At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
|WHAT||Michigan at Minnesota|
|WHERE||Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|WHEN||7:00 PM Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Minnesota –3 (Kenpom)|
Right: Rodney Williams, marginally athletic dude.
The going doesn't get any easier for Michigan after their loss at Ohio State, as the Wolverines travel to Minnesota to take on KenPom's seventh-ranked team.
Minnesota has been one of the surprise teams in the country on the strength on their athleticism, and that starts up front. Center Trevor Mbakwe is back for his sixth year and has been a terror on the boards, posting the nation's #9 offensive rebound rate and #33 defensive rebound rate. He also shoots 58.3% from the field while drawing a ton of fouls (though he only hits 65.8% of his free throws) and producing a top-100 block rate on the other end of the floor. Mbakwe doesn't just get by on his athletic ability—he's a strong post-up player who can score with his back to the basket.
Power forward Rodney Williams is a smaller, bouncier version of Mbakwe. He's got a nearly-identical 58.1 2P% to go with impressive offensive rebound and block rates and a propensity for getting to the line, where he has similar struggles (64.7 FT%). Unlike Mbakwe, Williams doesn't do so well on the defensive glass, and he'll shoot the occasional three (31.6 3P%). In a game full of athletes, Williams is the most likely to throw down a Sportscenter-level dunk.
While Mbakwe and Williams do much of the work on the glass, Minnesota wouldn't be the country's best offensive rebounding team without help from their guards. Their pair of 6'4" starting wings, Joe Coleman and Austin Hollins, boast 7.2 and 7.2 offensive rebound percentages, respectively; for comparison, Glenn Robinson is at 9.8%, while none of Michigan's starting guards has an OR% above 1.8. Coleman does most of his scoring work inside the arc (54.0 2P%), while Hollins takes over half his shots from three-point territory, where he shoots 39.5%.
Rounding out the starting lineup is point guard Andre Hollins, a sharpshooter (43.0 3P%) who dishes out a lot of assists but also struggles with turnovers. The two Hollinses and Coleman all get a healthy number of steals, as well.
If Michigan can get the Gopher starters into foul trouble, there's a serious dropoff to their replacements off the bench. Backup guard Julian Welch is having a horrid year shooting from both inside and outside the arc. Spectacularly-monikered guard Maverick Ahanmisi is a decent three-point threat, but he also has an ugly 28.7% turnover rate. 6'8" spot-up shooter Oto Osnieks has connected on just 2-of-20 three-point attempts this year, while backup center Elliott Eliason has a nasty love affair with worst shot in basketball—according to hoop-math, 62% of his shots are two-point jumpers, and he makes just 17% of them.
Minnesota has a solid slate of wins against KenPom100 teams, beating Michigan State at home by 13 and blowing out Illinois on the road by 17 to go along with wins over Memphis, Stanford, Florida State, USC, and North Dakota State. Their two losses have come to Duke (by 18 in a neutral-site game) and Indiana (by 7 at Assembly Hall after digging themselves a huge first-half hole).
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||52.0 (55)||21.9 (247)||48.0 (1)||44.7 (18)|
|Defense||43.5 (32)||23.0 (66)||35.1 (283)||32.1 (102)|
The ridiculous offensive rebound rate obviously stands out here, and that numbers hasn't dropped much in conference play—the Gophers are first in the B1G at 44.9% while maintaining their strong shooting and foul rates. On the negative side, they've also kept up their ugly turnover rate, though this is an area Michigan doesn't usually exploit.
The dropoff has come on defense, where the Gophers still give up a ton of offensive rebounds but have stopped forcing turnovers (17.6% in four conference games). Opponent shooting has taken a jump near the D-I average on the strength of a big rise in two-point shooting; presumably, Big Ten teams are better equipped to handle Minnesota's athleticism up front.
