"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
The brick (left) and the Rahk. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
They escaped, at least.
That's about as much as one can say about a two-point win over Northwestern that ended when the Wildcats' leading scorer, freshman Bryant McIntosh, missed an uncontested layup that would've sent the game to overtime.
We'll start with the good. Freshman Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman performed admirably in the stead of Spike Albrecht, who missed the game with an "upper respiratory illness." Rahk accounted for what would ultimately stand as the winning basket, draining a triple from the wing in the final minute to finish with nine points and five rebounds in his first career start.
Caris LeVert, tasked with creating much of the offense on his own, played a strong game in all facets, stuffing the stat sheet with 18 points (albeit on 19 FGA), six rebounds, seven assists, a block, and a steal. While Derrick Walton still struggled inside the arc, he knocked down four triples, grabbed five rebounds, and added three steals. Both handled the ball well, combining for just one turnover; as a team, the Wolverines coughed up the rock just three times.
Michigan even got off to a hot start, hitting their first four three-point attempts and ripping off an 18-0 run that saw them go up 14 with 9:43 to go in the first half.
Now for the bad. Michigan went ice cold to finish the first half, going down a point when Vic Law beat the halftime buzzer, and that carried over into the second; the Wolverines would go 7:08 without a bucket, the seventh time this season they've had a seven-minute drought.
While Zak Irvin knocked down a crucial late three, it was his only basket of the night. He'd finish with six points on 1/5 shooting. Irvin at least had something of an excuse for his shooting woes tonight; he, too, is sick.
Northwestern controlled much of the game due to the interior exploits of Alex Olah, who came within a point of his career high with 22 on 9/12 shooting; he also dominated the glass with five offensive rebounds. Ricky Doyle, suffering from a cold, didn't play at all in the second half after huffing and puffing his way through the first.
In Doyle's place, Mark Donnal had an awful game, going scoreless with one rebound and four fouls in 11 minutes; he looked helpless defending Olah in the post. Max Bielfeldt proved marginally better, posting five points and two boards—all in the second half—in 18 minutes, while Michigan covered his height disadvantage on defense by playing a lot of 1-3-1 zone.
To top it off, John Beilein said after the game that Caris LeVert may have sprained his ankle; he came up limping after the chaotic final play and was seen on crutches afterward. He won't have much time to recover before Michigan heads to Rutgers on Tuesday.
This team sorely needs him. Even with LeVert doing a lot of everything, it took a lot of good fortune for Michigan to squeak by a Big Ten afterthought at home. The road to a postseason bid only gets tougher from here.
Michigan (10-7, 3-2 B1G) vs
Northwestern (10-7, 1-3)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||8:15 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan -7 (KenPom)|
PBP: Joe Davis
Analyst: Jim Jackson
Right: Last year, when Michigan was much better and Northwestern was, as usual, Northwestern. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Losing this game would probably be a mild disappointment to the football recruits in attendance.
Oh, and it'd be pretty bad for the basketball team, too.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||30||Bryant McIntosh||Fr.||6'3, 177||81||25||No|
|Scoring and assist leader. Not remarkably efficient, but can create.|
|G||14||Tre Demps||Jr.||6'3, 198||79||23||Yes|
|Takes a ton of shots but isn't a good shooter: 46/29/64 2P%/3P%/FT%.|
|F||4||Vic Law||Fr.||6'7, 185||60||20||Yes|
|Good defender, rebounder whose offensive game isn't up to par yet.|
|F||34||Sanjay Lumpkin||So.||6'6, 220||67||12||Not Really|
|Minuscule usage but very efficient. Mediocre rebounder.|
|C||22||Alex Olah||Jr.||7'0, 270||69||22||Not Really|
|Good rebounder, shot-blocker. Not a great finisher, but has range.|
|G||23||JerShon Cobb||Sr.||6'5, 208||38||17||Kinda|
|Mostly spot-up shooter hitting just 32% of 3PA.|
|G/F||20||Scottie Lindsey||Fr.||6'5, 175||27||19||No|
|Solid outside shooter does decent work on boards.|
|F||32||Nathan Taphorn||So.||6'7, 215||21||19||No|
|Hitting 68% of twos and 52% of threes. Total nonfactor on def. boards.|
Northwestern lost to all four KenPom top-150 teams they played in the nonconference portion of the schedule, with the narrowest margin by eight points at home against #89 Georgia Tech. They broke that streak in the first Big Ten game, upsetting(?) #145 Rutgers in Piscataway by four points. They've dropped all three conference games since, getting run off their home court by Wisconsin before tight contests at Michigan State and at home against Illinois. The MSU game went to overtime, and Northwestern came within a fingernail of inbounding in the frontcourt to tie their in-state rival in the final second of regulation, only for review to give the ball (rightfully, it appeared) to the Illini.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Harbaugh's offensive philosophy
So who remembers a time when Michigan recruiting wasn't wholly depressing, and we had a recruiting tracker wiki to follow the names and their respective levels of interest?
