Am here to pass on some information many of you will find comforting, regarding our basketball team. As a student I had season tickets from Frieder/Fisher's Title through the Fab Five, and have had many thoughts and a view you may appreciate.
I have learned in those years, that the Michigan Basketball program is either one of two things. A Giant, or a Sleeping Giant. There is no middle ground. When its on, the spotlight nationwide, is blinding, so much that you'll be surprised by the strength of it. Perhaps the magnitude of it is from filling a void in the media channels for when the Men's football team isn't playing. The majority of you here are a lot younger than I and have not experienced the frenzy that is Michigan Basketball when it awakens, and boy, I hope you are ready when it comes.
It was so big, that there was even a brief fleeting moment in 1989 that it was bigger than the football program, when after the title, Bo spoke to us at a celebratory ceremony with Glen Rice and the other players, and Bo made reference "and hopefully we can follow it up with winning a football title the next year!". Most reactions to that in the crowd were quiet and subtle boos, a displeasure of sorts because at that time, the basketball team was king, at that time. Maybe because it was April, and they just took everyone on a wild ride in the tournament, but nonetheless, it was true.
The program has been a sleeping giant since Tom Goss fired Steve Fisher, which was very unfortunate, because Ellerbe was out of his league. And since the program has been sleeping since.
Now, in the present, Coach Beilein has been operating at a large disadvantage regarding facilities, which are very substandard, and this, believe it or not, means a lot to recruits, and a lot more than it should. MSU has been able to clean up in this regard concerning the top recruits. But what it has seemed Beilein has done is that he has been quite resourceful, landing players that are late bloomers with potential to be stars. For until the facilities and recruiting ability is even-board, then this was the best Beilein could do, and DB has alluded to this issue.
Beilein found Darius Morris, who literally looked like a little kid, when recruited, a kid among older boys. And now Morris, by leaps and bounds, looks like almost a man among boys, though not quite yet...that will be next year.
Beilein found Jordan Morgan, who impresses the heck out of me, who is so fundamentally sound, it is shocking he had no good offers. Morgan is cleaning up down low, and is operating alone. We are one big man recruit, away from being a Giant, again. Well, maybe two. Am glad to see Morgan have a big game on the stat sheet, which now should draw more attention to his play. He also has seemed to have a major development growth spurt, by leaps and bounds, after playing Sullinger last week. You could see at the start of the game, his tentativeness, as if he didn't have the full confidence. Then, last night, he crushed NW's big men. If we had two Morgans down low, we'd be top 7 in country right now. That is not lip service. Morgan is that effective, and is doing it alone. Beilein hit a home run finding this kid.
Beilein found Tim Hardaway Jr, who has grown by leaps and bounds. Word was that Hardaway wasn't good enough to be recruited by us, and his list wasn't impressive. But now, you can imagine how many teams would recruit Hardaway. I fully expect him to be in discussion for All-Big Ten next season, at this pace.
Beilein found Jon Horford, who needs to play, and play alot. Horford is a guy who will metamorphisize in the offseason, and is a budding star. Am surprised MSU did not recruit this kid. Here is another who is a late bloomer, and reminds me a little of Eric Riley.
Beilein found Glenn Robinson Jr for next year. When I was a student, Robinson SR committed to Purdue early, and was heartbroken because he said had he known that Webber, Howard, and Rose were all gonna commit here, that he would have without question. He loved the Wolverines. As much as I liked Ray Jackson, he was not of the caliber of the other Four, but Big Dog was. And Beilein just landed Big Dog Jr.. If this kid develops late like Hardaway, then you'll be very very pleased because his dad was a beast.
Note, that we are that one big man recruit away, from stepping into that blinding spotlight again, and becoming a Giant.
So, Orson asked the DOD to perform a flyover at his son's first birthday party. I'm not going to weigh in on the merits of the flyover, but there are some key learning points we can all take from his somewhat flawed request. I deal with this shit at work, and need to let it out. Also might help Hoover over at NROTC get some solid flyovers next Fall.
