two point buckets are rare as unicorns these days [Bryan Fuller]
That was ugly. I don't have much to say about last night's demolition in Columbus. It's pretty much over as far as an NCAA bid is concerned—even 9-4 the rest of the way leaves Michigan with two horrendous, horrendous losses compared to the rest of the bubble and no real marquee wins.
I don't know what blew up. Obviously losing all three posts from last year is a big factor, as is the almost total lack of production from Kam Chatman (who is shooting an unbelievable 34%/25%). But there's something not right with the guys we thought were going to be the big guns. When your captains are saying you're in "coast mode" after a game that's nasty.
Walton's obvious: he's got turf toe. Irvin and LeVert are both doing okay; neither has become anything approximating a go-to guy. Both are shooting 44% from two with little in the way of free throws; Walton's even worse at 36%. With no one who can create two point shots consistently they've lost the crazy offensive efficiency of the last two years, and the defense hasn't improved nearly enough to keep their heads above water.
The only remaining hopes for the season is that they start getting better, make the NIT, and have a run in there that gives you some confidence.
Mattison back, officially. The latest in a long line of re-re-confirmations:
"Jack Harbaugh will always be one of the most influential coaches I've ever been with," he said. "I had the opportunity to coach with him for five years, just a tremendous football coach who taught me a lot about coaching.
"And I really respect (John Harbaugh), you always knew he'd be successful. ... And there's another Harbaugh (I'm close with), when we had our first child, Lisa, the only person she'd ever let babysit for her was Joanie (Jim's sister). That Harbaugh family, we've known for a long, long time."
Having Mattison around is going to be excellent for recruiting and continuity, and should allow Durkin to gradually adjust to being the man on that side of the ball after coaching under Will Muschamp at Florida.
Early signing may be happening. The Conference Commissioners Association was tasked with looking into an early signing date for football, and the proposal now has a shape:
On Tuesday at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Louisville, Susan Peal, NCAA associate director of operations who serves as a liaison between the collegiate governing body and the commissioners, revealed that the committee is leaning toward recommending a mid-December signing period. Peal said that window would likely coincide with the midyear junior college transfer signing date that occurs in the third week of December.
"Based on all of the feedback -- and there are all kinds of dates out there of what people want -- the most favorable option the committee has seen seems to be for an early signing day in December, something that's in line with the midyear junior college transfer signing date," Peal said.
I'm not a fan of early signing because it does nothing for the players, who get locked in earlier than they do now in exchange for bupkis. But at least that date is much better than the ridiculous August 1st date supported by the ACC, which the Big Ten somehow supported. Signing before official visits are even possible is some kind of dumb.
The darkest alternate timeline. Les Miles lost his excellent defensive coordinator to a conference rival and has now hired former Clemson DC Kevin Steele to replace him. The Kevin Steele whose last act as a DC was this, as Get The Picture points out:
Miles is also supposedly bringing in Ed Orgeron, a move that bodes well for local press conferences, Louisiana-set buddy cop movies, and recruiting but maybe not so much organization and the like. If Les farts around again next year I wouldn't be surprised to see him get the boot, because LSU fans have always been way more discontent than you'd think.
The competition to best describe Harbaugh is over. Former Stanford tackle Ben Muth:
"When I first met him, I honestly thought a lot of it was an act, it was like a robot who was programmed as a football coach," says Ben Muth, who played offensive tackle for Harbaugh at Stanford. "It's absurd stuff, but he believes it all. And after a while, so do you. Just the way he talks, his cadence and his deliverance. He talks like a normal football coach, but kicked up 50 percent and he's always on."
Also: hooray spring game fun? As part of Harbaugh's insane competitiveness, he turned Stanford's spring game into a full on draft-win-die thing:
At Stanford, his spring games featured full-scale drafts. The coaching staff was split down the middle into two groups, and inside the team meeting room, every player was drafted to a side for the game.
They weren't just glorified practices, they were full-scale competitions. Nothing was wasted or viewed as insignificant.
If that format's announced and Michigan pushes it back to best roll the dice on the weather that would be guaranteed to be Michigan's best-attended spring game ever.
Why do you hate turkey? I get most of what Oregon's trying to say here.
I'm down with most of it, as well (though tradition generally wears two colors unless you want to count white). But what's with the shot at turkey on Thanksgiving? Surely you would prefer us to eat that instead of duck, right?
