so much for that
The theme of 2012 recruiting for Michigan so far has been wide receivers and linemen. Forty of the (approximately) sixty-seven offers have gone to wide receivers, defensive, and offensive linemen. MGoUser umhero has been gracious enough to update the offer list here. If you'd like to go even more in depth, Rescue_Dawn has used his free time to create a recruiting map. As always, if you would like more updates from me you can head over to Twitter and folllow me @TomVH. If you have any recruiting tips or questions please email me at TomVH@MGoBlog.com.
6'6", 270 lbs.
Another recruit out in my neck of the woods, Peat has racked up offers from almost everywhere. Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame, Texas... you name the school they've offered Andrus. That offer list includes the Wolverines. Andrus returns some early interest, and wants to find out more about the program.
I definitely have interest in Michigan. Their program's prestige and just how they have consistently won over the years is definitely a plus for me. The fact that they produce great offensive linemen, and NFL guys is great too. Michigan is definitely a school I would like to get out and see. I'm going wait until all my offers come in and then go from there. I'll take some spring and summer visits then cut my list towards the end of the summer.
Peat's father played in the NFL and his brother was a Nebraska signee for the 2011 class so he has some familiarity with the process. The fact that his brother chose a team to the north says distance may not be a factor. It's too early to tell if Michigan will make the cut. They have their work cut out for them since they're competing against the world.
6'0", 209 lbs.
Orchard Lake, Michigan
Ross is probably the top prospect in the state of Michigan for the 2012 class. He has been racking up the offers lately, and recently received a verbal one from Ohio State. James and his father recently visited Ann Arbor before the Best of the Midwest combine so they could get a better feel for the new coaches. His father (also named James) told me about how that trip went.
We've been up there quite a few times, but I wanted him to meet the new staff. The staff was actually trying to get him up there as much as I was. Everything was smooth, everything they said was what he was looking for.
I'm not sure I even need to say this any more, but Greg Mattison has again left his mark on a recruit.
He fell in love with coach Mattison. I never paid attention early on to coordinators that much, but that guy was great. He was kinda funny too. He and coach Hoke broke it all open for him. We were there close to three hours just talking about football with Mattison, and more conversation with Hoke. Hoke's like a good ole boy, it was refreshing.
Besides gaining comfortability with the new coaches there were a few questions that were answered on the visit as well.
I know I read what type of defense they were going to run, and they told us it's going to be a 4-3. We run a 3-4 at Orchard Lake St. Mary's. What they want out of him is probably better for James, though. They said they want him to play WILL linebacker to emphasize his speed and have him free, a lot of blitzing, and basically let him play his game. James and the coaches saw eye to eye on that, I disagreed, but James thought that was good.
This visit did a lot for Michigan for both Mr. Ross and his son. It gave them a clear picture of how James would be used, and the people that would be coaching him as well. Mr. Ross is a Michigan fan, but has made sure he lets James make his own decision. Mr. Ross thinks that James will likely make his decision once he finds the place he feels is right.
6'6", 315 lbs.
As I mentioned last night, Dodson received a Michigan offer yesterday. He's a monster offensive lineman reporting other offers from Illinois, Michigan State, NC State, and West Virginia.
[Michigan] was definitely a school I wanted an offer from. Coach Funk was the one that offered me. He said they enjoyed watching my film and I look like a player they want at Michigan. They have a lot of tradition, and even though they haven't been playing that well lately I still have a lot of interest in them. I'm definitely going to try to make it up there for the Junior Day.
Growing up in Ohio typically means there are some ties to Ohio State, and that's true for Kyle.
How I was raised, I grew up a Buckeye fan and not liking Michigan. Now that I'm more mature and I'm looking at schools it's completely different. This is my decision, and it's going to be my choice so all that stuff goes out the window. I'm first looking at academics, because I want to major in criminal justice, second a family based football team, and third the environment and surroundings.
Dodson is planning on taking a trip to Ohio State soon, and could see an offer soon from the Buckeyes. He's also getting attention from Auburn, Oregon, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.
A Few Names to Watch:
Illinois DT Jaleel Johnson (6'2", 277 lbs) is expecting a Michigan offer in the next two weeks, and told me he will definitely be at the Junior Day.
Georgia DT Jordan Watkins (6'5", 260 lbs) is hoping to hear from Michigan. Watkins has a 3.66 GPA and offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Miami to name a few. His film is here.
New York DB Wayne Morgan (5'11", 188 lbs) just received an offer from Alabama. His high school DB coach told me has interest in Michigan. Here are his sophomore highlights, junior film should be done this week.
Cali DT Ellis McCarthy (6'4", 310 lbs) his coach tells me Michigan is interested and has his film. He's extremely athletic for his size, quick, and goes whistle to whistle. Junior film is here.
Texas DE Mario Edwards (6'4", 260 lbs) already has big time offers and has had contact with Michigan, according to his coach. His coach also told me they've produced NFL talent before and Mario might be better than all of them. Mario's dad also played for the Dallas Cowboys. Junior Film.
- Illinois OL Jordan Diamond took in an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, and told me how that went.
- Michigan DE Matt Godin was offered by Michigan and will be back up to Ann Arbor on Tuesday with his dad to talk to the coaches. He and Danny O'Brien give an update on where they're at here.
- Georgia DE Jordan Jenkins, Cali WR Jordan Payton and OL Jordan Simmons were all offered.
- Offensive linemen Kyle Murphy and Tyler Alt gave me an update on where they're at.
- Detroit OL Daron Brown (6'5", 310 lbs) took an unofficial visit to Michigan hoping for an offer. He told me he didn't get the offer, but the coaches told him they were definitely interested.
UPDATE: Part II lives here.
California, Texas, Florida: these are the Big Three states for college football recruiting. No. 4: Ohio. Yet unlike other talent-rich states, the Cradle of (generally bad) Presidents lets little of it escape, despite having just one major college program within those borders. Virtually alone among schools that can penetrate those borders, Michigan has long made Ohio not just its natural enemy but also its favorite resource for out-of-state talent.
Ohio blood ran through the veins of Woodson, of Desmond, and of course Bo, as well as hundreds of other legends associated with the University of Michigan. Furthermore, every highly rated recruit stolen from the State of Ohio's borders has been less guy in the pool for Ohio State.
I realized the other day that when I heard a recruit was from a program in Ohio, I couldn't visualize what that meant. Is that school near Toledo, where kids are as liable to grow up Maize and Blue as Scarlet and Gray? Or did we pull them directly away from the Columbus area? What about Cleveland? Do players from Cincinnati tend to head south to the SEC more than other Ohioans? Some of our readers and staff are certifiable Ohio prep experts, but I'm not.
So I split up the state into 7 regions, then went over the 4- and 5-stars since 2002 (based on Rivals.com) to see if there's a regional difference in how Michigan recruits, and also if there are any opportunities I can see where the Wolverines could do better. Ultimately, my hope is that this could serve as reference for future discussions of Michigan's Ohio recruiting. If you're really interested in this stuff, ScoutingOhio.com is a recruiting site devoted to it.
