landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
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As Michigan moves into the fourth year of the Derrick Walton / Zak Irvin partnership, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the two. They were both high-priority and well-regarded recruits (Irvin was slightly higher in the rankings) and were key rotation pieces as freshmen – Walton started and played more, Irvin was a deadly shooter off the bench – on an elite team. Derrick’s sophomore season was ruined by injury, and Zak eventually recovered from early-season struggles to show signs of a developing all-around game as he became the focal point for Michigan’s offense. Irvin was the injured one during the beginning of his junior year (and it wrecked his jumper for a time) but continued to show the same pick-and-roll gravitas of other former Michigan wings, and Walton improved his offensive rating by 10 from his sophomore to junior years on the same level of usage.
After the LeVert injury, we saw what it was like with Zak and Derrick as 1A and 1B for Michigan, a role that they were always destined to have as upperclassmen at Michigan. Though each player’s development tracks took some sideways turns, they were ready enough, as their 22 games in charge went okay: 12-10, kept their heads above water enough in conference play to get a huge upset over Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament to make it into the NCAA’s by the skin of their teeth after a lackluster non-conference season. Sure, it was a largely disappointing season that was marred by the losses of Caris and Spike (and several home blowout losses), but ultimately Michigan did avoid the dishonor of the NIT.
Walton was critical in making that happen. He’s a unique player, the rare 3-and-D point guard. His two-point shooting has been very poor over the last two seasons, but he makes up for it by shooting well from the free throw line and taking half of his shot attempts from behind the arc, where he hits a very respectable 39%. Derrick’s good in the pick-and-roll, but is best when he’s kicking it to shooters, as he doesn’t have the size to get great angles for dump-offs to the big man or to finish at the rim himself.
Defensively, he’s the best on a bad team – in some games locking up offensively potent guards, in some getting blown by routinely by lesser players. Walton’s steal rate was the best on the team by a sizable margin. His defensive rebounding (a unique skill, the basketball thing he’s probably best at, despite his size) propped up Michigan’s defense in ways poorly understood by the box score, and his defensive impact is probably underrated in that regard.
[More after the JUMP]
Sometimes statistical outliers are best explained through data. Walton is one of those types of players, the ones who are dissimilar from most.
There’s a misconception that perimeter-oriented players on offense are adversely affected on the defensive end, especially in defensive rebounding. These were the most above-average player-seasons in terms of DR % and 3-Point % for players who took at least half of their shots from three; Walton checks in at fifth and is the only true point guard on the leaderboard. Admittedly, they’re two unrelated statistical categories, but it’s a good way of separating the more traditional big men from the outside shooters. The players surrounding Derrick on the ranking of all Big Ten players by defensive rebounding are a list of giants: Frank Kaminsky, Melsahn Basabe, Isaac Haas, Luka Mirkovic, Ralph Sampson III. That he makes an equivalent impact on the defensive glass due to his timing and leaping ability – not his height – is remarkable.
Defining uniqueness is difficult. Walton’s statistical profile as a junior doesn’t have many close comparables in my Big Ten player database: the closest is his sophomore profile. Caris LeVert’s junior and sophomore seasons are the 2nd- and 4th-most comparable, respectively. But, in relation to the many comparison tests I’ve run, Walton’s numbers stand out as statistically distinct – guys like Mitch McGary and OG Anunoby (who has Mark Donnal as his second-most comparable player, believe it or not) are the most extreme outliers I’ve seen, but Walton’s closer than most. So, in order to determine what makes Walton such an outlier, I took the average of the 15 most analogous profiles* (except for Walton’s sophomore year) and compared Derrick’s junior numbers to theirs.
*Caris LeVert (x2), Trevon Hughes, Myles Mack, Shep Garner, Roy Devyn Marble, Lawrence Westbrook, Andre Hollins, Aaron Craft (lol), Traevon Jackson, Matt Gatens, Kendrick Nunn, JerShon Cobb, William Buford, Devoe Joseph.
The way that the algorithm works is that it compares the sum of z-scores ((value – average) / standard deviation) for a bunch of statistical categories. The z-score method normalizes the differences between those categories – for example, the difference between an ORtg of 104.2 and 117.0 (one standard deviation, for a z-score of 1) is the equivalent of the difference between a DR% of 13.0 and 17.4.
