Now Touring: The Jim Harbaugh Experience
Remember last summer, when Penn State coach James Franklin ruffled some feathers by hosting satellite camps in Florida and Georgia? Jim Harbaugh is taking the same tack. The Wolverine's Brandon Brown reports that Michigan's coaches will run a camp at Prattville High School in Alabama, which produced 2015 signee Keith Washington, one June 5th. Four days later, they'll do the same in Dallas, per MLive's Nick Baumgardner. It wouldn't surprise at all if additional camps were set up in, say, Florida and California before all is said and done.
This is a great situation for Michigan, of course. The coaches get to see a ton of prospects in states they can't get to during the season, make connections with local coaches, and hopefully make some progress with recruits they've offered. There's really no downside to this that I can imagine.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Oh, Michigan Hockey Summer, can't you let us get to actual summer first? No? You're a jerk, MHS. Junior captain Andrew Copp is out the door:
Andrew Copp has long called Ann Arbor home, but he's on the move.
The University of Michigan junior announced Thursday he will forgo his senior ice hockey season to purse a career with the Winnipeg Jets of the NHL. Copp signed a three-year, two-way, entry-level contract with the the team that drafted him 104th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
That is (or at least would have been had Mike Spath not been on top of the story) a shocking departure.
It's hard to not see it as a ringing condemnation of the team's prospects next year. Copp was on path to be a two-year captain, was only a fifth round pick, and could have taken the Hyman route. Hyman will either sign with the Panthers for max rookie money or wait 30 days and do so with another NHL team that he thinks he can play for immediately. Instead Copp is locked in with Winnipeg despite having dim prospects to actually be in the NHL next year. And he leaves without having ever played in the NCAA tournament.
That is grim. Michigan can replace Copp's production adequately since they have a ton of forward depth, but the implication of his departure underscores the things that have gone wrong with the program these three years.
Spath also projects that Dylan Larkin is on the fence, BTW. If he goes after a single year enthusiasm for next hockey season will be at lows last seen before Berenson's arrival.
Spoiler: nobody answers "the bumblee ones" (and lives)
With all the uniform-related news going around this week, I thought I'd ask about Michigan football's road jerseys, the not-so-constant in what's otherwise been a remarkably consistent wardrobe. Which of Michigan's road uniforms would you prefer they wear? Would you make any tweaks to a past look? Alternates—looking at you, Sugar Bowl uniforms—are very much eligible.
|Not sure of original source; Adam found it on the board.|
Adam Schnepp: Ah, yes, Michigan's ever-changing road uniform. The wearable lab where the apparel supplier can tweak and tinker and see what whets the appetite of the jersey-buying masses.
My ideal road uniform is one that Michigan's essentially already wearing in practice (at right). I love the look of the all-navy numbers, but I'd add the blue-maize-blue shoulder striping Michigan wore from the mid-70s to the 90s.
I know Ace mentioned alternates as candidates for primary road jerseys, but in a world where multiple night games are likely it's hard to think alternates go away so I'll pick one of those while I'm at it. If Michigan wants to wear a "legacy" jersey on the road let's make it:
1) something they actually, you know, wore
2) something that integrates the wolverbear:
[Via the MVictors Uniform Timeline]
Go back to 1962 and there it is: block M on the sleeves, wolverbear on a patch, otherwise clean design. A legacy jersey I might actually buy despite knowing that I usually look like a doofus in jerseys.
[after the JUMP: we take piping very seriously]
See also: hockey.
a shruggie of a year [Bryan Fuller]
Despite a lot more playing time than anyone expected, Michigan seems content to allow Max Bielfeldt to graduate and move on. As a 6'7" center it seems unlikely he can feature on a team with major aspirations.
That is all.
And this isn't graduating yet but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Austin Hatch may transition to a medical scholarship at some point.
NBA PIRACY AHOY
The looming unresolved question of the offseason is "wither Caris LeVert?" LeVert would be a mid-to-late first round pick if he decided to enter the draft, but chatter from Scout and Rivals holds that LeVert seems to be favoring a return. I don't have to explain how huge that would be. Fingers will be crossed until the deadline.
