I did not make this headline up
Programming Note: No Dear Diary next week unless you guys spend Christmas making diaries or something.
Trevor Miller of Hammer and Rails this week queried the bloggerati of ESDBS's boards to create a programming schedule for a fictional BTN2. Among shows like Hoarders: Jim Delaney Edition and a thing where Rutgers fans run around Manhattan trying to find someone who knows they exist, there was this idea:
11-midnight - "Why We’re Your Rival, Now." - Each school gets to explain why they are a Most Hated Rival of another.
I pointed out in the MGoBoard discussion that this would quickly turn into a Jerry Springer episode where Michigan's in the chair while they keep trotting out progressively more disgusting ladies who say they're our girlfriends.
That thread was perhaps was the impetus behind MGoSoftball embarking on a quest to ask every Big Ten (plus Notre Dame) blog to rank their rivalries. I'm excited for the results, though I don't think any fanbase is truly united on this front. For example Brian would put Notre Dame 2nd, while I think he needs to step outside of WTKA's signal for a day and see what's it like among the Sparties. One man's Michigan rivalric rundown:
- Actual Rivals: Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Minnesota.
- One-way hate, them: Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, OHIO!, West Virginia, Princeton, Delaware, Rich Rodriguez, SEC, the Cleveland Indians
- One-way hate, us: USC, Wherever Nick Saban is coaching, Lou Holtz, Duke, Notre Dame's president and athletic department.
- Schools who aren't rivals but we have that one thing we'll never agree on to provide an infinite hate well: Nebraska ('97 N.C.), Tennessee ('97 Heisman), Penn State (JoePa, and because we each find each others' fans completely insufferable).
- Rivals only in the sense that one can be rivals with a paraplegic neighbor who's always asking you to punch him in the face: Eastern Michigan
- Hey, you forgetting someone? Like YOUR BIGGEST RIVAL who you got players suspended for and beat you that one time with a totally unsuspected onside kick???: …? On to the diaries. Where there were only three diaries, plus something I bumped from the boards, and they're all still on top. On to the rest of the board.
The Rest of the Board
THE MAYANS WERE RIGHT!
The world did not end in fire or flood or the mountains caving in; it ended it matte. Futzing with the helmet is a sure sign of the end times, as if maize numbers with blue trim wasn't. Relive the freakout above, or join the mass hysteria in threads dedicated to changing the look of the end zones, or defending David Brandon.
On that last, a suggestion for those about to start threads they think will be unpopular: don't lead with "I know you're all going to neg me for this," or by telling everyone who disagrees with you that they're Brian Cook's sheeple. Make your points, address only the best possible form of the opposing argument, and then stand by to politely debate your assertions, being ready to modify, improve, or even back off your position if you get stumped. Cypress has a valid argument that maybe we've been too hard on Dave Brandon for turning our favorite amateur team into the 2nd biggest franchise in college athletics, since all of those nickels and dimes are building cathedrals for sports most schools can't afford to carry (and consequently giving M the inside track for the Directors Cup). But then the OP's presentation of that argument is overly contentious. It's exactly this kind of contempt for people with other opinions that makes the difference between a great debate thread and a messy flame war the moderators have to clean up.
THE THING I BUMPED FROM THE BOARDS
Your diarist of the week is Asgardian for picking through the last four classes worth of Rivals rankings to find positional trends in who gets the higher stars. For some reason Midwest offensive linemen are getting proportionally higher rankings. It could just be the biases of recruiting analysts who think skill players have to come from the Southeast (imagine the difference in Toussaint hype if he was from Florida instead of Ohio) or it could be they're sick of Iowa and Wisconsin consistently pumping out NFL linemen from guys they rated a 2 or 3, and are making an adjustment. I'd like to see the sample extended back to 2002.
[After the jump, NCAA may be letting Oregon off the hook or taking the first steps towards finally nailing Ohio State for the stuff everyone knows about, and I seriously consider buying something Brian is totally going to make fun of me for.]
