I did not make this headline up
Yea, and we shall block things
Ace: Which returning player do you expect to have the biggest breakout season under Jim Harbaugh? Who benefits the most from the coaching change? To keep us from all answering the same thing, first responder gets to take Butt/Bunting.
Adam Schnepp: Butt/Bunting or whoever lines up at Y/TE are obvious (and very merited) choices, but I think that the returning player most likely to have a breakout season under Harbaugh is the guy who ends up being the starting quarterback. That may seem like a strange pick considering that there isn't actually a specific player whom I can definitely name here, but there's pretty solid circumstantial evidence to back up my prediction.
|Beeeeeee goooooooooood. [Fuller]|
Harbaugh's long had a reputation as a quarterback guru, and for good reason: he developed Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick while helping resuscitate Alex Smith's career. Smith had a career completion percentage of 57.1% and threw for 6.2 yards per attempt in the five seasons before Harbaugh arrived. In two years under his tutelage, Harbaugh simplified the offense and Smith's stats benefited for it; his completion percentage in those two years rose to 64.3% while his yards per attempt rose to 7.4.
After years of suffering through Brady Hoke and his offensive staff trying to slam a round peg into a square hole over (Denard) and over (Devin) and over (Shane) again, it's going to be a breath of fresh air to watch Harbaugh implement an offense that's supposed to work to a quarterback's advantage. In the Smart Football article linked above Chris Brown discusses how Harbaugh erased sight adjustments from his offense so that the quarterback didn't have to hesitate when the defense presented coverages that shifted post snap. Instead there were built-in hot routes in every play that didn't require the quarterback to hope the receiver reacted the same way to the coverage they were presented with.
If the past is any indication of the future then whoever wins the quarterback battle is going to have a firm grasp of progressions as well, because Harbaugh tries to make this as simple for the quarterback to rapidly work through as he can (more on that here and here). I expect Harbaugh to implement similar concepts at Michigan, where the power running game should open up options for the quarterback to create the type of big plays that we didn't see last season.
[After the jump: someone will take Butt/Bunting. Eventually.]
Derrick Walton came out for warmups, limped around on his injured toe, and exited early to the locker room. He'd emerge in sweats, out for a critical game against Nebraska and their stout defense.
You'd have been excused for assuming the worst at that point. Michigan not only found a way to win, though, they did so comfortably, relying on defense and contributions from players who weren't even expected to see significant minutes when the season started.
The Wolverines stifled the Huskers while switching up defensive schemes regularly; star Terran Petteway was totally off his game, going 1/11 from the field to finish with just seven points. Nebraska started cold and couldn't snap out of it, missing contested shot after contested shot. High scorer Shavon Shields even required 16 shot equivalents to tally his 14 points.
With Walton sidelined, Michigan needed a big performance from Zak Irvin, and he came through not only with his scoring—a team-high 14—but also with career highs in rebounds (12) and assists (3). Irvin's effort on the boards covered for Walton's usual contributions in that regard.
The play of a pair of freshmen was just as encouraging. Aubrey Dawkins had an efficient 13 points on seven shots, hitting three triples and two midrange jumpers off curl cuts that were eerily reminiscent of GRIII's pet shot. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman added nine, helping Michigan pull away in the second half with a pair of impressive transition finishes and a tough and-one. His burst to the basket stood out in a season when Michigan has struggled to get to the rim.
Max Bielfeldt continued his recent solid play with a 12-point, nine-rebound performance; four of those boards came on offense as he simply outworked Nebraska's bigs. His performance proved critical as Ricky Doyle had a quiet 14 minutes and Mark Donnal missed the game due to illness.
Michigan's taken lump after lump and yet have somehow pushed through to 6-3 in the Big Ten. Given the circumstances, this may have been the most impressive win so far. With a collection of walk-ons and freshmen supporting Irvin, the Wolverines blew out a Nebraska squad that entered with the second-stingiest defense in the conference.
While expectations have lowered significantly with Caris LeVert out for the year and Walton hobbled, this team has become... fun? Yeah, let's go with fun.
