"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
#52 in white (via Tremendous)
Per Sam Webb and others, Michigan landed its third commitment of the 2014 class this afternoon in four-star Salt Lake City (UT) Highland DT Bryan Mone. A former high school teammate of current Wolverine fullback Sione Houma, Mone was the first player to be offered by Michigan in the 2014 class, way back in December of 2011($).
4*, #7 DT,
4*, #12 DT,
4*, 93, #8 SDE,
With the early rankings just being unveiled on all of the services save ESPN, Mone is a consensus top-200 player overall and among the top defensive tackles in the country. All four sites list him at 6'4", 315 pounds, which makes 247's ranking of him at strongside DE seem a little odd—this guy is destined for the interior.
There's little in the way of scouting out there on Mone, not a surprise given he's a rising senior from Utah—not exactly the most rigorously scouted region in the country. What we have at this point is his film, his offer list, and a quote from his coach back when Michigan offered ($):
Bryan right now is probably 6’4” maybe 6’4 ½”, 255 pounds. He’s a kid who put on about 15 pounds during the season. He’s real long – big strong, physical kid. He’s a smart football player; just phenomenal character. He’s a lot like Sione. In fact, the church that both of them go to is run by Bryan’s dad. He’s a Methodist minister. So, he comes from a great family and he’s of good moral character, which you love to have that on your team. Truly, he was a leader on the line this year. He’s young, he’s raw, but he’s really developed over the season into a force defensively. He’s 255 right now, I see him next year being probably close to 280. He has that ability to put on that kind of size. And he’s a good athlete… he’s a real good athlete. He runs well, he changes directions, he’s long, got huge hands, huge feet, so he’s definitely still a puppy.
If he gets up to 300 pounds, obviously I think he’ll be inside. If he can stay around 280 then and keep his quickness, then he has a chance to play on the edge. He’s so long, and he is a good athlete, but we’re going to play him at D-End next year as well. We’ll play him at D-End, three-technique, so we’re going to move him around and not let teams get comfortable with him.
You'll note that Mone has made remarkable gains physically since his sophomore year, bulking up to 315 pounds—despite adding the weight of a small child, his body still looks good on film and he's retained his athleticism, which is probably why he's considered such a strong prospect.
Mone was mentioned as an "underclassman to watch" by Rivals analyst Rob Cassidy last fall when he was scouting West region prospects ($):
DT Bryan Mone, Salt Lake City Highland: Mone is a junior with some high-profile scholarship offers. Michigan is in the mix. So is UCLA. The buzz around him has been tempered due to his location and the fact that his high school coach has just recently started circulating his film. All indications are that the 315-pounder is a star in waiting. There will be plenty made of his talent as his senior year approaches.
Not much informative there, but Mone is generating quite a buzz for an underclassman from a region that doesn't produce a ton of national-level prospects.
Mone held offers from Boise State, BYU, Ole Miss, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah, Utah State, and Wisconsin in addition to his Michigan offer. Rivals lists interest but no offer from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, and Stanford, possibly indicating that Michigan got in early on a prospect who was on the verge of blowing up.
Highland is one of the better programs in the state of Utah, producing nine players who signed with FBS schools since 2002, per Rivals. Most notable among those is class of 2002 five-star DT Haloti Ngata, who had a dominating career at Oregon before moving on to NFL stardom with the Baltimore Ravens. Two other former Rams—Latu Heimuli (Utah) and Victor Filipe (Oregon)—earned four-star ratings, both at DT, but neither panned out at the college level.
Per 247, Mone recorded 70 tackles, ten TFLs, and three sacks as a junior en route to first-team all-state honors.
FAKE 40 TIME
No 40 time listed.
