national champs baby
Running a route. That is the takeaway from the Outback Bowl practice video: a ball thrown downfield to Denard Robinson, who is playing wide receiver.
Hopefully that did not six takes to get right.
Also they took the uniform mannequin to the Outback Steakhouse on Ann Arbor-Saline, because he was getting sick of staring out the window of Schembechler Hall. Good to see him get some air.
The matte finish is a first for the U-M headgear. Back in the 70s and 80s there was no gloss finish on the Michigan helmets. Much like their coach, there was no flashiness to them – they were maize and blue and that was that. You’d be surprised at how basic and crude those old helmets look compared to the newer ones of today. From 1977:
If you wanted the old ones to look shiny, you would have to rub some car wax on them!
The yellows on the new jersey definitely do not match the helmet, which is a very Sparty thing to do.
Tom From AA rounded up reactions on Facebook and found that most people bothering to insert a comment are opposed:
I went through and tallied 665 of the comments. That's not all of them, but after a while the percentages stayed the same, so I'm saying this is a SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND representation of the FB page's population. It took far too long to go through 650+ so I decided not to keep going through the now 3000 comments. Like I said, the percentages started holding pretty strong around n=300, so should be representative. I ignored trolls and unrelated posts.
Like 102 15.3% Dislike 378 56.8% Helmets: Yes! Uniforms: No! 154 23.1% Meh 13 1.9% Helmets: No! Uniforms: Yes! 18 2.7%
I had other categories as well, such as "Sarcasm" and "slappy." The former of which generally disliked the jerseys, the later of which said "anything Blue wears is good" so I did not include them in the "Like" category.
People in favor seem—how to put this gently—brain damaged.
Representative "Like" Comment
SWAGG! Matt finish to the helmets!! And the jersey is to fly!
You have brain damage and/or are 14, sir. Some responders in the comments here note that incensed people are much more likely to leave a comment than people mildly in favor, and that's true. Whenever a Picture Pages post has 100 comments around here, 80% of them will be complaints. So take it with a grain of salt. Except don't because if you do like the jerseys your brain is probably melting as we speak.
Hmm. Not that it's a surprise, but Taylor Lewan doesn't sound like a guy who's planning on a return:
Even though the Wolverines face replacing a good portion of the offensive line next season, Lewan said he's confident things will work out.
"I don't think Michigan will have a big problem with the offensive line next year," he said.
Maybe that's reading between the lines too finely. No one thinks he'll be back, though.
In other NFL news, Illinois's Akeem Spence declares. Michigan wasn't going to play them next year anyway.
It's gotta go somewhere. The coffers overflow, and the latest beneficiaries:
Clemson’s assistants — at a combined total of more than $4.2 million, including outside income — are the highest-paid group among the 102 public schools for which USA TODAY Sports could obtain 2012 pay information for at least eight of the nine assistants generally allowed by NCAA rules. There are 124 FBS schools.
LSU’s assistants also are collecting more than $4 million. Seven other schools have assistants totaling more than $3 million in compensation: Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State and Oklahoma State.
Last year, six schools had $3 million assistant-coaching staffs. In 2009, there was one: Tennessee’s, at $3.3 million.
I'm surprised Michigan isn't on that list with both coordinators now pushing into the upper six figures.
The pictured coaches are Chad Morris, Clemson's $1.3 million offensive coordinator and… I'm not sure but some guy at USC. This is a very silly graphic.
[HT: Get The Picture.]
A good hire? After some confusion it does appear that Wisconsin's new coach is Gary Andersen, lately of Utah State. Andersen doesn't have massively more experience than the latest fliers the conference has taken on MAC coaches, but in four years he turned Utah State from a national doormat into an 11-2 outfit that lost its two games to Wisconsin by two and BYU by three. They took out a BCS team in Utah and annihilated Toledo for a bowl win. The last two years of Idaho Potato bowls were the first winning seasons in the I-A history of the program. That's a pretty solid resume.
The reaction of his players on twitter is also a good sign—various takes on "The only man I want to play for." You never know, but it seems like this has a decent chance of working out as long as the offensive transition isn't too harsh. Utah State is a spread 'n' shred type outfit.
