this may be of some local interest
Friday, January 9, 2015
UM 0 Minn 1 EV 07:03 C. Reilly from Collins and M. Reilly
Minnesota passes back and forth along the boards, and Tyler Motte overskates in pursuit. Once the puck is back on the stick of the defender he’s responsible for there’s little he can do. Collins easily gets a shot off, though it’s an easy save for Racine; he’s not screened and is square to the shooter.
The problem is that he gives up a huge rebound. To his credit, the rebound is directed to the corner as much as possible. That’s little consolation in relation to the final result, however. Serville has floated back toward the right side, but he has no idea that there’s a Minnesota player behind him. He needs to turn his head to check sooner than he does, because by the time he sees there’s someone there the puck is on Reilly’s stick.
He’s too far away to recover, and Racine is in the same situation. There’s no way he’s going to get across the crease in time to stop an undefended shot like that, and it’s an incredibly easy goal for Minnesota.
[After THE JUMP: Hyman hyperbole, lots of goals]
Paging Dr. Stalin
getting our glares on
Will there be a roster purge a la Charlie Strong or can we expect Harbaugh to try and retain almost everyone?
I'm not a fan of purges; part of a leader's job is to gain buy-in, but they do happen. Some attrition will certainly happen, but I'd like to not dig a huge roster hole we're digging out of for 3+ seasons.
Strong's purge is not likely to repeat if only because that kind of massive roster depletion is just about unprecedented. Strong walked into a combination of bad timing (two guys suspended for sexual assault) and no discipline after the Mack Brown decline had truly festered. Strong read guys the riot act…
Sources said all of the players in question were told that Strong was watching them closely dating back to February, when they were part of a group pulled aside and told that their attitude and/or behavior had to change.
As part of that conversation, players were told they’d be subject to more random drug tests, sources said.
…and they did not respond. That led to a lot of guys out the door.
Michigan has already experienced one of these, as Kyle Bosch was brought into a meeting with Harbaugh and told there would be some conditions on his continued membership:
“I was at school all day, getting ready,” Bosch told Sporting News on Tuesday morning. “Then I met with Coach Harbaugh and I didn’t expect the transfer. That was not my original intent when I went up there yesterday. … This was very untimely. If it was my intention to transfer, I would have done that a long time ago.”
Bosch said his meeting with Harbaugh produced two options: stay with the program with stipulations (he did not say what they were) or transfer.
The kind of things Bosch dealt with over the past year are best left unspecified, but if he didn't want to meet the law laid down by Harbaugh it's best that he find somewhere else to be.
Bosch is an exception. Hoke was very good at getting guys who work hard and go after their schoolwork, thus the APR and extremely low transfer rate. That rate is about to pick up for a lot of reasons (remember that even before the season ended Hoke mentioned two OL were headed out), but the departures won't rise to the level of a purge or leave Michigan alarmingly short-handed this September.
You can tell this is the case just by the recruiting numbers. Michigan has room for a class of 12 right now. Without epic departures that isn't going to get past 20, and a roster that only has to add 15 or 16 players is not in dire straights.
This staff versus previous staff.
Hi, I'm your DL coach. [Eric Upchurch]
Since the site has been 90% devoted to the assistant coaching rumors or hires for the past several days I wanted to throw a question at you.
The natural reaction in the wake of hiring Harbaugh and turning the page on the previous regime is to look at everything through rose colored glasses. At least until the first game we lose, people will mostly think he can do no wrong and every person he hires or recruits is a great fit.
If we take a step back, how do you feel the staff construction we will have next year compares to our reaction to the staffs that Rodriguez or Hoke hired in their first seasons? Do you see any areas that make you scratch your head or long for someone else?
There's no comparison. Hoke and Rodriguez both imported the large majority of their existing coaches and held on to Fred Jackson. Those coaches had experienced success—sort of in Hoke's case—in a specific context at a lower level of competition. Rodriguez fatally did not bring Jeff Casteel along; Hoke imported Greg Mattison and brought Al Borges with him.
- Is an in-demand OC/QB coach.
- Hired an in-demand DC.
- Kept Greg Mattison as a position coach.
- Hired the guy who built the Stanford ass-kicking machine.
- Hired Ty Wheatley in the recruiting-heavy RB slot.
- Hired an ex-NFL OC and successful college OC as a WR coach.
- Hired a special teams coordinator who has 15 years of crazy success.