|Your new friend for January. Find it under Useful Stuff.|
: I do! I do!
Mr. Blue! Hi there Mr. Blue!
: I'm so excited to get everyone on campus and build this class. TEXT ALL THE RECRUITS!
Well you can do that Mr. Blue.
: Hey, I've been getting those texts. We should all come visit together guys. Is it true Tyrone Wheatley is on staff?
: As have I. Verily this is all data I must consider.
Happy teeth! Data! Guys, it's been forever!
: Wait, I missed those. Do you have my number right?
: I remain 100% committed to Just Fired the Coach I Committed To U, but can you guys add me to the chain anyway?
: Sure thing Nefarious Eduardo!
: I've been following you guys on the tracker that umhero put together but if you want to add me too it's spelled S.a.d. J.o.s.h and my cell is 734-…
So those fellas have returned thanks to the work of umhero. I made it a wiki and added it to the bar above.
Well they're not from the Midwest. EGD had an interesting point to make regarding the comparison of Harbaugh's staff to Hoke's. Brady's guys were all very familiar with the Midwest, and that bore out with a very strong regional recruiting profile. It was already a good assumption that Harbaugh would be stretching his territory from sea to shining sea. I map each coach's region of greatest competence:
The only Texas connection they have is Fisch's short tenure with the Texans. Harbaugh prefers his staff to recruit their own positions but these regional connections matter a great deal in getting that guy in with coaches and players.
In a World Where Everybody Has to Say What They Mean in Pictures. Ron Utah imagined what various dudes in the Great Harbaughning would have said if they'd been absolutely candid. I actually think he got a lot of the thinks wrong, so I'll take a stab at them:
: So Jim when did you decide you wanted to be the head coach of Michigan?
[After the jump: more of Jim Harbaugh's pictorial answers to the CC questions, and where recruiting happens]
If you like manball there's no better guy to have as your offensive coordinator than Tim Drevno. As both a TE coach and OL coach, he was one of the main architects of the thumping Stanford lines that brought the Cardinal to their recently-elevated level. Afterwards Drevno transitioned to the NFL and got a plum job at USC. Now he rejoins Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.
After a small-school tenure as an offensive lineman, Drevno's coaching career started with a few years coaching TEs and RBs at smaller schools. In 1999 he transitioned to OL at San Jose State. Since then he's been exclusively an OL coach save for his first two years at Stanford, when he handled TEs. He also held the offensive coordinator title for Harbaugh's extremely successful San Diego teams. (Harbaugh in fact inherited Drevno from the previous administration.)
At Stanford, Drevno was a key part of the machine that actually got up and running in Harbaugh year two:
[Ranking out of about 120]
|YEAR||TEAM||DREVNO||Rush S&P||Overall S&P||Main back(s)||Results|
|220 rushes, 900 yards,3.8 YPC|
|280 rushes, 1150 yards, 4.1 YPC|
|330 rushes, 1850 yards, 5.6 YPC|
|2009||Stanford||OL||12||6||Gerhart||340 rushes, 1870 yards, 5.5 YPC|
|370 rushes, 1800 yards, 4.9YPC|
|370 rushes,2100 yards, 5.6 YPC|
It's hard to separate Drevno out from the general Harbaugh effect, but again the continued success of Stanford after coach X's departure bodes very well in this case. This wasn't Texas or Alabama when they were up and running. This was a program transformation that stuck; that Stanford continued to excel after Drevno left is pretty good since he was one of the major molders of guys like David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin.
