The Sandwich War. SI's Andy Staples was in town recently to cover something or another and took the opportunity to cast a vote in the ongoing blood war over the best deli sandwich in Ann Arbor. The contenders are Zingerman's and Maize 'n' Blue Deli:
Staples goes for Maize 'n' Blue, citing price and having to unhinge his jaw as major considerations. Message board duly blows up in a way that makes me think I should put conversations about Zingerman's in the verboten category with politics and religion. Clearly sandwiches are both.
I'm hoping to flag Staples down the next time he's in town so I can take him to Frita Baditos in the hope his mind will be blown and Satchel's in the hope he gives Northern barbecue at least a C-.
No. Stop asking. Kudos to the Big Ten for reassuring everyone that they're not going to pick off half the Big East for no reason. Via a press release:
"In response to a number of recent media inquiries received by several Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors regarding the likelihood of further expansion by the Big Ten, the COP/C would like to reiterate that it will not be actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future."
"We said that we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion and have no plans to seek new members."
Twelve and done and good.
Locks. In case this wasn't made explicitly clear by Tim's recap, Brady Hoke directly asserted three guys would be defensive starters. There are no real surprises in that group:
Hoke said he's filled "about two or three" starting spots on defense. When asked who they were, he responded:
"(Cornerback Troy) Woolfolk's had a nice camp, I think (nose tackle Mike) Martin's had a nice camp, (safety Jordan) Kovacs has had a nice camp."
If you were hoping Kovacs was overtaken by someone more athletic you can shelve that. I'm hoping he enters his Englemon phase where he doesn't do much that im- or de-presses anyone. Woolfolk shooting to the top of the cornerback depth chart isn't a surprise but there was a chance the lingering effects of his injury prevented him from being as effective; that apparently hasn't happened. Good news—in the secondary and everything.
I'm a little surprised Demens isn't on that list given the practice buzz. Bad sign? Overreaction? It can be both.
I'm getting the impression they might actually run more read option this year than they did last year.
You are feeling very sleepy. You are Desmond Howard. Jeff Hecklinski could have been a hypnotist if he wasn't a football coach. He also accuses Roy Roundtree of "prancing" and stands next to a short dreaded guy who's injured:
Unless I'm mistaken, that's Martavious Odoms getting his Bob Marley on. First the cast, now a shoulder injury—Junior Hemingway must have pressed a mysterious button that someone told him would make him resilient but turn someone else on the team into Glass Joe.
BIG TEN: STOP MAKING AND NAMING THINGS. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING US ALL. This is the new Cy-Hawk Trophy:
This is what "Iowa Corn" came up with instead of, like, a Hawk in an F16 launching a missile at a tornado that was reaching out a airy appendage of doom. That's a rivalry trophy. That thing above belongs at Art Fair. Adam Jacobi would like "a lot less of this effort to turn the conference into a bad Norman Rockwell painting." Co-sign.
It's not like they didn't know that was going to happen. Iowa Corn also came up with this:
Oh, no. Dave Brandon: do not slap a winged helmet on that thing and put it on the sideline. Please.
Save us, Germany. While not getting that third year from Darius Morris (now an official thing with an official press release you can see at right in the diaries) that would allow Michigan to bridge from him to the Brundidge/Burke era confidently sucks out loud, Michigan might have a pretty good backup plan. Remember that German kid whose last name sort of implied he had a bushy mustache and favored soft zones when protecting a narrow lead?
Yeah, Patrick Heckmann. Heckmann is visiting colleges stateside after averaging 12.3 PPG in the third level of German basketball—not bad for a 17-year-old. He's hit San Diego and Boston College and plans one more trip—Michigan has been rumored as one of his top choices for a while. Get him on campus, take him to the Heidelberg, and bam:
Also here are terrifying German mascots!
