This story is some sort of weird karma on a thousand different levels:
Illinois basketball player Alex Legion was arrested Monday night for driving on a suspended license.
An Illinois Department of Intercollegiate Athletics official said Legion’s license was suspended because of an unpaid moving violation ticket in Michigan. Legion is a native of Detroit.
You're probably well aware that Legion was Tommy Amaker's on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again final recruit, directed by God to go to Kentucky for a single semester and now a conscience-free midrange jumper specialist with the Illini.
But do you remember what happened a few years back after Illinois coach Bruce Weber was taking heat for the existence of Jamar Smith, Illini basketball player? Smith had nearly killed a teammate in a drunk-driving accident but remained on the Illinois team, prompting reporters to ask about it and Weber to act like a fool:
Weber also pointed out that “a kid in a program got arrested a couple weeks ago and he played in the next game.” Without naming him, Weber was referring to Michigan’s Lester Abram, who was stopped for speeding, then arrested for an outstanding warrant. That happened two days before Abram played for the Wolverines at Illinois.
“I don’t know if anything was talked about with him,” Weber said, his voice rising. “I don’t think so because I get a lot of feedback. You’re going to hold us to high standards but that kid got arrested and he played.”
Jamar Smith was the guy who drove his car into a tree, injuring teammate Brian Carlwell, who was a passenger. Oh, and Smith was drunk. Oh, and Smith believed that Carlwell was dead (he had a severe concussion), yet drove the car ... with Carlwell in it ... back home. Oh, and Smith went into his apartment, leaving Carlwell unconscious in his car.
Bound by infallible Logic, Weber has no choice but to do to Legion what he did to Smith: suspend him for the year and ship him to a directional Illinois school. Fret not, Alex Legion. God, unlike the Battlestar Galatica writers, has a plan. It involves the Missouri Valley Conference.
At long last, FL S Marvin Robinson has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.
Informative Update: That's right, kids: omg shirtless.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|4*, #14 S, #147 overall||4*, #99 overall||150 watch list|
Marvin Robinson has been on Michigan fans' radar so long that people were worried the transition from Carr to Rodriguez would hurt Michigan's standing in his recruitment. His name first popped up after his freshman year of high school, when he attended Michigan's summer camp and was so ridiculously impressive he picked up an offer. Robinson was equally impressed with Michigan, naming M his leader early and late before finally announcing what he'd told the coaches at least as early as the Michigan State game last year: he's committed.
Michigan fans were ready to proclaim Robinson their big five-star catch whenever Robinson's commitment became official, but as you can see above… eh… not so much. Robinson's rankings were the most disappointing amongst a wide array of disappointments when they were announced. It's hard to see how he can go from this…
On defense, there's no question after seeing Marvin Robinson of Eagle Lake (Fla.) Lake Region on Saturday and Sunday that he's going to be one of the best in the 2010 class. He made big play after big play in drills and then in one-on-one battles. He was the one guy who was consistently able to hang with both the physical and speedy backs in the camp.
…to this from another camp where he was a rising junior competing against seniors…
"Marvin Robinson has a lot of upside to him as far as his strength and motor," said defensive backs coach Eugene Jackson. "He was the best out there and he's very coachable."
Lining up at safety, Robinson asserted himself in one-on-ones and was one of the more physically imposing defensive backs.
…to the #5 rising junior in Florida to the offers you'll see in the next section to "eh, bottom of the top 100." About the only thing I can find that would point to a drop is the 4.6 40 time listed on his Scout profile and at ESPN.
One thing to watch is a potential move to linebacker. Another evaluation from that same camp from Rivals' Barry Every:
6-2, 205, OLB Eagle Lake (FL) Lake Region 2010
Assets: Has a tremendous burst and excellent ball skills.
What was most impressive at camp: For a guy who is making the change from safety to linebacker, he sure looked a natural.
Areas for improvement: He just needs to get reps at his new position because all the tools are there.
On the Hoof: Has good height, long arms and wide shoulders. Robinson's frame will fill out and enable him to play all three linebacker positions.
