at least it's not just us?
2/1/2012 – Michigan 68, Indiana 56 – 17-6, 7-3 Big Ten
At the beginning of Michigan's most epic brutal stretch of the season, they made a radical change by consigning Evan Smotrycz to the bench in favor of Stu Douglass. Zack Novak wearily took up the mantle of power forward again and Michigan soldiered through. Five of six games into the MEBS they're now 3-2 and guaranteed to come out at least .500, eyeing a Sweet Sixteen seed if they can win the games they should down the road.
Small sample size and all, but I thought it would be interesting to look at the impact that shift has had on Michigan's defense. When Beilein made the shift he said it was his best defensive lineup, after all. Chart? Chart.
Michigan without Stu in the starting lineup:
[note that there are more home games than road; I attempted to adjust for that by subtracting 3.5 points from the opponent's efficiency. A home-road swing is worth 7 points and let's blindly assign half of that to the offense]
|Opponent||Score||Possessions||B10 Off Eff||Expected Score||Delta|
Michigan with Stu in the starting lineup:
|Opponent||Score||Possessions||B10 Off Eff||Expected Score||Delta|
So, there you go. Exceedingly weak statistical evidence in a small sample size* that shifting Douglass into the starting lineup has been worth one and a half points per game. Since Michigan won two of the games he started by 1 and 2 points, this seems relevant to our interests. Let's not make too much of it—Michigan State could blow this away in one shooting streak. But our Bayesian estimate of Douglass improving the M defense should shift over 50%.
This is only part of what Douglass has brought to the table. Now I'm going to delve in to wishy feely stuff; I wanted to get some numbers on the internet to make me feel better about what's about to come.
But… close your eyes and envision the two most improved players on the team this year. Did you get Novak and Douglass? I'm guessing you did, what with images of Douglass driving into the lane and something bad not happening or Novak pulling up for a midrange jumper that gets only net.
this could be going well! (Upchurch)
That's weird. Freshmen get better faster than seniors, especially when the seniors are guards and the freshmen are largely posts. This year's most prominent freshman-to-sophomore transitions have not gone real well. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a fair bit less efficient than he was as a freshman. So is Jordan Morgan. Smotrycz is a lot better but has been marginalized during this important stretch; his incredible shooting in the nonconference season has evaporated in the Big Ten.
Normally that would spell doom. If I materialized in your bathtub in October and said "ooooOOOOOOoooooohhhhhh, TIM HARDAWAY JR WILL AVERAGE 27% FROM THREE POINT RANGE, oooooOOOOOOoooooohhhh" you would be more terrified for Michigan's basketball prospects than the fact you'd just had a time-travelling blogger ghost appear in a place you thought was safe from that sort of nonsense. And that's saying something.
But even though Hardaway and Morgan are less efficient and Trey Burke isn't quite at the level Darius Morris was last year, here they are aiming for a Sweet 16 seed. You can say this is Trey Burke's team, and you'd be right, and you can say Tim Hardaway Jr. is Michigan's most important player, and you'd be right. The two seniors are the guys duct-taping up all the leaks the team has sprung as it moves forward without Morris and Tim Hardaway's 44% conference three-point shooting.
Michigan may get better after they leave on sheer talent, but Douglass and Novak are two remarkable overachievers. Michigan needed two guys like that to change the culture around here after a decade-long tourney-free streak. No one thought they'd be guys snatched from Valpo (if they were even interested!) and Harvard. Even if their numbers shouldn't get raised to the rafters, those who come after them will stand on their shoulders. It may be Trey Burke's team but it's Douglass's and Novak's program.
*[FWIW, Arkansas put up about four more points than you'd expect if M was equal to an average SEC defense. I think that's more about Michigan being unprepared for the press—giving those points up on offense.]
Bullets That Always Go In If Shot By Jordan Hulls
GOOD LORD JORDAN HULLS. Dude was shooting 48% from three before yesterday's 4 of 5 performance. And a lot of those were tough.
God, what does it take to get a three point sniper who's actually lethal in college, too? Vogrich was reputed to be the best shooter in the country and is struggling to get above 25%. Come on, Stauskas.
Christian Watford guarding Trey Burke. It worked for a while as Burke seemed confused by the very idea; then Burke started crossing the dude over and screaming towards the basket. Weird, weird idea. Glad that Burke played through it. It was looking a little hopeless on offense for a while there.
Watford, by the way, annihilated Michigan in the game in Bloomington and is shooting 47% from three—actually much better than he is from 2 (42%). Weird player.
Jordan Morgan guarding Cody Zeller. Great, great job. Zeller is shooting 66% and has a top ten eFG%; Michigan held him to 4 of 9 shooting and IIRC two of his baskets were offensive rebound putbacks. This was almost all Morgan with a little Smotrycz in there, and Zeller could hardly get a shot opportunity.
