At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
12/20/2012 – Michigan 93, Eastern Michigan 54 – 12-0
Sometimes games just happen, and then we skip right to the bullets. Actually, here is some video
And here is Bryan Fuller's photoset:
The set features this guy calmly departing for his home planet:
your efficient three point shooting has finally recharged my ionic crystals and I can return to my home planet thank you hooman. thank you hooman.
McGary, not so calm.
A rote domination. For comparison's sake, Syracuse took Eastern Michigan to a similar—but not quite as impressive—woodshed, winning 84-48. Therefore we are better than Syracuse. #math
No fly, zone. Eastern is a horrible offensive team, but defensively they present some challenges with their zone and Da'Shonte Riley's shotblocking, so this was a game in two phases
- hurry up already and get this defensive possession that tells us nothing over
- alright let's see if Michigan can figure out a zone with major conference size
The Kenpom numbers are stark: EMU is one of the worst offensive teams in the country (#322) and an average defensive team (#161) overall. They'd still be 12th in the Big Ten if Delany were to snap them up tomorrow (time's running out, Jim!), in front of only Penn State, but Michigan had struggled against zone so far this year. Having a 40-minute class on how to deal with it effectively against a decent D was useful.
In the first few minutes, Michigan continued to struggle, but the nice thing about Beilein teams is you know they'll adjust, which Michigan did in three steps:
- adding ball screens to disrupt the zone's balance and get the guy in the high post open
- getting that high post guy to dump it down to the big once Riley showed to contest
- teaching the bigs to finish against a shotblocker.
McGary and Morgan were 1-6 in the first half with swats accounting for half the misses. In the second half they were 7-7. Riley got in foul trouble, which helped, but more efficient ball movement got McGary some uncontested dunks and Morgan opened the second half with a couple of finishes against Riley.
This kind of thing happens regularly with Beilein; you can see the kids get something down in the middle of a game. I give that a thumbs up.
Wisconsonian. With just one game to go before conference play starts, Michigan's defense is looking like vintage Bo Ryan. Wisconsin teams rebound and try to get their chest into you when you rise for a shot but virtually never go for the ball. The result is a lot of contested jumpers at a poor percentage, no free throws, no offensive rebounds, no turnovers, no blocks, and no steals.
For example, last year the Badgers did this in conference (offense on the left, defense on the right):
The rebounding was a little weak and the blocks a little stronger than usual. Other than that, there is the platonic ideal of a Wisconsin defense. It has been effective despite the Badgers consistently lacking the sort of athletes that alter shots—they were third on D in a tough Big Ten last year.
- 89th (of 347) in eFG% D and about there from both 2 and 3.
- 228nd in TO%, and that number will drop as teams like Eastern sag off the schedule
- 7th in defensive rebounding
- 1st(!) at not putting opponents on the line
- 252nd and 273rd at blocks and steals, respectively.
The big thing Wisconsin does that Michigan has not been able to match so far is keeping guys from shooting threes: the Badgers were second nationally in fewest threes allowed last year, a stat that Kenpom has been hammering as more important than the actual percentage you allow from deep for a bit now. Michigan is below-average there, though they are giving up a low percentage… so far. If that trend continues into Big Ten play I don't think opponents are going to keep hitting 31%.
Another consistent aspect of Wisconsin's defense is not giving up assists—we are talking not huge margins here but the Badgers have not been lower than about 20th in a long time in that department. In general, assisted shots are high quality ones, so A/FGM is a decent proxy for shot quality. There too, Michigan cannot quite match Ryan's team. They are slightly above average; they're not elite.
The upshot: this is a model for defense that works in the Big Ten; Michigan is good at it but not as good as the Badgers, and they'll probably hold steady at around 4th or 5th on D in conference play.
Big Puppy. Michigan needs to get Mitch McGary's minutes up to 16+ a game so he'll rank on Kenpom leaderboards, because his rebound rates remain outlandish. If he'd played a couple minutes more per game he'd hit the 40% threshold and rank second in OREB and 31st in DREB; in this game he had a double-double in 18 minutes.
McGary still looks a little heavy on the floor, so he's not blocking many shots and picks up too many fouls, etc., but he's a major asset. If he can undergo the same transformation Morgan did over the offseason, look out.
Bonus McGary thing: two assists to one turnover in this one including the announcer-must-reference-Wes-Unseld soccer-throw-in outlet pass to Hardaway for a slam dunk.
STAUSKAS SWAG ALERT. I don't care that the behind the back pass didn't work. SWAG.
(okay maybe he should calm down a little)
Also on Stauskas. Does anybody else have this sense of panic whenever Stauskas misses from deep, like he's going to suddenly revert to Disappointing Shooter Of Christmas Past and this nonconference napalming is going to be a faint, low-sample-size memory? I do. The airball from the corner was death despite it being a late-clock, heavy-contest instachuck.
So then the guy goes 5-7 the rest of the way with another couple of instachucks going in… and exhale. Our sample size in which Stausaks is a 56% three point shooter has risen to 61, praise everything. As a team, Michigan's long distance shooting dropped a half-point in Big Ten play last year, so the tougher defenses shouldn't actually impact that number much. As the attempts go up, so does our confidence.
