to play football, not to play trumpet
Despite finishing just 3-11 from the field for six points in Michigan's win against Nebraska on Wednesday, Tim Hardaway Jr. showed signs that he could snap out of the scoring funk that has plagued him for much of the Big Ten season. With Hardaway, it all comes down to shot selection; against the Huskers, he was 0-6 from three and 3-5 from inside the arc. In the second half, especially, John Beilein called plays designed to get Hardaway moving towards the basket.
The first play I'm going to look at needs a bit of an introduction, and luckily Dylan has already taken the time to picture page the play that sets it all up. Check out the second play (the one from the Nebraska game) in UMHoops's Inside the Play feature from today. The video is below, and you'll see that Jordan Morgan sets a high-side on-ball screen for Hardaway, rolls hard to the basket, and is wide open for a layup:
Here's the very next Michigan possession. The Wolverines set up with four plays in a box up top while Hardaway is isolated in the far corner of the court. As you'll see, this setup will allow Michigan to spread the floor and have ample room to set up that same screen action on the left side of the court:
In the next frame, Burke has passed to Novak and gone to the near corner, and Novak has swung the ball to Morgan at the top of the key. Everybody but Hardaway is concentrated on the near side of the court:
Hardaway flashes up to the elbow and gets the pass from Morgan, who comes over to set a screen. Morgan's defender (#13) is prepared to hedge, and Hardaway's (#3) begins to lean in to Morgan, anticipating having to fight through the pick:
Hardaway recognizes that his defender is cheating, so instead of coming over the screen he quickly takes it left and blows by his man. Note that Douglass and Burke are way out on the perimeter while Novak is clearing out to the far corner; with Morgan's defender caught up top, there's nobody in the middle to stop the drive:
Hardaway gets into the paint with ease and rises above Novak's man, who has come over to help, finishing with a pretty finger-roll as someone's flash goes off:
This is a great way for Michigan to create offense for Hardaway when he has the ball in his hands, and it has the added bonus of making Jordan Morgan a viable offensive threat—he's at his best when he's rolling to the basket, and this setup forces the defense to pick their poison. Granted, the Huskers could be a lot more sound with their pick-and-roll D, but forcing a team to be aware of the roll while guarding the drive off either taking or refusing the pick will usually expose some flaws.
Michigan found other ways to get Hardaway involved in the offense, as well. On this next play, he sets an off-ball screen for Burke before getting the ball in that same spot on the wing. Instead of having the center—in this case, Smotrycz—come up for a pick, the Wolverines spread the floor, giving Hardaway all the space he needs to get to the hoop for another layup:
Hardaway's third field goal, in contrast to his first two, comes from his movement off the ball. When THJ sees Novak draw attention from the defense as he dribbles towards the top of the key, Hardaway makes a sharp backdoor cut behind his befuddled defender. Novak makes a gorgeous one-handed pass on the move, hitting Hardaway in stride for another layup:
While there will certainly be adjustments by future opponents, you can see that Beilein is working to get Hardaway the ball in a position where he can get to the basket, taking advantage of his athleticism while mitigating his shooting struggles. At some point Hardaway is going to have to find that shooting stroke, but in the meantime it helps that the team is focused on getting him great looks at the basket.
Brian is off doing super-important Brian things for the day (read: aimlessly driving around Ann Arbor while listening to The Smiths, probably), so you're stuck with me for an entire Friday. I know, I'm sorry too. Anyways, today's recruiting roundup looks at the new Rivals250—replete with many magnificent monikers—new offers, lists, and visits for the 2013 class, and a study on recruiting exenditures in the NCAA.
NOTY, NOTY, NOTY, Can't You See? Sometimes Your Names Just Hypnotize Me
Rivals is the latest recruiting service to release rankings for the class of 2013, putting out the Rivals100 on Wednesday before unveiling the full Rivals250 yesterday. There are only 11 five-stars on the list, but Shane Morris is in position to earn that status in the near future as he comes in at #16 overall (#3 QB). Fellow commit Dymonte Thomas is ranked at #77, and Josh Helmholdt discussed his status in the "toughest decisions" article:
Alliance (Ohio) Marlington safety Dymonte Thomas is one of the fastest players in the Midwest for 2013, and overall an outstanding athlete. As a junior, though, he mostly played close to the line of scrimmage and we did not get a chance to see much of him in coverage. So, we did not get too bullish on his ranking until we were able to more thoroughly assess his coverage skills.
