that makes one of us
For those of you who enjoy rotating wallpapers during the season to
mock highlight our weekly opponents, I thought I'd submit one for Appalachian State. I hope to have a new one each Monday (yeah, I know this one is early), similar to what momuMental has done in seasons past. In my opinion, his work is second to none (if you haven't yet had the privilege, check it out) but I believe he only does wallpapers for marquee opponents now. If that's still the case, I'll continue to offer a wallpaper on Mondays. If not, I'll kindly cease and desist :-).
For the Appalachian State game, I struggled with whether to dub it "the Horror II" or not. On the one hand, it's awefully catchy and reminds us why Dave Brandon even thought this game would be mildly interesting. On the other, it seems to suggest the possibility that this year's game could have a similar outcome which... [insert curse word]. In the end, like Brandon, I went with brand recognition. Without further ado, I give you:
Here's the link for the full size image: 2560x1440
The men's basketball team defeated the Perugia Select Team, 99-60, in the opening game of their Italy exhibition tour. Zak Irvin led the way with 27 points on 10/13 (5/8 2PT, 5/5 3PT) shooting, followed by freshmen Kam Chatman and Ricky Doyle chipping in 12 apiece. Most importantly, Austin Hatch entered the game for the last few minutes, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd:
— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) August 17, 2014
The full box score, which was compiled by hand by the Michigan staff—hence no minutes played tally—is below (click to embiggen):
Visual proof of Irvin being Not Just A Shooter™:
Postgame quotes from John Beilein, Hatch, and more courtesy of the athletic department:
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On the opening victory on U-M's Italian exhibition tour ... "Offensively, that first quarter was not what I was expecting. With us playing so well offensively that led to us playing so well defensively. You don't know what to expect in games like these. The first quarter was probably a little above what I thought we would do. The last three quarters were a little more predictable for a team on a trip like we are on."
On what he learned that will help going into the next game ... "We will have 48 hours before our next game. This film will be invaluable. There will be plenty of it that will coach the coaches on what we have to teach better. The second part is we will have a chance to sit down with players on the train tomorrow when we go to Verona. It will be just a great teaching tool."
On getting Austin Hatch getting into the last three minutes of the game ... "It was a special moment. Austin even led us in the fight song after the game was over. It's something he has worked very hard for. It was a great moment for our team; however, it was truly special for Austin and his grandfather, Jim, who was here in the stands."
Freshman Austin Hatch
On getting into the game ... "(long pause) As you can imagine it has been a heck of a journey to get here. Playing basketball at the University of Michigan has been my goal since I was a little kid. It was unreal to be here and to have actually played a game. I really feel like I have that game under my belt now and I really feel like a Michigan basketball player."
On almost getting an opportunity to score ... "I am not going to take a shot if it is not the right point in the game. For example if I have an open three and I have a teammate who is open under the basket, you better believe I am going to be passing it to him. Yeah, it would be cool if I made a three. It would be a good story, but I am about my team and my teammates."
On leading the team in 'The Victors' ... "It was unreal. To lead the team in the fight song after the game is a big tradition. I learned that early on in the recruiting process and watched U-M sing it a lot on my visits. I always thought to myself, 'I hope someday I am in position to be able to do that.' Just like everything else that happened today, it was just unreal to be able to do that."
Sophomore Zak Irvin
On his opening 27-point, 11-rebound game ..."I really shot the ball well today; however, I have to give my teammates credit because they were looking for me and getting me the ball. The big thing for me was getting to the hole and I was able to do that. I was able to score inside and outside. It was a great start for us, a great game and hopefully we can keep this going."
On U-M's red hot first quarter ... "We came out shooting the ball really well. That just speaks volumes for our team. We are all looking for each other and playing unselfish basketball."
On how this team progressed ... "We are a growing team. There were a lot of things that went well today, but there is plenty we still have to work on. We can do better communicating and on the defensive end. We came out to Italy and had a great game, but we also just have to enjoy and really take in everything on this trip."
On Austin Hatch getting into the game ..."It was great to see that, especially after everything that Austin has been through. To see him step out onto that floor just meant so much. I have known Austin since the eighth grade so to see him out there playing was just incredible. I hope he is able to do that a lot more during this trip and beyond."
Freshman Ricky Doyle
On playing his first game in a Michigan jersey ... "It was a lot of fun. Finally getting out there with all these guys was a great experience. There is a lot more to come. It's going to be a great year."
On Austin Hatch getting into the game ..."He has been through so much and for him to be out here with us, it is phenomenal. He is part of our family. He is one of our brothers. Seeing him going out there was just as important to all of us as it is to him."
I can't see where you’re comin' from / but I know just what you’re runnin' from / And what matters ain't the who's baddest / but the ones who stop you fallin' from your ladder.
