Now that the initial Scout 300 and Rivals 250 have both been released I thought it would be interesting to compare the two sets of early rankings. Below I have recorded both rankings for recruits of interest (if I missed any, help me out). I have also averaged the two to reach a composite ranking for each player, which I'll call the player's "preliminary consensus" ranking.
Disclaimer: I think rankings are imperfect. I know they evolve. I do not think they guarantee success or damn a player to mediocrity; but neither do I think they are worthless or arbitrary. I hope this post invites comments about the rankings themselves, but not another tired back and forth over their general validity, e.g. "rankings don't mean anything" -- "yes they do" -- "what about successful 2/3 star player X?" -- "but look at this NFL draft data" -- etc.
2010 "Preliminary Consensus"
 Seantrel Henderson (S:1; R:1)
 Marcus Lattimore (S:2; R:4)
[4.5] Lache Seastrunk (S:7; R:2)
 Jackson Jeffcoat (S:6; R:6)
[9.5] Jeff Luc (S:9; R:10)
 Kyle Prater (S:10; R:18)
 Jordan Hicks (S12: R:16)
[32.5] Robert Crisp (S:36; R:29)
[45.5] Christian Green (S:54; R:37)
[50.5] William Gholston (S:57; R:44)
[54.5] Mack Brown (S:63; R:46)
 Chris Dunkley (S:93; R:61)
 Tai-ler Jones (S:81; R:101)
[107.5] Dietrich Riley (S:70; R:145)
[118.5] Corey Brown (S:168; R:69)
 Ricardo Miller (S:115; R:123)
[123.5] Marvin Robinson (S:148; R:99)
 Devin Gardner (S:77; R:177)
[133.5] Brennan Clay (S:155; R:112)
[135.5] Dior Mathis (S:137; R:134)
[139.5] Latwan Anderson (S:213; R:66)
 Chaz Green (S:127; R:155)
[158.5] Robert Bolden (S:83; R:234)
 DeJoshua Johnson (S:210; R:114)
 A.J. Cann (S:212; R:162)
 Nickell Robey (S:265; R:125)
[197.5] Jerald Robinson (S:157; R:238)
[199.5] Jeffrey Godfrey (S:215; R:184)
[202.5] Josh Furman (S:105; R:X)
[210.5] Austin White (S:121; R:X)
 Jay Guy (S:140; R:X)
 Brandon Ifill (S:154; R:X)
[240.5] Torrian Wilson (S:X; R:131)
[251.5] C.J. Olaniyan (S:203; R:X)
 Caleb Lavey (S:214; R:X)
 Cullen Christian (S:254; R:X)
 Nick Hill (S:262; R:X)
[288.5] Austin Gray (S:277; R:X)
[291.5] Kenny Shaw (S:283; R:X)
[296.5] Scott McVey (S:293; R:X)
Unranked of interest: Jeremy Jackson, D.J. Williamson, Lo Wood
Note on methodology: For players not ranked in the Rivals 250, I computed the Rivals half of their composite ranking with a value of 300. For players missing the Scout 300 I used 350. This is admittedly inexact. It may punish a player too much for not making the list (or not enough).
So, we've had some great posts recapping a wonderful basketball season. I've heard a lot of talk about next year, unsurprisingly, and there's only been little spatterings of our incoming talent on the interwebs that I've seen. So, here's my attempt to give a deeper look into what this roster will look like next year. Feel free to criticize away!
Darius Morris - PG 6'3" 175 ****
Matt Vogrich - SG 6'4" 180 ***
Jordan Morgan - PF 6'8" 245 ***
Blake McLimas - C 6'9" 210
Eso Akunne (pref. walk on)
This year's walk-ons were Corey Person and Eric Puls. With four scholarship players coming in and preferred walk-on Eso Akunne entering the fold, I find it unlikely (without knowing exact roster limitations) that either will be back.
First, the addition of Darius Morris will be a huge step for this program - he's a legit college PG with size. Something we haven't had since, well since before I got to Michigan, that's for sure. Morris has an above average handle and a good head on him. He's a guy that you look at and say "he's the future." It'll be fun to see what he can do with JB teaching him.