Michigan made it apparent in their 39-point thrashing of Eastern Michigan that they were the more talented team. It was more than just talent, though, that made the difference between the two teams separated by a six-mile stretch of Washtenaw Avenue.
Mitch McGary, 2012 Scout four-star center, played with his usual manic energy, tallying his first career double-double (10 pts., 11 reb.) in only 18 minutes of action. His counterpart, Eastern seven-footer Da'Shonte Riley—a 2009 Scout four-star—didn't attempt a field goal and had six rebounds (all defensive) to go with three blocks, four fouls, and two turnovers in 30 minutes.
After a first-half turnover near midcourt, Riley slowly turned and jogged towards Eastern's end, never making it past the block 'M' by the time Michigan tallied an uncontested bucket. In the second half, he halfheartedly swatted at Glenn Robinson III—much like one would shoo a fly without lethal intent—picking up a foul as the Wolverine freshman connected on a layup.
The contrast between Riley and McGary was stark, and McGary's teammates brought the same level of effort. It would be easy for Michigan to coast against EMU, especially after going on a 20-0 run after falling behind 6-2 in the early going. But the foot never came off the gas—Michigan managed a larger margin in the second half than the first despite emptying the bench.
The Wolverines picked apart Eastern's 2-3 zone with ease; Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. notched 8 and 7 assists, respectively, as they both found Nik Stauskas (16 pts., 5-8 3pt.) repeatedly open on the perimeter. Hardaway led the scoring charge with 17 points despite shooting 5-13 from the field, including a highlight-reel dunk on the fast break—he continues to be most effective when Michigan runs.
Robinson had another sneakily efficient night, scoring 13 points on just seven shots, knowing just the right place to be to find open layups against EMU's zone. Fellow freshman Caris LeVert had the best game of his budding collegiate career, netting eight points on 3-5 shooting, including 2-2 from three-point range.
It was an easy night for the Wolverines, which heads into an eight-day layoff at 12-0. They made it easy on themselves, the mark of a well-coached team that knows—regardless of the competition—that there's no excuse for an off night—they've now got plenty of time for those over the holiday break.
|WHAT||Eastern Michigan at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||8:30 PM Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan –24 (Kenpom)|
Right: The World's Most Phallic Building, according to something called Cabinet Magazine.
This evening, Michigan hosts cross-county foe Eastern Michigan, which currently boasts a 6-3 record that includes a win over Purdue. This means they could give Michigan a test, yes?
Well, probably not. Purdue appears to be in serious rebuilding mode, while Eastern's resume is otherwise built on wins over non-DI competition or dregs like Texas Pan American. Relevant game: a 36-point road loss to Syracuse.
The Eagles can post a challenge with their size, however—according to KenPom, they're 11th nationally in effective height. That's in large part (hey-o) due to 7'0" center Da'Shonte Riley, easily the team's best rebounder as well as a major shot-blocking threat (15.6% block rate, #7 nationally) in the middle of their 2-3 zone. Riley—a transfer from Syracuse—lacks deft touch around the basket, shooting just 37.5% this year from the field and 38.9% from the line.
Glenn Bryant, apparently somewhat athletic
6'8" forward and Arkansas transfer Glenn Bryant also provides decent shot-blocking and offensive rebounding, and unlike Riley can occasionally put the ball in the basket, hitting 44.7% of his twos. Unfortunately, Bryant is apparently under the impression he can shoot threes, but has hit just one of his 13 attempts from beyond the arc this year.
The team's wings are also their most effective shooters (a relative term when applied to this EMU squad). 6'3" shooting guard Derek Thompson is their outside threat, with 60% of his attempts coming from three—he's hitting a respectable 38.3% from outside. 6'6" guard/forward Daylen Harrison is a slasher who gets to the line frequently—he's connecting on 52.9% of his twos and 86.2% of his free throws, making him by far the team's best scoring option inside the arc, despite turnover issues. He's also an above-average rebounder on the defensive end.