There's also a more extensive junior highlight reel on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The evidence is flimsy indeed with the lack of scouting, but Mone's film shows a player with real promise. He's got a great frame, impressive athleticism and burst off the line, strength that proves dominant at the high school level, and solid play recognition. I could see him lining up at either defensive tackle spot at the next level; Michigan has placed an emphasis on athletic, disruptive tackles that can get into the backfield (think Mike Martin) in the last couple classes, and Mone fits that mold. He looks very impressive on film, and the fact that he's getting this much attention this early despite being from an under-scouted region lends credence to the idea that Michigan found themselves a potential star early in the process.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has three commits—joining Mone are LB Michael Ferns and QB Wilton Speight—in a class currently projected to be around 16 players (that number will almost certainly rise with attrition). Down the line I'd expect them to take another defensive tackle, and the big needs in this class remain at wide receiver and strongside DE.
|WHAT||Michigan at Michigan State|
|WHERE||Breslin Center, East Lansing, Michigan|
|WHEN||9 PM Eastern, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan –1 (Kenpom)|
Right: Michigan's rise to prominence has taken its toll on Tom Izzo.
With two losses in three games, Michigan has gone from potentially running away with the Big Ten to playing catchup, and tonight's game at Michigan State is probably a must-win if the Wolverines hope to win the conference outright—the Spartans are currently a game ahead in the standings.
Michigan State's strength is up front, where they feature a pair of skilled big men in Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne. Nix is surprisingly quick for being rather large—6'9", 270 pounds after working his way into shape—and has an impressive array of post moves; he shoots 52% from two while largely working with his back to the basket. At 6'10", 240 lbs., Payne is the more athletic of the two bigs and also the more efficient finisher—he shoots 60% from two, including an 80% rate at the rim (per hoop-math), and has even connected on 7-of-13 threes this season. Both are solid offensive rebounders while Payne is one of the country's best defensive rebounders and a strong shot-blocker.
Rounding out the frontcourt is 6'6" forward Branden Dawson, who can play either the three or the four, though he's playing mostly at the three due to injury issues in the backcourt. Dawson is a skilled finisher at the rim (70%), where he takes almost exactly 2/3 of his shots; he hits 34% of his two-point jumpers and has only attempted four three-pointers this year, so the key is keeping him away from the basket. Dawson is also State's best offensive rebounder and an active presence on defense, where he's in the top 75 nationally in steal rate and posting a solid block rate.
MSU's highest-usage player is point guard Keith Appling, who has regained his three-point stroke (37%) after a season-long slump last year. Appling is a very good distributor who can also get to the rim with his athleticism; he's not a stellar finisher (46% on twos) but he gets to the line frequently and creates second-chance opportunities for his teammates.
The final piece in the starting five is freshman guard Gary Harris, who's lived up to his considerable recruiting hype by shooting 51% from two and 43% from three so far this season. Harris is a very dangerous outside shooter and he can also put the ball on the floor; while he's not this team's main option, he's got a GRIII-like way of producing points around the margins and cannot be ignored.
The Spartans will be without the services of backup guard Travis Trice (concussion), which means freshman Denzel Valentine will be the primary backup for the one-through-three. Valentine is a decent shooter and creator, but he's had major issues with turnovers (31.3% TO rate(!)). 6'7" sophomore Russell Byrd will also see time; he's a perimeter-oriented guy who's currently 7-for-40 from three this season with a 23% turnover rate. That's... not good.
The Spartans are currently pushing for a two-seed, sitting at 20-4 (9-2 B1G) with KP100 wins over Kansas, Boise State, Texas, Purdue(x2), Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota—of those, the neutral-site win over the Jayhawks and victory at the Kohl Center stand out as signature wins. After dropping their season opener against #48 UConn (neutral site), State hasn't lost to a team outside the top 13, and all three losses—to #8 Miami, #13 Minnesota, and #2 Indiana—have come on the road.
