still not over it in South Bend
Izzo inherited a ridiculously loaded MSU team in 1995. Quinton Brooks is largely hailed as one of the best small forwards to lace 'em up for MSU. Power forward Jamie Feick went on to play for the 76'ers. Ray Weathers went on to play for the Suns. Jon Garavaglia was a McDonalds All American and Mr. Basketball. In his first year, he also brought in Morris Peterson of the Toronto Raptors and Antonio Smith. Izzo took that team all the way to the second round of the NIT.
Then on Feb.17, 1996 There was a rollover accident on M-14 involving U-M player Maurice Taylor’s Ford Explorer. Teammates Robert Traylor, Louis Bullock, Willie Mitchell, Ron Oliver and recruit Mateen Cleaves were all in the vehicle.
Izzo capitalized, adding Mateen Cleaves(Pistons) and David Thomas(founder of Wendy's) who helped MSU all the way back to the second round of the NIT. The parade of blue chips continued with Charlie Bell(Suns) and Andre Hutson(Beat up Chuck Norris when Matt Trannon was but a twinkle in his father's eye). This ushered in the Golden Age of MSU basketball('98,'99, 00) when MSU would bookend a National Championship with two additional Final 4's. Loaded as those teams were, this Golden Age led to the great Tom Izzo “More with Less” fallacy. Because MSU does not recruit on the level of Kentucky, Kansas and Duke(them and 342 other schools) Izzo somehow gained the “Beilein” reputation, the coach who advances in the tournament despite his (Perceived) lack of talent.
Izzo has led the Spartans for 19 long years. Impressively, he has had them in the NCAA Tournament for the last 17 of them(One or two of those came with a wink and a nod from the selection committee, but we'll come back to that). That's not quite the 34 year bowl streak Michigan enjoyed under Bo-Mo-Carr, but that kind of consistency is rare in college basketball. Under Izzo's reign, MSU has been to 6 Final Fours and won a National Championship. They've also been bounced in the first round 4 times and lost in the Sweet 16 4 times. Until recently, MSU just dominated Michigan in terms of head to head as well as the post-season. Beilein has obviously turned that around in the last 4 years, winning 6 of the last 9. But that is a local issue. You don't come up with an OP title like that simply because there's a new sheriff in town. No, what leads me to believe that the end is near for Izzo is something much more sinister. Recruiting.
Despite what the media would have you believe, Izzo has simply never HAD to do more with less. He has always been a good recruiter, and he has always had more. I went back and looked at some recruiting numbers and outcomes. There are a number of caveats here. Trey Burke and Caris Lavert were 3* recruits. But to some extent you can look at it as a numbers game(like fantasy football). There's something like a 60% chance that Fantasypros(or Rivals) is going to have each player ranked correctly, a 20% chance they'll be significantly better, and a 20% chance they're going to be worse(Unless you're John Beilein). But if you look at MSU's elite recruit Rivals numbers as far as they go back adding a star for each year of experience(assuming that a sophomore 4* is equal to a freshman 5* and that a 3* player encompasses too great a range to even consider) you find:
2002: 5* Elite 8
2003: 4* 5* First Round
2004: 4* 5* Final 4
2005: bupkis(Roster score of 32) First Round
2006: 4* 4*(RS 28) Second Round
2007: 4* 4* 4*(RS 37) Sweet 16
2008: 4* 5* (RS 36) Runner Up
2009: 4* 4*(RS 51!) Final 4
2010: 4* 5 *(RS 53) First Round
2011: 5*(RS 43) Sweet 16
2012: 5*(Harris) 4* 4*(RS 46) Sweet 16
2013: bupkis(RS 38) Elite 8
2014: 4*(RS 24)
That's a score of 24 for next year. The next lowest would be the 28 from 2006, the year where MSU scraped into the tournament(wink, nod) .500 in conference and got bounced the first weekend. That team was a 4* player better than next year's roster. The next lowest was the 2005 team(two 4* players better) that also went .500 in conference and lost in the first round. For reference, 2009's Final 4 team was rated 51. For those keeping score at home, in the measurable past that's a Roster Average of 40 points(the equivalent of 8 5* freshmen). More with more.
