Caris LeVert came up limping following the final play against Northwestern last night and was seen on crutches after the game. Today, Michigan confirmed our worst fears—LeVert will miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury:
Junior guard Caris LeVert of the University of Michigan men's basketball team injured his left foot during Saturday's (Jan. 17) game vs. Northwestern and is scheduled to have surgery this week. He will miss the remainder of the season following a 12-week recovery and rehabilitation period. LeVert had surgery on the same foot this past May.
"Caris has been working so hard this season, and for this to happen is very unfortunate," said U-M head coach John Beilein. "If we know anything about Caris, he will do everything it takes to not only get better but to help his teammates during this time. He is a tremendous young man who I will really miss coaching the remainder of the season. However, I am optimistic he will have a complete recovery."
"While this is obviously not what I wanted, I know this team will come together and be stronger because of it," said LeVert. "Now more than ever, it is important for all of us support this team. For me, I am familiar with the recovery process and what work lies ahead for me. I am very confident that I will return 100 percent and have already begun work to ensure that happens."
This is obviously a huge blow to Michigan's hopes of making even the NIT. LeVert leads the team in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks; with Derrick Walton limited by injury, LeVert has often been the only Wolverine capable of creating his own shot. Freshmen Aubrey Dawkins and Kameron Chatman should see a major uptick in minutes with LeVert sidelined.
If this is the end of LeVert's Michigan career—despite a disappointing season, he's still been projected in the first round of the NBA draft by many experts—it's certainly been a good one. Here's hoping for a speedy and full recovery.
The brick (left) and the Rahk. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
They escaped, at least.
That's about as much as one can say about a two-point win over Northwestern that ended when the Wildcats' leading scorer, freshman Bryant McIntosh, missed an uncontested layup that would've sent the game to overtime.
We'll start with the good. Freshman Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman performed admirably in the stead of Spike Albrecht, who missed the game with an "upper respiratory illness." Rahk accounted for what would ultimately stand as the winning basket, draining a triple from the wing in the final minute to finish with nine points and five rebounds in his first career start.
Caris LeVert, tasked with creating much of the offense on his own, played a strong game in all facets, stuffing the stat sheet with 18 points (albeit on 19 FGA), six rebounds, seven assists, a block, and a steal. While Derrick Walton still struggled inside the arc, he knocked down four triples, grabbed five rebounds, and added three steals. Both handled the ball well, combining for just one turnover; as a team, the Wolverines coughed up the rock just three times.
Michigan even got off to a hot start, hitting their first four three-point attempts and ripping off an 18-0 run that saw them go up 14 with 9:43 to go in the first half.
Now for the bad. Michigan went ice cold to finish the first half, going down a point when Vic Law beat the halftime buzzer, and that carried over into the second; the Wolverines would go 7:08 without a bucket, the seventh time this season they've had a seven-minute drought.
While Zak Irvin knocked down a crucial late three, it was his only basket of the night. He'd finish with six points on 1/5 shooting. Irvin at least had something of an excuse for his shooting woes tonight; he, too, is sick.
Northwestern controlled much of the game due to the interior exploits of Alex Olah, who came within a point of his career high with 22 on 9/12 shooting; he also dominated the glass with five offensive rebounds. Ricky Doyle, suffering from a cold, didn't play at all in the second half after huffing and puffing his way through the first.
In Doyle's place, Mark Donnal had an awful game, going scoreless with one rebound and four fouls in 11 minutes; he looked helpless defending Olah in the post. Max Bielfeldt proved marginally better, posting five points and two boards—all in the second half—in 18 minutes, while Michigan covered his height disadvantage on defense by playing a lot of 1-3-1 zone.
To top it off, John Beilein said after the game that Caris LeVert may have sprained his ankle; he came up limping after the chaotic final play and was seen on crutches afterward. He won't have much time to recover before Michigan heads to Rutgers on Tuesday.
This team sorely needs him. Even with LeVert doing a lot of everything, it took a lot of good fortune for Michigan to squeak by a Big Ten afterthought at home. The road to a postseason bid only gets tougher from here.
Michigan (10-7, 3-2 B1G) vs
Northwestern (10-7, 1-3)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||8:15 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan -7 (KenPom)|
PBP: Joe Davis
Analyst: Jim Jackson
Right: Last year, when Michigan was much better and Northwestern was, as usual, Northwestern. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Losing this game would probably be a mild disappointment to the football recruits in attendance.
Oh, and it'd be pretty bad for the basketball team, too.
