this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
John Beilein picked up his first commit of the 2015 class today when German forward Moritz Wagner announced he'll attend Michigan:
Proud that I gonna be a Wolverine and a part of ichigan next year. Damn grateful for what Alba did for me! This is my club &always will be
— Moe Wagner (@moritz_weasley) April 5, 2015
Wagner chose the college route over playing professionally in Germany for Alba Berlin. Beilein traveled to watch Wagner play for his club team last year, and Michigan jumped to the forefront of Wagner's recruitment when they offered him last month during a campus visit.
|NR PF||NR PF||--||--||--|
The recruiting services don't evaluate overseas players, so Wagner is unranked across the board. He's listed at 6'9", 210 on Rivals, which fits with reports that he isn't quite a full 6'10", which he was listed at on several sites. When Wagner visited Ann Arbor, Rivals' Eric Bossi found a scout to give his thoughts on where Wagner would be ranked if he were an American prospect:
So, exactly what type of player is Wagner? Rivals.com spoke with an NBA scout over the weekend and the scout said Moritz isn't likely as tall as the 6-foot-10 he's being listed at, but he is plenty big to play as a college four man. The scout said Wagner has good touch, is clever with the ball and that he competes on both ends of the floor.
"He's not a guy that is on our radar as somebody who is going to be a pro right away," said the scout. "He's somebody that we see going to college and then we'll see from there. I'd look at him as a top-20 to top-40 type recruit if he were in the States."
That would put him towards the tail end of the five-stars or among the top four-stars, which... yeah, that sounds nice.
Scout's Evan Daniels caught up with an NBA Scout to get his take on Wagner's game:
From the video I’ve been able to get my hands on, Wagner’s all around skill set is what immediately stands out. He has impressive hands, good touch around the basket and can score both facing the rim and with his back to it.
“He’s a versatile kid who knows how to play ball,” a NBA scout that has evaluated him multiple times told Scout. “He’s not an athlete, but with his length and coordination he manages to deceive his opponents and get to the rack quiet easily. Once he becomes a more consistent shooter he will be a nightmare on the wing.”
“He reads the game well, gets his teammates involved and is unselfish player,” the NBA scout added. “The most impressive thing about him is his passion for the game and the will to win. He legitimately cares for the game.”
This scouting report from European Prospects comes from last May:
The young Moritz Wagner is a really interesting prospect for the future. Used as a PF on multiple occasions, Wagner showed that he has an outside game and that his future should be on the SF position. He can shoot from outside, either on catch-and-shoot situations or in the Pick and Pop when being the screener. Wagner can also put the ball on the floor which works particularly well when used against taller power forwards. He is also able to drive with direction changes and finish against stronger or taller players in the paint. Athletically, he is looking good and with his overall length, he is a good vertical presence on both sides of the court. Wagner really needs to be used on the wing positions in the future as he has the tools to become an interesting long small forward in the future.
Wagner still needs to hone his outside shot, but he's got great length for a Beilein wing, and he should be able to create offense off the dribble. While he isn't regarded as a one-and-done talent, his German team very much wanted to sign him to a pro contract, but Wagner reportedly wants to make it to the NBA and believes Michigan provides him the best path to get there.
Wagner's narrow focus on Michigan didn't allow for many other schools to come under serious consideration. When he was planning his visit, he'd also heard from Arizona, Auburn, Cal, Duke, Providence, Virginia, and UNLV. That's a pretty impressive list of suitors for an overseas prospect making a late decision.
In the NBBL (German youth league), Wagner is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, two assists and two steals per game while shooting 61% on twos and 30% on threes. He also averaged 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds during the Adidas Next Generation U18 Tournament, helping Alba Berlin to a third-place finish.
Playing with Germany’s U18 team in the FIBA Euro Championships, Wagner averaged 5.2 points and three rebounds in 10 minutes a game.
The outside shot needs some work, but that's some impressive efficiency inside the arc.
Going from most to least recent:
While his athleticism doesn't jump off the screen, his skill level is apparent.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Wagner is going to need some time adding bulk at Camp Sanderson, and his slight physique—and still-developing shot—may limit his minutes as a freshman, especially if Caris LeVert comes back and a logjam results on the wings. He'll most likely be competing with Duncan Robinson and Kameron Chatman for a spot in the rotation, and of the three we've only been able to see Chatman play at this level.