1. Flexibility is key.
Here, Orson has some positives and negatives. On the plus side, he's willing to accept any of the military's prominent demonstration teams. However, you'll notice in block 2 that he specifically requests only F-22 Raptors. They aren't based near Atlanta, Orson's hometown, thus requiring added logistical support. Accepting an AC-130 from Hurlburt or JSF from relatively nearby Eglin AFB might make his request more supportable. Perhaps even a T-34C Turbomentor from Pensacola.
Kids, the military wants to help, help us help you and give us some flexibility.
Other negatives here: the request must be in at least 30 days prior. Planning is important.
2. Don't obviously lie.
Believe it or not, the people who approve flyovers are familiar with this form. Air Traffic Control approval is needed to fly in Atlanta's airspace--it's got one of the busiest airfields in the country. Honesty matters, regardless of what Jim Carey thought in Liar, Liar.
NOT A CLASSIC!
3. Okay, a little lying is okay.
Blocks 11-15, while seemingly innocuous, probably all need to be answered yes to be approved. Check that, the various public relations orders say they MUST be answered "YES."
Block 11. Does the local government approve? It approves by not actively disapproving.
Block 12. YouTube counts. After all, that's how this feedback was obtained:
Those guys aren't pilots anymore--probably.
Block 13. We know it's in the South, but seriously.
Block 14. See Block 13
Block 15. You aren't putting the Monty Burns' sun blocker up, right?
These are creative answers kids. Except 13 and 14. Don't be racist. Seriously.
4. I think everyone is getting the point, but I've got one final thing to remind you of:
1:35 to a military pilot means either a) 0135 (1:35 am) or b) 0135 zulu (6:35 am on the east coast). Either would be a terrifying surprise.
Kids, anyone can get a flyover for their ridiculous public event. Just remember to fill out the form, give everyone 30 days notice, know someone important in the military aviation rank structure, and give some creative answers to very important questions. Work the system well enough, and you might just get this:
Get into the Air Force Academy and you might even get to see a flyover wearing those stupid hats.
The questions about whether the Michigan position was an elite job for a coach presumably sparked the same question about recruiting. Whether high school athletes were still viewing Michigan as an elite program, and what the reason was that the Wolverines were getting passed up for other schools.
Magnus at Touch the Banner recently diagnosed where Michigan's offerees signed, and I wanted to expand on that. In his article he shows where kids ended up signing that had a Michigan offer. I wanted to look at how many total prospects Michigan was extending offers to, how many of those offered prospects ended up committed, and how those numbers compared to other top programs in the country.
There will definitely be some faults with these numbers, because I'm assuming that Rivals offer lists are 100% accurate, which they're not. To be fair though I will just go off the numbers that Rivals reports to give a consistent analysis. The chart below shows the numbers for the 2011 recruiting season, how many total offers were extended by each school, the total commitments they received, and the percentage of commits they received to the number of offers extended.
|School||Total Offers||Total Commitments||Percentage|
Again, this is all dependent on the fact that this information is either accurate, or consistently inaccurate. Either way, I don't think the numbers are that far off for each school to make a dramatic difference in the numbers. Magnus reported in his article that Michigan actually handed out 190 offers, which would drop their percentage even lower to 10.5%.
Florida State and Florida's higher offer numbers can most likely be attributed to the amount of talent and competition they have in close proximity. Rivals says there were 508 recruits in the 2011 class reporting offers from the state of Florida. That's a lot, and it explains some of their numbers. Auburn likely extended a lot of their offers before their season started, and there were still question marks about how it would turn out. I would expect their number of offers extended to somewhat decrease, although they are in heavy competition with Alabama and the southern schools.
