ludicrous photo illustration of Donnal via the Blade.
I'm trying as hard as I can to not go on a rage bender, so let's just move on to the implications for next year's basketball team. They are not good, obviously, but it is also not the end of the world. John Beilein won a Big Ten title with a 6'4" starting power forward; Michigan will live.
Jon Horford's ever-more inexplicable decision to exit as buckets of playing time beckon leaves Michigan with the following options for tall rebounding folks:
- Mark Donnal. Freshman coming off a redshirt; reputed to be highly skilled perimeter big who certainly could play the 4 in a Beilein offense but now slides down to the five. Has a back-to-the-basket game, not that such things are at all relevant in Ann Arbor. Can be a Pittsnogle pick and pop guy; defense questionable. Supposed to be a below the rim type, though Camp Sanderson has endeavored to change that.
- Ricky Doyle. Gangly three-star freshman out of Florida now standing next to Bacari Alexander in an effort to demonstrate that he's a legit 6'10", Doyle has a decent face up game and is reputed to be your standard hard-working blue-collar rebounder. Freshman bigs, though, are not fifth year senior bigs.
- Max Bielfeldt. If only Bielfeldt's body was as large as his calves. Since they're not, the 6'6"-ish Bielfeldt just gets swallowed by actual posts. The first half of the Big Ten Championship game is the most recent example. Will have a role off the bench against certain matchups.
- Random fifth year guy. Nobody on the radar and Michigan's contingency plan in the event of a McGary exit appears to be Cole Huff, who won't be eligible next year if he does end up transferring in and wouldn't be a post even if he got a waiver.
- Random freshman. See previous bullet: Michigan's late offers have been focused on the wing. If Dawkins or Huff does turn Michigan down they would have a spot to go fishing with. Finding someone this late who is both a fit and able to play basketball is doubtful.
So Michigan's going to have to roll with what they've got, it seems: a 6'9" redshirt freshman and a 6'10" freshman plus Max Bielfeldt.
What about the four?
Irvin is not an ideal option at the 4. [Fuller]
Any thought Donnal would spend significant minutes at the 4 is out the window. Michigan's options there:
- Zak Irvin. Irvin saw the occasional stretch at the four a year ago, always when Robinson was on the bench. It seems doubtful Irvin can provide anything more than a few minutes here and there against a decent matchup, as he's far more wing-shaped than Robinson. His DREB rate was the lowest on the team, yes behind even Spike. That's partially roles and whatnot; I think it's also Zak Irvin not being much of a rebounder. Even a Hardaway-like move there does not make him the best option, which means Michigan's in a different place than they were a few years ago. Also, Irvin is going to be needed at the 3 for about 30 minutes a game.
- Kam Chatman. Chatman measured in at 6'8" at the most recent camo basketball all star debacle, so he'd actually be an improvement over Robinson in the height department despite being widely regarded as a wing player. At around 200 pounds that's understandable. Chatman would probably get beat up worse than Robinson did as a freshman, as he's taller and skinnier—going to be a lot of times he gets shoved under the basket when rebound time kicks in.
- DJ Wilson. Chatman's fellow freshman is the truest stretch four Beilein's brought in during his time at Michigan. Depending on who you listen to and what time they scribbled his weight down, Wilson's either the same 200 pounds Chatman is or a skinny-but-survivable 215 at 6'8" or 6'9". Wilson finally had a healthy high school season and used that to shoot up almost fifty spots in the Rivals rankings.
- Guy who looks suspiciously like Zack Novak wearing a fake beard and stovepipe hat. It could happen.
That seems super young
Yep. For the third straight year, Michigan projects to be one of the youngest teams in the country, with a frontcourt that is handing probably 70 of its 80 minutes to freshmen, has no seniors, and will have only one starter who's even a junior. That junior is almost as young as you can be and still be a junior. Kentucky might be older. For real.