If Thomas can show off his coverage ability in camps this summer, expect him to make a move up the board. Meanwhile, your suspicions that Michigan has offered a ton of blue-chip prospects early is correct. TTB has the full rundown on Wolverine offerees in the Rivals100 and the Rivals250—Michigan has offered 35 prospects in the top 100 alone and an additional 19 in the 101-250 range. Two of those are Morris and Thomas, and five players are committed to other schools, but needless to say the Wolverines are targeting the best of the best in what should be a smaller class than 2012.
As impressive as Michigan offer list is, perhaps more incredible is the sheer amount of Name of the Year candidates from the Rivals250. A sampling, for your reading pleasure:
- Alabama RB commit Altee Tenpenny
- Vianna (GA) DT Montravius Adams
- Muscle Shoals (AL) DE Dee Liner
- Fort Worth (TX) DT A'Shawn Robinson
- Fultondale (AL) ATH ArDarius Stewart
- Virginia Beach RB Taquan Mizzell
- My personal favorite: Moreno Valley (CA) WR Demorea Stringfellow
- Cedar Hill (TX) ATH Laquvionte Gonzalez
- Pickerington (OH) DE Taco Charlton (real name: Vidauntae)
- Dallas (TX) WR Ra'Shaad Samples
- New Orleans TE Standish Dobard
- Shreveport (LA) ATH Tre'Davious White
- Pomfret (MD) OL Na'Ty Rodgers
- Milpitas (CA) DE Vita Vea
- Mesquite (TX) WR Eldridge Massington
That's leaving out some pretty strong names, too. I highly recommend perusing the entire list, not only to educate yourself on this year's top prospects, but for some serious entertainment value. Throw in South Carolina CB De'Andre "Chocolate" WIlson, who missed the cut, and I nominate this for the best class of names in recent memory.
Speaking of Names... Jake Butt
Sam Webb's latest DetNews piece covers Pickerington (OH) North TE/DE Jake Butt (#96 overall in the Rivals250), who says Michigan is his leader "by far" early in the process. Butt doesn't have a concrete timeline yet and childhood favorite Ohio State could become a major factor in his recruitment should they choose to offer, so this one is far from over. That said, the Wolverines are in great position early, and while they're recruiting Butt as a tight end (stifle those giggles, children), he's also a strong prospect on the other side of the ball:
"Jake is an athletic kid with a great frame," [Scout.com's Allen] Trieu said. "He still has to add more weight and strength to his game, but he runs well for a kid of that size and is a very coordinated athlete. On offense he catches the ball well, his height makes him a matchup problem, and his athleticism allows him to create separation. At the same time, Jake is one of those rare kids who I think projects very well to both sides of the ball. I think he's a BCS prospect on both sides of the ball. For most schools it sounds like he's a defensive end right now, but a handful see him as a tight end too."
"Jake is right there as a potential top-10 prospect in Ohio. It's a fairly deep year down there, as usual, it's just not as top heavy (as it was in the 2012 class). We haven't really finalized anything yet, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him end up in the top eight to 12 prospects in the state."
Another top Midwest prospect holding a Michigan offer is Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch, Rivals.com's #60 overall prospect, who has taken multiple trips to Ann Arbor and has an interesting way of going about his visits ($, info in header):
Normally when a recruit visiting Ann Arbor says he wants to talk to someone, the names that come up tend to be Denard Robinson, Taylor Lewan, Ryan Van Bergen -- the "famous" players on the Michigan football team.
But those aren't the guys 2013 offensive line recruit Kyle Bosch (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) is interested in talking to.
"I want to see where they stand going through their freshmen years, whether it lived up to the expectations that they had," Bosch said. "I'm more curious to get to know what the first year at Michigan is like compared to three or four years into it."
I've never heard that before, but it's a strategy that makes sense, especially for a highly-touted recruit who will have to make the transition from Big Man on Campus to lowly freshman when college begins. The whole profile by Chantel Jennings is well worth a read if you have Insider—it sounds like Bosch has a good head on his shoulders and is going about his recruitment the right way. He plans to visit Ann Arbor again on February 18th ($).
Here's your latest list of 2013 offers as Michigan continues to send them out in bulk:
- Indianapolis North Central DL Darius Latham, who Trieu profiled for free on Scout. He also picked up a Tennessee offer, joining Northwestern, Indiana, Ole Miss, Purdue, and Minnesota early.
- Richmond (VA) Varina S Tim Harris added offers from both Michigan and Ohio State on Tuesday ($, info in header).
- Another Richmond prospect, Hermitage High School RB Derrick Green, earned offers from the Wolverines and USC ($, info in header). They join a laundry-list of national powers pursuing Rivals.com's #64 overall player.
