National Signing Day still ongoing, but we already have a pretty good idea how things are going to play out.
6:00 a.m. - The sun has yet to rise in College Station, Texas. A lonely fax machine sits in Kevin Sumlin's office. There is no way for it to know the hell it is about to experience. It can't comprehend such things. It is just a machine.
7:10 a.m. - Brian Kelly receives his 100th Letter of Intent for 'Lennay Kekua,' to go along with 37 for 'Manti Te'o's Fake Girlfriend' and 6 for 'That Catfish chick.' "Very original, jackass," he thinks to himself. Kelly looks in his mini-fridge, but finds it empty. He calls up Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, and threatens to leave for the NFL if Notre Dame doesn't pony up breakfast.
7:13 a.m. - An out-of-breath Swarbrick arrives with an Egg McMuffin. Kelly grunts a half-hearted, "okay I'll stay."
Om nom nom
7:44 a.m. - Out of absolutely nowhere, damn near every five-star recruit in the country commits to Ole Miss. Yep. Ole Miss. This is in no way suspicious. Stuff like this happens occasionally; the best players in the country will sometimes all decide, basically at the same time, to attend the same school, even if that school hasn’t won its conference since the Kennedy Administration. Why are you so suspicious of this? Just because Ole Miss is 13-24 (and 4-21 in conference) over the last three seasons? Or because Ole Miss has never been ranked higher than 15th in Rivals’ rankings? Or because one of their five-star recruits tweeted out a picture of a pile of cash recently? That’s all just circumstantial evidence, man.
8:02 a.m. - Michigan blog circles awaken, but unlike most are unconcerned with the events of this day. For you see, Michigan is different than the other schools, who view the purpose of recruiting as stockpiling talent and accumulating star ratings. Michigan is not concerned with such things. Michigan attempts to accumulate Michigan Men. Men who think only of the team. The team, the team, the team. And though they are few in number, their moral standing and forthright character will make them superior athletes, scholars, and gentlemen at the end of the day. Some players may be more highly ranked than these Michigan Men, but those rankings do not capture the essence of teamsmanship and sportitude that make these Michigan Men special. And though those more highly ranked players may choose other schools, in doing so they demonstrate that they are, in fact, not Michigan Men, and were therefore unworthy to don the winged helmet. Those who stay, gentlemen. Those who stay.
8:12 a.m. - Word hits Michigan blog circles that Derrick Green has submitted his LOI. Michigan fans respond with a "WOOOOOOO FIVE STAR RUNNING BACKS BABY!!! OUR CLASS KICKS YOUR CLASS'S THREE-STAR ASS. SUCK IT, DANTONIO. NUMBER ONE!!!"
8:54 a.m. - A kid with discernable football talent sends his paperwork to Colorado. All are confused.
Did… did you watch the last few years?
9:10 a.m. - ..."What is this madness?" wonders the poor fax machine. He has not stopped churning for a moment. He is on his third drum of toner and sixth ream of paper, and there seems to be no end in sight. There is no time to contemplate the greater meaning, however, as another fax is coming in...
9:36 a.m. - A bright-eyed and talented young running back from Iowa beams ear-to-ear as he hands his paperwork to his high school athletic director. "Send this to the attention of Kirk Ferentz at this number, please," he says. As the fax machine starts to whir, the young man feels a strange twinge in his right knee, and he suddenly senses that someone, or something, is behind him. He turns, but nothing is there. He shrugs and laughs it off. Alas, it is too late for him already.
10:01 a.m. - Urban Meyer enters his office to gaze upon the hundreds and hundreds of LOIs on his desk. Seemingly every major recruit in the country, including those who already enrolled early at other schools, has sent their pledge to Ohio State. Meyer feels a touch of guilt for having not explained better to all of these young men that most of their offers were not "committable." Meyer sifts through the pile for the letters from the 21 kids he really wanted, and places the rest of them in the recycling bin.
11:53 p.m. - Mark Dantonio picks up... you know what? No one really cares.
File Photo. I think. I didn’t look very hard.
12:01 p.m. - Brian Kelly calls Jack Swarbrick and and informs him that he is considering leaving to coach the Baltimore Orioles, and that he is rather hungry.
12:07 p.m. - Swarbrick arrives with a chicken carbonara sandwich from Quiznos. Kelly reaffirms that he is still completely devoted to Notre Dame.
12:47 p.m. - Bo Pelini receives a letter of intent from a highly touted defensive lineman. Pelini immediately calls the young man and berates him for 20 minutes for his inexcusable penmanship.
