Coaches' timeouts are worse. Basketball teams should get one, full stop.
The Ann Arbor News reports that Beilein has settled on one member of his staff:
Two weeks after leaving for an assistant coach's position with Illinois State, Mike Jackson is back with the Michigan men's basketball team.
Jackson resigned Monday at Illinois State and will be the first member of new Michigan coach John Beilein's staff.
Jackson was supposed to be the member of the staff closest to Legion and Harris, so this can't hurt with their re-recruitment.
Re-recruiting. With Beilein in as coach there are two major items on the Michigan agenda before the season: hiring assistant coaches and trying to keep the recruiting class intact. Beilein has implied in his numerous -- four appearances yesterday, Rome today -- radio appearances and press conferences that while most of his staff would be coming from West Virginia, there was at least one spot he was earmarking for someone with local recruiting ties.
An interesting name that a couple commenters have brought up is former Arkansas assistant Oronde Taliaferro. Taliaferro played at Detroit Mumford and Wayne State, coached Detroit Central for four years, and was hired by Heath, then at Kent State. Heath may want him on his staff at South Florida, but if he wants a more prominent job and a bigger paycheck Michigan could probably tempt him. Nathan Fenno floats Taliaferro and Amaker assistant Mike Jackson, who just took a job at Illinois State, in an Ann Arbor News article today. There's also been purely internet-based speculation about bringing in a Fab Fiver. Jalen Rose is probably not an option just yet, but Jimmy King has been hanging around the program in recent weeks. Maybe he's looking for a job?
On the recruiting front, the News got this quote from Legion's mom:
"Al talked with him (Beilein) for an hour on Wednesday," Williams said. " When you have a ballplayer like Al, it's not about him. What's important are the players you have around him."
I have no idea how to parse that quote or what it means. But there you go. It is good that they talked for "about an hour" yesterday and are meeting in person today. There's been a lot of chatter that Legion isunlikely to stay on board, but at least he's giving Michigan a shot. Meanwhile, a brief, dubiously-sourced panic spread on Michigan message boards about an imminent Manny Harris decommit to Tennessee. That hasn't transpired. Harris took in Michigan's first practice under Beilein and was reportedly going to meet with him again today or tomorrow. Kelvin Grady remains on vacation in Mexico.
Meanwhile, at least three WVU players are getting R-U-N-N-O-F-T by new 'Eer head coach Bob "Satan" Huggins. The Charleston Gazette pulls no punches:
But according to a source at Kansas State Thursday night, Huggins had already contacted one of his other signed recruits, North Carolina shooting guard Dominique Sutton, and told him that three West Virginia players were going to transfer and that there would be room for Sutton, Beasley and perhaps more.
It should be interesting to see not only whom it is that plans to transfer, but also whether they've been told they plan to transfer yet.
Zing! If Legion or another recruit defects and there's a WVU player out there Beilein likes he might end up here. (Sidenote: I was all set to have a lasting fondness for the WVU basketball team and then they had to go and hire the bar-none most loathsome coach in all sports. Yuck.)
About supermega recruits. They're often cited as a reason that the Beilein hire is a bad idea: he's not going to reel in Oden and Conley and etc. But let's compare Team A and Team B side by side. 1-5 is the starting five and 6 and 7 are the first players off the bench.
|Team A||Team B|
|Player 1||4*, #31||4*, #28|
|Player 2||4*, #36||4*, #36|
|Player 3||4*, #75||4*, #71|
|Player 6||4*, #45||4*, #31|
The teams are nearly identical. If you want to give one team a slight edge in recruiting it's team B, which happens to be this year's Michigan team. (Somewhat shocking: Lester Abram was an unranked 3-star.) Team A?
More sale! Note to anyone contemplating a "Jimmy Clausen is an Emu" baseball jersey purchase...
Be advised that entering the code "FASTBALL" in the designated savings field will result in 21% being hacked off its price.