Robinson could be ticketed for this LB/SS hybrid spot. ESPN's strangely muted scouting report—I'm used to them saying things like "Isaiah Bell melts iron with his mind!"—mentions position versatility:
Robinson is a valuable athlete that rarely comes off the field. He is one of those athletes that may not be great at any one thing but is good at everything. He has good size both in terms of height and weight. Plays multiple positions and is a very talented skilled athlete. As a safety plays the fee safety poison well and doesn't get fooled on play action passes. Intelligent center fielder that recognizes combination routes and reacts accordingly.
Maybe he's great at being awesome, huh, ESPN? Did you ever think of that?
This article was published in June, ten months ago, before Robinson's junior year:
Robinson, who has been the top-safety prospect at two camps this summer, received his first offer from Michigan, then Ohio State offered and at the end of the May evaluation period, USC and Florida offered him a scholarship.
Tennessee had also thrown their hat in the ring by then. So: offers from Michigan, Ohio State, USC, and Florida before his junior year of high school. When he was 15! Damn.
If it matters, further offers came from BC, UCLA, Purdue, Nebraska, UNC, Clemson, and so forth and so on.
Robinson's junior season was fruitful, and multiplied:
Marvin Robinson, the 6-foot-1, 204 pound four-star safety from Lake Region High School in Eagle Lake, Fla., finished his junior season with 98 tackles, four interceptions, four blocked punts and two fumbles caused. He also had five touchdowns on offense with three rushing scores and two receiving.
FAKE 40 TIME
As mentioned above, Robinson's 40 times are in the realistic for humans range and this may explain his unexpectedly low rankings.
The tubes… they have nothing!
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Robinson is good and should show up college-ready after four years of starting and all those early offers. He'll be physically ready and about as mentally prepped as you can be as a true freshman; he, I believe, is also planning on an early enrollment. If he's going to step directly into the starting lineup, though, it's probably not going to be in the secondary, where Michigan currently has no seniors. People seem to want to move him to linebacker, and Michigan's got this new LB/SS hybrid thing Robinson might be good at. The tentative projection here is that he moves to that spot and is in a battle for the starting job immediately, pending Michigan picking up a couple of quality safety recruits to go with him.
As for his ratings: it'll be interesting to see what happens with them. It's possible he was just an early bloomer who got college ready super fast and has a lower ceiling than true five star sorts. It's also possible the recruiting sites are overrating a couple of 40 times to their detriment. I assume he'll end up at an all star game or two; the results will be interesting.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It doesn't really matter whether Robinson is a safety or a linebacker because Michigan would take either yes please thanks much. Given the depth in the secondary, where a true freshman starts at safety next to a converted cornerback and a redshirt freshman walk-on is on the two-deep at corner until the instant Justin Turner enrolls, this will slow Michigan's pursuit of other defensive backs in no way whatsoever.
There are at least three slots left for defensive backs and if they took five more I'd be okay with it. The good news is they've got a lot of excellent options heavily favoring them. Michigan is the public, heavy leader for PA CB Cullen Christian and FL CB Lo Wood, either of whom could drop at any time. MI CB Dior Mathis hasn't been as explicit but is also widely expected to end up at M, and then there's an array of other targets like FL CB Spencer Boyd and PA CB Brandon Ifill, Christian's teammate. Robinson's commit looks to be the first in a parade of four-star secondary commits over the next couple months.
OTHER GUY NAMED MARVIN ROBINSON
His list of clubs, including a spell at Walsall, reads like a gazetteer of English soccer and he has suffered two broken legs and damaged his lungs.
Now, ten years on from that memorable Highbury debut, Big Marv has replaced the Premiership with the more mundane surroundings of the Blue Square North and home is now Redditch United’s Valley Stadium.
Congrats, Walsall: for some reason you're the club picked out to highlight Robinson's hard-luck life. Random biographical note that may sully your opinion of me but isn't as bad as Magic: The Gathering: I took Redditch to Champions League glory in Football Manager a couple years back.
Nihilism factor EXTREME operative principle engage embed engage emb—
Oh my God. Make it stop. The Greg Paulus story has blossomed into the largest, most annoying complete non-story I've ever had the privilege to follow on the internet. I intended to fire and forget the post on his possible transfer with maybe an update along the lines of "hey, we might not have to play Nick Sheridan at any point this year, but then again he's actually played football sometime in the last four years so maybe he'll still be in front of Paulus."