For our purposes, I did like Tim and counted Notre Dame as a Big Ten school. For those of you who know more about this stuff than I do, I very much welcome your criticism and suggestions – I'm sure I've missed something, and plan to edit it as omissions or mistakes become apparent. By "2012 Prospects" I mean "mentioned on main page of MGoBlog this month." Spreadsheet lives here.
UPDATE: Right, so immediately after I posted this, Rescue_Dawn put out his latest recruiting map. Use together.
Note: I think he's got Ifeadi Odenigbo in the wrong Centerville. Also: lol at states that have three towns called Centerville.
Notes before you start: Figures given are for 4- and 5-star recruits from 2002 through 2011, based on Rivals. "5-Star Recruits" are those given 6.1 on Rivals Scale, if available. Current and former Wolverines include all recruits I could remember or find because a good way to get the blue chips interested in your school is to have their old teammates come and have a good experience there. Conferences without a percentage in the Conf. Breakdown got one guy.
Notes so you don't complain about arbitrary regional divisions: Where the "Steel Corridor" is separated is up for debate: I put Cleveland and Akron together as I might include Ann Arbor as part of Detroit, and made a separate region for Wayne County, Canton, Warren and Youngstown. I made the cutoffs based on regional dialect, which I felt reflected cultural differences between Cleveland/Akron/Elyria, which are Lake Erie oriented, and Canton/ Warren/ Youngstown, etc., where you start getting a Pennsylvanian orientation. The OHSAA Div. 1 map is of no help since it puts Youngstown and the Cleveland schools in one division so the Massillon and Canton schools can be together. In the southwest, Cincy (with its own cultural image) is separated from Dayton, which though an hour's drive away is more aligned with the areas you pass when heading down I-75 after Findlay (the US-23 towns counted for Columbus).
Northwest Ohio: 7 Players, 28.6% Ohio State
The region closest to Michigan is naturally split between those two programs, with a third going elsewhere. In this part of Ohio, it's almost expected that grade school classes, families, and towns would be bitterly divided between Michigan and Ohio State. Being Ground Zero for the biggest rivalry in American sports, unsurprisingly a lot of highly rated recruits end up at a Big Ten school, and almost two thirds at M or OSU. The Toledo (e.g. Whitmer) area mostly dominates the region, with Maumee, Perrysburg, and Bowling Green all nearby. Wauseon is a middle-of-nowhere program that's easy to get to from Ann Arbor and just about nowhere else. Once past Findlay, the further down I-75 you get, the more Buckeye the territory becomes. Farm towns near Lima like Delphos (St. Johns) and Kenton have successful programs that pump out 2- and 3-stars but few blue chips. The Sandusky-Fremont rivalry lives here. There isn't much more the Wolverines can do here that we aren't doing already. However this year the region seems to be stronger than previous years, with at least three prospects expected to be 4-stars or higher.
- Current Wolverines: Kevin Koger, Elliott Mealer, Greg Brown, Jack Miller
- 2012 Prospects: DE Chris Wormley (Toledo-Whitmer), QB Maty Mauk (Kenton), QB Tyler O'Connor (Lima)
- Former Wolverines: Willis Barringer
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Toledo (Whitmer), Wauseon, Delphos, Kenton
- FBS Schools in Region: Toledo (MAC), Bowling Green (MAC)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Michigan (Big Ten), Ohio State (Big Ten), Notre Dame (Ind.), Miami-OH (MAC), Eastern Michigan (MAC), Kent State (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Fred Davis (USC)
- Conference Breakdown: 71.4% Big Ten (Pac Ten, ACC)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 2, Michigan 2, Notre Dame 0
The Dayton region and areas north of it are much like Indiana which borders it. More basketball than football stars have come out of the area. The Trotwood-Madison pipeline (Shaw, 'Tree, Moore) has helped Michigan, but Ohio State dominates the area with strong ties to Northmont in Clayton, and Wayne HS in Huber Heights. That last is a football factory which has sent a few kids to Michigan State recently, and most recently supplied Michigan with the Talbotts. Wayne fed Braxton Miller, Donnie Evege and Marcus Freeman to Ohio State, so establishing a strong connection there could be an opportunity to make some headway against the Buckeyes.
It should help that our new head coach is himself from Dayton. Mid-power programs from Middletown, Centerville, and SmackdabintheCenteroftheMedialofMiddlecity (We're from Middle!) would be a good place to start.
- Current Wolverines: Michael Shaw, Brandon Moore, Roy Roundtree, Terrence Talbott, Terry Talbott
- 2012 Prospects: S Bam Bradley (Trotwood-Madison), OL Benny McGowan and DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (Centerville), CB Cody Quinn (Middletown)
- Former Wolverines: Brandon Harrison
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Trotwood-Madison, Centerville, Kettering (Archbishop Alter), Middletown, Springfield, Dayton, Clayton, Huber Heights (Wayne)
- FBS Schools in Region: Miami-Ohio (MAC)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Cincinnati (Big East), Ball State (MAC), Bowling Green (MAC), Toledo (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: (none)
- Conference Breakdown: 82.6% Big Ten, 8.7% Big East (SEC, ACC)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 14, Michigan 4, Notre Dame 0
Cincinnati/Southwest: 26 Players, 26.9% Ohio State
Cincinnati is located on the river across from Kentucky. Other than the stopover for Midwest head coaches in town, the closest BCS school is actually Louisville. Tressel made a point of trying to improve OSU's notoriously mediocre recruiting in the region, but it's still the least Buckeye-ical part of the state. Notre Dame and Boston College have longtime pipelines out of the Cincy-area Catholic schools Elder and St. Xavier. Colerain (Mister Simpson, Cobrani Mixon) popped out a lot of talent in the middle of the last decade. A lot of Cincy blue chips have headed to SEC schools like Tennessee, LSU, and Kentucky. Those that haven't (e.g. Greg Jones of MSU) have a tendency to outperform their ratings. Very few 4- and 5-stars end up playing for the hometown Bearcats. There's room to improve, particularly by following Dantonio into his old stomping grounds and offering the same guys.