Nobody on this staff is going to wander over to San Jose State after they're done at Michigan, and most of them have experienced impressive amounts of success outside of the Harbaugh context. With limited exceptions that latter was not true of anybody on either of the previous two staffs other than Greg Mattison.
If there's anything with this staff that makes me pause it's the still-hypothetical Dougherty hire. He's only had one year of TEs, and with the importance of those guys in the Harbauffense it seems like you'd want a guy with a long track record there, possibly with some OL coaching mixed in to help out Drevno. OC/OL is a lot on one plate.
But we don't know if that's actually going to come to fruition—given the timing here it's possible that Fisch swooped in on his spot. The last thing we heard about Dougherty was a Football Scoop report from three days ago—unreliable to start and increasingly so as we get further out without any confirmation. I'm beginning to think that's not happening.
[After the JUMP: search postmortem, these are my readers.]
Second 2015 QB In Play?
Even with Alex Malzone already on campus, quarterback is a major question mark for Michigan not just for 2015, but moving forward, and it appears Jim Harbaugh is going the extra mile to make sure he gives the program as many options as possible at the position:
Jim Harbaugh coming to Gilmer to see McLane Carter. He has a pretty good eye for qb's. Florida and Texas Tech just called as well.#Winner
— Jeff Traylor (@CoachTraylor) January 11, 2015
Carter has a very interesting profile, in part because he doesn't really have one; he's unranked on Rivals and Scout, while ESPN and 247 don't even have pages for him. Carter is picking up major school interest, however, after a senior year in which he led Gilmer to an undefeated state title season in Texas' 4A Division 2 (a medium-sized classification) while posting this stat line: 220-297 (74.1%), 3969 yards (13.4 YPA), 47 TDs, 2 INTs. Pretty good stats, I say.
There are a couple reasons Carter may have flown under the radar. He transferred back to Gilmer this season after spending his junior year at Salado, where he put up less impressive stats for a worse program. It also doesn't look like he hit the camp circuit much at all; the only camp eval I can find is, oddly, from last spring's RCS Detroit camp, per Rivals' Josh Helmholdt ($):
It was a long trip up to Michigan from northeast Texas for Carter, and he made the trip worthwhile by having a solid showing. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound left-handed passer spun the ball very well on Sunday. His tight spirals cut through the wind when it was blowing hard later in the day. Overall Carter showed good arm strength and decent accuracy on his passes.
There's also a free scouting report from Scout after one of his playoff games:
Carter has a good frame (6-2 1/2, 190) and very smooth, left-handed delivery. His delivery isn't completely overhead, but it's close. He has a deceptively strong arm. That's probably because his southpaw delivery looks so smooth and effortless. He awaits his first FBS offer, but should start getting more attention as signing day approaches.
His senior tape, embedded at the top of the post, is pretty impressive; while his arm strength doesn't jump off the page, his accuracy sure does, especially on his deep throws. He also displays decent mobility, and based on both the film and his stats, his decision-making is excellent. He may not be a five-star talent, but he certainly looks like a guy who should at least have some sort of recruiting profile; with interest from the likes of BYU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and now Michigan and Florida of late, that should happen soon.
Whether or not Michigan makes a serious run at Carter (something I now hope they do given the length of this section), it's encouraging that Harbaugh might take a run at another quarterback in this class. That's no knock on Malzone, who I believe is a quality prospect; it'd just be nice to add some depth to the position, especially after what we've witnessed the last couple seasons. Any attrition at that position in the next couple years, given the current construction of the roster, could be really tough to handle.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
You don't need to be told that much about Tyrone Wheatley's origin story. If you're a pup, here you go:
Wheatley's career rushing average is second only to Denard Robinson at Michigan.
After that, Wheatley was a first round pick of the Raiders who had a decade-long NFL career during which he morphed from the fastest damn guy you've ever seen to a reliable pounder. A couple years after he retired he went into coaching, first at his high school alma mater, then as a running backs coach at an increasingly prestigious series of institutions: Ohio Northern, Eastern Michigan, Syracuse, and then the Bills. When Doug Marrone opted out of his Bills contract, Wheatley was on the open market and came home.
Here is the most spectacularly short coaching bio in history:
Tyrone Wheatley, a former NFL running back, will enter his second season as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Bills in 2014 and continues to oversee the team’s running backs.
