[A Michigan student getting enriched on a trip to Rome, 2001]
- To Rome! Oh you voted spring break away? Okay we’ll wait until our semester is over then fly to Italy…with educational opportunities, and press release orphans. Also Michigan can hypothetically still go to Florida in future years after classes end. Come at me NCAA! Orphans! Would Saban ever do this? Recruiting effect.
- Solution to SEC schools rampantly paying players, other than legalizing the rampant paying of players?
- A lost Michigan game on rollerskates. Also some funny wins in Notre Dame’s win count. Like a thrift store. Probably not on rollerskates.
- JayBaugh to RBs: 10th coach might fix it. Better for the team, obviously not the position.
- Greg Frey: looks like a great move. Great track record, coordinated OSU’s new offensive coordinator’s offense.
- Scary Indiana, scary Indiana, scary Indiana, let me say it once again. Scary Indiana, scary Indiana, scary Indiana, yes this was recorded when, the Hoosiers’ size still gave us hesitation. Given past events it was a logical explanation. So now we have this extraneous syncopation. We weight the Big Ten race, and catch it in the face, for Scary Indiana, scary INDiana, scary Indiana vs M at home.
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
Moe Wagner exploited mismatches in the post. [Eric Upchurch]
Michigan exploited multiple mismatches in the frontcourt to jump out to an early lead and used that as a springboard to a 30-point blowout of Indiana.
Let that sink in for a moment.
A shorthanded Indiana squad was faced with a choice: stick center Thomas Bryant on Moe Wagner and hope DJ Wilson wouldn't destroy 6'6" injury replacement Zach McRoberts, or put Bryant on Wilson and hope Wagner wouldn't feast on McRoberts in the post. They initially chose the second option. Wagner feasted, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the first half on 6-for-8 shooting. When IU tried putting Bryant on Wagner, it didn't go any better, as Bryant couldn't stay in front of the quicker German big man.
The Hoosiers couldn't exactly slow down Wilson, either. He did a bit of everything, attacking the matchup on McRoberts early, setting up his teammates with gorgeous passes, and providing great rim protection. He finished with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, four blocks, and a steal; if anything, that undersells his impact.
"Don't forget, DJ and Moe are really evolving, yet," said John Beilein. "They are really playing the big crunch time minutes for the first time."
It was easy to forget that tonight.
Probably could've been the whole recap. [Upchurch]
After the big men softened up Indiana's defense, Derrick Walton took over, getting to the hoop time and again, and finishing when he got there, a great sign given his past struggles scoring at the rim. He led the team with 21 points (7-for-8 FG, 6-for-7 FT) and five assists.
Seemingly everyone who hit the floor got into the act. Duncan Robinson scored 13 off the bench; Zak Irvin added 12 points and three assists; Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman also had 12 and played exemplary defense on Hoosiers star James Blackmon. Michigan shot 63.3% from the floor, their best mark in a Big Ten game since 2006.
Indiana shot the ball well themselves, finishing at 54.5% from the field. The Hoosiers couldn't keep up, however, because of their 16 turnovers. Those were part a product of good, aggressive defense—Michigan had seven steals—and part some really sloppy play on IU's part.
"We did have some great [defensive] possessions," said Beilein. "We created turnovers by just being active."
Put it all together and this was a laugher that Tom Crean could hardly bring himself to talk about; his postgame presser lasted all of a few minutes.
"There's no excuse for it," Crean said of their defensive effort.
While one coach sulked, the other was loose and excited, knowing his team has laid down a blueprint for success over the last few games.
"It's just a great feeling for those guys knowing this is how we're going to win going forward," said Beilein.
"The world corrects itself at some point, and basketball does too," he added.
From his lips to the basketball gods' ears, hopefully.