Despite that, tentative thumbs up for a Big Ten hire. Strange days.
Last night in Big Ten hoops sponsored by Barbasol. Close shaves abounded. Both Michigan State and Ohio State were dead even with BGSU and Winthrop for about 30 minutes before pulling away late, and Nebraska managed to turn a 15 point lead against Jacksonville State with seven minutes left into a tight contest. Close shave, (terrible parts of) America (and Nebraska)!
Here's an MSU fan freakout from the first 30 minutes of last night's game against BGSU. I don't think it should impact how you interpret MSU in the league, unfortunately. By the end, Kenpom was eerily close on the score (it was a road game). It feels better to leap out to that ten point lead early and play most of the game comfortably ahead, but all the possessions are worth the same.
Transition efficiency. Dylan gets some stats from Synergy sports and notes a massive improvement in Michigan's transition offense:
According to statistics from Synergy Sports, Michigan is scoring 1.31 points per transition possession – a dramatic improvement from the 1.09 points per possession that the Wolverines netted on transition possessions last season. That number ranks in the 96th percentile nationally and compares favorably to the rest of the conference.
Team % of Poss. in Transition Points Per Transition Poss. Minnesota 15.3% 1.35 Michigan 17.2% 1.31 Ohio State 18.2% 1.30 Indiana 20.4% 1.19 Wisconsin 7.0% 1.16 Purdue 11.3% 1.15 Illinois 13.0% 1.01 Michigan State 20.2% 0.98 Iowa 16.6% 0.96 Penn State 13.1% 0.94 Nebraska 8.1% 0.94 Northwestern 8.8% 0.82
Source: Synergy Sports
Good things happen when Michigan pushes the ball in transition. Obviously there are more easy opportunities in transition (the Wolverines average .96 PPP in half court sets – a very good figure in its own right) but the Wolverines have maximized their transition effectiveness.
Northwestern's transition offense is much worse than their half-court sets, which is kind of amazing. Meanwhile, Michigan's boost this year does not appear to be about schedule strength—most teams haven't played a schedule as good as Michigan's.
Dylan credits Burke and that's obviously a big part of it. Another is the fact that if you lose Stauskas in transition he will put a three on your face. In your face. Speaking of, I found this:
And now I wonder why it took so long to happen.
Etc.: Missouri safety gets the boot for having a small amount of pot, but really I just want to note that his name is "Ka'ra," which sounds like an ancient Egyptian god from a Saturday morning cartoon. Horford's painful looking injury is a dislocated kneecap, which is a very good thing since he should be able to return in a few weeks. Derrick Walton is doing good things. Quinton Washington profiled by his hometown newspaper.
Ace pointed out a basketball coaching site yesterday that had a bunch of Beilein stuff and one thing led to another and this happened, because apparently this is just what I do.
Trying to see stuff in a basketball game was an interesting change of pace, since even with my Analytical Goggles on there's a lot of stuff that just seems to happen because players are good or not good. This aspect of football is obscured somewhat. A lot of coaches say The Expectation Is For The Position with a straight face—I don't think you've ever ever heard a basketball coach drop that.
The initial post Ace pointed out was a couple sections of Michigan's offense called "chin" and "shuffle" in which the center moves out to the free throw line and acts as a low-pressure fulcrum connecting two halves of the floor.
What struck me about chin/shuffle is how they use the center as a conduit, opening up space without putting undue pressure on what's usually the least skilled offensive player on the floor. Meanwhile, the other four positions rotate through a variety of spots, eventually becoming interchangeable parts looking for the half-step they need to attack or shoot instead of reset.
Michigan runs a variety of looks off of this, each of which probes the defense for an easy bucket before reverting to a high ball screen on which the guy receiving the screen has three options.
I set to watching the NC State game again to find examples of how this works, and came across an example of the two-post offense getting Morgan open underneath for two (eventually).
Setting The Offense
This is a bit of an oddity since it's a two-post lineup but the principles are the same; here the offense will work around the lack of a three-point threat from one of the wings thanks to a busted NC State defensive assignment.