Other attrition is unlikely. Zak Irvin's late diversification has not piqued the interest of NBA evaluators just yet; Derrick Walton has not shown the kind of meteoric rise necessary for a guy of his stature to leave early.
technically incoming is the best kind of incoming [Bryan Fuller]
Technically, nobody right now. Michigan has two guys who are functionally incoming, however. D-III transfer Duncan Robinson spent his redshirt year testing Nik Stauskas's practice marksmanship records and gathering hype:
"I texted Nik (telling him the record fell)," Beilein said of Robinson's record on WTKA 1050-AM on Thursday morning, adding that he didn't witness it personally. "(Stauskas) was happy, but he was also sad that the record went down. Duncan can really shoot the ball and as he learns the other parts of the game, he's tough to stop in practice." …
"He can help us against that zone anytime," said Beilein, who kept the record to himself, later saying, "I'm not going to disclose the numbers and maybe it will come out at some time, because I'm not sure I'm supposed to do that."
Robinson should be Just A Shooter, always a handy thing to have around. He could be something more.
Meanwhile, DJ Wilson took a redshirt after a second injury in a few months. Prior to that he'd offered hints that he could be an impact defender and skilled 4/5 man. He'd also struggled immensely in brief spurts of playing time against grown-ass men. (Not Eddie Johnson. Others.) Wilson was a solid four star recruit after an impressive senior season in California and could play either post-type position.
Michigan is also active in the spring recruiting period. Uber-prospect Jaylen Brown just took a visit, and Sam's saying there's a chance; German Moritz Wagner took a visit and seems set to choose Ann Arbor unless his pro team can convince him to change course; late-rising instate post Mike Edwards was just on campus; Seton Hall point guard transfer Jaren Sina, who Michigan recruited a bit a couple years ago, is listing Michigan amongst his options.
Edwards is 6'10" instate player who blew up as a senior, going from a lonely Akron offer to high-major offers from Nebraska and Georgia. Michigan is poking around but has not offered.
Will they? I'd be a bit surprised. Michigan has Donnal and Doyle plus 2016 7-footer Jon Teske; DJ Wilson may play the 5 for them as well. Even if you assume Wilson is a full-time 4, that would be a post per year for four straight. On the other hand, an incessant parade of senior Cs sounds okay by me.
Michigan has at least one slot from Bielfeldt's graduation and may have up to three depending on Hatch and LeVert. It seems like the most likely outcome here is Wagner, and only Wagner, comes.
USELESS BUT MANDATORY MINUTE BREAKDOWNS
After a year in which we fussed about auto-bench and a couple of walk-ons got meaningful playing time in most games, here is a happy about-face: it's difficult to find minutes for everyone if LeVert comes back.
remember me? [Eric Upchurch]
POINT GUARD: Walton 25, Spike 15.
Hard to imagine Walton getting fewer than 30 a game even with Albrecht establishing himself a very good offensive player in trying circumstances last year, but 1) Walton only got 26 as a freshman when he was fully healthy and 2) all of the remaining minutes went to Spike.
Meanwhile Albrecht ended up playing over 30 this year and maintained a healthy 112 ORTG thanks to lots of assists and excellent shooting. There are going to be games and matchups where he may be the preferred option. When Michigan goes up against Bennie Parker or Lourawls Tum-Tum Nairn Jr, Spike's size deficiency isn't going to be, you know, deficient.
Walton could blow up a la Morris/Burke and relegate Albrecht to more bench time. The above is a best guess at a position that's relatively uncertain despite having two upperclassmen.
SHOOTING GUARD, LEVERT EDITION: LeVert 30, Spike 5, MAAR 5.
There will be some dual-point lineups. Spike's five minutes here are a representation of that. Past that, if LeVert's around he's playing a lot of minutes. Surprise!
