The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Hoosier Leader Now?
Michigan hosted a pair of four-star Indiana prospects on Monday, and it was well-known that the Wolverines were working from behind on each. Wide receiver Austin Mack, considered an Ohio State lean, forged a stronger connection with the new coaching staff, per Scout's Josh Newkirk ($):
"This visit really helped a lot," Mack said. "This is the second time I was able to get down and speak with the coaches and build that relationship. It definitely ranks them a lot higher in my eyes.
"Seeing how beneficial the education and the coaches are at Michigan. Knowing that the next few years they won't be losing like they have been. Success is going to come and it's definitely going to come from hard work. They have definitely moved up and are team to think about."
Mack told Newkirk that he has no leader heading into his June 7th decision; the general consensus, however, is that Michigan made a move but still has ground to make up on the Buckeyes.
That's also the case with defensive end Auston Robertson and Michigan State, though Michigan managed to replace another rival in his top three, per ESPN's TomVH ($):
“I don’t really have a relationship like that with Ohio State anymore, so why keep them in the top three,” he said. “So now it’s Michigan State, Notre Dame and Michigan."
Robertson admits the Wolverines have some ground to make up on the other two schools on the list, but says he will give them a shot to do so.
Robertson wants his mother to visit each of his top three schools before he also decides on June 7th, so while Michigan still needs to make a push, they should get that opportunity.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
(Dressler, Barron, Fuller – MGoBlog)
Entering the year, Michigan’s most obvious area of concern was at the center position – Michigan fives play a singular role and that big man play was an underrated storyline amidst the Wolverines’ success in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. It’s easy to see why the position was unsettled, especially relative to the rest of the roster. Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, and Zak Irvin were solid contributors in 2014 and each was projected to have some sort of breakout season. Kam Chatman, a big, skilled lefty – a five-star who chose Michigan over Arizona – looked to lock down the four spot.
There were four potential contributors at the five:
- Redshirt junior Max Bielfeldt – a short, stout post player who flashed signs of a clever pick-and-pop game shooting spot-up threes – had yet to play meaningful time in the rotation behind guys like Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan, and Jon Horford.
- Redshirt freshman Mark Donnal, who, as a former top-100 recruit, was the most highly-touted of the group; Michigan could afford to take a redshirt for him in 2014, but that Bielfeldt, not Donnal, was the emergency center, it seemed as if he was still far from being able to hold up physically.
- True freshman Ricky Doyle, a guy who Beilein prioritized early in the recruiting cycle, looked to have the size and bulk to contribute early, though he never rose significantly in the recruiting rankings before or during his senior year of high school.
- True freshman D.J. Wilson: in order to create as much competition at the position as possible, Beilein put the potential four at the five – Wilson has a lot of potential, but he looked lost early on in the year and suffered a knee injury, taking a medical redshirt after not being able to contribute meaningfully.
Ultimately, Michigan’s center spot was not a position of strength—and there’s definitely places where you can contextualize Michigan’s struggles with the problems in that group – but it’s possible to see reasons for encouragement in the future.
* * *
Beilein’s Big Men
As much as anything, John Beilein’s gained acclaim in the world of college basketball because of his reputation (and prowess) as an offensive whiz, and with his precise, familiar system, it’s easy to see certain roles for certain positions: the backcourt is capable of going with a two guard look in Princeton sets, but it also lends itself to individual pick-and-roll prowess; the two wings – at the three and four – play essentially the same roles, mirroring the other on the opposite side of the floor.
Beilein’s best team at West Virginia featured Kevin Pittsnogle at the five – The Mountaineers were able to play five-out ball because of his outside shooting ability. He hasn’t had a player like that in a prominent role at Michigan: Wolverine bigs under Beilein (and especially under the tutelage of Bacari Alexander) are the sort of specialized two-way bigs gaining in popularity across the NBA in spread pick-and-roll schemes. Michigan’s centers work as a fulcrum in Beilein’s traditional read-and-react schemes, but their function in the generally effective pick-and-roll game is to finish around the rim after setting good screens for perimeter playmakers. They’re required to anchor often-suspect defenses, though they clearly lack the athleticism and shot-blocking ability to fit into the NBA archetype.
