in town for free camps
As reported on multiple outlets, including this one, Michigan is in line to get a commitment sometime this week. Brandon promised the prospect he wouldn't mention his position, class, or location (or name, obviously), so I'll say that he is a football player, and his pledge will come as welcome news. This post will self-destruct in 3... 2... 1...
Darn, I was really hoping that would get me out of writing the rest of this post. The above was the good news. Here's the bad, per Scout's Allen Trieu ($):
Michigan also recently offered Williams and he was considering a visit to Ann Arbor but he now says he is ready to shut things down.
"As far as right now, I'm done with recruiting. My top two are Notre Dame and Missouri and just want to decide between those two. I'm just trying to figure it out."
That's 2014 Berrien Springs (MI) DE Jhonny Williams, whom Michigan offered immediately after they missed out on Da'Shawn Hand. Williams took an official visit to Notre Dame last weekend, had a great time, and decided he'd either stick with his current commitment to Missouri or flip to the Irish. So it goes.
A potential backup option to the backup option is WI TE/DE Gaelin Elmore. Elmore is a Minnesota commit; 247's Steve Lorenz reported that Michigan's coaches got in contact with him last week ($). Brandon caught up with Elmore to get more details, and for now he doesn't sound like a realistic option:
I'm not sure exactly what the coaches are planning with Elmore but he was pretty clear with how he is currently feeling. "I'm not really interested in Michigan at this point. It'd just be interesting to see what they had to say."
I don't know if the coaches were caught completely off guard by Hand's commitment to Alabama; it sure looks like they're scrambling to find a suitable replacement in the class.
[Hit THE JUMP to see which pair of highly-ranked 2015 targets have Michigan among their top schools, updates from last weekend's high school football action, and where Wolverine commits and targets stand in the updated ESPN 300 for 2015.]
11/23/2013 – Michigan 21, Iowa 24 – 7-4, 3-4 Big Ten
Ypsi-Arbor Bowl was demolished in early October.
MUSIC POST! HIT PLAY OR I KILL YOU!
I am one of those irritating people who believes the Big Lebowski is deep, man. I think this because of everything about it but mostly because of one particular scene. If you have not seen the Big Lebowski, you are about to be spoiled. Also, screw you you're a bad person and you deserve to be spoiled. What is wrong with you? You are bad and should feel bad.
Sorry. I am taking things out on people. I hip-checked an old lady into the frozen pizzas on Saturday because her earrings annoyed me*. That was wrong. I know that now. I will stop doing this posthaste.
The scene is the funeral. Because of miserable copyright bastards you have your choice of an official thing that cuts off before the crucial line or one with the volume turned way down. Here's the latter, turn up for hearings:
It is just so Dave Brandon that the Official Movieclips.com version manages to cut itself off before "Come on, dude… fuck it, man. Let's go bowling." Anyway.
At this point I simultaneously feel that I have to explain and that I have to explain that there's no point in trying. But fuck it, I'm talking to the guys who had the world's saddest tailgate before the season opener and came up to me at our event before the Notre Dame—another world—and were just so excited to be the world's saddest tailgate. They told me about their jury-rigged pancake plans for Notre Dame. They were engineers. That part is probably obvious. I loved them, and I feel badly for them. They're all 18 and probably don't know a damn thing about a movie that came out when they were three and Michigan was national champions.
I don't know anything about Buddhism but the Big Lebowski feels pretty Buddhist. The Dude comes into his apartment to a guy peeing on his rug and from that point on he's propelled through this rollercoaster over which he has zero agency. Literally everything he does in the movie is at the behest of someone else, and what little gestures towards doing something himself are quickly co-opted by the people he's doing them with. He picks up Walter to make the drop; Walter presses his underwear upon the dude and shoots up his car with an uzi. He has sex with Maude; Maude reveals that he acting as a living sperm bank. Etc.
The movie is a series of unfortunate events culminating in the death of Donny thanks to the bullheaded stupidity of Walter, who doesn't want to give up his fifteen dollars to some nihilists. That Donny dies as an indirect effect of that decision is the capper: your desires and actions are futile; you are subject to the random capricious whim of a universe that doesn't care about anything and if it was going to care about something it absolutely wouldn't be you. I don't have to spell the rest out for you. Sports! Fuck sports.
The thing about the funeral scene that kills me every time is the shoving rant from the Dude and Walter's scalded-dog reaction hug in the midst.
what THE FUCK does anything have to do with Vietnam?!?!
This is the guy with the Uzi who pulls a gun on the pacifist, and that is pious. It's a prayer for forgiveness. That kills me every time. And then the song. I mean.