What separates Stauskas from the rest of the universe is that instachuck shot. If he's got time to set up and fire, he's deadly; he also has a mode where he gets his shot off so quickly that he can make a heavily contested three not that contested. That is a skill that will see him linger in the NBA until you're like "Nik Stauskas is still in the league? I knew Nik Stauskas Jr and Nik Stauskas III were, but the original is still playing for the Triton Methane Atmospheres?"
Trey Burke turnover == shock. Eight assists to one TO in this game, which I think brings his total over the last seven games to seven, for a guy who plays 36+ minutes in most games and dominates the ball. The TOs are so rare that you can remember the most recent one: Burke tried to chuck an an OOB restart between two guys, who deflected it and eventually recovered, and you were like "dang" and then you were like "oh right if I get mad at that I do not understand math or life or anything."
Applicants to Hardaway face pantheon.
I feel like these should be called "the discovery of fire" or something.
Programming Note: No Dear Diary next week unless you guys spend Christmas making diaries or something.
Trevor Miller of Hammer and Rails this week queried the bloggerati of ESDBS's boards to create a programming schedule for a fictional BTN2. Among shows like Hoarders: Jim Delaney Edition and a thing where Rutgers fans run around Manhattan trying to find someone who knows they exist, there was this idea:
11-midnight - "Why We’re Your Rival, Now." - Each school gets to explain why they are a Most Hated Rival of another.
I pointed out in the MGoBoard discussion that this would quickly turn into a Jerry Springer episode where Michigan's in the chair while they keep trotting out progressively more disgusting ladies who say they're our girlfriends.
That thread was perhaps was the impetus behind MGoSoftball embarking on a quest to ask every Big Ten (plus Notre Dame) blog to rank their rivalries. I'm excited for the results, though I don't think any fanbase is truly united on this front. For example Brian would put Notre Dame 2nd, while I think he needs to step outside of WTKA's signal for a day and see what's it like among the Sparties. One man's Michigan rivalric rundown:
- Actual Rivals: Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Minnesota.
- One-way hate, them: Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, OHIO!, West Virginia, Princeton, Delaware, Rich Rodriguez, SEC, the Cleveland Indians
- One-way hate, us: USC, Wherever Nick Saban is coaching, Lou Holtz, Duke, Notre Dame's president and athletic department.
- Schools who aren't rivals but we have that one thing we'll never agree on to provide an infinite hate well: Nebraska ('97 N.C.), Tennessee ('97 Heisman), Penn State (JoePa, and because we each find each others' fans completely insufferable).
- Rivals only in the sense that one can be rivals with a paraplegic neighbor who's always asking you to punch him in the face: Eastern Michigan
- Hey, you forgetting someone? Like YOUR BIGGEST RIVAL who you got players suspended for and beat you that one time with a totally unsuspected onside kick???: …? On to the diaries. Where there were only three diaries, plus something I bumped from the boards, and they're all still on top. On to the rest of the board.
The Rest of the Board
THE MAYANS WERE RIGHT!
The world did not end in fire or flood or the mountains caving in; it ended it matte. Futzing with the helmet is a sure sign of the end times, as if maize numbers with blue trim wasn't. Relive the freakout above, or join the mass hysteria in threads dedicated to changing the look of the end zones, or defending David Brandon.
On that last, a suggestion for those about to start threads they think will be unpopular: don't lead with "I know you're all going to neg me for this," or by telling everyone who disagrees with you that they're Brian Cook's sheeple. Make your points, address only the best possible form of the opposing argument, and then stand by to politely debate your assertions, being ready to modify, improve, or even back off your position if you get stumped. Cypress has a valid argument that maybe we've been too hard on Dave Brandon for turning our favorite amateur team into the 2nd biggest franchise in college athletics, since all of those nickels and dimes are building cathedrals for sports most schools can't afford to carry (and consequently giving M the inside track for the Directors Cup). But then the OP's presentation of that argument is overly contentious. It's exactly this kind of contempt for people with other opinions that makes the difference between a great debate thread and a messy flame war the moderators have to clean up.
THE THING I BUMPED FROM THE BOARDS
Your diarist of the week is Asgardian for picking through the last four classes worth of Rivals rankings to find positional trends in who gets the higher stars. For some reason Midwest offensive linemen are getting proportionally higher rankings. It could just be the biases of recruiting analysts who think skill players have to come from the Southeast (imagine the difference in Toussaint hype if he was from Florida instead of Ohio) or it could be they're sick of Iowa and Wisconsin consistently pumping out NFL linemen from guys they rated a 2 or 3, and are making an adjustment. I'd like to see the sample extended back to 2002.
[After the jump, NCAA may be letting Oregon off the hook or taking the first steps towards finally nailing Ohio State for the stuff everyone knows about, and I seriously consider buying something Brian is totally going to make fun of me for.]
Michigan made it apparent in their 39-point thrashing of Eastern Michigan that they were the more talented team. It was more than just talent, though, that made the difference between the two teams separated by a six-mile stretch of Washtenaw Avenue.
