Michigan basketball holds off on offering juniors until June 15th, whereupon they send out a wave. June 15th was yesterday; the wave:
NV PG Derryck Thornton Jr.
Of course. Thornton's profile has been building for years, as he adds a little bit of hype to the pile every time he breaks someone's ankles. By now you probably know the details here: assistant Jeff Meyer coached the elder Thornton, they've been on campus multiple times, they convinced Battle to come along for a four-day visit that coincided with Michigan's elite camp.
Thornton's made some noises about an early decision, first telling UM Hoops that that it was a possibility and then Scout's Kyle Bogenschutz that he was thinking of pulling the trigger($) during the very conversation in which he found out he got his offer. With his dad describing the visit as a "15 out of 10," Michigan is the favorite. It seems like he wants to confirm things with an official visit in the fall… on which he would be on a commit watch unprecedented in the recent history of Michigan basketball.
Thornton does plan a Kentucky visit in the next week or two that should result in a UK offer. Memories of Devin Booker make that fairly ominous, but if Michigan's still in the lead after that it doesn't seem likely anything will displace them. I have added "Derryck" to my spell check, FWIW.
PROJECTION: Thornton commits to Michigan on his official visit, which I bet a dollar will be for the PSU football game.
MI PG Cassius Winston
Winston has received much less attention from the Michigan internets than Thornton largely because he seems less likely to end up in Ann Arbor. He is just about as talented as Thornton, and his rankings reflect that—he's top 50 everywhere and pushing for five-star status some places. Observers at the elite camp thought he outplayed Thornton slightly, even.
Winston is not likely to make an early decision:
In his two remaining years of high school, Winston has plenty to refine in his game and several goals that he’d like to accomplish before thinking ahead to Michigan. He insisted that even if he gets an offer, he’d like to take in the whole process and then gauge what the next move will be.
At the point Winston does get serious about a commitment Thornton will either be in the bag, off the board, or in that state where the supposed leader has led to long for it to be a good thing.
PROJECTION: If nothing changes with Thornton, drifts elsewhere. If Thornton's head gets turned, Michigan turns the jets on.
KY PG Quentin Goodin
In a bit of a surprise, Goodin did get his offer. He checked the visit box with his own appearance at the elite camp, and he is just a notch below Winston/Thornton to the guys doing the rankings. Michigan may have felt secure enough to offer because Goodin's made no bones about where he wants to go if the opportunity arrives…
"I would definitely take the opportunity to play at Kentucky if I got it.”
…and by the time that gets resolved Michigan will have a good idea about whether or not they're going to close out the Thornton sweepstakes. Goodin says he won't commit until next August, so offering now is relatively risk-free.
PROJECTION: Commits to Indiana.
NJ SG Tyus Battle
Battle is a relatively new name, and a high-profile one with interest from Syracuse, Kentucky, Duke, etc. He visited with Thornton fro the duration of the elite camp, and that has put Michigan in excellent position, especially if they get a commitment from Thornton. Battle's dad:
“Michigan was awesome, we had a great time,” Gary said. “Tyus really enjoyed the visit. The coaching staff is very thorough. We really enjoyed their presentation and the campus and the way they would use Tyus. Obviously, academically Michigan is something we like a lot.”
This is not a slam dunk like Thornton seems, though: Battle went from Michigan to Villanova and will swing through Louisville and Kentucky in the near future. Thornton's top group appears to be Michigan and I guess some other guys; Battle is going to be a… battle. He gave Bogenschutz some positive quotes($), but nothing on the level of those Thornton is issuing.
PROJECTION: I don't know, man.
OH SF Seth Towns
yes that's Trey Burke's high school
Towns didn't have the best elite camp but Michigan still pulled the trigger anyway. Like Thornton, Michigan seems to be way out in front for Towns (Webb paraphrasing Towns($): Michigan "DEFINITELY number one"); like Thornton, Towns is not pulling the trigger immediately.
With the June 15 offer Towns's recruitment is a formality; as long as Michigan keeps their interest level high he'll be in the class. So expect a 6'7" or 6'8" shooter($)…
"As a player, his ability to shoot it is his strength, for sure," Always100 Ohio Warriors AAU coach Fred Moyer said in May. "He can get it off the dribble and go. His best attribute right now is getting it off the catch and a one-dribble pull-up jumper. That's money when it's on.