The chart to the right is the difference between the z-score of Walton’s stats and the average z-score of the players who were generally close to him (based on the sum of their z-score differences). I sorted by the categories Walton was better than the field in: unsurprisingly, defensive rebounding rate checks in first, but Derrick’s DR% was well over a standard deviation better than his peers’. In fact, his DR% was a half-standard deviation better than the next-closest player’s (Caris’s junior season).
Derrick was also well ahead of the pack in steal rate (recall his six-steal game against Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament) and total rebounding rate, which takes a hit because Beilein actively has his guards ignore the offensive glass in favor of transition defense – perhaps he should consider letting Walton use his prodigious skills on that end as well, but for now, his offensive rebounding rate is actually worse than those other players’. Total rebounding is still really high on the list because of how good his defensive rebounding is. Derrick’s ratio of 3-Point attempts to 2-Point attempts, assist rate, and offensive rating are also moderately higher than average.
On the flip side of the coin, his 2-Point shooting (36%) is almost a full standard deviation below average. That’s the elephant in the room with regards to Walton – he takes few two-point attempts (83 fewer than Zak Irvin, who only played 39 more minutes) and doesn’t shoot well from two. The shot chart isn’t pretty:
By comparison, Michigan’s other guards and wings shot 63% at the rim on average. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zak Irvin, each of whom had more attempts at the rim than Walton did, shot 60% and 62% from there, respectively. Walton’s mid-range game, where he shoots just 27%, is also a liability – possessions that, I’m guessing, were once desperation began to kick in for the offense. Mid-range shots aren’t completely avoidable, but a player shooting so poorly from two shouldn’t be tasked with late-clock creation.
For the second consecutive year, Walton had an injury early on in the season – how much that affected him is anyone’s guess. In any case, at least Derrick shoots more threes than twos, which he actually hits at a better percentage (39% to 36%) and that reliance on the outside shot improved his offensive rating quite a bit. Still, having a point guard who can’t attack effectively inside the arc without passing the ball to someone else necessitates a second creator alongside Irvin – who’s far more aggressive than Walton – so Derrick can spot-up off the ball more frequently, space the floor, and create on hard closeouts. Whether MAAR continues to develop his passing vision (something that Walton has already) or Xavier Simpson is as precocious as we all hope, there are options that could enable Derrick to take on an even more three-point reliant role.
* * *
Walton seems to be a player who’d thrive best in particular sets of circumstances. When he was a freshman, he was allowed to be mostly a spot-up role player as Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert handled primary ballhandling duties. It might not be possible for him to fit neatly into that role again as he’s taken on the leadership of being one of two four-year contributor seniors on the team, but Derrick is a player with very specific strengths – namely rebounding and passing (he did get a triple-double last year) as well as shooting from distance – and one tricky weakness, an inability to shoot well within the arc. That’s disappointing after a freshman year in which he shot twos well, but Walton’s still a very good player despite it. A year of proper appreciation of his defensive efforts beckons, and if he sees another jump in efficiency (like he did from his sophomore to junior season), he might be the best point guard in the Big Ten.
Backed up near their end zone after a 4th down stop, with Brandon Peters under center, the white team is looking to catch the defense with some play-action. What they catch is a pretty simple blitz, an iffy matchup in pass pro that goes badly, and a true freshman running for his life in the endzone. Let's dig into it.
THE PLAY: A pretty normal Mike blitz that gets interesting in the details.
The MLB came up trying to time his blitz, then blitzed the frontside A gap. The SAM has the tight end (Y) in man to man, as do the CBs with their respective wide receivers, and the free safety is playing the deep cover. The WLB has a run gap, and the short middle zone (which ends up being the RB). On the other side the Rover (strong safety) is responsible for the fullback.
So this is a variant on the base cover 1 ("City" in Brown's 2013 Boston College playbook).
I think "TILT" means the SAM has the edge if the TE stays in to block, and the TE if he goes out in a pattern. But there was some weirdness here, because the T and A are going to end up in the same lane.
[After the JUMP: freshman going off script, two-gapping, or a DE option?]
WHAT IS JONES UP TO?
Watch #4 Reuben Jones, playing Anchor (strongside end) on this play. He lined up over the tight end:
This is no different than what Wormley was doing during the tight end massacre of 2015. If the TE was blocking he'd be getting a face full of Jones. Instead the TE (Gentry) has to take a big outside step before releasing.
Then Jones hits the RT (Ulizio) on the outside shoulder. He's still got that "C" gap we suppose. But then..
he rips IN-side.
So what's he doing? Likely possibilities:
This is a redshirt freshman who was moonlighting at MLB for much of 2016, and who went off script when he realized the OT was pass-blocking, and was thinking he would just take the fastest route to the QB.
