...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Important (not important). This is a frog.
I have been exhorted to call this MGoFrog and make it a thing. I'm afraid that by doing so I will give Adidas an idea for a Michigan uniform, unfortunately.
Important (important). Will Heininger features in an Outside The Lines article on mental health issues for athletes:
"I had emotional pain that was overwhelming; I would wake up, and from morning until I feel asleep -- when I was able sleep -- I had troubling thoughts that were utterly consuming," said the 2011 Michigan honors graduate. "Not a minute would go by in a day, without my depression on my mind … this, this felt impossible."
One of the things CAPA is fighting for is better treatment for these sorts of issues; read the whole thing. Both of the whole things.
"Please enjoy this punch in the nuts." –DJ Newbill
CHAOS! Did you happen to watch the rote blowouts in the Big Ten last night? You did not, because Ohio State and Wisconsin lost to Penn State and Northwestern, respectively. At home. As our own BISB said:
Michigan and Michigan State are like two dudes in a hot air balloon over Pompeii right now.
— Bry Mac (@Bry_Mac) January 30, 2014
Yes. They're trying to push each other into the lava, but yes. Or Adam Jacobi:
The Big Ten Is Full of Blood and Spiders
Jacboi has a nice table that indicates the upcoming "no days off in the Big Ten"/"this conference is so deep" announcer memes are in fact on point:
|Year||Conf. Rating||Rank||Avg. B1G||Worst Team||Rating|
|2003||.7688||5||No. 56||Penn State||210|
|2004||.7520||5||No. 62||Penn State||218|
|2005||.7862||3||No. 47||Penn State||215|
|2013||.8459||1||No. 34||Penn State||148|
The closest thing to an easy out is the Northwestern team that is a half-game out of a first round bye in the Big Ten tourney; there's not even a last year's Penn State to kick around. There's a last year's Penn State plus Tim Frazier. See cliff above.
This is good and bad for Michigan. In the Kenpom world it's good since Michigan's beaten PSU handily and has yet to play OSU, but in the NCAA seeding world you get more credit for beating 6-seed OSU and terrible PSU than you get for beating 10-seed OSU and mediocre PSU. Neither of these effects are huge, so the correct reaction is probably just to point and laugh*. (And fume at how bad Big Ten refs are.)
*[But probably not at Aaron Craft. He got crossed over for the game winner, which was Newbill rushing a wrist-flick shot because Craft was coming. Meanwhile, Tim Frazier's statline: 8 points on 9 shot attempts, 7 assists, 6 TO. No offense to Derrick Walton, but put Craft on this Michigan team and they are a juggernaut. I shouldn't have mentioned this.]
Bill Carmody: gone, but not forgotten
The Wildcat conundrum. Meanwhile, we've been talking about how fascinating Northwestern is on the podcast for the last couple weeks. And boy, aren't they? Last year they were extremely bad, around 140th on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats then:
- fired Bill Carmody
- hired Chris Collins
- graduated two low-usage, mediocre efficiency seniors
- graduated a high usage, low efficiency senior
- got Drew Crawford back
- added a pretty terrible offensive player in freshman Sanjay Lumpkin, who they play starter's minutes
For some reason, the result is a massively unbalanced version of the team they were last year. Northwestern is 11th(!!!) in defensive efficiency on Kenpom for no discernable reason whatsoever. They have plummeted to 320th on offense. Their games are incredibly watchable for unwatchable games, because you're always trying to unravel the mystery of why the Wildcats are elite on defense. It makes no sense. No sense at all. Here's John Gasaway trying to figure it out.
Meanwhile, Northwestern is a half-game out of a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament and that gets BIG TENNNN, right? I think that's a BIG TENNNN.
By the way. Michigan shot 63% from two against the Wildcats and averaged 1.21 points per possession, and Alex Olah—Gasaway's best guess as to why NW is playing so much better D—was on the court for 30 minutes.