Down the road, he's a very intriguing prospect. Michigan really missed having a player at the four who could create off the dribble, and while Aubrey Dawkins made some progress in that regard late in the season, Wagner looks like the most polished slasher among the guys who could play at that spot. If his outside shot comes along, he could be a very impactful stretch four.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Wagner's commitment means Michigan is currently at the scholarship limit for 2015-16, and that's assuming Max Bielfeldt will move on to another program for his fifth year, as expected. If LeVert departed for the NBA, that'd open up a spot. Michigan is still in pursuit of five-star 2015 forward Jaylen Brown, and should he decide he wants to attend, it's hard to imagine Michigan wouldn't have a spot for him, perhaps by putting Austin Hatch on medical scholarship; there have been some positive indicators for Brown since his visit, but he's still expected to end up elsewhere.
Unless Brown makes a surprise choice to come to Michigan, this should be the conclusion of the program's 2015 recruiting.
Random Canadian Bo appearance. Fire as per usual:
More Jaylen Brown. Brown sat down with Evan Daniels to talk about his recruitment. On Michigan:
Michigan is definitely going to be in the front runner of things. Talking to Coach Beilein, he’s like an offensive genius the way he gets these guys that aren’t really ranked high to be lottery picks in the draft is amazing. It’s definitely something that drew my attention. Also Michigan is a great education school. They have one of the top public universities in America with Cal-Berkeley, UCLA and North Carolina.
He also said that "I took a lot of visits and nobody's basketball programs was as good as Kentucky," so temper that enthusiasm. Rivals is continually throwing cold water on any speculation Michigan might get him, but it sounds like Sam Webb is talking to a lot of people close to the situation while Rivals cites national analyst Eric Bossi.
FWIW, nobody is saying Michigan is a lock or even necessarily a leader: the difference here is between Scout guys thinking Michigan has a legitimate shot and Rivals saying not so much.
UPDATE: Brown told ESPN that he would be going to an Adidas school, flat-out. That would knock out Kentucky, leaving Michigan up against Kansas and UCLA.
Legends update. MVictors talks to Ben McCready, the godson of Bennie Oosterbaan:
Nothing is official, but U-M is indeed evaluating the Legends program and considering changes.
The evaluation is being driven, in part, by feedback from the players.
McCready’s understanding is that they do intend to maintain the Legends distinction, but are considering honoring those players in a different way.
All options are on the table including a presence in the stadium to recognize the Legends.
I'm mildly distressed by the "feedback from the players" bit since in the past that's been used as a won't someone think of the children cover for Adidas pandering and the like. Suspect that they don't actually dislike it enough to make a difference. But some sort of in-stadium note that hey, Desmond Howard played here would be nice—with the boxes there is a ton of blank space to act as canvas.
An excellent example of the hockey tournament's absurdity. Providence was literally the last team in the field—if Michigan had won the Big Ten tourney they would have bounced the Friars. They happen to host this year, so #4 seed Providence got to welcome #1 seed Miami.
They won that game in a looney-tunes 7-5 contest in which Miami played with an extra attacker for almost half the third period after falling behind 6-2, then beat Denver the next night and are now in the Frozen Four. This happens almost every year. RIT took out another overall #1 seed in the opener. That's the hockey equivalent of a 16 over 1 upset, something that has never ever happened in basketball but has been achieved by a single small school in upstate New York twice.
Single elimination basketball can be random; it is much less so than hockey. Good basketball teams win almost all their games. Good hockey teams win two thirds. Look at the pro level to see the spread between good teams and bad. Hockey is closer to baseball, where 100 wins—a measly 62%—is considered the benchmark for an excellent team, than basketball, where three NBA teams cleared 70% last year with Indiana a game back of that number.
So Miami has a season worth of a one seed and their reward is to fly cross country to play Providence in Providence in a one-off game in a building that was half empty* even by the inflated official count. I defy you to come up with a system more nonsensical than that. Can't be done.
Okay, okay, can't be done outside of cricket.
*[Two-day attendance of 14,234 in a building holding 12,400.]
Um? Hockey recruiting coverage is scanty and Auston Matthews is a big deal so let's hold on to this for a brief moment:
Matthews, who is expected to be selected No. 1 in the 2016 NHL draft, will center Heinen and Moore if he chooses DU over Michigan, among others, and the major-junior route.