Assuming that Dawson stays and Harris leaves, on paper this coming year's State team will be the worst (from a rivals ratings and experience standpoint) since the modern era of recruiting sites(turn of the century). With Izzo reaching for 3* recruits these days, and the NCAA taking steps to weed out thug ball, I don't see much help on the horizon for them either. You're looking at Dawson as a 5* senior, Valentine and Costello as 4* juniors, and that 4* freshman point guard who can't shoot coming in. That's it.
So what happened to Izzo's recruiting? Several things.
Somewhere in the early 2000's, the NBA stopped playing defense. You see that 5* all the way up there next to 2003? That's Shannon Brown. That's the last one of the guys represented here that went on to the NBA. You're looking at a decade of player development failure. Obviously, the NBA is the dream for a lot of recruits, and Izzo just plain isn't getting it done. Draymond Green(3* recruit not included) should also be mentioned. Not only is he getting 20 minutes per game in the NBA despite playing for MSU, but he is doing it as an undersized defensive specialist. In a league where the regular season has become the all star game.
The Breslin Center was state of the art in 1989, but it has barely been touched since then. I'm no interior decorator, but moldy concrete is generally not the way to go.
Style: Michigan State's defensive mandate is clear: If your man gains an advantage on you, push him, grab him, do what you've got to do. It works great if you can get away with it, but this year MSU is collecting personal fouls like Pokemon cards
I can understand Izzo's feelings of entitlement, as he has benefitted from lazy Big Ten officiating for his entire career, but if you make contact with your hand, arm or elbow away from your body, it is a foul. It has always been a foul. He made jokes after the UConn game about his players not being allowed to "touch anybody" and I can totally see where he's coming from. Who would have ever thought they'd make him play by the rules?
(Related)Results: Call it Karma. Call it correlation without causation. But MSU has badly underperformed their talent level against Michigan(JMo foul trouble aside) or more importantly in the post-season since the Wonders Hall incident. It sounds great, they made it to the Sweet 16 three times. But before the Virginia upset their post season scalps were pretty weak. St. Louis, Long Island, Valpo, Memphis, Delaware, Harvard. Sixth Seed Memphis is the only one that even moves the needle. 2010 stands out as Izzo's most glaring failure, as their most talented team(RS 53) lost out in the first round. With a 4-6 year window to grab the attention of high school kids, Izzo's time is running out.
(Related) Disillusionment. Izzo seems generally unhappy, and his interaction with the press has lost an air of...sanity.
If you're keeping score at home, he comes into the press conference near tears. He rips his own recruiting, whining that he has to play guys he hasn't played in a month. Then he cries about the officiating. Then he cries at the officiating again. Then he complains about poor Keith Appling's wrist.
I don't know if many recruits want to play for a sniveling whining excuse machine.
Then you've got the UConn press conference. His team was just upset by a team that by most accounts has no business in the Final 4, and Izzo seems...Relieved
I dont know of many coaches who would seem that happy that their season was over, that they wouldn't have to coach that particular group of players again. With this group though, he probably wasn't alone.
This is the most concerning if I am a Michigan State fan. The man calls attention to the Federal Rape Investigation that has been kept out of the media...For no other reason than that he is addicted to making excuses. Then he calls it “ridiculous” and says that he's “sick of it”. Now, whatever you think of the Wonder's Hall incident...Put yourself in the shoes of the victim. Then look at what the mouthpiece of your school is saying about the event that changed your life. Even if that's what you're thinking...What kind of human being is so self-absorbed and stupid that they can spout off PUBLICLY about such a terrible allegation as a personal annoyance? And then when they asked him to elaborate, he told members of the press, “Don't mess with me right now”. You brought it up sir. The MSU student newspaper just broke the story that Federal Authorities are investigating the victim's claim that the University "engaged in activities to malign her character" in retaliation for her reporting the assault. I am sure the victim is quite sorry for inconveniencing a man of Izzo's stature. http://statenews.com/article/2014/04/student-claimed-msu-retaliated-against-her-for-reported-assault
Most players dont like being trashed in the media and getting the full Bobby Knight treatment in front of their friends and family. Even the biased MSU media admits that he goes too far http://www.freep.com/article/20140113/BLOG05/301130041/hey-joe-michigan-state-spartans-tom-izzo But Izzo seems unable to coach any other way, and his talent level is shifting accordingly.