This is not necessarily doom. The last two years Michigan has been 342nd and 330th in Kenpom's experience stat*. This did not matter much: no team in the country collected more NCAA tournament wins than Michigan whilst they were idling at the bottom of the table there.
It is something different to have freshman bigs who are not Mitch McGary, though. Bigs are long-term projects best eased into serious time lest they be overrun. Michigan can and will survive—I see Jane is tweeting out modified Forgot About Dre lyrics, which I second. "Surviving" is not what they did the last couple years, though, and we're probably in for a comedown from the highs of the last couple years.
*[Which is just an average of FR/SO/JR/SR weighted by playing time, so that a senior who plays five minutes a game doesn't throw you all out of whack.]
But I didn't want this to happen
Hey, at least the staggering hypocrisy of the NCAA chasing dudes out of school for an infraction that the legal system treats like whatever dude has a really good rationale behind it.
"Whereas the CSMAS rightly focused on the fact that marijuana and other street drugs are not performance enhancing, the committee also recognizes that the universe of sport is special, and the student-athlete is obliged to embrace the spirit of sport."
I'ma go build a lego Mark Emmert so I can hurl it off a building.
Possesses excellent dunkface (via PennLive)
First reported by Sam Webb and confirmed by multiple sources, 2014 Allentown (PA) Central Catholic G Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman committed to Michigan while on his official visit this afternoon.
Abdur-Rahkman picked up heavy interest from the Wolverines as they prepared for the potential losses of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III; once those two declared for the NBA Draft, MAAR's recruitment hit the fast track. He becomes the fifth member of Michigan's 2014 class, joining Kam Chatman, Ricky Doyle, Austin Hatch, and DJ Wilson.
|3*, NR SG||NR SG||2*, 64, #101 SG||NR SG||NR SG|
As one would expect from a prospect picked up as a late-cycle contingency plan, MAAR flew under the radar of most of the recruiting services, with only ESPN even bothering give him a complete ranking—and they don't even list his weight. The other sites are in relative agreeance regarding his measurables; all list him at 180 pounds, with Rivals and 247 pegging him at 6'4" and Scout shaving off an inch.
Unsurprisingly, scouting reports on a largely overlooked prospect are hard to come by—there's not a single scouting-related article on him on Rivals, Scout, or 247. ESPN's evaluation was last updated in June 2013, so while it gives us a starting point, it doesn't include any progress MAAR made during his senior season [emphasis mine]:
He's extremely versatile with the size and length to offer minutes at any of the three perimeter positions, and is a match-up problem virtually anywhere on the court because he's capable of making plays for himself and others over top of smaller guards and has the speed, quickness, and handle to go by most bigger wings. He's equally versatile defensively where his size, length, and ability to cover the court might even be bigger weapons.
He's a dribble drive player on the offensive end, and not yet a consistent outside shooter. That flaw in his offensive repertoire is likely to be exposed much more at the next level when the game slows down and he's not able to get out in the open floor with the same frequency. Even at that, he's going to be much more effective in an up-tempo system at the next level.
He has a very intriguing combination of size, length, quickness, and smooth handle but he's going to have to continue to get more skilled on the perimeter in order for his game to translate as well to the college level.
The inconsistent jump-shooting is a concern for any guard coming in to play for John Beilein, though MAAR's drive-oriented game at the very least gives U-M a different type of player to put out there, especially if he lives up to his reputation as a defensive stopper.
The most recent, thorough analysis of Michigan's latest addition comes from UMHoops, which posted a scouting report on MAAR this week, as well as the video embedded later in this post. The whole thing is obviously worth your time; Dylan praises his transition game and passing ability, sees room for improvement in his shooting and ballhandling, and comes away with this conclusion:
Abdur-Rahkman might not be the traditional Beilein wing, but he would bring a lot of things to Michigan’s backcourt that are currently lacking. He looks like a natural fit to play the two-guard spot, but down the line he could potentially slide to the three or the one. Michigan’s inability to contain dribble penetration last season was no secret and Abdur-Rahkman might be able to shore up some of those concerns – especially down the line. He’s already physically mature (he’ll turn 20 in September) which means he could be ready to play at a college level, but also that he’s been able to bully younger players at the high school level.
