a terrible blight on our fine country
Argh, I'm getting this up as quickly as possible after forgetting to save and having half the post eaten the first time around. Apparently I need a not-so-friendly reminder to use the save button more often. Duly noted.
Bri'onte Dunn Update: Fred Jackson Deployed
Bri'onte Dunn thoroughly enjoyed his Michigan visit last weekend ($, info in header), telling this to Sam Webb:
“It was a good atmosphere,” Dunn said regarding the Saturday afternoon spectacle at the Big House. “That was first time going to an Ohio State - Michigan game at Michigan, and it was a good experience. I think it was more intense (than last week's game versus Nebraska). It was a more important game, the game was close, and it was more fun. The coaches were very happy about winning and they were talking about how they wanted me to come down there. They were all hugging me and just very happy about me coming down two weeks in row.”
With Dunn being on Michigan's sideline as they faced the arch-rival school he's currently committed to, Dunn's stated disdain for playing in the spread, and Ohio State hiring noted spread guru Urban Meyer as their head coach, this is a done deal, right? Not so fast, my friend ($):
"Coach (Urban) Meyer called me tonight, and it was great speaking with him," Dunn stated. "I was told he was going to call me tonight, but it was still pretty awesome hearing him call. We talked for a while, and he also talked to my dad, and it went great."
"Coach Meyer said he's going to stop by my school and see me soon," he added. "I had a few questions I wanted to ask him, but I got kind of nervous and I never asked them. I will definitely look forward to talking to him face to face."
The big question that must be asked: How is Dunn going to fit into the offense when Urban Meyer has never produced a 1,000-yard rusher as a head coach, despite (contrary to his claims) having a couple Dunn-sized backs at Florida and Utah? That one could be tough to answer—at least honestly—for Meyer if he hopes to keep Dunn in the fold at OSU. Meanwhile, Michigan sent in Fred Jackson for an in-home visit, and while the conversation focused on academics ($, info in header), I'm sure Dunn was reminded he'd be like Tom Harmon but faster, with more Heismans, and a better post-playing acting career if he came to Ann Arbor. Dunn has confirmed that he'll be an early enrollee, so his decision will be coming in the relatively near future.
Another player who will be deciding soon is wideout Amara Darboh, who also had a real good time at the Ohio State game and has set a concrete timetable for his annoucement ($):
Sam Webb: As far as your recruitment goes, your coach did an interview last week and said a decision could come from you this week. Is that accurate for you?
Amara Darboh: “Yeah, I think I need to talk to my guardian and people that are close to me and stuff, but yeah. I’m at that point where I think it could come soon. I think it’s going to be no later than before Christmas. I just want to get it done with and go into (shoulder) surgery knowing where I’m going to go.”
Darboh could take one last visit to Florida, but he's unsure if he'll do so—either way, the decision will come by Christmas and quite possibly sooner than that. Another wideout with a similar timetable is Jehu Chesson, who has Michigan in his top three and will announce by Christmas, according to TomVH ($). Chesson struck up a friendship with Darboh, and the two could even be a package deal ($, info in header), which would be a great sign for the Wolverines.
Also impressed with his visit, and for good reason, was Puyallup (WA) OL Josh Garnett, pictured at right with Jake Long and 2012 commit Erik Magnuson. Tim Sullivan has a feature on Garnett in the Free Press, and the signs look good for Michigan:
Over the weekend, Garnett visited Ann Arbor to take in the experience at Michigan for the first time. While in town, he met up with his friend, Calrsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon offensive lineman Erik Magnuson, who is already committed to Michigan. Thanks in part to Magnuson’s presence, Garnett enjoyed the visit, and has moved Michigan into the top group of schools on his list.
“Thank you to Michigan football for showing me a great time,” he said on his Twitter account Sunday. “I love it in Michigan can't wait to be back! Go Blue!”
The Wolverines are now in his top two along with Stanford ($). There's still a long way to go with Garnett's recruitment, as he'll be taking official visits to Notre Dame and Miami in December and January before making his final decision (he could visit Oklahoma, as well). Also in that free update: Michigan will make an in-home visit with Zach Banner tomorrow, and the Wolverines are in his top five with Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, and Washington.