Probably the best comparison to show where Michigan has gone is with Ohio State. Both schools recruit locally as a foundation, but have a large national presence. Ohio State has done an outstanding job, from what these numbers look to tell us, evaluating the talent that they want and getting those prospects to commit. Ohio State landed almost 36% of the prospects that they offered in 2011, which is a huge difference between the 11% from Michigan. These numbers say a few things about what has happened to Michigan's recruiting efforts. Either the Michigan coaches didn't land the prospects that they initially wanted, or that their game plan was to cast a wide net and hope to reel in some of the kids that they gave offers to.
To be fair, the argument can and should be made that there is historically more talent within Ohio, which might make it easier for Ohio State to land the kids they want. The same argument can be made that there's enough talent within the midwest that Ohio State and Michigan could each get some of the kids they offer. Let's then compare where Michigan used to be compared to Ohio State.
*I'm assuming that the numbers from 2005 are probably not very accurate because of the information that was available then. However, I'm still assuming we're comparing consistently inaccurate info for that year.
You'll notice that the numbers are much more similar, and this even given during 2007 when there was a lot of noise about Lloyd Carr retiring. That was somewhat of a tough year for Michigan recruiting wise because of the negative recruiting, yet the gap still wasn't more than 4% from what Ohio State was landing. You see the highest number of total offers given out by Michigan was in 2007 with 102, which is nowhere near the 175 RIvals reports for 2011.
Ohio State has consistently stayed below the 100 total offer mark, and has been able to land a good percentage of prospects offered. The numbers displayed by 2011, and even 2010 show us that Michigan's recruiting efforts have not only changed, but the way recruits are perceiving Michigan has as well. The data is too vague to determine if the blame lies within the people selling the program, the pitch made for the program, the overall recruiting plan, or if prospects see a better opportunity elsewhere at this time.
If Brady Hoke wants to get Michigan back to where they were, he needs to have an exact recruiting plan in place. Not only do they need to identify the needs position wise, but they need to fully evaluate each prospect before an offer is given out. That can be done through academic evaluation, athletic evaluation, junior days, unofficial visits, and what questions are asked by the coaches while talking to prospects. The recruiting game has become harder than it ever was, and the coaches need to find the battles that they can win. They need to find the prospects that fit what they're looking for athletically and academically, and focus on that specific group. Casting a wide net and spreading out your time amongst a large group often leads to recruits that haven't fully bought into the idea of your program, or are left wanting more from the relationship that is being built. Recruits want to know that they're wanted, and they also want to know that they're headed into a winning program, which leads us to the other way that Hoke can bring back the recruiting perception. On Saturdays.
I went ahead to the morning of March 5th and returned with this nugget for you all:
March 5th, Ann Arbor, MI –
There is no such thing as a play-in game in conference basketball, though there is a first time for everything. As Michigan prepares to host MSU tonight at Crisler arena, both teams know what’s at stake and both will be playing, essentially, for their tournament lives.
The Michigan wolverines, sitting at 19-11, 9-8 conference, have really taken control of their season, winning six of their last seven, dropping only a home game against conference No. 2, Wisconsin. They have put themselves squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament.
The MSU Spartans, meanwhile, have also found a bit of themselves over the past few weeks, finishing the homestretch 4-2, leaving them at 17-12, also with a 9-8 conference record, but with a tougher NC schedule and a better national perspective. This also places them squarely on the NCAA bubble.
Now, the problem. The Big Ten has OSU, Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois ticketed for the dance already. The conference almost certainly will not get seven berths. And so, with also-rans Northwestern and Penn State on the outside looking in, the picture becomes clear. One of these teams, but not both, is going dancing. Tonight for our viewing pleasure, right here in Ann Arbor, these young men are going to play their guts out to find out which one.
- The Season So Far:
Michigan: For a team that was supposed to be too young to accomplish much, early season non-conference success brought whispers of an NCAA Tourney bid in the making. Then, close losses to No. 2 Kansas and No. 1 OSU in back-to-back games seemed to take it out of the wolverines, and they followed up with clunkers and aimless fluttering through several ugly Big Ten losses. It was not until this young team rallied to beat MSU at the Breslin center, something that had not happened in better than a decade, that they really began to figure out what they were.
