In just about two weeks the Wolverine football family will grow by seven members. Bryan Mone, Michael Ferns, Mason Cole, Freddy Canteen, Brandon Watson, Wilton Speight, and Drake Harris will arrive in Ann Arbor on January 5th. As all seven young men prepare for the next chapter of their academic and athletic lives the winds of change have them anxious and excited.
Bryan Mone feels a little like the lost member of this recruiting class for the simple fact that he hasn’t been around as much as the others due to living in Utah. Mone also isn’t much for the spotlight and doesn’t do a lot of interviews or partake in social media like a lot of the other commits. Mone is set up to room with Scott Sypniewski a long-snapper already on the roster. At this point in time Mone is just ready to get on campus and do anything he needs to do to get on the field, even though he doesn’t know exactly what that is yet. Mone told me he’d like to wear #90, which should be possible as it’s currently not in use.
After flipping from Michigan State, Drake Harris has become one of the more popular commits in the 2014 class simply because of his seemingly unlimited potential at wide receiver. At 6’4” he has the kind of speed and size that can blow the top off of a defense, something that has been missing a bit in recent years. Harris missed most of his senior season with an injury so his level of anxiousness may be even more elevated than the rest. Harris will room with fellow incoming early enrollee Wilton Speight where to two hope to grow their chemistry. Harris says he hopes to do everything he can to earn the #1 jersey but believes he will start off in the #4.
Speaking of Wilton Speight, he told me he is coming to Ann Arbor with a chip on his shoulder. As a 3-star recruit he comes in a class behind Michigan native and golden boy, 5-star Shane Morris. That alone is enough to motivate him and he’s been working out non-stop and eating right trying to prepare anyway he can before starting a more regimented college workout and diet plan. He plans to hit the ground running with his offseason conditioning and lifting program as soon as he arrives. Look for Speight to rock the #19 in Ann Arbor just like he did in high school.
High school teammates Brandon Watson and Freddy Canteen were unsure of who their roommates would be, but both assumed it would be each other. Watson will arrive on campus at 6’1” and 190 lbs. which is bigger than I thought he was. He confirmed that he has definitely grown since any of his recruiting profiles were last updated. Watson plans to sport the #4 which will be available with the departure of Cam Gordon. Canteen didn’t have much to say but he did tell me that he was unsure of exactly what he will do as far as workouts, diet, and studying goes but he’s just ready to get to work.
Leaving the warmth and heading up north to the cold, Mason Cole can’t wait to get to Ann Arbor. The coaches haven’t told Cole what they want him to do as far as weight gain, working out, or what specific position he’ll play on the line, but he said simply, “It’s go time.” once he’s there. He just wants to get there and work out, get in shape, and study non-stop. Right now Cole is at 6’5” and 275 lbs. and he said he’d like to be at about 290 by the time fall camp rolls around.
Cole’s roommate, Michael Ferns was the only early enrollee I wasn’t able to talk to but I’d assume he’s very happy this day has almost arrived since he was the first commit of the class all the way back in August of 2012. If I do end up hearing from him I’ll add it in.
Send Joe Dumars to space, part XVII. Trey Burke's line from last night's Magic-Jazz game: 30 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds.
actual highlights start at about a minute in
Burke's shooting percentage is pretty low right now since he's taking a lot of those tough runners you remember from a variety of NO NO NO NO YES moments last year and getting fewer easy looks around the basket what with NBA players being very tall and athletic, but in his last ten games He's averaging 6.4 assists against 1.3 turnovers in that window. His TO rate of 6.8 is insanely low. It's looking like a three-way race for Rookie of the Year between Burke and old foes Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams.
Meanwhile, Detroit drafted a shooting guard currently hitting 37% from the floor and traded for Brandon Jennings, who is a fourth year player about as good as Burke is as a rookie. I shake my fist!
Is this getting old? Am I going to be describing various things that should be done to Joe Dumars for passing on Trey Burke when Burke is 55? Yes. I apologize for what will be history's longest conniption fit.