Garnett and Banner aren't the only options for the final O-line spot in the class, as Michigan improved their standing with Chicago Simeon OL Jordan Diamond over the weekend ($, info in header):
“I loved it,” Diamond said regarding his time in Ann Arbor Saturday. “I Ioved everything about it. I loved the atmosphere, the fans, the crowd…it was absolutely crazy today! I really enjoyed myself. The game was crazy. I absolutely loved it. It was a different experience from the UMASS game I went to earlier in my career. It moved (the Wolverines) up, definitely. Definitely it did.”
How far up? We'll have to wait to find out, as Diamond plans on trimming his list down to 5-10 schools within the next couple of weeks—he's stated throughout the process that he's taking things slow, and that's exactly what he's doing. The Wolverines will almost certainly be a factor until the end, however.
Quickly: Urban Meyer's hiring isn't exactly good news for Michigan despite Dunn's spread hatred, as Yuri Wright said "heck yeah" when asked if he was now interested in the Buckeyes (free article); Stefon Diggs has narrowed his list to eight schools—Michigan, Cal, USC, Oklahoma, Florida, Auburn, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, who was a late replacement for Maryland on the list; another wideout to keep an eye on ($, info in header) is Upland (CA) four-star Kenny Lawler, who just decommitted from Arizona State; according to TomVH, Michigan is back to hotly pursuing TE Taylor McNamara ($), who's being recruited hard by fellow Californian Magnuson right now and is also friends with Garnett.
Pee-Wee Loves His Visit and Kalis Gets His Fifth Star
Ondre "Pee-Wee" Pipkins is the subject of a free article by Sam Webb, and you are strongly encouraged to read the whole thing:
“Aww man, that right there was like witnessing history,” Pipkins exclaimed. “Michigan hadn’t beaten them in seven years. I was just sitting back watching like, ‘wow, they actually did it!’ Everybody had a different outlook on Brady Hoke, saying he wasn’t going to win over eight games. Some said he wouldn’t even win eight games. He proved a lot of people wrong. I feel like he had the same team that Rich Rodriguez had and he basically took those kids and taught them how to play football instead of just telling them to play. He actually broke it down and was teaching them. That’s what (the players) were telling me on my visit. ‘We actually learned how to play football.’ I was sitting in the stands and I was just happy for them. They’d been working hard all season.”
Okay, mild gut-punch for the remaining Rodriguez zealots out there, but man, that kid is excited to be a Wolverine. Pipkins also walked into Greg Mattison's office wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers shirt—to which the former Ravens DC responded, "Get out of here!"—and spent time with Shane Morris recruiting Jordan Diamond. Fan favorite in the making? I think so.
Meanwhile, Rivals has released their new Rivals100 and Rivals250—Touch the Banner has you covered on all the changes (100, 250) for Michigan commits and targets—but the big news is that Kyle Kalis moved up and got his coveted fifth star:
"In 10 years of covering recruiting, Kalis is one of the most college-ready offensive linemen I have seen. Physically he appears able to step on a college field right now, and his technique is advanced beyond his years," said Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt. "The other thing that sets Kalis apart is that he is a very versatile lineman. He can play right or left tackle but also bump down to guard if his college team needs him there."
National recruiting analyst Mike Farrell added that Kalis looked great in pass protection in his game against Don Bosco Prep, which helped him earn that fifth star as that opens up the opportunity for him to play pretty much anywhere on the line. In non-surprising news, considering the reaction to his commitment switch from Ohio Sate to Michigan, Kalis reitereated that he will not be going back to the Buckeyes now that Urban Meyer is their coach ($, info in header).
Holy [Bleep], Ty Isaac
DO WANT [emphasis mine]:
Following a record-setting game in which he displayed why he is – if not the best college prospect in Illinois – on a very short list of premier players in the state, Isaac could do nothing more than politely summon some soft-spoken words to reporters looking for him to put one of the most surreal games in state history in perspective. But that’s what happens when you rush for a state-title game record 515 yards and six touchdowns, yet still lose 70-45 to nemesis Lombard Montini, which was exactly what Isaac did Saturday in the Class 5A championship.
That effort came on just 26 carries, for a solid 19.8 yards per carry, and Isaac's TD runs covered 71, 63, 56, 66, 2 and 69 yards. His defense should probably apologize profusely, as I'm not quite sure how it's possible to lose when your running back RUNS FOR 515 YARDS AND SIX TOUCHDOWNS. Isaac hasn't gotten too deep into the recruiting process yet, but is "high on Michigan" ($, info in header) according to 247Sports, who also have a free feature on the junior from Joliet (IL) Catholic:
Some of the schools that have offered have made an impression on both of Isaac’s parents.