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||30||Bryant McIntosh||Fr.||6'3, 177||81||25||No|
|Scoring and assist leader. Not remarkably efficient, but can create.|
|G||14||Tre Demps||Jr.||6'3, 198||79||23||Yes|
|Takes a ton of shots but isn't a good shooter: 46/29/64 2P%/3P%/FT%.|
|F||4||Vic Law||Fr.||6'7, 185||60||20||Yes|
|Good defender, rebounder whose offensive game isn't up to par yet.|
|F||34||Sanjay Lumpkin||So.||6'6, 220||67||12||Not Really|
|Minuscule usage but very efficient. Mediocre rebounder.|
|C||22||Alex Olah||Jr.||7'0, 270||69||22||Not Really|
|Good rebounder, shot-blocker. Not a great finisher, but has range.|
|G||23||JerShon Cobb||Sr.||6'5, 208||38||17||Kinda|
|Mostly spot-up shooter hitting just 32% of 3PA.|
|G/F||20||Scottie Lindsey||Fr.||6'5, 175||27||19||No|
|Solid outside shooter does decent work on boards.|
|F||32||Nathan Taphorn||So.||6'7, 215||21||19||No|
|Hitting 68% of twos and 52% of threes. Total nonfactor on def. boards.|
Northwestern lost to all four KenPom top-150 teams they played in the nonconference portion of the schedule, with the narrowest margin by eight points at home against #89 Georgia Tech. They broke that streak in the first Big Ten game, upsetting(?) #145 Rutgers in Piscataway by four points. They've dropped all three conference games since, getting run off their home court by Wisconsin before tight contests at Michigan State and at home against Illinois. The MSU game went to overtime, and Northwestern came within a fingernail of inbounding in the frontcourt to tie their in-state rival in the final second of regulation, only for review to give the ball (rightfully, it appeared) to the Illini.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Harbaugh's offensive philosophy
So who remembers a time when Michigan recruiting wasn't wholly depressing, and we had a recruiting tracker wiki to follow the names and their respective levels of interest?
|Your new friend for January. Find it under Useful Stuff.|
: I do! I do!
Mr. Blue! Hi there Mr. Blue!
: I'm so excited to get everyone on campus and build this class. TEXT ALL THE RECRUITS!
Well you can do that Mr. Blue.
: Hey, I've been getting those texts. We should all come visit together guys. Is it true Tyrone Wheatley is on staff?
: As have I. Verily this is all data I must consider.
Happy teeth! Data! Guys, it's been forever!
: Wait, I missed those. Do you have my number right?
: I remain 100% committed to Just Fired the Coach I Committed To U, but can you guys add me to the chain anyway?
: Sure thing Nefarious Eduardo!
: I've been following you guys on the tracker that umhero put together but if you want to add me too it's spelled S.a.d. J.o.s.h and my cell is 734-…
So those fellas have returned thanks to the work of umhero. I made it a wiki and added it to the bar above.
Well they're not from the Midwest. EGD had an interesting point to make regarding the comparison of Harbaugh's staff to Hoke's. Brady's guys were all very familiar with the Midwest, and that bore out with a very strong regional recruiting profile. It was already a good assumption that Harbaugh would be stretching his territory from sea to shining sea. I map each coach's region of greatest competence:
The only Texas connection they have is Fisch's short tenure with the Texans. Harbaugh prefers his staff to recruit their own positions but these regional connections matter a great deal in getting that guy in with coaches and players.
In a World Where Everybody Has to Say What They Mean in Pictures. Ron Utah imagined what various dudes in the Great Harbaughning would have said if they'd been absolutely candid. I actually think he got a lot of the thinks wrong, so I'll take a stab at them:
: So Jim when did you decide you wanted to be the head coach of Michigan?
[After the jump: more of Jim Harbaugh's pictorial answers to the CC questions, and where recruiting happens]
If you like manball there's no better guy to have as your offensive coordinator than Tim Drevno. As both a TE coach and OL coach, he was one of the main architects of the thumping Stanford lines that brought the Cardinal to their recently-elevated level. Afterwards Drevno transitioned to the NFL and got a plum job at USC. Now he rejoins Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.
After a small-school tenure as an offensive lineman, Drevno's coaching career started with a few years coaching TEs and RBs at smaller schools. In 1999 he transitioned to OL at San Jose State. Since then he's been exclusively an OL coach save for his first two years at Stanford, when he handled TEs. He also held the offensive coordinator title for Harbaugh's extremely successful San Diego teams. (Harbaugh in fact inherited Drevno from the previous administration.)
At Stanford, Drevno was a key part of the machine that actually got up and running in Harbaugh year two:
[Ranking out of about 120]
|YEAR||TEAM||DREVNO||Rush S&P||Overall S&P||Main back(s)||Results|
|220 rushes, 900 yards,3.8 YPC|
|280 rushes, 1150 yards, 4.1 YPC|
|330 rushes, 1850 yards, 5.6 YPC|
|2009||Stanford||OL||12||6||Gerhart||340 rushes, 1870 yards, 5.5 YPC|
|370 rushes, 1800 yards, 4.9YPC|
|370 rushes,2100 yards, 5.6 YPC|
It's hard to separate Drevno out from the general Harbaugh effect, but again the continued success of Stanford after coach X's departure bodes very well in this case. This wasn't Texas or Alabama when they were up and running. This was a program transformation that stuck; that Stanford continued to excel after Drevno left is pretty good since he was one of the major molders of guys like David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin.
