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The optimal lineup? (Apologies for reminding you of those shoes.)
Michigan's underwhelming start to this season can in large part be attributed to the dropoff in play at point guard; this was expected with Trey Burke gone to the NBA, but the degree to which it's affected the team's overall performance has surprised. Without Burke drawing the attention of multiple defenders, Michigan's wings have had a much more difficult time generating offense.
As discussed earlier today, Derrick Walton hasn't had a great start to the season, and his status as starting point guard is tenuous after Spike Albrecht played the lion's share of the minutes against Arizona and acquitted himself well. In an effort to figure out which point guard gives the Wolverines the best chance of winning now, I took another look at the Arizona tape along with the usual foray into KenPom and hoop-math wonkery.
We'll start with the tape from Saturday, focusing on the play of each point guard on both ends of the floor, with an emphasis on the type of shots each generated. Here's the reel for Spike:
And here's Walton:
After THE JUMP, I (chart!) chart every shot from the game, break down my impressions of each player based on the above film and the season as a whole, and take a deeper statistical look into their play.
[JUMP, if you will.]
Before the film breakdown, let's look at the charts, which track shot quality based on where a shot originated and how well the defense contested it. NC stands for No Contest, LC for Late Contest, and HC for Heavy Contest; those categories are pretty self-explanatory, and obviously you'd prefer more NC/LC shots than HCs. Since I'm looking to see which point guard helps the team's offense function, not just what each point does when he has the ball, I charted all shots generated when each player was on the floor regardless of the passers or shooters involved. I define transition shots the same way hoop-math does—any shot in the first ten seconds of the shot clock following a steal, defensive rebound, or opponent made basket. The non-transition chart covers the rest, obviously. Asterisks represent shooting fouls drawn.
ARIZONA SHOT CHART
|Albrecht on court||1/1||1/1*||1/2||--||--||--||--||1/3||--||4/7 (1F)|
|Walton on court||--||1/1||--||--||--||--||1/1||--||--||2/2|
Both players do a good job of making themselves available for outlet passes and pushing the pace; based on both this game and the season at large, Spike is more likely to look for an open three-point shot in transition—whether it's him shooting it or a teammate.
|Albrecht on court||--||4/4**||2/6*||1/1||0/1||0/2||1/3||3/6||1/1||12/25 (3F)|
|Walton on court||1/1||2/2*||0/2||1/2||0/1*||0/3||--||1/1||0/2||5/14 (2F)|
Here's where the difference between the two players starts to come forth. While both players generated shots at the rim at a decent rate, Michigan got a lot more good looks from three with Albrecht out there, while—considering Albrecht played 25 minutes to Walton's 14—the team settled for a higher rate of two-point jumpers with Walton on the floor. The team scored 1.16 points per shot with Spike running the point compared to 0.79 with Walton; sample size is obviously an issue here, but when we take a closer look at the film there are underlying issues that explain why it's difficult to discount this entirely.
The contrast between the two becomes more stark when looking at the film. A few major areas in which the two differ:
Simply put, Spike is the better passer at this stage, and it shows both on film and in the numbers. He doesn't make many bad passes—most of his turnovers come when he over-dribbles—and he's got much better chemistry with his teammates, especially Mitch McGary, which shouldn't be a huge surprise considering he's got more experience playing with them. Walton misses more open players—for example, he can't find a way to get McGary the ball at the 2:22 mark—and doesn't display the same knack for threading a pass into the post. Spike gives players the ball in a position to shoot immediately; Walton isn't quite there yet. While Michigan is willing to run the pick-and-roll with Spike as the ballhandler, they don't do that much with Walton, because Spike is better at utilizing screens as well as getting the ball to the rolling big.
Spike doesn't take as many shots when he's on the floor; what he lacks in volume, however, he makes up for in shot selection and efficiency. He's better at picking the right time to drive to the hoop than Walton, whose turnovers and poor shots have largely originated from driving into the teeth of the defense and getting overwhelmed by bigger players in the paint. Then, of course, there's Spike's ability to knock down threes from NBA range at a high rate, which also helps...
Due to Spike's outside shooting acumen and his knowledge of the offense, the team's spacing is much better when he's on the floor than it is with Walton. The opening possession of Walton's film and the one that starts at the 0:55 mark are good examples; on the former, Walton has to take a deep three as the shot clock winds down, and on the latter he's bailed out by a foul call at the end of the clock on a difficult pull-up two. One factor in this is Spike's outside shooting threat outweighing that of Walton's; teams have to account for Albrecht when he spots up, and since he's able to shoot from so far outside it spreads the defense thin, opening up room for everyone else.