Recruiting battles past. OSU has a couple of guys on their team that Michigan pursued, and it's interesting to see their development. Or lack thereof, as the case may be.
Michigan stopped recruiting Amadeo Della Valle so they could go after Caris LeVert, who was right under OSU's nose. OSU grabs ADV; Michigan gets LeVert. In year two, Della Valle is a very poor man's LeVert: a skinny shooting guard with some ability to drive, but one who's only getting 30% of OSU's minutes as they struggle to generate anything on offense. LeVert generates a lot of assists; ADV is generating few. Hell, LeVert has replaced about 95% of Tim Hardaway's production a year after Michigan was trying to redshirt him.
The context of the team is important, but it seems like that Michigan made the right choice on that one.
The other guy on the OSU roster Michigan was involved with is Amir Williams, OSU's mercurial center. Williams has oven mitts for hands and gets pulled on the regular despite OSU's near total lack of post players to replace him with; he has seemingly not improved one whit from the absentminded freshman I remember from two years ago. Michigan was never really a consideration for Williams, but it's kind of amazing that OSU would probably trade him for Jordan Morgan without blinking.
Either way. In yesterday's post on Northwestern's prospective union I mentioned that the NLRB had flipped back and forth on the issue of student-employees being able to organize based on assertions from a 2006 paper. In that paper the most recent ruling had gone against the students trying to organize. Well, that has again flipped:
“There’s case law for the NLRB involving teaching assistants which supports their position,” Baum said. “There have been different decisions both ways. What they’re saying is that this really is a form of litigation to bring about change because they’re asking for something very similar.”
In December 2013, the American Arbitration Association announced that graduate teaching and research assistants at New York University had officially unionized. The group is the only graduate assistants’ union at a private university in the U.S.
Demonstrating the volatility of the NLRB, graduate assistants at NYU were granted the ability to negotiate a union contract and both improved health benefits and increased stipends in 2000. But in 2005 the ruling was switched following a case involving Brown graduate assistants in which the NLRB ruled that graduate assistants are students, not employees, and therefore cannot unionize.
The recent overturn of the 2005 ruling, though, is an encouraging sign for the newly formed CAPA.
One gets the sense that the NLRB tends to blow whichever way the White House does. In CAPA's case there seems to be no way to put the cat back in the bag if Northwestern does indeed get certified, so now is as good a time to strike as any.
Typical. FERPA means whatever Universities want it to mean, so the university says they will not release any details about Brendan Gibbons. This is in line with the university's general stance on releasing information—don't do it, because we have to cover our ass. Suspicious in most cases, here it verges on appalling given the fact that FERPA specifically states this:
The text of FERPA notes that the law shouldn’t “be construed to prohibit an institution of postsecondary education from disclosing the final results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by such institution against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence … or a nonforcible sex offense, if the institution determines as a result of that disciplinary proceeding that the student committed a violation of the institution’s rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense.”
With lurid conspiracy theories flying back and forth, everyone would be better off if Michigan came forth and showed everyone exactly what happened to expel a student four years after the incident that got him expelled transpired. This is not an athletic department thing, but rather a larger pattern of CYA secrecy that's beneath the university. Or at least should be.
My fellow Americans, the state of the union is lol. Abroad we have seen the greatest extension of three-point hegemony in our history. We have looked unto the face of Bo Ryan and lol'ed. Our troops deployed to the darkest reaches of Breslin, where the favored Izzo complained about every which thing, and we lol'ed. At home we have faced adversity and Hawkeyes, and won a great battle, and afterwards we lol'ed.
So I ask you, fellow Americans: how do we ensure the security of these lol's that we cherish?
- How long will Michigan remain atop the Big Ten standings?
- How long will the Big Ten remain the nation's best basketball conference?
- How long will the basketball team remain superior to the football and hockey teams?