Prepare your butts. Devin Gardner's status for the bowl game is still up in the air but looking grimmer and grimmer as each day passes without his return to the practice field. We mentioned it on the front page a couple days ago after Hoke's presser, and everyone followed up with assessments about how grim it's sounding. And in retrospect… when has a sprain of a ligament in your big toe ever required crutches?
Meanwhile, Sam Webb was asking people if you play Gardner at 75% in this upcoming bowl game, and the answer to that seems to be a clear no since there's not much at stake. And was Gardner 75% by midseason? At best. Now that he's limping around on crutches, it's at least 50/50 Shane Morris fans will get to see him against K-State.
It is possible that Jason Whitlock doesn't know what he's talking about. Taylor Lewan took a lot of heat this year for Michigan's offensive line… for some reason. I watched him closely and he still looked like the incredibly good player that he was as a junior, but when things are bad they must be a Failure of Leadership if you are the kind of person who has no basis for saying anything but is paid to say things.
The NFL will weigh in in April; current returns are that Jason Whitlock is talking out of his butt. I know you are shocked. Todd McShay projects Taylor Lewan as the ninth pick of the NFL draft:
Lewan isn't an exceptional athlete but he has enough quickness to get by when coupled with his physicality and mean streak. I've written a few times this season that even though Lewan doesn't always look like a prototype left tackle, he is very effective in run blocking and pass protection. Safety might be seen as a bigger need for Buffalo, but typically if you have a chance to take an offensive tackle over a safety in the first round, you do it.
"Not a prototype left tackle" is a weird criticism to level at a prototype left tackle. Putting it in the pile with that guy who thought Mike Martin was supposed to be some journeyman plugger after he 'struggled' as a senior.
This man must be educated on his own dime. That one Cal assistant who got a ton of recruits to commit to Cal and then jumped to Washington, bringing those recruits with him, is under investigation. For terrible things.
Mike Davis, a throwing coach who helped Basham win a state shot put title in track and field, told the Times that [Tosh] Lupoi gave him $3,000 for private tutoring for Basham and $1,500 to reimburse Basham's father for online classes.
The kid ended up not qualifying anyway. I guess you can't be giving money to people no matter what it's for, but I bet the NCAA prefers it when they come down on people for hiring strippers instead of tutors. Lupoi should start making donations to charities in recruits' names, just to see what happens.
Steve Sarkisian could eat a suspension for this after the NCAA made head coaches responsible for their assistants' misdeeds, something that would undoubtedly increment Lane Kiffin's smug look the one tenth of one percent it can be upgraded from its resting state.
OH GOOD THANKS 2013. JT Compher won't play at the WJC because he broke his foot, which will probably put him out for a month. This is at least the right time to do it, as Michigan doesn't return to the ice in a game Compher was going to be available for until January 10th, and then Michigan has a bye week before a Joe-and-road series against MSU that he may be available for.
This does make an important series at Wisconsin tougher, but at least Michigan has a lot of center depth.
SERIOUSLY 2013, I MEAN, SERIOUSLY? Beilien on WTKA:
During a Thursday morning interview on “The Michigan Insider” show on WTKA-AM (1050), Michigan coach John Beilein said he sophomore forward is being held back by a "variety" of nagging injuries.
"Right now, Mitch cannot go 100 percent," Beilein said. "He can't do what he can do."
You go straight to hell, 2013.
I SAID STRAIGHT TO HELL. PA DB Monate Nicholson, who was going to commit to M before the coaching staff basically told him not to visit, is now an MSU commit.
Still looking. Michigan signed their four hockey recruits for the upcoming year, though there are a couple of things yet to be determined.
One is the status of Hayden Lavigne, who's had a rough start in the USHL (.887 in five games) and is still a really young guy, especially for a goalie. It seems to make more sense for everyone to delay his entry until 2015, and even then he'll have to compete with a senior Racine and junior Nagelvoort. As we've seen in the recent past, goalies staring down a tough road to playing time are often defection candidates. Lavigne will be of interest. We'll see how committed he is to the college route; he was at least committed enough to sign his LOI.