Mitch McGary, 2012 Scout four-star center, played with his usual manic energy, tallying his first career double-double (10 pts., 11 reb.) in only 18 minutes of action. His counterpart, Eastern seven-footer Da'Shonte Riley—a 2009 Scout four-star—didn't attempt a field goal and had six rebounds (all defensive) to go with three blocks, four fouls, and two turnovers in 30 minutes.
After a first-half turnover near midcourt, Riley slowly turned and jogged towards Eastern's end, never making it past the block 'M' by the time Michigan tallied an uncontested bucket. In the second half, he halfheartedly swatted at Glenn Robinson III—much like one would shoo a fly without lethal intent—picking up a foul as the Wolverine freshman connected on a layup.
The contrast between Riley and McGary was stark, and McGary's teammates brought the same level of effort. It would be easy for Michigan to coast against EMU, especially after going on a 20-0 run after falling behind 6-2 in the early going. But the foot never came off the gas—Michigan managed a larger margin in the second half than the first despite emptying the bench.
The Wolverines picked apart Eastern's 2-3 zone with ease; Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. notched 8 and 7 assists, respectively, as they both found Nik Stauskas (16 pts., 5-8 3pt.) repeatedly open on the perimeter. Hardaway led the scoring charge with 17 points despite shooting 5-13 from the field, including a highlight-reel dunk on the fast break—he continues to be most effective when Michigan runs.
Robinson had another sneakily efficient night, scoring 13 points on just seven shots, knowing just the right place to be to find open layups against EMU's zone. Fellow freshman Caris LeVert had the best game of his budding collegiate career, netting eight points on 3-5 shooting, including 2-2 from three-point range.
It was an easy night for the Wolverines, which heads into an eight-day layoff at 12-0. They made it easy on themselves, the mark of a well-coached team that knows—regardless of the competition—that there's no excuse for an off night—they've now got plenty of time for those over the holiday break.
|WHAT||Eastern Michigan at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||8:30 PM Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan –24 (Kenpom)|
Right: The World's Most Phallic Building, according to something called Cabinet Magazine.
This evening, Michigan hosts cross-county foe Eastern Michigan, which currently boasts a 6-3 record that includes a win over Purdue. This means they could give Michigan a test, yes?
Well, probably not. Purdue appears to be in serious rebuilding mode, while Eastern's resume is otherwise built on wins over non-DI competition or dregs like Texas Pan American. Relevant game: a 36-point road loss to Syracuse.
The Eagles can post a challenge with their size, however—according to KenPom, they're 11th nationally in effective height. That's in large part (hey-o) due to 7'0" center Da'Shonte Riley, easily the team's best rebounder as well as a major shot-blocking threat (15.6% block rate, #7 nationally) in the middle of their 2-3 zone. Riley—a transfer from Syracuse—lacks deft touch around the basket, shooting just 37.5% this year from the field and 38.9% from the line.
Glenn Bryant, apparently somewhat athletic
6'8" forward and Arkansas transfer Glenn Bryant also provides decent shot-blocking and offensive rebounding, and unlike Riley can occasionally put the ball in the basket, hitting 44.7% of his twos. Unfortunately, Bryant is apparently under the impression he can shoot threes, but has hit just one of his 13 attempts from beyond the arc this year.
The team's wings are also their most effective shooters (a relative term when applied to this EMU squad). 6'3" shooting guard Derek Thompson is their outside threat, with 60% of his attempts coming from three—he's hitting a respectable 38.3% from outside. 6'6" guard/forward Daylen Harrison is a slasher who gets to the line frequently—he's connecting on 52.9% of his twos and 86.2% of his free throws, making him by far the team's best scoring option inside the arc, despite turnover issues. He's also an above-average rebounder on the defensive end.
Rounding out the starting lineup, at least according to EMU's game notes, is 6'2" guard Austin Harper, but he's only averaging 7.6 minutes per game this season. In Harper's limited action, he's been boom-or-bust, with a sky-high assist rate (31.4%) and turnover rate (24.4%). The point guard who sees the most minutes is 5'11" freshman Jalen Ross, who's 7-for-31 from the field this year with assist and turnover rates in the low 30s.
That's nothing compared to backup point Ray Lee, though—the freshman is posting an astounding 39.9% assist rate and 36.9% turnover rate. He's also got an ugly 42.9 eFG% while taking a high number of shots. Do not let Ray Lee get his hands on the Crisler T-Shirt cannon.
Other bench contributors include 6'9" shot-blocking specialist Jamell Harris (36.7 eFG%) and 6'3" guard J.R. Sims (34.8 eFG%).
On second thought, don't let any EMU player near the T-shirt cannon.
Eastern's signature victory came over Purdue, of course; none of their other conquered foes are ranked higher than #259 on KenPom. They've been defeated by #6 Syracuse, #118 Illinois-Chicago, and #212 Jacksonville State, all on the road.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||40.0 (338)||22.7 (252)||34.0 (116)||30.5 (274)|
|Defense||43.7 (47)||24.0 (51)||39.5 (331)||34.8 (153)|
The offense is a mess, with EMU currently sitting at #332 in the country in adjusted efficiency. Slightly above-average offensive rebounding does not cover for horrific shooting, lots of turnover, and infrequent trips to the line.