…Zak Irvin 2.0?
PROJECTION: Commits to Michigan by end of summer.
CA PF TJ Leaf
Leaf is a five star inside/outside big who could play the 4 or 5 at M. He's been on campus multiple times, with his most recent visit a brief trip up from Bloomington, where his AAU team was playing. Leaf's interest is sincere; he seems to have a relatively solid top four of Michigan, Indiana, UCLA, and Arizona. He told Scout recently that those were the teams recruiting him hardest, and dropped this quote on M:
"I just went to Michigan. I loved the coaches and liked the campus. It's a really good program."
That top four was the same in May, FWIW.
Leaf has previously said that one of the things that makes Michigan attractive is the certainty that Beilein be there for the duration of his career, something that is probably true at UCLA and Arizona as well. Indiana… maybe not.
Leaf plans a January decision after some official visits. The major question is "are Towns and Leaf mutually exclusive?" If so, Leaf will get pushed out of the class by Towns unless he changes his timetable. I don't think that's necessarily the case, as a 3/4 like Towns can coexist with a 4/5 like Leaf.
PROJECTION: No good feel for this one, but UCLA has a coach who isn't on the hot seat and Michigan is likely to have competition for his scholarship slot. So: UCLA.
OH C Jon Teske
Unless that's a small child I estimate Teske's height at 11 feet
Teske is the least-hyped of all the offerees. A consensus three-star, Teske fits the mold of Beilein big men: he's a developmental project with a soft shooting touch. Coach quote:
"The thing that he's got is that he can score and shoot the basketball," said Medina coach Chris Hassinger. "His skill development is maybe higher than the guys they have at the Division I level right now."
Teske may not be a three star for that much longer, as he picked up an Ohio State offer recently and is now being listed at 6'11"… and growing. Injuries have limited his exposure to date.
PROJECTION: If OSU goes after him hard they will probably get him, otherwise money is on M.
Haitian-born and Canadian-raised 2016 CB/S Patrice Rene (Peterborough, ON/St. Peter's) has taken an unconventioanl route to becoming a coveted football prospect, but now that he's been identified, he's camping and peforming like everyone else to earn offers. He participated in the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Detroit over the weekend and checked out Michigan's campus once it was over. Rene had great things to say about his trip to Ann Arbor.
It went really well! I enjoyed every second of it. I saw the whole campus, all of the facilities, and even The Big House. It was an overall great experience. I was able to speak with Coach Hoke, Coach Mallory, and Coach Manning. They are all very impressed with me and are willing to offer, but they want to see a bit more film now since they are looking at me as a corner or possibly a safety. I think personally, I'd like to play corner at the next level.
Rene's recruitment has been made difficult by the fact that he plays north of the border, but that will change in August, as he's moving into the US for a chance at more exposure.
It has been a little tough getting recruited being in Canada, but this season I will be attending Episcopal High School in Virginia to better my recruitment and help me develop for the next level. My parents, coach, and I evaluated the option and it was the best fit. Episcopal has great academics and a decent football program. Also, a lot of schools that are recruiting me know that school already.
The schools that Rene referred to are familiar foes who will be competing with Michigan for his services. One being Ohio State who offered Rene over the weekend.
Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan State are all familiar with that area and I thought that would be good for me. Ohio State just offered and that is a big offer! I've been talking to them for a while now. I've built a solid relationship with the coaches so I've been blessed to be offered by them.
Rene mentioned that the Michigan coaches have already talked to him about a potential offer and it too would be a big one for his personal list.
An offer from Michigan would also mean a lot. I've been a Michigan fan for a long time. For right now though I honestly don't have any favorites. I'm open to any school willing to recruit me but Michigan would definitely be a school that I'd strongly consider. I'm very confident that I will be offered by them, I'm not worried. They'll be at my games and recruiting me hard they said, so yeah, I think it's coming.
I couldn't help but take note of Rene's one-of-a-kind upbringing that likely will have him playing football somewhere in the Big Ten so I asked him if it was realistic that he could travel from Haiti, to Canada, to Virginia, to Michigan, and he answered with a laugh, "That is a strong possibility."
