Today's recruiting roundup covers a spate of new offers, Wilton Speight, and several things that don't sound like "spate" at all.
Wilton Speight: Part Cyborg
Signing Day 2013 is over, as for the most part so is our discussion of it here—probably for the best, given that the dominant post-NSD story centered around what Reon Dawson may or may not have said about his childhood favorite school. Brian and I did an extensive breakdown of the class on this week's podcast (coming soon) if you haven't had your fill, and I'll update the recruiting class rankings today.
Meanwhile, Michigan got a jump on the 2014 class with the Signing Day commitment of VA QB Wilton Speight, who was profiled on his school's website—he described the injury that caused him to reclassify:
“It was an option-read,” Speight said of that fateful play late in Cougars’ opener, a 34-19 victory over Trinity Episcopal. “I got past the defensive end and linebackers. There was one man between me and the goal line. I tried to jump over him. As I was in the air, he caught my feet, which flipped me over. I tried to break the fall with my elbow, but (the impact) shot my shoulder up.
“I walked to the sideline hoping it was a stinger. (Athletic trainer) Shannon (Winston) moved it around. She felt crunches. I heard it crunch. My collarbone was broken in two places.
“Looking back, I probably didn’t have to make that play, but when you’re competitive, it’s hard to just step out of bounds.”
While Speight had complete confidence in his surgeon, Dr. “Moose” Herring, he knew that fulfilling his dreams was now dependent upon his own perseverance, strength of will, and self-discipline.
Speight's injury woes didn't end there, despite the best efforts of Dr. "Moose" Herring, who by virtue of name alone I would entrust with my life, let alone my collarbone. After dealing with a partial MCL tear in basketball season, Speight's collarbone took another hit during lacrosse season, and as a result he's now part cyborg:
“I had the ball and came around the cage,” he recalled. “When I shot, a defensive player brought his stick down on my (right) shoulder.
“He hit it hard enough that the part of the bone not covered by the plate broke off the metal.
“It was a clean break, thankfully. Dr. Herring was able to open it back up and put in a six-inch plate with eight screws that covers my whole collarbone.
“It will definitely prevent anything from breaking up there again.”
I, for one, welcome any and all cyborg athletes willing to aid Michigan's quest for
world domination a Big Ten championship.
Also of note: cyborg QBs apparently recruit a little, too.
[Hit THE JUMP for the 2014 Rivals100, a bevy of new offers, and my take on Lawrence Marshall committing to Ohio State.]
2/9/2012 – Michigan 62, Wisconsin 65 (OT) – 21-3, 8-3 Big Ten
Bear with me here. What if Bo Ryan is actually from a small swampy planet in the general vicinity of Rigel?
His homeworld is a dire place full of pincered things with sensory appendages strongly reminiscent of tentacles covering their heads. If you carefully prepare the tentacles such that they are held in place they can resemble hair. They are an angry species, prone to fits of helpless rage. They have a legalistic bent; they take immense pleasure in exploiting their system of justice to temporarily soothe their seething hearts by jailing enemies on technicalities while escaping their crimes on other technicalities. Their only ethic is victory, no matter how appalling the method of its acquisition. Placed in the earthly taxonomic system they are technically bugs. They have a swampy game called swampball.
Bo Ryan is here on a mission. He is here to prepare the planet for eventual conquest by making viewers of his particular brand of swampball clones of himself: legalistic raging things who feel like their hair cannot be real, who can only clasp and unclasp their grasping apparatuses helplessly in the face of an unfeeling monolith of miscarried justice. Once prepared adequately, victims of this process will hardly notice when the nations leaders shed their disguises and reveal themselves as horrible chittering pedants from another world.
I'm not saying this admittedly fanciful scenario is true. I'm saying that if it was, not one damn thing about Wisconsin basketball would be any different. To watch the Badgers is to both hate and become Bo Ryan.
This game made me crazy. Michigan acquired all of two free throws in forty-five minutes and Dan Dakich had spent most of the last minute pleading for anyone to use their bounty of spare fouls; both teams tried and neither could. In Michigan's case, they screwed up. In Wisconsin's, they hacked away but could not get the refs to acknowledge it.
