this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Dunn Visiting OSU First, Michigan Close to Wrapping Up Receiver Recruiting?
If you're a big recruiting follower, you likely already know this news, but Bri'onte Dunn is taking his first official visit this weekend ($, info in header), and disappointingly it's to Ohio State. He might visit Ann Arbor next weekend, but that isn't set in stone, and it appears that the tide has shifted back in the Buckeyes's favor in Dunn's recruitment. Brady Hoke and Fred Jackson have an in-home visit with Dunn scheduled for today, so by no means are the Wolverines out of it, but it looks like there's a good chance the blue-chip running back stays committed to Ohio State.
Meanwhile, things are moving very quickly on the receiver front after Amara Darboh committed last weekend. Michigan will take one more wideout in the class, and the leader in the clubhouse for that spot appears to be St. Louis (MO) Ladue Watkins standout Jehu Chesson, who has narrowed his list to Michigan, Iowa, and Northwestern and will announce his commitment on either December 21st or 22nd ($). The Wolverines appear to be the leader here, and a commitment from Chesson would make the rest of what I'm about to write rather irrelevant, but oh well.
Stefon Diggs, the Good Counsel five-star, is probably not happening—he made an official visit to Cal last weekend and will be at (sigh) Ohio State on an official this weekend, according to the Washington Post, which also had this quote:
“I was going to go to Michigan, but as of now, I’m not sure,” he said. “Maybe Auburn or Florida. I’ve got four left, so we’ll see how it goes.”
With the accelerated timeline of Chesson, it's time to give up the pipe dream of landing Diggs. Jordan Payton has narrowed his list to Michigan, Notre Dame, and Cal ($)—things have been quiet on that front from the Michigan end, and much like with Diggs, there may not be an opportunity for Payton to commit before Michigan is full at receiver. Cincinnati Moeller receiver Monty Madaris is planning an official visit to Michigan after Christmas break—he'll be taking visits to MSU and Cincinnati as well. Upland (CA) High receiver Kenny Lawler recently decommitted from Arizona State and has expressed interset in Michigan ($, info in header), but it's unclear if much will happen on that front. Darius Powe has Michigan in his top five ($). In all likelihood, Chesson is going to take the final receiver spot, and all of the above will be moot. If he surprises and commits elsewhere, however, Michigan still has a lot of strong options.
Yuri Wright Names Favorites, Old Names Popping Back Up on M's Radar
Well, hello there, top-ranked cornerback (from Rivals.com's Mike Farrell):
Wright is working on setting up a visit, and from everything he's saying, Michigan has a great shot at landing a commitment once he makes it to campus, though they might have to wait a little bit ($):
Finally, when it comes to the official visit targets Wright discussed, there is Michigan.
“I love Michigan. I can honestly say that,” Wright said. “That’s a school I’ve loved my whole life. I just loved it my whole life. I was definitely happy with that. They came away with the victory.”
Wright was hoping to announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan 7, 2012, in San Antonio, but he is no longer planning it because of timing.
Not a bad quote, that. Even if Michigan can't ultimately land Wright, they may have another option at corner if they want one in Penn State commit Armani Reeves, who could be taking a visit this weekend (again, Farrell):
Farrell also claims that Michigan has interest in Williams, which would be interesting and possibly disconcerting, since the Wolverines should be set at linebacker barring a decommit or academic issues among the 2012 commits.
Some quick hitters on O-line recruiting:
- Jordan Diamond has set two official visits ($, info in header), one to Auburn and the other for this weekend at Ohio State (sigh). My hated for Urban Meyer is growing at a rapid pace.
- Josh Garnett was "wowed" by his official visit to Michigan ($, info in header).
- Michigan is once again recruiting soft Mizzou verbal Evan Boehm, the top-ranked center in the country ($, info in header). He'd be a great fit in this O-line class and has a Michigan connection in friend Ondre Pipkins.
- Alex Kozan hosted several in-home visitors this week, including Michigan ($, info in header). He's still considering the Wolverines for an official visit. [EDIT: And by considering, I mean he's visiting this weekend ($). That's good news, obviously.]
- Tom has a good overview of offensive line recruiting for both 2012 and 2013 over at WolverineNation ($).
One more name to keep an eye on is J.P. Holtz, a tight end from Pittsburgh who recently decommitted from Penn State. Michigan has been in contact and could become a big factor in his recruitment:
“Coach Mattison came and saw me last week,” Holtz said. “He told me that I would fit in perfectly in their offense as a tight-end and that they want me to come visit soon.”
The 6-foot-4, 240 pound Holtz has already visited Purdue and Pittsburgh, and says he would like to visit Michigan before he makes his final decision.
“Michigan’s coaching staff and their stadium really sticks out to me,” Holtz said. “It would be nice to play in the biggest stadium in the country every week.”
Holtz is also considering Purdue, Pitt, Arkansas, and Michigan State.
Happy trails to Good Counsel running back Wes Brown, teammate of Stefon Diggs, who cut Michigan from his list this week ($).
UFR will go up tomorrow. FYI.
It's raining wallpaper. As per usual. This one is from jonvalk:
This week in bowl parasitism. Bowl games are parasites on college football designed to bleed as much money from the system as they can get away with. Thanks to the interest levels provided by the teams—not the stadiums or locations—some of them do actually pump money into the system (although far less money than an NCAA controlled playoff would). The latest example of this:
The Fiesta Bowl has a deal with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau that pays the bowl hundreds of thousands of tax dollars a year in return for requiring participating teams to stay in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley resorts.
The bowl says the agreement is strictly legal and good business for all parties involved.
But it may increase the cost for schools playing in the Fiesta Bowl and BCS Championship Game, because they are required to stay a certain number of nights at high-end hotels.
The bowl, according to records obtained by The Arizona Republic, received $491,340 from the Scottsdale CVB this past college-bowl season when the Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon and Auburn football programs stayed in Scottsdale-area resorts for the Fiesta Bowl and Bowl Championship Series title game, respectively.
Legal or not, that's a half-million dollars of overhead from the payment alone and however much more from the monopoly lock in the payment provides. We can ballpark how much this is from UConn's trip to the Fiesta last year:
UConn also has a hotel obligation — a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights.
Without the lock-in teams could put the band in six rooms at the Super Eight and save themselves a bucket of money. The Sugar does this as well. Their defense is "this is legal," which is true but beside the point.
If bowls are going to exist they should be worthwhile businesses without heaping unnecessary expenses on the participating teams. This is a relatively piddly expense relative to ticket guarantees that erase payouts and leave cash-strapped programs with a net deficit, but it just shows how much of a racket bowls are. Not that you needed to be told that when the Michigan-OSU game featured Rose Bowl reps when the combined chance of either team making it to Pasadena was zero percent.
Crose enough*! Andy Staples has an article about the Big 12's sudden, unsurprising opinion flip in re: an expanded playoff field. It promises change:
Monday, Big 12 athletic directors voted in a straw poll to get behind the idea of a plus-one format that would allow four teams to compete for the national title. Such a format would have allowed USC to play for the national title in 2003, Auburn to play for it in 2004, Texas to play for it in 2008 and Oklahoma State -- which finished behind No. 2 Alabama by the slimmest of margins in the BCS standings -- to play for the title this season. If the league's presidents choose to agree with their athletic directors, the Big 12's support would be a huge step forward. The Big 12 was one of several leagues that blocked SEC commissioner Mike Slive's 2008 proposal for a four-team, seeded tournament. The ACC was the only conference that supported the plan.
With Larry Scott now creating the future in earnest in the Pac-12, the major remaining obstacle to a playoff is one of these two men.
