"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
2/21/2012 – Michigan 67, Northwestern 55 (OT) – 21-7, 11-4 Big Ten
LEFT: A fateful moment in which our brave comrade fouled the opponent's forearm in the eyes of corrupt capitalist lackeys. RIGHT: The imperialists were forced into illegal measures in their failed attempts to deal with Comrade Morgan.
Let the reign of Beilein be long and glorious. He is our sun and star and moons. He has brought basketball back to Ann Arbor long after we had ceded our land to the imperialists of East Lansing and set about hoping we would not be Northwestern forever. The bubble is banished and all loyal Wolverines are required to have Mao-style paintings of not one but two Dear Leaders. This is right and just.
But we have to talk about something, Oh Great Back Cut of Heaven. That thing is what to do when Michigan's glorious but thin frontcourt, sabotaged by foreigners who broke Comrade Horford's foot—we have executed the traitors or at least given people who probably know the traitors harsh looks—is brought low by the machinations of imperialist pig-dogs with whistles.
Oh Thousand Shining Arcs From Behind The Line, your response in the Northwestern game was to bench Comrades Morgan and Smotrycz in favor of Comrades McLimans and Christian. They are a good loyalists who contribute all they can to the cause. Unfortunately for the Glorious Revolution, that is zero shot attempts and zero rebounds in fourteen minutes. "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need" suggests that Comrades McLimans and Christian are most needed in the towel-waving collectives of Ukraine, where they can fan our team to greatness.
When they are placed on the court, starvation ensues. Michigan led 11-3 when McLimans entered the game; Northwestern led 31-24 by halftime, when Comrades Morgan and Smotrycz returned to the floor. In that span of time, Northwestern had six offensive rebounds in eight opportunities*. In the other 31 minutes they had five in 24. Northwestern scored more points in the fourteen minutes without Morgan and Smotrycz (28) than they did in the other thirty-one(27).
Upon their return Morgan and Smotrycz promptly led a glorious charge into a lead foreordained by your divinity, Great Leveler. Unfortunately, rebel conspiracy sabotaged the bridge between Tim Hardaway Jr. and free throw makes, forcing the revolution into overtime. The people rose up and slew their purple oppressors with a thousand swords, as you decreed would always be the case.
Some of our less faithful comrades may have momentarily lost confidence, however. While the will of the people can never be defeated, it should be pointed out that basketball teams can and putting in comrades who are not very good at basketball could lead to a (temporary, meaningless) setback in Michigan's five-year plan.
When comrades Morgan and Smotrycz returned it took 12 minutes for one of them to pick up a third foul. If they were allowed to continue playing in the first half it is true they would be in danger of fouling out early. But what would the consequences be in that situation? In the worst vaguely plausible scenario, both Morgan and Smotrycz foul out five or six minutes into the second half, forcing the Striped Orange Sun to… play McLimans and Christian for 14 minutes. The wisdom of the Shining Beacon of Halftime Adjustments is unquestioned, but in this one situation it seems like it is not infinite.
Earlier in the year, a similar substitution pattern saw Comrade Burke confined to the bench for a long stretch against Iowa. Burke left with Michigan down four and returned with them down twelve. Nefarious play by oppressors made Michigan play poorly throughout, so this did not make an impact on the outcome, but it didn't help matters much.
I submit that with Burke averaging 1.8 fouls per 40 minutes at the time of his transgression and six additional calls available to a two-headed center playing a team without any size, it would benefit Michigan greatly to roll the dice on players in foul trouble instead of willingly accepting the worst-case scenario of doing so. Oh sun and moon and stars.
*[It was actually 7 of 9 but one was a OREB credited to Northwestern's team after McLimans blocked a shot out of bounds. I don't think that shows up on the box score I'm using.]
Highlights from BTN and mgovideo:
Bullets that get dust on them
Defense! Zounds. UMHoops says Michigan had Morgan and/or Smotrycz for 40 possessions. On those possessions Northwestern scored 27 points, or 0.68 points per possession. That's outstanding. Northwestern has the country's 15th-best offense and the league's fourth-best; when Michigan wasn't going to the deep bench because of the aforementioned rigidity they annihilated the Wildcats.
