The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
So there's this new assistant coach, right? Who is he?
Bacari Alexander hails from Detroit, where he attended Southwestern High School. He played at Southwestern under coach Larry Price.
Following his high school career, he moved on to Robert Morris outside Pittsburgh. There he was an All-Northeast Conference freshman in 1995. He spent only two years at RMU, averaging 8.2 points and 4.5 assists in his 55 games.
From Robert Morris, Alexander transferred to Detroit-Mercy. He played two years as a Titan, averaging 5.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in his 62 games played. UofD won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference both of his seasons with matching 25-6 records and played in the NCAA tournament. He made the All-Conference Defensive Team as a senior. YouTube-age:
Following a short stint in the Pistons' front office, Alexander returned to the court as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. He played with the team for two years and was inducted (along with all former Globetrotters) into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Alexander started his coaching career with six years at his alma mater. The Titans never made the NCAA Tournament with Alexander on the coaching staff at Detroit, but they advanced to the NIT following the 2002 season. In 2005, they nearly upset Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Horizon League Tournament to make the Big Dance.
From Detroit, Alexander moved on to Ohio University. In his lone year at Ohio the Bobcats went 20-13 (9-7 MAC) and advanced to the second round of the CBI Tournament.
Alexander has spent the last two years in Kalamazoo coaching Western Michigan's frontcourt. He coached two Broncos, spectacularly-named Flenard Whitfield and Nathan Hutcheson, to All-MAC Freshman honors. Western went 10-21 in Alexander's first year with the team, but their 7-9 conference mark was enough to win the MAC West. They improved to 18-15 last year with an 8-8 mark in conference, good for second in the West.
Before leaving Western Michigan, Alexander helped the Broncos ink JuCo bigman Caleb Dean:
“I felt real comfortable with coach Hawkins and coach (Bacari) Alexander played a big part in it, too,” said Dean... “They made me feel comfortable. That was pretty much a wrap.”
From Michigan's official release, Alexander sounds genuinely excited about the opportunity in Ann Arbor:
"My family and I are very excited to be part of the Michigan family," said Alexander. "As a native of the State of Michigan, I feel very fortunate to be associated with such a great program. For a lack of better terms this is a match made in heaven for me.
"I am anxious to start working with this young and developing team, and I am eager and motivated to recruit the kind of student-athletes that will put Michigan back to the top of the Big Ten."
Michael Rothstein's extensive profile on AnnArbor.com provides insight as to what Alexander will bring to the program, especially as a recruiter:
“I’m a grass-roots guy. I’ve done very well in recruiting the national urban areas of the United States, let alone Detroit,” Alexander said. “I’m a PSL product and a lot of times it helps with regards to recruiting because people tend to embrace their own. So that can be, that has been an advantage.
But he'll also help to mold Michigan's current big men, filling the duties he's performed at previous coaching stops, and that John Mahoney has been performing at Michigan for the past few years:
“The thing that’s nice about that particular situation, with the youth of the frontcourt in particular, is you get a blank canvas, very similar to what I had inherited during my time at Western Michigan,” Alexander said. “We had a young group and we gave them a baptism by fire and that’s going to be needed in a grueling and physical Big Ten conference.”
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Alexander will be charged with teaching a very inexperienced group of big men when he arrives in Ann Arbor. DeShawn Sims and Zack Gibson graduate. Ben Cronin left the program early in the season due to medical issues. That leaves a set of four freshmen. Jordan Morgan and Blake McLimans redshirted last year; Michigan has just signed Jon Horford and Evan Smotrycz.
Horford is likely bound for a redshirt unless there's a dire need for him to play. Smotrycz may play more of a wing-forward role in John Beilein's perimeter-oriented offense. That means McLimans and Morgan will be the focus of getting guys ready to play right away in the post. Alexander's pedigree the past two seasons (albeit on a smaller stage) is a sign that he's capable of getting at least one of them ready to go.