Everybody hit the glass. Something's got to give when Minnesota's absurd offensive rebounding goes against Michigan's stellar defensive rebounding. Four of Minnesota's five starters are big threats to hit the offensive glass, so it's imperative that every Wolverine on the floor is focused on boxing out and securing any rebounds.
There's an added benefit to the guards hitting the defensive boards—I'll have much more in a post tomorrow, but the short version is that Michigan gets out in transition best when their guards are getting rebounds. If they can counter on the fast break and force Minnesota to stop selling out for offensive rebounds, that'll give Michigan a huge edge.
Get physical. Putting Mbakwe and Williams on the line is preferable to letting them dunk, of course. With Jon Horford back in the rotation, Michigan has three bigs plus Robinson to throw at those two. On the other end, if the Wolverines can get back to going to the basket—something they couldn't do at all against OSU—the Gophers don't have the depth up front to mitigate any foul trouble.
If Michigan can't draw fouls on offense against Mbakwe and Williams without getting too many shots blocked, they have another way to get them in foul trouble: take charges. Mbakwe and Williams aggressively attack the rim, but they may be less inclined to do so if they're hit with a couple early offensive fouls.
Work the pick and roll. Michigan has to get their bread-and-butter play going again after Ohio State shut down that aspect of their offense. Against Minnesota, there's the extra benefit of drawing Mbakwe—and his shot-blocking prowess—away from the basket.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Minnesota by 3
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest developments with the remaining 2013 prospects, the final Top247, Drake Harris opening up his recruitment, new 2014 offers, and more.
Done At O-Line, Unless You Count High School Freshman Derrick Green
After IN OL Dan Samuelson committed last weekend, it was unclear whether Michigan would continue recruiting offensive lineman or if they were set at six in the 2013 class. Now we have our answer:
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 16, 2013
That leaves Michigan seemingly down to two options for the last two spots in the class. The first is VA RB Derrick Green, one of many prospects (mostly 2014 recruits at this point) to receive an in-school visit from Michigan this week—in his case, Brady Hoke and Fred Jackson ($). Scout's Michael Clark penned a lengthy (and free) profile on Green, focusing on his rise from 268-pound freshman to nation's top running back [emphasis mine]:
Hermitage head coach Patrick Kane admitted he initially had his doubts about Green, who recently named Michigan as his leader, but is also still considering Auburn, Florida State, Miami,and Tennessee.
“The first time we saw him, he was eighth-grader and we were doing 7-on-7 (drills) and he came out and watched,” said Kane. “He was a little chunky at the time. He said what a lot of kids say -- I want to be a running back. We said OK, that’s fine. But in your mind, you’re thinking he’d probably be a good looking offensive guard.”
You know the story by now: Green cut down to 220 pounds and by his sophomore year was starting for Hermitage. Work ethic should not be an issue here.
Michigan's other main target is TX TE Durham Smythe, who also received a visit this week. 247's Jason Sapp caught up with Smythe to run down his five finalists—Michigan, Oregon, and Stanford lead the pack, with Nebraska and Notre Dame under consideration—and here's what he had to say about the Wolverines ($):
Michigan – “The biology/medial program at Michigan is among the best in the nation, and since that is what I want to study, that was something that draws me in about them. Also, the fact that they are making the switch to a two tight end, pro-style offense is attractive as well.”
Smythe says a decision will come on signing day or "a few days prior," and he's got visits lined up to Oregon and Michigan, with Nebraska and Notre Dame in the running for his final official.
[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of the final 2013 Top247, the latest on Drake Harris, and much more.]
I've been a little out of it the last few days. Not enough to not see every Manti Te'o fake dead girlfriend joke in the world come through my twitter feed, but out of it, more given to trying to keep various fluids in my nose than trying to figure out any deep takeaways from the fact that Notre Dame's star player had a fake internet girlfriend who fake internet died.
