Before I forget, go draft your FreeRoll team for tomorrow—if you finish in the top 12 you get legal tender, and you don't have to give up any legal tender for it. If enough people don't sign up we don't get to keep doing these.
Okay so maybe I'm still a bit shaken from encountering a real life Tyrannosaur …
…who's not even allowed to enter the draft, but the thought of Lewan leaving for the NFL felt like being stuck in the middle of Jurassic Park with nobody but your 8-year-old brother for protection.
"That's not what I'm gonna do." –Taylor Lewan
So yes I saw new starters at 4 of 5 OL positions and turned into a hyperventilating girl—like you didn't! Thank Denard for Dr. Grant. I have no idea why he thinks a stereoscopic scavenger with an occipital lobe 8 times the size of its cognitive center who's related to visually acute crocodiles and birds would have movement-based vision (maybe it's the frog DNA?) but if I'm gonna walk the length of an island of angry therapods I'm very happy to have this man along one more time. That sentiment was passed on personally by justingoblue and megangoblue, at Crisler. Pretty pictures with the cool story bro&sis but guys I'm feeling really warm and fuzzy inside.
How warm and fuzzy? 1.64 degrees centigrade fuzzy. That's the heat generated by the burning of calories in running 4,495 yards according the post-drunk maths of Blazefire. Here's another way to visualize it:
In case you were wondering, yes West Virginia fans are going to boycott everything because Denard used handoffs for the final stretch. LSAClassOf2000 added some perspective on the Denardian career by the percentage of Michigan's total offense he accounted for. Roughly, from the time he was a freshman, half of Michigan's yards were his.
In other things you ought to read, Ron Utah did a comparison of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, concluding the Denard arm was a big deal. Here's some of the things I pulled from that:
|Fumble Recoveries||20 of 25 (80%)||11 of 22 (50%)|
Surprisingly Michigan improved on 2011's unprecedented ownership of 4th down, converting 69% of our 13 attempts (up from 59% in '11), and holding opponents to 43% (not far off the 38% of last year).
Etc. I forgot to front-page Mathlete this week; amazingly there were two plays that swung the game more than Tyrannosaurus Clowney making a goat disappear. Combining the sagarin and UPI rankings makes Michigan the top football-basketball combo school in the nation (Florida, Notre Dame and Louisville come after). I'm guessing Ohio State doesn't count for that. The Blockhams was great this week, though the text still needs to be way more succinct—not that I of all people can really talk.
[Lewan photoshopping and really smart raptors, after the jump]
hey this can probably work
I had assumed Lewan's departure was so much of a foregone conclusion that I didn't even bother to hang around the computer last night when he announced and only found out once I flipped on the Nebraska game. Derpity-doo.
In any case, I don't have to tell you how huge his return is for Michigan next year. Without him, Michigan was replacing four starters on the OL with at least two freshmen. With him, they return two solid-to-All-American tackles and only have to find three new guys.
In addition, Lewan's return gives Michigan flexibility. Michael Schofield was a quality player at guard last year and could return there if necessary. That allows Michigan to let Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson compete for starting jobs. Team 134 now has to find three starters out of this group:
CENTERS: Jack Miller, Patrick Kugler
GUARDS: Kyle Kalis, Chris Bryant, Kyle Bosch, Blake Bars, Joey Burzynski
TACKLES: Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden
Even if you dismiss Burzynski as a walk-on—not necessarily wise—that is eight candidates for the three spots, seven of whom will compete in spring. The eighth, Kugler, is the son of Sean Kugler, until recently the Steelers' OL coach and now the head man at UTEP. If ever there is a guy who will be ready to play center as a freshman it'll be him.
Remove Lewan and you not only force Braden* in to the starting lineup ready or not, you likely remove Magnuson from the conversation. Moving guys around is a lot less possible when you've got one guy standing between you and walk-ons at tackle. Then you're trying to get someone out of Bosch/Bars/Burzynski/Bryant. That's doable, but Lewan is not only an All-American coming back but two extra bullets for the holes Michigan has to fill. High five.
The starting line above is four touted recruits and four kids who are entering at least their third year in the program. Behind them they'll have options in case they aren't working out. It's kind of a big deal.
HEY DERRICK GREEN HEY WHAT'S UP NAW JUST SAYIN'
[Note: I'll redo "27 tickets" after Signing Day.]
*[Speculation based on insider buzz has Braden ahead of Magnuson, FWIW. As always take insider buzz lightly.]
1/9/2013 – Michigan 62, Nebraska 47 – 16-0, 3-0 Big Ten
on mah grind (Bryan Fuller)
also note all five Nebraska players are in this shot looking at Burke
Yesterday's game was an ugly slow-it-down slugfest that brought one particular game to mind: Michigan's matchup with that 2005 Illinois team everyone brings up when they attempt to put this year's offense in historical context. The Illini were 23 games undefeated, Michigan was 3-6 in the league and so injury-wracked that walk-ons Sherrod Harrell, Ashtyn Bell, and John Andrews got 51 minutes between them. Collectively they attempted three shots.