Left: Lando Mollari. Right: Jim Delany
Jim Delany still hates the Narn with all his heart.
“Our view is we’d like to stay where we are,” Delany told the Tribune. “We do believe in the slippery slope theory.”
You should have thought of that before you joined the BCS, dude. As soon as the dumbest playoff in history was instituted, outrage started piling up. As soon as the sanctity of the Rose Bowl was undermined, erosion got busy. The levees are about to break.
If conference leaders are smart, they'll design a plan that allows for the two semifinal games to be played on the home fields of the No. 1- and No. 2-seeded teams. If they wanted to appease the must-win-your-league crowd, they could require that a team must win its conference to host a semifinal. Home-site semifinals would eliminate concerns about fan bases traveling twice -- a non-starter -- and would help reinforce the importance of the regular season. Teams would go into the final week fighting for a home game in a sport where home-field advantage means a lot. Just imagine an LSU-Stanford semifinal at Tiger Stadium or an Alabama-Oklahoma State semifinal in Stillwater (using the must-win-conference rule). Also, to remove the negative consequences of a semifinal loss, the two losing teams would be placed into premium bowls, where they could take a well-deserved victory lap for a great season. This would appease bowl executives, who for some unknown reason strike fear into the hearts of the people who run the sport.
One day people will wake up and realize that doofs in yellow jackets getting paid is not in the best interests of the sport. Think Of The Children.
As Witherspoon jumps out to hedge, Trey Burke puts on the brakes and changes direction with a between the legs dribble. All within a split of a second. This makes the play right here. The change of direction gives him another screen but also has his defender back up and lose attachment.
All Trey has to do now is get to the outside of Barton’s left leg and he will get in the lane.
It's Picture Pages for basketball. All we've got now is a superior use of the crop tool.
So exactly right. There was a point a few years ago when I railed almost weekly against the relentless stenography that mainstream coverage had degenerated into. It was the bubble screen of 2007. I dropped six months after that hobby-horse expired, but when an ESPN vet like Tim Keown lays into the modern press conference I cannot resist a very long blockquote:
The death of the interview has spawned a generation raised on generalities and clichés. Caution is a lesson [Titans QB Matt] Hasselbeck has learned many times, most recently after the Titans beat the Colts on Oct. 30, when he was asked -- or told, he can't remember the phrasing -- to compare current teammate Chris Johnson with former Seahawks teammate Shaun Alexander. In Hasselbeck's view, it was a question with "a negative vibe" -- his pet peeve.
What followed was an instructive look into the void left in the interview's wake. Hasselbeck, attempting to answer the question honestly, said he did see similarities: two great running backs who followed MVP-caliber seasons with "normal" years. He was attempting to make the point that both players were victims of unfair expectations, because nobody can be expected to perform at an MVP level every season. "It's hard to be elite every year," he said.
Predictably, he was seen as "ripping" Johnson and "throwing him under the bus." … The question was legitimate. Johnson, a former offensive player of the year and recent signee of a huge contract, had been booed at home in much the same way former MVP Alexander was when his production dropped off after he signed a huge contract. The answer, as far as it went, was legitimate as well. What was missing was context, and before Hasselbeck could massage his message, he was hit with a new question and the group conversation -- such as it was -- moved on.
"If I were Chris Johnson, I would have wondered, 'Why is my quarterback saying this about me?'" Hasselbeck says. "Everyone knows how the Shaun Alexander story ended in Seattle, so it looked like I was ripping Chris Johnson." The subsequent coverage centered on Hasselbeck's "unflattering" comparison between the two running backs. "I was asked a negative question, and instead of being a jerk I gave an honest answer," he says.
His solution? Be boring. "It's a headline-driven world, and what I said provided a headline," he says. "That's why I'm guarded, cautious. I don't want to accidentally give bulletin-board material. If someone asks me about a player, I say, 'He's a great player.' If they ask me about a coach, I say, 'He's a great coach.' "
The problem is finding which section to blockquote since all of it is deadly accurate. It starts "BEHOLD THE DECOMPOSED REMAINS of the sports interview" and is probably 3000 words long. It's worth the read.
The local spin comes in two parts. Part one: boy is it nice to have a coach with his banalities down pat. Rich Rodriguez may have gotten unfairly pilloried for his "get a life" statement, which was ripped out of context like Hasselbeck's statement was, but he was a magnet for that kind of stuff. Hoke hasn't had a misstep yet; he's settled into a comfort zone where the media is his lapdog, and that won't change. If things start going poorly the media will be defending Hoke and scorning fans until it's over.
Part two: Michigan's suddenly better about this than most schools with their coordinator pressers and the relatively straight answers given in there, especially from Mattison.
Etc.: Gobbler Country profiles Michigan, which is us. More on this later, but Chris Brown's long-ago profile of the Hokie D is remarkably useful since it's about how they've adapted to the spread. UMHoops talks Oakland with a Summit League blogger.
ED-Seth: With the regular season over Heiko's opponent watch feature transitions to Opponent Recap, where he looks back over M's foes in detail so you can put the season into better perspective. Op met de show:
Rainbows: Denard still makes them.
Kovacs for Heisman.
- @ Michigan, 34-10 (L)
- Nicholls State, 38-7 (W)
- Central Michigan, 44-14 (W)
- @ No. 24 Illinois, 23-20 (L)
- @ Connecticut, 38-31 (W)
- Bowling Green, 45-21 (W)
- @ Northern Illinois, 51-22 (L)
- @ Eastern Michigan, 14-10 (L)
- Ball State, 45-35 (W)
- @ Toledo, 66-63 (L)
- @ Miami (OH), 24-21 (W)
- Akron, 68-19 (W)
Rank/Standings: 3rd place MAC-West
|Total||456.3 ypg, 22nd||434.1 ypg, 100th|
|Scoring||35.6 ppg, 18th||28.0 ppg, 72nd|
|Rush||127.4 ypg, 87th||215.9, 107th|
|Pass||328.8 ypg, 8th||218.2, 53rd|
Season recap: Western Michigan finished their season third in the MAC-West division. Their 5-3 conference record was two wins behind that of division champs Northern Illinois and Toledo.
That’s not a bad mark considering that the Broncos were a one-dimensional team. Their one strength was a pass-happy offense featuring a fearsome duo in QB Alex Carder and WR Jordan White (who led the FBS in receiving yards with 137 ypg, btw) that could score on anyone, but their inability/unwillingness to run the ball and stop the run cost them several games. RB Tevin Drake did average 5.5 yards a carry, but he had just 505 yards on the season; their rush defense rank was in the triple digit club.
The Broncos lost Carder for the better part of the last two games due to a separated shoulder, but his replacement Tyler Van Tubbergen was a serviceable next-guy-in. Carder should return for the bowl game.
I wish I knew more about the MAC so I could talk about Western Michigan’s ups and downs throughout the course of the season. I don’t, so I won’t. That Eastern Michigan game, though … man. Who knew the Eagles had that in them.
Best Win: @ Connecticut, but maybe not so much now that the Big East has formally declared itself a joke.
Worst Loss: @ Northern Illinois, in which their defense stopped playing after the first quarter. If Western Michigan had any chance of competing for their division they needed to beat the Huskies, and they fell way short. Northern Illinois incidentally ended up winning the conference on a late field goal to #BeatOhio (not that Ohio).
When Michigan played them, we thought they were as frightening as: The original week one post got overwritten so I don’t remember, but I think I set their fear level at a 3 and compared them to the MAC version of Ben Chappell-era Indiana.