Mathlete: With Michigan State's win at Iowa, this year has all the makings of a two horse race with Michigan State. In Big Ten play, anything is possible, but at least a share of the title is highly likely at this point. With McGary, Robinson and maybe Stauskas leaving early, next year could be a tough hill to climb, but Beilein has done more with less. Even though Michigan has been recruiting at a higher level, they've missed on several of their top targets and that will likely keep them from being a perennial elite, first tier team. But based on the track record of Beilein, this team isn't going to be far from the top of the conference any time soon.
|What's wrong, kitty cat? [Fuller]|
Last year's conference lineup was incredible, this year's may still be the best, but the teams do seem to be down a bit from last year. Last season the Big Ten had 7 of the KenPom top 26 and 8 of the top 40. This year the eighth best team is Nebraska at #74. Indiana is in the process of rebuilding, Illinois is wandering in the desert, Purdue has turned into a football sch-can't even finish typing that joke. The top of the Big Ten is outstanding but there is a little more breathing room in the mid and lower tiers than last season.
The ACC has 5 of KenPom's top 22 right now and next year they swap out Louisville for Maryland. Once North Carolina finds their way again, they might be good enough to keep Dicky V at home and out of Michigan. Even if the Atlantic Coast steps up their game, no sport is more dependent on coaching and the B1G's best aren't going anywhere. Izzo, Matta, Beilein, Ryan and Crean are all firmly established winners with no indication of jumping ship. Over the next five years, I would be shocked if any other conferences were close to as good as the Big Ten and ACC.
Now this is the tricky question. Football has the capacity to narrow the gap, possibly as soon as this year. The roster is finally in place, all signs point to a good defense getting better in 2014 and the offense has been written about enough at this point. I'm not going to go picking a Rose Bowl or anything, but this season is the first that's 100% on Hoke. The pieces will be there and the excuses will be gone. If the football team can't get to 9 wins this season, that's probably another 3-5 years of basketball superiority as Michigan would be facing another football coaching spiral. I'm not even qualified to write about random number generating playoff hockey, but my guess is that its going to be easier for Michigan to sustain the basketball success under Beilein than re-establish the elite level at hockey. So I guess the 2014 football season will write the story on whether or not we've become a #basketballschool.
[Jump: more answers, and then Ace and I argue for like 6,000 words]
Michigan's now alone in first place in the Big Ten, has won three straight games against top ten opponents, and won on the road in Madison and East Lansing. Muppets, if not posted, would spontaneously appear.
And you can't have one without the other…
Hail Triplor, god of threes.
UNIMPORTANT ASIDE: Big Ten refs are… trying. The over and back rule requires both the ball and your entire body to be across the line to kick in.
lolver and back
Anyway. On to the Titanic Matchup Of Teams Missing Key Large Persons.
It really does not seem like Payne is going to play. Joe Rexrode keeps assuring everyone that this is not a mind game being played by Izzo so Payne can storm out of the locker room Willis Reed-style. For one:
Rexrode: on Adreian Payne, "he's doing nothing [in practice]... I think it's very unlikely he'll play, and may not play for a few weeks."
I was under the erroneous impression that Payne's thing was an ankle issue; it is instead the nasty and persistent plantar fasciitis.
Even if Payne does dress, having missed so much practice time would leave him rusty and out of shape, matched up against a guy who just loves to run the floor for buckets. I know it's hard to believe MSU will leave the guy on the bench, but despite that it seems like the thing to do is look at this game like he's not available.
Kaminski and Costello step into starting roles.
Meet the new frontcourt, then. State has four large persons available for their frontcourt spots: junior Alex Gauna, sophomore Matt Costello, and freshmen Kenny Kaminski and Gavin Schilling. Kaminski is the only one with any sort of perimeter game* and is likely to get all of his minutes at the 4; the other three guys will split 40 minutes at the 5 and there may be some sections of the game where two are out there.
We discussed Kaminski a bit yesterday: he's 6'8" and sits in the corner hitting threes on offense. That's about all he does; his 6.5 DREB rate is in the Nnanna Egwu realm, and while you would expect that to uptick in the absence of Dawson, Kaminski is usually replacing him and most of his playing time has come recently, with Payne out.
