Old timey. Railroads were efficient back in the day.
— Michigan's Past (@MichiganHist) August 6, 2014
That's less time than it takes by car, isn't it?
Don't hit ladies. But the shirt. Greg Oden was arrested for battery. The mugshot:
JMFJ available for hockey type activties. If you're not doing anything tomorrow, Yost is hosting a charity event featuring Jack Johnson:
Come out and play with (or against!) NHL Star, Olympic Silver Medalist, and U of M alum Jack Johnson as he and Justin Spiro renew their on-ice rivalry in Johnson's collegiate barn, the world famous Yost Ice Arena!!!
The game formerly known as the "Spiro/Johnson Ice Bowl" has been renamed to honor the memory of Andrew Michael Singler. The two squads will compete for the inaugural and already very prestigious Singler Cup.
ALL ages and skill levels are welcome, as this "fierce" exhibition has seen men as old as 65 and boys as young as 10 scoring key goals. Spiro is commonly regarded as the worst skater on the planet, so don't be shy!
Cost is $20 per player, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Andrew Singler Stay Strong Foundation (http://singlerstaystrongfoundation.com/).
You should try to check him and then you'll have a story about how you broke your neck doing something stupid.
One good, one not so much. Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin participated in the Adidas Nations thing recently. Walton looks ready to step forward and become a primary option:
- Derrick Walton Jr. had a good day running the show for his team.
On Friday Walton was very good with regards to distributing the basketball, making sound decisions in the pick-and-roll game and getting his teammates the ball where they were best positioned to enjoy success. One of the beneficiaries was teammate Zak Irvin, who knocked down multiple jump shots on the tail end of those Walton passes. With an eye towards next season, this weekend will be good for the two Wolverines as they (along with Caris LeVert) are the ones best positioned for a breakout 2014-15.
But over the course of the camp, Irvin didn't show that his game had expanded much:
Zak Irvin (Michigan): …didn’t appear to be much better than when I last saw him in Indianapolis during the Sweet 16/Elite Eight weekend. Irvin can still perform as a catch-and-shoot player, but after losing Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Irvin needs to step up this season and do more off-the-bounce. That didn’t happen at adidas Nations. Irvin struggled with two-dribble pull-ups and was stripped multiple times while trying to drive to the basket. Still plenty of time before November, but Irvin doesn’t look much better than last season. (SP)
He was not much of a slasher even in high school, preferring to take those midrange pull-ups when he wasn't taking threes. And as we've mentioned several times before, Irvin was far more in the Just A Shooter category than Stauskas was during their respective freshman years. He should diversify a bit; he is still going to be a guy who mostly has shots created for him. With Walton and LeVert around that shouldn't be a huge problem. I might even prefer it if Irvin focused more on his defense, which has the potential to be really good, than expanding his offensive game. Michigan could use a lockdown perimeter defender more than they need another guy to get to the basket.
This should be more fun. I forgot to put this in the last one:
— David Harns (@isportsDave) August 5, 2014
"Acurate" is not a good word to misspell, but inserting an unnecessary and incorrect "whereas" is the hallmark of someone who learned to write by expanding a one page paper to five by inserting meaningless jibberish endlessly.
Yes, yes, MSU fans, scoreboard. Just don't say anything other than "oh no, not again" when Duncan Robinson signs on here rather soon. Then we are good.
All of the other ESPNs are full of Tebow. The lineup of basketball's nonconference tourney has been announced, and one thing in particular jumps off the page:
VCU vs. Villanova, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Michigan vs. Oregon, 9 p.m. (ESPN3)
ESPN3? You have an early-season matchup between an Elite 8 team and an outfit that got to the second round of last year's tourney and that doesn't even warrant placement on ESPNU? I'm not mad, I'm impressed, actually I'm a little mad.
Michigan's "opening round" opponents will be Bucknell and Detroit; both are middling mid-majors. Bucknell was 11-7 in the Patriot league last year, Detroit 6-10 in the Horizon. These are the kind of teams Michigan should be scheduling instead of New Jersey Tech or whatever: respectable, beatable.
As a bonus, Detroit has a couple of interesting names. Juwan Howard Jr is Yes That Juwan Howard's son; Carlton Brundidge spent a year at Michigan before looking for a place he was more likely to play. He got about 20 minutes a game last year for the Titans, shooting 67/44/28.
A couple of hockey departures. Defensemen Spencer Hyman and Mike Szuma are no longer with the team. Hyman will play at Toronto. Szuma is still enrolled. Both were walk-ons; Szuma got 30 games two years ago as Michigan tried to fill some big holes on their blue line but did not play last year.