“Notre Dame and Michigan,” Tyrone said. “Not to say they’re at the top of Ty’s list, but I’d have to say those two, and I can see Ty has a high-level of interest in those schools. I ask him and he says Dad, I don’t know yet. I just want him to be as informed as he can. Most of the schools in the Midwest we’ve seen and we’re going to see a lot more places.”
“We have met phenomenal people,” Karen said. “I can’t say there is anyone we met we haven’t liked. People say recruiting is so much fun, and it’s fun, but it can also be overwhelming. I loved the Michigan staff. I love the Notre Dame staff. We had a great visit with the people from Wisconsin. Coach (DeAndre) Smith at Illinois is a great guy. Lester Erb from Iowa is very nice.”
Read the rest and try to figure out how this guy isn't a five-star across the board yet. I can't.
Quickly: WR Laquon Treadwell enjoyed his visit and may be closer to a decision ($, info in header); ditto DB Shaq Wiggins ($, info in header); paywalled articles on 2013 recruits who visited (and of course, liked their visits): Brother Rice LB Jon Reshke, Owensboro (KY) Apollo OL Hunter Bivin, Youngstown (OH) Cardinal Mooney S Marcus McWilson, Dayton (OH) Huber Heights Wayne OL Lovell Peterson, and Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon, who could be making an early decision this summer.
"Without effort, he had learned English, French, Portuguese, Latin. I suspect, nevertheless, that he was not very capable of thought. To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details."
---Jorge Luis Borges, Funes, the Memorious
The above reference is to a short story my 11th grade English teacher (Hi Mrs. Bruton!) would be very proud I remembered. In it a fictional JL Borges speaks of conversations with a young autistic savant named Funes. Funes is so mathematical he invented his own way of counting. Then he dies of congestion of the lungs. So it goes.
The other pic is from an early M presser with Al Borges when he was asked how he would use Denard. There were contiguous details: You gotta use him. We'll think up some ways to utilize those legs. We're going to run our offense. The voice was sharp, mocking.
And through the season the thoughts of the young Borges were realized:
They were ways, but not the way.
We have all moved on from the last three years. We have t-shirts and memes and a competent defense and a win over Ohio and a new spiteful way of referring to our rival. Yet until Shane Morris is zipping DOs to myriad tight ends in the flat there is going to be a Godwin's Law*-ishness about discussing the offense that best fits the offensive personnel at Michigan because we fired the guys who invented it.
* Technically it's a corollary.
First a note that advanced users can skip: I'm using formation because each formation comes with a set of strengths and weaknesses selected by the guy calling the plays. Once the ball is snapped all hell breaks loose and it's way harder to judge decisions or coaching. Of the relevant formations, the I-form is great for running because you get two backs (one usually a lead blocker) immediately moving toward the line of scrimmage and your play's chosen point of attack, but not great for passing because either you're committing two eligible receivers and precious QB time to a run fake, or you're immediately showing pass when the RBs are bailing out of the QB's drop line. The Ace is basically I-form but you swap the FB for a WR or TE. It's a compromise formation, slightly better for passing, not great at either.
The shotgun's fundamental running flaws can be somewhat mitigated by: 1) Zone Blocking, which lets the runner scan for creases like a QB instead of hitting a certain spot ASAP, 2) Backs who can see and accelerate quickly into those gaps, 3) A run-threat QB who can keep the defense from teeing off the tailback, 4) Spreading receivers out so that their defenders are too far away to help the inside running game, and 5) Optioning and the threat thereof, e.g. Rich Rodriguez's zone read.
These are kind of very specialized things to get, and you need like three or four of them just to get shotgun running on par with the natural advantages of I-form running. If you can run out of an I against eight in the box you are indefeatable; if you can run out of a shotgun AND your running QB can pass you are indefeatable. So it's not like the way is the only way. The reason your friendly bloggers are always yelping "shotgun! shotgun!" is because by the above rationale, a team with Molk, Toussaint, and Denard, and which used to have Rodriguez himself coaching them, should be pretty awesome at running from the shotgun, which is still the best passing formation.) /tutorial.
