Mike Lantry, 1972
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Stanford|
|WHERE||Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York|
|WHEN||8:37 pm Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan –3 (KenPom)|
|TV||Fox Sports 1|
Right: Coach Johnny Dawkins' triangle offense runs largely through 6'10" forward Dwight Powell.
LAW OF GUS
The Law of Gus is in effect, as tomorrow night's game will be televised on Fox Sports 1 with a delightful broadcast crew of Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery. The odds are high you will end this game screaming along with Gus, and the only variable is whether it's out of joy or rage.
Stanford is in the first year of implementing the triangle offense made famous by Phil Jackson and Tex Winter with the 1990's Chicago Bulls dynasty. The foundation of the offense is forming a triangle (surprise!) between a big man in the low post and perimeter players in the wing and corner, like so:
The Cardinal run much of their offense though 6'10" senior forward Dwight Powell, who not only averages 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, but also dishes out 4.2 assists, leading the team in the latter two categories as well as assist rate. Powell isn't the most efficient scorer, spreading most of his looks pretty evenly between shots at the rim that he hits at an acceptable rate (67.3%) and two-point jumpers that don't fall nearly as often (35.8%). He does most of his rebounding damage at the defensive end, as is the case with this team as a whole, and is a solid, not outstanding, shot-blocker.
The primary beneficiary of Powell's kickouts from the post is 6'2" junior guard Chasson Randle, the de facto point in this offense despite an assist rate that's exactly half of Powell's (12.4 compared to 24.8). Randle leads the team with 18.6 points per game thanks to deadeye outside shooting (44.4% 3-pt), a stellar 56.6% mark inside the arc, and frequent trips to the line, where he's a 78.4% shooter. Almost a third of Randle's shots originate in transition, so Michigan's guards have to keep track of him on both ends of the floor.
Stanford fields a large enough lineup that the next-shortest starter, 6'6" junior Anthony Brown, is listed as a "guard/forward" in Stanford's game notes. After shooting 35% from downtown in each of his first two seasons, then sitting out 2012-13 with a hip injury, Brown has hit 22 of 38 long-range attempts so far this year; his two-point mark has taken a similar leap to 54% on 54 attempts. He can spot up or take defenders off the dribble and presents a very difficult matchup.
6'7" senior forward Josh Heustis—have you gleaned that this team is remarkably experienced?—pulls in nearly as many rebounds as Powell and provides another solid inside-outside threat, connecting on 51.4% of his twos while going 9-for-21 from three this season. Over half of Heustis' shots are actually two-point jumpers, which he hits at an okay 42.9% mark; he's much better around the rim and has an identical percentage from beyond the arc. Heustis makes more of an impact on defense, sitting just outside the top 100 players nationally in block rate despite committing a relatively minuscule 2.3 fouls per 40 minutes.
Then there's 6'11" junior center Stefan Nastic, whose KenPom stat line this season is truly something to behold. Despite being very tall and taking nearly all of his shots from two-point range, Nastic has just a 4.4 offensive rebound percentage—again, he's 6'11"—and on the other end of the floor he rebounds a Sam McLaurin-esque 9.4%; in simpler terms, this is a center who averages 2.4 rebounds in just under 19 minutes per game. I assume this is a product of Stanford's system, as those numbers are way down from what he did in limited action the last two years, but I like to think that he's a Division I basketball player who's somehow afraid of the ball.
Stanford was already a starter-heavy team before their top reserve, guard Aaron Bright, was lost for the year with a dislocated shoulder after just seven games; they now rank 334th nationally in bench minutes and none of the healthy reserves crack the 100 mark for offensive rating. Stanford will play their starters as much as possible. 6'10" forward John Gage, whose stat profile suggests he's a stretch four without a deadly outside shot, is the most likely player to see extended time, as Nastic is very foul-prone.
The Cardinal lacked a solid win away from home until Wednesday, when they knocked off KP #28 UConn in Hartford in a 53-51 defensive slugfest; Stanford trailed by as much as 13 early in the second half but gave up just 13 second-half points to key a rather slow comeback.
Otherwise, Stanford's victories are unremarkable, with their next-best win either a four-point home squeaker over #98 Bucknell in the season opener or a nine-point road victory over #105 Denver. A nine-point home loss to #47 BYU and a 19-point blowout at the hands of #11 Pitt (in an early-season tournament in... Brooklyn) represent their two defeats.