With Werenski's early entry there are still ten(!) defensemen on the roster, so impact should be minimal. I mean, you can fill out a line chart like so:
- Lohan-De Jong
And you've still got Cutler Martin, Sam Piazza, Mike Chiasson, and Niko Porikos scratched. I don't think I've ever seen a hockey roster with this many dudes on it.
Yup. The current student government president on the athletic department's advisory council:
While this advisory council is a big step forward, it also takes a leap back. These twenty students are handpicked by the Athletic Department based off one's class standing, twitter handle (optional), and the answer to two questions. The questions are: "Why do you want to be a part of the Football Student Advisory Council" and "What is your favorite Michigan Athletics memory?". Oh, and you have to be a season ticket holder. This is problematic for two reasons. The first is that this puts a price on a students' ability to give feedback and make a change. The second is that while students are given more of a voice, it is the AD that is picking the students, not the students themselves. This means that the AD could very easily pick a group of "yes men", take a policy to this group and then say they consulted the students on a policy change.
That is almost certainly going to happen given the way the department has been run the last few years. CYA CYA CYA.
Is this a good thing for you? One of the more laughable quotes from Big Ten Media Days came from Pat Fitzgerald:
"You've got to go win," Fitzgerald said Tuesday. "Finally! You've got to go win. No longer can you have a traditional name behind you and four coaches with statues in front of the stadium and 90,000 people every week and you're automatically going to be ranked ... in the top 20.
"That football side now matters."
Even if the first bit was accurate, the Big Ten was and is the major beneficiary of that tendency. SEC teams win and the other conferences don't have the same lucrative fanbases. And then there's the fact that the first bit is not accurate. The football side "now matters." Okay. Alabama's just around because of statues.
If he's talking about Northwestern specifically, the only team even vaguely eligible for BCS consideration since the Wildcats went to the Rose Bowl was 2012, when Northwestern went 9-3 in the regular season without beating a ranked opponent or even playing one ranked higher than #24 by year's end. The system made the correct call to dump NW into the Gator Bowl.
Etc.: DJ Wilson will not play on Michigan's Italian trip after surgery on a finger, should be fine by the time the season rolls around. Matt Hinton lands at Grantland. I'm not even going to talk about Brandon's radio appearance today. Yeah!
Presumably after crossing the goal line [via 247]
If you missed the news last night, four-star Cass Tech running back Mike Weber committed to Michigan, and the way it went down instantly found its rightful place in Hilarious Recruiting Victories Over Michigan State lore. Weber was slated to visit East Lansing on Wednesday afternoon; instead, this happened:
“The environment and the way I felt about it when I was down there, and the way they see me in the backfield, and having a degree from Michigan would set me up, and having my whole family be able to come watch me, I just made the move,” Weber reeled off.
Weber instead visited Michigan after "oversleeping," and missing his trip to East Lansing.
The quotation marks make that last statement 1000 times better.
The commitment capped a huge effort on Michigan's part to get back into Weber's good graces—spearheaded by Doug Nussmeier, Chris Singletary, and Alex Malzone—over the last several months. The Spartans led the way for much of that span, but in the end the U-M coaches made Weber feel like he was their top priority at running back, which Weber justifiably felt he wasn't when Damien Harris was the main focus at the position.
In the last couple weeks, Michigan's secured the top two 2015 in-state recruits—receiver Brian Cole being the other—both of whom were considered Spartan leans for quite some time. Let's check in with the RCMB...
Don't be so hard on yourself, JARGON. I'm sure you'll get that fifth star before long.
4*, #13 RB,
4*, #10 RB,
4*, 82, #14 RB,
4*, 94, #13 RB,
4*, #14 RB,
There's a pretty solid consensus on Weber's talent, as all four sites have him in the 10-14 range on their running back position rankings and well within the top 200 overall prospects.
They're also in relative agreement about his size, listing him at either 5'9" or 5'10" and 205-210 pounds. He measured in at 5'10", 205 at a recent Rivals camp; he's very much got the compact, sturdy frame of a running back.
Weber came to Cass Tech with high expectations after an outstanding youth football career, but had to wait to make an impact after losing his freshman season to injury. That impact would come as a sophomore in 2012, when he passed older, more experienced backs Deon Drake and Gary Hosey to earn the bulk of the carries for the Technicians. Despite being limited by a hamstring injury early in the season, he'd rush for 1700 yards and 21 TDs, then led the way in Cass Tech's second straight state title game victory over Catholic Central:
Running back [Mike] Weber came into his own for Cass Tech, amassing 186 yards on 20 carries and helping the Technicians to keep the ball and clock moving throughout the second half. Weber averaged 9.3 yards per rush and Catholic Central never seemed to find a solution for him.