But now we know they are as frightening as: The MAC version of this year’s Northwestern. 3. Their offense gained legitimacy throughout the season, and Carder even showed off some dual-threat ability. Unfortunately, their defense went the other direction.
What this win meant for Michigan: Though Western Michigan wasn’t your typical MAC-cake this season, Michigan sure made them look the part thanks to a couple favorable bounces, Jordan Kovacs, and weather.
The Wolverines had enjoyed exceptional opening day mojo for the past two years, and this game wasn’t any different. By luck and by Mattison, the defense got into Carder’s head, and the Broncos played like crap after their first turnover. Michigan did whatever it wanted for the remainder of the game.
The remainder of the game came to an unsatisfactory end, however, due to the great Midwest Monsoon of 2011. Fans wanted to see the fourth quarter to gain more confidence in this mysterious product Brady Hoke and company had been working on, capitulated opponent or not. Instead, everyone was sent out of the stadium, invited back in, then sent home and told to wait for next week.
There was also a window of confusion after the second weather delay during which everyone wondered whether a curtailed game could be recorded as a Wolverines victory, whether the game had to be rescheduled, or whether none of this happened at all and we would be told that we had just imagined it.
Finally a frazzled Dave Brandon informed the media that an agreement had been struck with the Western Michigan AD, once DB's pimp hand convinced her to be enough of a sportswoman to concede the Michigan win.
Hoke talked about how it was good to win a football game, Denard gave his teammate props for usurping his place as the team's top rusher, and Brandon Herron got his 15 minutes of fame.
Did you imagine your first game happening like this? "No I don't think so. It was kind of wild. Wet and wild."
Get well soon.
And it totally felt as awesome as: Rediscovering sex after nine months of pregnancy, and hey, it’s still pretty good!
Little Caesars Pizza Motor City Bowl vs. Purdue, Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m. EST
This will not be a surprise to BWS readers, but dangit I also have my veer package and I'm going to run it. Because so there.
NOMENCLATURE NOTE. This from Chris Brown on nomenclature complaints:
Also I saw your note on whether the play should be labeled an "inverted veer." Others may disagree, but to me the fact that there's a guard pull doesn't make it not a "veer" -- you can have a veer play with all kinds of block schemes ("down" schemes, inside zone schemes but leaving a guy unblocked). The regular veer is just where the RB and QB go to the same side and you leave a defender unblocked. I may be responsible for the "inverted veer" name from naming it that a couple of years ago but I hear coaches call it that all the time now. "Dash read" is the other way to call it but that's not all that descriptive.
I put up a post on the scheme from this year. I note in there that you can run the play with either power blocking and a guard pull or zone blocking; I know teams that do both. Just depends how you want to deal with the second level.
I've been calling it inverted veer for a long time and it's not wrong-wrong—"veer" generally means leaving a playside DE unblocked, which the play does. I'll keep calling it that and note when it does not feature a pulling G.
Show show. Michigan finally—finally—made the inverted veer a primary part of their offense, fulfilling a desire I've had ever since Smart Football posted on the thing way back when. It worked really well, from Denard's 41 yard touchdown to open the scoring to Denard's six yard touchdown to continue the scoring, to… yeah. You get it.
The veer was perhaps the core play of an offense that did this to Ohio State:
- three and out
- 47-yard touchdown drive
- 52-yard touchdown drive
- three and out
- Michigan gets a first down, whereupon Denard fumbles
- 80-yard touchdown drive
- 80-yard touchdown drive
- 40-yard drive from own nine followed by punt disaster
- 75-yard touchdown drive
- 80-yard touchdown drive that morphs into 54-yard field goal drive thanks to replay incompetence and penaltyfest
Without looking it up I guarantee you that is Michigan's best-ever offensive performance against the Great Satan in the modern era. That is a short game and 38 legitimately acquired points. Ten real drives, six touchdowns, four of them 75 yards or longer, two three and outs. An average of 46 yards a drive. As weird and disappointing as Michigan's defensive performance was, the offense made up for it in spades.
And the thing is, I'm not sure Michigan is even running the veer that well. You know how Denard had to juke that guy on his 41-yard touchdown? He shouldn't have had to. Omameh blocked the guy the play options off:
With a lead blocker taking the corner you can see the read is Shazier here. Shazier indicates he's flaring out (or Denard just pulls because that seems to be the default on the veer). The pull is a good default since Shazier has a nasty tendency to have no idea where the ball is on plays like this, a major reason Penn State tore up the Buckeye run D. (It's worth noting that for all the panting about Shazier once Sweat went out OSU opponents ran for 6.1 (PSU) and 6.2 YPC (Michigan).)
Here the mesh has already transpired, Denard has pulled, Shazier is still charging at Toussaint, and Denard is going to get a bunch of yards once Omameh blocks MLB Sabino.
SPOILER ALERT: Omameh is not going to block Sabino.
WOOP WOOP WOOP
Now, Omameh does latch on to Shazier. And Shazier has no momentum since he held up and started going backwards; Omameh Te'o's the dude back into a safety with a little help from an improvising Toussaint. I'm a ol' softie so I gave him a plus one despite a missed assignment.
Denard sees grass. Denard runs. Some dude waves a pompom in front of his kneel, which is frustrating but apropos.
This is what pom poms are for: to block vision.
Items of Interest
That is not how they draw it up. They draw it up with Omameh blocking Sabino and Denard jetting past Shazier directly upfield. Here it works out well, but the other play I hate BWS for beating me to had a sadface outcome:
Schofield did the exact same thing Omameh did on this play, blocking the guy who the play options off. The guy way behind the LOS who isn't John Simon? Dude ran himself there because he had no idea who had the ball. Schofield should be moving to the second level to pick off S Orhian Johnson.
This time Denard makes the wrong cut and gets two yards.
As BWS says:
For me, this isn't quite as frustrating as when Michigan fails to run from under center. This seems like a repetition issue. Neither Omameh or Schofield have practiced this blocking scheme as much as they probably should, and pulling across the formation and finding the right defender to block is probably one of those things that just takes getting used to.
That said ARGHHH. Block the right guy. I wonder what goes through Denard's mind during a play like this. "Yes, yes, got'em. Remember, take a knee. Troll Tebow. Chest bump. Hoke Point." Tackled.
This wasn't an issue on the six-yard Denard TD, on which the optioned guy was the way-upfield DE and Hopkins ran outside, taking Shazier with him before blocking him. Denard ended up cutting behind Huyge, who released downfield; Schofield pulled and got a block on Johnson.
BTW, the above-picture play was part of Michigan's second (and last!) three and out. Borges uber alles.
Even with that! Okay, the above is frustrating, but, God, look at all that space. How many times do you think Denard gets corralled there? And what is the payoff when he isn't?
Borges's wonky little adjustment from earlier in the season here is using a lead blocker for the sweep action, which pulls a second defender outside—one evidently unprepared to make this read since nobody ever thinks Denard has it—and makes the pull even more dangerous because of hockey power play analogy*. The veer forces that safety into the box and still works.
[You have a bigger advantage 4 on 3 than 5 on 4; here equal numbers with Denard in space is basically a power play.]
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: MOUNTAIN GOAT. Where is the safety? Jeremy Gallon turned him into a smoking heap of scrap metal.
And he knows it.
BAM BAM BAM BAM
I don't know what it is about five-eight guys from Florida. Their agility helps them in open space, for one, and their height means they are unusually able to get into the chests of opposing defensive backs. And there's some mountain goat in those boys somewhere.
Rep that, rep that, rep that. There are things other than "pulling guard doesn't block the optioned guy" that seemed like they could be coached up: on one play that ended up a give John Simon split the difference between the two potential ballcarriers and managed to spin Toussaint around at the LOS.