MAAR looks like he might be the odd man out in the musical chairs of next year's lineup: his handle won't be needed to spot PG minutes, he didn't shoot anywhere near Dawkins's numbers, and he doesn't bring the rebounding others might. Ace pointed out on a podcast that MAAR showed hints that he might be a lockdown perimeter defender (D'Angelo Russell had a terrible game against him) and that this might be a ticket to playing time. That's probably his best hope for PT next year.
SHOOTING GUARD, NBA PIRACY EDITION: MAAR 20, Spike 10, Robinson 10
In the unhappy event LeVert decides on the draft, dual-point lineups increase, MAAR gets a healthy chunk of playing time, and Duncan Robinson finds more time as a floor-stretching kickout option even if that's the extent of his game.
It'll be disappointing if LeVert does enter after these positive noises, but this hypothetical SG lineup is far from ominous.
SMALL FORWARD: Dawkins 25, Robinson 15
Dawkins's late shooting surge—he shot 48% from 3 in Big Ten play as part of a larger improvement in his game has everyone hype, as does the addition of the alley-oop dunk to his arsenal late in the season. This minutes breakdown is looking at Dawkins as 3 defensively but envisions his role on offense similar to that of GRIII: shoot corner threes, cut to the basket for explosive dunks, drive off closeouts.
Meanwhile, Robinson is a wildcard. It seems like his floor is a knockdown shooter off the bench. Robinson hit 45% from three as a freshman at Williams, and if he's given similar quality shots there's no reason to expect a dropoff. Readiness won't be an issue after a redshirt year, especially since highlight videos of his year in D-III demonstrate he's running Beilein's offense down to the cut.
If Jaylen Brown does come to Michigan—knock on wood—he would suck up 30 minutes here, leaving Dawkins and Robinson in a situation similar to MAAR's.
HELLO THIS IS ZAK [Fuller]
"POWER" FORWARD: Irvin 30, Chatman 10, Wagner?
Irvin will be the non-post most suited to bang in the paint on defense and rebound so he goes here. Michigan hopes to get the playmaking ability he demonstrated late last year. He could be the alpha dog; that could be LeVert; hopefully we get something like the Trey/Tim/Nik or Nik/Caris/Derrick teams in which the shots are spread out such that focusing on any one player just makes his assist totals go up.
Chatman struggled for most of last year. Like Irvin and Dawkins, he did come on late with a number of skilled drives to the basket and the first flashes of the passing ability he was noted for in high school. It does not seem likely he will push through anyone to field extensive playing time in year two, but if he can start giving consistently quality minutes off the bench that would set the table for a starting job as a junior if Irvin's improvement carries him to the draft.
Wagner's not even on the team yet; if he comes he will compete at the 3 and 4. He is not coming to redshirt but he's super skinny so playing time in year one might be scant.
CENTER: Doyle 24, Wilson 8, Donnal 8
Bigs develop. Repeat this mantra until you feel good.
Either Mark Donnal takes a quantum leap forward on defense or Ricky Doyle eats up most of the minutes in the post next year, fouls permitting. Doyle has a much larger frame than other options and held his own against the posts of the Big Ten. Since Doyle is also a year younger than Donnal you would expect him to develop more quickly.
Doyle has a terrific ability to finish around the basket and actual post moves. he needs to work on his hands, mostly, and reduce the foul rate that is inherent in project freshman bigs. He hedges pretty well and he gets a lot of offensive rebounds Meanwhile I wonder what the team defensive rebounding rates are with Doyle on the floor versus other options with shinier DREB numbers. Michigan is utilizing a boxout-focused style that often results in a guard skying for the rebound as Doyle butt-shoves his man out of the way.
In any case, I've been a bandwagon member since the start and think he will develop into a very solid option. He shot 61% this year in a finishing environment leagues tougher than that faced by any Michigan post since the Beilein effect kicked in; with more assisted buckets he could scrape Jordan Morgan efficiency levels while providing a bit more size on D.