Matt Vogrich put up sensational numbers throughout his senior year. He's a pure shooter and a great fit for the Beilein system. It was nothing out of the ordinary to see headlines of "Vogrich puts up 35" all winter. The kid is a scorer.
Morgan is an interesting case. Nothing has been overly impressive about his senior season. He has very good size for a PF and could potentially be something we're missing - a big body that can rebound - yet there's been a lot of talk about a red-shirt.
McLimas is certainly a project. He transferred to a top academy where he put up decent to meh numbers. I fully expect a redshirt.
Everyone likes to throw around projected starting lineups, myself included. But at this point - none of these guys have set foot on campus since their recruitment - that's kinda pointless. But looking at how the roster fills out is still interesting and provides some big questions:
Point Guard-y type players: Grady, LLP, Morris, Douglass
Guards: Harris, Douglass, Novak, Vogrich, LLP
Wings: Harris, Novak, Wright, Sims
Bigs: Sims, Gibson, Cronin, Morgan, McLimas
So, I went with PG-y type players because I feel the PG position is a real crap shoot as of now. I think one thing that can be universally agreed upon is that our best bet is for Kelvin Grady to pick it up defensively, work out his mental lapses on the offensive end, have a great off-season, and emphatically win the job. In a perfect world, we'd have that. Darius Morris would be able to learn his way through his freshmen season, gaining some valuable season from the bench while still having an experienced PG in control of the team. Now, if Kelvin can't make that leap, then we have issues. Does LLP split time with Grady and Morris early on? Does Douglass, who has improved tremendously and shown he's an extremely good passer, get called on to handle the responsibilities?
I'm personally ok with Douglass at point in certain instances. He's a very heady player, he's brought the ball up the court at several points in the season, he's an excellent passer, and he defends well. Obviously, he would be playing out of position though, and would be giving up foot speed to almost any B10 PG. Early in the season if there is flux and uncertainty at point, however, I can see JB looking to Douglass to handle the PG role on the offensive end with perhaps LLP also on the floor to handle the defensive side of the ball.
The other option is to throw the job at Morris, the heir apparent, and live with freshman mistakes. I'm not a huge fan. Maybe by B10 season he'll be ready to take the reins, but this is a complex system. I'd be much more in favor of the above Stu/LLP situation
Looking to the other end, it will be very interesting to see how far Cronin can come along. IMO, ideally, Cronin will have an excellent off-season and be able to find a role as a 10-minute guy off the bench. I think asking for anything more is pushing it. From all accounts he still plays soft and small. He's been away from basketball for several months now. It would take a very good off-season to get to the point where JB can use him as the first big off the bench. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of the small lineups that we had this year (at least to start the season). That means Novak will be our everything guy, yet again. Perhaps Ant can help fill in that role as well, but judging by this year, who knows.
Whether or not Jordan Morgan can come in and contribute as a big off the bench is a big question. If he and Cronin are able to step in and provide quality minutes, we could get the Sims/Gibson starting lineup that many of us crave. That's an ideal situation, however. I would expect us to still play small with either Cronin or Morgan providing spot minutes and at times allowing Sims and Gibson to play together when necessary (for those UConn, OU, Illinois type games).
What happens with the bigs will heavily affect how much playing time Matt Vogrich gets, IMO. With LLP, Douglass, and Novak providing the 2/3 outside shooter roles, and Manny being Manny, Vogrich is going to have a tough time finding PT. If we go small then I think it's likely that we see Vogrich get some time. However, if our bigs play out in an ideal fashion, Vogrich may be the odd man out. it's truly amazing the depth we have at 2/3. There's so many possible lineup combinations that it hurts to even consider it. But in the end, Vogrich is competing with Douglass, Novak, LLP, Manny, and Ant for PT. Despite the fact that the guy is supposed to be lights out from the arc, I find it hard to see where he'll find the floor with all these other guys already with 1 or 2 years of experience in Beilein's system.
So, all in all, alot depends on the off-season development of Kelvin Grady and Ben Cronin. Those are the two guys that, if they work extra hard in the off-season and make a deep commitment to truly getting better, they can really change the face of this team. Otherwise, we could be looking to freshmen (Morris at point, Morgan as reserve big) to be taking over important roles. The talent for this team is at a level that can be compared to the senior season of Dion Harris, Courtney Sims, et al. It'll be interesting to see if they can take advantage of that talent better than Amaker's final team could.