The defense is surprisingly stout; the 2-3 zone has forced a ton of turnovers, and the going inside is tough, with EMU eighth nationally in block rate. The opponent shooting number is bolstered by opponents shooting just 28.1% from beyond the arc; this is almost assuredly unsustainable with the Eagles allowing three-point attempts—a more accurate portrayal of perimeter defense—on just under 41% of opponent shots.
Bombs away. Trey Burke probably won't be replicating his drive-and-create performance from the West Virginia game—the old adage is you don't beat a 2-3 zone by dribbling through it. If the stats are any indication, however, the perimeter will be open for business. Paging Nik Stauskas:
Meanwhile Nik Stauskas has been lethal, scoring 1.5 points per zone possession with a 82% effective field goal percentage.
Michigan has actually been relatively ineffective against zone defenses this year, though they haven't seen them too often, due in no small part to Stauskas.
Don't miss the gimmes. Eastern has been woeful at keeping opposing teams off the offensive glass. Michigan has been very effective this year at creating second-shot opportunities. The battle of the boards should go in Michigan's favor in a major way. Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary have been known to miss a few easy ones, though. So, please make those, guys.
Let them shoot? EMU's 68.1% mark from the free-throw line is nothing to write home about, but it's positively Stauskian compared to their field goal shooting. Between their awful shooting and large lineup, there's no reason to overplay an open shooter instead of getting in position for rebounds. There will be rebounds.
Keep doin' what you've been doin'. I mean, yeah.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 24. I'm tempted to predict a larger margin, but Eastern is one of just a handful of teams in the country that plays at a slower tempo than Michigan.
Bravo, ClearEyesFullHart. Bravo.
Ace takes on the day-to-day process on a twice-weekly basis, but in case you haven't been paying super-close attention here's a primer on where Michigan stands as of today, and probably will continue standing until early January when some targets are likely to announce at All-Star games.
We'll start with the RR-Hoke hybrid 2011 class and focus on 1) how well Hoke's done, 2) what Michigan needs to fill out this class, and 3) what they'll be looking for next year.
|Russell Bellomy||3*||nobody||N/A||Shane Morris||5*|
PERFORMANCE: Bellomy was a late flier taken by Hoke after the Process left him scant time to find a bunch of dudes. We've seen that early results from this class of random last minute additions have been erratic. A couple are gone, a few more are contributors, others are still waiting in the wings. Judging recruiting prowess based on a rushed land grab made while still trying to find your footing is not a good idea.
This is kind of a long way of saying that Bellomy did not play well against Nebraska, and moreover seemed like a guy who just didn't have the arm strength to play at the top level, but that the decision to recruit him was not representative of much.
Meanwhile, Shane Morris is one of the top-ranked QBs in this class. He committed so early that it was clear Michigan would have had to do something spectacularly wrong to not end up with him. Still, points for not doing that, and for convincing Morris to hop aboard early enough to help sweep up most of a top five class by March.
OTOH, not taking a QB in this year's freshman class was a mistake, and while Morris is good his lack of high school production is somewhat concerning. (Yes, he had mono. Even considering that his junior/senior production is a little concerning.)
NEEDS THIS YEAR: Taken care of.
NEXT YEAR: With the hole in 2012 and Hoke's obscure mutterings about Bellomy having a "thing" that is not an injury but may prevent him from playing, possibly long-term, grabbing a guy is a top priority. Morris may scare guys off but it's at lot less intimidating when the hotshot freshman is just another backup.
Michigan has targeted a wide array of QBs; they have not offered any just yet. VA QB Caleb Henderson and OH QB DeShone Kizer are names to watch; instate, DCD QB Tyler Wiegers is someone garnering early buzz. Things are far less certain than last year, when Morris and Michigan had a mutual thing going on.
|Thomas Rawls||3*||Drake Johnson||2.5*||DeVeon Smith||4*|
|Justice Hayes||4*||Dennis Norfleet||4*|
PERFORMANCE: Hayes and Rawls were both late additions in the transition class, with Rawls coming aboard on Signing Day once he'd gotten some academic things taken care of. Hayes originally committed to ND, and then decommitted—the way in which it went down kind of seems like ND was the one pulling back. Neither has done much so far. In Hayes's case that's due to a lack of opportunity. In Rawls's it is not.
Last year Michigan all but struck out. Johnson played across the street from Michigan Stadium, putting up big numbers in an offense that was basically "snap the ball to Drake" and getting no offers except Eastern Michigan until M stepped in. Norfleet was committed to Cincinnati until a signing day flip that happened largely because Michigan had an extra scholarship. He's returned kicks and taken a few end-arounds so far. He was recently flipped to cornerback despite being 5'7", which says bad things about JT Floyd's availability, the options behind Courtney Avery and Raymon Taylor, and possibly his ability to run the ball. It would have been nice to see him get some run before they made that move, as you never really know until you put the guy on the field.