Down the road, Alexander will help with in-state recruiting, particularly in Detroit. He's a Detroit native (who grew up a Michigan fan), a Detroit Public School League graduate, and a charismatic recruiter. He's also known as one of the best-dressed coaches in the NCAA, which is apparently something people track. Who knew?
April 24, 2010
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Saturday, April 24) the hiring of Bacari Alexander as an assistant coach for the Wolverine program.
"I am very excited about the addition of Bacari Alexander to our coaching staff," said Beilein. "From the very beginning of this search, I had specific qualities and characteristics I was looking for in our next basketball coach. Bacari fits that profile 100 percent."
"He has strong roots in Michigan and significant recruiting experience both here and in neighboring states," added Beilein. "He is a passionate teacher with strong communication skills. Bacari is a former post player and has a proven ability in the development of big men at the college level. With our young front court, that was an important factor in my final selection. I look forward to Bacari's immediate and very positive impact on the growth of our program."
More after the jump!
It's been a while since this feature has made an appearance, but with a recent boom in good diaries, it's time to dust off the cobwebs and bring you the best in user-generated content. Write a good diary and you, too, can have your time in the spotlight!
A lot of diaries of late have been Lacrosse (me), Baseball (formerlyanonymous), or Recruiting (Tom/me) -related, but there's been some good user-generated content, as well. Though we haven't seen this feature since December, I'll restrict entries to the end of basketball season. I'm leaving 16-team Big Ten proposals alone for now, as Brian will probably bring them up later.
The Mathlete brought it strong over the past few weeks, including a look at which NCAA football teams have been the most and least lucky over the past two years. How did he define luck?
To try and answer these questions, I took my team PPG values for the full 2009 season and then “re-played” the regular season schedule to see how the season would play out if the teams played at that consistent level and the fluky plays were eliminated. All first half plays and any in the second half with the game within 2 touchdowns were included. Interceptions are included, fumbles are not. Standard special teams plays are included, punt blocks, on-sides kicks etc. are not.
Unsurprisingly, Michigan hasn't been so lucky either of the past two years:
Northwestern has been the luckiest team in the nation two years running, so they may be in for a rude awakening sometime soon. MCalibur's lengthy diary presumably covers something similar (win expectations), but is more notable for how pretty its charts are.
Here offensive YPG is charted against defensive YPG. The horrible dot at the bottom is '08; the horrible dot to the right is '09. You can see how far from respectable Michigan was in '08 and the sizeable improvement last year, albeit not enough of one to expect a bowl game.
The Mathlete then delved into the importance of personnel, starting with the cumbersomely-titled post exploring the value of returning starters to a football team's success. Surprisingly, as long as your team wasn't among the bottom 20% in the country of returning starts at some key positions, returning experience isn't that big of a deal:
Returning starts don't matter as much as people think. The way they are most likely to affect a team is if you have very few. A whole host of returners isn't necessarily more valuable than a solid group. Just don't be stuck at the bottom, even a low ranking in a single position group can be worth a game or two.
So Michigan is losing its best three defenders, which bodes ill for the 2010 season, right? Not So Fast My Friend, as The Mathlete continued to outdo himself, crunching the numbers to reveal who were Michigan's top defensive players last year. Ryan Van Bergen comes in at a surprising #3, with Brandon Graham, in a shocker, the runaway leader with an adjusted score of 27.4. Donovan Warren's 8.7 was second.
The only positive performers who are returning are Van Bergen, Jonas Mouton, Mike Martin, and Obi Ezeh. Jordan Kovacs, Craig Roh, and Mike Leach were only slightly in the negative, all right around average nationally for their positions. The conclusion:
The most glaring point for me is that Michigan’s top linebacker, Mouton, barely makes the top 150 linebackers nationally in production. If Michigan’s defense is going to turn things around there is going to have be some new playmakers step up and there has to be more production from the linebackers.