The highlights from that game, which feature several current or future Wolverines, show off Weber's ability to turn the corner:
Weber's scouting reports are remarkably in line with each other, calling him a well-rounded back who can play on every down, and while he lacks track star speed or Hyde-ian power he possesses a lot of the same skills as Mike Hart. Here's ESPN's underclassman eval ($):
STRENGTHS: A solid runner with a low center of gravity. Displays the ability to push the pile and gain the tough yards. A powerful back with great playing strength. Runs with good lean and a high knee action allowing him to break arm tackles. Flashes a nice burst and adequate top-end speed. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Will benefit from improving elusiveness in the open field and enhancing his playmaking ability. Not a burner that will consistently win footraces against elite opponents. Can be a short stepper with slight hip tension. ... BOTTOM LINE: Weber is an decisive runner with every down potential . A true load carrier type of back who projects well in physical running attack. His short stature and lower body strength are assets.
Scout's profile lists cutback ability, hands, and vision as strengths, with power his lone area to improve, and echoes the "complete back" sentiment:
Weber is a compact back who runs with good patience. He is a slasher with a good burst and good acceleration. He catches the ball well out of the backfield and also does a nice job in pass protection. He has run largely out of the shotgun in high school and would have to adjust if he goes to more of a traditional I-form team in college. He's shown the ability to run between the tackles but is not a true power back. - Allen Trieu
Trieu elaborated on Weber's running ability in Scout's free commitment capsule:
As far as long speed, he may not be a 4.3 type track star, but is capable of running away from defenders and getting the corner. However, he's at his best between the tackles. ... While he may not be known as a power back, he runs hard, runs with attitude and finishes his runs. In the open field, he's more of a straight ahead guy than a make you miss type elusive runner.
247's Clint Brewster also says that Weber doesn't quite possess that extra gear in the open field, saying instead that he has "more deceptive speed," and he agrees with Trieu that Weber's power is overlooked ($):
Weber has a sense of urgency, as he presses the line of scrimmage but also has the vision to find the cut back lane. He has very good short-area-quickness and can burst through a small crease if space is available. He has great overall strength and can really push the pile. Weber has a good stiff-arm and breaks a lot of tackles. He is always falling forward after a run. Weber has a low center of gravity and does a good job of lowering his pad level to take on blockers and keeps his legs moving to gain extra yards.
Weber's all-around ability surfaced wherever he went, whether playing for Cass Tech or performing against top national competition on the camp circuit. Rivals' Josh Helmholdt named Weber the top offensive performer at last year's Prep Kickoff Classic after he scored twice against a Southfield squad featuring Lawrence Marshall and Malik McDowell ($):
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Weber picked up where he left off as a sophomore when he was an offensive catalyst for Cass Tech's Division I state title. Weber scored touchdowns on a 30-yard screen pass in the first half and a 16-yard run in the second half. If possible, he looked even more explosive than he did a year ago. Weber has always shown great start-and-stop ability, and he gets to top speed instantly. His size and speed make him a threat between the tackles and on the edge.
After an excellent junior campaign, Weber has really impressed this spring and summer. He was the clear choice for top performer at the RCS Detroit, according to Adam Friedman ($):
Weber was virtually unguardable during the one-on-one period. The Rivals250 member is extremely agile and can change directions on a dime. Weber ran extremely crisp routes and had very good hands. He wasn't afraid to take on the bigger linebackers that tried to knock him off his routes. Weber's ability to turn a short catch into a long reception is outstanding.
That performance eventually earned him the #5 spot on Rivals' list of top running backs at all of their Rivals Camp Series events ($).
Sam Webb was in attendance for The Opening, where Weber once again showed off his versatility ($):
On day one his ability to make moves in the open field was showcased. On day two he showed himself to be a dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield. Early in 7-on-7 action his QBs looked to him only as an outlet. He rewarded them with some chain-moving grabs on swing passes and crossing routes. They ignored him on the wheel-route though, and that was a mistake. Weber ran by safeties all day long on the route but the QB just wouldn’t look his way. He grew increasingly frustrated but never loafed on route. Then finally on one of the late games he broke open down the sideline and Josh Rosen looked in his direction. Rosen laid the ball up perfectly for Mikey to run under and it was hauled in for six.
Scout national analyst Jamie Newberg was duly impressed ($):
“Weber I thought was tremendous,” said Scout national recruiting analyst Jamie Newburg. “I loved him on film. After I got our here, he is more of a compact running back with great explosiveness. Put together a little better than Damien Harris, our number one running back in the country. He catches the ball exceptionally well. He is terrific in space. He is not committed yet, but someone up in the Midwest in Big Ten country is going to get themselves a one heck of a running back. He is ultra quick, very good speed and very versatile, cause obviously he can run and he showed out here he can catch the football.”