The primary way they did this was by switching everything. IIRC there was a single breakdown for an open layup in the first half, then nothing the rest of the game. Everything else was contested. John Shurna was 2 of 5 from three and 4 of 11 from two with a couple of those twos ridiculous circus things; after the game Bill Carmody kind of called out his leading scorer for passivity:
"It just seemed the whole game that he was reluctant to do anything," Carmody said. "He had some pretty good looks and he passed them up to go to the next thing. It was a game he had to take over."
Northwestern never tried to punish Michigan for switching players as small as Trey Burke onto Shurna. That's either blind luck or great scouting.
Threes? Michigan hit 37% on 38 threes for 1.1 points per attempt. Are we happy with that? I have no idea. On the one hand, a lot of those were wide open when opponents sagged off Burke or left a corner three open in the 1-3-1. On the other hand, 38 threes. I'm guessing we would have had a much different opinion than confusion if Burke and Hardaway didn't put down back-to-back triples after Michigan found itself down four late. Those makes opened the door for the rat-tat-tat at the beginning of overtime. Before that the numbers were ugly.
1.1 points is not great. It sounds good as a shooting percentage but you have to take into account that way more twos than threes end up getting erased in favor of free throws. On the other hand, being willing to launch from deep really cut down on Michigan's turnovers (six to an uncharacteristic 14 for Northwestern) and would have led to some additional possessions via Morgan offensive rebounds if the refs hadn't gone from suck to blow in the second half. In the end, it worked. Worked authoritatively when Morgan/Smotrycz were in.
1-3-1 response. When Michigan's 1-3-1 was getting shredded early in the disappointing Harris/Sims post-tourney year it seemed like opponents were attacking it diagonally and getting to the basket. Michigan was hesitant to put the ball on the floor at all and ended up shooting over it on a large majority of possessions. When they did dump it in low, Morgan had a couple opportunities but didn't go up strong, as they say, and we got the obligatory missed bunny or two*. I wonder if Northwestern just runs the 1-3-1 a lot better than Michigan ever has in the Beilein era.
*[This should be less of a problem with McGary. When people are asking Morgan to go up strong they believe he can dunk a ball from a standing start under the basket, which I don't think he can. This should be no problem for McGary as long as he can catch cleanly—always an issue with big men.]
Hardaway. Yerg. Back to the salt mines: 2 of 9 from three, 4 of 10 from the line. Two of three from two… against a team that has no shot blocking. I don't think those distributions are going to get fixed this year; we can only hope the shots go down when Michigan really needs them to.
Rodger Sherman is not dead:
How. in the HELL. do we lose two games to the same ranked team in overtime? HOW? Why does this happen? THIS IS JUST THE WORST.
Northwestern has now played about 8000 close games this season and lost all of them. Here are my questions, and I am furious about each and every one.
You get the ball witha bout 50 seconds and a full shot clock. Instead of opting to go two-for-one and take the last shot, which ANYBODY WITH ANY SORT OF BASKETBALL SENSE IN THE WORLD would have done, Northwestern held for 35 seconds and had a possession end with a JerShon Cobb three, a shot which is about as efficient as repeatedly stabbing yourself in the face. YOU DON'T WANT TO PLAY ANOTHER FIVE MINUTES AGAINST A RANKED TEAM WITH ALL THE MOMENTUM. YOU WANT TO END THE GAME IN REGULATION. YOU HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF BEATING A BETTER TEAM IN THREE POSSESSIONS (TWO OF WHICH ARE YOURS) THAN FIVE MORE MINUTES. This is inexplicable.
We will root for Northwestern from here on out. We have hurt them more than they deserve. AnnArbor.com on Vogrich:
"He's been a big part of this little surge we're having right now," Michigan coach John Beilein said of Vogrich. "You've seen all year long that we've struggled with our bench play.
"And we need that. He's done a good job."
During Michigan's current four-game winning streak, Vogrich has gone 9-for-13 from 3-point range, providing a spark off the bench that hasn't been there for most of the season.
Known as a 3-point specialist, Vogrich entered the Nebraska game on Feb. 8 shooting just 21.2 percent from behind the arc. But thanks to his recent hot streak, he's jumped up to a more respectable 33.3 percent on the year.