No such luck. My feed reader over the past few days has been updated with a million breathless updates about The Man Who Will Compete With Sheridan. It's been heavily featured on Sportscenter, PTI, and every other show where people yammer about sports. And for what?
Again: we are talking about a person who is not obviously better than Sheridan and hasn't played football seriously in the last four years. People are digging up breathless scouting reports about what a freakin' incredible quarterback he is, but this isn't like LeBron James suddenly had an epiphany and decided he'd play football. Paulus is a 6'2" pocket passer who hasn't read a defense in four years. He doesn't fit the offense. He has no long term future. He will be at least six months behind Tate Forcier when he steps on campus.
Barring injury, what are the chances Paulus ever sees a meaningful snap at Michigan? There are none. What is the downside of allowing Paulus to walk-on and play at quarterback? There is none. You cannot bar injury, after all.
When Nick Sheridan went down with an injury, I'm sure Tate Forcier took on the mentality of a starting quarterback and began to take command of the huddle and build trust with the first team offense almost immediately. Now he has to look over and see a guy with a huge reputation and the immediate support of the Wolverine nation (as Mike said, they're already selling "Paulus for Heisman" shirts).
You too, gibbering Matt Hayes:
The guy who played point guard for Duke the past four seasons, who hadn't picked up a football in four years before, you know, getting his arm loose recently, could be the starting quarterback at Michigan this fall.
Maybe it's not really a red flag.
Maybe it's time to panic.
Hayes later name checks "walk-on" David Cone. Argh. Someone stop this man from having opinions. Offering Greg Paulus a walk-on spot is a perfectly sensible thing to do when you have three scholarship quarterbacks on campus and one of them is the Coner. It means nothing.
So why are we talking about this? Because Paulus was an annoying, bad point guard at Duke. This has no relevance to his football career except insofar as it's barred him from having one. But it's engaged the dread gears of the sports pundit noise machine because it's weird and everyone kind of hates Paulus for being a privileged white kid at Duke. And then people start talking about the noise itself and everything builds and I become very, very cross, and it all gets very meta and even dumber.
GREG PAULUS HAS WHAT PLANTS CRAVE. GREG PAULUS MAKES YOU WIN AT YELLING. GREIFNEFISSHSFIGHSING ISNEGH ISFIVN IWEWJNFIWN!!!
In the aftermath of Michigan's first tourney bid in forever and the looming (as in 2010) departures of the two guys who were the engine behind that bid there's been a lot of discussion about what we can expect in the future when Beilein doesn't have the services of two stars who wanted to play for someone else. There was a mailbag. There has been talking in comments and on blogs and on message boards. A winding response to various opinions follows.
It Can Work
Excellent diary from Bronxblue on the Beilein thing and potential ceilings it may have:
[Beilein's] system was designed to compensate for the lack of the "big time" star. The heavy reliance on three pointers that is a hallmark of his offense is designed to compensate for the lack of a post threat and/or a dynamic finisher around the basket. Similarly, the 1-3-1 was designed to create turnovers as a way to compensate for little interior defense from a dominant inside presence. …
Unfortunately … this type of system has a finite level of potential success - something I'll refer to as the Mid-Major Ceiling (MMC). Look at teams like Gonzaga (though their recruiting has gotten better over the years), Xavier, Creighton, and throw WVU into that mix (though they come from a major conference, they would never have succeeded in the Big East simply trying to out-recruit other teams). While they all are/were consistent NCAA teams, none ever made it past the Elite 8 (except George Mason, which was the flukiest of fluky runs), and even getting past the Sweet 16 was a crapshoot. The reason for this, at least in my opinion, was due to the fact that they inevitably ran into a team whose talent was great enough to expose the deficiencies each of those systems was designed to hide.
I don't think that necessarily has to be the case. John Hollinger put out an article earlier this year noting that the percentage of three-pointers attempted in the NBA is rising relentlessly, and the teams that are playing better than expected are doing it with the longball. Check it:
In fact, few stats correlate better with winning than 3-point attempts. If you tell me only how many 3-pointers a team has chucked up this season and provide no other information, I can tell you whether it is a winning team and be right eight times out of 10.
Check this out: The teams in the top 10 in 3-point attempts per field goal attempt have a combined winning percentage of .593 … and those in the bottom 10 have a combined winning percentage of .400.