Rounding out the starting lineup, at least according to EMU's game notes, is 6'2" guard Austin Harper, but he's only averaging 7.6 minutes per game this season. In Harper's limited action, he's been boom-or-bust, with a sky-high assist rate (31.4%) and turnover rate (24.4%). The point guard who sees the most minutes is 5'11" freshman Jalen Ross, who's 7-for-31 from the field this year with assist and turnover rates in the low 30s.
That's nothing compared to backup point Ray Lee, though—the freshman is posting an astounding 39.9% assist rate and 36.9% turnover rate. He's also got an ugly 42.9 eFG% while taking a high number of shots. Do not let Ray Lee get his hands on the Crisler T-Shirt cannon.
Other bench contributors include 6'9" shot-blocking specialist Jamell Harris (36.7 eFG%) and 6'3" guard J.R. Sims (34.8 eFG%).
On second thought, don't let any EMU player near the T-shirt cannon.
Eastern's signature victory came over Purdue, of course; none of their other conquered foes are ranked higher than #259 on KenPom. They've been defeated by #6 Syracuse, #118 Illinois-Chicago, and #212 Jacksonville State, all on the road.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||40.0 (338)||22.7 (252)||34.0 (116)||30.5 (274)|
|Defense||43.7 (47)||24.0 (51)||39.5 (331)||34.8 (153)|
The offense is a mess, with EMU currently sitting at #332 in the country in adjusted efficiency. Slightly above-average offensive rebounding does not cover for horrific shooting, lots of turnover, and infrequent trips to the line.
The defense is surprisingly stout; the 2-3 zone has forced a ton of turnovers, and the going inside is tough, with EMU eighth nationally in block rate. The opponent shooting number is bolstered by opponents shooting just 28.1% from beyond the arc; this is almost assuredly unsustainable with the Eagles allowing three-point attempts—a more accurate portrayal of perimeter defense—on just under 41% of opponent shots.
Bombs away. Trey Burke probably won't be replicating his drive-and-create performance from the West Virginia game—the old adage is you don't beat a 2-3 zone by dribbling through it. If the stats are any indication, however, the perimeter will be open for business. Paging Nik Stauskas:
Meanwhile Nik Stauskas has been lethal, scoring 1.5 points per zone possession with a 82% effective field goal percentage.
Michigan has actually been relatively ineffective against zone defenses this year, though they haven't seen them too often, due in no small part to Stauskas.
Don't miss the gimmes. Eastern has been woeful at keeping opposing teams off the offensive glass. Michigan has been very effective this year at creating second-shot opportunities. The battle of the boards should go in Michigan's favor in a major way. Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary have been known to miss a few easy ones, though. So, please make those, guys.
Let them shoot? EMU's 68.1% mark from the free-throw line is nothing to write home about, but it's positively Stauskian compared to their field goal shooting. Between their awful shooting and large lineup, there's no reason to overplay an open shooter instead of getting in position for rebounds. There will be rebounds.
Keep doin' what you've been doin'. I mean, yeah.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 24. I'm tempted to predict a larger margin, but Eastern is one of just a handful of teams in the country that plays at a slower tempo than Michigan.
Bravo, ClearEyesFullHart. Bravo.
Ace takes on the day-to-day process on a twice-weekly basis, but in case you haven't been paying super-close attention here's a primer on where Michigan stands as of today, and probably will continue standing until early January when some targets are likely to announce at All-Star games.
We'll start with the RR-Hoke hybrid 2011 class and focus on 1) how well Hoke's done, 2) what Michigan needs to fill out this class, and 3) what they'll be looking for next year.
|Russell Bellomy||3*||nobody||N/A||Shane Morris||5*|
PERFORMANCE: Bellomy was a late flier taken by Hoke after the Process left him scant time to find a bunch of dudes. We've seen that early results from this class of random last minute additions have been erratic. A couple are gone, a few more are contributors, others are still waiting in the wings. Judging recruiting prowess based on a rushed land grab made while still trying to find your footing is not a good idea.