Denard could/should be riding the mesh point a little longer to force that DE to commit when it's not obvious. Maybe not; that is a great play by a great player and sometimes that's just going to happen. I just remember Juice Williams holding that thing forever, until the DE freaked out and took off for the tailback, and then being a 500-foot-tall robot.
Play action lack frustrating. Michigan went to a play action look off of this that turned into a five yard scramble instead of a potentially huge play because there were two unblocked guys on the edge and one blocker (who didn't block anyone). This has been a consistent frustration going back to the last couple years of the Rodriguez era: Michigan struggles to effectively run deep play action because the nature of their shotgun run game often leaves players unblocked and forces quick throws.
Rodriguez avoided this with QB Oh Noes pop passes on which Denard faked his iso and then dropped to pass. No pulling linemen, no edge issues, no guys who must be left alone for the play to seem convincing. I'm hoping Borges works something out to get big plays off counters to this over the offseason.
This game happened, like, two weeks ago, so apologies in advance for revisiting something that could not be less timely, but I had all these charts and stuff that took a really long time to fill out. This is the first of what I expect will be many forms of a basketball UFR, so suggestions are not only welcome, but encouraged. I'll be doing these with regularity come Big Ten season, and now that I have a basic template, they'll come down the pipe much faster than this one.
An explanation of my methodology is probably in order. The play-by-play breakdown is relatively simple—it's broken up by possession, one point can be earned or lost on each possession (lots of half-points are assigned, but I like this method since you want to average at least—technically a bit above—one point per possession), and I tell you the offensive set (more on that later) and defense (either man or type of zone, plus whether or not they pressed). FB == fast break. OOB == set from an inbounds play. I am not a basketball coach, and the last time I played competitively was in middle school, so corrections on terminology and the like would be much appreciated. Points do not coincide with made or missed baskets, but instead are awarded on the basis of creating shot opportunities—for instance, a pick to free a man, a cut to get open, or a nice pass may merit half-points, and creating a bucket on an isolation will earn a full point.
Shots are charted separately, and are broken down into three categories: dunk/layup, two-point shots, and three-point shots. They are further categorized by the level of contest from the defense—either no contest, late contest, or heavy contest—which, according to a tidbit from a BTN announcer, passed on to me by Brian, is how John Beilein charts shots.
Offensive Set Notes: Michigan starts nearly every possession, as you'll see in the chart, with a 2-1-2 set. It looks like this:
Douglass is the point guard here, and the man in the middle is always the center (in this case, Smotrycz). One wing starts up top, opposite the point guard (Vogrich) while the other is down by the baseline (Hardaway) across from the four (Novak). From here, Beilein has a seemingly infinite number of plays. On occasion, Michigan starts in a slight variant of this, which for lack of a better term (or lack of basketball knowledge) I called a 2-1-1-1:
As you can see, the shooting guard (Douglass) has moved from the wing over to the top of the key, right in front of the center. This opens up the outside of the court a bit more and allows for some interesting double screens in the middle. For something completely different, here's Michigan running a 1-4 high, where everything starts outside the arc:
We'll see if the distribution—almost entirely 2-1-2 in this game—changes at all when Michigan plays a defense that does something besides man. I have Memphis down for one zone press, and on every other possession they were in man-to-man. Josh Pastner isn't much into this whole "X's and O's" thing, and would much rather you leave him alone and let him continue recruiting McDonald's All-Americans.
Here goes (something that is probably) nothing...
|20:00 1H||0-0||FB||FB||Hardaway||FT (1/2)|
|Morgan (+0.5) wins the opening tip and knocks it right to Hardaway. Hardaway (+0.5, dunk/layup, late contest, foul) sees an opening, crosses over Joe Jackson, and drives to the bucket, where he's fouled by a late-arriving Tarik Black.|
|The offense is stagnant for 15 seconds, with Morgan setting an off-ball pick for Smotrycz that is ignored and Hardaway posting up his defender without great position (Team -0.5). Hardaway sees Burke has the ball one-on-one, clears out to the corner (+0.5) and Burke drives to the bucket, spins past Jackson, and hits a running floater in the lane (+1, 2 pt., no contest, make).|
|18:58||3-2||1-4 High||Man||Novak||3-pt Make|
|Novak grabs a defensive board and charges hard up the court, but Memphis gets back. He hands off to Burke at the top of the key, where Morgan (+0.5) sets a screen that Burke takes. As Burke scrapes over the top of the screen to the left, Novak loops behind him and takes a handoff from Burke, while three Memphis defenders are caught up with Burke. Morgan dives into the lane, where he's open but with help coming, and Novak pulls up and drains a three just before a recovering defender can get a hand in his face (+0.5, 3 pt., late contest, make).|
|Burke starts the offense from well beyond the three point line, dribbles to his right, and passes to Smotrycz, who had flashed from the baseline to the FT line extended next to the sideline. Memphis's Wesley Witherspoon plays him tight, trapping him without room to dribble. Smotrycz tries to clear Witherspoon out, but brings the ball down too low and has it slapped away right to a Tiger defender (-1, forced TO).|
|Burke starts down the left side and gives to Morgan, who has flashed out to the three point line. He swings it to Smotrycz (+0.5) on the right, who moves back towards Morgan—now setting a pick—before hitting Hardaway on a textbook backdoor cut (+0.5). Hardaway goes up for the dunk but is blocked from behind on a spectacular defensive effort (dunk/layup, heavy, block).|
|Burke attempts a one-man fast break, but has the ball knocked out of bounds on the baseline. Burke inbounds with Michigan lined up in a box, Morgan and Smotrycz in line with Burke, Novak and Hardaway on the other side of the lane. Novak curls around a double screen by Smot and Morgan before diving to the basket. Hardaway follows Novak, beating his man, gets the inbounds pass from Burke, and drains a corner jumper from just inside the line (+0.5, Team +0.5, 2 pt., no contest, make).|
|This one is too easy. Burke dribbles up the court, goes to his left as Novak vacates to the top of the key, and Hardaway takes a quick jab-step towards midcourt before cutting along the baseline (+0.5). Burke hits him perfectly in stride (+0.5) and Hardaway hits the layup (dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|Morgan comes up from the FT line to the top of the key and gets the pass from Burke, but he's come out so far that he's nearly standing on the midcourt logo (which is annoyingly large, but not THAT large). Witherspoon slaps the ball away and starts a fast break for Memphis (Morgan -1, forced TO).|
|16:14||10-6||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Burke||2-pt Make|
|Horford in for Morgan. Novak breaks the press from Memphis and eventually gives it back out to Burke, who's 28 feet away from the bucket on the left side. Horford comes over and sets a pick that does little (-0.5). Burke fights his way right around Jackson, however, and finds space in the middle of the lane to hit a short floater (+1.5, 2 pt, no contest, make). This is just Burke being a superior athlete, as he received little help.|
|15:34||12-9||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Smotrycz||Layup Make|