Speaking of Jimmy King and four other guys (warning! dangerously high Stuart Scott levels!)...
For the love of God. Don't click here. I'm mortified.
Also, their game against NC State in the NIT:
Now would be a good time to mention that I spent a summer in Ireland and one night in some dance club or another -- don't ask, I was in a foreign country -- I heard some sort of vaguely familiar OONTS OONTS OONTS techno beat, then a vaguely familiar verse, and then the entire goddamn place burst out the chorus of "Country Roads," which had unbeknownst to me been repackaged as an ass-shaking dance groove.
I spent the next half hour giggling uncontrollably.
Frank Young, uh, makes it rain on dem hoes.
...unlike Michigan's other internet offerings, M's Quicktime stream works. John Beilein's first PC as Michigan head coach is ongoing. I'll liveblog it.
Update: Impressed with the caliber of kid already on the team -- good sign for his offense getting ramped up to speed?
Has called everyone on the team to date, couldn't get ahold of Ron Coleman because he was STUDYING HIS ASS OFF. Got in contact with Manny's mom, Kelvin's dad, left a couple messages for Legion's mom.
II: "I love Princeton, it's a great university... [but] that's like saying you understand Japanese if you understand Chinese."
"There's been years we threw it inside and threw it inside because that was the best way to win. There's been years we jack up threes because it's the best way to win. When you come from my background, you have to be versatile."
III: "We want a family situation, unselfish players who love to play together." Wants a team integrated with the student body, more praise for Tommy's ability to get really nice guys.
How important is recruiting the state of Michigan? "It's going to be huge. ... You'll find I'm very hands-on with that. I want kids to grow up here in the state of Michigan dreaming of wearing the Maize and Blue." Blah MSU... "We'll be recruiting Michigan very hard as long as I'm the coach."
Has recruited a number of Michigan kids over the course of his career.
PSL? Has recruited there at Cansisus but hasn't had any recent ties in the state.
Facilities? Beautiful locker room, beautiful film room... wouldn't want to walk in to Crisler and try to win. Maize Rage noted as a distinctive feature.
Practice facility? General mutterings about the future, didn't offer anything concrete.
[I hate the way these questions go. Where is the "do you plan to continue with the 1-3-1 if you get the sort of athletes who can play tough man-to-man?"]
More facilities follow up, no concrete plan.
Some media twat asks about "two big shadows": Michigan football and MSU basketball. Beilein dismisses media twat, notes national championship, academics, recruiting grounds, praises Izzo and the football program, etc.
Recruiting questions? "I recruit great players. ...This is a hotbed for recruiting, I don't expect it to be a problem."
Conversations with recruits? Dodges it, basically. Manny Harris is one of ten(!) kids; Beilein one of nine(!!!).
Timeline for a tournament appearance or Big Ten championship? Beilein declines to hang himself on his first day on the job, thank you very much.
Buyout? "The University of Michigan has nothing to do with my buyout. My lawyers and WVU are working on it." !!!
IV: Not talking about the system yet, just doing shooting and ballhandling and passing. Only has four hours with these guys before the summer. Has to have self-motivated teams. Threatens that guys who slack off will become "very familiar with the track." Says will teach kids to fish.
Bringing his assistants? Maybe maybe not. Up in the air. Seems like he's leaving the door open for a Detroit recruiting guy.
Last stop? "I hope so... after what we've just gone through, I hope so."
V: WTF? Some guy tries to spin his postseason success at WVA as "pressure to make the national tournament." Beilein says "with how much I'm getting paid, there should be pressure." Nice. Says he's confident and isn't bothered by pressure after 32 years coaching. Thought it was 29?
Next question along the same lines, answer another re-iteration of Michigan's awesomeness. Again brings up recruiting Michigan.
Says Martin waited until after the season ended to contact him, good.