When Manny Harris fouled out yesterday, my first thought was I hate these refs. My second thought was oh my god if we somehow pull this out John Beilein's benching of Manny Harris during the Iowa overtime will go down in Michigan basketball lore.
At the time of the benching, most fans were pissed because they thought his coaching arrogance had cost us a trip to the tourney. JB claimed he did it becuase it was "best for the team in the long run". Yesterday showed us what JB meant by the long run. The Iowa overtime gave the team experience playing important minutes without Manny. Remember, the first time Manny missed important minutes (after the ejection), the team totally imploded and quit. JB wanted to teach the team that they are capable of competing against good teams without Manny. Although they got smoked in the overtime against Iowa, they never quit during the overtime, just as they never quit yesterday (while also going against shit refs in both games). JB's most controversial coaching decision almost resulted in the team going to the sweet 16.
In fact, I think this, more than anything else, proves why John Beilein is such a great coach. John Beilein's most controversial decisions, such as benching Manny Harris during the Iowa overtime, recruiting two low rated Hoosiers over Detroit leftovers, and inserting CJ Lee into the starting lineup, end up being his most applauded decisions in the long run.
It is REALLY early to start looking ahead to next season for the basketball team, but after such a successful turnaround this year it is hard not to get excited for the future. I thought I'd take a first look at how the minutes are going to break down for next season.
First, let's make some assumptions:
-- Manny and Deshawn do not go to the NBA.
-- We'll ignore any possibility of injury for this excercise and assume that Cronin is healthy.
-- The incoming freshmen are all eligible and remain committed.
Now let's talk minutes:
-- Manny and Deshawn will play the same number of minutes as this past season.
-- Douglass has shown he can play D, hit some shots, and will probably get some minutes even at PG next year. Let's assume his minutes stay the same.
-- Gibson showed some spunk in the tournament, but given the influx of height next year I'll assume his minutes stay about the same. They might go up slightly, but that's about it.
-- Despite his great game against OK, Wright will struggle to get off the bench.
-- Merritt, Lee, and Douglass give up all their minutes.
(I can't figure out how to insert a graphic, so sorry in advance for the crappy formatting)
NAME:_______2009 MIN___2010 MIN?
I made the assumption that Novak would get fewer minutes since there is more height coming in and he'll spend less time at the four.
I made the assumption that LLP will improve, play a little point, and boost his minutes a little.
But what do you do at with Grady? I think he'll start the season as the primary PG until Morris is ready. But given how much he was glued to the bench lately I suspect he'll be used sparingly. I put him at 15.
If you add all of that up, you're looking at 44mpg that are currently unused for next year. Where do they go? Here's my theory:
Morris = 18 (Eventually he'll start and get minutes)
Cronin = 10 (Year of experience, size, D, rebounding)
Vogrich = 10 (Lot of SG candidates, so he'll only get a small dose)
That leaves about six minutes left. I expect that to go to either McLimans or Morgan. I can't see either playing more than some garbage time next year and it makes sense to redshirt one of them. I think they'll duel it out in camp to see who gets the redshirt.
What does everyone think?
I'd like to thank the Texas Longhorns and Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for saving my ass. Chalk ruled yesterday. Not good news for somebody who invested in seven underdogs. But, with the Horns and Hilltoppers nearly upseting higher seeds, the final two dogs cashed, winning me a little money back.
A lot of the dogs I liked weren't even competitive, making for about as uncomfortable day of wagering as you can find. Somehow, I managed a 4-4 record. I breathed a sigh of relief just to get that record.
I misread the action yesterday. I ignored what we had learned for most of the season, that being there's about a handful of power teams in the country, that have played at a level a couple rungs up the ladder than everyone else. This is only a wide open tournament if you limit your group to, say, six teams. Anyway, the teams that have been part of that group all season eviserated their foes yesterday with four double digit win and covers. Duke was to the only club of the crew not to cover their spread, but in Texas that had the m ost established and talented foe. Of the rest, Michigan and LSU were competitive and could have, but were done ultimately, but strong closing kicks. Texas A/M and Maryland were annihilated from the opening tap. Whatever Greivas Vasquez had in mind mouthy off to Memphis clearly backfired.