|Burke breaks the press down the right sideline and gives to Horford at the top of the key, who passes to Smotrycz on the right elbow outside the 3-point line. Burke clears out to the left corner, and Smotrycz makes a quick crossover to his right, getting a step and taking it all the way to the bucket for a tough layup (+1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make). Not pretty, but effective.|
|Hardaway pushes the pace off a long defensive rebound, beats everyone up the court, and draws a shooting foul (+1, dunk/layup, late contest, foul).|
|Douglass in for Smotrycz. Hardaway again going fast up the court after a rebound. The entire team is beyond the three point line as Hardaway dribbles to the top of the key, but Horford has the presence of mind to set a quick screen (+0.5) which gives Hardaway just enough space to get off a long two, which drops (+0.5, 2 pt., heavy contest, make). Probably an ill-advised shot with 29 seconds on the shot clock, but Hardaway is feeling it and he hits it, so he gets the half-point.|
|Burke swings it to Novak at the top of the key. Novak starts driving to the left and Hardaway makes a hard V-cut to clear himself a little bit of space at the three-point line. Novak gives it to him, and Hardaway chucks up a three with a hand right in his grill—it misses with nobody in position for a rebound (-1, 3 pt., heavy contest, miss).|
|Smotrycz in for Horford. Burke gives to Novak on the right elbow, who passes to Smotrycz at the top of the key. Douglass (+0.5) sets a pick for a cutting Novak as Smotrycz swings it to Hardaway, who finds a wide-open Novak (+0.5, dunk/layup, no contest, make) for an easy layup.|
|Burke hands off to Novak, who swings it to Douglass at the top of the key. Smotrycz sets a screen for Hardaway in the lane, then pops out to the three point line, where Douglass gives it to him. Smotrycz pumps and then drives, where he's doubled with Hardaway now open under the basket. Instead of passing, Smotrycz pumps, tries to draw a foul, and nearly misses everything as his five-foot leaner ricochets off the underside of the backboard (-1, 2 pt., heavy contest, miss). Memphis gets the board. Smot really forced that one.|
|Akunne in for Burke. Instead of giving the offense a chance to set up off a missed Memphis FT, Hardaway drives into the left corner, where he picks up his dribble and is trapped by a double team (-0.5). He does find a cutting Smotrycz under the basket, but Memphis rotates nicely and Smotrycz (-0.5, forced TO) is stripped clean as he tries to go up for a layup. Might be a little harsh on Smot here, as Hardaway didn't put him in a great position and he did make a nice cut, but he's gotta be more secure with the ball.|
|Michigan works the ball around the perimeter, Amaker-style, until a Hardaway pass to an open Smotrycz is tipped OOB on the sideline with 8 seconds on the shot clock. Media timeout. Vogrich in for Hardaway. Akunne gets the inbounds, gives it to Smotrycz and gets it back immediately, and is stripped along the sideline as the shot clock expires (forced TO). Akunne -0.5 for not getting a shot off, Team -0.5 for putting him in that position in the first place.|
|10:55||20-19||1-4 High||Man||Douglass||3-pt Make|
|After Michigan swings the ball around the perimeter for a while, Novak (+0.5) sets a screen in the paint to open up Horford, who flashes to the top of the key while Douglass holds the ball on the right. Douglass gives to Horford, then cuts back around him, and Horford (+0.5) hands it back off and screens Stu's man. Douglass buries a wide open three (3 pt., no contest, make).|
|Nobody is really moving without the ball, so Douglass (+0.5) drives to the basket with 16 seconds left on the shot clock. He's well-defended, but the defense collapses on him, so he kicks it out to an open Novak in the corner. Novak can't sink the shot, and Horford commits a foul for going over the back trying for the board (Team -0.5, 3 pt., no contest, miss).|
|9:30||23-21||-||2-2-1 FC Press/2-3 Zone||Douglass||3-pt Miss|
|Lineup is now Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Christian, McLimans. Yeah. Michigan breaks the press rather easily and Vogrich (+0.5) makes a nice skip pass to Colton Christian in the corner. Christian immediately kicks it out to Burke (+0.5), who finds a wide-open Douglass up top for a three. It clangs out and the rebound goes OOB off Christian (3 pt., late contest, miss).|
|Burke tries to get a quick break off a Memphis miss and Vogrich is fouled driving the baseline. Hardaway checks in for Douglass. With Burke inbounding from the baseline, Hardaway (+0.5) comes from under the basket to set a screen for Christian, who dives to the basket and takes the feed from Burke. He goes up and hits the layup with a hand in his face (+0.5, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make.)|
|7:31||25-23||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Hardaway||TO|
|Again, Burke has no trouble breaking the press. The ball eventually is worked around to McClimans at the top of the key. He passes to Hardaway on the wing and goes to set a screen, but Hardaway chooses to spin away from the screen and into two defenders, getting stripped in the process and turning it over (-1, foi'mrced TO).|
|Hardaway once again finds himself with the ball on the left side, and again drives hard to the left side of the basket. He pulls up from around 12 feet and tries a jumper, but he's well-defended by his man and McLimans's man rotates over and blocks the shot (-1, 2 pt., heavy contest, block). Athletic play by the defender to block it, but also a bad force with 18 seconds on the shot clock.|
|6:36||25-25||2-1-2||Man||Christian||OReb, 3-pt Miss|
|Burke chucks up a deep three after going too far around a pick from McLimans (Burke -1, 3 pt., no contest, miss) but Christian makes a great effort under the boards to tap the ball to himself and haul in the rebound (+1). He manages to fend off three defenders to keep the ball and backs out to the three-point line, where he passes to an open Vogrich out of a double team (+1). Vogrich misses (3 pt., no contest, miss). Fantastic effort from Christian, however.|
|Michigan comes out of a timeout with Burke, Vogrich, Douglass, Novak, and Smotrycz. ESPN cuts back from the break as Vogrich gets the ball on the left sideline, played tight by his man. He clears the ball through and drives it straight to the bucket, getting his body between himself and the defender and going up strong for a layup (+1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make).|
|Smotrycz sets a pick for Burke up top and rolls open towards the basket, but Burke ignores him, tries to drive it himself, and then commits a palming violation as he attempts to pass to an open Douglass in the corner (-1, unforced TO). A full minus for missing the open man and then committing the turnover, though I had no idea they still called carries at any level of basketball.|
|Novak starts the breakout after a defensive rebound, and Michigan has numbers. Novak gives to Burke, who makes the right choice to pass to an open Douglass on the elbow. Douglass draws the defense and finds Vogrich under the basket; he's fouled. After resetting the offense off the inbounds, Novak takes the ball from the left wing and tries to drive to the free throw line off a Smotrycz screen. Smot's man switches and steals the ball from Novak (-1, forced TO).|
|Douglass receives a skip pass on the right side from Vogrich, then makes a sloppy bounce pass to Burke, who's just a few feet away from him. Burke gets a hand on it, but the ball goes OOB. Douglass -1, unforced TO.|
|3:24||27-29||1-4 High||Man||Burke||3-pt Miss|
|Burke dribbles to the elbow and spins away from a Smotrycz pick, choosing to drive under the basket, leaving his feet as the defense collapses (-0.5). He's bailed out by finding an open Douglass for three, but there's still no need to jump. Douglass misses (3 pt., no contest, miss), and Smotrycz (-0.5) gets hit with an offensive foul for blatantly shoving the guy boxing him out in the back.|
|3:02||27-31||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Douglass||3-pt Make|
|Hardaway in for Vogrich. Hardaway gets the ball on the wing and Smotrycz comes over for a pick-and-roll. Smot (+0.5) draws two defenders as he dives to the basket, and Douglass rotates to the top of the key, where Hardaway (+0.5) finds him for a wide open look. This time, Stu knocks it down (3 pt., no contest, make).|