This is vamping within the framework of the defense—the Anchor does have the C gap on a run but once the FB stays in to pass block, the DE knows there's help outside and doesn't have to worry about it. B gap/C gap, whatever—MUST GET TO KORTORBAAK!
I am going with #2 but could be convinced otherwise. In any event against the run, he seems to be playing the 'C' gap, and all this business about going into B happens after he's diagnosed it's a pass.
WHY DID THE OFFENSE BREAK DOWN?
The offense has a six-man slide protection scheme:
When you are going play-action you nearly always end up in a slide protection, and when your play-action isn't fooling anyone, you've got the bad matchup problem and none of the good.
Slide protection is the zone version of protection (The man version is "BOB" for "Big on Big", which means you're blocking linemen with linemen and backers with backs). The tradeoff gave the defense a big-on-back matchup, which they won: the fullback, Khalid Hill, drew B gap responsibility, and Godin came in there hot, reading the token play-action for what it was, setting up Khalid Hill for the whiff, then running by him to get instant pressure.
Godin's not perfect; I thought Peters did a cool thing in WHOOP-ing that. But pressure up the middle is the worst pressure and Peters is forced to make his escape, barely outrunning edge pressure by Kemp to throw it away.
So I don't think this is blitz pressure, since if the MLB backed out the blocking would have been the same, i.e. the guard wouldn't have had the chance to do much to help Hill.
By the way it's possible Peters was supposed to pivot to the left on his drop-back (since Isaac is running that way) since the FB is lined up too far outside for this to be a dive. Also they had a false start—not the one the free safety was pointing at (I didn't see whatever that was) but right before the snap Pliska took an ass scratch. Also Ulizio had a tiny facemask or hand to the face that you'd expect to go uncalled.
This is organic 5-man pressure, not a particularly interesting blitz like I'd hoped. The Anchor going into the same gap as the tackle made it look cool initially, and since we've seen the DL doing some of these interesting non-gap-sound things before it's a thing I'll keep my eye on. Still, the biggest thing we learned is Khalid Hill isn't great at pass pro yet, or at least that was the main thing generating this pressure.
Don't let that get you down—cool blitzes are forthcoming rest assured. But here we got to see another way they use their base defense, which is the same defense that was their base last year, but with a tweak here and an option there.
Last thing: the SS was the guy coming across the field to pressure the throw. I will not get unreasonably excited about walk-ons just because their names are Glasgow. I will not get…
SLOW MOTION TO OBLIVION MUSIC?
If you're sick of Oblivion and want me to feature your band in the future just email me: [my name] at [this place] dot com.
A Late Riser Emerges?
The young man you see above displaying a visceral hatred for rims is 2016 Grundy (VA) Mountain Mission SG/SF Harold Baruti, who at the moment looks like the most likely option to fill one of the two open basketball scholarships. Baruti came to Ann Arbor on an official visit last weekend, and it sounds like a scholarship offer is on the way as long as he clears an academic hurdle or two:
Per his HS coach, 2016 wing Harold Baruti has not yet received a scholarship offer from his OV to Michigan. But workout went "very well."
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 5, 2016
Re. Michigan and 2016 wing Harold Baruti: Still no scholarship offer. U-M checking if he'll be cleared academically.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 9, 2016
Baruti, who moved to U.S. from the Democratic Republic of the Congo two years ago, also still needs to pass the TOEFL before U-M will offer.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 9, 2016
At 6'6", ~200 pounds, Baruti could provide much-needed depth on the wing. According to Quinn, Utah and Texas Tech are also showing late interest in Baruti, who holds scholarship offers from SMU, UNC-Wilmington, Utah State, and Tennessee Tech. While he doesn't look like the most polished prospect, he's got plenty of athleticism—he looks like a guy who could eventually fill the GRIII role of cutter/finisher who shoots just well enough on corner threes to keep defenses spaced out.
Speaking of wing depth, the just-released senior highlights of 2016 signee Ibi Watson are worth watching. While the highlight video caveat applies, he looks like a strong finisher and impressive passer; if he can hold his own on defense he can see a significant role right away as a backup at the two and the three.
In other hoops recruiting news, Michigan's offer has vaulted them into the top three for in-state 2017 SF Jamal Cain, per TMI's Josh Newkirk:
“(Michigan) is for sure top-three,” Cain said. “My top three, well, the schools that have been in contact the most have been Michigan, Marquette and Xavier.”