I have tons of Michigan thoughts, but need some more time to put something together thats not a choatic mess. There's all sorts of post mortem every in the M blogosphere, so give it a tour for your Sunday reading. I know folks have been following my picks, so I want to use this space to quickly throw them out there.
*** Syracuse -2 over Arizona State. A game that students of zone defense will love. Both teams specialize in it and will face huge challenges today. Can ASU slow the explosive Big East attack? Can Syracuse stymie James Hardin, who is expected to be a top-5 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Syracuse has scored at least 80 points 21 times this season, going 18-3 in those games. The Devils allow just 60 points per game. You'll be able to figure out who is winning the pace game by tracking thos numbers. The Orange are 9-6 in their lower scoring games, so they can win at that pace. I dont think the Devils can win at the Orange's pace though. ASU's zone will have its success, but the Orange are balanced and diverse on offense. They'll find enough answers. I'm not sure the Devils can beyond Hardin. Plus, this Orange team came togther in the Big East Tournament. It actually goes back to the Seton Hall game, a chippy game with a couple of fights. This club has been steeled togehter like no Orange team we've seen in recent seasons. Finally, this loaded roster is playing with a sense of team purpose. They win today and will be a dangerous out for Oklahoma next weekend.
*** Oklahoma State +8.5 over Pitt. What was that I said about misreading the board because I ignored how much better the cream was than everyone else? Sometimes you just dont learn. Look, I was surprised by just how poorly ETSU played and still had a chance to beat mighty Pitt. That Panthers have never been great tournament favorites and for whatever reason their style lends itself to trouble this time of year. No Sugarcoat. The Cowboys have been trending upwards for an entire month and have a ton of offense. I think they can showcase enough of it and push the tempo to take minimize the interior advantage of Pitt to stay in this one.
*** Dayton +8 over Kansas. The Hawks needed everything in their bag to stay a few steps ahead of North Dakota State the other day. The offensive going will much tougher to sled today against the D-minded Flyers. Dayton loves to bring the game down to an ugly level. They would fit right in with the Big 10. I was impressed by them on Friday. West Virginia was a KenPom darling, but Dayton was able to exert its style and will and make a team that at times took my breath away this year, into a typical-offense lacking Bob Huggins team. Until last season, KU would eventually give us a typical March clunker. I think Dayton shows us the way to that today.
*** Wisco +4 Xavier. It was good to see an ACC team get a dose we Big 10 teams get at least a couple times a year: Old school street fights with Wisconsin. Wasn't that a vintage Wisconsin game the other night with their win over Florida State. They use that style to compete every year. National pundits hammer the league because they just dont give the Badgers respect. Just epinion. I think they give Xavier a dose of that today and this one goes down to the wire similar to the FSU game from Friday.
*** CSU +3 over Arizona. Better late than never with the Vikings. Man, do I regret not pulling that trigger Friday night. Same situation happened to me last year with Siena. All week, I loved them over Vandy, but had this bizarre last second doubt and didn't bet it. Siena rolled. I grabbed them in the second round, and they could come through. I hope this late-to-the-bandwagon syndrome nets a different result today. It's 50/50 CSU is relentless. I dont think the Wildcats are tough to enough to scrape 40 full minutes with the Vikings. Also: Did you know the CSU Viking mascot is named Magnus.?
I have zero idea who I like in the other three games. But, five bets should keep me occupied until then.
This is a great team. This is a team that makes you proud to be a Michigan Wolverine. They have kicked off the Renaissance of Michigan Basketball, beginning a new era of greatness for future teams to build on. There is no question in my mind: WE ARE BACK! John Beilein is a great coach. Maybe one of the best ever. And he is here to sweep away all of the memories of the past decade and bring our program out of the darkness. It didn't seem possible a year ago...
It would not be fair to John B. if we looked back further than last season. Those were the Dark Ages of Michigan Basketball, riddled with bad coaching and some players of bad character. There were heroes then also, but for comparison's sake we will stick to last season.
