Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Tonight's spring game obviously another primetime event, something new for the school. As you guys continue to do new things, how do you balance that with the tradition and expectations at a school like Michigan?
"Well, I think you try something, you see how it works, you see what it brings, what it brings to the team and the staff and what they're trying to do. I don't know the thinking of Jim as it relates to—we haven't talked about the spring game on Friday, whether that's something that he wants to do consistently or if he's trying something out this year and so we'll be there and see how it goes and see what comes of it and see what the feedback is from it, but it doesn't bother me that it's a nighttime spring game. The tradition's been normally, what, Saturday at 1 o'clock or 12 o'clock or something like that? You know, it's done differently at different places and this is something that he wanted to try and we'll see how it goes."
Speaking of night football, you recently expressed an affinity for football games in the daylight. Do you anticipate that that will influence schedules in future years, and some of your predecessors anticipated influence from the Big Ten wanting Michigan to play more night games—your thoughts in that area, too?
"It could be that we play more night games in the future. We talked about it this year as I was coming in and made the decision that this year we wouldn't have a night game at Michigan Stadium. You know, I was told—because I'm not a Twitterer—that I was getting heat because I said that I didn't like playing games at night, jokingly said that because if people would have heard the other part of what I said I said because I played for Bo, who thought you should always play at 12 or 1 o'clock. In my career as an athletic director and athletic administrator I played a lot of night games. I'm not against them, but in the discussions that I had with many upon walking through the door it was decided that we didn't want to play a night game here this year.
"So whether they'll be played in the future, I'm not against them. I think some of our fans like them, and I think I heard some of our fans that would prefer day games but I know our fans love Michigan football and whether it's played in the day or it's played at night they want to see our team have success.
"Last year we played a significant…I shouldn't say significant. How many night games did we play on the road last year? Three. I know the fans are interested in night games, but that's really taxing, particularly coming back late at night for the team, those kind of things. So we considered a lot before we said we wouldn't have a night game this year, but in the future there could be night games at Michigan Stadium in the future."
There's been a lot of talk two years ago after the Shane Morris concussion incident of increased safety measures and then talk about that here and there since then. Have you gotten a chance to evaluate those and do you have any plans for changes there?
"We're going to constantly evaluate the safety protocol for our student-athletes. It's something that we did obviously with that incident being so nationally prominent [and] that you do, but we're going to constantly look at the protocol. Not only in-game protocol but practice.
"I know coach Harbaugh and the staff and the medical staff are monitoring and talking about impact not only of concussions but injuries during practice. The coaches are constantly aware of how much practice and hitting is going on. They're monitoring that for the good of their team, of the individual student-athlete.
"The protocol is set but we're going to continue monitoring that to make sure it's where it needs to be for the safety of our student-athletes across the board. So yes, I'm confortable with where we are now and I'm comfortable that we will continue to evaluate all measures of safety for all of our student-athletes to make sure that it's the best that it could be."
How and when will you officially launch the Nike apparel, and for you, when you saw the Jumpman logo on football, is that cutting edge in your mind, that deal that was cut?
"Yeah. Officially Nike becomes our apparel supplier August 1st. We're proud of the relationship that we had with Adidas, but on August 1st we will officially again become a Nike apparel school and at that point in time the staff—I haven't had but I will have a breakdown of all the things that are being planned, but on August 1st, at that point in time is when we will celebrate the relationship or right around that date, don't hold me to it. But August 1st is the date we officially become a Nike school again."
[After THE JUMP: Jumpman, Jumpman, Jumpman, them boys up for discussing committable offers and transfer policies]
[Left and right: Patrick Barron; middle: Eric Upchurch]
Nik Stauskas, with his ability to make almost any shot a good one, made the game look easy. Trey Burke, with his varied and lethal methods for creating offense, made the game look easy, not to mention beautiful.
Nothing about this season's iteration of Michigan basketball felt easy. It's shown in the pictures, in which seemingly every layup attempt required a Herculean feat of strength and body control just to get the ball on the backboard. It's shown in the statistics; according to KenPom, 10.3% of Michigan's two-point attempts were blocked, a mark worse than all but 13 major-conference programs. It's shown in the despairing comments as the offense ground to a halt against Notre Dame before VJ Beachem delivered the coup de grâce to 2015-16 Michigan.
And that's on the good side of the court. Stopping the opponent has never seemed simple under John Beilein, especially the last few years. The flaws on defense have only been magnified as the offense has gone from historically great to merely good. Every flailing layup attempt swatted into photographers' row didn't just serve as a painful reminder of the team's scoring limitations, but also what they lacked on the other end.