Four factors (national ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||54.9 (28)||16.9 (90)||30.3 (208)||39.9 (189)|
|Defense||46.1 (71)||16.2 (288)||27.5 (38)||33.7 (62)|
Offensively, Stanford is an excellent shooting team that takes care of the ball and otherwise doesn't do a whole lot well—though, granted, shooting well and not turning it over are pretty critical parts of a good offense.
On defense, Stanford mixes in a healthy amount of zone, which could be problematic for them against Michigan's sharpshooters. So far this season they've either been stellar—especially in the UConn game—or downright awful; Dylan points out that they surrendered an ugly 1.29 points per possession in their two losses. The Cardinal protect the rim well, allowing opponents to shoot just 42.6% on two-pointers while blocking 14% of opponent attempts, the 40th-best mark nationally. They're prone to getting lit up from the outside, however, ranking worse than 200th in both 3PA/FGA and three-point percentage allowed.
One acceptably-healthy Mitch McGary, please. Because this damn year won't end, John Beilein revealed this week that Mitch McGary is "injured" and "not even close" to 100% due to ailments that he wouldn't cite specifically; if McGary doesn't have a good day of practice today, we won't see him on the floor tomorrow. That's bad news in general and even worse considering the upcoming opponent; Stanford has great size across the board, runs their offense through the post, and plays a lot of zone defense. If McGary is good to go he should be able to pick apart the zone a la last season's Syracuse game. If he's not, Jon Horford is going to have to step up in a major way, and even if he plays one of his best games the offense will suffer without McGary's passing from the high post.
Attack Powell. Stanford lacks depth, as noted above, and Powell is the key to their offense. If he's matched up against one of Michigan's primary scorers, they should be looking to attack off the dribble and try to get him into foul trouble; Nastic seems pretty prone to doing that on his own. If they can get one or two or Stanford's bigs on the bench, it would go a long way towards mitigating whatever damage is caused by McGary being limited or absent.
Find the right point guard early. Against a zone defense, quick, sharp passing is paramount, and so far this season Michigan's hasn't always had that when Derrick Walton is out there. If the offense is running smoother with Spike Albrecht at the point, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a playing time distribution similar to the Arizona game, in which Walton started but Spike got the majority of the minutes.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 3
Argh on you, club_med. Yes, I am flattered that you were inspired by my annual FEI-based bowl game watchability article, and I think it's great that you added Sagarin to it. Except now I actually have to find something else to write next Tuesday. Perhaps I'll do senior haikus.
I still can't believe
They pegged you as a safety
Here is your meat: raw.
Sorry Brian. You can do the next USCHO/RPI/Standings poll update from Center Ice. And he can take over LSA's weekly stat wrap, and LSA can take Best & Worst after the bowl game from bronxblue, who can do Inside the Box Score instead of ST3, and we'll send him to cover the press conference, and that'll be how we replace Heiko.
Season of Infinite Pain, Reviewed. "The Year of Infinite Pain" (glossary) was a name Brian came up with for 2005, before he knew what 2008 or 2009 or 2010 or 2013 could be like. Now diary giant Ron Utah is using "The Season of Infinite Pain" to describe this one. Not saying things won't improve, but, you know, that's just a might set up against two rivals who are peaking in a tough division, and a national competitive environment in which a lot of teams wantonly break the rules and ours doesn't. So just in case we need some more names:
- The Autumn of Infinite Pain
- The Time of Infinite Pain
- The Annum of Infinite Pain
- The Age of Infinite Pain
- The Span of Infinite Pain
- The Fiscal Year of Infinite Pain
If we are actually living in the last, here's guessing I don't make it past the 2014 Notre Dame game. If Dantonio and Urban get to 10 wins apiece against us there are several synonyms for "infinite" (eternal, interminable, perpetual, everlasting, boundless, incalculable, supertemporal) that may be substituted in various combinations.
Anyway Ron's wrap starts with the defensive line, which he gave a C+, but I think he's too high on Clark's season, too hard on Washington's (he was injured), and there needs to be more analysis of the heavy (ha!) rotational guys like Henry, Beyer, Ojemudia, Wormley, Heitzman and Pipkins.
Not on the Pistons, that's where. AC1997 is tracking Michigan guys in the NBA, as well as the transfers and dudes playing abroad. I'd love for this to be a regular monthly update for each season in action (so have a hockey one, and a baseball one, and football from August (free agent movement) through the Superbowl.