Morgan's main advantage over most big men is his agility, activity, and endurance. He fronts everyone and rarely gives up good post position; Michigan cheats down behind him to cut off lob passes and leaves that backdoor three open. It's been effective overall.
You can see the good and bad of it in Michigan's conference Kenpom stats. They're #2 in the league at forcing turnovers; over 20% of opponent possessions end without a shot. They never put anyone on the line. Their 2PT% D is acceptable despite being short—their block percentage is last in the league. The main downside is giving up a lot of quality threes. 38% is good for only tenth in the league at 3PT defense. Given the composition of the roster, I'll take it. Michigan has to endure a lot of open threes to give themselves a chance inside. Considering the available athletes they're doing a good job.
Tim Hardaway jack watch. There were three or four, including another long two with lots of time on the shot clock. I don't mind him taking a three in the context of the offense. The ones where he just rises and fires are not good.
Michigan should start running him off Rip Hamilton-esque curl screens with the intent of getting him moving towards the basket with his man already to one side. That seems like it will result in profit. And possibly charges, but who cares about charges?
Watford and Zeller combined for 43 points in Bloomington; they only managed 19 between them last night. Hulls had 18 but he made some pretty tough shots to get there. You can live with that.
Seven interceptions, heat from the fans, lots of running to come. Sounds familiar, but it's 1982.
"Wild man" Mike Boren also features in the pregame. Via WH.
The lemon bet. A few weeks ago Mike Farrell tweeted that Yuri Wright's top two were Colorado and Michigan, to which I responded that I would eat a lemon and put it on the internet if Michigan lost Wright to CU*. I'd rather have a super athletic, if raw, corner than do this, so this quote($) from his trip to Boulder is a relief:
“I wish they would have picked a different weekend [ie, not finals] for me to come out there, but I still had a good time for the most part. I know it’s a good school.”
A small relief. I mean, I'll believe a guy with options like Michigan and Notre Dame going to Colorado several years after I see it.
*[FINE PRINT: Lemon will be consumed if Wright ends up signing with Colorado AND Michigan is still pursuing him at the time of his commitment. If M picks up Armani Reeves and stops going after corners, bet is void. To prevent this from being weaselly, this will have to be a direct quote to that effect or something from Sam Webb.]
Bust bits. The football bust transpired without hand-holding or weeping and with a minimum of Rodriguez hur hur that was made awkward when players thanked Rodriguez during speeches. There was one notable newsbit:
LIVONIA -- Michigan football coach Brady Hoke said at the team's annual bust Monday that he does not expect linebacker Marell Evans to return next year.
The fifth-year senior from Richmond, Va., has not played this year. Hoke, who declined throughout the season to elaborate on the situation, revealed at the banquet that Evans had eligibility issues because of "a twist of fate" resulting from his transfers.
You can remove the vague possibility Evans is on the team from your scholarship calculations. Also Molk made certain people feel bad:
"Going through what we did for five years … it's hard to put into words truly what it means and truly what we've been through," Molk said Monday night at the Laurel Manor. "Because frankly, I don't think there's many people in this room or in this country that understand. Unless you've been a fifth-year senior here, you don't know. You didn't live it you didn't feel it, you didn't see the pain, you didn't hear the anguish, you didn't hear the hate."
Take that, guy I threw an empty water bottle at after the Toledo game. You probably think Demanding Excellence is what got Michigan back on track. I hate you so much.
Q: How many times will people make the joke about Fred Jackson having coached Tom Harmon? IIRC, Rodriguez (of all people) was one of millions to get that zinger off. It is as traditional as Fred Jackson proclaiming all tailbacks to be Olympian gods.
AnnArbor.com has the fullest rundown of things that were said.
No sale, literally. If you're still looking for Sugar Bowl tickets, Virginia Tech has a deal for you:
As of Monday evening, Virginia Tech had sold a little over 9,500 of its 17,500 ticket allotment to the Sugar Bowl, a number that is only slightly higher than the 9,200 the school announced last Friday. So it's clear ticket sales -- at least through the school -- are slowing to a crawl at this point.
I bet Kansas State would have done better.
I've seen many a tweet about Kansas State and Arkansas' rush on Cotton Bowl tickets as proof that the Wildcats should have been chose for the Sugar Bowl instead of the Hokies. Kansas State reportedly sold out its 12,500-ticket allotment before the bowl was announced. Tickets are so in demand for the Cotton Bowl that the cheapest on StubHub are going for $219.99. Only the BCS title game ($1,299 for the cheapest seat) is a tougher ticket right now of the bowl games.
Andy Bitter suggests that's a factor of the distances—Dallas is driveable for both fanbases, but they're enthused after a big year and VT is coming off a hammering in the ACC title game.