[Hit THE JUMP for feelingsball.]
Long-time reader, second time emailer. I sent you a fake inspirational poster featuring Tate Forcier when those were still things. You used it. Good times.
I have the following mailbag questions:
1. With the departure of Durkin, Baxter, Jackson, et. al, do you see the revolving door continuing for assistant coaches? I don't have a problem with it because HARBAUGH and it means they are poach worthy. What about Drevno? He seems unlikely to leave anytime soon. I guess my question is: how much of the offense is Harbaugh, and how much is Drevno/Fisch? Would there be a big change if one of the latter left? Butt's comments about not having to learn a new offense this year were nice to hear just for continuity's sake.
This offseason's turnover was a bit extreme. Maryland hiring Durkin after one year as a defensive coordinator actually in charge of his defense—at Florida he was under Will Muschamp—was unexpected. I figured we'd get a 3-5 year run from him before he was established enough to make the jump. Losing Baxter and Jackson is actually more of a worry for me. Baxter went back to California, which is understandable if you're sawft because you've spent your time in that climate. Jackson may have decided he's more of an NFL guy.
Harbaugh seemed to make a conscious decision to reduce staff turnover with his picks for replacements. College DC lifer Don Brown is past the point where he'd be a head coach candidate; Chris Partridge and Brian Smith are young guys moving up who will probably stick around a while before any potential bump to quasi-co-psuedo associate head coach and run defense coordinator. Michigan's defensive assistants should be set for a few years, with a Mattison retirement the next likely swap.
On the other side of the ball it's murkier. It's Harbaugh's offense, of that there is no doubt. Coordinators on the same side of the ball as a heavily involved guru head coach often take a significant amount of seasoning before they are targeted for a move up the ladder. (See: Pat Narduzzi.) Drevno had not been a full OC prior to the Michigan move and has been with Harbaugh for a long time; he doesn't seem like a threat to depart for a few years yet, and when and if he does it'll be because Michigan's offense is shredding opponents.
Meanwhile Fisch is set to negotiate an extension that should bump his salary up significantly after a buyout year when Michigan was more or less paying the Jaguars. He seemed to get on with the staff and clearly had OC-type input in the passing game…
"good shit, Jedd" pic.twitter.com/6LKlSnY7Qp
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) October 6, 2015
…so I wouldn't expect him to leave for anything short of a full OC spot. That may very well happen—before he was cursed to work in the mines of Jacksonville he had a pretty good run at Miami—but I think he'll be around for a while yet.
The guy to watch for a departure is Tyrone Wheatley, who has ambitions to be a head coach. He has a powerful motivation to stick around for four more years; after that I would not be surprised to see him look for an OC spot no matter where it is.
2. What about Chesson for the #1 jersey? Has that been officially retired? If so, I don't remember hearing much about it. I can't remember a better candidate in recent years than him.
#1 is not retired and shouldn't be. Devin Funchess just wore it, remember? The fact that this guy didn't remember that and I wrote most of this response before remembering that an NFL player wore #1 two years ago is… Brady Hoke, man.
Anyway: no retiring more numbers please. #21 getting retired is kind of a bummer, man, and I can't imagine #1 or #2 goes by the wayside for practical (running out of numbers) and recruiting (here's Charles Woodson's number) reasons. But I don't expect Chesson to take it. He is in a pretty famous WR number (86) already and he doesn't seem like the type of guy to care much either way.
Beilein status, part 1
Hey Brian. I see you trying to walk the line of criticizing U-M basketball while not calling for Beilein's head. Here's the issue to me...
it's easy to compare Beilein to what came before and say look at his improvement. But the "fire Beilein" says "Well, that's not good enough." The better comparison isn't to what came before but to what would come after. What are the odds of replacing Beilein with someone who runs a clean program, fits culturally with the university, and achieves more success on the court? I put it at about 10%. That's not a chance worth taking for someone who may be marginally better. But the only thing that would satisfy these guys is if we were dominating the Big Ten. So then you need to consider the odds of getting the coach who runs a clean program, fits in culturally and consistently out-performs Izzo, Crean, et al. I put those odds under 1%.
So it's a shame that Beilein isn't a slightly better coach than he is, but Michigan's biggest obstacle is that our rivals' programs are just consistently too good.
I mean, yeah. I think we're all pretty disappointed where the program is right now but that's largely an artifact of Beilein's insane level of success over the three years from 2012-14, which went
- Big Ten Title
- National Championship Game
- Outright Big Ten Title & Elite Eight
Frankly I didn't expect that level of performance from Beilein when he was hired. I just wanted to make the tournament most of the time and Pittsnogle some higher seeds. Take that expectation and remove the team's star for consecutive years and this is what you get.
