...talks about how UConn hasn't been in contact and how they're out. (HT: UMHoops)
Say this for the man: he dances when you tell him to dance. (AnnArbor.com)
Thanks for the service. One of the secret joys of being a Michigan fan has been the excellent service provided by John Wilkins and the alumni band when the students aren't available. Wilkins always brought an entertaining flair to the job he created 21 years ago. He has just retired, and he'll be tough to replace:
Deciding to retire from the pep band was not easy for Wilkins. “I will miss the Alumni Pep Band very much,” he said. “The opportunity given to me to conduct a Michigan band at Michigan games, to play this great Michigan music, was a dream that I had since a little boy, a dream come true. Over the years I have developed incredible friendships with the players and will miss working with them on a regular basis. I'm glad that I have been invited to come back every year to conduct the entire Alumni Band at the football game in October on homecoming weekend.”
Also I have that tie.
It's kind of like the Heisman I guess. Denard will be on the cover of EA's most recent slight rehash of NCAA Football 2003. Smile incoming:
He joins Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson. The game will pay tribute by having linebackers jump impossibly high to snag interceptions off everybody.
There were vote shenanigans that threatened to propel Texas A&M's Ryan Swope over the top, but EA promised they would eliminate fake votes, and by "eliminate fake votes" they meant "put Denard on the cover even if he finished last because this is EA, and EA gets dollars son even if it means turning a single player game into an always-online fiasco because we are mad at pirates."
He probably doesn't realize he's twisting the knife. After three straight weekends in Ann Arbor, Drake Harris finally gave the "it's not you… it's me" speech to Michigan State, decommiting. Except he said it was actually you, Michigan State:
"Since I'm just playing football now,” Harris told reporters after his regional basketball game Monday in Grand Rapids, “I want to play at a bigger school, win a national championship."
Analysts are saying don't count your 6'4" elite wide receivers before they hatch, but it looks like the field is catching up to Michigan now. They'll have an opportunity:
“I don’t have a frontrunner, I don’t even have a top list right now. I’m supposed to go down to Florida on March 22, and then Ohio State sometime in April and Notre Dame sometime in April. I’m not sure what I’m going to do in the summer. I’ll probably go out and visit some schools out West.”
Harris says he'll enroll early and plans to commit in October. Long way to go.
[Ace, you can just C&P this section into Friday Recruitin'. Sorry.]
Well, yeah. Trey Burke is a first-team All American to the Sporting News and the Big Ten's player of the year, the first time in 24 years a Michigan player has brought that award in. The last guy was Glen Rice, which also yeah. Burke said "I feel honored" in response to being honored. Tautological point guard is tautological.
It really came down to Oladipo versus Burke, and while I love Burke with a Denard-crush intensity you really can make a case for Oladipo, who shot 66% from two(!), was the #5 guy in true shooting percentage, has a near-top-100 OREB rate—something Michigan felt the lash of on Sunday—and is a defensive superstar. It's that versus Burke's huge usage and incredible assist rate and turnover avoidance. It's Woodson versus Manning for the Heisman, except Indiana fans probably won't be bringing it up 20 years later.
Well… uh. Tim Hardaway also made first-team All Big Ten on one of the two ballots. This I am not so sure about. Aaron Craft got the nod on the media ballots—a weird situation where the better defensive player gets the hype and the coaches go for offense—and to me that's a lot more justifiable than going strictly by scoring average. That's how you pick Hardaway over, say, Gary Harris, who shot 74/52/42 on FT/2s/3s versus Hardaway's 69/50/38 on virtually identical usage. Hardaway did rebound a lot better, but what rebounds exactly was Gary Harris supposed to acquire as a the two-guard in a lineup with Payne, Nix, and Dawson?
I haven't watched Harris that closely but I doubt Hardaway brings much defensive value he doesn't. Eh. Awards are pointless, see…
The CCHA's continuing inability to do anything right. This is far less egregious than the various Hunwick-related snubs last year (Hunwick was a top-three Hobey finalist and not the CCHA goalie of the year), but Boo Nieves was honorable mention All Rookie this year despite having the second-most points of any freshman in league play. Alaska's Tyler Morley's 8-7-15 was better than Nieves's 8-14-22.
