"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Michigan once again cruised to victory in their second game in Italy, defeating the Vicenza All-Stars 93-53 yesterday afternoon. Zak Irvin again led Michigan in scoring with 18 points, sinking 7/8 field goals, including 4/5 threes—he's now 9/10 on three-pointers over Michigan's two games on the tour.
Freshman center Ricky Doyle posted an impressive double-double with 15 points (6/8 FG) and 14 rebounds (5 offensive) in just 19 minutes. Fellow freshman Kameron Chatman added 17 points and six boards in 21 minutes. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 13 points and got to the line regularly, shooting 7/11 from the charity stripe. Austin Hatch once again got on the court for the final few minutes, this time getting off a shot attempt, though it didn't quite go down.
Full box score (click to embiggen—turnover, steal, and block numbers weren't available):
We were lucky enough to have a reader who's in Italy and caught the game, and he emailed us his impressions of the team. A huge thanks to Kyle for sending this along; all opinions are his own, of course, as the Italy games aren't being streamed online.
1. Who will start at the 5? Doyle. Mark Donnal started and Beilein pulled him 1:49 into the game to teach him something specific. Doyle then came in and played a huge majority of the game. The most surprising thing about the whole game to me was Ricky Doyle. He was by far the most vocal on defense of everyone as a true freshman. His basketball IQ is obvious (calling out screens he could not see, making the correct pass). Crafty moves and very good at boxing out.
This is not even close as to who will start the season opener. Doyle seemed to play at an intelligence level far beyond his years. Donnal seemed a bit timid, got outrebound by a 45 year old 3rd round draft pick at your local YMCA, and definitely is not prepared for the rigors of being a big man in the Big 10 (mainly mentally, lacks confidence not talent). There were not even flashes of someone that was a top 150 recruit. Donnal was extremely disappointing. There is not an argument as to who will start the season opener. It is Doyle.
2. Who will be draw Brian’s ire as the most likely to shoot a lot of long two-point shots early in the shot clock? Kam Chatman guaranteed. I counted six, although one was at the end of a quarter…but still. He is smooth on offense, made a few sweet passes, and you will like him a lot. Offensively, he could might be more useful than Robinson III immediately.
3. Spike didn’t play very much and when he did was not awesome Spike. Derrick Walton almost seemed a bit disinterested against the talent level of Birracrua. Still, I have no qualms at point.
4. Who will replace Mitch McGary as Andrew Dakich’s dance partner? Austin Hatch. He was the most fired up in pre-game, was into it the whole time from the bench, and everyone (fans and players) loved him as he entered the game and led the post-game “Hail”. He is a definite asset to the program.
5. Holy Pants! Half the team wore blue leggings under their shorts.
6. Who will redshirt? Not Aubrey Dawkins. He looked very athletic and is far ahead of MAAR at this point on offense and defense. Assuming D.J. Wilson gets healthy; MAAR should take a redshirt and be a solid contributor after that. He played and scored some points at the line late, but the stats do not reflect what I saw. Maybe nobody redshirts.
7. This opponent was not good, old, and not really a team (their offense was primitive and not indicative of a European squad that they could be with familiarity). The U-M offense was not smooth but didn’t have to be with most of the guards being able to simply take guys off the dribble. Knowing Beilein, it will work itself out, especially when he figures out how to best use Chatman and Irvin. Irvin didn’t miss much and even made two three pointers after stepping out of bounds when he looked like he was in due to the volleyball-like lines on the court. He still did not finish strong or do any cool drive and dishes. “Not just a shooter”? We’ll see. I’m hopeful.
8. Biggest problem? Rebounding. This team looks to be even worse than any team he’s had at rebounding and they’ve never been overly good. I’m dreading Wisconsin and any other ‘big’ team. This team might not get a rebound against last year’s Texas team. This is a huge issue and is not going to go away. Score a lot of points and make three pointers, please.
9. Atmosphere. The overwhelmingly Italian crowd was polite and respectful. The kind of crowd you’d bring home to mom. They cheered at the rare crafty European moves that would baffle any American. The half time entertainment was a live (maybe the best) Italian rapper. The piped in music was mostly unedited American rap. If anyone gets a chance to travel abroad the next time Michigan travels…do it!