I had to get one in a hurry when I went on WTKA this morning, because everyone in the world is talking about it—I hopped into a minimart to grab something to eat and it was on, like, CNN. CNN 2012 is to CNN 1994 as TLC 2012 is to TLC 1994…
…but it's a big deal when your fake girlfriend turns out dead, I guess. So the brain went and processed and came out with these things.
THIS IS NOT SURPRISING, PART I. We are talking about a Mormon guy from Hawaii who turned down USC to attend a Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana, that had not ever been remotely competitive in a BCS game because of… nice grass or something. A mural on a building. Whatever causes people to go to Notre Dame minus the "I'm Catholic" angle. He left Hawaii for South Bend, Indiana. Clearly this is a gullible man.
THIS IS NOT SURPRISING, PART II. What percentage of massively credulous undergraduate population of Notre Dame do you think has an internet girlfriend? All of them. Every last person participating in the annual Dillon Hall tickle fight has an internet girlfriend they have never met.
She is a princess from Sub-Saharan Africa currently in boarding school, and she doesn't care that by even communicating with Wallace Anglerson The Third she risks her inheritance—her very place in society—as long as you keep talking about how bad the last season of Battlestar Galactica was. It's love. Her name is "Angel," except in one of those clicky languages. Here is a picture of her.
Te'o would tell his friends about his internet girlfriend, and they would say "my internet girlfriend is hotter." Jimmy Clausen had two, the cad. Six weeks after graduation it gradually dawns on them that some of the men they hung out with were actually girls.
It would be weird if Manti Te'o didn't have a fake internet girlfriend hailing from somewhere far away from South Bend. If Notre Dame's nickname had been updated to reflect changes in student demographics they would be the Fightin' Lonely Credulous Nerds.
THIS IS NOT SURPRISING, PART III. As Jonathan Chait points out, it wouldn't be an inspiring story about a Notre Dame hero if it wasn't fiction:
Fake, schmaltzy inspirational tales are the essence of the culture of the program. The inspirational story of Knute Rockne and his dying player, George Gipp, became a famous movie that helped enshrine Notre Dame football in the culture. In reality, Rockne was an ethically dubious sports gambler, Gipp a pool hustler, and the main events of the story — Gipp’s dying wish to “win one for the Gipper,” Rockne’s inspirational halftime speech —never happened.
Likewise, Rudy is the inspirational story of a walk-on who overcame the odds to play football at Notre Dame, but the story is also filled with falsehoods. Rudy, by the way, turned out to be a stock scammer.
The only thing that's strange about this is that Te'o's grandmother is not only hale and hearty today but also manipulating Vegas lines with his grandson's collusion.
THIS IS NOT SURPRISING, PART IV… ACTUALLY THIS IS A LITTLE SURPRISING. For a while now Deadspin has been a weird mélange of athlete dong pics, Drew Magary trying to one-up himself until his columns are just lists of insults followed by exclamation points, and the best dang investigative journalism around*. (They've cut down on the wantonly-screwing-people-no-one's-ever-heard-of-in-a-petulant-fit since the departure of AJ Daulerio.)
The best example: A couple years ago Tommy Craggs published internal MLB financial documents that revealed small market teams—including the Marlins, recipients of a new publicly-funded stadium—were simply pocketing revenue-sharing money instead of using it to improve the product they put in front of their fans. This pissed MLB off so much they tried to sue the insurance company they came from to find the person who leaked the documents so they could sue him. When's the last time something a newspaper wrote caused a major league to go on a suing vendetta? I can't recall.
Anyway, the jarring thing is this story comes immediately after the baseball writers refused to vote anyone into the hall of fame for using the PEDs they studiously ignored for a decade. Meanwhile the following Legitimate Media Organizations ran with Te'o's Fake Dead Girlfriend:
2. You (Jack Dickey and Timothy Burke excepted)
7. The Chicago Tribune
8. The Chicago Sun-Times
9. The Sporting News
10. USA Today
11. The Boston Globe
12. CBS Sports
13. The New York Post
16. The Associated Press
17. The Palm Beach Post
18. The Miami Herald
19. The Tampa Bay Times
21. The Los Angeles Times
Go home newspapers, you're drunk.