I still can't believe it's called "The Journey," which should by rights be a Hallmark Channel series about entering puberty. But it's talking Michigan-Michigan State. Cazzie Russell gets his eyebrow on and Novak rains threes in Breslin:
The Aneurysm of Leadership is discussed.
It's the… uh… economy? This is unbelievable:
Once regularly an asylum for 1,200 Crazies, Section 17 at Cameron Indoor Stadium now rarely plays host to a student-only crowd.
Student attendance at men’s basketball games has fallen consistently over the last five years, even dropping after Duke won its fourth national championship in 2010. This season, approximately 650 undergraduates have attended each game, 150 fewer than during the 2008-09 season. As a result, Duke Athletics has begun to sell an increasing number of general admission tickets in the student section on a regular basis.
“It has nothing to do with the revenue. We just want it to be full,” Director of Marketing and Relations Mike Forman said. “If there were 1,200 students every game we would love it.”
I've given Michigan students crap for late/spotty attendance at football and hockey (basketball seems immune for some reason) but, like… Jebus. If Duke can't sell out their student tickets it is a nationwide epidemic.
The article goes on to describe a couple of reasons for the decline: the prevalence of online streaming (which seems ludicrous since I'm sure all Duke games are televised in Durham) and "the students' misconception of the time commitment involved." Apparently it's first-come, first-serve and you show up for a game sans ticket and hope to get in. That's a little nuts.
Even if Duke is too far at one end of the scale, Michigan could slide closer to them without incurring the same effect. Offer incentives for having your tickets scanned on time or early and revoke student ticket privileges for people who don't bother to show up.
Attacking the symptom. Bowls are out of control but this does not attack the matter at its heart:
There is "growing support" among conference commissioners, athletic directors and bowl officials to increase the difficulty of becoming bowl eligible by requiring teams to have seven victories, or a winning record, when the new BCS cycle begins in 2014, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com. The seven-win requirement would also mean a handful of bowls likely would be discontinued because there would not be enough eligible teams to fill all of the current 70 berths. In the past two years alone, 27 teams with 6-6 records were needed to fill all the bowl slots, meaning nearly 20 percent of the bowl field didn't have a winning record.
That would hack out about seven of the existing bowls, none of which would be missed in the slightest. It would still allow a dozen or more bowls that are net negatives to exist. The way to fix the current system is to get rid of ticket and hotel guarantees and let the bowls, not the schools, assume the risk of a crappy matchup.
Slicing out the bottom of the barrel is better than nothing, I guess. And at least athletic directors and presidents are getting wise to the scam:
"The 7-5 proposal is getting serious support," a non-BCS bowl official said. "They're telling a coach [that] 6-6 doesn't cut it, but then the coach gets a $50,000 or $100,000 bonus for a bowl game that none of the fan base wants to see. Athletic directors feel like they're pouring money down a hole and they're getting frustrated with it. The only people making out on 6-6 bowl games are the coaches."
…and the dudes in blazers, of course.
Burn. The Daily profiles Brian Wiseman by featuring his ridiculous peewee campaign:
You’ve probably heard about Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson’s phenomenal six-goal game with the St. Louis Blues in 1968. But what about the record-breaking season of one of his assistants, who averaged over five goals per game en route to a 413-goal campaign?
“They didn’t even keep those stats when I was a kid,” Berenson said.
Alex Guptill says no sale.
Wiseman can only say "keep scoring" at the moment, but don't find yourself in a drought, Alex.
I'll take f-bombs for 1000. David Molk is interviewed by Kyle Mienke:
He's certain of one thing, though: He has doubters. And he knows exactly where they can go.
"It's just, stuff like that pisses me off," Molk said, voice rising. "Any scout who denies me pisses me off. 'Oh, this is what you got. You’re not good enough.'
"Well, (to hell with) you, let me show you what I got."
For the record, I have never doubted Molk and move around constantly so my location cannot be pinned down. Also, Molk's Sugar Bowl injury was a severed tendon. Competition for center of the 2010s is now closed.