Ball movement is also better with Spike on the floor, and this is obviously tied into the better spacing. It's also a matter of who's doing the passing. When Walton brings the ball up the court, he usually passes it off to one of the wings and heads to the corner; often, these sets end with a Stauskas or LeVert drive after a lot of Amaker-style cycling around the perimeter. Spike is more likely to be a part of the initial play when he brings it up, as his ability to pass or shoot off the pick-and-roll allows the wings to spread the floor and spot up.
Here's where things get interesting, as I don't think there's much question that the offense fares better with Spike at the helm; the common thought is that his defensive deficiencies are keeping him from being the clear-cut starter. There's definitely something to this: Walton, while not stellar in this regard, is the better on-ball defender. While both players are beaten off the dribble at around the same rate, Walton's size advantage on Spike makes him better at contesting shots and preventing easy passes into the post.
Spike, however, has some advantages as well. He's more disciplined defensively, communicates better—blown switches were more common with Walton out there—and is more adept at navigating around on- and off-ball screens. I think he's a better transition defender, as well; while Walton is prone to gambling for steals, Spike is good about identifying a man early and getting back into good position—the same traits that make him a better help defender, in my opinion.
I think Walton's size and aggression, especially as he learns to reign in the latter, make him the better defensive player overall; I'm not sure the gap is wide enough that it makes up for the difference offensively at this stage. It's very telling that when Michigan was in desperate need of a stop at the end of the Arizona game, neither point guard was on the floor, and Beilein mentioned in the postgame presser that he's considering using the Caris-at-point lineup more often as a situational defensive look.
BY THE NUMBERS
Another chart, all stats from KenPom:
|Walton||60.2||99.1||21.5||18.3||20.3||26.6||33.8||16-22 (72.7%)||16-33 (48.5%)||12-32 (37.5%)|
|Albrecht||40.0||126.9||15.5||15.3||30.9||14.5||11.1||2-4 (50.0%)||7-15 (46.7%)||9-21 (42.9%)|
This gets to the heart of the matter, at least offensively. Walton uses more possessions and is less efficient with them, especially when it comes to assist-to-turnover ratio. Walton's one advantage is his ability to get to the line, but he's not as good as Stauskas (66.7 FTRate), McGary (43.6), or Robinson (41.9) in that regard, and he's not too far ahead of LeVert (28.6) while being a less effective scorer inside the arc than any of those guys. Michigan doesn't need Walton to get to the line; they do need Spike to generate a healthy number of assists while still taking care of the ball.
After looking at the film and the numbers, I think Spike is the better point guard for this team in the short term; his passing and shooting really change how the offense operates and the difference between the two defensively just isn't enough to overcome that. Beilein didn't discount the possibility that Spike takes over the starting role after the Arizona game, and I wouldn't be surprised if that comes to fruition sooner rather than later, especially since this team is running out of margin for error when it comes to making the tournament, let alone getting a half-decent seed.
Freshmen sometimes play like freshmen, but fergodsakes…
From Hardaway to Stauskas, Michigan fans in recent seasons have been spoiled by freshmen who show up and can immediately ball with the starters. So what's up with Walton/Irvin? Were we too high on them or is this normal for kids before Christmas? Will they improve enough by March to make Michigan the contender we thought they were at the beginning of the season?
Brian: I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE
Okay, sorry, sorry. It is kind of weird that all of a sudden Michigan has to deal with freshmen playing like freshmen. Last year Stauskas was pretty great from the drop, GRIII was the perfect addition to a Trey Burke driven team, and even Albrecht came off the bench to play his role effectively and occasionally drop sick dimes on VCU or rain threes on Louisville. The year before that, Trey Burke! The year before that Tim Hardaway was just a (high volume, pretty effective) shooter but I'll take just a shooter from a freshman.
|The last freshman who wasn't really efficient as a true freshman.|
You have to go back to 2010(!) to find a Michigan team that didn't get really efficient play from at least one of its freshmen. That year, Darius Morris did get starter's minutes at the point but barely shot and had a post-like 27 TO rate. And even in that situation you can understand what happened: Morris was a no-shoot pick and roll savant playing with Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims. The former was a ball magnet with no conscience, the latter a PF masquerading as a C. He was never going to be a great player until he got to dominate the ball a la Manny.