They say that you want to leave a program “Better than you found it”, and the guy won a Championship and went to a bunch of Final 4's, but if he bailed for the NBA or even retired with the roster in its current state...What would that do to his legacy? Everyone has an instinct for self-preservation,but the words “cowardly” and “selfish” might come up. Not in the media of course, they write what he tells them to write. I mean in living rooms and around water coolers.
With all of this said, Izzo could pull through this in two or three years. For MSU, that simple metric does seem to predict season outcome pretty well, but if you look at it, Beilein won a Big Ten Championship with a roster score of 5. Beilein made it to the NCAA Championship game with a roster score of 13. But Tom Izzo is no John Beilein. Can you imagine what Beilein would do with the 40's Izzo has averaged over his career? I very much look forward to finding out.
In March, I posted Part 1, looking at the recruiting make-up of the last ten BCS Champion football teams. For those of you lost in the three week basketball coma, the key takeaways were:
- Defensive line is the position with the highest average rating (5th) of any position
- Offense (7th) and Defense (5th) are both important but defenses feature more highly rated recruits for national champions.
- No national champion has been crowned with a roster profile (Ratings + Age) outside of the top ten, a group Michigan will likely sit on the fringes of next year.
For Part 2, we’ll move to the on field performance. Looking at conversion rates and big play potential on both offense and defense as well as field position.
Some quick notes on methodology.
Conversion rate = [1st Downs gained]/[1st Down plays (including first play of drive)]. A three and out is 0/1. A one play touchdown is 1/1. Two first downs and then a stop is 2/3, etc.
Bonus Yards = [Yards gained beyond the first down line]/[Total plays from scrimmage]
This is an adjustment to how I have previously calculated, to account for the plays a team runs.
Field Position = The expected point difference per game for where a team’s offense starts and where a team’s defense starts. Each drive is given an expected value based on the start of scrimmage, all of the drives for the offense and defense are totaled and compared. This accounts for all elements of field position: turnovers, special teams, drive penetration etc.
I am only looking at teams from the BCS conferences since those are the only reasonably eligible team for the championship. To account for yearly rule changes and variations, I will use annual ranks for each season.
Median Rank: 5.5th, 76.0% conversion
Average Rank: 11th
Top 3: Texas 2005 (2), Auburn 2010 (3), Florida St 2013 (3)
Bottom 3: Florida 2006 (26), Alabama 2009 (23), Alabama 2011 (23)
2013 Michigan: 36th, 69.9%
Best Michigan Team: 2003, 3rd, 75.2%
Median Rank: 8th, 2.95 Bonus Yards per play
Average Rank: 11th
Top 3: Texas 2005 (1), Auburn 2010 (1), USC 2004 (3)
Bottom 3: LSU 2007 (26), Alabama 2011 (26), Florida 2006 (17)
2013 Michigan: 33rd, 2.35
Best Michigan Team: 2010, 3rd, 3.20
On the offensive side, there is a strong correlation between conversion rate and bonus yards among national champions. 6 of the 10 champions were in the top 8 in both categories while the other four champions where 13th or higher in both.
Median Rank: 10th, 59.9% conversion allowed
Average Rank: 12th
Top 3: Alabama 2009, Alabama 2011, Alabama 2012, Florida St 2013 (1)
Bottom 3: Auburn 2010 (52), Florida 2006 (18), LSU 2007 (13)
2013 Michigan: 24th, 68.9%
Best Michigan Team: 2006, 7th, 58.7%
Median Rank: 7.5, 1.75 Bonus Yards per play allowed
Average Rank: 11th
Top 3: Alabama 2011, Florida St 2013 (1), Alabama 2012 (3)
Bottom 3: Auburn 2010 (39), LSU 2007 (20), Alabama 2009 (12)
2013 Michigan: 12th, 1.98
Best Michigan Team: 2013
The last three champions have all been dominant on defense. Only 2012 Alabama wasn’t ranked first in both categories and they were first in conversion rate and third in bonus yards. Prior to that, the last seven champions have been ranked 10th or worse in at least one of the two categories.