In other news, highlights of Michigan's 3-2 win over Northern on Friday contain one Michigan goal and two by NMU.
Where was this all year? Hockey resoundingly swept Northern Michigan over the weekend in two games I did not see because I assumed Michigan would not have a home series last week, because when has Michigan ever finished between 6th and 8th in the CCHA? LOL that idea.
In any case, Michigan's Saturday demolition of Northern was so comprehensive it makes you a little mad. Michigan outshot Northern 23-6 in the first period and 16-3 in the second, whereupon it was 4-1 and all over but the shouting. If you can do that now…
Anyway, Saturday's game was a weird one with two penalty shots:
Copp converted the second once the goalie went for a poke and missed it, leaving his five-hole exposed. He also scored a grinder earlier.
A few guys are really standing out on a weekly basis, Copp, Racine, Nieves, Merrill, Guptill, they just are playing on a level that no one else is coming close too. I vividly remember our series against Western earlier in the year because every stoppage of play a Bronco went to a Wolverine, chirped at him and gave him a shove. No one did anything about it. Today I thoroughly enjoyed seeing any Wildcat who went near Racine get a push and shove, most of the the time it was Andrew Copp doing it. Little things that make a big difference.
The Guptill-Copp-Deblois line sees Guptill on a seven-game point streak; Nieves was sick last weekend but played through it.
Vincent Smith AMA. #2 popped up on Reddit yesterday to do an AMA promoting his Pahokee kickstarter, and the first question is… not about Clowney. It's about what kind of sub he ate. Well done, zparts. The second question mentions Clowney, but also finger guns. There was also the inevitable MGoBlog question that got the inevitable "I don't really read it" answer.
There is another. Derrick Walton senior highlights:
He won't be Trey, but if Hardaway and Robinson are back he won't have to be. If he can be a better version of Yogi Ferrell (18% usage, 26 Arate, 43%/32%) Michigan shouldn't have too much of a dropoff on offense what with everyone else back.
The main reason Michigan lost a heartbreaker to Indiana on Sunday—yes, even more than their late-game free throw misses—was their inability to keep the Hoosiers off the offensive glass. Indiana rebounded 24 of their 40 missed shots; once second in the country in defensive rebounding, the Wolverines are now eighth in their own conference.
What's odd about this at first glance is that Michigan boasts a trio of centers who are all proficient rebounders. Jordan Morgan (#9) and Mitch McGary (#5) both rank among the top Big Ten players in defensive rebounding percentage, and Jon Horford would rank just ahead of Morgan if he played enough minutes to qualify.
After looking at the film, it's apparent that Michigan's bigs lack the support they need to defend the boards; the team's overall inexperience and poor perimeter defense are most apparent in this area. One play in particular from the Indiana game bears this out:
Let's look at this frame-by-frame, starting with the defensive lapse that begins the sequence—Tim Hardaway Jr. falling asleep in the corner and allowing Victor Oladipo to beat him on a backdoor cut:
Zeller has no problem getting the ball to Oladipo in great position for a shot. With Zeller and Jeremy Hollowell (#33, on the other side of the FT line from Zeller) at the top of the key—drawing Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III way from the basket—Hardaway must fend for himself:
Here's where Michigan's rebounding issues begin in earnest. This is the point where Oladipo releases his shot. Note that Zeller, Morgan's man, has stayed on the perimeter, while Hollowell is crashing the paint behind Robinson. Hardaway is accounting for Oladipo and Robinson should be responsible for Hollowell; both are in decent position right here, while Nik Stauskas has been beaten to a good rebounding spot by Will Sheehy:
At the moment before Oladipo secures his own rebound, however, it's clear that Michigan's perimeter players haven't done their job. Hardaway first goes for the block and then reaches for the ball instead of putting a body on Oladipo, who will easily step by him and get the board. Robinson has watched the ball the entire time and allowed Hollowell a free pass to the basket. Stauskas is lucky not to give up a putback after letting Sheehy get right under the basket. Morgan is in solid position but the ball doesn't bounce his way. This is not good:
Oladipo kicks the ball out to Jordan Hulls, who gets a wide-open look from three after Trey Burke drifted away from the play. At the moment Hulls releases his shot, most of Michigan's players have at least partially recovered—Burke is attempting to close out, Morgan is on Zeller, and Hardaway and Stauskas have found their men. Robinson, however, is still watching the ball, unaware that Hollowell is on the complete opposite side of the lane:
As the shot comes off the rim, you can see three Wolverines—including Robinson—trying to box out two Hoosiers on the left side of the lane, while Morgan is left with the unenviable task of being one guy having to guard two guys:
This, predictably, does not go well. Zeller taps the rebound to Hollowell, who's able to gather the ball and go up for a layup despite Morgan's best efforts to be two Jordan Morgans.