This is kind of a long way of saying that Bellomy did not play well against Nebraska, and moreover seemed like a guy who just didn't have the arm strength to play at the top level, but that the decision to recruit him was not representative of much.
Meanwhile, Shane Morris is one of the top-ranked QBs in this class. He committed so early that it was clear Michigan would have had to do something spectacularly wrong to not end up with him. Still, points for not doing that, and for convincing Morris to hop aboard early enough to help sweep up most of a top five class by March.
OTOH, not taking a QB in this year's freshman class was a mistake, and while Morris is good his lack of high school production is somewhat concerning. (Yes, he had mono. Even considering that his junior/senior production is a little concerning.)
NEEDS THIS YEAR: Taken care of.
NEXT YEAR: With the hole in 2012 and Hoke's obscure mutterings about Bellomy having a "thing" that is not an injury but may prevent him from playing, possibly long-term, grabbing a guy is a top priority. Morris may scare guys off but it's at lot less intimidating when the hotshot freshman is just another backup.
Michigan has targeted a wide array of QBs; they have not offered any just yet. VA QB Caleb Henderson and OH QB DeShone Kizer are names to watch; instate, DCD QB Tyler Wiegers is someone garnering early buzz. Things are far less certain than last year, when Morris and Michigan had a mutual thing going on.
|Thomas Rawls||3*||Drake Johnson||2.5*||DeVeon Smith||4*|
|Justice Hayes||4*||Dennis Norfleet||4*|
PERFORMANCE: Hayes and Rawls were both late additions in the transition class, with Rawls coming aboard on Signing Day once he'd gotten some academic things taken care of. Hayes originally committed to ND, and then decommitted—the way in which it went down kind of seems like ND was the one pulling back. Neither has done much so far. In Hayes's case that's due to a lack of opportunity. In Rawls's it is not.
Last year Michigan all but struck out. Johnson played across the street from Michigan Stadium, putting up big numbers in an offense that was basically "snap the ball to Drake" and getting no offers except Eastern Michigan until M stepped in. Norfleet was committed to Cincinnati until a signing day flip that happened largely because Michigan had an extra scholarship. He's returned kicks and taken a few end-arounds so far. He was recently flipped to cornerback despite being 5'7", which says bad things about JT Floyd's availability, the options behind Courtney Avery and Raymon Taylor, and possibly his ability to run the ball. It would have been nice to see him get some run before they made that move, as you never really know until you put the guy on the field.
This year Michigan finally has a guy that fit what they want to do and can play. Skepticism from Rivals about DeVeon Smith is not shared by the other services, or fellow suitor Ohio State. He's a stocky stiff-arm specialist who's hard to knock over, suited to grind it out between the tackles and so forth and so on. As a single option maybe he's not ideal, but…
NEEDS THIS YEAR: If Michigan does get VA RB Derrick Green, many of these concerns evaporate. Green is a near-consensus five star who fits what Michigan would like to do as they move away from the spread—think Alabama.
Arm tackles nyet. With Smith that's a fine 1-2 punch.
Grade with Green: B+; without D. Big swing is possible at a position like RB where guys can come in day one and contribute.
NEXT YEAR: With Johnson coming off a redshirt Michigan will have three freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior. They'll probably take a guy; they can take it easy.
Jehu Chesson (left), Jaron Dukes (right) and Devin Gardner are going to get along just fine
|nobody||n/a||Amarah Darboh||4*||Jaron Dukes||3.5*|
|Jehu Chesson||3*||Da'Mario Jones||3*|
PERFORMANCE: Rodriguez had a couple guys on the hook by the time he got the boot, and the decision to pass on Devin Lucien still grates. Lucien went to UCLA, redshirted, then had 10 catches in the first five games of the season and blew up Gus Johnson…
…before breaking his collarbone. Before that he was on pace for a 451 yard season over 12 games, which would have been second on this Michigan team.
