somehow we're only 124th
This is what NJIT’s gym looks like. Really. (Source)
YOUR WEEKLY B1G HOOPS COLUMN
*It’s the last week of class before finals and I’m really busy – Alex
Table of Contents
Our new least-favorite acronym
Is it time to panic?
The Big Ten defeats the ACC
Iowa wins in Chapel Hill
Remember: Michigan did beat Syracuse
Wisconsin, Ohio St., and Michigan St. lose
Michigan didn’t have the only awful loss
Early returns: individual player scatterplots
Early returns: efficiency margins
EARLY POWER RANKINGS
1. Our new least-favorite acronym
The elephant in the room is that–despite beating Syracuse in a key ACC/Big Ten Challenge clash–Michigan notched the most surprising result of the week (and maybe the most surprising result in all of college basketball so far this season) with a shocking home loss to NJIT, the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
After holding the Highlanders to just five points in the first ten minutes of the game, Michigan conceded 67 points over the next 30, and the Wolverine defense conceded the upset. To put it in context, NJIT’s outstanding eFG% of 70.7 was better than all but one of Michigan’s shooting performances last season (at Illinois – 72.5). While NJIT’s impressive 2-point percentage (55%) was a problem in and of itself, their eleven made three-pointers were the reason for the upset. To allow an opponent that had been shooting 33% from three to hit 11-17 is some extraordinarily bad luck. From Ken Pomeroy:
If you shot 45% in the first half of the 2011 conference season, you’d be expected to shoot about 35% in the second half. If you shot 25% in the first half, you’d be expected to shoot 33% in the second half. A difference you couldn’t notice with your eyes. I don’t know exactly what implications this has on strategy, but when evenly-matched teams get together, action happening beyond the 3-point line is like a lottery. You take a shot and a third of the time you have success.
Pomeroy’s analogy of the three-point line being a lottery – the amount of threes a team makes amounts to little more than a weighted random number generator and Michigan was absolutely torched by a team that, quite frankly, doesn’t shoot that well. This result is at the very far end of the bell-curve.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Panic? More on everybody else]
Goodbye, oh ye of many numbers
Not a surprise, even with the late slide in production:
"I would like to thank my family, coaches and teammates for their support," Funchess said in a statement. "It's always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and I am prepared to take the next step in my journey."
Funchess has some mouths to feed and should get drafted high despite the indifferent performance this year. He has a size/speed combo reminiscent of Mike Evans and someone's going to take a shot at him in the late first round.
"Every football team eventually arrives at a lead play: a "Number 1" play, a "bread and butter" play. It is the play that the team knows it must make go, and the one its opponents know they must stop. Continued success with it, of course, makes your Number 1 play, because from that success stems your own team's confidence." –Vince Lombardi
As we discuss coaching candidates we'll invariably get into the same old discussions on what kind of base offense said candidate might want to run. There was some discussion on the board this week and I wanted to expand that discussion into some basic "Rock" plays of various offensive schemes.
It is incorrect to identify any one play (and even more incorrect to identify a specific formation or personnel group) as a complete offense. You always need counters to keep doing the thing you do, and the counters will often borrow directly from some other offensive concept's rock. All offenses will borrow from each other so no breakdown is going to describe more than 60% of any given offense. Most zone blocking offenses throw in man-blocked things (example: inverted veer) to screw with the defense. You can run most of these out of lots of different formations. You can package counters into almost all of them (example: The Borges's Manbubble added a bubble screen to inside manball).
Really what you're describing when you talk about any offense is the thing they do so well that they can do it for 5 or 6 YPP all day long unless defenses do something unsound to stop it (like play man-to-man, or blitz guys out of coverage, etc.). Some examples of offenses and their formation needs (where a need isn't specified, figure they can use any set or formation: spread, tight, 23, ace whatever). I've given the rock plays, and left out the counters and counters to the counters because that gets into way too many variants.
