this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
skill position recruiting under Brady Hoke
Where is the talent?
Hoke's recruiting classes were consistently highly ranked, bringing in 4 and 5 star athletes coveted by other reputable football programs, yet I keep reading that we lag many Big Ten teams in talent. I find it hard to believe Hoke is this bad at talent evaluation and missed on this many athletes. What do you think of the innate talent on the roster? Is this a pure development issue, or was Hoke that unlucky or bad at identifying talent?
Peter from Horsham, PA
It could be there, but concealed by the Hoke chaos.
Last year's D was 14th in yards per play and returns eight or nine starters, depending on how you define the term. The only personnel losses were Raymon Taylor, Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, and Brennen Beyer; Michigan gets Desmond Morgan off an injury redshirt and adds Wayne Lyons.
It didn't feel like that good of a defense, though. Part of that was the quality of competition. Michigan is 41st in FEI despite having shiny regular stats. (MSU is one spot ahead of them in 40th.) Part of that was the offense putting the D out there so often in bad situations that they were going to crack eventually. Many, many games over the past two years have had a similar pattern. The defense scratches and claws to keep Michigan in it and then they collapse in the fourth quarter because they're out of juice.
The other part of that was Michigan going to a man press defense their team simply could not hack. Blake Countess was exposed for half the season before they went back to their old ways. Is that "talent"? In some ways. But Hoke took an All Big Ten sophomore and destroyed him because he couldn't see that he was being put in a terrible situation for his skill set.
Meanwhile on offense… I got nothing. With the exception of projected TE Devin Funchess, Michigan recruited horribly at QB and WR under Hoke. The Chesson/Darboh class was all right, but they appear to have missed on all three guys they took the next year and the jury is very much out on last year's class. QB… I want to throw a rock in Hoke's general direction every time I think about it.
Recruiting very badly at QB is a way to have your recruiting rankings far outstrip your ability to play football. It's only one spot. Michigan's piles of OL are five. Michigan has nothing to show from the Hoke era other than a three star they took early with little competition and Shane Morris, who it is now clear was wildly overrated by the services. Morris is the kind of boom-or-bust guy you can take happily in a Harbaugh context where the roster has five or six or seven QBs on it; he is a disaster waiting to happen if the two guys in front of him are Russell Bellomy and air and the guy behind him is a middling three star. Harbaugh set about fixing that, at least.
Meanwhile the places Hoke did best—the lines—are the ones where you have to wait the longest to get a return on your investment. OL are particularly unpredictable.
And, yes, I do think Hoke was pretty bad at IDing talent. Look at the Dukes/Jones/York WR class, or the performance of the tailbacks he brought in, or the Wangler/Ferns/Furbush/Winovich LB class. Do not get me started on the tailbacks. Look at the decision to move to press man.
Defensive line is an obvious exception, where Michigan's turned two three-star Glenville projects into real players, but that just re-confirms that Hoke was a pretty good DL coach who ended up in way over his head.
Uppity so-and-sos with their thesauri
Excuse me while I correct your nerdom with my (apparently) superior nerdom. Ferret Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson would not be the correct name. What you are looking for is Ferret Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson. In the first Tecmo Bowl, Bo Jackson was just a man. It is in Super Tecmo Bowl that he became an unstoppable run-circles-around-the-cpu-god. Surely you did not mean to name the ferret after the lesser of the two Bo Jacksons.
Bro. I said I would brook no criticism about my asymptotically perfect ferret names, and yet here you are, brooking your ass off. Well, BEN, clearly "Ferret Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson" is clunky and unwieldy and stupid, as any six-year-old child could see. It is obvious to any Tecmo Bowl connoisseur that we are talking about the destroyer of worlds Bo Jackson, "Super" or not. Humor, prose, and lovemaking are all about omitting unnecessary flourishes. So too are ferret names.
[After the JUMP: Ben gets commuppanced hrrrrrd]
Top-100 IL DE Josh King named a final five last Friday, including Michigan in the group along with Michigan State, Penn State, USC, and Notre Dame. According to 247's Steve Lorenz, Michigan State is believed to lead for King, while Michigan is potentially running second. King hasn't set a timeline for his decision.