Chart of formation tendencies (pass & run)
Excised: Plays when the score differential >16, 4th quarters, plays inside the M or opponent's 3 yard line.
|San Diego State||62.1%||29||82.8%||13.8%||3.4%||-||-||-|
The games where Michigan was 25% I-form were, as predicted, at the beginning of the season. The Fritz took its place against Minnesota and then it was all shotgun ru…
Okay so it was inexplicably becoming a team that passes 60% of the time in a trash tornado against MSU and then two game-plans which look absolutely identical. Because Purdue's defensive ends were pliant this worked brilliantly against Purdue as Borges called mannish plays to the end. The thing is for some odd reason he didn't stop I-forming the Purdue game away until it was the 4th quarter of the Iowa game.
Here's a weird thing though: when I run the same numbers for '09 and '10, Rich Rod was way I-Form against Iowa as well. 20% I-form in fact, when he was 96% gun all other games combined. He did it both years, and only for Iowa. Is there some Lloyd-Ferentz pact to run substantially more I-forms versus each other every year?
Anyway it went away. Illinois looks like an intermediary step but 7 of the 8 plays from the I were during that interminable 14-point lead after the defense had established itself as 2006-ian. Following that game it almost disappeared from 1st downs (chart in excessive charting area post-jump*). It's the same story just more dramatic. Red Zone is more so, as the I-form was largely abandoned in the red zone during relevant plays of the last three games of the season:
So it is at this point where Funes the Manballious makes his impression on the young Borges, or vice versa, and the rational meets the abstract, and the result is sublime.
After getting a quick update yesterday evening that Michigan was in his top five, I was able to get Logan Tuley-Tillman on the phone for a full interview last night. For those who didn't see the update, Tuley-Tillman is a 6'7", 275-pound 2013 OL recruit from Peoria (IL) Manual with early offers from Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. Logan visited Ann Arbor for both the Nebraska and Ohio State games, and said he "never had an experience like it." His top five is now Michigan, Mizzou, Oregon, Boise State, and Illinois. Here's the lowdown on his recruitment:
ACE: First of all, I guess I'll ask you to expand on how the visits were, both for the Nebraska game and the Ohio State game.
LOGAN: The visit for Nebraska, it was really fun just getting down there and seeing what it is like. Then the visit last Saturday, it was like that times three—just the whole overall experience, it just really opened my eyes to what Michigan really is.
ACE: When you say it opened your eyes to what Michigan really is, what did you take away from that visit?
LOGAN: That they have great pride and great tradition. The winning ways are there if you just buy into the system. I can tell that their success, the success they're having this year, it's something I could probably build off of if I would choose to go there.
ACE: You've got a couple early offers right now, and you've got Michigan now in your top five. Do you know how your recruitment is going to play out at this point? Any idea of a timeline or is it too early to be thinking about that?
LOGAN: I'm pretty sure an offer from [Michigan] is going to come when I get film to them, but I'm not really going to make any decisions any time soon. I'm just going to play it out and see what happens.
ACE: Were you able to talk to any of the coaches when you were up here?
LOGAN: Yeah, I actually have a pretty good relationship with Coach Funk. I talked to him a couple times this past week. I actually talked to him last night, too, before I left. He's a real good guy, we have a pretty strong relationship.
ACE: Were you able to get your film to him? Has he said anything about seeing you on tape?
LOGAN: Yeah, I got him my highlights, but they need two full game films just to see, because all the players that they're recruiting, they know they can play, but they just want to see what type of guy they are. So, I'm just trying to get them the full-length videos now. I tried to get it to them digitally, but our school doesn't have it on hudl or anything, so I have to physically send them DVDs.
ACE: There were a bunch of prospects up there the last couple weeks. Were you able to connect with any of the recruits who were at the game?
LOGAN: Actually, I haven't really had the chance to talk to anyone like that, because I didn't really know anybody. I knew one, though, because we used to play AAU together. Amara... I can't think of his last name, but he used to play on my AAU team a little bit ago. [Amara Darboh?] Yeah.
ACE: Michigan fans might not be too familiar with your game at this point. How would you describe your strengths and weaknesses on the football field?
LOGAN: Some of my strengths would be just pass protection and just getting down and dirty in the trenches. I just like to go heads up with people.