That's no accident. Three-point attempts have correlated highly with winning for the past several years.
Now, the NBA is a completely different animal where just about everyone can shoot and everyone has legitimate post players, but that's just attempts, not actually making them.
You can see the power of the three-pointer in Michigan's numbers this year, which are at right: though Michigan was well above average at making their twos and well below average at making their threes, the eFG numbers are almost identical. If Michigan was even a little less unbalanced, the torrent of threes they jacked up would be a net benefit even though the stats would say they're better at twos.
Okay, yes, this sort of analysis misses a ton of factors: drawing fouls (advantage twos), turning the ball over (advantage threes), offensive rebounds(?). Also you just can't shoot all threes. Some percentage of Michigan's threes are really good looks, and those have the best percentage. Some percentage of them are okay looks, and those have an okay percentage. And some of them are "Manny… no!" or "Stu… no!" shots that have a poor percentage. Threes Michigan didn't shoot were bad shots indeed.
But the raw data from a place where the talent is much more evenly distributed is that if you can put together a team that takes a ton of threes you will be pretty good. Jackin' it up doesn't concede defeat.
As to the 1-3-1, we have not yet seen the full annoying extent of its power, not with 5'9" point guards and 6'4" power forwards and so on and so forth. When there's one guy shorter than 6'6" on the court and they've all got long arms it becomes much more of an issue. And I disagree with Bronxblue's characterization of it. The 1-3-1 doesn't seem like a necessary response to deficient talent, it seems like a way for Beilein to run his perimeter-heavy, three-mad offense without getting crushed on the defensive end. Beilein didn't have a talent disadvantage at Cansisus or Richmond, at least not an insurmountable one, and that's where his system was developed.
Take Evan Smotrycz. He's 6'9" but a stick. He's a super tall small forward and will remain that way if Beilein has anything to do with it. If asked to check a post player in man-to-man he won't do well. He'll do better than Zach Novak, but not well. If stuck on the wing in the 1-3-1 he'll make the skip passes that are its achilles heel long, looping, fruitless things, and then Beilein gets to use a 6'9" three-point shooting small forward on the offensive end.
The 1-3-1 and the Beilein offense have synergy, which is a horrible corporate word that happens to be useful. I don't think they're responses to a lack of talent, I think they're a single way of having an unusual system that happens to be unusually efficient at basketball.
Put it this way: if Evan Smotrcyz turns out to be Dirk Nowitzki and Matt Vogrich turns out to be Kyle Korver Beilein's system isn't going to hold them back on their Final Four run.
Okay, Then, Why Did You Say This?
Michigan basically abdicated on being a powerhouse when they hired Beilein.
Because of Bob Huggins, basically. The year after Beilein left West Virginia, Huggins landed five-star Devin Ebanks, who originally committed to Indiana, seriously considered Memphis, and then ended up with Huggins. That's Kelvin Sampson, John Calipari, and a guy who had a 0.0% graduation rate at Cincinnati. He's a microcosm of why this blog has a tag called "basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich."
Yes, it is possible to have a legit powerhouse without sketchy recruiting stuff going on but it takes time and tradition; Michigan isn't starting from square one on the latter but it's not far off after ten years of crap and scandal before that. Fair or not, the last thing anyone outside the Michigan fan community remembers as a positive for the program happened in 1989, which is 1) 20 years ago and 2) before anyone we're recruiting was born. So the only way to go from zero to powerhouse was to cut corners and hire a John Calipari. We did not do this.
I've read a lot of criticisms of this position that I'd like to address, and the best way is probably through a rare-but-deadly double reverse fisk. The WLA quibbled. Now comes the thunder:
-The question appears to be “can Beilein recruit like Izzo/Matta/whoever,” and the answer is very probably not.
Frankly, if this is the case, someone better inform Beilein. Brian waves off the 2010 targets Trey Zeigler, Casey Prather, and Will Regan, but, like, why? Prather, Ray McCallum, and Zeigler are respectively the #30, #56, and #75 recruits in the nation. Brian is appropriately skeptical of Michigan’s chances with Prather, but, as shown by Beilein’s near-steal of Nate Lubick from Duke, things can happen. Regardless, given Beilein’s snag of Darius Morris from across the country, the landing of highly-praised Matt Vogrich, and Michigan’s current lead for Zeigler - arguably the state’s best player - the evidence that Beilein can’t recruit on this level just doesn’t exist, unless you care to assume that Beilein’s recruiting won’t improve from Morgantown to Ann Arbor - a theory he’s already disproven.