Drevno went with Harbaugh to San Francisco, where he was the OL coach; oddly, NFL veteran Mike Solari was also the OL coach. The two guys had the same title. In any case, the San Francisco OL was up and down.
[rankings out of 32 teams]
|YEAR||TEAM||Rush DVOA||Line Yards||Power Success||Adj Sack Rate|
After a step back in year one, the 49ers had a terrific rushing offense in year two; they then took a major step back. At no point was their sack rate anything other than bad, but he did inherit that and quarterbacks do have a significant, often-unacknowledged hand in that. Kaepernick is a guy who prefers to extend plays even if that results in additional sacks because when it doesn't he frequently lopes downfield for thirty yards.
Despite those numbers, San Francisco sent two OL to the Pro Bowl in 2013 and had their entire line named as either a starter or an alternate in 2012. Margins in the NFL are razor thin.
L to R: true FR, redshirt FR, junior, true FR, redshirt SO
Last year, Drevno returned to college at USC, picking up a run game coordinator title and inheriting a line that thinks last year's Michigan line is impressively experienced. Three true freshman saw extensive time, with Toa Lobendahn moving to left tackle midseason when sophomore Chad Wheeler went down with injury. Redshirt sophomore Zach Banner moved into the starting RT job; Max Tuerk was the only upperclassman, and even he ended up moving to center.
This is like last year's Michigan line if you replaced the starting guards with freshmen instead of a redshirt junior and redshirt sophomore.
Despite that, the numbers were middling:
|Offense||Adj. LY||Rk||Opp. Rate||Rk||Power Success Rate||Rk||Adj Sack Rate||Rk|
USC was about average in line yards and adjusted sacks, a bit below that in "opportunity rate"—the percentage of run plays that go for five yards—and bad at short yardage. Top USC back Javorius Allen almost hit 1500 yards at 5.4 a carry. That's impressive for what must have been one of the youngest lines in the country.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Drevno has extensive Harbaugh experience and did very well considering the situation in his single year at USC; he was one of the primary guys driving the Stanford rushing renaissance whether it was as a TE coach or an OL coach. A lack of OC experience is not a problem since Harbaugh has a major role in coordinating his own offense, and Drevno worked with Harbaugh in that capacity at San Diego.
At 45, he's probably looking at this job as an opportunity to impress and get a head job. Given the history there that's not exactly a longshot.
UPSHOT FOR REST OF STAFF
Ain't no more upshot.
Unleash The Harbaugh
The dead period is over, meaning coaches can once again have in-person contact with recruits. I have a hunch Jim Harbaugh is ready:
Attacking this day with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) January 15, 2015
Harbaugh has already been spotted at Detroit Catholic Central, and you can bet he'll be visiting Michigan's top targets throughout the area. That would likely include Cass Tech's Mike Weber, and lo and behold, Tyrone Wheatley made his way to CT earlier today.
There will be much more as reactions come in over the weekend—the coaches are visiting numerous prospects around the country right now—but it's worth noting five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South received a visit this morning.
A couple new names on the board talked or will talk to coaches today and look like distinct possibilities to end up in the class. The first, three-star GA ATH Chris Williamson, pulled in an offer earlier this week; he's one of the hottest prospects in the country, earning offers from Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Auburn in the last couple weeks.
Per The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan, Michigan is recruiting Williamson as a defensive back, and his main factors for choosing a school are academics, playing time, and player development ($). According to 247's Ryan Bartow, newly minted assistant coach Mike Zordich stopped by Williamson's school this morning and immediately made things happen ($):
Earlier this morning, Williamson bumped Kentucky out of the January 23 official visit spot for Michigan as reported by Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247. Michigan assistant coach Mike Zordich stopped by the school and set up the visit.
