"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Hosted by Varsity Blue. We'll get started shortly before the game.
Walkons? Walkons.The always-awesome Jim Stefani has sleuthed out a number of preferred walkons for Michigan's class of 2009, and he has anointed New York Offensive lineman Tom Lindley the catch of the bunch. Lindley may have been deserving of a full ride elsewhere:
“Though he would have merited a ride somewhere else, lineman Tom Lindley of William Floyd will attend Michigan as a preferred walk-on next fall and try to earn a scholarship down the road.”
but will join Michigan's football team with the benefit of academic scholarship money, and will try to play for a scholarship in the future. Lindley was unranked by Rivals and Scout, while ESPN named him the nation's #131 offensive guard prospect and gave him a grade of 74.
Rodriguez, a former walkon himself (as I'm sure most Michigan fans are already well aware) has long championed having a robust walkon program at Michigan (again, most Michigan fans already know this). Lindley and AA Pioneer's Nader Furrha are the notable walkons for 2009, and the program will undoubtedly continue to grow in the future. As I've said before on Varsity Blue, I would love it if Michigan's program became renowned like that of Nebraska pre-Callahan, and prospect were turning down offers from the likes of Michigan State to try their hand in Ann Arbor.
Because mock press conferences haven't gotten old yet, I say! Presented without further comment:
Numbers. An unnecessarily high amount of fan attention and angst seems to go into which numbers the incoming freshman will sport in the fall. In MGoBlue's Wolverine Welcome series, the already-enrolled freshmen give a little insight as to (a phrase which here means "reveal") which numbers they'll sport come September.
Will Campbell - #73.
Vladimir Emilien - #5.
Tate Forcier - #5.
Mike Jones (obligatory "WHO?") - #27.
Brandin Hawthorne - #7.
Anthony Lalota - #90.
Vincent Smith - Hasn't been Wolverine Welcomed yet. Informative update when the information is available.
Basket-ed Ball. The Wolverines travel to Evanston on Sunday to take on Northwestern. The Wildcats may be a bit vulnerable, as they chocked away their tournament dreams, for all reasonable scenarios, with their EPIC FAIL against Illinois last night. They led by 14 in the second half, and by 6 with under a minute to go(!) before falling to the Illini. A Michigan win would go a long way towards ramping up toward a tournament push.
SMQ on M. Rivals' Dr. Saturday takes on the Michigan issue. Synopsis: Expect better next year, but certainly not a Flowers for Algernon-like leap.
The author's work can usually be found on his site, Varsity Blue.
My Question: How many kids in the 2009 class could enroll early in January? I have read stories on a number of recruits (i.e. Shavodrick Beaver, Brandin Hawthorne, Vincent Smith, even Newsome before the decommit) claiming an intention to graduate early and head up to UM in January. Is there some limit on the number allowed?
Wouldn't it make sense for the coaches to pick and choose who should enroll early (QB, DE) based on needs? Thanks again and Go Blue!
Teams are only allowed to sign 25 players per recruiting class, but January enrollees are allowed to count in either the preceding class or the upcoming one. Beaver, for example, could count as a part of either the 2008 or 2009 recruiting classes should he choose to enroll early.
These days schools use this to dodge the limit when they have more than 25 to offer; there’s no real limit on the number of early enrollees permitted and no need to ration out spots. If the NCAA was strict about it, Michigan would have only one slot to offer for a January recruit because they signed 24 in last year’s class—25 if you count Morales, who probably would have grayshirted to get one of the QBs on campus ASAP if the rule was different. They are not strict.
As far as who plans to show early: Beaver, Forcier, Hawthorne, and Smith have all announced plans to do so. I don’t think anyone else has; commenters will no doubt correct me if I’m wrong.
As a Michigan fan that grew up in WV with a memory of Rodriguez going 3-8 his first season and people wanting him R-U-N-N-O-F-T, I have to say I thought I was prepared for the worst this season. But after that first game…YIKES.