This year Michigan finally has a guy that fit what they want to do and can play. Skepticism from Rivals about DeVeon Smith is not shared by the other services, or fellow suitor Ohio State. He's a stocky stiff-arm specialist who's hard to knock over, suited to grind it out between the tackles and so forth and so on. As a single option maybe he's not ideal, but…
NEEDS THIS YEAR: If Michigan does get VA RB Derrick Green, many of these concerns evaporate. Green is a near-consensus five star who fits what Michigan would like to do as they move away from the spread—think Alabama.
Arm tackles nyet. With Smith that's a fine 1-2 punch.
Grade with Green: B+; without D. Big swing is possible at a position like RB where guys can come in day one and contribute.
NEXT YEAR: With Johnson coming off a redshirt Michigan will have three freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior. They'll probably take a guy; they can take it easy.
Jehu Chesson (left), Jaron Dukes (right) and Devin Gardner are going to get along just fine
|nobody||n/a||Amarah Darboh||4*||Jaron Dukes||3.5*|
|Jehu Chesson||3*||Da'Mario Jones||3*|
PERFORMANCE: Rodriguez had a couple guys on the hook by the time he got the boot, and the decision to pass on Devin Lucien still grates. Lucien went to UCLA, redshirted, then had 10 catches in the first five games of the season and blew up Gus Johnson…
…before breaking his collarbone. Before that he was on pace for a 451 yard season over 12 games, which would have been second on this Michigan team.
There were no apparent grade or character issues with the guy, and Michigan opened the next year short scholarships. With no other WRs in the class, the only explanation for not taking him is badly mis-evaluating his talent relative to the other guys on the roster. The Process didn't help that. but if that decision ended up moving Devin Gardner to WR…
Let's not go down that road any further.
The next two years have been… eh. I actually like the 2012 class more than the recruiting rankings do, as Chesson got sleeper of the year status after his track season belied concerns about his speed and the vibe around the internet quotes was sufficiently awesome to make me think once he puts on the right amount of weight he'll be a player. Amarah Darboh comes with a solid four-star rep; those guys should both be players.
They'll have to be since the incoming class consists of three projects, and there was no 2011 class. Jones is the only speed guy, and Michigan yoinked him from CMU. Jaron Dukes could be a Junior Hemingway type eventually; York is more of a possession banger.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: LaQuon Treadwell is rapidly receding as a possibility, leaving Michigan with just the three sleeper types they've already acquired. If they could add a blue-chip, they would.
NEXT YEAR: Numbers look fine, but they'll probably need to take a couple more guys because most of the bullets they've got are of the iffy variety.
|Chris Barnett||4*||Devin Funchess||3.5*||Jake Butt||4*|
|AJ Williams||3.5*||Khalid Hill||2.5*|
PERFORMANCE: The pass-catching situation looks a lot better when these guys are figured in. Barnett was a Process-induced mistake who flamed out before fall practice; the other four guys look pretty good.
Funchess led Michigan in touchdown catches with five and should see his touches blow up in year two as Michigan gets more comfortable throwing over the middle of the field with the 6'5" Devin Gardner at QB. He'll have to put on weight to be less of a liability blocking. Williams would have redshirted in an ideal situation, as he desperately needed some time to figure out technique; he's going to be fine in time.
Butt is a guy to get excited about, a version of Funchess coming in 20-30 pounds heavier. Michigan figures to play all of the tight ends in the world in the future so a redshirt may not be in the cards for him. Hill is a low-ranked H-back type who will hopefully be a ++ version of a fullback.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: Covered.
NEXT YEAR: I don't think Michigan will go a recruiting class without a tight end as long as Hoke is around. With Hill and Houma on the team they can probably forgo the H-back sort and just scour for the sort of matchup nightmares Butt and Funchess promise to be. No names yet.
|Tony Posada||3*||Kyle Kalis||5*||Patrick Kugler||4.5*|
|Chris Bryant||4*||Erik Magnuson||4.5*||Chris Fox||4.5*|
|Jack Miller||3*||Ben Braden||3*||Kyle Bosch||4.5*|
|Blake Bars||3.5||David Dawson||4*|
PERFORMANCE: All three guys in 2011 were essentially Rodriguez guys; while Bryant committed after the coaching change, he had strung out a near-commitment to Michigan for months. Michigan lost MI OL Jake Fisher to Oregon and could not grab anyone late, but Process == pass.
The next two years Hoke did work, nabbing Kyle Kalis from Ohio State and Erik Magnuson from the West Coast. Enormous Ben Braden was an MGoBlog sleeper of the year and has been the subject of considerable practice hype; though that's always dodgy he seems poised to blow through his recruiting rankings. Some late whiffs on kids who went to Auburn and Iowa—how do you feel about this a year later, dudes?—were a temporary downer. Emphasis on temporary: by May Hoke had locked down five touted guys comprising an entire offensive line. (From left to right: Tuley-Tillman, Dawson, Kugler, Bosch, Fox.) Together they're the top line class in the country. Over two years enough guys will emerge from the nine to give Michigan a good to great OL.