To sum up, on this play we've got:
- Hardaway falling asleep on a backdoor cut
- Stauskas getting beat along the baseline
- Hardaway not boxing out Oladipo
- Robinson not boxing out Hollowell
- Robinson not boxing out Hollowell again, nor even being in the same general area
Watch Robinson throughout the play, here in handy gif form:
He never leaves an area covering about 15 square feet until it's far too late. You know how coaches say the key to a freshman succeeding is having the game slow down for him? On defense, at least, the game is going about 200 mph for Robinson, who's trying to defend with his eyes instead of his feet—while he's watching the ball, he's losing his man.
One play doesn't make a trend, of course, but there were several other instances of Michigan's non-centers being the culprit for an offensive rebound.
[For more rebounding pain and suffering, hit THE JUMP.]
Recently, Brady Hoke sat down with ESPN and answered questions posed to him about the football team he's in charge of. This business resulted a bunch of personnel questions, and the responses were quite a bit less vague than they might have been.
Offensive line stuffs. The thing that leaps off the page:
Well, I think the interior of both lines, there's going to be a lot of competition. We've got to find a center, and that's between [Jack] Miller and [Graham] Glasgow, and Joey Burzynski will try to figure that out a little bit, too. At the guard positions, Ben Braden is going to move down inside and start out at the left guard, but he'll have a lot of competition because Burzynski is back and so is Blake Bars. Kyle Kalis will move into the right side, and it will be interesting again with [Kyle] Bosch and some of the guys who have been here a little bit. I think it will be a really good competition at all three of those inside positions.
- Kyle Kalis was at left guard and is flipping to the right for some reason.
- He and Ben Braden sound like your tenuous leaders at the guard spots.
- Graham Glasgow is your #2-ish center at this instant.
- Chris Bryant does not get mentioned, probably because he's still recovering from injury.
The Braden move puts him on the same path Michael Schofield took to the starting right tackle job: an apprenticeship at LG and then lockdown at RT. Braden's listed an inch shorter than Schofield on the official site, if you're worried about guys getting under him and blowing him up. FWIW, Hoke also talks up Schofield extensively ("really good winter" … "real bright spots" last year, "special deployed").
I'm not sure why Michigan would flip Kalis, but for whatever reason it seems like they prefer future right tackles getting their first playing time to hang out at left guard instead of right. Maybe it's about spatial orientation: when a left guard pulls he ends up on the right side of the line, and if that pull turns into pass protection it's more natural for Once and Future Right Tackle to execute that. Or maybe it's about having Kalis pull to Lewan's side of the line, a prospect that Hoke must be drooling about after a couple years of having the (relatively) slight and inexperienced (at pulling, anyway) Patrick Omameh as the guard pulling to Lewan on power plays to the left.
Hoke also acknowledges that the three tech and SDE spots are close to interchangeable:
The other Glasgow is thrown in there, yes; Hoke also brings up Strobel and Heitzman separately; Ondre Pipkins is oddly in this heap of guys. Implication: they will give him a shot to win the three-tech job and if it happens they'll find a backup for Quinton Washington somehow (Ash or Henry, probably). If I was betting I'd put my money on Wormley with Pipkins getting extensive time behind Washington or both guys.
norfleet obsession: still poppin' (Melanie Maxwell, MLive)
Keeping Derrick Green's seat warm. Norfleet is at running back, as you know, and Drake Johnson is building on a bit of bowl practice hype. Then there's this telling sentence:
Thomas Rawls is coming back, and I think he learned a lot last year about the vision he needs to play with, and I like how he's competed through the [winter].
