|WHAT||Michigan at Illinois|
Yet Another Assembly Hall
|WHEN||7 PM Eastern, Today|
|LINE||M –1 (Kenpom)|
Illinois was previewed before Michigan's 70-61 win in Crisler a couple weeks ago. The Illini were in the midst of a tailspin having lost five of six, but had no idea how bad it was going to get. They lost convincingly in Ann Arbor and at home against Purdue before consecutive road blowouts against Nebraska(!!!) and Ohio State saw them plunge off the bubble and all but end Bruce Weber's Illini career.
Not much has changed in the four games since these two teams met: Illinois remains a team with three quality offensive players and total hot garbage behind them. Brandon Paul and Meyers Leonard are the primary shot creators.
Leonard is a 7'1" shot-blocker who shoots 60% from the floor with good usage. In the first matchup Illinois ominously fed Leonard for the first few minutes until Matt Vogrich took a charge for Leonard's second foul. He went to the bench for the rest of the half; by the time he returned in the second his teammates had forgotten all about him. After drawing a bunch of e-derps for crying on the bench in the midst of the Nebraska(!!!) blowout, Leonard flirted with the bench despite the total uselessness of his backup. Unfortunately for Michigan, his last outing was a monster (22 points on 13 shots, 14 rebounds, six of them offensive) and may find him back on track in the friendly confines of Yet Another Assembly Hall. After what happened in Crisler you know Illinois will be emphasizing feeding Leonard at all costs.
Paul is Paul, a fantastic athlete and mediocre shooter who is often saddled with the "oh crap there's five seconds on the shot clock" offense. He tries to do too much because he has to. He totally destroyed Ohio State that one game.
Third banana DJ Richardson is mired in a Hardaway-like slump in which he's not making many threes but by God he's shooting him. Over his past five games he's 7 of 33 from three. This has sunk his three point shooting to 28% in conference play—sound familiar?
You'll be pleased to know that 6'8" shooter Tyler Griffey has faded into the background after singlehandedly keeping Illinois in the first matchup. He hasn't scored more than a handful of points in any subsequent game and is struggling to see more than 10-15 minutes in most games. Completely horrible point guard Tracy Abrams did blow up for 22 against Purdue and had an efficient game against Nebraska but has since settled back into his usual offensive inability.
This was mostly covered above. Illinois has lost 9 of their last 11 Big Ten games but did beat Iowa by 11 in their last outing.
THE STUPID-LOOKING BRUCE WEBER PICTURES
We should get them in while we can.
Conference four factors:
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||49.3 8||52.1 8||49|
|Turnover %:||21.7 11||19.5 5||20.8|
|Off. Reb. %:||29.0 9||29.7 5||32.5|
|FTA/FGA:||31.9 8||36.7 10||36.5|
As before, Illinois is an inexplicable debacle on offense and mediocre defensively. They're 11th in the conference at shooting threes at 30 percent and dead last in opponent three-point percentage (though that might be random) at 40%. They do shoot well on twos and prevent opponents from taking a lot of threes.
Collapse collapse collapse. Collapse like Mesa Verde circa 1300 AD. Illinois' best shots all come from Leonard and Illinois can't shoot threes to save their lives right now. The previous edition of this preview said "watch out for DJ Richardson from deep"; now he's Hardaway. Double Leonard all day and twice on Tuesday.
Zone zone zone. Zone zone zone. Part of Michigan's fantastic ability to deny Leonard the ball in the second half of the first matchup was extensive use of a 2-3 zone. Again, you can take your chances with Illinois shooting from deep. Unleash the zone kraken!
Obligatory Hardaway section. Is obligatory.
Switch everything not Leonard-based on the perimeter. Remove driving lanes by doing this; if it encourages someone on Illinois to go isolation on a mismatch I think that's a bonus even if it's Paul. Paul is not an efficient offensive player for a lot of reasons.
Exploit the confusion and depression and disunity. I'm nervous that Illinois comes out annoyingly rejuvenated; I assume Illinois fans are nervous that Illinois comes out like they have for most of the season. I'm guessing Michigan gets their fair share of easy layups because Illinois is just not in the game. This could be a totally wrong thing to think.
Let Novak and Douglass get more aggressive with the ball earlier in the shot clock. It would be nice to take some of the pressure off Burke; with both of those guys proving they can create shots of late, Michigan should show the ball screen and then try to use the space it creates by pulling Leonard out of the lane to get Douglass and Novak drives to the basket for either insane heistation layups (Douglass); high-percentage pull ups (Novak) or kick outs for open shots.