Also also how can you not want this guy:
Patrick Heckmann was the lone bright spot in the short and grim German campaign to glory. A frightfully athletic wing player with a creative feel to his game emerged as a top-shelf prospect only in Lithuania averaging 12.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in the tournament, twice the production comparing to the U16 European Championship in Czech Republic two years ago.
The lone bright spot in short and grim campaign to glory: he is German basketball Denard Robinson.
Additional salve: Glen Robinson III's early AAU performances see him move into the Scout top 100 at #90.
Not so fast on your not so fast. Adam Rittenberg follows up on a Journal-Sentinel article that quotes Barry Alvarez saying a nine game schedule is not a priority and can't happen until 2017(!) at the earliest:
after checking with the Big Ten, I've learned the nine-game discussion will continue May 17-18 at the league's spring meetings of coaches and athletic directors in Chicago. Big Ten senior associate commissioner for television administration Mark Rudner, who puts together the league schedules, will talk with the ADs about whether to implement a nine-game schedule or remain at eight.
Rudner told me in an email message that the athletic directors want to see a financial analysis of schedules with nine league games versus eight league games.
The calculus that provides a ninth conference game: extra value of conference game for BTN + extra pricing leverage when you have a better schedule > 1/2 average stadium take – 2 * average guarantee. That seems like a hard thing to figure out.
I'm annoyed that athletic departments have now built in seven home football games as part of their revenue projections because it makes me feel like a cow being milked. Oh, Mr. Trump, be gentle!
Wha? The Pac-10… er, Pac-12's new television contract is very large. It is stupidly large, $2.7 billion over 12 years, or nearly $19 million per school. This crushes the ACC's recent contract, which would be no surprise except the ACC includes a bunch of basketball, and that contract saw "back and forth bidding" drive the ACC's annual cost from $120 million to $155.
One wonders what Big Ten rights would fetch if tossed on an open market in which Comcast is trying to get a slice of the pie for itself. At least the BTN provides steady revenue escalation as it increases its leverage in the footprint and gets more tasty ROTEL ads. The SEC's massive deal now seems eh… not so massive:
Does anyone know if SEC has an out in its current TV deal? Because if not, it's gonna be fun getting paid 2009 prices in 2023 #goodworkSlive
The Big Ten signed a ten-year contract in 2006, so they'll be on the market again in five years.
Brabbs baby is metal. Brabbs baby:
At least someone will enjoy it when Special K plays Saliva this fall. Also Brabbs is maintaining good numbers when it comes to his myeloma.
Joe Bolden says things. They are pretty inflammatory things:
"Being told I am too small," Bolden admitted, "when I have never heard that before, it was an eye opener. Notre Dame told me they wanted a 6-foot-4 linebacker and that I am 'not their guy.' I'm not upset if I don't fit your profile, I was just surprised it was about height, because I have always believed that it's not the size of the dog, but it's the dogs bite." …
"It will be good to walk over and shake the Notre Dame coaches' hands and say thank you for giving me the drive to be even better," Bolden said.
Actually… so… not that Notre Dame is anything other than a wretched hive of scum and villany, but they do run a 3-4, and in a 3-4 the OLBs are ideally even bigger than the fairly big Bolden because they're quasi-DEs. It's not you, it's them.
/ducks Bolden thunder-fist of words
Etc.: 1990 Iowa at Michigan on the intertubes. Since that was a heartbreaking one-point loss this may be of more interest to Iowa fans. Fascinating Slate article on a company that breaks down meaningless press conference jibber-jabber in an attempt to project players for the NFL draft. Michigan's last three-and-out coach.
Novak fouled out on three obvious charges (2, 3, 5), a blocking foul (1), and one that could go either way(4). The ones where Novak was in position but only got a glancing blow should probably be no-calls, actually. This is why John Beilein—John Beilein!—got a technical foul in Iowa City. In other news, I hate college basketball refereeing.
