Previously: Gardening Lessons (The Story), Preview Podcast, Preseason All-Big Ten Teams, Point Guards, Wings Part 1 (LeVert, Irvin), Wings Part 2 (Chatman, Wilson, Dawkins, MAAR), Bigs (Donnal, Doyle, Bielfeldt)
Rankings via the 247 Composite
The Big Ten doesn’t have any elite one-and-done candidates coming in this year; there aren’t any surefire lottery picks among these freshmen. Still, the collective 2014 recruiting class is very deep: seven players in the top 50, 12 in the top 100, 24 in the top 200. Certain teams—particularly Ohio State, Maryland, Indiana, and yes, Michigan—will need immediate impacts from their incoming freshmen, and several transfers (which will be covered after the freshmen) will be counted on for immediate production. Talent in college basketball oscillates dramatically from year to year, as talented players often defect for the NBA at the first available opportunity, small rosters experience a high percentage of yearly turnover, and incoming freshmen are often ready to contribute meaningful minutes. The Big Ten lost a lot of top-notch talent this offseason, but there likely will be some stars in this crop of newcomers.
It’s easy for Thad Matta to get lost in the shuffle amongst the collection of stellar coaches in the Big Ten, but he’s simply phenomenal (even notwithstanding last year’s backslide): few coaches have a comparable coaching tree—the Boston Celtics’ Brad Stevens, Arizona’s Sean Miller, and Illinois’s John Groce headline—few can recruit as well as Matta does on a consistent basis, and few coach defense as well as he does. With the departures of Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, and LaQuinton Ross, Matta needed to win some major recruiting battles and unsurprisingly, he finished with the best class in the conference. Because of the influx of promising blue-chip talent (and incoming Temple transfer, Anthony Lee) and the existing nucleus of solid defensive players—Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, and Amir Williams all fit nicely into Matta’s tenacious man-to-man scheme—Ohio State is projected by many to finish second in the conference behind Wisconsin. It’s a hard-to-predict team with a high floor and a low ceiling, but they do look pretty great on paper.
D’Angelo Russell is the most well-regarded incoming recruit in the league and he should start next to Scott right away in the backcourt. Like Ross and Deshaun Thomas before him, Russell will likely be tasked with being Ohio State’s primary offensive weapon. Between his excellent shooting ability, all-around scoring potential, and his frame and athleticism, Russell is a prototypical two-guard. He doesn’t have elite, NBA-ready physical tools, but OSU could do a lot worse than turning to Russell in hopes of resuscitating a staid offense that finished 128th nationally last season.
Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate (both former Michigan targets) sort of overlap, but they play with distinctly different styles. KBD and Tate are combo forwards; either can probably play the three or the four—KBD is a skilled and very long stretch-four who can slide to the three; Tate is too small to play the four right now, but his maximum upside probably comes as a ferocious rebounder and inside-out scorer as an undersized four. KBD’s best known for his scoring, Tate’s best known for his rebounding ability, though both can certainly defend. How the Buckeyes sort out the minutes on the wing will be quite interesting: Sam Thompson and Mark Loving deserve major minutes, but KBD and Tate might be too talented to leave on the bench. Dave Bell probably won’t contribute this year with the logjam of players ahead of him.
Click on image to enlarge.
Anthony Lee was a good addition for Ohio State: Big Ten players who had statistically comparable seasons to his final year at Temple were almost all fairly decent rotation guys at the worst. He’ll probably play center for the Buckeyes and he’ll compete with Amir Williams for minutes. In any case, the platoon of Lee / Williams is significantly better than Williams and Trey McDonald. Lee may provide more scoring punch than Williams has so far in his career, but Lee isn’t outstanding in that regard—he takes almost three quarters of his shots at the rim and only finishes at around 50% there (per Nylon Calculus).
[After THE JUMP: Maryland, transfers, and such.]
From left: Brady Hoke & Jerry Kill in 2011 [Upchurch], Les Miles and Cam Cameron at the 1989 spring game [Bentley], and James Franklin as a coordinator [courtesy Maryland Athletics]
For HTTV this year I did a study on Big Ten and SEC, and the factors that led to a marked disparity in football success that grew up between them since 1999. One of the most stunning differences I found was in the splashiness of coaching hires.
Someone on the board early this morning asked whether high-profile candidates are such a big deal. The original study answered this emphatically: "Yes!" I thought I'd extend it to the rest of the Power 5 hires since '99 and see if that's still true.
Methodology: I looked at the circumstances at the moment of hiring of every coach (156 total) who started a tenure at a currently Power 5 program since 1999, and put them into one of three (plus one) categories:
- Strong: Stealing another BCS school's coach, or the heir apparent at a power program, or grabbing the year's hottest candidate, or being the school that finally pries a legendary mid-major coach away when everyone else has been trying for years. Universally, these are headline-grabbing guys who probably needed a major monetary incentive to pry them from their last position.