Williamson is visiting UNC this weekend, will see either Florida or Auburn at the end of the month, and should take a mid-week official to Georgia somewhere in between. He officially visited Cal, his current leader, in December.
Three-star Rutgers CB commit Jarius Adams is one of several Florida prospects who'll get a visit today. Per Scout's Corey Bender, Adams will speak with DJ Durkin, and he'll be "very excited" if he receives an offer; if one comes through, expect him to make it up to Ann Arbor ($):
In addition to the Scarlet Knights, Adams has solidified a visit date with an in-state program and is considering Harbaugh's program for the weekend prior to National Signing Day.
"(I'm visiting) Florida Atlantic this weekend, Rutgers next weekend, and hopefully Michigan," Adams said.
And, as I'm writing this, Lorenz reports that Michigan did in fact offer Adams.
Again, there will be much more coverage of Michigan's in-school and in-home visits next week, as this post is assuredly out of date even as I post it.
[Hit THE JUMP for this weekend's visit list, updates on new 2015 offers and scheduled visits, and a few 2016 updates.]
WELP. You know, you schedule a thing in Cleveland right after OSU loses to Virginia Tech and you think two things: 1) OSU is definitely not going to be winning the national title that night and 2) Michigan's not going to be finalizing its assistant coaches after hiring Jim Freakin' Harbaugh. I've been playing catchup this week.
BUT ANYWAY. Your assistant coaches.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR/OFFENSIVE LINE
TIM DREVNO. I'm mostly through his hello post. Upshot: Harbaugh vet with OC experience under him at San Diego who coached TEs and OL at Stanford (yes please) before following Harbaugh to San Francisco, where the OL's performance was highly variable. Drevno left last year to go to USC, where he had excellent results with an extremely young (as in three true freshman starters) Trojan line.
Drevno's a good fit with Harbaugh specifically and appears to be the most qualified OL coach Michigan's had in forever. USC fans were super pissed about losing him.
QUESTIONS. Is OC/OL too much for one plate? How are his recruiting chops?
SOMEWHAT UNFAIR GRADE. A-. Lack of big-time OC experience the one drawback; tons to offset that.
TYRONE WHEATLEY. You know Wheat. Even if you are a pup, there is Wolverine Historian for you. Michigan legend, quick-riser once he hung up the spurs, driven to be a head coach. Should be a killer recruiter and guy who tells guys to run at the holes.
QUESTIONS. Is there enough of a difference in RB coaches to matter, or is vision un-salvageable?
SOMEWHAT UNFAIR GRADE. A. Excellent trajectory, is Ty Freaking Wheately.
JEDD FISCH. Former OC at Minnesota, Miami, and with the Jaguars was dumped after two years in Jacksonville during which he was provided not much talent and a ton of rookies. Two-year tenure at Miami was highly encouraging, featuring a big turnaround from Jacory Harris and the development of pretty-good Stephen Morris.
Fisch's WR experience is somewhat limited. He didn't play football and hasn't had a WR job since 2008.
QUESTIONS. What exactly will he do as a passing coordinator? How much does his relative lack of WR background hurt?
SOMEWHAT UNFAIR GRADE. B+. Recruiting questions due to his relatively short tenure in college, awkward fit at WR, but also a position coach who is 38 with 5 years of OC experience behind him.
woo! suck it, dad! via MGoVideo
JAY HARBAUGH, son of Jim. Yeah, nepotism hire. The younger Harbaugh at least resisted the call when it was offered to him earlier:
With a coaching vacancy to fill this offseason, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh zeroed in on a promising young member of his brother John's Baltimore Ravens staff. John reluctantly granted permission, and Jim proceeded to woo the up-and-comer.
But his pitch wasn't good enough -- not this time, at least.
"It's a dream to one day work for my dad, and hopefully the opportunity will come," said Harbaugh's son, Jay. "He understood where I was coming from."