Having said that, I wanted to get your thoughts in regards to recruiting under Rodriguez these first few years. This train of thought was prompted Forcier's on the spot commitment after watching UM lose to Utah. I have no doubt that he already feels competitive based on what he saw. There is a lot of talent on the field for Michigan (albeit raw) and RR seems to have a pretty decent 2009 class coming together.
My question is this: with the cupboard seemingly bare and so many young guys seeing action already (12 freshman in the first game) do you think it's possible that Michigan can still recruit the skill positions being played by FR/SO and be 2-3 deep within a year or two?
I am sure I'm taking this season in better stride compared to most UM fans only because I've seen RR stumble out of the gate before. However, I have every bit of faith in Rodriguez, too; because I have also seen him resurrect a hopelessly mediocre program as well. Still, I simply can't believe it will take him too long to stop the bleeding in the Big House.
Thanks, Lance (Richmond, VA)
There are some issues in recruiting, but not at the offensive skill positions. Last year they brought in three running backs and four receivers, plus two tight ends. This year has two quarterbacks, three running backs, and three receivers so far; five and a half of those guys are highly rated (Forcier, Beaver, Toussaint, McNeal, Gallon, and Teric Jones is the half). If anything, people have been looking at Rodriguez’s recruiting of little half-pint guys and wondering if he’s always wanted to adopt a little African kid—or a dozen of them—but for the paperwork.
Plus, next year Michigan gets lucky. There are two highly touted instate dual-threat quarterbacks, one at traditional Michigan feeder OLSM. Fred Jackson’s kid is a monster WR prospect with offers from Texas and Florida (and Michigan), and there’s another guy in Florida named Ricardo Miller who has some impressive early offers that most are writing off to Michigan. This puts them well ahead of the curve.
The concerns are more at OL (somewhat), DE (major), and a slight lack of big time kids on D. There will be skill guys galore as soon as next year.
Oh, and Lance also notes:
Just one more thing you might know that I stumbled across recently: USC lost to Utah during Pete Carroll's first season.
I know we are in the midst of football season, but I came across this article and am curious why eeeeeeeeBarwis will not be working with the basketball team. I played small time D1 athletics and even our S&C coaches split up the teams, so I understand even Barwis cannot work with each team, but I was just curious as to why Beilein won’t use Barwis.
On another note – I’d like to formally request that Blessed Be His Name become an official mgoblog acronym attached to Michigan players (or even John Cooper) that have stood the test of time and to this day are still heroes in your mind (Charles Woodson BBHN). The list could turn into the opposite of the ‘On Notice’ board if an official list is developed.
Suggestion noted and may or may not go anywhere. As far as Barwis and the basketball team: as you note, S&C is a job that’s often too big for one guy or one set of guys. I’m sure Beilein has the utmost respect for Barwis but given the choice between Barwis when he’s not working on football and a full time guy, you go with the full time guy.
You do so especially when you can hire someone directly off the Memphis Grizzlies staff. When kids come in and you can point to a guy who’s worked in the same capacity in the NBA, that has to help recruiting.
Not Maize, but crose enough!
West Virginia is currently in the Sweet Sixteen. Michigan would not have made the Sweet Sixteen in a seventeen team tournament that featured M versus
- the 0-29 New Jersey Institute of Technology
- the Glendale School for Headless Boys
- Courtney Sims International Toughness Academy
- Five Separate Mounds of Animal Crackers Ranging from Six-Two to Seven-Foot-Even
- Mary Kate Olsen
- Feral Chicken State University
- the Armenian National Team
- Strippers Killed By Kwame Kilpatrick
- Superintelligent Mutated Algae
- Team Oompa-Loompa
- Bill Simmons, his dad, his infant child, "J-Bug," and "House"
- the Knicks
- Avery Queen, Maurice Searight, Josh Moore, Gavin Groninger, and Jerrett Smith, aaaaand
One team is coached by John Beilein. Correction: John Beilein looks at one team with a visage of perfect exasperation and incredulity. It was recruited and assembled by Tommy Amaker. The other team was recruited and assembled by John Beilein. It is coached by Bob Huggins.
The question for beleaguered Michigan basketball fans: how much of West Virginia's current success can John Beilein take credit for? The answer is somewhere between "all" and "none."