Obviously Rene will have to be offered by the Wolverine staff before that can become a real possibility, but based on everything he told me and the way his visit went I think it's only a matter of time before that happens. At 6'2" and 190 lbs. Rene has the exact build that the Michigan coaches love in the secondary, whether it's at corner or safety. It sounds like the coaches are just waiting to see which spot they'd prefer him at before an offer materializes.
Name: Levonta Taylor
Ht/Wt: 5’11" / 178 lbs.
Location: Ocean Lakes - Virginia Beach, VA (2016)
Offers: Virginia, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, LSU, Marshall, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Old Dominion, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Rating: ★★★★ .9805 (247 Composite)
Ranking: #44 NAT / #3 CB (247 Composite)
Michigan has done well recruiting in Virginia plucking Derrick Green in 2013, Wilton Speight in 2014, and Garrett Taylor who is currently a verbal pledge from the 2015 class. With hopes of continuing that tradition, the Wolverines recently offered 2016 cornerback Levonta Taylor out of Virginia Beach.
Coach Roy Manning, who is the Virginia area recruiter as well as the cornerbacks coach, is heading up Taylor's recruitment and so far it is off to a great start.
I was at the Rivals 5-Star challenge getting registered for that and right when I first got there my coach just called me and told me that Michigan had offered. It was a great offer to get because I'm real cool with Coach Roy. He's the cornerbacks coach and it's good for me too because he's my area recruiter. That's a big plus for me that he's going to be recruiting me and would be my position coach too.
Coach Manning isn't the only thing that Taylor likes about the Wolverines. One of the things that draws Taylor to Michigan has been there for almost 90 years and another hasn't been there at all yet.
Another thing that I love about Michigan is that they have the biggest stadium. I've always loved playing in front of a crowd. Plus they are going to have one of my favorite players from high school, Jabrill Peppers.
Taylor has taken notice of MIchigan's recruiting efforts but as a top 50 player many other schools are putting in work as well.
Virginia, Michigan State, and LSU are coming at me pretty hard. There's like a lot more that are coming at me but those two or three are coming at me the most. Clemson too.
As a rising junior, Taylor has two full seasons of high school football left but he already has a loose plan in place of how his recruitment will come to an end.
My parents want me to commit before or maybe during my senior season so I'll be coming out with a list probably after this upcoming season. I'm going to come with a top 10 and then probably two or three months after that release a top 5. Michigan will always be in my top group, no matter what. Whether it's 10 or 5, they'll be there.
Taylor says that a visit to Ann Arbor is definitely in his future plans but doesn't have anything on the calendar just yet. He has played in a 7 on 7 tournament before with his Virginia Thoroughbred's team in the state of Michigan, but has never been on campus. Taylor also mentioned his late aunt that graduated from Michigan and says he knows she'd love the idea of him sporting the maize and blue someday.
5 – Trending Blue
4 – Solidly in a top 2-3
3 – Contender in a top 3-7
2 – Among large (8-15) group under consideration
1 – Let’s see if he visits before we talk
0 – Passing interest or none
Just after Taylor and I spoke he was invited to The Opening, a big deal for a 2016 prospect. He mentioned that he was waiting for that invitation so he could plan out his summer a little bit better as a multi-day trip to Oregon tends to chop up the calendar a bit. I will be in touch with Levonta to see if a trip to Ann Arbor materializes but his relationship with Roy Manning and the connections that the staff has made in Virginia already seem to have gone a long way with him.
|WHAT||USA vs Ghana|
|WHERE||Arena das Dunas
|WHEN||6 PM Eastern
SO. IT IS TIME. I'VE GOT SEVEN LIVES LEFT, BUDDY
THE THEM: Bête noires
Quail and quake at the USA's World Cup nemesis: Ghana. The Black Stars' ongoing revenge for Freddy Adu has been sporadic but ruthless, just like their team. I took in their final warmup friendly against South Korea* and was mostly unimpressed, but Ghana just kept scoring goals despite my opinion of their overall play.