Here are the statistics for the percentage of minutes played by the bench (Bench Minutes/Total minutes) under John Beilein since 2005:
Year Bench % Rk 2012 22.3% 327 2011 19.3% 337 2010 22.1% 327 2009 35.6% 66 2008 31.6% 147 2007 24.7% 282 2006 20.0% n/a 2005 31.2% n/a Average 25.9%
Beilein has high expectations and he’s going to play who he trusts at any given time.
The last three years Michigan has been incredibly thin. I'm hoping that changes next year. Michigan's not going to shoot up into Arkansas territory but if they can get into the middle of the pack injuries get a lot less frightening and players having off nights can spend more of them on the bench.
Let's all not panic. Uni-watch reports that the piping is dead:
(As per usual, do not be alarmed at the white pants.) I was never a piping fan—too West Virginia—so its removal is welcome.
(HT: the board's JeepinBen.)
Quote of win. Patrick Omameh on Denard Robinson speech patterns:
“He just has to do everything fast, and I don’t know why,” Omameh said. “I think we’ve kind of adapted to his … I guess, uh … method of speaking. We say he be speaking Florida.”
Yes, I'm a sucker for ungrammatical uses of "be." Also I find it hard to believe why Omameh thinks Denard Robinson doesn't have to do everything fast. He completed a Rubik's Cube before it was invented. He can't eat eggs. When he gets in a Ferrari the car tries to shift him. He's too fast for eggs! What does that even mean HE'S TOO FAST TO FIND OUT
“It’s just real fast,” Omameh said. “Everything is just super sped up. I’m like, ‘You know, you can slow down a little bit if you want us to run the play right. But, you don’t have to.’"
Even better quote. Manny Diaz on BYU's fullbacks:
They've got fullbacks that want to block your soul.
That is all.
More McGary. Sam Webb's latest article in the News is on Mitch McGary with more from McGary's (and Glenn Robinson's) tough-talking AAU coach Wayne Brumm:
"The post player is intimately and intricately involved in John Beilein's system," Brumm explained. "I don't know anybody who runs a better offensive system for a post player than Michigan. So I have to say, why not (Michigan as a possible destination)? Everybody else is (analyzing McGary's recruitment) like they're a friggin fan. We're trying to pick a school that is in Mitch's best interest."
Brumm added: "John Beilein can flat-out coach. The people I talk to and the coaches I talk to, I'll flat-out tell you — they are scared of John Beilein. They are worried about the day he starts getting the talent that they've got (at their schools). He's been at a bunch of places that he couldn't recruit high-major talent. Now he's at Michigan and it looks like he is making some headway there. When he starts with an even slate in terms of talent, look out! Look what he did last year. Look what he did with Darius Morris, Timmy Hardaway, and look what he has done with Jordan Morgan. My goodness, isn't anybody paying attention?"
That sounds like a guy who would like McGary to hit up Ann Arbor. On this morning's WTKA recruiting roundup, Webb delivered the "gut feeling" on McGary's top three: Michigan, Maryland, and Florida. No disrespect to those programs but that's a lot less of a mountain to hurdle than UK, UNC, and Duke, the other schools he plans to visit. I'm kind of thinking this is going well. Listen to the roundup—Webb won't say it (specifically disclaims it, actually) but it sounds like he believes this is happening.
Brumm also literally states that Bacari Alexander "gets it." WOO!
Mattison on the trail. Wolverine Nation—how is that URL even available?—has launched. They've put Tom behind a paywall and don't have an RSS feed, but here's this excellent article from Mike Rothstein on Greg Mattison's recruiting style:
"He didn't realize at the time just how expensive they were," former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Bob Davie said. "The business manager brought him in and they could have bought a new car with how much he spent on that mobile phone. I'll never forget that.
"That's just how he does it. He's going to work harder than anybody."
Rothstein hits up Mattison's head coach from back in the day when he was a D-line coach at Northwestern and various players from his Notre Dame days.
The other guy. ND DC Bob Diaco on Denard:
"Unfortunately it just is what it is," defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said. "We need to be perfect, because any little crease and it's over, he's gone. It's not like, somebody hits a crease and he rattles for eight, 10 yards and you get him on the ground. This guy hits the crease and he can punch a hole in the top of the defense like that." …
"It's just a monumental task defending a runner at quarterback in particular, that it almost gives you the feeling like they're playing with 12," Diaco said. "It's a problem."