Later that article reiterates that Matthews's top college choices are those two schools, and reading between the lines it appears that intelligence comes directly from the Denver program. Everett, a WHL team based in a midsize Washington city, has his CHL rights.
I remember. Harbaugh on his CSG presidency aspirations:
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 30, 2015
Yes, that is a hashtag for "enthusiasm unknown to mankind" that I will be enthusiastically, if ironically adopting.
But the best part of all this is that a Rivals commenter reminded me of the existence of Hideki. Hideki, a contemporary of mine at the university, won the then-MSA presidency in a landslide because he had a silly sign he carried with him everywhere:
These were the halcyon days in which the the student government's main function was dealing with BAMN so the rest of us didn't have to. We could safely dispatch an amiable man without a platform or a solid grasp of English as our representative, and we were rewarded with petty imbroglios like "that one time the vice president said the president had difficulty communicating and was called super racist":
Wong called for an apology from Secreto for "allowing the election to become a vehicle to foster racism on campus."
Many representatives and constituents said race was not the reason they were unhappy with Tsutsumi"s term.
"My problems are not with his language," said LSA senior Rodolfo Palma-Lulion. "It"s with his ideology."
"I don"t support the attacks on Hideki, but I don"t see them as racist," Kinesiology Rep. T.J. Wharry said. "I can"t understand what my grandparents say but they"re just as white as I am."
Tsutsumi said he felt all attacks on him were politically motivated and that he is "above the fray of party politics."
Drop that mike, Hideki. You clearly had all the vocabulary required to be a politician.
These days the CSG is serious business. It has to fix the athletic department's student ticketing policies, and cannot be solely deployed as a hilarious parody of national politics.
You'll never believe me. It turns out that Nick Saban doesn't care about one solitary thing in this world other than how to win many football games. It's almost like he's a robot programmed to act like a human being… poorly.
it could happen, maybe
Basketball decision timetables.
What is the timetable on a Moritz Wagner decision? And how does that affect other decisions, like Bielfeldt's?
Michigan should know what their 2015-16 roster is going to look like within the next few weeks. The late signing period kicks off April 15th; the NBA draft entry deadline is April 26th. Wagner and Jaylen Brown are both supposed to decide within the month, as you might expect.
Wagner is down to Michigan and staying with his professional team and could decide whenever since LeVert's status is not likely to impact him much. Brown is being recruited by a number of schools with NBA draft decisions on the docket and wants to see how the dust settles before pulling the trigger; he may wait until the 26th. And yes, Michigan appears to be seriously in the mix for him according to both Brian Snow and Sam Webb of Scout. Michigan is reputed to be in the top two but no one knows who the second team is. Normally that is a big, flashing YOU ARE LEADING indicator. In this case the situation is so fluid and close to the vest I wouldn't go that far, but I'm saying there's a chance.
Meanwhile, instate post Mike Edwards continues to Blow Up, adding offers from Pitt, Marquette, Kansas State, and SMU along with interest from Iowa, Wisconsin, and even Duke(?!). Edwards told Rivals that Michigan leads for his services($) despite not having an offer yet. If he turns into a high-major prospect and there's room I think Michigan might prefer him to a fifth year from Bielfeldt.
Michigan just got an impromptu unofficial visit from fifth-year Cornell transfer Shonn Miller, who has to leave the Ivy League if he wants to continue playing basketball. Miller, a 6'7" wing with a monster DREB rate, carried a third of Cornell's offense with reasonable efficiency a year ago. He would probably be a 4 at Michigan. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina has also expressed interest. Given the roster composition he would need LeVert to leave to find a spot.
One man's vague priority list, assuming that Michigan has three spots for LeVert, Bielfeldt, and any potential recruits:
And of course look out for any inexplicably unrecruited sons of famous basketball coaches who can jump out of the gym. All of this will be figured out by the 26th.
SPOILERS (sort of)
Don't know if you saw this or if I'm like the 15th person to point this out, but there was an evil Doctor a few nights ago on Archer named "Zoltan Kovacs." Obviously not a coincidence. Attached is a screen cap.
(yes that is my real name)
If that is your real name, Lloyd Cargo. Obviously not a coincidence.
How special were M’s special teams last season?
M’s offense had its own issues but how awful were M’s special teams last season? How much affect did it have on M’s w/l record? To me it seemed, every game M’s special teams was grossly outplayed and might’ve been a factor in some close losses.