Predictably, there’s a lot of statistical similarities of big men in the John Beilein era at Michigan, especially starting in the 2011 season with players he recruited:
Generally – and largely because of Michigan’s offensive and defensive schemes – there have been unmistakable indicators of Beilein’s role for his big men: they’re efficient and have solid advanced shooting statistics, they typically use a low percentage of Michigan’s possessions on the offensive end (though McGary and Bielfeldt bucked that trend some), and even though Michigan’s guards and wings retreat in transition after a miss, the big men post solid offensive rebounding rates. Usually, there’s not a lion’s share of minutes to be had at the position after DeShawn Sims’s departure – Beilein’s more egalitarian with his playing time at that spot than at any other.
Contextualizing Michigan’s 2015 center troika within the statistical outputs of all of Beilein’s post players offers some interesting observations:
Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal were very efficient; they didn’t approach 2014 J-Mo’s ridiculous season, but the two freshmen took generally tougher shots. Bielfeldt was the opposite: high usage, but mediocre efficiency.
The biggest surprise to me is the poor rebounding numbers from Ricky Doyle, though there’s potentially an explanation for that. Ricky’s offensive rebounding rate, while not excellent, was fairly decent – on defense, he focused on box-outs because of his limited leaping ability and the benefit of having guards and wings push the break.
Bielfeldt was legitimately a solid rebounder on both ends as a senior, which was a big surprise – those numbers probably inflate his ability, because opponents often attacked the glass when he was in, but he was decidedly the best of the three.
Of course, the players each had respective characteristics that defined their game, so I’ll break down the style of each in their own sections:
* * *
(Fuller – MGoBlog)
If there was a winner in the Michigan center sweepstakes, it was Doyle, who played the most minutes throughout the year despite facing the effects of illness and conditioning issues.
Note that the minutes trends for Bielfeldt and Donnal are pretty much the inverse of each other.
Of the three, Ricky was the closest to a traditional Big Ten bruiser. Semi-serious comparisons to Graham Brown abounded early in the season, though Doyle showed off incredibly soft hands and surprising coordination near the basket. His post game – something that Michigan seemed to actively try to develop (even though guys like McGary rarely posted up) – was a little bizarre: Ricky showed off a precocious repertoire of moves but he wasn’t decisive with any of them, often stringing together superfluous moves that attract traveling calls.
Still, Doyle was the best two-way option early in the season because of his size. Under Beilein, there’s only been one freshman with comparable height and heft in the post – Mitch McGary. Going from McGary to Doyle highlighted a lot of what made Mitch a rare talent: Ricky simply doesn’t have the athleticism, lateral quickness, or general polish to his game, not to mention his odd inability to put up good rebounding rates.
Even though Beilein would probably prefer ballhandlers to grab defensive rebounds, Ricky’s DR% of 11.9 was the lowest of his tenure at Michigan and has to be a reason for concern moving forward. Hopefully with a year of good health (Doyle’s illnesses were – in hindsight – a bigger problem than we thought) along with a summer of conditioning, he’ll be able to post respectable numbers next year. Doyle’s defense also needs work, but a year of experience should be invaluable for his positioning.
Focusing on that one weakness doesn’t seem fair, but it’s certainly notable. There was real reason for excitement for Doyle – which he showed off briefly at the end of the year against Frank Kaminsky and Wisconsin – when he was healthy. We knew that Ricky would be a big body inside, hopefully anchoring a team without many offseasons of physical development. In a way, he was, but we didn’t expect him to have a nose for drawing fouls or the ability to be a high-percentage shooter, especially in contested situations.