Some context for your consideration:
- Beilein took the Gansey-Pittsnogle crew to a Sweet Sixteen and an Elite Eight with a thin, veteran roster. In 2006 ninety-six percent of the playing time was split between seven players, five of whom graduated after 2006.
- In Beilein's last year the only returning contributors were Frank Young and Darris Nichols, who accounted for 20% of WVU's minutes the year before. That team went 21-9 in the regular season, narrowly missing the NCAA tournament. They then won the NIT.
- There were just two seniors on that team: Young, the leading scorer, and center Rob Summers. Summers played about half of WVU's minutes; he was offensively efficient but very low-usage, a Brent Petway sort who takes a small number of really good shots someone else creates for him. His notable contributions were as an offensive rebounder (13.1 percent of shots, 64th in the country) and shot blocker (199th). His minutes were replaced by sophomore Wellington Smith, who's a hell of a offensive rebounder and shot blocker and a decent, low usage scorer.
- This year's WVU team returned about 75% of its minutes; the only freshman who saw any playing time was Beilein signee John Flowers. The players on the team were assembled entirely by Beilein.
Why is West Virginia better this year?
|Team||O. Efficiency||Adj. O. Eff||O SOS||D. Efficiency||Adj D. Eff||D SOS|
|2006||112.5 (20th)||118.3 (13th)||66th||97.8 (72nd)||94.0 (57th)||75|
|2007||111.3 (26th)||116.3 (20th)||47th||95.1 (32nd)||89.9 (21st)||39|
(A reminder: these are all Kenpom numbers and are as such adjusted for tempo; the "adj" efficiencies above are also adjusted for quality of competition and cannot be questioned in any way ever.)
The numbers indicate that under Huggins an outstanding offense got slightly less outstanding and a pretty good defense got significantly better.
What's completely fascinating is the wholesale makeover the offense made while still maintaining approximately the same level of production. Under Beilein, the offense was a manic exercise in extremes. Under Huggins it's much more conventional. Effective, but conventional:
Raw Efficiency : 112.5 ( 20) 111.3 ( 26)
Adj Efficiency : 118.3 ( 13) 116.3 ( 24)
Effective FG% : 54.7 ( 17) 51.6 (102)
Turnover Pct. : 17.0 ( 10) 16.2 ( 7)
Off. Rebound% : 30.2 (270) 34.4 (107)
Free Throw Rate: 20.1 (306) 25.0 (182)
3-Point FG% : 37.4 ( 62) 36.4 (108)
2-Point FG% : 53.4 ( 22) 50.1 (102)
Free Throw Pct.: 71.3 (108) 68.7 (175)
Block Pct. : 8.6 (133) 6.7 ( 15)
Steal Pct. : 9.2 (111) 8.2 ( 29)
3PA/FGA : 49.0 ( 5) 34.4 (165)
A/FGM : 68.7 ( 3) 58.2 (100)
About the only things that remain constant are an extremely low turnover percentage and , to a lesser extent, three-point and free throw percentages. The rest of it tacks to the center like a presidential candidate after he locks up the nominaiton.
Herein you can see the way a Beilein offense is supposed to work: pass it to the wide open guy, wide open guy shoots. That explains the incredible EFG%, the incredible assist percentage, the incredibly bad free throw rates and offensive rebounding. Huggin's team is pretty good at a lot of things but only great at avoiding turnovers.
Let's look at the six returning players:
Nichols suffered. His usage, eFG%, FTRate, and assist rates all dropped precipitously, as did his shooting. Interestingly, Nichols actually took more threes this year.
The slide could be an effect related to the graduation of Frank Young, WVU's best player in 2007 and the recipient of most of the defensive attention.
Ruoff's usage dipped a bit and his assist rate collapsed, but holy hell: 62% on twos and 40% on threes. Ruoff was the nation's 50th best eFG% shooter and I'm betting half of the guys ahead of him are Brent Petway sorts with usages around 10%. I think we'll see why Ruoff got this bump in a bit.
Butler is the starting small forward and saw himself become more of a slasher and interior player: three point attempts dropped as most everything else remained stable. Note the significant bump in offensive rebounding: Butler was closer to the basket.