For the bug-people to lose on that would have been justice. There is no justice.
Instead Michigan got that running half-court to force overtime and a spectacular series of no-calls—Nik Stauskas getting hacked from the side and then not touching the ball, getting neither a foul or the out of bounds call, Jared Berggren slapping at Mitch McGary's arms so hard it was audible on the broadcast—continued until finally Michigan slunk off the Kohl Center court, grasping their suddenly unreal hair and wondering how to do anything other than clench their fists.
I felt paranoid watching all of this. It was a temporary window into the world of a 9/11 truther, seeing what looked like an insane conspiracy by Big Ten refs to keep Bo Ryan in their ears, screaming unprintable things about their mothers. A full half-dozen of the calls they made seemed literally impossible, from the two mentioned above to another breakaway layup that Burke missed because a dude hit him on the head and the charge Burke took on Berggren late that went the other way for a critical three-point play. Am I sane? I thought we got a fair whistle at Indiana. I did think that.
I thought I'd be better by now; I'm not. I hated every minute of watching that, don't understand most of those calls, and find it impossible to believe that this has been happening for years. It sucks for the league, both aesthetically and when a team that got worked by every decent nonconference opponent suddenly starts winning a ton of Big Ten games.
I feel irrational about it and incapable of not being irrational about it, and then something else happens and I feel that the only thing irrational here is the ENTIRE DAMN CONSPIRACY and feel like finding a town hall meeting about building an apartment complex proposal and telling them all about the things I know to be true about the Wisconsin Illuminati.
At least I'm not alone. Anonymous Big Ten coaches are also considering informing their local governments about the threat:
If you set a pick, they take a dive. They cheat the game. Everybody raves about this defensive juggernaut, but that's bull. They dribble the clock out and mug you out of the building. Part of the reason they lost to Cornell and Davidson is because when you get into the tournament, refs outside the Big Ten don't fall for that.
I found that randomly looking for a picture of Bo Ryan, and this is what Google Image Search looks like for Bo Ryan:
A window into a twisted soul.
I don't understand anything about this and don't want to talk about it anymore; I can't imagine being a ref in a game coached by the above guy and actually being on his side, and yet here we are, considering a half-court shot and two free throws. Take me, swamp people of Rigel. You win.
Haters. You know who invented "haters gonna hate"? Hitler. Don't even get me started, Badger fans. Hate is a critical emotion that keeps things like Wisconsin basketball in check.
Yeah, I Godwin'd myself. Necessary.
THE BO RYAN INDEX. Take the first three rows of Google Image Search and calculate in what percentage of those shots is the coach looking enraged, incredulous, furious, or otherwise unpleasant to referees or his team. Bo Ryan's Bo Ryan Index: 65%, and I think some of the misses could be sarcastic smiling.
…checks in at 25%, give or take a shot of Glenn Robinson III and how you interpret the pointing picture second from the left on the top (I filed that as a hit).
Tom Izzo's BRI is shockingly low:
I've got that at 19% and there are a couple borderline shots filed under rage with no borderline ones going the other way.
I love Bill Carmody's BRI:
It is zero, has a half dozen shots that remind me of Conan O'Brien, and includes a photoshopped Magnum PI mustache.
Like assist rate, BRI is something you want to be in the middle of possible distributions. Too high and you are a bug-man from Rigel; too low and you're not winning a lot of games.
THE BILL CARMODY INDEX: how many times on Google Image Search does your coach make a gesture of helplessness—for instance palms-up pleading or facepalming? Bill Carmody's BCI: 30%.
The prayer. In college basketball there is no reason for that ball to even get inbounded. The NBA rule where fouling on the out of bounds is two shots and the ball does not exist, so grab away on the out of bounds and send the opponent to the line. Also Beilein has to start guarding the inbounder. Mitch McGary would have been a lot more useful obscuring vision and making passes more difficult than ending up at the free throw line and then under the basket.