A+. You can't guarantee success with folks as variable as OL; Michigan's done all they can to try.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: It seems like Michigan figured out they were going to have more spots in this class than they originally thought they would about a month ago, and since then they've been going after not only a guy to replace the decommitted Dawson (who turned out to be Dawson) but a sixth. Michigan seems to be looking at huge tackle types for the most part. Tennessee soft commit Dan Skipper and Nebraska soft commit Dan Samuelson came in last week and are the hot names.
NEXT YEAR: Michigan already has 6'10" man-mountain Denzel Ward committed. He's raw as hell, which shouldn't be a problem since I mean look at the table. He'll have time to develop, and he's already got an Ohio State offer, so the kid is a talent. A wild card, but a talent.
Past Ward, Michigan can settle down into a more normal OL recruiting structure after repairing Rodriguez's damage—3 or 4 total. They've got serious interest from FL OL Mason Cole and MI OL Tommy Doles; if they lock those two down it might actually be time to cool it.
Today's recruiting roundup covers Leon McQuay III's timeline, the sixth O-lineman possibility, and more.
Before I get into today's (rather scant) recruiting news: the NCAA recruiting dead period began on Monday and extends through January 3rd, which means coaches can't meet with recruits in-person and can only call them once a week. As a result, unless something major breaks, this will be the last recruiting roundup until after the bowl game.
Sam Webb updates us on Leon McQuay III's recruitment at the Detroit News, and McQuay's father says Michigan could be the talented defensive back's eventual destination:
"I wouldn't be surprised if he chose Michigan," his father said. "The defensive coordinator basically sat us down and walked us through how he is going to be used. If that actually holds true, he is going to be lining up in different spots. He is expected to make plays. He has been labeled a playmaker. That's a lot of expectations, but Mattison has been doing it for a while so I'm pretty sure he can look at somebody and tell exactly what he is going to get out of them."
With coaching shakeups on defense at both USC and FSU, it looks like McQuay's recruitment will come down to Michigan and Vanderbilt, where head coach James Franklin is personally recruiting him. While McQuay had long maintained he'll make a decision at the Under Armour All-American Game, a tweet from his father yesterday indicated that may no longer be the case:
New drama L3 may not be able to announce at under armour game because of indecision of school choice.
— Leon McQuay Jr. (@Quaydiddy2206) December 19, 2012
With McQuay waiting to see who USC hires at defensive coordinator—and getting to know new FSU DC Jeremy Pruitt, formerly Alabama's secondary coach—the delay makes sense.
[For the rest of the recruiting roundup, hit THE JUMP.]
Trey Burke had a virtuoso performance against West Virginia on Saturday, scoring 27 points on 16 shots with eight assists, five rebounds, three steals, and no turnovers. Already the consensus choice for best point guard in the country, he's legitimately in the conversation for national player of the year honors; excise a ten-point, four-assist "dud" against Kansas State, and he's tallied either 16+ points or 7+ assists in every game this season.
John Beilein's offense is complicated, a highly-structured symphony of cuts and screens that relies largely on off-ball movement to create open looks. That is, unless it's time for Trey Burke to score. Last year's offense centered around the high ball screen to get Burke looks at the basket; while that's still a big part of the offense, Michigan is increasingly looking to isolate Burke and let him create.
The Wolverines did this in a variety of ways against West Virginia. Let's take a look at a few of them.
Michigan showed this setup a few times on Saturday. Instead of having two guards up top, Burke is alone with the ball; the 2 and the 3 (Hardaway and Stauskas) set up in the corner; the 4 and the 5 (Robinson and Morgan) form a stack at the free-throw line. This alignment leaves plenty of room on both sides of the court for Burke to maneuver. On this play, Burke doesn't even need help from a screen—he simply sets up his man with a hesitation move and drives hard to the right, netting a short bank:
The help is late-arriving because the threat of an open Stauskas or Hardaway (either in the corner or cutting to the basket) is, well, threatening. Having both bigs at the free-throw line or above draws the defense's shot-blocking threats away from the basket. A defense could try to counter this look by playing zone, but that brings forth a new set of problems, especially against a sharp-shooting team like Michigan.
Of course, for this set to be effective, a team needs a point guard who can create off the dribble and finish. This is not a problem for Michigan, obviously.
[Hit THE JUMP for more Trey Burke driving into big blue circles.]
Running a route. That is the takeaway from the Outback Bowl practice video: a ball thrown downfield to Denard Robinson, who is playing wide receiver.
Hopefully that did not six takes to get right.
Also they took the uniform mannequin to the Outback Steakhouse on Ann Arbor-Saline, because he was getting sick of staring out the window of Schembechler Hall. Good to see him get some air.
The matte finish is a first for the U-M headgear. Back in the 70s and 80s there was no gloss finish on the Michigan helmets. Much like their coach, there was no flashiness to them – they were maize and blue and that was that. You’d be surprised at how basic and crude those old helmets look compared to the newer ones of today. From 1977:
If you wanted the old ones to look shiny, you would have to rub some car wax on them!
The yellows on the new jersey definitely do not match the helmet, which is a very Sparty thing to do.