More Leonard foul trouble please. It would be nice.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by one. Sippin On Purple's Rodger Sherman rises from the grave to rend his garments and screams about Michigan's luck in close games to the heavens.
McGary said he isn't remotely ready for the NBA and is looking forward to playing at Michigan with Glenn Robinson III, an Indiana high school teammate at Ann Arbor and the son of former NBA star Glenn Robinson. Sampson said he is grateful for his two years at Brewster, adding, "I think if I had gone to St. John's and never come here, I would not be nearly as well off as I am now."
2/12/2012 – Michigan 70, Illinois 61 – 19-7, 9-4 Big Ten
Sports have their own distinctive rhythms, sounds and moments and rituals that worm themselves into the observer's subconscious after repeated exposure. Basketball is rife with them. The seismic thud of the ball hitting the floor is shockingly tactile from time to time, especially during your first game of a new season. Back-to-back TV timeouts are agony and boredom. And the interval between a three-pointer's departure and arrival, when three fingers are raised in slow motion and a long heavy intake of breath fills the lungs, is the sort of intermittent reinforcement that ends with people saying "but she loves me… she's just misunderstood."
When those rhythms conspire against you in a cosmically unfair (and usually deeply random) fashion, building-wide manias develop. Rattling post after post in hockey, an avalanche of seeing-eye singles in baseball, the clang of iron on open look after open look—these things turn crowds into scalded, nervous things. When the shot goes up, the reaction is something it would take Steve Buscemi to adequately convey.
Oh no, here we go again
Maybe this time basketball will love me
Maybe this time basketball will care
Basketball is just misunderstood
No officer I would not like to press charges against basketball
Maybe next time
Probably next time
Definitely next time
Basketball is just misunderstood
When Tim Hardaway Jr. got an open-ish look from three early, he passed it up. He faked, got past the closeout, and took an open look from the elbow. He missed. He got another midrange jumper a minute later, which he missed. A minute after that he got an open look from three, and the building kind of moaned.
It was a complex moan. It acknowledged the fact that this was a very good shot and that if you are Tim Hardaway Jr. and you're not going to take this shot you probably shouldn't be on the floor at all and while there may be some basketball teams who could afford to bench Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan is emphatically not one of them. It also loathed everything about the preceding sentence because none of it meant Hardaway was at all likely to make it. It was a richly subtextual moan. Given enough time and processing power, Ken Pomeroy could calculate Hardaway's shooting percentage from it. He would find it is not high at all.
Hardaway made it anyway. The building thought maybe basketball would bring it flowers.
It was the other one, though, that really got hearts open again, really open and ready for a surprising reversal that is in no way surprising. It wasn't a good shot, really, but when you're 6'5" and can jump really high there are few truly contested threes. This has been a foundational component of Hardaway's game and seemed brilliant when he was hitting 42% of them. When you're hitting 27%, not so much. Hardaway was hitting 27% as he made a token move to the basket and stepped back for a semi-contested three.
He'd hit one earlier and maybe the wincing wasn't quite as overt as he rose up. This one was perfect. It hit nothing whatsoever on its way through the hoop.
Hardaway didn't push it. There was no heat check, because sometimes a thing like making more than half of your shots in a game is a delicate one that must be shepherded through dangers.
Hardaway wasn't the only struggler to prop up fading hopes of effectiveness. Matt Vogrich had eight points on three shots, all makes, and Novaked himself a game-changing play* when his super-quick rotation on Meyers Leonard condemned Leonard to the bench for most of the first half. Evan Smotrycz hit a couple threes and managed 13 points; though he turned the ball over twice he was also credited with four steals. Michigan did not get blown off the court in the long stretches where a foul-limited Morgan wasn't on it thanks in large part to Smotrycz.
Both Vogrich and Smotrycz followed Hardaway's example and didn't push it. Between the three of them they took eight threes and hit six. As a team Michigan attempted just 35% from beyond the arc. It was a strange mirror of the first half against Nebraska, when Michigan took two thirds of its shots from three against the worst interior defense in the league. Here they took most of their shots from two against one a team much better on the interior than the perimeter.
Whether that was just what Illinois does—they're second in the league at preventing three point attempts—or Michigan treating their newfound deep shooting touch like a Faberge egg, the end result was a building that did not moan. Primed to believe long shots could actually go through the net, when Vogrich rose in the second half there was just anticipation.
Long may it last. It won't last. It might last. Basketball has been more into flowers lately.
*[Except of course if Novak had tried to do the same thing they would have called a block on him because referees hate Novak even more than opposing fans do.]