That said, most of that stuff gets filed under shit happens. That's, what, a 2% shot? Kenpom has Wisconsin's win probability there at 1.2%. Double that for successfully getting the ball to halfcourt, and…
To me the real error in the last minute of regulation was Burke stepping in and trying to draw that charge. Setting aside that he absolutely did, Michigan was up three and the shot clock was about to turn off. In that situation, anything other than a three puts you on the line trying to secure the win. The play there is to prevent all potential threes and if they get a drive to the hoop, just let them score.
The other option on that possession was refusing to let the Badgers even get into their offense by eating up a bunch of fouls and then putting Evans on the line, but that would require precise timing to not give Wisconsin a two-for-one. That possession started with around a full minute on the clock, and Wisconsin used most of the shot clock before getting their rage-inducing block/charge coinflip.
Morgan: missed. Horford killed Michigan in the opening minutes, going 0/3 from the floor and turning the ball over. Wisconsin was playing off the bigs and inviting them to shoot; Morgan is good at converting those opportunities and McGary came in to hit a couple buckets, forcing Wisconsin to adjust. Add in Glenn Robinson's continued struggles and not having Morgan as an option was probably decisive.
Bielfeldt did provide Michigan with some production; he was only 1/3 from the floor but picked up a couple of offensive rebounds and an assist in 18 minutes split about two thirds at the four and one third at the 5—it said volumes about Horford's rough night that Michigan put Bielfeldt out there as Michigan's only big for crunch-time minutes against Jared Berggren. Bielfeldt did about as well as he could against his much bigger defensive assignment, forcing a couple of tough jump shots that went down.
McGary: the usual plus a bonus. 6/10 from the floor and at least a couple of those were jumpers that looked smooth as they went down. Adding that to his arsenal is a minor bonus. Michigan won the board war and picked up another 2-0 advantage in team rebounds; McGary picked up a block and three steals. I wonder if the minutes will revert to a 50/50 split when Morgan returns.
Sure that's likely. Burke and Hardaway combined for 28 two point attempts and got two free throws out of them.
Robinson: scuffling. Four points on five shots and just three rebounds in 33 minutes. This is now a trend, a worrisome one. Shut off Michigan's transition and rebound and Robinson goes away. Not sure what Michigan can do about it—this is the downside of a guy who scores a quiet 15 points every night. When he goes actually quiet you can either change the stuff you do or live with it.
Wisconsin prevents threes? Michigan got off 18, which is a reasonable number, but OT + low turnovers means they also put up 53 twos—acquiring two free throws on these attempts. 25% of Michigan's shots came from behind the line then, and that's where they lost the game, hitting just five. Wisconsin was 9/23 on reasonable attempts and of course had the prayer.
Stauskas's reversion to the mean is getting rough. He was 1/5 on the night and IIRC they were all at least decent looks. He did carry Michigan through a rough spot in the first half with a couple of assists and his one make; just five points from him in 39 minutes, though. Michigan is leaning on Burke and Hardaway hard as the defenses toughen up and it's hard for two guys plus bigs rolling to the basket to be an elite offense.
"Unfortunately, we could not get to our other creatively homophobic cheers." Aaand on Michigan's two free throw attempts the student section "Trey Burke swallows." Just imagine what they would have had in store had Michigan gone to the free throw line more than twice.
HORSE: you failed us. In a shooting contest, Michigan did not win. I have sadness.
Caris: HANDS UP. The decisive Brust three featured a closeout by Caris LeVert with his hands at his sides late in the shot clock against Ben Brust, who shoots more threes than twos, was 0/3 from two in this game, and 3/6 from three including the game-tying prayer against one Caris LeVert. Cumong man.
That game, basically. This week, too.
I guess this serves as your game recap, but mostly I just want to bump Bo Ryan's face down the front page. I'm completely okay with never seeing him again.
|WHAT||Michigan at Wisconsin|
|WHERE||Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan –2 (Kenpom)|
Right: Bo Ryan feels no remorse for ruining the game of basketball.
Michigan is playing to retake the #1 spot in the polls on Saturday, but to do so they must win at Wisconsin for the first time since 1999, when I was 12 and Y2K was a thing. Yeah, it's been a while.