He's the third back mentioned, behind Norfleet and the redshirted Johnson. I'd say he'd still have a role as a short-yardage back, but 1) he wasn't any good at that last year and 2) DeVeon Smith and Derrick Green, especially Green.
Exit? At linebacker it's just a bunch of names, but should we read something between the lines when Hoke brings up Kaleb Ringer returning from injury but not Antonio Poole? Michigan is currently at 87 players. Due to Big Ten rules they've already had to explain to the league where those two scholarships are coming from, so it's just a matter of announcing it.
Dollars to donuts we get the announcement of a couple of departures/medical scholarships Thursday, when the Hoke has his first presser. One guy apparently not on that list: fifth-year-to-be Mike Jones, to-date little used and previously seen to be a candidate for a firm handshake. Hoke brought him up in the linebacker procession of names.
Other stuff. Rittenberg asks about the other position groups as well, but nothing there is particularly surprising. I think Hoke mentions literally every scholarship DB on the roster save Delonte Hollowell*; linebacker is obvious to all; Blake Countess will do "some things" this spring, so his injury is still hampering him. The first WRs up after the senior slots are Darboh and Chesson, and then this is a little worrying:
And I think Jeremy Jackson has had a very good winter; we're very excited about some of the progress he's made. Joe Reynolds is a guy who walked on here, and he's done a very nice job. And Bo Dever, his dad played here and he walked on.
Options other than those two guys include two walk-ons and Jeremy Jackson. Really could have used an instant impact WR guy in this class. Obvious sentence is obvious.
*[Which you might read something into if you were so inclined. Michigan was clearly petrified of putting either Hollowell or Richardson on the field in the bowl game despite the fact that South Carolina's receivers were the best matchup possible for them (ie, short). Richardson can say he's a true freshman. Hollowell not so much. Greener pastures may beckon.]
Time to win a Big Ten Championship…the other way.
How it works:
- I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of the designated game, and put it in the comments, preferably in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score]. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you guess either game correctly, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
- Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.
About Last Time:
We did both of the Indiana schools in one, but since there were two games to guess, it wasn’t a closest-to-the-pin challenge this time. Nobody got either score correct. I did notice landry2102 and ChicagoGoBlue both posted matching 73-72 scores for the IU game within seconds of each other—if only Morgan’s tip-in had gone in…well if that had happened these guys would have “Hoosier Daddy” t-shirts. So tell you guys what: if Michigan beats Indiana in the BTT you two (and Morgan, and fate) are absolved and get shirts.
This Week's Game:
No more looking past anything. We play Penn State in Chicago to kick off the BTT.
And the Prize:
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (make it easy on me and write your score in digits with a hyphen between them. Deadline for entries is sometime within 24 hours before the start of the game—whenever I can get online in that time and lock the thread. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning because you can change scores. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm is not just a shooter. The algorithm always fouls Cody Zeller. The algorithm can’t explain why Big Ten officials think it’s their duty to help Bo Ryan. The algorithm spent 10 years as the Indiana of basketball, if that makes sense. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
LIKE MAKE YOUR FREE THROWSSSSS
Michigan may have gone 1-1 last week, but it was a good 1-1 compared to results for various other teams like Miami (losers at home to KP#84 Georgia Tech), New Mexico (went down to Air Force), Kansas (annihilated by Baylor), and Florida (at Kentucky is the most understandable loss of this bunch, but it is still a loss). As a result, they have moved up a bit. Crashing The Dance still has them a three; the Bracket Matrix has them as the last #2, in an indistinguishable heap with Michigan State and Miami for two of the three final twos.
Michigan probably cannot salvage a one seed after the Indiana collapse. Even if Michigan ran off four wins in four days to win the BTT they would have a hard time passing the current anointed four of Duke, Indiana, Gonzaga, and Louisville. Duke and Indiana are pretty much out of the question; Gonzaga is extremely unlikely to lose; Louisville's run off seven straight wins after the wacky 5OT game against Notre Dame and was two games better in the BE than Michigan was in the Big Ten. Maybe if the league hadn't consigned the Big Ten championship game to a novelty that can flip seeds within the conference but do little else because it's so late, but… uh… they did.