Michigan's freshmen are not in that situation. Irvin can stand in the corner and jack threes a la freshman Hardaway just fine, hypothetically. Walton, too, is in a situation where he can contribute with his decent three point shooting and hypothetically good on-ball defense without having to dominate the ball, which doesn't seem like a good idea. So they can slot in to provide effective help for the GRIII/LeVert/Stauskas troika that spearheads Michigan shot generation. We just have to see them do it.
I think both have disappointed, and that it's reasonable to expect better production--some production--any production--from guys ranked in the top 50 most places. That's not to write either off. I mean, Caris LeVert. Players get better, often radically. But Michigan fans are well within their rights to be a little disappointed about how it's gone for the freshmen so far.
As for whether they'll get better, I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE. Someone tell me yes.
[After the Jump: people who work for Brian telling him 'yes']
BiSB I'm not terribly worried about Zak Irvin. As much as anything, I'd chalk his limited playing time up to the butterfly-like emergence of Caris LeVert (bet you're sorry you wasted that nickname on Darius Morris, aren't you Tim Doyle?). You can't keep LeVert off the court right now because he and Stauskas are the only guys generating offense in the half-court.
|The role of spot-up jumper may be o…oh Caris can do that too. What else you got Zak?|
That leaves LeVert/Stauskas/GRIII hogging minutes at the 2-3-4, which really doesn't leave a lot of room for Irvin. Whatever the hell was up with Puerto Rico's rims notwithstanding, Irvin has shown the ability to play the role of the spot-up artillery piece, and I think we'll see his minutes look a lot like LeVert's minutes last year.
Walton's case is a little more concerning, because he's getting minutes and still hasn't been particularly productive with them. Comparing Walton and Trey Burke is a little unfair, both because Trey Burke was Trey Burke (which has been shown to be a decided advantage in the area of 'basketballing') and because Burke was more of a dribble-drive point guard where Walton is more of a distributing point guard. Brian pointed out some solid reasons Morris wasn't statistically great as a freshman, but the fact remains that he wasn't. Walton has been dealing with a just-now-getting-going McGary, and I'm holding out hope that once the pick and roll maestro gets fully healthy, Walton will start to emerge. Still, if you had to peg it right now, Walton's career trajectory looks a lot more like Keith Appling's than Trey Burke's.
All that said, this week's football revelations teach us that a bird in the hand is worth two in the committed-but-signing-day-isn't-here-yet. These are two guys with high floors, and their worst-case scenarios are still going to be helpful for the team going forward.
Seth: Yes, freshmen get better, but they would be getting better if they were Burke 2.0 and Hardaway except 6'6. It appears the principal was a little less than we hoped, and it's going to take more time for these bonds to mature. Let's try one of those blind comparisons between freshman point guards:
Player 1 is Derrick Walton. Player 2 is 2009-'10 Darius Morris. Player 3 is 2002-'03 Daniel Horton, and Player 4 you probably guessed is Burke. Morris is the nearest comparison but he had way less usage because Manny was that offense. On the other hand a big part of the expectation for Walton was that he wouldn't have to be the offense this year, either.
Taking entire freshman seasons, though, is unfair, since presumably the first 10 games of a point guard's career will be his worst. It's too cumbersome to produce ORtg and other team-dependent stats for everybody's first 10 games but here's the base stats of those four guys at this point in their freshman campaigns:
|Daniel Horton '02||333||129||62||29%||34||76%||38||37||16||136||38.2%|
|Darius Morris '09||241||45||13||23%||12||75%||24||20||4||52||42.2%|
|Trey Burke '11||330||107||48||35%||22||64%||48||30||9||125||46.8%|
|Derrick Walton '13||244||65||32||38%||22||73%||28||23||4||84||47.4%|
Walton is getting Morris minutes and playing like freshman Morris except not afraid to shoot, which he's doing like Burke (he hasn't had Burke's weird free throw problems from his freshman year—oh yeah, remember that?). So if we're adjusting expectations for the rest of the year and beyond, it's down from "guy who will win Naismith next year" to "guy who will be an NBA draft pick in two years." If you're disappointed by that you have been spoiled by Trey Burke.
I would reserve more disappointment for Irvin, but I'm also more used to guys coming in who we think are perfect Beilein wings and having them not really be that yet. He needs to find his spot in the offense.