Wisconsin plays the same ungodly slow tempo—dead last even in a slow conference—that you're used to seeing from Bo Ryan squads, but without the ruthless offensive efficiency of his recent teams—they're just eighth in the conference in that category, though they're holding down first in defensive efficiency.
Their highest-usage player is 6'6" forward Ryan Evans, a guy who's never been a stellar shooter but has fallen off a cliff this year, putting up a 43/9/43 2P/3P/FT split this year. That's, well, bad. On the good side, Evans is a very good rebounder, doesn't turn the ball over, and gets to the line frequently (though, again, 43% free-throw shooter).
While Evans takes more shots, the real scoring threats on Wisconsin come in the form of starting center Jared Berggren—a 55% shooter inside the arc who can step out and hit the occasional three—and freshman sensation Sam Dekker, who comes off the bench and hits 51% of his twos and 41% of his threes. Berggren is also a force on the defensive end, while Dekker is easily the most talented player on the team.
6'1" guard Ben Brust provides most of the volume for Wisconsin's outside shooting—he's attempted 123 three-pointers this year, nearly double any other Badger, and is hitting them at a 39% clip. He's also a surprisingly good defensive rebounder and one of two main distrubutors for the Badgers on offense. The other is 6'2" guard Traevon Jackson, who is struggling: a 52:43 assist-to-turnover ratio isn't so good, and neither is shooting 39% from two and 28% from three.
Rounding out the starting five is 6'6" forward Mike Bruesewitz, extremely low-usage player and bane of copy editors everywhere. He shoots a remarkably efficient 66% inside the arc—again, in very low, often garbage-bucket usage—and a less stellar 30% from outside.
Wisconsin only goes seven or eight deep. Aside from Dekker, 5'11" guard George Marshall gets the most PT off the bench—he takes cares of the basketball and is a solid outside shooter. 6'11" big man Frank Kaminsky should see a few minutes—he's the best outside shooter among Wisconsin's bigs, but also a major downgrade on the boards.
Wisconsin currently stands at 16-7 overall, 7-3 in the Big Ten, with a signature road win at Indiana and KP100 victories over Minnesota, Illinois (twice), Iowa, Cal, and Arkansas. Aside from the Indiana game, however, they've struggled against top-tier opponents, and that includes losses at the Kohl Center against #23 Virginia and #15 Michigan State.
Four factors, conference only.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||45.5 (8)||15.1 (2)||31.1 (7)||31.4 (6)|
|Defense||42.7 (1)||16.4 (10)||27.6 (1)||27.6 (5)|
The numbers paint a pretty clear picture here. Wisconsin is a mediocre (at best, really) offensive team, but their issues are mitigated somewhat by never turning the ball over. On the other side of the court, they're a shutdown unit, allowing the fewest attempted threes and the lowest three-point percentage in the conference while also ceding just a 43.5 2P% against. Like Michigan, they don't force many turnovers but are extremely proficient at keeping opponents from getting second-chance shots.
LONG TWOS ARE THE DEVIL'S WORK. Wisconsin is going to try to grind the game out, force Michigan into late shot-clock situations, and limit them to one shot per possession. Given Wisconsin's ability to rebound defensively, Michigan is going to have to make sure their initial shot is a quality one—chuck up a bad one, and you're probably not getting another chance. This would be a bad game for Trey Burke heroball, especially given the extremely limited number of possession there should be in this game.
Let Evans do his thing. Hack if necessary. Wisconsin is a pretty crappy offensive team in large part because their highest-usage player is doing a pretty terrible job of efficiently getting the ball in the basket. If Ryan Evans wants to play his own game of heroball, by all means, go for it. It helps that if he beats his man, hacking him puts a 43% shooter on the free-throw line. Michigan would much, much prefer Evans is the focal point for Wisconsin instead of Dekker or Berggren.