Drevno went with Harbaugh to San Francisco, where he was the OL coach; oddly, NFL veteran Mike Solari was also the OL coach. The two guys had the same title. In any case, the San Francisco OL was up and down.
[rankings out of 32 teams]
|YEAR||TEAM||Rush DVOA||Line Yards||Power Success||Adj Sack Rate|
After a step back in year one, the 49ers had a terrific rushing offense in year two; they then took a major step back. At no point was their sack rate anything other than bad, but he did inherit that and quarterbacks do have a significant, often-unacknowledged hand in that. Kaepernick is a guy who prefers to extend plays even if that results in additional sacks because when it doesn't he frequently lopes downfield for thirty yards.
Despite those numbers, San Francisco sent two OL to the Pro Bowl in 2013 and had their entire line named as either a starter or an alternate in 2012. Margins in the NFL are razor thin.
L to R: true FR, redshirt FR, junior, true FR, redshirt SO
Last year, Drevno returned to college at USC, picking up a run game coordinator title and inheriting a line that thinks last year's Michigan line is impressively experienced. Three true freshman saw extensive time, with Toa Lobendahn moving to left tackle midseason when sophomore Chad Wheeler went down with injury. Redshirt sophomore Zach Banner moved into the starting RT job; Max Tuerk was the only upperclassman, and even he ended up moving to center.
This is like last year's Michigan line if you replaced the starting guards with freshmen instead of a redshirt junior and redshirt sophomore.
Despite that, the numbers were middling:
|Offense||Adj. LY||Rk||Opp. Rate||Rk||Power Success Rate||Rk||Adj Sack Rate||Rk|
USC was about average in line yards and adjusted sacks, a bit below that in "opportunity rate"—the percentage of run plays that go for five yards—and bad at short yardage. Top USC back Javorius Allen almost hit 1500 yards at 5.4 a carry. That's impressive for what must have been one of the youngest lines in the country.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Drevno has extensive Harbaugh experience and did very well considering the situation in his single year at USC; he was one of the primary guys driving the Stanford rushing renaissance whether it was as a TE coach or an OL coach. A lack of OC experience is not a problem since Harbaugh has a major role in coordinating his own offense, and Drevno worked with Harbaugh in that capacity at San Diego.
At 45, he's probably looking at this job as an opportunity to impress and get a head job. Given the history there that's not exactly a longshot.
UPSHOT FOR REST OF STAFF
Ain't no more upshot.
Unleash The Harbaugh
The dead period is over, meaning coaches can once again have in-person contact with recruits. I have a hunch Jim Harbaugh is ready:
Attacking this day with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) January 15, 2015
Harbaugh has already been spotted at Detroit Catholic Central, and you can bet he'll be visiting Michigan's top targets throughout the area. That would likely include Cass Tech's Mike Weber, and lo and behold, Tyrone Wheatley made his way to CT earlier today.
There will be much more as reactions come in over the weekend—the coaches are visiting numerous prospects around the country right now—but it's worth noting five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South received a visit this morning.
A couple new names on the board talked or will talk to coaches today and look like distinct possibilities to end up in the class. The first, three-star GA ATH Chris Williamson, pulled in an offer earlier this week; he's one of the hottest prospects in the country, earning offers from Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Auburn in the last couple weeks.
Per The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan, Michigan is recruiting Williamson as a defensive back, and his main factors for choosing a school are academics, playing time, and player development ($). According to 247's Ryan Bartow, newly minted assistant coach Mike Zordich stopped by Williamson's school this morning and immediately made things happen ($):
Earlier this morning, Williamson bumped Kentucky out of the January 23 official visit spot for Michigan as reported by Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247. Michigan assistant coach Mike Zordich stopped by the school and set up the visit.
Williamson is visiting UNC this weekend, will see either Florida or Auburn at the end of the month, and should take a mid-week official to Georgia somewhere in between. He officially visited Cal, his current leader, in December.
Three-star Rutgers CB commit Jarius Adams is one of several Florida prospects who'll get a visit today. Per Scout's Corey Bender, Adams will speak with DJ Durkin, and he'll be "very excited" if he receives an offer; if one comes through, expect him to make it up to Ann Arbor ($):
In addition to the Scarlet Knights, Adams has solidified a visit date with an in-state program and is considering Harbaugh's program for the weekend prior to National Signing Day.
"(I'm visiting) Florida Atlantic this weekend, Rutgers next weekend, and hopefully Michigan," Adams said.
And, as I'm writing this, Lorenz reports that Michigan did in fact offer Adams.
Again, there will be much more coverage of Michigan's in-school and in-home visits next week, as this post is assuredly out of date even as I post it.
[Hit THE JUMP for this weekend's visit list, updates on new 2015 offers and scheduled visits, and a few 2016 updates.]