That last bit means MAAR is probably closer to his ceiling than your average incoming freshman, which can be a benefit in the short-term but does add some concern for how much he'll improve over the long haul.
Sam Webb asked Abdur-Rahkman for a self-evaluation this week, and he had no issue noting the areas of his game that need improvement ($):
I’m more of a facilitator, get in the lane, drive and kick, find the big guys inside. I can play defense. I’m a good defender – perimeter. I can shoot a little bit…I need to get better. Dribbling better, but need to get better. Midrange is pretty good.
Despite his scoring acumen, note that MAAR calls himself a facilitator first and foremost.
Coach/teammate evaluations are difficult to trust entirely for obvious reasons, but do at provide insight into how a prospect handles himself in the locker room, and Abdur-Rahkman comes in for high praise in that regard:
“He is a complete player,” [Central Catholic head coach] Dennis Csencsits said. “Not only does he lead us in scoring but he leads us in assist, he is a very good rebounder so he is a really well-rounded player, very smart, very savvy basketball player.”
Although he continues to excel on the court, Abdur-Rahkman’s teammate says the “friendly and outgoing” star has been their mentor.
“Muhammad has helped me become a better leader and a better teammate,” sophomore point guard Zay Jennings said. “Just learning some basketball [techniques] that he does, overall, he is just a good teacher and a good leader.”
As you'll see, MAAR was a scoring machine in high school, but the stats, film, and quotes show that he's an unselfish player, as well.
About those stats—they're quite impressive:
Barring a major surprise, Abdur-Rahkman will be named to the Pennsylvania all-state team next week [Ed: he was], making him the first player in Lehigh Valley history to be an all-state selection four times.
He also was a unanimous choice as The Morning Call's player of the year for the second consecutive year.
The 6-foot-4 swingman was the driving force behind one of the greatest seasons in Lehigh Valley basketball annals.
With Abdur-Rahkman averaging 23.6 points, 4.1 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, Central Catholic became the first area boys team to win its first 29 games, sweeping the Lehigh Valley Conference and District 11 3A titles en route.
The dream season ended with a 60-50 loss to eventual state champion Neumann-Goretti, but few will ever forget this Central Catholic team or the talents of Abdur-Rahkman.
He finished with 2,136 points — the most in CCHS history and the sixth most in District 11 annals.
That article contains more background on MAAR and focuses, once again, on his humble demeanor and unselfish play. This quote from Abdur-Rahkman sums it up:
"The numbers don't mean much to me," he said. "I'm just glad we won four district titles. That was our goal. We put in a lot of hard work and we just got better each year. One day it will all hit me what we've accomplished but right now, hard work is what I want to be remembered for."
Before picking up the Michigan offer on his visit, Abdur-Rahkman held offers from Bucknell, Delaware, Drexel, George Mason, Lehigh, Robert Morris, and VCU, according to ESPN.
The UMHoops scouting video is a must-watch:
Brian posted his impressions on it earlier this week:
MAAR's shot selection here would be terrible except he's in high school and the shots he's getting off are probably better than wide open looks from a number of his teammates. And he puts down a lot of his terrible, terrible shots. It's the open ones, whether it's at the free throw line or generally, that seem to need work. As UMHoops notes, one of the games here features five threes from MAAR, which is a major outlier for a guy who hit 1.9 a game.
We could see some improvement in MAAR's shooting once the onus for creating most of the team's offense no longer falls on him.
Also, a four-second assessment of his athleticism reveals that...
...yup, he's athletic.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Abdur-Rahkman needs to develop on the offensive end, but he still might see the floor next season—his physical maturity should help him there. While the worries about Michigan's depth for 2014-15 have focused on the frontcourt, Jon Horford's transfer and the NBA losses have created a ripple effect that leaves the backcourt a little thin, especially at the two. While Caris LeVert will play the vast majority of those minutes, Zak Irvin—the presumed starting three—may have to play more minutes at the four than the two, especially if Mitch McGary decides to go pro.