Work the pick and roll. Wisconsin doesn't give up many looks from outside at all, so Michigan has to find a way to get to the basket. The P&R was much-improved against Ohio State and appears back to being rather unstoppable; in this game, it has both the benefit of getting guys to the hoop and hopefully drawing Berggren—a great shot-blocker—away from the paint.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 2
Wisconsin's defense is scary, especially since they rarely cede the outside shot. However, they really don't have much going on offense, and Michigan has... Michigan's offense. This game will almost certainly take years off your life, but I think the good guys pull it out in the end.
UMHoops preview. Maize & Brew preview. I did a preview Q&A with MadTown Badgers, as well (yes, there's some confusion there as to where I work, but I'm a big fan of MnB too). You can find my answers to their questions here, and below the jump, check out what Andy Coppens has to say about Wisconsin's chances.
[HIT THE JUMP, yo]
Twitter is vast, and there are tens of tweets I don’t see every week. If you happen across anything you think should be noted in TWIT, feel free to tweet it to @Bry_Mac. And while you’re there, you can follow @Bry_Mac. Or not. But do.
Don’t Worry, No One Will See That Tweet
Sometimes people have a hard time understanding the “social” part of social media. Take, for instance, Oregon DE commit Davin Bellamy. Last weekend, Mr. Bellamy took a visit to Eugene, and had a fine time. Unfortunately for him, he decided to (a) document that fine time, and (b) share that documentation with the world. See if you can identify the problem with this picture he tweeted (hint: it’s NOT the bong on the table):
Uh oh… backlighting.
Okay, I lied. It's the bong on the table.
And while the state of Oregon did legalize weed recently, I’m pretty sure the NCAA didn’t [ED: Wrong hippie state. Somehow Oregon HASN'T legalized weed]. But I’m more concerned about the thought process. Anyone who has ever posted a picture to social media has done the same three-point check: 1) look to see if your fly is down; (2) be sure your hair isn’t doing that thing it does sometimes; (3) check for drug paraphernalia. In Davin’s defense, he was two out of three.
The other briefly shared photo that made the rounds was from none other than LaQuon Treadwell, who totally put those suggestions of Ole Miss funny business to rest by allegedly posting this little number:
Now obviously we can’t be sure that this is Treadwell. Or that this is Treadwell’s cash. Or that the cash was ill-begotten. There are plenty of reasons a teenager would have a few hundred dollars in cash, and only 93% of those reasons would violate NCAA rules. But yeah, I betchya your compliance office will probably have a word with you.
Hugh Freeze, on the other hand, is having none of your insinuations, no matter how ridiculously well-founded. Not long after the Treadwell pic made the rounds, the Ole Miss head coach took to Twitter to defend his recruits (and his program):
He has since deleted the tweet.* You have to respect the coach for defending his guys, but I bet the poor schlub in the compliance office would prefer if you didn’t direct every troll south of the Mason-Dixon line directly to his inbox. The poor guy gets to the office, fires up the coffee maker, and HOLY HELL why do I have seven thousand emails with the subject “CHEATERZ!!!!!1”?
[*NOTE TO TWITTER USERS: Please stop deleting your questionable tweets. Once they’re there, you can’t get rid of them. You’re just making my column less visibly appealing. ]
I Tried ‘Perspective’ Once. Didn’t Care For It.
David Dawson is one of the jewels of this recruiting class, and by all accounts is a genuinely nice kid who has been through quite a bit in recent years. He also took one of the more circuitous routes to signing day, which Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) documented in a recent article about how recruits are treated on social media. And I’m sure that despite his brief decommitment, Michigan fans everywhere maintained perspective and treated him with the utmost respect, especially on social media.
Fans sent him Twitter and Facebook messages telling him they hoped he broke his leg or that he was a "piece of s---."
Worst of all, some fans took shots at his late father.
"They said a couple things about my dad, like, 'He didn't teach you to keep your word,'" Dawson said.
Or not. On the bright side, the article makes clear that Michigan isn’t alone in treating kids poorly, which, hurray we're not worse than Clemson (insert sarcastic slow clap here). The moral high ground we occupied when Buckeye fans were wishing gout upon Kyle Kalis seems to be tenuous. Obviously we’re talking the least stable segments of every fanbase, but let this serve as your reminder: tweeting recruits is generally not cool, but tweeting ill-wishes to kids is even less cool.