Led by veterans Zack Novak and Darius Morris and supported by a talented freshman class including Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Morgan, this team has found a method and a special type of leadership to rise above their youth. Expect a lot of threes from Novak if he can get open, some solid passing from Morris, and some interesting sets devised by head coach John Beilein.
MSU: Michigan State basketball is a program all but synonymous with top flight talent and perpetuated success. Though not lacking in the first, the second has been hard to come by this season. Early season losses were brushed aside as MSU faced some of the best teams in the nation. However, entering conference play, things got no easier for the Spartans. A lack of chemistry has left head coach Tom Izzo scratching his head, and meant the dismissal of one Korie Lucious and a bevy of tough losses.
Still, all that talent has come through when dearly needed, and has given MSU a chance to continue their impressive tournament streak. With no clear leader, it’s hard to know what to expect from the Spartans on any given night, but it’s likely that Tom Izzo will have some clever schemes to continue the minor winning streak that has rescued MSU from utter failure to the least chance of earning a berth.
One of these teams will make the tournament. For the other, it’ll be Big Ten tourney champions or bust. There is enough talent and skill to send the game either way. All that’s left is to play one of the most important games ever in this series. In Ann Arbor, you can cut the tension with a knife.
This is the continuation of my offensive post from yesterday. Michigan obviously addressed the defensive side of the ball in 2011, and luckily for Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison the Midwest is loaded with some great defensive talent for an even better haul.
I’d go far enough to say that a top-10 class is possible, and that’s not even considering states like Texas or California, which we know this staff can recruit.
I’m going to start off with the defensive backs and linebackers, since I know many of you want to know about all the tackle prospects! Patience.
CB Terry Richardson – 5'9, 160 lbs, Detroit, Michigan.
Richardson is the next great cornerback in the proverbial line of smallish Cass Tech cornerbacks. Terry is more similar to BooBoo as a faster prospect with good hips, though he will need to add some weight and be more physical at the next level. There is some worry amongst Michigan fans that Richardson is not being offered fast enough, but that offer will come soon.
Other offers: Iowa, Alabama, LSU, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Michigan State
Safety Bam Bradley – 6'2, 200 lbs, Trotwood, Ohio.
Bam is a great talent to go along with a great name. A player similar to current Wolverine Marvin Robinson, Bradley has the potential to be a safety or grow into linebacker at the next level. Bradley suffered through a hamstring injury his junior year, so his stats weren’t very good. Obviously Michigan has the Trotwood trio on their current roster, but Bradley is being watched by Ohio State and will likely be offered.
Other offers: Michigan State, Northwestern
Safety Deshaun Hall – 6'1, 205 lbs, Canton, Ohio.
Many think of Bradley as one of the top safeties in the state, but Deshaun Hall is quietly becoming one of the best safeties in the state of Ohio and the Midwest as well. He’s got very good size, and is a great free safety prospect in college. Unfortunately, Ohio State has been through his school a number of times and he’s visited them as well.
Other offers/interest: No offers, but Oregon, Pitt, Wisconsin, and others are interested.
CB Cody Quinn – 5'10, 165 lbs, Middletown, Ohio.
Quinn is a smooth cornerback with great hips and he has good speed to match as well. Helped his team go 10 in their regular season and is one of the top cornerbacks in Ohio. Cincinnati was the first to offer, but it’s a pretty down year in Ohio, so don’t be surprised to see Quinn get a lot of looks.
Other interest: Notre Dame, Michigan State
LB James Ross – 6'1 210 lbs, Orchard Lake, Michigan
One of the top players in Michigan, Ross struggled last season due to a number of injuries. Michigan has been in on him since his late sophomore year, and that interest is continuing. Ross was very happy with the hiring of Greg Mattison, and he will visit Michigan, along with Ohio State, and Notre Dame among others.
