this may be of some local interest
With spring practice just about over and Michigan under 85 it's time to 1) check in with how the Hoke-Harbaugh transition is affecting the roster and 2) finally, thankfully drop that damn 2010 class from these posts. We will officially never talk about Demar Dorsey again. We're also moving past 2011 since none of those guys are on the roster any more. If you need to remind yourself of the final verdict on either of those recruiting classes, the December version of this post should suffice. In brief: "argh dammit" and "bleah," respectively.
Quality starters are bold, contributors italics. Walkons denoted with #.
25 players. Only fifth year seniors left. Brady Hoke class #1.
Devin Funchess, Willie Henry, Kyle Kalis
Enrolled (9): Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden, Matt Godin, Chris Wormley, Jeremy Clark, Ryan Glasgow(#)
Played out eligibility (7): Jarrod Wilson, Sione Houma, AJ Williams, Mario Ojemudia, Joe Bolden, Royce Jenkins-Stone, James Ross.
Early NFL draft entry (2): Devin Funchess, Willie Henry
Injury(1): Kaleb Ringer
Transferred for PT (1): Ondre Pipkins
Academics/Not Being Nice (1): Dennis Norfleet.
Not offered fifth year (4): Terry Richardson, Allen Gant, Tom Strobel, Blake Bars.
Since December this class has shed four redshirt juniors who didn't see the field much, if at all, and lost Willie Henry to the NFL draft. That's not much of an impact on the overall results from Brady Hoke's first full class, which was downright terrific. If you add in walk-on Ryan Glasgow, exactly half this class panned out into multi-year starting roles, with five more guys serious contributors. If Michigan had put redshirts on guys like Ojemudia and Houma, who were little-used as freshmen, it would look even better.
The combination of player retention, strikes on sleepers (Chesson, Clark, Glasgow, and Henry were all generic-three-star-or-worse and are likely to go in the NFL draft) and sheer quantity makes this the best recruiting class in the past decade. And that's despite one of the five-stars in the class, Pipkins, failing to make an impact.
27 men. Seniors and redshirt juniors. Brady Hoke class #2.
Jourdan Lewis, Derrick Green, Logan Tuley-Tillman
Enrolled (17): Jourdan Lewis, Patrick Kugler, Dymonte Thomas, Shane Morris, David Dawson, Henry Poggi, Mike McCray, Taco Charlton, Jake Butt, De'Veon Smith, Ben Gedeon, Maurice Hurst, Delano Hill, Wyatt Shallman, Channing Stribling, Khalid Hill, Scott Sypniewski.
Injury (3): Chris Fox, Jaron Dukes, Reon Dawson.
Transferred for PT (5): Dan Samuelson, Kyle Bosch, Derrick Green, Ross Taylor-Douglas, Damario Jones.
Academics/Not Being Nice (2): Logan Tuley-Tillman, Csont'e York
Since December this class has shed five guys. Dukes and Dawson took medical hardships and stayed in school; Green, Taylor-Douglas, and Jones all graduated and will land elsewhere as grad transfers despite having only been in school for three years. (Green and Taylor-Douglas did both enroll early.)
With three major exceptions this is another excellent class, featuring at least two high NFL draft picks and probably a few more. The problems:
- Shane Morris was a major risk after missing his senior season with mono, especially since there was no QB in the previous class.
- The WR class was mostly a scramble situation after LaQuon Treadwell opted for the money at Ole Miss. All three players have already left without making an impact.
- The offensive line class was gutted, largely by things outside of the program's control. Chris Fox's knee was never right after a high school injury; Bosch had personal issues; Tuley-Tillman got charged with a felony; Dan Samuelson couldn't hack it at this level. Only the latter was at all on talent evaluation or development.
Harbaugh papered over the first problem by bringing in Rudock and O'Korn; the other two positions look good… and dangerously thin.
Jabrill Peppers, Ian Bunting, Brady Pallante
Enrolled (15): Jabrill Peppers, Drake Harris, Bryan Mone, Mason Cole, Lawrence Marshall, Chase Winovich, Freddy Canteen, Ian Bunting, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Wilton Speight, Maurice Ways, Noah Furbush, Brandon Watson, Jared Wangler, Brady Pallante.