- Average: A guy who was obviously responsible for turning a mid-major into a perennial 9- or 10-win team, a successful NFL or power program coordinator, promoting your own heir apparent (not after firing his boss), etc. These are the hires that you nod at and say "that makes sense" or "B+".
- Cheap: Promoting a coordinator you didn't plan on, grabbing a mid-major coach with mediocre success or success that's not obviously his. Grabbing a washout from the NFL or the Power 5, or a guy who wouldn't have been on any coaching radar except yours.
- (Interim): Don't count unless they were made full.
- These are of course debatable, since they're the opinions of one dude who's been obsessively following college football over this time period, so you can only draw so much. I didn't remember all of them, obviously, but I was able to jog my impressions by reading articles on coaching searches around the time. This is one instance when my life was actually made better by the annual proliferation of "we grade this year's hires" articles from mainstream outlets. When I couldn't decide, I defaulted "average."
- I welcome your suggestions for changes, so long as they fit the criteria (hindsight must be irrelevant).
- The data:
[After the jump: what we learned]
photos via 247Sports
As much of the Michigan media assembled in the Regents Room to hear Mark Schlissel announce Dave Brandon's resignation, The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan was doing some work, as well—breaking news of the most oddly timed commitment in recent memory:
Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy 2016 linebacker @dele_harding commits to Michigan.
— Tim Sullivan (@TimS_Wolverine) October 31, 2014
Junior linebacker Dele' Harding, a high school teammate of current M players Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, pledged to the program at the very apex of its turmoil. He became Michigan's third commit in the 2016 class and the first on defense, not to mention the football program's first commit from any class since the day before this ill-fated 2014 season began.
While having two former teammates on campus certainly helped with the decision, the timing and the quotes Harding's father gave to Sullivan make it clear he committed with much more than football in mind:
While [Canteen's and Watson's] presence in Ann Arbor was a bonus for Harding, it wasn't the main reason he picked the Maize and Blue.
"They stay in touch all the time," David Harding said. "That plays a very small part. I think it's more than anything, that's just an icing on the cake. The body is what Michigan has to offer. His commitment is to the university, not just for football. It's the total package."
Welcome, Mr. Harding. You picked a mighty fine university, and they're really working quite hard to figure out the football bit.
[Hit THE JUMP for the full, informative portion.]
Twenty-four passing yards allowed and Tevin [Coleman] did break 100 yards but it didn’t hurt you guys. Talk about that rush defense, it didn’t break, and then also the pass defense with only giving up 24 yards.
“Well, the pass defense… let’s be honest, that’s a product of them not throwing it very much. The rush defense: I was very pleased with the attitude and the resolve our kids had as far as keeping the ball inside and in front. If you noticed the great production that they had had previous, a lot of it came on huge plays. Eighty yard runs, 70 yards runs and I think our kids did a real good job of making sure we kept it inside and in front and everybody got to the football.”
Northwestern’s offense [and] the challenges they pose?
“Yeah, Northwestern, obviously we really respect them. I personally really respect them and their staff, the way they coach. They will be really aggressive. It’s- when they play they play, and the quarterback has a very good arm. They’ve got good wide receivers. Their offensive line has got some experience. They’re a team that has done very well throughout this year. Records, I don’t even look at records. I just know anytime you play Northwestern you better be ready to play because they’re going to play you strong and they’re going to play you hard and we’ve got to come with our “A” game on defense.”
Will you watch film of Iowa, for example, or just kind of stick to what you do?
“No, I’ll watch them very, very closely. That’s what we’ve been doing. That’s what I just came from. We study our opponent every little thing we do. We sometimes study them too much, I think. We study their last four games as closely as we can and then we go back and look at other games and see if there’s anything there. No, but we watch Iowa very, very closely. And Nebraska we watch closely. Wisconsin we watch closely. They’re very good games to watch.”
You see a kid like Mone doing what he did on Saturday, [does] that get you a little bit excited for his potential for the future?
“Oh, definitely. He did some very, very good things and he got the reward. Everybody sees him getting the fumble recovery and him doing some things, but there was other young guys that deserved an award also that played that allowed him to do that. That was neat. It was- I could go through every one of those guys. You saw some of the plays Wormley made in there. Godin keeps stepping up. Frank, Brennen Beyer [and] some of the plays he made you don’t see sometimes but it’s because of what he does that allows somebody else to play. I could- there was a lot of good play in there. There had to be to do that against a great runner like him. There’s some young kids. I mean, Ryan Glasgow. To strip the ball and recover the ball, to do that- I could go on and on. That wasn’t just the game they’ve done that. These young kids have done that and this might have been the game where they all kind of did it together or a lot more of them, and that was a good offensive line. I didn’t know how good they were but when I watched it and saw them come out on our backers a coupe times and they had some pretty good offensive linemen and for them, for our kids to have that success I was proud of them.”