Other Offers: Michigan State, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati
LB Royce Jenkins-Stone – 6’2, 215 lbs, Detroit Michigan.
Where Ross is a much more polished product, Royce is still tapping into his potential. A great physical athlete who can move sideline to sideline, Stone has turned into one of the top linebackers in the state and the midwest as well. One of Brady Hoke’s first stops once he arrived at Michigan was to see Coach Wilcher and his players at Cass, so you won’t need to worry about Royce getting an offer or not.
Other Offers: Iowa, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Michigan State
LB Laron Taylor – 6'0, 205 lbs, Detroit Michigan.
While Jenkins-Stone is the more recognizable name at Cass Tech, an evolving star is Laron Taylor, who plays alongside Royce. Taylor is a bit undersized as a linebacker, but I had the chance to see him play in person once and he’s a terrific athlete who will be able to play linebacker at the next level. Iowa was the first to offer Taylor, but there is serious interest from a lot of schools after Taylor put out his junior film.
DT Vincent Valentine – 6'3, 300 lbs, Edwardsville, Illinois
Aside from having a cool name Valentine is a big talent who’s mostly upside at this point in time. He’s already visited Missouri and Kansas State, but Valentine is very open at this point and would be great to get on campus.
Other offers: Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas State, Tennessee, Wisconsin
DT Danny O’Brien – 6'3, 280 lbs, Flint, Michigan
A top-10 player in the state and premium talent. One of O’Brien’s “heroes” happens to be Mike Martin, and he’s visited Michigan a few times. However, Tennessee has been showing him serious interest as well, and they may lead. Hoke and Mattison really need to do work on this kid.
DT Matthew Godin – 6'5, 260 lbs, Deroit, Michigan.
Godin is another player who’s really come on strong since last year. He will probably end up as a three-technique in college, as he is more of a end right now. Buffalo and Cincinnati were the first to come through with offers, and Michigan State offered Godin recently on his visit to their junior day as well. Has strong family ties to Michigan.
DE Evan Winston – 6'4, 260 lbs, Muskegon, Michigan
A name you might not have heard much but will hear more of, Winston travelled all around the country last year camping, and he had a really strong showing on the field as well. He’s been collecting offers like crazy; Michigan State has been talking to him, and I expect Michigan will show interest as well. Brother plays at CMU.
Other offers: Ball State, Bowling Green, Toledo, Syracuse, Eastern Michigan
DE Tom Strobel – 6'6, 240 lbs, Mentor, Ohio
Ohio is absolutely loaded at defensive end in 2012.. which is why I think this guy may slip through the cracks. Strobel is a big body that moves well and plays for a very good Mentor program. He has visited Ohio State but I don’t think they’re heavily interested in him. High-academic kid too
Other offers: Cincinatti, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Purdue
DE Chris Wormley – 6'4, 255, Whitmer, Ohio
A consensus top-10 (rated #3 by rivals) player in Ohio next year, Wormley is a big body who excels in pass rushing. He’s got all the physical tools, and simply needs solid coaching and a high motor to put it all together. The consensus from people in Ohio is that Wormley will go to Michigan. He’s visited there a few times and though he may not say it, is leaning that way. Still, a long way to go in the recruiting process.
Other offers: Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Toledo, Cincinnati
You’ll notice I did not include some of the Ohio “Super” defensive ends. I did not include Washington, McMullen, Pittman, or Lewis (All top-10 players in Ohio). Frankly, I do not think Michigan will be able to pull any of them. Unless Ohio State takes 3, it will be incredibly difficult for the new staff to get in on these players. Most of them have been talking to Ohio State for 2 years and visited numerous times.
With that being said anything can happen.