The above is the on-court equivalent of this:
For reasons unexplained the document consistently calls the two-guard in this offense a "trailor" instead of a "trailer" or I guess a "tailor". Supposition: he is a trailer who is suppose to tailor some offense. YEAH
So here the post has "flashed" but McGary just kind of set up at the line as Burke brought the ball up the court. The things in the document are an idealized version of the real world, I find. For instance, in one of the ways the offense starts is by dumping the ball to the center and then having the point and "trailor" cut to the basket.
Once 5 catches the pass, 1 and 4 [ed: the "trailor" yes I will eventually have to either fix that or drop the quote marks] SPRINT backdoor to the block. 5 looks for either 1 or 4.
Real life is dang perfunctory relative to an all-caps exhortation to SPRINT. The document does admit a bit later that "It is not common for either player to be open of [sic] this cut" and asks the 2—Morgan in this play—not to be "robotic". On this play the initial movements of Burke and Hardaway are soft jogs to their spot.
On this play Michigan is running "shuffle" instead of chin. Shuffle looks like chin when they start the play, but starts like this:
dotted line is a pass
Once Morgan receives the pass, Burke and Hardaway jog to the spots they're supposed to get to…
…and McGary extends to the top of the key to receive a rote pass from Morgan. No one has made a decision yet.
Meanwhile, a conveniently-timed graphic notes that eight minutes into the game Hardaway has more points than the rest of Michigan combined. Naturally he is going to receive lots of defensive attention. The guy checking Hardaway is CHECKING HARDAWAY in his brain.
McGary now has a rote pass to make of his own, this one a swing to Stauskas.
"5 pops high, 3 reverses through the 5 to 2," sayeth document
Hardaway sets a "shuffle screen" on Morgan's man; Hardaway's man is looking at that graphic and going "oh man I better check Hardaway"; Morgan gets hand-wavingly wide open underneath the basket.
Stauskas dumps it down; Morgan misses, gets his own rebound, and finishes.
Meanwhile, Michigan has already executed the next part of the play with McGary screening whoever shows up on Hardaway.
If NC State had covered Morgan appropriately this was likely to be a quality three-point look for Hardaway.
"5 [McGary] sets the down screen for the 4 [Hardaway],
4 comes off the screen looking to shoot or curl it for a mid-range jumper.
2 [Stauskas] looks for 4.
After the screen 5 can look to slip to the basket or straight cut the FT line. 2 looks either for the lob[!] or at the elbow."
As it is, it's a layup for Morgan, eventually.
Things And Stuff
There aren't really many player takeaways on a short open layup that Morgan misses, gets back, and puts back. If we're trying to figure out some things about how Michigan runs offense, a lot of these broad early strokes are going to be off, as well. But…
A lot of the early movement in the offense is the process of getting into a play. On this play Michigan makes three passes and sends four players in motion before anyone has a decision to make. When Michigan dumps it to the center and then runs around and whatnot they're not really expecting to get a shot out of that, they're just moving into a variant of one of their standard looks.
Whoever is open is open. In half-court sets the guy who gets the ball is just going to be the guy who is open until nothing works and Burke has to create or die off a pick and roll.
Probe, reset, probe, reset. This is not a good example because Michigan just gets a quick easy bucket, but the document suggests the rhythm you can pick up watching Michigan play sometimes as situations happen over and over on the same possession as Michigan searches for the edge.
OR: GONE IN 0.6 SECONDS
One of the weirdest things about the recent Big Ten expansion—let me start over.
One of the least weird things that was still weird about the recent Big Ten expansion was a particular reaction from Maryland basketball fans deriding the Big Ten for being slow-it-down bore ball. Anyone who's listened to fans from conferences other than the Big Ten has probably heard the refrain about how the league is like watching Charles Oakley and Ben Wallace headbutt each other to death.
It's true that the Big Ten tends to have big burly defenses, but the Big Ten's long-held reputation for slowness has always been bizarre to me. Thanks to Michigan State bloggers' insatiable desire to scatterplot things, here's a visual representation of that. Rightward is faster, higher is more variation within the conference:
This is a tightly bunched random assortment on a scale that essentially goes from 65 to 69. Most of the conferences to the right are small outfits, and there's barely any differentiation to get worked up about anyway. The slowest major conference in the country is the Big Ten, yeah, at about 65.6 possessions. The fastest is the Pac-12 at about 67.6 possessions.