YOUR Fs LOOK LIKE F***ING Ts. AND HOW THE HELL IS THAT A D?
2:17 p.m. - In Tuscaloosa, a dozen non-contributing underclassmen and a handful of oft-injured juniors are asked to load all of their equipment onto a truck as part of a "new drill." They don't suspect anything, despite the fact that their first task upon arriving at Alabama had been to unload about a dozen sets of football pads and other equipment from a truck very much like this one.
2:58 p.m. - A Tennessee commit tells local reporters how excited he is to compete for an SEC Championship. No one has the heart to tell him.
3:39 p.m. - ... Too much. This is simply too much. His motherboard smoking, his outer shell warped from the heat, the poor fax machine longs for the sweet release of death. They are coming slower now, but the short break between letters only offers cruel hope that maybe, just maybe, the the previous letter will have been the last. And yet, each respite is interrupted by OH COME ON, WHO THE HELL NEEDS THIS MANY WIDE RECEIVERS?
4:11 p.m. - In West Lafayette, Darrell Hazell hears the knock on his office door that he has been dreading. Brady Hoke enters, walks to Hazell's desk, and picks up Hazell's pile of LOIs. Hoke thumbs through them slowly, removes one from the pile, folds it neatly, and places it in his pocket. Hazell starts to protest, but realizes the futility. Danny Hope had explained to him about the natural order of things. Hoke adjusts his wizard hat and leaves without a word. Hazell vows revenge, but deep down he fears he may just be fooling himself.
6:41 p.m. - Gus Malzahn once again checks the connection on his fax machine. Had he given his recruits the wrong fax number? I mean, he DID have some commitments, right?
Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post is… aw screw it lets FAX FAX FAX FAX
2/6/2013 – Michigan 76, Ohio State 74 (OT) – 21-2, 8-2 Big Ten
I guarantee Tim Hardaway Jr has never heard of obscure indie band Rilo Kiley or heard "A Better Son/Daughter" or even seen The Wizard, in which then-preteen future obscure indie band singer Jenny Lewis debuted along with Super Mario 3. (It was a heady time.) But I also guarantee that for most of the second half he heard that song he had never heard, the bit about sometimes when you're on.
Mitch McGary sings "La Cucaracha" to himself most of the time, but especially during basketball games.
INNER LIFE OF MITCH MCGARY
/INNER LIFE OF MITCH MCGARY
Nik Stauskas… obvious.
One day Nik Stauskas will find out that not everybody in the whole world has BALL SO HARD going through their head 24 hours a day, and a lot of previously inexplicable things will magically explain themselves. That one time he cut off an old lady at the supermarket and spiked her baguette to the floor. The aftermaths of various domino-spiking incidents. That thing about racing a horse. &c.
mean muggin' (Dustin Johnston/UMHoops)
Glenn Robinson III hears nothing but jet engine takeoff, and knows nothing about the world of music. He knows the roar of escape velocity only. He can talk to birds. Birds are in fact sick of talking to Glenn Robinson III. Excuse birds, they have to go regurgitate some food now.
Trey Burke… Trey Burke is a tough one.
Narrative whatnots ranging from your own to trash-talking Ohio State fans on twitter to Mike Tirico and Dick Vitale tell you that Craft versus Burke was once again a victory for Craft and his infuriating brand of that's-80%-of-a-foul-argh defense. Then you go look at a box score that tells you Burke put up 16 points on 12 shots and had eight assists against two turnovers, and your brain has an ellipses as it tries to fit that into the thing you thought might have happened.
Then you remember that Michigan's grand strategy at the end of the game and OT was "Burke, go do something" and the resulting tough stepback threes were more on Beilein walking Burke into a trap with no time on the clock than any fault of his, and you revise that shot count down to ten and… well. First of all, it's impressive that Burke only took ten shots from the structure of the offense. He is an alpha dog. His natural inclination when things get heated is to take everything on his shoulders, and this game wasn't heated so much as it was generating enough energy to thaw most of the state should a Crisler door blow open at an opportune time. Burke still kept himself even-keeled.
Previous Ohio State games have featured plenty of frustrating moments when the pick and roll has been more of an invitation to get trapped towards the sidelines than a way to generate offense, and while there was a bit of that here, it was less prominent. Multiple times Burke turned a tough drive into a kickout three instead of a low-percentage two, and I felt surprise. This is a guy who wants to put it on his shoulders, sometimes to Michigan's detriment. Here he dialed it back a bit—22% usage versus 32% in Columbus—and found plenty of payoff in the form of Hardaway and Stauskas raining in threes.