Michigan's strategy consisted of taking the air out of the ball, giving it to Dion Harris with the shot clock winding down, and vaguely hoping. It darn near worked. Michigan kept contact the whole night, leading at points, and eventually went down to a narrow six-point defeat. It was an extreme underdog kind of strategy willing to trade possession-to-possession efficiency for increased variance, because over time Michigan was just going to die.
Better to up the randomness: no turnovers, no transition buckets, all half-court jump shots which can do things like rim out. If basketball had innings, you'd lose by more, on average. It doesn't.
So Nebraska came out determined to make this basketball game an exercise in half-court blithering. Michigan obliged, clanking a series of threes and free throws. They were never really threatened and pulled away for a comfortable win at the end—more comfortable than those amazing Illini, by some distance. By the end they'd fallen a few points short of Kenpom/Vegas, understandable in a game with a mere 57 possessions. By comparison, Michigan's only other game in the 50s this year was Binghamton. Give them the extra ten opportunities at the basket they had against Iowa or Northwestern, and change the tempo of the game to get them, and… well, yeah.
This is what it's like to be the overdog against a team that knows they're nowhere near your level. The opponent tries to whittle down the time and opportunities you have to display your superiority, and when your keep coming up craps on your shots things get a little sticky. This game serves as a reminder that the great hand of fate is waiting to crush you, but shouldn't impact expectations going forward much, if at all.
Redundant Bullets Header Section
Photos. From Bryan Fuller:
Concerns: do we have them should we have them what? Yeah, a couple. One: Michigan had only six assists on 21 makes. At times it seemed like too much of the offense was guys going one on one. Maybe that was just Nebraska's defensive philosophy? I don't recall much help defense or switching. Six is a really low number, though, and I don't think that was all on shots that usually go down not doing so.
Two: Nebraska was able to keep their turnovers way down (just six). Turnover avoidance is the only bright spot on their offense, so again this may be part of their extreme underdog philosophy. It would be nice to have a defense that could pick up steals to spur Michigan's excellent transition offense; at this point that does not seem to be in the cards.
Pounding the glass. Michigan's offense actually reached a respectable 1.1 PPP by the game's end despite subpar shooting everywhere because they had their usual lack of turnovers and they pounded the offensive boards. Michigan grabbed 41% of their misses, with three to each of the frontcourt guys (McGary, Morgan, Robinson) and a whopping five "team" offensive rebounds that IIRC were mostly Mitch McGary being a possession-generating animal. Like that one where he was roaring out of bounds and flung it off a Nebraska player. That's probably a "team" rebound.
Because of that, McGary's impact on the box score was considerably lower than I expected it would be after watching the game: 1/4 shooting, three OREB, three DREB, a block, a steal, 18 minutes. That looks like not much, but my eyes are all like "he is rounding into form as a monster possession-generator." Back to back with the Iowa game it's exciting to see him round into a guy who makes an impact whenever he hits the floor, which he will do literally at times. Frequently, even. I bet he dives at squirrels on the Diag if they're orange enough.
Remember when Zack Novak won the Michigan dunk contest?
Tweet of the night #2:
I feel like I just watched a Michigan State football game
Tweet of the night #3, in response to #2:
[ed: reference to this]
Tweet of the night #4, in re: Minnesota:
Please write your own term papers, please write your own term papers, please write your own term papers...
And Tweet of the night #5, in re lol:
Periodic Hardaway complete player alert. Just one assist in this game, which is not a huge surprise with six total, but made up with an 11-DREB double-double. Nebraska got just 18% of their misses, which is fantastic. Also it is perhaps further evidence of extreme underdog strategy: the Cornpack was so focused on getting back to prevent transition opportunities that there was almost never anyone on the glass.
KNITTING LADIES OF CRISLER, WE SALUTE YOU. A Michigan woman comes prepared for commercial breaks.
yeah you know I made this scarf myself
This is becoming a thing.
Periodic bitching about long twos. Gonna do it: in this game there were several instances in which it seemed a player—Burke and Hardaway generally—passed up a good look at a three for a two just inside the line that was at least as difficult a shot. Burke in particular can get that eighteen footer whenever he wants, so unless the shot clock's under ten keep working.
Also in complaints: it seemed like Nebraska went under screens all night and Burke too frequently allowed them to do this instead of pulling up for the three. No hedge and guy goes under screen means that screen is not disrupting the balance of the defense, and the driving lane isn't great since the guy isn't trying to fight through over the top. I'll take an open three from Burke any time.
Stauskas. I'm watching Stauskas get to the basket and dish impressive assists and wonder a bit about next year. If Burke and Hardaway are gone, isn't he going to be the primary creator on offense? I guess it'll depend on how good Derrick Walton is and how much GRIII develops his handle. Smooth out some of Stauskas's rough edges with an offseason, though, and he's a credible shot creator.