- Current Wolverines: Antonio Poole, Jibreel Black
- 2012 Prospects: WR Dwayne Stanford (Taft), WR Monty Madaris (Moeller), OL Caleb Stacey (Oak Hills), DE Ryan Leahy (La Salle)
- Former Wolverines: Cobrani Mixon, Mister Simpson
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Cincinnati (La Salle, Taft, Princeton, Colerain, St. Xavier, Moeller, Winton Woods, Oak Hills), Lakota West, and Hamilton
- FBS Schools in Region: Cincinnati (Big East)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Miami-OH (MAC), Louisville (Big East), Ball State (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Kyle Rudolph (Notre Dame), DeVier Posey (Ohio State), Jordan Hicks (Texas), Spencer Ware (LSU), Ben Martin (Tennessee)
- Conference Breakdown: 57.7% Big Ten, 19.2% SEC, 11.5% ACC, 7.7% Big East (Big XII)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 6, Notre Dame 4, Michigan 1
Central Ohio: 20 Players, 45% Ohio State
You would think that the region closest to Ohio Stadium would send the most players to Ohio State. Yet for many who grow up in Columbus and the surrounding environs (Ohioans call these "corps" for some reason), when it comes to signing their L.O.I.s, they choose to follow Marcus Ray the hell out of Dodge. This is called the "Buckeye Proximity Effect," where by growing up in constant contact with the worst fan-base on the planet (that doesn't have self-proclaimed "hooligans") half of Columbians will give in and join them, and the other half will leave the moment the opportunity presents itself. The Buckeye Proximity Effect accounts for half of the 4- and 5-stars produced in Central Ohio not signing with Ohio State. Of course, since few in Columbus ever learn there's something else other than Buckeye football out there until college, a whopping 87.5% stay in the Big Ten, giving them an opportunity once a year to come back and try to convince friends and loved ones to leave the cult. Notre Dame pulled 2006 Heisman candidate Brady Quinn out of enemy territory, for example.
Michigan has had success, mostly in turning up diamonds among the "Corps" off the beaten path (most recently: Omameh, Avery). A full-scale invasion into the heart of enemy territory is certainly doable, as myriad 4-star signings with MSU, Illinois, Wisconsin and Notre Dame attest. Michigan has traditionally done well stealing away some 3-stars spurned by the Buckeyes (Mike Boren was one such back in the day), but beating Ohio State head-to-head for the blue chips is a rare feat.
- Current Wolverines: Chris Rock, Patrick Omameh, Keith Heitzman, Courtney Avery, Tamani Carter
- 2012 Prospects: (none?)
- Former Wolverines: Justin Boren, Mark Bihl
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Pickerington (Central HS), Lancaster, Columbus (Bishop Hartley, Watterson), Hilliard-Davidson, Dublin (Coffman)
- FBS Schools in Region: Ohio State (Big Ten)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Cincinnati (Big East), Miami-OH (MAC), Bowling Green (MAC), Toledo (MAC), Kent State (MAC), Akron (MAC), Ohio (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Mike Adams (Ohio State)
- Conference Breakdown: 85% Big Ten (SEC, ACC, Big XII)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 9, Michigan 1, Notre Dame 2
Next Week: This thing was getting long, and I'm one week into a four-weekend stretch of Grand Rapids-Bachelor Party-Europe-Europe, so next week you get Part II, with Cleveland/Akron, Eastern Ohio (Massillon/Canton to Youngstown), a reminder that Southeast Ohio exists, and analysis. Onto diaries:
When You Should Fire That Guy?
In most cases, the answer isn't "before his squad plays one down."
Undefeated dream season of 1992 went back and revisited his Canning Your Coordinator piece from last December, this time by implementing FEI rankings:
For the same reasons discussed in the previous section, we'll evaluate the hypotheses based on the change in a unit's FEI rank from the previous season to the current season. And looking at our three years of data across 120 FBS teams get this:
It is far and away the Diary of the Week. It's long, and not so relevant to Michigan now that we have a new staff (e.g. ninja recruiter Mattison) but well, well, well worth the read.
The Same Thing As Mine, But Not:
I was writing this before blublooded put together a shorter, similar thing on Michigan in-state recruiting:
There has been some variation from year to year in U-M’s success in securing top in-state talent. Some attribute this variation to the head coach’s recruiting prowess, our on-field success, or the historical relationship between recruits’ high schools and U-M. The table below shows the college destination of top in-state talent by year from 2002 to 2011.
Also, airvipermb quickly profiled three Michigan Pipelines.
Catching Up on Other Sports
: MaizeAndBlueWahoo runs down PORPAG ratings for Big Ten players, plus our guys.
AceUMer gives a preview of the matchup with Michigan State.
UMDrumline does the same for Women's Tennis versus Stanford.
mfan_in_ohio does a good job of updating us on Michigan's current Pairwise situation, and includes an explanation of what that is for those perpetually confused as to how NCAA selects teams and seeds for the tournament.
(Moychendising): MGoShoe dissects the press releases on Michigan's new guru of press releases to try to figure out what the new marketing guy is going to do. Maybe a Dominos-like program of "Hey, we found out we suck; let us show you how we're going to not suck from now on?" Or maybe they'll pull the walls down at the Spring Alumni Game to reveal an actual rematch of 2006 Michigan and 2006 Ohio State? Or maybe Lochman will increase multimedia M brand advertising. Sounds like the latter, dammit.
Drive safe, MGofans. If you're bored and snowed in, why not write a diary?
|WHAT||Michigan v. Iowa|
|WHERE||Iowa City, IA|
3:30 PM CST
4:30 Real Life Time
February 19th, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan -2.5.|
|TELEVISION||BTN (Eric Collins, Tim Doyle)|
As Brian said on WTKA Thursday, the outcome of the Illinois game doesn't have a huge negative effect on the tournament chances, except it's one hell of a "lack of positive" effect. Like missing a late goal trailing in a hockey game, it's the coulda-been point where it starts feeling like the thing is really over.
Michigan is now in serious need of an RPI top-50 win, and with four games left, there are only three options: 1) Beat Wisconsin. 2) Beat Minnesota and hope they end up in the top-50. 3) Beat Michigan State and hope the Spartans end up in the top-50. As much as it hurts to cheer for Sparty, #3 would be a huge benefit, because it would give Michigan two wins over a top-50 squad, including one on the road.
Until the fat lady does her thing, this is This Most Important Game of the Year Until The Next Game. The contest of Iowa isn't necessarily a "must-win," but it's definitely a "can't-lose," and since there are only two possible outcomes, well, I guess it's a must-win if Michigan wants to keep their tournament dream alive. A loss doesn't kill it, but means it would be necessary to sweep their final three regular season games (which, I hope they plan to win this one AND sweep the final three), and/or make a conference tourney run.
Last time around, Melsahn Basabe had a coming-out party, reaching a season-high point total (25), while pulling down 8 rebounds and notching a pair of blocks. Not to be outdone, Darius Morris recorded a triple-double, and the Wolverines got the last laugh with a comfortable win in Crisler Arena.
Since then, Michigan has shown that they've snapped out of their midseason malaise, but Iowa has proven that they're no pushover (who knows how they'll react after officially losing the chance to go .500 by losing to Northwestern on Thursday). There are no easy wins in NCAA basketball's toughest conference, especially on the road. Time to earn it.
With a few games under each teams' belts, it's finally reasonable to look at the stats. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Iowa: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Iowa Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Iowa Def eFG%||65||182||MM|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Iowa eFG%||176||181||-|
|Mich TO% v. Iowa Def TO%||19||67||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. Iowa TO%||238||261||M|
|Mich OReb% v. Iowa DReb%||319||191||II|
|Mich DReb% v. Iowa OReb%||41||95||M|
|Mich FTR v. Iowa Opp FTR||342||7||IIII|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Iowa FTR||56||269||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. Iowa AdjD||54||48||-|
|Mich AdjD v. Iowa AdjO||66||140||M|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
The Wolverines dominate the tempo-free stats, and Iowa's only big advantages are in rebounding Michigan misses and not sending John Beilein's squad to the free throw line. To sum it up, Iowa has a very slight advantage on Michigan's end of the court, and Michigan has a pretty hefty advantage when they're playing D.