If you remember anything about the USA's previous matchups with Ghana, the way those goals went down will be no surprise: transition. Ghana's second was in fact a virtual replay of Ricardo Clark's disaster from four years ago, albeit with a much greater case for a foul. Of the four goals that the Black Stars have scored at the US's expense, two were derf giveaways in the USA's defensive third, one was a long ball over the top on which the USA's slow and aging 2010 central defense corps was exposed, and the fourth was a ridiculous penalty issued against Oguchi Onyewu.
Transition: avoid it at all costs.
With the theme and many of the players the same guys the US took on four years ago, Ghana will feel much like they did in 2010. This was not necessarily the case until an injury.
While Abdul Waris is not officially ruled out it seems unlikely anyone can recover from a torn quad in under a week. This rules out the 4-4-2 they ran a lot of in qualifying; expect the 4-2-3-1 that is world's default at the moment and what Ghana ran in 2010, with Kevin Prince Boateng ranging underneath Gyan. Via The Shin Guardian, a likely lineup:
GOALIE: This should be an area of advantage for the US; Ghana's probable starter plays in the South African league. 2010 starter Richard Kingson wasn't elite but was a much more established player, at least for Ghana.
DEFENSE: Projected left back Kwadwo Asamoah isn't as out of position as you may have heard—he's more of a wing-back for his club despite playing most of his time with the national team at central midfield. He is extremely dangerous.
The center backs are the same guys the US took on four years ago, and they're a bit foul prone and tend to get dragged out of position. South Korea was able to generate a number of dangerous chances that they couldn't quite finish as Ghana got pulled out of shape.
The right back plays in Tunisia, and is a little bugger at 5'7"; he's quick and gets in on opponents but might have difficulty with the USA's burly attackers.
MIDFIELD: You remember Prince-Boateng and Essien; though they're getting a bit up in years and Essien's had some injury problems recently. If you don't, Boeteng is the Ghanaian version of Bradley: a dynamic box-to-box midfielder who could easily be deployed as a holder but has found his niche further up the field. He will be the guy trying to get the ball off Beckerman or one of the central defenders.
Essien is a version of Jones… a much, much better version of Jones. Imagine if when Jones pressed forward he was a consistently excellent passer. Essien missed the previous World Cup and has dealt with injuries and declining form; after being a fixture for Chelsea for forever he moved to AC Milan in January and only had seven appearances.
Rabiu is a basic defensive mid.
Andre Ayew will be one of the wing midfielders; he's a regular for Marseille but a seemingly good matchup for DaMarcus Beasley, who was Ayew in a previous existence. The other will be either Ayew's brother Jordan or Sulley Muntari; Muntari is the better player but more of a central mid. If they go with Muntari it'll be on Asamoah to get upfield for with; unfortunately, he's plenty capable of that.
let's not this
FORWARD: Gyan. Guy is doom on a stick if you let him set up, and he has the kind of ability to take a nothing ball against a defender and turn it into a lethal shot. He's been playing in the Qatari league, too: Brazil is like a meat locker to him.
*[Previous friendlies are not helpful here; while they did get basically run off the field by the Netherlands the South Korea game saw ten changes—ie, everyone who played against the Dutch won't be playing against the USA.]
After a strong performance against Nigeria in a formation that makes sense for the USA to replicate, the expectation here is for the US to run out the same 11, and run the same Christmas-tree-to-asymmetric 4-3-3 formation.
DEFENSE: Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Johnson.
While the prospect of Portugal flipping Ronaldo to Beasley's side and just having their ubermensch plow Run DMB over is alarming, Ghana's Andre Ayew is a much more comfortable matchup for the USA's still somewhat makeshift left back. Ayew is a quick little bugger who Beasley can go toe-to-toe with, and not get outrun by.
Besler and Cameron draw the Gyan assignment; hopefully they'll be better equipped to cope with his speed and physicality. Last time out it was a 24-year old Gyan against 30 and 31 year old US center backs; this time Gyan is going up against guys almost exactly as old as him, and considerably more mobile. Consider the ill-fated Bocanegra-at-left-back experiment versus Cameron starting 74 of Stoke's last 78 EPL games, mostly at right back.
The tactics should be set up to shield the center backs from Prince-Boateng… most of the time. When the US loses its shape and they don't have their square o' protection set up, communication between the two center backs will be key. It seems like Besler is the designated guy to step up while Cameron sweeps behind.
