (23% 3P).|
|F||22||DJ Foreman||Fr.||6'8, 230||35||16||Not really|
|Inconsistent finisher draws lots of fouls but has hit just 7/25 FTs.|
|C||40||Shaquille Doorson||Fr.||6'11, 275||23||12||Very|
|Low usage, solid off. rebounder and shot-blocker, TO- and foul-prone.|
Rutgers had a rough go in nonconference play, losing to #180 St. Peter's and #174 St. Francis at home and failing to come within 17 points of the three top-100 squads they faced. They started off the Big Ten schedule by losing at home to Northwestern, edged Penn State by four at home, got blown out at Nebraska, and then... beat Wisconsin. Yes, the Badgers were without Frank Kaminsky, but that's still deeply bizarre.
The Scarlet Knights have followed up their signature win with road losses to Maryland and Minnesota, the latter giving the Gophers their first conference win.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]