#43 Michigan (13-7, 3-4 B1G) vs
#30 Indiana (14-6, 4-3)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Thursday|
Michigan -1 (KenPom)
Michigan -4 (Vegas)
PBP: Rece Davis
Analyst: Jim Calhoun
Right: Obligatory. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
This week presents a huge opportunity for Michigan to get back on the right side of the bubble and improve their position for conference tournament seeding. Michigan is currently the second team out of the projected NCAA tournament field on the Bracket Matrix. Indiana and Michigan State (Sunday's opponent) are the two teams directly ahead of the Wolverines in the conference standings. Michigan needs a split, at the very least, if they don't want to put themselves in a very tight spot.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||2||Josh Newkirk||Jr.||6'1, 195||62||19||102||No|
|Most PG-like player, but only has 1.6:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.|
|G||4||Robert Johnson||Jr.||6'3, 195||65||22||120||Not At All|
|Sniper beyond the arc, solid finisher inside of it. 5th in B1G in eFG%.|
|G||1||James Blackmon||Jr.||6'4, 200||71||24||126||Not At All|
|High-volume, high-efficiency scorer. Defense can be an issue.|
|F||15||Zach McRoberts||So.||6'6, 200||26||7||133||Kinda|
|OG Anunoby's nearly invisible replacement. 6/17 FG in 211 minutes.|
|C||31||Thomas Bryant||So.||6'10, 255||67||21||118||No|
|Excellent rebounder and post scorer, good shot-blocker, now hits occasional three.|
|C||20||De'Ron Davis||Fr.||6'10, 240||32||25||119||Very|
|Solid backup C. 54% on FGs, effectively crashes offensive boards.|
|G||11||Devonte Green||Fr.||6'3, 186||28||18||101||No|
|Efficient scorer (57/39/75 shooting splits) but very turnover-prone.|
|G||0||Curtis Jones||Fr.||6'4, 175||31||19||112||No|
|Outside shooting threat, struggling to finish inside arc.|
|F||13||Juwan Morgan (inj.)||So.||6'7, 230||47||16||136||Yes|
|Great rebounder and finisher this year. Status unclear due to ankle injury.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Michigan's added Greg Frey as an OL/TE/run game coach, as you probably heard about. Michigan valued his addition enough to move Jay Harbaugh into a somewhat awkward spot as the RB coach, and his track record makes it obvious why.
Michigan, Part I
Rich Rodriguez and Frey walked into a disaster zone in 2008. After Corey Zirbel was forced to retire with an injury, Michigan had something like 7 or 8 scholarship offensive linemen. Things did not go well.
By year three, Frey's last in Ann Arbor, Michigan had a first-choice lineup of:
- LT Taylor Lewan
- LG Stephen Schilling
- C David Molk
- RG Patrick Omameh
- RT Perry Dorrestein
Four of those guys would go on to NFL careers of at least a few years in length, with Lewan and Omameh still in the league. Lewan and Omameh were Frey recruits. Lewan was a fast-rising prospect who Frey IDed first and got in the door for before he rose to the mid-to-high four star status he ended the cycle with; Omameh was a late poach from Cincinnati. Molk, who Frey inherited as a redshirt freshman, won the Rimington as a senior.
2010 and 2011 stand out as the zenith of Michigan offensive line play over the past... God, probably 15 years. 2011 had Lewan, Molk, and Omameh back; Frey recruit and future NFLer Michael Schofield drew into the lineup along with Mark Huyge. Lewan, Omameh, and Schofield returned in 2012 but the two new guys (Ricky Barnum and Elliott Mealer) were major steps back, and from there it was disaster time.
This is a painful recent memory for Michigan fans; it is also a best-case scenario for anyone attempting to suss out the ability of a position coach. Michigan was bad when Frey arrived; they were good when he left; the air went out of the balloon over the next few years.
Frey landed in Bloomington after his brief strange trip under RichRod and was the OL coach for Kevin Wilson until Wilson was booted a couple months ago. How much of Indiana's improvement was Wilson and how much was Frey is impossible to determine, but the combination took IU's offense to heights not since since the days of Antwan Randle-El.
This season the vagaries of recruiting Indiana and a series of injuries forced multiple young players onto the field, with predictable results; despite that Frey's track record is very strong:
...his work in Bloomington has been outstanding. Jason Spriggs is in the NFL. Dan Feeney is a potential first-round pick and probably the best guard in this year's draft. Even less heralded players, like Collin Rahrig and Jake Reed (and probably Dimitric Camiel soon to join them) have spent time on NFL rosters.
And all of that was done without the benefit of the kinds of highly regarded players Michigan would be more likely to attract than IU. When they committed, neither Feeney nor Camiel were considered among even the top 900 prospects in the 2012 class, according to the 247Sports Composite, while Spriggs was listed as a tight end.
Michigan fans no doubt remember 2015's mashing at the hands of Frey. That year's line was 8th in adjusted sack rate and 35th in adjusted line yards; the previous year's was 27th and 86th. Run efficiency took a big hit this year but IU popped back up in sacks allowed.