Ace: I think part of the difficulty regarding the freshmen finding roles this year is that, unlike previous years, many of the other pieces on the roster are still trying to find their roles. Last year's freshmen joined a team with Burke and Hardaway as the obvious go-to guys and fell into place around them. The previous year, Burke was the only viable option at the point. In 2010-11, Hardaway and Smotrycz each had clear-cut spot-up shooter roles with Morris dominating the ball. When Morris was a freshman, he was the setup guy for Harris and Sims.
|So we've got a Yogi? Has Indiana even decided what their Yogi is yet? [Fuller]|
This year, Walton is the starting point guard except possibly not—I'm posting a much more in-depth look at this soon; the short version is that he's being outplayed by Spike Albrecht and the minutes are beginning to reflect that. Irvin is a spot-up shooter and defensive specialist whose minutes have waxed and waned as the schedule gets more difficult—he played just five minutes against Arizona. Stauskas has emerged as the go-to guy but now the team is trying to figure out what they do when opponents key on him; both GRIII and LeVert are still getting used to their new roles in the offense, and while they're figuring it out there's little room for Irvin to do the same. It's tough for freshmen to settle into a role when they're not entirely sure what that role is supposed to be (or, as is the case with Walton, when they're looking at the bench after every mistake).
That said, they're both underperforming for recruits of such high regard. At the moment, I'm more concerned about Irvin than Walton; freshman point guards tend to struggle in the early going while Irvin's game seemed tailor-made for an early impact on this team. Seth has some good Michigan comps for Walton; my first thought when looking for players in more similar situations was to take a look at Indiana now-sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell's first ten games from last year, when he stepped into a starting role surrounded by players who'd be higher priorities on offense:
Walton Thru 10 Games (5 KenPom100 Teams, 4 KP50): 244 minutes, 8.4 points/game, 16/33 2-pt, 12/32 3-pt, 16/22 FT, 28 assists, 23 turnovers, 4 steals
Ferrell Thru 10 Games (4 KP100, 3 KP50): 255 minutes, 6.5 points/game, 15/45 2-pt, 3/14 3-pt, 26/29 FT, 47 assists, 21 turnovers, 7 steals
|GRIII's great Arizona game may have provided Michigan an answer to what to do when defenses key on Stauskas, it also means another recalibration of how the 2-4 spots interconnect.|
Ferrell was the better distributor in the early going, but he had similar turnover issues to Walton and was a much worse shooter. Both players are of similar size and recruiting hype and carried the reputation of being strong defenders in addition to good point guards. This year, Ferrell has greatly improved his efficiency—with improved shooting percentages and a marked decrease in turnovers—despite taking a much higher percentage of shots; that leap forward began in the latter stages of last season when he starting learning when to pick his spots to attack. I think Walton can follow much the same pattern, which would mean gradual improvement to the end of this season and a big leap forward next year.
Irvin's a tougher one to figure out, in large part because his minutes have been sporadic. I think the inconsistent minutes are in large part to blame for his performance—it's difficult for a shooter to be ready to come off the bench and shoot when they don't have a regular time they're set to some in. Also, Irvin has played a lot in Michigan's big lineup featuring LeVert at the point; while LeVert is a good ballhandler and shot creator, he's yet to master the drive-and-kick—his passes often don't put the recipient in good position to immediately go up with a shot, and this has caused some misses that aren't entirely the shooter's fault. While Irvin struggled mightily in big minutes against Charlotte, he had a very nice bounce-back game against Coppin State when he got some run with the natural point guards. I think he comes around before the season is out and at least provides solid spot-up shooting.
[ed: bump for epicness. contains swearing, obviously. Wait. What? Oh are you f-ing kidding me about JT Compher breaking his foot. I HATE ALL THINGS.]
THE STATE OF OUR OPEN THREADS: A SEASON IN PROFANITY
We’ve entered December and the relative lull between the end of the regular season for football, bowl games and conference basketball. We have undoubtedly looked back on 2013 and said our peace and expressed our frustrations with how things went this year.
As you know, of course, your frustrations were measured here and compiled into a series of short summaries which began to appear midseason, and this was called “The State Of Our Threads”. I was the originator of the idea, but I actually was not the first to post it because I was a little leery of how people might react to the self-effacing blog humor that it was meant to be. I have CooperLily21 to thank for introducing this initially.
Well, now that the season is over and our thoughts have collected, it is time to look at how we got mad, what made us mad and how often we were mad.
For the same of simplicity, I tracked seven words or types of references. One of them, specifically “put in Morris”, was more for something which will appear in another part of this work. It was a very productive year with 4,843 occurrences of these tracked words and references. All of them as well as their relative frequency of use are in the table and chart below.
|TOTAL||AVERAGE||STD. DEV.||% oF TOTAL|
|"put in Morris"||187||15.58||16.81||3.86%|
There were some other interesting statistics to report as well.