Transferred for PT(1): Michael Ferns.
Freddy Canteen may be on the verge of exiting, per Harbaugh.
Not much change for these guys yet. Early yet for many of them to make an impact, I did italicize a few kids who are likely to play roles this year. Ask again after this year.
The small size of the class is not hugely damaging since the two before had 52 kids in them and didn't suffer much attrition until right about now, but when you have such a small class you'd like it to be filled with more top-end guys. That wasn't the case, as everyone after Bunting on the list above is more or less a sleeper type. Seven shots in the dark is more or less expected when you take 25+; in a class of 16 that's the first hint that Hoke's recruiting was falling apart.
14 men. The Hoke/Harbaugh transition class. Harbaugh recruits denoted with *.
Zach Gentry, Tyrone Wheatley Jr, Keith Washington
Enrolled (13): Zach Gentry*, Tyree Kinnel, Grant Newsome, Alex Malzone, Ty Wheatley Jr*, Shelton Johnson*, Karan Higdon*, Reuben Jones*, Grant Perry*, Keith Washington*, Jon Runyan Jr,, Nolan Ulizio*, Andrew David.
Academics/Not Being Nice(1): Brian Cole.
This is a transition class and transition classes are rarely good. By this point Hoke's recruiting had truly imploded as the product on the field became too unwatchable to ignore. Harbaugh inherited just six kids who would end up signing LOIs, one of them a legacy and one a kicker.
Cole, the only top 100 recruit in the class, went up in smoke for violations of team rules before he could enter his second year. Michigan does appear to have a few strikes already in Newsome, Wheatley, and Perry, but the sheer lack of dudes in it and the 2014 class—just 30 players between the two—is worrisome for the next couple years.
It's worth noting that of all the players who left the team after the 2015 season, Cole is the only one who didn't take a medical hardship or get a degree. Anyone concerned about going too Saban should keep that in mind. When at all possible Michigan has fulfilled their primary duty to the departures.
29 men. Harbaugh class #1.
Enrolled (or about to do so): Rashan Gary, Ben Bredeson, Brandon Peters, David Long, Devin Asiasi, Michael Onwenu, Kareem Walker, Dylan Crawford, Lavert Hill, Ahmir Mitchell, Brad Hawkins, Ron Johnson, Carlo Kemp, Devin Bush Jr, Chris Evans, Nick Eubanks, Khaleke Hudson, Eddie McDoom, Elysee Mbem-Bosse, Nate Johnson, Quinn Nordin, Josh Uche, Stephen Spanellis, Kingston Davis, Josh Metellus, Sean McKeon, Michael Dwumfour, Devin Gil.
Obviously only a few of these guys are even on campus yet and there is little to say about them as a result. LB Dytarious Johnson remains in academic limbo.
Michigan's top options had a tough time creating good looks at the rim.
Injuries. Let's get this out of the way. Michigan managed to make the tournament despite losing Caris LeVert, who was playing at an All-American level when injury struck, and Spike Albrecht, whose absence kept Derrick Walton on the court for huge minute totals and caused John Beilein to give Andrew Dakich a spot at the end of the rotation. Add in Zak Irvin's wonky back, which affected his shot well into the season, and Derrick Walton still not looking like the player he was before his sophomore-year injury, and it's fair to say health cost the Wolverines at least a couple wins.
The center position. Moe Wagner's late emergence provided hope for the future. For most of the season, however, the center position was the source of much consternation. Ricky Doyle, the presumed starter heading into the season, took a huge step backward as a sophomore; his turnover rate nearly doubled and his teammates clearly lost trust in him as a result. Doyle's struggles may be attributed to the late-season revelation he suffers from sleep apnea, but that realization came too late to save his season or, ultimately, his career at Michigan.
Mark Donnal stepped into the void and improved markedly from his first year of game action. That said, he still had obvious deficiencies, especially on defense. Getting beat up by AJ Hammons is one thing; making Alex Olah look like Hakeem Olajuwon for the second straight year is another. Unless Donnal gets a lot stronger or becomes a legitimate three-point threat, he seems best suited as a backup center; deploying him against opposing backups would mitigate his weaknesses. For that to happen, though, Wagner must cut his foul rate significantly.