Doyle’s list of statistically analogous Big Ten players is an unusual mix. He has three different Penn State Nittany Lions in his top seven (not good), but compares well to Indiana’s Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Michigan State’s erstwhile center platoon. Colton Iverson is an interesting projection: he didn’t pan out at Minnesota and eventually joined Tim Miles at Colorado State for a productive career playing the way Doyle plays. Jae’Sean Tate and Basil Smotherman indicate that those two are like centers and – statistically speaking – Doyle has a profile suggestive of a low-volume stretch-four without much range (but one who can score effectively around the basket.
* * *
(Fuller – MGoBlog)
Mark Donnal was a perfect example of the dissonance between numbers and the eye test last year. He shot 57 / 37 / 70 (2 / 3 / FT) on the season and he posted an offensive efficiency number of 119.6 on 17% of available possessions (which compares favorably to Aubrey Dawkins’s respective 116.3 and 16.4%). Donnal was a better rebounder than Doyle, based on their rebounding rates; he easily had the team’s highest block rate. So why – as evidenced in the charts above – did his minutes drop throughout the season to the point where he was clearly the third option?
Max Bielfeldt was better than Donnal at creating his own shot, but that’s not why Donnal was effectively frozen out of the rotation late in the year (he only played one minute against Wisconsin). Through the first few games, it appeared that Donnal wasn’t physically ready to contribute meaningfully and that suspicion was supported often throughout the season. He frequently was unable to set good screens (which was a problem he shared with Doyle); he couldn’t maintain position in low-post defense; he often resorted to hacking an opponent to prevent them from getting good looks (instead of contesting shots well) – his foul rate (6.4) was much higher than either Doyle’s (4.0), or Bielfeldt’s (3.8).
There are positive signs from Donnal, but it became clear that he’s a long-term prospect, even now. Since he has 3 years of eligibility, it’s much too early to write him off. Despite not being able to handle low-post physicality, he still shot pretty well around the rim; 37% from three for a center is a good clip and Donnal could be a potentially useful pick-and-pop option at some point; his length could enable him to contest shots well on defense eventually.
A few comparisons here stand out: Cole, Nankivil, Dukan, Clark, Griffey, and Pitchford are all stretch bigs that either play the 4 or 5 – all of them have perimeter-oriented skill-sets. It’s interesting to see Marvin Clark there: MSU fans project him to have a breakout sophomore year, while it’s hard for UM fans to avoid feeling disappointed after Donnal’s freshman year. Interestingly, Matt Costello shows up again (7 for Donnal, 8 for Doyle); Michigan State’s center platoon was uninspiring last year, but blue-chip recruits are providing reinforcements. Walter Pitchford is the name that sticks out most to me though. He was pretty solid as a sophomore and dropped off entirely as a junior – being the Huskers’ only reliable three-point option didn’t work out well in 2014 and last year, his shooting fell off competely. Still, I think he’s perhaps the best stylistic comparison for Donnal on this list, at least.
* * *
(Fuller – MGoBlog)
Since Max most likely won’t be back next year, I won’t spend time describing his game or highlighting strengths and weaknesses. From UMHoops’s excellent Five Key Plays series, here are Bielfeldt’s season highlights: Bucknell, Rutgers, Illinois, and Rutgers again. I didn’t expect him to contribute as arguably the best big man for stretches, but he held up well – especially for a guy who might be just 6’6.
Another thing: I came to Michigan in the same high school class as Bielfeldt (2011) and the last member of that recruiting class – Carlton Brundidge, Max Bielfeldt, and some Trey Burke guy – is finally leaving Michigan. Bielfeldt was the only remaining player in Michigan’s program to have played on the same team as Zack Novak and Stu Douglass; now, the “Fresh Five” remnants are seniors and leaders – two kids who hadn’t even committed to Michigan when they pulled in their first Big Ten title in about thirty years. Even though Max Bielfeldt wasn’t an impactful contributor for most of his career, it’s sad to see him go.