Whiskey the dog. In case you were like "WTF" when Brandon brought up Whiskey during his My Personality Is To The Best Of My Ability tour:
Sap and MVictors have more details over there.
Whatever this is. OSU and Michigan are listed 1-2 in "intrinsic value" thanks to improved cash flows:
Note that OSU is bringing in 20 million less than Michigan this year, and Michigan is above everyone except Alabama and Texas in revenue. Oregon's 18th. Brandon's relentless focus on dollars above everything else was unnecessary.
Etc.: Michigan is getting a visit from 2015 megaprospect Jaylen Brown.
File photo, but whatever. [Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]
Shannon Scott pickpocketed Zak Irvin in the backcourt after a lazy crossover. Caris LeVert tossed an inbounds pass directly to an awaiting Buckeye, not even bothering to look at his intended target.
Michigan's top two scorers spent much of the second half on the bench, not because they weren't needed—the Wolverines were, in fact, getting blown out—but because whatever minuscule chance of a win they'd give the team wasn't worth John Beilein not sending a message. This team would've had a hard enough time upsetting the Buckeyes with everything clicking; instead, after some hot shooting from Irvin kept M in it early, sloppy mistake after sloppy mistake compounded the familiar offensive woes that have plagued this team for much of the season.
Lengthy scoring droughts in both halves led to OSU doubling up Michigan early in the second half, and even the final 19-point margin wasn't representative of the gap between the two teams for most of the game. Before M even scored a point in the second half, they trotted out a lineup of Derrick Walton, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Aubrey Dawkins, Kam Chatman, and Max Bielfeldt. It was no longer a contest, but a learning experience.
Let's hope the lesson sticks, because that was hard to watch.
RUTGERS BEAT WISCONSIN. SERIOUSLY. THEY DID. (source)
Your Weekly B1G Hoops Column
Weren’t any Big Ten basketball games last night, so I bumped this column to Tuesday.
Table of Contents
Week II Results
Post-Week II Big Ten Standings
Team of the Week: Rutgers
Player of the Week: Travis Trice
Stat of the Week: League-Wide Efficiency
Game Recap Graphics
- Michigan’s Week That Was
Michigan’s Week Ahead
Week III Schedule
1. Week II Results
Home teams held serve most of the week – only Michigan (over Penn St.), Ohio St. (over Minnesota in overtime), Michigan St. (over Iowa), and Maryland (over Purdue) managed to get an elusive Big Ten road win and, to be fair, most of those came against lower-half teams. MSU’s win over Iowa was particularly impressive: after trailing 39-28 at halftime, they hit eight three-pointers to outscore the Hawkeyes 47-20 in the second stanza.
Ohio State played the two closest games of the week, both on the road: the Buckeyes managed to beat Minnesota in overtime by two points and lost to Indiana by three. Minnesota had another close loss – to Michigan – later in the week. Michigan State was perhaps the most impressive team of the week: they destroyed Indiana and eventually pulled away to win comfortably at Iowa.
More on Rutgers’s shocking upset over Wisconsin a little bit later.
2. Post-Week II Big Ten Standings
After two weeks, there are four teams tied for first place (and six tied for first place in the loss column). Maryland has the worst efficiency margin of the top four, but they have won two games on the road (against Michigan State and Purdue). Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Michigan are all fairly comparable from an efficiency standpoint, though the Spartans probably have played the toughest schedule thus far.
The conference race is still far from any clarity. Wisconsin’s loss sets them back with the rest of the teams chasing and 10 of the league’s 14 teams are within a game of first place.
Click on image to enlarge
3. Team of the Week: Rutgers
Didn’t take long for Rutgers to ring up its first signature Big Ten win (source)
A few nights ago, I decided to brave the cold and head out to our favorite undergraduate library to play school for a little while. “The only Big Ten game on right now is Rutgers – Wisconsin,” I thought. “Even though Frank Kaminsky’s out, what could possibly happen?”
RUTGERS BEAT WISCONSIN.
With due apologies to Michigan State, who probably had the best week of any Big Ten team, Rutgers deserves mention for pulling what will probably stand as the biggest upset in Big Ten play this year – what very well may be the worst team in the league beating what’s likely the best. Yes, Kaminsky sat out of the game with concussion-like symptoms and yes, Traevon Jackson exited the game because of a leg injury that will keep him sidelined for a while.