The average number of instances of the tracked words for a home game, for example, was 256 and for away games, it was 611. In other words, we swore at an average rate 2.38 times greater during our away games than our home games. I am fairly certain our performance in some of those games has a hand in that number.
The average thread size (or combined posting volume in both threads, if there were two) for a home game was 1,283 posts, but for an away game, it was 1,929. As noted above, this is probably due to performance in some of these games which led to some of us having much to say, and per this study, not much of it was kind.
Most interesting of all to me, 70.06% of all tracked swearing was done during away games, compared to only 29.94% for home games. This is sort of given to you in the average per-game comparison above, but the percentages here really paint the picture, I think. In our collective perception, we were not good on the road and here is further evidence of that perception.
One other question you might have is which games contributed most to the total. You probably would not be shocked if I told you that, by themselves, Penn State, Northwestern and Iowa contributed to 55.40% of all instances of the tracked words. Even though one of those was a win, these three games left us the most perturbed.
THE MOOD CHART
What did the MGoMood look like on a plot? See the Mood Chart below:
Using the normalized values of each major component – thread size and swearing frequency (I used the average of the tracked words), we get a decent handle on the board’s general mood throughout the course of the football season. As you can see, we spent much of it rather upset, although there were noted exceptions. One thing we can hypothesize here is that the people who threatened to check out and said they would be done with this team probably came to say something anyway, because although Nebraska may have left us feeling the most numb per the graph, we still definitely felt something.
[AFTER THE JUMP: WHAT MADE US MAD, other than everything, and the most MGoBlog stat of all time: swearing efficiency.]
WHAT MADE US MAD?
A random sampling of the threads – half of them – and some random categorization provide us with “The Pareto Of Our Discontent”. In the sampling, which involves game from each third of the season, we can start to get an idea of things which made us particularly upset.
“Negative Plays” covers the rushing game as well as general criticisms of run-blocking and play selections for the runs themselves. The lack of success here – at least in the sample – made us angrier that anything really. From here, turnovers, “3rd And Long” (which was a blanket category for long downs on offense), QB play (where the "put in Morris" references come into play, but also criticisms of Gardner alone) and so on. How did we then turn that discontent into proposed action? We shall see.
SWEARING AND THREAD SIZE
Here are the individual values for each tracked word and thread size normalized to their mean. The mean thread size, so you are aware, was 1,551 posts with a very wide standard deviation of 461 posts.
You have seen the top chart before if you have followed these weekly, which is the normalized values for each tracked word. You will note that by far the most concentrated rage belongs to the Penn State and Iowa games, both of which were quite winnable. Trailing far behind would be Northwestern and Nebraska, and then the board was comparatively mellow after that.
The thread size graph should give you an idea of how much we talked on the board during each game. Far and away, we were at our most talkative during Penn State and Northwestern, with Michigan State being some distance behind. Iowa, for the sort of game that it turned out to be, was not a game were we said so much, but it was what we did say that gives this game a particularly interesting honor. The overall trend was that we talked a little more each game, but as you will note from the R-value, it wasn’t a steady trend.
For purposes of this study, “Swearing Efficiency” was the number of posts per instance of a tracked word, so for example, when you see on the chart below an efficiency rating of 14.71 for the Central Michigan game, it means that there was an instance of a tracked word every 14.71 posts in the thread, so it was a relatively clean chat for this game.
The advantage of looking at the swearing here from an efficiency standpoint is that you can see where we as a blog were very concise and pointed in our expressions of disappointment (to put it mildly, in some cases).
The first inklings of concise rage are evident in the trying Akron-UConn stretch, which was followed by relatively clean thoughts for Minnesota. After that, Penn State hits 2.08 and then a crescendo builds slowly to the Iowa game, where we basically lose our shit in the second half.
GENERAL ITEMS YOU WANTED TO KNOW
FIRE SOMEONE, ANYONE
It turns out that a lot of people wanted a lot of things fired this year, some of them things which probably couldn’t be fired or were not leaving in any scenario. Whether it be the mods, a coach or the family dog, there was a lot of firing being proposed. The question a lot of bloggers asked, however, is who we wanted fired in our collective rage.
Of the 480 references to firing someone, 311 of them were directed at one Al Borges, which accounts for 65% of all calls for someone’s head in our open threads. Darrell Funk actually gets off lighter than you might think with another 17% of the calls for termination. The next most popular choice was Brady Hoke with about 12% and Greg Mattison with a very surprising (as in, this is a lot higher than I assumed) 2%. The remaining 4% go to random people and even items – “The Mods” were a popular choice though.