Donnal, meanwhile, needs to spend the offseason gluing sand to his jaw and making mean faces in the mirror. (Also lifting weights but mostly the first two.) He averaged 6.4 fouls per 40 last year (Doyle and Bielfeldt were around 4), which was indicative of his overall struggles on D. Offensively he was efficient but low-usage.
Wilson could figure in at the 4; the guess here is that Michigan deploys him as a skilled, skinny 5, hoping his promising shot blocking makes up for what figures to be a rebounding deficiency.
FORWARD [Patrick Barron]
A major rebound beckons. This is a team that was a few points away from being 10-8, even 11-7 in the Big Ten despite not having the two guys expected to be stars before the year. If LeVert returns Michigan adds him, Walton, Robinson, Wilson, and possibly a recruit to that team. Meanwhile subtract only Bielfeldt.
Michigan also gets a year older all around. This should see them rise to approximately average in Kenpom's "experience" metric. Michigan has been hovering in Kentucky territory for a while now. It is a Beilein miracle that they've had the results they have despite that.
It'll be nice to have some guys who are a bit older. Michigan started Getting It on offense late last year as the posts realized when they should roll to the basket and the wings figured out their cuts. It wasn't just Zak Irvin knowing he should pass that helped his assist numbers go up; there were also options for him to pass to.
The LeVert version of this team can be really good, especially if Irvin is going to continue to progress and Walton regains the explosion he lost as a sophomore. They would be a Big Ten contender—and depending on what happens with the rest of the league possibly the favorite—and an easy Sweet 16 seed.
The No LeVert version of this team could still hit that ceiling but it seems more reasonable to project them as a second-tier Big Ten team that gets a seed from 5 to 9.
Even though Michigan’s basketball season has come to its sad end, college basketball is still at a fever pitch – after the 48 games last weekend, sixteen teams are left with Final Four (and possibly National Championship) aspirations. I’m here to sort out which teams you should be rooting for; of course, it’s a free country and you’re perfectly at liberty to root for whoever you want. There’s no set criteria here, and I’ll try to avoid personal biases as much as possible for the most part. The list came together quite quickly, and without further ado, here it is:
1. Wichita State
Fred VanVleet is a badass. Is that a Dutch name, Freddy? If so, you’re joining the pantheon of West Michigan Hoops idols alongside Kaman, Korver, and – sigh – Neitzel.
Wichita State tops the list for several reasons:
They eliminated Tom Crean and Indiana.
Their win over Kansas was one of the better early round games in recent memory, if only for the storyline: due to scheduling disputes, the teams hadn’t played each other since the early nineties, despite Wichita State’s emergence into a legitimately great program in recent years. The committee faced a lot of criticism for some dubious selections and seedings this year, but KU – WSU in the 2 / 7 game was a gift from the basketball gods.
And they gave Kansas that work. Wichita State looked like they were clearly better than the Jayhawks and watching the Shockers go to work behind Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, their normal stars, and Tekele Cotton, typically a defense-first pest on the wing. After trailing 24-16 early in the game, Wichita State outscored Kansas by 21 points.
Demerits come because of the relative lack of trash talk after the game by Wichita State players. I guess they’re better men than me because I would be woofing about how Kansas was right in being afraid to play us.
I still feel like the Shockers’ draw last season was patently unfair.
Looking ahead past Notre Dame, there’s the potential for an absolutely outstanding Elite Eight game between Kentucky and Wichita State: the Wildcats ended WSU’s undefeated year last season and even though WSU is worse and UK is better, it would still be a good contest – Wichita State’s backcourt is probably better than Kentucky’s and the Shockers are seventh nationally in Kenpom, perfectly within range of the Cats. An upset there would be one for the ages.
Even with all of those legitimate points in their favor, Wichita State is just a very fun team to watch for some basic reasons: very good point guard play, unselfish ball movement, stingy defense, and that unmistakable underdog je ne sais quoi.
Buddy, my favorite non-Michigan college hoops player, after hitting the game-winner against Kansas in the season finale.