If you're not going to call, to confirm, to make sure someone actually exists, what do you have left? If Deadspin has you beat on the low end and the high end, what is your purpose?
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
Remember when writers at regional Iowa papers looked down their nose at bloggers and their unverified voracity?
In the new "journalism of assertion," as the report calls it, information is offered with little time and little attempt to independently verify its voracity. [sic]
I don't either. Long time ago, in a different media place. The only people still pretending sportswriters aren't PR are the baseball writers, long may they stew in their curly-haired uselessness.
I have met my wife.
*[With apologies to Charles Robinson.]
Hey guys. After sleeping for 12 of the last 16 hours, I feel better. Better is not great, but here is a linkdump.
Oh, and an mgolicious note: my chrome extension broke when delicious updated their site for the first time since the Civil War, so that aspect of the site has halted for the moment. If anyone knows of a functioning chrome extension for the new delicious let me know. Also: sidebar tabs. Why do you hate me, Google?
Creepily accurate. This list of Denard Robinson smiles from 10 to 0:
Bowl revampin'. It appears that the people with the football teams have surveyed the landscape and discovered that oh yeah we have the leverage here. Mike Slive:
“Since we’ve made such a significant change with the playoff, it’s a perfect time to look at the bowls and how they work,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said this week. “This is a very good time to take a hard look at how we do our bowl relationships and see if there’s a better way.”
Since Mike Slive just created a "Champions Bowl" that he let sites bid for and picked the Sugar Bowl to host it despite what I assume was a ridiculous offer from content-mad Jerry Jones, I'm guessing his better way does not involve bowl directors making 800k.
According to Stewart Mandel, that model is already in place with the Rose Bowl, which is probably one of the reasons the Pac-12 and Big 10 were so intent on keeping their baby. Anyway, the schools are going to move the risk from the schools to the bowls, because they can see...
Meanwhile, Jim Delany made some noises about diversifying the Big Ten's bowl slate. The current setup is great if you like the worst cities in Florida, but not so great if you like, you know, culture and stuff.
We heard this about seven months ago as well when the Big Ten had its smoochy session with the Rose in a futile attempt to cover up for the fact they couldn't get enough votes for home playoff games. I assume that the desire is real, and that when the contracts come up there will be diversification into places that are more than strip clubs and strip malls.
Congratulations to all of us for collectively being fed up or financially unable to support this model, and thus forcing a change.
[HT: Get the Picture. ]
Obligatory plea. Denver! December/January highs average in the mid-40s, it's usually sunny or snowing, the stadium district is pretty cool, and the Front Range is just an hour away.
Threes of doom. I wish this Five Key Plays bit included the loony long Burke two that kicked off Michigan's fatal sequence, but it gets everything else:
1. Hardaway takes heavily contested three with a hand in his face with 25 on the shot clock.
2. GRIII takes a basically open three with 11 left—the contest is token and doesn't impact him.
3. Burke runs down and takes a three that Ravenel is credited with a block on that airballs. Since Ravenel comes nowhere near the top of Burke's shooting motion… no. This should be a foul, and with Morgan charging towards the basket with Craft on his back anything that hits the rim has a decent chance of being a putback dunk. Much less upset about this, now filing under Big Ten refs are cowards instead of insanity. Dollars to donuts there is a post-airball whistle if this game is at Crisler.
4. Terrible contested NBA-ranged three with 29 on clock from Stauskas.
5. Decently open look from Hardaway with 25 on the clock; Hardaway run over, no call.
Part of the reason Michigan's offense looked so bad in this one is just the way the game was being called. OSU was in They Can't Call Everything Mode—and with M so foul-averse I wonder if that hurts them on the offensive end since refs have an unconscious bias towards keeping foul calls relatively even.