In case anyone forgot how silly recruiting can be, three-star IL DT Naquan Jones felt compelled to release a "top five" of his own, despite only narrowing his choices to six schools*:
— Almighty Nay (@thealmightynay) May 7, 2015
While this top group also has no order, it's pretty easy to glean that Wisconsin and Penn State are running behind the other four schools. Scout's Beth Long reports Jones will make his decision on June 5th, and his top schools were chosen largely based on his relationship with their respective coaching staffs, since he's only visited Michigan State and South Carolina among his top six. Michigan should get their shot; Jones told Scout's Josh Newkirk a pre-decision visit to Ann Arbor is in the works ($).
*To be clear, I'm not making fun of Jones here, but the near-universal, bizarre obsession with naming top fives and tens and almost never any other number.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup]
2016 five-star wing Tyus Battle just committed to Michigan:
Excited to say that I am going to be a Wolverine!!?????????? pic.twitter.com/xdEUC5o9ol
— tyus battle (@kidmamba23) May 11, 2015
This should help you salve your Jaylen Brown wounds even if he is using the split M. Informative update coming.
|5*, #10 overall
|5*, #14 overall||5*, #14 overall
|5*, #11 overall
|5*, #12 overall
The 247 composite didn't have to work too hard to average those rankings: the world has Battle just outside the top ten in the 2016 rankings, the #4 shooting guard in the country behind (former?) Michigan target Josh Langford, Malik Monk, and Terrance Ferguson.
Battle is high on everyone's wish list because he brings NBA size and athleticism. Then there's a lot of conflicting information. ESPN says Battle may be "most gifted on the defensive end of the floor," praises his maturity, and says he's got "good size, long arms, speed, quickness, and leaping ability." They then say his three point shooting is the "most glaring weakness he has." With ESPN evaluations it's always tough to know when and how they saw the kid, and that'll play a role as we hit a bunch of scouting reports that say he's a great shooter.
There isn't a lot of recent scouting since Battle missed about five months with an ankle injury likely sustained as he helped the USA U17s to a gold medal in Dubai. Before that he was in a bit of a funk but recovered from it…
The No. 11 player in the class of 2016, Battle has struggled a bit for much of the spring. He's grown to 6-foot-5, gotten much stronger and has been in the process of adjusting his game. Sunday, he mixed jump shots, transition finishes and drives to the hoop nicely and as a result he played the best he has this spring. Battle said that he feels like he's started to get things going in the right direction and he's excited for the summer ahead now that he has his confidence going.
…to re-establish himself one of the top prospects in the 2016 class:
Tyus Battle, 6-foot-5 SG (No. 25 2016): It was not a great spring for the wing from New Jersey. It was, however, a great summer. Starting around Memorial Day, Battle broke out of a funk he had been in through the early stages of Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League. Battle looks to be much more comfortable with the size that he added in the last year, and he was shooting very well during July. He looks like he will be moving up to five-star status.
His early stats on the AAU circuit weren't great, largely because he took a ton of three pointers and not much else. I can't figure out why, but it seems like his team wasn't particularly well organized.
As for the upside:
Obviously, he’s an effective perimeter shooter, but he also possesses lean athleticism and a frame that should enable him to become legitimately strong as he progresses.
I also like his defensive potential at 6-6, with the spidery athleticism to defend wing forwards and many shooting guards as well.
As mentioned above, there’s a very high likelihood that Battle will become a successful high-major performer. The things he does well, at 6-6 and athletic, typically enjoy a very high translation level to college and beyond. There aren’t enough shooters and scorers in college basketball — but don’t take my word for it, just ask your nearest college coach — and Battle will supply that as early as his freshman season.
Scout's Brian Snow caught him when he was playing with Team USA:
He attacked the rim well with the dribble and was excellent finishing in the mid-range. Battle was shooting it well from deep, though at times he was a bit streaky mostly due to his footwork being inconsistent. Still he is one of the best shot makers and athletes on the wing in the class and showed his impressive scoring ability all day long.
He hit a few deep jumpers, and then began really turning it up. Battle got on the glass and converted a few offensive rebounds for buckets, slashed to the rim, and then scored in the mid-range. It was a good finish to a strong day for Battle.
And Sam Webb had a take from Michigan's camp:
Sam’s Take: If there was a better shooter in attendance I didn’t see him. In one of the shooting drills Battle didn’t have a single miss. In another he only missed one. He can drill jumpers coming off screens with the ball or without, and he can also knock them down pulling up off the dribble. It game action he was streakier from distance, but his stroke is undeniable. When it came to getting to the rim he did so with relative ease thanks to his quick first step and strong handle. One of his best moves was a blow-by off a hesitation, but in that move he also put on display the next stage of development.