The Mathlete, for your research-laden diaries (and the charts, OH, the charts!), you are The Diarist of the... er... Spring!
Inspired by the recent changes to NFL overtime rules, ecormany proposes a few tweaks to the NCAA's overtime system. Among his ideas: reincorporate the punting game and give teams only two minutes to complete each possession in an overtime period.
In Can The Heat Be Beat?, Elno Lewis looks at the ever-growing dominance of so-called "warm weather teams" in winning football national titles. The results are striking:
Warm Weather Teams Winning Championships
1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 40.6% 47.5% 53.1% 53.8% 62.1% 68.4% 70.0%
It looks like the trend is still upward for warm-weather teams. Can northern squads like Michigan try to buck the trend? Follow-up question: can an infusion of Florida talent negate the trend? I'd be interested to see someone expand on Elno's research.
wildbackdunesman compares the respective CCHA coaching careers of Ron Mason and Red Berenson, and proposes a name-change of the CCHA Tournament trophy to the Mason-Berenson Cup. Red is comparable to Mason in every category of measuring success, and there's certainly a compelling argument to be made. It seems the only serious advantage Mason has is being the coach of more CCHA teams (Lake State, Bowling Green, and Michigan State, as compared to only Michigan for Red) and coaching longer than Berenson has so far.
With the NFL Draft coming up, Mat takes a look at whether Donovan Warren made the right choice in leaving Michigan a year early for the Big Leagues. The criteria to consider:
The potential gains for returning for one more year are:
- Another year of college life / experience
- Potential improved draft stock
...and the verdict:
Warren didn't make a mistake. Most guys who are drafted are not making a mistake when they turn pro. The decision is the correct one when all the costs and benefits are factored in for most. The decision is only a mistake is if you’re immediately cut and never earn a penny as a pro football player or are really enjoying life as a collegiate athlete and will miss it more than you’ll appreciate the money you’ll earn as a pro.
The reasoning behind this conclusion seems pretty sound, yet it inspired tons of debate in the comments. Both supporters and detractors of the premise raised a bunch of interesting points about Warren's draft stock, and how it affects their view of his decision.
mfan_in_ohio declares the Michigan fanbase's independence from Angry Michigan BLANK Hating God. The preamble proceeds thusly:
When in the course of sporting events it becomes necessary for fans to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
...but the money quotes come in the airing of grievances.
Misopogon determines whether the three new NCAA football rules have an effect on Michigan. The verdicts? Wedge blocking ban: Help. Taunting rule: Hurt. Eyeblack message ban: Neutral. Click through to find out his reasoning.
Bust out the cigarettes and Fedoras, as BlueSeoul gives us a glimpse into the noir-style meeting between Jim Delaney and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick's about the Irish joining the Big Ten. Plus he has to apologize at the end for getting to Star Wars-y.
An actual historical diary from Alaska Hokie shares the story of former Michigan quarterback James Miller.
WALLA WALLA, March 19.—James Miller, the famous quarterback of the Michigan team last year, who has been missing from his home for several months, was located in this city yesterday working as a laborer. His mind is a total blank and he is quite unable to recognize his friends. He was elected to the captaincy of the Wolverine team for next season.
Sounds like something out of the twilight zone (or at least the front page of MVictors). There's debate over whether his amnesia was a medical issue or a clever ruse to cover up for some personal issues.
Defense + - Graham 6 0 RVB 1 0 Herron 0 1 Heniger 0 1 Kovacs 2 2 Roh 1 2 Brown 1 2 Warren 3 0 Martin 1 0 Mouton 4 2 Leach 2 1 total 21 11
Denard Robinson was 1/1 with the pass being deemed "catchable," but Tate Forcier had a slightly rougher day.
On the basketball side of things, Champswest tries to figure out where Michigan's scoring will come from next year. Uh, Stu Douglass and Evan Smotrycz, apparently. I guess more balanced scoring is a good thing?