This game will not only be the first real opportunity to see what Borges does with Denard, it will be a major hype-check on Diaco. After his defense gave up 35 in a humiliating loss to Navy that had option-savvy Middies in disbelief that anyone could be so incompetent:
Navy wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Kelly and Diaco just have absolutely no clue how the Navy offense works. …
If Diaco and Kelly hadn’t seen it before, then I have no idea what film they’ve been watching, or if they even watched any at all. That isn’t even hyperbole; they thought that Navy’s fullback ran through the A gap. And that was their plan– to send the inside linebackers crashing into the A gap that nobody was running through. That just made those LBs easier to block as either the fullback or quarterback ran right by them and into the secondary. …
What’s almost as incredible as this horrible game plan is the fact that despite Kelly’s assertion to the contrary, Notre Dame never adjusted. Those ILBs kept running into the A gap for the entire game. Once or twice Te’o scraped outside to make a play in the backfield, and I’d think,”OK, now we’ll see something else.” But we didn’t. Notre Dame would go right back to the same old thing on the next play, and the Mids would pick up a big gain.
Diaco appeared clueless in a media interview soon after. The next week his D gave up almost 400 yards and 28 points in a loss to Tulsa and people were screaming for his head. The next four games were all wins in which ND game up 17 or fewer points.
- Three points ceded to Utah, a mediocre offense.
- Three against Army, whatever.
- 16 against USC in a driving rainstorm slopfest in which the Trojans were helmed by Mitch Mustain.
- 17 against Miami in a game where Jacory Harris threw three picks on seven attempts and was yanked for Stephen Morris, who averaged 8.5 YPA but threw a pick of his own.
Last week USF only got 250 yards but BJ Daniels is horrible. Is the improvement real or a mirage? No idea.
I'm like what? Your game programs for ND are going to be electronical:
Each gameday program includes an audio file of "The Catch," Desmond Howard's famous touchdown against Notre Dame twenty years ago.
But it's not just the audio of the call, from the announcers that day — Frank Beckmann for the Michigan Sports Network and Brent Musburger for ABC — it also includes the play call from Michigan's head football coach at the time Gary Moeller and sound from Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac in the huddle.
That's kind of cool. Fifteen bucks cool? I'll listen to yours.
BONUS: Darren Rovell suggests there is a person in this world whose "dream" was to "embed the audio file of a famous play into a gameday program." Reach for the stars.
Blog content. NKOTB From Hope There Is Glory is not a Notre Dame blog, but a Michigan blog sporting statistical breakdowns of the WMU game. Here's a section:
Passes attempted against
Passes completed against
Etc.: WMU stunt blitz picture pagin' from BWS. Vincent Smith picks it up. MVictors on Michigan's first night game. Jerry Palm projects us in the… Fiesta Bowl? Good lord. Very cool Mike Leach interview from a technically oriented football site. HT: Smart Football.
Sippin on Purple breaks down a That Goddamned Counter Draw the Wildcats ran against BC. Why don't we use this for good? Denard rollout will make this enormously successful.
The beard of the wolf. Troy Woolfolk is inspired by Lloyd Carr:
Yea, and in the year two thousand and eleven the Michigan Wolverines perceived the New Orleans Bowl and said amongst themselves "shall we not take for ourselves what Troy's punter has shown to be good?"
The mouth of the horse. Ohio State fans have suddenly found that it's not nice when your opposition says mean things about you and takes your recruits. Or they've learned to complain about the former instead of the latter no matter the facts on the ground, anyway. Kyle Kalis:
"…[Hoke] has never said anything even remotely close to (negative) about Ohio State.
“People think that he does all of this negative recruiting, but he does no such thing. Any time my dad brought up anything about Ohio State, coach would actually stop him and say ‘I’m not going to say anything about that situation. It’s unfortunate and I hope they can get over this hump.’ ”
Kalis has been manipulated. Keep that in mind. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom!
It was tough to pass up Calvin peeing on John Hamm. Jerel Worthy is trolling us with his arm:
Or he's been trolled. Click for a bigger view of a Wolverine-type object wearing a Missouri helmet being stepped upon. QED: Jerel Worthy drives a truck with fake testicles.