Fabian Johnson draws either Jordan Ayew, he of the recent hat trick but previous indifferent national team career, or Muntari, who is left footed but more of a central midfielder. Either way he will surge forward and the US must be prepared to cover.
THIS IS MY BALL. THERE ARE MANY LIKE IT BUT THIS ONE IS MINE. MY BALL IS MY BEST FRIEND. IT IS MY LI—OH SHIT
MIDFIELD: Beckerman, Jones, Bedoya, Bradley
Beckerman, Jones, and Bradley are the key to this game. In possession, they have to give each other options and watch for Ghana's sporadic but incredibly effective pressing.
While Beckerman had one bad turnover in the Nigeria game, his entire career is built around being in the place he's supposed to be and playing the simple ball away from pressure to allow his team the opportunity to retain possession and build an attack. It's no exaggeration to say that this is the culmination of his career. The pressure will be intense.
Jones will rove as he is wont to do; his most important role in this one is as the break-in-case-of-fire axe, the USA's OH SHIT button. As such he definitely shouldn't be putting himself in positions like the on that occasioned his impressive 70-yard recovery run against Nigeria; he can range forward when warranted but he should be the one laying it off and waiting instead of trying to burst forward himself. Jones has always been a guy whose offensive ambitions exceed his grasp; that's the last bit of wildness the US would fear from him.
Bedoya's main role is to work for the team and provide width that allows Johnson to shoot upfield inside of him.
And Bradley. Here's Michael Essien. Be him, and outplay him. No problem. Part of the Clark disaster linked above was a four-years-younger Bradley putting Clark in a bad position. He's been a fixture at Roma, he's the guy the USA and his club team are built around, he broke the damn beep test. Now it is time to demonstrate that you are Michael Bradley and that means something.
This was Gyan-like
FORWARD: Altidore, Dempsey
Altidore's flash of brilliance against Nigeria is a hopeful sign; more hopeful yet is the consistently quality hold-up work he's put in against the Turks and the Super Eagles. He's put the ball on Dempsey's boot a number of times, and he has worked hard even when the ball wasn't going in for him. The US figures to boot it upfield more than they have been, so his ability to get down the channels* will figure in against Ghana outside backs who figure to get upfield.
Meanwhile, Dempsey has been off. He's been provided numerous opportunities to create something by Bradley and his first touch let him down consistently in the Send Off Series. He did have a near goal late against Nigeria that he created with fancy footwork; even on that it seemed like a layoff to Altidore for another tap in was the move. Dempsey's footwork earned him a penalty in the 2010 game against these center backs, and he should be a handful for the same gentlemen.
*[IE: run diagonally from the center of the field to one of the corners, hopefully getting and retaining possession and perhaps dragging one the the central defenders with you.]
SUBS: If the US is leading the only subs that make sense will be striker swaps. They're playing all their midfielders who have a defensive edge already. Pulling Dempsey, who doesn't work on defense much, for a fresh guy who can press from the front would make sense—Johannsson or possibly Diskerud.
Tied or behind, Beckerman could be sacrificed for either Diskerud or one of the strikers, with Bradley withdrawing and the US bombing forward with its centerbacks exposed; Zusi would likely come on for Bedoya.
KEYS OTHER THAN SCORING MORE GOALPOINTS
Don't get caught with the ball on defense. For all the talk about becoming more of a possession team, if there's a doubt against these guys, just punt it upfield. As much as possible, make Ghana try to break you down.
Don't get dragged too far out of shape without a really good reason. Looking mostly at Jones and Bedoya here, as they will be pushing forward and also have extensive defensive responsibilities. The 23 selected makes this even more imperative, since there's a high chance Beckerman takes a tactical yellow card at some point, leaving him exposed for however long he's got after that.
Defend and counter… mostly. Sit deep against a fast team, keep your shape, funnel them to the outside, and look to shoot upfield when the ball is turned over. The US has center backs who can make a long pass and two box to box midfielders who can carry it upfield. Look for a breakthrough while denying Ghana's break and then see if you need to make changes later.
Press high when afforded the opportunity. The US has a counter-attacking trick or two up its sleeve, as well. Bradley has a terrific knock for perceiving when he can dispossess a guy in a dangerous spot, and the US has generated chances the last two games off of that. Bradley's ability to disrupt the Ghana attack from the front is a major asset.