HOW DID WE “FUCK”?
Some people asked about getting data on just how we used “fuck” in particular, and in all 2,302 instances of the word, we spent almost 90% of the time using it either as an interjection or an adjective. In other words, our usage mirrored common usage. Now, most of the remaining 10% actually had people successfully using it as an adverb, so kudos to these people for thinking out of the fucking box.
WHEN DID WE “SHIT”?
When we needed a colorful simile, we went to “shit” often. Actually, far and away, this particular use was the most common. There were a few rare uses of “shit” as an adjective and even an interjection, but when we needed to talk about what the quality of play was like, we knew exactly what to say apparently. MGoBlog is poetic in its use of “shit”, if nothing else.
The interplay between selected sets of tracked words can be seen below:
It was a frustrating year on many levels, but here we are in December, a little older and perhaps a little wiser. Some of our friends did not make it through the season, but many of us did. For those who wanted to know in semi-precise detail just how frustrating we believed 2013 to be, hopefully you now have an answer to that question.
Lament, for 2013 is not done with you, human being with a Michigan soul dong. Per everybody, last night one of those awesome things you were hanging your hat on when the universe was all like "I'm going to put you in a Copper Bowl that doesn't even call itself the Copper Bowl" is also no longer happening:
No. 2 ranked WR George Campbell has decommitted from Michigan. He decommitted Friday, didn't want it out for awhile but that happens.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 18, 2013
Campbell (hello post) is a top ten overall sort of recruit and like Peppers, is one of the guys Michigan could use as leverage to convince other top recruits that the program's on the upswing. He's teammates with 2014 OL commit Mason Cole, who is probably hiding in a bunker right now.
Hope? Tim Sullivan wrote last night that his status is "no longer a solid commitment" and that he's yet to call the coaches (not paywalled), postulating this could be a ploy to take in the visitation process. Lorenz notes that Michigan is "still being considered" before mentioning another receiver M may look at. Hope is nice, but I think it's a formality.
I don't have to remind you to be nice on Twitter, or ruthless with those who aren't.
Go now and die in what way seems best to you.
Moe (1) and Jabrill (2), via.
In last week's roundtable on the state of the conference I pulled out this table grading the new Big Ten's teams on their 2013 seasons (by Fremeau Efficiency Index) and their futures (by composite 247 score for the 2012-'14 classes):
West | East School FEI Grade Rcrt | School FEI 2013 Rcrt Wisconsin 13th A C+ | OSU 8th A A+ Iowa 30th B C | MSU 9th A B Minnesota 49th C D+ | Michigan 29th B A+ Nebraska 51st C B | Indiana 62nd D+ C NW'ern 60th C- C | PSU 65th D+ B Illinois 75th D C- | Maryland 74th D C+ Purdue 114th F C- | Rutgers 98th E- B- AVG 56th 2.0 2.0 | AVG 49th 2.1 3.0
That's about how I feel: A conference baseline of "C" (ie ranked around 50th) teams with one division recruiting at a "B" level and the other "getting the most out of" C level recruiting.
This I pulled from a spreadsheet of FEI and recruiting data that I'd like to mine further, because if you're looking at a chart it still counts as doing work.
Recruiting = legit, yo/maybe not so legit. So here's a new look at the old stand-by: recruiting on the Y-axis, performance on the X-axis, and a nice, heavy trend line with an R-squared of 0.46 to show an inconvenient-for-narratives correlation. Performance is FEI expressed as a percentile. The composite ranking is a bit more complex: the 2009 (5th year seniors) is weighted at 0.5 the 2010 and 2011 classes at full, the 2012 class at 0.40 and the 2013 at 0.10, which are arbitrary values I assigned based on expectations of how much a class contributes to a given team.
Blicking on it makes it cig.
It says they're correlated, but doesn't necessarily mean one is causing the other. FWIW the r-squared of the Rivals composite determined the same way was .4135; I haven't done Scout or ESPN yet. Look at how the correlation of recruiting %-ile of each class and 2013 performance %-ile changes by year:
|Class||247 R-Squared||Rivals R-Squared|
|2009 (5th yrs)||0.3681||0.3204|
The highest correlation is to the freshman class, and the 3rd-highest is to the class that's not even on campus yet. There's a strong echo effect going on here, wherein the teams that are good today are getting the highest-ranked recruits. The diminishing returns from seniors, I would posit, are because they're the classes hit hardest by attrition, and most likely to have been recruited by a different coach or to a program in very different circumstances.