The other thing is who replaces Jared Walsh, who committed and then defected to the OHL. Michigan graduates two defensemen (Bennett and Clare) and brings back something between six and eight depending on your opinion of the viability of the guys on the back end. (They are Serville, Lohan, Downing, De Jong, Chiasson, Sinelli, Szuma, and Hyman.) They've got a guy named Cutler Martin who is the hard nosed stay at home type his name foretold from birth, and they'd probably like to add another in that mold with Serville, Downing, and De Jong all puck moving types. May their search here be as successful as their search for a goalie last year was.
Okay.gif. Borges on Michigan's success against Ohio State:
"We executed," Borges said firmly. "It's that simple. We executed.
I really hope that's just balderdash for the reporters. The BTN commercials don't say FOOTBALL IS SIMPLE, man.
Etc.: McKeen's ranks incoming hockey center Dylan Larkin 20th in their latest NHL draft projection. That means he'll probably end up in the second round, like fringe first rounders before him JT Compher and Jon Merrill. Ricky Doyle highlights. He's killing it to the tune of 30 a game. UNC basketballer John Henson's shirt has an opinion. Hyping up the redshirting DTs.
Just When You Thought It Was Safe...
Jabrill Peppers reaffirmed his commitment this week. So did Shaun Crawford. Michigan had successfully weathered the storm caused by their on-field woes. And then...
GEORGE CAMPBELL OUTTA NOWHERE.
According to multiple outlets, Campbell actually decided to decommit last week, but waited until this week to inform the coaches of his decision. Steve Lorenz relays the news that Florida, Florida State, and Clemson (ugh) are involved in Campbell's recruitment, and while Michigan isn't out of the picture, they're losing perhaps their biggest edge ($):
Yesterday, I tweeted out that Michigan was still in it for Campbell after his decommitment. I still believe this, but after doing some digging while on the road today, I'm not sure how high the Wolverines are on his list at this point. If you forced me to choose, I believe he ends up somewhere else. Where that is, I don't know. Mason Cole leaving for Michigan within the next two weeks is about the worst thing that could happen in this regard because their friendship was a big part of getting Campbell committed in the first place. Without Cole in his ear and Michigan being a ways away, the excitement about the Wolverines could fade over time.
The Wolverines will continue to pursue Campbell and in-state athlete Brian Cole as their top priorities for receiver in the 2015 class; after being in great shape for both just a few months ago, however, there's a distinct possibility that both end up elsewhere—there's a very good chance Campbell stays in the South, while Cole may be a Michigan State lean and also has interest in Ohio State. Michigan's very strong group of 2014 receivers mitigates some of the hurt from this, but there's no sugarcoating the loss of one of the nation's top prospects, especially when it seems directly tied to uncertainty (real or perceived) regarding the program.
It might not end with Campbell, either. Shortly after that decommitent went public, fellow 2015 blue chip commit Damien Harris tweeted "Here comes the tough decision.." which, well, obviously raised some red flags given the timing. That could very well be nothing, however, as Harris—unlike Campbell, a childhood fan of Florida—grew up rooting for Michigan; he also subsequently retweeted fellow recruit Justin Hilliard questioning why anyone would commit to a school without "110%" certainty, as well as today's news about Michigan scheduling the game against Florida in Dallas in 2017, when he'd be a junior. Since Harris' first tweet has garnered a lot of attention, I figured I'd add some context—for now, at least, it seems early to panic.
This entire sports year post-Final Four can still die in a fire, though.
[Hit THE JUMP for updated Scout rankings, the latest on Vic Enwere and Josh Rosen, and more.]
Just about all of the luster has gone out of the idea of playing a football game in Dallas after Michigan got pounded by Alabama to not make any money, to the point where actually getting the band there required Dave Brandon to squeeze half of the cost of that out of donors.
So guess what, guys!