Median Rank: 6th, +3.9 points per game
Average Rank: 8th
Runner-Up Average Rank: 11th
Top 3: Florida St 2013 (1), USC 2004, Texas 2005, Florida 2008 (2)
Bottom 3: Florida 2006 (21), Auburn 2010 (20), LSU 2007 (12)
2013 Michigan: 43rd, –0.9
Best Michigan Team: 2006, 4th, +4.5
Six of the top ten finished in the top 7 of field position. Field position is a pretty good approximation for offense, defense and special teams, with turnovers factored in. Other than a surprising 2006 Florida team and the 2010 offense-heavy Auburn teams haven’t been at the top end in overall field position.
While the last five Alabama driven years have pushed the needle toward the defensive side, the ten years as a whole are fairly balanced between offense and defense. One thing is clear, you have to be really good at least one side. Eight of the ten champions ranked in the top 2 in at least one of the five categories.
Five teams won the national championship with a higher rated defense than offense, three with a better offense than defense and two with units evenly matched. Overall the averages are roughly the same, largely thanks to the mediocre to bad Auburn defense from 2010 dragging down the averages.
Half of the teams that went on to win national championships were good at everything. 2004 USC, 2005 Texas, 2008 Florida, 2012 Alabama and 2013 Florida St all ranked in the top 10 in all five categories. 2009-2011 saw champions that were very strong on one side of the ball and 2006-2007 just saw a strange collection of champions. Since 2004 the only team to rank in the top 10 across the board and not win the championship was 2008 USC.
For Michigan, the roster look from Part 1 is a much more compelling case for Michigan’s readiness for the national elites than the on-field one. Only in defensive big play prevention was Michigan remotely at a national elite level last year. The other four categories are all several tiers away from the top teams. This is year probably won’t be a make or break year for the staff, that’s probably two years away barring a major disaster this season, but big strides will have to be made this season. The roster is there on the fringes of elite, 2014 will be the year the results should be ready to come into line, as well.
Oh how fun this will be. Indiana loses NINE of thier players. A whole NINE!!! that is crazy. Evan Gordon, Jeff Howard, Taylor Wayer, and WIll Sheehey are graduating. Austin Etherington, Jonny Marlin, Jeremy Hollowell and Luke Fischer are transferring. And Noah Vonleh is leaving early for the NBA. Losing these players means losing:
That is a lot to replace. The way to replace attrition like that is to bring in a really big recruiting class. Indiana did not do that. They are bringing in three solid Freshman, and only have a chance for two more. Here is their projected roster:
# Name HT WT YR POS
42 Peter Jurkin 7-0 230 JR. C
Only played eight games last year after getting injured. May play some valuable minutes off the bench.
12 Hanner Mosquera-Perea 6-9 225 JR PF
The starting Center, pretty much forced into the lineup. Averaged 2.8 points per game last year.
11 Kevin Ferrell 6-0 178 JR. PG
Uggggghhhh Yogi Ferrell A.K.A. Michigan killer, will probably take all of their shots next year. He took 23% of their shots last year on a team with a future pro. Will most likely be B1G all conference next year. Averaged 17.3 points per game last year. Starting Point Guard.
30 Collin Hartman 6-6 210 SO. SF
Collin tore his ACL on the 15th of March, so he probably won't do anything next year. As hard as ACL tears are for football players, they are even harder on basketball players. Was not really a contributor before the injury.
22 Stanford Robinson 6-4 193 SO. SG
The starting Shooting Guard, started to blossom late in the year. Will take the third most amount of shots this year. Averaged 6.4 points per game last year.
21 Joe Fagan 6-4 195 SO. SG
Walk-on, may get playing time you never know.
15 Devin Davis 6-7 221 SO. PF
The starting Power Forward, only averaged 2.4 points per game, will play a little center.
5 Troy Williams 6-7 206 SO. SF
Personally my least favorite player on the Hoosiers. After his two dunks against us he decided to stare down our players. To which told him to enjoy the N.I.T errrrr..... Anyways, he averaged 7.3 points per game, and will be a tough matchup for teams.
2 Andrew Calomeris 6-4 183 SO. SG
James Blackmon 6-4 180 FR. SG
Many of you know of Blackmon from when we recruited him. He is a five star and will be the 6th man and eventually a starter. When he starts, Robinson will play the 3, Williams the 4 and Davis the 5.