WIN THE GAME. #winthegame
SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Alternative Title: O’Bannon… You Came And You Sued For Injunction…
Alternative Alternative Title: Selling Little Bottles of OLB #9
The O’Bannon antitrust trial started this week, and because trials are fun and listening to the NCAA’s lawyers is amusing as hell, let’s talk about it. To properly understand this, we have to go back to the year 1890 and the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act…
Sweet tapdancing hell we are NOT doing this again. We’re not going back to freeking nineteenth century.
Oh come on, this stuff is interesting.
I just died of boredom.
Fine. But we at least have to go back to the year 1995. Ed O’Bannon is the best player in college basketball; he averages 20.4 points and 8.3 boards and wins the Wooden award, and his UCLA Bruins win the national title. So that was cool. Then, a decade later, a younger relative showed O’Bannon a copy of EA Sports’ NCAA 2007, which contained some classic teams, including the 1994-95 UCLA Bruins. O’Bannon noticed that (a) he was in that game, and (b) he hadn’t been paid anything for his appearance in the game. This, he deduced, was crap.
But he waived his rights to get paid for that, right?
Indeed. All athletes, before they play a single second, have to sign a waiver that relinquishes any rights they have in their likeness. The NCAA can use any player’s image for whatever the NCAA sees fit, and owes the athlete nothing. In fact, as you may know, if players DO get paid for their likenesses during their playing careers, they get suspended for an entire season. No, wait, that’s pot. You get suspended for one half of one game. But still, athletes can’t get paid.
There is, however, a way to get around that waiver. If the NCAA violated the law in forcing O’Bannon and other athletes to waive those rights, the waiver are invalid. If only such a law was passed during the Harrison Administration (NNTHA) that Bolded Disembodied Alter-Ego would let me discuss…
Sigh. Fine, just make it quick.
|Other plaintiff's attorney|
WOO. The Sherman Antitrust Act makes certain anticompetitive behaviors by entities that have dominant positions in a given market illegal. It’s not against the law to create a monopoly, but if you have one, you can’t use it to restrain trade or hurt consumers. If you’re Microsoft, you can install Windows on 80% of all computers, and that’s not a problem. If you use that 80% market share to bundle everything with Internet Explorer so people won’t use Netscape Navigator, that IS a problem.
Yes, the problems of the 1990s were bizarre in hindsight.
And what exactly are the plaintiffs whining about?
When athletes start playing, they have to sign a waiver that surrenders all of their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”) rights to the NCAA. The NCAA can then use those rights however they see fit without compensating the athletes in any way. Two ways they use athletes’ NIL rights are in licensing for video games and licensing for live television broadcasts of games, promos, etc.
For video games, it’s a pretty easy case to make. The NCAA used to grant EA Sports the right to develop and sell video games with all of the FBS teams and players, and in exchange EA Sports would add a little depth to the Scrooge McDuck coin vault swimming pool. The NCAA has tried, half-heartedly, to argue that it is a coincidence that the rosters of every college team have every player with the appropriate height, weight, position, number, skin color, athletic characteristics, and general appearance. This issue bleeds over into other not-about-Player-X-but-definitely-about-Player-X stuff like jersey sales; sure, Michigan wasn’t selling Denard jerseys. But they were selling Denard jerseys.
The other issue is television rights. Right now, conferences sign television deals with networks, networks televise games, networks pay conferences large sums of money, conferences distribute that money among the member schools, and member schools give players… uh… the satisfaction of a job well done. O’Bannon is arguing that part of the value of those broadcasts are the result of the NIL rights that the players have to sign over to the NCAA.
[AFTER THE JUMP: More of what we're talking about here]
World Cup stuff. LET'S GOOOOOOO
Zonal Marking has previews for the entire group, and despite the late shift by the US they are right on point with theirs.
The holding midfielder could still be Jones, if Klinsmann is adventurous, but Kyle Beckerman came into the side against Nigeria, having also played there against Mexico, and is a much better fit. Playing at the base of a diamond is a specialist role, and Klinsmann is fortunate to be able to call upon Beckerman, who has been playing in that position for Real Salt Lake, where he is captain.