I do wonder if he’d be a better fit somewhere else though. At 6’6, he wasn’t big enough to man the center spot full-time for Michigan, but he could work as more of a traditional power forward (which Michigan doesn’t have) between his adequate post-up ability, the ability to space the floor, and his above-average rebounding for his size, he could work well into a frontcourt rotation that operates in a different way than Michigan does. It would be interesting to see if he has somewhat of a breakout season after a change in scenery, though that definitely didn’t happen this past year with Jon Horford’s transfer to Florida.
Best of luck, Max. Congrats on going 8-1 against Illinois.
* * *
2011 vs. 2015
Entering the season, there was an ostensible comparison between Michigan’s situation at the five spot: in 2011, Michigan started the season with Jordan Morgan (rFr), Jon Horford (Fr), and an out-of-position Evan Smotrycz (Fr); in 2015, Michigan had Mark Donnal (rFr), Ricky Doyle (Fr), and an out-of-position (maybe) D.J. Wilson (Fr) – as well as Max Bielfeldt. Wilson was too raw to contribute and took a medical redshirt, but comparing Morgan and Horford to Donnal and Doyle is fair. Team success makes us remember the 2011 center corps more fondly (plus J-Mo’s eventual ascension to small-time cult hero late in his senior year), but – due to Morgan and Smotrycz – the 2011 big men had better individual performances than the ‘15 bigs:
“Game Scores” are a metric devised by John Hollinger to find one rough number to quantify all-around performance in a given game – efficiency and many traditional box score stats are incorporated.
Looking at the eye test – Doyle is reminiscent of Morgan, Donnal is reminiscent of Horford – might be more instructive: as a freshman, Jordan Morgan operated a beautiful pick-and-roll game alongside a great distributor in Darius Morris, but Doyle was never able to get a hold on how savvy screeners can create open looks. They’re both good finishers, Doyle is better with his back to the basket (which is generally inefficient anyways) and he’s bigger too.
They’re not exactly similar players, but Doyle definitely could do well to try to emulate Morgan – neither can protect the rim but Morgan’s agility (which Doyle doesn’t have) made him a solidly above-average defender and maybe Doyle’s size could help him in that regard. Ricky seems to have the ability to seamlessly step into the other half of theoretically solid pick-and-roll combinations between he and LeVert, Walton, or Irvin. At the very least, Ricky’s shown himself to be physical and he competed well against some of the better bigs in the league (and exploited a tiny Indiana front line for his best game of the year).
* * *
(Fuller – MGoBlog)
Yes, that’s Ricky Doyle baptizing first-team All-ACC senior center Rakeem Christmas (who was also a third-team All-American, in large part due to his defense). It’s a thing that happened. Really.
For the second year in a row, the five projects to be Michigan’s weakest position – Walton, Albrecht, LeVert, and Rahkman can control the guard spots; Irvin, Dawkins, Robinson, Wagner, and Chatman are on the wings. There’s depth and talent across the board one-through-four. But the five is just Doyle and Donnal, two guys who haven’t proven much yet. Michigan has an empty scholarship after Jaylen Brown and Kenny Williams went elsewhere, but I haven’t seen any chatter about bringing on a grad transfer for a one year stopgap. It hurts that Bielfeldt is leaving, but hindsight’s 20/20. In any case, Doyle and Donnal will be dissected plenty ahead of the upcoming season. Hopefully a summer at Camp Sanderson gives them enough to battle with the Big Ten’s newfound strength in the post.
Only three former Wolverines were selected in the NFL Draft—Devin Funchess, Frank Clark, and Jake Ryan—but a handful of others will get their shot as undrafted free agents. Here's a quick look at where each UDFA ended up and their chances of sticking on an NFL roster.