Four factors, conference only.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||50.9 (3)||17.8 (8)||30.9 (7)||37.6 (5)|
|Defense||48.8 (8)||19.3 (3)||28.6 (3)||35.7 (7)|
Despite their success, this isn't a vintage Tom Izzo team. The offense is prone to coughing up the rock and the rebounding, while strong on the defensive end, isn't nearly up to Izzo's standard of dominance. The Spartans are dead last—dead last!—in the conference at two-point defense, with opponents hitting 49.1% of their shots inside the arc. State also allows more three-point attempts than average and opponents are shooting a fluky-low 60% from the line—their #3 defensive efficiency in conference play may be slightly inflated by luck. Offensively, the Spartans have developed a strong inside-outside attack, hitting 41% of their threes and 47% of their twos.
Find the right lineup. Michigan State, largely by necessity with the injury to Trice, will mostly play big tonight. Michigan, largely by necessity with the injury to Jordan Morgan, will mostly play their usual smaller lineup. However, Glenn Robinson III has clearly hit a wall, and he's struggled to defend larger players and keep them off the glass. Against Nix and Payne, that won't fly. I wouldn't be surprised if Max Bielfeldt sees very extensive playing time for the second straight game—if Robinson isn't producing offensively, Bielfeldt brings more from a rebounding and defensive standpoint.
Get out in transition. State should give Michigan a few opportunities to run thanks to their turnover issues, and in what should be a tight game the Wolverines must take advantage; they didn't against Wisconsin (yes, in large part due to the officiating) and it cost them dearly, though the Badgers are far better at limiting transition opportunities.
Let Nix and Payne get their points in the post. Michigan State has a pair of skilled bigs who can score in the post, but its been shown that post touches tend to be far less efficient—even for teams that convert them well—than perimeter-oriented play. Nix and Payne will get their points, but if Michigan can limit them to two-pointers—both are good foul shooters—and stay with their men on the perimeter, State may have a hard time keeping up with the Wolverines if Michigan is knocking down their shots.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 1
Jordan Morgan's absence makes me very leery about this line—I think Michigan misses him more than Michigan State misses Travis Trice in this game, especially if Robinson doesn't hold up well against MSU's big men. I think Michigan can pull out a critical road win, however, by capitalizing on Spartan turnovers and working their own inside-outside game—for a big team, State is surprisingly terrible at defending inside the arc, and they won't be able to rely on their normal turnover rate against a Michigan team that rarely coughs up the rock. This will be close, and quite honestly I'm leaning towards a loss, but I'll put my faith in KenPom and this team's ability to put the ball in the basket.
After Michigan's first outing against Ohio State Zack Novak gave an interesting interview to UMHoops in which he described how the Buckeyes shut down Michigan's pick and roll game:
Well for the first 10 minutes of the game, it seemed like everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Coach has referred to “locking the rails” in describing what OSU does to guard sideline ball screens, a huge staple of the offense. They do this better than anyone else. Many teams will take away a ball screen by having the defender on the ball play with his butt to the other sideline and bringing a big man in front of the ball handler. They take it to another level. They pretty much play the ball handler not to go to the opposite corner of mid court, essentially taking away any chance for the ball handler to still use the screen. This takes away all uncertainty a big man would have in playing in front of the ball handler.
In other words, big men usually hedge after a ball handler uses a ball screen. Even if the plan is to deny the ball handler from using it, the big still must be ready to hedge in the event the defender does not prevent the screen from being used. This uncertainty can cause big men to be just a fraction late, which in basketball is enough time for a good offensive player to exploit it.
In my eyes, it seemed like their big men were in position every time because they knew there was no chance the guard could use the screen.
Michigan sputtered to an 0.88 PPP outing, one of their worst of the season. In the offense-heavy rematch that moved up to 1.19, thanks in no small part to 58% shooting from three. But Burke also got free on a number of P&R possessions in the first half, with a rolling Mitch McGary the frequent beneficiary. Here's an example from early in the game; this is actually McGary's first offensive possession.
Michigan initiates the offense with a pass from GRIII to Burke and then flashes McGary to the top of the key.