Gators will open 2017 season against Michigan in Arlington, Texas. Game scheduled for Sept. 2
— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) December 19, 2013
I'd say this further proves that Dave Brandon charged his family for Thanksgiving dinner, but like playing a canned version of the Victors against the #1 basketball team in the country, money isn't actually a good explanation. These games are kind of inexplicable when OSU and MSU are locking down quality home and homes.
This leaves… I don't actually know. With dynamic pricing shoving marquee prices into the stratosphere and Michigan charging extra for premium opponents, a home and home is at least a financial push compared to these one-off neutral site games, and then you have a nice thing to show your season ticket holders instead of a six-game home schedule featuring Cincinnati and Air Force as your nonconference draws. If Florida won't agree to it, maybe someone else would.
The only thing I've got is that this gives Dave Brandon a chance to hang around his idol some more.
FWIW, this completes the unerring accuracy of that list the BTN leaked a few months ago.
The optimal lineup? (Apologies for reminding you of those shoes.)
Michigan's underwhelming start to this season can in large part be attributed to the dropoff in play at point guard; this was expected with Trey Burke gone to the NBA, but the degree to which it's affected the team's overall performance has surprised. Without Burke drawing the attention of multiple defenders, Michigan's wings have had a much more difficult time generating offense.
As discussed earlier today, Derrick Walton hasn't had a great start to the season, and his status as starting point guard is tenuous after Spike Albrecht played the lion's share of the minutes against Arizona and acquitted himself well. In an effort to figure out which point guard gives the Wolverines the best chance of winning now, I took another look at the Arizona tape along with the usual foray into KenPom and hoop-math wonkery.
We'll start with the tape from Saturday, focusing on the play of each point guard on both ends of the floor, with an emphasis on the type of shots each generated. Here's the reel for Spike:
And here's Walton:
After THE JUMP, I (chart!) chart every shot from the game, break down my impressions of each player based on the above film and the season as a whole, and take a deeper statistical look into their play.
[JUMP, if you will.]
Freshmen sometimes play like freshmen, but fergodsakes…
From Hardaway to Stauskas, Michigan fans in recent seasons have been spoiled by freshmen who show up and can immediately ball with the starters. So what's up with Walton/Irvin? Were we too high on them or is this normal for kids before Christmas? Will they improve enough by March to make Michigan the contender we thought they were at the beginning of the season?
Brian: I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE
Okay, sorry, sorry. It is kind of weird that all of a sudden Michigan has to deal with freshmen playing like freshmen. Last year Stauskas was pretty great from the drop, GRIII was the perfect addition to a Trey Burke driven team, and even Albrecht came off the bench to play his role effectively and occasionally drop sick dimes on VCU or rain threes on Louisville. The year before that, Trey Burke! The year before that Tim Hardaway was just a (high volume, pretty effective) shooter but I'll take just a shooter from a freshman.
|The last freshman who wasn't really efficient as a true freshman.|
You have to go back to 2010(!) to find a Michigan team that didn't get really efficient play from at least one of its freshmen. That year, Darius Morris did get starter's minutes at the point but barely shot and had a post-like 27 TO rate. And even in that situation you can understand what happened: Morris was a no-shoot pick and roll savant playing with Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims. The former was a ball magnet with no conscience, the latter a PF masquerading as a C. He was never going to be a great player until he got to dominate the ball a la Manny.
Michigan's freshmen are not in that situation. Irvin can stand in the corner and jack threes a la freshman Hardaway just fine, hypothetically. Walton, too, is in a situation where he can contribute with his decent three point shooting and hypothetically good on-ball defense without having to dominate the ball, which doesn't seem like a good idea. So they can slot in to provide effective help for the GRIII/LeVert/Stauskas troika that spearheads Michigan shot generation. We just have to see them do it.
I think both have disappointed, and that it's reasonable to expect better production--some production--any production--from guys ranked in the top 50 most places. That's not to write either off. I mean, Caris LeVert. Players get better, often radically. But Michigan fans are well within their rights to be a little disappointed about how it's gone for the freshmen so far.
As for whether they'll get better, I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE. Someone tell me yes.
[After the Jump: people who work for Brian telling him 'yes']