For a little over four years now I’ve had a summer time hobby of trying to predict plausible performance levels from various QBs for the upcoming football season. I have tried to root these projections as deeply into the bedrock of reality as is possible for a figment of one’s imagination and at this point there is a codex of sorts in the diary archives describing my methods. It’s fun to go back and see what worked and learn from what didn’t. There’s something there, man.
For Devin Gardner 2013 I laid out two stat lines hinging on two sets of assumptions—a reasonable/prudent set, and a ‘sexy’ set. The reasonable prediction: Gardner would complete 225 of 360 passes for 2900 yards, 23 TDs, and 10 INTs. In reality he went 208 of 345 for 2960 yards, 21 TDs, and 11 INTs. There’s a HEAVY dose a good fortune involved there but, hot damn, that’s pretty good. The assumptions here were basically looking at only QB stats and nothing else Devin had shown enough in his 5 QB starts during the 2012 season to perform at the “seasoned veteran QB” level which I think of as an incumbent with 2 years of experience in tow. That's a brutal benchmark, IMO but that's what I measure guys up against. That's what we want them to be.
Anyway, the sexy set of assumptions were:
- Devin has elite talent. I believe this one held. More on that later.
- The O-line would be fine despite the possibility of being “a touch weaker than last year (2012).” Eh boy…
- The offensive scheme would be well tailored to Gardner’s skill set and that of the support around him. This was sometimes true but not consistently often enough for Borges to keep his job.
Ok, so the necessary assumptions for DG to be the second coming of Vince Young vanished into the ether. But those last two assumptions about the support and scheme are really kind of baked into the reasonable prediction too. For my money, the fact that DG put up the numbers he was able to in spite of the glaring flaws of the team is a testament to just how good he can be if the conditions are reasonable.
The fact that there are so many straight-faced questions being asked about Devin Gardner’s incumbency status is ludicrous. Sure, numbers don’t tell the whole story but they tell a good part of it. DG went from being one of the darlings of the 2013 Manning Passing Academy to needing to prove his talent simply because he couldn't compensate for all of the flaws around him last season. He did as well as could reasonably be expected without adjusting for other very real headwinds.
[After THE JUMP: Gardner under the microscope.]
Seeing as we just had the annual heights and weights delivered to our doorstep with nary an emotion beyond “these large men either got slightly larger or slightly smaller, and that is good”, there really isn’t much else going on until the season starts. Sure, there was the BBQ and a couple of commitments, but I’d be surprised if much else happened until a couple of days before The Horror II – Horror-ier comes into our lives at the end of August. So yeah, figured I’d dust off this diary and expound a bit on the UM sports landscape, the upcoming football season, college sports in general, and a couple of other topics.
Best: Are You Ready for Some Football!
So it’s been over 8 months since UM last played a down of football (and, frankly, many more months since those downs felt meaningful). I know a great deal has gone on both locally and nationally to put a dour tone on the upcoming season, but I’m just excited for the sport to return and for my fall weekends to have a bit more entertainment. Living in NY but being a Lions fan, I’m forced to watch the Jets and Giants try to out-dryhump doorknobs for 3 hours most weeks, and can usually only catch games with teams I care about on postage stamp-sized feeds from random “sports” sites hosted in countries Russia hasn’t realized they might want to take back yet. But basically every Saturday from August until November I know that I can turn on the television and find some channel with Michigan on it, and for a couple of hours I can be unabashedly zealous over something pretty inconsequential but still incredibly endearing to my heart. That’s why I love the fall, and why I love having Michigan football back in my life.
[After the JUMP: lots more things that are either the best or the worst.]
There has been much debate around our AD and his success (or lack-there-of) in fulfilling his job duties. Many strong, passionate sentiments have come forth on the board. While I love a good “back-and-forth” as much as the next person, there does seem to be a large amount of apples vs. oranges, non sequiturs, straw men, and other nonsensical musings. In an effort to add some clarity to things I created the following Venn diagram. As this very lively discussion continues perhaps you will find this tool useful to better organize your thoughts and make your arguments.
A1 - A place everyone agrees does not exist
A2 - Miami (YTM) circa 1984
A3 - A place fans fear more than death itself
A4 - Brian’s own personal Hell; why $5 is what you will receive from a scalper in exchange for taking his Horror Part II tickets.
B1 - Boise State
B2 - Exists only in Dave Brandon’s Mind; The reason he hired Lochmann
B3 - Slippery Rock at the Big House
B4 - “I am proud to introduce the next director of athletics for Eastern Michigan University, Mr. Hunter Lochmann”
C1 - Oregon
C2 - Alabama
C3 - Duke vs. Arizona Basketball! Prime-time!! For the championship!!! Of the Preseason NIT
August 13, 2014
Opening Statement ... "It's been a really busy summer. We have been able to do a lot of things, but it's been busy. Now we're ready to get on the plane on Friday and head overseas and continue the growth that this team is really going to need all year long. I think things have been productive. We have been delayed by several injuries that have kept us from having a big enough group, so thank goodness LaVall Jordan is still in pretty good shape and can go with us. We're plowing through things and trying to give the players as much info as we can and as much conditioning as we can without overloading them. I expect us to go over there and play our best, but we could be overmatched in some games, just in experience and size, but it will be good for us."