Finally, the terms "pro style" and "spread" are meaningless distinctions. NFL offenses have the luxury of getting super complex: they have passing game coordinators who teach the QBs and WRs Air Raid things then run zone or power blocked things. The spread refers to formations and personnel—it doesn't say anything about whether the QB runs, if it's an option offense, or what tempo it runs at, or even what kind of blocking it uses. What I've done here is break up the offenses into "QB as Run Threat" and "QB Doesn't Have to Run" since the construction of these base plays usually stems from that. Remember, however, that QB running offenses can (and often do) still use blocking right out of Vince Lombardi's favorite play.
QB as Run Threat Offenses:
The FB dive will hit too quickly for anyone but the DE to stop; once the DE bites, the RG moves down to the second level while the QB keeps and heads outside, with the RB in a pitch relationship to defeat the unblocked defender there.
Concept: QB makes a hand-off read then a pitch read.
Makes life especially hard on: Edge defenders who have to string out plays against multiple blockers and maintain discipline.
Formation needs: Two backs.
Helpful skills: QB who can consistently make multiple reads and won't fumble, highly experienced, agile OL, backs who can both run and bock.
Mortal enemy: The Steel Curtain. Stopping the triple option is a team effort; if everybody is capable of defeating blocks, challenging ball-carriers, and swarming to the pitch man there's nowhere to attack.
Examples: Air Force, Nevada, Georgia Tech, Bo's Michigan
[Hit the jump for ZR, QB power, Air Raid, West Coast, Manball, Inside Zone, and the Power Sweep].
I don't really have much today. Sorry. Monday must be trash night. Wait a second…
/takes out trash
never not funny
ANYWAY. Yesterday was notable for two reasons: the Football Bust and a you-dead Harbaugh press conference. Harbaugh's response to the inevitable Qs about his job:
“I don’t talk about any other job other than the one that I have,” Harbaugh told reporters on Monday. “And I’ve answered this question many times, even recently, so you’d know exactly what my priorities are. I get this from the Marines, ‘Leaders eat last.’ My number one priority is winning football games. Second priority is the welfare of our players, our coaches, all our staff, for the welfare of our team. And lastly is my own personal professional future.”
If that quintessential non-denial-denial was not sufficient, poke a Michigan insider and he's calling BS on reports that Michigan is out. Webb:
…the growing NFL sentiment that Harbaugh will remain in the professional ranks is an overstatement in our view, it does speak to the belief held by some that have talked to him in recent weeks that he will be tougher to lure away from the pros than previously thought. The source to which Harbaugh reported his ongoing uncertainty about the future to put the odds of his return to Ann Arbor at 50/50.
See also 247, Rivals, etc. The divergence between the Michigan people and the NFL people is massive. It would probably be even larger if anyone knew exactly what happened with Brandon and Harbaugh in 2010. In retrospect, the popular story about how he was in the bag and then flaked sounds a lot like Dave Brandon making himself look good instead of objective reality. Brandon blew everything else and was a pathological liar. If his version of 2010 events is the reason people are hesitant, I might increment myself from hopeful to optimistic.
WE DON'T HAVE FLIGHT AWARE SO GIVE US THIS AT LEAST. We're gonna extrapolate from minimal information and nobody can stop us. Block the plane, fly commercial: whatever, man. We've got body language.
Watch the relevant part of Jim's latest press conference here, from 7:40 to 8:35. http://mgovideo.com/jim-harbaugh-monday-presser-12-8-14/
Now watch this youtube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiIP_KDQmXs
HE'S HIDING SOMETHING!!!1!
Seriously though, he tenses right up, starts using his hands/arms, sort of rambles, etc. You get a body language expert in here, and that's a Michigan coach at that podium.
Let's get a body language expert in here then.
SHORTLY AFTER, YOU SAY? Tyree Kinnel tells Scout's Dave Berk that a Michigan assistant contacted him and said that Michigan hopes to have a head coach in place($). "right after Christmas." Like, four days after maybe?
MILES? Webb also reiterated what Les Miles himself said a couple days ago: unlike everyone from Steve Addazio on up, he hasn't heard anything from Michigan. Lorenz thinks that's not a death knell for his prospects($) if Harbaugh doesn't happen; John U Bacon had a similar take in a post-Bust interview with the local Fox station that MGoUser michgoblue provided Cliffs Notes for on the board. I'm still skeptical, as you know.