The conference tournaments will decide whether Michigan's a 2 or 3, it looks like. The best result possible is a strong 2 that avoids Duke. I guess it is possible Michigan would fall to a 4 if they were to gack it up against Penn State again; barring that a 1-1 performance in Chicago will at least lock up a 3.
How much does this matter? Projected 6s according to the Bracket Matrix: UNLV, Butler, UCLA, VCU. Projected 7s: Colorado State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Memphis. Not much.
Projected ones: Duke, Indiana, Gonzaga, Louisville
i changed the pictures. run, BJ, run!
Last win for IUPUI: December 27th. Their season is over at 6-26 after being the third-worst defensive team in the country. Binghamton: January 19th. Season over at 3-27. Fourth-worst offensive team in the land.
Central won a couple games late but finished 4-12 in the MAC and went out in the first round of their conference tourney; done at 11-20. Bradley fulfilled its destiny to be .500 at something by losing their last three games to finish 16-16. Cleveland State is also done after getting blown out by Loyola Chicago and Illinois Chicago—be nice, Chicago—at 14-18.
Still alive: Eastern Michigan, which had a rematch against Northern Illinois in the MAC tourney opener that they won 45-44. They play Miami (not that Miami) tomorrow. Western won their division and plays the winner of that game for the right to play OHIO in the semi.
Big sorts of teams
@ DePaul: W 81-66.
DePaul never had a chance, because they are DePaul. They finish the regular season Kenpom's #6 team and will be a team highlighted in every tempo-free-aware bracket preview because they'll have one of the biggest gaps between Kenpom projected ability and seed in the field. I'm with the skeptical committee: Pitt built their KP profile against nobody in the nonconference—other than Michigan their only KP100 opponents were #99 Lehigh and #75 Detroit—and anyone who can keep them from destroying the offensive boards will put their offense in considerable difficulty.
Pitt enters the last Big East tournament the four-seed. They've acquired the last double bye and will take on either Syracuse or someone real bad at basketball on Thursday during Michigan's game against Penn State.
SEEDWATCH: Up one to a five on BM; they're well ahead of the top 6, UNLV. CTD has them a seven still. They're actually below Minnesota(!) over there.
Kansas State (25-6)
TCU: W 79-68. @ Okie State: L 76-70
Elsewhere in painful ways to blow a share of a conference title, K-State took on Okie State with a shot at going 15-3 in the Big 12 and tying Kansas. They led by four with five minutes left, whereupon OSU went on an 8-0 run before free throw time. Sad pandas. Let's be sad pandas together, eating bamboo and watching the Lifetime Movie Network.
K-State saw the Cowboys put up 63% from two, which was enough despite having a major possession advantage.
SEEDWATCH: Drops to a 4 on BM; a five on CTD.
North Carolina State (22-9)
Wake Forest: W 81-66. @ Florida State: L 71-67
You might have this image in your head of Florida State as a typical Leonard Hamilton outfit that grinds all up on you like a guy wearing Axe at the club and makes life extremely difficult for everyone. This would not be correct. They are 10th in the ACC in defense, yielding almost 38% of defensive rebounds to the opponent amongst other deficiencies. They are barely above .500 and lost to Mercer, South Alabama, and Auburn earlier this year.
NC State losing to them is not understandable except insofar as NC State is not actually all that good at basketball. All the stats are basically even; NC State was undone again by M-versus-Indiana level defensive rebounding (lost 55% of DREBs to FSU) and allowing 56% on twos.
MCHOBBIT UPDATE: 11 minutes but not active against FSU, though he did have a block(!). 12 minutes against Wake.
SEEDWATCH: Still an 8 on BM; CTD now agrees. As mentioned, this team is probably the least fun potential matchup amongst all the 8-9 seeds for a one. If they, like, are trying they're good. I would hate Mark Gotfried if I was an NC State fan though.
@ Missouri: L 93-63. Texas A&M: W 73-62.
Arkansas's massive home-road disparity ended their faint bubble hopes before their game against Missouri even got started. 9-9 in this SEC with one decent nonconference win against Oklahokma (that at home) isn't going to get it done.