Thanks again to Kyle for passing along his impressions; he says he'll be at the last couple Italy games, too, so hopefully we'll have more of this as the team wraps up the tour.
[After THE JUMP, quotes from John Beilein and a few players courtesy of the athletic department.]
— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) August 1, 2014
This is what is called a face turn. Pelini should start entering stadiums with his own corn-oriented theme music.
Reduced price. Michigan has cut the waiting list fee from 500 dollars to 150 for the 2015 season. That's the one with OSU and MSU games on it. I think we've officially hit the limit of what people will pay. Also, this… this is not a good thing to title your page about buying season tickets.
Watching football is not supposed to make you feel like you're going through twoadays and want to die.
Our lack of post depth and experience: slightly less exploitable. A couple of Big Ten big guys will not take on Doyle/Donnal and company, for reasons pedestrian and mysterious. The pedestrian one: VT transfer Trevor Thompson did not get a waiver at Ohio State and will redshirt. OSU does still get fifth-year Temple transfer Anthony Lee, so not a huge blow.
The mysterious and potentially more important: MSU stretch four Kenny Kaminski has been booted permanently. The crack MSU beat will no doubt have full details on the reason for his dismissal sometime after the sun turns the Earth into a smoking cinder bereft of life, so look out for that, Titan News Network.
Kaminski got only ten minutes a game last year, but he shot 50% on threes. This is Not Bad. Izzo kind of had a conniption fit about everything else about his game, because Izzo. Without any post types in the incoming class, MSU now will rely on Branden Dawson even more than they would have normally and lack the ability to insert a defense-stretching option for times when that would be good.
Now that I put it ion paper, this is less important from a Michigan perspective. Kaminski was a changeup option that a game against Michigan does not invite.
This is an interesting thing. I can't embed this at all, but here's a fascinating graph of the evolution of NFL players' height and weight over time. As you might expect, things get larger and heavier. The interesting bit is the split.
Increasing specialization has seen a class of OL/DL types that have totally separated from people who weigh 270 pounds. 280? 290? Do not apply.
Yea, and thine bagels shall be coated in whatever toppings you desire. Michigan's compliance twitter feed is slowly morphing into Leviticus, and I'm okay with that.
Football preseason practice shall begin with a five-day acclimatization period.
— Michigan Compliance (@umichcompliance) August 4, 2014
During the first two days of the acclimatization period, helmets shall be the only piece of protective equipment student-athletes may wear.
— Michigan Compliance (@umichcompliance) August 4, 2014
ON THE THIRD DAY OF THE ACCLIMATIZATION PERIOD, YEA, THE DOLOMITES DID DON PADS AND VENTURE FORTH INTO THE FIELD OF PLAY.
Happy! Sad. Mitch McGary is doing stupid dunks on Vine.
There's another one where he flips it up to a teammate with his feet. #McGaryForUSMNT
Unfortunately, I am totally not over this. File me under sad bastard mooning at the record store in a Nick Hornby novel in re: reaction to any and all McGary things. Oh yeah I'm really happy for him it sounds like he's doing great oh I'm doing fine you know just buying these records and so sad that I feel like I'm dissolving every day no no man I'm fine.
/plays The Cure for 12 hours straight
Is there an It Gets Better for Mitch McGary withdrawal?
It's called the Big Ten for a reason. That reason is "we don't even know anymore." But we can have a reason again! Kirk Ferentz said that this could happen:
Kirk Ferentz said he could see the Big Ten going to 10 conference games. "If we're going to nine, I don't see why not," he said.
Money, probably. I am beginning to wonder about the relative value of a home and home versus two bodybag games; surely the increased interest from scheduling, say, Iowa, is now just about enough to offset the fact that you're playing a road game once TV factors in.
Rittenberg's take is cynical, but probably accurate:
How many Big Ten teams would get into the playoff with a 10-game league schedule if the higher-regarded SEC plays only eight conference contests? It's all about the playoff and it doesn't matter how you get there as long as you get there. That's how the Big Ten must approach scheduling.