Perimeter defense. It was bad, even by the mediocre standard of previous Beilein squads. Michigan's best perimeter defenders, MAAR and Derrick Walton, had uneven seasons on that end of the floor—especially Walton, who'd vacillate from awful performances to good ones with little indication of what he'd bring on a given day. The three spot the biggest sore spot with Duncan Robinson somehow looking sigificantly less bad than Aubrey Dawkins by the end of the season; Robinson was still quite far from good.
The Wolverines were especially poor in the halfcourt. While their transition eFG% allowed fell in the middle of the NCAA pack, they were 273rd out of 351 teams in non-transition eFG% defense, per hoop-math. The problems were myriad: fighting through screens, guarding isolation, contesting shots, weakside rotation—you name it, really. The problems on the perimeter were amplified by the lack of a rim protector; they still started on the perimeter.
via Shot Analytics
Stars taking one step back for every step forward. There were encouraging developments out of both Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton this season. Irvin did an admirable job playing out of position on defense and rounded out his offensive repertoire, nearly doubling his assist rate. Walton posted center-level defensive rebounding numbers and returned to his freshman form as a perimeter shooter.
But with their bigger roles, flaws were exposed. Irvin's forays to the hoop increasingly resulted in turnovers as the season wore on; his handles still need work and teams exploited the fact that he was far more likely to try to kick the ball out than finish in traffic. Walton simply couldn't finish at the rim, continuing an alarming trend from his injury-plagued sophomore season.
This is where LeVert's absence hurt the most. The only player Michigan could rely upon to consistently generate a decent look—MAAR—still had a limited game; while he could weave his way to the basket in LeVert-like fashion, he wasn't nearly on LeVert's level as a shot-creator for others. Rahkman becoming a better all-around offensive player would be huge for the 2016-17 squad. It's becoming harder and harder to expect Irvin or Walton to live up to the expectations set by M's previous top options.
[photo: Bryan Fuller.]
What are you watching for in the Spring Game? What is there to learn?
David: Brian and Ace did a good job during the Podcast of pointing out some of the main things to watch for on Friday night. Here are some additional battles/guys that will grab my eyes:
|No no the one on the right. [Fuller]|
Not De'Veon Smith running backs. At this point, we know who Smith is and what he can do. After him, there is quite a race happening. Isaac has been hyped a little, but he was last year, as well. Kareem Walker is a big recruit, but as of a couple weeks ago, he was still with the Maize group. Also, I guess Joe Hewlett has gotten some nice run.
Bobby Henderson at fullback. He's the only returning true fullback. They've moved a couple other guys (Hill and Poggi) back there, but I'm curious to see if Henderson will fend them off and be able to earn PT just because he will be more familiar with the position.
Dymonte Thomas and Tyree Kinnel at safety. Thomas blew up towards the end of 2015 and earned his spot on the field. He's a crazy athlete and a little more practice time could turn him into a dynamic deep safety. Tyree Kinnel is a guy I still wish they would have red-shirted, but he is also a guy to keep an eye on for not only next season but for the future. There's not a whole lot behind these guys. *We've seen Delano Hill before and mostly know what we'll get from him.
The rest of the tight ends. Jake Butt is YAY! There are also some interesting guys after him. Bunting, Wheatley, Jocz, and Gentry are all different kinds of players and each can create his own matchup problem. Seeing Wheatley slip out, Jocz block (ha), and Bunting/Gentry use their size against smaller DBs will be some things to keep an eye on that could get them on the field in the Fall...and very much diversify Michigan's tight end arsenal.
[Hit THE JUMP to find out who the coaches' thought their #3 overall player was at this time last year. Hint: he didn't play.]
Where have you seen the biggest growth in your offense over the last couple of weeks?
“I just think that people understand the concepts. Really the passing game’s come along with the precision and timing. You know, making corrections. People understand what you’re trying to correct and they’re fixing it the next day you come out.”
Coach Harbaugh said that his quarterbacks were making ‘one big mistake’ per day right now. Is that still—I mean, what do you need to see from them this week and then going through the summer?
“I think just, you know, in terms of where they need to go with the ball, the progressions of their reads, when there’s no play to be made make a play. And that goes for any type of quarterback in any system. That’s not just this particular system here. That’s what you’re looking for.”