So I spent a lot of the Illinois preview spilling words on how Michigan had turned into a pretty good offensive team during Big Ten play, and they managed to mae me eat my words by missing EVERYTHING on Wednesday night. A lot of that came from playing the #1 eFG% defense in the Big Ten, but even the open shots just weren't falling that night.
If Stu Douglass (54.7 eFG% on the year, 22.7 against Illinois), Zack Novak (55.2 this year, 42.9 Wednesday), and Darius Morris (52.5 season, 33.3 Wednesday) can snap out of their shooting funk, Michigan should be able to roll on the road. If Jordan Morgan can keep up his excellent form of late, that's icing on the cake.
I'm willing - based on 26 other games of evidence - to believe that the shooting performance was just a really bad night, and it won't be repeated against a much worse defensive team than the Illini. Keeping Melsahn Basabe from repeating his performance from Crisler Arena will be the bigger key to this game. Ken Pomeroy likes the Hawkeyes this afternoon, but I think Michigan emerges from Carver-Hawkeye with the 70-61 victory.
Explicit Georgia. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity mentioned that his school wouldn't oversign a couple weeks ago but didn't go nearly as far as Florida's Bernie Machen, who called grayshirting and whatnot "reprehensible." You can't get away with that in the media, however, and after further questioning he laid it down:
First-year UGA athletics director Greg McGarity is strongly opposed to the practice of oversigning football prospects and in favor of legislation to help curtail such activity among SEC institutions.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” McGarity told Dawgs247 this week … According to McGarity, “I think it will be a topic for discussion (at SEC meetings) in Destin this year.”
“I think you will see controls in place,” McGarity said. “Now what that model will look like will be determined later — sooner than later. … I think you’ll see it being dealt with at the conference level much like the Big Ten (Conference) deals with it currently.”
Wow: someone in the SEC suggesting the Big Ten model in anything is worthwhile. Mike Slive is squinting at whichever wall faces the general direction of Athens right now, trying to burn a hole through it with his mind.
Get The Picture suggests that McGarity's optimism that something will get done is probably foolish since eight SEC schools have a vested interest in the ability to "sign half the world in February." He's right, but adding a second SEC athletic director to the chorus of people saying Something Must Be Done is getting close to critical mass. If the SEC isn't willing to do something about it, maybe the NCAA will.
In conclusion, the SEC is a terrible basketball conference.
Excellent decision. Score one for Brady Hoke:
"I'm not a big fan (of Twitter) at all," he said.
Asked if he would join other "cool" coaches who maintain Twitter accounts to keep fans abreast of what's happening in their program, Hoke said he won't join in.
"I'm not cool," he said. "I've never tried to be cool."
No coach* who has tried to be cool on twitter has succeeded in making their exclamation-filled (or, in the case of Charlie Weis, sober, book-length-Bon-Jovi-concert-memoir-filled) twitter account anything better than mildly embarrassing. If you don't speak the language it's better not to try.
*[Head coach. Assistants are fine. Bacari Alexander's cult of #HALOL is going swimmingly.]
Mount Godin settles down. It's a long time until Tim's next recruiting update so a small update on MI DT Matt Godin, who said something to the effect that he was "done with Michigan" in an article on Rivals. Godin immediately sought to clarify/explain/disclaim the quote with Tom. His brother signed up* here to explain, as well:
Matthew is a very competitive person, and he is frustrated because the new staff has not shown any interest in him despite the fact that he is regularly hearing from many other top programs.
Knowing Matthew's personality, I specifically told him not to say anything negative about any school because I knew some of the reporters would try to elicit such comments. I am very frustrated and disappointed that he did not heed my advice, but he has tried to rectify the situation as best he can by clarifying things with Tom. My parents, my sisters and I have all spoken with Matthew today, and we are disappointed in his lack of maturity and composure.
Each day, Matthew is asked my fellow students at school why Michigan has not offered him, and he constantly has correspondents from recruiting websites asking him about the issue. I can see why he is frustrated, but I do not condone his behavior.
Matthew's dream is to play college football, and he has been a UM fan since he was a child. Both my father and my sister graduated from UM, and I am currently finishing medical school at the University of Michigan. We would love to see Michigan offer him. However, if the coaching staff does not find him to be a good fit, then it's not meant to be. He is extremely blessed to have his current offers, and I know that he will excel wherever he goes. Go blue!
Godin already has Northwestern and Michigan State offers, so there's a good chance that if he's patient the coaches will offer him.
*[His email address checks out in the UM directory, FWIW.]
Bill Simmons image rehab: complete? Hey, remember three years ago when everyone hated Bill Simmons? I spent some time echoing the zeitgeist so I could say he's still way better than Drew Sharp in 2008. It's not like I didn't understand why people were turning on him—even my defense was maybe two-thirds-hearted. The backlash was met with mild push-back along the lines of what I wrote and it seemed that everyone had settled on the idea that Simmons was old and tired and had lost his fastball.
Then he organized and produced 30 for 30, a series that probably claims 30 of the top 50 sports documentaries of all time. He did this on ESPN, a channel that thinks Stephen A. Smith is a good idea to re(!)-hire. Now even people who blame him for all the Affleck movies about Boston* have to admit that The Two Escobars was awesome and The Ocho seems like way less of a bad idea than it did five years ago.
Presenting sort of the Ocho:
ESPN Gives Web Star Bill Simmons His Own Site
by Peter Kafka
Here’s Bill Simmons’ reward for sticking with ESPN: His own piece of turf, where the star columnist/multimedia experimenter can cultivate a new sports/pop culture site.
Simmons already has his own page on ESPN.com, but this is something much more ambitious, with a dedicated staff and a roster of contributing writers. If you were in Web publishing, you might call it a “vertical”. The rest of you might call it a digital magazine.
He's hiring 8-12 people and the thing sounds like something totally different than a newspaper—the sort of thing Fanhouse probably should have been. Klosterman is on board. It's described as a "sports/literary" website, which kind of sounds like The Run Of Play with more Karate Kid and fewer Baudrillard references. Quickish—the new thing Dan Shanoff is doing—has more details and analysis. He's enthusiastic about it. So am I.
Detroit City. (This is irrelevant but one of the Michigan Ultras posted in the comments so there's your tangent.) The Lions In Winter has a great post with lots of original reporting about the guys who bought the Silverdome and are trying to bring an MLS team to Detroit. Their plans are outlandish. I really hope they come off.
There is discussion of a name in the comments; my two cents: it must be Detroit City, and the crest should be a rock, and people should abbreviate them "DRC," and nothing else is acceptable. Here's this thing you can sign on the internet:
Comments that uselessly say soccer sucks will be met by hellacious point drainage.