Robert Johnson 6-3 180 FR. SG
A four star who will play, but not a "20 minute a game" guy
Max Hoetzel 6-7 210 FR. SF
A three star, he will probably get 10 minutes a game.
Projected Starting line-up
Point guard: Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell
Shooting guard: Stanford Robinson
Small Forward: Troy Williams
Power Forward: Devin Davis
Center: Hanner Mosquera-Perea
Michigan plays Indiana on the road next year, which is quite a disadvantage for Michigan. Assembly Hall is a Michigan's enemy and the refs are big equalizer when the game is played there.
This team will not be very good, they will however finish better than teams like Purdue and Rutgers. They will continue to get home cooking and Ferrell will get hot in a couple of games. However, I do not see them finishing any better then 6-12 in the conference. It is too hard to replace nine players.
Next up... Penn State.
Reader will brought up an interesting question in a board posting recently: should Michigan have fouled Kentucky with about 20 seconds left, putting them at the line, but (critically) giving Michigan the ball back with a chance to tie or win?
To my surprise (especially given this crowd), there were a lot of "gut" responses based on feelings, emotions, and in some cases, how such options would be hard to explain in the media.
So I did a few small calculations. The simplifying assumptions were these:
- Kentucky has some chance of making each free throw (call this Kft)
- Kentucky has some chance of scoring when we don't foul them (Ks)
- Michigan has some chance of scoring if they have the ball back (Ms)
- There are only two-point baskets (no threes for simplicity)
- If the game went to overtime, odds are 50/50
On a missed free throw by Kentucky, Michigan gets the ball 100% of the time
(clearly a stretch in this game)
- If we let Kentucky play it out, they will get one chance to score and the game will end either with them winning or go to overtime.
- If Michigan gets the ball back with plenty of time, assume they either score (as dictacted by Ms above) or miss; no free throws, etc.
With these assumptions in place, we can start to calculate: what should Michigan have done to improve their chances of winning the game?
There are two options we will compare:
- Traditional (T): This is what we did. Play defense, and hope Kentucky misses.
- Non-traditional (NT): Foul Kentucky (hopefully a bad free-throw shooter) and get the ball back with a chance to tie (if down two), or win (if down one or still tied).
Consider the traditional approach first. Let's assume that Kentucky has a 40% of scoring to win the game in the fashion they did. Thus, 40% of the time, Michigan loses in regulation, and 60% of the time, it goes to overtime. By assumptions above, Michigan's win probability in this case is 30% (half of the overtime outcomes).
Consider the non-traditional approach, which is trickier. Assume here a low rate for Kentucky free throws: 50%. Thus, 50% of the time, Kentucky will miss the first free throw, and Michigan gets the ball back with a chance to score and win; assume again a similar 40% chance Michigan scores when they have the ball. Correspondingly, 60% of the time, the game goes to overtime with 50/50 odds. Thus, on the first miss, Michigan has a 70% win chance.
Unfortunately, 50% of the time, the Kentucky player makes the first free throw. There are two further cases to consider then. If they miss the second (which happens 50% of the time), Michigan has a 40% chance of winning in regulation, but 60% losing. If they make the second, Michigan just has a 40% chance of sending it to OT, where they have a 50/50 shot.
If you add all of those win probabiities up, the Non-Traditional (NT) approach, assuming the numbers above, has a win probability of 50%, which is 20% higher than the traditional approach (T). Thus, assuming the numbers and other things above, fouling was the better option.
However, that is a pretty low free throw percentage, and the chances I gave of Kentucky or Michigan scoring a basket (40%) were chosen arbitrarily. Thus, I varied each of these and produced the following graphs.
This first graph assumes the 50% (Kfs) as above but varies the Michigan scoring chance along the x-axis and the Kentucky scoring chance along the y-axis. Results in BLUE mean that Michigan would have increased its chances of winning with the NT approach; RED means a decrease by fouling early. The value shown is the difference in win probability between the two approaches.
As you can see, the (x=40,y=40) point shows the 20% increase calculated above.