Okay: I know we're all excited about Beilein's highest-rated recruits ever, but Morris is #77 on Rivals, #100 on ESPN, and an unranked three-star on Scout. Vogrich is #100 on Scout, #137 on Rivals, and unranked on ESPN. Those are the crown jewels of the class.
According to Rivals, the following Big Ten teams have two players rated higher than Michigan's two best in the 2009 class (ie: one higher than Morris, one higher than Vogrich): Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota. At best Michigan has the fifth ranked class in the conference, with Wisconsin and Purdue not far off.
I didn't say Beilein can't "recruit on this level"; I said he can recruit like Izzo or Matta or anyone else who can expect to regularly assemble top 25 classes. Michigan's 2009 class does not dispel this idea. By the numbers Michigan will be operating at a talent deficit relative to the conference.
He is a guy who will bring guaranteed respectability, likeable teams, and a host of tourney bids with some fun runs to the Sweet 16 or whatever. Michigan basically abdicated on being a powerhouse when they hired Beilein.”
Look - a horrible Wisconsin team made the final four in the unwatchable Dick Bennett days. George Mason made it. Eighth-seeded Villanona and NC State won championships. Flukes? Definitely.
Again the talking is orthogonal to what I am saying. Sure, Michigan can get hot in a tourney and Pittsnogle their way to a final four at some point. It can happen. It nearly did for Beilein at West Virginia. But that doesn't mean it's likely to. "Not a powerhouse" does not mean "never makes Final Four." It means "is not likely to make Final Four."
Even if we move Brian’s argument out of the Tournament and into the realm of general regular-season success, the point seems to fizzle. As mentioned ad nauseum - Beilien started a walk-on point guard and two freshmen who would have been coming of Valparaiso’s bench barring Beilein’s desperation to bring in a few players upon his arrival in Ann Arbor. This Michigan team possibly had four players that had the talent to justify significant minutes in a major conference - Harris, Sims, Grady, and Lucas-Perry, and they still garnered a #10 seed and earned a second-round game in which they gave Oklahoma a tougher game than #3 seed Syracuse. With Michigan’s best recruiting class in years on the way and the probability of at least one additional top-100 player arriving the following year, is a #2 or #3 tournament seed that far out of the question?
You're just going to have to trust me on this: yes, it is that far out of the question. Michigan vastly exceeded expectations this year but on a possession-to-possession basis they finished 50th in the Kenpom rankings, which was sixth in the conference. They were three-point jacks away from losing to three different horrible teams and missing the tourney. One Big Ten team got a 2 or 3 seed and it was Michigan State, #8 in Kenpom. There is a huge gap between Michigan's team this year and the sort of seed expectation you just threw out, and more experience plus the 2009 recruiting class only gets you halfway there.
Why Am I Bothering With All This?
It really bothers me to see evidence of people going from "I hope we make the tourney before I die" to "Now we're Duke!" This WLA sentence is why this 2000 word post exists:
Comrades, now is a time for optimism.
How did we get to a spot where making the tourney most years with a few runs to the Sweet 16 (or beyond!) isn't optimistic? Am I crazy? If Beilein does nothing more than he did at West Virginia—mid-conference finishes with consistent tourney bids, no high seeds, lots of fun in the tourney—he'll be an absolute roaring success. If there's a time to complain about Morgan instead of Appling or a stunning lack of Final Fours, it's fifteen years from now, when someone else is the coach.
Columbus has landed the 2009 APWA International Public Works Congress and Exposition, which bills itself "the best show in public works" and is possibly the hottest conference for civil-engineering-type people anywhere. Maybe. I have no idea if their claims are true. But, thanks to a reader, I am sure Columbus wasn't their first choice:
(Offer not valid if you're wearing blue, or thinking about wearing blue, or asphyxiating, in which case banner should read "COLUMBUS – IT'S MORE HAZARDOUS THAN YOU THINK!")