Another game, another backbreaking loss. (Source)
Your Weekly B1G Hoops Column
Since the B1G typically doesn’t have conference games on Mondays, might as well move this column to Tuesdays for good.
Table of Contents
Week IV Results
Post-Week IV Standings
Team of the Week: Wisconsin
Player of the Week: D’Angelo Russell
Efficiency Scatterplot From Conference Games
Michigan’s Week That Was
Michigan’s Week Ahead
Week V Schedule
1. Week IV Results
Poor Damn Northwestern.
After jumping out to a 21-10 lead at home against Ohio State, they let the Buckeyes take control of the game – Northwestern was able to tie the game with about four minutes left, but D’Angelo Russell was too much to contain and they eventually lost by two. They led for almost the entire contest against Maryland on the road and squandered an 11-point lead with less than four minutes left in the game. This was the final sequence:
The final sequence of Northwestern' s crushing loss at Maryland. https://t.co/8qNDeRSxnO
— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) January 26, 2015
The loss to Ohio State was brutal; the loss to Maryland was absolutely soul-crushing. Northwestern needs an exorcism or something.
Elsewhere – Wisconsin absolutely murdered Iowa, Indiana beat Maryland at home only to turn around and lose to Ohio State on the road; Wisconsin came away with a tough OT win against Michigan; Nebraska held serve at home with two narrow wins over Minnesota and Michigan State.
2. Post-Week IV Standings
Wisconsin’s still the class of the conference (as evidenced by their excellent efficiency margin), but they haven’t managed to distance themselves after four weeks of conference play because of the unfathomable loss to Rutgers.
Maryland and Indiana are the two lurkers – Indiana’s excellent offense is offset by their permissive defense; Maryland is the inverse. Wisconsin only plays each team once: Maryland on the road, Indiana at home. Whether either are legitimate challengers is certainly up for debate (I personally think Wisconsin’s still the overwhelming favorite), but the conference race has been more entertaining than it was supposed to be, at least.
Ohio State and Michigan State have the best efficiency margins behind Wisconsin – and they’re quite a ways behind the Badgers – though both have already gotten three losses in conference play (along with four other teams at either 5-3 or 4-3 overall). With Wisconsin’s likely dominance (they’re projected to get to 15 conference wins by Ken Pomeroy’s algorithm), those two might be out of the race already.
The race for second place should be a dogfight, and there’s little clarity there, as seven teams are within a game and a half of Maryland. All of them – except for Michigan – have an efficiency margin at or above even; none have an efficiency margin better than +0.07.
3. Team of the Week: Wisconsin
This picture is incredible. (Source)
Wisconsin’s offense is nothing short of amazing. Even without senior point guard Traevon Jackson, the Badgers are a ruthless, efficient machine. Bronson Koenig has aptly stepped into the starting role running the show; Frank Kaminsky is perhaps exceeding the lofty expectations that accompanied him into the season; Sam Dekker is showing off his NBA potential (and efficiently, at that); Nigel Hayes, Josh Gasser, and the rest of the Badgers are all playing well.
Here are the most efficient players in the Big Ten during conference play:
Hayes is the most efficient player in the Big Ten with a significant usage – Aaron White, Yogi Ferrell, Rayvonte Rice follow him – and Kaminsky and Dekker are fifth and sixth respectively. Overall, having 5 players in the top 13 is just absurd, and Wisconsin’s methodical offense is as surgical as ever.
Their win over Iowa – a Top 25 contest, nationally televised on ESPN – was a complete ass-whupping; Wisconsin scored an unbelievable 1.52 points per possession, and, if not for their customarily slow pace, it could have been an even worse blowout. It had the fingerprints of classic Wisconsin basketball (turnover avoidance on offense, foul avoidance on defense – which really hurt Iowa), but it’s hard to remember a time that they played a better game than this against fairly quality competition.