But seriously though, I would like you to find a team with a crazier home/road split in conference play than the Razorbacks:
- HOME: 9-0, double digit wins over Florida and Kentucky. Beat Missouri.
- AWAY: 1-8, lone win against horrible Auburn. Annihilated by mediocre to terrible teams like A&M (69-51), South Carolina (75-54), and Vandy (67-49).
At home, Arkansas can play with anyone—beat anyone. On the road, they lose to SEC Penn State by 21. The Razorbacks get Vandy again to start the SEC tourney. Kenpom labels the location "semi-away." Semi-hide the semi-children, Arkansas is going to get semi-blown out.
SEEDWATCH: Thanks for playing. Enjoy your NIT home games.
West Virginia (13-18)
@ Oklahoma: L 83-70. Iowa State: L 83-74
Still not good at basketball.
Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes. Bolded teams are suggested teams to root for, calibrated for …
1) helping M win conference title
2) best chance for quality-win pile-up to help M seeding
3) greatest number of tourney teams from league
4) eff Michigan State
5) also Wisconsin
Yesterday; no games.
Pitt versus Probably Syracuse, 2PM, ESPN
MICHIGAN versus Penn State, 2:30 PM, BTN
K-State versus Texas/TCU, 6PM, not televised
NC State versus Virginia Tech, 2:30PM, ESPNU
Maybe Pitt versus Probably Georgetown, 7PM, ESPN
Hopefully MICHIGAN versus Wisconsin, 1:30 PM, ESPN
Probably K-State vs Okie State/Baylor, 8:30PM, ESPNU
Probably NC State vs Virginia, 2:30PM, ESPN2
Probably Not Pitt versus Probably Louisville Or Marquette, 8:30PM, ESPN
Hopefully MICHIGAN versus Probably Indiana, 12:40 PM, CBS
Maybe K-State versus Probably Kansas, 5PM, ESPN
Possibly NC State versus Probably Miami, 1PM, ESPN
Hopefully MICHIGAN versus Probably OSU or MSU, 2:30PM, CBS
Probably Not NC State versus Probably Duke, 1PM, ESPN
Michigan received their first commitment to the basketball class of 2014 yesterday in Fort Meyers (FL) Bishop Verot forward Ricky Doyle, who received a scholarship offer while visiting for the Indiana game. It was Doyle's first visit outside the state of Florida, but he told UMHoops's Joe Stapleton that he saw everything he needed to make a decision:
What made you choose Michigan without going on all your other visits?
“When I was visiting the campus, I couldn’t think of anything wrong about it. Like, I was in the training room thinking wow, this is awesome. The coaching staff was awesome. They’re a great group of guys and I can’t wait to work with them. The staff, the gym, they had everything. Why wait when it’s right in front of you?”
While Doyle is the first prospect to commit to the 2014 class, one-time 2013 commit Austin Hatch has reclassified to 2014 after he was involved in a tragic plane crash in 2011. Doyle's pledge means the Wolverines are committed to the max 13 scholarships for the 2014-15 season, but that assumes zero attrition from the current roster, and raise your hand if you expect Trey Burke to play his senior season at Michigan. Thought so.
|3*, NR PF||NR PF||3*, 78, #29 PF||NR PF|
As you can see, Doyle isn't a high-profile recruit; he decided not to play AAU basketball, which goes a long way towards explaining his lack of exposure. Three of the four sites list him at 6'9" (Scout says 6'7") and all have him in the neighborhood of 230 pounds. Given that his game isn't perimeter-oriented, he should be a five (center) in John Beilein's system.
With the lack of AAU exposure, there isn't a ton in the way of scouting out there on Doyle. ESPN's evaluation discusses his potential as a post scorer, pegging him as a mid-major prospect with room to develop into a high-major option ($):
He's got a history of basketball in the family. His father had a cup of coffee with the Detroit Pistons before playing overseas. He's receiving good coaching in high school and improved from his freshman to sophomore season. Could be a kid who plays pick and pop to mid-range. Runs well and changes ends with decent touch in the lane. Like that already owns a hook shot and has ways to score in the lane.