Etc. A quick statistical preview of Stanford, whom Michigan must beat lest they end the nonconference season without a signature win.
[Jump for Best of the Board and zen.]
In just about two weeks the Wolverine football family will grow by seven members. Bryan Mone, Michael Ferns, Mason Cole, Freddy Canteen, Brandon Watson, Wilton Speight, and Drake Harris will arrive in Ann Arbor on January 5th. As all seven young men prepare for the next chapter of their academic and athletic lives the winds of change have them anxious and excited.
Bryan Mone feels a little like the lost member of this recruiting class for the simple fact that he hasn’t been around as much as the others due to living in Utah. Mone also isn’t much for the spotlight and doesn’t do a lot of interviews or partake in social media like a lot of the other commits. Mone is set up to room with Scott Sypniewski a long-snapper already on the roster. At this point in time Mone is just ready to get on campus and do anything he needs to do to get on the field, even though he doesn’t know exactly what that is yet. Mone told me he’d like to wear #90, which should be possible as it’s currently not in use.
After flipping from Michigan State, Drake Harris has become one of the more popular commits in the 2014 class simply because of his seemingly unlimited potential at wide receiver. At 6’4” he has the kind of speed and size that can blow the top off of a defense, something that has been missing a bit in recent years. Harris missed most of his senior season with an injury so his level of anxiousness may be even more elevated than the rest. Harris will room with fellow incoming early enrollee Wilton Speight where to two hope to grow their chemistry. Harris says he hopes to do everything he can to earn the #1 jersey but believes he will start off in the #4.
Speaking of Wilton Speight, he told me he is coming to Ann Arbor with a chip on his shoulder. As a 3-star recruit he comes in a class behind Michigan native and golden boy, 5-star Shane Morris. That alone is enough to motivate him and he’s been working out non-stop and eating right trying to prepare anyway he can before starting a more regimented college workout and diet plan. He plans to hit the ground running with his offseason conditioning and lifting program as soon as he arrives. Look for Speight to rock the #19 in Ann Arbor just like he did in high school.
High school teammates Brandon Watson and Freddy Canteen were unsure of who their roommates would be, but both assumed it would be each other. Watson will arrive on campus at 6’1” and 190 lbs. which is bigger than I thought he was. He confirmed that he has definitely grown since any of his recruiting profiles were last updated. Watson plans to sport the #4 which will be available with the departure of Cam Gordon. Canteen didn’t have much to say but he did tell me that he was unsure of exactly what he will do as far as workouts, diet, and studying goes but he’s just ready to get to work.
Leaving the warmth and heading up north to the cold, Mason Cole can’t wait to get to Ann Arbor. The coaches haven’t told Cole what they want him to do as far as weight gain, working out, or what specific position he’ll play on the line, but he said simply, “It’s go time.” once he’s there. He just wants to get there and work out, get in shape, and study non-stop. Right now Cole is at 6’5” and 275 lbs. and he said he’d like to be at about 290 by the time fall camp rolls around.
Cole’s roommate, Michael Ferns was the only early enrollee I wasn’t able to talk to but I’d assume he’s very happy this day has almost arrived since he was the first commit of the class all the way back in August of 2012. If I do end up hearing from him I’ll add it in.
Send Joe Dumars to space, part XVII. Trey Burke's line from last night's Magic-Jazz game: 30 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds.
actual highlights start at about a minute in
Burke's shooting percentage is pretty low right now since he's taking a lot of those tough runners you remember from a variety of NO NO NO NO YES moments last year and getting fewer easy looks around the basket what with NBA players being very tall and athletic, but in his last ten games He's averaging 6.4 assists against 1.3 turnovers in that window. His TO rate of 6.8 is insanely low. It's looking like a three-way race for Rookie of the Year between Burke and old foes Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams.
Meanwhile, Detroit drafted a shooting guard currently hitting 37% from the floor and traded for Brandon Jennings, who is a fourth year player about as good as Burke is as a rookie. I shake my fist!
Is this getting old? Am I going to be describing various things that should be done to Joe Dumars for passing on Trey Burke when Burke is 55? Yes. I apologize for what will be history's longest conniption fit.