[OMG stop asking about "buzz" and garbage like that. Ask about how he gets guys so wide open from three. Ask about the 1-3-1. Ask about something not retarded.]
Does some media sucking-up after a kind of an irrelevant question. Good? Kowtow? Dunno.
Part of his job to go out and get the money, Lebowski, for a practice facility. "It's not just about what out of bounds play we're going to run." (Although when it is? Wide open, baby!)
What was your career goal, your life goal? "To have a team in the top 20 traditionally, pretty much what we've done in the past years at West Virginia. I've coached my son, I've been to the elite eight... you think 'is this it'? ...And I've never been so charged up."
"In '75 I thought to myself 'I can't do this for a living'. I was physically sick at a JV basketball game."
Talks about his "two guard" set where he puts out two point guards. "Necessity is the mother of invention ... it's an old saying, but it's the truth."
Were you bothered by this process? The whole thing is very difficult. Surprisingly heartfelt response. Then he gets off a Dana Altman zinger: "I will not be returning to Morgantown this afternoon and saying 'I'm going back.'"
I'll keep my streak of headlines without a Beilein pun intact in honor of Big Ten Wonk, which shuffles off this mortal coil today.
New Michigan basketball coach John Beilein will be paid $1.3 million per season, as part of a six-year contract he signed with the university today, according to a source with direct knowledge of the deal.
The salary has a $200,000 annual base, with $1.1 million in other compensation from various sources, including speaking engagements and television and radio deals. There are a series of bonuses for advancing to the NCAA Tournament, including $150,000 for winning the national championship.
The contract doesn't include any language about Beilein's $2.5 million buyout with West Virginia and the source said Michigan won't be responsible for the sum.
When Beilein retires in ten years after fourteen national titles, Terry Foster will write a column citing Beilein's $200k base and claim that Michigan won't pay a competitive salary for their new coach. God willing, he will show it to the editor of paper at the junior high school he's teaching gym at and will be laughed out of the office.
The last paragraph is interesting. Is Beilein really paying the entire buyout himself? That would make his contract worth less than one million per year over its duration and would mean that Beilein is taking far less money at Michigan than he was offered at West Virginia. Some WVA fans are claiming that very thing. Maybe a donor stepped forth to wave it away.
I called him "Corky" once, and even he realizes that Terry Foster has Down's Syndrome. Jim Carty calls out Foster's idiocy, though he doesn't drop his name:
At some point during Wednesday's press conference at the University of Michigan, new basketball coach John Beilein is going to be asked whether he'll shy away from recruiting Detroit and Flint.
It's a silly question, of course.
Seriously, what basketball coach wouldn't recruit talent-rich areas in their own backyard?
I have no idea. Also... why is Beilein coming to Michigan? West Virginia made him an offer of nearly $1.4 million earlier this week. If it was about the money he'd still be in West Virginia. Beilein wants to win a national championship and he thinks he's got a better chance of that at Michigan. Why? Recruiting. And Michigan's main recruiting advantage is Detroit.
Carty's also got a killer quote from Dave Telep:
You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in America who sees more basketball, or knows more about college basketball recruiting, than Telep. The North Carolina-based Scout.com recruiting analyst has seen Legion play dozens, if not hundreds of times. He knows Beilein's system and recruiting tendencies as well.
So, is the sharp-shooting Legion a match with Beilein's system?
"Are you kidding me?" Telep said via phone Tuesday, laughing. "It would be difficult to draw up a system that's going to get Alex Legion more great looks at the basket. John Beilein will be better for him than he could ever fathom."
Open looks! Think of the looks! Rumors are flying about Legion formally requesting to be let out of his LOI, but the Free Press talked to him and it appears he'll meet with Beilein before deciding:
But at least one of Michigan's incoming players is doing research on Beilein.
Recruit Alex Legion said he asked around about Beilein's offense at the Roundball Classic in Chicago this morning. Legion said he was encouraged by what he heard. But he said he still wants to meet the coach â€” eventually â€” and make a decision personally, not based on what he's told by others.