That difference is beyond negligible. The average Pac-12 fan sees a shot ending in a make, free throws, or defensive rebound every 17.7 seconds. The average Big Ten fan only enjoys this experience every 18.3 seconds. Take a fan from a Pac-12 team and give him a blind taste test between the two leagues and he won't comment on the pace, he'll ask "where is all the writhing incompetence?" and "why is this fun?" about one of the games before deciding he cannot possibly be watching the Pac-12. (Readers are not encouraged to try a similar experiment in football.)
For the Maryland fans still drunk on Gary Williams telling his guys to scream down the court, the difference was larger. Significantly so? Well. The fastest Terp outfit I could find in Kenpom roared up and down the court for 75.5 possessions a game, second in the country, which meant Maryland fans saw a shot go up every 15.9 seconds. (They did this en route to the NIT, FWIW). I'll grant that on a team level things can seem a lot different…
…but even there you have a couple of major outliers amongst a pack in which the differences in fast break opportunities are small enough to chalk up to chance. That looks like a normal distribution to me.
The differences here just aren't that large. Tempo free stats are excellent for parsing out the outliers like that Maryland team and correctly diagnosing things like rebounding that regular stats are hilariously wrong about, but when it comes to aesthetics, no conference pushes the ball up the floor enough for there to be significant differences. Except the WAC, because WAC is gonna WAC even if they don't play football anymore. Viva WAC.
Anyway, the next time someone garrumphs at you about how boring the Big Ten is, wait 0.6 seconds and scream at him, then tell him that's how much longer you have to wait to see a possession end. Bonus: he will probably stop being friends with you at this point so you won't have to have more annoying hot-sprots-take conversations with him.
Ace stole my joke so I guess I have to write something longer. /shakes fist at ace
@mgoblog Beilein is friends with Binghamton's coach -- not sure if that makes it OK, but there it is.
"Yeah, Binghamton Guy?"
"Could you do me a favor?"
"Anything, Binghamton Guy."
"I need you to punch me in the face really hard."
"Love to, Binghamton Guy."
I guess Binghamton gets a check for the one-off game. In all other ways that's a weird way to do a guy a favor.
Seriously though. I'd rather Michigan played a string of Bradley-type games where they play decent competition in home-and-home situations and just inflated the ticket price the dollar or whatever that they'd have to to compensate.
For one, it's more fun for everyone. For two, you get an RPI bonus for playing on the road, a relatively big one:
A home win now counts as 0.6 win, while a road win counts as 1.4 wins. Inversely, a home loss equals 1.4 losses, while a road loss counts as 0.6 loss. A neutral game counts as 1 win or 1 loss. This change was based on statistical data that consistently showed home teams in Division I basketball winning about two-thirds of the time. Note that this location adjustment applies only to the WP factor and not the OWP and OOWP factors.
You can futz with the system to give yourself an edge by playing a team that you should beat on the road like Bradley, and in doing so you prep yourself for playing in hostile environments a bit. I'd like Michigan to have a couple mid-major road tests a year.
Unfortunately the Bradley home-and-home is also a Beilein's buddy sort of thing—probably not a coincidence that this series was scheduled after Bradley hired Beilein's son. It's not a thing we can expect to continue. Michigan decided to stop playing Oakland because they were too good, which like… mmph.
That's unfortunate since that game in Peoria was a lot more interesting than this one. It's a lot better to see your team beat an opponent in front of a packed house of upset-demanding Peorians than a deservedly half-full Crisler. It will also be a relative asset come tourney time. I'd like it if Michigan made a habit of going on the road to MVC and A-10 schools. I mean, what if Michigan made a habit of playing at Calihan Hall? That's some branding activity right there.
Ah, that's not going to happen. I know I know incremental revenue is more important than anything that does not provide incremental revenue. As far as the actual game…
Idle Kenpom thoughts. It seems like the way to solve a problem like Wisconsin is to discount games between heavily mismatched opponents. You could feel Michigan just shrug in the second half as they launched uncontested three after uncontested three, and does it really matter that they weren't as good at annihilating a team that plays like that as Wisconsin is?