[Ed: Tim has also started a lax blog covering anything and everything in-state. Hit it up if you're part of the burgeoning lacrosse community.]
Giving the latest on the Michigan Men's Lacrosse Team.
The Wolverines have been pristine in their spring scrimmages over the past couple years, so to see a loss to Division-1 Bellarmine by a big score may be troubling, especially since the Wolverines bested the same squad last season. Howeva, Michigan was not at full strength and Bellarmine is probably a bit stronger than they were last year.
The Wolverines rebounded by knocking of D-3 Wittenberg by a 13-9 score. It may be a product of the competition, but they looked much stronger in this game despite still not being at full strength. I took some photos at the game, so enjoy a gallery:
The above-inked site is a little side project I just started working on, so I encourage you to check it out if you're interested in lacrosse.
In the final scrimmage, Michigan was as close to full strength as they have been all spring - the MCLA's best defensive player, Harrison Freid, had missed the previous two contests. The Wolverines raced out to a big 12-0 lead at halftime before emptying the bench and taking down Kenyon College 15-6. I only caught the second half thanks to the basketball team's win over Indiana, so no real thoughts on the performance.
As for the team on the whole, it's going to be what we expected. They'll struggle on faceoffs like they have at no point during the current run of MCLA dominance ("struggling" here meaning "not winning 60-70% of draws"), but the offense and defense are likely to be among the best we've seen in Ann Arbor. It's even possible that we'll see a more wide-open offense from the Wolverines this fall.
First Two Weeks: A Preview
In a departure from the standard schedule, Michigan opens up at home against Florida before embarking on their annual spring break road trip. The trip is usually their chance to play multiple top-level non-conference opponents over the course of a week, and boost the schedule difficulty.
Since the Gators are up first, I'll spend a little bit more time previewing the game against Florida. The game takes places this Saturday at 7PM in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse.
The Gators made the MCLA National Tournament last year as a 12 seed, bowing out to Minnesota-Duluth 12-6 in the opening round. This year, they've started strong by pasting fellow South East Lacrosse Conference opponents Miami (YTM) and South Florida by a combined 30-13 score. They also had a tuneup against MCLA D-2 squad Palm Beach Atlantic last weekend. This all means that the Gators will be much closer to mid-season form than will the Wolverines, but is that enough to get a road win where Michigan hasn't lost since 2007?
The Gators lost their four leading scorers from last year in Ryan Akin (2nd Team All-American), Alex Cervasio, Kyle Beckman (3rd Team All-American), and David Rule. That quartet combined to average 13.5 points per game in 2010, and the Gators need to replace that production. Junior attack William Buch, senior midfielder Ben Salo, and sophomore midfielder CJ Casselli have stepped up to fill that void, but they are untested against the top teams in the country.
The Gators have impressed on faceoffs early in the season, winning 27/36 (.750), and since that's an area of weakness for Michigan, we'll find out soon if Florida's success is based solely on level of competition. As noted above, Michigan's faceoffs have been inconsistent throughout the preseason.
Josh Hagerman from UMGoBlog previews the game, and talks to former Wolverine captain (now Florida assistant coach) Michael Bartomioli. The whole thing is worth reading, and Barto even gives a couple (homer) predictions:
14-13 Florida in OT or 13-10 Michigan… first one as a Florida coach, second one as a former U of M player.
Josh also talks to Florida's head coach, and makes a couple predictions of his own (including - I shit you not - evoking the "SEC SPEED" meme, which caused a unicorn to die, no doubt).
I would guess that Michigan gets a competitive game, but ultimately a comfortable win. SELC teams have yet to prove themselves on the biggest stage and aside from the MCLA Tournament playing on the road at Michigan is as big as it gets.
Once they hit the road, Michigan will face Oregon at a neutral site in Los Angeles. The two played a neutral-site thriller in Dallas last season as Michigan came away with a 5-4 win in overtime. They made the MCLA Tournament, falling 9-8 to Colorado in the first round. However, the Ducks may not be quite the team they were last year, as they've started their season 0-2, including a 10-2 pasting by Cal.
The Ducks only lost a couple members of their scoring arsenal from last year, so their inability to score goals early in the season is a surprise, especially with Honorable Mention All-American Kevin Clark still in the fold. It's possible they snap out of it once they get into the swing of the season, or they may just be in for a down year.
They have the same goaltending contingent as last year (including 3rd Team All-American Nick Johnston), and have plenty of returning players in their defensive unit (3rd Team All-American Steven Brizie among them), so they are probably going to try to hold it together on the defensive end while they figure out their problems scoring.
The Lions missed the MCLA Tournament last year despite a solid 13-5 record, as they lost to Chapman in their conference tournament. They were a strong defensive team last year with occasional bursts of offensive firepower. So far this season, they've knocked off San Diego State 9-3 and will play three more games before they face Michigan.
2nd-Team All-American Alec Paul was far and away the Lions' leading scorer in 2010, but he's graduated. That leaves the magnificently-named Magnus Karlsson to carry the scoring mantle, along with fellow midfielder Travis Abraham and attack Chase Parlett. Sophomore midfielder Nolan Smith and attack Max Zeff were the big scorers against San Diego State, so we'll see if that production holds up over the course of the season.
LMU is breaking in a pair of new goalies this season, so if a team can break down their defense (especially early in the year), they should be able to beat the netminder as well. That should be no easy task, of course, as the defensive unit is senior-laden, including 3rd Team All-American Marc Napp.
Even those who aren't familiar with lacrosse may have heard of Connor Martin a.k.a. ConBroChill, likely the biggest celebrity among MCLA players all-time. Argue all you want about the negative impact his videos may have on the lacrosse community, but there's no denying Martin was a great player, as only the second MCLA athlete to be drafted by Major League Lacrosse. With him out the door (along with midfielder Blake Whitcomb, a 3rd Team All-American), Chapman's offense takes a big hit.
Andrew Clayton (HM All-American) and William Morrison should be the team's new offensive leaders, but it's the defense that should carry this team. Andrew Salcido and Spencer Halvorsen were 2nd-Team All-Americans last year, and LSM Matt Walrath earned an Honorable Mention.
Thankfully, Chapman lost their faceoff specialist from last year, as Chris Small was a 2nd-Team All-American last year, and Michigan would prboably get destroyed by him if he was still around this year.
After their road trip, Michigan opens up conference play with a healthy drive down to Athens, Ohio to face Ohio University. Since they're a first-year MCLA program, it's hard to know a whole lot about the team at this point in the year. I'll preview that game (and review the spring break trip) when the time approaches.
A third senior leader has been added to Michigan's contingent of captains. LSM Matt Asperheim joins Attack Trevor Yealy and Harrison Freid, and though he doesn't have as many honors (Yealy and Freid are both multiple-year 1st-Team All-Americans), may be just as important to the team's success as a good defensive player who can go forward with the ball in his stick.
The Men's and Women's lacrosse teams joined forced to participate in Wednesday's Mock Rock event, performing a couple dances from Grease:
|WHAT||WMU @ Michigan|
|WHERE||Yost Ice Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||7:35 PM Fri/Sat|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday: Comcast Local
(Friday replay: noon
Sat on NHL Network)
hey, baby, what do you say we go back to my place and become not terrible at hockey?