VT is struggling in part because resellers are currently undercutting VT by two to one. An interesting note from Bitter: the ACC now picks up the tab for unsold tickets once schools get over the 8k mark. At least the risk the bowls have migrated from themselves to the teams is being spread over a greater number of institutions these days. Still: scam, scam, scam.
First halves maybe some. Your impression that Tim Hardaway spends many first halfs chilling, relaxing, maxing all cool are accurate. Via Wolverine Nation, Hardaway averages 5.2 points in the first half and 11.2 in the second. That's… more scoring in the second, there. I'd be fine if M started every game with a possession on which Hardaway is given those double high screens and given the green light to shoot if he comes open for a three. There are points in the first half when it feels like the offense bogs down because Hardaway isn't being enough of an option.
This is going well. This has no relation to anything you care about except the tenuous connection I can make between all bad coaches and Charlie Weis, but man does Randy Edsall remind you of an even less accomplished Charlie Weis or what? One of the early warning signs that Weis's colossal dickishness wasn't a Parcell-style asset was when starting defensive end Ronald Talley, a guy with almost no competition on the depth chart, transferred. To Delaware.
Presenting Randy Edsall's Maryland:
In a move that surprised no one, D.J. Adams announced his intention to transfer. The controversial running back had the class to wish Edsall and the program luck in a statement. Meanwhile, we're still waiting for Edsall's thoughts on losing the most talented tailback the team had after Davin Meggett. Heck, we're still waiting to hear why Adams was benched for most of the year.
Offensive tackle R.J. Dill — a starter and one of the team's best linemen — is transferring, too. Not only does it hurt the team from a football standpoint in the short run, but it also begs the questions: Who else is leaving, and who is going to come to College Park now?
Edsall went 2-10. Meanwhile, Freidgen coach-in-waiting James Franklin had something of a breakthrough year at Vandy and Maryland is dropping a bunch of sports after paying massive buyouts all over the place to hire Edsall and Gary Crowton. The yutz at Tennessee resigned in June, so Maryland's Kevin Anderson is now Worst Athletic Director In The Country.
In case you haven't seen it. Tom Crean's expression after Indiana hits their game-winning three against Kentucky is priceless:
Court rush approved. Indiana has spent some time in the wilderness after their disastrous decision to hire Kelvin Sampson (speaking of yutz athletic directors…) and this was a "OMG we're back" moment. Also beating #1 on a buzzer beater… yeah. That court rush is the reason everyone's so upset when people rush for dumb reasons.
Etc.: Dylan previews Arkansas Pine Bluff more thoroughly than they have ever been previewed before. The Pac-12 is not good at basketball. Floyd and Woolfolk are rehab BFFs. Why is the NBA stuck with the Hornets? Because of their publicly funded stadium.
State turdstorm UPDATE! Yesterday Eleven Warriors graciously posted that Maurice Clarett might be a troubled weirdo who tried to take down Ohio State after he got the boot, but at least he's a trying troubled weirdo and he's not all bad. This is a level of understanding I do not have with Tractor Traylor even after the guy died tragically.
11W's reward for this understanding is to have Ray Small go MoCo:
"We have apartments, car notes," he said. "So you got things like that and you look around and you're like, ‘Well I got (four) of them, I can sell one or two and get some money to pay this rent."
The wheeling and dealing didn't stop with rings. The best deals came from car dealerships, Small said.
"It was definitely the deals on the cars. I don't see why it's a big deal," said Small, who identified Jack Maxton Chevrolet as the players' main resource.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on May 7 that OSU was investigating more than 50 transactions between OSU athletes and their families and Jack Maxton Chevrolet or Auto Direct.
Representatives for Jack Maxton Chevrolet did not return repeated requests for comment.
NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from benefiting from the sale of their merchandise. Small said he wasn't the only one.
"They have a lot (of dirt) on everybody," Small said, "cause everybody was doing it."
Man… Ray Small. That guy was in trouble from day one at OSU, threw regular public hissy-fits about it, and he wasn't even that good at football. If I was an Ohio State fan he would be in my circle of the damned. Their term for this rapidly expanding category that includes Kirk Herbstreit and (to the truly deranged) Chris Spielman is "Fake Buckeye."
You can add Mark "Club Trillion" Titus to that list after he posted there was definitely something "shady" going on with football players' cars, then followed it up with a rebuttal saying that he shouldn't get death threats because that's mean. Titus claims the shadiness was to the point where most students knew or should have known what was going on.
Meanwhile, the local news station is investigating the Gibson thing and while that transaction continues to get more complicated it's not getting proportionally more explicable:
10 Investigates [sic] found that Gibson had a trade-in. He traded in a 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that BMV records showed he bought for $15,400 just seven months earlier.
But the dealership may have given him only $1,000 toward the trade-in, [instead] dropping the sales price of the car he was buying by a substantial amount.