[After THE JUMP: Greg Mattison is like, ‘Steal my signals, bro’]
News bullets and other items:
Hoke found out from Brandon that he would be resigning on Friday
Hoke will have a meeting with Hackett “sooner than later”
Peppers is getting better but isn’t where he needs to be, and Hoke said he’d “…have something soon” on the situation. Read between the lines and it doesn’t look good for Peppers returning to the field this season
Erik Magnuson “could” stay at TE, but he’s also first in at LT, LG, or RT if needed
Hoke referred to a Devin Funchess toe injury when talking about Darboh getting increased opportunities, so if you’re reading this congratulations, the universe somehow hasn’t collapsed into itself yet!
Hoke isn’t worried about his job. He says if you worry about it then you get distracted from the job itself, and that he’s never been worried about employment
“Thanks for coming. Number one, sorry I was late. I hate to keep you waiting. It was good to win last week. It's always good to win. That’s kind of redundant and obvious but for really how these guys of practice, how they prepare it's always good to be on the right side of the scoreboard when they do that. I thought when you look at how from both sides of the ball they played together it was truly a team win because we came over a little adversity. Defensively really thought guys played well up front. Tackles for loss I think we had 12 so the negative plays, that helped. Offensively 184 yards rushing, which is 5.3 I think it was per rush. Nice to see to be able to end the game to be able to possess the ball. They only had 53 or 54 defensive plays so opportunities weren't there because of time of possession. We did set up some short fields with the two fumble recoveries and that was very positive, but like anything else it's nice that you’re balanced and that's what we were but we've got another game on Saturday with Northwestern. We look forward to that. Came in and got some things done yesterday when you look at it more from a health standpoint but it's exciting to go to Chicago and play Northwestern.”
Has Erik Magnuson’s role change on an ongoing basis or was that something you did for one game because you were short?
“No, I think that something that we could stay with. Obviously it was we were short a little bit but he's a good athlete as far as a left tackle what he can do some things and I thought we put him in No. 81.”
Can you talk about the progression of your guards and how they’ve kind of gotten better as the year’s gone on?
“I think that’s- I think Kyle Kalis. A little concerned early in camp because he had a back issue that flared up and we were a little concerned about that but I think because a lot of it is his toughness and how he loves to play the game. I’ve been happy with him. He's going to get us a false start once a game it seems like, where we’ve got to do a better job and he's got to do a better job and he is, but the physicalness he’s played with has been good. I think Graham [Glasgow] over on the left side I think has been very good for us. I just think the development of all those guys has improved and Graham's played center a little bit at times.”
What is your reaction to Dave Brandon stepping down?
“Well, I think the one thing is I have a lot of respect for Dave and from a reaction standpoint he did a lot of good things for the University and now I'm really excited to work with Jim [Hackett].”
Have you met with Jim?
“I saw him after the game briefly. Just briefly.”
Did he talk to you about-
“No, it was just happy with the homecoming win, all that kind of stuff.”
Coaches are often tied to an AD. Does this make you any more concerned?
“You know, I've never been concerned about a job and I never will be because if I get concerned about a job then you get distracted from it. I threw brake drums on the assembly line for Dayton-Walther during the summer and I was never concerned because I knew I was going to outwork everybody. For this if I get distracted then I'm not being fair to those kids who haven't been distracted, so I've never, ever worried about employment.”
[After THE JUMP: bristling at player (under)development accusations and an ominous Peppers progress report you probably guessed weeks ago]
1 hour, 2 minutes.
Hooray! What Dave did wrong, what the student leadership did right, and directions Michigan can take in the future to break away from the corporate NBA/NFL style atmosphere they've created in favor of something more old school/organic, with MLS a touchstone.
THE NEXT AD
Talking about Jim Phillips and Joe Castiglione, as we've already run down the Michigan men.
We talk about what we can talk about after that game. The Drake for real?
TALKING BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC
Several BIG TENs this week. Wow.
"Die, All Right!," The Hives
"Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?," Ted Leo
"Bigmouth Strikes Again," The Smiths
"The Mariner's Revenge Song," The Decemberists
"The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago," Johnny Cash
This podcast about the year in pop music butts with the AV Club's editor and his mom is called "Anamomda," and thus endeth the competition for best podcast name ever.