Bullets Will Drive Us Apart
As always, rely on MGoBlog for your super accurate predictions. In the preview I openly quailed at the prospect of Meyers Leonard going up against Michigan's undersized front line. At halftime I felt like the six-point lead was a missed opportunity that would bite Michigan in the ass after Leonard returned from the game-changing charge Matt Vogrich took on him for his second foul. Leonard's 7'1" frame sauntered onto the court and… scored one point in the second half. He had all of three FGAs, all of which IIRC were putback attempts (he had four offensive rebounds).
That's the game right there. I'm not sure how much of that was Michigan's doing and how much was Illinois drifting away from the early game plan (in short: "ALL OF THE LEONARDS") in favor of whatever it was they decided to do instead. It felt like Illinois didn't even bother looking inside much in the second half. When they did, doubles convinced Leonard to kick it out and active hands from Morgan and Smotrycz forced a number of turnovers. It's a tribute to someone on the coaching staff—maybe various someones—that this motely crew of iffy athletes and short guys finds itself an above-average Big Ten defense.
At least I was on point with the increased use of zone—plenty when Leonard was on the court—and the total uselessness of the backup center (zero points, two attempts both on offensive putbacks against McLimans in 14 minutes). Didn't see Tyler Griffey as the guy who would light up Michigan's sagging perimeter defense.
Player items. Hardaway, Vogrich, and Smotrycz are essentially covered above. All had efficient shooting days for a change; as a unit that put Michigan over the hump despite a 5 of 15 day from Trey Burke. It certainly didn't feel like a 5 of 15 day from Burke, but there it is.
Not much stands out from the boxscore except another game in which Michigan had the crap kicked out of it on the boards. Illinois rebounded 40% of its misses. Michigan is now significantly below average in both offensive (10th) and defensive (8th) rebounding. This is an obvious consequence of moving Douglass into the starting lineup after they cruised through the nonconference schedule seeming like a good to very good DREB team. Not that doing that was a bad idea.
The upside of that. Michigan got a ton of fast break and secondary transition points; in the second half when Illinois was crashing the boards hard anything that didn't end up getting rebounded by the trees fell to a shorter faster Michigan player and the resulting transition opportunity was often an odd-man break. I'd be interested to see a breakdown of Illinios points off of offensive rebounds versus points in transition when Michigan actually got the board. I'd guess it would be a small advantage to Illinois, but not one that outweighs the benefits of going small to Michigan's halfcourt offense.
Small sample size. Vogrich is 5/5 from three in his past two games. Result:
Prior to the Nebraska win, Vogrich was shooting 20.5 percent on the season. Now, after one solid week, he's up to 30.8 percent from downtown.
Big Ten… um… title? It is vaguely possible. Via UMHoops, the four contenders (I've taken the liberty of bolding games versus the top four):
|MICHIGAN ST. (9-3)||OHIO ST. (9-3)||MICHIGAN (9-4)||WISCONSIN (8-4)|
|vs. Wisconsin (8-4)||at Minnesota (5-7)||vs. OSU (9-3)||at MSU (9-3)|
|at Purdue (6-6)||at Michigan (9-4)||at N’Western (5-7)||vs. PSU (3-10)|
|at Minnesota (5-7)||vs. Illinois (5-7)||vs. Purdue (6-6)||at Iowa (5-7)|
|vs. Nebraska (3-10)||vs. Wisconsin (8-4)||at Illinois (5-7)||at OSU (9-3)|
|at Indiana (7-6)||at N’Western (5-7)||at PSU (3-10)||vs. Minnesota (5-7)|
|vs. OSU (9-3)||at MSU (9-3)||vs. Illinois (5-7)|
You'll note that Michigan is one of them and that their last game against the cream of the crop is their next one.
It will take either a huge closing run or a specific combination of results to get Michigan a banner; I'd say we can forget about it if Michigan loses against OSU. Unless OSU loses at Minnesota that would mean Michigan was two back with four games left.
If they managed the upset, though…
Illinois team practice. In games they headbutt each other and are eaten.
Weber watch. The vibe I get from the various Illini fans whose blogs I read or who I follow on twitter is extreme frustration with Bruce Weber. That makes sense after concentrating on Illinois's play. The Illini are like a pack of gazelles: breathtaking to watch run around but utterly incapable of passing the ball. Gazelles have hooves, and this fact explains things. Only two or three of the Illini have hooves. The rest of that is on Weber.
I mean, Brandon Paul should be an All-American. Instead he has a lower ORtg than literally every Michigan player with enough playing time for Kenpom to register save Vogrich. If they miss the tourney dollars to donuts Weber is having his hissy fits at home next year*. Because he won't have a job. I'm saying they'll fire him.