I also made a graph assuming that Kentucky shoots free throws at a 75% rate, not 50%. It looks like this:
As you can see, it looks a bit different, with the non-traditional approach (foul early and get the ball back) not doing as well.
More broadly, what you can see from the graphs are this: if free throw shooting is bad, fouling early makes sense, especially if you have a good offense with a good chance of scoring. Fouling early also makes increasing sense if the other team is likely to make their last-second shot (no surprise).
Given the efficiency of our offense, and the relative non-goodness of Kentucky free throw shooting, I think we did the wrong thing.
Of course, I reserve the right to be wrong in the analysis (it was a little hastily thrown together); critque away, as you always do. :)
OMG IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN!
Ok, so I'm headin to Indy tomorrow evening to attend the game on Sunday, so I wanted to make sure I got this out in time. I hope you enjoy these. I did two slight variations of the same idea. I like how they turned out and, quite honestly, I think these could make SWEET t-shirts. Anyone who knows of a t-shirt maker that could do this quickly, hook me up and I'll send you the files (they're photoshop currently, but I can convert the main graphic to vector for illustrator or indesign printing). I'm honestly not sure the last time I was this excited to attend a sporting event. I didn't get to go to UTL (biggest regret of my sporting life), so I'm hopeful that Michigan has a strong showing against the one-and-done poster boys of UK. Honestly, I was hoping for a revenge game against Louisville, but I'll take it because OMG ELITE EIGHT! As usual, constructive criticisms and/or ideas for new wallpapers are always encouraged/welcome. Enjoy and GO BLUE!
"First Person (Not Just A) Shooter" Desktop (1920x1080):
"CHISELED [Our Workouts Work] SHOOTER" Desktop (1920x1080):
Northwestern finished 11th in the Big Ten last year with a 6-12 record. There is no guarantee that they will get any better as they lose some key players. 10th Year senior Drew Crawford finally graduates, and they also lose seniors Nikola Cerina, and James Montgomery the third. Kale Abrahamson, and Chier Ajou also are transferring. Northwestern loses 26% of their assists, 29% of their rebounds, 32% of their minutes, and 34% of their points. They do bring in 4 freshmen so that could be promising.
Here is their projected roster:
# Name HT WT YR POS
23 Jershon Cobb 6-5 205 RS.SR. G
Cobb will have to be their go to guy, losing Crawford means a huge void in scoring. Cobb showed the ability last year to take over, he may be able to this year as well. Cobb will be the starting Small Forward.
3 Dave Sobolewski 6-1 180 SR. G
The starting Point Guard, got hurt last year, but will continue to start. Takes A LOT of shots, but does not make many of them.
14 Tre Demps 6-2 193 RS.JR G
Demps was another player that could score in bursts, he will be the starting Shooting Guard and the second go-to scorer.
22 Alex Olah 7-0 265 JR. C
Olah is a foul magnet, but is a large body that hopefully can continue his defensive prowess. The latest installment in the old looking young guy series. Starting Center.
34 Sanjay Lumpkin 6-6 210 RS. SO F
Lumpkin will be the starting Power Forward, and will look to add to his 3.8 points per game. He will most likely add to his points due to the large amounts of minutes he will get.
31 Aaron Liberman 6-10 215 RS.SO C
Liberman did not play much this year, and probably won't play that much this year either.
32 Nathan Taphorn 6-7 190 SO. F
The 6th man, Taphorn averaged 2.5 points last season and he is going to be an important piece going forward.
Victor Law 6-6 185 FR. F
Northwesterns highest touted recruit, a Four star, that could be playing meaningful minutes right away.
Bryant McIntosh 6-3 175 FR. G
A three star, will most likely be the first guard off the bench.
Scott Lindsey 6-5 180 FR. F
Another three star, probably a 8 minute a game kind of guy.
Johnnie Vassar 5-11 175 FR. PG
Most likely a redshirt
Projected Starting Lineup:
Point Guard: Dave Sobolewski
Shooting Guard: Tre Demps
Small Forward: Jershon Cobb
Power Forward: Sanjay Lumpkin
Center: Alex Olah
Northwestern will not be good. I think they will finish 12th in the conference with a 5-13 record. They are very thin, and not uber experienced.
Michigan plays them at Home and Away, which again is very favorable.
Next up... Indiana.