Mike Lantry, 1972
Tyler Lockett is a rather frustrating assignment (via)
We're back! I'm here to tell you, after watching Kansas State's 41-31 loss to Oklahoma, that Michigan's upcoming bowl opponent is very bad at defending mobile quarterbacks, which is a great sign for... wait, say that again?
Well, the Sooners pulled away in the second half of this game on the strength of a 200-yard rushing performance from RB Brennan Clay and another 82 yards on the ground from backup quarterback Trevor Knight, who filled in admirably for injured starter Blake Bell and is quite a bit faster than Shane Morris. The Wildcats, on the other hand, couldn't establish anything on the ground, tallying 66 yards on 19 carries (sacks removed) while playing from behind for most of the contest. Is any of this relevant to Michigan? I have no idea! Let's talk about it anyway.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread. It's possible that KSU is closer to a hybrid, as they did show some I-form looks and utilize a fullback even in some shotgun formations, but in this game they were almost exclusively in the gun and utilized plenty of spread concepts.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? This game didn't provide a great look at KSU's run game; when they did, they mixed in a healthy amount of zone read with more traditional power runs, a couple end-arounds, and far less of the misdirection-type stuff Brian pointed out in his early look at the Wildcats—likely due to circumstance more than a change in philosophy.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Grind it out. The home crowd at Kansas State spent much of the game counting down the final ticks of the play clock to help out their quarterbacks; they take their sweet time between plays, and given how Michigan has fared against high-tempo offenses this year that's fine by me.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Bill Snyder has utilized a two-quarterback system for much of the season; like Northwestern's Colter/Siemian duo, the Wildcats feature a pocket passer, Jake Waters, and a run-first threat, Daniel Sams. Waters is more mobile than Siemian and is utilized in the read-option game, though mostly as a means to keep the defense honest—he's not particularly fast or elusive, so I'll give him a 4. Sams, on the other hand, rushed 148 times at 5.2 ypc against just 52 pass attempts; he gets a strong 8, with the caveat that he barely featured in this particular game.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Per Hoke's press conference this morning, Shane Morris will start the Copper Bowl in place of Devin Gardner, whose fourth metatarsal finally fell off after hanging precariously from a piece of torn cloth that was being used to hold together what remained of his last rib. Or, you know. Per people on twitter Gardner broke his foot against OSU, then kept playing. Add to the list of people who should never have to pay for beer within 4 miles of Ann Arbor the rest of his life (once he's eligible to have beers bought for him).
In the recent practice report video are guys talking about Morris; you can take Jehu Chesson:
"He does a good job, you know, reading the defense, you know, getting the ball to us. A lot of people talk about his arm; he has a good arm, great arm, um, uh, [shakes head]. The other people talk about does he throw the ball too hard. You know, with Shane, whenever he's going to be in the game, or when he's in the game or what, he's going to make the right throws at the right time and the right decisions because that's what a Michigan quarterback is expected to do."
…and Taylor Lewan:
"He has the potential to be an extremely good player. [Thing about lefty QB means Lewan is no longer blind side]. I think given the opportunity, and if he stays confident and all those things, he's going to be very successful."
…at their words. Or you can read between lines and use your expertise from watching Lie to Me to discern panicky things from Jehu's microexpressions. Being a negative nancy blogger I shall of course do the latter.
Also in that video the starting linebackers are both practicing, so there's that at least.
Position: Tight End
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 243 lbs.
Location: Avon Old Farms School (worth noting the mascot is the Winged Beaver) – Avon, CT
Offers: Georgia, Texas Tech, Indiana, NC State, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Syracuse, Temple, Ohio State
Ranking: ★★★ .8800 (247 Composite)
When it comes to identifying potential Michigan targets I tend to pay attention to who else is paying attention to a prospect. Depending on position if the Ohio States, Wisconsins, Penn States, Michigan States, and Notre Dames of the world are interested, I’d expect Michigan to show a little bit of interest at some point as well.
2015 TE Chris Clark was offered by the Buckeyes last week and I immediately reached out to him to see if the Michigan coaches have contacted him or if he had any interest in the Wolverines. To my surprise his interest level in Michigan was extremely high, despite it not being mutual from the coaches. In the 2015 class at the tight end spot Michigan figures to be in pretty good shape for Tyrone Wheatley Jr., but backup plans are always necessary.