Frey made a ton of chicken salad in Bloomington and both close observers of Indiana...
sorry to ruin your morning but michigan just hired greg frey and, um, that’s bad for indiana https://t.co/yV50f2BnCz
— CRIMSON QUARRY (@crimsonquarry) January 25, 2017
...and national analysts...
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) January 25, 2017
...think Michigan just scored a coup.
But what about crootin?
A conveniently-timed article from the Tampa Bay Times:
Indiana-Tampa Bay recruiting pipeline outperforms state schools
This is largely attributable to Frey.
"The reason Indiana is having so much success in the area is all because of Greg Frey," Largo football coach Marcus Paschal said. "I have a great relationship with him that goes back a long way. He knows Rick Rodriguez, who I played for. Frey even recruited me when I played at Largo and he was an assistant at USF."
Indiana has five commits from the Tampa area in this recruiting class, including a four-star kid they flipped from USC. Frey also recruits Cincinnati for the Hoosiers with good success. He should be an asset.
But what about manball?
You'll note that for the last decade Frey has been coaching spread OLs that run a ton of inside and outside zone and not much gap stuff. (If you remember gap stuff from Indiana in the last couple years you're probably thinking about the pin and pull sweeps that are a staple of most offenses these days.) The transition from hyperspace IU chaosteam football to Michigan's manball is a large one.
This is probably more asset than drawback. Michigan has not run outside zone with any effectiveness the past couple years; Frey promises to help fix that. That should help diversify Michigan's run game. Michigan has a large portion of the manball specialists in college football already while Frey has been on the cutting edge of high-tempo spread for a decade. It's reasonable to expect some profit as those two systems exchange DNA.
Finally, Frey was the right hand man of Ohio State's new offensive coordinator for six years. If anyone has insight into Kevin Wilson's tendencies it's him.
But what about the media?
You may remember Frey's, er, enthusiastic coaching being a major point of contention during Michael Rosenberg's crusade against Rodriguez. That was more about one man's quest to dethrone Michigan's coach than anything rational, as Frey's successful tenure at IU demonstrates. When you're winning (relatively so, in Indiana's case) and producing draft picks this is how the articles go:
“See the defense!” he shouts.
For the record, we have left out the helpful adjective.
And then, again in family friendly form:
“See what’s going on!”
“Find the ball!”
You coach in the take-no-prisoners Big Ten and it’s no time for hugs and sweet words of gentle persuasion. Not in this practice moment, anyway. Frey’s message is as clear as a sledgehammer, and you’d better believe it works. He has built one of the conference’s best offensive lines, meaning it’s one of the best in the nation, and he hasn’t done it with five-star recruits.
I predict a notable silence.
If you had Teddy Greenstein in the Brings Up Erik Swenson Next pool, collect your winnings. I get annoyed at Greenstein because he puts up a front of objectivity while putting out article after article designed to put Harbaugh in a bad light. See the recent article on refereeing where he asked the Big Ten's head of officials if he was bad at his job, got a "no," and said "well, I guess that wraps it all up, folks!"
Anyway. This one was somewhat spoiled by Harbaugh explaining the situation from his perspective...
"There's a camp in June, and we really want you to come so we can see you.' It ended up, after a couple of conversations, that he wasn't going to come to camp.
"I said: 'We're going to be in Indianapolis in the beginning of June for a satellite camp. It's closer to your home.' He said no. I said, 'We really need to see you for ourselves.' He said, 'Just evaluate my senior tape.' 'OK, that's what we will do.'"
...but Greenstein does his best to frame it anyway.
What happened to Swenson is exceedingly rare: a high school player in good academic standing, who remains loyal to the school to which he verbally committed, getting dumped within weeks of signing day.
There is a term for a school dispatching a player it no longer wants: "processing."
Connecticut coach Randy Edsall got crushed last week by national media figures Paul Finebaum ("total disgrace"), Mike Greenberg ("How you go to sleep at night, I have no idea") and the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins ("No one is more committed to Randy Edsall than Randy Edsall") after his scurrilous actions regarding a high school linebacker from New Jersey named Ryan Dickens.
Contrary to pearl-clutchers in the media, "processing" kids before they can sign is a common practice getting ever more common. That's why there's a term for it. Most of these situations go uncommented upon because the kid and coaches know the score and are just looking for a landing spot. The rare thing is a kid getting pissed off about it in the media.