Cain mentioned academic support as something that stood out on his visit, and later said that factor is of significant importance in his decision, which should come during or after his senior season.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Columbus Opening Regional: M Targets Stand Out
Columbus hosted the latest regional for The Opening last weekend, and a lengthy list of Michigan targets were in attendance, as well as 2018 commit Leonard Taylor, who 247's Steve Wiltfong said looked good at tight end:
Springfield (Ohio) High Top247 tight end/defensive tackle and Michigan commit Leonard Taylor played offense at this camp. He’s not super fast but he's so big, has such soft hands and adds great body control for a guy his size.
One of the bigger surprises from the camp was the play of three-star Cass Tech OG Jordan Reid, who won position MVP honors and an invite to The Opening finals in a field loaded on the offensive line. Michigan is second among Reid's top five, behind only Florida, and a visit last week to Ann Arbor got an important person in M's corner, per Newkirk:
And Reid’s father, well, he “loved” what U-M had to offer during their stay, says Reid.
“My dad loved it, says it’s the best visit he’s been on so far,” Reid said of his father, adding: “I’m happy for him, I’m glad he got a feel for it. Obviously it opens his interest and my interest a little bit more.”
Reid said he's looking to get his mother on campus on a later visit. While Michigan trails for now, and Michigan State will also be a big factor, their position close to home could help them close on Reid.
Cass Tech cornerback Donovan Johnson also had a breakout camp performance, clocking a 4.43 40-yard dash before winning the camp's fastest man race. Johnson has Virginia Tech, Penn State, and West Virginia out in front, but he told Steve Wiltfong a certain offer would change the outlook of his recruitment:
So what offer would be a game-changer as we expect them to roll in?
“Michigan,” Johnson answered.
In the few chances I've had to see him play, Johnson's looked like a viable Michigan prospect; when he and LaVert Hill formed Cass Tech's corner duo, I thought Johnson was the more consistent player, and while he isn't as twitchy as Hill, he's got plenty of athletic ability.
Four-star OH TE Matt Dotson earned an invite to The Opening, and Michigan is one of three schools in best position to land him, per Wiltfong:
Closing in on a college decision, Michigan and Michigan State top the list with a decision expected prior to senior season.
“Those are the two schools when I went there I really enjoyed it and liked everything about it,” Dotson said.
Penn State is the third program in the mix and Dotson will visit there for the first time on May 21.
Dotson wants to "take a couple more visits" to those three schools before making a decision.
Commits Get Rankings Bump
247 updated their 2017 rankings last week, giving boosts to three Michigan commits. RB AJ Dillon is now 209th overall, CB Benjamin St-Juste went from a low to a high three-star, and LB Ben Mason got a slight bump in his rating.
Another recent riser, RB O'Maury Samuels, was the subject of an MLive feature, and he said he's not afraid of competition in the backfield:
"Me, it's just instincts, I'm an instinctive guy," Samuels said. "Whatever I see or feel is best for right now and what's about to happen, I'm going to do it. I just really think anywhere they put me, I can contribute. If they just want me to receive out of the backfield, I can do it. If they want me to run downhill, I can do it; I love running the ball. Everything about football I love."
This running back class features a couple really impressive athletes in Dillon and Samuels, who've both tested very well this camp season.
Top-100 AL WR Nico Collins, who was supposed to visit for the Spring Game but had to cancel, made his way to campus last weekend. So far, this is what we've got as far as a reaction:
— Brice Marich (@BriceMarich) May 9, 2016
Sounds good. While it'll be tough to pry Collins away from Alabama, him paying his way to check out Ann Arbor is a promising sign.
Jay Harbaugh visited the nation's top-ranked prospect, CA RB Najee Harris, on Friday, per Steve Lorenz. Harris is a soft Alabama commit who's still being pursued by many of the top programs in the country, including Ohio State; Lorenz said he's hearing Michigan is one of the schools with a legitimate (if outside) shot at landing him.
Five-star CA WR Darnay Holmes told TMI's Brice Marich he'll "definitely" take an official to Michigan, and the Wolverines have a strong connection on campus already:
“[David Long is] pretty much my brother,” said Holmes. “We grew up together and he just says how crazy it would be if we both end up playing with each other! David on one side and myself on the other is dangerous. That's why I am considering (Michigan) and taking an official.”
M could have a decent shot here; Holmes doesn't have a top list in his recruitment so far and his Crystal Ball is split between Stanford, Nebraska, Arizona, and UCLA.