I find it hard to believe that a committee is going to pick a team with an extra loss, even if it had a tougher schedule. And it's debatable whether the committee will even see it as a tougher schedule given the recent direction of the league.
If adding a tenth game induces Big Ten teams to strip out some of the very few comparison points we get before bowl season, all the committee will have to go on is reputation. That would be bad.
I am getting excited about hockey. The prospect of Copp/Compher/Larkin down the middle and the big hole on the blueline that Zach Werenski just filled combine to get me hype about what will go down at Yost this fall. Compher is tearing up the USA WJC camp going on right now:
Compher, who centered Team White’s top line between Fasching and 2015 draft prospect Kyle Connor, was arguably his side’s top player all the way through. He used his feet to take away time and space, and drew the ire of Team Blue with a hit in the corner right at the halftime horn. In the second half, the reigning B1G Freshman of the Year made a smart zone entry and executed a give-and-go with Will Butcher (COL) before finding Fasching at the doorstep for White’s second marker. …
Compher was a key cog at both ends of the rink all game long, applying pressure without the puck while showing his playmaking eyes en route to picking up two assists on the day. He worked hard behind the net for his first assist, and kicked back to the point for a secondary helper on the third White goal. The University of Michigan standout rounded out his effort with some excellent work at the left point on the power play. He nearly added a goal to his weekend resume with a shot that just missed high over the crossbar in the final minutes.
Meanwhile, Motte and Larkin combined to score a late winner against Finland.
The soccer game happened. I did not go, if you're curious. 55 bucks was about 40 too many for a friendly between a couple of teams I don't really care about. 109,000 people disagreed with that, so you got a packed Michigan Stadium and the tangible and intangible benefits of that. The broadcast must have said the words "Big House" a dozen times every 15 minutes; also the department made some money.
Hopefully that'll become something of an annual event. The cachet of having the largest stadium in the country is a natural draw for teams that can fill it. Hopefully they can figure out the turf issues.
Unfortunately the size of the playing surface is short of regulations for a real game, as was extensively discussed when Michigan Stadium was on a list of potential hosting venues for the USA's failed World Cup bid. Any real game would have to be played on a platform that sat above the actual playing field and wiped out viewing angles for big chunks of the stadium. I don't think Michigan Stadium will ever get serious consideration for a USA game because of that.
Oh man, lawyers. I mean that in a good way this time. Andy Schwarz, who was a plaintiff's witness in the O'Bannon case, has been writing big lawyerly pieces for Deadspin about the case. His latest is more of an overview of the two sides struggling to "fix" the NCAA. One, dubbed "Team Reform," thinks that the whole problem with the system is that the universities aren't funneling the profits back into the academic side. The other, dubbed "Team Market" is just like dude this is a joke now just let them get what they can.
I bring it up because Schwarz has a couple of places in the piece that sum up a ton of things I've been thinking:
I personally question the undertones of complaints that athletes may blow their payments on bling and tattoos, when we applaud college students for spending money on ephemeral activities like traveling to Florence for a semester of wine and museums, but as a member of Team Market, I am willing to entertain the possibility that deferred payments will bridge the gap between paying suppliers and pleasing consumers and result in the most popular market-produced product. …"Fear of a Black Wallet" need not rule the country forever.
Fear of a Black Wallet! The paternalistic overtones of the arguments that start and end with "but then they'll have money" summed up in five words. They might waste their money, sure. It's being wasted now on compliance.
His sarcastic survey questions are also amazing:
This may also explain some of the surveys that we see from time to time, including even the one the NCAA presented in the recent O'Bannon litigation. The question wasn't framed as "Do you prefer watching undercompensated athletes play if it means you can rationalize your love of sports as somehow more noble than you secretly know it is?" or "Does your interest in college sports increase as more value is taken from the athletes and then ostensibly used to further more noble goals?"
I'm noticing this guy writes really long sentences now that I'm quoting him. Anyway, hardcore fans are an interesting exception to the survey trend wherein people say they'll like college sports less if it's less amateur. Guilty as charged.