Regardless of all that, it was an impressive showing for the Scarlet Knights: Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack each scored at least 20 points and, as a team, Rutgers posted a gaudy 1.20 points per possession. Despite the injuries to Kaminsky and Jackson, Wisconsin’s offense actually did alright (1.10 points per possession, at least a dozen points from each of Nigel Hayes, Sam Dekker, and Bronson Koenig), but the Badgers’ heretofore excellent defense was exposed. Rutgers shot 20-35 (57%) from two, so it wasn’t as if this were some anomalous barrage of three-pointers.
Besides Duke’s barrage of three-pointers earlier this season, this was Wisconsin’s worst defensive outing on the season. It was Rutgers’s best offensive game. Since I didn’t see the game, it’s hard to make any declarative statements, so here’s this solid recap from B5Q. As they note, Rutgers did trail by 12 at halftime, but 67% shooting (with four made threes) in the second half was enough to carry them to a win.
The homework that I did on that Sunday evening was due today and the professor bumped it back to Thursday… definitely could have waited on that in order to watch one of the most bizarre Big Ten games we’ll see this season.
Rutgers also lost to Nebraska by 16 on the road this past week, but that’s neither here nor there (I guess).
Previously: Maryland (Week I).
[After THE JUMP – the rest]
A Youngstown reporter is asserting that Michigan is on the verge of hiring Youngstown State DBs coach Mike Zordich:
I'm told that YSU Assistant Mike Zordich is leaving the Penguins to take a assistant coaching position on Jim Harbaugh's staff at Michigan
— Chad Krispinsky (@ChadK426) January 13, 2015
This would be bad news for Roy Manning. If Zordich is in fact in, there's just one staff member left and that would likely go to some sort of TE/OL coach, whether that's Jimmie Dougherty or someone else.
Zordich is an interesting guy: a Penn State alum who had an 12-year NFL career and only started coaching in his 40s, first in high school and then a brief tenure with the Eagles as a QC coach in 2009 and 2010 and then as safeties coach the next two years; he's been at Youngstown since. Bo Pelini was going to keep him on, FWIW.
Michigan (10-6, 3-1 B1G) at
Ohio State (13-4, 2-2)
Value City Arena,
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Ohio State -10 (KenPom)|
PBP: Mike Tirico
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: Don't mock me, Thad. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
This game is all about upside for Michigan, as nobody really expects them to win this one: Ohio State is 100-9 at home since 2009-10, the Wolverines haven't exactly impressed even during their back-to-back wins, and both KenPom and Vegas have the Buckeyes favored by ten.
Pull off the upset, though, and Michigan would suddenly have a signature win while sitting, however briefly, alone atop the conference standings. (Wisconsin, Maryland, and Michigan State don't play tonight.) To get to 12 conference wins—the likely target number for an NCAA bid—they're going to have to pull out an unlikely win or two, and this would certainly qualify.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||3||Shannon Scott||Sr.||6'1, 185||74||21||Yes|
|Great defender, facilitates offense well, still not much of a shooter.|
|G||0||D'Angelo Russell||Fr.||6'5, 180||79||29||No|
|Volume scorer. Great outside shooter, even off dribble. Solid passer, too.|
|F||12||Sam Thompson||Sr.||6'7, 200||73||17||Yes|
|Ridiculous hops. Very good finisher. Not a good shooter.|
|F||2||Marc Loving||So.||6'7, 215||63||20||No|
|50% at both 2P and 3P. Gets to line. Underwhelming rebounder.|
|C||23||Amir Williams||Sr.||6'11, 250||46||17||Very|
|Effective finisher, good rebounder, blocks lots of shots. Turnover-prone.|
|F||1||Jae'Sean Tate||Fr.||6'4, 190||43||20||Yes|
|Excellent on the boards, good finisher, active defender. Turnover-prone.|
|G||15||Kam Williams||Fr.||6'2, 175||40||18||No|
|Efficient scorer sticks mostly to spot-up threes.|
|C||55||Trey McDonald||Sr.||6'8, 240||28||16||Very|
|Very good rebounder, especially on offense. Decent rim protector.|
The Buckeyes dropped just two non-conference games, both to top-ten teams, falling at #9 Louisville and dropping a neutral-court game to #9 UNC. They played the rest of their non-conference schedule at home and won every game handily, though the top-ranked team they beat was #95 Marquette.