Record. 15-7-10, 9-6-9 CCHA. The Broncos fired Jim Culhane in the offseason and, like Notre Dame after firing Dave Poulin, immediately got a lot better after canning their long-term incompetent. After years and years of hanging out in the basement with Bowling Green with one of the nation's worst goals against average, the tie-happy Broncos are in a tier by themselves after conference leaders Michigan, Notre Dame, and Miami. They're the only team other than those three to have a positive goal differential in conference(+9). They're fourth in conference, three points clear of Ferris and six clear of the massive pack of basically .500 teams.
Of course, that might have something to do with the Broncos insanely back-loaded schedule: their last three weekends are against Michigan, Miami, and Notre Dame with five of six on the road. Last weekend was the Miami series, in which Western got a tie and a loss.
Previous meetings. No meetings this year. If you're looking for a gauge of how they've done against Michigan-esque competition, WMU swept ECAC power Union, split an earlier home and home with Notre Dame, and is 0-2-2 against Miami. They are dangerous.
Dangermen. There isn't a ton of danger on the roster, but senior center Max Campbell has 13-12-25 against just four penalties and freshman Chase Balisy has 11-16-27 against just four. After those guys it's an array of players with seven or fewer goals.
Unlike Michigan's last few opponents, Western does have a threat from the blueline in sophomore D Matt Tennyson. Tennyson has 7-9-16 and will be someone to look out for on the power play, where he's scored six of his goals. That leads the team.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. The fruits of firing Jim Culhane in one handy table, this detailing the career of starting goaltender Jerry Kuhn:
Kuhn is a 24-year old who has scuffled along doing not much over the course of his career as Riley Gill's backup.Gill was talented, but by the end of the year he'd been covered in enough rubber to [ANALOGY REDACTED] as WMU slid towards an eight-win season. This year Kuhn started on the bench behind Nick Pisellini, a Quinnipiac transfer, until he struggled and got injured, allowing Kuhn to Hunwick his way into the starting lineup.
So here's the thing about WMU: Pisinelli has a horrible .899 save percentage. Gill had a very good .923. Pisinelli's GAA is a half-goal better than Gill's was last year. Kuhn's 2.09 is on pace to set an all-time record for WMU as the Broncos—of all teams!—have cracked the top ten in scoring defense despite getting half of their goaltending from last year's version of Bryan Hogan. Jeff Blashill should be a slam-dunk CCHA coach of the year*.
Also you should regard the Bronco defense corps with respect no matter how alien this is. Their best guy is sophomore Luke Witkowski, a Lightning draftee (sixth round) who leads the team in +/- with +12 and penalty minutes with 46 (all minors). He's a big thumping stay-at-home sort who keeps a live bass in his room and has an outstanding hockey mullet. Watch to see if WMU tries to match him up with anyone in particular.
*[Culhane's best-ever CCHA finish in 11 years: fifth. Winning seasons: three. Last year: 8-20-8, 4-17-4 CCHA]
Special teams. This is another Blashill miracle:
|PP For / G||4.7||4.3|
|PP Ag / G||4.2||4.5|
Western never has an advantage in power plays. Unfortunately for the Broncos they're not doing much with that advantage. They've got the 42nd-ranked power play—actually worse than Michigan's—and their penalty kill is slightly below average. The two teams are tied at 81.2 percent. This looks like a push, with Michigan's slightly less depressing power play cancelling out Western's probability of getting more PP time.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Prepare for more of the same. This looks like another grind it out weekend where the newly assembled checking-plus-Scooter-domination line matches up against the team's top threats and hopefully allows the two scoring lines to outpace Western's second and third lines. Earlier in the year Balisy and Campbell weren't on the same line, but I can't find anything recent and assume that they're on the same one now. If not, the Hagelin line will probably match up with WMU's secondary scoring line.
Outscore with Moffatt/Wohlberg/Treais. They've been playing pretty well and they'll be up against bottom-six guys from Western. Michigan's main advantage is this line on the ice five-on-five.
DEFLECTIONS TO GLORY. What the bold said.
The Big Picture
The top of the CCHA is mired in a three-way tie for ninth in the Pairwise that Notre Dame wins on tiebreakers. Michigan can split their final four and enter the CCHA playoffs still in the at-large zone but it'll be scary if they do so. Winning three will at least see them tread water, and they'll enter the CCHA tourney a solid two seed if they get all four.
In other games, you should root hard for Ohio State and Lake Superior, both of whom are just below the new, stupid TUC cliff. Problem: they play each other this weekend. Lake Superior follows that up with Miami. OSU gets Ferris State. Since getting Lake State over the hump seems impossible, hold your nose and root for the Buckeyes. Getting that 3-1 record back in Michigan's TUC calculations would be big. Also root against MSU this weekend as they take on Alaska—Michigan does not want the Spartans sweeping their final four and entering the CCHA tourney with a shot at a .500 RPI. MSU closes with awful BGSU and will get to the magic number by winning their final four games.
The "usual root against anyone in Michigan's proximity" also applies: UNH, ND, UNO, UMD, Wisconsin, etc.
Rock Mocked. Are you up for some uncomfortable fun made at Tate Forcier's expense?
That's the hockey team's Mock Rock thing. The marching band won with the football team in second, says AnnArbor.com's Jeff Arnold in an article that emits the faint whiff of sarcasm. Selected highlights:
The band registered a string of six perfect 10.0 scores following a flawlessly choreographed routine … The two top finishes pulled away from the pack of other performances that ranged from the ridiculously creative Pokemon (men's and women's lacrosse) to the wildly entertaining "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (men's swimming); an act that ended in a speedo-inspired tribute to Michael Jackson.
Generic overwritten newspaperese or bitterness at drawing the short straw? We'll never know. I have no idea if the thing was actually entertaining or not since I was watching the basketball game.
In related news, here's an autotuned David Moosman snorting his phone.
Morris benching explained. You were probably saying something along the lines of "aaargh where Morris" with nine minutes left in the game. Even if he had done something wrong he was sitting on seven assists and one turnover at the time—he wasn't exactly a loose cannon. In the aftermath both Beilein and Morris are saying it was nothing except fatigue:
“I caught my breath,” Morris said. “They did a good job of pressuring the ball, and I was guarding McCamey as well. The coaches noticed I got a little bit tired and then when they took me out, we got on a little run before they separated again, but I felt rejuvenated when I came back in the game.
“It was the most rest I’ve gotten.”
Nothing to see here. /barbrady
Draft incoherence. The rejuvenated Bylaw Blog is admirably willing to say certain NCAA regulations don't make any sense, whether it's the NLI or the NCAA's willingness to let drafted kids play as long as they're not basketball (or I guess football) pplayers:
it is a violation to go through a draft if you decided you want to be in it. But it isn’t a violation in some cases if you are drafted and then attempt to negotiate the greatest possible compensation for your athletic skills. And it isn’t a violation to attempt that negotiation in order to enter the draft.