Etc.: Nantucket Blue, seemingly apropos of nothing, rips on Michigan State in Our Colors Don't Mix. In other Michigan State-related diaries, MGoData looks at the Google habits of East Lansing residents (seriously). Kman23 brainstorms ways to get Michigan's best receivers on the field at the same time. Jeff gives props to the streaking Women's Tennis team. Laveraneus looks at combined win/loss records for football and basketball across various schools and conference. MGlobules tries to round up some UConn spring game recaps. backusduo pre-previews EA's NCAA Football 2011.
Press Release - Dunn leaving was no surprise after his leave of absence this year, I think Mahoney's departure is less expected.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan coach John Beilein announced today (Friday, April 9) that Jeff Meyer will move permanently into an assistant coaching role following his elevation midway through the 2009-10 season. In addition, Beilein announced associate head coach Jerry Dunn and assistant coach John Mahoney will be leaving the program to pursue other collegiate coaching opportunities.
"I have a clear vision of where I want this program to go and how I would like to complete my coaching staff," said Beilein regarding the vacancy. "I see this change as a unique opportunity to add another highly qualified individual to our Michigan Basketball program."
"I have decided to continue Jeff Meyer’s role as an assistant coach," added Beilein. "He did an incredible job filling in this season and will be a tremendous asset in our recruiting efforts in the footprint of the Big Ten. Jeff is a great teacher of the game and I look forward to his presence on and off the floor next season. "
Meyer joined the Wolverine Basketball staff as an administrative assistant two seasons ago and was elevated to assistant coach midway through the 2009-10 season following a leave of absence by Jerry Dunn for personal family reasons.
Meyer has over 31 years experience in collegiate basketball, with 16 of those seasons coming as a head coach at Liberty (1981-97). He had assistant coaching stops at Indiana (2006-08), Missouri (2004-06), Butler (2001-04), South Florida (1980-81) and Purdue (1978-80), as well as an associate head coaching position at Winthrop (1998-2001). Throughout his coaching career, Meyer has been a part of nine NCAA Tournament and four NIT postseason appearances.
"Jerry Dunn has been a successful head coach in the past and would like to do so again," said Beilein. "He is now going to put all of his efforts toward that goal. I have worked with Jerry for seven years and appreciate his many contributions to the success of our programs. He will continue to work with me on several administrative tasks until the end of the April."
"I want to be a head coach again and the only way to be fair to the program is to pursue these opportunities with my entire focus," said Dunn. "I have enjoyed spending the past seven years with John. We have had a lot of success together and I have learned a great deal during that time. Michigan has made great strides getting back to the tournament but it is time to move on and pursue my goal. My time with the Michigan Family has been enjoyable and I wish our program and the university nothing but success."
Dunn worked alongside Beilein the last seven years as his associate head coach, both at Michigan and West Virginia. Dunn is known most for his work in the Big Ten, spending 20 years at Penn State, including eight as head coach of the Nittany Lions. Four of Dunn's PSU teams reached postseason play, twice at the NCAA Tournament (1996 and 2001) and on two occasions in the NIT (1998 and 2000). He led the Nittany Lions to the championship game of the 1998 NIT and guided the program to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2001.
"John Mahoney is one of the hardest working coaches in the business," said Beilein. "He is a tireless recruiter and I am confident he will prove to be a valuable asset wherever he coaches next year. We wish him nothing but the best in the future and thank him for his loyalty and commitment to our program."
"I wish to thank Coach Beilein, the players and everyone at the University of Michigan for giving me the opportunity over the last three years to continue to not only grow as a person, but as a coach," said Mahoney. "It's never easy to leave a program that you have worked so hard to build, but I am looking forward to this next progression of my career and my pursuit of becoming a collegiate head coach."