I'll give the last word to The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan, who's probably seen Weber in game action more than the rest of these scouts combined (save perhaps Trieu). He believes Weber is an ideal fit for Michigan's offense under Doug Nussmeier ($):
Weber is an outstanding fit for the zone running scheme, a one-cut back who has the acceleration to plant his foot in the turf when he sees a hole and run to daylight. He is a very nice physical specimen - a testament to his natural talent and also his work ethic - who has power and speed. He is still developing a killer's mentality when it comes to running over defenders, but he has enough quickness in the hole and pure speed to make that a less important factor.
To sum it up, Weber is an every-down back who can run outside or between the tackles, possesses the acceleration to get the corner and enough speed to make his share of big plays, isn' t the easiest back to bring down, catches the ball well out of the backfield, and he's a willing blocker to boot. His vision and style should play very well in Michigan's zone running scheme, as well.
Weber held offers from Illinois, Kentucky, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, NC State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, and Wisconsin when he pledged to Michigan. Alabama and Notre Dame, among others, reportedly showed interest.
Please don't make me list all the Cass Tech people.
According to 247, Weber rushed for 1700 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore, then followed that up with 1659 yards and 24 scores in 2013.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals hand-timed (I believe) Weber at 4.47 seconds in the 40 at one of their camps, which gets three FAKEs out of five; since it's a hand time, add a tenth of a second or two and you're probably in the right range.
Sophomore reel that leans too heavily on slow-mo but I'm a sucker for a highlight tape soundtracked by M83:
Single-game cut-ups of Weber's performance last season against Southfield, courtesy of Maize & Blue News:
His between-the-tackles burst is really impressive.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Weber should be afforded a redshirt year with Justice Hayes, Derrick Green, De'Veon Smith, Ty Isaac, Drake Johnson, and Ross Douglas all possessing at least a year of eligibility left when he gets on campus; that is, if he doesn't earn a spot in the running back rotation right away, which wouldn't be unusual for a freshman with his talent level.
By his second year on campus, he should be competing for carries, and by 2017—when Green and Smith will have exhausted their eligibility, as well as Hayes the year prior—he'll be in the mix for a starting role; he'll be the presumed starter if Ty Isaac gets a waiver to play this fall, though that seems unlikely. Even if Isaac sits out this year, Weber is a different type of back and should garner plenty of playing time before taking over the starting roll full-time as an upperclassman.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Weber is Michigan's 10th commit in the 2015 class and the lone running back in the group. We're projecting three open spots right now, with defensive end, outside linebacker, and perhaps another offensive linemen presenting the biggest areas of need. CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, NC SDE Darian Roseboro, and IN OLB Asmar Bilal are probably the top prospects on Michigan's board at the moment.
Photo credit: Bryan Mitchell/Detroit News
This escalated quickly. 2015 Cass Tech running back Mike Weber, who was initially slated to visit Michigan State this afternoon, committed to Michigan after deciding to visit Ann Arbor instead.
— Uncle Mike (@mikeweber25) August 7, 2014
While the tide had seemingly turned in Michigan's favor after Weber had previously favored the Spartans, I don't think anybody expected a commitment to happen this quickly. Weber is the #14 running back and #115 player overall on the 247 Composite. He held offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Miami, Nebraska, Tennessee, USC, and Wisconsin, among several others, at the time of his commitment.
The full, informative commitment post will go up tomorrow morning.
D-III Williams College sharpshooter Duncan Robinson announced on Twitter moments ago that, as expected, he's transferring to Michigan:
I am proud to announce that I'll be transferring to the University of Michigan. Proud to be a Wolverine! #GoBlue
— Duncan Robinson (@D_Bo20) August 6, 2014
Robinson will sit out this year, then have three years of eligibility remaining when he suits up for the 2015-16 season.
As you might expect of a D-III player, Robinson didn't even have recruiting profiles on any of the major sites, let alone actual rankings. That's not to say he wasn't a D-I caliber prospect, however, as the New England Recruiting Report ranked him as the #12 recruit in New Hampshire and #47 in the New England region—ahead of several D-I commits—when he came out of high school in the 2013 class.
So how did Robinson not land at a D-I school? By choice:
A year ago he was a relative unknown coming out of Governor’s Academy. One year, two inches, and 20 pounds of muscle later now he’s a NEPSAC finals MVP and a huge steal for Williams College. While the masses are wondering how a sharp-shooting six-foot-seven forward could have slipped through the scholarship cracks, the reality is that he jumped through, spurning scholarship offers for the top ranked liberal arts school and one of the most storied Division III basketball programs in the country.