Battle sounds a lot like LeVert: a lanky 6'6" guy who's an excellent shooter with long arms and passing ability. He may or may not be able to get to explosive dunkland on the regular, a la Jaylen Brown. Battle:
“I think knocking down jump shots and creating my own shot, I’m pretty good at,” Battle told Scout.com.
“I’m probably better from mid-range,” he added. “That’s more of my game. When they go to man-to-man I like to get the mid-range jump shot.”
Battle is already as big as rising senior LeVert, which helps explain the disparity in their rankings. (Also, LeVert was criminally underrated even after winning the Ohio POY award that has been a ticket to the NBA for a decade.) The hope you have is that Battle can add the posterizations as he gets older—the ranking implies he's got the athleticism for it.
A who's who as you might expect. His final seven schools were Michigan, UConn, Duke, Syracuse, OSU, Louisville, and Notre Dame. Arizona, Kentucky, Indiana, and Villanova also offered.
I couldn't find anything that seemed reliable.
From last summer's Peach Jam, when he was a rising junior:
And at another tourney:
An SNY profile:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Take your pick between a meatier Caris LeVert or a quicker Zak Irvin. Battle seems to split the difference between Michigan's two wing stars. If that three point shot is currently erratic, it's close enough to where it needs to be for Beilein to put him in the 40%+ range, and then you've got a six-foot-six guy with long arms and at least B+ athleticism.
So more of the same, maybe with a little more oomph.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has at least three spots for next year's class: Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht graduate and they currently have an open slot. Those slots would appear to be full with Battle, Jon Teske, and Austin Davis, but 1) Michigan would very much like a point guard with Spike's departure and 2) it appears that Michigan offered Davis with the idea that he might prep and arrive in 2017 depending on how the 2016 roster develops.
That would leave them with room for a point guard. Michigan is pushing hard for in-stater Cassius Winston and has opened up their horizons after Derryck Thornton accelerated and committed to Duke. Currently rising 6'6" NY PG Kevin Huerter is currently the name with the most juice if they can't get Winston, but after plan A things are fuzzy.
Michigan will likely wait and see what kind of unexpected attrition they have, if any, after the year before looking for additional players. Irvin reaching NBA range and a playing time transfer from someone frozen out this year are possibilities; I'd guess they grab a point guard as soon as they can and continue recruiting wing types with the expectation they will have a slot.
I am the proud father of a ferret.... Give me name ideas for her! pic.twitter.com/aoYSBBMlOf
— Wyatt Shallman (@WyattShallman) May 11, 2015
- Ferret Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson
- Ferret Queen Elizabeth
- Ferret, James Ferret
- Ferret Canteen
I also have names that don't start with "ferret," but those run the risk of having your animal misidentified as a marmot.
- Sir Toothsalot
- Not A Marmot, Esq.
- Aussie Punter
I would suggest you leave your candidates in the comments but I'm completely certain that would be superfluous after the bravura performance above.
They're #3. Softball gets the soft-quivalent of a one-seed in the tourney. (They only seed 16 of the 64 teams because they regionalize the tournament to save money.) That means a home regional and, should they win that, a home super-regional. Michigan has a real shot at it:
— Zach Shaw (@_zachshaw) May 11, 2015
Michigan plays Oakland at 6 on Friday. It's on ESPNU for those out of the area. Cal and Pitt are the other teams headed to AA.
This is a very Michigan softball record. Congrats to Sierra Romero for setting the NCAA record for grand slams. She is a junior.
This is kind of about sports. I've actually read this Daniel Kanheman book about the way brains work, and liked it. It has lots of things like this in it:
Professor Kahneman discussed an intriguing finding that people score higher on a test if the questions are hard to read. The particular test used in the study is the CRT or cognitive reflection task invented by Shane Frederick of Yale. The CRT itself is interesting, but what Professor Kahneman wrote was amazing to me,
“90% of the students who saw the CRT in normal font made at least one mistake in the test, but the proportion dropped to 35% when the font was barely legible. You read this correctly: performance was better with the bad font.”
I thought this was so cool. The idea is simple, powerful, and easy to grasp. An oyster makes a pearl by reacting to the irritation of a grain of sand. Body builders become huge by lifting more weight. Can we kick our brains into a higher gear, by making the problem harder?