Mahoney worked the past five seasons with Beilein at Michigan and West Virginia. He was an assistant coach the last three years at U-M and was West Virginia’s Director of Basketball Operations for two seasons before coming to Ann Arbor. In his 22-year coaching career, Mahoney had assistant coaching stops at Duquesne (2001-05) and Robert Morris (1998-2001). Before entering the Division I coaching ranks, Mahoney was the head coach at Mount Aloysius College (1994-98) and began his coaching career as the boys' head coach at Our Lady of Sacred Heart High School (1986-94).
Coming into the year, expectations were high for the Michigan basketball team. They were fresh off their first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade, returning two of the best players in the Big Ten. They had to replace only walk-ons and a Canadian.
So that worked out great, right? Most Michigan fans probably would have told you that #15 in the nation was too high, but nobody would have had the audacity to tell you that the Wolverines would remain mostly healthy and still limp to a sub-.500 record. In its 18 defeats, the Michigan basketball team had found just about every way to lose. There was the time they were run off the court by an inferior opponent, the time they stayed in the game against a much better opponent despite missing one of their best players, the time they almost upset their instate rival but fell just short, and all variety of just not being the better team. Also times where Evan Turner hit a 37-foot prayer at the buzzer.
There have to be reasons for these things happening, and no, Idiot Message Board Guy, that reason is not "JOHN BEILEIN SHOULD BE FIRED OMG."
As with most John Beilein teams, Michigan was expected to bomb away from deep this year, and bomb away they did. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to tell them that they were supposed to, like, make some of those shots. For the season, they shot 41.6% from the field, and 29.9% from long range. This constituted 43.2% of their shots. Put it all together, and it results in a crappy 48.1 eFG% on the season. That's good for about 230th in the country. Last year, they shot 50.3 eFG%, and finished 117th.
For individual changes in shooting, I think we're going to need a...
Chart. Players are arranged by the number of shots they took in 2009-10.
|Player||2008-09 eFG%||2009-10 eFG%|
Every returning player except Manny Harris and Zack Gibson saw a reduction in their shooting percentage from last year to this. I didn't check how many of those dropoffs are statistically significant (I imagine not very many of them, if any).
Also, for all the talk about how Michigan "only lost two walkons," everyone seems to have forgotten (and I'm guilty of this as well) that Kelvin Grady was an important part of last year's team, and a true point guard with some experience could have helped Michigan a ton this year. While some of the variation is probably luck, a team-wide regression points to poorer overall shot quality, and that starts with the gutted point guard position. This is true both with and without the ball: last year Lee, Grady, and Merritt were 1-2-3 in three point shooting. The three headed point guard took more threes than anyone on the team—172—and made more of them. This year the point guard was no-shoot Darius Morris and two guys, Laval Lucas-Perry and Stu Douglass, who struggled massively with at the spot.
OK, so I take it back: injuries actually might have played a significant role in the season. Michigan was expecting to have at least one more big man in Ben Cronin, and maybe another in Jordan Morgan. Cronin, a true seven-footer, saw his season (and probably career) come to an end in November thanks to a recurring hip problem that surgery couldn't repair. Morgan is just a freshman, and probably wouldn't have played a significant role on the team even if he hadn't had a shoulder injury that forced surgery and a redshirt.
With Zack Gibson and Deshawn Sims Michigan's only players above 6-8 (and in Sims's case, he's only listed as so), this team was never going to be able to play big. Sure, they could have used Gibson and Sims together a bit more, but that also carried a risk of one of them getting in foul trouble and not having either of them when the other needed a rest.
Zack Novak is not a true power forward. Anybody who has watched the game of basketball and notice that he doesn't even graze 6-5 can tell you that. But Michigan didn't have a ton of (read: any) other options. Criticizing Novak for not being tall enough seems a little unfair, since I think that's mostly out of his control.