That said, the trend here, especially on defense, is alarming. It's not really about the level of the program, it's about the direction of the arrow. If Beilein's projected performance going forward is the average of his Michigan career minus his first year (which I think we can issue a mulligan for given the state of the roster) then yes, it will be very difficult for Michigan to match or exceed that. If it's the last two years, even considering Levert's injury, then the pool of candidates who can expect to match or do better expands considerably.
I don't think that's clear yet. I do think we're going to see an offseason shakeup and hopefully a defensive specialist brought in. I am still resigned to the fact that Beilein's peak is likely to have already passed and that we'll probably be gunning for a Sweet 16 or two before he retires, not a title.
[After THE JUMP: more Beilein feelingsball, PWO pickin', can the Big Ten replicate the Harbaugh model?]
I guess we should discuss that. The other thing, too. Let's open the floor for questions.
— Jay Winkler (@jman077) February 8, 2016
@AceAnbender when will we stop playing like Rutgers?
— Anthony Lodato (@ajlodato) February 8, 2016
@AceAnbender why is basketball
— Burrill Strong (@sgtwolverine) February 8, 2016
— Stefan Zonia (@iamstefanzonia) February 8, 2016
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) February 8, 2016
I'm sensing some despair. Does anyone have a more specific question?
— Tom Lawrence (@LordSupremo) February 8, 2016
Ah, so. Let's try this again after the jump.
[JUMP, if you dare.]
1/12/2016 – Michigan 70, Maryland 67 – 13-4, 3-1 Big Ten
those people didn't even know us [Bryan Fuller]
This was always going to happen at some point. A marquee win was going to stroll onto the court and get bombed back into the Stone Age by Duncan Robinson and the Enola Gays. Even as the team was getting hammered by various opponents featuring large angry people, I had this faith. (Probably. Shut up.)
They just had to, you know, do it. They had to take the three point shooting and shape it into a win with the other bent and misshapen tools at their disposal. The math had to add up. It had not done that so much this year. But basketball's math is changing.
John Beilein hasn't changed much in the 86 years he's been a college head coach. He will play four, preferably five, people who can shoot three-pointers and try to get away with everything that implies. The 1-3-1 has come and gone but the core has always been the Beilein Long Range Strategic Bombing Initiative.
It's worked. Beilein scrapped his way up the ranks by overachieving everywhere he's ever been. But there was always thought to be a ceiling past which this kind of basketball could not go. Early skeptics noted that Beilein's attention-grabbing tourney runs at West Virginia were paired with mediocre regular seasons. He'd never sniffed a conference title in a major league. Players who could shoot from deep were limited role players. They were Just A Shooters.
The game of basketball has changed, gradually and now radically. With Steph Curry currently redefining what NBA efficiency means as statheads in the background furrow their brows over any shot between the arc and the rim, the zeitgeist has finally come around to the idea that three is more than two.
Meanwhile Beilein has been a whisker away from a national title, a whisker away from another Final Four, and won three Big Ten championships. It's been a little rough so far this year since the post play has been… uh… well…
is there any way to say this diplomatically
if I am not diplomatic will I be arrested
I seem to have been given a choice between being massively dishonest and being banned from speech forever
Also Michigan's recent propensity for injury has bit hard as Spike exited for good and Zak Irvin scuffled through a big chunk of the season during which the fact he was about to miss a three was more obvious than the plot of The Force Awakens. Oh, and Caris Levert has missed three games and counting.
But as ways to play basketball go it seems like people are just now catching up to Beilein. The team is catching up to expectations. Now if we can just get some additional Mitch types in here.
Yesterday they did it. Set aside the bigs going 0/5; they are not members of the backing band here. Robinson and company went 12/24. That's 50%. That is good. That is enough to overcome a lot of things. It's enough to overcome Diamond Stone using 40%(!) of Maryland possessions efficiently, for one.
And it's not a fluke. Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman hit his lone three against Maryland and has joined the club: Michigan has five players hitting 40%+ from three. That does not count Irvin, who seems to be recovered from the back-injury-induced early season funk and is hitting 44% over his last five. They have two players, Walton and Robinson, above 50%.
This deep into the season thoughts that Michigan might reclaim their Burke/Stauskas form have been shelved. But if they can poke their nose inside the line enough to avoid the kind of drought they suffered midway through the second half, they can be a fatally flawed team that goes down in a technicolor blaze of glory.