By the time he gets there, Craft has set up shop such that there's no way for McGary to screen him.
This is "locking the rail." If Burke goes anywhere, it is right, and the big no longer has any hesitation.
McGary backs off, taking Williams with him, and then Burke attacks the basket, getting Craft outside of him with a crossover.
If Michigan acts quickly now, they can get the screen. McGary is waiting for this and Michigan successfully breaks the rail and gets the P&R.
Williams hedges hard as McGary rolls; Burke finds him.
Lenzelle Smith comes over in an attempt to pick up a charge. He may or may not get there in time, but we don't end up finding out because McGary's agility allows him to pull up short and avoid the contact as the arena is bathed in a mysterious rush of light.
A quick two for McGary enroute to 5/8 from the floor in the first half.
Things And Stuff
Burke shakes free. Burke needs help, but even if that drive doesn't get past Craft it necessarily puts him out of position when McGary re-establishes the pick and roll. It takes a little more work to set it up, is all. Burke was also able to shake Craft from the rail at times, like this late-clock move that puts Craft out of the picture and gets Ravenel on his heels, opening up the three:
With everyone on the floor staring down Burke this would be an opportune time for someone to dive to the rim, but oh well.
Planning ahead. Michigan executes a similar set with Hardaway on the next possession, but actually runs it too fast. Hardaway ends up trapped as Williams is much closer to the ball*, but the idea is the same. Next possession: same. Hardaway makes a token drive to the right and then comes back to a McGary screen; McGary gets a roll pass and misjudges how much room he has to attack, throwing up an awkward elbow jumper. After getting very little from the pick and roll in the first game, Michigan adapted, with moderate success inside the arc and Great Success outside.
*[Hardaway gets it to GRIII, who makes an excellent shot for himself against Thomas; Williams throws it back, whereupon Stauskas does his stepback swag in the corner that gets him gif'd.]
McGary skill level. Ohio State gets a defender over in position to take a charge; McGary pulls up short of him and puts up a lane floater that sneaks over the front of the rim. McGary has a high skill level for a 6'10" guy.
Almost inevitable offensive rebound. McGary also pounds Smith under the basket after the shot goes up; Amir Williams is hanging out with Burke well outside your picture, and GRIII has gotten good position on Thomas here. Note also that by the time Burke's three goes down, Craft is trying to box out Horford. That's one vs four, but a relatively high chance of an OREB anyway.
One of the problems against Wisconsin was a relative paucity of shots where offensive rebounds are on the table in the event of a miss.
Totem animal qualities. I thought this was an interesting shot from the extensive ESPN galleries put up in and around the OSU/Indiana games. It's a switch board; each player has an abstract quality they would like to embody they are supposed to dwell on:
Yes, it bothers me that some of these things are qualities one can possess—toughness, perspective, pose—and others are not. You cannot have "smart"; You can be smart. One can have determination; you cannot be determination.
Given the WE ON shirts, we can put grammar next to drawing free throw attempts as Michigan's main weaknesses.
Trice nyet. Travis Trice will miss The Big Game tonight. That leaves MSU with little on their perimeter bench other than Denzel Valentine, a slick-passing wing type with a whopping 31 in the TOrate department. So maybe not as slick passing as you'd hope if you're Tom Izzo. MSU also has Russell Byrd, who's like Stauskas if Stauskas was hitting 18% of his threes.
Expect both backcourts to get scant rest, then. Projected MSU minutes without at least one of Appling/Harris: 0. Impact won't be large except in the unlikely event that Harris or Appling gets in foul trouble.
In the negative column, it doesn't seem like Jordan Morgan will be available, either, after Michigan "shut him down."