Gauntlet: now. The next month of Michigan's season:
- @ OSU
- @ Minnesota
- @ Illinois
- @ Indiana
- @ Wisconsin
- @ Michigan State
Here it is. Purdue and Northwestern should be slam dunks, and I'm not too worried about Wisconsin no matter where it is this year. Then you've got a couple should-wins (OSU at home, @ Illinois) and the four road games that will decide damn near everything. Win all the should-wins and go 2-2 there and you've got to be feeling good about winning the league. In all likelihood there are three losses in this stretch, though, and it'll come down to holding down home court against Illinois, State, and Indiana to finish out the year.
Ah yup. I've seen this in my twitter feed a half-dozen times but if you don't have it, here's Chris Paul apropos of nothing:
Honestly, if Burke went in the top ten would you blink? I would be like "yep."
I regret I only have but one life to give for excessively elaborate charge calls. Ed Hightower is fine after an incident in which, well:
If there's a purple heart for referees, there shouldn't be one. Also Hightower has it.
Last night West Virginia shot 15% on their 3s and 38% on their 2s on the road. And won.
Texas is horrible. Meanwhile, Illinois is all like OH NO NOT AGAIN:
Illinois just crested 1.0 in that OSU game, BTW. They kind of are thrash.
Today's recruiting roundup covers this weekend's official visitors, an impending 2013 decision, updated rankings from Scout and ESPN, and more.
Weekend Officials: Hunt, Dawson
Only two non-commits—CA OL Cameron Hunt and OH CB Reon Dawson—will take official visits to Ann Arbor this weekend, but Michigan is firmly in the mix for both. Hunt has developed a strong connection with commit Patrick Kugler, who moved his own official to this weekend and will surely be giving Hunt the full-court press for a commitment—though, for now, Hunt has subsequent officials planned for Cal and Oregon with Ohio State also a possible destination.
Dawson, an Illinois commit, would join Trotwood-Madison teammate Mike McCray as a Wolverine if he decides to switch his pledge. Neither Hunt nor Dawson has stated that Michigan holds an edge, but it's conceivable that one or both could be in the fold after this weekend.
IN OL Dan Samuelson visited Michigan last month, and Steve Wiltfong reports that the Nebraska commit will choose between the Wolverines and Huskers on Monday. At first glance, it's a race between Hunt and Samuelson for the final O-line spot, but Sam Webb said this week on his radio show that it's possible Michigan takes both for a total of seven linemen in the class.
One guy Michigan's won't get: Laquon Treadwell, who will choose next Thursday between Ole Miss (the prohibitive favorite), Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.
Derrick Green, meanwhile, will not be taking a visit to Auburn this weekend, per Mike Farrell—that rumor made the rounds after originating on some Auburn message boards. Michigan is still in command in his recruitment.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Denzel Ward and Da'Shawn Hand, a look at the updated Scout and ESPN rankings, and more.]
After his team held Michigan to their lowest point total of the season, Nebraska coach Tim Miles revealed his bold defensive strategy: the power of statistics.
"We thought, hey, they've been shooting the three great. They've got to return to the mean."
Did they ever. Michigan connected on just 3-of-17 three-pointers, and the Huskers succeeded in taking away their transition game, holding the Wolverines to a single fast break bucket. The Crisler Center crowd expected a blowout; instead, they got a slow-paced affair that was closer than the final score would indicate.
While the Wolverines didn't trail after the opening seven minutes, their lead didn't reach double digits until just 4:39 remained. Up to the final stretch, Miles's plan worked to perfection, with Michigan missing an uncharacteristic number of open looks from deep and failing to get out on the run.
That changed with just under eight minutes to go, when Glenn Robinson III picked Dylan Talley's pocket near the scorer's table, then took flight from not far inside the free throw line for a highlight-reel dunk. After Nebraska responded with a three, Robinson came out of nowhere to tip-slam a missed three by Caris LeVert, snapping the crowd out of a game-long funk and opening a 15-5 Michigan run to close the contest.
Robinson was the only Wolverine to shoot better than 50% on the night, scoring 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting while adding six rebounds. Hardaway, Trey Burke, and Nik Stauskas scored 46 of the team's 48 remaining points, but they also shot a combined 15-for-39 from the field. The Wolverines could not find a rhythm in their half-court sets, tallying just six assists on 21 made shots.
Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan scored just two points between them, but their work on the boards kept Michigan in front—Morgan finished with 11 rebounds (eight defensive), McGary six (three defensive), with the latter repeatedly hitting the deck for loose balls. With just over six minutes left and Michigan holding on to a nine-point lead, McGary threw himself into a pile of three Nebraska Cornhuskers and one orange sphere, coming away with a held ball—possession arrow, Michigan.
As he walked to the other end of the count, McGary threw his hands in the air, summoning perhaps the loudest roar of the night. Moments later, Stauskas found McGary under the hoop, and he banked home a right-handed layup. The Wolverines finally had their double-digit lead, sparked not by Burke and Hardaway, but a pair of freshmen.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, chants of "Beat Ohio" rang out from the Maize and Blue faithful. Michigan survived their first bout with regression, pulling away from a conference cellar-dweller.
If the trend continues on Sunday, they won't be so fortunate.