The fact that this is unfair to some student-athletes is secondary. Most important is that entering a professional draft is not sufficient evidence that you want to give up your collegiate eligibility. Entering a draft and deciding any contract offered would not be worth leaving college is no more or less an indication of a student-athlete’s intent to professionalize themselves than deciding a contract offer is not sufficient to leave college and enter the draft in the first place.
I'm not sure what harm would be done by allowing NBA teams to draft underclassmen, work them out at camps and whatnot, have them play summer league, and then send them back to school. Players wouldn't have a do-or-die decision to go pro or not and talented players might stick around another year or two. You'd also get some extra interest from NBA fans tracking their prospects.
That post also contains a discussion about NCAA president Mark Emmert's recent "over my dead body" statement about paying players. These things kind of go hand-in-hand. If paying players is a bridge too far I don't see why the NCAA can't allow players to sign with an agent or take some non-ludicrous amount of money from a pro team that's drafted them. Right now a major source of NCAA corruption comes from agents funneling money to players in the hopes of signing them; allowing kids to sign and take a bit of money wouldn't increase the amount of compensation they're getting.
Amateurism is all well and good if you can actually enforce it. If you can't—and it seems pretty clear that's the case—you should probably repeal Prohibition, make some reasonable concessions, and make your setup a little bit less hypocritical without actually spending any money yourself.
Morons on the loose, except no longer loose. You have probably heard that someone poisoned Auburn's trees at Toomer's Corner, then called into the Finebaum show to brag about it. The Auburn folk I follow on twitter and in my RSS feed spent yesterday pointedly not advocating the wholesale destruction of Tuscaloosa, which proves they're better people than I am. I'd be on the warpath. Here he is:
He was rapidly arrested because he is named "Harvey Almorn Updike" and lives in Dadeville—a town of approximately four people I drove through once en route to the Auburn-LSU game I attended—and told the radio he was "Al from Dadeville." This goes here.
Unfortunately, it's too late for this incident to remove his genes from the pool—he's got kids named "Bear" and "Crimson."
Q: is this literally the worst possible thing a single fan could do to a rival fanbase? I think so. I can't think of another tradition that's so treasured and so vulnerable. You could cut off Bear Bryant's head* and they'd just put a new one on. It's metal. You could kill Uga, but Uga dies every year and they just keep making new ones. The trees are unique: iconic symbols of the university that can expire but don't do it on the regular.
The worst thing is it's not even clever. Boo, Alabama man. Boo.
Etc.: Grant Wahl is running for FIFA president. He's got my nonexistent unimportant vote. More on the first of the 30-for-30 style documentaries about Michigan football. Hockey's senior day is Saturday—a rare opportunity for students to be there. Yost fluff.
Buchtel High School is home to two big time prospects and good friends in WR Corey Smith and DB Jarrod Wilson. Both are Ohio kids who just happen to be playing for former Michigan running back Ricky Powers. Both of them are starting to pick up some momentum in their recruitment, and Corey talked to me about the latest with Michigan.
TOM: What have the coaches told you about an offer? Are they planning on offering you?
COREY: Jarrod [Wilson] got his offer today, and I talked to Coach Mattison and he wants to sit down with me and talk about everything before they offer. He wants to talk with me about whether I fit on offense or defense, and then we'll talk about an offer.
TOM: When are you guys going to sit down and talk?
COREY: I'm going up there Sunday [for the Best of the Midwest combine] and I'm going to try to stay an extra day, stay until Monday to meet with them. Jarrod will be up there, too.
TOM: What are your plans with your recruitment. You and Jarrod seem close, are you guys trying to go to the same school?
COREY: We're going to the same school, 100%. I don't know where we're going yet, but we're going to the same school.
TOM: How does Michigan play into that?
COREY: We both have very high interest in Michigan. Michigan is definitely in the top 10 with Ohio State, Tennessee, MSU, Nebraska, Georgia, North Carolina, Penn State, Illinois, and UCLA.
TOM: I know your coach is former Michigan player Ricky Powers, what has he told you about Michigan?
COREY: Coach likes to joke and say you lose your emotions when you go up there, you can't control your emotions. I went up there last year for the Michigan State game, so I've been there before.
TOM: How do you see your recruitment playing out? Are you guys going to wait to make your decision?
COREY: Yeah, we're probably going to wait until the Under Armour All American game to announce.
2/16/2011 – Michigan 52, Illinois 54 – 16-11, 6-8 Big Ten
Bear with me: if Michigan's basketball season was a hockey game, last night's basketball game was a really good scoring chance blown when you're down one with five minutes left. At that point you write the game off, because that was it. Objectively, your chance of winning hasn't changed much, if at all, but it feels like a door just closed.
Michigan's NCAA tournament hopes aren't much worse than they were 24 hours ago. Since Kenpom loves Illinois and Michigan outperformed expectations, its season prediction hardly moved. The evaporation of Michigan's 16% chance of winning in Champaign was made up for by significant positive moves in Michigan's four remaining games. But if Michigan's watching the NCAA selection show with a jaundiced eye, thinking about what could of been, they'll be thinking about ball after ball clanging off rims in Assembly Hall.
God, did anyone else scream horrible profanity at the world in general at that point in the second half when Zack Novak set up for yet another wide open three pointer that bashed the front of the rim? It's one thing if Michigan's firing awkward, contested threes deep in the shot clock and another when open look after open look isn't even close to going down. What's Stu Douglass—before yesterday a 40% three point shooter—supposed to do when he's standing still with the ball in his hand and no Illinois player within three feet? Shoot. He shoots, and this goes horribly, and Michigan still almost pulls off a statement win* and we're left to wonder what would have happened if they had just been miserable from three instead of abominable.
And then there's this: 4-28. That's what Michigan shot against Kansas in a game that went to overtime. Sometimes basketball makes you want to punch a wall even when you're in the bonus on the road with 14 minutes left in the half.
In the long view Michigan exceeded expectations again, if slightly, and has managed to stay in games even when threes aren't available or falling. Hope for next year increments slightly again. Right now, argh.
*[Statement is "hey, seriously guys we're on the bubble, seriously." That qualifies for the 335th-most experienced team in D-I]
Non-bullets that do not go in at all ever
Bruce Weber: not so much. That was a terribly coached basketball team that let Michigan hang around despite their inability to throw the ball in Tim Doyle's bad nickname repository by making inane turnovers and taking terrible shots. I'd be pretty upset if I was an Illinois fan. They are huge, veteran, talented, and headed for a second-round matchup with a one-seed.
Tim Doyle: not entirely horrible. I still cringe at "The Butterfly" and believe we should start calling Doyle "The Argyle Sock" in retaliation, but after listening to Stephen Bardo fire out two hours of inane cliches I appreciate Doyle a bit more. Anyone wondering what the hell Michigan could do to stop Tisdale from catching the ball two inches from the basket got some great analysis when Doyle pointed out that Zack Novak was way too far from the guy throwing the entry pass—far enough away that the guy could chuck a chest pass.