HEY. If you didn't already, read Seth's thing.
Just a shooter. Ex-just a shooter? Zak Irvin's trying to shake the reputation that he has a campsite outside the three point line he only leaves when he needs water:
Zak Irvin smirked at the old saying. He heard it before. So did Nik Stauskas, his predecessor on the wing in Michigan’s offense.
Just a shooter.
The title was stamped on Stauskas at this time last year. As a freshman in 2012-13, the 6-foot-6 guard attempted 58.3 percent of his field-goals from 3-point distance.
Now here’s Irvin. If Stauskas was just a shooter as a freshman, what does that make him? Also a 6-foot-6 guard, Irvin launched a freewheeling 74.5 percent of his shots from behind the arc as a freshman.
The thing is: Stauskas was way less of a shooter than Irvin was, to the point where UMHoops was pointing out that he was even more efficient than Trey Burke in pick and roll situations. Whenever anyone asked me who would step up as the alpha in Burke's absence I immediately said "Stauskas" in a tone of voice that was probably insulting to the person asking the question.
Just-a-shooter-related stats indicate that Irvin is starting well back from Stauskas was when it comes to initiating offense.
|STAUSKAS (FR)||IRVIN (FR)|
Also… I mean…
Irvin made a total of 11 2-point field goals in 18 Big Ten games as a freshman. His 21 free-throw attempts were three less than Mitch McGary, who played in only eight games. His 13 assists were only one more than McGary produced.
I am now sad about Mitch again, but that's pretty stark.
Michigan doesn't need Irvin to be Stauskas, what with Walton and LeVert still around. They would like him to be a third creator—hell, if Irvin gets to Stauskas's freshman shot generation numbers that would be terrific.
One thing we do know: even if Irvin does become Not Just A Shooter (drink), we will not hear that he is Not Just A Shooter (drink), because he's not a pale guy from Canada.
FINALLY. It is policy around here to ignore preseason watch lists for major awards because the last time I looked at one I was on there. But we will make a solitary exception for the one organization that seems to have watched Devin Funchess play last year:
On Tuesday, Funchess landed on the 2014 Biletnikoff Award watch list, which goes annually to the most outstanding receiver in college football.
Yes, I know this is just because watch lists place anything vaguely hominid on their lists. I'm still taking it and running.
So there's this. They changed the trophy, likely because of intellectual property issues or something like that. Now it looks like this:
The one piece of the BCS worth keeping (the crystal football) is replaced by a wagon-wheel coffee table
…leg? I think he left out "leg." But yeah.
A major blow to SMU. Megarecruit Emmanuel Mudiay was set to make a visit to Crisler for his one and only year of college basketball; instead he's taking whatever money he can get this year:
"I was excited about going to SMU and playing college basketball for coach Brown and his staff and preparing for the NBA," Mudiay said in a statement relayed by his brother, Stephane, to SI. "But I was tired of seeing my mom struggle. And after sitting down with coach [Larry] Brown and my family, we decided that the best way for me to provide for my mom was to forgo college and pursue professional basketball opportunities."
That's likely bunk, since Mudiay can just get cash on the side and the school he graduated from was co-founded by Deion Sanders and has had a number of graduate-types get shot down by the NCAA. Either way, that SMU game looks significantly less intimidating.
SMU's still going to be a challenge. They went 27-10 last year and lost to Minnesota in the NIT final; they lost only an inefficient third wheel and a low-usage OREB guy from last year's team.
That would be bizarre, but fun? Chatter about NCAA hockey expansion pops up only every once in a while these days, and when it does it's usually followed by an athletic director making grumbly noises about the general impossibility of such. So go ahead and guess which AD actually wants to make it happen. No, no, no, and no. Arizona State!
Count Arizona State Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson among the growing number of people who like to see the Sun Devil hockey team compete at the highest level.
"I personally would love to see hockey as a varsity sport at Arizona State," he said. "We have to make a commitment to figure that out."
Penn State's departure from the club hockey ranks apparently made ASU the big dog on the block, whereupon they turned in a 38-2 season, and ASU has a relatively small department for a school of its size and revenue level.