On his excitement about the trip ... "We get to do this every four years and this will be my fifth trip, with different teams. I'm always excited to see what the game conditions look like, who performs in games and this also gives us something to come back and grow with as a team."
On injuries the team has suffered over the summer ... "The one we probably planned on the least was D.J. Wilson. Right from the beginning, his injury to his right pinkie kept him from doing almost everything. We've found that he can shuffle really well without anyone guarding him. That's been difficult because we were trying to experiment with him at a couple of positions but we never could do it. We were very hopeful that Max Bielfeldt could play when he's over there (Italy), but he's not going to be able to play. He's still not moving in the way we want him to move. Austin Hatch is continuing to do rehab; he's in some drills and he probably will play in some games over there, but he's not as ready as we hope he will be later on."
On the health of Caris LeVert ... "Caris started playing last week, but he's not himself yet. As you can imagine, he was pretty much dormant for 16 weeks and so you'll see some of those flashes today. It's just a matter of him getting back in game shape."
On his early observations of Kameron Chatman ... "His basketball IQ has been outstanding. He's picked up some of our concepts and some of our actions as quick as anybody we've ever had. He's been very productive as far as his talk and his knowledge of the game. We're still trying to find out the sweet spots of his game and (teach him) when it's time to make a play and be a player."
On the importance of this trip to helping the team find its identity ... "I think it's very important. We made this trip four years ago and I would imagine if we did a poll, we would have been picked to finish 11th out of 11 teams the last time we did this trip. We came back, after getting it handed to us a little bit, a better team and that team went on to make the NCAA Tournament. I don't know where this team measures to that team. There are some similarities, with how many young kids are playing. On and off the court, there are so many things going on that are important to us."
On the summer program for the freshmen ... "It's been a great adjustment for them. The summer program for our freshmen is very demanding and they have finished it. That's been a big part of growing. Now, they've been around the players. I think there are two more projects that are due, but now that the schoolwork is mostly done, I'm really looking forward to them playing over there (Italy) without the academic workload on their back."
On some of the players who will push for playing time on the trip ... "I think you have to look at the guys who played the most right away last year. In the backcourt, you have Derrick, Caris and Spike, so those three are going to play, and Muhammad is vying for time there as well. Zak has been playing both sides of the floor, Kam has been playing one side of the floor, and then our two big guys Ricky and Mark have been sharing that workload. I like what we've seen from Aubrey Dawkins; he shoots the ball well and he's athletic. There are some things like Hardaway and like Glenn in his game, but there's a lot of refinement to do. He will play a lot over there (Italy); probably the left side more, where Nik (Stauskas) and Tim (Hardaway) have played before. It's natural, with Kam being a lefty, for him to play on the right side."
On Derrick Walton Jr. having a bigger role on and off the floor ... "It's the same speech I gave Nik last year. With Nik, Mitch, Glenn, Jon, Jordan all gone there are a lot more minutes and a lot more shots out there and there's a lot more defense to be played. It's all right there in front of them. Guys have to be more aggressive. Derrick has been much more aggressive. I don't know if Zak can shoot it any better than he did; he made a three for every nine minutes that he played last year (in league play), so we expect similar type of shot selection from him. He's shooting the ball really well right now as well. As far as vocal leadership, it has to fall on the oldest players and Spike and Caris and Max have to be a big part of that. Those guys know almost nothing but Elite Eight and Final Four appearances, but they know the intangibles it took to get to that point."
On what Zak Irvin has added to his game ... "You'll see at practice, Zak is taking the ball to the basket better, he's rebounding more -- he did not rebound last year, and he's becoming a defensive stopper. He has some ability to do that. I don't think he's proven that in games yet, but most freshmen don't."
On Zak Irvin's preparedness this year for a bigger role as compared to his freshman year ... "Zak had a good freshman year. For him to come in and average five or six points a game as a freshman, with that team and that returning talent (was great). Now it's the next step. He'll be in at the end of games, he's going to have to make big foul shots, all natural things that come with that."
On when Caris will return to full form ... "He just needs repetition right now. He was not able to do a lot of work during that time, so he needs to just get his legs back to an endurance area where he can go longer. We're going to need a lot of minutes from him. Right now he needs to rep out shooting, shooting, scoring, shooting, defending, etc. All he needs is time right now, but this certainly helps. As you watch him out there right now, he's trying to find his spots and he's done very well in some practices, while at other times you can see the layoff."