The other thing that immediately jumped out at me about that chart is look at all the color on top of the black trend line. Those gray dots are mid-major programs, who are largely outperforming expectations from recruiting, versus only one SEC team managing to do so. I bet that's a system bias in the recruiting rankings: there's little to parse between an under-the-radar guy who commits to Purdue versus one going to NIU except one of those is a Big Ten school.
[Jump for MEETING EXPECTATIONS and THE FUTURE]
Meeting expectations. Here's the BCS schools significantly (more than 0.1 difference between FEI %-ile and recruiting composite %-ile) outperforming their freshman talent acquisition rate:
|Over 50% of KSU's starters went the JUCO route. [Jamie Squire, SBNation]|
|Arizona St||Pac 12||90%||61%||+30%|
|Kansas St||Big XII||71%||43%||+28%|
|Okla St||Big XII||89%||70%||+19%|
|Michigan St||Big Ten||88%||70%||+18%|
I don't know what it means except ungh MSU and ungh Arizona of course would be on there. As for Michigan's bowl opponent, that's less of a "finds and develops" thing than that Bill Snyder is heavily reliant on JUCO transfers, who don't show up in the recruiting rankings so much. The only SEC team in there is Missouri, who wasn't in the SEC when they were rating their recruits and got a nice boost from much of their SEC-Eastmates being actually pretty crappy teams this year. It could mean they're overrated; it could mean the way Brian Fremeau does his statistics hurts teams that play a lot of tough conference opponents alongside a nonconference spate that Michigan's Team 7 would have found appalling.
As for the underperformers:
|Penn State||Big Ten||51%||75%||-24%|
Horray Michigan isn't on the list. The next 10% is USC, Maryland, Nebraska, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Illinois, North Carolina, Oklahoma and LSU. We're at –9%, in a pile with Miami (YTM) and Georgia.
After Cal, however, the teams on this list suggest Michigan has to do a lot more than wait for the 2012 and 2013 kids to mature. Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas and Texas had comparable classes in 2010 and 2011, though there's some coaching changes in there that change things a bit.
Ohio State broke even, but that's about as well as they can do since they're 98th percentile in recruiting. That is the goal.
Trending the Good Way. Michigan's top-o'-the-country recruiting has been of recent vintage. Other teams with significant recent leaps from their norms: Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Miami, Baylor, Purdue, KSU, Zona, Ohio State, and Syracuse. Of these just Miami is around the same base level. You'll recognize the teams on the opposite side of the ledger: USC, Cal, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Penn State: fading stars.
But knowing where teams are today doesn't help. I want a comparison from recent history so I grabbed three 2010 teams with a similar profile to 2013 Michigan's and tracked them over the next three seasons. And that was pretty useless but here it is anyway:
|Team||FEI||Rec||So||Fr||Recr||1 yr||2 yrs||3 yrs|
|2010 Team 1||0.124||8-5||3rd||3rd||3rd||10-2 (7-2)
6th in AP
10th in FEI
|2010 Team 2||0.120||8-5||24th||18th||33rd||7-6 (4-5)
16th in FEI
|2010 Team 3||0.123||8-4||19th||28th||32nd||7-6 (2-6)
47th in FEI
|2010 Team 4||0.130||5-7||29th||28th||10th||10-4 (6-2)
Not really helpful. Team 1 is USC, which Lane Kiffin. Team 2 is Texas A&M, which Johnny Football. Team 3 is Mississippi State, which very much isn't Michigan fergodsakes. Team 4 is Clemson. If Devin turns into 2005 Vince Young next year, upside seems pretty possible; cliffs are everywhere. Then again look what Lane Kiffin could do with just slightly more incoming talent, and the worst Borges hater would take a midseason tackle-over intermission any year to avoid goat boy.
THIS POST IS NOT FUN, SO HERE IS A SMALL CHILD ENJOYING THE BUBBLE HOCKEY TO LIFT YOUR SPIRITS [Bill Rapai]
HEARTBREAKER, LOVE TAKER
Is this the most heartbreaking year in the history of Michigan sports?
Along with other painful experiences, we have lost by one play, one shot or one call the following four things of real consequence:
The Big Ten regular season hoops championship
The hoops national championship
Defeating undefeated Ohio State
Defeating #1 Arizona
And hell, let's just throw in the Tigers losing on a grand slam in the 9th inning to let the ALCS slip away.
I'm not sure I can watch this bowl game. I fully expect it to go to five overtimes, whereupon Gibbons shanks a kick, decapitates Hoke and Borges is made head coach.