Gambling in this establishment. There has never been a more slam-dunk bolded header than the one you just read:
"I was shocked like everyone else living it out in real time," Freeze said of Tunsil's draft night comments. "But I'm confident our administration is going to find the facts and then give us a good report on it."
Good luck with that.
War. War never changes. Because one side is Grenada. You may remember NJ.com columnist Steve Politi from such hits as "Kyle Flood is real, man" and "Paramus asking Harbaugh to commencement is disgusting." He is an old-school pugnacious columnist who covers Rutgers. He's trying to build skyscrapers out of mud here.
But these were just warmups before his magnum opus:
Harbaugh's N.J. satellite camps are an act of war on Rutgers
You're probably thinking that authors don't write headlines and this is a junior intern clickbaiting you into a more reasonable article. Nope!
Harbaugh, long ago, stopped caring about any conference ethics about pitching his tent just miles from a Big Ten rival. You wonder: What does a New Jersey high school have to gain from offering its territory to an out-of-state recruiter? A number of state colleges and high schools have said no, in deference to Rutgers, but Harbaugh has found his landing spots.
A lot to unpack there:
- The last time we made up fictional "conference ethics" I think we were talking about Roy Roundtree decommitting from Purdue. That's a blast from the past right there.
- Again with the insane idea that coaches should be more loyal to state borders than their players.
- Rutgers is the 13th Big Ten school to declare itself a rival of Michigan, and the most incorrect about that.
- "In deference to Rutgers" has never, ever happened. Ever.
In response, baseball and softball leveled Piscataway, ending the brief but memorable War On Rutgers.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) May 8, 2016
Speaking of softball. The tournament beckons. Michigan is coming off a ninth straight Big Ten title, and everything is more or less as it's been for a decade:
For those just getting caught up, here's how things look: Hutchins' team is ranked No. 2 in the country and on a 17-game winning streak. It closed the regular season on Sunday with an 8-0 win, improving to 44-4 overall and 21-2 in the Big Ten, and will now head to the Big Ten tournament next weekend at Penn State.
After that, a trip to the NCAA Tournament will feature NCAA Regional and Super Regional games likely hosted in Ann Arbor, as long as U-M keeps winning.
The overriding storyline will, once again, be Michigan's hunt for a second national championship under Hutchins.
If this sounds familiar it's because it is. The Wolverines ended last season with 17 straight wins to cap a 48-6 regular-season record. They sent that above storyline into a frenzy by charging to a national championship showdown against Florida, but lost in a best-of-three matchup.
#1 Florida, which actually run-ruled Michigan in the third game of the season, again looms at the end of the road.
On Paterno stuff. Buried in a legal document created as PSU and its insurer fight over which entity will have to pay for PSU enabling Jerry Sandusky is a bombshell:
Judge Glazer referenced several victims’ depositions, which are sworn testimonies, made out of court, that are recorded and/or transcribed. According to Judge Glazer, those depositions reveal that in 1976, “a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky” and that in 1987 and 1988 an assistant coach witnessed Sandusky committing sexual acts or having inappropriate contact with a child. Judge Glazer reasoned that while Paterno and the unnamed assistant coaches might have known about Sandusky’s acts, available evidence did not indicate that any Penn State officers, trustees or shareholders had such knowledge. As a consequence, Judge Glazer determined that Penn State is eligible to seek certain types of coverage payments from PMA (Judge Glazer also found that Penn State is not eligible for other types of coverage payments).
This is not a thing a court decided. It is a document produced by the insurer arguing its case. Twitter lawyer @Ugarles had a brief and useful explainer of what the court claim in fact was. For those allergic to links, the upshot:
so there's allegation by the insurer that he knew but no examination of the evidence behind that claim because it didn't matter to the court
— Sigh Hersh (parody) (@Ugarles) May 6, 2016
A judge has not declared that Joe Paterno knew. Several people have told the court, under penalty of perjury, that Paterno was repeatedly told Sandusky was molesting boys going back some 40 years. This is in addition to the Mike McQueary incident, for which the best defense mounted was that Paterno was a confused old man. That defense won't fly for incidents from the 70s and 80s, leaving us choosing between two possibilities: several people are lying in depositions or Joe Paterno enabled Sandusky for decades. What's the Vegas line here? I know the latter is a serious underdog.
