I GET IT
Michigan did many, many great things against Northwestern, and they will be given their proper due in a moment. But first, let's marvel at the worst inbounds attempt in the history of basketball:
What the heck happened here? Let's go to the diagram, which may or may not be taken straight from Bill Carmody's clipboard:
You know, if there weren't boundaries around the court or rules against using random rich dudes as a sixth player, this just might have worked. Worth a shot, anyway.
[For the rest of the Northwestern gifs, including Nik Stauskas declaring
sexy himself back and Trey Burke And1-ing Alex Marcotullio, hit THE JUMP.]
Glenn Robinson III, quite casually, threw down a 360 dunk against Minnesota. I have no memory of a Michigan player ever doing the same, let alone with such ease. So, yeah, the full gif treatment is in order. Above is a little photoshop job, because something about that play didn't quite feel real. Below, every damn replay angle imaginable [click each thumbnail for the gif]:
[For the rest of the Minnesota gifs, featuring several more dunks and John Beilein's strange facial tic, hit THE JUMP.]
Trey Burke had a virtuoso performance against West Virginia on Saturday, scoring 27 points on 16 shots with eight assists, five rebounds, three steals, and no turnovers. Already the consensus choice for best point guard in the country, he's legitimately in the conversation for national player of the year honors; excise a ten-point, four-assist "dud" against Kansas State, and he's tallied either 16+ points or 7+ assists in every game this season.
John Beilein's offense is complicated, a highly-structured symphony of cuts and screens that relies largely on off-ball movement to create open looks. That is, unless it's time for Trey Burke to score. Last year's offense centered around the high ball screen to get Burke looks at the basket; while that's still a big part of the offense, Michigan is increasingly looking to isolate Burke and let him create.
The Wolverines did this in a variety of ways against West Virginia. Let's take a look at a few of them.
Michigan showed this setup a few times on Saturday. Instead of having two guards up top, Burke is alone with the ball; the 2 and the 3 (Hardaway and Stauskas) set up in the corner; the 4 and the 5 (Robinson and Morgan) form a stack at the free-throw line. This alignment leaves plenty of room on both sides of the court for Burke to maneuver. On this play, Burke doesn't even need help from a screen—he simply sets up his man with a hesitation move and drives hard to the right, netting a short bank:
The help is late-arriving because the threat of an open Stauskas or Hardaway (either in the corner or cutting to the basket) is, well, threatening. Having both bigs at the free-throw line or above draws the defense's shot-blocking threats away from the basket. A defense could try to counter this look by playing zone, but that brings forth a new set of problems, especially against a sharp-shooting team like Michigan.
Of course, for this set to be effective, a team needs a point guard who can create off the dribble and finish. This is not a problem for Michigan, obviously.
[Hit THE JUMP for more Trey Burke driving into big blue circles.]
In a hole called Le Moyne College, there coached a hobbit. This small Jesuit school in Syracuse's shadow's most distinguishing campus experience is everybody gets drunk the first day of spring. (Nearest Michigan equivalent: the first 50-degree day in April when everybody pretends it's 70 degrees and skips class to throw Frisbees in the Law Quad).
Beilein spent almost a decade there, twice that of anywhere else, turning the moribund program into a regular Division II playoff team. From there it was five years at Canisius, which you remember because in 1996 your bracket suddenly had Canisius on it and you weren't used to various Gonzagas and Xaviers being on there yet. Then it was Richmond for five years, which you also remember because in '98 they popped into your bracket and then beat South Carolina.
At this point in the story I turn you over to ClearEyesFullHart, your diarist of the week and a guy making a bid to become the diaries' official basketball columnist guy. Gale Catlett, the Mountaineers' coach for over two decades, was being ousted as sanctions were coming down and his replacement was barely there long enough to celebrate Chanukah (8 days)…
Long story short, a laundry list of coaches turned the job down after that (including Bob Huggins) until John Beilein took on the challenge. He was tasked with rebuilding the program as well as the culture from the ground up. That is exactly what he did, taking West Virginia to the Elite Eight, the Sweet 16, and winning an NIT Championship in his 5 years as West Virginia’s coach.
Five years each step of the way since Le Moyne, and here we are at six, facing Bob Huggins and the program he took over after Beilein transformed it into something Huggins would find worthwhile, and with Beilein having transformed Michigan into something that both Lloyd Carr and people who rank basketball teams find worthwhile.