I want Dave Telep in that room.
Dance. Maize 'n' Brew has a hefty post of its own worth checking out. One note:
On the other side of the coin was the enthusiatic response of Reed "Thank God It's Not Dusty" Baker. (this kid needs a nickname, please help me.)
Reed Baker has a nickname. It is "Rainmaker." As in "Reed Baker, Rainmaker."
New Michigan head coach John Beilein is known primarily for one thing: the 1-3-1 zone. And three pointers. New Michigan head coach John Beilein is known primarily for two things: the 1-3-1 zone and three-pointers. And backdoor layups. I'll start again.
New Michigan head coach John Beilein is known primarily for three things: the 1-3-1 zone, three pointers, backdoor layups and an almost fanatical devotion to the colors blue and yellow. Amongst the many things new Michigan head coach John Beilein is known for are the 1-3-1 zone, three-pointers, backdoor layups, and an almost fanatical devotion to the colors blue and yellow.
This is where the youtube link goes.
Anyway. Beilein's bizarre 1-3-1 zone is virtually unheard of in big time college basketball. It's a favorite pregame topic of coaches and reporters in the same way Purdue's pass-wacky spread offense was before every team in the country started running it. And it's coming to a team near you.
As you might expect, it deploys one player at the top of the key, three players lined up across the court a few feet closer to the basket, and one unfortunate soul who is tasked with "running the baseline," a hellish duty that requires a quick, hopefully lanky defender to sprint from one end of the floor to the other whenever the ball is reversed (which is frequently against the sort of trapping 1-3-1 Beilein operates), closing out potential three-point shooters in the corner and hoping the defense recovers smartly enough to help him when he funnels potential drivers away from the baseline. The center (#5) plays in the middle of the floor, attempting to cut off passing lanes and harass entry feeds. West Virginia actually tends to employ a guard at the 4-spot. The guy up top is another guard and then the #2 and #3 guys are wings, small forwards, or general what-have you. (West Virginia, either by choice or necessity, plays small at virtually all times.) The guy on the baseline is guy is the linchpin of the defense and if you've only got one you'd better hope he's Rip Hamilton. As Ken Lindsay laconically notes:
Even if you are fortunate enough to have such a player possessing these qualities, the defense will become more ineffective as the game progresses. Weariness takes its toll.
West Virginia's version is trap-heavy. In a 1-3-1, the defense usually rotates to face the ballhandlers whenever he moves away from the dead center of the floor on the perimeter, but from appearances in the NIT final this often results in a point guard sitting approximately next to #2 on the first figure with no fewer than three defenders poised to collapse on him should he try to drive the ball to the hoop. C Jamie Smalligan would come out to the edge of the paint as two guards shaded themselves outside, inviting the ballhandler to drive himself into trouble. I've seen versions of this diagram with the baseline guy shaded to the strongside, shaded to the weakside, and directly under the hoop. IIRC WVU usually opts for the post-packing strongside, which makes entry passes improbable. The Mountaineers will rely on the size of the center and the speed of the four guy to cover the inevitable skip passes. A step late and it's an easy basket. A team that's not well coached will get obliterated.
The trapping forces a ton of turnovers. This year opponents turned it over on nearly 24% of their possessions, good for 39th overall. The year before they were 26th with a 24.5% opponent turnover rate. For unfortunate comparison, this is like playing Michigan every game of the year. In fact, West Virginia opponents are even more generous than Courtney Sims, Jerrett Smith and the rest of the no-I-insist-you-take-it All Stars. I believe this has a hidden effect on WVU's always-awesome offensive numbers, as the frequent turnovers lead to fast break opportunities. I wonder if anyone's looked at offensive efficiency in the immediate aftermath of an on-court turnover (WVU gets a lot of these; the past three years they've been top fifty in steal percentage); I bet they would find it has a measurable salutary effect.