Good job, good effort, Bills.
I have no idea if Wheatley's a good coach. I mean, he probably is, but it is hard to tell anything from stats. Football Outsiders has some running back stats in which the Bills two main backs fare poorly, but they're undrafted 33-year-old journeymanFred Jackson (not that Fred Jackson) and sixth-rounder Anthony Dixon operating behind an offensive line that FO's stats don't like much either.
His tenure at Syracuse seems relatively successful:
- In 2010, Wheatley arrives. Returning starter Delone Carter is coming off a season in which he barely cracked a thousand yards at 4.3 a pop; his final season sees his YPC jump a full yard.
- In 2011, senior Antwon Bailey ascends to the top job with grim results.
- In 2012, juniors Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley both have excellent production, collectively rushing for almost 2,000 yards at 5.2 a pop.
How much of that is due to tailback talent versus tailback coaching is hard to figure out, and then there's the whole blocking business that's important. I can just barely use stats to say a DBs coach is pretty good—with running backs it's hopeless. One year tenures at small schools aren't going to tell us much of anything, either.
Unfortunately, Tyrone Wheatley's kid is also named Tyrone Wheatley so attempts to track down anything about the elder's recruiting are swamped by articles about the younger. (Fortunately, the younger Wheatley is a four-star recruit with offers from the likes of Alabama who is now expected to end up at Michigan.)
Wheatley after his last game at 'Cuse, a Pinstripe Bowl win over WVU:
Also, an article on Wheatley's move to Syracuse:
So, is Syracuse home?
"Syracuse is a great opportunity...Michigan is home."
Wheatley’s ultimate dream is running his own team, but doesn't plan on Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon calling his number soon, or ever.
"Sometimes, as a human being, you have to know your limitations,” Wheatley said. “I've played in the Big House, and I know what it would take to run a program in the Big House. That is too much of a monster for me."
That's a sort of humility uncommon in coaches, though the reason Dave Brandon didn't call his number wasn't so much about Wheatley. He's also got a unique perspective on loyalty:
"Some coaches forget that they played,” Wheatley said. “When one of my players walks into the room, I can generally guess what's wrong--I've been down that road. Not just about X's and O's, it's about caring about the person. One of the great things Gary Moeller did for me is caring about me as a person. Can't get to the football player without getting to the person."
Wheatley is also intensely loyal to the idea of tradition.
"When I become a head coach, that's it, I plan on retiring there," he said. …
"I want to see 15, 20 graduating classes,” he said. “I want my players, who have fertilized that field with their blood, sweat, and tears, to come back and know they always have a place at the school, and that I'm going to be there."
That passion bodes well for the recruiting trail for as long as Michigan can hold on to Wheatley.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
RB coaches are often recruiters first because tailback is a spot where you've either got it or you don't. Wheatley promises to bring buckets of that as a famous program alum with a deep-seated passion for Michigan; he's also focused on being a head coach someday and the best way to get there is to kill it at Michigan. He's almost certainly going to be lights-out wherever they deploy him. The bet here is in-state and in the New York area.
As a coach… I don't think anyone could tell you. He's got all the experience you could want there, at least, and his quick rise to the NFL and then Michigan is encouraging. Yeah, his name helps. It's not everything. There are a number of other ex-Michigan guys who wanted to coach who didn't catch on so quickly.
And there is a coaching aspect. Michigan's seen a lot of wrong holes chosen and pass pickups airballed of late. Hopefully Michigan's backs will start improving at Michigan instead of after they leave now. For example: Mike Cox, Fitz Toussaint, Thomas Rawls.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE COACHING STAFF
We're in the home stretch here with everyone save Jimmie Dougherty and Roy Manning confirmed. Tolbert has just been officially anointed; we should hear about the other two guys in the near future here.
|OC||Tim Drevno||lock||DC||DJ Durkin||lock|
|QB||Jim Harbaugh||lock||DL||Greg Mattison||lock|
|WR||Jedd Fisch||lock||DB||Greg Jackson||lock|
|TE||Jimmie Dougherty||probable||ST||John Baxter||lock|
S&C: Kevin Tolbert.
If either of the unconfirmed guys gets knocked out it'll be for a subject matter expert. In Dougherty's case he might get passed over for a guy with more TE/OL experience; in Manning's that would be for a CBs coach.
John Beilein's still got it.