Beilein was okay with the final three, BTW. I didn't mind it either since going for a win in that situation is at least on par with attempting to tie it with a slightly easier shot. If Michigan gets that one extra point from the Burke breakaway bucket, though…
This week in post touches suck. Via UMHoops:
|Ohio State Buckeyes||6.4%||80||71||0.888|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||8.9%||122||105||0.861|
|Michigan State Spartans||10.1%||131||112||0.855|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||9.7%||118||92||0.780|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||4.2%||59||35||0.593|
The D-I average points per possession is 0.995; every Big Ten team is well below that. I wonder if the data is only considering shots from post-ups and not kicks and rotation and suck, because that's so amazingly low across the board that it feels faulty. Surely there are some post-touch benefits this analysis is missing, or coaches simply wouldn't run them anymore.
Anyway, no I don't think Michigan should post up Morgan and McGary more.
This week in loldelany. Your Successories conference is not working out.
When deciding on division names in December 2010, Delany said the Big Ten "didn't have great options."
"We weren't going to go with 'Bo or Woody,' 'Black or Blue,' or 'Plains or Lakes,' " Delany said. "Obviously we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."
Delany said he was a "little surprised" by the backlash when the division names were announced.
People in charge of things are just in charge of them. There is not a reason. They instantly become megalomaniacs despite this.
"I'm not sure it was a national survey [of people who didn't like the names], but people who hit the 'send' button," Delany said. "I don't take umbrage to negative reaction. I don't necessarily change when I hear it. I think on the other hand, we said we would test-market it, and we have for a couple of years. We have the opportunity to look at it again. I'm sure we will. Whether or not we change or not is to be determined. I don't have any presumption that we'll change on it, but that doesn't mean we're not looking at it.
"I don't think when you try to build something, lead some organization, you don't want to be tone deaf. But it's not up for vote every week."
That is the best probably unintentional double-negative ever.
The UV bullet doesn't count. Hockey got swept by Alaska this weekend for the first time ever, which came as no surprise, really. The first line was AJ Treais and the only guys who skate hard consistently: Andrew Copp and Zach Hyman. They skated five defensemen since they've got three out injured. So that's where the team is: injured on the backline, lackadaisical on the front line, and still getting really bad goaltending.
Yost Built has a recap.
Zak Irvin is kind of good. He's the favorite for Mr. Basketball in the state of Indiana—Michigan has never acquired one of those—and seems like a bigger version of GRIII:
Zak Irvin: 6’7” Shooting Guard, Hamilton Southeastern H.S. (2013) I just love watching him play. He is the best Senior in the state and I don’t think it is even that close. At 6’7”, he can shoot the lights out, handle the ball well, and really gets after it defensively. I really don’t see how he isn’t ranked higher by some national scouting service. He is the total package. Will be great at Michigan.
“He is fundamental with both hands,” Harrison senior Mark Huston said of Irvin. “The best you can do is try and contest (his shot) to the best of your abilities and hope he misses. But he is a great talent, and he doesn’t do that a lot.”
“It almost felt like he was guarding three people at once with his length on traps,” Huston said. “He can jump passing lanes real easy, so it was tough for us to get the ball moving."
Etc.: Cierre Wood enters draft. Basketball is young. The latest on Austin Hatch. It's hard to win all your games. Chip Kelly: he gone. Enjoy your sanctions, Oregon! Dawg Sport's T. Kyle King retires. If blogging age is defined by the number of words you put on the internet, he does so at the young age of 120. Mike Harden profiled. Michigan is just one of five programs with the same staff for three straight years. DON'T TWEET AT ATHLETES PEOPLE WHO CAN'T READ THIS BLOG ANYWAY. Mel Kiper, soulless robot. Michigan in comic book format.
Nobody ever reads this stuff anyway, just like nobody mentions Minnesota as a major Final Four contender. They'll learn. They'll all learn…donchya know.