Alexander upped his already high usage, held his eFG steady, increased his FTrate enormously, and actually increased his assist rate; three pointers plummeted to 9% of his shots. What this says to me: the WVU offense moved to a heavily Alexander-based isolation-kick game. This killed everyone's assists except Alexander, upped Alexander's usage, and turned Ruoff into Kyle Korver.
Mazzula took so few threes this year that the huge jump in percentage should be dismissed as small sample size.
Smalligan, a Zach Gibson type whose main asset is his outside shooting, got killed and is now a bench guy who hardly sees any time because the offense can't figure out how to use a big man outside the arc.
So what in this is relevant? I think there are two things.
- Beilein really does have an offensive system that outperforms the rest of the planet. Huggins returned four starters and 80% of the minutes from Beilein's NIT champions and implemented a conventional, NBA-style offense with an excellent isolation threat down low in the form of Joe Alexander and a couple of guys with three point percentages around 40 to kick to. The result? A slightly worse offense.
- These kids can play, man. There is a concern out there that Beilein got lucky with the Gansey/Pittsnogle group and will never find that sort of success again. And what did that success consist of? A couple of good runs in the NCAA tournament coupled with fifth-place finishes in the Big East and middling seeds. Lose a game here or there and no one thinks Beilein is anything but an above average coach with a low ceiling.
While the "low ceiling" point hasn't exactly been dispelled by the exploits of a seven seed that finished fifth in the Big East, Beilein recruited every player who's seen the floor for WVU this year and is there any one of them that you wouldn't trade for the Michigan player at his position? These guys are talented enough to run Beilein's system one year and then something entirely different the next and finish with a top 25 offense both years. Beilein finds talent that the recruiting services do not. I don't know why, but think it has something to do with an increased focus on guys who just love basketball and would rather shoot 4000 jumpers than play My Little Pony.
The one evident downside: maybe Beilein just can't coach defense? Huggins took the supposedly unathletic group Beilein left him and radically improved their rankings. I'll take a look at the other side of the ball sometime next week.
Angry Michigan Safety Hating God is wroth at the hockey team for some reason. First, Kolarik went down, then Scooter Vaughn (in one of the all-time stupid Michigan hockey injuries, up there with Josh Blackburn slipping on a nut when carrying a fridge), and now Eric Elmblad may have broken Matt Rust. Yost Built:
Rivals reported yesterday that he went knee-to-knee with Eric Elmblad and apparently Red will update his status after practice today. Keep your fingers crossed on this one, because rumors are swirling that he has a broken leg.
There is a chunk of good news:
Senior Chad Kolarik, who has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury against Lake Superior State Feb. 16, is "99-percent sure" he'll play in Friday's game. He resumed skating with the team last Tuesday.
"I'm just getting my hands back, getting my endurance back," he said yesterday. "I'm feeling a lot better today. I was pretty excited out there, having a good time and joking around."
That article has some noises by Vaughn about trying to go this weekend, too, but those are shot down by Red. He might be back for the Joe, though. Also mentioned: the possibility of moving Hagelin to center in Rust's absence. I've been idly thinking about the composition of next year's top line: Pacioretty is obviously on it, and since Palushaj seemed much more effective with Porter and Patch than Turnbull he's probably next. But who centers? Bork? Bork. Either him or Caporusso, who seems wasted playing with Turnbull and Miller and Fardig and such on the third line, no offense to those fine penalty-killing wingers.
Anyway, the Nebraska-Omaha series opens tomorrow at Yost.
Victory! Michigan's road to San Antonio began today with a thrilling 6-4 victory over Iowa that featuerd a 12-minute field goal drought for both teams combined. Prediction for tomorrow's game against Wisconsin (noon, ESPN): Michigan 7,000, Wisconsin 5. Suck on that, BAD-gers. Zing! (UMHoops on the win-like substance.)