Then he checked it.
The dot at the top is every study combined. The effect does not exist. Why do I bring this up instead of coming up with more ferret names? (MC Furo. There's another one.) Several reasons.
- I get irritated at sports stats that actively try to be interesting. Whenever a team goes up by score X and they have an interesting record, the sports people will tell you DETROIT is SIXTY BILLION AND ZERO when they LEAD BY A GOAL on TUESDAYS SINCE 120 AD. There are so many teams and so many events that somebody's got a stat like that. So they cherry-pick the outlier. You never see all the completely un-fascinating stats.
- You should be suspicious of anything that's cool and intuitive. These are just as likely to be accurate as anything that gets published. (When your sample size is 40: not likely.) They are way more likely to be picked up and passed around by frizzy-haired Explainer Laureate types. So many holy-crap stats evaporate when you try to replicate them… and those are exactly the things you're likely to hear of.
- Stats that sound crazy unlikely are almost certainly not checked. This study. Or a report from the CDC that autism has gone up 30% in the last two years that I looked up during an argument about how prevalent that was. That same article uncritically relates that the autism rates in New Jersey are four times higher than they are in Alabama. I read that and immediately think "all these numbers are horseshit." People in charge of numbers are just in charge of them. Etc.
There was a sports in there.
Sir you got some jay in your walk. Michigan reported some minor boo-boos to the NCAA since Harbaugh's hire. These include Mike Zordich accidentally mentioning Wayne Lyons at a press conference and this doozy:
Separately, on March 18, Jim Harbaugh sent an autographed team helmet and jersey to an auction organized by a former high school classmate of his to benefit suicide prevention and awareness. The donation was not reviewed beforehand by Michigan's compliance office, and the items that were auctioned ended up being used to assist a scholarship fund in the name of a student who had committed suicide, something Harbaugh was not aware of, according to U-M's self-reported violation. …
Per NCAA rules, programs/coaches may not personally donate items to benefit high school scholarship funds.
I mean, I get the potential issue there—welcome to St. Thomas Aquinas's NICK SABAN TOE AUCTION—but you gotta be kidding me.
On grad transfers. Stewart Mandel hits on the goofiest part of the NCAA's PR campaign against grad transfers:
In short, it's patently absurd for officials who claim to have athletes' best interests in mind to be threatening one of the most athlete-friendly rules in their book, not to mention one that specifically incentivizes players to graduate. No, most of them don't go on to complete their master's degrees, but that doesn't mean they don't better themselves.
The rule gives guys who may otherwise be dubious about getting that degree a major reason to do so. You have to decide whether that's helping your achieve your goals or not. If you actually want players to graduate it is.
Jim Delany 0, always 0. Mere days after he stuck up for satellite camps whilst running down a number of activities both worthy of attention (oversigning) and not (recruits decommitting), this happens:
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Someone was going to give Jamel Dean a shot. In stepped Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.
Dean, the former Ohio State cornerback who was medically disqualified by the Buckeyes before ever playing a game in Columbus, announced on Friday that he will be enrolling at Auburn with the intention of playing football for the Tigers.
That's just the way things go these days. Annual signing limits, please.
Etc.: Arguments against the end of intentional fouling are not real good. Michigan is courting 6'8" Brent Hibbits as a preferred walk-on. Hibbits has a number of MAC-level offers. Wagner doing things at the U19 level. Steve Shields joins Michigan as a volunteer assistant. My goalie buddy who follows these things very closely thinks that's a big help.
Georgia's AD is jealous of "Third Down For What." Larkin at the World Championships. Everett Golson has been barred from transferring to "a number of Big Ten schools." I guarantee you one of them is M.
Stuffing the Passer, accidentally ironic for once.
You SERIOUSLY cannot be telling me we have to entrust our lives to--- So Everett Golson is leaving Notre Dame, and Harbaugh is all take ALL THE QUARTERBACKS so this is now a thing. I doubt it happens now that Rudock is committed—why walk into anything like the same situation he's walking out of?
But do we even have to have the "would you take him?" conversation? The cost to Michigan is zero (the cost to one walk-on is one year of college), and the upside is perhaps a redshirt on Morris and one more bullet in the chamber at the most important position. Worst case scenario is still the current scenario, except with 100% more Sockface.