It was the depths. Michigan Basketball was a joke. When we lost to Amaker's Harvard squad I admittedly lost interest. It seemed that the team couldn't or wouldn't buy into Beilein's style. Plus I couldn't really follow the team as I was in the Caribbean with no internet or TV. So I just paid very little attention and dreamed big dreams for a Rich Rod led storm of dominance. Yeah, that didn't work out so well.
So after arriving back in the land of crazy multimedia this past fall, I had zero expectations for this team. We had lost Udoh (probably a very good thing, more on that later) and we had added a couple of shortish white boys from Indiana that could possibly drop some threes. I thought this could end up anywhere in the range of just like last year (very poor) to maybe .500 if John B. truly was a great coach.
Then the season began and I was hooked right away. It floored me to see such crisp passes and competent offense. Our defense didn't look great but the 1-3-1 was creating some turnovers. Then we beat UCLA. Then we beat DUKE! We looked like an elite team. Excitement went through the roof, igniting the fan base. Maybe...we...mattered? Expectations went far out of control. We were a lock for the tourney this year for sure! But a lingering doubt was always there as well. We had been conditioned to accept failure and choke-jobs down the stretch. The Big10 looked strong and this team was young, young, young.
The cards seemed stacked against us as well. We only played Indiana once. Our easiest games looked to be early in the conference season with the final stretch a killer. We had to go play #1 UConn in the middle of all of it. Still it seemed that a .500 conference record might get us in. Surely that was doable? We beat DUKE! But our road was as hard as it appeared.
When we lost to Iowa the NIT seemed more than probable. I was resigned to this. I thought that a strong NIT run would be good for this team heading into next season. But that is exactly how I felt for all of those Amaker teams and it never really was true. Being a 1 seed in the NIT is just missing your true goal.
Then this team showed why they are different. They showed us what great teams do when up against it. They beat Purdue. They beat Minny. They won that important opening round game of the B10 tourney. They did what no Amaker team could: they persevered and they went dancing.
They could have just been happy to be there. Already way above expectations, no one would have felt bad with a one-and-done. But John B. is a great coach and this is a great team. They had one more thing to prove: that they belonged on the big stage. And prove it they did.
I had some hope of winning against Oklahoma, but not much. Their star was perfectly aligned against our weaknesses. Griffen is a stud and we have no answer for him on this team. If they would have missed their outside shots we had a chance but they made just enough of those in the first half to keep the game even. This game was a great team versus and elite team. There was no shame in this loss.
1. John Beilein - There is truly no ceiling to where this guy could take this program. He is among the best coaches I have ever seen. Thank you Johnny B.
2. Senior Walk-Ons - No team is supposed to have this level of success with walk-ons starting. Merritt and Lee were solid all year and gave this team a chance at greatness. I wish them (and Sheppard) success in their futures.
3. Manny Fresh - He looked spent after getting his 5th foul last night (on a total B.S. call). This kid has greatness in his future and will really wow us next year. Please don't go pro Manny, we need you.
4. Deshawn Sims - Most improved player IMHO this season. With one more year of seasoning I think he goes from too small for power forward to a legit NBA role player. I expect he'll be back.
5. White freshmen from Indiana - These guys were the essential glue for this team and played well above expectations. Stu and Novak remind me of smaller versions the old days of Voskul and Pelinka*, and I think they will have just the same sort of role with future teams.
6. Ant - That was a surprising and valiant effort last night. I think this team has a place for you after all.
*Yes, I realize I am bringing up white guys to compare to white guys. Let's hear a better comparison.
Can anyone not be excited about this program going forward? We are losing some grit and moxie in Merritt and Lee and replacing it with real talent and size. Cronin and the incoming freshman class will be integrated into a team that already has the experience, coaching, and winning attitude to reach ever greater heights. I would be surprised if we weren't in the top three in the B10 next year and the Sweet 16 doesn't seem much of a stretch.
Oh, and Udoh's departure had benefits we can only fully realize now. Lacking his interior presence forced the team to really buy into the 1-3-1 and tighten up their individual assignments. I think it made us a better team in the end and will help this program going forward.
On a side note, does this not give everyone hope for the football team as well? Maybe West Virginia is really a gold mine for us.
We burned it down baby.