Foul: nyet? The foul-or-defend up three late discussion has been raging for years, to the point where Ken Pomeroy's effort starts its title with "Yet another. " Most studies show there's little difference; further most give the slight edge to playing D. Kenpom's results:
W L OT Win% Cases Foul 122 5 10 92.7 137 Defend 598 2 77 94.0 677
That gap is narrow enough that the gap could be chance, but you can say that there's no evidence fouling is better in practice. Note that Michigan's recent misfortune does not make these statistics since this data only covers possessions that start with between 5 and 12 seconds on the clock, which will no doubt give our local Bo Ryans the wiggle room to say this does not apply. While I'm still on Team Foul, the margins here are so narrow that it doesn't seem that important. Certainly less important than the pending invasion of the planet.
I mean, NBA types are two of 64 on similar shots since 1996. Debating whether or not that late game strategy is correct is like debating whether the windows are ready for a hurricane when you live in Michigan.
More games: da. We've heard it before only to have it go poof, but yet another round of stories endorsing a nine or ten game conference schedule has burst onto the internet, leaving a legendary trail of leadership viscera behind:
After spending Monday in meetings with coaches and athletic directors at conference headquarters in Park Ridge, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told the Tribune the status quo of eight conference games “is not even on the table right now.”
It will be nine or 10, with the decision to be made this spring.
Insert the usual AD assertions that without seven home games they will have to dress all of their teams in sackcloth and ashes, but it looks like at least nine games are on the way.
Also on the table: November night games, early conference games, and the usual chatter about having an East-West split. The bizarre bit in there:
Central time zone schools Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Northwestern could be joined by Indiana, Purdue, Michigan or Michigan State. Delany said the conference would try to “figure out a way” to maintain rivalries between in-state schools.
Michigan State keeps getting lumped in with the schools that could be put in the other division… and Michigan is actually in here as well. No further words need to be spent on how dumb it is to have Michigan and Ohio State in opposite divisions; assuming that's not the case, hopefully MSU isn't allowed to nonsensically flee the division Michigan is in and expect to maintain an annual rivalry with them.
A little more detail on the divisions model that seems to have the most favor this instant:
Although the Big Ten presented the athletic directors -- and several university presidents who came to the league office Sunday -- with several models for divisions, don't be surprised if the league decides to keep things simple with an East-West alignment following the additions of both Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. The simplest solution -- one the athletic directors are discussing -- is to assign teams based on their time zone (Eastern or Central).
The lone caveat: there will be eight Big Ten teams in the Eastern time zone -- Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue -- and only six in the Central time zone (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois). So one team from the Eastern time zone would need to move.
That article from Rittenberg also plays up the possibility that Michigan State will end up in the other division. This would either stick Michigan with a protected crossover—thus trading games against interesting teams in the other division for constant Purdue/Indiana games—or bust up the in-state rivalry. Neither is appealing. Let us condemn Michigan State's Rose Bowl hopes to death and keep them in the East.
The worst part about this is I can no longer dump on Indiana State as much. Indiana State, of course, submitted an override to the barely-passed multi-year scholarship legislation reading as such:
The current system works. We don't need to get into bidding wars where one school offers a $75% for 2 years and the other school then offers 85% for 3, etc., etc. This puts the kid into a situation where they almost need an agent/advisor just to determine the best "deal." Again, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. [Indiana State]
Since I've used the tree people as the primary example of why the NCAA's governance structure is permanently broken: programs with nothing in common with each other are under one large dumb tent. So I am dissapoint, Big Ten, that you are trying to fight the recent recruiting deregulation:
We are specifically concerned with the following three proposals and ask that they be tabled along with Proposal 13-2:
Proposal 11-2: Athletics Personnel - Limitations on the Number and Duties of Coaches - Elimination of Recruiting Coordination Functions
Proposal 13-3: Recruiting - Deregulation of Modes and Numerical Limitations on Communication
Proposal 13-5-A: Recruiting - Elimination of Printed Recruiting Materials and Video/Audio Legislation
We have serious concerns whether these proposals, as currently written, are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches. We are also concerned about the adverse effect they would have on college coaches, administrators and university resources.