Brennen Beyer, DE/OLB, Baltimore Ravens
Beyer was consistently solid the last few years, playing out a career reminiscent of Craig Roh; while never outrageously productive—he topped out at 5.5 sacks in a single season—he played disciplined defense on the edge. Beyer is almost certainly an outside linebacker in the Ravens 3-4 defense, which will be a transition after playing with his hand in the dirt for the most part at Michigan—he did start five games at linebacker in 2013. Like most UDFAs, Beyer has an uphill climb to make a roster; for comparison's sake, Roh spent one season on Carolina's practice squad, then played for the Omaha Mammoths of the FXFL in 2014.
Devin Gardner, WR, New England Patriots
Gardner is making the transition from quarterback to wide receiver, and he landed on the right team to do just that; the Patriots turned Julian Edelman, a 2009 seventh-rounder, from an all-MAC dual-threat quarterback at Kent State into one of the more reliable receivers in the league.
Of course, Gardner did get some experience playing the position in college, playing receiver in 2012 until Denard Robinson's injury forced him back into quarterback duty. Gardner displayed his great athleticism, especially as a red zone threat—he had four touchdowns in eight games as a WR—but his rawness at the position was also evident. The book on Gardner from his pre-draft preparation falls in line with what we saw in 2012:
A college quarterback, Michigan's Devin Gardner is making the transition to wide receiver for the next level, a position he played briefly in his Ann Arbor career. However, he is understandably still very raw as a wideout. During Monday's practice, Gardner rounded off routes, dropped passes and attracted a good amount of attention from the coaches as they tried to coach him up. He did some things well and has the athleticism for his size that should translate well, but it will certainly take some time before he sheds the “quarterback trying to play wide receiver” label.
How quickly Gardner learns the finer aspects of playing receiver will determine if he's worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster or gets the opportunity to refine his game on the practice squad. Even if it doesn't work out with New England, he should get a shot somewhere; there's no question he's got a lot of potential, and I think his hands NFL-quality—the UFR catch chart reveals that he caught all but one easy throw that season, and was targeted on a lot of uncatchable throws that significantly drag down his yards per target.
Delonte Hollowell, DB, Detroit Lions
MLive's Kyle Meinke reports Hollowell will be at Detroit's rookie minicamp this weekend, though it isn't clear whether he's been signed as an undrafted free agent or is simply getting a tryout. (I'd guess it's the latter.) Hollowell saw the occasional snap as a slot corner but mostly played special teams at Michigan. Unless he turns into a special teams demon, he's facing a major uphill battle to make a roster, especially given his relatively small stature.
Matt Wile, P, Carolina Panthers
Wile, who saw significant action as both a placekicker and punter at Michigan, will get his shot as a punter in Carolina. The incumbent Panthers punter, Brad Nortman, took a step back in 2014 after a stellar 2013 season, so there may be an opening for Wile to land the job, but to do so he'll have to beat out an established vetaran—one Carolina used a sixth-round pick on in 2012.
The extra slot. Max Bielfeldt could return next year if Michigan was so inclined. It does not sound like they are rushing to make this happen, though. Bielfeldt:
"I don't even know," the 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward said. "I've just been looking to see what else is out there. If this (situation did come up), I knew I'd have to take it for what it is. If I end up making a decision here in the next week or so and nothing pops up Michigan-wise, then I'll move on.
"(I haven't talked with Beilein about it) since the scholarship opened up."
It might be hard to kiss and make up here with Bielfeldt fielding serious interest from multiple Big 12 schools.
Harbaugh profilin'. Bruce Feldman on the man in khaki:
Most coaches will say they are much better at their jobs than they were a decade ago thanks to experience, but Harbaugh isn't most coaches. "I don't know that I am (a better coach)," he said. "Even though you've proved something before, that's the very nature of football playing or coaching. You could have proved something 1,000 times before. You could prove it again, but now that's all that matters.
"It's irrelevant no matter how many times you prove something. This is the only time that matters."