Clark passes the eyeball test for a Big Ten tight end at 6’6” and 243 lbs. making him as big as several NFL tight ends already, let alone college starters. Clark was very open and insightful when it came to his interests and plans regarding his recruitment.
On film Clark’s size and strength are apparent but so is his willingness and ability to block, which isn’t always what you see out of high school tight ends. Clark seemed to have a good understanding of his strengths as well as what could be improved upon before and during college.
I believe my strengths are my hands and my ability to get yards after the catch. I am also pretty strong and can get off press coverage and block really well. I would definitely like to work on perfecting my route running. My coaches continue to tell me that route running in college will give me an advantage.
Clark has been compared to Tyler Eifert when he was coming out of high school and that doesn’t appear to be a stretch at all. Clark is actually about the same size that Eifert is right now as a Cincinnati Bengal.
With his offer list growing Clark has decided to take a level-headed approach to choosing a leader or a favorite, which he doesn’t have right now. He did admit to growing up a Boston College fan for pretty obvious reasons.
I loved BC growing up because my dad went there but that won’t have an impact on where I go.
Michigan hasn’t reached out to Clark at this time but he says Michigan is a school he’s always paid attention to when I asked him about the Wolverines.
Of course I’m interested, I mean it’s Michigan! Football is a lifeline for the school and I really like how passionate the fans are. The history of the program is just incredible and seeing The Big House on TV is awesome. Walking out onto that field, man, I bet there is no better feeling. I definitely plan on reaching out to the coaching staff at some point.
Right now he said that Michigan is definitely high up on his least despite not holding an offer. For what it’s worth he had the same sentiment about the Buckeyes who did just offer him.
Clark has started to make a mental checklist of what he needs out of a school and his priorities seem to be in solid order.
My relationship with the coaches is going to be big. Also if they utilize the tight end in the offense. I want to like the campus and the school in general. I have to be able to get a great education and just need to have the feeling that I could call that place home for four years. God forbid I got injured, it has to be a place where I would be happy if I wasn't playing football. My goal is to make it to the NFL but a backup plan would probably be something in the sports world so a school that can help with that is going to be important.
To go along with balanced priorities Clark also prides himself on his work ethic and plans to keep working until he is the best tight end in the country. He calls himself the most competitive person he knows and wants to win at everything he does.
Clark wants to make his decision sometime before his summer camp starts in mid-August so he can just focus on his senior season. That being said the Wolverines may or may not factor in since no offer has been extended at this time. Scholarships are tight for the 2015 class but right now all of the eggs are in the Wheatley Jr. basket when it comes to tight end recruiting. The way Clark talked about Michigan it surprises me that a relationship has not been formed yet especially since he’s not close to being an under-the-radar prospect. He did say he plans on contacting the Michigan coaches and when he does I’ll get another update from him.
CHRISTMAS NOTE: Everyone is off until Friday, except possibly Seth, a general in the War On Christmas. Enjoy the time spent with your family and do everything you can to speed up 2013's untimely demise.
12/21/2013 – Michigan 68 – Stanford 65 – 7-4
No column, just bullets:
I'll take it. With Mitch McGary out and Horford fouling out in six minutes, Michigan was down to Jordan Morgan and Max Bielfeldt for big swathes of this game. Meanwhile, LeVert scores one point on seven shots. I will take a neutral court-ish win over a team that just beat UConn in that situation, even if it's by three points.
We Wisconsin'd 'em. Beilien did the thing again where you get to see him be first season Walter White in the locker room, and the brief snippet they played featured Beilein saying the word "solid" three times in one sentence in re: Michigan's defense. He got that.
He mentioned chests prominently. Michigan used them to annoy a huge Stanford team on a variety of post-up shots that ended up being bad looks because Michigan was committing that foul where you shuffle out, bumping your chest into the shooter as he goes up. Unlike everything Horford did, that never gets called and was not called. Stauskas in particular had a couple of "did I just see that" possessions where a dude got the ball on the low block against him and ended up with a heavily contested fallaway. IIRC he was on a 6'10" guy on those shots.