So, for all the coach-fans that say Michigan should have gone big or pounded inside more or whatever, they really couldn't do it much more than they did. They went to Sims early in nearly every game, but the opponents would figure it out in short order, and the option would disappear when shooters didn't emerge as a serious threat. At 6'8"-ish, Sims always struggled against guys pushing seven feet tall and no amount of development can fix that when you're the biggest guy on the court.
It's natural to look at the coaching of this team as a potential weakness. For all the limitations of this roster, it was mostly Beilein-assembled, particularly the guys who we were supposed to be relying on as shooters and either couldn't find the basket (Stu Douglass, Zack Novak) or the court (Matt Vogrich).
On a micro scale, there were individual strategic decisions in games that probably didn't make a lot of sense, either. Something with some guy named Turner comes to mind, I don't really remember. But for every one of those, there was probably a positive moment that either went unnoticed or, in one painful instance, un-capitalized upon.
At this point, it's far too early to even consider ditching the only coach who's taken Michigan to the tournament in the past decade. He has a track record of success at every level, and he hasn't done anything yet to show he's not capable of accomplishing that in Ann Arbor. For those who say "well he only lost walk-ons from a tournament team and went under .500," I reply: dude, you do realize that you just said this guy took a team to the tournament as he was forced to play walk-ons extensive time, right? As much as this team may have underachieved, it only looks worse because last year's squad overachieved so much by comparison.
There have been a lot of accusations over the past couple days that Michigan "underachieved" this year, which duh. However, those who say "Michigan only lost walk-ons off a tournament team should be in the tournament, bro" need to keep in mind that, as much as this team underachieved, last year's squad most definitely overachieved.
Luck most certainly played a role (F you, Evan Turner), and fortunately, Ken Pomeroy has a "Luck Rating" which measures a team's performance against expectation based on Pomeroy's rankings. Last year, Michigan was +0.004 in luck, 131st in the nation. This year? -0.086, 330th out of 347 D-1 teams. This team was horrifically unlucky this year, and slightly lucky last year, making the quality difference between the teams look much more severe than it actually was. In the end, Michigan finished 50th last year and 60th this year. The slide was real but not as severe as the numbers suggested.
For the record, this year's painfully inconsistent team was 238th in "Consistency" to Pomeroy. Last year's was actually worse at 266th.
Can It Get Better Next Year?
As the perpetually optimistic Michigan fan, I am inclined to say yes without even really thinking about the question. [Ed.: An exercise for the reader: if Tim is still perpetually optimistic, what short of a nuclear explosion centered on Michigan Stadium could cause him to lose this trait?] This team has to improve, right?
That partially hinges on the professional whims of Manny Harris. The eyeball test says he needs a senior, but he may be ready to move on. For what it's worth, Sam Webb suggests it's 65-35 Manny stays. The recruitment of Trey Zeigler is another huge factor, as he would be an instant-impact type.
The roster composition should be different next year either way, as Jordan Morgan and Blake McLimans will add some size. For the first time in Beilein's career at Michigan he'll have a true 4 for his system in the form of incoming freshman Evan "Metrics" Smotrycz. They'll have to be ready to contribute, since both of Michigan's post players are moving on after this season.
Michigan's shooting should (hopefully) improve after a decided downturn this year, and the roster should be much more experienced as long as Manny returns. Assuming "luck" is essentially random, the pendulum should swing back the other way (though that's not guaranteed - look at the football teams' turnover margin this fall), and hopefully break even at worst. If Manny comes back, it should be season in which Michigan contends for the NCAA tourney. Life on the bubble isn't satisfying four years into Beilein's tenure, but that's life.
The 2009-10 athletic season is on its way out, and bright times are ahead.
Are we going to recap it? No. I'm pretty sure Tim is methodically hammering nails into anything small and fluffy he can find. We're going to dig out something that hasn't been seen around these parts in a year or two. It is the Dead To Me board. It has two new additions, the second of which is relevant.
Well played, 2009-10. Well played.
Here's a kitten:
We'll see you next week. Jesus.