Well worth a read.
That this is a hard decision is a bad thing. Dylan Larkin is playing at the World Championships for the USA, an impressive accomplishment for any college player. He is still considering signing with the Wings. That would be far from unprecedented, except for the fact that his pro team doesn't seem to be pressing for it at all:
Should Larkin sign with Detroit, he would most likely spend the season in the AHL with Grand Rapids, a team that has consistently been successful recently under the stewardship of coach Jeff Blashill. …
From what I’ve been told, the Red Wings would be happy with Larkin’s decision either way. If he returns to Michigan, he gets to play that big role on a young team (the team had a dearth of juniors this season, so there will only be a handful of seniors next year) and he can learn from mistakes now rather than in a couple years when he’s in the NHL.
If Larkin signs when the Wings are saying "you will play in the AHL"—something they no doubt mean given the guys they've left in Grand Rapids well after they've ripened—that is a devastating commentary on the current state of the program.
Unfortunately, I don't think I would be at all surprised by that. Mike Spath is without question the most plugged-in hockey reporter Michigan has, and when Andrew Copp left he talked to various people in the program and came back with this:
A motivation for Andrew Copp to leave? Apparently his dad didn't like that Copp wasn't the leading scorer the past two seasons and blamed this on Michigan's failure to develop him to be the first-line center he was destined to be.
This is what society has become. Every parent thinks their kid is the next Crosby. Winnipeg apparently told the family he could one day lead their team in points. I like Andrew a lot but that is a crock.
There is only one person who would say this to Spath: Red Berenson. Spath probably should have kept that one under his hat, because it drew a response from Copp's father in which he made it clear that assertions about his character were way off base. A small portion:
Michael it is disappointing that as you have gotten to know Andrew over the last 3 years you should have a gut feeling about how he is as a person. Much has been made about it in the press and by the coaches over the years. Andrew is a very mature young man with character, conviction, and morals. I can tell you that Andrew made the decision to leave completely on his own. We do not parent like micro-managers, we have always raised our two boys to be independent and we support the decisions that they do make. Andrew consulted with our family during the process but never once asked our opinion on what he should do with his life nor did we give it, that is HIS decision. To be honest I don’t know what I would have said, I would have loved to see him play his senior year, see him a couple times a week and every Sunday for family dinner. As a parent you hope you provide your kids with the life skills to make difficult decisions and I am proud of how Andrew has navigated this process.
Red has always been lovably cantankerous about his players leaving before their time. This goes several steps beyond that. Copp was not mentioned at the post-season banquet. When bitterness gets that prominent it starts to seem like a reason for the team's recent underperformance.
Red is going to be back next year, and then he is likely to retire. I'm not particularly optimistic about that final year. That Copp would leave probably doesn't say much about Copp.
For Larkin's part, here's Larkin:
"Not 100 percent," Larkin told The Windsor Star when asked if he's made a decision. "I'm still in between and weighing the options. I wanted to wait until after the tournament to make a decision.
"I'll probably take some time. I mean, I'm not in a rush. The seasons are over. There's really no rush. I really feel like there's not a wrong choice or a bad option. Either way I'm still going to be playing hockey and doing what I love.
"We'll see what's best for me."
I have a bad feel. NCAA muckety-mucks are complaining about the graduate transfer rule, because obviously. They do not have great reasons to do so:
"I don't think it fits the core values of intercollegiate athletics," said Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson.
When asked for specifics on the conflict with core values, Benson said, "It just doesn't feel right."
The core values of intercollegiate athletics are what exactly? If it's about getting an education, these players have already acquired bachelors' degrees. If it's about a level playing field, that ship sailed, sunk, and turned into barnacles a long time ago. If it's about catering to coaches' whims… we should probably have more timeouts in basketball.