Also Michigan won in OT against Iowa. The hockey kind of sucked up my attention. Tim Hardaway Jr… dude. This is my analysis. Dude.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Iowa|
|WHERE||Iowa City, IA|
3:30 PM CST
4:30 Real Life Time
February 19th, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan -2.5.|
|TELEVISION||BTN (Eric Collins, Tim Doyle)|
As Brian said on WTKA Thursday, the outcome of the Illinois game doesn't have a huge negative effect on the tournament chances, except it's one hell of a "lack of positive" effect. Like missing a late goal trailing in a hockey game, it's the coulda-been point where it starts feeling like the thing is really over.
Michigan is now in serious need of an RPI top-50 win, and with four games left, there are only three options: 1) Beat Wisconsin. 2) Beat Minnesota and hope they end up in the top-50. 3) Beat Michigan State and hope the Spartans end up in the top-50. As much as it hurts to cheer for Sparty, #3 would be a huge benefit, because it would give Michigan two wins over a top-50 squad, including one on the road.
Until the fat lady does her thing, this is This Most Important Game of the Year Until The Next Game. The contest of Iowa isn't necessarily a "must-win," but it's definitely a "can't-lose," and since there are only two possible outcomes, well, I guess it's a must-win if Michigan wants to keep their tournament dream alive. A loss doesn't kill it, but means it would be necessary to sweep their final three regular season games (which, I hope they plan to win this one AND sweep the final three), and/or make a conference tourney run.
Last time around, Melsahn Basabe had a coming-out party, reaching a season-high point total (25), while pulling down 8 rebounds and notching a pair of blocks. Not to be outdone, Darius Morris recorded a triple-double, and the Wolverines got the last laugh with a comfortable win in Crisler Arena.
Since then, Michigan has shown that they've snapped out of their midseason malaise, but Iowa has proven that they're no pushover (who knows how they'll react after officially losing the chance to go .500 by losing to Northwestern on Thursday). There are no easy wins in NCAA basketball's toughest conference, especially on the road. Time to earn it.
With a few games under each teams' belts, it's finally reasonable to look at the stats. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Iowa: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Iowa Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Iowa Def eFG%||65||182||MM|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Iowa eFG%||176||181||-|
|Mich TO% v. Iowa Def TO%||19||67||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. Iowa TO%||238||261||M|
|Mich OReb% v. Iowa DReb%||319||191||II|
|Mich DReb% v. Iowa OReb%||41||95||M|
|Mich FTR v. Iowa Opp FTR||342||7||IIII|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Iowa FTR||56||269||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. Iowa AdjD||54||48||-|
|Mich AdjD v. Iowa AdjO||66||140||M|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
The Wolverines dominate the tempo-free stats, and Iowa's only big advantages are in rebounding Michigan misses and not sending John Beilein's squad to the free throw line. To sum it up, Iowa has a very slight advantage on Michigan's end of the court, and Michigan has a pretty hefty advantage when they're playing D.
So I spent a lot of the Illinois preview spilling words on how Michigan had turned into a pretty good offensive team during Big Ten play, and they managed to mae me eat my words by missing EVERYTHING on Wednesday night. A lot of that came from playing the #1 eFG% defense in the Big Ten, but even the open shots just weren't falling that night.
If Stu Douglass (54.7 eFG% on the year, 22.7 against Illinois), Zack Novak (55.2 this year, 42.9 Wednesday), and Darius Morris (52.5 season, 33.3 Wednesday) can snap out of their shooting funk, Michigan should be able to roll on the road. If Jordan Morgan can keep up his excellent form of late, that's icing on the cake.
I'm willing - based on 26 other games of evidence - to believe that the shooting performance was just a really bad night, and it won't be repeated against a much worse defensive team than the Illini. Keeping Melsahn Basabe from repeating his performance from Crisler Arena will be the bigger key to this game. Ken Pomeroy likes the Hawkeyes this afternoon, but I think Michigan emerges from Carver-Hawkeye with the 70-61 victory.