Prepare your butts. Devin Gardner's status for the bowl game is still up in the air but looking grimmer and grimmer as each day passes without his return to the practice field. We mentioned it on the front page a couple days ago after Hoke's presser, and everyone followed up with assessments about how grim it's sounding. And in retrospect… when has a sprain of a ligament in your big toe ever required crutches?
Meanwhile, Sam Webb was asking people if you play Gardner at 75% in this upcoming bowl game, and the answer to that seems to be a clear no since there's not much at stake. And was Gardner 75% by midseason? At best. Now that he's limping around on crutches, it's at least 50/50 Shane Morris fans will get to see him against K-State.
It is possible that Jason Whitlock doesn't know what he's talking about. Taylor Lewan took a lot of heat this year for Michigan's offensive line… for some reason. I watched him closely and he still looked like the incredibly good player that he was as a junior, but when things are bad they must be a Failure of Leadership if you are the kind of person who has no basis for saying anything but is paid to say things.
The NFL will weigh in in April; current returns are that Jason Whitlock is talking out of his butt. I know you are shocked. Todd McShay projects Taylor Lewan as the ninth pick of the NFL draft:
Lewan isn't an exceptional athlete but he has enough quickness to get by when coupled with his physicality and mean streak. I've written a few times this season that even though Lewan doesn't always look like a prototype left tackle, he is very effective in run blocking and pass protection. Safety might be seen as a bigger need for Buffalo, but typically if you have a chance to take an offensive tackle over a safety in the first round, you do it.
"Not a prototype left tackle" is a weird criticism to level at a prototype left tackle. Putting it in the pile with that guy who thought Mike Martin was supposed to be some journeyman plugger after he 'struggled' as a senior.
This man must be educated on his own dime. That one Cal assistant who got a ton of recruits to commit to Cal and then jumped to Washington, bringing those recruits with him, is under investigation. For terrible things.
Mike Davis, a throwing coach who helped Basham win a state shot put title in track and field, told the Times that [Tosh] Lupoi gave him $3,000 for private tutoring for Basham and $1,500 to reimburse Basham's father for online classes.
The kid ended up not qualifying anyway. I guess you can't be giving money to people no matter what it's for, but I bet the NCAA prefers it when they come down on people for hiring strippers instead of tutors. Lupoi should start making donations to charities in recruits' names, just to see what happens.
Steve Sarkisian could eat a suspension for this after the NCAA made head coaches responsible for their assistants' misdeeds, something that would undoubtedly increment Lane Kiffin's smug look the one tenth of one percent it can be upgraded from its resting state.
OH GOOD THANKS 2013. JT Compher won't play at the WJC because he broke his foot, which will probably put him out for a month. This is at least the right time to do it, as Michigan doesn't return to the ice in a game Compher was going to be available for until January 10th, and then Michigan has a bye week before a Joe-and-road series against MSU that he may be available for.
This does make an important series at Wisconsin tougher, but at least Michigan has a lot of center depth.
SERIOUSLY 2013, I MEAN, SERIOUSLY? Beilien on WTKA:
During a Thursday morning interview on “The Michigan Insider” show on WTKA-AM (1050), Michigan coach John Beilein said he sophomore forward is being held back by a "variety" of nagging injuries.
"Right now, Mitch cannot go 100 percent," Beilein said. "He can't do what he can do."
You go straight to hell, 2013.
I SAID STRAIGHT TO HELL. PA DB Monate Nicholson, who was going to commit to M before the coaching staff basically told him not to visit, is now an MSU commit.
Still looking. Michigan signed their four hockey recruits for the upcoming year, though there are a couple of things yet to be determined.
One is the status of Hayden Lavigne, who's had a rough start in the USHL (.887 in five games) and is still a really young guy, especially for a goalie. It seems to make more sense for everyone to delay his entry until 2015, and even then he'll have to compete with a senior Racine and junior Nagelvoort. As we've seen in the recent past, goalies staring down a tough road to playing time are often defection candidates. Lavigne will be of interest. We'll see how committed he is to the college route; he was at least committed enough to sign his LOI.
The other thing is who replaces Jared Walsh, who committed and then defected to the OHL. Michigan graduates two defensemen (Bennett and Clare) and brings back something between six and eight depending on your opinion of the viability of the guys on the back end. (They are Serville, Lohan, Downing, De Jong, Chiasson, Sinelli, Szuma, and Hyman.) They've got a guy named Cutler Martin who is the hard nosed stay at home type his name foretold from birth, and they'd probably like to add another in that mold with Serville, Downing, and De Jong all puck moving types. May their search here be as successful as their search for a goalie last year was.