Also, confirmed white guy Kyle Cassity has been offered. You'll love this bit:
In addition to Michigan, Cassity has indicated that he also plans to visit both St. Louis and Evansville, with the possibility of a couple other visits being worked out after that. Nevertheless, a school that we believe is also very much in the picture for Cassity and cannot be counted out is Southern Illinois (Carbondale), as both head coach Chris Lowery and assistant coach Rodney Watson have been in frequent contact with Cassity and have expressed a high level of interest. While the Salukis are currently out of scholarships for the class of 2008, Cassity is without question Southern Illinois' #1 recruiting priority should something open up in that class. Even if it does not, there is still a strong possibility that Cassity could receive preferred walk-on status at SIU next season with the understanding that a scholarship would be available for him for the three years following that.
Why go to Michigan when you can be a preferred walk-on at Southern Illinois? In Soviet Russia, walk-on recruits you! What a country!
There's some speculation that Cassity hasn't actually actually been offered offered and that Michigan still prefers Georgia's Ebuka Anyaorah (given Beilein's tendencies and that guy's name, I should clarify that we're talking about Georgia the state, not Georgia the country), even though Anyaorah couldn't come on a scheduled visit.
And hey, that guy who was the crown jewel of Harvard's recruiting class decided he didn't want to spend four years thinking "for God's sake, put on a tie" and decommitted. Apparently West Virginia was on this guy previously, and we could use another post, no? For those doubting his ability to play at a Big Ten level, 1) alternative: Zack Gibson, 2)
Jackson said that in the past day, he had received calls from Connecticut, Boston College, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, DePaul and Rutgers about Ben-Eze's availability.
A final note in picture form:
That's from Spartans Weblog and is a game-by-game plot of Michigan's offensive and defensive efficency with a corresponding trendline. Is there improvement here? Defensively, it appears so. Offensively... no. And you should keep in mind that Michigan's schedule was heavily frontloaded; this does not appear to be the trajectory of a team on the upswing.
Etc.: Junior day is today; Varsity Blue has it covered.
We're #2. And yesterday's big news:
The University has reached a settlement that ends the lawsuit over Michigan Stadium's accessibility to disabled fans - and, for the time being, will end the Big House's reign as the largest football stadium in the country.
The pre-settlement project estimate said the stadium's capacity by the conclusion of the project in 2010 would top 108,000, an addition of 500 seats from the start of the project. But because today's settlement will remove an estimated 1,500 seats from the bowl, it's unclear whether that will be enough to make Michigan Stadium the biggest again.
"Over time, we again expect to have the largest capacity of any stadium in the country," Hage said. "We have to wait until 2010 to see how the new seating shakes out."
(FYI: The Daily article is the most informative and in-depth of any provided by news-gathering organizations, which continues a trend started earlier in the year: the Daily out-covered everyone on the Michigan Stadium renovations. Not bad.)
Sounds like there is going to be some hurried rejiggering in the works. I don't know where Hage & Co are going to shake 1,000 extra seats out of the renovation plans unless they cut down on the individual seat expansion. Slimfast for everyone!
I already have requests for snark in both text and t-shirt form in my inbox, but in a foray into Actual Journalism undertaken last summer I conversed with the Bernstein in charge of the case
and came away under the impression that the university was going to have to give ground to a real concern. Notre Dame Stadium is far closer to the 1% mendoza line mandated by the ADA; so is Ohio Stadium. There was no way Michigan was going to weasel out of similar compliance. (Given the parameters of the renovation, the "but it's just repair!" line provided by the U was definitely weaselly.) So no snark here.
Hurdled. Michigan's been working on the renovations for three months now, but the lawsuit still hovered as a possible roadblock to the luxury boxes. With yesterday's resolution, the final hurdle has been cleared and the disingenuous teeth-gnashing of John Pollack -- hero of Tienanmen Square -- and the rest of the "Save" The Big House crew is now wholly impotent and, as such, can be enjoyed in a spirit of schadenfreude. It's a go. Hurrah.
(Why yes to luxury boxes? See here.)
Mailbag addendum. A theory forwarded along from the OZone:
He's never been a guy who recruits blue chips. He runs a system that depends on selfless guys who play team ball and shoot 3s. He's always been a guy who beats you with inferior talent.