That leaves MAAR as the only backup guard aside from Spike Albrecht and Austin Hatch, and it's unlikely Hatch is going to be ready to play after returning to the court this past season. I doubt Beilein used a scholarship on a 20-year-old freshman at a position in need of depth without plans to utilize him immediately; even with the iffy jump shot, MAAR should carve out a niche role as a defensive specialist who can get out and lead the break. How he's utilized from there will depend largely on the development of his offensive repertoire.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has one remaining open scholarship for next season. I'd be surprised if they took another recruit in the class. It's more likely they'll look to add a transfer if the right player shows interest, and if that doesn't happen they can pocket the scholarship for 2015-16, which currently has just one open spot—though that figure could grow given the distinct possibility Mitch McGary and Caris LeVert are NBA-bound by that time.
EDIT: Or I'm totally wrong, as Sam Webb just tweeted out the latest offer news:
#Michigan has offered 2014 New Hampton (N.H.) Prep guard Aubrey Dawkins
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) April 19, 2014
This can mean a few things: the transfer front isn't looking so good, Beilein expects further attrition, or the coaches just really like Dawkins. We'll see.
[Original photo: Bryan Fuller]
Jon Horford's unexpected decision to transfer will hurt Michigan's frontcourt depth regardless of the NBA Draft decisions of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Senior big men with significant playing experience don't grow on trees, and even though Horford struggled down the stretch he posted very impressive rebounding rates while shooting 57% from the field and easily recording the highest block rate on the team.
John Beilein's made multiple mentions of his willingness to look to transfers as a means to improve the team, and—perhaps knowing what we didn't at the time—he reiterated his stance this week:
Beilein expressed a ready willingness to accept transfer players, depending on NBA attrition in this offseason and anticipating more after next season.
“I would be open to transfers,” the coach said. “At Canisius and Richmond and West Virginia, transfers were really important to us. If we have openings and there are transfers who fit who we are, we would be open to that.”
ESPN's Jeff Goodman compiled a master list of all currently available transfers. The list is quite long and not particularly useful for this exercise; if Michigan wants to fill the gap Horford leaves, they'll be looking at a grad-year transfer who'll be eligible to play right away—the only potential exception would be a player with a case for a hardship waiver.
Villanova blog VU Hoops helpfully narrowed Goodman's list to the available grad-year transfers, and I've further cut down their table to frontcourt players. The list is short, and not particularly distinguished:
|M.J. Rhett||Tennessee State||F||6'9"||10.9||9.1||0.8|
|Malik Thomas||Boston University||F||6'7"||5.8||4.0||1.2|
Unfortunately for Michigan, none of these players seems to fit the criteria needed to be worth offering, which would be...
- The ability to come in and play more effectively than the current options on the roster. If McGary goes pro, U-M would need someone who could at least compete for a starting spot.
- Any interest in Michigan whatsoever.
None of these players is a true center, which is a tough break. Jordan Allen (88 ORtg for a bad Hofstra squad), Austin Etherington, and Sommy Ogukwe can be eliminated with one look at their respective stat sheets.
Jeylani Dublin could potentially provide depth—he shot 55% from the field with a top-100 OReb rate last season—but the fact that he played less than half of the available minutes for Longwood, KenPom's 343rd-ranked team with a bottom-ten defense, raises some red flags. Malik Thomas is intruiging given his impressive defensive rebounding (18.0 DR%). However, he's just 6'7, 190 pounds, struggles with his shot, and turns the ball over at what I'd expect to be an unacceptably high rate for Beilein's system.