Except when they're letting Arkansas stay in it too long|Upchurch
CEFH also wrote a preview for Binghampton that turned out to be way more entertaining than watching Michigan play Binghampton.
"Football isn't statistical enough," –MGoBlog readers. Football, especially college, is the ultimate low sample size sport. You're barely into your first set of rank-determining games before the season ends. A single play's expected points swing is often greater than the final margin of victory. That and the NFL's aesthetic need to standardize their product across brands into a package experience targeted at the meanest possible demographic has led to the sport being a heaven for platitudes. Platitude is the enemy of the MGoBlog diarist.
For example, take "our only goal is to win the game." Not so says biakabutuka experience, because truly, assigning an arbitrary time point to the general goal of scoring more than the opponent needlessly removes good data. I mean other than specific scenarios of trying to kill clock before a go-ahead score at the end of a game or maneuvering to have the last possession of the half, aren't coaches always playing for the lead? What if the score of every play could be used to calculate team strength, wouldn't that multiply the available samples significantly? You see where he's going with this? I wonder if he can't add an expected score component so that teams get credited with advancing toward the end zone since coaches aren't trying to get a touchdown every play. Also he needs to figure out a way to scale the importance of any given point by scenario since teams do give up, and because the final score is ultimately the goal.
Etc. The guy who keeps shamelessly plugging his wife's website shares a harrowing tale of Ohio sports fandom (at a Browns game but everyone immediately says "that's so Columbus!"). Western Kentucky offering a parking spot for Bobby Petrino's hog draws out the THE_KNOWLEDGE. Brian already covered the Avant gif but here it is the thread from whence it came. I still haven't given up my quest since college to call him "Shoop", an onomatopoeia for the sound his hands make when a football is near.
Best of the Board
ANARCHY IN FIVE…FOUR…THREE..TWO…ONE…
No that is not a gif of Nick Sheridan's first throw vs. Utah, or even Russ Bellomy's first chance to do something other than pad a blitzer from Lincoln's field turf last year. What you are seeing is our moderating team telling the board that at least for a couple of weeks before we get back to bowl and recruiting season the in-season off-topic rules are lifted. To encourage appropriate pos-banging the mods offered a contest of gif posting. I went for Sound of Music…
Denard as Kal-El and Denard on Wife Day
Magic: The Gathering Mouton and Ezeh
Sparty's new helmet and hating on Rod
I can't believe that I call this my job!
Also a reminder to thank your local mods—imagine having to spend hours deleting 85 reposts of a NSFW Kate Upton gif so that everyone can still enjoy the rest of the thread.
EPIC HOKE DOUBLE-POINT TO WISCONSIN WOLVERINE
Think of the most epic player pics from the last few years turned into threshold iphone wallpapers.
The real version of the Jake Ryan photo above is gonna be the next HTTV cover BTW.
MICHIGAN ENGINEERS ARE NERDS OF AWESOME
The M-gineers made a somewhat Pythonic video of a torch lighting ceremony to announce the 2013 Mr. Engineer Contest, which they're getting Denard and Kovacs to judge. If you don't recognize the scenery it's because that is North Campus; don't worry LSA student you don't ever have to go there except when your artist friend has a showing.
Every snap video of South Carolina-Arkansas for more scouting pleasure. Expected visitors this weekend from robbyt003. Cal trying a logo other than a seal = fail; Michigan need not worry since the Block M works for the university as well as the athletic dept.
Your moment of zen:
Iowa: not very good. BHGP on the Hawkeye depth chart at guard and RB:
IOWA FOOTBALL TAKES ON MICHIGAN SATURDAY (/GROAN).Here's the two-deeps. Conor Boffeli is your left guard this week. Jordan Walsh, Austin Blythe, Nolan MacMillan and Boffeli have all had a turn playing turnstile there since Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal left the Penn State game due to injury. Neither Mark Weisman nor Brad Rogers are listed at running back or fullback.
Last week, Damon Bullock got to play an Iowan version of Poor Damn Toussaint, rushing for 1.9 yards a carry against Purdue, the #85 rushing D in the country. Iowa is not good. FWIW, the game was off the board yesterday but has now been set at Michigan –20. Iowa is not good.
YAHHHHHHHHHH / Bryan Fuller
Basketball: possibly very good. I took in my first non-tiny-stream version of Michigan basketball last night*, and this happened:
"I probably should've dunked it," the Michigan freshman forward joked. "I missed a little tip-in, I was kind of upset about that."