The Badgers averted an upset in Ann Arbor – the game was incredibly slow (which benefits the underdog), but after Wisconsin opened up with a quick run to start overtime, Michigan couldn’t claw back again. It was an underwhelming performance against a much lesser opponent, but credit to Wisconsin for holding on in a tough road environment and defeating the reigning conference champions in their only meeting this season.
Previously: Iowa (Week III), Maryland (Week I), Rutgers (Week II)
[Hit the jump for the rest of the article]
Gentry vs Malzone: FIGHT
Quarterback recruiting policies.
I know that Harbaugh has every right to recruit his own personnel, but considering that Malzone is already on campus, did he just get royally screwed? If he never suits up, can he transfer without having to sit out?
The idea that a quarterback would be screwed over by the addition of another guy at his position in the same class is Hoke-era thinking that should be quickly discarded. Wilton Speight doesn't seem to mind:
Boom!! Loading the stable! #goblue
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) January 25, 2015
sent in the immediate aftermath of Gentry's commit
Every other position sees fierce battles; QB should be no different. And even if Malzone is put off by the idea of sharing a spot in the class with Gentry, I think that's more than offset by the idea of getting coached by Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch.
FWIW, Malzone could transfer after his first semester at Michigan. He would have to redshirt and then would be a redshirt freshman wherever he ended up, as Steven Threet was when he fled Paul Johnson's triple option system at Georgia Tech.
The more likely exit scenario for the quarterbacks who find themselves down the depth chart in the midst of cutthroat competition is to get a degree in three years and then transfer with two years to play two. An increasing number of elite QB recruits are throwing themselves in grinders like Michigan's with that idea in their back pocket. If Michigan is going to take two QBs a year that should be part of the pitch: the least you leave here with is a Michigan degree and three years of kickass coaching. Malzone has a head start on that with his early enrollment.
By the way, with reports that elite CA QB KJ Costello is heavily interested in Michigan, this could be the respective first two QB recruiting years of Hoke and Harbaugh:
- Hoke: Russell Bellomy.
- Harbaugh: Malzone, Gentry, DeWeaver, Costello.
That's one three star previously committed to Purdue versus what is probably four four-star recruits. (Hoke did recruit Malzone but Malzone is a block-M true believer who stuck with his plan to enroll early despite Michigan not having a coach at that juncture.) One of the major reasons the Hoke list is so short is that in deference to Shane Morris they didn't take another quarterback in his year… or the year in front of him. That was a disastrous decision. Let's not do that any more.
Harbaugh won't: at Stanford he took an average of two QBs a year.
Two stars bad. More stars good.
@mgoblog with so many high end prospects out there showing interest,why are we pursuing 2 ⭐️players at any position right now?
— Tessmer (@TyTessmer) January 25, 2015
There are only a couple guys on the board who fit that description: recent OH OL commit Nolan Ulizio and as-yet-unoffered FL CB Markel Bush. Everyone else is at least a three star and—unlike many of the transitional Hoke recruits—courted by or committed to high level BCS schools. (Hoke got decommits from Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Minnesota; Harbaugh has flipped guys from Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.) So Harbaugh is already doing well.
As for the two stars, Bush is clearly a backup plan in case they don't get two of the four guys they've offered (Iman Marshall,
Will Lockett, Damon Arnette, and Jarius Adams). Ulizio is an offensive lineman. Offensive linemen are less likely to fulfill recruiting expectations than any other position, and as you say Michigan had opportunities to look at other, more highly-rated guys. They passed. Is that a concern?
…let's cool it on the judgy bits just yet.
[After THE JUMP: Marrow, length of tenure, Dymonte Thomas, sloxen, Gary Danielson email]
Michigan (12-8, 5-3 B1G) vs
Nebraska (12-7, 4-3)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan -3 (KenPom)|
PBP: Mike Tirico
Analyst: Dan Dakich
John Beilein hinted during his Monday presser that we could see a shakeup of the starting lineup:
Playing its second game without LeVert, Michigan used the same starting lineup of Walton, Albrecht, Irvin, Doyle and Aubrey Dawkins that it fielded against Rutgers last week.