AS FOR THE BUST. Not much of interest coaching-search wise, just Hackett saying he has been "blown away" by the level of interest in the job and Reggie McKenzie advocating Mike Trgovac.
Trgovac was an interesting candidate in 2007 while he was in the midst of a pretty successful run as the Panthers' DC, but he's been stuck as the Packers' DL coach since 2009. It is kind of surprising that we hear about Teryl Austin but not him; neither is likely to be plan B… or G.
PLAN B? OKAY. I've heard Bob Stoops may be available as familiarity with an .800 win rate breeds contempt at Oklahoma; Lorenz echoes that strongly($) in his latest, and you begin to wonder if there was something real behind that Stoops-should-leave moment we had a few weeks ago, as unlikely as that seems. Chris Petersen was never going to go anywhere until he did; Bob Stoops could be in a similar boat.
It still seems highly doubtful. It's just plausible enough to kick the tires and see what happens, which at least makes it a lot more sensible than Sean Payton.
Meanwhile: this is yet another spread coach. In Stoops's case it's an Air Raid so prolific that seemingly half the country has an offensive coordinator from the Stoops tree. Stoops famously installed Mike Leach in his first year as a head coach because he hated defending Kentucky's offense and wanted to hire it, and he's never waved. That shouldn't be a problem, but recent history of Michigan etc etc etc. The Air Raid is a better fit with Michigan's current QB corps, but if you want a pro-style guy this is not it. (If this does not make you reconsider your pro-style dogmatism, I cannot help you.)
COORDINATORS? I'd be fine with a coordinator if he came with the correct combination of impressive performance, recruiting output, and long-term upside—I've got a brief post later today on how frequent the promotion is even for big time programs. Sam's starting to poke around those guys as well, mentioning a few NFL guys($) even outside the obvious Teryl Austin. IRL troll Colin Cowherd brought up Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell, a former Wisconsin QB who's been an OC in the NFL for about a decade. If Michigan is going to make the dubious decision to grab an NFL coordinator, he is one of the guys who makes some sense.
I'm not too interested those gentlemen, but Sam also says that one of the 14-man list Hackett told the team he was evaluating is a current Big Ten coordinator($). That can only be one of two guys: Pat Narduzzi or Tom Herman.
Who's up for decades of Herman's Head jokes? Just me? Oh.
This site is highly intrigued by Herman, who Urban Meyer yoinked off an uninspiring three-year tenure as Iowa State's OC to his great profit. Since, he's coordinated consecutive top-ten offenses by any metric you care to name. The latter is an incredibly resilient year in which Herman lost four OL, his QB, and his top RB without batting an eye, then lost his second-string QB and still turned Wisconsin into a radioactive, glassy plain.
Herman is a Broyles finalist this year and was the 2013 Rivals Big Ten recruiter of the year—he's the total package.
Narduzzi is a bit less exciting because it's hard to tell exactly how much he is the MSU defense and how much is Dantonio. That's less of a concern for Herman because Dan Mullen went on to succeed at Mississippi State and Florida cratered under Steve Addazio; Meyer is also less insanely involved in the day-to-day after his UF freakout period.
There were also some signs that MSU's defense was beginning to get figured out this year. Oregon and Ohio State took advantage of MSU's aggressive cover-four safeties by blazing guys down the slot until the Spartans didn't know what to think; I'd prefer the guy who put up 49 this year on the MSU defense instead of the guy who ceded same.
Either would be preferable to a low-upside head coach, be he an older gentleman or a debatably good idea.
PLAN Z. File this under "agent": Washington coach Jay Gruden, who has done nothing in his coaching career of note other than be named Gruden, is getting fired soon. You will not be shocked what is being floated out there by his agent, then:
One source I trust tipped me off to a potential landing spot for Gruden: The University of Michigan. This source, who is intimately familiar with the Wolverines’ rapidly emerging coaching search, informed me on Thursday that initial contact has been made between the parties and that Gruden’s representation was enthusiastically open to the potential. I can’t put a figure on the likelihood of Gruden fleeing to Ann Arbor, and another UM source I trust refused to confirm anything I asked, but it’s an interesting leverage point nonetheless.