Have you seen a difference between John [O’Korn] being in his first year being in a competitive situation and the other two guys, Shane [Morris] and Wilton [Speight]?
“I think John’s a real competitor. I don’t think if he’s a redshirt it doesn’t matter to him. He’s a guy who comes out, wants to compete every day, and wants to be at his best.”
How do you distinguish between making a play when there isn’t one and trying to do too much? Where’s the line that gets drawn between those two?
“I think those guys just kind of naturally have it. They know when to make a play. They know when to step up and find a spot in the pocket. They know when to scramble. They know when to get rid of the ball not to take a sack. You know, I think it’s just kind of part of their DNA. It’s in there, you’ve just got to get it out of them.”
Was moving Mason [Cole] more about the importance of that center position or just getting the top five on the field?
“You know, you just really want to get the top five in however you do that. We’re still evaluating if that’s the best position for him. He’s done a very, very nice job this spring. That’s a hard thing to do is stand there with the ball in your hand and you’ve got a 300-pound guy breathing down your neck and you’ve got to snap it, you know. He’s really handled it beautifully. He’s done a really, really nice job with it.”
Do you guys feel like Newsome’s ready to start if need be?
“Yeah! When we played him last year as a true freshman we believed that he’s ready to do that if that’s how it all pans out.”
What’s different about him? You’ve talked about football lenses opening. Was his already a little more open than most?
“He’s very intelligent. He gets it. He can make a correction once [and] he can fix it. He understands what you’re talking about when you talk to him in the room. The screen doesn’t got fuzzy with him. He stays with you in a conversation.”
[After THE JUMP: Others in the OL rotation, Ty Isaac’s spring, and what Don Brown’s scheme does for the O-line]
Dawkins, Wilson, and Chatman give M three non-Wagner breakout candidates.
Part one of the postseason mailbag, which definitely didn't include an egregious error in the original post, can be found here. Part two got quite lengthy, so let's get right to it.
A Spike return is very unlikely.
— Erik in Dayton (@erik_dayton) March 29, 2016
While that door isn't completely closed, it would shock me if Spike ended up back on the roster next season, and I think it would shock him, too:
With that, Albrecht and Beilein shook hands and parted ways. According to Albrecht, Beilein told him that if an additional scholarship should open up at Michigan, the program would "entertain the idea of" him returning, but added that such a scenario is unlikely.
"That's a long shot," Albrecht said Monday. "And really, I don't even know if they'd want to bring me back because they'll already have two very talented point guards on the roster next year."
I know it's hard to come to terms with this because Spike is such a beloved figure, but this is the best arrangement for both parties involved. The issue with bringing Spike back, even if a spot does open up, is you're then impeding the development of a highly regarded player at the same position. Xavier Simpson is the future at point guard for this program and they justifiably want him to get plenty of time next year. If he's stuck behind Walton and Albrecht, it's hurting the team down the road just so the team can have a marginal one-year upgrade at backup point guard—and that's not a slight against Spike, just an assessment of Simpson's talent. Plus, Albrecht isn't exactly a sure thing after coming off surgeries to both his hips.
As Spike mentioned above, returning to Michigan isn't necessarily his ideal scenario, either. If he's healthy, there's a good chance he'll start at another program—he'll be able to choose a school with that role available to him. That's not going to be the case in Ann Arbor with Walton coming back and Simpson arriving.
If there's further attrition, I'd rather see Michigan go after a grad transfer shooting guard, preferably one who's a positive on the defensive end—that's a far bigger need than a third point guard. Alternatively, they could go after a stretch four to take pressure off Zak Irvin if there's attrition in the frontcourt. That's far from the sentimental choice, but I think it's the best one for the team.
It appears John Beilein is thinking along the same lines. According to ESPN's Jeff Borzello, Michigan is one of the programs that's contacted grad transfer Columbia combo guard Grant Mullins, who's a 44% three-point shooter. At 6'3" with a PG-like assist-to-turnover ratio, Mullins could play either guard position. The coaches also reportedly contacted Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome (that is apparently a real name), but there doesn't appear to be strong mutual interest; Michigan isn't listed among the schools Broome plans to visit, per CBS's Jon Rothstein.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the mailbag.]