*[Seriously. Weber's fits might be worse than those of Bo Ryan and Tom Izzo. At least Ryan and Izzo seem to have a tangible effect on their teams. The only way Weber's message is getting through is if he's screaming "DRIBBLE AIMLESSLY AND THEN TURN THE BALL OVER." I mean:
Three of 22 pictures from the Detroit News gallery above feature Weber having a fit.]
Trillion watch. McLimans had a rare first-half trillion in four minutes.
Sold out? The game was technically sold out. Emphasis on "technically": large chunks of the upper-bowl endzones were empty the whole game. Who is buying those tickets and then ignoring them? I know they're not season tickets up there, so someone must be purchasing and then not using large chunks of the endzone upper decks. Strange.
Incredulous block/charge of the week. Brandon Paul's late first half clobberation of Trey Burke. Burke was set well outside the charge circle and Paul blew him up; this was an and-one instead of Paul's second. I haven't seen a replay but live it was a crazy call.
The only thing I can think might even vaguely justify the call is that Paul didn't hit Burke in the dead center of his chest. For some reason refs have a tendency to call blocks when a stationary defender takes an off-center or glancing blow from the offensive player. Why I don't know. In a situation like the Burke/Paul confrontation it seems like there are only two possible outcomes: a charge or a no-call. Referees disagree.
UMHoops recap. They went inside the play with some Jordan Morgan bunnies. The Crimson Quarry breaks down Indiana's deployment of the 2-3 zone. Michigan ran a lot of 2-3 in the second half yesterday and may resort to it at times down the stretch when they're at a significant size disadvantage (most of the time). Just Cover on the argument about 8-10 Big Ten teams making the tournament.
People are talking about seeding. A four, a five? There are distinct loci on the map of college basketball that Michigan now firmly occupies instead of the Purgatorial listlessness that once loomed over the program for over a decade. People are talking about Michigan's chances to win the conference title, regular season and tournament. That's not to say that Michigan will win either (the former hinges upon whether or not Michigan can beat the Buckeyes at home on Saturday), but people are talking about it. Think about how insane that is, as a concept and as a potential reality. A little over four years ago, Michigan was busy losing to an Amaker-coached Harvard squad, a moment in history that typifies the Universe's mischievous sense of humor.
It's worth noting that with Michigan's ninth win of the conference season they have permanently taken themselves off the bubble. For the first time since [REDACTED] Michigan's not going into Selection Sunday on pins an needles, even if they lose out. That was a preseason goal Michigan has met with authority.
|WHAT||Illinois at Michigan|
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||1 PM Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||M –5 (Kenpom)|
Illinois is the only Big Ten opponent Michigan hasn't faced yet this year. They're a weird team, blessed with two A-level stars but capable of scoring droughts spanning a quarter of the game.
The main main is junior guard Brandon Paul. He may technically be the two-guard but in practice he is the man with the ball in his hands most of the time. Paul's usage is prodiguous but he's not great at anything in particular. His assist rate is high; so is his TO rate. His shooting efficiency is mediocre both from three (34%) and two (43%). He gets to the line a lot, I guess, and he is a big component of Illinois's defensive rebounding. He's a better version of Manny Harris.
The second A-level star is sophomore center Meyers Leonard, who is shooting 61% from two, rebounding furiously, and blocking many, many shots. He does a good job of staying on the floor and has above-average (but not amazingly so) usage. He's quality, and the prospect of Leonard matching up against Michigan players a half-foot shorter and no more athletic is daunting.
Illinois's third banana is guard DJ Richardson. Richardson is perimeter-oriented guard hitting 39% from three and 44% from two; he does not get to the line or turn the ball over much.
After those three there's a rotation with no player seeing more than 55% of available minutes. They are:
- Backup C Nnanna Egwu. Yeah. "Nnanna." Low usage turnover machine who doesn't even rebound well. If Leonard gets into foul trouble Illinois is toast—they were close against the Hoosiers until Leonard picked up two quick fouls, one for having his jaw in the way of Cody Zeller's elbow, the other a weak moving screen call. Leonard went to the bench and Illinois folded immediately.
- Senior starting G Sam Maniscalco. Grad-year transfer from Bradley. Decent usage but not a threat from deep (27%). Efficient from inside two and at the line.
- Sophomore wing Joseph Bertrand. Wing slasher; has no range (just 5 three attempts on the year) but hitting 58% on twos. Doesn't get to the line.
- Nominal starting G Tracy Abrams. Low usage turnover machine. Awful offensive player. Plays half of available minutes and does nothing at all well statistically. Must be a good defender or something.
- Junior PF Tyler Griffey. Good offensive rebounder, will shot threes, big TO rate.