Kellen Jones M bowtie FTW.
Improving the not LOI. Compliance people complain to each other on twitter about people who abbreviate the "National Letter of Intent" as "LOI" instead of "NLI." Apparently there are other LOIs. You have been warned.
In any case they should be heavily reformed. Right now they're one-way binds with silly timing that have created a cottage industry of kids who attempt to reserve their spot by being "committed, but open." Paul Johnson's opinion of this is similar to Artur Boruc's about corn:
What I’d like to see happen, but I’m probably by myself: if you have 85 scholarships, and you can sign 25 a year or however many you have. When they commit, they sign the papers and you stop. It would stop all the verbal commitments and all the hats. The guys who weren’t ready wouldn’t commit. You’d call their bluff. They couldn’t make their reservation. We’ll talk to kids all the time, juniors right now, who are committing. We’ll say ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’
“Oh coach, I’m open.”
[HT: Get The Picture.]
I'm not really sure what the argument against early signing is. The way it's set up now everyone scrambles to get their class locked in on Signing Day, so someone like FL WR AJ King who has his scholarship pulled by Purdue is in a tough spot in his attempt to find a landing place. If he was signed, he'd be signed and hijinks both ways would be seriously reduced.
The Bylaw Blog has a few other suggestions, one of which I've made in this space before: the NCAA should implement a "no contact" agreement. That piece of paper would be non-binding but would allow the school specified by the player to contact the kid without restriction… and make it a violation for anyone else to. Official visits would also be off the table. That's a verbal commitment that actually exists and would help coaches figure out who's serious and who's just making a backup plan.
Heart-hurting. Remember that video of the Detroit Renaissance coach declaring Michigan's treatment of former Ren players "hurt his heart," thus explaining why Michigan couldn't get anyone out of there no matter what? Raise your hand if you're surprised that Ren's Lawrence Thomas recited the entire negative recruiting playbook:
"Why not Michigan? They had problems. There were some past experiences with other Renaissance players that I didn't like. Plus, Rich Rodriguez sent an assistant to our school to recruit me. He wouldn't even send the defensive coordinator, just an assistant. Then we'd hear that Rich Rod would be in Florida recruiting."
The Renaissance players were Andre Criswell, a last-second addition at FB who never saw the field and was kept on as a GA after leaving the team before his fifth year, and Carson Butler, the insane tight end who finally ran out of chances towards the end of Rodriguez's first year. Butler was treated so badly he stuck up for Rodriguez during the jihad. Michigan did as well by those kids as they could given the latter's hatred of nerds, be they in the wrong dorm room or playing for Notre Dame.
So… this was not a situation likely to produce a commitment even if Rodriguez showed up with every assistant he had, and one that would likely have continued under Hoke. Similarly, when Taiwan Jones complains about a lack of attention from Michigan during his visit to the UConn game he's complaining as a guy who had been a MSU commit for months already and who Michigan never even considered offering.
This continues the theme from these Blue Chip articles in the News since the beginning of time: Michigan commits asked about State say something short, polite and vague, State commits asked about Michigan rant about a lack of respect, and the guys towards the bottom of the list submit a tear-stained questionnaire because neither school thought they were good enough. This will happen next year, and the year after, and so on and so forth.
Adventures in re-evaluating wins. So… how about not losing to Iowa by twenty points? Yeah, got a whole new sheen on it today, that does.
I mention it by way of inserting this "Fran-graph" from BHGP:
Michigan's at the top and you can see the extreme focus on the rim or the three point line in Michigan's field goals. BHGP's Horace E Cow explains:
In men's basketball in the NCAA this year, players have made 34.5% of threes and 48.2% of twos. The average value, then, of a three-point attempt is 3*.345 = 1.04, and the average of a two is 2*.482 = .964. This fact has led many college (and pro) coaches to the reasonable conclusion that three-point shots are better bets than two-point shots, and that their teams should take as many threes as possible (Todd Lickliter was one of these coaches, actually).