ACE: You look on the video like you've got a bit of a mean streak when you get on the field. Is that something you take pride in?
LOGAN: Yeah, that's really just how everybody is from this area. When you come from Peoria, you've got to be tough, so that's one of the things that I take with me on the field. I just keep that chip on my shoulder that I've just got to get myself out of this town—even though I love it, it's my hometown, I don't want to end up staying here forever.
ACE: How would a Michigan offer affect your recruitment?
LOGAN: I think that would shake up the whole landscape, and I'm pretty sure they would skyrocket to number one, just from what I've seen and the relationship I have with Coach Funk.
Who's the man? You're the man.
In a world where CJ Barnett is a better safety than Jordan Kovacs, a 10-2 Michigan team must be coached up the wazoo, to the hilt, and beyond. Lo, it is so.
PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- The Big Ten Conference announced Wednesday (Nov. 30) that University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke was chosen as the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year, as selected by conference coaches, and the Dave McClain Coach of the Year, as picked by the media.Hoke is the sixth first-year coach to earn the McClain Coach of the Year award, which dates back to 1972 and is named for the former Wisconsin coach. This is the inaugural awarding of the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year honor, which pays tribute to Ohio State's Woody Hayes and Michigan's Bo Schembechler.
This will be the only time in the history of the award someone from Michigan or Ohio State actually wins it. This is Hoke's third COTY award in four years. Neat trick, that.
I would pay in diamonds if this was Michigan related. Someone found this in Thailand:
Thailand: not just for sex tourism anymore. That is amazing. The people who take these pictures immediately clean out the store, right?
Well, you can't say never anymore. Since Dave Brandon created The Horror II there is no nonconference scheduling scenario that you can entirely rule out. A six-game series with Washington State on the moon? Someone call Richard Branson to see if that's been floated.
Still, this seems pretty implausible:
"His expression to me was he felt he had a better chance to win the national championship at Arizona [than Tulane] if he recruited properly and they promised him they would put Michigan on the schedule within three years."
That's a Louisiana high school explaining to Tulane boosters why Rich Rodriguez took the Arizona job over Tulane. (He could have just gone with "duh.") So this is a second-hand account of a one-sided promise that Arizona may or may not have actually offered presumably made without actually talking to anyone in Ann Arbor, involving Michigan playing a real nonconference opponent.
If there wasn't a risk of enormous humiliation I'd say there was a zero percent chance of that happening. Since there is, ballpark it at 10%.
Michigan was never able to find an offensive rhythm against Virginia’s Packline defense. The Wolverines scored just .93 points per trip despite shooting 45 percent from three point range. Michigan, obviously bothered by Virginia’s physical play, was unable to convert the two point shots that carried the offense in Maui and converted just 42% of its two point looks. That lackluster two point shooting was accompanied by first half turnover woes and little to no production on either the offensive glass or at the free throw line.
Dylan says the offense "devolved into glorified isolation plays most of the night," and it's hard to disagree.
I am surprise. The guy who runs the book at the Wynn on Hypothetical Sugar Bowl Everyone Is Projecting:
SUGAR BOWL, JAN. 3
Michigan Wolverines (+4.5) vs. Houston Cougars
“The Cougar football program gets center stage for the first time,” Avello said. “The Wolverines have struggled in bowl games losing eight of their last 10.”
Houston's offensive numbers are gaudy as all git out but the one BCS team they played was UCLA, who they scraped by 38-34. I'd think that line would go the other way.
That's the ticket. The #1 Meyer won't destroy us theory is that he doesn't scout, choosing instead to use recruiting lists from the gurus and annihilating the programs he leaves with his crappy recruiting. That's grasping at straws, as all reasons Meyer will not succeed are, but given what went down with Jerimy Finch I think you can make the case Meyer recruits a lot of flakes. Por ejemplo:
One day after the coach who recruited them to Florida was introduced as the new boss at Ohio State, once-hyped recruits Joshua Shaw and Lyndren Trail announced plans to transfer from Gainesville, making them the ninth and tenth members of Urban Meyer's 2010 recruiting class to leave the team in less than two years.
Florida's roster is down to 68 scholarship players. A bunch (11) have taken off since Muschamp arrived, but Jebus, man.