10 Investigates [sic] has learned that's what Kniffin has told investigators with the BMV.
The trade-in business materializes as predicted; an explanation for how Thad Gibson scraped together enough money to buy two cars worth a total of 30k in less than a year is yet to be explained. Along The Oletangy responds to the investigation apparently clearing the transactions:
In any case, it doesn't matter what the BMV finds when they analyze Jack Maxton Chevrolet's tax forms as long as no special treatment was given to Ohio State football players.
It's obvious plenty of special treatment was provided, but where is the smoking gun?
Position paper on demolition of Ohio State program and whether it is good or bad. If Ohio State was going to fall apart by Notre Daming themselves with a series of coaching hires ranging from questionable to insane, that would be a thing to be conflicted about in the same way certain Ohio State fans are bored with a terrible Michigan team they're just going to blow out.
This is a different thing entirely since it suggests the fence Tressel legendarily put up around Ohio's borders is one based on massive NCAA noncompliance. Meanwhile, thanks in part to this (and in part to Michigan imploding) they've gone 9-1 and turned the Big Ten into their personal playground. If the NCAA finds proof of this massive noncompliance and OSU gets bombed into the stone age and is no longer any good, there's no conflict there. It's an unadulterated good. Michigan has been hypersensitive about this stuff since the Ed Martin Day Of Great Shame, and it's obvious their main rival hasn't. Putting that on even footing will help put the rivalry there if it doesn't swing it all the way back to the Cooper days, which fine by me.
Hot under the collar, part II. ESPN's Mike Fish, you may remember from the above-referenced Maurice Clarett bombing, has a new article. This is the header image:
Africa basketball charity, AAU player headed to Indiana, Tom Crean, Indiana AAU coach. This can't be good. Not pictured: involuntary adoption. Hooray Beilein.
Hey let's rehash this again. MZone noticed that I hadn't mentioned Lloyd Carr's election to the College Football Hall of Fame and asks why I hate Lloyd Carr, complete with requisite psychoanalysis and link to me being mad in the immediate aftermath of the Hoke hire when everyone was mad, something I've obviously backed away from in multiple column-length pieces since.
To defend myself: I don't take the CFHOF seriously. It just elected Deion Sanders. When Tom Curtis was elected it warranted about two sentences. For better or worse, I am totally uninterested in the charity work of rich people. I've also said my bit about Carr as Michigan's coach over and over again. Contrary to two-bit psychoanalysis it was not negative, or at least it was far less negative than many.
And I am pissed off at the hostility to change that's obvious every time any former Carr player says something about anything. We've got a program of Joe Morgans. I'm worried how that will manifest itself on the field. It's not hard to draw a contrast between what's gone down the last three years and what would have gone down if Bo was still around. Bo would have been on the warpath; he probably would have dropped by to scream at Rodriguez some. The impression we've gotten from every one of Carr's former players is that there is exactly one person responsible for Michigan's decline—Rich Rodriguez—and not only is that incorrect (Horror, DeBord, Tressel vs Carr) but it's detrimental to Michigan's future. If we got back to the days where every bowl opponent laughs at how predictable we are that will not be good.
(I don't think that's happening because Borges is a real live offensive coordinator and not a broken robot that only calls zone left. Hoke uber alles.)
Eyerolling reorg. Adam Wodon on the inevitable hockey realignment coming sounds like anyone talking about anything last year when talking about conference realignment:
It all starts with Notre Dame. (Well, it all started with Penn State and the Big Ten, but that's already happened.) Think about it — you're Notre Dame's president. Your sports teams all play in the Big East, or, in the case of football, is the most storied program in college sports. You fire up CHN's iPhone app one morning to check the hockey standings, and what do you see? You see Notre Dame competing against some MAC and D-II schools. You recoil. This is not what Notre Dame does. This is not what Notre Dame is.
That is not a knock on the other schools, it's just reality. There is no way that Notre Dame is staying put. That means that the CCHA is certain to lose its remaining powerhouse (from an institutional, NCAA-wide standpoint), and fall further to seven teams. That means the CCHA is in trouble, as a whole.
Maybe Wodon's got some inside chatter on this that he's refusing to mention in an effort to make his column as annoyingly speculative as possible, but this is the impetus for an elaborate reorganization scenario that sees Notre Dame move to Hockey East because they'd rather play Merrimack (seriously) than Ferris State.
Notre Dame is choosing between some games against BC and then a bunch of schools no one at Notre Dame has heard of plus flying for literally every road game and staying in the CCHA. While ND has money, are they going to spend it on that for no real benefit? And will Hockey East expand to an eleven teams just for the dubious benefits of having ND in the conference? Travel costs matter in hockey, the longest season in the NCAA, and no one is going to make enough money on an ND move to justify the increased costs even if "this is not what Notre Dame does." Yeesh.