Academics should not be a concern.
So, yeah, you just read "sharp-shooting six-foot-seven forward" and now know why John Beilein coveted a D-III transfer. Here's more from the NERR from when Robinson committed to Williams:
One of the best pure shooters in all of New England, Robinson has a feathery stroke with range well beyond the three point line, a high basketball I.Q., and a long six-foot-seven frame that is just starting to add muscle mass.
Excellent use of "feathery" there.
Other scouting reports from his recruitment, as you might expect, are scant. What the heck, here's one from something called BallasTV, which included this blurb when they published the above video:
Duncan Robinson is probably the most under recruited kid in the NATION that we have seen this year! At 6'6 Duncan meets all the criteria for a low - mid major d1 G/F, he is tall, long, athletic, has guard skills and a GREAT student. Some times kids develop later then others and we think that is the case for Robinson, even from this summer to spring he looks to have added 10+ pounds of muscle to his lean frame.
They seemed pretty excited about him, also noting that "there isn't ONE" AAU coach who faced Robinson who wouldn't say he was a D-I level prospect. Seeing his shooting stroke, as well as some solid drives to the rim, the excitement is quite understandable.
Talking to the Freep's Mark Snyder, Robinson's AAU coach added a couple details beyond "shooter":
A dead eye shooter, hitting 45% from three-pint range while averaging 17 points per game, Robinson is nearly 6-foot-8 and weighs 195 pounds. With the redshirt year he would have to take if he transferred, “who’s to say he’s not 215 and Big Ten-ready?”
“He’s not just a standstill shooter, he can put it on the floor, he’s a smart cutter,” Crotty said. “He knows how to have patience and use angles as well.”
His ability as a cutter could play very well in Beilein's system, especially if his shot is dangerous enough that defenders are predisposed to closing out hard on the perimeter.
UMHoops got an exclusive scouting report from Nothing But NESCAC, which noted that he was comfortable and effective as both a spot-up and pull-up shooter, then pointed out some areas in need of improvement if Robinson is going to succeed against a much higher level of competition:
The defensive and rebounding parts of his game are really where Robinson will need to work on if he wants to be a contributor at Michigan. He currently lacks both the lateral quickness and strength in order to consistently stay in front of quicker shorter defenders who could use their leverage against him. Rebounding he used his size to average 6.5 rebounds per game, but he wasn’t very active on the offensive glass or ever really dominated in the paint.
If you're thinking "this guy sounds like a D-III Nik Stauskas," you're not alone, as NBN made that exact comparison. Robinson may actually be a bit taller: he told UMHoops that he's 6'8" and up to around 200 pounds. Unless he adds a good deal of bulk and strength, he's probably ticketed for the three at Michigan; regardless of what position he plays, he should at the very least stretch the floor offensively.
They are impressive. Via MLive:
As a freshman at Williams in 2013-14, he averaged 17.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in a school-record 1,110 minutes played (34.7 mpg), all while making 81-of-179 3-pointers (45.3 percent)
Shooting 45% from distance on a high volume of shots while being the team's star player is quite the feat for a freshman at any level. Robinson won D-III Freshman of the Year honors and was a fourth-team All-American on D3Hoops.com; not only was Robinson the only freshman among the four AA teams and five players who earned honorable mention, no sophomores were selected and only three juniors made the cut.
I can't find a high school offer sheet for Robinson, but he had plenty of interest when he announced his plans to transfer, per UMHoops:
“A whole bunch of schools that reached out,” Robinson said. “No other Big Ten schools, but a couple of ACC schools, Big 12, and then a lot of lower-conference and mid-majors. I’ve kind of narrowed it down to two. I’m going to take a visit to Davidson (this weekend) and I’m going to take a visit to Michigan (Monday).”
While Davidson isn't a high major school, they're in or around the KenPom top 100 on a very consistent basis from year to year, and they did produce that Steph Curry guy. Dylan also noted that Creighton, the most DEATH FROM ABOVE team in college basketball last season, also showed interest in landing Robinson.
UMHoops helpfully compiled a video of Robinson's Williams highlights:
Yup, dude can shoot.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Projected a D-III player to the Big Ten is a rather difficult endeavor, as a jump like that happens very rarely:
Matt Hart led Hamilton in scoring before transferring to George Washington as a walk on and Varun Ram left Trinity to walk on at Maryland and earned a scholarship, the 5-9 point guard played in 16 games last season.