This isn't actually relevant to sports anymore since Penn State is not going to have their sanctions re-examined, but just wow man. People who run around spouting off about "success with honor" and the like are far more likely to be secret monsters than dudes like John Calipari. Calipari isn't trying to pass himself off as a Leader of Men. He's just a guy who coaches basketball and doesn't care much for NCAA rules. There's a nobility in not pretending to be noble, and a darkness in people who have to signal their virtue. (Anyone on Twitter's run across the latter all day every day.)
Photograph conveniently located. The NYT profiles Jamie Horowitz, the FS1 executive who's importing all the worst people in sports punditry, and this is a serendipitous virtual signaling example right here:
You may know me as a lizard person who offered Stephen A Smith a platform to excuse any and all woman-beating he may come across, but I also have children. It is a mere coincidence that I have framed this picture so that I am literally surrounded by them.
Etc.: "The incident is not the first between the clubs at a wheelchair basketball match." Mitch Leidner projected as first round pick by Todd McShay. McShay roundly mocked by Minnesota fans. Minnesota blog defends Leidner by linking video in which half the throws are wounded ducks and one is the "back-shoulder corner" throw against Jeremy Clark. Urban Meyer doesn't know some of his recruits' names.
so happy we found each other [Joe Dressler for MGoBlog]
SPIKE & CARIS & MAAR & DAWKINS & CALVES (and Colton). Since Beilein’s in the market for a last minute addition or two, Lanknows wrote us a quick look-back at the guys he’s found in a pinch before. I mean, I’m kind of nervous right now—we expected attrition but not that much attrition. But this list would be a ludicrous level of bargain bin success if he had found them all two years before they committed. Even after a disappointing season you have to wonder why nobody else thought Johnny Dawkins’s superbly athletic son was worth a scholarship except Dayton.
IT’S STILL PROBABLY HIS ACCURACY BUT WHOA DADDY. This site is about to be a safe haven for a nation swimming in politics, so I am going to be extra careful about keeping the politics where they belong. But you know who doesn’t think politics are off limits? Connor Cook’s dad.
And here’s some from the xenophobic shelf ….. pic.twitter.com/C77Tt3zjCT
— Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) May 5, 2016
Connor Cook probably slipped in the draft either because his accuracy, while effective enough for college, suggests he’ll be even less effective in the NFL than Dak Prescott (link: Football Outsiders’ QBase draft projections). Or maybe because his shoulder was pretty messed up and early draft contracts are a lot to gamble on an arm that might fall out. But Daddy being a clearly awful at humanity in 80% of his 1800 tweets probably didn’t help.
If you like me can only handle so much Jeff Moss, go use that up now.
HASHTAG NINETY-FOUR. I think retroactively erasing the outcomes of games makes as much sense as vacating the Norman conquest of England because Harold never swore any such thing, and anyway the Godwins were in truth fine patrons of the Church so the Cross of St. George never should have been allowed to play.
But if they did decide to re-vacate every JoePa victory since he discovered Jerry Sandusky’s a sexual predator, according to a court document that now goes back to 1976:
The line in question states that one of Penn State's insurers has claimed "in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU's Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky."
Stuff’s still coming out as the legal ramifications of a long-held campus secret become relevant in criminal proceeding or, in this case, a civil case brought by Penn State’s insurer, who claims they shouldn’t be on the hook for the damages if administrators knew and didn’t tell them. Hard not to agree.
I’ve had my fill of Ha Ha Penn State. It’s more a sobering reminder that betraying morality for what you love is betraying the thing you love. Also a sobering reminder that PSU twitter—aka #409—is awful. So I guess what I’m saying is if they did knock his win total back to every game after he knew and didn’t stop it, Joe has 94 wins. #094.
MITCH LEIDNER CAN THROW SPIRALS YOU GUYS I’M SRLSY. Okay nobody posted (Ace linked it in Slack today) this but it should be a thread since the Daily Gopher is having to explain why Todd McShay put Leidner in his 2017 mock draft.
In the first round. As a quarterback. Of the NFL. The football one!
Then the Daily Gopher goes on to explain that yes Leidner can throw a spiral using a video in which Leidner comically doesn’t throw spirals and wracks up highlights by QB sneaking a half a yard. No idea why Gopher fans think moving the ball half a yard is an accomplishment. I mean it should be automatic.
And yes, chucking it where the only way it’s not intercepted by Jeremy Clark is if Clark can’t believe he’d chuck it there is on the reel. Amazingly his pinpoint slant that beat Jourdan Lewis on 4th down isn’t.
ALL ABOARD BOATY MGOBOATFACE. Rivals shared the list of satellite camps that are back on. Map? Map.