I wonder how these percentages break down:
% of OSU themed tattoos that involve Michigan symbols being peed on/crushed/anally penetrated
% of MSU themed tattoos w/ same
% of ND themed tattoos w/ same
% of M themed tattoos w/ same broken out by rival.
Somebody should do a survey. I'm guessing ND is in last by a considerable margin and that 90% of all redneck-tastic Michigan tattoos focus on OSU.
Your lying eyes. I usually forward along all history-related questions to MVictors, as they are specialists. This edition of mailbag by proxy involves the colors on Michigan's uniform and is actually double-proxied since Greg pinged uniform maven Steve Sapardanis for a comprehensive answer:
Let’s get this out of the way first: never, ever, ever go by the color you see of pics online, in mags/programs or even in photos – see these Harbaugh photos as reference:
These two pics are from the same game, maybe even the same play, maybe even the same photographer (probably not), but notice the difference in colors.
Everything you wanted to know about Michigan's maize and more at the link.
Understatement. Rod Beard sat down with the entire basketball coaching staff for an extensive interview. Here's John Beilein doing his best George Clooney:
Q: I know you can't talk about specific recruits — even ones who have verbally committed — but how do you feel about your recruiting efforts this summer?
Beilein: I'll just say we're getting very positive feedback.
Indeed. I'm not sure just how up to date Beard is on Michigan's recent efforts, though:
Q: Is it a philosophical choice to go after unrated recruits and help make them a better players?
Beilein: As you're building a program, there's a plan that you gradually go in that direction, but you have to get solid first. In the recruiting wars, if you go after only the top-50 guys and you aren't successful, the No. 51-150 guys are long gone when you turn back. It's better to set your sights and then build a program so you get guys who have a high ceiling and in time will develop. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a great example of a guy who barely makes the top 100 — but now, he's one of the top 10 in the country out of that class. We're never going to say that we don't want to recruit a top-50 guy. If he fits what we're looking for, we'll recruit him.
The last unrated guy to commit to Michigan was Max Bielfeldt; right now the 2012 and 2013 classes are all four-star sorts. Hit the link for Bacari Alexander praising Beilein's "ability to be human." Good job, lizard coach from the fifth dimension!
BONUS BIT: Michigan may have offered another 2012 big. Marshall Wood is unrated but is attracting high-major interest. He can get up, yo:
Certainly looks like a Beilein big what with the driving to the bucket from the perimeter. Usually Michigan won't offer-offer until you get to campus-campus, which Wood hasn't yet. Michigan probably gave him the nudge-nudge wink-wink about it and they reported it as an offer, but Mitch McGary is supposedly planning another visit to Ann Arbor on or around Labor Day.
So: Michigan is definitely trying to fill their 2012 spot.
Movement. Sense? It seems this edition of the periodic NCAA let's-fix-everything tribunals may actually create a significant change in the organization, at least as it pertains to basketball recruiting. "Consensus was reached on some aspects of a new recruiting model," those being:
- A start date for official visits beginning after the men’s basketball championship in April of the junior year.
- Deregulating the type of communication between coaches and prospects (including text messaging and other forms of electronic communication).
- Allowing unlimited communication after Aug. 1 before the junior year in high school.
- Permitting evaluations at certified nonscholastic events on two weekends in April, with some restrictions.
- Permitting some contact at a prospect’s educational institution in conjunction with an evaluation, with some restrictions and requirements.
Somewhere, Kelvin Sampson is weeping into a Western omelet.
Both Eamonn Brennan and The Bylaw Blog rush to heap praise on this hypothetical model where coaches and recruits can approach each other like people instead of anonymous partners in a secretive arranged marriage. Brennan:
The NCAA might not be ready to let coaches talk to recruits year-round. Nor is it ready to totally reconsider its system. But it is beginning to make some serious progress, and that progress continued with the Leadership Council Friday. Incremental though it might be, at least it's a step in the right direction, right?
So for the Leadership Council’s top-to-bottom review of the men’s basketball recruiting model to wrap up within a year is a small victory for Division I’s governance structure. The results of that review are even more encouraging.
Infante also mentions a new provision for "on campus evaluations"—tryouts—as the most important change. Beneficiaries of this hypothetical new system:
The model, with the NABC’s limited tryout rule, would greatly favor coaching staffs who can make good evaluations during the spring and summer before a prospect’s junior year.