Those stepbacks at the end of the game were an alternate scenario largely avoided. Burke had to absorb some Buddhism in this one, and win the game without winning it.
Except, of course, for the part where he won it. The part where he almost seemed to let Craft by him on purpose because he knew a pullup in the lane was coming, and thwacked the ball to Glenn Robinson to preserve the slimmest of all leads—to preserve their claim to being elite. It's the bit of the box score you hardly look at because Trey Burke is generously listed at six feet tall.
Aaron Craft is Ohio State's primary assist generator. He had one in this game, a game in which his team put up 55% from two. None of that was generated by Craft, who turned the ball over as much as Burke and found out that putting the game on your shoulders is a grand burden indeed. On the last three possessions Burke stripped him, blocked him, and rode him into the doom of Tim Hardaway. The last play was pure Craft: riding your man down the court on the edge of a foul, forcing his attention onto you on his shoulder until it is too late.
That's not in the box score. The tree of victory sometimes grows from silent soil. Or something like that. I'm not much better at being Buddhist than Trey Burke.
I'm not sure what Trey Burke's life soundtrack is. Could be Vivaldi or Bombs Over Baghdad. It's probably all things smashed together; Burke puts one headphone to an ear and mashes things together until the thing that comes out doesn't seem like it could have been constructed from the parts that went in.
From Eric Upchurch:
Also UMHoops shots.
Rucker park. I couldn't have been the only one who thought about that Kevin Durant video when THJ was going NBA Jam:
There was a nonzero chance of that fourth one resulting in the same court rush.
Begone, heroball. Brief digression on why the fadeaway three from Burke in the previous Ohio State game was okay and this one drove me nuts:
- DOWN TWO ON ROAD: If you get a two you have an approximately 50% chance to win. If you get a three you win. If the two is twice as likely to go down (or get you free throws that you make) as the three, it's even. Since you're on the road your chance of winning is slightly lower, so… even if you think that Burke three was only 30% to go in, the drive would have to be around 65-70% to be a clearly better option. (A potential OSU response is irrelevant since any bucket they get means you lose.)
- TIED AT HOME: Go get a damn point. If the drive is at all likelier to get you a damn point it is a better idea. It is likelier to get you a damn point. So go get it.
Michigan is an exceedingly low-turnover outfit with multiple excellent scoring options. Putting Burke in a one-on-one situation against the best perimeter defender in college basketball is not your best option, and the potential downside is not just a turnover but a turnover that comes early enough for the opponent to get a meaningful possession. Yeah, it's not impossible, but the reward outweighs the risk.
The 1-4 set late is the equivalent of run-run-pass-punt when you're up late in football. Easy to justify, statistically poor.
Impact. Mitch McGary has it.
He kept Michigan in contact in the first half with dives to the bucket and putbacks, going 5/8. He'd finish 7 of 13, the only Wolverine to hit more than half his twos—the only one to make more than two. The rebounding numbers aren't astounding—3 offensive, 3 defensive—but four steals against one foul is. He is coming over entry passes and busting them up at a rate I haven't seen before from a Michigan player.
In addition to the box score stuff, he was all over the court doing his usual McGary things. Whenever I look at the Kenpom boxes it seems like Michigan has more "team" rebounds on both offense and defense than the opponent. This feels like a McGary halo effect from the guy battering all manner of balls about. For example, late in the game he harassed Lenzelle Smith into the sideline as he attempted to rebound a Michigan miss. Michigan got the ball and a "team" offensive rebound. In the highlights above he hedges Craft into the sideline; Craft attempts to save the possession by hurling the ball off of McGary; the ball deflects to Robinson, who gets credit for a steal* and Michigan fast-breaks the other way. He's a massive possession generator statistically and there's an excellent case to be made that he is being shortchanged by those stats.
McGary's not a slug on offense, either. He can put the ball on the deck for a couple dribbles against other fives; in this one Amir Williams had an excellent block on one of those drives, but the other ended in a layup. His skill level is relatively high for a big. And he does all that other business.
At this point he's swung back from overrated to underrated. I mean, is there much difference between what he's giving M and what Nerlens Noel is giving Kentucky? Noel blocks a butt-ton of shots; McGary is an incredible rebounder on both ends of the floor. They're about even in offensive efficiency. So… who would you rather have? It's at least up for debate if McGary continues pulling down the minutes he has the last couple games.
*[I'm pretty sure that's the letter of the law, right?]