The 2010 squad was packed with youth, and therefore it’s no surprise that the majority of players have retained their places as they’ve gained more experience. But as Ghana’s reputation has grown, they’ve been forced to adapt to different challenges. When they were the underdogs, they could sit back, remain compact and counter-attack extremely swiftly. Now opponents are aware of that threat, they’re forced to become more proactive, but lack the creativity and incision to dominate games and score goals.
The Ghanian friendly against South Korea could not have echoed that evaluation more closely; Ghana spent most of the game watching South Korea play around with the ball and not quite score, and then they executed ruthlessly—and somewhat fortunately—on the break. This is a game in which hoofing it upfield under pressure is understandable.
Note that Ghana has probably lost wing/forward Majeed Waris, who tore a quad in that game. The guy who replaced him scored a hat trick, but Waris was first choice and played well in qualifying.
Portugal always have roughly the same style, roughly the same strengths and weaknesses, and roughly the same chance of winning the competition. It’s no different this time around. Portugal’s starting XI for World Cup 2014 is extremely similar to their starting XI for Euro 2012, and it’s a familiar story – solid defence, talented central midfield, dangerous wide players, no prolific striker.
Talented players everywhere, but guaranteed cohesion nowhere. It feels like there’s a World Cup-winning XI somewhere in this side, and if Low had infinite friendlies to work out who works well together, he’d eventually find the winning combination.
There is no possibility that this World Cup will cast itself in Garrincha’s image more than Pelé’s. But if his spirit could just touch it a little. If the next month could just remind us that FIFA’s agenda is not all that soccer can be.
And here's an excellent and informative breakdown of how the US played against Nigeria and how important it is to keep things tight at the back:
Let's compare things to other things. The perennial easy post is back in force thanks to the unfamiliarity of where soccer nations fit in everyone's pantheon. Crimson Quarry takes a swing at comparing World Cup outfits to Big Ten basketball programs:
The Fab Five was a phenomenon in the 1990s, and the Wolverines made two title games but lost. Meanwhile, Total Football was a phenomenon in the 1970s for the Netherlands, who also made it to two World Cup finals and lost both. Since then, both teams have made it to the finals another time, but lost in the process. In addition, both have recently had strong offenses with suspect defenses, and love to refer to their teams by the colors of their jerseys. "Hup Holland" is basically the Dutch equivalent of "Go Blue." Plus, the state of Michigan even has a city called Holland. It makes too much sense.
That's a swing and a miss, from my perspective. Argentina is where it's at: offensively enthralling, weak on defense, had a moment of glory in the 80s.
Speaking of Indiana. IU QB Tre Roberson is transferring:
"We appreciate and thank Tre for his contributions to our football program both on and off the field," Wilson said. "He is an outstanding player and a great young man. We wish him well as he moves forward with his career."
Normally that would be a who-cares blip but after last year when Roberson came in for Sudfeld and nearly drove Indiana to a win, not so much. Taking the dual threat option away from the Hoosiers makes their offense considerably less scary.
Wait, what? Jeff Goodman has a list of the best developers of talent in the college basketball coaching ranks. John Beilein slides in at #3:
3) John Beilein, Michigan Wolverines: He’s starting to churn out NBA guys lately -- Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., and Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III this year. “Player development,” said one NBA scout. “Bottom line. He works on players' individual games. There’s a lot of shooting, of course, but every practice he takes 20 or so minutes to focus on getting guys better.”
This makes plenty of sense, as Beilein's made a specialty of making three-stars into early entries starting with the Burke/Hardaway class, and with Caris LeVert on the horizon Michigan will have dumped six guys into the NBA in three years, only one of whom was particularly hyped when he committed—McGary.
That makes sense. The rest of the list… hoo boy. #2 is Ben Howland who is unemployed at the moment. #4 is Tom Izzo, because… uh… Draymond? I mean, when your list of top NBA developers has an entry that starts like this…
Izzo doesn’t necessarily churn out a ton of NBA guys
…you may want to re-evaluate your list.
Calipari also shows up, because he doesn't tear many ACLs.
That's one way to approach it. Miami has decided they can sell more tickets by getting people to go to fewer games.
It's basically a two-game package of the FSU game and the North Carolina game, comparable to Michigan's mini-packages with Penn State and anything else except incrementally more desperate.