Those were the two recent D-III to D-I examples UMHoops found; Hart is in the same boat as Robinson—sitting out 2014-15 after his transfer—so we don't know how the transition will go for him.
My best guess is Robinson works his way into being an off-the-bench gunner eventually; he does appear to be an ideal fit in Beilein's offense, and woe be upon the blogger who questions Beilein's talent evaluation. Beilein thought it was worth not just bringing in a D-III transfer, but using a scholarship spot on one, and just based on that I get the feeling Robinson will make an impact in his Michigan career, even if the constant influx of blue chip recruits* prevent him from grabbing a starting job.
*Man, was that sentence fun to write out.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Adding to the intrigue of Robinson's transfer is the fact that it likely quite possibly closes the book on guard/wing recruiting for the 2015 class. Though this is likely to change, Michigan has only one open scholarship for 2015-16 at the moment, and the priority is going to be landing a big man: Sam Webb posited on The Victors Board that five-star IN C Caleb Swanigan is going to be the main priority moving forward ($).
Oregon's Joseph Young reacts to the TV schedule [Photo: Steve Dykes/AP]
As is now tradition, apparently, Michigan will play in a non-conference basketball tournament in Brooklyn—this season, the "Legends Classic"—and the schedule, which includes a couple regional games at the Crisler Center, was released today:
Ann Arbor Regional
Crisler Center | Ann Arbor, Mich.
Nov. 17 vs. Bucknell
Nov. 20 vs. Detroit
Barclays Center | Brooklyn, N.Y.
Semifinal, Nov. 24
VCU vs. Villanova, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Michigan vs. Oregon, 9 p.m. (ESPN3)
Third-Place Game, Nov. 25
Loser VCU/Villanova vs. Loser Michigan/Oregon, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Championship, Nov. 25
Winner VCU/Villanova vs. Winner Michigan/Oregon, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Since television ratings rule the world, the regionals don't actually determine the semifinal matchups; the games against Bucknell and Detroit* simply serve as a warm-up round.
About those television ratings, though: you'll note that Michigan's semifinal against Oregon is being broadcast on ESPN3 (online stream only), since ESPN will show Monday Night Football that night and Alabama-Iowa State—a pretty solid non-conference matchup—received the 9 pm slot on ESPN2. For some reason, ESPNU apparently isn't an option, so here's hoping your home internet can hold it down for a night.
Then there's the title game, which should feature Michigan for reasons I'll get into later. Yes, that's a 10 pm (ET) tipoff. I get the feeling this tournament isn't ESPN's top priority.
As for the actual tournament part of the tournament, the Wolverines will face off against an Oregon team in turmoil. Three Oregon players were kicked off the team in May and eventually barred from campus after the release of a police report detailing an alleged rape at a party earlier in the year. One member of their incoming freshman class, forward Ray Kasongo, failed to pass admissions and will attend school elsewhere, while the centerpiece of that class, top-50 wing Jaquan Lyle, hasn't been admitted yet.
The Ducks were already slated to lose five senior contributors. Now they have just nine scholarship players (the NCAA limit is 13) featuring a lone returning starter; luckily for Oregon, that starter is leading scorer Joseph Young, but it's hard to imagine the Ducks will come close to replicating their run to a seven-seed in last season's NCAA Tournament.
The second game will be tough regardless of which team Michigan draws. Villanova finished last year #14 on KenPom, just four spots behind the Wolverines, and while they lose leading scorer James Bell, they return just about everyone else. VCU, as you well know by now, brings Shaka Smart's daunting full-court press—albeit one Michigan broke quite successfully the last time around—and though they lost two starters, KenPom's #17 team last season brings back plenty of talent.
The release of the Legends Classic bracket finalizes Michigan's non-conference schedule (via MGoBlue):
MLive's Brendan Quinn posted a thorough breakdown of the non-conference slate today if you feel like taking a deeper dive into the upcoming basketball schedule.
*#155 and #197, respectively, on KenPom last year (also #167 and #229 in RPI), so thankfully they shouldn't be a pair of schedule-strength anchors.
Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone, DL Lawrence Marshall, OL Mason Cole, OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty, WR Moe Ways.
|Elkton, MD – 6'1", 176|
||Scout||4*, #172 overall
|Rivals||4*, NR overall
#47 WR, #9 MD
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#168 WR, #26 MD
|24/7||3*, NR overall
#58 WR, #10 MD
|Other Suitors||Tenn, Rutgers, Maryland|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Eastern Christian Academy (Brandon Watson). Jungle beats.|
Yeah, still on that. There's not very much out there even now. Here's cutups from one game as a senior from Scout:
247 also posted clips from a game against Maplewood.