The traditional way to beat a zone -- rain threes on it -- appears less effective against the 1-3-1 than most. West Virginia was seventh(!) in 3FG defense this year at 30.3%, and opponents didn't get off an inordinate number of them: 33.7% of opponent shots, good for a middle-of-the-pack 151st. This isn't nearly as consistent as the turnovers, though. Last year's Sweet 16 outfit was still above average at 34%, but the two years before that were ugly. However, in no year did teams get off an inordinate number of threes. WVU has hovered around the national average.
And the 1-3-1 has an eerily Bo Ryan-esque ability to avoid giving up free throws:
|Opp FT Rate||27.8||31.9||20.8||28.8|
Over the last four years the worst Beilein team has been distinctly above average in this category.
The 1-3-1 is a high-risk, high-reward defense. The trapping can lead to turnovers and fast break opportunities, but an effectively broken trap usually leads to a wide open shot or a layup. Though the three-point field goal percentage is ambiguous leaning-to-good, the two-point percentage is... uh... not:
I have no idea what the deal was with 2004, but whatever it was it did not carry over to the last three years. When opponents get off a two-point shot, it's usually a good one.
And when they manage to miss one of their two pointers they're fairly likely to get the ball back anyway. Anyone who caught themself begging Brent Petway to box out just once in his damn life this year is advised to avert their eyes:
|Opp Off Reb%||36.4||34.4||36.9||35.2|
Holy hopping hasenfeffer! That is Scottie Pippen-level ugly. Dear, departed Wonk would no doubt term it Edvard Munch-level horrific. If those numbers were a daytime talk show host, they'd be Rosie O'Donnell. If they were a hairstyle, they'd be Gene Keady's combover. If they were a student body, they'd be Notre Dame. I think what we're trying to say here is that the defensive rebounding numbers put up by Beilein's West Virginia teams are not very good. Yes. I think t
hat's the point.
It works okay once you adjust for the strength of WVU's opponents:
|Adj Defensive Eff||84th||86th||53rd||56th|
Those numbers are consistently good but not great without considering the hidden effect of all those turnovers.
I'm of the opinion that Beilein prefers the 1-3-1 zone because it covers up for the athletic deficiencies he's been forced to operate with his entire career. There's only one guy who really benefits from being a gazelle-type athlete, and that's the guy charged with the Sisyphean task of running the baseline. Everyone else has to be smart, aware, and well-coached. It also helps him run a small lineup on the other end of the floor without getting hammered for it on defense, as the zone defends the post mostly with quick hands, quick doubles, and the elimination of entry angles. That should help cover up for Michigan's decidedly lacking post depth next year. We have Udoh, Sims, and Rutgers transfer Zach Gibson. All are legitimate posts but spindly and lacking power. They won't have to do a ton of one-on-one post defending, so any potential foul trouble should be mitigated.
The best news about the guard positions is that the 1-3-1 should minimize the shortcomings of Jerrett Smith and Reed Baker, allowing their three-point marksmanship to hit the floor without Michigan turning into a layup line on the other end... or at least no more of a layup line than the 1-3-1 usually is. Assuming Kelvin Grady matriculates, his quick feet and hands would be welcome in the #1 role, as the ability to spring quick traps and double the post is a key part of the defense.
Unfortunately, the guy who seems best suited to play Pheidippides along the baseline is Jevohn Shepard and, unless Tommy Amaker is an even worse coach than everyone in the world thinks, he's not a fit for the offense since he can't shoot or handle or pass. But boy can he run! If Beilein can get him to function in the offense he's the best option, but that's doubtful. Other options: Manny Harris is 6'5" and supposedly cat quick. Kendrick Price may get unearthed from the end of the bench in the new offensive system and he's a SF/PF tweener who may have the combination of size and speed necessary to play the role.