Jay is the first Michigan coach who's appallingly younger than me—25—and should have Michigan on the cutting edge of the Facebooks and Instagrams and swipe-right-to-commit websites; he necessarily has zero track record.
I'd rather have a guy with one of those, but if that's the cost of Harbaugh whatever man. Also, let's look back that the Harbaugh coaching tree… okay. I mean:
"One time, I asked, 'Do guys give you a hard time about working for your uncle, automatically look at that as the reason you got the job?' His response was: 'It's my responsibility to not give them the opportunity to confirm that suspicion.'"
QUESTIONS. Is he actually a good coach? Will having a 25-year-old on staff help with the insta-twitter-snap-tinder-cruiting?
SOMEWHAT UNFAIR GRADE. C. Zero track record. Shades of JayPa, but Harbaugh isn't the OC. Harbaugh name rescues it—there is obviously a heritage there.
DJ DURKIN. Mattison/Harbaugh/Muschamp protégé has experienced meteoric rise in the coaching profession, to the point where he's taking his second DC job at a prestige program at the tender age of 37. (It's his birthday. Happy birthday.) Called plays for Florida's kickass D the past two years, has three years of Harbaugh experience as the DE coach at Stanford.
Should be a dynamic recruiter both in Florida, where he has four years of experience, and in Ohio, where he grew up and played college football at Bowling Green. Was pursued heavily by A&M and UNC, the former of which "settled" for throwing a walrus of money at LSU DC John Chavis.
QUESTIONS. How much of the Florida D was Muschamp and how much was him? How long will he stick around before getting a head coach gig? Does he know Mike Judge and can he get him my movie script?
SOMEWHAT UNFAIR GRADE. A. An up-and-comer with a terrific track record who immediately piqued the interest of a half-dozen recruits in SEC territory when he took the job.
GREG MATTISON. Michigan retained its DC as a position coach, and he was pretty good to excellent as defensive coordinator. Also, he's regarded as a terrific recruiter and provides continuity to help ease transition costs and prevent too many transfers. Pretty pretty good. Good fit, as well—Mattison's known various Harbaughs for 40 years and had Durkin as a GA when both were at Notre Dame. He's not going to butt heads with Michigan's new DC, but rather help him ease into being the man in charge of his own D.
Yeah, he's expensive for a position coach, but that contract was already signed.
QUESTIONS. How long does he stick around?
SOMEWHAT UNFAIR GRADE. A. Or five swag Mattisons.
MIKE ZORDICH. Twelve-year NFL vet has a decade-long coaching career that is mostly on lower levels save for a short stint with the Eagles. Should know everything about coverages given playing experience; Youngstown dude who went to Penn State should be able to hit Ohio and Pittsburgh hard.
QUESTIONS. Can he recruit at a big-time level? What happened with Philly and why did he get stuck at YSU?
SOMEWHAT UNFAIR GRADE: B-. NFL pedigree is nice, track record lacking, does bring a presumed set of recruiting chops that should be highly useful in PA.
GREG JACKSON. Another guy with a decade-plus career as an NFL safety; hooked on with Harbaugh after a few years at small schools and one at Wisconsin, whereupon his DBs were statistically lights-out. LSU alum who will likely focus on recruiting the south.
QUESTIONS. Was he a driving force behind the kickass 49ers DBs or was that either a statistical fluke or just a fortunate confluence of talent? Can he overcome the extreme gravitational pull of the South—and especially Louisiana—in recruiting?
SOMEWHAT UNFAIR GRADE: A-. Track record a little short, but dang man.
JOHN BAXTER. Thirteen-year career at Fresno State saw Bulldogs block a stunning 84 punts and kicks and return a bunch of the unblocked ones for touchdowns; upon his hire at USC was an immediate success with the Trojans. Left out after Kiffin firing when Sarkisian brought in his own guys, took a year off, was pursued by Texas and Pac-12 schools this time around and chose Michigan.