Welp. This series has always gone from the back of the defense to the skill positions on offense. This means any ability for this post to be prescient about Freddy Canteen is out the door. Y'all already expecting some rapture business this fall.
That is a shame, because hoo boy were Ace and I hyped about Freddy Canteen since about two seconds after his commitment. Ace said he thought Michigan got a "major steal" in his Hello post; I was repeating JUNGLE BEATS on twitter about every six seconds. The genesis was of course the video above, which remains as mesmerizing as it was when Canteen committed.
That what he did as a junior instead of play football. As you may remember, ECA is a weird school, a football version of basketball prospect factory Findlay Academy. Their first season was Canteen's junior year of high school; ECA got to play three games before Maryland's high school athletic association came down with a ruling that said no one could play them. Canteen locked himself in a gym for the next nine months trying to break as many fitbits as possible.
He joined a band called And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead Fitbits. He sent Louis CK several jokes about fitbits. &c
This left him off the radars of both recruiting site and college for a long time. Canteen's first BCS offers were from local schools that aren't really powerhouses: Rutgers and Maryland. ECA embarked on a summer-long tour of various summer camps, though, and when he hit Michigan an offer did not take long to get issued. Tennessee followed shortly after when ECA hit Knoxville, but Canteen was already headed for Ann Arbor. He announced a few days later.
Evaluations were thin on the ground then—I remember finding the Jungle Beats video was a major step forward at the moment—but the recruiting sites have filled in the gaps. Michigan has won a route artisan. This was as a 160-pound sophomore:
A terrific route runner with sneaky acceleration, Canteen gets separation easily and has sure hands. He catches the ball at its highest point often and he has the hops to go up and get it.
At the Rivals Camp Series the next year:
There may not have been a better route-runner on the field than Canteen. If he gets a clean release from the line, the defensive backs were rarely able to catch up and make a play on the ball. One of the things that stood out about Canteen was his explosiveness out of his breaks. One multiple occasions, Canteen fooled the defensive back with a hitch-and-go route and ending up with a wide open touchdown catch.
Scout's Brian Dohn took in an ECA game last year:
Canteen is fluid in and out of breaks and he did a nice job of setting up defensive backs with subtle moves before planting his foot and making his cut. …
Canteen has exceptional body control and very good footwork near the sideline, and not only can he go up and catch a ball, he tracks it low and can get down to the turf and get his hands under a low-thrown ball. …
Canteen is versatile and exciting. He has elusiveness in his ability after the catch, and he is an exceptional route runner who did not disappoint. He is good on film, but it doesn't do justice to the speed he plays at when watching him live.
Prior to that ECA game, Dohn saw Canteen at a local 7on7 at which ECA won the title:
He ran exceptional routes, there was no one who could cover him during the day, and he was effective in the short passing game and also getting behind the secondary time and again. The best way to describe Canteen's dominating day was the gasps when he actually dropped a pass. Yes, turns out he was human.
Scout's in-person evals caused them to move Canteen up about a hundred spots in their rankings.
Five-star Florida commit Jalen Tabor is from the same area, and the two had something of a camp rivalry going. Tabor is a fan:
"He’s got good routes. I definitely respect Freddy Canteen. We go at it all the time. That’s my man. We just had 7-on-7 at Maryland. The whole championship game it was just me and him. My coach said, ‘go get (Canteen).’ And they were testing me. We were going at each other. So I’ve definitely got a lot of respect for Freddy Canteen. He is going to be good in college.”
This may be why:
He has top-flight speed, above-average hands and shiftiness in his route running. Canteen beat Jalen Tabor deep for a touchdown on the first play of one game and, in another game, scored a touchdown leaping in the back of the end zone and on an out-and-up route.
So, like, at this point when his coach says something outlandish like…
“Freddy Canteen I think is the best receiver in the country. I know how (the recruiting services) operate. You have fit the measurable as far as size is concerned for them to give you a five-star rating. But if there is a better route runner in the country than Freddy Canteen, tell me who he is. I don’t think there is one. I think the expertise on the staff at Michigan allowed them to spot that rather quickly.”
…you're kind of like "seems in the ballpark of reasonable, at least." I mean, I've got a dozen more evaluations that I'm hacking down to snippets like so:
247: "Canteen understands how to get open and has slick moves after the catch. Runs very precise routes and can stick his foot in the ground and get separation from a defensive back. Tremendous hands and shows a great feel for the game."
Rivals: "…caught a wet, heavy football that was often off target with consistency and made some of the more impressive grabs downfield on jump balls."
His coach: "“He is such a gifted route runner. I guess I would compare Freddy to something like a Reggie Wayne type kid. He runs routes with the precision that allows him to be opened and allows him to finish off plays in the end zone because of his quickness."