How it works:
- Wednesdays I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, 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.
About Last Time:
Two people picked Ohio State to win. Of those two TroyNienberg picked the lower final score and won it. I know what you're thinking: can we get Adam Finley to become a regular commenter too and thus complete the c. 2002 kicking trifecta? We are working on that.
This Week's Game:
Michigan @ The Pogo Stick People tomorrow night. Bounce bounce bounce bounce.
And the Prize:
It's not time to grow up yet.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm killed Goldy. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm constantly finds that the best conference alignment would be to put Michigan/MSU and Ohio State with the Illinois/Indiana schools, go to 9 conference games, and make PSU-OSU and the Brown Jug regular nonconference games .. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
For the first time this season, Michigan's offense looked stagnant for prolonged stretches against Ohio State, largely due to the Buckeyes shutting down the pick and roll game. Going back over the film, it was clear much of this had to do with the on-ball defense of Aaron Craft, who hounded Trey Burke into a 4-for-13 shooting performance.
Interestingly, Craft was able to get away with going under the screen for most of the game despite Burke hitting a three-pointer when he did so in the game's opening minutes. With Burke not shooting over the top, Craft was able to take away his ability to get to the basket, and with that the easy buckets that Burke usually creates for himself and his teammates.
While Craft played a stellar defensive game, however, it wasn't his play alone that mitigated Michigan's go-to offensive play; the Wolverines simply didn't execute well on offense. Here's one such example—Michigan has just reset after an offensive rebound, and Mitch McGary comes out to set a screen for Burke:
Note that there's plenty of space in the middle of the Buckeye defense above. In the next frame, you'll see Craft has gone over McGary's screen and is now stuck behind Burke, so OSU center Evan Ravenel steps up to cut off the drive while McGary starts his roll to the basket:
At this juncture, Michigan should be able to create a good look. Burke is past Craft and therefore occupying Ravenel. McGary is heading to the basket, which should force Deshaun Thomas (defending in the paint) to abandon guarding Tim Hardaway Jr. entirely—which, of course, leaves one Buckeye to guard both Hardaway and Nik Stauskas. If Sam Thompson—at the top of the screen—comes down to help, Glenn Robinson III should be open in the corner for a... wait, Glenn, where are you going?
Unfortunately for Michigan, Robinson cut to the basket at precisely the wrong time—he heads right into the space that McGary is cutting towards. When coaches talk about the importance of spacing, this is what they're talking about. The spacing issues Robinson's cut creates are really apparent in the next frame:
Even though Burke still has a step on Craft, OSU has every Michigan option covered. Ravenel is both taking away the drive and any passing lane to McGary, while Thompson is doing the same on Robinson. Thomas is able to step out on Hardaway. Stauskas is occupied in the corner. Now Burke is forced to try to make something out of nothing:
That something turns out to be a contested layup over Ravenel that doesn't even catch iron. Note that a small blanket could cover both Robinson and McGary.
While Craft recovered nicely, this is a play that should've resulted in a Michigan basket, but it was thwarted by inexperience; a simple mistimed cut from Robinson is enough to throw off the entire play.
As Michigan romped through non-conference play, it was easy to forgot that they're still a very young team. Some freshman mistakes are more obvious than others, like when Caris LeVert threw a pass to no one after leaving his feet, giving Ohio State an easy fast break layup. Plays like the one above—after a reset, when a player needs to know on the fly where the offense calls for him to be on the floor—are more subtle, but also show off mistakes born from inexperience.
Those plays should be fewer and farther between as the season goes along; at the same time, this team is going to rely all year on five freshmen. Trey Burke is a great example of a player making a big leap after getting familiar with John Beilein's system—that leap, of course, came between his freshman and sophomore seasons. It's doubtful Michigan is going to eliminate these types of errors by March.
That's not to say Michigan can't make the Final Four by sheer force of talent combined with Beilein's coaching; if they do, though, they'll have to overcome their youth.