Basically any shot not from the top three guys or Bertrand is a good shot for Michigan. If Leonard gets into foul trouble Michigan may be able to run away and hide—his backup is that bad.
As a team, Illinois does not shoot well from three. The only guy you should wince at leaving open on the perimeter is Richardson. Paul is meh; threes from everyone else are good for Michigan no matter how open they are.
Brandon Paul temporarily evolved into a higher life form on January 10th en route to like a billion points in Illinois's dramatic upset of Ohio State. At that point the Illini were 15-3 and cruising. They've lost five of six since. Because basketball makes no sense the lone win was a one-point decision over Michigan State in a totally horrendous game.
For all the harrumphing about Michigan's road struggles, Illinois's only road win against a top-100 Kenpom opponent was by one point at Northwestern.
Illinois's only nonconference win of note was a home game against Gonzaga. They also beat Maryland. They lost badly to UNLV and narrowly to Missouri.
Conference four factors:
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||51.1 5||49.7 5||49|
|Turnover %:||22.2 11||19.4 4||20.8|
|Off. Reb. %:||28.3 8||31.0 6||32.5|
|FTA/FGA:||33.9 8||39.1 9||36.5|
Illinois is just not an efficient team except when they get off twos.
Illinois is ninth in both shooting and defending the three, second at shooting twos, and block a lot of shots. They don't give up a lot of threes, something that may be more important than the actual percentage opponents shoot.
Survive Meyers Leonard. It would be immensely helpful if Leonard got in foul trouble; Illinois has no backup, basically. If that doesn't happen I'm guessing we see some of the 2-3 and 1-2-2 zones Michigan has deployed through the year. We might even see the endangered 1-3-1; Illinois is not a smooth offensive team and could dribble themselves into a bunch of trouble.
Another Leonard mitigation possibility: more McLimans. His size could prevent Leonard from getting as many touches as he would otherwise, and five fouls are five fouls.
Hope Stu can handle Paul. Brandon Paul could explode and not leave Michigan much chance to do anything about it. That has not been the case for much of the Big Ten season, however. Paul can get a shot any time he wants but they don't go down regularly enough for him to be efficient unless he's getting to the basket with regularity. Keep him shooting jumpers… and hope he doesn't go unconscious a la Ohio State.
Generic Hardaway concern. Get him going to the basket off screens and see what happens. Please for the love of god make some threes. Etc.
Crash the boards a bit more than usual. A shotblocker like Leonard will often leave his feet, allowing a weakside rebounder an opportunity to clean up shots that get past outstretched arms. Michigan has all but abdicated offensive rebounding; maybe they should try to get some cheap buckets that way.
Win the bench. Illinois has some dudes that aren't very good; Michigan is basically six or seven deep right now, and the guys off the bench aren't contributing much. If M can get some quality minutes from Vogrich and Smotrycz when members of the Illini Big Three are on the bench it'll help.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by five.
Site note! OH MY GOD UFR UFR UFR OSU OSU OSU. Yeah, happening. I am going to take it a bit slower because, like, I can. Half this week, half next week.
The season's end usually means a slowdown in December since football is over, basketball is often wading through thickets of uninspiring nonconference opponents, and hockey is off for big chunks (this year they're also super depressing!). Also, the batteries. They need recharging.
Bid. The big prize in the School of Kinesiology's auction goes off the board in just over a day:
That is signed by:
Anthony Carter (Signed on the #1), Charles Woodson, Jake Long, Chad Henne, Elvis Grbac, Zoltan Mesko, Anthony "A-Train" Thomas, Larry Foote, Brandon Graham, Jamie Morris, Rick Leach, Jarrett Irons, Jim Brandstatter, Adrian Arrington, Reggie McKenzie, James Hall, Bob Chappuis, Vada Murray, Morgan Trent, Tim Jamison, Will Johnson, Butch Woolfolk, John Wangler, Bennie Joppru,Stevie Brown, Chris Floyd, Glen Steele, Mark Campbell, Clint Copenhaver, Aaron Shea, Scott Dresibach, Jarrod Bunch, Victor Hobson, Mark Messner, Stan Edwards, Derek Walker, Greg McMurtry, Billy Taylor, Harlan Huckleby, Don Dufek Sr., Don Dufek Jr., Bill Dufek, Ron Simpkins, Phil Brabbs, Chuck Winters, Andre Weathers, Jim Betts, Carl Diggs, Eric Mayes, Rondell Biggs, Greg Mathews, Doug Skene, David Moosman, Ron Bellamy and Adam Kraus.