But the big advantage of coaching at UM is proximity to Detroit, which produces a ton of blue-chip talent. So how does he make sense there?
Now you have Bielien going out of state to recruit mid-major talent that fits his system. Usually you see the opposite -- coaches in areas that don't produce a lot of 5-star types going out of state to recruit them. Weird.
Sort of reminds me of Eldon Miller -- great at coaching plucky overachievers, lousy at coaching NBA prospects. Wonder if Bielien is another guy who can mold bad talent into a decent team, decent talent into a decent team, and great talent into a decent team.
This, of course, re: the recruitment of Zack Novak and other decidedly melanin-light players. Disagreements:
- Michigan already needed plenty of help going into the year, then lost Kendrick Price, Jerrett Smith, and K'len Morris during the year. Since almost everyone with decent offers signs in the fall period, Beilein has few options other than the "mid-major" talent that's still hanging around. All the high major talent is signed.
- Though the state of Michigan has a rep for producing basketball talent, the 2008 class suuuuuuuuuuucks. There are two top 150 guys, a Utah commit (who, naturally, Tommy Amaker was wary of) in the 80s and MSU commit Draymond Green at #122. Everyone else in-state is Zack Novak at best.
- Michigan is still scared to death of the Ed Martin thing from ten years ago and is running a program so squeaky-clean they've basically written themselves out of every high profile basketball recruit ever. All you need to know about Michigan's paranoia is this: Tommy Amaker was hired by Harvard and immediately ratcheted up the skeeziness.
The point about the "all talent -> decent team" thing may be true but we don't know it yet. IMO, Beilein gets a pass for this recruiting class as long as the kids he brings in are system fits and contributors. If the 2009 class looks similarly uninspiring -- and with Michigan not being mentioned by any high profile players, that seems likely -- I'll be concerned. If the 2010 class is a third, I'll be worried.
Wiggle? Western College Hockey notes an interesting decision in the women's ice hockey bracket: Clarkson was excluded in favor of Dartmouth despite Clarkson being ahead in the PWR and winning the Clarkson-Dartmouth comparison. The PWR is usually followed to the letter when choosing and seeding NCAA hockey tournaments, but the committee does have some leeway.
Some years ago the first-place Atlantic Hockey team could have guaranteed its crappy conference two bids by losing in the AH playoff final, which would have made the playoff champ a TUC and thus boosted the first-place team's TUC record high enough to make it a 3-seed. The committee made it clear that even if the upset transpired only one AH team was getting into the tourney.
Might this open the door for, like, a non WCHA team a bit? There are still seven WCHA teams in the tourney and there remains a strong possibility someone with a record below .500 will squeeze in. Declaring team X out by fiat would open a can of worms, but... maybe said worms should be opened?
Injury. Scooter Vaughn broke his jaw wrestling playfully with a teammate. Which... like. Jesus. He's out this weekend but may return next week or the week after, depending on the type of surgery and the amount of pain he's in.*
On the other side of the coin, Chad Kolarik continues to make noise like he is available this weekend:
"We'll see as the week goes on," Kolarik said. "... It's not 100 percent, but it's getting there."
Kolarik continues to get treatment on his hamstring twice a day.
He's hoping to make a final appearance at Yost Ice Arena this weekend, something that didn't look possible when he crumpled to the ice there in mid-February.
"I didn't want to go out getting carried off the ice like that," Kolarik said. "It's definitely a goal of mine to be out there and hopefully win a playoff series."
With Vaughn out, Eric Elmblad draws into the lineup for the first time in his Michigan career. He might steal five or six minutes against UNO's fourth line; expect to see a lot of the other five guys. Danny Fardig, normally a fourth-line forward, is also a possibility.
A final item: Max Pacioretty was named to the CCHA All
-Rookie team, so good for him, but wasn't Aaron Palushaj jobbed out of a spot? Palushaj tied NMU's Mark Olver for most points by a freshman in all games and was second to Pacioretty if only conference games are considered. Meh.
*(Side note: I scalped a ticket for the Friday Ferris game, and after the transaction the black scalper-guy I got the ticket from gave us a hearty "Go Scooter!")