Aside from Derrick Walton, Michigan couldn't hit an outside shot to save their lives against Minnesota, and for most of the game the offense stagnated. With a heavy dose of the 1-3-1 zone down the stretch, however, the Wolverines hung in the game with their defense, ultimately forcing 17 Gopher turnovers.
The master stroke from Beilein, though, came with 38 seconds left, when he called a timeout after a timely Caris LeVert steal with M holding a tenuous two-point lead. The play he drew up couldn't have worked better. Derrick Walton doubled back to take a Ricky Doyle screen, Doyle slipped to the basket unimpeded, and Walton tossed a lob that Doyle threw down with screaming emphasis on top of Minnesota's Maurice Walker. A Crisler Center crowd that spent most of the afternoon library-quiet followed Doyle's lead.
"He was the guy that was making us go," Beilein said of Walton. "Today was all about Derrick Walton." Walton's strong play down the stretch led to Beilein putting the ball in his hands on the game's critical play; with four options, including shooting it himself, it's safe to say Walton rewarded his coach's trust.
The Gophers couldn't recover, and a few Zak Irvin free throws provided the final margin. Despite all their struggles, Michigan now stands at 3-1 in the Big Ten, and just sent Minnesota reeling to 0-4.
While Michigan looked resplendent in their 1989 throwback uniforms, their play was anything but attractive for most of the game. They went 0/8 from three in the first half, allowed the Gophers far too many open looks from the perimeter, and eventually fell behind by as much as nine in the second half.
Then Walton took over in the latter half of the second stanza, scoring five straight points to cut the lead to seven, then throwing a fast break lob to Zak Irvin after crossing up a defender in the backcourt off a Spike Albrecht steal. A few minutes later, Walton gave Michigan the lead with another triple, assisted by a cross-court pass from LeVert, who'd later stretch the margin to five when he drew a foul on a three-point try of his own, then buried every free throw. Shortly after Andre Hollins, who scored a game-high 18 points, answered with a triple, LeVert stole a Hollins pass on the sideline; the fateful timeout ensued, and Doyle drove the final nail into the coffin.
Walton and LeVert each tallied 15 points to lead the Wolverines, though Walton did so in much more efficient fashion; he added five rebounds and three assists, while LeVert came away with four steals, three coming in the second half. Doyle, by far M's best big man on the day, scored 12 on 5/8 FGs, including a pivoting, Olajuwon-esque and-one to key the second-half rally; he also pulled in four offensive rebounds. Zak Irvin, who continued to struggle with his shot, chipped in 12 points. Spike Albrecht (six) and Kam Chatman (two) were the only other Wolverines to score on the day.
Even though Michigan continued to have a hard time getting their shots to fall, they found a way to pull out a tough game against a Minnesota squad whose conference record belies their quality. Active zone defense bailed the Wolverines out time and again down the stretch. Add in a little Beilein clipboard wizardry, and suddenly Michigan is riding back-to-back wins into a showdown in Columbus on Tuesday.
Joseph Dressler / MGoBlog
An inextricable tenet of common basketball ideology is this: teams - or franchises, in the NBA’s case - become a possessive. The Lakers are Kobe Bryant’s team. They were once Magic Johnson’s team. The Warriors are Steph Curry’s team; the Cavaliers are LeBron’s team; the Knicks are Carmelo Anthony’s team. The list goes on.
Perhaps no other major American sport (save for professional football and the almighty quarterback) has a construct that elevates a player to the level of king among men like that. In college hoops, there is the Cult of Coaching - that is, the masterminds who attract those leaders are often worshipped far more than are the on-court leaders themselves. John Wooden (the archetype), Coach K, Dean Smith, Jim Boeheim, Tom Izzo, and yes, even John Beilein (who has won the degree of job security given to the aforementioned coaches) are the gods and the players are their kings, bestowed with divine right.
As an example, look no further than Michigan’s royal lineage over the last couple of years. The reign of Darius Morris lasted only one jaunty season before he abdicated his throne to journey on towards the NBA; Trey Burke eventually became the best in the country towards the end of his kingship and came tantalizingly close to a national title; Nik Stauskas rekindled the arrogance and bravado of the Morris era and championed one of the most dazzling offenses in recent memory. Caris LeVert was anointed as Nik’s successor -- in basketball parlance, he had next.