- Owensboro (KY) OT Hunter Bivin recently added offers from Michigan, Ohio State, LSU, Notre Dame, Miami, and several other Big Ten and SEC schools ($, info in header). He visited Michigan unofficially twice in the fall—including for the Ohio State game—and has high interest in the Wolverines early.
- Grand Rapids Christian two-sport star Drake Harris boasts an offer to play both football and basketball from Michigan, MSU, Indiana, and Notre Dame ($, info in header). The 6'4" wide receiver/shooting guard is coached by former Wolverine wideout Tai Streets in AAU basketball.
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata DE Tashawn Bower—#250 in the Rivals250—picked up his Wolverine offer on Tuesday ($, info in header). His dad is a Michigan fan and he plans on taking a spring trip to Ann Arbor.
- Wisconsin tight end commit Scott Orndorff got offered by Michigan, Boston College, and Virginia; he plans on looking around after some recent changes to the Badger coaching staff ($, info in header).
Several players started narrowing down their lists this week. Blue chip linebacker E.J. Levenberry now has Michigan in his top three along with Florida and Florida State, though his father says that list is subject to change ($, info in header). Bloomfield (NJ) OT Marcell Lazard named a top four of UConn, Miami, Michigan, and West Virginia, and he plans to visit Michigan later this month ($). Michigan is one of 11 schools being considered by Louisville (KY) Trinity DE Jason Hatcher ($, info in header). As for players Michigan did not make the cut for, five-star tackle Laremy Tunsil now has a top three of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama ($, info in header), while top-ranked linebacker Jaylon Smith's top three includes Notre Dame, Ohio State, and... Purdue ($, info in header). Did not see that one coming.
Many players are setting up visits, as well. Michigan will host four juniors this weekend: offensive linemen Logan Tuley-Tillman and Chris Fox and receivers Jaron Dukes and Laquon Treadwell. Of the four, Dukes and Fox are the most likely to make early decisions—both have mentioned Michigan among their leaders, and Dukes has the Wolverines as his clear favorite—while both LTT and Treadwell will likely take a while before deciding after their offer lists expanded greatly in recent weeks.
Kyle Bosch won't be the only Illinois lineman on campus on the 18th—he'll be joined by Lemont's Ethan Pocic ($). Another Illinois lineman, Colin McGovern, plans to take a trip to Michigan on March 10th ($). Top-ranked tight end Adam Breneman, meanwhile, had to alter his visit plans, pushing back planned trips to Penn State (later this month) and Ohio State (sometime in the spring). I asked him on Twitter if he was still planning a trip to Ann Arbor, and he wasn't sure yet. The general consensus—and I agree with it—is that it will be very tough to beat out childhood favorite Penn State for him.
In very quick 2014 news, Michigan will host St. Louis OT Andy Bauer this weekend, and they've also shown interest in Mequon (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines ($, info in header).
Spendin' That Paper
The Business of College Sports blog released a list of the top 50 spenders in recruiting among all sports, and the list is dominated by the SEC, whose schools take up six of the top eight spots (Tennessee leads the way at nearly $2.3 million last year). Coming in at #9, and tops among Big Ten schools, is your very own Wolverines, spending just under $1.5 million. The order of the rest of the B1G schools is rather surprsing: Illinois (#14), Nebraska (#19), Ohio State (#23), Minnesota (#24), Penn State (#26), Purdue (#41), Michigan State (#42), Iowa (#43), and Indiana (#46) round out the schools in the top 50. It's best to keep in mind that this includes all sports for both men and women; it would be interesting to see how this compares to spending on football alone. [H/T: Lost Lettermen]
Tremendous interviewed preferred walk-on OL Dan Gibbs, who will join the 2012 class on campus this fall, and the young man is not only an Eagle Scout, but well-versed in the current Wolverine lingo [emphasis mine]:
Tremendous: What did it feel like when you finally decided to go with Michigan?
Dan: I'm about as excited as can be! It feels absolutely amazing to finally realize my life-long dream of playing Michigan Football.
Tremendous: Was it an easy decision given the scholarship situation?
Dan: It wasn't the easiest decision, per se. I was seriously considering Penn, especially after my visit there, and other Ivy League options. But this is Michigan fergodsakes! In the end, Michigan won out by a mile because I realized that it was where I always wanted to be.