FEI added special teams rankings a few years ago that give you a reasonable baseline from which to start. The high variance nature of certain special teams events means you have to sanity check it, though. Let's do that. Michigan was 67th overall in a metric that doesn't respond too much to schedule strength, so they were bad but non-disastrous. By unit:
- FIELD GOALS: 52nd, slightly above average. FEI takes distance into account when valuing FGs FWIW.
- PUNT RETURNS: shockingly good at 19th for one reason: Ben Gedeon's 32-yard blocked punt return touchdown against Appalachian State. Non-Gedeon returns averaged 4.3 yards an attempt on just 13 tries. That's a good demonstration of how swingy these stats are. Minus one event against a tomato can this would be one of the worst units in the country; meanwhile one less dumb block against Maryland and it would look like one of the best.
- KICK RETURNS. Speaking of worst units in the country, Michigan finished 118th. Highly random touchdowns have an even bigger relative impact now that touchbacks are a goal of the rules. Only 16 teams were "above average" in this stat.
- PUNTING. Michigan was 97th. This is a stunning departure from their raw gross yardage, which was 28th, and yet another ringing condemnation of 1) Michigan's archaic NFL-style punting and 2) their ability to put eleven guys on the field.
- KICK COVERAGE. 30th! /waves tiny flag
Other than okay field goal kicking and a blocked punt against a Sun Belt team, Michigan was awful awful awful in all phases except kick coverage last year.
I took them to dinner and bought them a Ufer CD.
listening to past podcasts yesterday, i came across post rutgers podcast featuring hobo-quest. i assume washtenaw county is hobo free.
For those, who aren't bored enough to listen to podcasts from October, a large portion of that podcast was given over to how many hobos we would strangle for certain coaches. It turns out, Tripp, that hobo sacrifices do not have a direct impact on the outcomes of coaching searches, thus sparing me a grisly few weeks and the life in prison that would inevitably follow. I think it all worked out for the best.
See also: hockey.
a shruggie of a year [Bryan Fuller]
Despite a lot more playing time than anyone expected, Michigan seems content to allow Max Bielfeldt to graduate and move on. As a 6'7" center it seems unlikely he can feature on a team with major aspirations.
That is all.
And this isn't graduating yet but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Austin Hatch may transition to a medical scholarship at some point.
NBA PIRACY AHOY
The looming unresolved question of the offseason is "wither Caris LeVert?" LeVert would be a mid-to-late first round pick if he decided to enter the draft, but chatter from Scout and Rivals holds that LeVert seems to be favoring a return. I don't have to explain how huge that would be. Fingers will be crossed until the deadline.
Other attrition is unlikely. Zak Irvin's late diversification has not piqued the interest of NBA evaluators just yet; Derrick Walton has not shown the kind of meteoric rise necessary for a guy of his stature to leave early.
technically incoming is the best kind of incoming [Bryan Fuller]
Technically, nobody right now. Michigan has two guys who are functionally incoming, however. D-III transfer Duncan Robinson spent his redshirt year testing Nik Stauskas's practice marksmanship records and gathering hype:
"I texted Nik (telling him the record fell)," Beilein said of Robinson's record on WTKA 1050-AM on Thursday morning, adding that he didn't witness it personally. "(Stauskas) was happy, but he was also sad that the record went down. Duncan can really shoot the ball and as he learns the other parts of the game, he's tough to stop in practice." …
"He can help us against that zone anytime," said Beilein, who kept the record to himself, later saying, "I'm not going to disclose the numbers and maybe it will come out at some time, because I'm not sure I'm supposed to do that."
Robinson should be Just A Shooter, always a handy thing to have around. He could be something more.
Meanwhile, DJ Wilson took a redshirt after a second injury in a few months. Prior to that he'd offered hints that he could be an impact defender and skilled 4/5 man. He'd also struggled immensely in brief spurts of playing time against grown-ass men. (Not Eddie Johnson. Others.) Wilson was a solid four star recruit after an impressive senior season in California and could play either post-type position.
Michigan is also active in the spring recruiting period. Uber-prospect Jaylen Brown just took a visit, and Sam's saying there's a chance; German Moritz Wagner took a visit and seems set to choose Ann Arbor unless his pro team can convince him to change course; late-rising instate post Mike Edwards was just on campus; Seton Hall point guard transfer Jaren Sina, who Michigan recruited a bit a couple years ago, is listing Michigan amongst his options.