I've probably mentioned this before, but in the aftermath of The Horror the one thing I wanted and needed to do more than anything else in the world was watch The Big Lebowski. I don't think I knew why at the time; it was my favorite movie but if you asked me why I wouldn't have been able to come up with much in particular. As I was watching it the whole Lebowski-Sports thing dawned, the lack of agency over your emotional state, the attempt to come to terms with arbitrary bullshit wreaking havoc on your emotional state, the lumbering oaf you've chosen to have far too much influence on your emotional state. I revert to it still, because at the end the Dude reaches out and clasps Walter to him, and fuck it, let's go bowling.
I have to tell you that I am at a low ebb right now.
3-9 was awful but had an element of fun in it in the same way Naked and Afraid does: holding my frozen hands to the pretzel machine and feeling guilty when I returned to the stands to find that I'd tried to heat myself so long I'd missed Michigan's first three-and-out of the second half. This is worse, six years on. It's lost its novelty, and now staring at the Armageddon that is the last week of the season is just Promethean fate. I can't imagine accidentally missing any part of this football season and thinking anything other than "stroke of luck, that." I don't see a way in which Michigan gets on Ohio State's level in the near future, and even plotting out Michigan State's level is pretty murky.
I also don't see a FIRE THIS TURDFACE solution. This is the culmination of a dozen different things, all richly deserved by everyone except the fanbase, and my belief is that the best course of action is to persist with this low-attrition, good-dude, quality-talent recruiting and hope that the blithering recedes as things go along. I hate this, because I know that any realignment towards an offense that I actually like will be met with a reaction equivalent to George Wallace hearing that they're integrating the schools, and that the burden of Michigan's past hangs over them in a way that Ohio State was perfectly happy to throw over before Urban Meyer even showed up. I also feel that Michigan will insist that it's anyone's fault but their own, and that the best we can hope for is 1997: an outlier.
This is massively enervating. We're staring down a 20-year period in which Michigan beats Ohio State like 4 or 5 times. Memories of when Michigan could claim equality are as fresh as Jim Delany's letter about how the SEC was a bunch of stupid poopy pants, and as relevant. This feels like a new order, right now. Inescapable.
Fuck it, dude. I'm going bowling. At 5 PM after Michigan gets its anatomy explored on Saturday, I'm going to Colonial Lanes on Industrial, which still exists, and I'm going to throw some balls in the general direction of some pins.
I can't stand bowling. I suck at it and there is nothing more frustrating than sucking at throwing a ball straight at things that aren't defended or even moving. Any time you fail to bowl you have failed to be a vaguely functional person. I hate bowling. So it is obviously perfect for Saturday.
If you promise not to talk about this year's football team, I would love for you to join me. I will tell you it is not your fault. You will tell me it is only about 5% my fault. It will not be a great time but I'm sick of staring at a computer screen trying not to check twitter. By God if I am going to be enervated it is going to be by not being able to throw a ball straight for a moderate distance. I'm done being enervated by sports, if only for just this moment.
In the moment where I take the ball down from its perch between my hand and my clavicle there will be a moment of beautiful, stupid hope that will persist past the results. And that moment will be enough to mitigate what follows.
Therefore I will bowl.
*[For the people who run the Children of Yost account: that's a joke, and your hat is unflattering.]
There is no other stuff, except the elsewhere section because by God ST3 and bronxblue persist. Goddamn if bronxblue doesn't nail it:
And yet, I still can’t find it in myself to turn off these games. I know why, of course: there are only 13-14 games a year, and when times are good or at least exciting there is nothing better to watch. And when the team isn’t that good (which, let’s be honest, started well before RR’s tenure made it official), the calcified memories of former greatness and the diminishing hope of a return keep me coming back. And despite the losses and the continuing sense that UM is still on the wrong side of history, I’ll keep watching and coming back to watch, even games like this when you could feel the loss coming after Iowa’s first drive of the 2nd half. And in all likelihood, my kids will love watching UM football as much as me, even when they realize that patch of missing hair isn’t because Dad was pranked. But this simply cannot end soon enough for me, and next week’s OSU game will likely get the background treatment as I shop online, listen to music, and otherwise tool around the apartment.
And ST3 goes with the Smiths, because yeah:
Stop me, oh, stop me...
Akron, yes Akron, records 8 TFLs
Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before
UConn, still winless as I write this, records 10 TFLs.
You are both champions, gentlemen. Thank you for your posts.
Also, if you want a graphical representation of the way Michigan's offense is going, dnak438 has your evidence. It is grim.
Not that I needed to tell you that.
Have a banana. You'll feel better.