Oh man. It is bad when I see this list and immediately think not "wow, that's pretty grim" but "don't forget losing the Outback Bowl on the last play of the game." Oh and also "don't forget losing to Notre Dame in the CCHA championship game to break a 22-year tournament streak in hockey." Oh and "Wisconsin." Jesus. If I was a Lions fan…
But I'm not, so let's self high-five on that one. /self high five
My one quibble with your list is that Michigan was probably two or three plays away from beating Louisville. But with your things and my things we can create an Arbitrary Heartbreak Point Amalgam (AHPA) and compare it to previous years. I'm including hockey because I like hockey and you can eat your own face if you don't.
Outback Bowl outcome. 1 point. It's never too much of a heartbreak to lose the Outback Bowl. The way it went down was very frustrating, as Floyd's suspension came back to bite Michigan at the worst time. Did want Denard and Kovacs to go out with wins.
THAT GODDAMNED WISCONSIN GAME. 6 points. Championship not as obviously on the line (and even if they win that game they would still finish one game adrift of Indiana) but seriously, Wisconsin is the vanguard of the bug people.
Losing Big Ten hoops championship on missed Morgan putback. 15 points. This is a lot of points, because Michigan flat-out blew that game and then had it back in the palm of their hand not once but twice with Burke flying down court and then the putback. Winning that game means Michigan gets a banner from the best year of Big Ten basketball in decades. That one still hurts.
Losing tourney streak in hockey. 4 points. That game was always tilted towards Notre Dame and you just wanted them to get in for the streak's sake, but that streak was pretty great. Frustration factor high. Heartbreak factor not so much.
Outcome of national title game. 8 points. Conflicted. Michigan was on borrowed time after the Kansas game, played great, everything was terrific and fun, and just lost. Probably my favorite loss ever. But… so close.
Penn State outcome. 5 points. I was super mad about this, and the game did feature missed 40 and 33 yard field goals to win plus that game-tying drive. Though it meant little in retrospect, at the time it felt like Michigan had just given up a lot of ground in the division title race. Which lol, of course.
Ohio State outcome. 15 points. 11 of 13 feels bad; would be more points but by that point Michigan had outplayed expectations significantly.
Arizona outcome. 1 point. Probably a seed difference in March.
Professional baseball. 0 points, but I feel for anyone who is a fan of both Michigan and Detroit pro sports teams, as on top of all the crap listed above they've had to deal with Joe Dumars passing on Trey Burke for a guy who was so good at basketball that he led Georgia to a .500 SEC record and first round conference tourney exit, baseball happenings described above, and the continued existence of the Detroit Lions. This year the flavor is hilariously heartbreaking instead of hilariously incompetent.
I don't even know what I would do if I truly cared about those teams and Michigan. "Psychotic break" is a prime contender.
I have 55 points. This is offset by things like Michigan's tourney run and the Northwestern game, but I've built a lot of the offset into points given for the Louisville loss and seriously nobody cares about beating Northwestern as part of their overall happiness level, especially in that game.
I am all but certain that this total cannot be matched, as it requires investiture in all three sports and major things on the line. If anything is going to give it a run, though it's…
This is all based on your opinion of how much Football Armageddon was worth. The worst thing in the last 20 years of Michigan football is without question the Crable helmet-to-helmet call, and while there was still a lot of work to do even if that flag is not thrown, losing that game gets ever more heartbreaking in retrospect as it set the stage for Ohio State's dominion of the series and represents the last moment that Michigan could claim its place amongst the college football firmament. Some things fade as time goes on… next year the Arizona outcome probably wouldn't register in a post like this. Football Armageddon just looms ever larger. How many points is that worth? 40? I don't know, entirely, but it's in that ballpark.
As a bonus, that year's basketball team was 16-3 with a win against MSU on February 1st only to lose 7 of their last 9 games, including a 14(!) point loss to a miserable Purdue outfit that would finish 3-13 in the league and a 2-point home loss on the final day of the regular season against Indiana. Even then Michigan probably makes the tournament except for an opening-round loss in the Big Ten Tournament to Minnesota, which finished 5-11 in the Big Ten.
The hockey team was pretty bad that year and got a three-seed in Denver against North Dakota; North Dakota ran them out of the building. Frustration there, but not heartbreak.
Is that worse? I don't think so. Any other candidates are before my time, but if you want to make a case, uh, go ahead. 2005 was called the Year of Infinite Pain around here, but that was pure naiveté.