Zoltan, yo. You will have to be a big baller to pick it up, but most of the emails I get come from law firms, so… yeah.
Hayden Fry on Bo. This is pretty much awesome:
Michigan's long-running semi-rivalry with Iowa has always seemed to me like the most mutually respectful one M has, what with Bump and Fry and Carr pulling for Ferentz and whatnot. It's good to have them in the division.
Sacrifice Virginia. Basketball hits the court again tonight (7PM, ESPN2) in their second consecutive road game in the Big Ten-ACC challenge. They've got Virginia. If you're thinking that sounds like a pushover, no, not so much. Kenpom has the 5-1 Cavaliers 37th and gives them a decent edge (61%) on their home court. Michigan probably has a better chance than wobbly early-season numbers suggest since they're still heavily counting Michigan's pre-Maui struggles.
While Michigan's playing its first true road game of the season, Virginia hasn't played a major conference team yet. They've annihilated a couple of bad teams, lost a squeaker to TCU, and cruised by Drexel, Drake, and Wisconsin-Green Bay. Defense is their calling card—they're currently 8th.
The Freshman Point Guard is Just Fine
Trey Burke hasn’t been perfect. He’s turned the ball over on 21% of his possessions, is shooting 60% on free throws, made one of eight threes in Maui and has the tendency to commit silly fouls. Despite those freshman mistakes, Burke has proven that he’s ready to play at this level. His quickness, playmaking ability and competitiveness have already proven vastly important through Michigan’s first six games.
Burke handed out more assists during the Maui Invitational than any player from any of the eight participating schools. He averaged 35 minutes per game in Maui, tied for the U-M lead, which serves as a ringing endorsement of John Beilein’s trust. The turnovers will decrease and he will find his three point shooting stroke (1-8 3pt in Maui) because he’s just too talented of a shooter not to. Burke is also the sort of player that can get a basket out of nothing – give him the ball in an isolation when the offense is struggling and he’ll make something happen.
“He’s got good size for his position, he’s athletic, he can shoot the basketball, and he can put the ball on the floor, get to the basket,” Ford said. “He’s got a lot of the tools that you sort of look for in a wing. If he was a better ball-handler — and it’s ironic, because his dad was amazing — that’s probably his biggest weakness. I think he (also) needs to get a little more consistent from 3-point range. “But I think he’s a pro.”
“He won’t need the money, and a lot of times that’s a big issue for players,” Ford said. “He’s got his dad, (so) he’s going to have access to more NBA guys giving him their opinions, which means he probably won’t get bad info. I probably say he stays, but I’m always surprised.”
Ford's plugging him in the same range Darius Morris was projected in as last season developed. As he mentions, money's not an issue, and this time around the NBA lockout helps. Last year the lockout pushed a marginal first-rounder like Morris into this years draft because a lot of blue-chips sat it out; this year those blue-chips will flood into the draft and push the Morris-Hardaway range back to school. I guess Burke fits in that range now, too. (Rivals basketball recruiting: you suck.) Sounds like Mitch McGary had a tough tournament over the last week, one that seems the draft consensus on him also in that fringe first-round range.
I'm still getting a handle on this edition of Michigan basketball, but it seems to me like Hardaway's increased ability to get his shot inside the arc is the non-Burke key. Memphis and Duke tried to shut off Michigan's threes only to get beat up on those overplays. Dylan notes Michigan's red-hot two-point shooting in Maui; Hardaway led the way at 27 of 44—a better than 60% clip.
Hardaway seems to have added a mid-range pull-up game that will be unstoppable since he's a 6'6" leaper. Just has to hit those shots. I expect the team's three-point shooting will come around to where it was last year. At this point Vogrich/Douglass/Novak is established as a floppy-haired Cerberus that will shoot between 36 and 38 percent collectively. Hardaway and Burke are the wildcards there. Is Hardaway the elite guy from the Big Ten season or also in that okay-to-good range? And how good of a shooter is Burke?
BONUS: Drexel's head coach is named "Bruiser Flint." Serious.
This is going to go well. They put Big Ten offensive lineman of the year David Molk in front of a camera and Tim Doyle asked him goofy questions.
Call me butterfly. I dare you.
Barely concealed contempt FTW.
Obligatory section on Meyer. He'll be some level of good. It's vastly more important for Michigan to have its house in order, which they seem to. Insert your preferred baseless assumption about Meyer's flakiness/health issues/lack of recruiting acumen here to make you feel better. At least we won't be one-upped in this department:
Rittenberg writes that if there's anyone who knows Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's system, it's Meyer. The two worked along side one another when Meyer was the head coach of Florida.