On Caris keeping his weight on with all the down time ... "I think he looks good right now, he's not a guy that naturally puts on weight with ease. Zak, Ricky and Mark have done that much more easily (than Caris). I think he's wiry-strong; he may be one of our best rebounders right now from the standpoint of he'll just in go and get it. He's usually been back on defense and that's been a thought, maybe he should be crashing the boards as an off guard and somebody else should be back."
On the difference between having all these freshmen enter a traditional camp vs. entering camp with the Italy experience ... "What we're trying to do right now is just throw things at them. We talked about switching patterns and some different double-teams that we might be forced into doing because of their age. We're throwing the whole game at them, so when we come back in September they'll have a whole different understanding. When they watch film, they'll understand why they have to come out with high hands, or why they have to be in a stance. It's just this test before the test. It's a practice test, almost, for our practices in the future. They will understand how important these things we do in practice to their success."
On what questions he hopes to have answered during the trip ... "I have a lot of questions and they'll be answered over time. We have three or possibly four young men who'll be playing in the post that have had very limited post opportunities, or post touches. How much can we throw it in to them? How much can we play off of them? We're still working in all those areas. Our post defense -- Jordan Morgan was so good at that -- and now we have to replace all that, so that's one of the bigger areas. We are experienced in areas all around the perimeter; we have no experience, except for Max a little bit, but no genuine game experience in any type of big man position."
On his personal relationship with Austin Hatch ... "It's been extremely rewarding thus far, watching him. He has not been in all the action yet, but he is working his tail off to get his motor skills back up and do all the things that he used to do so easily. Being a part of this thing is an incredible blessing to all of us, with what he's doing for the team right now. Our relationship is pretty close. Between he and I and Jeff, who was big in the early recruiting process, and his family, we're very close with everybody. We're all in this together to help him really live his dream, playing in the Michigan basketball program and getting a degree from the University of Michigan."
More on Austin Hatch ... "The unfortunate circumstances of his last plane accident led me to be in situations where I saw him come out of his coma, and I've seen a progression that others may not appreciate. It's amazing what he's done so far, so there's genuine care, going both ways. I know he is very appreciative of this opportunity he has."
On the importance of Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton's experience in the backcourt ... "They're going to be out there a lot. They're two of our cagey veterans. They were out there in every game last year, they've played in big games. In the Elite Eight game, we called Zak's number for maybe the first time all year and he just knocks down a three as soon as he comes off the bench. He has to have some great qualities to do that, and you can see Derrick continues to grow all year long. We're depending on them."
On Max Bielfeldt's status as a senior ... "That's my prerogative, when someone goes into their fifth year. We thought it was best right now that he complete his degree and graduate in four years, and that gives him an option to do something like Blake McLimans did that fifth year, so it's one that the head coach can exercise and we thought it was a good thing and he understands it."
On Zak Irvin's growth this summer ... "He's over on the left side of the floor and he's going to have a lot of opportunities to either pass or score and he's embracing that. He's worked really hard. I like the way he looks right now. Because he didn't get an incredible amount of time as a freshman and we had so many good players, now being that go-to guy again is going to be a big question. Between Caris and him and Derrick, those are the natural veterans who have been go-to guys in the past on their high school teams but never at the University of Michigan."
On Derrick Walton's growth this summer ... "He's another youngster; he just turned 20 and he really understands his role is so important on this team, and that he does have to score more, and we're asking him to do that. At the same time, he's got to do that in a fashion that's helpful to the team, he's got to keep the other guys involved."
On keeping his staff intact from a season ago ... "These guys love coaching here. We have a great staff and I encouraged them, and told them that if they were interested in other opportunities elsewhere, I would certainly assist them. But they're interested in making the Michigan basketball program the best program that it can be. If they were out applying for other jobs every other week and something opened up, you would have seen. There was nothing, they liked Michigan and they're trying to all grow so that when they do get their opportunity they're going to be ready."
On filling C.J. Lee's position ... "We're in the process of it. In the last month we've talked with several people at different times. The position is very important, program personnel, because we have to make sure we have someone that can identify with these young men."
On Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle ... "Neither one is afraid of physical contact, that's what has really been impressive so far. I see them banging with each other legally inside; they don't back off that at all. I love the idea that they are embracing that. Both of them can shoot the ball, and we haven't had our big men shoot a lot from the outside in the past. We expect them to see 15-footers, which really opens the floor up for us."
On using all of the available scholarships ... "In today's age of transfers and guys going pro, you have to look at it differently. There was a time in my career where I would have 10 or 11 guys, then save a couple (of scholarships). Then you'd be down if guys were going pro, so we're trying to use all our scholarships when we think it makes sense, so we're looking forward to getting back in September and rolling with this team, continuing to recruit to our needs and the people who fit the Michigan program."