Southfield (MI) High School WR Brandon Bean has yet to pull in any Division I offers, but he's been in contact with both in-state powers and several other schools as his recruitment begins to gain steam. The 6'2", 200-pound junior is a Michigan legacy; his father, Vince, played receiver under Bo Schembecher, amassing over 1,500 yards from 1981-84, and Brandon wears the same #25 for Southfield that Vince sported as a Wolverine. The younger Bean has already visited Michigan unofficially for the Nebraska and Ohio State games, and he also took in Michigan State's last-second win over Wisconsin. I had the opportunity to talk to Brandon earlier this week, and he brought me up to date on his recruitment:
ACE: How is everything going with your recruitment, and which teams are going after you the hardest right now?
BRANDON: The recruiting is going pretty well right now. I'm getting a lot of mail from a lot of different schools in a lot of different conferences. Mostly, I've been a lot from Big Ten schools like Michigan and Michigan State—I've been to some of their games, and a couple of Michigan games. I get a lot of mail every day from a lot of people and I keep in touch with a lot of coaches through Facebook, some coaches come to the school. I meet a lot of people and I also keep in touch with some coaches, too.
ACE: Specifically regarding Michigan, who are you in touch with from the school and what's your general impression of Michigan as a school and a program?
BRANDON: I've always loved Michigan, even as a little kid. I've always been familiar with their program and I've been familiar with their facilities as well. I've been talking to a lot of their coaches as well, I've been talking to their receivers coach [Jeff Hecklinski], and I met a lot of coaches this year at games when they invited me down. I got the chance to talk to the offensive coordinator, Al Borges, he came to the school to talk with me, and the receiver coach and the recruiting coach ... I mostly remember talking to Coach Borges when he came to the school.
ACE: What did Coach Borges have to tell you about recruiting you and your possible role as a part of the offense?
BRANDON: He was telling me a lot of good things. He told me he liked my size, he liked my aggressiveness as a receiver going to get the ball, and he started telling me about the future of the program and he thinks I fit in well. That made me feel really special and really good, and it definitely pushed me as being recruited by the school because I got a chance to talk to him, he made me feel like I could be a part of the program. He likes to talk about some of the other recruits and how I fit in well.
ACE: Coming from Southfield, did you grow up as a particular fan of Michigan or Michigan State?
BRANDON: You know, I've always been a fan of Michigan, but I've also been a fan of Michigan State too. My dad played under Bo Schembechler, so I've always grown up watching Michigan play and I've always been dreaming of continuing the legacy of being a Wolverine. I've always had a passion for the Maize and Blue.
ACE: I was going to ask, with your dad playing for Coach Schembechler, does that affect your recruitment at all in terms of where you'd consider going?
BRANDON: As of right now, I'm interested in a lot of schools, a lot of them are saying good things to me, but that definitely helps. I've always said since I was a little kid that I wanted to play in the Big House and everything, so my dad playing there definitely helps me, but I haven't made up my mind about anything.
ACE: Going back to your junior season, how'd everything go for you during the season and what kind of numbers did you put up?
BRANDON: I don't really remember the numbers any more off the top of my head. I have a highlight tape I can send you [see above]—I was all-league, All-OAA. The season went pretty well for me. We had two other D-I recruits that went to different schools, so I had to share the ball with them but overall it was a pretty good season for me. I was happy and I'm definitely excited for my senior year to do bigger and better things.
ACE: Coming from a school where you guys have had some Division I prospects recently, have you been keeping in contact with prospects—I know Ron Thompson was coming out of Southfield—do you talk to those guys at all about what it's like to go through the whole recruiting process?
BRANDON: All the time. Ron [Thompson], Leviticus [Payne], Brandon Watkins, I talk to them a lot. They always give me pointers about what to listen and what to watch for, stuff like that, especially in 7-on-7, can really help me out. Ron, being recruited by Syracuse, being in touch with Coach [Tyrone] Wheatley, I keep in touch with him a lot. I met him through Ron and Coach Wheatley talks to me a lot, we email and I sent him my highlight tape, so he asks for stuff like that. I talk to Coach [Steve] Stripling from Cincinnati. I've actually talked to some great coaches at schools where [my teammates] have already committed to, and also they put me on the map through 7-on-7 and getting in touch with other people that can help me in my recruiting process, too. They always give me pointers and tips and I always listen to them.
ACE: Looking ahead to the summer, do you have any idea in terms of junior days or camps or schools visits that you'd like to go on?
BRANDON: I'm planning on participating in a 7-on-7 team for Maximum Exposure, we're doing a lot traveling—we go to Dallas, we go to Canada, we do a lot of traveling there. We also do some camps locally like Sound Mind Sound Body that I've been participating in, and I'll be doing some other visits to schools when I can get down to junior days, stuff like that, so I can showcase my skills, so I'll definitely be participating in a lot of camps.