Sounds good if John Beilein's your coach, yes?
Meanwhile, 50 superfriends gather… The NCAA is also collecting its presidents together today and tomorrow to have one of those serious discussions that usually don't lead anywhere. Everyone Gregg Krupa tried to talk to said "NCAA? Never heard of it" except Mary Sue Coleman:
"This intertwining of intercollegiate athletics with universities in the United States is unique in the world, but we risk losing it if it is not done with transparency and integrity and if people believe it is not being done by the rules," said Coleman, who can not attend the retreat because of prior commitments. "I am very hopeful we'll stay on course with this, and the meeting in Indianapolis is an important part of that."
College football's scandal epidemic and rattling from the Big Ten and SEC about upping scholarship rewards, increasing academic standards, and maybe not booting kids to South Alabama after a season do provide a background in which Actual Reform is possible. The new, far less restrictive basketball recruiting model is an indication things might get done.
They'd be in these areas:
Establishing the success of athletes in the classroom as an expectation, rather than a goal. [Ed: A toothier APR?]
Protecting integrity by retaining amateurism, evaluating and improving the behavior of athletes and enhancing enforcement.
Strengthening the fiscal viability of sports by reducing disparities in revenues, spending and subsidies.
I'm not sure how the hell they propose to do anything about the third.
And now for no reason at all. Presenting Louisville's quarterbacks in their new uniforms:
At least Adidas didn't make us look like Taylor Twellman.
Etc.: This year's edition of "Les Miles doesn't count so good." Via Smart Football, treating your goal line package like special teams. The guy behind Mets Maize has figured out he never writes about the Mets. Up next: figuring out that white text on a dark background is so 1995. Houston Nutt's been busy with his copy of Word 97. HSR on the Stonum suspension. Pre-Snap Read previews Michigan.
Over the past two days Michigan has locked down the services of two touted 2013 players, IN SF Zak Irvin and MI PG Derrick Walton. The two commitments just about complete Michigan's recruiting for the next three years and, with the recent additions of Nik Stauskas, Austin Hatch, and Mark Donnal to go with ever-rising Glenn Robinson III, establish a new baseline for Michigan's ceiling under Beilein.
When John Beilein arrived at Michigan he'd never acquired a player ranked in the top 100 by the diverse and sundry recruiting gurus who translate AAU performance into college projections. Despite this, he'd turned West Virginia into a consistent tourney program and run to a couple of Elite Eights.
This made him attractive to Michigan. Since the Ed Martin thing Michigan has been erring on the side of caution. Beilein's reputation as a guy who could win without even glancing at the seamier side of basketball recruiting separated him from Brian Ellerbe, who seemed to seek out kids who were neither good at basketball or life, and Tommy Amaker, who recruited decently but could not coach to save his life.
Beilein's first class lived up to that reputation:
- UR Stu Douglass: one other offer, that from WMU.
- UR Zack Novak: one other offer, that from Valpo.
- UR Ben Cronin: one other offer from WVU.
- UR Robin Benzing: German.
Cronin's hip prevented him from ever playing and Benzing ended up a point short on his standardized test. Douglass and Novak have been important contributors but are obviously limited—their rankings and offers were on target. Benzing developed into a German national team player who's consistently been mentioned as a late-first or early-second round NBA draft prospect.
This was something close the script we expected when Beilein was hired. Michigan attractiveness relative to West Virginia should produce an uptick, though. Where is our uptick?
Mid-major sorts: 3
Touted recruits: 0
Outperformers: 0 (unless you count Benzing)
- UR Blake McLimans
- UR Jordan Morgan
- #100/#137 Matt Vogrich
- ~#60 Darius Morris
Uptick achieved: Darius Morris was Beilein's first-ever consensus top-100 recruit. Beilein identified Morris early and followed him around like he was a Grateful Dead concert; Morris held Michigan to be his leader throughout his recruiting process and picked Michigan over offers from Oregon State, Washington State, and USC. He proceeded to considerably outplay his ranking en route to becoming a two-and-done.