I’ll be up front in admitting my Sooner love here – my grandfather graduated from OU with the help of the GI Bill, he’s a diehard fan who had football and basketball tickets for decades, and I grew up with Oklahoma as a clear but definite #2 behind Michigan. BOOMER!
But seriously, check the schedule and Oklahoma plays… Michigan State. As expected, the media follow-up to MSU’s upset win over Virginia has fixated on the “Tom Izzo is a March God” phenomenon, and frankly, who wouldn’t like to see that nipped in the bud as soon as possible? For that reason and that reason alone, you should all be joining in and rooting for Oklahoma – it’s them, or it’s State.
Beyond that though, OU is an objectively likable team. Fast-talking Bahamian swingman Buddy Hield was named Big XII player of the year as a junior and even though he’s a serial whiner, his game is enough to redeem him and then some. For some reason, I fixate on a possible parallel between he and an idealized Zak Irvin; Hield’s usage was at levels Zak’s will never reach, but watch the way they play and let me know if I’m just imagining this or not. Flanking Hield is Houston transfer Tashawn Thomas, and for those of you that appreciate a bruising, classic four man, Thomas is your guy. He’s a load on the low block and helps anchor the Sooner defense alongside Ryan Spangler (who looks like a stereotypical Oklahoman).
There are other dudes: Jordan Woodard, a tiny, audacious and fearless point guard with a frustrating propensity for turnovers; Isaiah Cousins, a chucker who’s hitting 45% of his threes as the two guard; Frank Booker, who hit some big shots in a win over Dayton; and backup big man Khadeem Lattin, the grandson of the starting center on Texas Western’s trailblazing national title team (Khadeem lists Glory Road as his favorite movie on OU’s official site because of course). Lon Kruger is a Beileinesque head coach in that he’s been a successful nomad and seems like a fairly decent dude, as far as I know.
If nothing else, root hard for the Sooners against Michigan State, but I’m hopeful that you’ll stick around if they advance. OU is a frustrating team – at their best, they look like a reasonably-priced knockoff Kentucky (though with a more fun, guard-oriented offense); at their worst, it looks like it’s the first time they played together. Come for the Spartan haterade, stay for the roller coaster.
FUTURE PISTON STANLEY JOHNSON. PLEASE. GIVE US STANLEY.
Yes, Michigan got stomped by these guys. No, I can’t really hold it against them.
Arizona is the trendy pick as Kentucky’s best foil, especially after Villanova crashed and burned and Wisconsin struggled to overwhelm a pesky Oregon squad. Look at the frontcourt and you’ll see why: veteran seven-footer Kaleb “Zeus” Tarczewski mans the paint and protects the rim and he’s joined by two versatile – not to mention big and athletic – power forwards, Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. One-and-done freshman big Aaron Gordon was replaced by one-and-done freshman wing Stanley Johnson, who’s currently second-place in Kenpom’s NPOY algorithm and is an absolute joy to watch. He did dunk all over Michigan a few times, but hopefully he’ll be putting on the Piston red, white, and blue for the next decade or so.
Like the teams above, the Wildcats make the list because of Basketball Reasons as well as situational circumstances. They have just enough shooting – thanks Gabe York! – to augment their elite frontcourt; they have a scrappy floor general who just plays the game the right way, bringing his hard-hat and lunch pail to the court every day (I sense a lot of Aaron Craft white guy platitudes for T.J. McConnell from the national media). They’re one of the few tolerable blue-bloods (or the next tier down, depending on your perspective) and if you’re a fan of good basketball, you’ll like Pomeroy’s second-rated team. Oh, and they wound up knocking out Ohio State and making D’Angelo Russell’s college finale a miserable game.
Plenty of teams can beat Kentucky – hello home OT win over Ole Miss minus their star player in that overtime, or a road OT win over Texas A&M, who didn’t make the tournament – even though most almost certainly wouldn’t. If you don’t like Kentucky, Arizona is the team to circle: they may very well be the Cats’ equals more or less. And if they lose to UK in the Final Four, at least they’ll have given Kentucky the toughest test possible before the coronation.