Pat Forde says that if the NCAA is actually concerned about their core values they'd look at the scourge of recruits reclassifying. It's not clear that such a thing is at all common—most kids who reclassify are in fact forgoing a prep year, not accelerating. And the ones who do always have the option of, like, not doing so. It's hard to see what the harm is there. Forde's attempt to conjure one is unconvincing:
A senior year of high school is among the priceless commodities in life. I hope giving that away in part because some coach needs you now is a good decision for Thornton. It certainly seems to be one more example of the coach controlling the athlete more than vice versa.
High school is nice and all but if you told me I could go to prom or start at point guard for Duke I think I might take the latter. Thornton could still pick any school he wants as a class of 2016 player; that Duke presented him with an option he found attractive is not a problem.
Then there are the academic questions. By all accounts, Thornton is a bright young man and he may have been planning his class load with this accelerated graduation in mind. But will he be ready – early – for the classroom challenge at Duke? It's not exactly like going to UNLV.
It is. It is exactly like going to UNLV because every school has easy classes for people not interested in requirement X. I was in some at Michigan. Forde probably doesn't know that college hockey was well ahead of the curve here, with three top-ten NHL picks (Zach Werenski, Noah Hanifin, and Hobey winner Jack Eichel) arriving after accelerating their studies. It seems likely that both Werenski and Hanifin will be back at their respective schools next year, which they could only do if they were coping academically.
Increased flexibility for players is generally a good thing. Let them accelerate cake and graduate transfer cake.
Don't mind if I schadenfreude, thanks. EDSBS's ERASE THIS GAME series strikes upon the USF-Notre Dame game that caused Brian Kelly to turn into Yosemite Sam. Notre Dame's next game was this one:
If you could get in the college football hall of fame for making fanbases other than your own happy, Rees would be a holy lock.
Now when is #M00N happening EDSBS? For pants' sake.
Scouting centers. Brendan Quinn on Austin Davis and Jon Teske:
Davis: While quiet in-person, he's not shy on the floor.
Davis is aggressive with the ball, while remaining steady and methodical, refusing to rush. He knows how to work offensively on the low blocks, utilizing good hands and a soft touch. Most importantly, Davis looks to score the ball. Points to just come to him -- he shows himself well on post-ups and gets his own points.
Teske: The shot-blocking ability is abundantly apparent. Teske is a natural with instinctual patience and timing. He's does well to go up and block shots in the air instead of lunging to get shots at the point of release. That defensive prowess translates to his movements and awareness on that end of the floor. Teske seems to anticipate without guessing, and looks to make defensive plays without leaving himself susceptible to mistakes.
Interesting that MLive is getting more into the scouting/video stuff for recruits. Davis got a bump to four stars on 247, BTW. It looks like there is going to be a severe difference of opinion between the sites on him. Brian Snow has made it clear that Scout is not going to follow suit.
Etc.: Tyus Battle will visit officially tomorrow; Duke has taken a big lead in the Crystal Ball, and this one doesn't seem like guesswork. Remember when a playoff was going to kill the bowls? Speaking of coach catering. On 2016 combo guard Bruce Brown.
bizarro iowa is still just iowa
THING NOTES: This was a much different outing for Iowa, as they ran out to a decent lead but then blew it. Rudock ended up throwing or running 64(!) times against just 23 plays on which he handed off. The vast majority of these plays were from shotgun empty formations, for some reason. Iowa omitted even the tiniest threat of a run for the bulk of the second half.
DISCLAIMER NOTES: I'm not intimately familiar with the Iowa roster so there may be the occasional personnel errors.
This one is behind a jump because it's almost a whole UFR.
[After THE JUMP: almost a whole UFR.]
When the Seattle Seahawks drafted Frank Clark in the second round of last weekend's NFL Draft, the obvious question arose: how would organization handle Clark's November arrest for a domestic violence charge?