There were no apparent grade or character issues with the guy, and Michigan opened the next year short scholarships. With no other WRs in the class, the only explanation for not taking him is badly mis-evaluating his talent relative to the other guys on the roster. The Process didn't help that. but if that decision ended up moving Devin Gardner to WR…
Let's not go down that road any further.
The next two years have been… eh. I actually like the 2012 class more than the recruiting rankings do, as Chesson got sleeper of the year status after his track season belied concerns about his speed and the vibe around the internet quotes was sufficiently awesome to make me think once he puts on the right amount of weight he'll be a player. Amarah Darboh comes with a solid four-star rep; those guys should both be players.
They'll have to be since the incoming class consists of three projects, and there was no 2011 class. Jones is the only speed guy, and Michigan yoinked him from CMU. Jaron Dukes could be a Junior Hemingway type eventually; York is more of a possession banger.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: LaQuon Treadwell is rapidly receding as a possibility, leaving Michigan with just the three sleeper types they've already acquired. If they could add a blue-chip, they would.
NEXT YEAR: Numbers look fine, but they'll probably need to take a couple more guys because most of the bullets they've got are of the iffy variety.
|Chris Barnett||4*||Devin Funchess||3.5*||Jake Butt||4*|
|AJ Williams||3.5*||Khalid Hill||2.5*|
PERFORMANCE: The pass-catching situation looks a lot better when these guys are figured in. Barnett was a Process-induced mistake who flamed out before fall practice; the other four guys look pretty good.
Funchess led Michigan in touchdown catches with five and should see his touches blow up in year two as Michigan gets more comfortable throwing over the middle of the field with the 6'5" Devin Gardner at QB. He'll have to put on weight to be less of a liability blocking. Williams would have redshirted in an ideal situation, as he desperately needed some time to figure out technique; he's going to be fine in time.
Butt is a guy to get excited about, a version of Funchess coming in 20-30 pounds heavier. Michigan figures to play all of the tight ends in the world in the future so a redshirt may not be in the cards for him. Hill is a low-ranked H-back type who will hopefully be a ++ version of a fullback.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: Covered.
NEXT YEAR: I don't think Michigan will go a recruiting class without a tight end as long as Hoke is around. With Hill and Houma on the team they can probably forgo the H-back sort and just scour for the sort of matchup nightmares Butt and Funchess promise to be. No names yet.
|Tony Posada||3*||Kyle Kalis||5*||Patrick Kugler||4.5*|
|Chris Bryant||4*||Erik Magnuson||4.5*||Chris Fox||4.5*|
|Jack Miller||3*||Ben Braden||3*||Kyle Bosch||4.5*|
|Blake Bars||3.5||David Dawson||4*|
PERFORMANCE: All three guys in 2011 were essentially Rodriguez guys; while Bryant committed after the coaching change, he had strung out a near-commitment to Michigan for months. Michigan lost MI OL Jake Fisher to Oregon and could not grab anyone late, but Process == pass.
The next two years Hoke did work, nabbing Kyle Kalis from Ohio State and Erik Magnuson from the West Coast. Enormous Ben Braden was an MGoBlog sleeper of the year and has been the subject of considerable practice hype; though that's always dodgy he seems poised to blow through his recruiting rankings. Some late whiffs on kids who went to Auburn and Iowa—how do you feel about this a year later, dudes?—were a temporary downer. Emphasis on temporary: by May Hoke had locked down five touted guys comprising an entire offensive line. (From left to right: Tuley-Tillman, Dawson, Kugler, Bosch, Fox.) Together they're the top line class in the country. Over two years enough guys will emerge from the nine to give Michigan a good to great OL.
A+. You can't guarantee success with folks as variable as OL; Michigan's done all they can to try.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: It seems like Michigan figured out they were going to have more spots in this class than they originally thought they would about a month ago, and since then they've been going after not only a guy to replace the decommitted Dawson (who turned out to be Dawson) but a sixth. Michigan seems to be looking at huge tackle types for the most part. Tennessee soft commit Dan Skipper and Nebraska soft commit Dan Samuelson came in last week and are the hot names.