Matt Vogrich was regarded a pure shooter and given the last slot on the Scout 100 for having the purest stroke in the country; Rivals had him at the tail end of their 150. His offer list had a number of mid-to-low-level BCS teams (Stanford, ND, Wake, GT, Colorado). If not for Morris, Vogrich would have been Beilein's highest-touted recruit ever.
The rest of the class was not so much with the uptick. McLimans took a post-grad year in an effort to draw interest and did get Boston College and Georgia Tech offers, but his ratings were decidedly mid-major. Early commit Jordan Morgan was regarded a major reach even by Morgan's father; he had no other BCS offers.
Mid-major sorts: 2
Touted recruits: 1
Outperformers: 1 (Morgan)
- #84/59/#98 Evan Smotrycz
- #93/UR/UR Tim Hardaway, Jr.
- UR Jon Horford
- UR Colton Christian
Uptick sustained, with another guy around Morris's rankings in Smotrycz. Smotrycz was a non-entity when Beilein started recruiting him and committed just before a blazing AAU season that saw him leap high up lists—at one point he was a top 50 recruit. He came back to earth a bit before final rankings came out.
Meanwhile, Tim Hardaway, Jr., was rated on par with Vogrich but is playing on a much higher level. Horford is another mid-major sort who is moving towards contributing. His only other offer was from Providence. Christian was a very late addition who was headed to Tulane before a coaching change freed him up.
Mid-major sorts: 2 (Christian, Horford)
Touted recruits: 1 (Smotrycz)
Outperformers: 1 (Hardaway)
- #81/94/142 Trey Burke
- #73/98/106 Carlton Brundidge
- UR Max Bielfeldt
- The established pattern has gone from a single touted guy to one and a half touted guys to two, with one big body to develop in the mix. Michigan snagged Burke before another rise, this one spurred by a dominant high school campaign that saw him named Ohio Mr. Basketball; if anything it seems like he's underrated.
- Brundidge committed earlier and saw his rankings drop a little bit but still remains in the 70-100 range; Bielfeldt was a very late addition Michigan managed to grab over Illinois.
- Mid-major sorts: 1
Touted recruits: 2
This is where Beilein seems to ignite:
- #46/60/55 Glenn Robinson III
- #99/100/UR Nik Stauskas
If you believe the chatter coming out of this AAU summer, Robinson is due for another move up the rankings (he's already gone from a three-star to a top 50-ish guy) and Stauskas may as well. Either way this class is two solid four-stars who fit the system while simultaneously drawing attention from NBA folks. This class does not have the project/sleeper/mid-major recruits that have featured in all his previous classes, and it seems like if it adds anyone it will be national top ten recruit Mitch McGary. (Which they probably won't, but if they don't they don't have to add a random guy for roster purposes.)
Mid-major sorts: 0
Touted recurits: 2-ish.
It's too early for anyone to have a solid grasp on where this class is going to be ranked but Beilein has acquired a full class about a month after scholarship offers could officially be issued:
- PF/C Mark Donnal is on early top 100 lists.
- SG/SF Zak Irvin had offers from IU, Purdue, and Butler; two different sources have recently talked him up as a potential top 30 player in his class.
- SG/SF Austin Hatch's story is well known.
- PG Derrick Walton was set to visit MSU this weekend, whereupon he was likely to be offered. He's on early top 100 lists as well.
Even if the Irvin chatter is optimistic it seems like this will be another class full of solid top 100 guys well below the one-and-done range. That's three straight: a trend.
- Mid-major sorts: 0
Touted recruits: 3?
Time will tell how each of these guys develop, but it's clear that Michigan has gone from picking off late sleepers to identifying and acquiring their plan A targets. When the 2013 class is on campus the only players who can plausibly be identified as backup plans or reaches will be Horford—who seems like he'll at least be useful as a senior—and Bielfeldt. Everyone else will be a guy who Beilein was after hard early.
Sometimes that doesn't work so well and you've got Jarrett Smith and Ron Coleman on your team, but Beilein's track record when it comes to unplucked gems is unparalleled. See: every player at West Virginia, Morgan, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, GRIII, and even Morris and Horford. Now that he's plucking gems other schools are interested in, well… as soon as Michigan figures out its point guard spot they seem Back. For now, and for a long time.