That could change against the Huskers. Asked Monday if his shadowy comment about being "pretty banged up right now" could equate to a change in the starting lineup, Beilein responded, "There could be, yes."
Given how little Spike Albrecht played down the stretch against Wisconsin—and how well Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman performed in his stead—it wouldn't be surprising for MAAR to get his second career start.
This is essentially a must-win if Michigan wants to keep their already thin tournament hopes alive. They need to hold serve in their five remaining home games and steal at least one on the road to have a realistic shot of playing their way in during the conference tournament.
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||3||Benny Parker||Jr.||5'9, 172||75||10||No|
|Almost nonexistent usage. Solid shooter, knack for getting to line.|
|G||5||Terran Pettaway||Jr.||6'6, 215||87||34||No|
|Extreme high volume shooter, decent passer, makes his share of tough shots.|
|F||31||Shavon Shields||Jr.||6'7, 221||89||29||Yes|
|Also takes a ton of shots. Advanced midrange game, struggling from beyond arc.|
|F||35||Walter Pitchford||Jr.||6'10, 237||68||13||Kinda|
|Stretch four type only shooting 31% from three. Solid defensive rebounder.|
|F||21||Leslee Smith||Sr.||6'8, 255||23||16||Very|
|Working way back from ACL injury. Good rebounder, active defender.|
|G||11||Tarin Smith||Fr.||6'2, 175||47||17||Yes|
|Wing who's much better attacking basket than shooting from outside.|
|G||0||Tai Webster||So.||6'4, 199||25||16||Yes|
|Turnover-prone tall PG. Decent finisher, poor shooter.|
|F||12||Moses Abraham||Sr.||6'9, 252||18||16||Very|
|Good rebounder, decent finisher, quite foul-prone. All-Biblical Name First-Team.|
Nebraksa has a couple quality home wins this year, a double-overtime triumph over #33 Cincinnati and Tuesday's two-point victory over Michigan State—the latter had added difficulty due to Walter Pitchford's early ejection for elbowing Matt Costello in the face. Their only road win on the season, however, came at #134 Florida State; while they took #60 Rhode Island to overtime they were handled easily by Iowa, Wisconsin, and even #155 Hawaii.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Five on five. [Upchurch]
When news broke recently that Jabrill Peppers was moving to safety, Brian threw up a quick explanatory post, Why Peppers Might Be A Safety, talking about how modern spread offenses dictate modern quarters defenses, which in turn dictate that the safety over the slot is the glamour position du jour.
An offensive innovation like the zone read will open up the entire book again as coaches figure out ways of running all the things they already like out of new looks, new play-action, etc. But defensive innovation, with a few notable exceptions, is much more reactive.
Often what we call a "new defense" is just rediscovering an old, unsound thing that takes away the thing offenses are doing these days. The 46 defense was bringing a safety down. The zone blitz was having a defensive end playing coverage. The Tampa 2 had a middle linebacker responsible for deep middle coverage. The 3-4 made three linemen responsible for six gaps. And the hybrid man/zones of today put your deep coverage into the middle of the run-stopping game.
The way a defensive innovation becomes a sustainably great defense is great players. Dantonio's quarters dominated college football with a string of NFL-bound defensive backs. The 3-4's proliferation through the NFL was accompanied by a rush on anything that looked like Vince Wilfork. The Steel Curtain (the first Tampa 2) was built around Jack Lambert. Miami (NFL Miami)'s "No Name" zone blitz defense had a 6'5/248 lb. track star named Bill Stanfill at WDE. And the '80s Bears could pull off this crap:
…because that "46" was the jersey number of one Doug Plank.
You don't need to be a football guru to see what made the 46 defense tough: there are eight dudes in the box, six of whom are just a few steps from the quarterback. Running into a stacked box is futile (DO YOU HEAR ME? DO YOU HEAR ME, AL?!?). You can try to identify who's blitzing and throw to holes in the coverage before they arrive, but you'd better have Dan Marino.
[After the jump: how to 46 a modern offense]