Edwards is 6'10" instate player who blew up as a senior, going from a lonely Akron offer to high-major offers from Nebraska and Georgia. Michigan is poking around but has not offered.
Will they? I'd be a bit surprised. Michigan has Donnal and Doyle plus 2016 7-footer Jon Teske; DJ Wilson may play the 5 for them as well. Even if you assume Wilson is a full-time 4, that would be a post per year for four straight. On the other hand, an incessant parade of senior Cs sounds okay by me.
Michigan has at least one slot from Bielfeldt's graduation and may have up to three depending on Hatch and LeVert. It seems like the most likely outcome here is Wagner, and only Wagner, comes.
USELESS BUT MANDATORY MINUTE BREAKDOWNS
After a year in which we fussed about auto-bench and a couple of walk-ons got meaningful playing time in most games, here is a happy about-face: it's difficult to find minutes for everyone if LeVert comes back.
remember me? [Eric Upchurch]
POINT GUARD: Walton 25, Spike 15.
Hard to imagine Walton getting fewer than 30 a game even with Albrecht establishing himself a very good offensive player in trying circumstances last year, but 1) Walton only got 26 as a freshman when he was fully healthy and 2) all of the remaining minutes went to Spike.
Meanwhile Albrecht ended up playing over 30 this year and maintained a healthy 112 ORTG thanks to lots of assists and excellent shooting. There are going to be games and matchups where he may be the preferred option. When Michigan goes up against Bennie Parker or Lourawls Tum-Tum Nairn Jr, Spike's size deficiency isn't going to be, you know, deficient.
Walton could blow up a la Morris/Burke and relegate Albrecht to more bench time. The above is a best guess at a position that's relatively uncertain despite having two upperclassmen.
SHOOTING GUARD, LEVERT EDITION: LeVert 30, Spike 5, MAAR 5.
There will be some dual-point lineups. Spike's five minutes here are a representation of that. Past that, if LeVert's around he's playing a lot of minutes. Surprise!
MAAR looks like he might be the odd man out in the musical chairs of next year's lineup: his handle won't be needed to spot PG minutes, he didn't shoot anywhere near Dawkins's numbers, and he doesn't bring the rebounding others might. Ace pointed out on a podcast that MAAR showed hints that he might be a lockdown perimeter defender (D'Angelo Russell had a terrible game against him) and that this might be a ticket to playing time. That's probably his best hope for PT next year.
SHOOTING GUARD, NBA PIRACY EDITION: MAAR 20, Spike 10, Robinson 10
In the unhappy event LeVert decides on the draft, dual-point lineups increase, MAAR gets a healthy chunk of playing time, and Duncan Robinson finds more time as a floor-stretching kickout option even if that's the extent of his game.
It'll be disappointing if LeVert does enter after these positive noises, but this hypothetical SG lineup is far from ominous.
SMALL FORWARD: Dawkins 25, Robinson 15
Dawkins's late shooting surge—he shot 48% from 3 in Big Ten play as part of a larger improvement in his game has everyone hype, as does the addition of the alley-oop dunk to his arsenal late in the season. This minutes breakdown is looking at Dawkins as 3 defensively but envisions his role on offense similar to that of GRIII: shoot corner threes, cut to the basket for explosive dunks, drive off closeouts.
Meanwhile, Robinson is a wildcard. It seems like his floor is a knockdown shooter off the bench. Robinson hit 45% from three as a freshman at Williams, and if he's given similar quality shots there's no reason to expect a dropoff. Readiness won't be an issue after a redshirt year, especially since highlight videos of his year in D-III demonstrate he's running Beilein's offense down to the cut.
If Jaylen Brown does come to Michigan—knock on wood—he would suck up 30 minutes here, leaving Dawkins and Robinson in a situation similar to MAAR's.
HELLO THIS IS ZAK [Fuller]
"POWER" FORWARD: Irvin 30, Chatman 10, Wagner?
Irvin will be the non-post most suited to bang in the paint on defense and rebound so he goes here. Michigan hopes to get the playmaking ability he demonstrated late last year. He could be the alpha dog; that could be LeVert; hopefully we get something like the Trey/Tim/Nik or Nik/Caris/Derrick teams in which the shots are spread out such that focusing on any one player just makes his assist totals go up.