Tom From AA rounded up reactions on Facebook and found that most people bothering to insert a comment are opposed:
I went through and tallied 665 of the comments. That's not all of them, but after a while the percentages stayed the same, so I'm saying this is a SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND representation of the FB page's population. It took far too long to go through 650+ so I decided not to keep going through the now 3000 comments. Like I said, the percentages started holding pretty strong around n=300, so should be representative. I ignored trolls and unrelated posts.
Like 102 15.3% Dislike 378 56.8% Helmets: Yes! Uniforms: No! 154 23.1% Meh 13 1.9% Helmets: No! Uniforms: Yes! 18 2.7%
I had other categories as well, such as "Sarcasm" and "slappy." The former of which generally disliked the jerseys, the later of which said "anything Blue wears is good" so I did not include them in the "Like" category.
People in favor seem—how to put this gently—brain damaged.
Representative "Like" Comment
SWAGG! Matt finish to the helmets!! And the jersey is to fly!
You have brain damage and/or are 14, sir. Some responders in the comments here note that incensed people are much more likely to leave a comment than people mildly in favor, and that's true. Whenever a Picture Pages post has 100 comments around here, 80% of them will be complaints. So take it with a grain of salt. Except don't because if you do like the jerseys your brain is probably melting as we speak.
Hmm. Not that it's a surprise, but Taylor Lewan doesn't sound like a guy who's planning on a return:
Even though the Wolverines face replacing a good portion of the offensive line next season, Lewan said he's confident things will work out.
"I don't think Michigan will have a big problem with the offensive line next year," he said.
Maybe that's reading between the lines too finely. No one thinks he'll be back, though.
In other NFL news, Illinois's Akeem Spence declares. Michigan wasn't going to play them next year anyway.
It's gotta go somewhere. The coffers overflow, and the latest beneficiaries:
Clemson’s assistants — at a combined total of more than $4.2 million, including outside income — are the highest-paid group among the 102 public schools for which USA TODAY Sports could obtain 2012 pay information for at least eight of the nine assistants generally allowed by NCAA rules. There are 124 FBS schools.
LSU’s assistants also are collecting more than $4 million. Seven other schools have assistants totaling more than $3 million in compensation: Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State and Oklahoma State.
Last year, six schools had $3 million assistant-coaching staffs. In 2009, there was one: Tennessee’s, at $3.3 million.
I'm surprised Michigan isn't on that list with both coordinators now pushing into the upper six figures.
The pictured coaches are Chad Morris, Clemson's $1.3 million offensive coordinator and… I'm not sure but some guy at USC. This is a very silly graphic.
[HT: Get The Picture.]
A good hire? After some confusion it does appear that Wisconsin's new coach is Gary Andersen, lately of Utah State. Andersen doesn't have massively more experience than the latest fliers the conference has taken on MAC coaches, but in four years he turned Utah State from a national doormat into an 11-2 outfit that lost its two games to Wisconsin by two and BYU by three. They took out a BCS team in Utah and annihilated Toledo for a bowl win. The last two years of Idaho Potato bowls were the first winning seasons in the I-A history of the program. That's a pretty solid resume.
The reaction of his players on twitter is also a good sign—various takes on "The only man I want to play for." You never know, but it seems like this has a decent chance of working out as long as the offensive transition isn't too harsh. Utah State is a spread 'n' shred type outfit.
Despite that, tentative thumbs up for a Big Ten hire. Strange days.
Last night in Big Ten hoops sponsored by Barbasol. Close shaves abounded. Both Michigan State and Ohio State were dead even with BGSU and Winthrop for about 30 minutes before pulling away late, and Nebraska managed to turn a 15 point lead against Jacksonville State with seven minutes left into a tight contest. Close shave, (terrible parts of) America (and Nebraska)!
Here's an MSU fan freakout from the first 30 minutes of last night's game against BGSU. I don't think it should impact how you interpret MSU in the league, unfortunately. By the end, Kenpom was eerily close on the score (it was a road game). It feels better to leap out to that ten point lead early and play most of the game comfortably ahead, but all the possessions are worth the same.
Transition efficiency. Dylan gets some stats from Synergy sports and notes a massive improvement in Michigan's transition offense:
According to statistics from Synergy Sports, Michigan is scoring 1.31 points per transition possession – a dramatic improvement from the 1.09 points per possession that the Wolverines netted on transition possessions last season. That number ranks in the 96th percentile nationally and compares favorably to the rest of the conference.
Team % of Poss. in Transition Points Per Transition Poss. Minnesota 15.3% 1.35 Michigan 17.2% 1.31 Ohio State 18.2% 1.30 Indiana 20.4% 1.19 Wisconsin 7.0% 1.16 Purdue 11.3% 1.15 Illinois 13.0% 1.01 Michigan State 20.2% 0.98 Iowa 16.6% 0.96 Penn State 13.1% 0.94 Nebraska 8.1% 0.94 Northwestern 8.8% 0.82
Source: Synergy Sports
Good things happen when Michigan pushes the ball in transition. Obviously there are more easy opportunities in transition (the Wolverines average .96 PPP in half court sets – a very good figure in its own right) but the Wolverines have maximized their transition effectiveness.