The obvious problem: there ain't nobody to play. The nearest NCAA hockey schools are in Colorado. I guess you could slide them into the NCHC. It would still be an expensive proposition. Unlikely unless ASU gets the kind of donation PSU got.
That'll fix it. Michigan proposes fireworks after the Penn State and… uh… Miami (Not That Miami) games. I don't care, really, but it's notable that a bunch of Penn State and Ohio State people on twitter are now seemingly offended on our behalf.
Michigan football is just Dime a Dog night away from being a minor league baseball team.
— Matt d (@PSUMatt2005) July 14, 2014
On the one hand, yeah. On the other hand, YOU'RE PENN STATE (rawwereraaarr rawwrr). YOU ARE THE CHINTZ MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE.
But anyway this is where we are: opposing fan bases are getting irritated because we are not Michigan enough.
It's been just over a month since Mitch McGary announced his "decision" to go pro. The scare quotes are present because there was no decision to make if McGary were to act at all in his own self-interest.
This sucked. This sucked because Mitch McGary is a joy to watch on the basketball court, a 6'10" mace attached to a giant pendulum, swinging violently back and forth while pausing only to wreck shit. This sucked because he's equally fun off the court, with his unicycle and Bieber-crooning and invaluable coaching advice and generally making Michigan's bench seem like the best party on campus, even if McGary was the only one partying:
What sucked most of all, though, was the feeling that McGary had only scratched the surface of his potential, and factors almost entirely out of his control* limited our exposure to just 12 career starts. Mitch McGary's Michigan career lasted all of 966 minutes played. That's just over 16 hours. That's not nearly enough.
So while I had no trouble writing effusively about Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III after their departures, I've spent the last month struggling to put McGary's career into words. I try to analyze and am left instead with a whole lot of feelings. How does one discuss an athlete hyped to Webberian proportions before he ever enrolled who, apart from one brilliant six-game stretch, never produced as expected yet was beloved all the same?
Probably by ignoring all of that, sitting back, and watching him work, because again: when Mitch McGary was on the court, the only proper response was to drop everything and watch Mitch McGary. He didn't give you a choice in the matter. He grabbed your attention like so many entry passes:
McGary was a defensive force with impeccable timing. His steal rate as a freshman easily surpassed that of Trey Burke, Master of the Halfcourt Pickpocket. He protected the rim. He seemingly rebounded everything. Michigan's defense suffered mightily last season without McGary's interior presence and game-changing ability to erase opponent possessions.
He also boasted remarkable skill for a big man. Defensive boards turned into fast breaks in the time you could say "Unseld." Sometimes he'd eschew that route and just do everything himself. Occasionally he'd finish his coast-to-coast forays with a Rondo-esque fake behind-the-back pass. Speaking of point guard skills, he could thread multiple defenders without looking. Perhaps my favorite McGary play came in the Kansas game, when he hit a baseline turnaround right in Jeff Withey's face like it was routine, not a work-in-progress shot he'd rarely—if ever—utilized to that point.
He did these things while accepting a backup role until it was time to unleash him for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, playing in an offense that relied on him more as a garbageman than a creator, and being the team's #1 scholarship cheerleader and hype man.
Look at the GIF at the top of the post, one more time. It's a 25-point blowout of Northwestern, and there's McGary, showing more effort in one play than some guys do in four years. Sure, he lost the ball out of bounds, but it's not like you can be mad about it; even if it didn't end well, that play brought life to a dull affair, and we were all better for having seen it.
That's how I'll choose to remember Mitch McGary. The flashes of brilliance. The occasional mistakes born from genuine enthusiasm that bordered on excessive. Most of all, the feeling, after everything, that I enjoyed my life just that much more thanks to a big kid from Indiana who seemed to enjoy everything.
*Yes, there's the weed thing. Read that David Roth piece, then think about the punishment for McGary's transgression versus one of another Michigan center—the football one, Graham Glasgow, suspended for part of spring practice and one should-be-a-cupcake non-conference game for drunk driving. I find one of these things far worse than the other, and it's the one that puts other people's lives in actual danger.