From that same article, though, comes possibly my favorite panic-inducing out-of-context tweet of all time, in which Christian Hackenberg announces his dinner plans.
Pops just told me we are going to Canes. #seeya
— Christian Hackenberg (@chackenberg1) December 12, 2012
Canes is some sort of food establishment; Christian Hackenberg declared his intention to eat food. Happy Valley flips out thinking he was decommitting for Miami. I guarantee the words “NCAA conspiracy” were used. Crootin, man. Crootin.
[OBLIGATORY SCOLD: This is your weekly reminder to NOT TWEET OR FACEBOOK MESSAGE OR SEND SMOKE SIGNALS TO RECRUITS. I asked John Infante (@John_Infante, he of the Bylaw Blog and the overwhelming NCAA rule knowledge) to clarify, and he confirms what others have said: it is an NCAA violation. This remains the case until the student actually enrolls. The guys who just signed NLIs are still “prospects” to the NCAA. They are also high schoolers. So, no.]
We Won’t Get Fooled AgaHELLO: RANDOM PERSON
On Monday, MGoBoard users were greeted with an unexpected Hello post for Jahmere Irvin-Sills, a three-star corner out of Maryland.
Congrats to Jahmere irvin-sills committing to Michigan#goblue
— khaliel rodgers (@K_rodgers55) February 4, 2013
You may remember Khaliel Rodgers as an OL with whom Michigan had a brief flirtation when there were rumors of a commit wavering last summer. He also attends the same high school as Irvin-Sills, so attention was paid. Film was evaluated. Y U NO ELITE trolls were summoned. And, of course, within a half-hour the commitment was debunked by Sam Webb and others. This was predictable, of course, because Irvin-Sills had never been on a recruiting visit, appeared on anyone’s radar, or, you know, been offered a scholarship.
The wisdom of The Who is great and all, but I’d bet a shiny new quarter that the next time someone tweets something like this, we’ll go all salmon of Capistrano all over again.
Look Away, Dave Brandon. Nothing to See Here
You’ve probably noticed that the “nameplate with no names” thing has caught on pretty big over the last couple of years. Either that, or you found it very odd that Air Force managed to field a team entirely out of guys named Service. Last week Akron tried to take it to the next level by putting the team’s twitter handle (@ZipsMBB) on the jerseys:
Synergy, we think.
Unfortunately, the NCAA decided to be a killjoy and put the kibosh on the idea. If Michigan had tried to do something like this, Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork would have a heck of a day. But this is Akron, so from my perspective this would have been fun. They aren’t trying to Create the Future. They’re just trying to grab some attention for a team that averaged 3,400 fans per home game last year.
If you ask me, Akron should have even taken it a step further; they should have put individual players’ twitter handles on the jerseys. And then they should have made Bill Walton call the game. The joy of hearing Walton have to utter phrases like “@I_B_Smooth41 needs to hedge harder on those ball screens” or “great job by @AkronBalla4Lyfe of recognizing the mismatch down low” would almost make up for the pain of having to listen to Bill Walton.
How to Make Friends and Influence Good ol’ Boys
Reuben Foster has had a fun year. He originally committed to Alabama, then in July, he switched his commitment to Auburn (which is like switching from Michigan to North Korea). He felt so confident in his decision that he got a rather large Auburn tattoo on his forearm, which must have made for some awkward conversation at his switcharoo back to Alabama on Monday. He then took to Twitter to explain everything to everyone:
Auburn had no problem taking him up on his invitation to hate him. Edits are mine; these fans did not care for SFW language.
This is my shocked face /makes normal face.
Unrelated Tweet of the Week
Joe Theismann had an interesting theory about the Super Bowl power outage.
If you missed it, Part One is essential reading/viewing before going any further. The "Frames Of The Game" and top ten gifs have been awarded, so this is the best of the rest, starting with the best still frame:
This probably won't be the last you hear of Rapture Guy.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the gifs from the Ohio State game, including basically the opposite of Rapture Guy.]