There's nothing in the first and last proposals that has material impact on prospects or their associated hangers-on, and the horrors of communications deregulation seem eminently preventable. "Hello, Coach X. Please limit your contacts with me to X in timeframe Y, or I will not consider your school." Or, like, turn your phone off when you don't want to use it.
The assertions about "adverse effects" on people in the athletic department who now have to hire "u r gud art fertbar"-texting interns and print glossy media guides are more credible, but shortsighted. If you want to play on level ground on the big stuff you have to let the NCAA dump big sections of meaningless secondary violations.
In the building. Zack Novak returns to the scene of the Aneurysm of Leadership tonight:
"It's going to be so weird, I've only been to one Michigan basketball game in my life watching it, it's going to be odd," Novak said by phone Monday. "But I know this would be a big win for them, and I know they'll be ready to go.
"I know it's disheartening to lose a game the way they did at Wisconsin, but it's a great opportunity for them to go in and get a win on the road at Michigan State. That would totally bring the team's psyche right back to where it needs to be. It'd get their swagger back, and that's big."
His team in Holland has a week break.
Ondre is smaller. Down to 315 from 347.
Etc.: Four down at Alabama, leaving just six left to cut. Tifos at Georgetown. The Daily bombs hockey after suffering yet another sweep. Twice. Michigan's commits are lighting up high school basketball—Derrick Walton has had triple-doubles in two of his last three games, and Irvin puts up 30 a game it seems. Paterno business is "200 pages of nothing." Hate quantified. Players only.
It is a day after National Signing Day and the Big Ten has inked yet another lackluster group of mostly 3-star recruits. Fearing a further drift toward mediocrity, representatives from each relevant school have secretly gathered together. Their goal: rescuing the competitive future of their once mighty conference!
A prayer is offered to AIRBHG and thanks given unto BHGP for allowing me to rip off their format.
Scene: A little-used back room of the Palmer House in Chicago, its walls lined with trophies honoring the conference's academic achievements, and tasteful sweaters. A group of men and a duck mill about, most huddled around a smartphone showing walrus porn. One is eyeing the gilded stand lamps, apparently wondering if they're bolted down. They are watched by a shadowy figure in a ski mask. JIM DELANEY enters…
: It's the…no, Brady we're not doing the thing.
[More. Oh so much more, after the JUMP!]
Note: I know these rankings are a little simple, so if you want to know how I'd personally rank these classes, my favorite method is The Mathlete's.
It was a relatively quiet Signing Day, but there was still some movement in the B1G rankings, especially at the bottom of the board. While the top five remained steady, Purdue leaped from 10th up to 5th and Indiana jumped to 9th, leaving a couple big names (and Minnesota) to bring up the rear. Changes since last rankings:
2-3-13: Purdue picks up Keith Byars II.
2-4-13: Ohio State picks up Dontre Wilson. Purdue picks up Dalyn Dawkins. Wisconsin picks up Tanner McEvoy. Minnesota picks up Daletavious McGhee.
2-5-13: Nebraska picks up Dwayne Johnson. Purdue picks up TyVel Jemison. Iowa picks up Reggie Spearman. Wisconsin picks up Donnell Vercher. Minnesota picks up Donovahn Jones.
2-6-13: Notre Dame picks up Eddie Vanderdoes. Ohio State picks up Vonn Bell and James Clark. Taivon Jacobs decommits from Ohio State (Maryland). Maryland picks up Taivon Jacobs and Jacquille Veii. Purdue picks up Da'Wan Hunte. Iowa picks up Jonathan Parker. Indiana picks up Maurice Swain, Laray Smith, and Chris Cormier. Nigel Tribune decommits from Indiana (Iowa State). Minnesota picks up De'Vondre Campbell.
2-7-13: Johnny Townsend decommits from Ohio State (Florida).
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^||POINTS*|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
*The product of number of Commits and Average Average
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.