I'm writing up the fourth game of some sort in four days and it's after 10 p.m. on a Sunday, so this will be brief. Michigan lost by two points on a last-second defensive breakdown after trailing for most of the game, only to tie it up late on a Mitch McGary layup off a brilliant inbounds play. Caris LeVert couldn't stay in front of his man on the next possession, McGary had to contest a layup, and Terrence Williams was all alone for the putback with 0.4 seconds left.
Because, based on the Twitter reaction, this is necessary to do, here are some reasons not to freak out and abandon all hope:
- The odds of Michigan shooting 31% from the field again—27% if you excise Nik Stauskas's 6/13 performance—are exceedingly low.
- Glenn Robinson III played all of nine minutes after falling hard on his back in the first half. His absence led to Michigan having to play a lot of two-big lineups, which really bogged down the offense. It also forced them to rely on freshman Zak Irvin, who struggled offensively (3/14 from the field on mostly open looks) and made a couple critical defensive errors.
- Stauskas, who single-handedly carried the offense for most of the game, rolled his ankle badly on a fast break right around the midway point of the second half. He was clearly hobbled for the rest of the game.
Michigan lost by two points against a team that, while not great, is by no means terrible; they did this despite missing a ton of open shots they'd normally make and playing without one of their best players—losing lineup versatility and the ability to switch up defenses—for most of the game. To top it off, the one guy who'd been playing well was clearly limping through much of the second half.
It's one game in a long season. The sky is still intact. Once these seemingly-minor injuries heal up—and Michigan is off until Friday—so is Michigan basketball.
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Charlotte|
|WHERE||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|WHEN||6:30 p.m.* Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan –10 (KenPom)|
Right: THERE'S ECSTASY IN THEM THAR HILLS.
After pulling off a seven-point upset in the opening round against Kansas State, Charlotte earned their spot in today's title game with a nine-point triumph over Northeastern. It's worth noting that, according to KenPom, the 49ers are now ranked ahead of KSU; that may not have been as much of an upset as initially thought.
6'4" lead guard Pierria Henry averages 14.4 points and 5.4 assists per game; while he hasn't shot particularly well from the field this year (19/40 2-pt, 1/10 3-pt), he gets to the line at a remarkable rate, drawing 7.4 fouls per 40 minutes. With his size and ability to get to the basket, Henry provides a difficult test for Michigan's point guards; the last 6'4" point they faced, Iowa State's DeAndre Kane, had 13 points and six assists against the Wolverines. Michigan was able to harass Kane into five turnovers and Henry has coughed the ball up 19 times in five games, so Derrick Walton's quick hands could come into play here.
6'3" senior Ben Cherry, a grad-year transfer from Tulane, is the nominal starter at shooting guard—he's a career 43% three-point shooter who doesn't add much else offensively. His role has been mitigated significantly by the emergence of sophomore sixth man Shawn Lester, who leads the team with 16.6 points per game after being academically ineligible last season. Lester's been remarkably effective scorer at the basket, hitting 91% of his shots at the rim despite tallying zero offensive rebounds and getting assists on just 30% of those makes, per hoop-math.com; he's a serious threat off the dribble, and adds to that threat by shooting 46% on two-point jumpers and 37% on three-pointers this season.
6'4" junior Terrence Williams is the third guard in this three-guard lineup; he's been brutally bad from the field this year (12/44 2-pt, 3/9 3-pt) but, like Henry, has made his hay from the line; he's drawing north of six fouls/40 and is 24/32 from the line. Williams shot just 39% from two and 21% from three last season, so his shooting woes don't appear to be an anomaly. He does function as something of a second point guard for Charlotte with 17 assists already this season, though he's balanced those out with 17 turnovers.
6'9" sophomore forward Willie Clayton and 6'11 sophomore center Mike Thorne round out the starting lineup; both are excellent offensive rebounders who should give Michigan's bigs another stiff test on the boards. Both also finish very well around the basket; Clayton shoots 76% at the rim and Thorne is even better at 86%. While Thorne has a much better jumper (40% on two-point jumpers, where he takes over half his shots, vs. Clayton's 18%), Clayton gets to the line at a much higher rate, nearly on par with Henry, though his 56% mark on free throws is actually an improvement over a sub-50% freshman season. Thorne also provides a solid shot-blocking presence defensively with eight so far this year.
Aside from Lester, only two reserves get significant playing time for the 49ers. After missing the first three games with a foot injury, 6'0" guard Denzel Ingram is averaging 22 minutes in the Puerto Rico Tipoff, contributing eight points and 2.5 rebounds per game; he started 28 games as a freshman last season and struggled mightily from the field. 6'7" freshman forward Marcus Bryan is 7/17 from the field, all two-pointers, this year and hasn't added much to the box score otherwise.