It was awful. I'm so depressed.
The Wolverines' freshman forward showed off every facet of his game, and his potential, scoring 21 points on 8 of 9 shooting. He went 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point line, he finished off alley-oop dunks and even grabbed six rebounds.
Oh right that part well you guys just aren't demanding enough excellence. It is only by doing so on the internet that excellence can be achieved.
But seriously folks. !!!
Let us take a brief moment to consider Jordan Morgan, who continues to lose weight and get more athletic. He uses this additional athleticism to be incredibly annoying. Here is a screen in your face. Here is a hedge of your screen that puts you in the corner six feet from the three point line. Also it comes with free batting at the ball. He is going to rotate back now and not block your shot but just make it so that when you jump you're bouncing off him a little. And then he will run the floor.
Morgan's still undersized and may still be foul-prone against better competition, but this year Michigan can turn to Mitch McGary and Jon Horford when that happens instead of a badly miscast Evan Smotrycz, so I don't even care that much except Morgan does seem a step or two better than those guys because of the aforementioned embodiment of the most annoying noise in the world.
Big guys have a tendency to make that senior step up—Chris Young, Pete Vignier, Graham Brown—that makes them loveable lunch-bucket little-coaching-squee machines, and Morgan is in that year even if he's a junior thanks to the redshirt. There's a reason he's starting.
He'll probably see his minutes reduced against teams that can put out a post guy who can simply outhuge him; other than that it's going to be hard to get him off the floor.
- Vogrich > Stauskas at the moment because of defense, Stauskas > anyone in terms of three point shooting ever. Totally not getting ahead of myself based on three games.
- The defense started off a little ugly, but after it was 26-25 ten minutes in the Jags scored only 29 more points in the final 30 minutes. It doesn't seem like it will be a strength, though. That's the tangible thing Michigan will miss without Novak/Douglass.
- Jon Horford thunderdunk + Tim Hardaway thunderdunk + GRIII alley-oop festival == John Beilein looking at his team, thinking about the dudes he coached at Cansisius and wondering if it's even the same sport.
- Not a huge fan of the two post setup. If you're going to do that one of them has to be able to operate out of the high post or shoot—not necessarily threes, but midrange jumpers—and I'm not sure Michigan's posts are prepared to do that yet. McGary might be a high post guy in time. They'll probably run it 10 minutes a game or so.
- McGary's blown layup thing definitely looked like a guy used to having more up than he currently has. Looks like he'll have time to round into shape.
- Fact: Spike Albrecht is better than half of the guys Amaker recruited.
- Hardaway took no threes. In fact, there were exactly two shots all game that irritated me, one a long contested heat check Burke three, the other a long Hardaway two with 20 seconds on the shot clock. Two is kind of an amazing low number.
*[Defensive defense of self: It's hard for me to carve out the time to go to Crisler early in the week because I am working so hard for you, reader, and hockey versus MSU against BBball versus Slippery Rock is no contest.]
The vexer is now the vexee! Or maybe vice-versa. I'm vexed.
Will Campbell wrapping up vexing career by playing his best football
Commence the Rodriguez rabbling!
"It's been bumpy, it's been up and down," Campbell said. "I wish I was under this coaching staff all four years, but I wasn't, so the opportunities they gave me I just tried to capitalize on.
"I'm not saying that (the previous staff held me back). I was just lazy and young, and didn't realize the opportunities in front of me."
You could have had a stuffed animal rubbed on your face, man. That was the opportunity you missed in favor of eating cheeseburgers and playing video games. Verdict: good call.
Format set, mostly. The people who made the playoff thing got together to hammer out some playoff details. They are:
- A 12-year contract featuring a bucket of money delivered by ESPN.
- The Rose, Sugar, and Orange Bowl all have set lineups, with the Orange featuring the ACC champ versus the highest ranked SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame entity that did not make the playoff or the Rose/Sugar.
- The highest ranked team from a minor conference—Big East now included—gets an auto bid to an "access" bowl. In years when the Rose/Sugar/Orange are all out of the semifinal business that means there is essentially one slot up for grabs.
- It's unclear what happens when the Rose hosts a semi and the Fiesta/Cotton/Peach bowls are acquiring teams. When the Rose/Sugar are hosting semis they will not allow the Big Ten or SEC champ to be in the Orange Bowl to make the Fiesta/Cotton/Peach setups more attractive in a long term TV contract.
- There is another bucket of money coming for the title game.