Not all twos are worth less than threes, though: shots at the rim are usually made at a very high percentage (60-70%) and thus the average dunk or lay-up is worth 1.2-1.4 points, much more than the average three. Putting these two facts together (threes are better than most twos, but dunks are better than threes), coaches have developed what could be called a "hollowing-out" strategy on offense: threes and dunks are encouraged, anything in between in discouraged.
My first experience with this line of thinking was watching some Kentucky game back in the day when Pitino was coaching them and hearing the announcer go on about how Pitino loathed shots just inside the arc. Beilein's system is the logical extension of that thinking. Michigan's makes against Iowa: 14 threes, nine layups/dunks, and ten anything else.
If you can get it to work it's great, and it's not a strategy that seems to have a ceiling. One of this year's other proponents of the dunk-or-deep strategy is #1 and current opponent Ohio State. Because they have Jared Sullinger they aren't launching as many threes but both their 2PT% and 3PT% are off the charts—they're in the top ten in both nationally. They've got four guys who take a large volume of two-point shots, and two of them are shooting a Jordan-Morgan-like 59%. Ohio State's distribution isn't quite as extreme but it's essentially the same thing.
The slight difference between the programs is the ability to recruit Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas every damn year.
180 update. Media 180, Signing Day edition:
- Brady Hoke's first recruiting class looks like unqualified success
- Brady Hoke earns first win as U-M head coach — in recruiting
- Brady Hoke's first recruiting class adds toughness to Michigan football team
And I'm not even looking at the Free Press, which remains dead to me. I can only imagine the tiny drawings of angels.
I like the one that says there's more toughness now. That's definitely true. Being not tough was the problem, not the secondary being old enough to drive only if they all stood on each other's shoulders in a huge trenchcoat. Also that's the same guy who wrote about the "impossible expectations" driving Tate Forcier away. Pete Bigelow needs to make up his mind about toughness.
[Disclaimer section: Hoke did an okay job, but nothing that should push opinions either way. Not going into the year down eight kids is good. Losing Willingham to Central Florida(!?!?) is pretty wack, but being in a position to say that's wack is impressive since Michigan was nowhere with that kid before Mattison showed up. Losing Jake Fisher makes the tackle depth chart terrifying. I also don't understand telling Rivals 250 receiver Devin Lucien, a guy who was seriously looking at Stanford and silently committed to Rodriguez during The Process because he liked Michigan's academics, "defense or GTFO." Even if you don't want Hakeem Flowers, Michigan had room for another five players and has no receivers in this class.
Meanwhile, most of the guys picked up were of the low-hanging fruit variety: guys who were committed to Indiana or Minnesota or Vandy and didn't have a ton of other confirmed Big Ten options (Heitzman, Carter, Taylor, Bellomy) or guys who had been openly coveting Michigan offers (Poole, Rawls, Taylor again) but didn't get them until later. TX TE Chris Barnett is the exception.
This class is a wait-and-see sort of thing. We won't know if these late pickups were players RR and other Big Ten schools misevaluated or warm bodies for a while, and we won't know about Hoke's recruiting prowess until the 2012 commits start rolling in and he's competing against Ohio State. Not that Rodriguez won many battles against OSU.
On the other hand, a quarter of the class won't fail to show up or wash out by the end of spring like the last RR class so that's cool. Snatching Frank Clark away from MSU despite his existence in close proximity to Ted Ginn is promising. Also: kicker. Hoke uber alles.]
Etc.: Thomas Rawls may be a member of the Jackson family. The awkward Hoke-Rodriguez video. Going back to the 4-3. Michigan finishes 21st in the Rivals rankings. Hoke's got 8 years before the deck stacks against him significantly. Don't play the Hoke "toughness" drinking game. Nutt greyshirt hijinks.