Charlotte is now the #97 team on KenPom after tallying home victories over #218 East Tennessee State and #160 Elon along with their neutral-site win over #106 Kansas State and #139 Northeastern. They do have a bad loss on their resumé, a one-point road defeat at #218 College of Charleston.
Four factors, with obvious sample size caveats applying (national ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||49.5 (168)||19.7 (243)||35.6 (89)||56.6 (35)|
|Defense||49.4 (175)||18.6 (161)||28.2 (86)||31.4 (47)|
Aside from their high tempo (75 possession/game, #17 nationally) and ability to get to the line, very little about this team stands out—for good or for bad—on either side of the ball. While it hasn't come back to bite them yet, they do allow a significant number of three-point attempts, which usually is the sign of a sub-par perimeter defense; if that's the case, there's an area that Michigan should be able to exploit in a big way.
BOX OUT. Keeping this the same from the FSU game, as Michigan players not named Mitch McGary still aren't doing a great job getting bodies on potential offensive rebounders. McGary can only block out one of the Clayton/Thorne duo; given that both are very good at attacking the offensive glass, he's going to need some help. This is mostly focused on Glenn Robinson III, though Michigan's wings have also fared poorly in this regard; Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton are having to do way too much work on the defensive glass to cover for their teammates not boxing out. If Michigan can stay about even in the rebounding battle, their shooting should win out over Charlotte's.
Stay calm, young Walton. Hey, kept this one, too. While Walton played a solid game overall against Florida State, shooting well from the outside and playing very good defense on the back end of the 1-3-1, he also forced the action at the rim and wasted possessions when he appeared to get caught up in Florida State's fast pace. Charlotte is looking to make this another high-tempo game; Walton calmed down as the FSU game went along, and hopefully he starts from that point tonight instead of needing a half or so to settle in.
Keep attacking the basket. If their statistical profile is at all telling, Charlotte is going to get their fair share of free throws; if Michigan wants to keep the foul count close, they need to attack the basket like they did during the second half and overtime against FSU. With the 49ers lacking a pair of seven-footers or a fleet of 6'7"-or-taller wings like the Seminoles, getting to the hoop with Stauskas/Robinson/LeVert seems like a good idea regardless.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 10
*NOTE: The early games in Puerto Rico went long, so the start of the game has been delayed. Tipoff will be shortly after the finish of FSU/Northeastern; best guess is sometime between 7:15 and 7:30 Eastern, barring overtime.
I started writing this post at Heiko's apartment before my laptop battery mercifully bailed out, giving me a few minutes to think on the drive home. Time heals all wounds, they say; this wasn't nearly enough time.
Michigan got an early gift when Jake Ryan's crushing hit on Iowa QB Jake Rudock on a play-action rollout—sound familiar?—led to a fluttering pass that Brennen Beyer intercepted and took back seven yards for a touchdown. The defense came away with two other interceptions in the game; Blake Countess baiting Rudock for his second pick led directly to the second Wolverine touchdown, a two-yard pass to A.J. Williams that Iowa had completely dead to rights until Devin Gardner comically stiff-armed Tanner Miller to the ground in the backfield.
Left to its own devices, the Michigan offense could muster just one more score in the game, a nine-yard pass to Jeremy Gallon to give them a 21-7 halftime lead.
The Wolverines finished with 158 yards on 57 plays (2.8 ypp); the Greg Davis-coached Iowa offense managed to tally 407 yards (5.5 ypp) despite freezing temperatures and a howling wind. At one point in the second half, Al Borges called for back-to-back reverses—the first one worked; the second predictably failed miserably. Iowa adjusted to Michigan's fake-bubble-based run game and that was all she wrote; the defense, down both starting linebackers by the end of the game, couldn't stop the inevitable comeback.
Eight three-and-outs. Eight.
Gardner fumbled on a draw play on Michigan's final offensive possession, their first turnover of the game; it was unfortunate, to be sure, but at this point it's pretty tough to blame the guy:
Gardner walked in holding his right arm in his pant loop. Like a self made sling. He's absolutely injured, just a question of how severely
— Everett Cook (@everettcook) November 23, 2013
I watch him play and feel no anger, just sadness. Michigan is left with no reasonable option but to put him out there despite the fact that he's obviously not close to the same player he was last year or at the start of this season, clearly hurt, and being put in a position in which few—if any—quarterbacks could succeed. Gardner gives this team the best chance to win; he's also battered, skittish, and quite possibly flat-out injured.
Crazy things happen in football, which is why we keep watching. It'll take something beyond any reasonable expectation of crazy for Michigan to even stay competitive in The Game on Saturday.