ACE: When it comes down to wrapping up your recruitment and making a decision, what are going to be the main factors that you're looking for when you're trying to pick a school?
BRANDON: Before I make a decision I'll just have to take into consideration my future, my major, and that's very important to me. Going to school to play football is definitely a main factor for me, but school is important to me and I always put school first. The other thing is family, I always have to take into consideration what my family thinks and where I'll be happy.
ACE: Any specific timeline for when you'd want to get your recruitment wrapped up, or is that still to be seen?
BRANDON: I don't know. Right now I'm playing basketball. Basketball is going really well for me so I've been doing a lot of stuff, so I don't know when I'll be able to wrap that up, but right now I'm very busy with school and basketball. Then I'm doing track to improve my skills some more, then I'm doing 7-on-7, so I'll definitely be coming across more people, especially through 7-on-7, so I'm not really sure when I'm going to wrap that up.
ACE: To go away from football for a second, what's one thing that you want people to know about you that happens away from the field?
BRANDON: I've always had a great work ethic. I'm a hard worker on and off the field. You can see it through my grades that I'm a hard worker. I'm a Christian. I represent my family, my school, my community, I'm a person who cares about what other people have to think, too. I'm a hard worker and I want people to remember me by that, not just what I did but what I can do.
…or "install a 3-4 defense," or "hedge on screens," or "replace Martin & Van Bergen," or "excuse bad threads with 'OT:'," or "take a bus to North Campus," or "find parking on 4th street." But starting a Facebook meme page for your school? Oh man, there is evil there that does not sleep. Not with a 100 memes could you do this. More best of the board:
NO TIMEOUTS IN CRISLER (WE'RE JUST GONNA COME OUT IN ZONE ANYWAY)
Also peasy is identifying the Maize Rage shirts from Amaker's first season because they said "No timeouts in Crisler!" on the backs. The fronts said "Pass around the perimeter, have Bernard or LaVell take a bad shot, give up a layup, repeat until Avery Queen turns it over!" Then we'd all turn around in shame and Amaker would see "No timeouts in Crisler!" and oblige as his former team scored 104 points on his current one. If you still have your Maize Rage t-shirts from any era, Wolverine Devotee could use your help for his project. Tell the story of that season when you post and this thread will get either good, or really bad but easy to root for.
RIVALS 100/250 ARE OUT
Tremendous, who goes by aquaman2342 on MGo, posted the relevant folk to Michigan, and Hill.FootballRecruits did la même chose for the Rivals 250. Shane Morris is No. 16 overall, the third QB, and well within the range that eventually becomes 5-stars for Rivals, so of course the board is putting out conspiracy theories for why he's so low. Dymonte is 77th. Bluestreak points out that the in-state crop isn't as deep as it was this year, but 2012 was just a really deep year.
DON'T YOU ALL HAVE HOMES?
The Red Wings and Maple Leafs are coming to Michigan Stadium to break the Big Chill's hockey attendance record, the GLI is moving to Comerica Park, and if you're wondering why it seemed the negotiations were so edgy just imagine both Dave Brandon and Mike Ilitch in a room when it comes time to order lunch. Actually they negotiated this from different rooms. Pizza is srs business. I love outdoor hockey, and love anything that brings back the Wings-Leafs rivalry, and I love love love the Red Wings. But srsly January 1st? I don't care about the record; that "backup date of Jan. 2" clause had better have something in there about roses is all I'm saying (it doesn't, but it oughtta).
JOIN THE BOOK CLUB
Only you. User aiglick wants to start an MGoBookClub this offseason, starting with Bo's Lasting Lessons. I'm in so long as you all promise that the June book is Hail to the Victors.
HIPSTER, BRO, OR LATE-AUGHTS MICHIGAN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN?
'Pre-Gaming with' Pat Stansik made a movie that I think takes place on Ann Street about a new roommate who defies his friends' attempts to place him in social categories. I bet the dude has a stache-tat on his finger. But if avant-garde is more your style I put up a … thing discovered by Orson where … oh hell screen caps:
Fair warning: if you get past a thread title that says "Un film dérangeant" and "Catlab" in it, plus the images above and the nonsensical introduction, and you still watch all 2:37 of this video, I am not responsible for any amount of your life you can't get back.
Hutch's softball program—shout-out to the ones at the airport Wendy's last evening—may be nearing its apex with three players on the pre-season All-America watch list . They also picked up a shortstop recruit from Georgia who's hitting .568 in an area not known for softball. Wrestling recently was on the short end of what numerous people who know wrestling have now assured me was the worst call in the history of wrestling. Oh, and we got a diary on Men's Tennis.