If Mattison stays at Michigan, perhaps Meyer could give the Buckeyes the advantage come next season, as OSU tries to avenge their first loss to UM in eight years.
PROTIP: if your assertion can be flipped 180 degrees and retain equal plausibility, find another assertion.
The one thing hiring Meyer does do is make OSU fans' assertions that they really gave themselves a tough punishment by firing/retiring Jim Tressel even more obviously crap than when they were originally peddled. The NCAA's reaction to a head coach lying to keep his most important players eligible, then lying again to get them eligible for a bowl game, is going to be pathetically weak even with the tattoos and cars and "charity" events on top of everything.
Countdown to resumption of normal activities in 3… 2… 1…
The neck, it sticks out. This year's most interesting recruit ranking kerfuffle is located in the general vicinity of Toledo, where Chris Wormley is the Ohio Division 1 defensive player of the year over Se'Von Pittman, Tom Strobel, Joe Bolden, and De'Van Bogard. Those four are all top 100 types. Wormley had M and OSU offers on top of that but still sees this massive rankings spread:
- 247: #59 overall, #3 SDE, #3 OH
- ESPN: 4*, #16 DE, #7 OH
- Scout: 4*, #161 overall, #22 DE
- Rivals: durf. 3*, #22 strongside defensive end (IE: approx #44 DE)
That's a powerful outlier there. Hopefully it's wrong.
Why the Big Ten is not so good, Part XXVII. The massive connections that come from a brief tenure at Cincinnati may land Pat Narduzzi the Illinois job:
As Illinois' search for Ron Zook's replacement begins, a source said the program is looking at candidates that include Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and Toledo head coach Tim Beckman.
Narduzzi's Big Ten affiliation and ties to Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas make him a likely target.
He served as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati from 2004-06, overlapping with Thomas' tenure with the Bearcats that began in 2005. He was reportedly a candidate for the Cincinnati job that eventually went to Brian Kelly, who now coaches at Notre Dame.
Yes, this would be another disappointing mid-level Big Ten hire with names like Mike Leach, Kevin Sumlin, and anyone who's proven they are actually in charge of the thing they're supposed to be in charge of out there. Narduzzi is a defensive coordinator working under a former DC. That always makes me leery because you don't know how much of the team's success in their chosen field is because of the guy you're hiring.
Beckman would probably be a better hire: he's turned around Toledo, has a ton of recruiting connections in Ohio, and did establish himself as a BCS level coordinator at Oklahoma State. Schiano is not realistic. He has security at Rutgers and Illinois is a death trap.
If Illinois does go with Narduzzi that is both of Dantonio's coordinators out the door in a two year period. Not sure how much Narduzzi would hurt for the reasons given above, but it certainly can't help. It would be strange if Dantonio had more of a coaching tree in year five at MSU than Carr did, like, ever.
More Buckeye butthurt. Meinke collects the various lolrus OSU player twitter posts after the game. You've read the Boren ones; the others:
Added Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman: "Karma is gonna be a (expletive) for that little 'celebration' at the end."
Players said the controversial celebration -- you can catch a piece of it at the 34-minute mark of this YouTube video -- is something they have done after each Friday practice this year. Coach Brady Hoke said he was fine with his team celebrating their win that way.
"I don’t have any problem (with it) because it wasn’t disrespectful to anybody," Hoke said. "It’s something they do every Friday.
"No. It wasn’t disrespectful to anybody. It’s something those kids have done for 12 weeks.”
Ohio State, though, clearly was offended with the episode, which occurred in front of several players at midfield.
It led to Ohio State cornerback Brad Roby tweeting: "I will never lose to those scrubs again."
Etc.: Stuffing the Passer. Michigan-ND is Pat Forde's game of the year. Dreaded Judgment OSU game column. Dymonte Thomas badgers Bri'onte Dunn on the twitters. Dunn says he doesn't want to play in a spread. (Shhh.) Kyle Kalis is solid.
News bullets and other important items:
- Jake Ryan was MIA for most of first half due to a neck/shoulder injury of some sort. A "burner." He came back though and was fine.
- Hoke has not yet gotten a full explanation for Hemingway call.
- Denard left the game because he hit his elbow on a helmet, which caused his hand to go numb.
- Toussaint had a minor injury but could have re-entered the game. They used Vincent Smith due to the NASCAR passing situations.
- The timeout before Iowa's punt was because Hoke thought there were 12 guys on the field. There weren't.
- Hoke would have liked to have given Thomas Gordon some playing time but didn't get around to it.
Is there any second-guessing of your clock management in the fourth quarter? “No. We talked about that yesterday, and going into the two minutes at the end, knowing where we were timeout wise, I thought Al really managed it well, to be honest with you. We had four shots at the endzone. Two of them we had in our hands. I thought it was okay.”