|Smotrycz grabs a defensive board and immediately runs out on the break, as two Memphis players are caught under the M basket (+0.5). Unfortunately, a guard catches up to him and knocks the ball away as Smot falls to the ground (-1), but Burke is in the right place, grabs the loose ball, and takes it to the hoop, where he's fouled while attempting a short pull-up J (+0.5, 2-pt, heavy contest, foul).|
|Douglass skies for a long defensive rebound and Burke immediately takes off downcourt, beating both Memphis guards down the floor. Stu (+0.5) lobs a beautiful pass that hits Burke in stride, and he goes in for a nice reverse layup without needing to put the ball on the floor (+0.5, dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|Hardaway launches a pass the length of the court to Novak, who dribbles to the FT line, waits, then tosses it to Burke, who cut to the corner. Burke makes a nice touch pass (+0.5) to Hardaway, who found space for an open three, but he misses (+0.5, 3 pt., no contest, miss). Memphis knocks the rebound OOB, with Smotrycz there putting up a good fight. On the inbounds, Douglass gets the pass after going around a double pick, then finds Burke—the inbounder—wide open for a 10-footer after drawing three defenders (Douglass +0.5, Team +0.5, 2-pt, no contest, make).|
|Hardaway gets the defensive board and takes off along with Burke and Douglass against three scrambling Memphis defenders. He stops on a dime, nearly traveling but losing his man in the process, and rattles in an 18-foot pull-up jumper (+1, 2 pt., no contest, make). End of 1H, 37-31 Michigan.|
|19:47 2H||37-33||2-1-2||Man||Morgan||OReb, Layup Make|
|Starters back in. Burke gets himself trapped out near halfcourt with 10 seconds on the shot clock (-0.5), but spins and finds Smotrycz at the FT line. Smot drives and tries a spinning hook shot with the clock about to expire, but it rims out (+0.5, 2-pt., heavy contest, miss). Nobody blocks out Morgan, however, who grabs the rebound and lays it in for two (+1, dunk/layup, no contest, make). Nice job of Smotrycz to draw the defense when the offense had been stagnant, and good positioning by Morgan.|
|After an off-the-ball foul on Memphis, Burke inbounds from under the basket. Michigan again aligns in a box, and Novak splits through the two bigs (Morgan & Smot) while Hardaway pops out to the three-point line. Burke inbounds to Hardaway, who swings it to Smotrycz, who finds Burke open in the corner for a three, which he misses (Team +1, 3 pt., late contest, miss).|
|After a few passes, Smotrycz gets the ball on the right wing. On the left side of the lane, Novak sets a screen for Hardaway, then pops out to the top of the key as both Memphis defenders follow THJ. Smotrycz finds Novak all alone for three, and he buries it (+1, 3 pt., no contest, make).|
|17:46||42-36||-||Man FC Press||Smotrycz||2-pt Make|
|Horford in for Morgan. Memphis presses after a made FT. Burke (+0.5) breaks it himself, streaking down the right side, sees a double coming, and passes to Smotrycz, whose man stepped out on Burke. Smot pump fakes and steps past a closing Memphis defender—a nice move—and pulls up for an easy 12-footer (+0.5, 2-pt., no contest, make).|
|17:18||44-36||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Burke||3-pt Miss|
|Michigan inbounds with 22 on the shot clock after Smotrycz drives and has the ball knocked OOB. Burke gives it to Novak under the basket, but he can't go up with it and has to take it out. Ball is passed around the perimeter for too long, and finally Burke has to chuck up a desparation three from 30+ feet as the shot clock is about to expire. It misses badly (Team -1, 3 pt., no contest, miss).|
|16:16||44-38||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Horford||FT (2/2)|
|Burke again runs right past the Memphis press—not sure why they're still doing it—gets to the lane, and dishes it off to Horford under the basket (Burke +0.5). Horford goes up for the layup and is fouled (+0.5, dunk/layup, heavy contest, foul). Nice job of diving to the basket by Horford, and great penetration by Burke to set it up.|
|Douglass in for Smotrycz. Hardaway runs off a Memphis miss, finds Burke, who tries a running floater that comes up short (2 pt., late contest, miss). Horford (+1) snags the offensive rebound in traffic, dribbles once, sees nothing is there, and kicks it out to Hardaway, who passes to an open Novak for a look at a three. Clang (3 pt., late contest, miss).|
|Not sure what to call this, but instead of their normal 2-1-2, Burke starts in the center of the court and Douglass, instead of starting even with him on the opposite wing, stands right in front of Horford in the middle (pictured up top). Burke spends the entire shot clock dribbling around, missing an open Douglass early in the possession, and has to dish out to Stu for a deep three as the shot clock is about to run out (Burke -1, 3 pt., heavy contest, miss).|
|Douglass has the ball up high on the right side. Novak begins a curl cut towards the basket that ends up turning into a sort of awkward pick for Burke (+0.5? Sure. GRIT.) Douglass passes to Burke, who banks in a long two (+0.5, 2 pt., late contest, make). Not a pretty shot on this particular occasion, but Burke gets great elevation on his jumper.|
|Novak gets a defensive board and pushes the pace, passing it up to Douglass, who's standing about 28 feet from the basket. Douglass turns and... fires up a three. Huh? (-1, 3 pt., no contest, miss). Yes, Douglass is open here, but it's not hard to get open 28-footers at any point in the shot clock, and Michigan had Memphis scrambling to get back. Turrible shot selection, Kenny. Turrible.|
|Akunne and Smotrycz in for Burke and Novak. After passing around the perimeter for a while, Horford comes up and sets a pick Hardaway (+0.5), who finds Horford open on the roll for an easy layup (+0.5, dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|12:34||50-41||1-4 High||Man||Akunne||3-pt Make|
|Douglass (+0.5) pushes the pace off a Memphis miss, gives it to Hardaway at the top of the key, and THJ swings it to an open Akunne on the wing. Eso buries the three (+0.5, 3 pt., no contest, make). Half-points to Douglass for recognizing that Memphis wasn't getting back quickly and Akunne for finding the open area, but this was mostly a defensive bust by the Tigers, who had two men collapsing down on Horford in the paint.|
|12:11||53-42||2-1-1-1||Man FC Press||Hardaway||FT (2/2)|
|Novak in for Smotrycz. After a kick-ball violation on Memphis, Douglass inbounds. Hardaway sets a screen for Akunne, then pops out to the three point line, where Douglass inbounds to him. Hardaway dribbles to the FT line, pulls up, and gets fouled as he shoots a jumper (+1, 2 pt., late contest, foul).|
|11:38||55-44||3-2||Man FC Press||Douglass||3-pt Miss|
|Morgan and Burke in for Horford and Akunne. Morgan starts the set down on the baseline instead of the center's normal spot in the middle of the lane. With time running low on the clock, Douglass drives to the right, is stopped, spins, and somehow hits an open Vogrich in the corner with a skip pass (+0.5). Vogrich can't connect (Team -0.5, 3 pt., no contest, miss). Ugly possession—with 10 seconds left on the shot clock, all five M players were outside the three-point line.|
|10:50||55-46||2-1-2||Man 3/4 Press||Morgan||Layup Make|
|After the ball cycles around the perimeter for a while, Burke calls for a Morgan pick with ten seconds on the clock. He drives to the left, beats his man, and wraps a pass around a defender to Morgan, who has crashed to the basket (Burke +0.5). Morgan collects it, goes up strong, and makes a tough lay-in with a defender right in his face (+0.5, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make).|
|Vogrich and McLimans in for Douglass and Morgan. Burke, as usual, breaks the press as Memphis backs off a bit and goes into man. Hardaway gets the ball on the wing and Burke curls to the basket. He's open, but Hardaway doesn't give. Instead, he tries to pass to McLimans on a backdoor cut, but the pass is easily cut off. -1 Hardaway, unforced TO.|