Schilling, Costello, and Gauna are all the same guy. This guy is 6'9", has usage in the Matt Vogrich range, fouls a lot, and gets rebounds. The most notable statistical outliers are a bunch of blocks from Costello and the fact that Schilling is on pace to foul out in 18 minutes, should he get that much PT.
Finally, MSU will probably check out a lineup with 6'5" Denzel Valentine at the 4, because Kaminski isn't going the whole way and Valentine provides offense none of the tall guys do.
*[For those that remember the early MSU blitz of Michigan targets in the class that eventually became Stauskas/LeVert/Albrecht/McGary/Robinson, this is an inversion of expectation. Kaminski was the one guy Beilein did not offer and Costello was supposed to be the Beilein-style skilled post who can take threes.]
Goodbye to all boards. Well, not all boards. But lots. When Michigan meets Michigan State, Michigan gets murdered on the boards. The last two years:
2012-13 @ Breslin: M gives up 14 OREB, a 37% rate, loses by 23.
2012-13 @ Crisler: M gives up 19(!) OREB, a 50% rate, wins by one despite hitting zero three pointers. How in the hell did they win that game?
2011-12 @ Breslin: M gives up 12 OREB, a 48% rate, loses by ten.
2011-12 @ Crisler: M gives up 9 OREB, a 36% rate, wins by 1.
In most of these games Michigan responded to this blizzard of second chances with two or three OREBs of their own. It has been an enormous blowout for MSU in this department for four straight games, and it's a miracle Michigan pulled out the two home games by one point despite the bombing. MSU went into each game expecting a massive possession advantage and got it.
A repeat was already looking less likely this year as MSU exchanged Derrick Nix for Denzel Valentine. MSU's OREB rate on the season—one accumulated against a number of tiny nonconference opponents and mostly with the services of Payne and Dawson—is a pedestrian 141st nationally, a big drop from top-50 output the last two years.
Now with Dawson and Payne out MSU has lost more than half of their putback attempts on the year—35 of their 62. The rest of MSU's rebounding numbers are deflated by Dawson and Payne picking up so much of that responsibility, but I think the expectation going in here is that this should be an even matchup. Dawson's OREB rate is elite; they're replacing him with guys who don't provide even half of what he does; they were already just average.
They can D, probably. MSU's defense is tenth in Kenpom and when you click over to just the conference stats they leap to first thanks to huge block and TO rates and excellent two-point defense. Then you look at their schedule.
Big ten offenses come in bands this year.
ELITE: Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin are in the top five.
REAL GOOD: MSU and Minnesota are 26th and 16th, respectively.
GRIM: Penn State is the only other top 100 offense in the league and they're at 88th; OSU, Purdue, Nebraska, Illinois, and Indiana follow, ranging down to 161st.
NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats are 325th.
MSU has played only teams in the grim zone save one against Minnesota in which they gave up 75 points in a 73-possession OT game. Michigan is on a whole different level from MSU opposition so far, leading the league by five points in eFG%.
And they're now shooting. Previously-reliable bricklayer Keith Appling was 25% from three as a sophomore and 32% as a junior; now he's at 43%. This is the major change in his game from a year ago; he has also incrementally improved his A:TO ratio. That plus Travis Trice and Kaminski's blazing introduction has seen them hit nearly 40% of their threes in Big Ten play, and that seems like a more realistic number than their season average given the increased prominence Kaminski will have going forward.
They still don't take a ton of threes—they are Michigan State, after all—but this is going to look like a four-out-one-in offense that will be extremely disorienting to MSU fans.
Gary Harris is kind of good. Surprise! He's more of a shooter than Stauskas is these days, with more than half of his shots from behind the line. He's only hitting 33%, though. Harris is also their best perimeter defender and can expect to draw Stauskas duty, at least until he picks up a foul. I don't think Izzo wants to match up a foul magnet like Stauskas up against his most critical offensive player all night.