What went into the decision to take the ball on opening kickoff? Also, are you disappointed you didn’t score on the opening drive? “Well, yeah, you’re always disappointed when you don’t score. It’s funner for you, it’s funner for me and our kids. We made a decision -- because 99.9% of the time we’re going to defer when we win the toss, but we had made a decision on Thursday, when there was going to be a significant wind, and wanting to have the wind in the fourth quarter was something that we really wanted to do. We just got lucky we won the toss, so we wanted to take the ball instead of [deferring], thinking they’re going to want the ball in the second half, then we can dictate us having the wind in the fourth quarter if we needed a field goal. So we thought that thing out pretty hard.”
Why did you use your timeout before the Iowa punt? “I called timeout because I thought we had 12 guys on the field.” Did you? “No, we didn’t. I didn’t count very well. As soon as I called it and counted I said, you know what, I hope we don’t need that one late. I talked about the kids’ effort. I had a pretty good effort, but I didn’t execute on that one very good for them.”
(more after the jump)
About Last Saturday:
Purdue 14, Michigan 36
Caption contest. Go.
The Road Ahead:
Iowa (5-3, 2-2 B1G)
Last game: Iowa 21, Minnesota 22 (L)
Recap: The only thing worse than questing for title of “Worst Big Ten Team EVER” is losing to that team, which Iowa did on Saturday. Flags in Iowa City flew at half mast to honor the death of Gopherquest -- and themselves, in the eyes of Brian Cook.
Two deaths and a funeral indeed.
Let’s take a look at the autopsy report: Thanks to a couple missed field goals, the game was close through the third quarter until Iowa scored to go ahead 21-10 early in the fourth, seemingly poised to finally wrest it out of Minnesota’s reach.
After a Hawkeyes fumble and Gophers field goal, however, Minnesota converted a fourth and one from their own 42 and scored a touchdown a couple plays later.
The Gophers onside kicked, catching Iowa by surprise. Minnesota recovered and miraculously scored again on a fourth-down conversion at the Iowa three.
Flailing, the Hawkeyes went four-and-out and were then helpless to stop the Gophers from running out the clock.
Remarkably, Iowa RB Marcus Coker carried the ball 32 times for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns in an outstanding effort no Iowa fan will ever remember. Imagine if Pheidippides had made it all the way to Athens only to collapse before delivering his message. Instead of inspiring an entire culture of running a couple millenia later, now he’s just a clammy dead guy.
Right now they are as frightening as: A watered down version of 2007 Michigan immediately post-Horror -- not as good, therefore not as embarrassed. Still hiding under a blanky though. 5.
Michigan should worry about: The first real manball team on the schedule not playing in a trash tornado. Also the last.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Iowa had the rhabdomyolysis problem in the offseason, which seems to have scared the CARA out of the strength staff. (Do you see what I did there?)
As a result, Iowa’s defense looks like it’s been playing Wii Fit in lieu of real conditioning. They made Iowa State QB Steele Jantz look like Andrew Luck, allowed Penn State to go Look-Ma-No-QB, and couldn’t stop Marqueis Gray when it mattered -- incidentally, all of these things happened in the fourth quarter.
When Michigan plays them: 2011 Iowa is undefeated at home. 2011 Michigan is undefeated in November. Immovable object meet unstoppable force? Hah.
For realsies now: Iowa’s best win was against Pitt. This was the game where Vandenberg led the epic comeback against a Tony Gibson coached secondary, earning him the Vandenhenneberg moniker. The joke is getting stale, but if you were still wondering, that along with BGHP’s gushing comparison at the beginning of the season is where it comes from. Their next best win was against Northwestern, and you know all about Northwestern’s secondary. And then if you keep looking you fall off a cliff right before the Indianas and Lousiana-Monroes of the world, where concerns about the secondary are, well … secondary.
Sorry, I had to do that.
The Wolverines secondary is much better these days, having survived Alex Carder, Michael Floyd, Dan Persa, and B.J. Cunningham (electing to fall prey to Keshawn Martin instead). Teams succeeded against VandenMcHenneNutt by preventing deep routes. Michigan’s inside-and-in-front philosophy should be able to do at least that.
And then there’s the issue of the Hawkeyes defense. Their major breakdowns tend to happen late in the game due to the aforementioned stamina problems. Aside from targeting specific weakness (see Ace’s FFFF), offensive playcalling that spreads and stretches the field laterally to wear down Iowa defenders would be a smart approach, especially early in the game.
(more after the jump)