Also has 15 years of experience as an associate head coach and touts his "Academic Gameplan," which helped drag Fresno State out of the depths of schoolwork purgatory.
QUESTIONS. Spread punts?!?!?!?! (Yes.) How's his recruiting?
SOMEWHAT UNFAIR GRADE. A. Should be a massive upgrade on Michigan's dismal Hoke-era special teams.
A BRIEF COMPARISON TO THE PREVIOUS STAFF(s)
As in how good of an idea they seemed like when hired, not now. Otherwise these grades would be worse.
Borges: C. Had been out of football, not much success since first year at Auburn. Did have a good year with Lindley in second year at SDSU.
Doug Nussmeier. B+. Pretty clear he was getting chased from 'Bama so Lane Kiffin could enter, but a guy with an impressive track record who's still respected enough to get the Florida OC job even after last year.
Fred Jackson: C. Had been losing his fastball for a while. In-state recruiting successes offset by wildly inaccurate talent evaluations, and how hard is it for Michigan to recruit in-state anyway?
Jeff Hecklinski: B. Long time Hoke assistant did do a nice job with SDSU WRs, both of whom went in the third round after Heck's departure for M.
Darrell Funk: C. Pre-Hoke experience topped out as OL coach at Colorado State. Seemed plausible as an up-and-comer.
Dan Ferrigno: D. Had bombed out of college coaching in 2008 and was back in HS when Hoke picked him up; aging; no thought of upward mobility.
Greg Mattison: A. Big time college coordinator coming straight from the NFL.
Jerry Montgomery. B. Iowa alum and up-and-comer who Michigan yoinked away from Indiana mere weeks after he agreed to move there. Trajectory was borne out when Oklahoma came in with a big offer and stole him away.
Mark Smith: D. Had been with Hoke forever after moving from Indiana State, failed DC at Ball State, no track record of success recruiting or coaching. Also no thought of upward mobility.
Roy Manning (CB): C. Awkward fit in secondary, but young go-getter good on the trail. Would have been a grade higher if left in the defensive front seven.
Curt Mallory: C. Longtime DBs coach who had bounced around the Big Ten for a while; was coming off three years as Illinois co-DC and one as Akron's DC, albeit with little success.
All you have to do to measure relative attractiveness of Hoke's last staff is where they're landing. Borges and Ferrigno are supposedly headed to San Jose State; Jackson retired; Mallory went to Wyoming. Nussmeier is the exception, and he was only around for one year. Nobody else has an announced destination yet, and it's hard to see anyone other than Manning and Hecklinski getting a good Power 5 job—and even that's somewhat doubtful.
Notably, the biggest jobs many of Hoke's assistants had before coming into Hoke's orbit were not real big. A hypothetical Hoke-Harbaugh "impressive job not related to you or Michigan" challenge starts out with a couple of pushes and then is a blowout:
|HOKE COACH||PRIOR CEILING||HARBAUGH COACH||PRIOR CEILING|
|Mattison||Ravens DC||Mattison||Ravens DC|
|Borges||Auburn OC||Durkin||Florida DC|
|Hecklinski||Arizona QB/pass game||Fisch||Jaguars OC|
|Mallory||Illinois co-DC||Drevno||USC OL/run game|
|Ferrigno||Oregon WR||G. Jackson||Wisconsin DB|
|Smith||Indiana State DC||Baxter||USC ST|
|F. Jackson||Vandy RB||Zordich||Eagles DB|
|Funk||Colorado State OL||Wheatley||Bills RB|
|Manning||Cincinnati RB||Harbaugh||Ravens QC|
[Fred Jackson is a weird outlier, admittedly.]
Calibrate your preference between Borges and Durkin as you will; to me there's no question which guy I'd rather have at the time they were hired. Ditto Ferrigno versus Jackson since Jackson had been very impressive with Harbaugh. And this staff is very, very young. By my reckoning everyone on it save Baxter, Zordich, and Mattison is hungry to move up—and capable of doing so. I'm not sure you could say that about anyone on Hoke's staff.
Hooray, then? I think so.