More documents, more facepalming for the NCAA. Get The Picture has been all over every document released as part of the Ed O'Bannon case's discovery process, and here's the latest palm-to-forehead moment:
Davis then writes: "Here's my concern -- Eil [sic] is a current player on the Ole Miss team. Is using his actual number and attributes (height, race, etc.) too close to reality thereby using Eli's likeness (if not his name) and causing an eligibility issue?"
Another NCAA staffer, Melissa Caito, wrote in response: "Pls be cautious as you move through this -- any more 'watering down' of the video games will likely move the manufacturers to cease operations with us."
I'm not a lawyer, but that seems bad.
Another document made public Monday by the plaintiffs lawyers showed the results of an NCAA commercialism and licensing survey in which 12 of 150 responding Division I schools said they "engage in the sale of licensed products bearing a current student-athlete's individual likeness."
This was 2004 to 2006. I wonder what constitutes "likeness" here—it's possible some schools admit that putting 16 on a jersey and selling it is enough, while others are like "16, never heard of him, who's named 16 lol nobody."
Etc.: MGoUser hops on reddit to ask if people actually show up at other schools. Burke is now 20, also scoring and assisting. Billy Taylor documentary is FRIDAY FRIDAY FRIDAY. Even the most reasonable minds have to wonder about whether there is some conspiracy at Penn State. Oh… against Penn State? Oh. Safety blitzin'.
A smile crept across John Beilein's face as he pantomimed Trey Burke turning and flipping the ball underhand with "just the right spin" to Tim Hardaway Jr., who buried one of his five three-pointers (that part, unfortunately, not pantomimed by Beilein).
Michigan hit the century mark for the first time since 2007 in a 100-62 beatdown of Slippery Rock in the season opener, and it was Beilein's stars who led the way. Hardaway played one of his most complete games as a Wolverine, scoring 25 points on 8-10 shooting (5-5 from three) and adding ten rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Burke overcame a shaky first half to pour in 21 points of his own (9-17 FGs) and dish out eight assists; after turning the ball over four times in the first half, he had just one in the second stanza and finished on a 6-7 shooting tear.
Burke wasn't the only Wolverine to struggle out of the gate, as Michigan trailed 15-14 just over six minutes into the game before back-to-back threes by Burke and Hardaway—naturally—began to break the game open. They wouldn't completely pull away until a 10-0 run in the opening minutes of the second half, which featured eight points from Hardaway, including an emphatic one-handed dunk off a feed from Glenn Robinson III and back-to-back threes sandwiched around a missed free throw.
While the freshmen weren't filling the tin like they did in exhibition play—combining for 28 points, 11 of those coming in the game's final four minutes—they found ways to contribute. Robinson scored ten points on 5-7 shooting and picked up his rebounding efforts, pulling in eight total (six defensive) in 32 minutes. Mitch McGary pulled down nine rebounds—five offensive, though three came on one possession when he couldn't lay the ball in—in just 12 minutes while chipping in nine points; he also had three fouls, the big reason why he didn't play more. Nik Stauskas only attempted two field goals, hitting one, but got to the line to shoot a pair twice with some aggressive drives to the basket. Spike Albrecht was just 1-5 from the field, but he handed out two assists and didn't turn the ball over.
After missing the exhibition season with a knee injury, Jon Horford played better than the stats would indicate in eight key minutes after McGary and Jordan Morgan both found themselves in early foul trouble. On his first possession of the game, he rebounded a Morgan miss, hit the putback, and drew a foul, then drew a charge on the very next play. Later in the first half, he deftly slipped a pass to a cutting Robinson for an easy layup. While Horford was still limited—not by injury, but by his gas tank after missing the last two weeks—he appeared to have all of his pre-injury athleticism.
The depth is there for this team in a way that it hasn't been under John Beilein. Last year, there was no Horford to step in for Morgan, and certainly no McGary to add a second big man to the lineup. When Burke was off, like he was in the first half, there wasn't an Albrecht there to give him a chance to sit down and regroup, like he did nine minutes into tonight's game. And to have Robinson as a third scoring option, well, let's just call that an upgrade, and that's no slight to Zack Novak or Stu Douglass.
But tonight, the story was Hardaway and Burke. The two had a synergy tonight, Burke knowing just where to give it to Hardaway, Hardaway knowing just where and when to attack, that could take this team from good to great. And yes, at least tonight, there was even just the right spin on the ball.