Chatman struggled for most of last year. Like Irvin and Dawkins, he did come on late with a number of skilled drives to the basket and the first flashes of the passing ability he was noted for in high school. It does not seem likely he will push through anyone to field extensive playing time in year two, but if he can start giving consistently quality minutes off the bench that would set the table for a starting job as a junior if Irvin's improvement carries him to the draft.
Wagner's not even on the team yet; if he comes he will compete at the 3 and 4. He is not coming to redshirt but he's super skinny so playing time in year one might be scant.
CENTER: Doyle 24, Wilson 8, Donnal 8
Bigs develop. Repeat this mantra until you feel good.
Either Mark Donnal takes a quantum leap forward on defense or Ricky Doyle eats up most of the minutes in the post next year, fouls permitting. Doyle has a much larger frame than other options and held his own against the posts of the Big Ten. Since Doyle is also a year younger than Donnal you would expect him to develop more quickly.
Doyle has a terrific ability to finish around the basket and actual post moves. he needs to work on his hands, mostly, and reduce the foul rate that is inherent in project freshman bigs. He hedges pretty well and he gets a lot of offensive rebounds Meanwhile I wonder what the team defensive rebounding rates are with Doyle on the floor versus other options with shinier DREB numbers. Michigan is utilizing a boxout-focused style that often results in a guard skying for the rebound as Doyle butt-shoves his man out of the way.
In any case, I've been a bandwagon member since the start and think he will develop into a very solid option. He shot 61% this year in a finishing environment leagues tougher than that faced by any Michigan post since the Beilein effect kicked in; with more assisted buckets he could scrape Jordan Morgan efficiency levels while providing a bit more size on D.
Donnal, meanwhile, needs to spend the offseason gluing sand to his jaw and making mean faces in the mirror. (Also lifting weights but mostly the first two.) He averaged 6.4 fouls per 40 last year (Doyle and Bielfeldt were around 4), which was indicative of his overall struggles on D. Offensively he was efficient but low-usage.
Wilson could figure in at the 4; the guess here is that Michigan deploys him as a skilled, skinny 5, hoping his promising shot blocking makes up for what figures to be a rebounding deficiency.
FORWARD [Patrick Barron]
A major rebound beckons. This is a team that was a few points away from being 10-8, even 11-7 in the Big Ten despite not having the two guys expected to be stars before the year. If LeVert returns Michigan adds him, Walton, Robinson, Wilson, and possibly a recruit to that team. Meanwhile subtract only Bielfeldt.
Michigan also gets a year older all around. This should see them rise to approximately average in Kenpom's "experience" metric. Michigan has been hovering in Kentucky territory for a while now. It is a Beilein miracle that they've had the results they have despite that.
It'll be nice to have some guys who are a bit older. Michigan started Getting It on offense late last year as the posts realized when they should roll to the basket and the wings figured out their cuts. It wasn't just Zak Irvin knowing he should pass that helped his assist numbers go up; there were also options for him to pass to.
The LeVert version of this team can be really good, especially if Irvin is going to continue to progress and Walton regains the explosion he lost as a sophomore. They would be a Big Ten contender—and depending on what happens with the rest of the league possibly the favorite—and an easy Sweet 16 seed.
The No LeVert version of this team could still hit that ceiling but it seems more reasonable to project them as a second-tier Big Ten team that gets a seed from 5 to 9.
Good Morning (Afternoon in Ann Arbor) MGoBlog Team,
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, the attached picture was being passed around by the 49ers fans here in my office. One had the insight to share with me.
I want to see a version of this with the MVictors glare photo.
Not at all timely response to Super Bowl question.
You briefly mentioned how you believe Belichick not using a timeout at the end of the Super Bowl was a colossal overlooked mistake, and that the ends don't justify the means. In almost all cases I agree with you on coaches' inability to properly use timeouts (e.g. Hoke giving up a free hail mary). However, in this particular case, I disagree and I think the statistics and "feels" may bear out that Belichick didn't necessarily just get lucky.