Alright. Defense is something of an issue. Michigan overplayed Deshaun Thomas to decent effect—or Ohio State just forgot to go to him late—and held him to 17 points on 15 shots. Given OSU's struggles to find secondary scoring you would take that as an easy Michigan win when paired with shooting nearly 60% from three.
That was not the case thanks in large part to LaQuinton Ross, who went nuts. He hit seven of ten shots and probably didn't have more than one empty possession since he rebounded a lot of his misses.
Add in Sam Thompson, Amir Williams, and Lenzelle Smith hitting eight of ten twos—Smith had a poor day from three—and that's how Ohio State kept pace with Hardaway's beast mode second half. Everyone other than Craft and Deshaun Thomas was throwing down easy stuff. Michigan said "someone other than Thomas will beat us" and Ohio State was like "okay."
Q: where was the zone? Ohio State struggled against the 2-3 zone in the previous game. Michigan pulled it out briefly and it seemed to be going fairly well. For whatever reason, the coaches didn't like the way it looked and went back to what turned out to be a highly porous man to man.
Revisiting the Morgan thing. I don't know if that's really the issue. I mean, how bad does McGary have to be positionally to wipe out four steals and assorted other turnover generation? Overhelping accusations go back to that discussion about whether that's on the big or the guy who gave up the drive the big felt he had to respond to. There's nothing in the way of stats that suggests Morgan is integral to the defense, so we're left with fuzzy business about rotations. I don't know. My eyes say that 1) McGary is playing really well and 2) Michigan is playing badly on defense. I can't reconcile those.
On the other hand. Hi I just watched the MGoBlue highlights embedded above and they happen to have a good deal of OSU's secondary scoring included. Sam Thompson's 3/3 night consisted of a transition tip dunk and two tough shots, one a baseline runner (not included), the other a baseline 18-footer with a decent contest from Stauskas. Lenzelle Smith's game-tier is a scramble off an offensive rebound that still sees Stauskas chase him off the three-point line with a closeout and forces him to re-set and fire from just inside the arc. That's a pretty good outcome off that OREB.
Maybe OSU just had a good game? There's a lot of randomness in here.
Rebounding check. This looked basically even in the ESPN box score but as per usual, once the whirlwind effect of McGary bouncing balls off all of the faces is taken into account, Michigan comes out looking better. With five team rebounds to OSU's two that pushes them up to 38% to 32%, which is a moderate edge.
More than halfway through the conference season their rebounding is holding up much better than it was last year: they're third on D, fourth on O. Last year they finished 9th and 10th in those categories, respectively. The rest of the schedule is four easy games and four hard ones, so that doesn't seem to be a schedule effect.
Uniformz. I was trying to ignore them as best I could. Unfortunately twitter was nonstop trash-talk about them until the game became so good Michigan could have come out in garbage bags elaborately festooned with penises bearing Dave Brandon's face and no one would have noticed. Twitter, I am trying to grit the ol' teeth here, and you are not helping.
I don't care anymore. This is the scene in Planet of the Apes after Charlton Heston screams "YOU MANIACS YOU BLEW IT UP" in which Charlton turns to his companion and says "I'm hungry, do you guys still have Jimmy John's?" It is what it is. It'll slowly erode my will to live, but whatever. I've said my bit.
The one thing I'd like to mention: Michigan handed out honest-to-god Maize shirts for the Maizeout. I didn't know they actually made those anymore, and can we pick a yellow? No, we cannot pick a yellow.
"But the kids like them." The first album I ever bought was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack. I memorized it. Kids are stupid.
Oblig. ref bit. Spent entire second half grinding my teeth about the Craft post-buzzer (except there was no buzzer) three. Why was there no buzzer? I'm pretty sure the refs can't look at the player and the shot clock at the same time, so they have to rely on the noise. No noise, no shot clock violation. That may be on Crisler instead of the refs. Nik Stauskas put up a prayer after the buzzer went off later, but there was no buzzer so it didn't go off and there was no call.
The phantom foul on Burke was probably the right result since Hardaway did get Thomas's arm on the shot. The ref missed it and had to make up some bullcrap on Burke once it was clear Thomas had airballed it implausibly, but it was a foul. Just not on the dude who got it.
The offensive goaltending non-call… oy.
The sequence at the end was classic late-game ref ostriching: it was a flagrant on Craft and probably a foul on Hardaway. Sometimes they let you get away with some extra contact when you get your hand literally on top of the ball, as Hardaway did. I can see not calling that because by the time the arm contact starts in earnest Hardaway has already destroyed any chance of a shot. Still seemed foul-y to me.