I know plenty of you hate Wisconsin and they’re on track to face the Badgers in the Elite Eight. So there’s that too.
[After the jump, 4 through 8]
This should be how we remember Devin Funchess. It is not. [Fuller]
Losing isn't conducive to hero worship. This is, perhaps, an obvious point. For every Minnesota-era Kevin Garnett, a beloved star on a bad team, there are many New York Carmelo Anthonys, nitpicked and questioned to an unreasonable degree while surrounded by lesser talents, hampered by poor coaching, or both.
Which brings me to Devin Funchess. In 2013, Funchess could do no wrong as the matchup nightmare foil to Jeremy Gallon's production by precision. Expectations entering last season were so high Brian had to repeatedly clarify that Calvin Johnson comparisons weren't entirely reasonable:
So Devin Funchess probably isn't Calvin Johnson. Michigan should try to prove that assertion wrong. Expect something between first team All Big Ten and an All-American followed by an early entry into the NFL draft. He may even win the Mackey award, because people don't pay attention.
Funchess's 2014 initially met expectations; he looked like a man among boys while scoring a trio of touchdowns in the opener against Appalachian State. Funchess managed 107 yards against Notre Dame as Michigan got whomped, but the seeds of discontent were planted:
Devin Funchess tore ligaments, crack bone in a toe in the ND game. Took a shot in the toe before Utah. Re-injured it. Never got better
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 21, 2015
We didn't know this, of course, because Brady Hoke didn't talk about injuries. "He's fine," Hoke said, days before he'd hold Funchess out of the Miami (OH) game.
Funchess didn't look the same for the rest of the season. He didn't record another 100-yard game until the season finale at Ohio State; he reached the end zone just once after the opener. With the offense—and the season, and the Hoke era—crumbling around him, the focus turned to his occasional drops and a perceived lack of effort. Save for Devin Gardner and the coaching staff, Funchess drew more ire from fans than any other member of the program.
Never mind that he clearly played hurt. Never mind that his quarterback had the worst year of his career. Never mind that his catch rate actually improved from 53% to 62% despite him being targeted on nearly a third of Michigan's passes—and even more frequently on passing downs, when it became obvious to all that the ball was going his way. Never mind that when Gardner threw his second interception against Northwestern, Funchess blew through two block attempts, chased down Ibraheim Campbell after a 78-yard return, and laid a lick on him for good measure:
This didn't fit the narrative. Funchess wasn't an otherworldly talent gamely battling through injury in a lost season even if it meant hurting his draft stock. He was a prima donna wide receiver who hadn't earned that status, a guy who didn't care about winning, if you interpreted an unfortunate postgame presser soundbite as so many did.
When Funchess declared for the NFL draft, the reaction from many Michigan fans wasn't one of disappointment or sadness; instead, the news was met with indifference or, quite often, a list of all the reasons why he'd fail as a pro. That list got longer when he ran a disappointing 4.7-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine a month ago. It was only after, when his draft stock and earning potential had taken a serious hit, that we learned he was still recovering from an injury of which we never knew the full extent.
I can't say for certain whether Funchess will succeed in the NFL. If I had to guess, though, I think he will. At his best, his combination of size, speed, and body control is up there with anyone; we just didn't get to see him at his best last year for reasons almost entirely out of his control. If he works through his too-frequent battles with butterfingers, he's got the potential to be a defense-bending number one receiver.
In an alternate universe, Funchess may very well be Braylon Edwards, whose game was eerily similar right down to the frustrating drops. We remember Braylon in a very different light; winning helps quite a lot, as does avoiding injury and being surrounded on all sides by NFL talent. I hope we'll come around on Funchess and similarly celebrate his accomplishments instead of bashing him for failures not of his own doing. If, and hopefully when, he's skying over NFL defenders like so many Mountaineers, we'll be glad we did.