You get the idea, surely. Freddy Canteen has been in a lab for the last few years, repeating route experiments with a control group and excellent sample size.
On the meh end of the scale, ESPN's evaluation says he's a nice underneath guy only:
Has an ability to make plays but does not possess the explosive speed that will scare defenses from any point on the field. Is more of a possession receiver than he is a big play guy.
As per usual I have no idea when this evaluation was issued or if ESPN did anything other than watch some cut-ups. That's especially relevant in Canteen's case. ESPN is an enormous outlier here—the next-most pessimistic site has him 110(!) spots higher in their position rankings—and there are many reasons Canteen would be mis-evaluated at a particular point in time. Take it FWIW: not much after spring. Speaking of…
And then he showed up for spring practice. The buzz he generated was immediate:
Teammates and coaches raved about Canteen's impact almost from the first day of spring camp. He's a player with 4.4 straight-line speed, he's agile and explosive enough with his feet to make things happen in the slot, and his general knowledge of football and the speed at which it needs to be played on the college level seems to be ahead of other players his age.
Michigan wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski remarked that Canteen brings a speed to the position that the staff hasn't had since it took over in 2011.
By the time the spring game-type substance rolled around he was the guy who started opposite Funchess. (FWIW, Darboh was held out.) He hauled in a 44-yard catch and would have had a second long bomb down the sideline except Gardner left the ball short, allowing Countess to recover. In the aftermath, there was one name on my lips:
Freddy Canteen went from freshman to Manningham in the space of 15 practices …
Also reminiscent of 86, at least as a freshman: people screaming at Canteen about where to line up pre-snap. There was one memorable play in Manningham's freshman year where Fred Jackson was having a conniption fit on the sideline trying to get Manningham to relocate himself; Manningham did not and scored a touchdown anyway. Canteen dredged that memory up on Saturday.
Injury issues for Darboh and Drake Harris removed them from the equation, and one or the other may end up in a prominent role (likely Darboh). Still, Canteen sped past the three guys in the class ahead of him and a guy (Jehu Chesson) coming off a promising redshirt freshman year. That indicates the kid is for real. When does Brady Hoke ever sound like this about a freshman?
"Once you watched him compete in winter conditioning and the things coaches are involved with and just his everyday approach to the game, you knew he had the work ethic and maybe the maturity to be beyond some other guys," head coach Brady Hoke told ESPN.com in late March. "What he’s done out here, I don’t know if I expected it. But we have a lot of confidence in him."
Worth noting that Hoke said he may be either outside or in the slot when fall rolls around. Either way, he will make plays.
Etc.: I SAID MAKE PLAYS:
"He's a playmaker," Funchess said. "All playmakers go out there and make plays, and he's been making plays all spring."
"(I'm a ) playmaker, to be honest," he said. "I just want to make plays."
“He’s earned his respect out here,” said quarterback Devin Gardner. “He’s played well and made plays."
Why Mario Manningham? If there was one guy who was a death merchant at Michigan solely because of his routes and quickness, it was Manningham. He too leapt into the starting-ish lineup as a true freshman at about six-foot-even because he was able to get over the top of anyone at will.
It's easy to throw your quick guy in the slot, and hard for that quick guy to immediately say "bro but we could get 50 yards instead of 15"; Manningham did that. Canteen did it too; to start the spring game as an early-enrolled freshman over a returning contributor plus three guys in the class in front of you is an immediate indicator to upgrade expectations.
Also a viable comparison: Tyler Lockett. Not sure if he's as fast as Lockett.
Guru Reliability: Low. Canteen was mostly off the radar by the time he committed because of ECA's problems. Recruiting sites tried to make up for it by going to ECA games when they actually got to play, but they seemingly did not move him up enough.
Variance: Low. Technician already, has put himself in position to play immediately after strong spring practice. Slight size concerns but the guy is 6'1"; he'll fill out.
Ceiling: High. "Oh, wide open."
General Excitement Level: Very high. Again, narrative of this guy's spring is mondo exciting.
Projection: Obviously playing this year. I do think Darboh's return to full health will bash him to the #3 guy on the outside, and he'll have a slightly less impactful year than the current expectations. This is mostly because I think Darboh is real good and people are sleeping on him after his redshirt.
There is an opportunity in the slot, where Norfleet and (maybe) DaMario Jones are currently. Normally you'd be hesitant to bounce a freshman from one spot to the other but with a guy as advanced as Canteen it may work out.
Next year I expect Funchess to be in the NFL, paving the way for Canteen to start and have major impact.