They're off to just a 2-2 start to Big Ten play. OSU lost their opener at home to Iowa when freshman phenom D'Angelo Russell had a rough day from the field and the defense turned in an uncharacteristically poor performance. After a blowout home victory over Illinois and a thrilling overtime triumph at Minnesota, they fell by three points at Indiana on Saturday when, once again, Russell went cold.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
My biggest takeaway from last night is Michigan will need a very strong and well-coached front seven if Harbaugh is to pull a 1969 next Thanksgiving weekend.
The key to Michigan's dramatic defensive improvement in 2011 was that Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison gave Michigan's defense an identity. They went to a 4-3 under, single-gap run defense that Mattison brought from the Ravens, and over the course of the year found the best fits for the guys on hand.
|Durkin knew Mattison from his Charlie Weis pants days. [photo: Joe Raymond|Freep]|
You remember, despite the relative success of this transition, that some fits were more or less awkward than others. Jake Ryan was a perfect SAM. Ryan Van Bergen worked as a 3-tech or a 5-tech. Mike Martin played nose because nobody else could, and his disruption was deployed with a lot of stunts, or weird stuff like when they came up in an Okie and Martin dropped back to essentially MLB. Roh at WDE was a solid run defender but wasn't built to take advantage of that WDE-tackle matchup that's supposed to produce natural pressure.
Last year of course they went to a 4-3 over base alignment, making Jake Ryan into an awkward MLB because the alternative was Beyer as a really awkward 5-tech. The kicker: offenses were forcing Michigan to play nickel 50% to 90% of snaps, which made Ryan into either an undersized defensive end, or a guy on the sideline.
JMFR is gone but Mattison will still be around, joined by new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin. At the Cleveland event last night I suggested Mattison’s role will be as sensei to Durkin, who hasn’t really flown solo yet (Muschamp was very involved with that defense).
It adds up to a belief that Michigan won’t change its defensive style for 2015, but what is that style? Coverages are another matter; just speaking to the front seven: should they be the under that they recruited for, or the over they transitioned to?
Refresher on 4-3 philosophy
Mattison and Durkin both coached (Durkin as a graduate assistant for one year) under Bob Davie at Notre Dame, who with Jackie Sherrill developed the Texas A&M "Wrecking Crew" defense. Jimmy Johnson (another Sherrill acolyte) took it a step further in Miami, and Pete Carroll now runs in Seattle.
You’ll note that they used different alignments. Johnson’s defenses were the genesis of the 4-3 over, and so influential that this is what people usually mean by “4-3” defense, as opposed to Tom Landry’s base version. Carroll’s been coaching the 4-3 under since he learned it directly from Monte Kiffin, who developed it at Nebraska.
The under alignment was not the base concept; the real philosophy in Kiffin's terms was to give his defensive linemen simple assignments so they could play with aggression and disruption. The benefit of one-gapping is no defensive linemen stopping to diagnose the play. Once the ball is snapped, all of these defenses want those brains thinking "go!", "put my hat in a gap," "be a factor," and "attack that block!"
Mattison used a mix in Baltimore because he had Ngata, but at Michigan he’s had an almost exclusively gap-attacking defense. The question has been what alignment to run it out of, and that’s a question of which players fit it best.
(Start at 1:17)
So which alignment is Michigan going with this year? I think again it’s a question of personnel? I make diagram.
Michigan’s short on red dudes
The above is my attempt at showing the spectrum of qualities emphasized by the front seven positions in the 4-3 over versus the 4-3 under. I also gave a small approximation of color fits for guys I know something about (Spur-like objects like Gant and Wangler left out because I ran out of colors to depict DB-ness).
It's meant to show what we mean when we talk about the why nothing's a perfect fit for the talent on hand. Suggestions for improved shading are welcome. Takeaway from this experiment: Michigan's front the next few years may be better at throwing out different looks than it will be at rotating through shark teeth.
If you trust my judgment on the shading above, the over appears to remain the best fit for the guys we have, provided they can find some backup ends (the glut of DE/DT tweeners remains). As Mattison mentioned in the video above, the half of the time you’re in nickel to counter a 3- or more-wide look, you’re in an over anyway. D.J. Durkin used a lot of smaller players and changed things up a ton at Florida, and I expect the future will be a truly multiple defense with versatile front seven players. I expect when they can’t run Ojemudia and Charlton out there at the ends, Durkin will experiment with linebacker-ish dudes out there.