There’s also rumors of camps to be held in the Pacific Islands, at which point the MGoStaff mutinied and demanded Brian add an option to the Kickstarter to send us all to cover it—all hands on deck. And by that we mean rent a yacht to get us all there. And by that we mean we could use your help naming the boat. Leaders so far are Boaty MGoBoatFace and Happy Ever After, No Brandon’s [sic].
So what I’m getting at here is that for a $30,000 contribution to HTTV’s kickstarter you can have two books (one of them signed), the shirt, a sentence on the thank you page, and three co-workers and I will personally travel to Hawaii to deliver a copy to Harbaugh.
Speaking of Michigan’s Hawaiian presence, I just finished prepping Craig Ross’s article researching the first games of football and it is fascinating. Like I am going to bug Craig to make this his next book.
ETC. Professor Needs a Raise got his raise, is now part of the football program. A thread about Cool World apparently. Magnus (and MGoFish and Brandon the new guy at MnB) gets crystal ball. Space Coyote on defending the pull.
Your Moment of Zen:
Upchurch / Upchurch / Sherman
With the news that Kam Chatman is transferring, what was a five-man rising junior class is now just two. Four players (including Spike – who will be playing for Purdue next season) who played last season are leaving with remaining eligibility. Ordinarily, this would be cause for considerable depth concerns, but since Michigan returns all five starters from last season’s tournament team – something that very few teams can say in this day and age – experience is actually an advantage for this team moving forward. Very rarely are teams able to sustain five-man lineups year over year and it’s reasonable to expect that Walton / Rahkman / Robinson / Irvin / Donnal will execute crisp offense together on the floor. If improvement from Wagner vaults him past Donnal (who’s much more of a known quantity) on the depth chart, all the better.
Right now, that depth chart might look like this:
We’ve seen the effect that limited depth can have on players, and it might be a concern again. Walton will have a very capable backup in Xavier Simpson, and fellow freshman Ibi Watson will get a shot behind MAAR, so the guard situation is much better than it was a year ago. There are enough big men: Donnal and Wagner will run into foul trouble, so there’s a need for a third option to emerge, but all in all, there are enough bodies at the five.
The main concern comes on the wing – and that’s why the departures of Dawkins and Chatman might be felt the most. Michigan has two open scholarships for next season and desperately could use a wing with immediate eligibility (either as ideally a grad transfer or a 2016 recruit) to offset those losses: Dawkins was Michigan’s sixth man and played just under 40% of available minutes, while Chatman chipped in 12%. By the postseason, both were essentially used only to rest the starters – Robinson and Irvin each played right around 90% of available minutes in the Wolverines’ five postseason games. As it stands, those two are the only wings left with any experience.
None of the departures – Aubrey Dawkins, Ricky Doyle, and Kam Chatman – are particularly unexpected; Dawkins fell behind Duncan Robinson and saw his dad take a mid-major coaching job; Doyle and Chatman were on the periphery of the rotation and a path to significant minutes for either was hard to find. Still, all three were good enough to play last year, and their minutes will need to be replaced. Doyle’s minutes will be split easily between Donnal, Wagner, and the freshmen bigs; Robinson and Irvin probably can’t handle many more minutes, let alone taking all the minutes vacated by Dawkins and Chatman.
[What will Michigan be losing? Find out after the JUMP]
From a statistical standpoint, it doesn’t look like Michigan’s losing anything it can’t replace. Dawkins was pretty efficient due to his three-point shooting; Doyle’s offensive rating was low for a Michigan center; Chatman (who had an enormous usage rate in his sparse minutes) really struggled shooting the ball – except for that one time.
I posted a similar graphic in Irvin’s season recap, as his data point is certainly the most eyebrow-raising. If his three-point percentage (29.8) improves to even an average level, his overall efficiency would take a mini-leap; of course, he shot the ball better after he’d fully recovered from his injury. Zak’s also the late-clock creator more often than not, and when Michigan’s struggling to get shots, he’s one of the few naturally aggressive shot-hunters on the team. Still, if Michigan’s to make a significant improvement next year, Zak will have to become more efficient in the lead role. I digress.
Here’s what Michigan’s losing with each departure:
After a promising close to his freshman season, Aubrey Dawkins received the most hype as the “most improved player” over the summer (it turned out to be LeVert). Unfortunately for Dawkins, his skill-set overlapped almost completely with Duncan Robinson’s – both are shooters, neither are defenders – and his playing time went down as Robinson got off to a hot start shooting the ball. Dawkins never seemed to find his rhythm for Michigan this season, though there were a few games where he provided instant offense off the bench in the form of a succession of made threes.