Speaking of flakes, Rich Rodriguez and Urban Meyer are desperately clawing to hire… Tim Brewster. TRY FIGHT WHAT
Hatchdate. Hatch will not play high school basketball this season:
"Austin continues to make great strides in his rehabilitation; this first year is vital to the recovery process," the statement begins. "As a result, it is unlikely that Austin's physicians will clear him to play basketball this season."
I assume this means he's reclassifying to 2014, which would clear any scholarship logjam in future seasons unless no one goes pro or transfers before the 2013 class hits campus—unlikely to say the least.
With the Poke and the man. Oh, good lord, Michigan just recruited a 1996-born hockey player. His name is Dylan Larkin and all you get is stats:
His 13 goals this season is tops on the team, which leads the Great Lakes Division of the MWEHL with a 14-0-3 record. The next highest on the team has 9 goals. He's also second in points (Kyle Connor has 21). Surprisingly, only one of his 13 goals has come on special teams, so he's getting it done at even strength. He also leads the team with 4 game-winning goals.
This is because he is a 2014, Michigan's first. Presumably he's pretty good.
In other hockey news, crap crap crap crap crap. Michigan's losing streak has hit four, the defense is totally clueless, Hunwick isn't exactly bad but he's not playing to last year's standard, and a lot of the games have embarrassingly thin crowds. It's not so good.
Not having Merrill is obviously a big problem. Brennan Serville had his pocket picked for Union's second goal Sunday and sat until the 13 minute mark of the third period. Their third pairing is terrifying and I'm not so sure about the second one, honestly. Not skating Burlon in the title game and the fallout from that, plus the Merrill thing has turned the defense corps from the deepest in the country to one pairing and then Katie bar the door. I don't even know, man. Michigan plays a Michigan State team this weekend that's not much better on paper but has actually won some games recently; if I'm back in the MGoDitch feebly trying to have a real good time after this weekend you know what happened.
The bombs, even more targeted. Dan Wetzel wrote "Death to the BCS," so his take on the latest BCS debacle is not a surprise. It is also not wrong:
No matter what it says, the BCS is not a system designed to choose a championship matchup. It is merely a tool to stave off the inevitable playoff bowl directors fear will cut into their millions in tax-free profits, a casino-style distraction to placate the masses.
It is what it is, and until it collapses (even a four-teamer is a major, positive step), college football is stuck.
That said, if the BCS somehow survives in its current incarnation, the formula to determine 1-2 must be scrapped.
It currently consists of two-thirds human opinion polls that are ripe for political foolishness, full of oft-uneducated voters and subject to groupthink.
I'm waiting for the championship games to play out before doing the Official Tedious Thing I always do around this time, but imagine a six-team playoff with no autobids with the first two rounds played at home sites and the final at the Rose Bowl. Tentative version of that this year:
1. LSU vs 4. Oregon/5.Wisconsin
2. Alabama vs. 3. Oklahoma State/6. Stanford
Or something along those lines. What matters? This weekend. Who can complain about the outcome of that? No one. What does it do the bowl system? Hardly anything. What does it do to the importance of the regular season? Increases it.
Bowls are parasites on college football.
Etc.: Spencer Hall hits up the last Texas-Texas A&M game. Bust details. Rumors that Dayne Crist is going to use the fifth-year transfer rule to become Wisconsin's next free agent quarterback abound. The Big Ten has denied they are employing seat fillers for the championship game, which is true in a narrow technical sense only.
left: no. right: no.
It was the kind of game that leaves you writing a rage list a la Artur Boruc. Here's the Iowa version of this:
THINGS THAT DON’T WORK, FRAN MCCAFFERY
- Having your entire defense collapse on a player charging into the low post area. THIS LEAVES AROUND 3-4 GUYS WIDE OPEN TO SHOOT A 3-POINTER. WHEN EVERY TEAM HAS AN “UNUSUAL” AMOUNT OF SUCCESS BEHIND THE LINE IT ISN’T BECAUSE THEY’RE “JUST HAVING AN ON NIGHT.”
- Having your power forward take countless jumpshots. UNLESS YOUR POWER FORWARD IS TIM DUNCAN, HE SHOULDN’T BE SHOOTING 15 FOOTERS.