Doyle needs to realize his bid to nickname Michigan's point guard has failed and start using an outrageous Russian accent when he makes his Rounders references, but I'm slowly warming to him.
The rack: terrifying. Illinois's length started bothering Michigan immensely towards the end of the first half. After getting a couple shots blocked and seeing a couple others altered beyond recognition, Michigan players were extremely hesitant to take driving lanes and started settling for meh midrange stuff. Morgan was the lone exception, which was good—he was productive in the second half—and bad—a couple of the shots he put up were poor decisions early in the shot clock. Still mostly good.
This tendency had its worst expression on the back-to-back possessions late where Douglass and Morris both took step-back jumpers from the women's three point line. Those were bad shots for a lot of reasons, and it's hard to imagine either of them getting launched against, say, Penn State.
Final shot. Saw some e-complaints about Smotrycz not driving to the hole on Michigan's final possession but don't understand them. Smotrycz may not have been lighting it up from three but he also got blocked when he tried to go to the hole that one time and is not shooting a great percentage from inside the arc. Help defense would have arrived, and time's running down. You get an open three to win and you're a 38% shooter I think you should take it.
Bit before the final shot. The look on Beilein's face as he called timeout after Michigan had run 17 seconds off the clock when a two-for-one opportunity was staring them in the face was not exasperated enough, but for it to be exasperated enough he would have had to break the laws of physics. File under "young team" unless it happens again.
Seriously, make a shot. I have nothing useful to add. Just argh.
Mets Maize. Best bit:
Morris and Hardaway Jr. leadership dynamic. At this point, it's pretty clear they're the leaders of the team but it was interesting to watch them communicate between whistles. At one point, Morris yelled at Hardaway Jr. to "chill out". Unfortunately, they just never got on the same page: Morris with at least a half dozen forced penetrations without a single pass in the half court set, Hardaway Jr. hesitant to pull the trigger, pump fakes and generically drives and kicks. Early in the 2nd half, there was an awkward, back-and-forth turnover-fest by both teams that resulted in Tim Hardaway Jr. trying to push the ball, getting it stolen and an Illini cherry-pickin' jam on the other end.
As UMHoops pointed out on the twitters, Illinois has the best eFG% defense in the league for a reason—and Michigan let it get to them.
Dylan also points out that this was Michigan's best defensive game in a while:
Lost in the offensive struggles is the fact that this was Michigan’s best defensive game in Big Ten play. Michigan held Illinois to .90 points per possession and more impressively just .73 per trip in the second half. Michigan was abused by the high-low in the first half but made the right adjustments to negate Illinois’ size advantage in the second half. Illinois posted an eFG% of 48% – 56% on twos & 22% on threes – and only attempted 9 free throws on the game. Most importantly, Michigan did a great job on the defensive glass, grabbing 76% of Illinois’ missed shots.
A chunk of that was due to Illinois's troubles from three, but those rebounding numbers are impressive against a huge team. Michigan's moved up to 41st in defensive rebounding. (The one major misstep from Doyle and the PBP guy last night was repeatedly claiming Michigan was not a good rebounding team. They're well above average defensively; they get zero offensive rebounds but the overall gap is small. They're about average.)
Certainly Michigan is a game to worry about on paper. But the reality is that they're sloppy on offense, they take too many quick shots, they don't value the ball and they play multiple defenses, none particularly well.
Michigan is 19th nationally in turnover margin, 321st in pace, still 19th nationally in turnover margin, and plays 95% man with the occasional 1-3-1 possession. That's amazing.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Illinois|
8:30 PM EST
February 16th, 2011
KenPom: 16% W
|TELEVISION||BTN (Eric Collins, Tim Doyle)|
As I said in Monday's The Path, every game this season is The Most Important Game of the Season Until the Next One. Michigan needs every win they can get from here on out. This one is of particular importance because it's an opportunity for a road win against an RPI top-50 opponent. Winning this game takes the chances at an NCAA tournament bid from "a nice longshot" to "actually possible."
Losing it doesn't doom the chances at a bid, but it makes them unrealistic. They would need at least a couple upsets in their last five games. This is a can't miss any opportunity at one.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy:
|Michigan v. Illinois: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Illinois Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. UI Def eFG%||48||26||I|
|Mich Def eFG% v. UI eFG%||181||40||II|
|Mich TO% v. UI Def TO%||25||193||MM|
|Mich Def TO% v. UI TO%||239||98||II|
|Mich OReb% v. UI DReb%||313||192||II|
|Mich DReb% v. UI OReb%||39||156||MM|
|Mich FTR v. UI Opp FTR||341||99||III|
|Mich Opp FTR v. UI FTR||64||302||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. UI AdjD||48||19||I|
|Mich AdjD v. UI AdjO||77||28||I|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
The stats are daunting, and I'm going to add another to the mix: Michigan is #231 nationally in effective height (this happens when you play 6-4 Zack Novak at the 4 spot), and the Illini are #1. Like Michigan, they start a tall point guard in 6-3 Demetri McCamey, but unlike the Wolverines, they have a 7-footer and a pair of 6-9 players in their starting lineup.
Against other tall teams, Michigan has had some struggles (Minnesota is #7 in effective height), but also exceeded expectations (Syracuse is in the national top 40). It's hard to say whether the height difference played a role in the Minnesota loss, as that game was at the end of Michigan's poorest stretch of play on the season, but it's certainly not a good indication that they'll handle size well. Another thing to be antsy about: the Wolverine bigs have had trouble avoiding fouls. That could spell doom in this game.
As for the tempo-free stats, a lot of Michigan's numbers - particularly shooting the ball - have been trending upward lately, so they are probably playing a little bit better than the season-long or even conference-only stats indicate. On the other side, the Illini are slumping (HT: UMHoops), so who knows which team is actually playing better at this point in the year?
Thanks to Mike Rothstein of AnnArbor.com for pointing this out yesterday: only two of Michigan's players (Stu Douglass and Zack Novak) have ever played in Illinois's Assembly Hall. Two years ago, the Wolverines were pounded 66-51 on the Illini's home court. In last year's only meeting, Darius Morris went 1-7 from the field and recorded a 3-2 assist-turnover ratio in a 44-51 Wolverine loss at Crisler Arena. Novak had a decent game, but Douglass went 0-8 from the floor.
UMHoops's Joe Stapleton has video from yesterday's Darius Morris/Jordan Morgan and John Beilein press conferences. It doesn't come across in Joe's video, but I though Morris seemed very zen about things, FWIW. Dylan previews the game - and points out that Michigan's D is on the upswing in addition to the shooting improvement. Mike Rothstein previews the game for AnnArbor.com.
Michigan is a hungry team at this point, and they know the opportunity that's in front of them. That said, there is more to winning basketball games than hunger. Height throughout the roster is often one of them. I think Darius Morris will win the statistical battle against Demetri McCamey, but at least one of Michigan's big men will foul out. Illinois escapes with a win against Michigan, right around the expected spread. 73-65, Illini.