BULLETS FROM ABOVE
Goddamn, Duncan Robinson. Here are the top ten three point shooters in the country.
Robinson has 42 more attempts than the next-closest guy. The only player I found with significantly more, Oakland's Max Hooper, has 133 and is shooting at a 45% clip.
And is it just me or has he improved defensively? I have not been frustrated by a bunch of blow-bys of late. He seems to be able to stay in front of PF types and is even bothering the occasional person with his length. He's by no means good, but the opposition has stopped targeting him over and over again as the clear weak spot.
Robinson is developing—or probably just displaying—the ability to Not Just Shoot as well. The drive and pretty reverse layup late in the second half was an eye-opener; he's putting up shot fakes and then repositioning as well. He was the alpha dog on Williams two years ago with a diverse all-around game; he should be able to grow into that as he gets more comfortable on a D-I court.
weird face sometimes too [Bryan Fuller]
Derrick Walton is a weird player. Walton is rebounding like a 6'11" guy. His 21.7 DREB rate is almost top 100 nationally. Many of those are of the mansome variety where he launches off both feet and secures a ball a 6'1" guy definitely should not secure. Meanwhile He's hitting 33% of his two-pointers and 53% of his threes.
I am desperately disappointed that Kenpom stopped showing you similar players based on stats*, because what does that spit out for a guy with that DREB rate, assist rate, and shooting profile? Jan Jagla, but good?
*[I assume Pomeroy dumped it because it didn't work, but in this situation that only makes it better. Other possibility: Pomeroy saw Walton's sophomore year and pulled the plug in case his junior year caused his computer to emit smoke and shut down, moaning "why Ken whyyyyyy" as it did.]
Walton is a weird defender. I was very frustrated with him in the Purdue game. He started well and then kept getting beat off the dribble by drives that didn't look like anything other than a meh Purdue guard putting his head down. So of course he comes out against Melo Trimble and crushes him.
didn't go well, could have gone worse [Fuller]
Donnal as the "Evolution of Man" poster. I dunno, man. I assume every Michigan fan had written off Mark Donnal for good. There was certainly a lot of grousing about wasting minutes on him during the cupcake games in December, grousing that I agreed with. And then he got a ton of layups and is… well, he's not good but he is middling with frightening outburst of Mutumbo.
I never thought I would say this but the defensive downgrade when DJ Wilson came in was obvious. Wilson got wreckt on a couple of pick and rolls where he let the PG around him; Donnal got over and cut off penetration. He of course had that sequence towards the end of the first half where he had two spectacular blocks* and looked as surprised as anyone that he had just had two spectacular blocks.
While Diamond Stone more or less had his way with Donnal for much of the day the progress there is undeniable.
*[The first of which caused Tiricio and—ugh—Vitale to rant about how Donnal had committed a foul. Not that I expect Vitale to pay attention to the rules of the game or even the things happening in front of his face, but Donnal "getting [opponent] with the body" was Donnal leaping vertically as opponent rammed into him. That is a major emphasis with the refs this year.]
DJ Wilson is still baking. Clearly very bad in this game, as his brief chunk of playing time in the second half resulted in a 10-2 run for Maryland that he was almost singlehandedly responsible for. Also he floats to the perimeter to shoot threes way too much. But you can see flashes of an effective player in there; he has super-long arms and length, so he gets his hands on a lot of balls and has a future as a shot blocker.
The redshirt was clearly the best idea. He's got a long way to go; he has a very high ceiling.
Speaking of Max Hooper. Hooper has 133 three point attempts that he's hitting at a 45% rate. Pretty good, Max Hooper! How are you doing inside the line?
Wow. Hooper is a junior; in his career he has attempted 11 two-point shots and 344 three.
This has been "Brian and Ace find a freakish basketball player on Kenpom of no interest to you and tell you about it anyway."
Via the mothership:
And the relevant bits from the release:
The terms of Beilein's extension call for him to earn a base salary of $400,000 with additional compensation of $1,470,000 per year for TV, radio, internet, shoe/apparel sponsorships, consulting, promotion and other services. In separate deferred payments, Beilein will receive an additional $1.5 million annually through the University's Supplemental Defined Contributions Retirement Plan.
The contract also provides opportunities for supplemental pay based on a range of performance measures from winning the Big Ten regular-season title and tournament championships as well as selection to and victories in the NCAA Tournament.
The perception already was that he was here through retirement—Michigan would be insane to let him go—but it was time to do this again because his last contract, signed in 2013, would have expired when this year's freshmen are seniors. When this one runs out he'll be 68.