Dawkins was a very effective shooter (56% on twos, 43% on threes, 74% on free throws) and actually shot 50% from three in Big Ten play, far better than Robinson’s 35%. Still, Duncan played far more, eventually becoming so entrenched in the rotation that Dawkins rarely had a shot to inject some life into Michigan’s offense with his shooting. The main culprit was, of course, defense. Perhaps no one better epitomized the struggles of Michigan basketball more than Dawkins did: he had some nice skills offensively (though his dunking never translated into the actual games), but any chance of meaningful contribution was torpedoed by his inattentive matador defense. We hoped that Aubrey would develop into a 3-and-D wing, but somehow it seemed as if his defense actually regressed.
Of course, with the lack of wing depth on the roster, it would have been great to have Dawkins back, even if his skill-set is redundant with Duncan on the roster. A knockdown shooter off the bench is usually a luxury, but Dawkins always needed to chip in a few threes to compensate for his defense. As Robinson became a better – though still not very good – defender, Dawkins’s playing time evaporated, even if he was shooting better than Robinson was. That’s why it’s really no surprise that’s joining his father at UCF – hopefully Aubrey can improve his defense, because if he does, he could be a great player for them.
Doyle was the nominal winner of the battle at the five last year between he, Donnal, and Max Bielfeldt, but a year later, he was clearly the worst of the three.* Apparently he dealt with problems associated with sleep apnea, which would explain his seeming lack of energy and burst on the floor. Even when he was pretty successful as a freshman, it wasn’t because of his athleticism, so the problems that came along with sleeplessness and depression-like symptoms doubtlessly left Ricky struggling on the floor. Fortunately, he was diagnosed with the problem, so hopefully he’ll be able to eliminate his sleep apnea issues.
Once Mark Donnal emerged as a legit player against Illinois, Doyle’s playing time dropped off steeply – and after his grogginess during his start to the season, it wasn’t much of a surprise. Now that Moritz Wagner has shown flashes as a high-ceiling player, the writing was pretty much on the wall for Doyle, who also saw two incoming freshmen he’d have to battle for playing time (and as it’s usually wiser to develop young players, Doyle would have to play at a high level). It’s going to be interesting to see what school he transfers to and how he plays there after a redshirt season – Ricky was always a developmental guy and with his sleep issues in the past, he could be a real steal for a solid program, despite his athletic limitations.
*and Bielfeldt was clearly the best – a dynamic small-ball five who could moonlight as a four and who won Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year. He finally developed into what Beilein saw as his ceiling when he gave him a very late offer, but he fulfilled that promise for Indiana. At least Michigan went 1-1 against him.
Doyle – an early addition without any other major interest – and Dawkins – a late add whose best offer was Dayton – were under-the-radar recruits, but Chatman came in as the jewel of the class, a top 50 recruit. Kam never was able to adjust well to the faster pace of college hoops; as a freshman, he played 35.9% of available minutes but put up a really bad eFG% of 36.8. While his shooting improved a decent amount as a sophomore, his playing time went down and his overall efficiency still wasn’t very good, despite being a good passer for his size (assist rate of 14.2, higher than his turnover rate). Defensively, Kam was probably the best option on the wing, but it’s pretty clear that Beilein values players with good offense and poor defense far more than the inverse.
Any way you slice it, Chatman was a disappointment relative to his lofty recruiting rankings. Whether it was his youth (relative to his Class of 2016 peers) or a more unorthodox set of skills, it was hard for him to gel with his teammates and Beilein’s system. It was long assumed that he was Michigan’s most likely transfer, though during the time between Dawkins’s departure and Kam’s, it looked like he could be in for Dawkins’s minutes. In any case, the redshirt year should also benefit Chatman, who was put onto the floor far too early. He was a very sought-after recruit the first time around, and I wonder if that will linger as his second recruitment begins.
* * *
The biggest impact of these transfers, in the short-term, is the vacancy at wing – something that may or may not change as the roster for next season is finalized. If no other wing is added, perhaps MAAR could give some minutes at the three, though putting him, an undersized four, and a tiny backcourt on the floor at the same time may not be tenable. In the long term, these moves clear up room – instead of five players seeing their eligibility expire after 2018, there are now just two (and DJ Wilson, who could get a redshirt senior season for 2018-19).