Etc., etc. I felt a lot like the above during the game last night as Michigan ran a zillion ball screens on which Virginia showed harrrrrrd, resulting in Stu Douglass dribbling the ball 30 feet from the basket with ten seconds on the shot clock. Apparently our offense only works when the opponent is drunk on coconut milk. /shakes fist
/continues shaking fist
/gets tired, shakes other fist
/realizes he is doing dance moves now
Tony Bennett is a war crime. That was hard to watch. Anything involving a Bennett coaching basketball is. I guess it works. I get that Memphis and UCLA are stupid teams with terrible defenses ripe for Michigan to pick apart and that Virginia is not, but what I don't get is how Michigan tore Duke apart in the second half of that game in Maui.
Guess: Duke doesn't really have a PG and put either Curry or Rivers on Burke, which led to a ton of quality penetration and nine Burke assists. In this game Burke had a tough time with Virginia's similarly lightning-quick PG and the offense was reduced to chucking it around the perimeter a la Amaker.
And we're in pine for next year mode. My inner monologue never gets more AAAARGGGGGH than when Beilein fields a lineup mid-majors would laugh at, like late in the first half when Christian, McLimans, Douglass, and Akunne were out there. Like… together. I know. Novak was the other guy on the floor.
It's times like that when the talent on the team still seems desperately deficient. Next year that lineup reads McGary-Robinson-Stauskas-something-something, which seems more likely to score on large athletic people. Or anyone.
Tim Hardaway Jr. fouled out five minutes into the second half. That is the effect of sitting a guy with two fouls for the final 15 minutes of the first half. All coaches do this, so this is not a Beilein-specific complaint, but good lord. Hardaway averaged 2.5 fouls per 40 last year and Virginia had a couple of shooters on the floor… is Joe Harris really going to draw a ton of fouls on Hardaway?
By sitting your best player the entire first half you're enacting the worst case scenario of leaving him in. Hardaway picked up one foul in the 20 minutes he was allowed to play.
Novak. Nails. Can't guard actual scoring power forwards.
Morgan and Horford. Keep repeating "bigs take time to develop" to yourself. They were in a tough spot against guys taller, older, and more athletic than them. Anyone with that kind of front line is going to shut off Michigan's frontcourt scoring, not that there really is any frontcourt scoring that isn't set up by the guards.
The 1-3-1. Equals six offensive rebounds. The best play against it when you've got seven-footers is to avoid the risk of a turnover by throwing up a brick and crashing the boards. I have no proof of this but it seemed a lot less effective than straight man to man. (We hope to get some proof of this in the future.)
My wildly bipolar relationship with Evan Smotrycz. I was at an Interpol concert a few years back when I ran across this couple. He: a slightly nebbishy lawyer sort in a button down and flat-front pants. She: dyed red hair on the edge of punky, little zebra-striped dress, pouty, vacillating wildly between emotional states. The terms of the relationship were instantly clear. She did whatever the hell she wanted and he put up with it because, goddamn, that dress. I present a metaphor for my feelings about sophomore Evan Smotrycz that seems a lot creepier than I thought it was going to be when I started it.
I loathed Smotrycz for much of Maui and expected to hop on the internet to find that others were ranting about his lack of development only to find the opposite ; in this game he was 4/4, 2/2 from three, and… fouled out in 22 minutes. One, a bailout of their 88% FT-shooting power forward with four seconds left on the shot clock, saw expletives arc gracefully across my living room. All basketball players look incredulous when called for a foul but Smotrycz takes it to another level, especially when he's just done something 1) obvious even to me and 2) really, really dumb.
He is putting on the floor a lot more these days to good effect and he's still the floor-spreading four Beilein wants. It's just that sometimes I want to strangle him. That's all I'm saying.
8 assists. Glarg glarg glarg glarg. When is the last time Michigan had more turnovers (11) than assists under Beilein? Half of those came from Burke, BTW. The rest of the team generated basically nothing.
Open threes. They has them. We don't. Very frustrating. Burke had his moments but isn't at the point Morris was last year. Morris created an absolute ton of shots. Not only was he third in assist rate last year but he launched a quarter of Michigan's shots when he was on the floor.
Burke was never going to fill that void himself, so who else steps up? It looks like the answer is "nobody." Maybe Hardaway, but Hardaway has kept up his freshman tendency of disappearing for long stretches. He doesn't have the handle to create shots in an isolation situation so he has to get things from the framework of the offense. Maybe that means good defenses can shut him down? (See also: his coach leaving him on the bench for 15 minutes in the first half.)