Not a bad athlete but not an exceptional one either. Still needs to continue to cultivate his interior post moves and work in the weight room to gain a measure of explosion to help versus size.
A good student, Doyle is a legit mid-major prospect and because of all the history and improvements, he could wind up at a high level as a second post option.
Scout's Andre Barthwell caught up with Doyle's high school coach, whose evaluation largely mirrors the above—Doyle isn't an exceptional athlete but has good potential as a post scorer—and includes quite the NBA comparison ($) [emphasis mine]:
“Ricky has a great feel for the game,” said Herting. “He is really good with his back to the basket. Down low he can score with either hand and he is a very good three point shooter. He just doesn’t shoot it because that is not what we need from him on this team. He is very a fundamentally sound rebounder in terms of boxing out. He is working on his face up game and his foot work for more quickness. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have quickness he is working on it to get better at. With what he can do out on the floor his upside is huge can only get better that’s what you like about him and the direction his game is going in."
“He is a versatile player who can post up and pop out and hit the 10-12 foot shot,” Mr. Doyle added. ["]Ricky can handle out on the perimeter as well. Coach Jim Larranaga from Miami says he seen Dirk Nowitski when he was young, and that’s who Ricky reminds him of. Ricky has a seven-foot two-inch wing span with a size 18 shoe, and his doctor said that his growth plates have not closed so he is still growing."
If Doyle can develop that three-point shot he could be an option as a stretch four, though Beilein would probably prefer a little more athleticism at the position.
UMHoops had freelance writer Carl Bleich scout Doyle last November, and Bleich came away very impressed with Doyle's post game:
Doyle’s back-to-the-basket skills are second to none for a player his age. He is proficient finishing with both hands and has an array of post moves to choose from. He can also catch the ball in the post, face up and score consistently coming across the lane as well as showed on multiple occasions against LaBelle. He took just one shot outside of the paint in Thursday’s game but has showcased a smooth mid-range jump shot in the past that indicates that he is comfortable offensively outside of the paint.
Bleich also praised Doyle's defensive instincts and ability to box out, which should be welcome news to Michigan fans after watching the Wolverines for the last month.
Per UMHoops, Doyle held offers from Boston College, Stanford, Virginia, Purdue, Penn State, and Miami (YTM). He also had significant interest from Kansas State, Washington, and USC. That's a pretty solid offer list for a three-star/unranked recruit that didn't play AAU ball during a critical evaluation period.
According to MaxPreps, Doyle averaged 21.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 71% from the field and 67% from the line this season, though he only played nine games due to a foot injury. As a sophomore, he averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, shooting 66% from the field and 65% from the line.
Camp highlights from last summer:
UMHoops also has sophomore highlights and single-game film on their commitment post.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Doyle doesn't come off as a player who's going to rise to the top of the rankings or be a star in college, but you can bet John Beilein sees something in him that the recruiting services haven't—his track record with early commits (see: Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III) speaks for itself.
As said above, Doyle projects to the five in Beilein's system; when he hits campus, the returning post players will be redshirt senior Jon Horford, junior Mitch McGary, redshirt junior Max Bielfeldt, and sophomore (2013 commit) Mark Donnal. Only McGary and Horford seem guaranteed anything beyond role player status at that point, but it'll also be hard for Doyle to crack the rotation right away, especially if he's got work to do in the weight room before he's ready to hold up against Big Ten big men.
If Doyle lives up to his reputation as a skilled post scorer, he should have little trouble carving out a role down the road for a program that's lacked an interior scoring threat for quite some time. Continuing to develop a mid-range game should further improve Doyle's chances of seeing significant time; from there, how he develops physically and athletically will determine how big an impact he has at Michigan.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
UMHoops has the full scholarship breakdown—while Michigan appears full right now, expect at least two more spots to open up with the inevitable departure of Trey Burke and near-certain attrition that comes with any college program.
Michigan hosted their three top remaining targets last weekend along with Doyle: five-star MS SG Devin Booker, four-star IN SF Trevon Bluiett, and four-star OH SF Vincent Edwards. All three have outstanding offers and the Wolverines are very much in the mix for each of them.