Come on down. Sounds like the Michigan Elite Camp couldn't have gone much better from a recruiting standpoint. UMHoops caught up with Derryck Thornton, Jr.:
“It was probably my best visit, it was great,” Thornton reiterated. “The staff did a great job so that was one of my better visits, if not the best one.” …
“I’m going to wait for my dad to get back and we’re going to talk about that soon,” Thornton responded when asked if he’d think about committing early. “I’m not sure, but I think I’m willing to commit and make the early decision.”
Rivals echoes the confidence($) you might have on their message board—Thornton's dad responded to a question about whether Battle and Thornton will end up in Ann Arbor and got the response "high"—and I'm pretty sure one of the Thorntons—probably the elder—registered for a Scout account so he could assert that Thornton would not stay on the West Coast. It would be excellent to get a commitment by the end of summer.
Meanwhile, Tyus Battle was also impressed…
“Michigan was awesome, we had a great time,” Gary said. “Tyus really enjoyed the visit. The coaching staff is very thorough. We really enjoyed their presentation and the campus and the way they would use Tyus. Obviously, academically Michigan is something we like a lot.”
…but doesn't seem like he's anywhere near as likely to drop in the near future. The Big Blue death star looms:
“We’re trying to really focus on Kentucky right now,”Gary Battle told SNY.tv by phone. “That’s always been something we had planned to do and Cal had expressed some high interest in the kid and he’s always wanted to go and check it out.”
Battle will be a… wait for it… battle. If Michigan can secure Thornton, the two guys have said they want to play together. Battle's father:
“And for Tyus, I think a lot of guys want to play with Tyus but Derryck definitely, he’s an easy kid to want to play with as well according to Tyus. They were pretty excited about it cause they consider each other brothers and have known each other for a long time.”
Let's hope that package stays together. FWIW, Battle's father flat-out stated "I think Derryck's going to Michigan."
Given all this, it'll be interesting to see what happens on June 15th. Cassius Winston has checked the offer boxes and is pretty much a five star himself, and KY PG Quentin Goodin says he expects an offer too. If I had to bet, I'd say he ends up disappointed. Winston is on another level and instate. He probably gets one.
Hello, eh. Hockey announces their four late additions: Tony Calderone, Sam Piazza, Niko Porikos, and Alex Talcott. (They're still working on Zach Werenski's accelerated entry, it appears.) The release is the usual but it does give you some indication of where these guys might slot in on the depth chart. Talcott gets "depth" and "energy" mentions and Porikos is compared to Andrew Sinelli; they seem like guys for down the road.
"Tony comes here with the reputation of a player who puts numbers up and has a great shot," associate head coach Billy Powers said. "Offensively, we expect Tony to add to his game here. He's a skilled offensive player who has had two good years in the USHL"
"Sam is a defenseman who is not afraid to join the rush," Powers said. "He's got great offensive instincts and we're hoping that he adds some offense at the blue line. We're excited that Sam will have an opportunity to show what he can do early on."
…on the other hand, should compete for spots this fall. The four just announced join Cutler Martin, Dexter Dancs, and Dylan Larkin as incoming freshmen. Chris Heisenberg's listing Werenski as a 2014 recruit, but Michigan likely cannot announce that until he's on campus.
Three years after suffering a gruesome career-ending injury in 2005, former Alabama star Tyrone Prothro wrote a book, Catch & Hold. He wanted to include some action shots from his playing career, but upon contacting a university photographer he learned he'd have to buy the images from the school's website for $10 apiece. So, he didn't include them.
Uh… wow. I bet that's just for a download and doesn't even include redistribution rights. Athletes! Do we have a picture of you? You can use it for free. I would like to thank Kevin Trahan for blowing up the NCAA's constant assertions that "hey, you get stuff!" is anything approximating a legal defense.
Oh man. Ramzy instructs you how not to be an asshole to recruits. I do not want to get on the ol' high horse because I've seen my share of miserable awful things from Michigan fans—we have it just as bad—and the linked piece is a fine, fine intra-fanbase immolation. But… wow.
AIN'T NO REGULATIONS AGAINST CHILD BRIDES AMIRITE
Maybe 95% as bad.