Stanford ended up shooting pretty well from inside the arc (47%), with their center Nastic going 5 of 6, but again a total of six minutes from Horford and no McGary. Given the circumstances, it was a good effort.
Hey, now I remember why I liked you. Been a huge struggle for Morgan for about half a season now but he really pulled Michigan's ass out of the fire, fronting posts for turnovers, boxing out (though he only had five rebounds himself that very large Stanford team was limited to 18% OREB), and following up his obligatory ARRRGH Y U NO FINISH moment by rebounding his missed bunny and putting it back in. He also put on his Mitch McGary hat on a couple of outlet passes that led to hockey assists. Without Morgan making a consistently positive impact, this is another loss and man things look grim.
Other sectors not often heard from. Michigan was miserable from outside the arc with the exception of Zak Irvin, who went 4 of 8 to prevent the rest of the team's 4 of 23 mark from tanking the season. This pops his season average up to 41%, which will shock you if you missed the Coppin State and Houston Baptist games.
Irvin is Just A Shooter. He's got a miniscule TO rate of 8, an even more miniscule FT rate of 7, and has taken about 70% of his shots from behind the line. But when he starts doing more things than shooting threes, people will not say he's Not Just A Shooter, because he's a black guy.
JUST SAY IT. Raftery teased all game and finally got out a "not just a shooter" near the end of the first half; announcers seem to have glommed onto the fact that the internet gently mocks them for saying Nik Stauskas is not just a shooter every time he adds to his enormous pile of free throws. They are trying not to say it.
Just say it, man. We like it when you say it, because it signifies Stauskas has just thrown down a dunk or somesuch other thing.
Speaking of Stauskas's growing pile of free throws. He had 87 all last year. He's going to blow through that in a couple games now as he's already got 71. The leap in his game is reflected in the statistics, in which he's made a Burke-like freshman to sophomore transition. His usage is up from 16 to 23; his assists have more than doubled while his TO rate slips, he's drawing almost six fouls a game, his FT rate has doubled, and his shooting is right on par with last season save a dip in FT% despite the increased usage.
Things will cool off as Michigan exits the bit of their season where Houston Baptist lets you sit in the corner by yourself and repeat your YouTube videos for a live studio audience, sure. Stauskas's emergence into the guy is undeniable. It was a palpable relief that Stanford wasn't going nuts overplaying him on the perimeter a la Duke.
Unfair expectations theater. Every missed Stauskas free throw engenders a tiny conniption fit from me, because I expect him to be Chauncey Billups at the line and he is not. Meanwhile if Mitch McGary hits a free throw I throw a tiny parade for him. (Tiny Mitch McGary parade: buy it for your small child today.) Good news: I have not had a tiny conniption fit for three games, in which Stauskas is 19/19 at the line, including the clutch pair at the end of this game to make the last-ditch Stanford three merely an alarming thing instead of an OH NO BACKBOARDS situation.
Neutral court-ish. Virtual home court again for Michigan. I mind these neutral court things less in basketball where you have a lot more games to play with and a lot fewer people you're trying to pack in. Also, there are a lot of Michigan fans in New York. This makes it unlike, oh, say, Dallas. It does suck that the nonconference home schedule was Arizona and hot garbage but Michigan probably thought they were getting a home game in the B10/ACC challenge and then got screwed.
I'm still boggled at the economics of playing a tournament like the Puerto Rico one, though, where you're playing all your games in a virtually empty arena. I guess Puerto Rico really wants to convince you that they have a gym in which the floor is always wet no matter what you do. Mission accomplished, land of enchantment.
Glenn. Hello. Second straight game in which Robinson has been very efficient, not only at throwing down monster alley-oops but at creating his own shot. Robinson had 17 and probably should have had a couple more as he went 4/8 from the line. If maintained this development bodes well, as it takes pressure off of the point guards even further.
Go team. (Other team.) FSU just picked up a good win against previously undefeated UMass. Their losses are in OT to Michigan, by one point to Florida, and by ten to Minnesota; Kenpom has them going 20-10 and 11-7 in the ACC, which would make them a win you'd see noted as a nice one when it comes time to parse resumes. Stanford has the look of a bubble team, but hopefully they get some thing straightened out and outperform expectations. There is almost no chance of that since Stanford is comparatively ancient as a team.
|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.]