That leaves Tennessee State's M.J. Rhett, and there's no question he'd be a good fit—he's 6'9", 235 pounds, rebounds very well on both ends, blocks a decent number of shots, and finishes efficiently with a knack for getting to the line. As you'd expect, though, he's the most hotly-pursued player on this list, and his list of schools under consideration—Oklahoma State, Tulane, ASU, Miami, Tennessee, and Mississippi, per Goodman—doesn't include Michigan or any team remotely close to the Midwest. He plans to make a decision two weekends from now, and it appears Tennessee and Miami are the two most likely destinations.
A couple other players on Goodman's list of top available transfers($) fit the bill, but one is already ticketed for Ohio State (ex-Temple F Anthony Lee) and the other, Virginia Tech center Trevor Thompson, has already narrowed his list to three Big Ten schools:
Transferring Virginia Tech basketball player Trevor Thompson announced on Twitter Monday morning that, in no order, Big Ten rivals Indiana, Ohio State and Purdue are his top three options with a decision planned in the next couple weeks.
Thompson will be just a sophomore next year, but Goodman mentions the potential for a waiver, presumably due to VT's coaching change. For Michigan's purposes, however, that's a moot point—he's going elsewhere unless the Wolverines come out of nowhere to make a late push, and that would surprise given there's no guarantee Thompson could even play next season.
Unless another fifth-year senior makes a surprise transfer decision like Horford, it appears Michigan will have to go another route to replace him for next season.
underneath the Banyan tree, wherever he goes
University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beileinannounced today (Thursday, April 10) that senior forward Jon Horford (Grand Ledge, Mich./Grand Ledge HS) will not return to the Wolverine program in 2014-15, planning to transfer for his final season of eligibility.
That is not good. With Jordan Morgan graduating, Michigan's only other post is Mitch McGary. Even if he comes back next year, Horford figured to get a significant amount of playing time when McGary was tired or in foul trouble.
While Horford struggled badly down the stretch, you could say the same for Jordan Morgan last year and that worked out okay. Fifth-year senior bigs tend to be better than you'd expect. Horford's departure opens up time for Mark Donnal and likely means a redshirt for Ricky Doyle is no longer an option. That latter is unfortunate; again, see Jordan Morgan.
The one possible silver lining here is that the reason Horford is moving on is that he feels he'll get more playing time elsewhere, a decision that implies McGary's return and maybe even Robinson's since that would increase competition for minutes everywhere. It's hard to believe he would skip town with 30 minutes a night staring him in the face. But Horford was always a bit of a different guy.
Where does John Beilein rank among Michigan's all-time basketball coaches? This was a board question I began answering there until I realized I had written half a column and not written my Tuesday column. Part I explains my subjective criteria and covers Mather, Oosterbaan, Strack and Orr.
So without further ado..
Show the candidates chart again.
- Wherever I list a year it means the season that began the fall in the year previous, e.g. 1969 = 1968-'69 seasion
- * Rather than winning % I showed their average record over a 30-game season.
- ** Average number of tournament games his teams would play in. A 1.00 means his team will make the tourney and go out in the 1st round. I took out the play-in rounds.
- † Manny Harris was recruited by Amaker but played his entire career for Beilein. Stauskas, GRIII, LeVert, and McGary at least can be counted as future NBA players. It's too early to say the same for Walton/Irvin but it's not a bad bet either.
Here's Part II. These got longer because now we're into my personal recollection period.
|Maloof is a skateboarding cup.|
Bill Frieder (1981-'89)
Career at M: 9 seasons, 189 wins (68%), 2 Big Ten titles
All-Americans: Gary Grant (1988), Glen Rice (1989)
Avg NCAA Tourney: 1.13
Pros he recruited (NBA games): Glen Rice (1,000), Loy Vaught (689), Terry Mills (678), Gary Grant (552), Tim McComick (483), Rumeal Robinson (336), Roy Tarpley (280), Sean Higgins (220), Demetrius Calip (7), and Richard Rellford. [EDIT: Eric Riley (186)] That's
10 11 guys and 4,249 4,435 games.
[Continued after the jump]