Everyone knew that, at some point, Lynch was going to get the ball. With only one timeout left, Belichick knew that Seattle couldn't run it three straight times. In addition, Lynch had not been very good, going only 45% successful in short yardage situations all season, and 1/5(!) at goal to go from the 1. Belichick had to know that, and was potentially making a statistical gamble on being able to stop the run there. There is also something to be said in the "feels" category with putting pressure on the other
team to make a decision they may not otherwise make. It was also made clear by Butler that they were ready for that exact situation. Belichick knew they could defend it. I think even though it may appear that Belichick got lucky, he in fact knew exactly what he was doing. It may look like high risk, but in fact the season statistics and his preparation tell me that he knew the odds were in his favor by letting the clock run and limiting Seattle's choices.
Thanks, and I love the blog as well as discussions like this.
-Kyle (Carolina Blue)
I think that's dubious at best. Seattle snapped the ball on second down with a timeout and 26 seconds after having run the clock down from just under a minute. Seattle has the option to run on either second or third down. By not calling timeout you get to impose that constraint on their playcalling.
But that's all, and that's not much. You cite some stats that have been floating around; those are not serious. (Five attempts? Cumong man.) Football Outsiders' OL rankings have Seattle the #2 team in the league in their "power success" stat, which is defined like so:
Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer.
Lynch and Seattle had in fact been excellent at punching the ball in, and forcing a pass is a good idea. You give up some expectation when you throw on the doorstep of the end zone.
Meanwhile, the Patriots were dead last with an identical rate: 81% of the time Seattle tried a short conversion they got it; 81% of the time the Patriots tried to stop one they failed. Even leaving aside the passing down, 19% squared is about 4%. Without a miracle—the first goal-line interception thrown by an NFL team all year—the Patriots go home losers. How likely is that miracle? Not likely. Russell Wilson had seven interceptions on 495 throws this year.
Your win percentage is unbelievably grim in the situations the Pats put themselves in. But how grim is it
- down three with a minute left with a TO
- on your 20
- with a unanimous first-ballot HOF QB
Not nearly as grim, I think.
[After the JUMP: demoralizing: we're experts]
Mailbag: Late Game Threes, Basketball And Football Recruiting Reassurances, The Poisoned Chalice Of Access
Go for three against MSU?
Frustrated after the end of the MSU basketball game. Simple question...if you have the ball down 2 points, with the chance to take the last shot, wouldn't you give yourself a better chance to win the game by running the clock down and taking the best three point shot you can get within the last five seconds?
Simplistically, Let's say it has a 35% chance to go in, and that your win % if it goes in is 100%. The other option is go to go for a two point shot with time left on the clock. What are your odds of winning with that strategy? Much worse, right? I'm no math major, but to me the odds go like this:
- generously, a 50% chance of making the shot, which then...
- gives your opponent a possession to win. Call it 50/50 that they take advantage.
- even if they don't, all you get is overtime, which lets call another 50/50 shot.
Maybe you can run the numbers, but it seems like your win % is something like 12.5%. You need three toss ups to go your way.
I'll hang up and listen...
It's a bit more complicated than that.
- Michigan isn't just worried about what will happen if they score. They're also worried about what will happen if they don't. Michigan had 20 seconds left when Bielfeldt tipped the ball in. If that had gone the the other way they had an opportunity to force a turnover or get another bite at the apple in the event MSU did not knock down both free throws. Even an 80% shooter like Denzel Valentine gives you a shot at the game about a third of the time.
- Michigan's tying basket was a off an offensive rebound. Off a two, yes, but even if it was a three the ensuing putback is still worth two.
- Your chance at a putback is greater if you aren't shooting a jumper. In the NBA, shots within 6 feet get rebounded at a 37% rate; threes at just a 26% rate. (Threes are still better than long twos at 21%.) Albrecht's shot was a weird floater, one that saw Branden Dawson checking Bielfeldt at the FT line in an attempt to prevent a three—the nature of that shot greatly aided the subsequent putback.
- Your chances of an OREB are zero if you wait for a three at the buzzer.
- Last second threes are generally bad shots because the opponent is maniacally focused on the three-point line. Albrecht's three to bring Michigan within striking distance was a good example of the phenomenon. To get any sort of look he had to take the shot a few feet behind the arc. See also:
Given all that the decision is far less clear. I'd be totally on-board with an open look that came out of the context of the offense. I would prefer it to any non-gimme two. But waiting for a do-or-die three is not good eats.
I don't have a problem with the way regulation ended. In that situation the imperative is to have a good offensive possession, hopefully quickly, and Albrecht's quick take got a decent shot that put Michigan in position for an OREB without bleeding much time.
[After the JUMP: talking people off various recruiting related ledges]