I think we can safely assume that someone moving down from a Power 5 program to a lower level has been processed, and there have been a number of these this year: CB Nick Roberts and QB Todd Centeio went from P5 programs to the AAC. S Ahman Ross is trying to find a landing spot at Appalachian State or Colorado State. RB Bentavious Thompson looks likely to end up at UCF. FIU is the crystal ball favorite for WR Kevaughn Dingle.
That's five guys not from all of the Power 5 or one P5 conference but one recruiting class: Miami's. Every collection of team-specific recruitniks in America has a subliminal list of a few guys who are technically committed but won't actually be in the class. For Michigan this year they were Carter Dunaway and Chase Lasater; for Ohio State they were Danny Clark, Bruce Judson, and Todd Sibley.
The 24/7 decommitment tracker is missing a pager so it only goes back three days. In those three days (three days!) there are four recruitments that look like processing of some variety:
- WR Warren Jackson decommitted from Arizona and fielded a couple of quick CSU picks.
- LB DeMarco Artis decommitted from FSU and told 247 that it was "unfortunate."
- LB Jabreel Stephens decommitted from Louisville and looks set to pick USF.
- LB Jaquan Henderson flipped from Tennessee to Georgia Tech.
It is exactly one week from signing day.
Even if not all of these are genuine processings that should be sufficient to demonstrate that the practice is not rare, or anything close to it. If Greenstein had done 15 minutes of research he would have reached the same conclusion. You have to wonder why he would not take such a basic step before making an easily-disproved factual assertion.
DJ Versatile, Part One
Illinois couldn't keep DJ Wilson off the glass. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
In Michigan's seven conference games, DJ Wilson is second on the team in scoring, first in rebounding, third in assists, and first in blocks. The efficiency numbers look even better than the counting stats: Wilson leads the Big Ten in O-Rating, ranks third in 2P%, 3P%, and eFG%, has the second-lowest turnover rate, and is top-25 in offensive rebound and block rates. Over the course of the season, he's gone from being most notable for his short shorts to being the most important—and perhaps outright best—player on the Wolverines.
Wilson bounced back from a scoreless foul-out against Wisconsin with a complete, dominant outing against Illinois: 19 points (6/8 2P, 1/2 3P, 4/6 FT), six rebounds (five offensive), five assists, no turnovers, a block, and two fouls in 39 minutes. Illini coach John Groce was duly impressed:
“I thought they beat us up on the glass, and obviously DJ Wilson spearheaded that. I thought he was absolutely terrific today. To be honest with you, he was pretty good in game one, too, when you look at his stat line. Today, he hurt us on the glass. Assuming that none of his five assists contributed to threes, he basically produced 29 points minimum for their team with his assists and his scoring.* That’s right at probably half of their production. That’s his energy level on the backboard, his willingness to make the extra pass, make his team better. I just thought he was absolutely terrific in the game. Thought he was a real, real difference.”
Let's start with Wilson's work on the boards. He grabbed six offensive rebounds for the second time this season (Iowa); excluding those two games, however, he hadn't surpassed two since the second game of the season. After the game, John Beilein mentioned he's been hammering home a specific coaching point with Wilson:
He can really shoot, but he’s got to understand, if we’re going to win, if he wants to play at another level, he’s got to mix it up inside. And he’s very receptive to that coaching, but the habit is to drift out. And getting in there, that’s where he gets stuff.
Wilson played with more aggression against Illinois and reaped the rewards. Incidentally, the threat of his outside shot is part of what makes him such a dangerous offensive rebounder. Take his first-half tip-slam, for example. Wilson is parked in the near-side corner while Zak Irvin and Moe Wagner run a high pick-and-roll. With Irvin a legitimate threat to drive and Wilson a legitimate threat on a catch-and-shoot, Wilson's defender, Leron Black—who's Illinois' best rebounder—ends up stuck in no-man's land. Black keeps his eyes on Irvin while shuffling back towards Wilson, except Wilson recognizes the opportunity and sneaks down the baseline:
That wasn't the only time Illinois had trouble picking up Wilson when he crashed from the perimeter:
If you feel like you've seen this before, Glenn Robinson III's putbacks came in similar fashion. Wilson is much bigger; he's also a better outside shooter. After this performance, he should be the second man hitting the boards much more often.
*Two of Wilson's assists did, in fact, contribute to three-pointers, so you can increment that up to 31 points produced.
[Hit THE JUMP for more DJ, a surprising Zak Irvin stat, and more.]