Don't get me started on the "let them decide it on the floor" meme. They are deciding it on the floor as long as you call the game the way you should.
The title is both a track off an upcoming Sufjan Stevens album and a rock-hard truth: for the first time in all the times I can remember, Michigan enters NSD without so much as a random three-star on the hook. They've got their 27 guys, are without late-flip drama, and we're reduced to watching Ole Miss inexplicably reel in five star after five star for reasons related to Eli Manning and apple pie*, I'm sure.
Anyway, for reasons of holy pants that basketball game and ain't nothing going on, we're forgoing our usual monstrous all-day liveblog in which I answer the same question sixteen times for a more focused one. We'll kick it off at 1 PM and go through Hoke's 2PM presser; afterwards Ace will have some thousand-foot-view stuff for the people who don't care enough to bother except on one special day every year.
Wilton Speight's hello post will have to wait for tomorrow, I think. Not that we know much about him other than "is real tall, probably knows more about Thomas Jefferson than average high schooler."
*[There's a certain faction that will cluck at you when you imply that what's going on with Ole Miss's recruiting is suspicious. SAT analogy time: Ole Miss : recruiting :: 37-year-old baseball player having career year : steroids. I'm taking this recent Bill Simmons column and applying it to a new domain. The point at which schools received the benefit of the doubt is long gone.]
The highlighters are the good guys.
EDIT: Not working so well so I'm pulling down the one with our ads and giving you
Thorin's MGOBLUE's today.
ALL THE THREES
Aaron Craft lay on the floor, hands behind his head, defeated.
For 45 minutes, Craft and his Buckeyes put up a hell of a fight, trading blows with Trey Burke's Michigan squad in front of an electric Crisler Center crowd. Both point guards had their moments of triumph—Burke tallying 16 points and eight assists with just two turnovers, Craft pocketing three steals and scoring 11 points of his own.
In overtime, though, Burke came out on top, redeeming his missed three at the end of regulation with an improbable pull-up triple on Michigan's first overtime possession—a shot that would ultimately provide the winning points. Craft had a jumper from the elbow to give Ohio State the win with the shot clock turned off, but it was Burke's turn to win with his defensive exploits, swatting the shot to Glenn Robinson III. Craft was forced to foul—hard enough to get a review, as it turned out—and Robinson gave the Wolverines a two-point lead with his first free throw. The second was off the mark, however, and the ball found its way to Craft, who quickly drove the length of the court for a game-tying layup, only to be blocked again by Tim Hardaway Jr., and left to stare at the rafters waiting for a whistle that never came.
It was a classic finish to a classic game, in front of a Crisler crowd that was louder than any since the days of the Fab Five (or so I'm told—it was certainly the loudest I've heard dating back to the Ellerbe era). Michigan landed the first haymaker, racing out to an 18-8 lead, but the Buckeyes crawled their way back into it—a jumper from unexpected star LaQuinton Ross gave the visitors a 31-30 halftime edge.
Ohio State pushed their lead to as much as eight in the second half, but they couldn't find an answer for Hardaway, who hit all five of his second-half three-point attempts—including triples on three straight Wolverine possessions—en route to a game-high 23 points. Still, the Wolverines struggled to close the gap completely, failing to guard the interior time and again. It wasn't until a Nik Stauskas three with 3:23 to play that Michigan finally retook the lead, one that lasted all of 24 seconds before an Amir Williams free throw tied it up. After trading buckets, Burke's last-second triple caught only iron to bring on overtime.
While Jordan Morgan was limited to four ineffective minutes with a lingering ankle injury, Mitch McGary (at left, Upchurch) shined in 29 productive minutes—his 14 points proved huge, but even bigger were his four steals and stellar outlet passing, sparking the offense without putting the ball in the hoop himself. When Morgan is back at 100%, he'll still have his starting spot—Jon Horford again got the start tonight—but McGary has made his play for a bigger chunk of the minutes. Fellow freshman Stauskas knocked down 3-of-5 triples to do his part, while Robinson again struggled offensively, needing eight shots to notch ten points.
For the Buckeyes, Deshaun Thomas led the way as usual with 17 points, but Robinson's improved defensive effort forced him to take 15 shots to get there. Instead, it was Ross who repeatedly came up with big shots, pouring in 16 while shooting 7-for-10 from the field.
When the final buzzer sounded, however, it was Michigan coming away with the narrowest of victories. A missed call here, a lucky shot there, any small moment could have made the difference; this time it's the Buckeyes who will stare at the ceiling and wonder.