Diaries Play Five
Hey look at Moffie. See your glorious forward playing an unhindered Holmstrom spot—this is very bad for Miami by the way. CenterIce is your diarist of the week for his new regularish feature he calls "Special Teams Breakdown" and your alliteration-loving editors would rather he call "Picture Paging Power Plays." The theme for this week's is Miami is bad at the penalty kill.
High Five, Fab Five. In the basketballs, buddhafrog put up a heart-warming story about when the Fab Five showed up to a hospital for mentally disabled kids—the kind of kids it's hard to face because you start mentally shaking your fist at deities who would do such things to kids—which makes this kind of remarkable:
Weber and Rose saw through their disabilities; they saw through the wall that makes most people much more comfortable by just turning away. They treated the boys as real boys, as real people. It meant the world to my boys at the Center and was probably the highlight of their year.
The raison d'être for this blog was because Beilein wants to get $100,000 in charity to the same center, and is in a tight race on ESPN with Motta and the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
Demi-sabermetric Alabama fans don't exist, but if they did… Maize_in_spartyland investigated that turnover margin last year equals wins/losses this year metric on its face and finds that yes it works in his too-easy-to-work definition. Notable exceptions were Alabama and Oklahoma State; this means somewhere out there is an Alabama fan who is saying Bama's +12 turnover margin in 2010 was…okay yeah you are never going to have that conversation with anyone, because once you start down the path of analyzing turnover margin to predict next year's win totals you're not going to stop half-way.
I think this means we win. Kate Upton is a Michigan fan. She is also a moderately attractive young lady!
High fives for everyone!
[Pay no attention to the following SEO-oriented paragraph:
So I heard you like Kate Upton in your Upton so I put Kate in your Upton and Uptoned your Kate so you can Kate while you Kate and Upton while you Upton. Sex tape.
The Ten Year War ends. WH compiles the 1978 Michigan-OSU game:
A few weeks later Woody Hayes would bonk a Clemson linebacker and that was that.
Ref bump noted. Kyle Kalis's epic ref bump…
…is something OL coach Darrell Funk also picked up on:
"He just wants to tear your head off," Funk said. "He plays like that all the time and practices like that all the time, and we need that. You can Xs and Os all you want, and that’s important, but at the end of the day, it starts up front." …
Funk laughed when he described one sequence of film in which Kalis knocks over an umpire “when he was throwing someone around” and couldn’t decide whether to help the guy up or find someone else to hit.
The ref was shaken but not badly hurt. This is because Kalis was hurting someone else.
Funk also notes that none of the four guys currently in the class projects to center; that will be a priority in 2013.
The old mean guy. Meanwhile, David Molk adds to his Scrooge-McDuck level quote vault:
“The awards were never anything that I strived to get,” Molk said, before correcting himself.
“I take that back,” he said, laughing. “The only award I wanted was the Rimington mostly because a guy who worked with us, (Michigan assistant strength coach) Dan Mozes, was a Rimington winner at West Virginia. I’d say something, and he’d say, ‘Hey, Molk, shut up. I’ve got an 80-pound trophy and you don’t.’"
He's being told he could go anywhere from the bottom of the first(!) to the third round.
Three point defense: random. This Kenpom post at ESPN($) caught my eye after I previewed a Nebraska team that is thoroughly awful at all basketball activities except opponent three-point shooting. Here are the year-to-year correlations between various defensive stats:
Opponents' 3-point percentage: .204
Opponents' free throw percentage: .266
Opponents' 2-point percentage: .558
Opponents' 3-point attempt percentage: .575
There are just four numbers here, but they provide a very powerful context. What stands out is that opponents' free throw percentage correlates more strongly from season to season than opponents' 3-point percentage. In other words, we can predict a team's "free throw defense" in the future based on current stats better than we could predict its 3-point defense. And I think everyone understands that a team has little control over its opponents' free throw percentage.
IE, the percentage of threes your opponents hit is not a particularly useful thing to look at, but the number of threes they get off is. Wisconsin is a particularly excellent example of this phenomenon. Last year their opponents hit 37% of their threes, good for only 299th nationally. This year that's dipped 10 percentage points and they skyrocket to first.
What does this mean for Michigan? Not a whole lot. Their three-point D is a little below average; so is their ability to prevent opponents from launching. It will be interesting to watch how that latter number changes next year as Michigan adds a ton of height.
No elite teams, continued. Following up on Monday's assertion that there don't seem to be many elite teams in college hockey this year: KRACH provides strong evidence of that. KRACH is a ranking system that's more pleasant to statistically minded folk for reasons I won't get into in case some of you are operating heavy machinery. For purposes of this argument it's useful because it not only provides a ranking but also has a strength rating.