* * *
Even though the Wolverines have struggled often this season, Caris has done well (with a few glaring exceptions). Following up Burke and Stauskas -- two former conference players of the year -- was an unenviable task, but Caris has been decent enough and has shown the type of pro potential that makes him a projected first-rounder and an obvious candidate for early entry.
Jamal Crawford only played a partial season as a Wolverine, but the parallels between he and LeVert are too obvious to ignore. Caris’s offensive game -- his only game, really, as his length is underutilized in wing defense far too often (and whether that’s due to a lack of physical maturity or plain indifference is hard to tell) -- is decidedly Crawfordesque: though Beilein’s system typically discourages it, Caris seems compelled to draw into one-on-one battles with a defender, where his length and dizzying array of quick dribbles, crossovers, and jab-steps often allow some space to blow by whichever poor kid is in front of him. It’s a labor intensive process, and too often it seems as if challenging a rotating big man at the hoop is simply too much.
Caris channels the ghost of Wolverine Crawford in other ways: he’s a good shooter with a quick release from outside, either off the catch or off the dribble; he plays well in the pick-and-roll and can sometimes draw both defenders to him and lay it off to the big man; he has plus floor vision at the two-guard spot and makes the tough skip pass to the opposite corner when necessary; and he’s a microwave much like Crawford, building confidence and aggressiveness with each consecutive make.
Ace was kind enough to put together a gif of all of Caris’s makes from the critical win over Penn State:
The first was a simple catch-and-shoot corner three, something Caris will be looked to make often at the next level; the second was a nice pull-up long two that left Shep Garner in the dust; the third, another catch-and-shoot three, this time from the wing; the fourth, a Kobe Bryant shot fake to a smooth jumper that shook Ross Travis; the fifth, a nice drive past John Johnson (after hitting him with an array of quick crossovers) to a floater off glass; the sixth, a quick stop-and-pop that left Donovan Jack with no chance to contest.
Despite his flaws – Caris’s defense is not where it could be, given his length and lateral quickness, and he’s hesitant to attack the rim in the halfcourt when he could be challenged at the rim – he’s a solid prospect. Behind surefire one-and-dones Justise Winslow and Stanley Johnson, he might be the best wing prospect in the upcoming draft because of his plus size at the two-guard spot, his ability to break down defenders with his handle, and his outside shooting. We might only get another three months of LeVert as a Wolverine.
* * *
To state the obvious, this season has been a disappointment. Michigan’s customarily blistering offense has looked stagnant and has been prone to bouts of cold shooting; Kam Chatman hasn’t been able to fill Glenn Robinson’s vacancy at the four; Michigan’s corps of big men have been underwhelming as a whole (even if Ricky Doyle has shown good things); Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton have been injured and Michigan’s struggled to get consistent production from the point guard spot.
In all fairness, Caris has contributed to the disappointment as well – although, notably, he still leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. Against NJIT, he put the team on his back to the tune of 32 points (on just 18 FGA) and Michigan still lost; but in other losses against Eastern Michigan, Arizona, SMU, and Purdue, he scored ten points or fewer, often inefficiently. It’s too reductive to place those losses squarely on Caris, but still, better performances (particularly against Eastern and SMU) might have made all the difference.
There’s another key point: Caris is still extremely young. He doesn’t turn 21 until next August, and it’s abundantly clear that his game is still very much a work in progress. His last name – LeVert – translates into French as “The Green” and Caris The Green is still as inexperienced and immature (physically speaking) as his name would suggest. Development can and does happen at the next level; Caris’s game (and his wiry frame) will grow over the next several years for whichever NBA team is fortunate enough to land him in the draft.
It’s tough in the here and now, though. Unfair amounts of criticism tend to fall on a team’s best player, and with Michigan’s rickety path towards NCAA Tournament contention, there might be more noise with each successive loss. The exodus of NBA talent has finally caught up with the Wolverines – it was probably naïve to assume that Michigan would reload with sufficient reinforcements (without recruiting at the type of level that keeps a continual pipeline of NBA talent).
In the end, it looks like what may possibly be the only season with Caris LeVert’s Michigan will wind up in disappointment,as Michigan enters into a brief rebuilding phase after the euphoric highs of the past few seasons. Here’s to enjoying Caris’s particular style in the meantime however, as it might be another decade-and-a-half before another player like him suits up in the Maize and Blue again. Any reprise of the 2011 surge into the NCAA Tournament would only add to his story.