The details of the arrest report were disturbing; Brady Hoke called the incident "unacceptable" while dismissing Clark from the program; at the NFL Combine, Clark engaged in an unsettling bit of victim-blaming instead of shouldering the full responsibility for his actions.* Clark pled guity to reduced charges in April. For an NFL team looking to draft Clark, due diligence was required; this wasn't even Clark's first run-in with the law.
On Friday, Seahawks GM John Schneider said all the right things about the organization's investigation into the incident:
“Our organization has an in-depth understanding of Frank Clark’s situation and background,” Schneider told reporters in Renton after the second and third rounds on Friday. “We have done a ton of research on this young man. There hasn’t been one player in this draft that we have spent more time researching and scrutinizing more than Frank. That’s why we have provided Frank with this opportunity and are looking forward to him succeeding in our culture here in Seattle.”
Schneider said, based on the team's investigation, he didn't believe Clark hit his girlfriend, and domestic violence issues were a deal-breaker when evaluating players. That revelation came as quite the surprise to many, including witnessess of the November incident—witnesses who, according to a bombshell report in the Seattle Times today, were never consulted by the Seahawks:
But the Seahawks made him the 63rd overall pick in the draft, saying team officials had conducted an extensive investigation of their own and felt confident that the 6-foot-2, 277-pound Clark had not struck his girlfriend. The team acknowledged on Monday that their investigation did not include interviews with witnesses other than Clark.
The police report describing the incident quotes Diamond Hurt, then 20, saying Clark punched her in the face. Hurt’s younger brothers are quoted saying the same thing.
When Babson and Colie found her, Hurt “was just laying there,’’ Babson said. “She looked like she was unconscious to me.
“The kids were saying, ‘He killed my sister!’ ’’
Colie added that Hurt “was on the ground, curled up and holding her head and stuff.’’
Both women gave written statements to police via email the following day. But they say they never heard back from anybody about the case until The Seattle Times contacted them on Monday.
The Seahawks didn't perform a thorough investigation. They didn't even perform a half-assed one. They talked to the person they wanted to play football for them, heard what they wanted to hear, and willfully ignored a great deal of evidence that directly contradicted their conclusions.
It's a remarkable failure that hurts all parties involved.
It's an unfortunate reality-check for the ever-increasing number of people hoping the NFL will actually take domestic violence seriously, instead of doing the bare minimum to avoid negative PR. I can't imagine how the victim must feel seeing Clark's new employer take her alleged assailant at his word and make no effort to get the full story, one corroborated by multiple witnesses.
It also does no favors for Clark. While his alleged transgressions—and his subsequent statements—leave little room for sympathy, he's had his day in court and isn't subject to further discipline from the NFL; he should be able to move forward with his career, ideally with the support of an organization that is there to help him learn from his past and become a better person.
Seattle's investigation and its backlash, which is only just beginning, cast that into serious doubt. If the Seahawks feel obligated to correct their mistakes with this investigation, Clark will be the one looking for a job, and while he has nobody to blame but himself for being in that position, that doesn't mean it's justified. Cutting Clark may save some face for the organization, but that's about it, and it certainly doesn't help Clark find his way to a better path. If Clark remains, on the other hand, Seattle's initial handling of this doesn't instill confidence they'll do a whole lot to support Clark's growth as anything but a football player.
The Seahawks hurt themselves, too—at the very least they're facing a major controversy, and at worst they'll cut a second-round pick before he ever suits up for them—but they've somehow set themselves up as the least sympathetic party in this most recent ordeal.
What's perhaps the most galling is how unnecessary this is. Clark's alleged assault was common knowledge heading into the draft, and most expected he'd still get drafted; I don't think the central issue here is with him getting a chance to play in the NFL, or even that he got selected earlier than expected for a player with his off-field history. What concerns me most is this: Seattle didn't take the issue seriously, no matter what they say, and in doing so they set everyone up for failure.
*Clark would later make a more contrite statement of apology (last paragraph). He still maintains he didn't strike the victim.