KRACH tends to get enthusiastic about strong leagues and teams; it has a tendency to proclaim certain teams nigh invulnerable. Here's last year's version:
Note the huge jumps in rating as you climb. There's a pretty tight bunch until you hit BC and North Dakota; there's also a cliff after #7. This year there is no such gap:
KRACH ratings add to the same number every year and so provide a baseline: this year's most dominant team would be… eh… fourth last year, and the gaps between the top teams and the bottom of the top ten are significantly smaller than they usually are.
This promises to be the most wide open NCAA tournament since… well, not very long ago. Single-elimination playoff hockey remains an exercise in blind terror and weird bounces. A couple years ago three of the four one seeds crashed and burned before the Frozen Four. But if you like your barely-weighted plinko to be really hardly weighted at all this is your year. Anyone who makes it in will be eyeing the Frozen Four.
Strengths: A mobile defenceman with length, strength and range. Plays a physical game and not afraid to take a run at an opponent. Has some offensive skills, is a good passer with vision and a hard point shot. Weaknesses: there are some questions about his overall hockey sense, needs to learn to rein in the physical play at times and play with composure.
Strengths: Very quick skater with soft hands, a sneaky release and he competes. Good offensive instincts, good size, tough to contain along the boards on the cycle. Weaknesses: Needs to keep working on his defensive duties and could play with a bit more edge more consistently. He will likely require more time in college to round out his game but has been rumoured to be leaning towards playing all four seasons in Michigan. His production has waned in second half of season.
…and does not rank Nieves in their top 45.
Bad incentives. The United States of Hockey takes on UND coach Dave Hakstol's assertion that playing in the CHL shouldn't hurt your NCAA eligibility:
First off, allowing CHL players to retain college eligibility could have a gigantic impact on the USHL. More top-end players would go to the CHL fully knowing that they’ll have a fall-back plan. So they can go up and get added exposure, get in front of more scouts on a nightly basis. The top end in the USHL could be significantly diminished in such a scenario.
While this move would help the NCAA’s depth, it would most likely eliminate many of the top-end players from ever making it to the NCAA. By the time a player’s Junior career is over at age 20, most would go to the NHL or AHL. Only the guys that would have otherwise played lower-level minor-league hockey would end up in college. The quality of play gets dragged down in the college ranks. While the NCAA would remain a developmental option, it also becomes a safety net for CHL players similar to what the Canadian Interuniversity Sport is right now. That’s an ugly scenario for American college hockey, which has produced NHL talent as long as it’s been in existence.
The USHL is a hugely important part of the route to college hockey and should be protected at all costs. Allowing players to go to the CHL and maintain collegiate eligibility cuts the decade-long rise of the league off at the knees. It's a nonstarter.
The only way I could see this happening is if the NCAA restricted post-CHL eligibility to just Canadians. That wouldn't hurt the USHL. Because of the double standard in place between USA Hockey and their Canadian counterpart Canadians wanting to play college hockey have to cool their heels in Junior A leagues far inferior to the USHL. If the NCAA opened the door for Canadians coming over immediately after high school, I could see it working…
…except the CHL would immediately make it not work by finding sufficient NCAA regulations to violate so that any kid in junior would never make it to campus without an inquisition. Saban teaches that it is not a good idea to give people in charge of high school/college kids incentive to not have their charges graduate. So nevermind.
Etc.: GLI outdoors officially. Seniors on next year's team will have played outdoors all four years.. Michigan gets three million for renting out Michigan Stadium. Boo Nieves will make a move to the USHL after his prep season ends.
I talk with Lake the Posts about the Mattison transition and why Northwestern shouldn't expect the same miracle with a new coordinator. The Bylaw Blog on revamping transfer restrictions. Mock Rock recap. Ace on the GBMW podcast.
2/8/2012 – Michigan 64, Nebraska 46 – 18-7, 8-4 Big Ten
First half, second half
I cannot pretend that last night's game inspired soaring emotions in me. It was (eventually) a routine blowout of a very bad basketball team and the most interesting bit was the three minutes at the beginning of the second half when Michigan pushed the lead out to an insurmountable margin.
While it's nice to be irritated about a seven-point halftime lead and despondent at what the late flurry did to Michigan's Kenpom rankings, let's just hit the bullets/analysis section posthaste.
Always Hardaway first. Hardaway was 0/7 in the first half with five of those from three; in the second half he was 3/4 with the miss also from three and added three assists. He's still not rebounding much, though a single-game sample there is not reliable. Bad shots were significantly reduced. Most of his missed threes were good looks, and if there was a frustrating long two there was only one.