NEXT YEAR: Michigan already has 6'10" man-mountain Denzel Ward committed. He's raw as hell, which shouldn't be a problem since I mean look at the table. He'll have time to develop, and he's already got an Ohio State offer, so the kid is a talent. A wild card, but a talent.
Past Ward, Michigan can settle down into a more normal OL recruiting structure after repairing Rodriguez's damage—3 or 4 total. They've got serious interest from FL OL Mason Cole and MI OL Tommy Doles; if they lock those two down it might actually be time to cool it.
Today's recruiting roundup covers Leon McQuay III's timeline, the sixth O-lineman possibility, and more.
Before I get into today's (rather scant) recruiting news: the NCAA recruiting dead period began on Monday and extends through January 3rd, which means coaches can't meet with recruits in-person and can only call them once a week. As a result, unless something major breaks, this will be the last recruiting roundup until after the bowl game.
Sam Webb updates us on Leon McQuay III's recruitment at the Detroit News, and McQuay's father says Michigan could be the talented defensive back's eventual destination:
"I wouldn't be surprised if he chose Michigan," his father said. "The defensive coordinator basically sat us down and walked us through how he is going to be used. If that actually holds true, he is going to be lining up in different spots. He is expected to make plays. He has been labeled a playmaker. That's a lot of expectations, but Mattison has been doing it for a while so I'm pretty sure he can look at somebody and tell exactly what he is going to get out of them."
With coaching shakeups on defense at both USC and FSU, it looks like McQuay's recruitment will come down to Michigan and Vanderbilt, where head coach James Franklin is personally recruiting him. While McQuay had long maintained he'll make a decision at the Under Armour All-American Game, a tweet from his father yesterday indicated that may no longer be the case:
New drama L3 may not be able to announce at under armour game because of indecision of school choice.
— Leon McQuay Jr. (@Quaydiddy2206) December 19, 2012
With McQuay waiting to see who USC hires at defensive coordinator—and getting to know new FSU DC Jeremy Pruitt, formerly Alabama's secondary coach—the delay makes sense.
[For the rest of the recruiting roundup, hit THE JUMP.]
Trey Burke had a virtuoso performance against West Virginia on Saturday, scoring 27 points on 16 shots with eight assists, five rebounds, three steals, and no turnovers. Already the consensus choice for best point guard in the country, he's legitimately in the conversation for national player of the year honors; excise a ten-point, four-assist "dud" against Kansas State, and he's tallied either 16+ points or 7+ assists in every game this season.
John Beilein's offense is complicated, a highly-structured symphony of cuts and screens that relies largely on off-ball movement to create open looks. That is, unless it's time for Trey Burke to score. Last year's offense centered around the high ball screen to get Burke looks at the basket; while that's still a big part of the offense, Michigan is increasingly looking to isolate Burke and let him create.
The Wolverines did this in a variety of ways against West Virginia. Let's take a look at a few of them.
Michigan showed this setup a few times on Saturday. Instead of having two guards up top, Burke is alone with the ball; the 2 and the 3 (Hardaway and Stauskas) set up in the corner; the 4 and the 5 (Robinson and Morgan) form a stack at the free-throw line. This alignment leaves plenty of room on both sides of the court for Burke to maneuver. On this play, Burke doesn't even need help from a screen—he simply sets up his man with a hesitation move and drives hard to the right, netting a short bank:
The help is late-arriving because the threat of an open Stauskas or Hardaway (either in the corner or cutting to the basket) is, well, threatening. Having both bigs at the free-throw line or above draws the defense's shot-blocking threats away from the basket. A defense could try to counter this look by playing zone, but that brings forth a new set of problems, especially against a sharp-shooting team like Michigan.
Of course, for this set to be effective, a team needs a point guard who can create off the dribble and finish. This is not a problem for Michigan, obviously.
[Hit THE JUMP for more Trey Burke driving into big blue circles.]