Never trust a sentence with "rapidly emerging" in front of words that need no adjectives. Gruden is 3-10 with Washington and most of his coaching career prior was spent in the Arena League; this snippet means that Gruden's agent called Michigan and was not quite laughed at. The only thing this means is that he's out the door in Washington; it has no relevance to Michigan's search.
Etc.: I agree.
Michigan 0 OSU 1 EV 10:09 Johnson from Niddery and Stork
Ohio State catches Michigan in transition. Niddery has the puck in the neutral zone and banks it off the boards. Serville is too slow stabbing at it, and the puck gets past him to Johnson. Downing is the lone defenseman back who can make a play.
You can see from the above screencap that Johnson skates the puck out as wide as possible. He’s trying to draw Downing to him and open up space in front of the net because he sees he has a trailing teammate charging the net hard. Downing doesn’t bite, or at least he doesn’t bite entirely. He starts to dive to take away the pass.
Regardless of what happens with this shot Michigan’s not in a good position. It just so happens that the shot it perfect, so the danger of a rebound or a redirection in front is moot. This is obviously a bad goal for Nagelvoort to give up from that sharp of an angle, but he made some otherwise spectacular saves in the first period. Johnson’s shot hits the farside post and deflects up and in for the goal.
Michigan 1 OSU 1 EV 12:49 Hyman (7) from Larkin (11) and Serville (2)
Larkin carries the puck wide, and the defenseman picks him up and moves wide with him. Behind Larkin Hyman skates toward the middle of the ice, giving Larkin someone to center the puck to if the defender over-commits.
Larkin skates just a couple more strides before he drop passes to Hyman. Larkin actually could have held the puck a few more strides, as the defender is still in a position to make a play on the puck. Hyman makes a smart play, seeing that the defender is near enough to him that he’ll have to release the puck immediately to avoid the defender’s stick. You can see from the screencap below that he’s already loading up to shoot, and the puck’s been on his blade for a fraction of a second.
Frye stops Hyman’s shot, but he is unable to glove the puck or absorb the shot. The puck is deflected and goes up and over him.
Larkin has continued his skating arc from the outside of the zone to the inside, and he’s at the side of the net by the time the puck goes up in the air. His positioning pays off, as he bats down the deflection for Michigan’s first goal.
[After THE JUMP: a five-minute-long Christmas miracle]
|Head Coach, UCLA|
|HC @ Seattle||2009|
|DB/AHC @ Seattle||2007-08|
|HC @ Atlanta||2004-06|
|DC @ San Fransisco||1999-03|
|LB/DB, Washington, 1980-83|
These again. We're skipping Harbaugh because it's not like you need to be told about Harbaugh. In the event M does hire him, he'll get one.
These are in approximate order of personal preference.
Previously: Dan Mullen.
Jim E. Mora is the son of Jim "Playoffs?!" L. Mora, and as a result joined the nepotism-friendly ranks of NFL position coaches soon after he graduated college. After a decade as a DBs coach he broke through as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, parlaying that into two brief, unsuccessful stints as an NFL head coach.
After the second—a one-year gig with the Seahawks after which he was thrown overboard for Pete Carroll—Mora was out of coaching for two years. When UCLA tapped him for their head coaching job, Bruins Nation was wroth. Bruins Nation is always wroth but at the time it seemed like they had a point. Mora looked like a guy who'd never have gotten anywhere without his father's name and seemed a particularly poor fit for college, what with his single year as a Washington grad assistant. The motivation appeared to be "he's kind of like Pete Carroll."
But it's worked rather well. Mora's led the Bruins to three 6-3 Pac-12 records in three years, had a 10-3 2013, and hasn't won fewer than nine games. This is a considerable step up from Rick Neuheisel (21-29 in 4 seasons), Karl Dorrell (35-27 in 5 seasons) and even nominally successful Bob Toledo, who followed up two top-ten outings in the late 1990s with a string of mediocre teams and finished his career 49-32. Mora's three years are the most successful UCLA has had in 15 years, and you have to go back to Terry Donahue's mid-80s heyday to find anything definitively better.
So he's plausible. But how good have these seasons actually been, and what happens post-Hundley?
[After THE JUMP: bad NFL defenses, excellent recruiting, and stealth spread.]