So pumped for the Don Brown era. Half because of his defense, and half because dude is on Harbaugh's level when it comes to photos:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) March 30, 2016
Don Brown's seen some things. Some things better left buried. But the law doesn't work like that. The law just keeps bringing things back, like a cat with a hairball.
Basketball roster not exactly set yet. Michigan has lost Spike Albrecht and Ricky Doyle, bringing their 2013 roster to 13. But they don't appear entirely settled with their roster yet:
Michigan, California, Syracuse and Hawaii are among the schools that have contacted Columbia grad transfer Grant Mullins.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 30, 2016
Mullins, a combo-guard, was super-efficient in the Ivy League last year (36th nationally in ORTG, 44% from three, lots of FTs at 83%) on a team that looks a lot like Michigan, statistically. Michigan also reached out to Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, though it doesn't look like anything is coming of that.
What's the deal with that as regards Spike, then? I don't know. Maybe Spike isn't likely to be the same player, or Xavier Simpson was going to take his minutes. Or Michigan is just keeping options open in case someone who has not decided to transfer does so in the future.
Red status not set either. Red's offered some quotes to news organizations about his impending decision, which seems honestly yet to be determined:
“I’m going to talk to [Manuel]…I don’t want to make an emotional decision because I’m mad at somebody or something, I want to make a decision that’s good for the program,” Berenson said.
Who or what he would be mad at is unknown. This in the Free Press doesn't really sound like a guy who was planning to come back but wanted to anyway:
“There’s no question ... the start of the year, I was pretty much resigned to the fact this would be the last year,” Berenson said. “But as the year went on, it got better and better. I thought it made more sense and it was working.
“I don’t want to be in the way, that’s the other thing. If I’m going to coach, I want to coach.”
The relative success of the team might extend his desire to coach. So… yeah. I said my bit on what should happen already.
Not bad. Wisconsin hired Tony Granato as their new head coach. Granato is a former NHL head coach who is a Wisconsin alum who had a prolific NHL career; he was a Wings assistant. He's bringing his brother Don, the NTDP head coach, and former OSU coach Mark Osiecki with him. Osiecki was doing a not-bad job with OSU when his tenure was suddenly and inexplicably terminated just three years in.
That is a lot of coaching firepower for one program. Wisconsin is going to bounce back just fine. With the addition of Notre Dame this early blip in Big Ten hockey is going to look like just that—a blip. The league has four historical powerhouses; those programs don't just stay down.
Well, most of them…
Not good. Meanwhile in erstwhile Big Ten hockey powers, Tom Anastos still has a job because apparently Sunil Gulati is running MSU's athletic department now. Mark Hollis is making statements that are downright delusional:
“I feel really good about where we’re at,” Hollis said. “…I’m also an AD that has to look at, ‘OK, what’s the next five years going to look like, based upon the past five years?’ And from all the assessments I’ve put into this and all the folks I’ve talked to, I’m very confident we’re going to have success here next year and in the immediate future.”
That is the most insane thing I've heard an athletic director say, and I was exposed to years of Dave Brandon. Anastos's teams have gotten worse every year, and this is year five. You can no longer say these things in year five:
Comley left the program bare, though Anastos has been careful not be be overly critical publicly. Most of the players he inherited were not highly recruited.
And guess what… most of the players Anastos is recruiting are not highly recruited. Their recruiting class is bulked up with 20-year-olds like MSU is Merrimack or something, and the guy they seem the most hyped about coming in next year is an overage forward out of the BCHL named Taro Hirose.
Hirose does have a nice line (15-56-71 in 58 games). It probably won't translate. Dexter Dancs came out of that league two years ago with 67 points in 56 games and has mostly been a fourth-liner at Michigan. Before him, Ben Winnett had 58 points in just 39 games; his career high in four years at Michigan was 14 points.
Meanwhile Anastos will not have the services of leading scorer MacKenzie MacEachern, former third round pick and the most Scottish thing not in a bottle. His lone returning draftee at F was –30 last year. I mean… what does it take to fire this guy?
I look forward to having the "Tom Anastos still has a job?" conversation again next year after Wisconsin gets instantly better with their new staff. I'm sorry I'm a broken record about this but keeping Anastos is brutal for the league and what used to be my favorite rivalry in sports.