|Michigan can't find an open cutter or a lane to the basket, and cycles the ball around the perimeter. Novak swings it to Hardaway in the corner and he tries a quick three, but he's well-defended and the shot is blocked (Hardaway -0.5, Team -0.5, 3 pt., heavy contest, block).|
|Burke turns on the jets on the fast break, spins around a defender at midcourt, then has the ball knocked from behind right through a defender's legs to Hardaway for a layup (+0.5 Burke, +0.5 Hardaway, dunk/layup, no contest, make). That was totally unintentional, but I'm feeling generous and that move at halfcourt was pretty sweet, plus it's tough to give THJ a full point for having the ball roll right to him under the basket.|
|Douglass in for Burke. Michigan gets a fresh clock after Tarik Black fouls Smotrycz on a halfhearted drive to the basket. After resetting up top, Douglass tries multiple times to get to the basket, is stymied, and settles for a 12-foot fallaway with a hand in his grill (-1, 2 pt., heavy contest, miss).|
|Hardaway goes on a one-man break, jump-stopping between three defenders and airballing his pullup jumper from the paint (-1, 2 pt., heavy contest, miss). Douglass grabs the airball and kicks it out to an open Novak, who pump-fakes a three, steps up, and can't hit from just inside the arc (2 pt., late contest, miss).|
|7:02||59-47||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Novak||FT (2/2)|
|Burke in for McLimans. Novak takes the ball from the wing and dribbles around Smotrycz to the top of the key, where he hits a back-cutting Hardaway (+0.5) with a great bounce pass (+0.5). THJ goes up for a dunk and is fouled (dunk/layup, late contest, foul).|
|6:28||61-47||-||Man FC Press||Smotrycz||TO|
|Memphis is in a weak full-court press, but Smotrycz—the inbounder—doesn't have a man on him, so he curls back around and sets a pick (+0.5) for Burke, who's able to drive all the way to the basket (+0.5). Smot does a great job of trailing and finds himself wide open in the lane, and Burke puts a pass right on the money that goes right through Smot's hands and OOB (-1, unforced TO). Oops.|
|5:50||61-49||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Hardaway||Layup Make|
|Hardaway takes the ball on the wing and passes to Smotrycz, who swings it over to Novak as Hardaway makes a hard backdoor cut. Novak (+0.5) finds THJ, who spins off his man—who overplayed the pass—and goes up for a layup before the defense can fully rotate. Money (+0.5, dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|5:12||63-51||-||Man FC Press||Hardaway||TO|
|Hardaway gets the inbounds after a made FT, beats the press down the left side, then tries to stop, turn, and pass back to Douglass as a double comes. He's falling over as he does this and Memphis steals easily (-1, unforced TO).|
|4:55||63-54||4 Corners||Man FC Press||Burke||Layup Make|
|Memphis again presses, and Michigan goes into the old four corners. Burke just beats his man off the dribble and goes right up the middle for a layup (+1, dunk/layup, late contest, make). He's gonna be good, that one.|
|Morgan has the ball at the top of the key and Burke (+0.5) comes open on a curl cut around a Hardaway (+0.5) screen. He takes it right at the basket, but 3 defenders collapse and Burke is stuck in no man's land when he jumps, giving it away when he tries to kick it out to Smotrycz. -1 Burke, unforced TO. Think he could've taken the shot if he went up strong, but he made a mistake in leaving his feet without knowing where he was going with the ball. Last two possessions are a good reminder of what it's like to have a talented freshman PG.|
|4:10||65-56||OOB||Man FC Press||Hardaway||FT (2/2)|
|Memphis comes out of a timeout in the press again, but immediately fouls Hardaway when he gets the inbounds pass. Michigan is in the double bonus. Derp.|
|3:56||67-56||2-1-2||Man 3/4 Press||Smotrycz||3-pt Make|
|Douglass dribbles around for a really long time without anything opening up, which I guess is understandable considering Michigan is trying to kill clock now. He nearly gets stuck in the paint, but just before the shot clock is going to expire he finds Smotrycz, who nails a dagger with a hand in his face (+1, 3 pt., heavy contest, make). End of charting, because this is remarkably time-consuming and the game is essentially over at this point.|
So, are you going to do the alter-ego thing too, Ace?
You know, I hadn't really thought about it, but it is a really easy way to transition between...
Yes, charts, but you're jumping the gun, alter-ego. We should probably figure out what happened above.
So, um, what happened?
Coaching happened, at least for Michigan. I'm not exactly sure what to call whatever Pastner does. Michigan hit Memphis with a wide variety of screens and cuts that took full advantage of their man defense, and the Tigers apparently don't play zone... ever. Beilein probably felt like he was back pwning NAIA fools again. As for individual player performances...
Wait, now you're jumping the gun. We have a...
|Burke||9.5||5||4.5||Had some freshman mistakes, but overall quite good.|
|Hardaway||10||7||3||Best creator on offense, but forces plays too often.|
|Novak||4||1||3||Tons of half-points, GRIT. What did you expect?|
|Smotrycz||5||5||0||Pretty much as expected. Does a lot of good things, but also makes some glaring errors. Looks uncomfortable handling the ball, especially in the post.|
|Morgan||2.5||1||1.5||Not very active, does good job crashing to basket.|
|Douglass||3||3||0||Guard version of Smotrycz. Lots of positive half-points and inexplicable minus-ones. Still good for at least one absurd three-point attempt per game.|
|Horford||3||.5||2.5||Little post game to speak of, but very active off the ball. Much-improved.|
|Akunne||0.5||0.5||0||He's... useful? That's a bonus.|
|Christian||2.5||0||2.5||One fantastic hustle possession and a layup off a pick. Nice spark off the bench.|
|Vogrich||1.5||0||1.5||Pretty quiet day, but did have a nice driving layup.|
|McLimans||0||0||0||Nothing of note in seven minutes,|
|Team||2||3.5||-1.5||A couple of well-executed plays where there were too many players doing something right to break down credit individually. Also, a few plays of Amaker-ball, which are justifiably minused.|
|TOTAL||43.5||26.5||17||Really have no clue what this means yet.|
This should not come as news to those who have watched Michigan play this year, but Trey Burke is quite good for a freshman, or just period. He was efficient shooting the basketball, took care of the ball outside of a couple bad plays, and didn't try to force the issue too much. In fact, he was better than Tim Hardaway in that regard, though THJ is the one guy on the team who can really create his own shot from anywhere on the floor, so that's understandable.
I was torn about who should start at center after this game, and though Jordan Morgan locked that job down over the last couple weeks, it's still worth noting that Jon Horford is a lot better than he was last year. He hits the boards hard, is a presence inside on defense, and now looks comfortable in the offense, which has opened up opportunities for him to score a few points. Horford is a much more explosive athlete than Morgan, so if he can develop a passable post game, I think he'll eventually overtake Morgan for the starting role. Even if he doesn't, he's a viable big man off the bench, something Michigan didn't really have last year.
Stu and Metrics may drive me insane before the year is out, at least if this game is any indication. Douglass can handle the ball and plays good defense, but he's not hitting his open looks (more on that later) and his shot selection can be highly questionable. He also looks completely out of sorts when he has to take the ball anywhere near the basket, an affliction that also seems to affect Smotrycz, who turned the ball over multiple times because he forgets to hold the ball above his head instead of keeping it low and allowing defenders to knock it away. When I'm looking at the TV and screaming "I WAS TAUGHT NEVER TO DO THAT WHEN I PLAYED REC-ED BALL IN THIRD GRADE," well, it's an issue. On the other hand, Smot does look better when he drives to the basket, and his finishing looks improved, so hopefully this is just him getting acclimated to playing in the post more often.