As springtime slowly inches towards us, the Michigan baseball team is preparing for the start of their season on February 18th. Practicing indoors in Oosterbaan isn’t exactly ideal, but you’d be surprised how much gets done. This year the baseball team will be a very interesting watch. The new BBCOR regulations on bats are going to change the game immensely. For a Michigan team with little power, the bats won’t have that much effect on their game, but for others who depend on the long ball, they are up for a rude awakening. If you can make solid contact, you’ll be fine, but gone are the days of hitting the barrel and it going 300 feet. Now that hit is a weak fly ball or dribble to the infield. The game will now be played with a bigger focus on defense, speed, and fundamentals (bunting, moving runners etc.) This equates to more pitching dominance and lower scoring games. I’ve heard players and coaches talking about people being lucky to hit HALF the homeruns they hit last year. Seriously, this will change the game in ways many do not expect. But, as a tid-bit before the season, I’ll do a run down of the 2011 Michigan baseball team:
Captain Anthony Toth provides the glue that will keep this group together. The fifth year senior will be holding down 2B and probably batting in the two hole like he did last year.
At shortstop, Derek Dennis had an up-and-down true freshman campaign, but showed flashes of the potential that led the Tampa Bay Rays to draft him out of high school and offer him a bonus well in line of a top 3 round pick. His maturation both defensively and offensively will be key to this year’s team. Did I mention he was also voted best infield arm in the Big Ten as well?
John Lorenz will again man 3B providing good defense with some middle of the order pop. He’s one of the few players on this year’s team who could be a power threat. His pitch recognition needs to improve to cut down on the K’s and increase his chances on getting a fastball he can mash.
Garrett Stephens will get the first shot at replacing Dufek at 1B. Batting from the left side, Stephens will hopefully be able to provide some power to this lineup. Defensively he is solid, and it’ll be fun to see take that hard groundball off the chest and shake it off like it’s nothing.
At the catcher position, it’s a toss-up. Replacing Red’s draftee Chris Berset is hard, and no one from this group has been able to separate himself as the starter. Right now I’d say the leader is Zach Johnson, but John Dilaura and freshman Cole Martin are nipping at his heels.
Freshman All-American Pat Biondi will lead this group at CF and bat lead off. Voted as the best defensive outfielder in the Big Ten by coaches is well deserved, his range in the OF is matched by very few in college baseball.
In LF, Kevin Krantz will be roaming beside Biondi. He has the arm and speed to be very good defensively, while having a solid bat that could hit for average with a little power as well. Alex Lakatos will also see time in LF when Krantz is needed in the IF.
Michael O’Neil will be following in his uncle’s (former Yankee Paul O’Neil) footsteps by manning RF this year. O’Neil has the ability to play CF, and will if Biondi goes down, but as with all true freshman, the adjustment to D1 pitching is a tough one. Hopefully he can take some notes on what Ryan LaMarre did his freshman year and become a stud.
For the DH role, it will be Coley Crank manning this spot again. He was the leading power hitter on the team last year with 14 homeruns and will be leaned on again to provide pop to the middle of the order.
Michigan has a ton of quality arms. While they lack that “stud” (i.e. Zach Putnam, Chris Fetter), the depth the staff has this year is quite good. Senior captain Kolby Wood will be added to the weekend rotation this year. He’ll sit upper 80’s – low 90’s with good movement on his fastball. The change in the bats will eliminate many of the weak contact hits that plagued him last year. RS Sophomore Bobby Brosnahan will join Wood in the weekend rotation. The lefty will start off as the Friday night guy and will carve batters with plus command and a good off-speed. The final addition to the rotation remains to be seen. Brandon Sinnery and Travis Smith will battle for this final spot.
The 9th inning will be given to Tyler Mills. He has the best arm on the team, touching 95mph more than once. Add a slider and dirty movement to his FB, and you get a deadly closer. The man handing him the ball will be Matt Gerbe. The fifth year senior will come at batters with a low 90’s fastball, good slider, and a changeup.
The Michigan baseball team opens the season with No. 21 Louisville in the Big Ten/Big East challenge in Florida. Look for this Michigan to compete for the Big Ten title yet again.