Northwestern's transition offense is much worse than their half-court sets, which is kind of amazing. Meanwhile, Michigan's boost this year does not appear to be about schedule strength—most teams haven't played a schedule as good as Michigan's.
Dylan credits Burke and that's obviously a big part of it. Another is the fact that if you lose Stauskas in transition he will put a three on your face. In your face. Speaking of, I found this:
And now I wonder why it took so long to happen.
Etc.: Missouri safety gets the boot for having a small amount of pot, but really I just want to note that his name is "Ka'ra," which sounds like an ancient Egyptian god from a Saturday morning cartoon. Horford's painful looking injury is a dislocated kneecap, which is a very good thing since he should be able to return in a few weeks. Derrick Walton is doing good things. Quinton Washington profiled by his hometown newspaper.
The Firehouse Museum, the Huron River, Depot Town, the phallic watertower, Sidetrack burgers, a bowl of everything at the Bomber Restaurant that magically absorbs your entire hangover, bowling…this is the entire list of nice things my EMU grad wife had to say about Ypsilanti. Even their Meijer sucks. To her list I would add running backs coach Mike Hart and the "Players Coached" section of Ron English's chrome website, where you can get quotes like this:
"When I think of Marlin Jackson, I think of a stallion. Marlin Jackson was a stallion. I didn't break him, but I did corral him a little bit in terms of getting him to believe in technique."
-Ron English, EMU Head Coach
File under things you will never unlearn. Other things that are like mammals according to Ron English: LaMarr Woodley and Prescott Burgess.
How this works again:
- Wednesdays I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
About Last Week:
So it's come to this, Bob Huggins. A fight to the death. Mano a mano. Man to man. Just you and me and my GUARDS!
*SWISH* *SWISH* *SWISH**SWISH**SWISH**SWISH**SWISH* 81-66. Simon of SimonOnSports was closest at 81-65.
This Week's Game:
The University of Discgolf heads west on Washtenaw at 8:30 tomorrow night. Winner gets to claim to be the dominant school in the county.
And on the Line…
Fact: If you are wearing this shirt in Ann Arbor while facing South, you could be pointing at Mike Hart right now!
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm killed Jeeves. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. Rutgers is from Jersey. Holy shit guys Rutgers is in the Big Ten. BIG TENNNNN! The algorithm constantly finds Jesus.This is not the algorithm. This is close.
Hey. Life rolls on. Thank you to those who have expressed condolences.
One of the running jokes on the podcast this year has been theorizing that the athletic department has someone specifically dedicated to trolling me. Evidence: "In The Big House" did not return until after the nonconference season had convinced me it was gone, and Michigan waited until the last possible moment to change Jordan Kovacs away from #32. Taken with the deployment of Denard and Devin against Ohio State, this is strong evidence indeed.
If they are deep enough inside that they knew what I was writing up this morning and chose that hour to release the latest in the ever-growing line of uniformz, I am terrified because the sleeper agent is probably me.
Anyway. We knew this was coming because Michigan's promise after they announced the Alabama uniformz was that they would not screw with the jerseys during the regular season. They are here. If you have not been on the internet, here they are:
They finally screwed with the helmet. Also Ramzy pointed out that there seem to be four different shades of yellow on this thing.
Yes, yes, the kids love it, which is why Alabama and USC are struggling to recruit these days. It is possible the kids are not quite so stupid as that meme thinks they are and make decisions based on things other than wearing goofy alternates a couple of times a year. Your assertion as to what the kids love does not seem to have much bearing on where they go to school. Alabama did not need fancy duds to annihilate Michigan earlier this year.
What gets me is that many iconic uniforms are not being futzed with, including the aforementioned teams plus Texas, Florida State, Penn State, and Oklahoma*, but the people running those athletic departments must be wrong and the man who brought us pasta inside a bread bowl must be right. I do not agree that this is necessarily the case, Kids Love It Arguer Guy.
I mean, the brand-manic NFL has strict restrictions on third jerseys, with many of the teams deploying them once or twice… ever. NFL teams are prohibited from wearing alternates in the Super Bowl, and only the Chargers have ever deployed them in a playoff game, probably because the Chargers' alternates are themselves a great tradition revived from the 1960s.
It's no real loss if Michigan looks dumb playing in Tampa, but I'll be sad if Michigan plays a Rose Bowl in anything other than classic Schembechler blue. And if you wouldn't want to wear it at the Rose Bowl, why would you want to wear it anywhere?
I promise to write another version of this post in August when alternate uniforms for the ND game are announced, because it is tradition, and tradition is important. #thisguygetsit
*[All of those teams have largely if not entirely opted out. Oklahoma wore some all-whites that were roundly panned in 2009 and scrapped the concept, and Texas altered their helmets to honor Darrel K Royal this year but that's a whole different thing everyone should be okay with. IIRC Alabama did have some sort of subtle houndstooth thing in one game. In each case any uniform alterations were one-offs or close to it, not Michigan's parade.]