Progress or just playing Nebraska? We'll call the second half progress if only because the preceding 60 minutes were such poo. The nice thing about that half was the way Hardaway was used in the offense: catching off screens and diving to the basket without having to rely on his handle to beat a defender.
That should be a primary component of the offense going forward. Hardaway finished at the rim on a couple of those and hit Morgan for easy buckets on a couple others; the catch off the screen limits the time opponents have to sag off three point shooters and rake at Hardaway's dribble. Defenses will of course adjust to this, and then Michigan will have to move to something else in the cat and mouse game, but they'll be able to.
As for the shooting, I don't know. On WTKA this morning Craig Ross was advocating hypnosis, Ira was saying he needs to hook up with the hockey team's sports psychologist, and I declared Hardaway needed to commit a spine-shattering charge before being allowed to take a three. Then we decided all three should be implemented.
Beilein's offense is constructed such that Hardaway is going to have to take his share of threes, and as long as they're within the context of the offense that's fine. Eventually, one will go down.
Measuring the difference between Morris and Burke. Theory: Jordan Morgan usage is highly correlated with shot generation in general and especially by the point guard. Morgan's shooting percentage is unnaturally high because the vast bulk of his attempts are GRAAAA thunderdunks generated by the point guard (and Morgan's movement) or Morgan's ability to run the floor.
I was thinking about this during the game because the correlation between Morgan shot attempts and the efficiency of Michigan's offense was glaring. First half: one Morgan shot attempt (missed). Second half: four (all makes). Morgan usage is not only a sign of GRAAAA thunderdunks but an offense that is generating shots off of movement and penetration; it seems like it is correlated with increased eFG% from the rest of the team.
Anyway, Morgan-Morris-Burke survey says:
- Morgan w/ Darius Morris: 20% of shots @ 63%, 10.7 OREB rate, 19.2 TORate.
- Morgan w/ Trey Burke: 16.4% of shots @ 65%, 11.9 OREB rate, 25.7 TORate.
[OREB rate and TORate included because it seems like he should get more putbacks this year and that Morris apparently got him touches less likely to end up as turnovers.]
Burke has a ways to go before he's as Morris-level freakish shot-generating machine. He may never get there, which is okay since he's a much better shooter. This section primarily designed to wonder at what a meteor of a college player Morris was, and to shake a fist at his early departure.
Burke, though. Efficient day with 12 points on 7 shots and a 5-2 assist to TO ratio. If he improves as much as Morris did from freshman to sophomore year he will be a twenty-foot tall robot who shoots 130% from three.
Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, the usual. Between them: 5/9 from three, 5/7 from two, 5 assists, five steals, 0 turnovers, three fouls, and a partridge in a pear tree. The senior leadership here is damned tangible.
Anyone still talking crap about Douglass is an inveterate complainer. He has been okay to good on the offensive end of the floor and a great perimeter defender on the other end. Bo Spencer went 4 of 12, 1 of 6 from three.
As for Novak, he's hitting 43% from three and in the top 50 of various Kenpom stats; he's also providing the usual torrent of grit. Quality players who will be missed.
Vogrich. Daddy needs a new pair of shoes. Let it ride. Please, please, please let that be a sign that Vogrich can be a useful role player down the stretch. Going six deep is asking for it.
Paging Smotrycz to aisle things that exist. The only things separating Smotrycz from a 13-minute trillion were:
- A defensive rebound.
- Two fouls.
- A turnover.
Not so good, there. Remember when we were complaining about Smotrycz's tendency towards silly fouls because Michigan was crippled without him on the court? Yeah… long time ago. Just as long as "oh God, the hockey tourney streak is dead."
Playing at the five is clearly uncomfortable but Michigan has few other options with Horford sidelined. I actually think they should roll with McLimans a bit more in situations where opposing bigs can't shoot free throws, if only for the defensive rebounding. Smotrycz was ripping them down as a 4 and things have fallen off considerably now that most of his minutes are backing up Morgan.
Even that's not much of a solution. Michigan's just going to have to suck it up and pray that Morgan doesn't get inappropriately handsy in the wrong game. He's been doing a much better job of staying on the floor of late, FWIW. His fouls per 40 is down to 4.0.
This should get a lot better next year with no departures and McGary, Horford, and Bielfeldt all suddenly available for post minutes. It's actually going to be hard to find minutes for everyone next year. And they'll be tall. It's going to be weird.
Trillion watch. Colton Christian picked up a two trillion; Bartelstein and Person were missed FGAs away from the same.