Sorry, totally ignored myself there. Should we talk about the shooting chart?
Yes, you negligent jerk.
No need to get pissy, self. Shot chart is broken up by the three different levels of shots. NC == no contest. LC == late contest. HC == heavy contest. You probably already figured that out. The (3F) for Hardaway under late contested dunks/layups means he was fouled three times while taking those types of shots, since those attempts are worth noting but obviously can't count against shot attempts.
Again, we'll see what trends emerge as I do more of these, but I was impressed by the number of wide open looks Michigan got in this game. The team actually missed a fair amount of wide open threes, or the score could've been even more lopsided. Also, only one missed dunk/layup on the day, and that came on a great block from behind—everybody finished well around the basket. The only players that could make you go "argh" are Douglass—gotta knock down more of those open looks—and Vogrich, who can't seem to find his shot. Oh, and ESO!
Can I introduce the "Let's go to the tape" section?
Do you do that?
I am well versed in the art of section breaking in 190 languages, dialects, and levels of sanity.
Ga naar de video mijn kleine recensent
This section is going to be shorter than normal, because this is more of a test run and I forgot to cut video in the second half, but here are two plays that stood out. The first is just one of Beilein's plays working like magic, as Novak gets freed up by a pick on the backside of the play and Hardaway hits him perfectly for a layup:
That's just beautiful basketball—as I watched this game in slow motion, focusing on all the off-ball movement involved in Beilein's offense, I gained a huge appreciation both for his coaching and the execution by the players. If you're just looking at the ball when Michigan is on offense, you're missing out.
As for the other video I cut, well, this is just a fantastic pass by Douglass and a great finish by Burke, included because you all need to be as excited about Burke as I am:
While the layup looked easy, Burke's decision to not dribble and cut across the face of the retreating defender—basically cutting him off from any chance at contesting the shot—is a savvy move and very encouraging coming from a freshman. His basketball instincts are ahead of the curve.
Burke and Hardaway, who provided the bulk of the offense. Also Novak, who was deadly from three and did all the usual Gritty McGrittereckstein stuff. Oh, and John Beilein like whoa.
It's tough to call anyone a goat after beating the #8 team in the country, but Douglass can't waste possessions like he did, and also needs to start hitting open threes. That's what he's here for, and it's long past time where we can use the excuse that he's not used to handling backup point guard duties and that's somehow affecting his shot.
This is obviously just an offensive UFR, as I worked on this during Ohio State week and there just wasn't any time to do the defense. In the future, I'm thinking I'll just re-create the shot chart—no need to do a possession-by-possession breakdown for the other team's offense—for the opposing team and break that down further based on what type of defense Michigan played. It'll likely be included with the offense as a general basketball UFR.
Consider this a test run. Please give feedback, especially if something is confusing or you have a correction about basketball coaching stuff that I probably messed up.
First: a confession. I really wanted to have the UFR's raring to go early this week. You must believe me. I wanted to play Fallout 3, which I'd saved as an end of the year treat, slightly more. So… yeah. I am through the main bit of that and am now plowing through the OSU game at all speed. I apologize for lackadaisical behavior and certainly hope Michigan is taking their film breakdowns more seriously than I am.
Second: a confusion. If you're like me, Michigan's inexplicable lack of a free safety was a surprising and disconcerting feature of the Akron State Golden Bobcats game. Before, Michigan had safeties. During… not so much. The reason for this was twofold. One:
Michigan spent a lot of time in formations like this with Kovacs rolled up to the line of scrimmage. This leaves just one deep safety.
The guy on the far right in this still coming over the top of a tight end that's pretty dang covered is Troy Woolfolk. Result:
Not quite an eighty yard touchdown. This was the very next drive after Woolfolk did the same thing on incredibly easy Braxton Miller touchdown one.
And then… I mean… WTF. It's third and twenty seven for OSU on their own three yard line, and despite having a mistake-prone Braxton Miller and third and a billion from the three, Ohio State throws.
OSU's in an I, Michigan is in its usual under, albeit a nickel. You can see Kovacs rolled up to the line at the top of the screen; Floyd and Woolfolk are your two deep safeties.
OSU goes straight dropback. Michigan rushes three. You can see Ryan dropping off in the frame below; He'll set up to contain scrambles. Martin and RVB are doubled and get nowhere, but Roh got a speed rush on Mike Adams:
Adams tackles Roh and picks up the holding call that will give Michigan a safety. Huge play from Roh against a first round pick. But that's another Picture Pages. (It's not, actually.)
Given time, Miller sets up and chucks it. Where is Woolfolk?
On the 25, covering the slot receiver. Oh, balls.
NICE. KNEW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN THE WHOLE TIME. WOO COUNTESS.
54-yard TD on which Woolfolk and Countess jump the underneath route:
Near 80 yard touchdown:
Third and twenty-seven:
Items of Interest
WTF was this? The consistency with which Woolfolk was jumping the underneath route suggests it was part of Mattison's gameplan. Watch Woolfolk on the video just above: he is sitting on the slot receiver. But if Woolfolk is supposed to come up in a robber, why the hell is Countess playing outside of Posey on both of the latter two throws?
On the first one Spielman starts chattering about how Countess can't give up in the inside, and my immediate thought was "dude that is not on him, that is on the free safety losing his mind." Then the second one happens and… if it's third and twenty seven and your free safety vacates the deep middle for the third time in seven minutes(!) can it really be Woolfolk blowing an assignment? Probably not. I have not yet run across the sideline reporter screaming "OH MY GOD GREG MATTISON IS LITERALLY EATING TROY WOOLFOLK'S INTERNAL ORGANS FOR BUSTING SPECTACULARLY THREE TIMES IN SEVEN MINUTES AAAAAAAAAH THEY TOLD ME THIS WOULDN'T BE LIKE COVERING BRIAN KELLY NOT AGAIN NOT AGAIN NOT AGAIN." If Woolfolk had not been doing what he was supposed to, this would have happened.
So. We think Michigan is playing a three deep coverage on which the middle safety is intentionally sucking up on intermediate routes and the corner is playing outside. That does not make sense. That throw in the middle of the field is easy relative to deep fly routes down the sideline—that's why there's always a deep safety—and Michigan is giving it to OSU all day. Even on third and twenty-seven.
I don't get it, man. Even if you assume Countess is a freshman and thus screwing up, you're still putting him one on one with Posey all game with no help at all over the top. That doesn't seem like a good strategy.
On the other hand. Maybe you can't blame Woolfolk for these plays because he was executing his assignment. I find it hard to believe he is not at fault on the 54-yard WTF on OSU's first drive and the half-ending corner route on which he reacted very late. If Michigan lost that game that was going to be the kid's legacy, sorry to say. OSU's gameplan was based around attacking 1) Morgan and 2) Woolfolk with a side of Floyd and Countess.
Braxton Miller problems. Putting Kovacs in the box on every play restricts what you can run in coverage and exposes the middle of the field; that spot Woolfolk keeps running into is the same one Stoneburner will exploit for a huge gain on OSU's disconcerting 82-second touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. On that play the safety (now Gordon) stayed deep and there was no one to tackle once Stoneburner found the soft spot in the zone.
[Update: you can see Gordon turn and run for the post, leaving no one behind Demens.]
So your choice is between opening that up and opening up the deep stuff; obviously neither of those is a great choice.
Hurray Roh. Roh has not developed into the devastating pass rusher Michigan fans were hoping for this summer. He's got four sacks, which is amongst the team lead but far short of the numbers an impact player would put up. Here, though, he beats a very good tackle and gets paid for his effort. Thumbs up.