Okay.gif. Borges on Michigan's success against Ohio State:
"We executed," Borges said firmly. "It's that simple. We executed.
I really hope that's just balderdash for the reporters. The BTN commercials don't say FOOTBALL IS SIMPLE, man.
Etc.: McKeen's ranks incoming hockey center Dylan Larkin 20th in their latest NHL draft projection. That means he'll probably end up in the second round, like fringe first rounders before him JT Compher and Jon Merrill. Ricky Doyle highlights. He's killing it to the tune of 30 a game. UNC basketballer John Henson's shirt has an opinion. Hyping up the redshirting DTs.
Just When You Thought It Was Safe...
Jabrill Peppers reaffirmed his commitment this week. So did Shaun Crawford. Michigan had successfully weathered the storm caused by their on-field woes. And then...
GEORGE CAMPBELL OUTTA NOWHERE.
According to multiple outlets, Campbell actually decided to decommit last week, but waited until this week to inform the coaches of his decision. Steve Lorenz relays the news that Florida, Florida State, and Clemson (ugh) are involved in Campbell's recruitment, and while Michigan isn't out of the picture, they're losing perhaps their biggest edge ($):
Yesterday, I tweeted out that Michigan was still in it for Campbell after his decommitment. I still believe this, but after doing some digging while on the road today, I'm not sure how high the Wolverines are on his list at this point. If you forced me to choose, I believe he ends up somewhere else. Where that is, I don't know. Mason Cole leaving for Michigan within the next two weeks is about the worst thing that could happen in this regard because their friendship was a big part of getting Campbell committed in the first place. Without Cole in his ear and Michigan being a ways away, the excitement about the Wolverines could fade over time.
The Wolverines will continue to pursue Campbell and in-state athlete Brian Cole as their top priorities for receiver in the 2015 class; after being in great shape for both just a few months ago, however, there's a distinct possibility that both end up elsewhere—there's a very good chance Campbell stays in the South, while Cole may be a Michigan State lean and also has interest in Ohio State. Michigan's very strong group of 2014 receivers mitigates some of the hurt from this, but there's no sugarcoating the loss of one of the nation's top prospects, especially when it seems directly tied to uncertainty (real or perceived) regarding the program.
It might not end with Campbell, either. Shortly after that decommitent went public, fellow 2015 blue chip commit Damien Harris tweeted "Here comes the tough decision.." which, well, obviously raised some red flags given the timing. That could very well be nothing, however, as Harris—unlike Campbell, a childhood fan of Florida—grew up rooting for Michigan; he also subsequently retweeted fellow recruit Justin Hilliard questioning why anyone would commit to a school without "110%" certainty, as well as today's news about Michigan scheduling the game against Florida in Dallas in 2017, when he'd be a junior. Since Harris' first tweet has garnered a lot of attention, I figured I'd add some context—for now, at least, it seems early to panic.
This entire sports year post-Final Four can still die in a fire, though.
[Hit THE JUMP for updated Scout rankings, the latest on Vic Enwere and Josh Rosen, and more.]
Just about all of the luster has gone out of the idea of playing a football game in Dallas after Michigan got pounded by Alabama to not make any money, to the point where actually getting the band there required Dave Brandon to squeeze half of the cost of that out of donors.
So guess what, guys!
Gators will open 2017 season against Michigan in Arlington, Texas. Game scheduled for Sept. 2
— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) December 19, 2013
I'd say this further proves that Dave Brandon charged his family for Thanksgiving dinner, but like playing a canned version of the Victors against the #1 basketball team in the country, money isn't actually a good explanation. These games are kind of inexplicable when OSU and MSU are locking down quality home and homes.
This leaves… I don't actually know. With dynamic pricing shoving marquee prices into the stratosphere and Michigan charging extra for premium opponents, a home and home is at least a financial push compared to these one-off neutral site games, and then you have a nice thing to show your season ticket holders instead of a six-game home schedule featuring Cincinnati and Air Force as your nonconference draws. If Florida won't agree to it, maybe someone else would.
The only thing I've got is that this gives Dave Brandon a chance to hang around his idol some more.
FWIW, this completes the unerring accuracy of that list the BTN leaked a few months ago.