NOTES FROM ELSEWHERE
There's a manual on the 1-3-1 trap from FIBA detailing the Italian women's team and their deployment of the scheme. Lots of graphs and tips and such, plus awesome broken English:
1. The most important advantage is that this defense is unique in "influencing" the movement of the offense, forcing them to play an unconventional offense, a style of play that is risky and moves them out of their usual offensive spots.
2. It can quickly change the direction of the game and offer decisive breaks for the defense.
3. It's a spectacular defense, that creates excitement with its aggressive traps.
4. It "pumps up" the defense, when wellmade stops and steals occur and "shakes" the defense, when players are lazy and not playing aggressive basketball.
5. It creates great problems for the offense to move the ball, forcing them to use lob and bounce passes, slow passes that can easily be stolen.
6. It creates extreme pressure on the offensive perimeter players.
7. It will often create a "paralyzing" effect on the opponents, causing them to make bad passes and force their shots.
This is a very risky defense (wide spaces to cover, traps), and a little mistake will allow the offense to easily beat you. There is no balance when blocking-out on defense and on the help-side rebounding. It requires a lot of energy, so this zone cannot be used throughout the game. In addition, it's a very technical defense and requires players with specific skills in
order to play it well.
â–¼ This defense requires players, who are able to sacrifice themselves and, from my experience, I find that women will often guarantee that this happens most of the time.
â–¼ Players must totally believe that what they are doing is the best for the team. A coach must be able to sell this defense to the team in order to make it work.
â–¼ Players have to be quick and have excellent athletics skills.
â–¼ Very important aspect: players must be skilled in aggressive man-to-man defensive tactics.
â–¼ You will need months of practice and plenty of patience to build this defense so it can be regularly applied.
(the quick and excellent athletics skills seems a strange assertion. Beilein's deployed it for 29 years with non-quick, non-athletic players .)
SportsGamer.com shows you how to set up the 1-3-1 in College Hoops 2k7, showing some action in a West Virginia-Pitt game. check out the video embedded along the right side of the screen.
A bunch of zone-beating plays on this page; play #4 specifically attacks the 1-3-1 for an alley-oop.
A former college player talks about attacking various zones:
The weak spots in the 1-3-1 are the baseline and right under basket. I will often tell coaches that once a 1-3-1 or a 1-2-2 is recognized to bring up a second player to the top. This creates the first match-up problem. One defender can't guard two players. In any good defense the wings will bluff and recover until the other defenders get in their designated spots. That's why coaches will continually yell to move the ball against a zone. The defense is shifting so much that if you move the ball quick enough a gap will open up and an easy shot will follow. Nothing kills on offense more than standing still. Add to that, standing still with the ball.
Fascinating article from American Basketball Quarterly, a coaches' trade rag, all about beating the 1-3-1. Terry Waldrop of Texas Weslyean:
"We've been real fortunate the past two years â€“ we've had real good shooters so we haven't had to deal with the 1-3-1 a lot," Waldrop said. "Three years ago people would zone us when we got off the bus. The real key is reversing the basketball pretty quickly and hitting those gaps with penetration. Then we're looking to shoot a 3-pointer out of it. As soon as we see a 1-3-1, we're looking for the 3. I'd like to shoot a 3 or a lay-up every time against it. What hurts you against the 1-3-1 is the 18-foot 2-pointer.
"You've got to be able to attack it and you better be able to shoot it. It's the worst defense in the world when it comes to making you complacent. You'll just kind of sit there with the ball over your head waiting for something to happen if you're not careful so you have to be in an attack mode."
There's a lot more. Highly recommended. Note this passage at the beginning of the article:
Still, there is no perfect defensive scheme. Every defense has a weakness (although that's often difficult to tell when West Virginia is playing its vaunted 1-3-1 zone) and the key is to find it, prepare for it and manipulate it to your team's advantage.
It's vaunted! We're going to have something vaunted other than an ability to dribble off our own feet!