"All the World's a Stage. Except that Couch. That Couch is not a Proper Stage. Do not perform on that couch!" –Shakespeare, full quote.
In 2011 a Theater student named A.J. Holmes arranged a choral performance of the Victors and the chants everybody knows, and last weekend the Theater students performed it for their parents at a graduation party. This got recorded on someone's dad's phone, posted on Facebook, and was instantly adored by everyone except the UM Theater Dept version of Dave Brandon (Orr is the dad):
Orr said the post was taken down at the request of the Chair of the Musical Theatre Department, Brent Wagner.
"The chair of our department is interested in preserving the department and he just wanted to make sure that whenever it's performed it's done so in a professional manner and we completely respect that," Orr said.
Despite such ruinous production value, over half a million people shared it, generating more positive comments about the department in a day than 100,000 performances of Equus ever got them. To his credit, in face of righteous blowback, Wagner relented and let the dad re-post it. I suggest you watch the hell out of this:
Listen to this! What happens when 22 talented UMich musical theatre grads sing their version of the University of Michigan fight song at their graduation party. An amazing arrangement by Michigan MT alum A.J. Holmes (who we just saw starring as Cunningham in the Book of Mormon Broadway National Tour). Awesome!
Posted by Scott Orr on Sunday, May 3, 2015
Marvel at the talent of those singers. Also marvel at Scott Orr, who not only just paid for four years of Theater education at the University of Michigan, but can also use a camera phone, and manipulate the privacy settings of Facebook. I hereby award Scott Orr the inaugural Jim Harbaugh Heroic Dad of the Year Trophy.
[After the jump: what % of Michigan's 3-/4-/5-stars were NFL draftees]
Previously: nominal backcourt
Starter: Zak Irvin (Jr.)
Backups: Kam Chatman (So.), DJ Wilson (Fr.*), Moritz Wagner (Fr.)
On a roster that is suddenly brimming with depth this is the spot at which minutes are tightest. The competition here is not really between Irvin and the guys listed as backups—Irvin's playing 30+ minutes guaranteed—but between Kam Chatman, DJ Wilson, Moritz Wagner, and the two guys we covered as "small" forwards. There's about 50 minutes to divide up between the five players.
This preview projects that the bulk of those minutes go to Aubrey Dawkins and Duncan Robinson. Chatman shot 36/26 last year, Wilson is coming off a redshirt after looking pretty bad in 26 minutes before his injury, and Wagner is physically reminiscent of a freshman Caris LeVert. Dawkins was already a pretty good Big Ten player last year and is likely to improve; Robinson is shooting is shooting is shooting on a John Beilein team. They're getting minutes. These guys will get the squeeze.
It is reasonable to expect that one of the three candidates here steps forwards to become a quality bench player. Who that will be is anyone's guess. Chatman settled down late in the year, using his handle and passing ability to create some baskets. The coaches have been talking up Wilson's "productive" redshirt year… and I've also heard that he stepped it up in a big way after Wagner came in on an official visit and took it to him.
A redshirt for someone seems like a good idea. That would probably be Wagner… if he's not clearly better. Which is a possibility. I just don't know, man.
What I do know: Zak Irvin's going to be on the court a lot. Last year we asked him to become a "threes AND" guy. Progress in that department was dubious at best until a late surge forced upon him by the injury issues. Alex covered his remarkable uptick in things other than shots:
Even on the post-apocalypse roster it took several games for Irvin to grok the fact that he had to be Nik Stauskas now. When he did grasp it, he turned in the finest stretch of his Michigan career by some distance. It felt like he had grasped not only his role but how to create shots in the Beilein offense. While his role should be less prominent on next year's roster if only because he's no longer Dion Harris, the efficiency of possessions he uses promises to shoot up.
Irvin will be a big deal for other things, as well. He's going to be drawing guys Caleb Swanigan at (apparently) Purdue. Nigel Hayes at Wisconsin. And so forth and so on. Michigan has never been particularly good defensively at the 4 because of the guys they run out there at the spot; Irvin seems better able to hack it than just about anyone Beilein has had at Michigan. Glenn Robinson was pretty good as a sophomore. Other than that…? If Irvin can rebound at the clip he did late in the year and prove something other than weak spot on D, Michigan will benefit greatly.
Minute projection: Irvin 30, Miscellaneous 10.
[After the JUMP: Doyle, rebounding philosophies, and so forth.]