The problem with this theory is that I bet Kenpom tried it and it didn't work. When he makes changes to his formulas he checks them against previous seasons to see if the changes make them better or worse at predicting things, and I'm sure he's tried something obvious like lessening the importance of mismatches.
It is worth noting that Kenpom took a lot of heat for having Wisconsin second as of January ninth last year, when the Badgers were 1-3 in the Big Ten and had nothing positive on their record save wins over UNLV and BYU. Wisconsin won 11 of their final 14 regular season games and came within a point of upsetting Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Were they overrated? Yeah. Did Kenpom probably have Wisconsin rated better than people complaining about them? Yeah.
But maybe it's just time to throw your hands up at the Badgers and say computers can't rank them well. Last year:
For instance, one of the most respected ratings systems in the nerd world is the LRMC ratings. They had Wisconsin fifth before yesterday’s games. Last year, heading into the tournament, they had Belmont fourth, and their system outperforms mine! The Sagarin predictor, also deservedly respected, had Wisconsin second heading into yesterday’s games.
As always, this is the right attitude to take:
Q: Your work is flawed. (Not really a Q, either, I guess, but I get this all the time.)
A: Ugh, I hate it when people say this. Of course it’s flawed. The thing is, your knowledge is flawed, too. If you are ignoring potentially useful tools because of a single issue, then your judgment is flawed as well. And I’m guessing you’ve never tracked the quality of your knowledge so you don’t even know how flawed it is. If you’re like most people, you think you’re knowledge is great because you remember the predictions you made that worked out and you forget about the ones that didn’t. It’s human nature. …
I would say there’s still enough value in the work here to provide a useful reality check on your own knowledge. Used together, your flawed knowledge and my flawed tools can be more powerful than used separately.
Just mentally account for the fact teams that annihilate low-majors can get overrated and that Wisconsin is currently benefiting from some amount of preseason expectation that is keeping them loftier than they otherwise would be.
No seriously this time I'll talk about the actual game…
Hardaway shooting alarm going off. Baumgardner wrote an article before this one mentioning that Hardaway's shooting had been falling off and that this was okay because he was doing other stuff. I'm on board, but at some point the shooting woes become problematic. In this one he was 2/9 from three, 1/4 from two, and the vast majority of those were wide open looks he just missed. His three point percentage has dipped to 33% and the number of threes he's taking is accelerating rapidly.
He started the year off going to the basket over and over again; he should resume that activity. I'd rather have the guy commit a charge per game than camp out at the three point line. We've got a guy for that now.
The inevitable decline continues. Stauskas was 4-8 from three and was saved a ninth miss on his record because he had a toe on the line—must have, anyway. He got hacked on a couple of short attempts, and this was ignored as the refs must have had DVRed a House marathon and couldn't wait to get back to watch it.
I am still in favor of Stauskas shooting all of the threes. Surprise.
Albrecht still pretty good. Perhaps less impressive against this outfit than Arkansas but in ten minutes he canned a three and had a 2-0 A:TO ratio. He keeps things moving when Burke's out.
Also Horford. Horford is Michigan's most active and impactful defender. McGary keeps sucking in huge rebound numbers (10 in 17 minutes in this one with four offensive rebounds) and will probably keep his place in line. I'm not sure I can detect any dropoff from center #1 to center #3. All of them bring different things to the table.
I'll be interested to see what happens when Cody Zeller comes to town. Eyeballing it, it seems like Horford is the best matchup against him. Will he get extended minutes or will Michigan roll with their current lineup?
The 1-3-1: too aggressive? I may be remembering this wrong but it seems like the 1-3-1 is now extending itself all the way to half-court, which seems like a problem. I recall Horford getting all the way out to the three-point line on one of the 1-3-1 possessions when a driver tried to take it between the trappers, and I recall that happening a couple feet closer to the hoop when I watched WVU.
The thing has not been particularly effective against teams other than Pitt and I wonder if they're just giving up too much space by extending it all the way out. I know a conservative 1-3-1 is a bizarre concept, but… yeah.
Opponent watch update! West Virginia lost to Duquesne for the first time since 2003 despite going up 25-10; they closed the game 9 of 32. Michigan should not have much trouble in Brooklyn.